Mike, I will be the first to reveal my ignorance -- why would the dually create offroad problems?? I would have thought that the duals would give you lower ground pressure for less penetration in mud and sand, and the duals also give you protection against a blowout.
As you can see from my signature picture, I don't have a dually. DW tells me I shouldn't because it would make my tailgate look fat.
Prof...yeah, it kicks out the ice. It's just an inexpensive countertop Magic Chef 110V unit that is now in the house supplying our everyday ice. Had I known about the stupid thing before, my old lady would have filled approximately one zillion fewer ice trays over the past 11 years.
I wouldn't be inclined to tote it on our long loop tours of the West (the ARB fridge makes ice and freezes blue ice harder than Charles Manson's heart). In Texas during hot weather and with shore power (we boondock first and foremost, but there are exceptions), it may get to come along.
Party? Never heard of such a thing. OK....we party. Altered states of consciousness will be a factor, methinks. It'll travel on some concert tours, with Roger Waters and Iron Maiden trips coming soon, plus the obligatory TOOL rampage when they release a new album. And the rig, which we call "Billy", is named after a certain underrated, brilliant classic metal drummer who may have partied harder than anyone in history.
So yeah, party! With or without ice, it's happening. I say that with solemn conviction.
Mike, I'd say it's not a class C due to the absence of an overhead cab. It's a van chassis up front, for sure, but kind of like a C with the wider body. Perhaps it's a BC, you know....like the headache powder.
Tires....the choices with the 19.5 are not as vast as light truck users enjoy. And, that size has both advantages and disadvantages over typical truck tires in offroad performance. I'm looking at the Continental HDR, among others, but regardless, my dealing with that matter will be aggressive.
That said, the current highway tires have shown very strong off road and wet street performance. I've been pleasantly surprised, and can't make the thing slide. I've literally slid the Sunrader zig-zag down mountain roads, but couldn't get Billy to slide at all on similar roads. I was overjoyed. The thing appears ready to do more than I have the stones to ask from it.
Gary....hey, either way, "picking" is fine. I don't seem to be nearly as, uh, nervous as many people on the friggin' internet. Picking is one of the major avenues to improvement.
Load is not an issue. I have a lot of weight to give on both axles, and the load rating on the tires is monstrous. Every time I look at a spec sheet, I'm like "wha??? Oh, yeah....the whole truck deal...OK."
Narrower and shorter tires on large wheels can take a fearsome amount of abuse. He's very agile and can turn around in spaces my Sunrader of equal length found much more challenging. When turning into the driveway from the alley, I took the line I've grown used to all these years and ended up humping the fence.
It's all a bunch of give and take in the RV boondocking biz. I always seek to take the strong points and exploit them to the fullest while trying to outsmart the weak points best we can.
Nichols....the headroom is one of the few hits I've taken vs. the Sunrader. I'm 6'4" and can't stand up straight in either, but I've lost a few inches of headroom to Billy, which is just a tiny bit taller than the Toyota. The ground clearance is well worth it, tho. I'll stand up straight outside and at home. Again, give and take.
The first RV I ever looked at after deciding we interested in such things was some old Dodge croaker at a scummy dealer. I could almost stand up in it, but within my first minute inside I hit my head on the AC so hard that they almost had to activate the Civil Defense system. It was truly atrocious. Since then, I've become a high practitioner of keeping my doggone head down.
An interesting side effect is that for a few hours after coming home from a trip, I'll walk hunched over with my head forward like a menacing goose. It wouldn't be so bad if I'd just quit charging people and biting their legs.
Solar. I think I mentioned something about that in the description. The solar shown on the pic was kept by the seller for his new build - a 25' Dodge with a Cummins TD swap and the whole Dana/4x4 deal. Imagine driving such a thing to lower Baja on those Mexican back country roads.
I'm installing 2 140w panels and the Duo, which I use on the Sunrader and really like. The optional readout box offers you house and engine voltage at all times while keeping track of stuff like peak and total amperage. You can hook up a laptop and configure for wide range of voltage settings and distribution of current to engine vs. house battery (I use 10/90). It's awesome always having both batt systems fully charged, and the performance of the Duo has been superb.
No generator. We've really never needed one. Perhaps my biggest power demand now is getting some charge into my boat's deep cycle trolling motor battery after a day's fishing. I'm pretty sure Billy can pump a few dozen amp hours into the boat for us. There's an experiment on the horizon..... Too bad the boat's onboard charger doesn't accept DC, eh?
The only A/C is the split system at the rear, which I think has about had it after years of Baja torment. I've yet to put the gauges on it and see. That poor thing is meant to be installed in stuff that never is beaten up in offroad travel (you know, like, uh, houses). 9000 BTU. I'm either going to replace it with another split, but with much better vibration dampening, or, more likely, use a portable room unit, which are abundant on CL at throwaway prices.
The second alternator provides plenty of power to run such a unit. There is no cab HVAC due to the room occupied by the Vortec 454, which was hacked in there in pretty slick fashion and passed Cali emissions with flying colors.
We've done plenty of boondocking in Texas and the whole southeast in the A/C-less Sunrader, but have only had one episode of suffering in the heat - heading south on 385 to Vega, TX one August afternoon as the sun got low and fried us like bleepin' onion rings. Otherwise, it's not been an issue. By being hardy outdoors people who plan destinations and travel times that avoid excessive heat, we get by OK. The ability to produce loud, clear rock and roll is much more important to us than A/C.
Dad, the dually is an interesting thing. I also drive a '89 Runner lifted on 35" mudders and a similarly-equipped Lexus LX450, which is an FZJ80 Land Cruiser with a different grille, so I'm no stranger to the basic off-road standard and have a good reference point.
Rewinding a bit, I learned to offroad in a 79 Cutlass Supreme Braugham with poofy velour pimp cushions. I'm rather certain it was 2WD. Further learning was in a 86 IROC-Z28. Why? That's all I had, and various fishing spots were, well, resistant to visitation. I learned how to approach matters as a driver, and not rely on gear ('cause I didn't have none). I only got stuck twice...ever! Once in the IROC and once in an impotent 2WD Blazer grocery-getter.
That education served me well, especially so when I got my hands on more suitable vehicles. It's amazing what a 2WD can do with the right driver, and locking the rear axle can make an astounding difference for those who want better performance but are not in position to acquire a 4x4.
Bringing the Sunrader home from Florida, which was a truly irresponsible, audacious, thrilling death march in a vehicle that wouldn't have made it 10' had anyone other than Toyota built it, I pulled over onto a patch of very soft sand. Thought it was concrete in my inadequate headlights, silly me, until I plowed into it like some kind of amusement park log ride.
I seriously thought I was UTTERLY screwed and told my girlfriend, who caused the whole thing by ringing the blasted cell phone to start with, to look up tow trucks in Ft. Walton Beach. The fine sand on the Emerald Coast is notorious for besting 4x4s, never mind a 4-banger Toyota pickup with a dang house on the back. It's the lone time I've ever decided I was stuck without even attempting a recovery, which I generally view as a tantalizing challenge. The rear axle was touching sand.
Well, she drove straight out of it without so much as spinning the obscenely-worn all-season tires. I was simply flabbergasted.
Over the years, in national forests and Gulf Coast beaches, the performance of that dually 2WD Sunrader has impressed me greatly. We once went a couple miles down a very muddy road over the aptly-named Wet Mountains in Colorado that had me quite skeptical of our success. It was one of those things where you come down the hill and around the bend and both occupants see what's ahead and say "uh-oh" at exactly the same time. Had we stopped, things likely would have gone south. But we made it. I wish we had a video of that Sunrader plowing thru that mud.
Based on that, and more, I find that heavy weight plus a dually equals enhanced traction. The additional contact area moving out from the centerline provides more friction and leverage. Billy's much better performance on steep declines with loose gravel has me wondering a bit, but as far as that situation is concerned, the greatest difference between the 2 rigs is weight. One is heavy, the other is very heavy.
After these years and very attentive observation, color me a fan of the dually offroad. Again, most of my experience is with a 2WD outside the recommended usage parameters, but the opportunities I've had to test Billy have left me tickled stupid. I pulled a couple of stunts in Arizona that would have left me deader than fried chicken had I been in the Sunrader.
I think that answers everyone. And since the Sunrader has been mentioned so much, a boondock photo is in order. Here she is deep in the Colorado San Juan mountains at a place which such a vehicle is not supposed to be taken.
It truly has been an fine, dependable boondocker - we were planning the next trip when Billy suddenly stomped into our lives. I stripped it of all the typical RV foolishness and applied a series of updates that made it among the lightest, most able dry campers among 2WD Sunraders. A truly economical and effective friend it's been. Just a month ago the thought of selling it was completely impossible, but I don't have room for all these vehicles she's gotta be sold.
Just the thought of that puts a lump square in my throat. But every time I look at Billy, I get a different kind of choked up. It's time to pass the torch.
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.
What a hell of a good read, first thing on a Sunday morning. Funny, how you can dislike someone you don't even know. I am envious of your skill set. I am fretting about how to make a new wooden battery rack base and I read your stuff...*sigh*...
I'm poking around in a..(I am sounding like you now, Spungo), 4x4 C, a 22ft conversion that doesn't need a damned thing, but now I am thinking of an ice maker. Why?, I have no idea. My only stuck stories involve a VW Westy and Utah sand.
You might need to consider your tag line tho..now that you have crossed the Rubicon.
I have a Blog..about stuff, some of which is RV'ing.
It helps that DH is a champion at squeezing the fifth wheel into just about anything anywhere. And we love being able to "drop it" and take off 4-wheeling any time. Thus the mud is on the truck above and not the fifth wheel.
Spungo, have you ever read the car column in the Wall Street Journal by Dan Neill (who used to be with the LA Times)? You write as well as he does, except that you write about RVs! (I think he got a Pulitzer for car reporting, which is not easy to do.) Have you thought about a new career?? (And reading between the lines, does your day job involve travel with a rock band?)
somebody spent a major amount of $$ and time to convert either a class B Transvan or one of it's clones like the star van, into that mini expedition vehicle
what a find, very rare one of kind type vehicle
Billy is fantastic
* This post was
edited 03/18/12 10:48pm by MrWizard *
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Alpenliter said it all for comfortable boondocking. Alpenlite! Mine is 27ft sl 5r. I carry a 30 ft x 4in nylon snatch strap in case I overload my driving skills. On the other end of the spectrum I have a 47 jeep highly modified with a 1946 bantam trailer with a 12in dome removable top and full camp kitchen, water, heat and tent. Try putting one of those 8ft wide unimogs on a 5ft wide road. Explored death valley on roads the park says were never there. They like to rewrite history. Sadly the best boondocking in calif/ nevada has been reclassified as wilderness.
1994 27sl Alpenlite, 2001 Dodge Cummins auto 3.54 stock
I am partial to the Casita TT for boondocking. Its solid fiberglass construction, high lift axle and slim design are a good base to start with. I added a Honda generator, 120w solar panel, 1,000 watt inverter, cell phone booster, satellite receiver and antenna, extended run tank for the generator, and 15" load range "E" tires for enhanced boondocking capability. The small imprint of the Casita fits many camping sites intended for tents in national parks and tows easily over rugged roads with my 4WD truck.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."