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Old 02-06-2009, 01:32 PM   #29
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Here's my thought, Gene. I've been looking at trading in the Titan for a 3/4 ton truck with an aluminum utility body. An aluminum utility body only weighs around 700 pounds replacing the not-as-useful standard truck bed. We run our fleet trucks here (mostly F350s) with utility bodies, lift gates and snow plows.

One of the things I like about a utility body is that it makes the truck storage space much more user friendly than a standard truck bed, with or with a "topper." My thought is to keep my tools and repairs items for the truck and trailer in the utility body. I also think there is enough room for a super quiet Honda generator. I'm thinking a "hard mount" set up with noise and vibration dampening and a nice connection right into the trailer's electrics.

If we're going to use the AC boondocking, we going to need a decent generator. While I know the microwave pulls heavy watts, it's not something we'd run often. But it's just so darn handy for heating things up.

As for frig space, you have some good thoughts. I know my wife can fill any frig on the planet, but part of our hiatus goal is to eat more fresh and local stuff. I would like to more to a European "micro-shopping" model. This doesn't necessarily work for hardcore out of the way boondocking, but I remember surviving reasonably well on an old-fashioned cooler. As for baking, one of my thoughts is to deploy the outdoor cooking gear in the utility body. Just as the trailer will have an awning, I can see us having something along the lines of a camp kitchen/chuckwagon side of the utility body. Since I do 90 percent of the cooking, I'll be the one roughing it as necessary.

The AC unit is a tough nut to crack. When we were in SC, we saw an Overlander with a beige unit on the roof. It stuck out like a sore thumb. Now, I am thinking about a white/light colored coating system. I think there are some innovative solutions out there but there is also a fair amount of hype. Hopefully, a well designed roof system will reduce internal heating lowering the need for AC. Oh, and perhaps mounting a couple of solar panels would create some shade.

I agree with your sage comments on compromise, Gene. Engineering is the art of making wise trade offs. I've spent a good deal of my life buying what I could afford rather than buying top drawer. When we picked up the Overlander, I knew we'd have to make some tough choices about how to fit a traditional house lifestyle into a vintage 26' travel trailer. If we're going to live on the road for a year, we're not going to travel with crappy gear. Everthing has to meet the WoWe standard... Worth the Weight.
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Old 02-06-2009, 07:09 PM   #30
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The utility body is a master stroke. You may just start something Ken.

As for the generator, if you're going to hard mount it in the utility body, why not convert to propane and have an extra tank in the truck? Our 1,000 watt Honda is quiet if you measure it against all other generators, but it's not what I'd call quiet. A mount in the utility body may enable you to add additional sound deadening material. Then the next step for boondocking is the auto-start generator—get up early (you always do in Alaska in the summer), press a button, generator starts, stumble into kitchen, zap a cup of coffee (made the day before with a Chemex so the coffee stays fresh [do they still make Chemex coffee makers?]), and you'll soon be awake.

Gene
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:21 AM   #31
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You are far too generous, Gene. The closest thing I have ever done to a "master stroke" is marrying the right woman. Propane conversion is a darn intriguing thought and another "jug" of propane wouldn't be all bad. Beside, one of the routine headaches of a genny is refueling her. The propane operation might be just the ticket. And when it comes to generators, I'm very sensitive to causing any noise that might disturb folks. With the "channel" in the utility bed, I figure it wouldn't be hard to add a cover with some sound deadening materials on the inside. I can't get too carried away because a 3/4 ton does not have unlimited capacity. By going aluminum on the utility body, I shave about 900 pounds off a steel utility body, but I'll have to get a number on a standard bed and tailgate to know how much ground I'm giving up.

As for java, I may be using the old propane burner to brew up some espress and adding it to a bit of steamed milk. Yeah... just like the mountain men at the rendezvous.
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Old 02-08-2009, 03:47 PM   #32
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Custom Mattress

Quote:
We haven't made a decision about the bed except to get as close to "queen" as practicable and put it in the rear.


Hampstead,
You mention that you are going to try and get as close to "queen" size as possible. Which means you may need a custom sized mattress. When we were at the Hershey R.V. show last year we stopped by the booth for CamperMattress because after a season on a "vintage" '87 mattress both my wife and I need something with a little more support.

They are in Johnstown, PA and seem to make a quality product. They have something like three grades of mattresses and will custom build to your specifications. They had the middle of the road mattress at the R.V. show and it was very comfortable and close to a residential mattress. The only concern I had was the weight. It went over 100 pounds and I am not sure if I want that weight bouncing around in the tail end of the trailer (like you said...is it worth the weight).

They ship, but I think the Mrs. and I will be taking a road trip before the '09 season starts to get a new mattress and make a side trip to the Johnstown flood museum. I just know my back won't take another season on that original mattress that came with our '87.

PS when will you be retrieving your coach from down south?
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Old 02-08-2009, 04:04 PM   #33
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Depending on the model, one doesn't have to be restricted to an RV sized queen. I have lengthened the board the mattress is on and moved the mattress down. Next I plan to build an object to fill in the space at the top, make it easy to tuck in regular fitted sheets and support a memory foam pad. I'm documenting it on a thread ("2009 Road Trips") and when I finish the "object" I'll post some pictures. By using a topper, I avoid having to have something created with the curve—a topper can be cut to fit with a utility knife. I am concerned about the chemicals in memory foam and will look at organic toppers when I get to Denver next month.

Our model has enough space at the foot to extend the mattress about 4". Other models do not.

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Old 02-08-2009, 06:02 PM   #34
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Well, Carl, when we pulled our girl south, we knew we were at the back of fairly long line. My wife (the optimist) thinks spring. I'm thinking early summer. When we get the tin girl back at the house, I expect to start our work in the rear of the coach, aka "the bedroom." The advantage of of a custom manufacturer like Camper Mattress is the ability to make the bed fit the coach rather than vice versa. My wife and I enjoy our current queen-sized bed, but we've managed on a double bed before. Maybe something between the two will work?

One of the ideas I was kicking around is to "break" the mattress about two-thirds down. Personally, I hate detest "split" mattresses. I inevitably fall in the cracks of any gaucho or "puzzle square" bed. If the bed were split "below the knees," we wouldn't fall in the cracks and it might allow better access to the storage below.

Let me know about memory foam, Gene. We have it on our current mattress and I've been noticing some concerns on the forum.
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Old 02-08-2009, 07:23 PM   #35
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Ken,

I saw the concerns too and so I asked a well known scientist and friend about it. Here's some of the response: "This product is probably 50% by weight polybrominated biphenyls or diphenyls (PPBE or PPDE depending what country you are from)" "this stuff is nasty" "immuno suppressant, disturbs thyroid, behavioral changes . . possibly cancer". There's also toluene, which is what people smell. The PPD(B)E is to prevent fires. Some of this family have been banned and others are still around. The industry will tell you it's all ok, but my friend (who I will not identify because I don't want to drag this person into this on this Forum) is famous, wins many awards and is one of the smartest and kindest people I know.

Foam is everywhere—sofas, chairs, beds, truck seats, etc. But why sleep on it too? So we started pricing organic mattresses and toppers and found them to be very expensive. But I think that I don't know what beds cost. They might not be that much more than a lot of high end beds. We bought a new one about 2 years ago for our house and it cost about $1,000 and I though we'd just bought the most expensive bed ever made.

So we started to think about isolating the uncomfortable Airstream mattress somehow and getting a new memory foam topper that wasn't dangerous. Basically all these are made of either organic cotton, wool, or natural latex or some combination. The latex is the most expensive. There was an article on organic and natural beds in the NY Times a couple of weeks ago and if you go to their website and use their search function, it's easy to find.

When I was young I could sleep on the ground in my sleeping bag and curl around the rocks. I could sleep on a bed as hard as concrete. I preferred it that way. As I get older and softer, so do my beds.

So when we go to Denver next month we'll check out these toppers at the two stores that sell these kind of toppers and mattresses. I'm not sure what we'll do. I want to avoid a new mattress and having anything custom made. That would be well north of $2,000. A standard size latex topper might be around $500, still more than I want to spend since I'm spending about $350 on LED lighting and will be spending more in Jackson Center in May. I'm sure there are similar stores near you and you may get to it before we do. If we do get a new topper, I will be able to sell you our old toxic one.

Since you will be building anything you want, you could put in a standard queen lengthwise (front to back) and have it moved back from the curves and save a lot that way. That space could be headboard assembly, maybe with a shelf and/or small storage. You probably already know this. But if you go with a split mattress, some sort of topper will solve the crater which attracts you—you could strap the mattress together to prevent the crater from getting wide (it will, of course, do that, especially if there's frisky behavior). Personally I think there's a lot of difference between a queen and a double, much more than between a king and a queen. We have a king at home and we downsized from a California king and that was an adjustment.

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Old 02-08-2009, 09:39 PM   #36
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Gene,

I'm embarrassed to tell you what we spent on our last bed a couple of years ago. When we go on hiatus, it's going into secure storage.

One of the advantages of gutting a vintage Airstream is the chance to pick everything. Of course, the disadvantage is paying for all of that freedom. I like your idea of going organic for a topper or something similar to soften the mattress. My wife could sleep on a cobblestone street. I like a little more give to my mattress. I've heard a couple of folks talk about the "sleep number" bed, but I have a hard time getting around the whole "advanced air mattress" reluctance. Perhaps I was unduly scarred by too many air mattress deflations in my impressionable youth? The thing about a bed choice is that 1) we spend more time on it than any other single object; 2) it's intensely personal insofar as preferences. What may feel like a heavenly cloud to one, may feel like a sack of boulders to another. I agree with the double/queen transition. My concern is less the lost "curve" and more the lack of room on one side or the other. We've looked at the bed-against-the-bulkhead option, but that would seem to cause problems if the "inside" person needs to get up. My wife and I, however, did decide that a comfortable bed/sleeping area was our single highest priority (behind safety). We can cook outside. We can recreate outside. We can use campground bathrooms. The one thing we absolutely need from the Overlander is a good night's sleep...

As for the chemical info, I'm going to nose around a bit myself. The last thing anyone needs is more acronyms bouncing around the body's chemistry. Thanks for the heads up, Gene.
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