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Old 07-02-2013, 09:20 PM   #31
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Re: Full-time planning

When I noticed that Roadtrek uses only 3500 Sprinters for the RS-Adventurous and sells more Sprinter RVs than anyone else, I figured I had to consider that option very carefully.

The high-roof Sprinters have a steering problem with cross-wind gusts and the dually and related suspension options help a lot with that.

For full-timing I would highly recommend a large fresh water tank and marine toilet with large holding tank. These add weight.

With the 3500 and MBz hitch you can tow 7000 lbs. Will you ever need that capability?

For full-timing you will want to carry other heavy things. We have a 2-person inflatable kayak (70 lbs), tool box (30 lbs), beverages (including drinking water since we don't drink from the fresh water tank) (100 lbs), gas grill (30 lbs), 40 gal water tank (320 lbs). Our loaded weight is over 10,000 lbs and we have a reserve of 1000 lbs for extra passengers and gear and towing. We will probably want to carry extra fuel on our trip to Alaska.

Check my web site below for more information on our rig.

David
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Old 07-03-2013, 09:31 AM   #32
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Re: Full-time planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by 100sqft
Chance- Thanks for the additional information on the super-singles. Interesting that the wheelwell depth is different. I had thought I might just be able to order them from an overseas supplier and install them on a single-tire Sprinter, but now that seems unlikely. I also wonder if this is just a marketing choice by MB, or if there are US regulatory restrictions.

....cut......
100sqft,

All advertising for the super-single models I’ve seen from Europe and Australia focus on their ability to haul pallets of products. It appears the dual wheel models with only 38.5 inches between wheel wells don’t allow for as many pallets to fit, and the lighter 2500 model doesn’t have the load carrying capacity for many of these users. Hence the need for a Super Single model in those markets. Here in the US where roads are typically wider and travel distances often much longer, pallets of products are shipped on much larger trucks. I doubt too many companies in the US would ever ship pallets in a Sprinter van.

That doesn’t mean to me that the Super Single model couldn’t be used effectively for RVs or other uses. It’s just that the number of Sprinters sold for RV conversions is very small. It’s only about 10 percent or so according to one MB source. And of those, how many would end up with Super Singles? Not many and probably why it’s hard to justify the model in the US.
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Old 07-03-2013, 09:43 AM   #33
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Re: Full-time planning

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Originally Posted by 100sqft
I'm just about exactly a year from my actual retirement date, so I've got lots of time to plan. The idea of going full-time is appealing to me, having a million-dollar ocean view one day and a million-dollar mountain view the next, visiting friends and family across the country along the way. Though a larger class C isn't completely out of the question, I think I'd get along well in a Sprinter EB. The 20 mpg is a big attraction. I'm a widower (much earlier in life than I had any reason to expect) and I just rattle around in my four-bedroom house. I probably spend 90% of my time at home in less than 100 sq.ft. of the available space, which is just about equal to the living space in a Sprinter EB and also the source of my username.
TO YOUR POINT OF A CLASS C OPTION: MY 2 CENTS

In your first post you mentioned Class Cs as a possible option, and that reminded me of my first RV purchased about 15 years ago which was a small Coachmen Class C. Its total length was about 23 feet, was fairly light by RV standards, and with a Ford V-10 had plenty of power (even when towing a loaded large U-Haul) but I was lucky to get around 8 MGP on the highway; typically cruising at 70 MPH. Also, I just got back a few weeks ago from a long 5,100-mile RV trip in a rented 30-ft Class C (also with a Ford V10) and only averaged 8.6 MPG. And that required driving very conservatively and keeping speed between 60 and 65 MPH.

One thing we discovered over time is that my wife and I are more “travelers” than “campers”, and that ends up with lots of miles driven. And hence high fuel costs per trip. For that reason I started looking at Mercedes vans I had seen in Europe even before the Sprinter was imported to US as a Freightliner. My hope back then was that I could get a Mercedes Vario diesel van and have it converted into a camper. It just wasn’t practical.

After getting home from the recent trip out West, driving my extended Ford van (about 20-ft. long) confirmed that the difference between a “van” and “Class C” can be night and day. By comparison the van drives like a sports car, but the Class C was so much roomier. The Mega-Storage compartment in back alone could easily hold a few bikes including a tandem. And with lots more room for other stuff we don’t take when traveling with our van. On the down side when I drove into the parking lot of a grocery store I had to plan the route to make sure I could make all the turns and be able to get out without getting stuck. This rented 30-footer had an extremely long turning radius which made it much harder to maneuver in tight quarters even compared to my 23-footer of years past. Even on the highway it took much more effort to drive than my Ford van because winds blew it around with ease. Driving that 30-footer was just a pain. Low fuel economy, noise, wind, size, you name it.

My wife, who just retired, now wants to upgrade to a Class A (any size as long as it can seat and sleep up to 6 for short periods) which would get about 7 to 8 MPG on gas (up to 14 MPG if small diesel) and I want to upgrade to a much bigger Class B (Mercedes, ProMaster or possible Ford Transit) set up for comfortable travel for the two of us and then plan to rent (or even own) a small trailer for the few occasions that we’d want to camp with family. A diesel van should be good for over 20 MPG if driven conservatively.

The only middle ground we’ve discussed, which may work for you too, is a 24-foot compact Class C based on Mercedes Sprinter platform. Owners I’ve talked to at campgrounds and also reports on WEB put fuel economy in the range of 14 to 17 MPG. With the extra width and typical slide they have much more room. Load capacity though is still limited to the Sprinter 3500 dual-rear-wheel chassis (about 11,000 pounds). And that could be an issue if you plan to take much with you. Also, outside storage on these compact Class Cs is limited compared to larger Class C and Class A motorhomes. Conversely they have much more than typical van campers. My biggest personal problem with these is that there is zero chance I can park one at home, but if full-timing then that shouldn’t be a problem; unless you plan to park at family homes for extended periods where their home owner’s association could make you move it.

Our needs are different in that we don't plan to be full-timers, but maybe some of the differences mentioned above may help you decide.
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Old 07-03-2013, 02:55 PM   #34
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Re: Full-time planning

100sqft

you're thread is getting more interesting by the page.
you got some decent input from llamadave and Chance, both speaking from experience.

forgot to mention before in my first post, congrats on your pending retirement.
I'm sure it's well deserved and it's great you're planning ahead.
Also wanted to extend my condolences on your spouse's earlier passing. Sad news.

Now time for some rambling thoughts.
the issue of weight rarely comes up in the design phase, at least I don't recall reading about it.
I remember one poster from Texas who had side to side balance problems on his build and had to get some rework done. Also have heard of posters getting their completed rigs weighed, but that's after the fact. The SMBW Sprinters I saw at the factory and at an RV show were pretty chock full of cabinets and amenities and all were on 2500 chassis, either RB, EB and one LB.
I never thought about excessive weight being an issue but your bringing this notion to the forum is very thought provoking. Most of the time you plan to add as much storage as possible cram in.

It's ironic that Chance talks about Class C rigs because after reading your last post that's the first thing that came to my mind, that this van isn't going to cut it for what you want to do. Re-reading your posts leaves me confused as to what will work for you because you have a real mixed bag of requirements. You want the smallness of the EB Sprinter but lots of storage and amenities and room to travel with family on occasion, which would require a bigger rig.

Not sure how much time you've spent traveling in an RV, but being a perennial nomad seems like a pretty big leap for the less than seasoned and experienced camper. Have you considered buying a low cost used Class B or C, close up the house and hit the road for a few months to see how you like this new lifestyle? This would help you figure out what works in the RV for what you want to do and help you develop a plan for your permanent rig, if that's the path you want to continue with. You will be seeing lots of other RVs on the road as well and checking them out and gaining more insight. Just some thoughts.

Cheers and Happy 4th to all!
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Old 07-03-2013, 06:14 PM   #35
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Re: Full-time planning

Sounds like you're doing a great job in thinking this through and planning your rig. I saw that you visited SMBw, but you might want to consider a trip to SMB Austin as well. Last I knew, Austin does a lot more Sprinters than Fresno, so there may be more to absorb before you plunk down a large chunk of change, regardless of where you have it built.


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Old 07-03-2013, 07:01 PM   #36
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Re: Full-time planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by 100sqft
Jage- Corelight is what SMB is calling their current version of cabinet plywood. You can see the term on the "Sprinter Options Price Sheet - 2013" on their website. From my observation at the factory, it's a sandwich of fiberboard on the outside and plywood on the inside, 1/2" thick in all. It's the stuff that weighs 1.7 lbs/sqft that I've mentioned in previous posts.
Whoa, that stuff is for cabinets. Why would you do the floor and walls in it? And ceiling? The ceiling is 90% trim. You want 1/4" white board for walls, or 1/4" board of some type. Among other things it bends to the contour of the wall ribs. For the floor, 3/4" is way too thick.

I think that their may be a communication problem- not sure if it's me misunderstanding what you said, or you misunderstanding what SMB said, but that stuff should only be used in the cabinets, and then only in the sides and fronts.
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Old 07-03-2013, 07:18 PM   #37
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Re: Full-time planning

Wow, such great, thoughtful replies.

llamadave- Your observations on the dually and handling is very valuable. I'm planning on a 20-gallon fresh water tank; for one person, that seems like enough. If I need more, I'll load in 5-gallon bottles. I've been back and forth on the marine toilet vs porta-potti thing several times, and probably have a few more oscillations to go. I know that's a whole discussion thread on its own. I've tried to account for all food, clothing, and other "load" items, and it comes out to 450 lbs. I know I'm forgetting something(s), but I wouldn't expect anything big. For most recreational items, I'll just go the tourist route and rent at the site of use. The one exception is possibly carrying a small motorcycle for excursions or in case of breakdown. As for checking out your website, believe me, I had thoroughly scoured it before I ever began to plan or post. I intend to adopt a number of your great ideas. I particularly like your hot water/plumbing setup. Thanks! That's the way it's supposed to work, right? The engineers following along behind the physicists, using what they've discovered.

Chance- Thanks for your insights on Class C vs Class B. On my way up to SMB-W I stopped by a Class C manufacturer, LazyDaze. I think they make a very solid, well-constructed rig. Even there, though, with their smallest 24', no-slide-out design, I found myself thinking, this is really more room than I'll ever need. With one exception: the cab of their Ford chassis struck me as incredibly cramped. I couldn't get from the driver's seat to the interior without some dangerous contortions. I can't see myself getting out of the driver's door in the pouring rain and running around to the entry door on the other side. The Sprinter cab is spacious by comparison. On a blog by a guy who has a LazyDaze, he makes a good case that even 8 mpg ends up not making much of an impact on the budget. However he's a camper, rather than a traveler. I'll probably be more of a traveler myself, at least in the early days. (BTW, anyone that hasn't seen the "Travels with Andy" website ought to check it out. http://www.andybaird.com/travels/ Chock full of great tips and advice, useful to any RV'er.) If I do end up slipping over to a Class C (unlikely), it'll probably be a Sprinter-based chassis. I find myself wishing SMB would branch out into sleek fiberglass shells on a Sprinter chassis.

Windguy- I was surprised when Jonathan at SMB-W made such a firm case for going with a 3500, I was quite nonchalant about the weight issue until then. But whichever way I finally decide, I'm glad it's been raised to my attention; it's a serious issue and worthy of careful consideration. The idea of buying or renting a "starter" RV is very sound. But I think I know myself pretty well. Neither the confinement nor the maintenance associated with an RV intimidate me, I fully expect to enjoy both. This transition is not just about being mobile, but also about simplifying my life, having just a few good possessions rather than accumulating a lot of cruft. It's a poor analogy, but I've always bought my cars new and held onto them for 10+ years without regret (though one disappointed me on reliability.) This coming year of planning and tying up loose ends at work will, I know, feel like I've put my life - my real life - on hold. I think having a "starter" RV would be an extension of that; any experience gained would be tainted by the feeling that I could be having it in something better, more suited to my needs. I'm not dismissing the "starter" idea, but it's not where my heart is.

Two more items before I wrap up this post. The first is my "barebones" plan that shaved about 400 lbs off of my original 2500EB plan. I've got to say, it's everything I need, but not everything I want:


Lastly, Jonathan replied to my email inquiring about the "shell" they install (ceiling, floor, and walls). They use 1/8" paneling on ceiling and walls, 1/2" on the floor. By my calculations, that shaves about 275 lbs off my initial weight estimate. A 2500 chassis is coming back within the realm of possibilities, but there's more planning to do.
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Old 07-04-2013, 01:30 AM   #38
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Re: Full-time planning

100sqft,

your revised floorplan for the EB looks great.
did you eliminate the 2nd sink?

understand about your wanting to start out with your permanent home on wheels.
I can feel the excitement building as you get further into this.
have you picked out a van color yet?

Funny you mentioned "I find myself wishing SMB would branch out into sleek fiberglass shells on a Sprinter chassis." I had similar thoughts. SMB could offer a box on a chassis and let you customize the build offering an option with a bit more space than a standard van box. That would be a new market for them but with more complexity.

keep up the good work and keep us posted!
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Old 07-04-2013, 05:59 AM   #39
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Re: Full-time planning

I may be late to offer any valuable input, but on the motorcycle, have you considered the Zero electric dual sport?
Also you can access rear doors using the Ultimate MX Hauler which allows bike to drop out of the way. (just added one myself)
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Old 07-04-2013, 11:54 AM   #40
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Re: Full-time planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl
I may be late to offer any valuable input, but on the motorcycle, have you considered the Zero electric dual sport?
Also you can access rear doors using the Ultimate MX Hauler which allows bike to drop out of the way. (just added one myself)
Very interesting, I hadn't seen those before.

Not sure if they're well suited to a class B RV though. The DS is right around 400lbs (though the MX is only 300lbs), and I think charging it back up might be a challenge unless you're connected to shore power.


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