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A multifactorial one for the RV mega geniuses!


Runroblarun

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Hi guys, thank-you for having me in the forum. I have a very involved problem that I'd love some help with. My name's Rob and I'm from Liverpool in the UK. This September I will be RUNNING across the States, maybe more than once and I'm looking for a support vehicle. My daily distance will be 25-45 miles. I'm running for the World Wildlife Fund and the goal is to make the trip carbon neutral, so RVs that are economical are key, with certified green being a bonus. Also, we would need to sleep four at least, ideally five, with good storage. I loved the idea of a class C as my driver hasn't towed a trailer, but worried about the 10mpg.

I have a budget up to 40k but as it's my future house deposit I'd like to save as much as possible!

So:

1) Any instant opinions?

2) Is towing a trailer hard? Thinking about twisty mountain roads and cities in particular...

3) Truck trailers...any recommendations for ones you can easily unhitch and use the truck as a support vehicle?

4) What sort of mpg do you get from say, a Ford 150 towing or carrying a trailer?

5) I've seen there are options to buy and insure as a foreigner - Escapees address best idea? Any tips?

6) Do you think any RV companies or dealers that might be interested in the story and could help out?

I'm just going away for the weekend, so may not see any replies for a few days, so thanks so much in advice. This trip should be nationally broadcast and I'll keep you up to date in a special thread on here, if you'd like to see how I was getting on. Hoping to raise lots of money and awareness so we can keep this beautiful world of ours beautiful for generations to come.

Thanks,

Rob

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You might be able to buy an older, used Winnebago View or Itasca Navion for that. They are built on the the MB Sprinter chassis with a diesel engine so it's not unusual to get 18 mpg. This website will show you the new models so you can get a sense of what they are: http://winnebagoind.com/products/class-c/2016/view/overview

 

Linda Sand

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Cheers Linda, I'll check em out! Any thoughts on the other questions? :-)

 

Sorry; I have no experience with trucks, trailers, sponsors, nor being a foreigner. Hopefully others will chime in here that can help with those.

 

Linda Sand

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Rob, most people can learn most skills. Some questions come to mind, though. First, is your driver from there or here? If there, he/she will have to get used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road as well as getting used to a new vehicle. No big deal, but be sure to allow some time for that.

 

Learning to tow a trailer isn't all that hard. Biggest things to learn are how to hitch/unhitch and how to back up. BTW, remember that if a sales person's lips are moving it is likely that they are stretching the truth a bit. An F150 can tow some trailers, but not all. Nor can an F250, or F350, or F450, or F550. On the other hand, you don't need an F550 to tow an Airstream. Match truck and trailer.

 

Fuel economy will be less than what the sales people will tell you. My suggestion would be for you to look for a USED F250 with a diesel in it and a used bunkhouse Airstream. You will probably get 12-14 mpg on the highway towing, and closer to 20 on the highway without the trailer.

 

Can't help you with insurance questions, but I'd second the suggestion of checking with escapees (escapees.com) for assistance.

 

As for a corporate sponsor, all you can do is ask.

 

Is your plan to set up camp at one spot, do a day's run, drive back to camp for the night, then drive back out to where you stopped and do another day's run, back to camp, etc. for several days, then move camp? Or will you set up camp and a new spot each night? My suggestion is that you set up camp somewhere in the middle of a two or three day run and have the truck take you to wherever you will start the day's run. Don't know how many days per week you plan on running, but no matter what you pick, those days when you drive the RV will use more fuel than those days that you don't.

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How about approaching the companies that rent RVs to tourists to see if they might 'sponsor' you by lending an RV, and maybe doing a special RV wrap that advertises for your run and their business? They already use wraps that picture national parks, animals, etc. in the great outdoors.

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Rob, most people can learn most skills. Some questions come to mind, though. First, is your driver from there or here? If there, he/she will have to get used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road as well as getting used to a new vehicle. No big deal, but be sure to allow some time for that.

 

Learning to tow a trailer isn't all that hard. Biggest things to learn are how to hitch/unhitch and how to back up. BTW, remember that if a sales person's lips are moving it is likely that they are stretching the truth a bit. An F150 can tow some trailers, but not all. Nor can an F250, or F350, or F450, or F550. On the other hand, you don't need an F550 to tow an Airstream. Match truck and trailer.

 

Fuel economy will be less than what the sales people will tell you. My suggestion would be for you to look for a USED F250 with a diesel in it and a used bunkhouse Airstream. You will probably get 12-14 mpg on the highway towing, and closer to 20 on the highway without the trailer.

 

Can't help you with insurance questions, but I'd second the suggestion of checking with escapees (escapees.com) for assistance.

 

As for a corporate sponsor, all you can do is ask.

 

Is your plan to set up camp at one spot, do a day's run, drive back to camp for the night, then drive back out to where you stopped and do another day's run, back to camp, etc. for several days, then move camp? Or will you set up camp and a new spot each night? My suggestion is that you set up camp somewhere in the middle of a two or three day run and have the truck take you to wherever you will start the day's run. Don't know how many days per week you plan on running, but no matter what you pick, those days when you drive the RV will use more fuel than those days that you don't.

My driver's UK based, so yeah - a consideration indeed!

The plan (with a trailer - still not sure about travel trailer, fifth wheel or full truck trailer) is probably to start at point A, drive to point B, leave the living quarters there and run from A->B on day 1, then B->C on day 2. Then we'd drive from B->D and do a C->D, D->E pattern, ad infinitum. There will be no scheduled rest days, just ones where weather or injury dictate! Pretty similar to your idea I guess!

As for the corporate sponsor, I'm hoping that someone would get on board and hoping to pluck at the heartstrings of enough park owners to get reduced stay prices, given the cause etc.

Cheers!

 

How about approaching the companies that rent RVs to tourists to see if they might 'sponsor' you by lending an RV, and maybe doing a special RV wrap that advertises for your run and their business? They already use wraps that picture national parks, animals, etc. in the great outdoors.

Thanks Peg, I know of the biggies like Cruise America, but if you have any knowledge on ones that may be a bit more conducive to stuff like this - fire away!

:)

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Also...on the subject of mileage, I aim to run at least 1000 miles a month, so with trips to and from, we're looking at putting on 20-25K miles a year...is this going to be an issue for a towed trailer or even an RV. Am wondering about going cheap class B to see if I can actually do the mileage from NO to LA before I get something a bit more comfortable so if I resell after a tragic failure, I stand to lose less money! :D

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Hi I am a fellow Brit who bought an RV in the USA in 2006 and have some idea of the various pitfalls and Gotchas.

 

You need to sort out an acceptable address. I used Escapees mail service. Set this up a couple of months in advance.

 

It is unlikely that you will have a US driving licence and this dramatically reduces your insurance options. When I bought mine the only two companies that would offer a cover were Progressive and Foremost. Progressive had a gotcha well hidden in the small print. You have to have two vehicles insured. If you are towing a travel trailer or fiver that counts as the second vehicle.I used the insurance agent Champ Carter in Livingston Texas next to the Escapees home site and found them very knowledgeable about the work arounds required to insure a Brit with no social security number or US insurance history and driving on a UK licence.

 

Most states charge sales tax [ up to 9.45%] on registration except New Hampshire, Oregon, Delaware, Montana and Alaska.

 

A bunkhouse travel trailer will be the easiest thing to find. Something like this http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/travelt/2010-Bullet-32553.htm

 

A fiver is easier to tow and less prone to snaking. It is much easier to reverse. Not so many bunkhouse models though but PPL does have a few. http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/5thwheel/2004-Prowler-By-Fleetwood-32906.htm. Some US fiver setups are enormous but watch out for the tow ratings on smaller trucks and be conservative when working out the total weight of the towed vehicle and then go up one size on the recommended towing vehicle.

 

Diesel costs more in the USA than petrol. Cost per mile works out about the same. Petrol engines are generally much less expensive to maintain. If buying a diesel my choice would be a Cummins that is fitted to most manufacturers pickups and large passenger vehicles. I would avoid the GM diesel at all costs.

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Hi I am a fellow Brit who bought an RV in the USA in 2006 and have some idea of the various pitfalls and Gotchas.

 

You need to sort out an acceptable address. I used Escapees mail service. Set this up a couple of months in advance.

 

It is unlikely that you will have a US driving licence and this dramatically reduces your insurance options. When I bought mine the only two companies that would offer a cover were Progressive and Foremost. Progressive had a gotcha well hidden in the small print. You have to have two vehicles insured. If you are towing a travel trailer or fiver that counts as the second vehicle.I used the insurance agent Champ Carter in Livingston Texas next to the Escapees home site and found them very knowledgeable about the work arounds required to insure a Brit with no social security number or US insurance history and driving on a UK licence.

 

Most states charge sales tax [ up to 9.45%] on registration except New Hampshire, Oregon, Delaware, Montana and Alaska.

 

A bunkhouse travel trailer will be the easiest thing to find. Something like this http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/travelt/2010-Bullet-32553.htm

 

A fiver is easier to tow and less prone to snaking. It is much easier to reverse. Not so many bunkhouse models though but PPL does have a few. http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/5thwheel/2004-Prowler-By-Fleetwood-32906.htm. Some US fiver setups are enormous but watch out for the tow ratings on smaller trucks and be conservative when working out the total weight of the towed vehicle and then go up one size on the recommended towing vehicle.

 

Diesel costs more in the USA than petrol. Cost per mile works out about the same. Petrol engines are generally much less expensive to maintain. If buying a diesel my choice would be a Cummins that is fitted to most manufacturers pickups and large passenger vehicles. I would avoid the GM diesel at all costs.

 

Good info for you with two small corrections. Cummins diesels are only found in Dodge/Ram trucks and depending on where in the U.S. you might be at this moment diesel fuel can be less than regular petrol or about the same.

 

I think another thing you should look at in your decision process is what amenities you think you require in your support vehicle. For example, a used pop-up camper in good condition can be had for under $3000. They are short on amenities, however, generally only providing beds and a place to cook and eat. Rarely do they have a toilet or shower. Most commercial campgrounds offer toilet and shower facilities though. Pop-ups have the additional plus of being light weight and therefore do not require as much in the way of a tow vehicle.

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Hey guys, thanks for those replies.I think I definitely need to set up an Escapees address. For one - it sounds like the coolest thing ever to have! :D

How do I go about this?

I do have American friends - would they be able to insure the vehicle but not be the primary driver?

Sorry to be a dummy - is a fiver a fifth wheel? (Update: I've seen that it is - those PPL rigs look amazing - bettter than my house almost!) My main driver is very worried about towing so we may be tied to a Class C or a B+, though this could be a baseless fear...

In terms of amenities, as I'll be on my limit a lot of the time, we're looking for as much luxury as we can afford. The Winnebago Views looked amazing, though I guess it's about finding the right one at the right price! I've seen a nice Vanguard Kodiak that might just about do the job, but I'm not sure when to take the plunge. I'll be arriving in the states on 12th September and hoping to tie stuff up in three days. Am I being unrealistic here?

Just to say guys, I really appreciate your ongoing help - as do the tigers!

Cheers

Rob

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Hey Assissin what do you have against GM diesels? I f/t ed with an 01 Duramax for well over 10 years & 300,000 miles, towing a 17,000+ 5er.

Did you have a bad experience?

Ron

 

I came across the reliability issues with the GM diesel when researching Safari Treks. Almost all owners with the GM diesels had had major problems and many had had to fit replacement engines.

 

Many other users in other vehicles have had similar problems so it wasn't the Safari installation. See http://www.dieselbombers.com/chevy-gmc-6-2l-6-5l/91924-6-5l-good-engine.html

 

It did seem that a if the engine was not driven hard it MIGHT be reliable but that was not always true. If it were my choice I would buy the bullet proof Cummins.

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Good info for you with two small corrections. Cummins diesels are only found in Dodge/Ram trucks and depending on where in the U.S. you might be at this moment diesel fuel can be less than regular petrol or about the same.

 

 

 

I am sure you are right but I do have a distinct memory of renting Ford pickups in Brazil with Cummins diesels in them.

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I am sure you are right but I do have a distinct memory of renting Ford pickups in Brazil with Cummins diesels in them.

 

A quick search shows that to be correct. Ford does use Cummins in Brazil, but not in the U.S. except in the F-650 (large truck).

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The old 6.5 diesel was nothing but trouble & that's why GM came out with the 6.6 Duramax in 2001 as it's replacement. Sold my '01 to a mechanic who now uses it hauling large farm equipmect from Iowa & Nebraska to his shop in Missouri.

Ron

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I don't know how much room you need, Roadtrek has nice class b units that are basically the size of a van. They would be perfect for a new driver. They hold value so are easy to sell. They hold value so are expensive to buy. Your friends could provide you an address. They would have to own the vehicle for insurance.

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I don't know how much room you need, Roadtrek has nice class b units that are basically the size of a van. They would be perfect for a new driver. They hold value so are easy to sell. They hold value so are expensive to buy. Your friends could provide you an address. They would have to own the vehicle for insurance.

 

I've never seen a Roadtrek that can sleep 4-5 people which the OP listed as a requirement.

 

Linda Sand

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As to sponsorship, a visit to http://www.greencarreports.com/ and/or http://www.certifiedgreenrvs.com/ may give you some leads on manufacturers who might have an interest in some level of sponsorship. KOA or Thousand Trails may sponsor some nights in their parks, but will likely expect photos and descriptions to post in your social media. You might get some level of sponsorship from green manufacturers of almost anything if you can make a connection to what you are doing. Getting sponsorships will take an investment of time with a thick skin for the "no" answers you will receive from some of the contacts.

 

For achieving the transportation on the cheap a used conversion van which has 4 seats plus a couch that converts to a bed- pulling a pop-up camper which will sleep at least 4 might be an option. www.freecampsites.net will give you many options for parking the setup for free or for low cost. If you can go 1-3 days without full hookups you can save a lot of money.

 

Looking forward to hearing more about the project.

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I don't know how much room you need, Roadtrek has nice class b units that are basically the size of a van. They would be perfect for a new driver. They hold value so are easy to sell. They hold value so are expensive to buy. Your friends could provide you an address. They would have to own the vehicle for insurance.

Yeah Sehc, thanks for the reply, but like Linda said, looking for a bigger unit. Possibly some film crew interest so may end up needing a bunkhouse!! :D

 

As to sponsorship, a visit to http://www.greencarreports.com/ and/or http://www.certifiedgreenrvs.com/ may give you some leads on manufacturers who might have an interest in some level of sponsorship. KOA or Thousand Trails may sponsor some nights in their parks, but will likely expect photos and descriptions to post in your social media. You might get some level of sponsorship from green manufacturers of almost anything if you can make a connection to what you are doing. Getting sponsorships will take an investment of time with a thick skin for the "no" answers you will receive from some of the contacts.

 

For achieving the transportation on the cheap a used conversion van which has 4 seats plus a couch that converts to a bed- pulling a pop-up camper which will sleep at least 4 might be an option. www.freecampsites.net will give you many options for parking the setup for free or for low cost. If you can go 1-3 days without full hookups you can save a lot of money.

 

Looking forward to hearing more about the project.

Cheers LG, I'll try some of those. Looks like Forest River may be my best bet in terms of size etc, though if the film crew become an eventuality, I may be moving back to a fifth wheel and a big bloody truck to pull it! Let's say we get used to hooking and unhooking, how quick can you do both of em?

I'm hoping to only go for hook up every other day, or to sweet talk campsite owners into discounted rates, given what it is...

I'm looking forward to telling you about my adventure too!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok guys, still weighing up 5th Wheel and truck v Class C (both ideally bunkhouses) and looks like a few good dealers, (especially PPL). So...

I need to get an Escapees address - is this quick and easy? Can anyone guide me through the process/steps required? Timescales especially!

Cheers

Rob

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Not instant, but not that difficult either. The first thing is to join the Escapees RV Club, costing $39.95/year..

 

Once you are a member, you then need to go to the mail service Get Started page and just follow the directions. You do need to decide which of the three states that you wish to claim as your domicile since there are choices. There are also three different levels of mail service(we use the middle one) which you need to select between. Once you have joined the club and then set up your mail service, download a copy of How to Become a Real Texan and just follow the steps. While it may be very slightly different if you have chosen SD or FL, all three states have pretty much the same steps.

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