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Author Topic: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska  (Read 275 times)

Slowdog

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Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« on: September 15, 2017, 11:14:22 AM »
We have a 2004 Amerilite by Gulfstream light weight tag-along.  We have had problems with this camper leaking causing rotted wood and have repaired it all....I think....but I do question the structural integrity....  We wish to travel from SC to Alaska next summer with this camper.  Last year we did the West coast without any problems (I replaced the suspension components with heavier shackles and busings with sert fitting, brake system, wheel bearings and purchased new Maxxis radial tires before that 9000 mile trip). 

My concern and question relates to the overall ability of this camper to withstand a trip up the Alcan Highway and the Alaskan roads....specifically related to the pavement dips that seem to cause so much trouble for RVers.   This Amerilite has two 3000lb axles (per Gulfstream) on 13" wheels and 7" brakes which is supposed to allow a GVWR of 4340lbs.  I am confident that when we fully load this camper with water, both full LP tanks, food, clothing and all of the other camping items necessary it will be at or over that max GVWR. 

Obviously, my choice would be to upgrade to a better built heavier camper, but our budget simply will not allow that.  We bought this Amerilte in 2005 because our Ford Explorer could handle that weight.  We now use a Ram 1500 with the 5.7 V8 as our tow vehicle so we could easily tow a better camper, but like I mentioned, it ain't happening in the near future....not if we make our bucket-list Alaskan trip next summer....and since we are retired and already have some health problems we feel like making this trip is now or never....so an advice is surely appreciated!!!

DDevers

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Re: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2017, 05:38:15 PM »
I do not know anything about that trailer but my wife and I make the Alaskan trip every three years.  The roads are for the most part, very good and improving each trip we go.  This year, there were a few more frost heaves between Tok and Glen Allen than we have seen before but the highway department was working on them.  If you slow down where there are the frost heaves and do not drive like making time is your greatest priority you will be just fine.  Yes, we know people that have damaged their rigs and have seen some go airborne but it was the drivers' faults.

There are numerous places to boondock in Alaska and if you do then water and a generator are essential.  We have stayed in numerous parks for 12-15 a night and find them to be great.  If staying in parks is your desire, then you needn't worry about having your tank full of water.

The most serious advice I can give is to take your time and enjoy the trip.  Since you're retired, hopefully you'll be able to make the trip on a leisurely schedule.  There is much to see and many sources that will provide you with information to assist in planning your trip.

We spent two months there this past summer and would have been there longer except we had a grandson that needed to return for school. 

Now's a great time to start your planning for next year.  Enjoy!

Slowdog

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Re: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2017, 09:11:33 PM »
Great advice, thanks!  Since you go so often, in your opinion, when is the best time to go?  We have heard that arriving in late May is best but a lot of bugs, then we have heard that arriving in July and leaving the middle of September is best, fewer bugs, better scenery and less people.  Any suggestion?  Our plan is to stay at least 4-5 weeks in Alaska, so the time of year is important to me.  We watched the LoLoHo videos on YouTube which suggested late summer....but we have also heard that August typically begins the rainy season.... I know from other travels that weather is not very predictable, but I do want to consider the trends.  Thanks again for your help!!

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2017, 10:01:20 AM »
Devers gave good practical advice. However, I have to question your budget priorities a bit.  A trip to Alaska is expensive too, but you will manage that even though you think your RV isn't up to the trip. Maybe a smarter plan would be a new RV now and postpone the Alaska trip for a year or two? Even with good roads all the way, you are talking about a 10,000+ mile trip with rather light duty equipment.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

AStravelers

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  • Part time travelers, 4-8 months each year.
Re: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2017, 03:40:34 PM »
Pretty much what DDevers wrote.

In addition:

Since you drove the western US without problems, on a 9000 mile trip, you should be good on your AK trip.  We covered 13,500 miles from Texas to Oregon, Alaska, back to Oregon and then Texas.  It was 4 1/2 months (139 days) from OR to AK and back to OR.   9 months for our whole trip including 4 separate 3-4 week stays to visit with family.

Take your time. Plan on 3 weeks from US border though Canada to AK.  Can you drive it faster, sure, but there is a lot to see, so as long as you have the time, slow down and smell the roses.   Needing to cover 300-350 miles in a day, means you are pushing it and must keep your speed up to around 55mph and don't have time to slow down for frost heaves.  The frost heaves are almost always marked with flags, but not all of them are marked.

The roads in Canada and AK are as good as the 2 lane highways in the lower 48 are.  Having said that, the roads in Canada are full width roads, with usually some paved shoulder area, however they have lots of hills, with grades of 3-5% and short sections of 8-10%.  These slow you down.  Also lots of curves which slow you to 40-50mph and slower when going down steeper grades.  Nothing bad, just slows down your travel. 

We highly recommend dry camping/boondocking.  Two very important reasons: 

First, it allowed us to travel without making reservations, except for our 11 day Denali stay where we make reservations about 2 weeks before arrival in early June.  No reservations allowed us to stay longer, if weather kept us from seeing doing things we wanted, or leave earlier if we saw everything we wanted in an area. 

Second, is cost.  For our 139 days we spent a total of $1046 for camping. 67 free nights and 72 paid nights.  If we had paid an average of $40/night our cost would have been $5560 even higher with an average cost of $45/night.  We stayed in gravel pits, road side pulloffs, county parks, city parks, and Walmart/Sam's Club for a few nights.  In Fairbanks we stayed in the city operated Pioneer Park's parking lot for $15/night.  Total of about 9-10 days there on two different stays.

For estimates of costs for RV Parks, go to www.rvparkreviews.com

If you are interested, here is a link to our blog of our trip:  http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/2017/01/alaska-trip-index-april-26september-6.html
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

Slowdog

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Re: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2017, 12:12:59 PM »
Thanks Guys!  Gary, we would love a heavier duty rig but with both of us retired (thus the time to go) I simply do not see us upgrading either the truck or the trailer...add to that our health issues which I think will end up grounding us within a few years....thus I am thinking that we better go while we can.  I purchased our light weight camper twelve years ago because my tow vehicle was an Explorer.  Then six years ago I bought this Ram 1500....I searched everywhere for a low mileage 3/4 ton but the truck market had been in a terrible slump and there simply were not many HD trucks available, and those were overpriced.  Of course upgrading the camper would also take a chunk of cash which would leave me short on funds to make the trip. Anyway, right now what I have on hand is what I must use....unless my ship comes in!!

Al, I will certainly read your blog!  Much of the information that I have comes from the various YouTube videos and blogs of RVers who have made this trip.  Like I mentioned, time we have, money will be the thing that haunts me.  I love to boondock or dry camp so I will do that every chance I get...as well as make use of NF, BLM, and US Corp campgrounds.  On our seven week trip last summer we never had to stay in a private campground at all. We almost never eat out on our trips and do not go for pricey touristy things...it is God's created natural beauty that attracts us.

I have been up the Alcan in 1971.  I was 17 and our family of four took the trip from Atlanta in my Dad's 1966 F250 and truck camper.  Of course the Alcan was all gravel at that time so what I remember is not really any help in planning this trip....almost no one took a tag-along back then....however, I do remember the heaves in the road from Tok down to Anchorage and also the lack of services.     

One other question for  you guys, assuming we have 3-4 weeks in the state of Alaska, what time of the year would you recommend.  We have heard that early summer is best and then we have heard that late summer is best...any opinion??

AStravelers

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Re: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2017, 06:07:22 PM »
............................One other question for  you guys, assuming we have 3-4 weeks in the state of Alaska, what time of the year would you recommend.  We have heard that early summer is best and then we have heard that late summer is best...any opinion??
Weather is AK is always nice, then rain, then nice then rain. 

For Denali, the two times we have been there in early to mid June (1999 & 2016) we have had multiple days in a row of clear weather where we could see all of Mt Denali. This doesn't mean every year this happens in June, just what we saw.  The park says only about 10% of all visitors get to see Denali from top to bottom w/o clouds. Also only about 25% of visitors see some of Denali w/o total cloud cover.  Sometimes the top, some times the lower part is obscured. 

About when to go??? 
--  We crossed the WA border into Canada April 27th and overall had decent weather on our 3 weeks through Canada to Fairbanks.  Some rain, some chilly mornings, but more partly cloudy to pretty clear weather.  Now some folks coming up in mid to later May got stuck in a snow storm.  Then in June heavy rain and floods washed out roads around Dawson Creek, around the start of the AK hwy. 
-- Keep in mind AK gets lots and lots of people in July and through most of August. Mid May through mid June there are fewer folks there.  Also not as many bugs in May & early June.

Only 3-4 weeks in Alaska?  I would suggest planning on 7-8 weeks in Alaska.  After all you made a huge amount of effort to just get to Alaska, so don't rush through the state.  Also Alaska is a big state, it takes a bit of driving to get from one place to another. 
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/


Slowdog

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Re: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2017, 09:32:39 PM »
Al, thanks for those links, I will all of them!  You make a great point about staying longer after spending the time and money to get there...we will discuss that.

UTTransplant

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Re: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2017, 10:17:06 PM »
We are heading to Alaska next year too, but we are taking the easy way out and taking a Adventure Caravans tour. We will take 48 days starting from Dawson Creek and returning to Prince George. We are looking at it as a sampler trip. We live close enough that we can go back in a few years to the places we want to spend more time at or we didn't get to the first time. We went ahead and bought a 2017 Milepost just to get familiar with the opportunities before we go. The tour will give us a 2018 Milepost at the start of the tour.
Pam and Kevin plus Minou and Lily (the cats) plus Lexi (the grand-dog)
2014 Outdoors RV Timber Ridge 240RKS
2015 Ram 2500 Diesel
http://toobusyforwork.com

Slowdog

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Re: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2017, 09:28:08 AM »
I took a look at your web page Kevin, it looks like you guys have had some great trips!  I can see the advantage to going along with a Caravan, it would not be in our budget at this time.  However,  checking their web site and the Alaska tour itinerary gave us a few ideas....  I do envy your Cummins Ram! 

AStravelers

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Re: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2017, 07:11:27 PM »
The down side for us about caravans, is the regimented travel.  There is a schedule that pretty much MUST be kept.  If it is colder or rainy than you like and an tour or activity is scheduled, you either go or miss seeing what was scheduled. 

When the group is scheduled to move to the new location there is no delaying, you move as directed.  Keeps you pretty busy.   

Also there are days you move in the morning, activity in the afternoon and maybe move again the next afternoon. 
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

Slowdog

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Re: Need Advice on Amerilite 21MB to Alaska
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2017, 09:05:44 PM »
I understand, that is the problem I have always had with Bus Tours.  We have friends who prefer those but I like to make sudden detours.  I hope that your Caravan experience is a good one for you! 

 

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