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Old 10-15-2017, 10:01 PM   #1
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Questions for Interstate owners - need advice!

I am at an age where I am thinking maybe I should downsize from our Clssic 30 and 3/4 ton truck to a class B so as to extend our RV-ing years a bit more. I am finding the bigger RV a bit much!

It wouldn't likely be to an "Interstate" as I would like something a tad shorter that would fit in our driveway - maybe 21 - 23 ft. (also a little less $$ and I'd prefer not having all the electric doodads!)

I wonder, do many of you find it necessary to tow a car? I had originally thought that would be almost essential, but am starting to think maybe not - maybe a couple of ebikes instead!

Also, I would be interested in anyone else's experience in making the change from trailer to class B.

I think I could be happy with taking a lot less "stuff" on our trips, and also having less space - my wife isn't so sure about that!

My thinking is we might use it more than he trailer for short,sput=r of th moment trips if it is parked right in our driveway, (we have to store our trailer about 20 miles away), my wife could drive it as well as me if need in an emergency, and I could maintain it better if it was at home ratherthan 20 miles away.

I thought that on our longer snowbird trips, ifwe found it to small, we could use it to travel south, then just rent a condo at destination.

Appreciate hearing anyone's similar experience or thoughts

Not going to rush int this, we have already booked with our trailer at Destin and Melbourne for this coming winter!

Just thinking out loud!
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Old 10-16-2017, 05:51 AM   #2
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My Interstate is 22’, so one this size would fit in your driveway.

We have never towed a vehicle, tho have rented a car a few times in areas we wanted to thoroughly explore.

Because the Interstate is a camper, local ordinances do not allow it to be parked in my driveway between 11/1 and 4/1, so check on that for your own locality.

Good luck!

Maggie
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Old 10-16-2017, 06:51 AM   #3
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I wonder, do many of you find it necessary to tow a car? I had originally thought that would be almost essential, but am starting to think maybe not - maybe a couple of ebikes instead!
I tow a car. A 2013 Honda Fit hatchback. But I didn't always tow one. When I first bought my Interstate, I had a 2003 2WD Dodge Durango as my daily driver. Not towable. When I went camping in my Interstate, I only took the Interstate. And that was fine. In fact, of all the Interstate owners I've ever met in person— and SOB Sprinter Class B owners as well— only two others ever brought a toad with them. So Sprinter-based Class Bs with toads are much rarer than ones without toads.

But I live in an area where hurricane evacuations may be necessary, and I live alone. The thought of having to abandon one vehicle to drive the other in an evacuation did not appeal. That's why I bought the Honda and equipped it for towing. Now if I have to evacuate I can take both vehicles without needing a second driver. And since the Honda is equipped for towing, I felt it prudent to get in plenty of practice towing it, so I took the Honda with me on trips where I didn't really need it, just to get used to having it back there on the road.

Then, once I had the car with me, I found plenty of uses for it. I could go exploring the countryside around my campground without having to break camp— and breaking camp for a day generally requires you to pack up everything, leaving nothing behind that fellow campers might think you abandoned that they could expropriate— so being able to take the car instead of the motorhome to go on day trips from the campground also means not having to repack everything every morning. Also, the "outdoor" stuff goes in the Honda— my Cobb grill, lawn chairs, patio mat, Clam Corp. screen room when I bring it (about 1/3 of the time), flagpole when I bring one (only to WBCCI rallies), folding table (only if the campground doesn't provide picnic tables), etc. so the outdoor stuff doesn't clutter up the inside of the van while in transit. Then when I reach the campground, I unhitch and unpack the Honda to set up the campsite, and it's ready to use for whatever day trips present themselves. And if I arrive in pouring rain, the outdoor stuff can just stay in the car until the rain stops; no need to unpack the outdoor stuff in the rain just to clear up living space inside the Airstream.

I still occasionally go on trips without the Honda towed behind my Interstate. But only if they're short trips and I don't plan to leave the campground on day trips once I get to my destination. If the trip is going to be long enough to require a grocery run, or if there will be day trips from the campground, the Honda always goes with me.

I now have almost as many miles towing my Honda (almost 25k miles) as I do driving the Honda (just over 27k miles). I'm now very comfortable towing the car.
Quote:
I think I could be happy with taking a lot less "stuff" on our trips, and also having less space - my wife isn't so sure about that!
I do bring more stuff when I bring the toad than when I don't. That's natural, since stuff expands to fill the space available for it. I could probably do without a lot of it if I had to; but I don't have to.
Quote:
My thinking is we might use it more than he trailer for short,spur of th moment trips if it is parked right in our driveway, (we have to store our trailer about 20 miles away), my wife could drive it as well as me if need in an emergency, and I could maintain it better if it was at home rather than 20 miles away.
One reason why I bought an Interstate in the first place was the ability to store it at home. I've been an apartment dweller my entire adult life, and there aren't many apartment complexes that will let you store a travel trailer on-site.
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Old 10-16-2017, 06:55 AM   #4
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I just saw there's a Casita for sale here, you could downsize to that and a super comfy Toyota Sienna...
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Old 10-16-2017, 07:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lily&Me View Post
My Interstate is 22’, so one this size would fit in your driveway.

We have never towed a vehicle, tho have rented a car a few times in areas we wanted to thoroughly explore.

Because the Interstate is a camper, local ordinances do not allow it to be parked in my driveway between 11/1 and 4/1, so check on that for your own locality.

Good luck!

Maggie

Thanks Maggie, I did check our local parking regs some time back - spoke with the local bylaw officer.

We have similar regulations against winter parking in one's drive - he did tell me "off the record" that they only enforce the regulation if they get a complaint from a neighbour. I know my present neighbours would have no issue, but who knows about the next if they should move!

Being able to park in my drive is a major consideration for me if I were to opt for a Class B. I presently pat about $1000 a year for outdoor storage of our trailer. As well, I could look after the RV much better if it was at home - and I think we would get much more use out of it than we do our trailer.

I asked him if they consider a van camper as an RV from the standpoint of the regulations. He said that if there is any doubt they go by how it is registered on the license, van or RV.

I then contacted Roadtrek (The factory is about an hour from my home) and they said their vehicles are registered as vans, so that would seem to make things ok.

That was a few years ago. I would certainly double check before making any decisions!

Thanks ...... Brian
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Old 10-16-2017, 07:23 AM   #6
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We have similar regulations against winter parking in one's drive - he did tell me "off the record" that they only enforce the regulation if they get a complaint from a neighbour. I know my present neighbours would have no issue, but who knows about the next if they should move!
That big shiny Mercedes Benz emblem on the grille* will go a long way toward easing the minds of your neighbors, present and future. It certainly eased the mind of my landlady when I asked about parking mine at my apartment complex! I made a point of showing her the brochure before I made the purchase, and her only comment was, "Oh! It's a Mercedes! Yes, that's fine!" The fact that mine was an Airstream didn't even register; that big Mercedes emblem was the only branding she noticed. But with that in mind, you might want to avoid the Winnebago ERA, because the 2-foot-tall ERA emblem and the swirly graphics overshadow the Mercedes elegance.

*If you buy a used one with a Dodge or Freightliner grille, you can get an OEM or aftermarket Mercedes grill to replace it, if you find it prudent to pander to the pretensions of your neighbors.
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Old 10-16-2017, 07:24 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
I tow a car. A 2013 Honda Fit hatchback. But I didn't always tow one. When I first bought my Interstate, I had a 2003 2WD Dodge Durango as my daily driver. Not towable. When I went camping in my Interstate, I only took the Interstate. And that was fine. In fact, of all the Interstate owners I've ever met in person— and SOB Sprinter Class B owners as well— only two others ever brought a toad with them. So Sprinter-based Class Bs with toads are much rarer than ones without toads.

But I live in an area where hurricane evacuations may be necessary, and I live alone. The thought of having to abandon one vehicle to drive the other in an evacuation did not appeal. That's why I bought the Honda and equipped it for towing. Now if I have to evacuate I can take both vehicles without needing a second driver. And since the Honda is equipped for towing, I felt it prudent to get in plenty of practice towing it, so I took the Honda with me on trips where I didn't really need it, just to get used to having it back there on the road.

Then, once I had the car with me, I found plenty of uses for it. I could go exploring the countryside around my campground without having to break camp— and breaking camp for a day generally requires you to pack up everything, leaving nothing behind that fellow campers might think you abandoned that they could expropriate— so being able to take the car instead of the motorhome to go on day trips from the campground also means not having to repack everything every morning. Also, the "outdoor" stuff goes in the Honda— my Cobb grill, lawn chairs, patio mat, Clam Corp. screen room when I bring it (about 1/3 of the time), flagpole when I bring one (only to WBCCI rallies), folding table (only if the campground doesn't provide picnic tables), etc. so the outdoor stuff doesn't clutter up the inside of the van while in transit. Then when I reach the campground, I unhitch and unpack the Honda to set up the campsite, and it's ready to use for whatever day trips present themselves. And if I arrive in pouring rain, the outdoor stuff can just stay in the car until the rain stops; no need to unpack the outdoor stuff in the rain just to clear up living space inside the Airstream.

I still occasionally go on trips without the Honda towed behind my Interstate. But only if they're short trips and I don't plan to leave the campground on day trips once I get to my destination. If the trip is going to be long enough to require a grocery run, or if there will be day trips from the campground, the Honda always goes with me.

I now have almost as many miles towing my Honda (almost 25k miles) as I do driving the Honda (just over 27k miles). I'm now very comfortable towing the car.I do bring more stuff when I bring the toad than when I don't. That's natural, since stuff expands to fill the space available for it. I could probably do without a lot of it if I had to; but I don't have to.One reason why I bought an Interstate in the first place was the ability to store it at home. I've been an apartment dweller my entire adult life, and there aren't many apartment complexes that will let you store a travel trailer on-site.

Many thanks for your input Protag.

I can certainly see the advantages to a toad - only recently did I start thinking about a class B without one and started to wonder what proportion of class B owners go wthout. Seems it is much more than I thought.

Last week it happened that we were camping next to a couple with a 17' Roadtrek, and I asked them about it - they said they had never considered towing a car and wouldn't. That git me rethinking a bit.

One thing I found recently by perusing brochures is that many times they can be a bit misleading as to what you can tow. Hitch capacity is one thing but when you start to look at CGVW figures you often find that you don't have as much capacity to tow as you might think.

The Honda Fit seems a good choice. New ones are no longer approved for towing four down as I'm sure you know though.

I recently traded my motorcycle in on a VW GTI. Love it and it would be great to take along, but being automatic (with paddle shifters) it cannot be towed four down, so I'd need to replace it if I wanted a toad. Everything is posible!

Lots to learn! Thanks again for your help!
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Old 10-16-2017, 07:27 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
That big shiny Mercedes Benz emblem on the grille* will go a long way toward easing the minds of your neighbors, present and future. It certainly eased the mind of my landlady when I asked about parking mine at my apartment complex! I made a point of showing her the brochure before I made the purchase, and her only comment was, "Oh! It's a Mercedes! Yes, that's fine!" The fact that mine was an Airstream didn't even register; that big Mercedes emblem was the only branding she noticed. But with that in mind, you might want to avoid the Winnebago ERA, because the 2-foot-tall ERA emblem and the swirly graphics overshadow the Mercedes elegance.

*If you buy a used one with a Dodge or Freightliner grille, you can get an OEM or aftermarket Mercedes grill to replace it, if you find it prudent to pander to the pretensions of your neighbors.
Good point! I do have neighbours with Audi's and Porsches - they would probably prefer it to our redneck GMC crew cab diesel parked in our drive at present. It is probably nearly as big as a B class as well!

I do like the fact that a lot of the B vans now have an attractive appearance without all the swoopy graphics - that too should make it more attractive to neighbours
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Old 10-16-2017, 07:49 AM   #9
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I believe what categorized ours as violating the local ordinances was that it had a bathroom.

I have storage about 1 1/2 miles from home, at a reasonable price, but must pay for it year round to be sure I have it.

Maggie
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Old 10-16-2017, 08:00 AM   #10
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I recently traded my motorcycle in on a VW GTI. Love it and it would be great to take along, but being automatic (with paddle shifters) it cannot be towed four down, so I'd need to replace it if I wanted a toad. Everything is posible!
Many vehicles with automatic transmissions (and paddle shifters) can be towed 4-down. My Honda is one, if I run the engine first and cycle through all of the gearshift positions, with the last shift being from D to N, and leave the key in the ACC position, limit my towing speed to 65mph or less, and run the engine again after every 500 miles. But since I don't make 500 miles on one tank of fuel in my Interstate before stopping to refuel, and almost never drive 500 miles a day anyway, that last part is a non-issue. I just run the Honda's engine and cycle the gearshift every time I stop for fuel in the van.

Roadmaster makes a towing baseplate kit for 2014 and earlier Volkswagen GTIs. But since the Volkswagen GTI owner's manual is silent on the subject of towing except for emergencies (I looked it up), I would not trust Roadmaster to know better than Volkswagen with regard to towing.

Every year in March or April, Motorhome Magazine publishes a "Guide to Dinghy Towing" that covers towable vehicles of that model year. So if you wanted to buy a used toad, you'd want to check the guide published for that vehicle's model year. But that guide is still only a guide. The vehicle's owner's manual is the final authority in that regard.

When I bought my Honda to use as a toad, the sale was contingent upon being able to use it as a toad. I got a statement in writing to that effect from the dealer, stating that if the vehicle proved not to be towable after all, they would refund the purchase price (though not the TT&L). Luckily it was and is towable, and the refund agreement wasn't ever put to the test.

Not sure if you'd consider this, but especially for front-wheel-drive toads, a 2-wheel towing dolly is an option, requiring no modification to the toad whatsoever. There are some towing dollies that fold up to store in a smaller space. And best of all, you can rent a towing dolly from companies such as U-Haul for long trips where you want to take your Volkswagen, and not have to bother with one otherwise.
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Old 10-16-2017, 11:59 AM   #11
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Honest assessment:
I have a crew cab pickup and a Classic 30.
Our camping friend has a 2004 Airstream Interstate.
My pickup and trailer handle the road better- less top heavy- can go faster.
The Interstate feels like it will just fall over if you go over 60 mph.
Maybe the newer Sprinter vans with dual rear wheels handle better?
You may want to consider keeping your pickup and trailer.
Also, the Interstate is so small inside it is claustrophobic.
Just saying...
Food for thought.
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Old 10-16-2017, 12:18 PM   #12
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I have been following this couple... not an Interstate, but still a class B. I have learned about some of the challenges as well as some of the benefits. Only issue is that ours will be 24' instead of the one they are using (shorter and easier to park everywhere).

Different from our intended use, they are living in it full time. So it can be done, but there will be compromises using as a full time living space.

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Old 10-16-2017, 01:30 PM   #13
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Sprinter

I think you really need to try one out for a few weeks before taking the plunge. It's a big commitment in money and emotion.

We use ours for touring. We camp about 8 of 10 nights and stay in hotels the other days. We break camp nearly every day and move on. The routine take less than 15 minutes.
We cook half the meals inside and about a third outside and a restaurant every few days.

We have broken camp to go into town but don't really like to. Not moving enforces discipline in planning.

We haven't found any kitschy little villages that are too small to navigate. Driving on two lane roads and interstate highwasy is a breeze.

It would be hard for us to stock the van with more than a week's worth of food.

I would not like to live in the van full time or for weeks without moving.
It is tight quarters for two and can get junked up.

I think the interior of the Interstate would suffer from the constant humidity of cooking and bathing without a good airing out.

80% of the reason for getting a Sprinter would be lost on us if we towed a car...in terms of flexibility and driving pleasure.

We didn't think we could store it at home when we bought it but we have been able to. I don't know how I would be able to give up the convenience and practicality of doing so.

I am pretty unhappy with the tiny NovaKool refrigerator in terms of capacity, cooling and access. I think maybe it lacks proper ventilation. The microwave is also difficult to access and to set. On the other hand, the wet bath which seems like it would be a pain is great to use and easy to maintain.
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Old 10-16-2017, 01:55 PM   #14
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Yikes, lots of Interstate negativity going on here!

I’ve put 45,000 miles on ours by myself, and feel it handles very well on the highway, in the mountains, on tight curves, etc.

I can and do cruise at 70 mph on the major highways, if I choose, as well.

We have never traveled in it and stayed in a motel, and grocery stores are everywhere so why do you need to carry tons of food?

I maintain a pantry area in one section under the rear benches, and that plus the frig would carry me for a couple of weeks if an emergency arose.

Small isn’t for everyone, and trying one out might be good, but we loved ours and I still do.

I think that those who have never had an Interstate should be cautious about leveling blanket criticisms.

Maggie
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