Reader Question: The RV Future?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Jason writes: I’ve read a lot of your recent articles and they seem to have a theme, the end of the big gas engine vehicles and the push to the electric slavery. You may remember me as the person who was going to bring my old Miata back to life after I pay off my truck and living with a company GPS granny nanny. While I love that car and how fun it was to drive, I have decided that I want to go the opposite direction. It will probably be sold this spring for a really good price. Not without regrets either.

My decision was guided by something else that I have noticed – that you can’t have the kind of fun anymore I used to have with that car. Long story short as possible, I bought the car, souped up the car with go fast goodies, and moved to the mountains, where the curves were. Early on, I could enjoy spirited drives on fun roads but I noticed that as time went on, AGWs were more and more common. I used to watch from my porch bikers fly by my house to none the past five years that I have seen. While it may be good that fewer bikers are going down the mountain, it also says the fun level has decreased significantly. Combine that with the sad sack with a company GPS that now has to drive so damn slow, I have decided that the GPS is merely training me to be a RV driver. Get to the right, go slow, expect everyone to pass you, and probably be mad at you as they do it. And that is what I am planning for the future on pavement. Slow and to the right. Which puts the Miata in the same category. If you can’t have a little fun with it, why have it?

Which leads me to the big problem the feds have: The MPG god must be appeased. Nothing I want to do in the future involves sipping gas and living in an urban dwelling. Rather the opposite. So I’m looking at Class A motorhomes to live in. Sell my home, hit the road and live the rest of my life on the road. I’m single without kids and middle aged. I should have been on the road long ago instead of stuck owning a home with lawn/property maintenance. So recently I was looking at the MPG of the coach I want and it gets a paltry average of 6.9 MPG. Depending on terrain, the figures can go up and down a little bit. That isn’t going to make Uncle happy. Which leads me to my real question to you: Where do you see the RV industry in 5-10 years?

The folks who RV are the exact opposite of what the elites want. They want to be mobile and they have no problems burning gas. But the flip side of that same coin, who is being more environmental and paying attention to the their resources? RV owners pay attention to all of that. Everything you do adds up. There’s no unlimited power or sewer to take away your waste. RV owners are probably more efficient and economical with their resources than those who live with unlimited power or septic. But that won’t matter to the government. It burns gas. Lots of it. As far as vehicular fun, I am planning on just using my 4×4 to go camping and exploring. Tow it behind the RV. As far as I can see now, there is no more fun to be had on pavement.  Get used to going slow on pavement and go off road to have any real fun, while you still can.

My reply: I agree with your first observation – that driving fast is less fun these days, not just because of the severity of the sanctions for driving fast but because it is getting harder to “get away” with driving fast. Cameras everywhere, as well as AGWs. The prospect of being dragged out of your car at Glock-point or Tazered for “reckless driving” 80 MPH on a highway with a 70 MPH speed limit dampens one’s enthusiasm.

In re RVs: Your points are all sound; but your premise is wrong. While it is certainly true that living in an RV vs. a single family home is more “environmentally responsible” than living in a much larger, more “resource consuming”  single family home, it’s not about conserving resources or being “environmentally responsible.”

It is about controlling people’s mobility – and keeping them in debt. For the sake of the same reason. Restrict where people can go by making it more expensive for them to go anywhere. Limit their options by limiting what they can afford. And by imposing a necessity to keep working to keep on paying.

Ownership is anathema to this agenda, whether of a car or an RV.

I therefore expect the same pressures currently being applied to cars to be applied to RVs – and to motorcycles. They will be “mopped up” after the primary target – the non-electric car – has been regulated out of existence in favor of the electric car, which serves the agenda because most people won’t be able to afford one and the few who can will be  much easier to control, both physically and financially.

We may still avoid all of this – depending on what happens this year. But it’s going to a close-run thing, regardless.

. . .

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  1. I watch a lot of YouTube videos about RV living. I can usually tell when work got crazy by my playlist history. To me the best solution would be a trailer and towing vehicle. But not a 5th wheel, just a standard trailer. That way you can use the tow vehicle for cold storage and it will make it much easier to pick up supplies without having to break camp.

    But if you can only go with one vehicle I’d see about converting an ambulance. They often have 4×4 packages and heavy duty diesel engines. Many have PTO generators on the transmissions. And they’re fairly complete with lots of electrical lines, exterior lighting and some cabinetry, or at least good mounting points if you’re not into the industrial/medical look.

    Downsides are you’re going to need to repaint the exterior and remove all the emergency lighting, and there’s the creepy factor knowing someone might have died in your new home. I’m sure that there’s a fair bit of right place in the right time needed too. Of course nowadays there’s going to be a markup because if it’s enough of a thing for me to know about it, we’re probably past the “golden era” when they could be had for peanuts.

    • RK, those mini school buses, built on van chassis are even better than amberlampses. Much more room; same diesels; and they lack all of the electrical bugaboos that the amberlampses tend to have from all of the lights and equipment that was removed. (On the other hand, both the amberlampses and skool buses tend to be beat to hell by the time they’re sold off)

      Another issue too, is that a lot of these vee-hickles really aren’t geared for highway driving. Some people buy full-size skool buses or transit buses, and then find out that they can’t cruise at 75 or 80MPH- and even at 60 their injuns’ll be screaming. (But that’s probably even better than the 34′ Whine-a-bago with the 454 Chevy that lopes up the mountain at 30MPH…)

      • They all have issues of some sort for sure. My fantasy RV is a GMC Motorhome (AKA EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle), restored and refreshed interior. But by the time I’d be done with it I’d probably have $70+ in the thing that I’ll never get back and probably not enjoy much either. A diesel 4WD ambulance might be an easier conversion if I’m not too fussy about what it looks like on the inside, and willing to live without plumbing. And with the right tires might be able to get me out in the backcountry (and back home).

        • Buses in Mexico are great. They have air ride suspension and external lines running to each hub. The roads are replete with “Bumpos” or really tall bumps. When I got to my first one I didn’t realize what the hell the sign meant. After hitting it at speed, probably 70 or so when I had been doing 90 or above, the pickup flew and the IFS and great shocks made all the difference. I kept my eyes open after that. Those buses have to stand up to them too and they do so exceptionally well. They’re large, powerful buses so I’m guessing they’d be a great start for an RV once all the pregnant women were removed.

          • ***”once all the pregnant women were removed.”***

            Yeah, but keep the chickens! Free, fresh eggs while camping, and on the road….now that’d be sweet!

            • I’m all over fresh eggs. I used to get them locally and then the woman died. I’d like to raise them but doing so would call in every cougar, bobcat and coyote for miles. My neighbor found this out and our cats paid for it and we’re 5/8’s a mile apart.. Wish I knew somebody else 10 miles away. They’re worth what they cost.

        • Yeah, RK- the back country thing would be the only thing that would interest me. I can’t see the sense to staying in campgrounds, RV parks, Walmart parking lots, etc. I just don’t “get” that- I mean, does one wake up in a Walmart parking lot and say “Oh! Let me get a picture of that sunrise over the gas plaza! And look! There’s a 1994 Geo Metro!”.

          Thing that ruins it for me, is thought of braking down/needing something done that I don’t have the equipment on board to take care of…and having to hang out in some town waiting for five days for something to be fixed at top dollar, while the guy doing it is doing a half-assed job

          • Hi Nunz!

            I’ve thought about it as well – the RV thing. For each of us, it’s likely a temperament thing as much as a practical thing. It’s not for me because I really like – I really need – a stable “home place,” the familiar things. I am not a travel bug. Not that there is anything wrong with traveling; it’s just not my thing. I’d rather stay home.

            The frustrating thing – the evil thing – is that Clovers (LW, for instance) make it impossible to truly have a home. One you own, that no other person can legally dun for you for in order to “provide services” they consider desirable. But insist you pay for.

            I love the idea of a small but cozy homestead, paid for – free of any obligation to pay “taxes” to Clovers. Where a man could live quietly, without having to generate “income” to be able to live.

            • Hey Ya Eric!

              Ha! Exactly the same with me! That’s all I ever wanted out of life- just a quiet place to be left alone, and own free and clear, and just live unmolested and raise a nice garden and have some animals….

              I’m about as close to it as one can get in the developed governed world these days- as I know you are too- but just knowing that what we have isn’t really and truly ours…and that we are subject to whatever the psychos decide to make-up as “laws”, whilst we haven’t committed any actual crimes, just kinda makes the dream seem so far away, even though we already have 95% of it.

              I don’t need nor want a lot of “things”, but what things I have, I do like to keep long-=term and have around me. Permanence. I guess what we both agree on here are really the basic tenets of civilization.

              It meant something when people had land and houses that they built with their own hands, that they’d pass down through generations. Now the average person buys some pre-built “home” in some subdivision, that was mass-produced,and for which they are perpetually in debt…and on average live there for 5 to 7 years. And look how society has crumbled!

              Traveling may’ve been interesting many years ago, but from what I’ve seen, today, every place is pretty much the same. T’aint like it used to be, where people had vastly different customs in different regions; different architecture, etc. Today, about the only way you can tell one place from another is what the signs say.

              When I was young, I always thought I’d love taking road trips. Didn’t really take my first one till I started coming down here to look for a place. By the time I got home, I had had enough of that forever! (And I was only gone a few days). The road was boring; I couldn’t wait to get where I was going; Couldn’t wait to get back home.

              Considering all the trips I had to take to find an area; find a place, and move…it’s amazing i ever managed to move down here! -But, sometimes ya have to endure some temporary unpleasantness for long-term good! I can’t even imagine what my life would be like today if I were still in Hell…err…NY. I’ve had 18 years (and counting) of good years that I otherwise would not have had.

              I hate to think about the next move- especially that it will be much further away (and not to mention that I am older now)….but I know, once it’s done, it’ll just be a small blip on the radar of the past, and I’ll be glad that I did it….and wish I had sooner.

              • A person who does like to roam can get “caught up” on it. For the most part, I have. I have to pay property tax this week. I wish I could think of one single thing I would pay for if asked(besides charity and I wouldn’t be charitable if pushed).

  2. I’ve lived in RV’s. They are expensive in every way, to heat, to cool and insure plus nothing in them lasts like a house. I couldn’t believe the first winter in an RV that used many more times the propane used in my house. My house has 2X6 walls and a foot of insulation in the attic and 6 inches in the floor.

    Getting one down the road is horrendously expensive. I have no idea why anyone without a lot of money would choose one. I noticed my finances going up and my bank account going down. These days, I’d convert a big rig with the tiny diesel engine for electricity that costs nearly nothing to heat and cool. I see the rigs made from big rigs all the time at the RV parks. SOME of the RV’s have thick walls and lots of insulation but they’re expensive as in a quarter million dollars(one hell of a house and money for taxes)and more.

    If I had an old Miata, I’d fix it up and have fun with it. I might even put an all-aluminum LS engine in it and have a real screamer. It would be a hell of a lot cheaper than an RV. Or did I interpret you gripe wrongly? It is certainly not true that living in an RV instead of a house is environmentally or fiscally better. A slide-in camper on a pickup is probably the cheapest way to go but it’s still expensive to heat and cool and cook. I’ve lived this nightmare. If you have money to burn, it’s fine. If you are trying to safe money it’s insane.

    • My neighbor’s motorhome is a money pit. They told me a water heater for one costs twice as much as a 50-gallon house water heater. My jaw dropped when they told me what they’ve spent on repairs.

      • Yup.

        Best setup I have seen is a ~24′ moving van converted. The one I checked out had been built from an old camper that the guy got for free. He stripped it out carefully and installed the sink, stove, oven and fridge (3way) at the back basically like the camper layout, living room at the front and bed in the top kick. The living room had a hide-a-bed couch and recliner, TV, stereo and a sweet little stainless steel wood stove with cook top, I assume from a sailboat.

        The interior of the van body was covered with mylar, then 1″ of Styrofoam, mylar and Styrofoam again. The substrate was covered with some sort of Buck Rogers looking aluminiumish tweed. Did not like it but I suspect wood paneling would work. Roof had 6″ of Styrofoam in 2″ layers with mylar.

        He figured he had about $20k (+time) into it, $12,000 of which was the price of the diesel E350 moving van.

        I had considered buying it but while the full size shower unit was nice, it also doubled as the shitter with a porta-potty. If it had a real RV toilet, I probably would have bought the unit from him, but this was a deal breaker. It also had no windows, good for stealth urban camping but a bit claustrophobic.

        My advice, if you are capable, is to build one like this. Then you know what parts are in it and how they work. Mass manufacture (low-mid range) RVs are meant to be disposable and built down to a cost with very flimsy construction. A moving van is usually designed to take far more abuse for many more years.

        Just my $0.02

      • In an RV everything is powered by propane and electricity. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen appliances replaced with straight electric powered units. It’s a boondoggle since the damned things don’t last long and they’re expensive to repair and complicated too. If you could find underground bunkers like along the Houston ship channel you could go in and seal the door from inside. Be sure to carry your acetylene torch with you.

    • My choice would be a 4×4 pickup with a small camper, like an 8′ slide in, pop-up, or even a nice insulated shell high enough to sit up in on a bed or bench. Heating and cooling wouldn’t be a problem because I would go south in the winter and north in the summer. If the weather isn’t right, that’s what the steering wheel is for! You can cook on a Coleman gas stove, just siphon a little out of the tank or fill a gallon jug once in a while at the gas station. Gas mileage isn’t that big a deal because I would try to find a nice quiet fairly remote place and just stay there until the groceries ran low. For one person and maybe a dog you can carry a few weeks worth of grub.

      The bad thing about a Class A is that you have to stay on well maintained roads and probably pay to stay anywhere overnight. With a truck camper there is the whole wild west to roam around in and hang out.

      The other option is a sailboat. You can roam the whole world with that, but then there’s a whole new set of problems: the CG if you stay coastal USSA, and hardly any other country will let you into port with firearms 🙁

    • The thing with RVs too, is unless ya’ve got the bucks to start with a real coach BUS (pusher) chassis and convert it (and maintain it!)…..RV’s are built like CRAP! People pay 6 figures to buy brand new ones, and they have trouble with them from day one; by the time they get all of the problems fixed, they’re ready to sell the damned things….and then they’re getting old, and start developing even more problems! The interiors even in the “good” ones are basically just stapled-together luan…

      Used to know an old guy who was the manager of a bus co. on Lawn Guyland- He sold one of their buses to Neil Diamond…. There’s a reason those people[entertainers] buy real coaches and not “RVs”. (And they’re about the only ones who can afford to run and maintain ’em!)

      • Nunz, living so long in various RV parks I have seen some excellent RV trailers. I haven’t been in too many pushers but the ones made off big rigs are damned nice.

        Everything I’ve seen that’s of good quality or better was six figures and the pushers are commonly over a quarter mil and even higher. You get what you pay for. That’s one reason pushers are now mostly made on bus frames or big rig frames. Look where the engine is and that tells a lot. I don’t say they have to be made from PACCAR since the interior isn’t used nor do they want it to go a million miles so a Freightliner makes a pretty good start even though I don’t care for them as trucks.

        How many people “driving” one and I use the term lightly since they’re like the new truckers, “steering wheel holders” know a fuel pressure gauge from a boost gauge or a pyrometer? No need for transmission and rear-end temp since they would be clueless. You don’t have to be smart to be rich.

        • Yep, I hear ya,8.

          There’s a guy around the corner from me who has an old Eagl;e (Trailways) bus that’s been converted- From the outside, doesn’t look fancy; just a nice job. Now THAT’s an RV. Bet it has a manual tranny too! Makes me wonder what his story is…as he doesn’t live in a fancy place- just on a dirty little back road that is dominated by a filthy dairy farm. Just has a typical house and few acres. Parks the bus out front in his yard, parallel to the street….. Makes me wonder if he’s some kinda second or third-rate country singer or one’a them guys what puts on a religious show fer money. I ride my bike past his house often- if I’d ever see him outsider, I’d ask him about the bus- would love to see the interior and know the story on the mechanicals.

          • Nunz, I see a converted school bus now and again. I always think they’d be so much better by using a big drive axle in the front and be able to really go offroad. You can get that same 11.5″ axle like my 3500 has but it’s a converted rear axle with steering.

            One thing I’ve noticed to be common is a rack on top. You always see a small exhaust exiting some place in the rear for a generator. If you mounted a 50 or 60 gallon propane tank…..or two near the rear you’d have loads of fuel for whatever you need. In fact, you can convert a diesel to propane so if you ran low on diesel you would still have fuel.

      • If you’re buying a new six figure motorhome to get away from it all then you’re not getting very far away from anything. Ya got to think like a gypsy. If you can build a chicken coop then you can build a little house on a cab and chassis two ton, or whatever set of wheels you choose.

        Look at the old horse drawn caravans and sheepherder wagons. They had everything you *need* to live full time, and it’s all stuff that holds up well and that you can either fix or replace with common materials.

        • Anon, the motorhome is just getting from one Walmart to the next, one KFC to the next.

          You have to spend some serious money to get a highly insulated rig. If you don’t the propane in the winter will eat you alive and the a/c in the summer will.

          I like the idea of a slide-in camper and a trailer for support. It doesn’t need to be a big one, just one with a lot of ground clearance. I’ve driven around the permanent road blocks in state parks many times. Often you can get somewhere they don’t realize you ARE there.

          Of course these days there’s always the “you can’t have a gun here” bs.

          It was like that in NM back in the 60’s but I was still armed.

          • I think Bill Down By The River has the right idear- If being nomadic, keep it light. If ya can live with the limited space/lack of storage….a van is perfect: Go anywhere; blend in; commonly available parts; won’t be several grand if ya ever need a tow…..

            I’d imagine RVs are like most other eggspensive toys- they end up consuming one’s time, energy, and money….and get in the way more so than facilitating the enjoyment of the particular activity they are intended for.

            Shoot, it’s been over 30 years since I read Blue Highways….but I still remember it. That guy had the right idea. (Hey…maybe that was Bill! -IIRC. the author’s name was WILLIAM…)

          • “You have to spend some serious money to get a highly insulated rig. If you don’t the propane in the winter will eat you alive and the a/c in the summer will. ”

            That’s what the steering wheel is for. If it’s too cold drive south or downhill; if it’s too hot drive north or uphill.

            • I guess I was thinking about a particularly good place you wanted to stay although I’ve never had a choice, had to be there for work.

              Still, I’ve know big ranchers that have let people camp out as long as they like. If you get to camp by the electrical meter and well, so much the better. I’d certainly pay the electric bill

            • I already own a particularly good place where I want to stay, with a nice house and hot showers. It’s cold and windy all the time, except for a couple months when it’s hot and windy. But if I were suddenly alone, I’m not sure I want to stay. Might just go back to drifting again.

              I spent a lot of years living in camper trailers, mostly on forest service land. They were tough when it got cold, but still mostly better than living in town and driving 100-200 miles a day to work and back. I bought them cheap and simple and used. One of the trailers, I ripped out the bathroom and made an open floor plan like a log cabin. Built a wood stove out of a hot water heater tank.

              Those fancy systems don’t do much good when you’re not hooked up most of the time. I discovered it’s just as easy to pour water from a jug when you need it, as to spend all that time trickling water into a tank and then pumping it out (until the pump or battery quits). You’ve got to haul the water in jugs anyway unless you’re taking the camper back to town every few days.

              • Hey, Anon,

                I guess once ya work out the details, it ain’t so bad. This Injun woman what used to live around the corner from me in an old mobile home that had no electric or water, used to do the water jug thing….and line her terlit with a plastic bag that she’d crap in and then dispose of. She lived like that for many years…and was always very clean and healthy.

                When ya depend on conveniences, and then one day ain’t got ’em….ya don’t know what to do; but if you plan to live without them, you can usually make do quite nicely with a little thought.

  3. One advantage of the RV life is the possibility of moving your house to another country if things get bad, assuming the border is still open.

    • If you’re speaking of Canada it might be ok but Canada is really a crazy place if you have any criminal record at all. I knew a guy getting sent there to do work for a company because he was the best they could find. He got turned around at the border, landed the plane just for him and sent him back. He’d had a DWI 7 years earlier in the US. He was told he might get into Canada in another 3 years…..if he was a good boy. They’re a bit crazy there.
      If you’re speaking of Mexico you might get relieved of it. Guatemala would be even more iffy and I wouldn’t set foot in El Salvador.


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