As a writer with regular columns to get out I tend to lose track of time and forget what my current month is instead of the publication month that I’m working on. Right now it’s the 24th of December 2007 and the articles on the computer are for March and April 2008. This is the time when most of us will be shaking off the last of winter and getting ready to hit the road. If you approach it like I do there are several thoughts going around in your head, like, did I drain ALL the water from the lines and did I remember to blow-out the toilet valve and sink lines? Now, I live in far, far, far, far, FAR west Texas, about 90-miles from the Texas/New Mexico border so freezing is not one of the things we worry much about, until it happens! We get perhaps 10-days a year when Ma Nature does the frozen water trick and with three RV’s parked outside it always puts a cold rock about mid-chest when I look out and see the temp down in the teens and try to remember iffen I did all the winter storage chores like I was supposed to.
The answer is to follow a check list for shutting down the RV in the fall and another checklist for getting her running in the spring. Now checklists are like all good intentions, they only work if you use them and make a date to get the work done. A couple of very good checklists are the Family Motor Coach Association winter storage guides and their spring cleaning and travel preparation guide. You will also see many good checklist ideas on the RV.net forums or over at Escapees.com where there are checklists for almost everything, speaking of which —
Have you ever noticed that when we want to set-up or get ready to move our RV’s someone always wants to come over and chat? In my case I’ve been doing the RV thing long enough to have “outgrown” the need for checklists. Ya, right ! When someone is talking to me I tend to forget where the heck I was in my processing of mental coming or going checklists. This does not only happen to me! We have a very good friend who has been a fulltimer for close to 20-years. She has been in every continental state and Canada and has written about her travels in several of her books, including several how-to books. We were breaking camp at one of the Life on Wheels conferences in Moscow, ID. and all got to talking to the point that she forgot to unplug her power cord from the mobile power boxes we use at the campus. As I remember it there were about ten of us “RV Experts” laughing, rolling on the ground howling and yelling for her to stop all at the same time while the portable powerbox bounced along behind her Sprinter!!
Another fellow I met uses clothes pins on his steering wheel. They are labeled with, water hose, power cord, chock blocks and so on. When he completes a task he removes the pin and when the steering wheel is empty the checklist is done and down the road he goes. Someone saw what he was dong and though it was such a good idea that they sent it into ten-minute tech column. Overkill? Perhaps, but it works for him and that’s the point. We operate large machines that are complex with many different systems that must operate correctly for our and others safety and comfort. Pilots don’t even think about flying without a checklist, so why would we, after all, it only takes one mistake to – –
The Old Ranger
Lets see I started out with campers and finally went to a 17′ Bigfoot Fiberglass trailer total weight lite 900KG. I towed this trailer with a 1963 Studebaker 3/4 ton 289V8 rebuilt to 0.30 over which made it a 304. Oh yes I forgot I installed a 700R4 Chevy truck tranny and off to Omaha we went for our International meet for Studebakers that year. We did the Black Hills, crazy horse monument etc. and what a climb that was. I should of left the trailer at the bottom and got a motel that night but not knowing the terrain made me haul it up and down that hill. It was a real experience including all the hills between the US border of I-5 to this point. Were now on I-90 and traveling East, also came home the same way. We hit wind shear along the way and at times only made 150 miles when the wind would cause us to lay way over. We averaged 10.5 miles to the Canadian Gallon pulling this trailer. We finally arrived at our destination and as long as we did not pull the trailer the truck did not over heat. Remember this is a new tranny and engine is rebuilt. Pretty lousy mileage in my books. We also had a few major scares with deer and bad drivers and stopping was an issue but we lived through it all. Thankfully the newly rebuilt trailer brakes worked well. People tried to talk me out of the anti-sway bar and once I learned how to use it the right way it was a godsend when large trucks went by or we got into high winds. We managed to travel about 55 to 60 miles an hour and found that was the safest speed we could travel at.
To cut a long story short I have my Bigfoot up for sale because I did not like what I got per mile and buying gas in the states proved to be hell as they like to sell 85% Octane then the next highest was the number 1 gas that cost a fortune, this old truck did not run well on 85%octane.
So now I have a high Fibermold Fiberglass canopy which we sleep inside with lights but no AC and it was a challenge also but I managed to get on average 15 miles to the Canadian gallon. (for your info I’m 63 and the wife is 53 and I myself do not like sleeping on the ground). This time we travelled to S. Bend Indianna, Elkhardt, Cody, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole (thankfully we did not have the trailer on as getting out of this hole would of been the death of us and truck because it is straight up and even straighter down) as with manual brakes I do not want to think about it. Form Jackson Hole we headed home with a stop at the Cascade Locks and a cple of other short side trips. I sure would like to know how in the heck these old trucks managed to trave across Canada or the US pulling trailers 50 years ago and they lived to talk about their experiences.
This year were only going as far as Oregon CIty and SPokane WA for Studebaker related items in the Wife’s newly rebuilt 1960 Hawk, this car has luxeries that the truck didn’t have such as PS, but the same motor as the truck and an original automatic. Well be staying in lucery hotels. Later in the year I’m working on a trip into Barkerville and few other northern places I have not seen in my own province.
My reason for submitting this article is trying to travel with a trailer that I think is to big for what I had to use to haul it. I would like to buy or trade my trailer for a 12′ to 15′ fiberglass trailer which I think will knock a few pounds off the trailer weight.
Have a nice day
Mike – I’ve made up my mind – after weighing all of the +’s and -‘s, it’ll be a fifth wheel toy hauler for my first RV. I’m a city-dwelling aging baby boomer who has never owned, much less driven a truck and after looking at all of the Ford, GM and Dodge truck paraphernalia, I still don’t have a clue.
My lady friend and I like the Jayco ReconZX with the following details:
Unloaded vehicle weight (lbs.) 13,555
Dry hitch weight (lbs.) 3,500
Gross vehicle weight rating (lbs.) 18,000
Cargo carrying capacity (lbs.) 4,445
So who do you trust when it comes to buying a tow vehicle and shouldn’t I be able to get a reasonable deal on a used truck – quite possibly with a fifth wheel hitch already installed?
Any information will be greatly appreciated – – -regards – – – Randy lifshotz