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Old 01-28-2014, 12:11 PM   #41
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But a trailer (as opposed to a motorhome, van conversion, etc) is a very simple thing with few parts subject to wear, etc. It should be practical and not costly at all to build one correctly from the start. For example, it would have cost virtually nothing to put plastic between the aluminum and the treated wood in the OP's trailer, and only a few dollars to use fasteners that are of the proper type to avoid galvanic corrosion. It costs virtually nothing to put things subject to wear (water pumps, batteries, relays, etc) in places where they can be accessed and serviced easily.
I guess the problem ultimately is attributable to consumers. If they don't demand a well-engineered and built product then the mfgrs won't make them right and won't see any value in trumpeting the longevity features in their marketing. The trailer with the coolest stickers on the outside wins.
I cannot speak about aluminum-skinned RVs, as I do not own one.

My motorhome is built with now standard fiberglass construction. The large sidewalls and the rear cap are continuous flat pieces. It had a few leaks that I was able to detect and stopped before it got too late. Some were seal deterioration at the seams where the large components meet. These have to be inspected and maintained.

However, some leaks were due to poor workmanship, for example leaks at the running lights mounted high at the nose of the MH, at the overcab bed area. I found that they did not put down any sealant there at all, and water leaked into the holes cut for the wires. The lazy assembler apparently skipped this step.

I did find a couple of problems that were due to poor design, not workmanship. But overall, this motorhome did not give me that much trouble. It requires some maintenance, not unlike what one does for a stick-built house.
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:31 PM   #42
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When I tried to mount the size 27 box where the size 24 box had been, it interfered with the two propane tanks.
Good to know they conveniently mount the battery next to the propane tanks...
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:40 PM   #43
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Good to know they conveniently mount the battery next to the propane tanks...
That is so if you can't get the battery's hydrogen to fire off, you have a second chance with the propane.
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Old 01-28-2014, 01:57 PM   #44
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Travel trailers typically have the propane tanks and the battery box out on the tongue, in open air. So, the risk of battery gas explosion is minimal. My MH has the batteries boxed in a steel case, with a steel lid.

There are quite a few RV fires each year, and I suspect that loose or chafed wiring is often the cause. I have told the following story, which is worth repeating.

After getting the MH, I went through all the electrical wiring because I had a few mods in mind and wanted to know about the existing wiring and how things worked. I put a load on the batteries by turning all the lights on, and measured the voltage drop across each connection, each contact point. I found a big drop of perhaps a few tenths of a volt across a battery post contact. That was way too high for a current of perhaps 20A max.

So, I wiggled the wire while measuring the voltage, and saw that the voltage drop fluctuated. Then, the big AWG2 cable in my hand came off its crimped lug! This was a short cable that linked the two batteries.

Holy smoke! If this happened while I was driving, the end of this loose cable would short against the battery steel housing which was grounded. Result: a fire, and possible loss of the MH. It was hair raising, just thinking of the potential problem.

So, I redid all the heavy cables, using good tin-plated marine cable and good marine solder cup lugs. I also put in 200A inline fuses to support the added 2KW pure sine wave inverter.

I also found that the house batteries were linked to the engine starting battery (via an isolation relay) by a long AWG2 cable that snaked under the chassis and through the engine compartment. No fuses at all! If this big cable got chafed and shorted to the chassis, imagine what would happen. So, I put a fuse at each end.
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Old 01-29-2014, 03:18 AM   #45
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Warped doors on truck campers have caused me much grief over the years. Traveling on a very dusty gravel road in the Chilcotins many years ago I had to wipe a layer of dust from every surface when we set up camp each night. One evening we ended up bouncing down a very rough track to a lovely little lake. On opening the camper door I discovered that the fridge door had burst open. The interior of the rv was coated with blobs of thick pea soup flung from a large bowl that exited from the fridge. The whole soupy mess was coated with an overlay of gritty dust.
Many years later we spent 6 weeks traveling in an 8ft camper with no washroom from Vancouver BC to the Yukon. We drove the Dempster Highway as far as the Arctic Circle but couldn't continue to Inuvik and the Arctic Ocean because of bad weather. The road was extremely muddy and again the door was warped. Instead of wiping dry dust I spent my time sluicing out mud from the floor and walls.
Fun times, great memories. Of course rvs are cheaply made but that makes them affordable and its the bumps in the road that make life interesting - if you want smooth sailing stay home!!!!!!
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:49 AM   #46
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Of course rvs are cheaply made but that makes them affordable and its the bumps in the road that make life interesting - if you want smooth sailing stay home!!!!!!
Ding ding ding, winner. RVs are cheaply made so they can be affordable. If you don't want cheap, go with something like an earthmover. Having spent at least 800 man hours and well over $25,000 in materials for our buildout I do not see a profit in manufacturing a decent quality camper and selling it for $30,000 to $35,000 even if you get materials wholesale.
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Old 01-29-2014, 07:35 AM   #47
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Traveling on a very dusty gravel road in the Chilcotins many years ago I had to wipe a layer of dust from every surface when we set up camp each night. One evening we ended up bouncing down a very rough track to a lovely little lake. On opening the camper door I discovered that the fridge door had burst open. The interior of the rv was coated with blobs of thick pea soup flung from a large bowl that exited from the fridge. The whole soupy mess was coated with an overlay of gritty dust.
Many years later we spent 6 weeks traveling in an 8ft camper with no washroom from Vancouver BC to the Yukon. We drove the Dempster Highway as far as the Arctic Circle but couldn't continue to Inuvik and the Arctic Ocean because of bad weather. The road was extremely muddy and again the door was warped. Instead of wiping dry dust I spent my time sluicing out mud from the floor and walls.
Fun times, great memories.
Uh, for fun times like that I'll pass. Motel 6 sounds much better. Guess I'm just not an RVer.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:06 AM   #48
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........ I also put in 200A inline fuses to support the added 2KW pure sine wave inverter................. So, I put a fuse at each end.
Same here. I was shocked to see no fuse on the main battery cable on my camper. I installed both a fuse and a shutoff switch.

In the bad old days, rural farmers without electricity used automotive batteries to arc weld with. So, they can easily incinerate a wood stick motor home or camper trailer with a short circuit.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:45 AM   #49
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Nobulife, I'm contemplating that same trip (BC to Yukon/Dempster Hwy) in mid May as would like to know more about the timing and stories behind yours. We will be in a '92 school bus and camping. Thanks!
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:54 AM   #50
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I once looked at flying up to Anchorage and renting an RV there. The Web site of an RV place showed the highways the renters could travel on. For the Dempster, there was an admonition: "Don't even think about it!".

One cannot drive up to the Arctic Ocean. The last 20 or 30 miles from Inuvik had no road probably due to swampy land. One must take a short flight to go up to the Arctic Ocean to say he/she has been there.

I am afraid I will not be driving my RV on the Dempster either, when I make the trip. My wife would have a fit if I make an attempt. So, to compensate for that, I spent a bit of time on Google Street View to see the scenery along this road. See the link below for the turn-around at the end of the road going north from Inuvik. Google sent two camera-cars up there, and one happened to capture the other one as it already turned around heading south. Move the view up 100 ft and you will see the turnaround at the end of the road.

See: http://goo.gl/maps/xZk69
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:12 PM   #51
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That road looks rough...the car is covered in mud too. Nice shack.

Do any of you planning to go to Alaska prospect for gold?
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:41 PM   #52
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I once looked at flying up to Anchorage and renting an RV there. The Web site of an RV place showed the highways the renters could travel on. For the Dempster, there was an admonition: "Don't even think about it!".

One cannot drive up to the Arctic Ocean. The last 20 or 30 miles from Inuvik had no road probably due to swampy land. One must take a short flight to go up to the Arctic Ocean to say he/she has been there.

I am afraid I will not be driving my RV on the Dempster either, when I make the trip. My wife would have a fit if I make an attempt. So, to compensate for that, I spent a bit of time on Google Street View to see the scenery along this road. See the link below for the turn-around at the end of the road going north from Inuvik.
This young lady tackled the Dempster solo in her VW powered class C. Apparently you can drive to the Arctic Ocean in the winter only. Since it was summer, she took the flight to Tuktoyaktuk.
http://livinginmycar.com/blog/2010/0...guys-on-bikes/
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:28 PM   #53
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Yes, I found and read her blog a while back. Hers was a nice diesel Mercedes Sprinter-chassis based class C, not a VW.

One time, she locked herself out of her MH, but luckily had the skylight opened, so she got back in via that. Most MHs little vents are too small for a human body to fit through.
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Old 01-29-2014, 04:28 PM   #54
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I'm just aiming for Fort McPherson, not any further north than that. We've got a long way to get back to SC and only 4 weeks to do it in, so we will be running up and back. I'm quite excited about a side trip in BC to see Stewart and Hyder, the two cities on ether side of the southernmost Canada USA border. And getting "Hyderized".
Will check out that blog to add to our info base. Thanks!
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Old 01-29-2014, 04:33 PM   #55
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Hers was a nice diesel Mercedes Sprinter-chassis based class C, not a VW.
Thanks for the correction.
I like the idea of better fuel mileage with the Sprinter, but the chassis looks less durable/lower clearance than the Ford/GM models. Her account made the trip up the Dempster Hwy sound less daunting.
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:11 PM   #56
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When I was shopping for a used class C, did give serious consideration to a Sprinter-based motorhome. But in the final analysis, over the 100K-mile life of an RV (and most people drive less than that) the fuel mileage difference does not justify the cost differential between a diesel engine and the common Ford/GM gas engine. Also, the gas engine can be serviced more readily by an average mechanic.

About the Dempster, the road condition as shown by the Google Street View did not look too bad. I noticed that the leaves were turning; perhaps it was later in summer and already past the rain season. Imagine when it is muddy, and if you slide into a ditch, it can ruin your day. Or try to replace a flat tire on that road!

Well, I have enjoyed being an armchair traveler with Google SV, so will give the Dempster a lower priority. There are many more interesting spots in Alaska.
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:30 PM   #57
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When I was shopping for a used class C, did give serious consideration to a Sprinter-based motorhome.
I also looked a the Sprinter-based RVs and was shocked at the lack of payload capacity. Once they get the RV 'stuff' loaded on that chassis there isn't much you can add before you're reached the GVWR. I saw a Winnebago model that was maxed out at 900 lbs.
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:13 PM   #58
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I also looked a the Sprinter-based RVs and was shocked at the lack of payload capacity. Once they get the RV 'stuff' loaded on that chassis there isn't much you can add before you're reached the GVWR. I saw a Winnebago model that was maxed out at 900 lbs.
Most of the RVs have a lack of payload capacity, unless you go to a large truck chassis or class A. The class C that are built on a 350 or 450 frame might only have 1200 pounds available (which sounds like a lot until you fill all the tanks and stock up on canned goods for a long trip).

It is even worse with some truck campers. Some of the larger campers are so heavy that they don't technically have any capacity left for fuel or passengers when mounted to certain size pickups. People toss on air bags to make it seem like they are ok.
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:16 PM   #59
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My 25-footer class C with no slides has a cargo carrying capacity of 2646 lbs to be exact, after its 55-gal fuel tank has been filled. That's according to the attached placard.

The clean/waste water, occupants, and any cargo are to be included in that 2646 lbs. That's plenty for me. Unless I load the thing with gold bars (or lead), there's not enough volume inside the living space for a cargo of that weight.

PS. Because of its relatively light weight of less than 10,000 lbs empty, the recommended inflation pressure for the rear tires is only 65 psi. Before I found this out, I pumped them up to the max 80 psi to be safe. Needless to say, that resulted in a stiff ride.
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:34 PM   #60
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That is pretty acceptable. We looked at a class C toyhauler before deciding to build our own and it had only around 1500 pounds available. Figure putting two toys (motorcycles), some spare fuel and supplies for a good 2 week camping trip and you are over the limit.

We went with a 19000lb GVWR truck that weighs in at 8800 pounds with full fuel. Our camper is going to be around 4200 pounds wet leaving us with a nice 6000 pounds of cargo capacity (of course that will have to include occupants ).
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