Sunday, September 8, 2019

Less IS More!

Sometimes owning less allows you to do more.

We are about halfway across Nebraska and stopped to see the golden spike, a giant tower in North Platte which allows you a birds-eye view of  one of the world's largest rail switching yards. We are in a commercial campground and there are a number of people in different types of RVs.  We talked to a couple of them, and came to the conclusion that sometimes having a smaller trailer is better than having a giant bus motorhome or big 5th wheel.

We were talking with one couple, and they talked about all the problems they are having with their new motorhome.  I explained to him how the Weibull curve works and suggested that maybe these problems will resolve themselves shortly after warranty repairs are made.  It struck me that the complexity of these types of vehicles mean that there will always be all sorts of esoteric problems that you cannot fix yourself.

We took a tour of the Wanderlodge factory in Georgia before it went bankrupt.  We saw the chassis of one of these motor homes being put together.  Between the two frame rails, it looked like black snakes were wrestling,    The space between the frames channels was entirely filled with different types of wiring harnesses, pneumatic and hydraulic lines, as well as water lines and whatnot.  It just seemed like a nightmare if ever you had to repair one of these lines, once the body was assembled to the chassis - rendering these hoses and wires inaccessible..

On top of  mechanical complexity is also the difficulty of driving such large rigs. One nice lady I was talking to told me that they are very careful not to get off the interstate unless they know in advance the clearance height of every road, as well as whether or not they can turn around. They very rarely go to a campground with back-in sites.  They want pull-throughs or nothing at all.  They would rather  park at a truck stop or Walmart parking lot, than go to a state park, because you can't fit big rigs into the small sites at state parks.

All during the evening, and indeed even through to today, we've been watching people with these enormous rigs try to wedge them even into these pull-through sites. One older man struggled for nearly an hour trying to pull this fifth wheel into a pull-through site which should be a one-shot deal. This morning, we saw somebody try to pull into a pull-through site and they decided it would be easier to go into the site backwards because that way the slide-outs could slide out and not hit the utility pole.

Speaking of slideouts, the couple with the warranty repairs said their slide out 8", but only on one corner, due to an actuator failure.  Things like that would twist things up, and it did, cracking tile inside the coach.   Another motorhome owner told us he jacked up the coach with the stabilizing jacks (a real bad idea, but they all do it) and it twisted the coach so much the windshield popped out. Yet another was having a driver's side window repaired because when it was towed a year earlier, the stress of lifting the front end causes the whole body to buckle.   Ouch.   That was a quality coach, too, not some cheap Class-A gas model.  Oh, well, at least they haven't covered the coach with "Lemon" signs - yet.

Sometimes, it seems, having it all means having less. We love our little trailer which to us seems rather huge.  After spending 15 years with a 17-foot travel trailer, 21 feet seems a little unwieldy at times, but we can still turn around in a parking lot if we had to. This means we can pull off the road if we see little historic plaques or tiny county parks and go there for a picnic.  We don't have to worry about backing up, as the motorhome crowd does, as when you are towing a car it is often impossible to do.

The only time we've had trouble with the size of our rig was when we tried to get on a ferry in BC and found out they were limited to 40ft and we total 41 feet with the truck.  As a result, we had to sit there in shame while everyone passed us to board the ferry and then eventually had to back up a quarter mile up the ferry ramp which was not enjoyable, but then again wasn't impossible either, particularly with a backup camera on the trailer.

If we had one of those big motorhomes towing a car, we would have had to unhitch the car, back the car up the ramp. and then back the motorhome up, and then re-hitch the whole thing. Of course, if we had such a large rig we probably would have been aware of the length restriction in advance, as you have to think far in advance when driving such huge rigs.  This kind of kills spontaneity.

Sometimes less is more.  Having a less stuff allows you to do more things and have more fun and worry less. Having a fancy brand new motorhome or fifth wheel trailer is nothing but a lot of worry. The night before last, we were parked in RV Park and an elderly gentleman got out of his truck, which had a huge dent in the front fender.  We'd seen him previous night in another park a couple hundred miles down the road.  I noticed, that night, that the side of his camper, which was nearly brand-new, also had a huge dent running down the side with one of the cabinet doors nearly shorn off.  Clearly something went horribly wrong, and they  must feel awful about it.

That's the problem when you're towing a 40-foot 5th wheel trailer with 4 slides.  It may seem nice to have all that space and room, but you have to tow it down the road and this can be difficult to do. This can get particularly difficult when you get older and start losing your faculties.

Maybe less IS more.