Thinking about a Bus/RV

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Ted, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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  2. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Welp…

    D8C383AB-B29E-4D3C-BC3A-7E0B50B96A74.jpeg
     
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  3. tmyers

    tmyers En-Route

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    Hmmm, not the best advertisement for that brand of brakes.

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  4. tmyers

    tmyers En-Route

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    Ahhh closer inspection, the picture looks like some sort of food.

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  5. Spring Ford

    Spring Ford Line Up and Wait

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  6. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    talking about going down grades....

    I recently watched documentary on the San Bernardino Train Disaster

    comment that stood out to me is that "For trains, a 2.2% grade is like driving off of a cliff"

     
  7. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 En-Route

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    Make short work of those grades... Up or down... Save wear and tear. Win-win. Motor homing and flying![​IMG]
     
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  8. tmyers

    tmyers En-Route

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    The Mountains of TN were no issue, but then 4 to 5% and only 2 to 3 miles in length shouldn't have been. I did note that uphill at 55 was not an issue, and even when I was slowed to 45 by a Swift trck struggling up the hill, I was able to pass and get back up to 55. I did not have the pedal buried and just let the Cruise handle things. My max coolant temp in the climb was 199, and max tranny temp was 188, so no real issues there either.

    I did some reading the the 5.9 has an Exhaust Brake, not an engine brake, down hills were not an issue at all. Also when I needed to loose some energy, which was only once or twice, the brakes the toad made a huge difference on overall brake response.

    All of this is still not comparable to the Eisenhower Pass, but gave me some overall confidence that the little 300 HP Cummins will be fine as long as I am patient.
     
  9. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Their baby is going to be interesting.!!
     
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  10. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    We got home yesterday from what was the last trip in our year of ownership, and our year of homeschooling and RVing in the "Magic School Bus" as we called it. All 5 of us felt the same - glad we did it, happy that the kids are going back to normal school next week (even the kids agree with that) and also sad it's over. The total statistics came out to 11 weeks of travel in the RV, 15 states visited (most more than once), 16,000 miles driven, about 4 months of downtime in that period for the initial catch-up/cleaning and then the interior remodel over the winter (plus of course work in between trips). Zero breakdowns, other than when the one alternator started making noise and I had to bypass it. I don't really consider that a breakdown, since it only delayed us an hour to get a new belt that would bypass that alternator, and was a part that I'd replaced but turned out to be defective out of the box. I need to do an inspection on the engine, but I haven't heard any bad noises from this alternator and it behaved fine the entire time, so this one seems fine. I managed to successfully stay ahead of any maintenance items so while on the trips we could just focus on having fun and putting diesel in the tank.

    It's rare that all 5 of us agree on something. Usually Laurie and I agree, and then at least one of the kids will disagree. But we all agreed that we love RVing, we love the RV trips and the places it takes us, and we want to do more. That tells us what we need to know, which is that the experiment that was an RV this past year now becomes a more permanent fixture in the household.

    The RV, despite now having more miles on it than when we got it (passed 100k yesterday) is absolutely in much better shape than when we got it, and we have more small items planned. At this point, most of them are more around comfort and convenience than anything else, although I do still have some mechanical items such as converting the engine cooling to electric fans, I still want to add a secondary oil cooler to give me better control over oil temps (especially on the long climbing grades). I still need to replace the front suspension airbags, etc.

    The transmission cooler upgrade worked very well. No problems with the transmission temperatures, even on the long, steep grades. I did find that while moving down the highway the cooling fans wouldn't kick on until a hotter temp than desired/hotter than the thermostat should turn them on (200-205F). This doesn't happen at low speeds or when parked. I think what is happening is that the air flow is cooling the thermostatic switch, causing it to trip at a higher temperature. It's obvious the fans are working - when they kick on the temperature drops quickly and noticeably. I'm planning on adding some foam insulation like what is used on AC lines and I think that should fix the issue.

    Although engine cooling is perhaps still not exactly what I want, I have decided that it's good enough that I can go to the electric fans. I do think that before next summer I'll need to do some more with oil cooling. Really, 85F+ is where the cooling capacity starts to get marginal. I also need to pull the intercooler and see if there is junk between it and the radiator blocking flow. I do expect there is. I'll pull it and clean both, and see what happens. One thing I did was just try revving the engine in neutral to see how much boost/power it seemed to take. At 2000 RPM it's running 3 psi boost, and at 2400 RPM (redline) it runs 5 psi. While that doesn't tell me everything, I do think that means there is a lot of horsepower going into that fan (which I already knew/suspected). and I think there's room for improvement.

    The air scoop I added did successfully lower EGTs, although still not as much as I would like. I was generally EGT limited at altitude on the climbs. I'll be curious to see how far out my valve adjustment is when I do that. I have a feeling that they are out of adjustment, on the tight side, and if that's the case on the exhaust that could impact EGTs. We'll see. However one thing I am thinking about doing more now is adding hubcaps to the rear wheels to reduce turbulence. The logic makes sense and I see them on enough semis (including large fleets) to believe they must make an improvement. Of course the semis are looking at fuel economy, which I don't care about, but the resulting turbulence right at the engine air inlet I do suspect has some impact on the effort the turbo puts into making boost/power. I need to look into it some more and see what I think would be worth trying, but I think there is merit to that as a tweak. I could also do some fun before and after tests with yarn around the wheel area to see what sort of turbulence exist if I really felt like it (I probably don't).

    Another discovery on this trip was getting the tire pressures set correctly. I had been running them at a higher pressure than was necessary by a good bit. Finally found the chart that shows the tire pressures vs. weights. Comfort improved dramatically as a result.

    We've learned a lot. I'll try to summarize the biggest points below:

    1) If buying a used RV, like a plane you should buy the best one that you can find. But also like a plane, expect that you will probably have to do a lot of work to it. RVs are generally built with good engines, transmissions, and suspensions, and then a box on top is built by whatever meth-heads the company can find locally and to the lowest cost possible as they are very labor intensive. Even a high end one that is well maintained is likely to have problems, but definitely try to buy the best thing you can. This is a house that is being exposed to earthquake level shakes every mile of the road, and so it's hard to make everything last. Wear is inevitable. But some designs are definitely better than others.

    2) Slides are nice when parked, but annoying while on the road. It's hard to design a layout that makes best use of the slides while open, yet also provides complete functionality while closed. We had considered this bus and a 45' that had no slides on it, figuring the usable space was similar on both. I think we're ultimately glad we did this one (more on that in a bit), but my personal feeling on slides is to not bother with them if you think you can do without.

    3) There are many ways of camping with an RV. Commercial RV parks, boondocking on public lands, Harvest Hosts (that's a neat program where businesses essentially let you stay in their parking lots overnight, and they usually make for fun and educational stops), campgrounds within parks, the list goes on. All of them have pros and cons, and realistically you end up using all of them. Having hookups is nice if nothing else because then you don't have to go searching for water and dump stations (which are often hard to find). But the best experiences are boondocking, at least for us. On our last trip home we did a rest area where we just parked, went to sleep, and then woke up and kept driving. Slides in, generator on, parked near semis and some other RVers. No amenities but it was actually nicer for just getting home than having to spend the time getting the bus set up for living and then packed up again for driving 8 hours later. Finding the best spots is a lot of work, but so worth it.

    4) Like aviation, most people in the community are nice and interesting to talk to. There are some jerks, but few.

    5) Like aviation, it's a lot of work, and not cheap, but the experiences are completely worth it.

    More to come. :)
     
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  11. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Ah, I see you're using the Peter Muller method of modification, lol. :)
     
  12. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I don't get that reference. :)
     
  13. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Raptor aircraft builder.
     
  14. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Ahh, efficiency?

    Really that's always been my thing. If you take a look at what I did with airplanes starting with the 310 (less so with the Aztec) I put a lot of work into aerodynamic improvements. In the aircraft, they worked to improve efficiency and extend range. With the RV, I don't care so much about efficiency, but I do care about stability and also about engine longevity/performance, especially since the engine really is somewhat undersized for the application (a C9 or bigger would be ideal). It's a lot cheaper to do little things that might help the engine last longer than to replace the engine. Plus, it's fun and not that expensive.
     
  15. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Yesterday now that we're back home we got started doing some of the little projects that we wanted to do before the next trip. A lot of them were just minor things that really I probably should have done before this one, but didn't want to with the other things that were higher priority, like the transmission cooling. One of the bad design items with this bus is the number of large holes that let outside air in, decreasing the effectiveness of any HVAC system. Among those include 3x 2x8" holes underneath the rollers for the big slide, which I had never plugged but on this last trip I could put my hand under and feel cold air flowing from the interior. Obviously a significant reduction in effectiveness. We plugged up as many of those areas as we could during the remodel, but these got listed as "for later." So, I plugged those with foam insulation and then covered with Gorilla tape. No, they won't impact the functionality of the slides.

    Another thing I did was move the outlet of the "slobber tube" (breather) to behind the radiator. This is known for spray out an oil mist (which I've observed) that tends to end up on the intercooler and radiator, causing them to get clogged up (which I think has happened). So by moving this outlet it should improve things.

    I added foam insulation (basically pool noodles) around the high temperature hose from the transmission to the cooler, and am going to add some more insulation around the thermostatic switch itself, which should fix the issue I was seeing of the fans not coming on until a higher than desired temperature. Or at least, it should help. I think the sensor/switch was getting air cooled while moving, but also the two hoses were right up next to eachother so the hot hose was heating the cold hose, and vice versa. Since the sensor is at the fans and not at the transmission (where it had to be but a sub-ideal placement), that will lead to variation in reading and on/off temperature.

    The power awning on this has never worked since we bought it. I knew from initial diagnosis that it was the motor, as it was reading infinite resistance and confirmed voltage going to the motor. So yesterday I finally got it pulled and looked at. The magnets had fallen off internally and there was significant corrosion between the brushes and the rotor (or commutator, whatever it's called). So I took it all apart and cleaned it up, then glued the magnets back into place. We'll see today if I got it working, maybe tomorrow depending on how much I get done today.

    From there it's basically more little details and getting things ready/improved. I ordered a new bolt-on hitch mount to put on the giant steel front bumper, and we're going to mount our bicycles up there to improve the usability/accessibility to the Land Rover's cargo door, which was blocked by the bikes before. I've got a few things I want to do to improve the headlights further (they still aren't great at night, as I saw on this trip coming home - first time I've driven it at night in a long time). We need to sort through and get rid of a lot of stuff in the bays, which we have found we simply don't use. And from there we can make some decision on other improvements that will be more permanent to help improve the usability of the bus for us on trips. I need to do the valve adjustment and some more work with the hoses and engine-driven heaters. I also have the electric fan conversion and removing the intercooler/radiator to clean in there and may end up replacing them once I have it apart. These are not easy to remove from what I can tell, and I need to look at it to see what the best way of doing it is. So I think that's the "last" project after I take care of all of the other details, since those are higher priority. At some point over the winter we want to finish up the flooring in the front portion of the bus, but that's a low priority as well, and something we can probably do in a Saturday/weekend at some point.
     
  16. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Woohoo! A little JB Weld and some sandpaper to rebuild the motor and the power awning finally works!

    8CC110D3-A01F-462B-AC59-F23958DD5D5C.jpeg
     
  17. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I was just looking at the rear suspension of the bus and I’m realizing I think I can use the stock front bar (which I upgraded last year). The front bar bolted to the frame, which is in the same width all the way back. The rear suspension has a large tubular support that connects the air springs, which is a perfect place to mount an anti roll bar, and will let me then bolt the thing up to the frame in pretty good locations.

    I’ll need to do some measurements and some more looking, buy some steel, and do some welding. Would be great if I could help reduce the sway.
     
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  18. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    I have no comments other than I enjoy reading all these posts. Dont stop.
     
  19. CJones

    CJones Final Approach

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    Oh no. Don't tell Rachel. She had hinted around about a pull-behind camper last year, but all we had was my 03 Jeep TJ and her Acadia, so I said "Until I have a truck, we can't pull it!".... Then back in May of this year, I finally had enough and decided to get a truck. Ended up with a 14 Silverado which we love so far (especially compared to the Jeep). We were driving down the road a while back and randomly Rachel blurts out "OH! We can get a camper now!" ?Luckily? towable campers are worth their weight in gold right now, so we've dodged the bullet so far, but I'll hit 5 years at my current company next year which comes with a 6-week paid sabbatical. Assuming I can not tick them off so much that they get rid of me before then, we've talked about doing a grand tour of our own during that time next year. We shall see... May have to pick your brain about ins/outs of things.
     
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  20. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I'm sure Laurie's posts on Facebook have helped to fuel Rachel's interest. ;)

    I know you've done more road trips with your boys in normal vehicles than we have. For us, a camper would've been a disaster, even though we have the 1-ton diesel Ram which is a perfect tow vehicle. We really, really like the RV along with all its conveniences of driving a house down the road. Our three kids strapped into seat belts/car seats for hours on end going down the road would drive us (and them) nuts. Of course, a Class A/C costs a lot more and has a whole lot more maintenance to go with it. But, we certainly have thoughts.

    If you have a 6 week paid sabbatical, I would absolutely, positively, 100% advocate doing a trip like we did. You won't regret it, and your boys being a bit older than our kids (unless I'm remembering wrong) puts them at a better age for it. Yes, do not miss out on the opportunity. But it also takes preparation, if nothing else mechanical wise of getting something in hand and properly maintained so it's ready for such a trip. I'm happy to say that in 16k miles over the past year, the RV has never left us stranded. Not to toot my own horn, but a lot of work went into that ahead of time to make sure that would be the case. There are also things we're now realizing after the year that help to make the trips more enjoyable/easier, and that's what we're focusing on now.
     
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  21. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I'd just rent an RV or pull-behind and see what you think. I don't know how much you guys have actually camped/overlanded, but it may be better just to rent one when the mood strikes, rather than bother with buying/storing/maintaining one yourselves.
     
  22. CJones

    CJones Final Approach

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    Valid point. We're somewhat 'outdoorsy' anyway - fishing, tent camping, etc. (not as much as I would like though), but definitely a good point to try before you buy.
     
  23. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I think it goes without saying that our motto in this household is to jump head first into the deep end. Plus for what we figured out for our year, there was no way that renting would work.

    I would actually advocate buying rather than renting for a couple reasons. For one, if you're talking about a 6 week sort of trip, that's a long time to rent. I'd bet by the time you look at rental costs in that time period, you're a good chunk of the way towards buying. Currently yes, the things are worth their weight in gold, but it's questionable when that will let up. Current thoughts are maybe next year, but last year the thoughts were it would be this year. I think a lot of people have discovered RVing the past year and a half, and given the current environment, the reasons for many wanting to continue RVing are likely not going to change immediately.

    But also, if you buy a RV/camper, you can make whatever custom changes you want to make it more functional for you. And you will have those changes. When you sell them, they may or may not add value, but will almost certainly not reduce value. But if you're renting it, you have to be careful to return it in the same condition you borrowed it. You also can make sure that maintenance items (tires, bearing grease, etc.) are up to snuff and thus not likely to strand you, whereas the rental company is not likely to handle those things on the same schedule.

    Food for thought.
     
  24. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    geez, $350 a night for a decent class A rental for six weeks is $15k.
     
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  25. CJones

    CJones Final Approach

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    I was thinking of renting NOW to try things out in prep for next year. I would definitely want to own whatever I'm taking on the road for 6 weeks - much like Ted, I would want to 'fix' it my own way before heading out on a trip like that.
     
  26. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Doing a try before you buy rental for a weekend would get you the base idea. My main concern with that was that I wanted to know it would be a good experience to our expectations, and frankly I couldn't find any rentals that I thought would meet that. But, I also was very much trying to make sure that Laurie would like it. Chris may not be trying to do similar. ;)
     
  27. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Lol I wasn't advocating a 6-week rental. Maybe just a week to see if it's something you'd really want to commit to. I bet you could find some 26'-31' bumper pull trailer rentals for $100-$130/night. Better yet, I'd check with my trailer/RV-owning friends if they'd be willing to rent it out for some set period of time. If you bought an insurance policy to cover any damage, I bet they'd be happy to pocket a grand for renting it out when it was just going to sit unused anyway. Just some options before dropping $50K+ on travel trailers.
     
  28. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Cleared for Takeoff

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    If the market is still strong, why not buy and sell at the end of 6 weeks. Even if a small haircut, might be cheaper than renting.
     
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  29. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I have a friend at work who bought a camper, I forget the exact size, and has been renting it out. He did well enough with it that they thought about buying a second one.

    But, I would not rent out my RV.
     
  30. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I, personally, wouldn't rent out any of my toys/autos but that's because I don't view those possessions as easily expendable. I might let a friend borrow my car or truck, but I'd be pretty wary about lending them my boat unless I knew for certain they were as competent as I was in operating it. Same goes for an airplane or RV. I wouldn't rent out my lake house, either, but there are plenty of people who make the mortgage payments on their vacation homes by renting them out to strangers. Luckily, there are a lot of people out there who have less attachment to their trailer/RV/boat/vacation home which are happy to pocket some cash by renting it out.
     
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  31. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I'm 100% with you on that. It's been a long time since I've lent out any of the vehicles to anyone, although I have gotten fairly regular requests to borrow something. Most of them are too specialized or I've just spent too much time working on them to where I'd want to let someone else use them unsupervised. Plus there are generally a lot of special changes I've made that you need to watch for, or that the UI isn't necessarily straightforward on some of them. Even my wife hasn't driven the bus, but that's because she's not super interested in doing so.
     
  32. CJones

    CJones Final Approach

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    The last time I let someone outside of close family borrow a vehicle, it was 'Ol Blue (that I eventually sold to Tony - after it was fixed of course) and it came back to me with a broken distributor. The guy said "I'm not sure, but I think it's running rough". Now I know that the likelihood that they did something to cause that to happen is slim-to-none, but still...
     
  33. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Yeah, when I loaned someone my old yellow truck ('97 C2500 6.5TD) that's when it threw the rod. In retrospect, that rod was going to go anyway. But it creates uncomfortable situations and discussions.
     
  34. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    A six week sabbatical? That's pretty sumptuous, you should do something special with that.

    When I was 15, my family took a two month RV journey, starting in Florida, spending a good chunk of time in the midwest, then to Watkins Glen to see the six hour sportscar and Can-Am races, then out west to Yellowstone, all in a24 foot Winnebago with a 1971 Corolla for a toad. It was lots of fun, and I'm impressed we didn't kill each other, as there was a little too much fissionable material in our nuclear family, and those weren't all that spacious of accommodations, but back in those days, that's what was available.
     
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  35. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I put together a video on the transmission cooler setup for those interested. I also learned some lessons about how I should record with a white board and audio. Hint: I didn't incorporate those lessons in this video. :)

     
  36. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I added this to the bus last night, front mount bicycle rack:

    [​IMG]

    One of the really cool features of our bus (at least, cool to me) is that it came with a custom built heavy duty steel front bumper. Most RVs the first line of defense is the expensive and fragile fiberglass front fascia. This provides some extra level of protection.

    We had been mounting the bicycles to the back of the Land Rover like most people do. The problem with this is that it made it impossible to get into the back of the car without removing the bikes. As part of our goal to make our RVing lower effort while on the road (and the fact that we move around a lot), one of the things I wanted to do is minimize the set up/take down required for things and improve convenience. We don't take bicycles off everywhere, but we generally always want to get in the Rover. Additionally, Laurie rarely rides but the way we had to mount the bikes previously meant I had to take them all off (including hers) to get to the one bicycle that was in the back of the Rover. So I added a front-mount hitch and bought a 5-bicycle rack that goes on it.

    Nice simple little upgrade.

    Another thing I did was wire up the headlights so that the high beams will turn on (or keep on) the fog lights. And next I need to get some upgraded bulbs for the high beams. It has stock H1s which are some ridiculously low wattage and put out an insanely low amount of light. The high beams are not projector lenses (just standard lenses) and so I am leaning towards LEDs. However I've never done LED headlights and have no idea what a good brand to go with is. Anyone who has thoughts, I'd appreciate input.
     
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  37. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    Ari
    Whelen. :cool:
     
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  38. ElPaso Pilot

    ElPaso Pilot Pattern Altitude

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    ElPaso Pilot
    https://www.hella.com/partnerworld/assets/documents/HASI_Bulbs_Catalogue_2019-2020_EN_LRes.pdf

    For a quick fix, try page 50.

    Hella offers “Off Road” high wattage versions of most headlight bulbs.

    I kept the low beams street legal and upped the highs on all my vehicles.
     
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  39. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    You're the second person to make that same suggestion as opposed to the LED variants, and I think it is probably the best one for a lot of reasons. I'll double check the wire gauge to make sure that looks like it won't be too small and then probably just order those bulbs. Cheap enough and easy to try those, and if they still aren't bright enough, I can do something else.
     
  40. ElPaso Pilot

    ElPaso Pilot Pattern Altitude

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    Yup.

    Prior Automotive days in engineering...

    The headlight illumination pattern is highly dependent on keeping the filament in the precise focal point that enables the light to reflect properly off the internal surfaces and illuminate evenly. We had to scrap bulbs that had the filament even very slightly off because the pattern would no longer meet federal specs.

    If the manufacturer did their homework properly, and this is an RV so I can't be sure, they did a bunch of ray tracing simulation to design the reflector.

    LED replacements rarely meet the requirement, and many of the multiple LEDs in the replacement bulb are guaranteed to be way outside the focal point. This is why the LEDs you see on the road create so much glare when one approaches you. The light is shining every which way except to the designed illumination point.

    If you can up the wattage and keep the original beam spread, (again assuming the RV manufacturer did it right), the Hella bulb may be a quick way do do what you want without blinding everyone else with glare. If not, you're out 10 bucks and can try something else.

    [​IMG]
     
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