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Old 04-25-2013, 05:47 PM
 
Location: Wicker Park, Chicago
4,793 posts, read 8,623,330 times
Reputation: 1822

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I love Dodge / Chrysler minivans, but the latest 2013 ones tow only 3600 lbs. My 2005 Dodge G.C. SXT with tow package tows 3700 lbs, but my class 3 hitch only has a 350 lb regular tongue weight and 3500 lbs tow capacity. I will use a weight distributing hitch that ups my hitch capacity to 400 lbs tongue and 4000 lbs tow capacity.

So minivans can only haul lightweight trailers. I figured out the best towable RV Trailer for me, it's a Coachman 16FB, 318 lbs tongue weight. I will get a weight distributing hitch, added advantage of this is that it has sway control, and it ups my tongue weight to 400 Lbs.

Trailer: Clipper Travel Trailers - Coachmen RV
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Spmhl1LN9N4

best weight distributing hitch I've seen so far: Strait-Line Weight Distribution System w Sway Control - Round Bar - 10,000 lbs GTW, 600 lbs TW Reese Weight Distribution RP66086

I might use a 400AH Lithium Ion custom made battery pack from here:
http://elitepowersolutions.com/index.html
It'll be about $2800 expensive but it's sure beats the weight, usability, and life expectancy of Lead Acid batteries.

If I get a generator that'll add 172 lbs, like this one: Cummins Onan RV QG 4000 - RV QG4000 - 4.0kW RV Generator (Gasoline)

I'm thinking I should run a 12V line attached to a 200 amp battery isolator to charge my 400AH battery bank, and run a 13500 BTU A/C off of this. Is this good enough for A/C or do I need a generator?

NOCO IGD200HP Grey 200 Amp High-Performance Battery Isolator : Amazon.com : Automotive

I guess this setup will only sleep 3 people, as the dinette coverts to a bed, too. Estimated total cost: $15010.95 ... I guess I must be a dreamer, because right now I hardly take road trips so buying this wouldn't be justified. But if I live in my RV for temp jobs that are far, then it might be worth it.

If I won the Lotto I'd get something like this, instead. New 2014 Fleetwood RV Tioga Montara 23B Motor Home Class C at General RV North Canton Ohio General RV

So do any of you tow using a minivan? What is it and what do you tow? I know it would be better to get a F350 or F450 with that 5th wheel trailer, but an integrated Class C is all together and a shorter length so this makes city driving more capable, turns won't be so hard because your vehicle isn't too long, plus then you can park at more places.

If you got any advice or recommendations to my setup please comment.
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:27 PM
 
9,500 posts, read 11,856,568 times
Reputation: 9471
I am not an expert on this subject BUT I am staying in a Holiday Inn Express.

I would call your Chrysler dealer as they are the experts.

My gut tells me that it would be a mistake to tow with a fwd vehicle, especially with one that has a bad reputation for transmissions.
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Old 04-25-2013, 08:54 PM
 
Location: Wicker Park, Chicago
4,793 posts, read 8,623,330 times
Reputation: 1822
I researched towing with my SXT and I'm not supposed to exceed 8600 lbs GCW. My GCW with the selected trailer + 112.8 lbs of batteries + 50 lbs propane + 33 gals freshwater = 7193.2 lbs. That's 33.4567 lbs / hp which is a better figure than MANY rv's!

See http://www.dodge.com/hostc/towing/basics/calculator.do

The 2014 Fleetwood Tioga Montara 23B that's 14500 lbs with a 305 hp engine is 47.54 lbs / hp! My 215 SXT is a better combo! Plus I probably would get way better mpg!

But I posted a thread about towing RVs in two Dodge Forums and there weren't any responses of anyone towing an RV! So I guess it's unpopular to tow with a minivan. But on a road trip to New Orleans I saw an SXT tow a Casita RV trailer!

I've already researched the tow capacity of my minivan.
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Oregon
1,360 posts, read 1,224,564 times
Reputation: 962
Jesse....go to RV.net
There are lots of helpful people there.
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:32 PM
 
Location: Wicker Park, Chicago
4,793 posts, read 8,623,330 times
Reputation: 1822
I'd really like to get a towable RV, but TT's are only practical if you visit a city campground that's affordable. Mostly it's more cost effective to just go to Motel6 in NYC and Houston, but camping hookups in Bowling Green and Indianapolis are cost effective. But then you lose out in your camping budget when you tow at 12 mpg with your TT.

I finally figured out the best stuff I want, it's this:
r-pod Travel Trailer by Forest River
Reese 350 Mini-Lite Weight Distribution System w Sway Control for Light-Duty, A-Frame Trailers Reese Weight Distribution RP66024
New 2013 Forest River RV R Pod RP 171 Travel Trailers at Collier RV Super Center Rockford Illinois Collier RV Super Center
Brake Controller for 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan - TrailerMate TM75813
Universal Installation Kit forTrailer Brake Controller - 7-Way RV and 4-Way Flat - 10 Gauge Wires etrailer Accessories and Parts ETBC7

I web chatted with my nearest Camping World RV Service Center and they ignored my request for an install quote for that X-10 proportional brake controller on my 2005 Dodge G.C. SXT tow package equipped minivan. But I downloaded the X-10 manual and I watched etrailer's install videos so now I know I could install a brake controller on my minivan myself. But I guess I don't need it because I'm never going to even tow a rented rv, because looking at RV rental prices it's really not worth it paying $800+ or so per week for a rental.

The total outlay for this:

2013 Forest River R Pod 171 13695
Reese Mini Lite Weight Distributing Hitch 386.95
400AH Lithium Batteries $620 per 100 AH Battery 28.2 lbs each 2480
EMS-4sb-V5 Energy Management System 106
Cummins Onan 4K Generator 2940
Cummin 30 controller + install 300
TrailerMAte X-10 Proprtional Braker Controller 65.73
7 Pin Universal Kit 64.8

= $20038.48 !! I don't have that kind of money and if I did spend this kind of money I wouldn't have money to go on a vacation! And I'm not willing to go on those 10 year RV loans, I'd rather live debt free. So I'd rather spend that $20038.48 on vacations instead of tied up in an RV and then $600 yearly storage fees.

Then I discovered that cities ban RVs on parking in city streets; I looked up LA and NYC on this. So to live in the streets boondocking I would have to stealth RV in my minivan only. But a good Motel6 in Piscataway near NYC is about $43 a night. The closest RV campground near NYC is too far up north from Manhattan.

My best option so far is to just sleep in my minivan which has a 39" wide mattress in it and go to Motel6 every 4th or 5th day for a good bath. I have a Yakima Skybox 21 Pro Titanium to hold a lot of luggage not in the interior of my minivan so I can have more sleeping room and room for a road bike.

Yakima SkyBox Pro 21 Cargo Box - Titanium Yakima Roof Cargo Carrier Y07186

I guess I'd only get an RV if I won the Lotto... $20K is too much to pay for a small RV setup.
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Old 04-29-2013, 09:30 PM
 
9,500 posts, read 11,856,568 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse69 View Post
My best option so far is to just sleep in my minivan which has a 39" wide mattress in it and go to Motel6 every 4th or 5th day for a good bath. I have a Yakima Skybox 21 Pro Titanium to hold a lot of luggage not in the interior of my minivan so I can have more sleeping room and room for a road bike.

I guess I'd only get an RV if I won the Lotto... $20K is too much to pay for a small RV setup.

I have a few other ideas that might help you.

Instead of buying the Grand Caravan, buy a Freightliner/Mercedes Sprinter Van. They use diesel, get about 27 mpg and the engine will generally get 500k+ miles. They can easily be customized by dozens of places around Chicagoland. Those vehicles have a TON of space but they are also a high profile vehicle.

Still another option is the Ford Transit but that vehicle is a lot smaller.

BTW, you can be a lot more creative on your showers. You can generally get one at MOST truck stops and some state campgrounds.

The advantage of the vans is that you can generally park them anywhere as opposed to RVs.
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Old 04-29-2013, 09:58 PM
 
Location: Wicker Park, Chicago
4,793 posts, read 8,623,330 times
Reputation: 1822
I've seen many of those Sprinter RVs and I don't like their floorplan, plus their engine gets a measely 188 hp. Then they are too expensive at 100K+ brand new.

My best option is to just "stealth RV" in my minivan, and I can park anywhere. You probably can't find parking for that 25' Class C at Waffle House or Wendy's!

So I've determined I can only afford an RV if I was working a good job and needed to live in it or if I won the Lotto.
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:23 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW / CO / SA TX / Thailand
11,320 posts, read 19,055,630 times
Reputation: 8195
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse69 View Post
I'd really like to get a towable RV, but TT's are only practical if you visit a city campground that's affordable.

...The total outlay for this:
= $20038.48 !!

...My best option so far is to just sleep in my minivan which has a 39" wide mattress in it and go to Motel6 every 4th or 5th day for a good bath. ...
It's good you ran the numbers. Most people don't. We don't know much about your total needs.. Age / family, solo...

I encourage the "stealth RV" and I had GREAT success in my Grand Caravan before going to my current VW Rialta.

I use Guest / hospitality homes for $10 - $20 / night worldwide. If you are over age 40 there are many options. if under 40, you can try Cascasa.org (new) or couch surfing. I also use local community rec centers for showers / swimming / hot tubs / sauna... seldom use a hotel or hostel. Fairgrounds, national and state park campgrounds, and truck stops have showers for $4. I have been known to stop at a cemetery or park and 'run-thru-the-sprinklers'.

The van is a great and useful solution. You can add a 'pop-top' from a few van conversion people in Canada, as well as consider a 'Motoraid' Hot Water heater and electric pump. You add a spray hose and small tank & can have a hot shower (outdoor) or soup in 10 minutes driving. Check out a later Eurovan Westy, they have this inside the rear hatch. I LOVE my Motoraid in Rialta. (18-22 mpg <$20k, sleeps 4, hauls 8 with seat belts.) http://rialtaheaven.com/ (Quad floor plan for me, and I reconfigure based on trip / destination. I have sewing table and cabinets that fit right in)

Have some nice trips
http://freecampsites.net/usa/
Free Campgrounds for RVs
Also BPA, TVA, and Army Corp have excellent campgrounds.
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:49 PM
 
9,500 posts, read 11,856,568 times
Reputation: 9471
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse69 View Post
I've seen many of those Sprinter RVs and I don't like their floorplan, plus their engine gets a measely 188 hp. Then they are too expensive at 100K+ brand new.

My best option is to just "stealth RV" in my minivan, and I can park anywhere. You probably can't find parking for that 25' Class C at Waffle House or Wendy's!

So I've determined I can only afford an RV if I was working a good job and needed to live in it or if I won the Lotto.

The base Sprinter is $37k. Most of my friends have done the fabrication of shelving units and the like for under $5k. It is not an inexpensive vehicle but it is not $100k.
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Old 04-30-2013, 01:11 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW / CO / SA TX / Thailand
11,320 posts, read 19,055,630 times
Reputation: 8195
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlawrence01 View Post
The base Sprinter is $37k. Most of my friends have done the fabrication of shelving units and the like for under $5k. It is not an inexpensive vehicle but it is not $100k.
I did a lot of research trying to convince myself to get a Sprinter camper van (since I have 100% diesel power fleet EXCEPT Rialta )

I found EXCELLENT NEW Sprinters campers discounted to $58k from Gulfstream, BUT... I tried several and just too small inside. (you can get them as Class C which is fine and dual wheeled).

I have had a few friends buy Excess DHL Sprinters for <$20k, Conversion is as expensive as you make it... or stealth for ~ $5k.

Sprinters drive and handle NICE. They cost a lot to maintain, and they DON"T like burning BioD (soy based garbage made in USA, Canola based in Europe is fine).
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