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Old 08-08-2010, 08:39 AM   #1
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1995 36' Classic 36
Orangevale , California
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 47
First time driving questions

In less than two weeks i wil be handed over the keys to a 36 foot diesel pusher in the middle of a busy city that i've never seen before.

So a few questions come to mind like,

How do you drive this thing? things like turning radius come to mind. When making a right hand turn how much room do you need? Should i expect to have to swing into oncoming traffic?

How long does it take before you get comfortable with the siza and manuevering,like backing up into a space?

Can you pull into most gas stations or do you stick to travel stops to get gas?

We're not going to have another vehicle so how practical is it to drive it around To the grocery store or other normal shopping places?

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Old 08-08-2010, 09:09 AM   #2
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Cleveland , Tennessee
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Constantly watch your mirrors, like every 8-10 seconds. You'll need a lot of space to stop, don't tailgate. I drive 2-3 mph slower than traffic so whenn someone cuts you off, your safty space cushion will open up again. People will cut you off & slow down once in front. They just don't like being behind a large vehicle. Start by making wide turns. As you get more comfortable/experienced you learn just how wide to go. I rather be laughed at for going too wide than be cursed at by the car behind you because you need to back up & swing wider. Stay to the left side of the lane when making a right turn. Watch the mirror on left too as the rear of the MH will swing out to the left while turning. The rear wheels are the pivot point. As you turn right, the back end will swing left. The MH's have a pretty tight turning radius for their size. Go to an empty shopping mall early Sunday morning for practice. While in the open lot, you can watch both mirrors during a turn to see what I mean. Never be afraid to ask your partner or another camper to watch your backing so you don't hit something. Never be afraid to Get Out And Look (G.O.A.L.). Don't put gas in your diesel pusher. We fulltimed for almost 2 yrs without a toad. Just park out in the back 40 with the other RV's & trucks. Plan to do all shopping (food,booze,etc) and dumping before setting up. Many folks at rallies will be glad to give a ride to functions that are off the campgrounds. Don't hesitate to ask or offer a few $$ for gas. Most of all, enjoy it don't fear it.


"Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." Mark Twain

AIR 22749 WBCCI 2349 NOVA TAC TN-6
1989 345 LE Classic Motorhome
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:47 AM   #3
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1991 34' Excella
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First I would insist they deliver the unit outside the city. Downtown is not the place to begin your practice.

Rule of thumb for a straight truck, 2 axles and no trailer, is you can start your turn just after your BUTT passes the curb line of the intersection. That may take you into the opposing traffic on narrow streets so you have to watch for the opportunity. You will see on many narrow intersection that the Stop Line on the lane you are turning into has been set back an extra 20 ft or more. That is to allow you and other large vehicles use of that space. Not all the oncoming drivers may comply.

If the unit has a back up camera don't use it exclusively when backing into a space. When backing you are not only interested in what is behind you, assuming you visually cleared that before you started back, you are interested in what your are turning into on the inboard side. The mirrors are for that. If you rely solely on the camera you stand a good chance of scrapping the side of the rig on a tree or post.
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:56 AM   #4
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1983 31' Airstream310
Cactus Hug , Arizona
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It will feel like it's 60 feet long and 20 feet wide for a while, but you'll get used to it. We don't tow, either, but it's no big deal to scope out a parking lot and land. What you don't want to get into are dead-end streets, we've done it a few times and it's not fun getting out. Good luck.
"A settled wisdom, plus the itch to be elsewhere"
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Old 08-08-2010, 10:16 AM   #5
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2011 34' Classic
Westchester Cty.NY , / Miami FL
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i second the remote delivery point.

i'd have them take a short ride with them driving to give you a quick road test.

don't forget to watch overhead obstructions.

see how much overhang you have behind the rear wheels because it will swing into the outside lane.

when possible, play follow the leader with a similar vehicle. you'll get an idea what you're going to need to do.

make a rush appointment with a trucking school and get your feet wet first.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:03 AM   #6
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If you are parked in a tight spot by you or PO, don't turn the wheel before you move forward, back of mh moves according to overhang, mine is 10 foot so just a slight change at front magnifies the rear shifting right or left. Like others have said mirrors are great, but remember to set them so that you can't see your side panels when on the road, helps cover the blind spots.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:58 AM   #7
Full Timers/Diesel power.
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1983 31' Airstream310
Cactus Hug , Arizona
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Keep a eye out as far ahead as you can, those little dweeb cars think we can stop on a dime. Your co-pilot is important to keep a watch on anyone pulling out in front of you.
"A settled wisdom, plus the itch to be elsewhere"
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:16 PM   #8
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2008 25' Safari FB SE
Grand Junction , Colorado
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Drivers of large rigs—busses and 18 wheelers—have to get special licenses and training. You can buy a motorhome and need no special training, but it would be a good idea to look for some sort of training program, maybe even for large commercial trucks, before you pick up your new moho. It will help you a lot and instill more confidence. Maybe you can find something on the internet.

I have never driven a moho, but I have driven a bus and it is different, but certainly not impossible, though it may feel so for a while.

Mastery of the mirrors is important. You may want to change the ones on it to include double mirrors if it doesn't have them. A lower, second mirror, can be set to see better what is next to you. Unlike a car or light truck, visibility is not so good to the sides and rear, especially at night. You will have to be much more attentive to what is happening around you than you are used to. After a while it becomes second nature, but it will take time.

Do not be afraid to take the space you need for turns—going part way into the lane next to you, whether it is an opposing lane or not, is necessary at times. Sometimes an intersection is not at right angles and you have to make a 120˚ turn instead of a 90˚ one. Now that you are aware, you'll notice large vehicles take that extra space because they need it. Watch out for the idiot who tries to get around you on the right as you are making the turn—they do deserve to be squashed, but it will mess up your trip as you will have to fill out a lot of paperwork and have to get your moho repaired.

You may be sitting over the front wheels and you will find your perceptions of turning are off. You are probably used to turning the steering wheel at a different time because the wheels are ahead of you instead of under you. If you've ever driven the old VW Microbus, it was the same experience. Be aware of the difference and you'll pick it up pretty fast.

You could leave that unknown city late at night to avoid traffic. Friday and Saturday nights may not be the best. Hopefully you will get a chance to practice somewhere quiet, maybe with the seller, before you start on your return trip.

Backing—be careful, of course. The good thing is that it is easier than backing a trailer.

Do you have Next Exit? It will tell you which fuel stations along interstates are RV friendly. Unfortunately it is only good for interstates, but it helps. Truck stops usually are better, but not always. Often the outside pump (depends on which side your fuel filler is on) is the easiest to get in and out of. Make sure you watch the overhead height too. As you do this more and more, you will get a better idea of turning radius and what fuel stations you can get in and out of. Sometimes you can't find anywhere except a small place that is very difficult—I have had to back out of two stations in 3 years—not fun, but it got done and there was nowhere else to go. Keep your tank filled as often as possible—many don't let it run down more than half, but you'll get used to this too. Supermarkets often have fuel, but can be difficult to enter and leave since they were built as afterthoughts. Eventually you'll try one and figure it out.

Some groceries and other stores have large parking lots, some don't. Look for a place at the edges of the lot where you can pull in, often taking 5 or more spaces across them. You at 36' may well fit in back to back spaces, but it depends how long they are. Sometimes you can park along the curbing at the edge of the lot, sometimes in the car spaces. You'll see how others do it. Don't worry about taking a bunch of spaces, just stay out of other's way and keep the driving lanes clear. Plan ahead about getting out. I have had people park a several feet in front of me blocking my way out forward, so I always try to leave some space in back so I can back several feet to be able to make the turn forward.

Sometimes you may have to park on the street. You will take 2 spaces and the beginning and end of the block are the best, or a place with a driveway to give you extra space. It may mean feeding two meters. You may have to go around the block and look for a quiet residential street. Often curbside parking means the moho will lean quite a bit—this will strain the fridge operation and can lean you into a pole, so watch that. Street parking is not enjoyable, but can be done. Without a toad, you will be challenged to go to a lot of restaurants when you want a change. For sightseeing, a lot of attractions have RV spaces. Various tour books may tell you whether they do, or you can call ahead. Visitor centers—which usually have RV spaces—may be able to advise you.

I hope all this hasn't freaked you out. Since you are smart enough to ask questions, it means you are trying to get this figured out ahead of time. Good. There's a steep learning curve, but many people have done it and some of them are, let us say, mentally challenged, so it can't be that hard.

Let us know how it goes. And, what mystery city are you going to?

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Old 08-08-2010, 02:53 PM   #9
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1995 36' Classic 36
Orangevale , California
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Posts: 47
Wow, thanks for all the responses. What a great group here! Never one to shy away from a challenge. I have in the past put myself in unusual driving situations, like the one where got my rental car at Heathrow and drove straight into London for some brief sightseeing with a rudimentary map. It is a maze there and the wrong-side stuff is crazy, but it was an experience that I wanted to have.

Got a plan worked out, I will meet the owner at an RV park, we will do a little driving around, run over some curbs and then take it into the park where he will show me the hookups and all. Very nice guy.

BTW he also has a Stowmaster 5000 that he will sell for $250. I guess I need to buy the car mounts, likely for a Jeep Wrangler. Is this worth getting from him at this price?

I checked out an RV school and they need you to provide the RV. So we may do this after we get back. I'm pretty sure I'll be comfortable with this thing in no time, it was just the first time stuff that had me worried. Kinda like when I first rode a motorcycle and didn't know what reverse steering was, almost kissed a car and a chain link fence.

As far as filling up, we are trying to keep our driving to 4-5 hourse per day, so we have time to set up and relax. I think the tank is 100 gallons and say 10 miles/gallon, and by 500 miles I should be ready for a fillup. Probably will just do it at each stop. I am very curious to see how long it will take to learn spotting what is a manueverable space and what isn't and hopefully not learn from my own mistakes.

Oh one last thing, for now, I think we'll be going down some mountains at some point. Any tips on keeping this thing from setting a downhill speed record? I'm sure riding the brakes is a quick way to burn them out. Shift into a lower gear? Things got an Allison tranny so is it just like my Ford F150? Just downshift when I'm at the right speed?
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:05 PM   #10
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You need to put a sign on the back that says...'This thing looks even BIGGER in your rear view mirror...' --Find a parking lot like a sunday afternoon highschool place or track field and practice going around and study and practice and take pictures and study - practice and take pictures and have someone along who is experienced. And you will get used to it just like everything else on this planet...Good luck and most of all have fun. And be safe!
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:21 PM   #11
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first time driving a moho i was a little anxious...

in fact the 'can i drive it' question started echoing while SHOPPING 4 them.

then i looked around at the people who already had mastered driving mohos...

they were ALL old, weak, slow, shaky, tri-focal'd, hearing aid'd, pacemaker'd, cane'd and MEDICATED old women...

if these old ladies can handle a moho surely a young stud can, right?

over confidence may not kill ya but can lead to banging up the moho quickly.

-3of4 corners are essentially blind...

-the brakes are SLOW 2 respond and long on stopping distance.

-right turns take 5 lanes, 4 of them oncoming traffic AND a median.

and so on.

>make only LEFT turns for awhile and whenever its TIGHT at a 4/way intersection...

(3 LEFTS=1 right)

> begin your stop for the NEXT LIGHT as soon as clearing the current light.

> STOP and go outside to check the surroundings, for EVERYTHING except forward driving.

> at night include forward driving in the perimeter checks.

> do not eat/drink/text/phone/groom or TALK while driving.

> if u wanna do ANY of the above, pull off the road and turn OFF the key and get OUT Of the pilot's seat.

> stop and take NAPS at every opportunity (especially after eating)

> expect EVERY other driver to cut in/occupy the GAP u left for stopping, it's a rule now.

> never ask your spouse to HELP u back/park...let THEM DRIVE and u go outside and give signals.

...or go take another nap.

> the primary obstacle in filling stations is OVER HEAD STUFF.

> descend long steep grades in 3 gear. IF you still need brakes or are speeding up, STOP and take a nap.

consider buying a cane, perhaps an old hearing aid and definitely some tri-focals.

the single most important thing to LEARN about driving a moho is, u guessed it....

how to nap.

so the next time u see an old fart driving a moho, ASK them the secret to nap taking...

u may have to wake them up first...

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:23 PM   #12
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1991 34' Excella
Princeton , New Jersey
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Always go down the hill in the same gear you went up the hill. You will have to lessen to the engine or if there is a tack watch it on the way up and down shift to that gear on the way down.

Now this does not mean a short 1/4 mile hill that the rig downshifted to hold road speed require a down shift on the other side but rather a hill that required a downshift and a lose of speed on the way up will require thought on the way down. If you are pulling a hill in second gear you will have to think at the top of the hill.

One of the best additions I ever installed on any of my trucks was an exhaust brake and a manual locking device for the torque converter. That allowed me to descend 5% grade without ever applying the brakes and remaining in drive.

Lots of money and the newer transmissions and computers won't allow it thanks to Ralph Nader and his misguided ideas.
2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 08-09-2010, 02:13 PM   #13
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1994 36' Classic 36 Diesel
Christmas Valley , Oregon
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Allison 6 =md3060

Hi pom,
The Allison is a great system ,& is very Smart!!!!!!!!!!! It will not let you overspeed the engine.5&6 th are overdrive & dont do much about slowing you down on a hill! Like some one said use the same gear coming down as you used getting up.Good place to start.Yes find a parking lot & get the feel of it !! I think you will like the way it drives,you are sitting on the

wheelwell & it feels strange at first .If I can help with any ?s please ask.
phil & Sandy
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Old 08-10-2010, 01:43 AM   #14
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Foothill Ranch , California
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I jumped on a plane at John Wayne Airport,CA, flew to Houston, TX, then flew to Witchita, KS where the PO picked me up... then a 3 hr drive to see my 345.
Never driven anything longer than a Suburban over here...
Yes it feels HUGE the first 50 miles, then it gets comfortable... then you have to park it and it feels like a Jumbo Jet again!
All the above advice is good!
Its not hard tho!
I am a Brit and I hate driving in London. You will find this easy!

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