Dec 22, 2013

Another Dumb Idea

Remember these things? My parents always had one and the story was always the same. The weak link, usually the phono turntable, would fail after a year or two. If you hauled the whole mess to a repair shop, you could get it fixed. But you’d be without a TV or the radio, if you did. So, we just skipped being able to play records for a while. Another year of two, the television either bugged out or became ancient history (Too small, not a color set, or won’t get the new UHF channels.). Now, it’s just a really large radio. For a while, we’d get by with a portable TV sitting on top of the much larger, but dead, built-in screen.

2013-11-13 Wednesday (3)Eventually, my father would haul the whole mess either to the Salvation Army or into the basement. Then, he’d buy another one. I am not my father. I make a special effort to only fuck up seriously once per type. This thing is the equivalent of a console entertainment system. In the case of the Winnebago Rialta (My stupid purchase.), the weak link is all of the VW transmission bits; especially the electronics. The REAL weak link is Volkswagen service; an oxymoron if there ever was one. The drive train, in general, is known for unreliability and, worse, complicated service and Volkswagen’s hostility toward independent service centers. There is nothing good to say about what is, effectively, the turntable and tube-type television in this vehicle. The camper portion is reasonably competent, at least the easy stuff, but in the end this is a glorified trailer with a most-often dead power train.

9171737If you want to camp in your backyard or driveway, a motor home is the hot setup. If you want to travel, I’d recommend a component system. This example is way extreme, but the idea is apparently not that common; yet. My experience with traveling by motor home has taught me that this is an incredibly expensive proposition. Talking to other motor home owners, I have heard horror stories that make our episode seem like a walk in the park. Maybe Central Park after midnight, but still fairly painless and inexpensive in comparison. Our pipedream was that this would be a cost-effective way to see a good bit of the country. Pretty dumb, in hindsight.

Brannan-big-5But if you want to keep moving, stay functional, and spend most of your travel time in your rolling home, you need to have the camper separate from the motor. When the vehicle breaks, and it will, you can park the camper somewhere and live in it while the vehicle is repaired. With a motorcycle on the pickup, you will still have a way to get to groceries and other errands.

Brannan-big-14Almost as good an option is the trailer on stilts. This isn’t as flexible as the separate camper rig, but it’s not as stupid as a motor home. In some ways this rig has a slight towable advantage. As a one-piece vehicle, a tow truck can haul all of your shit to a campsite, where you pull off the bike and camper and the truck can then be taken to where ever it will be serviced. You still have a home, a motorcycle, and you’re only sort of “stuck.”

Not a pretty picture, I know. Seriously, I know. However, it’s the facts. The RV life is a lot like owning a Euro-trash motorcycle, or a sports car, or a trophy wife. It looks a lot better from a distance.

3 comments:

Richard M said...

Interesting post. Like many others, I've been trying to figure out how to travel after retirement and still bring a bike. The toy hauler things, as pictured, are just too big though a bike will still fit in the bed.

Still trying to figure out the "best" solution. Thanks for reinforcing the concept that an all-in-one motor home is not optimal.

Trobairitz said...

It is nice that you have been sharing your experiences so we can all learn from your trial and error.

Hopefully the future will bring not too many errors and more enjoying.

Are things finally going smooth so you two can enjoy yourselves for a while?

Thomas Day said...

We are, in fact, having fun being "stuck" in New Mexico. I'm getting in more motorcycling this winter than I have in about 20 years. It would be nice to be able to actually "travel," but there are six great state parks and one exceptional national park within 100 miles of our center of orbit (Truth of Consequences) and we're likely to spend another month here.