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Messages - DavidM

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1
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 26, 2020, 11:16:44 AM »
Mitch:

I have been following the Sprinters/Winnie forum and two posters said that the PD9245 is not a 3 step charger. One said that it would only charge his coach batteries at 10A because it was a fixed output voltage and Winnie installed it with 8 gauge wire which causes a large voltage drop to the batteries. So I don't have any more credible evidence than this.

Have you measured voltages rising through 14.4 at the end of its charging cycle and then dropping back to 13.2 when charged? If so it is a three step charger.

Amp hour usage is highly dependent on your life style. The compressor fridge in the new Views is rated at 3.2A DC and some have reported that it runs continuously. I can kind of believe that because 3.2A implies it is the smallest Danfoss compressor and 7 cu ft is big for that Danfoss' cooling capacity. So worst case 24*3.2=77 Ahs for the fridge but maybe less.

My dry camping usage on my 16TBS is about 10Ah daily. This is strictly lights for a couple of hours at night, a couple of tablet chargers, no fridge, no furnace, no fans and 15 minutes of water pump for the shower and a little to push and pull the slide and one burner ignition for the HW heater. So if I maintained that usage in the View I might use 87 Ahs worst case with the fridge running continuously.

But that is not likely. With a View we will probably use the TV, probably with a DVD player but no satellite dish, maybe for two hours each day or TV only with Hulu from a cell phone if 4G or better is available. That will add another 10-15 Ahs. Also there are various parasitic loads on a complex RV like the View and that may add 10 Ahs each day. So for us, worst case is about 100 Ahs daily.

That all assumes we will get a new View with the compressor fridge. That is very, very unlikely and Views built before late 2019 use absorption fridges which require just a few tenths of an amp for controls and burner ignition a couple of dozen times a day at maybe a minute each of I guess 5 amps or 5-6 amp hours total. So for an absorption fridge RV I would expect our Ah usage to be 25-30 Ahs daily.

That is more or less consistent with long term camping in a 25' fifth wheel many years ago. We had a TV and satellite dish and 140 Ahs of battery capacity and it would get down below 50% charged after being at one site for three days.

With an older View I would probably upgrade the batteries to two Trojan T-1275s for 300 Ahs. That would cover us for at least 5 days and then I would run the generator with an upgraded 75A IOTA charger to bring them back to about 90% in 2-3 hours.

If I had a new View with the compressor fridge, then I would be running the generator every day for a couple of hours to replace the 100 Ahs. That is both unpleasant from a noise standpoint and uses up propane. At half load the propane generator uses 0.6 gph so 2 hours a day will use more than a gallon so you will need to refill its 13 gallon tank every two weeks or more if you use the stove. I don't want to hunt down a propane filling station (a bottle exchange won't work) and fill up that often.

Sorry this has been so long but it has helped me to think it through and put numbers behind my thoughts.

David

2
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 25, 2020, 04:07:08 PM »
Wait until summer when people start thinking about how little they have used their RVs and more will come on the market.
 
Yes the two View layouts we saw: twin beds and back slide out Queen ticked all of our boxes as well. Probably will depend on what is on the market when we get ready to buy.

As a total aside, Joan just cancelled our almost $10,000 Viking cruise from Amsterdam to Basel in early summer out of Corona virus fears. The CDC said today that Americans should prepare for "significant disruptions in their lives". It is all a bit scary and Joan is more paranoid than most I suspect.

David

3
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 25, 2020, 01:14:25 PM »
Not sure what is driving this change, but most new Views come with DC compressor fridges, not absorption. I have extensive  history with DC compressor fridges on boats and they mostly work quite well. But the boating industry has figured out how to deal with the DC that they require and the RV industry has not.

A DC compressor fridge adds 50-100 Amp hours to your DC usage each day. That is 5-10 times what we use on our CL. So batteries and charging sources need to be better. Unfortunately the RV industry installs minimal batteries (although some offer Li Ion options for $5,000!!!). And the ubiquitous converter installed in most RVs, maybe including ours is the Progressive Dynamics 9245.

The PD9245, by all acounts is not a three step charger and due to inadequate wire size can never supply more than about 10A to your batteries. For those who dry camp with a DC compressor fridge it is essential that you upgrade your PD9245 to a real three step charger like the IOTA and triple the wire size to limit voltage drop. This is so you can recharge your batteries with a portable generator. If you don't want to do that, then increase your battery capacity, a lot.

David

4
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 25, 2020, 11:15:39 AM »
Hi Mitch:

Thanks for your comments. I have seen a couple of Winnebago Views, done tons of internet browsing of RVs and reading comments on chassis and engines. We are not going to buy for another year but it will probably be a used View with the Mercedes chassis and Bluetec diesel. New is probably north of $125,000 and used can be had for half of that.

The View is large enough to give us a nice living space inside and with the Sprinters 170" wheelbase, manages the View's 25 1/2' length well. It should also be maneuverable enough to get into tight campsites and navigate parking areas.

My only concern is the diesel engine. It does produce enough power with 188 hp and 325 ft lbs of low speed torque and gets great fuel mileage- 15-16 mpg. There have been a few reports of sensor failure that results in engine shutdown and what might be a long tow to a Mercedes Bluetec qualified mechanic. That failure which is caused by the DEF level sensor failing can be solved by always keeping the DEF container half full or more. The sensor is exposed to dry DEF when it gets too low and often corrodes and fails.

The Ford 3.2 diesel doesn't have enough customers out there to have reported similar failures, but I have no doubt that they exist. And there are no doubts in my mind that diesels have more failures than gassers and require more maintenance.

But all in all I think I can live with the maintenance and reliability of the Mercedes diesel for the other advantages I see in the Winnie View.

Did any of the RVs you looked at use DC compressor fridges? That brings up another series of issues, but are relatively easily resolved.

David

5
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 23, 2020, 02:08:07 PM »
Chappy, thanks for your thoughts.

Yes, I am aware that despite popular opinions on the subject, modern diesels do require more maintenance than gassers, both routine and for specific failures.

Routine diesel maintenance is more because you have oil changes with almost twice as much oil, fuel filter changes and DEF, diesel exhaust fluid addition.

Then there are system failures. A simple DEF sensor failure can cost a thousand $ to fix. Even more for the particulate filter regeneration system. Gasoline engines have neither. And at least for Mercedes Sprinter diesel failures a Sprinter dealer is the only one who can do this and not all Mercedes dealers are Sprinter qualified, so it gets expensive.

But diesel is more fuel efficient, maybe 20% better than gassers. But diesel fuel costs more at the pump, between 15-25% more from my observations.

David

6
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 16, 2020, 06:45:04 PM »
Wow, such a deal. For $125,000 and your $10,000 finders fee I can have a new Fuse motor home. I will have to sleep on that offer.

David

7
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 16, 2020, 12:25:51 PM »
I do like the Fuse models for the most part. The one Merlin referenced has the nice side queen bed slide out. But that forward living area is the pits with the forward facing bench seat. But I would hope that it is fairly easily fixed: pull out that horrible bench seat and replace it with a nice captain's chair. The only other negative is very limited galley prep space.

The other model, the 24A has twin beds, but they really intrude on your living space whereas the 24T that Merlin posted, somewhat hides the bed.

So if I can deal with the galley prep area to Joan's satisfaction, maybe with a flip up counter extension and remove the bench seat, the model Merlin referenced is my favorite so far.

David

8
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 16, 2020, 08:15:53 AM »
Hmmm! Never heard of a diesel with a throttle. Must take some clever coordination of the fuel injection with the throttle plate to keep them in sync. Or maybe the throttle plate only closes on deceleration- kind of a built in Jake brake.

So if the Ford 3.2 diesel with throttle was offered in all Transits until 2020 will have to look into that further. We would be buying used anyway.

Your exhaust temp sensor experience is what I was hoping with the Ford- easier maintenance and cheaper parts than the Mercedes. Mercedes diesels seem to be made for people with money who don't mind spending it.

Thanks, David

9
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 15, 2020, 02:50:39 PM »
Thanks Mitch:

I somehow missed the Ford Transit based RVs in my search. Yes, since 2017 the Winnebago Fuse is offered based on the Transit with the new Ford diesel. I suspect all modern diesels are plagued with complex emission controls and may all have similar reliability problems. Not sure which is better, dealing with a Ford diesel mechanic or a Mercedes one. My gut tells me Ford.

It is a little lighter and smaller than the Sprint based RVs like the Winnie View, about 1,500 lbs less GVWR and a foot and a half shorter. Not all bad and they come in two layouts that work for me: a queen bed side slide and twins. Both compress living space a bit at least relative to the Winnie View with the aft slide out queen.

I will keep looking.

Thanks, David

10
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 15, 2020, 11:33:38 AM »
Surfsup:
 
Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, the reliability of the Mercedes diesel with all of its pollution control equipment is my biggest concern. Unfortunately I have not been able to find an equivalent gasoline engine RV with these characteristics:

Overall length of about 25' for maneuverability in campgrounds and grocery store trips. When we camped out west years ago we did do a few site seeing trips by dropping the trailer, but those were definitely the exception for us. Usually we did our grocery shopping on the way to the next campsite and parked our rig out of the way.

Aerodynamic coach. I just can't stand the looks of the Minnie Winnie and similar MHs. I bet that they lose a mpg or two with their clunky aerodynamics.

Queen bed that you can keep made up all of the time, with walk around capability or twins with the center open.

I did find a Jayco Melbourne based on the Ford 450 chassis with the V10 gasoline engine that was aerodynamic and had a side pull out queen (But one review said the queen was a very short 70" long). But it was 4,000 lbs heavier and 4' longer than the Winnie Sprinter based coach. Gas mileage would be 10-12 mpg and maneuverability would be difficult.

I will keep looking for that ideal coach with a 4.0 liter or greater gas engine that meets the above criteria. The Nissan Frontier with a 4.0 liter V6 would be a good chassis if it weren't so narrow.

David


11
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 12, 2020, 03:16:20 PM »
You are in trouble now!

FWIW I googled renting a winnebago view and the first up was Outdoorsy.com, a peer to peer rental company for RVs similar to AirBnB. I checked further and noticed that they provide insurance coverage for both liability and collision losses while renting through them. That solves one of the big problems with renting vehicles- the owner's insurance may not cover commercial transactions.

They did have a listing for a 2017 View, not the queen or twin but the smaller corner 50" wide bed, but that would work to check out handling. It was listed by an owner an hour or so from our home in Connecticut so I may rent it and go camping for a few days to see how it all works later this spring. $225 per day. Not sure of any minimums.

So maybe a report will be forthcoming.

David

12
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 12, 2020, 08:34:59 AM »
Thanks guys for your comments. Merlin, you raised some issues I hadn't considered and put a sharp point on others:

The lack of engine braking is a real concern. I wonder how much extra capacity was built into the Sprinter's brakes to allow for that? I have had brakes fade going down mountain passes pulling a heavy pop up with a light car so I appreciate this problem. I now use engine braking extensively going down hill so I appreciate the effect.

When we camped in the west 20 years ago, we didn't drop our fifth wheel and head out in the TV as much as you do. The 7-1/2" wide Winnie is marginal for making a quick trip to the grocery store or a side trip. Most of these trips were done between campsites so packing up for traveling was not a big deal, but you make some good points.

I hadn't considered that having the slide in would block access to the bathroom. Will have to check that out. The chassis is 7-1/2" wide vs 7" for our 16TBS and if the LL can do it, the Winnie should be able to, although I do suspect that the slide is deeper on the Winnie. Pushing the slide out a foot to get by shouldn't be that bad although I do know that the switch is on the other side of the slide  :-[

I have never owned a diesel vehicle so the fueling issues are unknown. Seems like almost all gas stations have a diesel pump though. We often stop at Loves and similar high volume gas/diesel stations when traveling. Another issue I didn't mention is propane filling. The tank is built in, so you have to pull the coach up very near the propane filling tank and fill directly with a hose. It is 50 gallons though.

We looked at two yesterday, one a rear "bump out" queen and the other with twin beds like the 16TBS. Liked them both but the queen bump out had more interior room as expected. One had a diesel generator and the other propane. I like the diesel mostly because it keeps from running down the propane supply. Both were equally noisy, much more so than the Honda EU2000.

Upgrading the 16TBS is not under consideration. It just doesn't have enough hang out room to be comfortable when stuck inside on rainy days. Currently we generally pick our camping days for nice weather and only are gone for 2-3 days so rain rarely sneaks up on us. Come to think rain rarely locked us inside in the west over our three month trip either. We also would head down south during the winter to get a break from the Connecticut winter drearyness, so we definitely would get hit with rain then.

I guess towing safety is also a big issue in my mind which lead me to the Winnie. Years ago pulling a 5,000 lb fifth wheel with an F150 felt rock solid. Pulling our 16TBS with the Pathfinder is less so but quite tolerable. I am expecting that the Winnie will beat them both. Again renting will tell.

David






13
Livin Lite General Discussion / Re: Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 10, 2020, 03:44:36 PM »
Thanks for your comments, GK. Let me expand a bit on the pluses and minuses of diesels. Hope I don't burst your bubble too badly:

I have already spoken about the fuel economy. It is a wash due to the higher cost of diesel at the pumps. I have read maybe a dozen postings about problems with the Mercedes Bluetec engine in the Sprinter chassis in an RV. Almost all have faced a fairly costly fix during their ownership. Most have to do with failure of the level sensor on the DEF (diesel exhaust fluid, basically urea) tank. That failure shuts the engine down, no get home mode, and costs $2-3,000 for the dealer to fix it and reset the system to run again. Not to mention having to tow the RV from some remote camping site halfway or more across the state to get it to a Mercedes dealer to fix it.

Contrast this to most gasoline engine sensor failures. They rarely shut down the engine and the onboard diagnostics quickly finds the offending sensor and it often can be replaced for a few hundred dollars, certainly not thousands. Probably 90% are O2 sensors which is in the exhaust stream so it is in a pretty tough environment, unlike a simple level switch on the DEF tank.

I have read similar horror stories about oil type in the Bluetec and the serious problems that can result, particularly to the particulate filter burning system. All of these problems relate to the emissions control systems. Apparently Mercedes (and others to be fair) is still working out the bugs of these systems. No wonder VW cheated to avoid DEF and particulate filters in their diesels ;-).

OTOH diesels are certainly more rugged than gassers and I would prefer a 3.0 liter engine pulling a 10,000 lb Sprinter chassis RV to my Pathfinder's 3.5 liter gasser pulling about the same weight with the 16TBS. The diesel will usually (barring one of the problems noted above) last longer and wear less. Some of this is due to more rugged construction and some is due to the better lubricating properties of diesel.

But I wish someone made a 4+ liter gasser installed in a similar RV Class C as the Sprinter based Winnie View. Still looking.

David

14
Livin Lite General Discussion / Thinking of moving to a motorhome
« on: February 10, 2020, 10:07:37 AM »
So, given that this forum is in its winter dormant state, I thought I would share my current thoughts of moving to a motorhome with the membership for its insights.

We have done some pretty extensive trips with our Nissan Pathfinder pulling our 16TBS, in one case all the way up from our home in Connecticut to the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada. But we are thinking about even longer trips and longer stays. One plan is to leave in September for the west and camp in Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico for three months before heading home in late November. This is a trip we did twenty years ago when we were between jobs and I absolutely loved the western states.

First let me describe the motor home I am thinking of buying and then talk about the why. I like several things about the Mercedes Sprinter diesel based Winnebagos for this mission. The Sprinter chassis is solid and is aerodynamic unlike many Class C MHs and the diesel is a plus and minus. Fuel economy is 20% better than a gasser but diesel is 20% more expensive at the pump than gas, so cost wise it is a wash. Diesels provide more torque which makes hills easier but don't do much engine braking which is a downside on mountainous downhills. For those who don't know about diesels, unlike gassers which throttle the air supply for combustion control, diesels don't and as a result have much less engine braking. Jake brakes and similar have been developed to compensate but are not available for the Mercedes diesel. Diesels contrary to popular opinion do require more maintenance: adding DEF and dealing with routine problems on a low volume sold engine although you would think that the Mercedes Bluetec engine should be fairly washed out by now. RV reviews don't seem to indicate that though. But I have not been able to find a similar layout in gasser versions.

I do like the layout of a couple of models of the Winnebago View Classs C. One has a unique rear end slideout where the queen bed folds out at the end which allows a complete 270 deg walk around queen bed that you never have to make and unmake like many Sprinter based MHs. Another has two twin beds aft just like our 16TBS. Both have nicer inside living accommodations than our 16 TBS with a similar sofa slide out but also the driving seats rotate to provide two useful chairs that the 16TBS doesn't have. And the Winnies have much more comprehensive systems than the LLs: a generator, heating that keeps the tanks and plumbing from freezing, heating and air conditioner with ducted air, etc. These make long term camping quite comfortable. Also we dry camp 95% of the time in USNF, SP and NP campsites and prefer them to crowded full hookup campsites, so the generator is a particular plus to keep our batteries charged up.

So two issues with doing this: driving safety and RV comfort. So let me start with driving safety:

I have been comfortable towing the 16TBS with our Pathfinder but Joan is only comfortable towing on smooth interstate highways. That has been ok so far, but I don't think it will work in the west where distances are long and once we get into Wyoming, roads won't always be interstates and I don't want to do all of the driving. Plus I think that a Sprinter chassis motorhome will be inherently safer on the road than our Pathfinder towing our 16TBS.

Also maneuvering into campsites will probably be easier with the 26' LOA Winnie than our combined 37' TV and trailer, although I am pretty good at backing and have gotten into many so called tent only campsites with the LL. And on this 3 month long trip we will probably move every 2-3 days, so lots of maneuvering and setting up will be involved.

The comfort issues were pretty well described above. The Winnie will be similar to our 25' fifth wheel that we used for our previous western adventure. We actually lived in it for 4-5 months until we bought a condo and started new jobs in SoCal. It was quite comfortable.

Here are a couple of links to the queen and twin versions discussed above:

https://www.rvkountry.com/default.asp?page=xPreOwnedInventoryDetail&id=8205133&p=1&s=Fuel%20Type&d=A&vt=motorhome&year=2018&fr=xPreOwnedInventory and:

https://www.leesautoandrv.com/default.asp?page=xInventoryDetail&id=7781100&p=1&vc=class%20c&s=Year&d=D&fr=xAllInventory

I appreciate any and all comments and will respond with my counterthoughts.

David


15
Off Topic / Re: Solar Sale
« on: January 30, 2020, 11:58:43 AM »
How have your flexible panels turned out for you?

I helped a buddy set up two large- 170 watt spec panels, not made by Renogy, that actually put out at best 100 watts. I suspect that it was a labeling/spec scam as I have never seen any other flexible panels of that wattage, mostly 100 watts (surprise, surprise!!!).

But others in the boating world have reported the same thing even with 100 watt panels, so I wondered how yours turned out.

David


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