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Why the "Dark Side"?


noteven
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17 minutes ago, lappir said:

There are lot's of references to the "Dark Side". In my motorcycling it's when people mount a tire manufactured for a car on the rear of their motorcycle. It's just an unconventional and often maligned way of doing something. Not sure who first used the term here. 

Rod

I think Phoenix (Henry) can shed some light on this subject. I hope he see's this thread. But who knows what the hurricane did to him.

Al

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11 hours ago, lappir said:

There are lot's of references to the "Dark Side". In my motorcycling it's when people mount a tire manufactured for a car on the rear of their motorcycle. It's just an unconventional and often maligned way of doing something. Not sure who first used the term here. 

Rod

I gave that a try on my Vstrom just to see. It actually worked a lot better than I expected and the traction available in the wet was amazing and of course the tire life was fabulous. My biggest beef was the tire was so heavy that on gravel roads, it overwhelmed the stock rear suspension not to mention if you caught a rock or something on the edge, it tended to throw you in the opposite direction. I liked riding off road too much to keep doing it. 

I probably wouldn't do it again unless I commuted crazy miles and it made it worth it, but I glad I tried it just to see. 

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Heck, I don't know.  But, I can tell you what I have always thought.

Conventional thinking or assumptions dictate that fifth wheel trailers should be pulled with a pick-up truck.  But, we go against the conventional thinking and choose to use a HDT rather than a PU.  Being on The Dark Side is generally considered as going against a conventional practice.

Besides the Star Wars connection, being on the dark side also conjures up visions of a "rebel", non-conformist and perhaps one venturing into dangerous territory or practices.  

Personally, I like the idea of being on the Dark Side.

The following TRUE story of a recent encounter sort of puts "The Dark Side" into perspective - at least IMHO :D.

We had just pulled into a site at Hadley’s Point near Bar Harbor, Maine.  Next to us was a couple in a Winnebago motor home powered by a Ford V10 gas engine.  The male member of the duo walked over to me after I had finished setting up and, as folks always do, started looking around and asking questions.  But, unfortunately, I was in a rather bad mood after having to jockey the trailer into position from the right-hand blind side and finding the 50 amp plug in the campground power box jerked completely out of the box.

 

"Why didn’t you get a big truck to pull that fifth wheel?” He asked with a smirkish smile on this face.

“I had one but got rid of it; I figured a smaller one would be easier to maneuver.”

(No apparent understanding or reaction from the Winnebago guy.)

“Did you drive trucks for a living?”

I looked over at his Winnebago.  “Did you drive a bus for a living?

(Again, no apparent understanding or reaction from the Winnebago guy.)

“Do you have to have a CDL to drive that thing?”

“It’s titled and licensed as a motorhome.  A CDL is only required in states that would also require you to have one for your Winnebago.”

“What is your fuel mileage with that thing?”

“It is not a thing, it is a Volvo truck converted into a motorhome and I get about 6.5 mpg in the mountains and 10 mpg on the flat Interstates.  I can get 14-15 without the fifth wheel.”  (OK – I fudged a little on that last number.)

“WOW, that is better than I get with my Winnebago.”

“Yep, these trucks were built to maximize fuel usage.  Yours was built to maximize manufacturer’s profits.”

“Do you have to stop at weight stations?”

“Do you stop at weight stations with your Winnebago?  Like I said a moment ago, it is a RV…. A motorhome.”

“That rig must have cost you a bundle, what… like about 300 grand?”

(I always like the cost question.  I prefer to just smile and not respond verbally.  Why confuse the poor guy?)

“How often do you need to stop for fuel?”

 

“If my two 150 gallon tanks are full I can run about 2,500 miles before I need to refuel.  How often do you have to stop for gas?”

“Uh….. I have a 60 gallon tank.  I have to gas-up every 350 miles.  Can I look inside?"

“You are welcome to look.  It has everything your Winnebago does except a shower – just a little more crowded.  Sleeping space, refrigerator, generator, stand-alone A/C and heat, sink with running water, microwave, toilet, and TV/DVD.”

There were more questions. The most common are why I don't have a pick-up truck as a tow vehicle, or, "Isn't that overkill?" Thankfully I had lost my irritation edge and began to give less sarcastic answers.  Two other men came over and joined the conversation.  All three were seriously interested in why I was using a HDT to pull the fiver.  This was not an isolated incident.  It seems to happen everywhere we go.  I know everyone on this thread with a HDT experiences the same when they pull into a CG – especially those with a Smart on deck.

I have learned when calling to make a campground reservation NOT to use the description of my rig as having an 18 wheeler tractor.  I have run across numerous campgrounds that tell me they do not allow tractor-trailers.  Then I have to explain that I am not a tractor-trailer but a RV.  I usually tell them I have a class 7 truck (actually class 8 but dropped one rear axle) pulling a 40’ fifth wheel trailer and my total connected length is 68 feet.  Few campgrounds seem to get it or have a clue what a class 7 or 8 truck is and are surprised when they see the HDT.

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On 9/24/2017 at 10:50 AM, alan0043 said:

I think Phoenix (Henry) can shed some light on this subject. I hope he see's this thread. But who knows what the hurricane did to him.

Al

There's a rich history associated with the Dark Side moniker.

First HDT was converted about 20 years ago and shown at the Escapees Rally causing a sensation. I think it was a red Kenworth , hard springs, etc., nothing by today's standard but sensation nevertheless. Back then MDTs were the "status symbol" because they were expensive (still are), sold by converters only, requiring 20 year loans. regardless of actuarial tables predicting that you were likely to croak before that loan would be paid off or not. Also because of those 20 year loans, the trucks were upside down when sold earlier and therefore expensive used (the loan needed to be repaid). So it was a "status symbol", most were owned by "buyers" not tinkerers, similar to Class A owners and we know what piece of work some the Class A owners can be. Ever tried to go into "Class A Resort Only".

About a decade ago guy by the name Ziegler ("Mr.Z") started offering converted (singled) HDTs to RVers, Jack Mayer had one of these. In actuality these were converted in Salt Lake City by a truck broker named Blake Richards, who similarly to what Gregg is doing now would find "cream puffs" and have them gone over and singled by a Salt Lake City Volvo dealer. Ziegler would pick them up, detail these, add his "cut" and then sell these to RVers. He did about 50 trucks, then decided to go around Blake, directly to his suppliers, I guess to increase his "margin". The suppliers called Blake (who's this turkey?) and Blake told him to take a hike. Ziegler bought half a dozen trucks and found some idiot to convert these, these were literally death traps, rear axle air brakes not connected, rear axle removed and not moved (driving on the locker only), etc. They were subject of tall taies and "amusement" (not to the owners) early on in this group. Needless to say Ziegler didn't last long "on his own". Incidentally, Blake Richards is still around and sells occasional truck to RVer, I bought my truck from him and that's how I learned about Ziegler. Since these were frame rails only units naturally only "tinkerers" would buy them and own them. Some would take these to converters like Larry Heron, others would build their own beds or rail conversions.

There was no HDT forum then, although there was an independent Forum "For the Big Dogs Only" ran by someone when this "movement" started and it was as intense as the current forum, eventually it got hacked and was shut down. So the group "migrated" to the MDT forum on on the Escapees website. We were welcomed and "appreciated" as eccentrics but the love did not last long. Most of us then migrated from MDTs to HDTs and for a good reason, trailers were getting bigger and with a bigger trailer an MDT is a dog, the ride (back then) was horrible (take out your false teeth on a bad road) and they cost ton more money than a converted HDT, for half the performance. Plus we were the "amazing bunch" capable of doing anything (or getting it done), service our own, fix our own, etc., etc., and started to dominate the forum. It started polite, as past MDT owners we could offer "tips" on those, etc.,  but inevitably when asked about the difference between the HDT or MDT (for someone contemplating a purchase), less polite forum members would offer the "opinion" that the MDT is a "piece of crap by comparison at twice the cost". That did not go well with the "buyers" who just took out a 20 year loan for $120,000, particularly if wife happened to be reading such a response over his shoulder, after kids' college funds were depleted.

Moderators started to get involved, shutting down, heated threads and discussion and eventually someone blurted out that we were the nasty bunch from the Dark Side. That immediately became a "badge of honor" and anytime someone purchased an HDT they would proudly announce that they "joined the Dark Side".

Eventually, it was decided that the best course of action was to separate the forums into HDT and MDT. There was occasional trolling between the forums, but the MDT forum has pretty much withered away over the years and the members on this forums have nothing to prove anymore so the animosity has died down.

So that's "the history"

Edited by phoenix2013
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Mark is still around but not active on the forum. He still has the campground he build in NY. He sold his property in Retama years ago.

Interestingly (to me at least) we are now following in Mark's footsteps and building a campground as well - although ours is for our customers to use (and the public, when space is available).

Edited by Jack Mayer
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He is, I talk to him regularly. He is the owner of the red Volvo that Ziegler converted at the end of his "career" which had only front air brakes connected and the rear axle was removed to be driven by the locker only.

Mark had spend quite a bit of money and effort to make this truck right. All that was discovered at one of the early HDT Rallies in KC when his truck was put on the VIS machine at Doonans. The guy in the cab pushed the brakes on and the rear wheels on the roller kept on spinning. 40 guys were watching this "what the f..." moment.

Edited by phoenix2013
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2 hours ago, phoenix2013 said:

He is, I talk to him regularly. He is the owner of the red Volvo that Ziegler converted at the end of his "career" which had only front air brakes connected and the rear axle was removed to be driven by the locker only.

Mark had spend quite a bit of money and effort to make this truck right. All that was discovered at one of the early HDT Rallies in KC when his truck was put on the VIS machine at Doonans. The guy in the cab pushed the brakes on and the rear wheels on the roller kept on spinning. 40 guys were watching this "what the f..." moment.

I remember hearing that story about him truck. I hope he is still riding his bike. I liked his little shop in the back of his trailer. It is good to hear that Mark is doing good.

Al

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2 hours ago, phoenix2013 said:

Mark had spend quite a bit of money and effort to make this truck right. All that was discovered at one of the early HDT Rallies in KC when his truck was put on the VIS machine at Doonans. The guy in the cab pushed the brakes on and the rear wheels on the roller kept on spinning. 40 guys were watching this "what the f..." moment.

Henry is understating things a bit....  It was actually FAR more dramatic than that. There was so much wrong with that truck that it was a crime. I actually mean that literally. It was "pitiful".  But Mark fixed most of it himself....it was quite the job.

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I really appreciate the history lesson from Henry and Jack.  Like I shared earlier I did not know where the "Dark Side" originated but I do like the connotation.

Learning (or re-learning) about all of the mistakes initially made with HDT conversions brings me to this point:  If it was not for all the material and help given to me starting back in 2009 when I joined the Dark Side by folks like Henry, Jack, Mark B., Ken C., Scrap, Ray N. and scores of others I would have definitely ended up on the wrong side of the dark side.  I knew next to nothing about HDTs when I crossed over - not saying I am now "literate" - but I have learned a lot from these guys as well as by making my own mistakes.

Many years ago I was teaching a Science class to what we now call middle schoolers.  The theme of the textbook we were using was "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants."  This, of course, made reference to how we take the knowledgeable achievements (and mistakes) of those before us and build on to them.   I value knowing many of the giants in the HDT/RV world and what they have done.  Thanks to them it really isn't all that dark anymore. 

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