Wholesale Warranties is proud to work with affiliates who are highly trusted in the RV community. For this week’s blog, we’re handing the mic to Phil Rodriguez of MotorhomeAdvice.com, a great resource for RVers looking for reviews on RVs, articles, and helpful tips. See how the site came to be and hear from Phil:
By learning a little about me and my background it may help you to understand why I undertook this project. It may also help you to feel a bit of confidence in what I have to say about MotorHomes.
Beginning the RV Lifestyle
I began my journey into the RV world in 1971. That was when I moved my family to Alaska. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we left for Alaska my family and I, my mother and my step-dad spent one hot and sticky night camping in a tent. Well, we didn’t really spend the whole night. You see it was in Oklahoma in August and it was miserable. So, after a few uncomfortable hours we got up, fought our way through the mosquitoes, and headed back home. That was my first and last tenting experience. Consequently, I wanted to experience camping in Alaska in something other than a tent.
So I went looking for a pickup camper. I shopped around Altus, Oklahoma, and found an 8-foot cab-over custom made pickup camper. I told the salesman after I bought the camper that I was going to have to go find me a truck. Nothing like putting the cart before the horse! Anyway, I went searching for a truck on which to haul my camper. And, what a truck I found. The only one I could afford was a 1969 Ford F-100. At the time I had a car, a family/race car of sorts, a 1966 Comet Cyclone GT. Although I loved that car, I also wanted to camp in comfort and didn’t have the bucks for both. I happily traded my prize possession Cyclone in on the truck and made my way to the camper dealer. They loaded the camper onto the truck and after a good bit of settling and a little groaning, the truck finally sat still looking real sharp. I had no idea about pickup capacities, camper weights in relation to those capacities and I couldn’t find anyone with the experience or know how to ask . . . not even the truck or camper dealers. They said, “That truck should handle the camper just fine.” They made the sale and I began my long and continuing learning process about Recreation Vehicles.
Live and Learn
I made the trip to Alaska just fine, over 1200 miles of gravel roads without so much as a flat tire. Not until after I got to the asphalt road inside Alaska did I experience a flat. My exuberance with being on asphalt after all that gravel led to a little bit more speed than I should have used and a tire went flat after coming down pretty hard from a frost heave in the road. When I had the tire repaired in Fairbanks the repairman asked if I wanted all the tubes replaced. I was pretty smart before I left Oklahoma. Not only did I put 6 ply tires on the truck, instead of 4 ply, but I also had tubes put in the tires. The guy who fixed the flat said the tubes were those with blue circles around the middle of them. The blue circles indicate that the tires are made of synthetic rubber, which will fall a part in the Alaska cold temperatures. Live and learn!
I put split wheels on the F-100 after learning a few things from the Alaska tire guy, like I was grossly overloaded. For example, the camper itself weighed 1200 pounds and once I got the family and all their things plus all the tools a guy might need, my little pickup truck was probably hauling close to 2500 pounds. As it turned out I didn’t need any of the tools I carried. I sold the truck, with camper, for a “profit” to a mechanic. The engine was pinging like crazy. The mechanic enlightened me as to why this was going on after I told him about my trip and after he took a good look at the innards of the truck engine. The engine was a 360 ci V-8.
RV Upgrades and Mistakes
The pickup and camper were a really good learning experience for me. With my “profit” I bought a 1971 Ford F-250 Camper Special. This thing had everything a guy needs to haul a camper. So, what a guy needs to do now is go and buy himself a real “studly” camper. Right? I did at least that. I ended up with two eleven-foot cab over campers, a Dreamer and a Lark brand. The Lark was bought at a kind of distress sale. It had a side entrance so I figured I had arrived at the apogee of pickup camper ownership. So, I sold the Dreamer for a $300 “profit” and kept the Lark. The Lark was a nice camper except that we used an awful lot of propane and never were really warm while camping in it. You got it. It wasn’t built for the conditions in which it was used. More living and learning.
My second RV/MotorHome “mistake” was when I bought my first diesel “pusher”. What a mistake that was. I thought any diesel in a MotorHome would give enough power to move a relatively light vehicle down the road. And a MotorHome manufacturing company would never build a MotorHome that was underpowered! Well, lessons learned prevail and are very costly. This particular event was the primary reason for starting my web site, and for coming up with my “rule of thumb” for horsepower to weight ratio for MotorHomes. The MotorHome was a 36 ft 1989 Monaco with a 5.9L, 160 horsepower Cummins diesel motor, a 4 speed Allison transmission with a Gear Vender aux transmission, a leaf spring chassis, and hydraulic brakes. The MotorHome was grossly underpowered and rode like an empty dump truck. I hated it.
My current MotorHome is a year 2000 40 ft. Beaver Patriot Thunder. The motor is a Cat 12 L, (C-12), with 425 HP and 1550 ft. lbs. of torque. What a ride!
The Start of MotorhomeAdvice.com
There are literally hundreds of “little things” like those I’ve encountered which the novice camper, RV owner, potential owner has no idea. For me there were other trucks and campers than those I’ve already described and since then I have had four MotorHomes, the last two being high end diesel pushers. There were a lot of growing pains getting here. I have suffered through a lot of things you will go through if you are not armed with years of experience and information. I have devoted thousands of hours to researching Motorhomes and their chassis, engines, and peripherals. I would have paid a fair amount of money and would have saved countless hours of frustration and money if I had had someone I could ask or someone that could have share their knowledge with me. I am not a salesman nor do I have any vested interest in any particular RV industry entity. My wife and I travel 10-12,000 miles a year in our MotorHome and love it. We are now retired. I manage my web site kind of like a hobby and she teaches on-line as a Professor Emeritus for a So Cal University. I am a Safety Engineer by education and retired from a career in the Air Force and another career with NASA and the DoD as a Safety Director, Manager, etc. In our travels we found it is just a way of life for MotorHomers to be inquisitive and to want to share their experiences with each other. Many enjoy my sharing of information and have said I should find a way to get the information I have to others. All agree that they wish they had had someone to talk with before buying or even after the purchase as a point of information.
I started MotorHomeAdvice.com web site 16 years ago and have answered hundreds of questions from site visitors. So feel free to submit your question to me with the “Ask a question” button on our front page. I will do my best to provide you with advice that I would personally use or I will send you to someone who can provide more in depth responses.
View Phil’s articles, RV reviews, and more at www.MotorhomeAdvice.com.