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Under The Awning Here is where you can carry on a conversation, just like............well, like you were sitting under your awning at the campsite.

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  #1  
Old 12-10-2013
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Esmi Esmi is offline
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Default Not a Wanderlodge, but ... ...

In the past 10 years, I have bought and sold probably eight RVs, in my quest to find what works for me and Mrs. Esmi.

The coolest one, by a large margin, was the 1987 Wanderlodge FC-35 that came to me perfectly preserved from the Britton Blue Bird museum.

Dumbly, I sold that one several RVs ago. Now, my coolest RV ever is ...

...


1998 E-350 Adventurewagen with Quigley 4X4 conversion

This one came to me with ±70K miles on it, from a single owner, who ordered it new from AdventureWagen, and kept every reciept from the original window sticker forward.

An odd genius name Ed Anderson built custom campers into VW vans in the 70s and 80s under the name AdventureWagen. His conversions were appreciated for their yacht-like craftsmanship, warmth and durability.






This, obviously, is not in the same league as a Wanderlodge, but it is so thoughtlful and well-built, that I am sure y'all can appreciate it.

It is my sincere hope that this one is the "The Keeper."

(Sorry the pix are enormo)
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  #2  
Old 12-10-2013
bubblerboy64 bubblerboy64 is offline
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RV's are like hammers. All types of different sizes and shapes based upon the application. Looks like a very nice Class B and it certainly would have advantages of maneuverability, mpg and relative simplicity over the wanderlodges.

I've had 5th wheels and tow behinds. I could do the tow behinds again if I needed to.

I like the Bird for the following. Total environmental control. No matter how hot or cold I'm able to be comfortable. Plus I just like the thing. I guess that comes under pride of ownership. Every time I travel in the BB I just continually think how fortunate I am to be able to own and drive it. The BB has added an entirely new dimension to my life.

Most important of all is the friendships. No matter what RV you have or don't have hang out with us. We don't care about the RV so much as the we do about the PEOPLE.
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  #3  
Old 12-10-2013
kb0zke kb0zke is offline
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WOW! Yes, that is a neat vehicle. I wonder how it would work as a toad. We just traded our Mountaineer and Town Car for a Jeep Liberty, and we've talked about a van conversion as a toad. Looks like you have both 4WD and the conversion in one vehicle.
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  #4  
Old 12-10-2013
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Looks like the fuel stop/camp ground "facilities" are in your future.
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  #5  
Old 12-10-2013
FredNewell FredNewell is offline
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We have a Toyota Dolphin, 1984, 4 cyl 22R, 4 speed stick. We have taken it on 5000 mile trips @ 15 mpg, and use it for local day trips. We are considering keeping it even though we have the BB.

For Toyota MHs, there is also a support network online. Very similar in feel. Just as much fun.

You could tow a Toyota MH behind a BB.

We also have an Automate FW which we will be selling this winter/spring, just because I don't want to own a truck. We were shopping for a 7.3 F350 with low miles. They cost about as much as a BB.

We considered a Newell, but that would be just too weird.
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  #6  
Old 12-10-2013
cemjam cemjam is offline
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Fred your last sentence made my day!!
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  #7  
Old 12-10-2013
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peteaeonix peteaeonix is offline
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Life after a Wanderlodge.

I came to a Wanderlodge with only some brief experiences with RVs. Indeed, prior to owning my 'bird, I'd only rented an RV for a week or so ... back in 1968. (We camped in Yosemite and at the California Coast.) I'd looked at a few RVs over the years, but they were financially out of reach. (I really liked the GM motor home from the 1970s, with its low profile and front wheel drive. But at $50,000 (new) it was totally out of reach for me at that time as we'd just purchased a new, two story, 4 bedroom home for $48,000...)

We purchased our 'bird in May 2006 with the idea to live in it full time. We were prepping our home for sale and getting rid of as much "stuff" as possible to make it practical to live onboard. Unfortunately, with perfect bad timing, we put the house on the market in June ... just about the time the house prices "broke" and started falling. Suddenly, it became impossible to sell as potential buyers were all waiting for a bottom in the housing market to appear. (The bottom, in our home area finally arrived in 2012!)

Having a home (with mortgage payments) and a 'bird put our finances in a significant bind and then with the stock market declines in 2008-09 our income and assets were significantly degraded. All of this required us to make significant "recalibration" of our desires and needs. We sold our Wanderlodge in September 2009.

The 40 months of ownership were some of the greatest times in our life -- we traveled over 36000 miles through parts of 29 states. We visited parks and scenic regions and had memorable experiences. We also were able to survey many areas where we potentially might move for retirement. (And then wrote off everything east of the Rockies due to long periods of high humidity weather...)

By May of 2011, our financial fortunes had improved .... and we purchased a class B RV -- a Roadtrek Adventurous RS -- that offered many of the advantages of an RV as well as the advantages of being built on a usable size chassis... the van is practical to use for errands ... and I've transported a number "big things" home from stores that would not have been possible with the Toyota Corolla that passes as our daily transportation. Indeed, it has allowed us to cut down to a single "car" ... as I can use the van if my wife has the car on any particular day... (This was not a practical option with the Blue Bird...)

We have now owned our Roadtrek for about 2-1/2 years ... and put about 10,000 miles on it...

Our "reconfiguration" of our travel profile included fewer long trips (though our first fall included a trip across souther Utah, southwest Colorado, NewMexico, and texas for about 6 weeks...) However, subsequently, we've tended to limit trips to a week or 10 days ... with a few weekend overnighters tossed in. Indeed, even when not camping, we've taken the van due to its greater comfort on the road (vs. the Corolla). About 2 weeks ago, we spent a weekend in Vancouver, BC... and stayed in a B&B (as the Roadtrek had already been winterized -- and it is not particularly comfortable in very cold weather.)

With the perspective of these past couple of years:

The Roadtrek (built on a Mercedes (formerly Dodge) Sprinter Chassis (also available from Freightliner)), is a very solid van. The 188 HP diesel V-6 gives it a decent amount of power (with plenty of torque) and it cruises easily at freeway speeds -- keeping up with traffic, even on hills. (The power to weight ratio of the Roadtrek is about 50% better than that of most Wanderlodges.)

Fuel economy is good, but the "up to 25 mpg" that's often quoted in advertising materials is somewhat optimistic. The 25 mpg is based on the Sprinter chassis by itself -- not with the 3500 lbs of 'build out' from Roadtrek -- and it probably applies to the smaller, low-roof model, as well... That said, my experience is that I get between 16 and 20+ mpg... averaging about 18 mpg overall... Not bad for a vehicle that weighs about 9,500 lbs when loaded for travel with the two of us on board. I think that "the problem" is that the ads offering "up to 25 mpg" raises owner expectations that are sure to cause disappointment. I've talked with other Sprinter based RV owners -- and my mpg is on the low side (but I tend to have a heavy foot on the throttle) -- but nobody seems to get close to the 25 mpg. Several owners did claim about 20 mpg as typical. (And I can see that this is not unreasonable -- as during times of low fuel, I've been able to hold an average of 20+ mpg for quite a few miles.)

The Sprinter chassis has about a 25 gallon fuel tank. The system is designed to have a "low fuel" warning come on when there are about 5 gallons remaining in the tank. (The gauge will read completely empty at that point.) The reality of this is that fill ups usually occur at the 15~20 gallon point. The psychology of seeing the fuel gauge as "empty" ends up keeping you from effectively using the full capacity of the tank. That said, I wish the fuel tank was just a bit bigger -- 35 gallons would be great. As it is, the typical fill-up comes at 350 to 400 miles (and essentially becomes a daily event). A larger fuel tank would allow every other day fill ups... But it is what it is. (The low fuel warning tends to come on only at the most inopportune moments: I-10, west Texas (80 MPH speed limit) about 70 miles outside El Paso (I bought 6 gallons at a way-overpriced station in the middle of nowhere); and in southern Utah near "capitol reef" in the "badlands" where there was no development whatsoever. Again a partial fill-up at extortionate prices proved necessary. (I'm now a bit more careful in planning fuel stops, so I can avoid the real rip-off prices.)

I found that the "Scan Gauge" that plugs into the OBDI connector to be quite helpful ... one serious shortcoming is that the Sprinter has a minimum of instruments and a maximum of "idiot lights." The Scan Gauge gives me access to the actual water temperature and other operating parameters (including instantaneous and average fuel useage). I wish it gave me oil temp, but that does not seem to be available (on a Sprinter -- Scan Gauge is not able to "parse" all the Mercedes codes -- and Mercedes (apparently) will not share the means to interpret them). It is quite educational to see how much variation in water temperature the Sprinter operates with. The cooling system seems to have a fair amount of pressure, so water temps of 230 are observed, from time to time, on steep climbs -- but the idiot light never shows a heating problem.... though such temperatures do cause me to be alarmed...

The quality of the Roadtrek 'build out' seems to be decent. The wood cabinets are covered with veneers ... with larger flat sections made of plywood, and MDF used for door-edges and some other parts of the cabinets. The cabinets are reasonably durable, though I did 'catch' an edge on the bathroom door where the veneer started to separate. A bit of "yellow glue" and over night clamping fixed that before it had advanced too far.

The galley has a granite counter and stainless steel (but tiny) sink. Dometic refrigerator and an off-brand microwave/convection oven that failed after two years. I replaced it with a Dometic-brand microwave (only) -- but the trim panel does not properly fit, so the installation isn't quite as nice looking as it could be. (We had never used the convection oven mode in the R/T, so didn't think it necessary for the replacement.) The OEM unit had terrible reviews online...

AC is provided by a 10,000 BTU dometic, low-profile (Penguin) unit. The low BTU rating reflects the size of the interior -- but also is designed to work with the 1200 watt LP gas generator. It proved inadequate in 100+ degree heat in the Sacramento valley.... but has been satisfactory in all other situations we've had.

Of necessity, the van is quite compact -- and the storage space is limited. The miracle is that the Roadtrek has a "full" bathroom. The whole space is the shower (and a tricky/clever door arrangement allows the bath space to be "bigger on the inside than on the outside" -- the doors are designed to latch 'in use' in a bulged-out position, but close flat when not being used. The shower curtain also "expands" slightly taking advantage of the bulge.

That said, the shower is, essentially, (IMHO) only useful for emergencies. Between the 6 gallon water heater and the cramped shower (along with soaking everything in the bathroom) does not make for a pleasant shower experience, but it is possible when alternatives are not practical. Normally, we use the shower room of the campground where we are staying -- and that has been acceptable with few exceptions.

The one disappointment is that the Roadtrek is not as winter-safe as I would have liked. The unit we purchased was on a dealer's lot -- and they'd had it for about 5 months -- so they made a very good deal to "move the unit"... However, had I not had this "deal" I might have ordered a few upgrades from the factory. (That might have caused a several month delay for delivery...)

Subsequent to our purchase, Roadtrek has introduced some "interesting" models, including an "all electric" version which discards the seperate LP gas generator for a higher capacity alternator on the engine -- which outputs sufficient power to handle the electrical needs while at idle. (Option for high-capacitiy Li-on batteries, too...) The are also options for a build out with more cabinets, etc.

The rear seat flattens to make a "king size" bed (adding in some 'bench seats' at the foot). It's OK... but was improved considerably by a 4" space foam mattress topper.

Since access to the bed is only from the foot, it proved awkward to get in and out of the bed. While we were able to put on a bottom sheet, a "normal" bed with sheets and blankets is not practical ... so sleeping bags are used. After struggling with the crawl-in bed, we modified the mattress toper to allow a "U" shaped installation. This allows the feet to drop into an aisle so one can get out of bed without a lot of crawling, etc. Of course the bed is right in the single room of the van -- so we added a curtain across the aisle to block light, for when one's spouse decides to stay up (or get up during the night).

All in all, I'm satisfied with the Roadtrek ... and it has done a good job. It's truly best for shorter trips (up to a couple of weeks) but can be used with longer trips (though one might wish to stop occasionally for an overnight in a motel/hotel on a longer trip). If a smaller RV is of interest, I believe the Roadtrek is worth looking into.
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  #8  
Old 12-10-2013
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Esmi Esmi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Hohnstein View Post
Looks like the fuel stop/camp ground "facilities" are in your future.
You are correct, sir!

The shortcoming that led to the sale of this rig was that Mrs. Prev Owner didn't much care to night hike to the campground restrooms. (She endured it for 15 years, thru all 56 continental national parks, etc., etc., etc.)

We'll see whether Mrs. Esmi can cope with it for that long!

(And, truth told, there's a portapotty that could be put into service.)
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  #9  
Old 12-10-2013
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Stick Miller Stick Miller is online now
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Dang, Smitty - what happened to the GMC?
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  #10  
Old 12-11-2013
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Esmi Esmi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stick Miller View Post
Dang, Smitty - what happened to the GMC?
Hi Stick,

I found that I couldn't take the GMC to the places I wanted to go. It was a great rig, and had a support group that rivals the Wanderlodge Brethren, but it was stymied by fire roads, trails, and the like.

It found a really good home -- there's a local outfit that collects unwanted RVs and donates them to homeless veterans. I still see it prowling around...
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