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Author Topic: Energy Level  (Read 489 times)

Jan C Wright

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Energy Level
« on: September 29, 2017, 11:20:49 AM »
Hi

My wife and I are still thinking through our upcoming retirement options and have been seriously checking out travel trailers.  One important side question is what is the energy level required to maintain a travel trailer? 

We're older now but when our kids were growing up we had a pop-up trailer and would typically camp 5 or 6 weekends a summer plus one longer trip.  But now, we're in our mid-60's and we don't have the energy we used to have.  I definitely don't mind troubleshooting and researching problems, but I don't want my retirement to be 100% problem solving - I want to relax some also.

What are your experiences?  Did some of you make the leap then regret it later?  What are some of the lessons you've learned?

QZ

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2017, 11:47:48 AM »
That could vary widely. I'm an old dirt biker so my method is to always do a poop load of repairs and maintenance initially so I'm hopefully not broke down on the trail. If you buy new you would obviously probably have the least number of issues to deal with. If you buy used I would be going through it from one end to the other with that fine tooth comb. People have had everything from the epdm roof blowing loose to tanks falling out and noticing when they stop for the day that they have no water pressure.

I went through an older FW for my son and spent a moth or more of 10 and 12 hour days to put everything in shape. I did the same with my rig. Another big consideration is if you go from campground cord to campground cord or if you plan on dry camping. From my generator to my panels I have probably spent $6000 + on my "energy" system.  Now that everything is up and running it's not bad to maintain but always expect something to happen. A big issue is to do frequent inspections to keep small problems from turning into disasters.

With RV's they say either be handy or have a lot of money. I have have enough money to do the latter but I wouldn't be doing this if I had to always deal with service departments, poor workmanship etc. I also have a real problem with spending my money on such lousy products like RV's. BUT...we do also love it because there really is no other way.


Edit: Again I would say a big dividing line is being in campgrounds with hook ups vs dry camping and either packing up every week or so to go dump or haul the waste out and water in. We sit in one spot in the desert for a long time and haul waste out to a campground or sometimes free dump. Some people even have their rv hauled from a winter spot to a summer spot and dont even own a tow vehicle.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2017, 11:57:26 AM by QZ »

Kevin Means

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2017, 12:29:21 PM »
That's difficult to answer with any certainty, because "how much energy" is somewhat subjective. The amount of maintenance an RV will require will, in large part, depend on its condition, how it's used, its age and complexity. Another factor is, what you're willing to live with. If a clock doesn't work, for example, or a cabinet door won't close, a window latch won't open, one could certainly live with those things, but ignoring preventative maintenance like battery maintenance (monthly to bi-monthly), roof inspection/sealing (at least annually) will lead to bigger problems.

You didn't say if you were looking at new or used trailers, but older ones, or even newer ones that have been neglected, will likely need some work so they're ready for use. Fortunately, travel trailers tend to be on the lesser side of the RV complexity scale, but also on the lighter duty side. Bouncing them down rough dirt roads every weekend (or California highways) is going to take a toll on them faster than if they were lightly used every other month.

There would be nothing wrong with paying someone to do preventative maintenance, and/or fix items on a punch list, but it can get expensive. The shop rate at the facility we use is $125.00 per hour. I think that if you were able to devote a couple of hours a month (or so) to preventative maintenance, you'd probably be able to keep up with most repairs.

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ or an Acura MDX
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 970 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
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Sprucegum

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2017, 12:41:45 PM »
I have less than a year left in my "60s" and have no trouble finding enough energy to enjoy my travel trailer. Most issues I handle myself but if it looks like a job I may not enjoy - I hire some one else.
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NY_Dutch

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2017, 01:08:08 PM »
My "60's" are about 5 years behind me, and I still have the energy to both enjoy and maintain most things on our motorhome. Today I did an oil/filter change along with a chassis lube, and tomorrow I'm removing the current pleated shower curtain and installing a new retractable shower screen. I don't do these kinds of things as fast I used to, but I still get them done without overworking myself. Personally, I find the work involved in maintaining our RV enjoyable for the most part, and I only hire out those items that are beyond the capabilities of either my tools or myself. And that doesn't amount to much...
Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar/Blue Ox base plate

JudyJB

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2017, 03:56:25 PM »
I'm a 74 year old woman who has been full-timing alone for over five years.  I can certainly say I don't have as much energy as I had when I started at age 69, but you are both a lot younger than that, so you should do fine.  I have met at least two ladies in their mid-80s who almost-full-time and do just fine also! 

I do some things a little differently than younger people might.  For example, I cannot kneel because of fragile kneecaps, so I made sure I have a bed with enough space around it that I can reach in to make the bed.  I also have poor hand strength, so I use a wrench to tighten water hoses.  I also am only 5'1" tall with a bad back, so I have trouble reaching inside my compartment to attach and detach the sewer hoses.  I have been using a make-shift wrench, but I just ordered a pair of the ones that will easily fit my sewer connector.  In addition, sometimes I sit on a low stool to do hookups, although actually I am managing without the stool most of the time. 

So, whatever you buy, check to see what adjustments you need to make to hook it up to your tow vehicle and do the rest of the daily chores like reaching and dumping tanks.

In addition, the best part of retirement is that you no longer have to hurry.  Most of us limit driving to about 200-250 miles per day--less is even better.  And then when I get somewhere, I tend to stay for several days.  Like yesterday, I was really worn out from driving 180 miles, stopping to do two loads of laundry at a laundromat, and another stop for groceries.  So, just relaxing today.  Tomorrow, I might get my bike out and go for a ride, or drive into a small nearby town to wander around.  The next day, I will no doubt spend a lot of time reading and watching TV and relaxing. 

I fix minor things like the drawer latch mechanism that seems to constantly break--had to replace one of those yesterday morning before taking off.  And last night, i had to tighten the screw on the handle of one of my fans. That required a stool while I reached up and tightened it.  And I checked my oil and added a couple of quarts the other day.  (That also requires a stool to lift my very heavy e-450 engine hood and reach inside the engine compartment.)  The big stuff, I have to pay to have done.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2017, 04:10:18 PM by JudyJB »
Full-timing for over five years in a
2012 Fleetwood Tioga Ranger 31N

kdbgoat

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2017, 04:07:34 PM »
Judy, would quick connects help on your freshwater hook-ups?
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captaindomon

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2017, 04:08:42 PM »
One thing to remember is that, depending on your financial situation, most of the energy can be replaced with paying someone to do things. If you find a tech you trust, you can have them do a season start-up and season-end winterizing for a couple hundred bucks, and that is a lot of the energy needed. Then just pay someone if things break. I'm not saying everyone should do this (I fix most everything myself), but it's something to consider.

JudyJB

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2017, 04:15:49 PM »
Yes, quick connects would probably help, but right now I have only the regular hose attachments.  The other thing that would help would be those big plastic connections like my son has on his trailer--like the ends on some water hoses.  I probably need to talk to someone about replacing them.  My hands are better now than they used to be.  Two years ago I had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome on one hand and last year had a trigger finger and thumb surgically fixed on the other hand.

The point is, of course, that people need to think about adaptations as we get older--like adding an extra grab handle to the shower stall and on the outside of the RV next to the door. 

And I have not regretted anything about the decisions I made decided to go full-time--even if a few of my friends still think I am a little crazy.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2017, 04:19:06 PM by JudyJB »
Full-timing for over five years in a
2012 Fleetwood Tioga Ranger 31N

Boonieman

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2017, 04:56:48 PM »
One thing is, on these message boards you mostly see posts about problems people are having. Thatís one of the great things about this site, is the large volume of information and super friendly and knowledgeable folks here willing to help. The thing you donít see, are posts about the 99% of the other time that people donít post that they had an enjoyable, trouble-free camping experience. My better half was the one that wanted to get a camper. I was very reluctant because I had zero experience, other than tents, so I was a little nervous about the whole thing. Turns out, itís one of the most enjoyable things Iíve done in my life and I canít wait to go and I hate winterizing it. 🙁 I just retired, but unfortunately she is younger than me and still works, so I canít (and donít want to) go without her. Repairs for the most part have been minor, you-tube is my friend. Have done some fixes on the Dometic refrigerator that were amazingly simple that Iím sure would have cost a bundle for someone else to do. We have three dogs that we love and donít like leaving behind, so camping gives so many more options. We do have our own storage building and I do the general maintenance and deferred repairs over the winter. Thatís one thing to consider, is where are you going to do the servicing of your RV? Our experience has been relatively trouble free, and I hope you all have a great retirement, no matter the path you take.
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John From Detroit

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2017, 05:08:37 PM »
I am mid 60's now and live (Solo) in a class A.. Never expected to outlive she who was my wife but guess what.. (SURPRISE!!!!).

I will admit some days. Lke the last couple.. It's a lot of work.. But then the last two days I've been doing things most folks pay for.

But my Main SLide now works normally.. And when I do my 800 mile hike I will have essential 120v while I overnight Don't have enough for the electronics (yet) but the fans will fan (That's the essential) while I sleep.  (300 watts tops)   HOpe to get the big inverter fixed in Jan.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2017, 10:56:34 AM »
Maintaining an RV is maintaining a house and a vehicle, and in a worse-case scenario for both: a heavily loaded vehicle carrying a house that gets shaken and rattled regularly. So yes, it takes some work, either yours or a paid employee. How much depends on a whole bunch of factors and others have addressed that part already.

How much energy? That's highly subjective. Do you hate to do fix-up chores around your house today? Do you do any maintenance on your vehicles yourself. RVs generally need more of that stuff than a fixed house. I'm 73 and do much of my own maintenance yet, but I enjoy that sort of thing. Most of us don't mind expending energy doing things we like, but grumble about things we consider "work".
Gary
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garyb1st

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2017, 02:48:49 PM »
For me, it's the physical exercise that goes hand in hand with the DIY mode.  When I landscaped my front yard 4 years ago, I lost more than 20 lbs in 3 months and ended up stronger than I had been in years.  I finished the project just after turning 70.  Here's a link.  http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php/topic,109187.0.html
Gary B1st

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Arch Hoagland

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2017, 12:57:06 AM »
A travel trailer is pretty much trouble free compared to a motorhome. So I think you'd do just fine without too much work.

How big of a travel trailer are you looking at and what do you have to tow it with?

2004 Monaco La Palma 36 DBD
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7.1 MPG over 80,000 miles

2000 Lexus RX300, 4020lb
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Jan C Wright

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2017, 11:23:52 AM »
Thanks, everyone for all your input.  I'll add a few details that people have asked me about that I didn't include earlier.

Travel trailer - we're looking at about a 30 footer with rear living and one slide-out.  A friend recommended that having no plumbing in the slide-out was a must for him, to reduce potential problems, so I'm taking that advice.  I'm looking at used based on things I've read. Used but well-maintained means that factory delivered problems have been dealt with under warranty, plus the travel trailer price to me is lower.  Of course, that means I must do a thorough inspection to make sure it's well maintained.  As far as maintaining the trailer myself, I do like to putz and repair on my own, and occasionally diving into things I've never done before.   However, I've done maintenance on my home over the years that i later realized would have been better left for the pro's.  Live and learn I guess (and occasionally regret when I should have known better!).

Tow vehicle - I'm pretty sure I'm looking at a Ford f250 or f350 to pull the weight of the size trailer I want, or an equivalent GM/Chevy vehicle.  Again, probably a well maintained used - after surviving sticker shock for a new vehicle.  I've never owned a truck before so I had to research prices and had no idea how expensive new ones were.  Still, I've been told DO NOT undersize your tow vehicle or you'll regret it.  I also seem to see that well maintained tow vehicles can have a long useful life.

The travel trailer life - my wife and I must admit that one reason we want the travel trailer life is we want to take our dog and cat with us.  Also, a large number of our vacations when the kids were growing up were spent camping in our old pop-up trailer so we're familiar with that kind of vacation.  Also, we wouldn't be full-timers, we'd likely go south during the cold winter months, then travel for shorter period the rest of the year.  I also like what I've read about how friendly people are that you meet when you're camping.

Again, thanks for your responses and any additional thoughts or advice people can give.

Arch Hoagland

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2017, 12:31:19 PM »
" after surviving sticker shock for a new vehicle."

I agree. It is totally insane, don't know how people can afford them nowadays. I know I can't.
2004 Monaco La Palma 36 DBD
W22, 8.1 gas,  Allison 1000 Transmission
7.1 MPG over 80,000 miles

2000 Lexus RX300, 4020lb
U.S. Gear Braking System

Kevin Means

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2017, 12:39:23 PM »
It seems like you've done some research and you have a pretty good idea what you want. Here's one more suggestion... No offense to your friend, but our last two motorhomes had plumbing in the slides, for sinks and a residential refrigerator, and neither RV ever developed any leak problems - over 18 years. Manufacturers have been installing plumbing in slides for a long time now. Is it possible that the plumbing in a slide could develop a leak? Sure, but it's not a real common complaint on this Forum. I would not let that concern sway me from getting the RV I really wanted. FWIW

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ or an Acura MDX
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 970 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

Jan C Wright

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2017, 01:25:40 PM »
thanks - good to know about the plumbing in the slides.  My friend was new to travel trailers so was taking some guesses at where potential problems might be.  It's always good to get feedback on real life experiences though - that's what I'm looking for so thanks for your response.

JudyJB

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2017, 03:20:48 PM »
I not only have my kitchen sink on a slide, but that slide also contains my water heater and oven/stove and propane hookups!  No problems in over five years of full-timing, which means those slides go out and in constantly.  Refrigerator is NOT on slide, thankfully, because it is very heavy. 

My only comment is that 30' is a really big trailer to pull, but I know people do it all the time. 
Full-timing for over five years in a
2012 Fleetwood Tioga Ranger 31N

Jan C Wright

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2017, 08:04:30 AM »
question to JudyJB - you mention that a 30 foot trailer is very big.  Since I'm new to this, I curious about starting out with a 30 foot trailer.  What kind of learning curve is involved with pulling a 30 footer? Did you start out with something smaller then move up?  We did have a pop-up trailer when our kids were growing up so I have some towing experience although not with a travel trailer.

I'm just asking to find out if I'm jumping into the deep end too soon.  :)

NY_Dutch

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2017, 08:30:33 AM »
In general, longer trailers are usually easier to back up then shorter trailers. As always, "GOAL" (Get Out And Look) applies even more for a longer trailer though.
Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar/Blue Ox base plate

Arch Hoagland

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Re: Energy Level
« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2017, 04:16:57 PM »
You'll do fine pulling a 30' trailer.  Practice in an empty parking lot.

2004 Monaco La Palma 36 DBD
W22, 8.1 gas,  Allison 1000 Transmission
7.1 MPG over 80,000 miles

2000 Lexus RX300, 4020lb
U.S. Gear Braking System

 

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