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William Tell

Living in a BOV??

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Hey gang! As the academic year nears its end I look to the future of my college career. I will be moving (with 12 months hopefully) to Utah, where I will continue my education at a college or university in the northern or north eastern part of the state. My girlfriend will be going to a vet tech school in the same town. We are looking to buy a travel trailer, and will probably just move onto an RV lot that does monthly rentals. That we we can still have water/sewer/electric hook ups.

 

I had been planning on, for as long as I started prepping, buying a camper to Bug out in. I have a few Ideas to increase my storage options, so thats not the biggest issue. My big issue is, since I WILL be living in this for at least a year, about how big do you guys think I should get. The GF and I agree probably at least 20 feet, and she likes the Idea of having a small, mobile home.

 

Currently it would be towed by a 2000 Ford ranger with a V6, But that will change soon. I am planning on getting a half ton truck So a Ford F-150 or Ram 1500. Something along those lines. Does anyone have a Half-ton truck that they use to pull a travel trailer? How big of a trailer would you guys reccomend to live in? And how big would a half ton be able to pull?

 

Thanks guys!

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Back when dad had his own transporting company he tried every american truck on the market and every single ford and dodge he owned broke down so much it put him out of business so cheverolet is going to be your best bet. Unless you wanna but a big ass kenworth ;)

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The actual vehicle will be rated for what it can tow, usually from 8,000 to 15,000 pounds, and fifth wheels (the kinds of RVs that are trailers meant to be pulled by trucks only) are usually 8,000-15,000 WITHOUT including the weight of your belongings... which you obviously need to account for. You may also be including add-ons with your RV, like extra propane tanks, batteries, etc., that a part-time RVer wouldn't use.

 

Length isn't the only thing you should be concerned with. A functional floorplan is going to be much more important; I've seen some tiny RVs that work like a charm and some bulky ones that feel cramped just because of how they are laid out. The bathroom is another key area- can you fully stand in the shower and move all around like you'd need to in order to wash your body and shampoo your hair? Will it annoy you if it's a "wet bathroom" where the toilet area is also where you stand for the shower? Do you have lots of storage for clothing, along with enough counter space so that you can handle homework, using a computer, etc. while living there? Another thing to look into: slide-outs, which expand the width of your living space. That extra couple of feet in a living or bedroom really makes a huge difference in livability.

 

I'd definitely urge you to check out fifth wheels instead of just travel trailers, because the fifth wheels usually have a separate "bedroom" that goes over the bed of the truck. Plus they tend to tow a little more smoothly. For everyday living, you will DEFINITELY want a designated bed that doesn't have to be made up and folded away just so you can eat at a table or sit on a couch or chair. And if you can find a bed that you can mostly walk around, you will be more comfortable with someone else sleeping in it with you, and it will be MUCH easier to make your bed than one that's wedged against a wall. Don't underestimate the value of good kitchen storage, snagging the largest fridge you can find, and make sure your kitchen sink is deep enough to actually allow you to do dishes (some are REALLY shallow and therefore kind of a pain to use). And remember: you can replace a lot of furniture in RVs these days with other couches, chairs, etc. It's worth it to ensure you are truly comfortable in your own living space.

 

You may also want to look into motorhomes. Class Cs have great overhead (and often under-body) storage, which will be useful for preps and especially handy if you are living with someone. If you intend on making your RV your BOV, then maybe having a fuel efficient commuter car would be a better option for now, something that you can tow if you need to behind the motorhome. Since you plan on mostly keeping the thing parked, you may not have much need for a truck at this point - especially one that guzzles gas the way many towing-enabled ones do! ;)

 

You should also check out this thread in the forum, asking what you should be concerned about if you choose to live full-time in an RV:

http://www.survivalcache.com/forums/showthread.php?2649-Essential-Gear-for-Extended-RV-Travel-Trailer-Trip&highlight=motorhome

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OC already hit on what I consider the main points...

 

I have an 18' R Pod, for long term I'd tell you to look at more in the 30' range...and definitely get one with at least one slide out. You will want a separate eating area with a table as well as a place where you can just sit and relax. That gives you a place to do your school work and gives each of you a little space while doing it. A walk around bed, you will learn to hate having to crawl over each other if someone needs to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night or goes to bed late.

 

Check on the size of the fresh water tank, the black and gray tanks, cubic foot size for the refrigerator, does the microwave also function as a convection oven. If you get a trailer that comes with the 20 lb propane tanks...a 30 lb tank has the same diameter so that's an easy upgrade if you choose to do that.

 

If you go the class C route, I'd still stress the slide out. You'd be surprised at how much of a difference that extra 1 to 3 feet of space makes.

 

Oh...and if your going to tow with the Ranger you may want to look at what they call the Ultra Light trailers, they are 3000 lbs or less...not what I'd consider long term unless forced.

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how about an old school bus mid size and a motorcycle rack on the front if you want you can put a hitch on the back and tow

a vehicle of any kind

 

trucks are great BUT they have limited space there is a light weight travel trailer but that takes a lot of money

even an Alaskan truck bed camper is not cheap.

if you have to bug out a truck is not a place you can hide in or defend from or is it easy to make defensible

 

yes it cost more for fuel BUT once at your camping / trailer space you can use the motorcycle or bicycle and or the towed

car to get around an all metal bus can be repaired with can metal riveted on with some caulk or tar I have seen wood stoves

in them the ground clearance allows for under storage boxes your imagination and resources are the only things

that keep a person from making one a gypsy caravan {caravan in Brittan is a fancy trailer}.

It is high so having people peeping in is not a problem also there are window films that make glass break resistant and

opaque to black

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Thanks for all the imput guys! OC, You were super helpful, as always!

 

So far now this is what I have for requirements now:

5th wheel (for the separate bedroom.) Or MAYBE a motor home. Which ever is more readily available to me.

About 25 feet, maybe more depending on weight.

And it must either have, or have room for, a fridge.

 

I really hope it will have a place for me to install a wood-burning stove.

 

Now for the "it would be nice to have, but is not necessary" stuff

Extra storage underneath the trailer

surround sound, or radio throughout the trailer

A CB radio

Extra EXTRA storage

a 2nd bedroom.

Don't really care about fresh/grey/black water tanks size, since I'll be on hook ups and near a dumping grounds.

 

I won't mind having to do a little TLC and work to get it full-time living worthy. But if it has mice or water damage or needs extensive repairs.... forget about it.

 

Sound good? Am I forgetting anything?

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At RV parts stores, you can actually buy portable waste tanks and portable water tanks (the first you can actually transport to an RV dump to empty, the second you can transport to your RV to refill it) and propane adapter kits - sometimes called extend-a-stay kits - that allow you to hook up additional propane tanks to your RV if/when your RV's propane is empty. These might make things a little more convenient for you, since it's amazing how quickly tanks can empty (or fill) with regular use.

 

Be sure to think about insulation and winterizing if you're going to live in a colder area (and I'm guessing that it gets cold in Utah in the winter). You want to make this as comfortable as possible! Some people think it's safe and okay to install a woodstove in an RV - as long as you are careful with venting and properly protect the floor, walls, and ceiling from the heat - but others think it's a serious danger. There are other heating options (like portable propane heaters) that may make more sense for your situation.

 

I only bring this up because it sounds like you want to add features that are outside the scope of a normal RV: If you have time and the skill necessary to create/renovate a space, you might want to consider buying an old bus. They are readily available and ripe for conversion, and will allow you to customize them to exactly suit your needs. Greyhound-style buses are limited in terms of where they can go (they absolutely need asphalt) but school buses have better ground clearance and can actually handle a bit more rough terrain. Of course, you'll need to think of and add in EVERYTHING (plumbing, electricity, insulation, furniture, etc.) as opposed to getting something that's partially ready for you. But the end results can be really spectacular and very, very livable:

 

http://inhabitat.com/clunky-old-school-bus-is-converted-into-a-sweet-earthy-home-with-a-wood-fired-stove/

 

http://www.schoolbusdriver.org/skoolies.html

 

http://skewly.com/

 

http://rv-roadtrips.thefuntimesguide.com/2010/03/rv_bus_motorhome.php

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William - First, good luck on your move and with your studies. Have you considered simply renting an existing travel trailer/mobile home for a year just to see how it goes. You may find after a year or two that things are not what you expected or some other such situation arises. Then you'd be out the cost of the trailer and the resale market may not be positive and you'll be stuck. I'm not sure if the trailer is in your long term plans or not so my argument may be OBE.

 

If you do decide to buy I'd go for quality first. Regardless, I hope all works out for you and your girl.

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OC - My plans were to take the inner panneling off and check the insulation as my first project on it. Especially since its older models that I have been looking at. That way I can put a ton of really good insulation and make sure there are no leaks/gaps/holes that need to be filled. And I will definitely keep heat sources in mind. I just always figured if it were a bug out situation, that the wood stove would provide heat so I dont go through the precious propane.

 

Jimbo - Thank you! I would rent one, but a camper is also on my list so that if I ever bug out, i have a decent shelter for me and my family, and we can take it to our BOL to use until more permanent digs can be established.

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WT,

OC hit the nail on the head with the fireplace comments. Modern trainers are safer because the older trailers were death traps!

Check out http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/2008/05/trailer-fire-tactics.html for the firefighters concerns and https://www.google.com/search?q=trailer+fires+photos&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=MQo&tbo=u&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=epHIUK7FKoOh2QWXx4G4Aw&ved=0CDMQsAQ&biw=1173&bih=728&sei=gpHIUNCACsXS2gW-mYG4BQ for some idea of what happens when it goes wrong! Not pretty at all. Most trailer fires where the occupants don't get out IMMEDIATELY result in fatalities. Being an old Huey driver (that thing was 60% magnesium for weight savings) I am very paranoid about fire traps.

With or without a wood burning stove, make sure you have solid fire plans. I would absolutely NOT be in a trailer where there was not a second exit from my bedroom. As I've said, the newer models were built to a stricter code but for most trailers, things like fire walls are a pipe dream. Even if you managed to get the fire out (curtain fire in the kitchen when you see it start for example) get the local Fire Department out to make SURE it is out and not building in the walls.

Like I said, I'm paranoid - I've lived in older trailers and was never fully comfortable with the fire hazard.

 

Just my not so humble (and more than slightly paranoid) opinion.

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Like I said, I'm paranoid - I've lived in older trailers and was never fully comfortable with the fire hazard.

 

Keep in mind that part of the hazard with any fire is smoke inhalation, and then think of all of the synthetic materials and chemicals used in most RV construction. Even if you quickly got out of your RV, you could get a lungful of toxins that is really devastating to your overall health. So yes, please, be extremely careful with any kind of additional heating solution you come up with for your RV.

 

Here are a few links with ideas about how to insulate/winterize RVs for year-round living that may help:

 

http://www.happyvagabonds.com/Rving%20Guide/RV-Camping-In-The-Winter.htm

 

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ageng/structu/ae1510.pdf

 

http://rv-roadtrips.thefuntimesguide.com/2008/10/full_time_winter_rv.php

 

http://www.cross-country-trips.com/tips/winter-camping

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Just to lrt you know-there isn't room for much insulation behind the panneling. The way to go is foam board ontop of it,or take it all off and put sheet insulation,then re instal the panneling-this is a lot of work,bot I'll talk you through it if you want to go that route.

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Taking the inner paneling off to check the insulation might be easier said than done. I tore apart an old camper a couple years ago to reuse the trailer frame. To get behind the paneling you have to pretty much destroy the camper. I suspect that most are built like that. Rezmut mentioned putting foam board over the existing paneling. That is exactly what I plan to do personally, and then add another layer of paneling on that. It will add ~3/4" of depth to every wall, ceiling, and floor to an already small space, but should be much better insulated and worth the trade-off I think.

 

FWIW

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In case things don't hit the fan, as a back up plan remember the rule of 72. That way if your career gets you thrown off the plane like mine did in mortgages you won't need a career by the time you're in your forty's. Comes faster than ya think.................good luck whatever and wherever you go.

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Thanks for all the imput guys! T2940 ill look up what that rule is.

 

Lookslike the missus chanded her mind. I guess well be looking for a motor home now. Winnebagoooooo! Im gonna 86 the idea aout the wood burning stove for now. But i think i may install an extra batter bank to charge off of solar rather than the generator. I got a buddy whos an electrician who could probably help with that.

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There are pretty good solar conversion kits for RVs already. Don't forget to check Craigslist for steals on RVs during the off-season. Another source: credit unions. A couple of our local ones sell RVs that they had to repossess, so they tend to be pretty new, but they auction them off at a greatly reduced price. Hope you find a Winnie that works for you!

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OC you rock, as always. I found a 1989 26 foot minnie winnie, (its basically a winnebago but in class c instead of class a.) on craigslist today. Looks promising. With my paycheck i will have my truck paid off completely tomorrow. Which means im clear for the loan for the motorhome. It has 105k miles, but if the owner took good care of it i dont see that being a problem.

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My first car had 130K on it but was impeccably maintained... and I wound up driving it - with no major issues - for another 100K miles! So yes, the way it's been treated means as much as how far it's been driven. Also, with motorhomes, having super-low mileage on an older model can be a BAD thing because that may mean it's just been sitting somewhere, sucking up moisture and slowly rusting and falling apart.

 

I found a cool, comprehensive article about how to pick a used motorhome, what to expect, and so on:

http://www.rv.net/forum/Index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/14209636.cfm

 

Another:

http://rv-roadtrips.thefuntimesguide.com/2008/06/buying_use_motorhome_tips.php

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I forgot to add, let us know how it goes and - if possible - send pics! Older RVs can have really dated looking interior design, but you can make slip covers for cushions, replace bedding and curtains, and it will look like a much, much newer model. Plus it will feel like "yours" (and it's something the two of you can work on together).

 

http://rv-roadtrips.thefuntimesguide.com/2010/03/remodeling_rv.php

 

Hope you find the perfect motorhome for you!

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