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Old 12-31-2014, 09:36 AM   #1
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Initial experience, sprinter class B,

HAPPY NEW YEAR! prematurely but sincerely meant!
My wife and I are about to embark on an adventure defined as a new experience to test the hypothesis that we would like to become ASIers. What we are doing is renting a B type sprinter, Era, Winnebago 170x, for a month. We live in Bend Oregon but will be renting from a place in Eugene, Or. and leaving from there. I have been diligently reading the "forum" threads trying to get as much knowledge as I can. Here is the issue! Having no experience relative to ASIing, I know I'm missing critical questions to consider. SO I'm looking to the "HORSE'S MOUTH" , for fatherly advice and motherly advice too, Please.
It is our intention to take the van south to Las Vegas to visit friends, then to AZ to visit friends, and return visiting friends. We are interested in looking at future snow bird opportunities around Lake Las Vegas and Az. too. We're open to suggestions.
So what would be your best "AH HAH!!" moment, I should of thought of that! Recommendations, if you would please. ( another significant factor that I failed to mention is we are planning on taking our 8month old German Shepherd pup with us) She is a great traveler and pleasure to be around.
We have done primitive camping before but our bones don't bend like they once did! Thank you in advance!!
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Old 12-31-2014, 09:54 AM   #2
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I test-drove a Winnebago ERA while I was shopping for an RV, before I discovered the Airstream Interstate.

The Sprinter van systems are going to be the more-or-less same regardless of the brand of RV, plus or minus a factory option or two that one RV has that the others don't.

The RV systems are going to be similar, too. Most appliances will even be from the same manufacturers. Of course floor plan will be different, and the wet bath will be different as well. And you'll have Group 31 house batteries instead of Group 24s (and the second house battery is optional, so you may or may not have two of them).

Renting a Sprinter-based RV to see if you're cut out to be Sprinter-based RV owners is a brilliant idea, even if it's a different brand than you end up buying.

My big "AHA!" moment came on Scenic Byway 7 in Arkansas. That was the first time I traveled in terrain where I needed to downshift on downslopes, only to find out I had no idea how. I had skimmed the manual a little too lightly and missed that part. It's not obvious from looking at the controls that you tap the gearshift to the right to upshift 1-2-3-4-D and to the left to downshift D-4-3-2-1 (probably set up that way so if you accidentally bump it with your knee you're upshifting, which does no harm when you're already in D).

So my advice is, when you rent it, make sure you get a full orientation on the van systems as well as the RV systems.
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Old 12-31-2014, 10:12 AM   #3
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Starting in MY2014, there can be significant differences in the Sprinter platform, depending on which options the upfitter chooses to order. For starters, there is the choice between the V6/5-speed and the I4/7-speed engine. You might think that the V6 is a no-brainer for an RV, but the I4 with the 7-speed transmission is a marvel, and is fully capable of handling the load of B-van conversion. It is preferred by many.

Next to be aware of is the presence or absence of the advanced safety package, consisting of lane-keeping assist, blind-spot assist, high-beam assist, and some other stuff. These are very important safety and convenience features that may or may not be included by a given upfitter. Similarly, is the head-unit/Backup camera/GPS system OEM or aftermarket? (opinions vary on which is better here). Does it have MB Parktronic sonar?

There are other, less obvious options as well, such as heavy-duty suspension options and gear ratio, but it is harder to tell about these unless you can see the van's build sheet.
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Old 12-31-2014, 10:39 AM   #4
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Hey Thanks to Protag and Avanti!! Our BMW X5 has the "bump the shift" to manual shifting so thanks for the "heads up"! I'll be sure to check it out.
Thanks Avanti! I didn't know about the I4/7 engine, I'll check into it too!
I went to school in Pittsburgh, Pitt Dental, my wife is from Oakmont and I'm from Edinboro, a 100 miles north! Small world!
Since our first adventure is in a rental I have limited choices mechanically and will deal with it. My questions are mainly based around: "I should have thought of..." and I sure don't need this. While I understand I'm asking the impossible task of guessing what I am thinking and not thinking, the diversity of this forum will shed some light as it has already! Thanks again!
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:06 AM   #5
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Favorite RV parks would also be welcomed! Tentative travel is approximately: I5 to Ca and Shasta area then to Reno and south to Las Vegas, hang about for a few days, then to Phoenix, and sight see AZ a bit, then back to Oregon by a yet to be determined route. Thanks!
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by call-me-al View Post
Hey Thanks to Protag and Avanti!! Our BMW X5 has the "bump the shift" to manual shifting so thanks for the "heads up"! I'll be sure to check it out.
Thanks Avanti! I didn't know about the I4/7 engine, I'll check into it too!
I went to school in Pittsburgh, Pitt Dental, my wife is from Oakmont and I'm from Edinboro, a 100 miles north! Small world!
Since our first adventure is in a rental I have limited choices mechanically and will deal with it. My questions are mainly based around: "I should have thought of..." and I sure don't need this. While I understand I'm asking the impossible task of guessing what I am thinking and not thinking, the diversity of this forum will shed some light as it has already! Thanks again!
I'm not sure how the ERA bed compares with the Interstate bed, but many owners opt for some kind of mattress pad to smooth out the hills and valleys. If oyu already have pads that will work for you, bring them. If you don't, then try it without first, but expect that you might need to buy something for your second night if you didn't sleep well the first night.
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:18 PM   #7
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You mentioned using the rental ERA to tour and visit friends, and without doubt a Class B is perfect for that. But you also mentioned investigating sites for snow birding. From what I've seen, snow birds tend to find a warmish region and remain in just one or two locations throughout winter. A Class B may be too small for that, but that is an individual opinion.

Incidentally most of AZ is under a freeze at the moment, and looking out of my window I see about 4-5 inches of snow, so I'm quite sorry for the snow birds!

Regarding recommendations to stay, I usually have trouble coming up with ideas since we mostly dry camp here in the southwest. However, I do have some links from a family that fulltimes in their Airstream, and the locations cover some of your intended route:
Top 10 Campgrounds of 2013 - Aluminarium
Top 10 Campgrounds of 2014 - Aluminarium
5 Star Campgrounds: December 2014 –
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:25 PM   #8
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I'm always quick to recommend Corps of Engineers campgrounds. Most do not have sewer hookups; they have dump stations, so you do have to be wary of your water consumption. But most do have water and electric hookups. And since most CoE campgrounds have a 15-day limit at any one campground, they're seldom booked solid with snowbirds that like to roost for months on end. If you're willing to move to a new park every week or two, they should be ideal for you.

Most CoE campgrounds are located on a lake. Campsites tend to be pretty widely separated from each other, though not necessarily screened from each other by foliage. They're also well-maintained, and very reasonably priced since they don't have to turn a profit the way commercial campgrounds do.
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:31 PM   #9
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I should add, that if you have never RV'd or camped before, you should know that commercial campsites are a real minefield, ranging from hugely expensive ($100 per day or more in prime locations) to real junk places. So one of the key targets of traveling around in an RV is to balance the cost and convenience. State and Federal Parks and dry camping are a better option for a Class B.
I'm sure this topic will generate more comments from others.
But I don't want to put you off in any way - go and do it, you won't regret it!
And a Happy New Year to you too.
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:11 PM   #10
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Gas Buddy and Propane Refill apps are nice to have on your smart phone. If they don't provide one, you'll need a dual chuck air pressure gauge to check the pressure on the rear duals. Owner's Manual for the van and installed equipment would be nice too.

Good luck on your trip.
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:40 PM   #11
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Make sure you know how to winterize and de-winterize to avoid costly damages to the van. I assume somehow you gone hit freezing temperatures on our adventure.
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Old 12-31-2014, 03:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UKDUDE View Post
I should add, that if you have never RV'd or camped before, you should know that commercial campsites are a real minefield, ranging from hugely expensive ($100 per day or more in prime locations) to real junk places. So one of the key targets of traveling around in an RV is to balance the cost and convenience. State and Federal Parks and dry camping are a better option for a Class B.
I'm sure this topic will generate more comments from others.
But I don't want to put you off in any way - go and do it, you won't regret it!
And a Happy New Year to you too.
We have had a learning curve experience on campgrounds, having just started our ASI adventure in August, 2014. After some disappointing experiences with some private campgrounds rated highly in the Good Sam's directory, we can say that we have had consistently good experiences with KOA's. Also, if you are coming in to claim your reservation after about 4:00 p.m., it's a very good idea to call ahead and find out how to pick up your campground information if the office is closed. We are looking forward to trying out CoE campgrounds and State and National Park facilities on our next outings.
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Old 12-31-2014, 06:00 PM   #13
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As others have said, commercial campgrounds can be hit or miss. National and state parks, Army Corps and firest service are our preferred choice. Oregon has some of the nicest state parks. We travel between San Francisco and Seattle often and have strangly chosen Seven Feathers Indian Resort to be our favorite halfway point. We don't gamble but they offer discounts on fuel and the food is plentyful. Not to mention the RV parking which is well away from the noise and has the nicest shower rooms we have experienced in our travels. I recommend packing the bare but necessary essentials. If you find you can't continue without a certain item stop in at Wallyworld or the retailer of your choice. My wife and I can travel comfortably for weeks at a time but it would be a different story if we were to park in one place for more than a few days!
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Old 12-31-2014, 06:05 PM   #14
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Have a good trip! I'd love to know the name of the place you're renting from: we love Oregon (were there for 2 weeks this summer w/out the trailer), and are kicking around the idea of a Class B, so the 2 would be a good combo...

Tom
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