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Old 04-28-2008, 01:16 PM   #43
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A contrarian's viewpoint(s)...

For those who might like another take on commodity prices and commodity scarcity and a reasonable way of viewing prices over the span of history, I heartily recommend the writings of the late Julian Simon, a contrarian and economist of the first rank albeit little appreciated by latter-day Malthusians.

The most comprehensive book of Simon's is "The Ultimate Resource 2."

Amazon.com: The Ultimate Resource 2: Julian Lincoln Simon: Books
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Old 04-28-2008, 04:23 PM   #44
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Thanks Bruno. We have become spoiled by inexpensive fuel prices (relatively speaking on the world scale).

Mention was made about cheap middle-east oil kept development of oil production down in U.S. Middle east oil goes for about $11/barrel because it is not sweet oil and isn't used as much in this country as we are led to believe and when it is, it has to be refined to get the sulfur out so as not to pollute as much. This drives the price of refinement up to the point that it is almost as expensive as U.S. oil...almost. Our fuel prices are less than Europe's because our federal taxes are less than theirs are. Always have been. Another BIG factor in current fuel prices is the decline in the value of the dollar. So much is the decline in value that the middle-eastern countries are considering going to the Euro as their standard of currency instead of the dollar. This decline has affected the price of all imported oil, not just middle-eastern oil.

Is it the end, no. Is it the end of Prevost and the like...well, if you can afford the price of the coach you have no problems with the price to operate it.

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If they can figure out how to put a man on the moon...

Perhaps they'll also be able to figure out how to make a lighter Airstream, so that a smaller engine will be able to pull it so we can still go down to visit the coconut palms ever winter.
Try a Safari Sport.
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Old 04-28-2008, 04:43 PM   #45
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[quote=Minnie's Mate]
Mention was made about cheap middle-east oil kept development of oil production down in U.S. Middle east oil goes for about $11/barrel because it is not sweet oil and isn't used as much in this country as we are led to believe and when it is, it has to be refined to get the sulfur out so as not to pollute as much./quote]

That may be true now, but it wasn't true in the seventies. It is also true that we are in a world market for oil and their prices effect the entire spectrum, not just our markets. We compete with the world for oil, then we impose all kinds of "Green Weenie" recipes for each state driving our prices even higher. I'd have a Prevost if I could afford one.
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Old 04-28-2008, 04:55 PM   #46
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Couple of thoughts...
Fuel taxes:
I think they're going up. Have been reading some of the heavy duty trucking trade magazines, and I get the sense that there's some support for that in their industry. Simple fact is that infrastructure needs work, and a ton mile tax does that. Also was surprised to read one trucking industry group supporting passenger rail, but it makes sense. Electric light rail moves people, unclogs city interstates, and reduces somewhat the consumption of petro (although not necessarily coal). Subsidize the movement of people by rail. I'm not pro or con at this point, but I can see the picture they're painting and it kind of makes sense.

The lighter trailer thing...


I'm betting Thor saw this coming, and that's why the big motorhome production stopped at Jackson Center and why Basecamps remain on the 2008 product list. Quite simply, I think the Airstream construction and design allows a trailer that needs a lot less tow vehicle than the brick shaped boxes. People on this forum discuss - seriously discuss - using 1/2 ton trucks and 'Burbons to move 25 and 30 ft trailers.
Now, the guy pulling a 9000 or 10000 lb fifth wheel may decide to downsize (not downgrade IMO) into an Airstream.

I suspect that the advent of the new Safari line and the CCD redesigns - getting back to 5000 and 6000 lb trailers is in anticipation of this. Some companies will close no doubt, but if I were looking for a job in the RV industry I'd be sending resumes to Jackson Center.

The thing is, and it kills me to admit it, that even at 7 or 8 bucks a gallon, it might very well turn out to be less expensive for the four of us to put 800 to 1000 miles on the truck & trailer than it would be to buy train tickets and stay in hotels.
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Old 04-28-2008, 07:39 PM   #47
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There ARE alternatives

I keep reading through this and wondering when someone is going to say, "I'm going biodiesel". It's been mentioned a bit in this thread but not as the real, viable alternative that it is. When I get going with my Airstream, I fully plan to buy a late-model diesel truck that some guy can't afford to fuel any more, use biodiesel in it whenever possible or straight-out convert it to run veggie oil, and happily motor my way across the country. I also plan to get a Vespa or similar scooter (not a motorcycle gal) in order to get to the hospital and back wherever I am--that can be hauled in the back of the veggie-fuel burning truck. Better for the environment AND the wallet--a win-win!

Now a wee bit of a rant:

The idea that ethanol production has created the global food crisis is a fallacy. Although corn prices have risen, this is something that lasts, at most, one growing season. Next season many of our countless fallow fields (and the small farmers who have been going bankrupt for decades) can put in corn for ethanol, and the market will balance out again. The U.S. possesses the means to feed the entire world if we so choose to, we have the tillable land for it. Meanwhile, the creation of ethanol has not caused the dramatic increases in wheat prices globally and rice prices in Asia--the high price of PETROLEUM has, along with drought and other factors. And we're back where we started, at how the high price of gas is damaging everything.

Nor is the answer just drilling for more oil. As another member stated, it's not that there isn't enough oil, it's that the speculators are driving the price up and up, and people keep buying it. If the price went back down again, we'd go back to conspicuously consuming.

Ride a bus. Ride a bike. Get a tiny car or hybrid as your regular driving vehicle, rather than driving a big honking gas guzzler all over town. Move closer to work, or work closer to home if at all possible. The suburbs and country life are not mecca when you have to commute an hour each way in your vehicle. WALK when you have to go several blocks. Get a scooter (the motorcycle kind, not the little kid kind, but those work, too). Consolidate your errands.

I lived for four years in Italy, where the price of gas there then was higher than it is here now. In that time, we took two RV trips (rented RV), but we had a very small RV for a larger number of people, not anywhere near the spacious, comfy experience of a 25' AS. Once we drove from Italy to England (took the Calais to Dover ferry and back), another time we went into the Austrian Alps. Both were fantastic trips, and we could afford them because we did all of the things stated in the above paragraphs that saved us tons of money. Those trips were a splurge, as most vacations are, but great fun and still cheaper than a group of us flying and staying in a hotel. Plus I learned all the best Italian swear words en route.

I'm rambling, but my point is this: Conserve in general and switch to biodiesel for your TT, and your RV experience doesn't need to be all that affected.
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Old 04-28-2008, 08:12 PM   #48
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Rereading my post, I realize that I came across as pretty sophomoric, especially for a new member. Not my intention, I just feel so strongly about this. Biodiesel, folks! You can be kinder to the environment, save money, and still get to RV all you want! Renewable resource! Yay!
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Old 04-28-2008, 08:40 PM   #49
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You know, we've been wondering what impact the gas crunch is going to have on travel. So last week I had to take an involuntary trip to Ogden, UT with my parents (don't even ask!). And what I observed on the trip was quite amazing: Traffic, and a lot of it, including RVs. (Keep in mind that this was late April, not high season.) There was so much that we were unable even to find a free motel room in either Price or Green River, so had to travel late night all the way into Grand Junction, where we got the last room at the one Motel 6.

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Old 04-28-2008, 08:48 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiamma
Rereading my post, I realize that I came across as pretty sophomoric, especially for a new member. Not my intention, I just feel so strongly about this. Biodiesel, folks! You can be kinder to the environment, save money, and still get to RV all you want! Renewable resource! Yay!
If I only could!

I was set to run Full-on Bio-D in my Sprinter, until I was at a dealer getting the engine serviced and saw a complete engine sitting in pieces laid out on the shop floor and work tables.

When I inquired what happened......they said that the owner ran 100% Bio-D for an extended period of time. The engine had no problem with it, but the Bio ate the hoses, seals, fuel pump, injector seals....anything made of rubber-like materials. This engine (and most diesels of today) are not made to run straight Bio, even though it's better and slipperier! They need Viton seals thruought to do it.

Hopefully, the next generation of Mercedes diesels for the vans will come properly equipped. I'm already on that list!!!!

In the interim, I'll just have to plug along getting 22 mpg around town in my fully loaded van, and 14-17 while towing the Airstream.
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Old 04-29-2008, 04:30 PM   #51
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Welcome to the forums. I'll try to be nice since you are new...I think most members will tell you that I am generally nice in most of my post anyway, but this is something I feel passionate about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiamma
I keep reading through this and wondering when someone is going to say, "I'm going bio-diesel". It's been mentioned a bit in this thread but not as the real, viable alternative that it is.

. . .
Bio-diesel is anovel approach right now, but lets look at the big picture for a minute and not at the cottage industry that it is in this country. Vegetable oil that is used in bio-diesel for the most part is a waste product and is therefore free for the taking at most restaurants. Collection is a cost, but is offset by the free material that is collected by the "hobbyist". Yes, there are a few "professionals" out there harvesting used french fry oil, but they generally sell their product at prices that compete with regular diesel fuel (slightly less, but not enough for me to risk the damage that Lewster described to my $54,000 truck). Should there be a reduction in the price of diesel back to where it once was, say to $2.00/gallon these guys will fold. And yes, the price of fuel will moderate once the financial crisis 'caused by such dynamics as the sub-prime mortgage debacle abates and the recession is over and the dollar regains its strength.

Back to the free oil. Right now there is enough of the free stuff being given away to meet the current demand. As soon as the trucking industry becomes mainstream bio and our private citizens with diesel trucks like me switch to bio-diesel, you will see that there is a shortage of free used vegetable oil and restaurants will see the value of their waste product and start selling it. This will drive up the price of bio-diesel and end its competitiveness with regular diesel. At that point, we will see the bio-diesel product you see in Europe where fresh soy bean oil goes straight into the diesel mix (then imagine how much those Mcfries will cost when vegetable oil becomes in short supply?). As long as the used vegetable oil is free, bio-diesel can be competitive; when used vegetable oil is no longer free, bio-diesel will loose its competitiveness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiamma

The idea that ethanol production has created the global food crisis is a fallacy. Although corn prices have risen, this is something that lasts, at most, one growing season. Next season many of our countless fallow fields (and the small farmers who have been going bankrupt for decades) can put in corn for ethanol, and the market will balance out again. . . .
The global food crisis is not a fallacy and it is an unhealthy reality on top of that. Because of the demand for corn for E-85, corn futures rose this year so many farmers planted corn that would have otherwise planted soy beans and other crops. This has created shortage of wheat, other crops, and, more significantly to the international market, soy beans.

In southeast Asia, most non-urbanites do not buy rice or other food products, including their limited meat products such as chicken and pork, for that matter. They grow these items on small, single family feeding farms. Virtually the only food product they buy is cooking oil. That has traditionally been Soy Bean Oil. Now that there is less soy beans being produced, the southeast Asian have to look to other sources for cooking oil. Remember, they cook mostly with a wok and they use oil to cook most foods. There are more bio-diesel passenger cars in western Europe than there are diesel automobiles in all of the U.S. so they don't use the free stuff we are experimenting with in this country. Europe will not allow their bio-diesel to be produced with oil from crops produced from deforesting the rain forest. The European economy can afford to buy up the soy bean oil that is produced to go into their bio-diesel.

So as a result of the shortage of soy bean oil in southeast Asia, the southeast Asians are forced to clear the southeast Asian rain forest to plant palm oil palms and use the palm oil in their diet. This of course reduces the tropical rain forest (affects us all by reducing the amount of available oxygen in the atmosphere for all of us around the globe), but it also forces the southeast Asian population to consume hydrogenated oil which is unhealthy for their hearts and circulatory system.

In addition to the food shortage and unhealthy affect that results from E-85 production, consider that it takes 6 to 8 gallons of petroleum to produce one gallon of E-85. Nearly all fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides used on a commercial scale in this country contain petrochemicals. A farmer has to plow his field and prepare it before he can plant it. Once planted, he must drive his tractor over the field several times during the season to apply the herbicides to control weeds and apply fertilizers to promote maximum production. At the end of the season the farmer must drive his combine and collection trucks and trailers over the field to harvest the corn. Once the harvest is completed, the farmer must turn the corn stalks under in preparation for the next year's planting. And don't forget that some of those fallow fields you see are left so as part of proper soil management and crop rotation. Because the alcohol in the E-85 dissolves the seals commonly used in all of the fuel delivery pipes in the U.S. it is necessary to truck E-85 from the refineries to the point of distribution (service station). This decreases the efficiency of production because the refineries have to be close to the pumps. This is why E-85 is a novelty in places like the southeast U.S. We just don't produce enough corn to warrant E-85 refineries in the southeast(although there are some refineries in the construction stages as we speak).

So, if you really want to use E-85 and bio-diesel to fuel your vehicles, noble as your intentions may be, let your conscience be your guide.
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Old 04-29-2008, 07:10 PM   #52
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Wink pile of money

i think there is a pile of money. it has only four places to go. real estate / stocks-business / saving-bonds / commodities . the money gets pushed around to whatever helps it grow. when they lower the interest rate to save the banks , because of the real estate , the money rolled to commodities. it couldn't go to stocks. simply. it will always be this way. someone always ends up with a thousand nauru suits.
my only plan is to take ,longer time ,shorter travel trips ,or get out.
this is a lot better than the yacht i had before the trailer. i say prayers for that guy every nite.
the interest rates will go up, the oil will stabilize + we will all be trimmer in every way. a good thing.
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Old 04-29-2008, 07:39 PM   #53
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My plan.

About 30 years ago I bought this and used it a few times. Since then I put it in the barn....for future reference. Now is the time to use it again. I pulled it out yesterday and its being "refreshed" (8000 miles since new...not too much refreshing.) What I hope to save on fuel costs using it will go to filling up the tow vehicle. I hope it balances out.
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Old 04-29-2008, 08:56 PM   #54
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Minnie's Mate,

Nice post, and I agree with most of what you said. If you do a little deeper reseach on bio-diesel, you'll se that the best, most efficient processing comes from plants OTHER than soy or other 'cooking oil' feed stocks. Rapeseed oil comes to mind first, and there is quite a bit of research going on with algea.

Given the entire picture, cellulostic ethanol (ala Brazil) might be an answer.....but corn based E-85 is all smoke and mirrors for now, and certainly IS causing a great inbalance in our agricultural markets. I'm still betting on the Bio-diesels getting 50+MPG RIGHT NOW!!!!

The technology is there, but our oil lobbyists and auto industry just won't embrace it! My ex-wife's VW Beetle TDI gets 45-48 in town and way over 50 on the highway with no Voo-Doo hybrid magic or who knows how expensive batteries that will need to be replaced. Smooth, quiet and powerful.....what else does one need for personal transportation?????????
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Old 04-29-2008, 09:50 PM   #55
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My wife and I are still planning on what we call the world tour. I purchased my previously owned 1988 limited in November, and have been working on the "renovation" off and on. I purchased my TV in December an F-350 Diesel, and the price of fuel is now at 4.17/gal. I am budgeting for 6.00/gal to allow for the differences state to state. I have my condo up for sale, and when I sell is when we are hitting the road. Our plan is to cover as many of the lower 48 as we can. This will be the first time in our lives that we do not have to be in any particular place at any particular time. I plan to deal with the fuel issue simply by only driving 200/250 miles per week. I am looking to find the best this country has to offer, and to meet people at their best. My wife survived a rare blood disease and a hemmoraghic stroke, so rising fuel costs are no match... We are looking forward to our adventure and getting a chance to see this wonderful country, and meeting fellow Airstreamers along the way...

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Old 04-30-2008, 08:35 AM   #56
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Quote:
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Minnie's Mate,

Nice post, and I agree with most of what you said. If you do a little deeper reseach on bio-diesel, you'll se that the best, most efficient processing comes from plants OTHER than soy or other 'cooking oil' feed stocks. Rapeseed oil comes to mind first, and there is quite a bit of research going on with algea.
Thanks. I don't doubt what you say is true about better alternatives to soy bean oil for bio-diesel. My point was more, as you say, about the imbalance in our food crops that is being caused by the corn based E-85 band wagon and the impact that is having around the world. While there are better alternatives to both, just like there are better alternatives to internal combustion engines, the fact remains that these are the choices that the early adopters made and those that followed have likewise adopted.

I have to be very careful when I fuel my '08 diesel to use the 15 PPM ULSD (you'd be surprised how many pumps still indicate they pump the 500 PPM LSD). The station where I always fueled my '05 listed their diesel as 500 PPM so I asked the station attendant before I pumped and she said that she called corporate and was told not to sell it to vehicles that required the "new stuff". I am not about to use my expensive diesel engine as a test bed for the various types of bio-diesel that right now are left to be "home brews". Even in a metropolitan area the size of Atlanta, IIRC, there are only one or two stations that sell bio-diesel and they are both more than 25 miles from the part of town where I live. Who knows where they get it or to what quality standard it is produced. Too far out of my way and too big of a risk to experiment.
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