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Old 05-01-2012, 07:35 PM   #15
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I have no experience with Roadtreks (other than touring one once), but I've seen people towing Airstreams with the B190s occasionally. It never made much sense to me, because when you're at your destination, you have an ungainly, slow, tall, inefficient vehicle for driving around town in (or worse, cities). The Roadtreks are better than the B190s in terms of height and probably fuel efficiency, so the equation isn't quite the same, but it's still something to consider if you like to explore at your destination.

Note Airstream is also making the Airstream Avenue B van on the Chevy 3500 chassis now. But that's much like a Roadtrek in terms of clearance, I expect.
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Old 05-02-2012, 12:16 AM   #16
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It's definitely important to have some plumbing happening in the Roadtrek. To be a little clearer, when I talk about winding roads and heading into more escapist areas like national forests, they don't usually require 4 wheel drive and often are paved, but taking a trailer of any size wouldn't be recommended.

As for the plumbing in the Roadtrek/AS B-class/whatever we decide on, it would definitely be nice to have it, but we don't need to go all out and include a toilet or shower, though again, always nice to have. I have been looking into getting a conversion van and outfitting it, as well, but I spent so much time in our last venture with the VW Bus getting it up to speed, I'd love to just get something that's ready to go for this particular chapter of our travels.

As for some other questions which were asked:

Quote:
How long is each day of travel, would be the second frame by which I'd consider the questions (as a van or crewcab p/u are fine for that).
This is completely variable. Somedays we'll drive 500 miles and other times we won't move for a month.

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All facilities, all the time is quite a lot to ask given their actual use (since the TT has everything already), and six people aren't going to be sleeping in a van on solo trips.
No, we wouldn't all be sleeping in the van on solo trips, but being able to make coffee and wash our hands out in the wild is always a bonus. I know it's not "true camping", but we've done enough of that in our lives, I'm not as worried about it. We're living in the thing, so even if it's only for a few days at a time without the Airstream, it's still important to at least have a good setup with potable water. I could easily live without toilet/shower in the van, but a cooktop of some sort and water/sink will definitely be on our list. Even when we're hooked to the Airstream, in the van will be my wife and I and our youngest son, who will require regular feedings all night long well after his mama is willing to keep up nursing.

Quote:
1] How long will it be owned?
Unfortunately I have no idea on this. We have no intentions of ending our mobile lifestyle, so indefinitely is about as close to an answer as I can give there. I'm not one to really purchase things and try and sell them off later, particularly if they work out really well for our lifestyle. At least five years.

Quote:
2] How many miles will it travel in that time?
We do 19,000 miles / year on average.

Quote:
3] How many nights aboard?
Basically every night of the year, though of course we do stay in hotels sometimes, so maybe we could say 300 nights / year.

I'm also not that concerned about being able to drive a Roadtrek, or something similar, around in cities. Aside from having plenty of experience driving big vans in small city streets, we've become quite accustomed to bicycling everywhere, or just finding a lot to park in and walking around cities all day long.

Though that is already making me sad to be leaving behind the VW Bus, you can park that thing anywhere there's even half a spot, really...
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Old 05-02-2012, 05:07 AM   #17
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A few things:

Andy Thomson, one of the owners of CanAm RV Centre in Ontario, is known as a towing expert. In this article he talks about towing his big Airstream with a Pleasure-Way Sprinter.
If you're looking at Roadtrek, you should also look at Pleasure-Way, but you probably knew that already.

Another option is to have a tow rig custom-built for you by someone like Sportsmobile. They can put in a pop-top just like your VW vans. One of their Nissan-based vans might also provide more towing grunt and ground clearance than the Sprinter, or they can build a gnarly 4x4 rig. A Sportsmobile, built with some spending restraint, might wind up to give you just what you want for less money than a full-blown Roadtrek moho.

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Old 05-02-2012, 06:23 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by clicknathan View Post
I'm also not that concerned about being able to drive a Roadtrek, or something similar, around in cities. Aside from having plenty of experience driving big vans in small city streets, we've become quite accustomed to bicycling everywhere, or just finding a lot to park in and walking around cities all day long.
Fair enough. I can think of a couple parking decks that wouldn't fit my pickup, let alone a Roadtrek, but there are usually other options nearby, so it's not THAT big of a deal.
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Old 05-02-2012, 06:47 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skater
I have no experience with Roadtreks (other than touring one once), but I've seen people towing Airstreams with the B190s occasionally. It never made much sense to me, because when you're at your destination, you have an ungainly, slow, tall, inefficient vehicle for driving around town in (or worse, cities). The Roadtreks are better than the B190s in terms of height and probably fuel efficiency, so the equation isn't quite the same, but it's still something to consider if you like to explore at your destination.

Note Airstream is also making the Airstream Avenue B van on the Chevy 3500 chassis now. But that's much like a Roadtrek in terms of clearance, I expect.
I disagree.

What you have with a class B is a bathroom, frig and galley kitchen that all you have to do is step from your seat to the back to access. This is extremely convenient while sightseeing and fuel economy is great. You can also access a change of clothing or nap a child in your parking space.

We do not find our Interstate ungainly, slow, tall or inefficient for driving around town or in cities. The only city limitation is parking garages, which we have to avoid because of height limitations. We've never had a problem finding other parking.

Doug has maneuvered us through many big cities without a scratch. There are a great many Sprinter vans out there doing the same thing for FedEx, UPS, etc.

It depends on what you want. If one had the funds, towing a trailer with a class B would be perfect for families, from our experience.


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Old 05-02-2012, 07:14 AM   #20
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Indefinite length of ownership with 20k annually plus 300-nights/year speak loudly for custom work. The need for "plumbing" as defined, even more so. Nice job, clicknathan, on why a trailer is a good idea (5-6 persons) as a 1T van as the TV appears the best choice.

I would recommend looking at a built-in 5500W generator as a worthwhile addition. The ability to keep the trailer air-conditioned should be no small consideration. Whether the TV is gasoline or diesel it is best placed in the TV for weight/space considerations.

The order of importance for any "RV" (we stretch that term all the time) is:

1] Mobility
2] Water
3] Propane

all the rest is second to this order. The TV, being fitted with limited water & propane capabilities, has to be of a certain size for persons and towing. A generator is thus complementary to the rig as a whole.

Whom to outfit the TV is the dilemma, now. The links to outfitters, above, is a good start. Used versions of those plus Quigley Motor Company, Inc. > Home is where I would start my note-taking and list-making.

If one projects from the known:

20k miles annually
300-nights/year aboard

Then the cost of the TV & TT can be put in perspective over 1500-nights:

Every night of use the rig costs $XX

as the baseline for all other expenditures.

One van or another isn't so expensive when seen as a change in percentage of a single night of use.

Expect that the cost of such a van is over $1.50/mile on an annual basis where five years of ownership is the goal; expenses related wholly to the purchase and operation of such (including depreciation) inclusive to the TV should be made.

$85/day for the TV would be my starting point (the low one) in order to relate it to the TT and all other expenses where per night of use is the decision making number. Fuel expense is less than half of that number, roughly.

Have you thought of how the TT would be used (lay-out or floorplan) to set what size you want? A van of this sort can pull literally any Airstream ever made so whether a 25' or up to a 34' is not a relevant concern any longer. Only where you may wish to park the thing.

A full-size van is of a certain length, and with a VPP WDH (virtual pivot point, weight-distributing hitch) adding another foot to the hitched length, the placement of the pivot point between TV & TT can be determined, as can the hitch ball center to TT axle center to determine the size of the turning circle when married to manufacturer numbers about the wheel cut. Etc.

Much can be done on paper, in other words, to marry TT length to relative space needed for turns, etc.

The more closely this all is done as a business proposition the easier are all other comparisons to be made. Where compromises can be done based on experience.

I would like to suggest that there is stuff here for a great thread as the OP has depth of experience to work from. Others -- now and in the future - would benefit from how to move folks around and keep them sheltered. Instead of asking us, IOW, we'd be asking you.

I hope we get to see some of the decision-making laid out in various posts; why some choices ranked more highly than others.

.
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:22 AM   #21
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We do not find our Interstate ungainly, slow, tall or inefficient for driving around town or in cities. The only city limitation is parking garages, which we have to avoid because of height limitations. We've never had a problem finding other parking.
Parallel parking in a downtown area could also be a problem unless you can find two spaces end-to-end and take (and pay for) them both.
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:37 PM   #22
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Doug has maneuvered us through many big cities without a scratch.
You don't drive it? Why not?
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:43 PM   #23
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A few years ago I had a dream of living in an Airstream which I towed with a VW Bus. Research lead me to the realization that a VW Bus would never be able to handle such a load..,so my family of 3+dog ended up forgetting about the Airstream part of the equation and have happily been roaming around in this old Volkswagen.

However, we have expanded from 3 to 5, with number 6 (including grandma), on the way as of September. We've finally concluded that we need to upgrade. The decision is bittersweet, as if you've never lived on the road in a "hippie van" well, you may want to try it ASAP.

So anyway, our plan was to get a Vintage Airstream in relatively good condition for around $7000, and tow it with a Roadtrek. Apparently, Roadtreks are rated at 8100lbs and I believe I've seen Vintage AS at around 8000lbs. I know that's pushing it considering we'll have gear on board as well as water, but alas, such is my desire. Living in the Bus is so great because unlike an RV, we can easily venture into cities, up narrow winding roads and into national forests. A Roadtrek would offer that type of occasionally more cramped flexibility if it can handle the tow job.

So I'm just wondering if anyone might have any experience in this arena?
Interestingly enough, have you seen a product called "Dub-Box?" It looked interesting and may be right up your alley!
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:47 PM   #24
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Parallel parking in a downtown area could also be a problem unless you can find two spaces end-to-end and take (and pay for) them both.
Agreed, but we've done it, or found a public lot that suited us better. Never been a problem.


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Old 05-02-2012, 02:49 PM   #25
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You don't drive it? Why not?
I do drive it, and don't find it a problem.

Doug loves to drive, anything and anywhere, and I like to look at what we're passing.

I navigate, he takes the wheel---unless he needs me to, for whatever reason, or I just have a yen to drive.


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Old 05-02-2012, 03:11 PM   #26
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I do drive it, and don't find it a problem.

Doug loves to drive, anything and anywhere, and I like to look at what we're passing.

I navigate, he takes the wheel---unless he needs me to, for whatever reason, or I just have a yen to drive.
I'm glad to hear that - it took me a while to get my wife to drive the B190 and now the trailer. But she does and it's great for us on trips to share driving.

For parking, one issue I can think of is the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry - they have a parking deck which is okay for pickups I think, but not much taller, and it's not really a good neighborhood around the museum. I'd hesitate to park any expensive vehicle there.

It's also a little different for me since I've always traveled with my cat, who needs air conditioning during the summer. Yes, I had a generator, but still... And what about keeping the fridge cold?

Up until we were involved in an accident with the B190, I always towed a car on a dolly with the B190 for running around at the destination. That wasn't much fun (well, the running around town in a relatively inexpensive, fun car was fun - but towing it and getting it on and off the dolly was not fun).

Anyway, my original thoughts were about the B190 and its towing capabilities; it's not exactly the same as the question asked, but some of the things I found might still be useful for someone.

In general, the B190 doesn't make a wonderful towing platform because its GCVW is 15,000 lbs, but the van itself was 9,000 lbs, leaving just 6,000 lbs for people, trailer, and supplies - which really isn't a lot when planning to tow an Airstream travel trailer. Of course people still towed their 34' trailers with them. You can probably fudge the 15,000 a bit but I wouldn't get too much heavier. The Roadtrek van numbers are probably comparable.
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Old 05-02-2012, 03:22 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by c_lewis77

Interestingly enough, have you seen a product called "Dub-Box?" It looked interesting and may be right up your alley!
Photo Gallery - Dub-Box Retro Caravan
Um, no I had never seen that! What a cool idea, even if it does mean some poor VW had to die.
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Old 08-24-2012, 04:43 PM   #28
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Thanks everyone on this, especially REDNAX. We did end up going custom. Bought a 95 Chevy Van, a G20 with low miles and all the power and towing capabilities we need. It came with a couch/ bed and next ill be researching how to build a solar powered with battery back up mini sink/ heater/outlet area so it can actually work as a pod on its own, even if we leave the AS behind at times. Our baby's due in a couple of weeks and so that gives me about five months to get this thing outfitted, find the right AS and we'll be bak on the road before Spring!
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