I've been in IT for ages... hard disks are not archival media. In fact, I have a file cabinet with tapes from 1998, burned CD-Rs from 1998, HDDs from 1998, and MO-s from that time period. The old IDE hard disks are almost impossible to read since IDE PCIe controllers are becoming tougher and tougher to find. Even with older hardware, some of them suffer from stiction, or just sit there clicking away, trying to find the servo marks. The tape drive (Quantum DLT IV) is hard to find, as well as a controller card that works with the old LVD SCSI of its day. Of course, once the tape drive is working, it will be trying to find the right backup utility. Was it tar, taper, NetBackup, Backup Exec, Retrospect, or some other oddball utility that has disappeared into the mists of time?
The CD-R? I open my Blu-Ray player, plop it in, and the data is ready to go.
The reason why Blu-Ray isn't going anywhere is the fact that US Internet bandwidth is not expanding, other than fees going up. With that in mind, I can burn data to ten 25 GB Blu-Ray disks for about $5. Storing that to the cloud would get me $40 in bandwidth overage costs on my home internet connection, and thousands if I tried that over a 4G link.
Of course, as stated above, no media is 100%, so I recommend to make multiple copies, perhaps on different media types (Blu-Ray and DVD for example.)
Sorry to read about your horror stories. Usually one has teething problems with a rig, but not all the stuff failing after a year's time. Hope things get better.
The one good thing -- you have not had any leaks so far, so I'd keep checking the roof and seals with a fine tooth comb. A door handle or a thermostat is fairly easy to replace. Rotten wood pretty much scraps your entire rig for good.
Sometimes I wonder about taking a FIC or TriMark door handle, putting all the measurements into a CAD program using calipers, then hitting a place that does metal sintering so they can make a door handle exactly like their offerings... but made out of Iconel 690. That way, it will take a lot more than just pot metal fatigue to break the handle.
This is one of my peeves with the RV industry. A RV should at least be either up to the grade of a car lock or a lock on a house front door, because a rig does both functions. It needs to have at least a key as secure as the average "laser-cut" keys on most car locks (well, "laser-cut" keys are not really modern... coin lockers had that type of mechanism called Bell locks since the 1970s.)
I've had good luck with Malwarebytes as the only AV program on a machine. It does one thing which few AV utilities do, and that is block malware server IP addresses. This way, even if the servers have 0-day attacks, it won't cause an infection since the bad stuff never gets downloaded in the first place.
Other than Malwarebytes and Spyware Blaster (which doesn't run in the background, but sets killbits), I'd focus on sandboxing the Web browser over trying to find the best AV stuff. Most infections tend happen due to a compromise of the browser or its add-ons, so stopping that is imperative, well before the AV software has to step in.
I've seen some webbing that supposedly won't snap... but after seeing those cables snap, I don't want to take a maker's guarantee as a 100% thing.
This is a good thread... I should see about a heavy duty wench I can bring out to get unstuck, especially if I go with a low clearance MH like the ones on the Ducato/ProMaster chassis.
I'm grumpy in general, but I try to make posts worth reading. One can find reviews and specs on items easily... but good opinions, first-hand, are hard to find on the Internet, so that makes these forums worth reading. For example, one can compare two things that do the same thing, and find that people who used item "A" hate it, while item "B" is passable.
Better an asked dumb question, than an un-asked intelligent question.
Champion sells a 3000 watt inverter model that is decently quiet.
Trick to having a generator under a pickup truck cap is placing it on a rubber mat to deaden vibrations, and to set up fans to keep air moving, because the larger generators will overheat without a lot of ventilation. I'd probably get a box fan and put it on the exhaust side, which will help disperse the CO gas, as well as pull in enough air to keep the generator decently cool.
As for noise, my 3000 watt Yamaha inverter generator is quiet enough that I don't hear it over the guy 100 feet away with the open-framed contractor generator. So, even though I paid about 6-7 times more for a quieter model, it has worked and worked well.
If getting a Sprinter, regardless of model, I'd recommend a transmission cooler. T1N models don't need to have hoses cut into. NCV3 models will need to have hoses cut for the install process.
As for gasser versus diesel, this is fairly often debated, and some strong opinions on both sides. Diesels tend to be turbocharged, which means that they don't lose as much power at higher elevations, although the Transit will change that with the EB engine when it comes out later this year.
Sometimes the local motels have a section for brochures of local attractions as well.
Another location that has info, strangely enough, is likely the county or city courthouse. When I was in a criminal justice course where part of the class was going on field trips to see how small towns ran their jails, oftentimes one could find a lot of tourist info at those places.
If you are going to be there for a bit, why not rent a "turdis", or a plastic bathroom that is plopped down by a sewage company, then picked up after the event? You can padlock the door so it isn't a public restroom. Cost is probably $75-$100. In fact, I've rented one for about four months for about $400, with weekly pump-out services.
Of course, if you want something you can use at multiple events, I'd probably look at the Cabela's solution as mentioned above.
I can see a balance. For example, I want to test drive a Trend just to see how it handles on Texas roads and the wind gusts from the semis on I-35 and TX Highway 45 with the 18 wheelers hitting triple digits. However, I can completely understand a dealer reluctant to let anyone off the street drive an expensive rig that even if insurance did pay for damage, it would be hard to sell. There is a Beavis & Butthead episode that is about this topic. I don't mind the salesperson coming along, because what I'm looking for is if I can one one-hand the steering wheel versus white-knuckling it, and that isn't exactly Fast & Furious driving.
Not sure what to do in this case, as I understand both sides of this issue. Maybe offer to insure it completely for a day on one's own insurance?
Some motorhomes are wired fairly strangely. To me, the chassis battery and the house batteries should be separated as they serve completely different functions, only bridged by a switch for emergency starting of the engine or genset, or via some smart charger with a diode that won't drain the chassis battery if the house batteries get completely discharged.
I've thought of getting a MPPT solar charger and using that to bridge between the house batteries and the chassis battery. That way, when the chassis battery is nearly 100% charged, it gets floated, regardless of the SOC on the house jars.
It is winter time. I only run the generator to exercise it. It is a Yamaha 3000 sIEB.
Should I turn off the fuel valve and let it shut down after being starved of fuel? (This risks dried out seals?)
Should I merely turn off the fuel valve and turn off the generator with the key?
I have a Yamaha 3000 iSE (no boost), and I always turn it off at the fuel petcock. Been doing this since October of 2011, and have had no issues. The generator usually starts on the first pull or a second or two with a key.
As for gas, I've experimented with SeaFoam, Sta-Bil, and Star-Tron. SeaFoam didn't work out for me, and I ended up having to drain the tank and fill with fresh gas so the generator would take a load without stalling. Sta-Bil works decently, but with cheap gas, I noticed some surging. Right now, I'm experimenting with Star-Tron, although I've "over-medicated" the patient with too much additive the past couple weeks... but have had very good results. So, for gas, I'd use Chevron Premium and Star-Tron additive.
Fill-wise, I can get two complete tanks done on around $25 of gas, and $1 of Star-Tron, so it costs me $13 per tank (20 hours if running the generator on econ throttle to charge the battery, ~8 hours if running the A/C.)
For storage, I definitely turn the generator off at the petcock and let it run dry, after making sure to run the generator with fuel preservative. I'm sure there is some fuel left in the bowl, but I'm too lazy to drain it. Every 3-4 weeks, I run the generator at 1/2 load for a bit (mainly to keep the other RV subsystems in good shape during the hot Texas summers.)
If I were letting the generator sit, I'd follow the user manual, drain the fuel tank, change the oil, fog it (OnaGuard from Onan) change the air filter (with a new one that is properly oiled), add a tablespoon of oil down the spark plug hole, yank the cord a time or two (make sure it is off and the petcock off) to spread the oil out, and call it done. The battery for the starter, I think doesn't need much upkeep, but it might be wise to disconnect it.
All and all, I've had very good luck with the Yamaha generator. My next rig will have an inbuilt Onan, but I definitely will keep the Yamaha generator because it is so reliable, likely have a place for it to sit on my solar trailer, so I have a fast way to charge the trailer's batteries (thinking 2-3 pairs of 6 volt AGM golf cart batteries so I have at least 500 amp-hours without going below 50% SOC on any jar.) if the trailer's panels don't put out enough energy to keep the batteries topped off. I also like the fact that the generator is acceptably quiet (which is the second biggest reason I bought it -- when it is chewing on the load of an A/C, it makes less noise than Honda twins, although Hondas make far less noise when idle and Eco-Throttle is on.) Of course, I'm happy with the fact that unloaded, it puts out 122.4 volts... and it drops to 119 volts when I fire up the A/C, without any major surges or sags.
Unfortunately, I've not obtained the OCCC values, but I definitely will be paying a visit to the local CW (my weekends are swamped due to a volunteer gig) to get better numbers and maybe get some dimensions in person.
I'm biding my time, but if all goes well, the Trend is one of the two rigs on the top of my list.
I do want to take a test drive, mainly to hear how many (or how few) squeaks/rattles it has, how well it deals with semis on Texas Highway 45 where the speed limit is 85 (which means expect people to go triple digits.) After that, check how much room I have for the converter upgrade as well as an EMS. Maybe take a look at the roof, estimate how many watts of solar I can throw on there.
I like the size of the Trend, but it isn't the average Ford E-350/E-450 upfit, it is on a completely new platform, so I like making sure of any potential gotchas before plunking down the cash.
I'd go for a multi-stage charger that supports a desulfate mode (it is a pure shame that most new rigs come with single stage units), and just leave it plugged into 120VAC. This won't allow you to run the A/C, but it will keep everything else charged. Some rigs may even keep the chassis batteries charged. If not, you can always plug a Battery Minder in for that.
Don't forget to run the generator every few weeks though.
Even in rural Texas, I am seeing ProMasters available for sale and being serviced, so the days of trying to find a Five Star Dodge dealer are gone. FCA (Fiat-Chrysler Autos) seems to be doubling down on the PM in the US, so my confidence on finding parts or service if broken down is high.
The Rialta would be hard to recreate, as a lot of it depends on the VW chassis, which hasn't been seen in the US since 2005. I'd say the Travato is a unit like the Rialta in many ways, even bringing some of the Rialta's quirks as well (the sump pump for the shower pan for example.)
The Trend, OTOH, is a different ballgame. I think it will attract the same cult following as the Rialta, but it doesn't have as many annoying quirks as the Travato. It is a foot fatter, taller, and two feet wider than the Travato, but it isn't huge.
So far, here are a list of things I've read about that are notable about the Trend:
1: The water heater appears to be a Girard heater. You use this somewhat opposite of how you use a normal tank heater. To lower the temperature of the water, you turn the hot water on more, turn the dial on the water heater control lower, or slowly add cold water. Oddball, but for unlimited length hot showers, not a bad trade-off in such a small rig. Beats trying to go into a bath-house where the stuff on the floor starts trying to eat your shower shoes.
2: The drop-down bed. It supports max 450 pounds. The 23B floor plan, you will get acquainted with this bed rather well (it is pretty much a couple inches short of a full queen in both dimensions). Make sure to knock over the seat cushions that are upright before dropping the bed. The 23L has a rear quarter bed... not really queen size, but large enough for two people. With the 23L floorplan, the drop down bed isn't really needed, but it is useful in a pinch to sleep that friend or family member, and is about 3/5 the size of the one in the 23B layout.
3: The generator is a 2800 watt model. It will start the 13.5k BTU/hr A/C with 300 watts to spare (as per Onan's documentation), but you are not going to be running the microwave or even the Keurig coffee maker with the compressor at full tilt.
4: The furnace has a thermostat, but the A/C has separate controls, which are located on the lower part of the unit on the ceiling. Another trade-off (since most "C"s tend to have a single thermostat for heat and A/C these days), but not a deal-killer unless one is too short to reach them, or has range of motion issues with the shoulder.
5: The propane tank is 13 gallons. With overhead for vapor, that is about ten gallons. I highly recommend an Extend-A-Stay unit be installed with this rig, so one can bring a couple 20# bottles on a hitch mounted rack.
6: With a 24 gallon fuel tank, you have 18 gallons of gas for the generator (the last 1/4 will be reserved for the engine), and at the genset running full tilt, that is 36 hours of use... to 72 hours, if the generator is only lightly loaded. One can always use a hitch mounted rack with five gallon fuel cans to extend this if needed.
7: The 23L floorplan has more outside storage by almost a factor of two than the 23B, due to the space taken up by the corner bed. However, the 23B has a bigger bathroom and kitchen.
8: From what I was told, the RV converter is a single stage model, so a three stage converter upgrade is a must. With the limited battery capacity (~110 amp-hours, I'm guessing since there is just a single group 31 AGM battery), there isn't much point in anything but a 300 watt inverter for charging tablets, smartphones, cordless tools, and such. There isn't much outside storage, so I don't think there is much room for a secondary battery bank.
So, for boondocking, the solution is probably a solar array, coupled with having a small 1000 watt generator whose sole goal in life is to power the converter. The onboard genset can do this, but .1 gallon of gasoline used by a 1000 watt generator is definitely more thrifty than 0.2 gallon per hour of a 2800 watt genset. Plus, the 1000 watt generator can be moved a distance away for less vibration/noise.
Of course, I can tee off the propane line near the stove (adding a ball valve after the tee fitting for safety reasons), and plop a Buddy heater on the kitchen counter. This would definitely spare the battery and provide adequate heat, but I rather avoid that unless nothing else will do, especially if the coach is not completely winterized.
Another idea for long boondocking runs is an enclosed cargo trailer with a couple solar panels, a few batteries, and an inverter (so the Trend can be plugged into it for charging its relatively puny-tastic house battery. Expensive, but since I go to a festival and have the same campsite for months on end, having a trailer sitting there with full batteries ready to be plugged into is a better alternative to running a generator at night.
9: No solar, although I'm sure that can be retrofitted. I am not sure how much usable space exists on top, but I'm sure 200-300 watts of panels can be added on with a MPPT controller to keep the AGM house jar topped off.
10: It has heated tanks (electrical), and optional heated drains. Be aware that these eat battery life, as they are electric heating elements, so these are not that usable while boondocking.
Hate to be long-winded, but I like taking the time to doublecheck quirks about a rig before buying.
This is a good thread, because I have read/heard about mineral oil in batteries.
From reading this, it seems the best additive that I can use with flooded cell batteries is distilled water... or just replace the battery with an AGM cell so there there is no need to worry about fluid levels at all, unless the battery is radically overcharged.