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Old 01-15-2019, 10:18 PM   #1
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Easy to remove swing arms from Aluminess bumper?

At some point, we'd love to take our Sportsmobile to Alaska and possible head up to Nome. Because of the remoteness of the region, it would be prudent to carry a second spare tire and some extra fuel. To this end, we are strongly considering outfitting out Sportsmobile with the Aluminess bumper with swing arms containing their spare tire carrier and fuel box.

However, we use our van as a daily driver when not taking it on road trips and love the fact that our 144" wheelbase Sprinter can be parked nearly anywhere. How easy is it to remove the swing arms, spare tire carrier, and fuel box when we are in between excursions? It would be nice to dispense with the extra hardware in between trips if it isn't too much of a hassle.

My other consideration is that our condo HOA prohibits motorized RVs of greater than 20 feet in length. Currently, our short Sprinter meets this requirement, but it would technically exceed the 20-foot length by a bit with the fuel box installed. Just another reason to be able to remove it if we are not on an excursion.
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Old 01-16-2019, 10:47 AM   #2
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They bolt on with shoulder bolts and nuts. Should be a piece of cake and the arms aren't heavy. You might need to remove the box and spare tire first though, makes taking off and putting back on much easier.
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Old 01-16-2019, 12:00 PM   #3
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If it were me I'd just get a rear carrier basket that slides into a receiver hitch and carry your extra items on that. A lot cheaper than adding an Aluminess carrier, and easily removed when you don't need it. You see a lot of people doing that in Alaska when they need the extra capacity for more remote roads. The only downside is if you use the hitch already for a bike rack or something.

Also, get a tire plug kit and learn how to use it. A great backup in case you run out of spare tires on a remote road. That said, I've driven quite a lot of gravel miles in Alaska and the Yukon, including some of the Dalton, the Denali Highway, Top of the World Hwy, McCarthy Road, etc. (most multiple times) and have never gotten a flat.



Invest in a good, new set of tires with strong sidewalls (E-rated and/or LTX types), drive sensibly (don't go bombing down gravel roads at high speeds), etc., and you'll be fine. That said, it isn't uncommon to get flats on the Dalton and especially the Dempster in Canada up to Inuvik. Most recently we drove about 4,500 miles last summer from Seattle up through and around the Yukon and Alaska (one way to Anchorage) in a new F350 4x4 with a truck camper on the back. Easily as heavy as a Sportsmobile, probably heavier (it was a rental). No issues at all with the tires, and we drove a lot of gravel miles on that trip.


I also wouldn't really worry too much about extra gas cans. My rule traveling in the remote north is to never get below 1/2 tank of gas and to fill up basically whenever I see a gas station that's open whether I "need" it or not. With some exceptions, fuel doesn't vary that widely in price in the remote areas, and even so, I'm happy to potentially pay a bit more per gallon for the peace of mind of having a full tank. Even in the gas-hungry V10 Ford we had this summer (8 mpg!), we never came close to running out of fuel.
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Old 01-16-2019, 12:14 PM   #4
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They bolt on with shoulder bolts and nuts. Should be a piece of cake and the arms aren't heavy. You might need to remove the box and spare tire first though, makes taking off and putting back on much easier.
Thanks for the information. I read the installation directions on the Aluminess website and it seemed like the swing arms should be easy to remove, but it's nice to have confirmation.

I considered that I'd likely have to remove the spare tire first because of its bulky weight and possibly the fuel box for the same reason, but the fuel box doesn't look as though it would weigh much so maybe I could handle that arm with the fuel box still attached.
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Old 01-16-2019, 12:56 PM   #5
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If it were me I'd just get a rear carrier basket that slides into a receiver hitch and carry your extra items on that. A lot cheaper than adding an Aluminess carrier, and easily removed when you don't need it. You see a lot of people doing that in Alaska when they need the extra capacity for more remote roads. The only downside is if you use the hitch already for a bike rack or something.
I've considered that as I've used one with my Subaru Forester, but I also have a nice bike carrier that installs in the hitch receiver. Not sure if we'd honestly bring our bikes all the way to Alaska or not, so the receiver carrier basket might be a good solution.

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Also, get a tire plug kit and learn how to use it. A great backup in case you run out of spare tires on a remote road. That said, I've driven quite a lot of gravel miles in Alaska and the Yukon, including some of the Dalton, the Denali Highway, Top of the World Hwy, McCarthy Road, etc. (most multiple times) and have never gotten a flat.
That's a good suggestion. I've always carried a tire plug kit and valve stem removal tool in my Forester and I've actually had occasion to use them more than once. I should get a second tire plug kit to carry in my van.

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Invest in a good, new set of tires with strong sidewalls (E-rated and/or LTX types), drive sensibly (don't go bombing down gravel roads at high speeds), etc., and you'll be fine. That said, it isn't uncommon to get flats on the Dalton and especially the Dempster in Canada up to Inuvik. Most recently we drove about 4,500 miles last summer from Seattle up through and around the Yukon and Alaska (one way to Anchorage) in a new F350 4x4 with a truck camper on the back. Easily as heavy as a Sportsmobile, probably heavier (it was a rental). No issues at all with the tires, and we drove a lot of gravel miles on that trip.
My van currently has the standard Continental VancoFourSeason (245/75 R16) tires on the standard Sprinter wheels. I'm looking to purchase a new set of BF Goodrich ALL-TERRAIN T/A KO2 tires and a second set of wheels to mount them on. I know plenty of people upsize to the 17" size, but I'm thinking of staying with the standard 16" size so that I don't have trouble fitting the spare into the under-van carrier without modifying it.

I live in the North East and do a fair bit of Winter hiking, so I may get a set of Blizzaks to mount on the original Sprinter wheels for dedicated Winter use. I'll probably see if I can off-load the Continental VancoFourSeason tires on Craigslist.

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I also wouldn't really worry too much about extra gas cans. My rule traveling in the remote north is to never get below 1/2 tank of gas and to fill up basically whenever I see a gas station that's open whether I "need" it or not. With some exceptions, fuel doesn't vary that widely in price in the remote areas, and even so, I'm happy to potentially pay a bit more per gallon for the peace of mind of having a full tank. Even in the gas-hungry V10 Ford we had this summer (8 mpg!), we never came close to running out of fuel.
That's good to know that fuel is widely available, even in the remote areas, but I just know I'd feel more comfortable having a bit of extra on hand. Like you, I try to fill up long before I need to, especially now with the van since I have to keep the diesel tank above 1/4 full for the D5 system to work.

Thanks for the feedback and information. I'm happy to know that I could dispense with the need for carrying a second spare and extra fuel and still be ok.
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Old 01-16-2019, 02:40 PM   #6
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You probably already know about The Milepost road guide, but if not, put it on your list to pick up a copy of it. Touted as "the bible of northern travel," it delivers on its promise, detailing just about everything along the various roads in the far north. Even the tiny gravel roads! They update it every year.


Photo below: Top of the World Highway outside of Dawson City, Yukon, heading toward Alaska. In pretty good condition since it was just graded (late June). Gravel roads can range from really nice (just graded, better than much of the chip-seal roads) to really bad (late spring/early summer before first grading of the season).
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Old 01-16-2019, 10:00 PM   #7
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We have a 144" Sprinter and an Aluminess rear bumper with 2 deluxe boxes and a Rotopax diesel fuel can hidden and locked behind one of the boxes (along with bikes racks on the top of the boxes). It really doesn't add any significant practical length to the van. It certainly doesn't deter us from parking in any single parking spot although it may take us a tad over 20 ft.

The biggest advantage, of course, is having the extra storage space with the boxes which is invaluable. The boxes are worth every penny to me and I could easily use them to carry some extra fuel if I was headed into a remote location. We have a spare tire under the van but if I didn't, I would have one on the back especially if I was headed up the Alaskan Highway (that is a no-brainer).

I have never taken the rack off and I bet you won't either especially if you had one of the storage boxes. Hopefully you don't have a neighbor that is a jerk and has a tape measure.
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Old 01-17-2019, 08:13 PM   #8
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We have a 144" Sprinter and an Aluminess rear bumper with 2 deluxe boxes and a Rotopax diesel fuel can hidden and locked behind one of the boxes (along with bikes racks on the top of the boxes). It really doesn't add any significant practical length to the van. It certainly doesn't deter us from parking in any single parking spot although it may take us a tad over 20 ft.

The biggest advantage, of course, is having the extra storage space with the boxes which is invaluable. The boxes are worth every penny to me and I could easily use them to carry some extra fuel if I was headed into a remote location. We have a spare tire under the van but if I didn't, I would have one on the back especially if I was headed up the Alaskan Highway (that is a no-brainer).

I have never taken the rack off and I bet you won't either especially if you had one of the storage boxes. Hopefully you don't have a neighbor that is a jerk and has a tape measure.
Thanks for the extra data point on your own experiences. The boxes do look very useful, though I'm concerned I'd be tempted to load them up with lots of stuff I didn't really need and quickly exceed my GVWR. After loading up the van with myself, my wife, and a full load of water I only have about 750 lbs to work with before hitting the GVWR. That should be sufficient unless I start going wild by adding on lots of extra storage.

I also thought it would be nice to be able to keep my van light and lean unless I'm heading to more remote areas where the extra gear might be required.

Normally, I wouldn't be too worried about being a few inches over the 20-foot limit imposed by the condo association, but I'm actually the current president so I have to remain squeaky clean in regard to following the association's bylaws.
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Old 01-24-2019, 12:03 PM   #9
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Sounds like an ambitious trip. Last I checked, Nome is +/-450 miles (as the raven flys) off the existing road system. So, plan accordingly...
Brian W’s suggestion to obtain a current copy of ‘The Milepost’ in advance of travel is prudent. - https://www.themilepost.com
An excursion to Prudhoe Bay (+/- 500 ROAD miles north of Fairbanks) via the Dalton Hwy may be an ambitious alternate. - The Dalton, aka ‘The Haul Road’, was pioneered in the late ‘60’s and is the only overland link for goods traveling to/from our North Slope oil fields...
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Old 01-24-2019, 01:03 PM   #10
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We crossed the border in early May, drove the entire loop up to Kenai and got back to Washington in late September. It rained or drizzled 5 out of 7 days. The Top of the World Road gives you a spectacular view north through some of the last true wilderness in the world. Drove to Kenai because we wanted to visit relatives there. If you get to Kenai during a salmon run the place is a zoo though it is interesting to see the dip netting by the locals. On one of the only sunny days in the previous month we took a boat ride out of Seward. It was a good tour in a boat that had two 250HP outboards.

If you have a few extra days consider driving to the Copper River and the copper mine. Good scenery and hiking. In August and September you can pick blueberries and mushrooms along the side of the road. Our return through Tok and along the East slope of the coast range was the most spectacular part of the trip. When we go back we will spend the summer in the he region west of Hanes Junction. Fishing is exceptional on both rivers and lakes.

Fishing licenses for the season in both DC and the Yukon are under $50 for non residents. Most places do not allow the use of live bait but the fish make for a great dinner.

Keep in mind that the Canadians salt their dirt roads so if you venture off the black top you will need to wash the undercarriage. The legends about flat tires are true but they were caused by the shale/slate they used to "pave" the dirt roads decades ago. The stones can get stuck in the tread and work their way through the rubber and belts. It looks like they covered the rock bed with sand/DG on the unpaved roads. We did not have any tire problems. Drive slowly. I averaged about 40mph for the entire trip. Lots of places to boondock and they have dump stations along the route. It looks like they shut down camping at the Walmart in Whitehorse. Probably too many campers staying for weeks at a time.

There are many places where the subsidence can leave a large (1-2 yards) hole in the road that is difficult to see. Friends broke both axles on their trailer before getting to Chicken. It was an expensive fix.

We tow a 29' 1976 Airstream and did not have any problems other than the salt eating into the aluminum skin of our trailer and bonded before I washed it off. We had to repolish the trailer when we got back. Whitehorse has some of the best micro breweries in north America.
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