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Author Topic: Lost in translation  (Read 4841 times)

John Burgess

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Lost in translation
« on: March 17, 2011, 03:52:37 AM »
Hello everyone,
I'm new to the forum, and another Aussie looking to wander around the US.  For many years my wife and I have caravaned (towables?) around Australia.  Our rigs are very different to what I've seen on the net in the US.  We have a Toyota Landcruiser Prado and a 18' van (1400 kgs) getting 17-18 mpg (imperial) cruising at 60 mph on a trip.  Our country, in the bush, is really a diesel environment and my car is that.  Our plan is to buy a trailer and a tow vehicle and spend a few years wintering in the norther hemisphere - I have decided I am mature enough to avoid winter for the forseeable future - when we retire in a year or two, storing the car and trailer when we return to Oz for our summer.  Checked out the visas, rego can occur in Arizona and all that.  Now my problem is getting a handle on what sort of vehicle I look for to tow -   help...

We are planning on a 21' queen bed trailer without necessarily having slides or any of that.  We travel in warm weather so we find we tend to spend most of our time out of the van and trailer size isn't that important to us.   In Oz I would tow that with a 3L - 4.2L diesel - Toyota or Nissan 4wd.  I read on the net lots of talk about V10's and petrol pickups.  I suspect Oz is a lot flatter than North America and we certainly don't have snow like you do (we're just about all desert or sub tropical jungle).  It will only be the wife and I (and probably the four legged child replacement program) so we don't need a big car, but back seats have always been attractive to me.  The other point is we're not looking at a new vehicle - or trailer.  Perhaps around $10k worth of van and a vehicle with 50-80 thou miles on it.  Bear in mind, for us, this will be a second rig for a few years that we will dispose of when we've seen enough, or anotomical decay has set in. 

I am having some difficulty trying to fathom the weights and vehicle types / sizes you use in the US.  Anyone over there bi-lingual and can help a bit?

thanks


aj

Ned

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2011, 09:36:25 AM »
You may find our Glossary (accessed from the Glossary button on the upper button bar on each page) of some help in defining our various terms.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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Kim (skyking4ar2) Bertram

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2011, 10:11:22 AM »
John,

I hope you don't stay lost in translation, but I did enjoy the humor.  ;D

Good luck on finding what you need here; what you don't find with some searches and the library, no doubt, when you pose your questions, everyone will enjoy your sense of humor!

Enjoy!

Kim
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Pierat

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2011, 10:24:36 AM »
Rego meaning motor vehicle registration in AZ? That won't be cheap.
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Marsha/CA

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2011, 11:24:07 AM »
Welcome John, You mention that you have checked out the visa information, so you are aware there is a time limit that you can stay in the US? 

As Pierat mentions there are states that will be lower in taxes and sales tax than others for your purchase.  We are not all the same... ;)

Dealing with the weights is fairly straight forward.  You need to know 3 weight factors.  The weight of the truck (tow vehicle); the total weight the truck can carry and pull (CGVWR) and the weight of the trailer you are pulling.  The truck and trailer, when fully loaded,  should not weight more than the total that the truck can carry and pull (CGVWR).  That number is usually found on the inside of the door.  As Ned mentioned if you check our library there are several articles on towing, along with one that describes the above terms.

Have fun, we are a very big country with diverse climates and cultures.  The North will be cold in the winter and the Southwest will be very hot in the summer.

Marsha~
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Tom

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2011, 11:55:38 AM »
I'm curious if weight ratings and terms in Australia follow the UK &/or Europe. Our Glossary of RV Terms that Ned mentioned has some equivalent terms. e.g.:

GCVWR  (USA) = Train weight  (UK)
GVWR  (USA) = Maximum authorized mass (UK)

If Australia has different equivalent terms, I'd gladly add them to our Glossary.
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

JerArdra

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2011, 01:25:55 PM »
John,

Where you register a vehicle in the US is called the "Department of Motor Vehicles" (DMV) and each state has one.  You might check DMV Montana (just Goggle DMV Montana) because they have low vehicle registration fees and no sales tax on the vehicle's purchase price. 

A possible down side, for example, is that you could not spend more than either three or six contiguous months in Arizona or they might try to get the sales tax and registration fee from you.

JerryF
JerryF  ;D  ;D

John Burgess

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2011, 06:42:03 PM »
Thankyou all for the responses.  George Bernard Shaw when speaking of the England and America famously observed that they were two common peoples, divided by a common language.  How right he was – an I would add, us too!!
Marsha, thankyou for the advice on Visas.  Yes because we diplomatically like each other we can get entry for 90 days without a visa – if the point of entry official personally likes me.  I should have no problem, they wouldn’t dare – I worry about the wife and no, she’s not reading this forum.   Our intention was to stay for 4-5 months at a time to avoid our winters and soak up your summers (opposite hemispheres).  The six month time limit for us is fine as we want to come home for summer and Christmas (we don’t do Thanksgiving).  So the combined B1/B2 is our answer.  Have the info on that – thanks although I did note the movement into Canada and am now thinking about coming over on a 90 day first to actually shop for an RV – about house swaps or homestays…
As for the fuzzy baby, yes haven’t looked at that yet.  But I sense we’d not be forgiven if we left dog behind!!  I check out the web site.
Tom, Ned, thankyou checked out the glossary that was helpful.  I’ve also sent over some Aussie terms individually for info.  Please feel free to disregard Tom.  Vanning is big in Oz and happy to share info about how to do it here.
Jerry, thanks for the DMV stuff – it seems consistent with Oz – lots of money, no service and problematic information – we do that too!  I take the point about cost and more research is required.
Now my other observation - great answers, wrong question!!
I am having trouble identifying the type of vehicle I should be considering to tow the van we intend over there.  It seems when I read your sites that you all have very large tow vehicles.  From what I have seen on the web in Oz an F350 is a mammoth, a Land Cruiser is common and large and smaller vans (12’ – 16’) are towed with Nissan pathfinder (Xterra) type vehicle or normal family sedans.  All the cars over there are named differently.  Can someone help me with some types that are around Landcruiser size?
aj

Lou Schneider

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2011, 07:25:13 PM »
Hi John -

Welcome to The RV Forum!

It's been about 10 years since I toured your great land, but here's what I remember - hope this makes sense.

A lot of the roads you'll be traveling on will be part of our Interstate Highway system.  They're similar to your freeways but more heavily traveled than what I encountered 10 years ago.  More like extended versions of the Sydney Motorways, except going from one end of the continent to the other.  Each direction will be at least 2 or 3 lanes wide in rural areas, and may go as wide as 4-6 lanes or more in the cities.  To keep up with traffic you'll need a tow vehicle that's large and stable with enough power to let you accelerate at a good clip to at least 90 -110 kph (55-65 MPH) and be able to run there all day, up and down moderate grades.  You may slow down on some of the steeper grades out west, but so will the trucks and other large vehicles.

Secondary roads tend to be more like the New England Highway towards Tamworth.  Again, 55-65 MPH is an acceptable speed.

Back in the 1980s, the US Federal Government mandated Fuel Economy standards for standard passenger cars.  This means regular cars over here are designed to move themselves and their passengers, with little or no excess to tow a trailer.   So you're looking at using something like a pickup truck (ute), a large SUV or a passenger van to get an acceptable tow vehicle.  These vehicles so far have been exempt from the Government's fuel economy standards, so you can still get the extra power, heavier brakes and transmissions, etc. needed for trailer towing in them.

Ford has a comprehensive Towing Guide available on the Web.  The recommendations they give for each of their vehicles is typical of what you'll find from other manufacturers.

Is this something like what you want for a trailer?  Jayco 221  If so, it weighs about 3800 lbs (1725 kg) empty, and close to 4950 lbs. (2250 kg) by the time you add a tank of fresh water, propane, your clothes, food and other stuff.  So you'll need a tow vehicle capable of towing at least 5000 lbs.

Looking at the Ford Towing Guide, that needs at least a minimally equipped F-150 fullsize pickup (ute).  Or at least a Ranger (midside pickup) with all the optional equipment.   But I would consider that to be a marginal tow vehicle.  Don't be alarmed - at 4.8 L the F-150's standard V-8 isn't much larger than the engine in your 4WD.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2011, 07:29:32 PM by Lou Schneider »

John Burgess

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2011, 12:49:13 AM »
Thankyou Lou,

I guess it helps when someone understands the context.  Your rural roads are 2 to 4 lanes wide??  Wow, did you do the Oodnadatta or Birdsville Tracks while you were over here?  Nothing’s changed.  For the info of others the tracks are secondary roads in the north of South Australia on the way to Queensland.  Gravel all the way, over 800 miles, little or no population, diesel if you’re lucky (no gasoline out there) and whenever the wet arrives you stay until they send a grader out to rebuild the road.  Oh yes and you’re surrounded by more poisonous critters than anywhere else in the world and the cows that run free, when not attacking feral camels they have to bend over to look you in the eye – great country!!

You’ve absolutely nailed it for me.  The Jayco is the type of van, and as a matter of interest the weights are not dis-similar to ours.  Once I’ve had a 5 year old show me how to down load a conversion application onto my smart phone I can muddle through weight conversions I reckon.  Understand the style and basic features of the Jayco, again similar.  Thanks that’s really valuable info.  The floor plans vary, and the bride would like a little more luxury, perhaps a washing machine, which isn’t a silly request as we intend to live in it for four or five months of the year for a couple or three years. 

Understands speeds, same, same thanks.  As a matter of interest we did the New England Hwy last year coming back from Sydney.  Spent a week in Tamworth, good town.  Sounds like your topography is similar to ours.  That’s ok, yep – can manage that.  Traffic density will enhance skill I suspect…

The info about passenger cars is interesting, but I graduated from passenger cars 8 years ago, I found I was wearing them out.  4WD over here are much more resilient.  The real gem was the Ford towing guide.  I agree the Ranger is too small.  Having spent 30 minutes surfing, I’m looking at Amata’s, Sequoia’s, Cruisers, Expeditions, Yukon’s and Sierra’s as vehicle types, am I close?

Interestingly, the Sequoia is a little smaller but very similar in stats to our Prado.  The Cruiser Prado isn’t a derivative of a ute though, a little more refined.

Thanks for the info about engines.  That is interesting.  Many vaners over here prefer diesel.  Gas (Petrol) is often hard to find in remote Australia and mpg on diesel is better which counters a slightly higher pump price.  Because we have vast distances there is also a focus on long range tanks – I carry 180 litres (50 US gallons) on board my car that gives me an effective range of 1,000 k’s (660 miles) that ensures I don't pay overly high prices between capital cities.  My sense of it is that long ranges and refills are not big issues over there – is that correct?

I have to get over the mental block we have to gas SUV’s.  Having had a quick look we’re probably going to be looking for something in reasonable condition with 80-100k miles on the clock.  I generally sell on petrol cars about 20k before that mileage.  Will have to have a think about that.

Enough for now, thanks again.

aj


aj

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2011, 08:07:38 AM »
Diesel is not as popular as gas here, except in large vehicles. No good reason - just American obstinacy.  The larger Pick-ups (utes?) are often diesel, but there is a purchase price premium measured in thousands of dollars. There is a nice Mercedes diesel in a mid-size van chassis (usually called the Sprinter chassis, after the first Dodge van that used it), but its a little light for any serious hauling.

Fuel tank range is a non-issue. It is rare to go 30+ miles without finding a gas fuel station, though diesel may be a bit further apart. Even in Alaska fuel stations are rarely more than 100 miles apart on any of the highways (travel into the backcountry is another story).

You won't find a washer/dryer in any trailer or motorhome in the 20-28 foot range. You need to go quite a bit larger, say above 32 feet, to have room for that (or at least Americans think so and therefore that's the way they are built).  Public laundry facilities are common in campgrounds and small towns across the USA, though. Sometimes a bit grubby, but usually functional.

Yes, you are looking at the right sort of vehicle for the trailer you have in mind. Our pick-up trucks are the best choice and are widely available with a back seat and plenty of creature comforts. A large SUV like a Yukon, Expedition or Sequoia would do too, if the trailer is not too heavy. Most travelers in America choose larger sizes, though, with trailers in the 8000-12,000 lb range that necessitate a heftier tow vehicle.
Gary
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Ernie n Tara

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2011, 08:49:51 AM »
Hi,
I'm sure you have checked, but we found we had to have a visa (easily obtained via phone/internet) when we visited AU a few years ago. Good for a year as I recall or maybe Tara renewed it.
Ernie
Ernie 'n Tara

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Theberrys

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2011, 10:03:42 AM »
John
 
Yes we use big TV's here compared to the rest of the world. But the space is wide and in some areas very hilly, steep grades, I've seen several miles of 6%, and you need a bit of power to make your destination.
 
From your description, it sounds like a Chevy Suburban (used with the 8.1 liter Vortec Engine) would pull a 21 ft TT very nicely and you would have a back seat and a big cargo area for some gear. Also they are quite nicely done. The 8.1 Liter was discontinued in 2011 but you should be able to find a used one with no problems. That is a gas engine but has plenty of Torque and Horse Power, not to mention comfort, to get you around our beautifully contry.
Here is a link to some info on the Chevy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Suburban
 
Be safe and enjoy the view.
 
Dick

1999 National RV Tradewinds 36.5 ft. 300hp Cat, Freightliner Custom Chassis

John Burgess

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2011, 03:30:21 AM »
Thankyou Garry,
The real issue is comparing apples with apples - ergo my starting point about being lost in translation!!  Thankyou for the info on diesel and frequency of gas stations.  That was helpful.  The real point of catharsis came at about 4.00 am this morning (probably luch time your time) when my bladder was performing its secondary function as alarm clock and I realised that there is a capacity difference.  You see the US gallon is actually 6.6 imperial pints and we work our litre conversions from imperial pints.  Recall when I indicated that a five year old was helping with downloading a conversion app onto my phone, that tells me my mpg in Oz on my current rig is 15 mpg (US) - suddenly a 6.0 litre V8 doesn't appear so bad, other than, as a latent greenie, the truly offensive size, but at risk of an international incident I will stay silent!  Solved, the econmomy and engine problem - thankyou all!!

Washers are another issue.  Over here we have a 1/3rd size washing machine that works on 12v solar systems (which often power our vans).  I'm not even going to start that discussion - defining 1/3rd size, solar power - the mind boggles.  Thanks - my general observation is probably, same - same and I'll give her a bucket...

Dick,
Thankyou for the info on Suburbans - they have been around for ever and I will put them on the list.  I've rather taken a shine to the Ford Explorer Sports utility - we shall see.
Thankyou all.
aj

Theberrys

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2011, 07:56:28 AM »
John
 
I'm rather partial to the Ford my self. We own a small 2006 Escape Hybrid and it's perhaps the best car I ever owned.
Here is a link to some Explorer Info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Explorer if you go with an Explorer, and I can sure see why you would want to, you will have to more carefully match the trailer to the car. The Ford doesn't cone with anywhere near the 8.1 Vortec in terms of torque or horsepower so would be able to tow less trailer. You really need to at least on paper match the Trailer to the TV anyway. Sure sounds like one of these big SUV's fits your idea of what you want to do.
 
Depending on the year model of used TV you get and the trailer you feel comfortable in you may want to add the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Expedition to your list. Until 2001 the Expedition was a full sized SUV and the Explorer was a Mid sized SUV. There I go again just like a Yank talking about the bigger Tow Vehicle. But torque and horse power are a real important element of safety and comfort when you've got a couple tons or ,ore hanging off the rear.
 
Good luck
Dick

1999 National RV Tradewinds 36.5 ft. 300hp Cat, Freightliner Custom Chassis

John Burgess

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2011, 03:01:21 AM »
G’day Dick,
Thanks for that, I’ve got the names wrong haven’t I  -  I should be looking at expiditions?   ???

I wouldn’t worry about cultural preference for a particular vehicle type or capacity – we’re no better, try selling a V6 front wheel drive in Oz – both the General and Ford both maintain six and eight cylinder rear wheel drives.  The only rear wheel drive platforms they have in the world I think.  You might remember the Chev Commaro (?) that was deleted as a consequence of the global financial crisis – that was our Holden Monaro with a bigger V8 in it – over here we have a couple of smaller motors in the car – that’s now out of production.  This was a rear wheel drive derivative of our family sedans.  It would be much easier if the motor companies called the same platforms by the same names.

While talking about motors, I got bashed up by a mate of mine who is a mechanic today.  This has been a real bit of learning for me.  While you would have a 7 or 8 litre V8 we would have a 4 litre V6 or a 3 litre diesel with a couple of extra gears – mainly overdrives.  I can see why a Suburban 4wd would have such a large motor, the high capacity is the only way you could get the off road low down tourque 4wds need in some circumstances with petrol, sorry, gas motors – which diesel gives us without the higher capacity.  At the end of the day, mpg is similar.  And for the motor companies, they satisfy local markets and manage to sell their cars– go figure!

Yep gotta get the weight right.  I looked a Suburbans on the net and you are right they look really interesting.  The price point for used vehicles looks good for us as well.  The real point of learning is that we are going to have to spend some time over there and see the cars and trailers – this can’t be done from 15,000 miles away by email!

Thanks for the advice it was really helpful.

aj
aj

Theberrys

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2011, 10:53:05 PM »
John
 
On Ya Mate! Looking and test driving is the only real way to get a feel for what you like. Buying the TV and Trailer at the same time is spot on to get it right. Study is the answer to having a safe and comfortable rig.
 
In my working days gone buy one of my customers was Qantas Airlines. I had the distint pleasure of spending a good bit of time in Sydney. The whole experience was Fair Dinkum!
 
 
If your ever in the Albuquerque area send me a PM and we'll do dinner or some other visity thing.
 
 
Dick

1999 National RV Tradewinds 36.5 ft. 300hp Cat, Freightliner Custom Chassis

John Burgess

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Re: Lost in translation
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2011, 01:00:19 AM »
Oh dear 'strine from across the drink, stone the flamin' crows!!


Albuquerque is now on the itenery, even if only to disabuse you of the relative merits of Sydney!!

aj
aj

yammers

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Road Trip
« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2011, 11:29:48 AM »
Hi Everyone

We are 4 mths into the road trip now... wow!! time has flew.

We brought the RV in Seattle and sorted all the paperwork out up there. It would have been very difficult if we had not done so much research before. We had also been provided a variety of contacts to help with the insurance and registration side of things which really helped.

We travelled down the coast to San Francisco before heading inland to cover Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. We are now back on the coast in Santa Monica. we have a couple of mths left on the West side to do Lake Tahoe, Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier. we then have to dip into Canada to restart the clock on our Visa before heading over to the East coast for 6 mths.

Thanks to everyone who provided advice and support whilst we were planning the adventure

Check out our website / blog for lots of useful info

Thanks
Edit: Link in profile.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2011, 10:41:56 PM by Tom »

 

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