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Old 09-21-2017, 11:03 PM   #1
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Default Of Dogs and RVs

Round Two of an Intro. The Forum software blew up and lost a rather long intro. Remind me to copy it this time in case it happens again.

We currently travel in a Dodge Grand Caravan which holds two people, two dogs, two ARB car freezers, 3 kitchen boxes, 4 dog crates (two for show site and two for motel), crates pads and covers, 3 folding chairs, 3 large suitcases, 1 cpap, a mobility scooter, and sometimes, three rat cages with 15 rats.

We have a standard longhaired Dachshund who is working on his AKC Grand Championship and his Barn Hunt Rat Champion Excellent.

We also have a findling Beagle (she found us!) who has her Novice title in Barn Hunt. In Open, her score is currently Babette Beagle, .5, Open Rats, 39.5. She'd rather smell Smells than indicate rats.


It gets tiring to load the car, drive the car, unload the car, night after night. So we're looking at an RV.

My preference is for a B+ because I really don't want to drive a monster rig.

No B or B+ is going to have a refrigerator large enough to handle my food allergies and the dogs' raw diet. Neither will a B or B+ have the room for our two ARB car freezers, but I think we can get around that with a rear-mounting cargo platform, and an ARB weatherproof freezer. Here.

The kitchen should hold the contents of our kitchen boxes, and the other storage the contents of the three suitcases.

The over-passenger storage area should hold the rat cages if they travel with us (ie, a trip of more than five days), but I'll have to figure out how to hold them in place with something other than cargo netting. The Rattie Girls (also known as Barn Hunt Training Associates) would chew through netting if it touches their cages.

I did get to an RV show and saw an Airstream and a Road Trek.

Wasn't over impressed with Road Trek.

Liked the Airstream -- it MIGHT have room in the back for my mobility scooter, the dog crates and the chairs.

No dealer within a hundred miles has the Pleasureway I have admired on video, the Pleasureway Plateau XLTD. So I can't crawl around one with a tape measure to figure out if everything will fit.

I like the PW Plateau FL, but I can't figure out where to put crates, chairs, and mobility scooter.

Anyway, that's where we're at. Any suggestions for other models that might work, or how to fit everything in appreciated.
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Old 09-22-2017, 01:34 AM   #2
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You have a Beagle...you have a great future! My favorite dog. You seem to like the PW, but say there is nothing within a 100 miles, why not find your nearest one, make contact as the availability of the Model you want to Test Drive. Quite possibly a phone call, and a check of their website will tell you if they have that particular Model available. Maybe you can make it a camping trip and then do a hands on. I found mine about 800 miles away, and they had a couple different Models available. The idea of being able to see and touch a possible future vacation home might make the trip memorable. Ron
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Old 09-22-2017, 01:58 AM   #3
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HITCH CARRIER: If I were you, with a freezer that elaborate and expensive, I'd commission a custom-made hitch carrier. No big deal - hire a reliable weekend welder / hobbyist to put it together for you. In that regard, you can look over this series of blog posts to see how my husband and I built our own. Not for that freezer, but same idea. I now freeze food in solid blocks of ice to take in our Yeti cooler. The blocks last well over a week before melting, and the Yeti is about $900 less than that freezer - good enough to meet our needs.

MODEL / DOG MODS: On Air Forums, I have seen several dog show people who have customized Airstream Interstates for their needs over the past few years. One of them had the username K9CarCrate. This is one of their pictures of a crate retrofit where a passenger seat had been - it's a lovely job. This from 2013 or else I'd refer you directly but (s)he doesn't seem to be a frequent poster. Point being, this can be done, and there are upfitters out there who do it.

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Old 09-22-2017, 11:52 AM   #4
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I travel to dog shows as well and have a Travato 59G. the murphy bed in the back allows for a hallway that is large enough for cargo underneath. I can put two gordon setter size crates there, and still lower the bed over the top. THe dinette in the front also becomes a bed and is another option for dog crates. I have traveled with 5 dogs on board. 1 gordon setter in a crate, two whippets in crates and two senior gordon setters riding loose. For a small motorhome it has a lot of space.
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Old 09-22-2017, 06:18 PM   #5
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You have a Beagle...you have a great future! My favorite dog. You seem to like the PW, but say there is nothing within a 100 miles, why not find your nearest one, make contact as the availability of the Model you want to Test Drive. Quite possibly a phone call, and a check of their website will tell you if they have that particular Model available. Maybe you can make it a camping trip and then do a hands on. I found mine about 800 miles away, and they had a couple different Models available. The idea of being able to see and touch a possible future vacation home might make the trip memorable. Ron
I wasn't PLANNING on a Beagle -- I've had Dachshunds since 1970. But what do you do when a seven month old pup turns up, abandoned, on a cold November night... the night of your Mom's memorial service? We took her in, fed her, let her sleep in a spare crate. By morning, my husband had named her. And our two longhaired Dachshunds, Shadow & Sunny, tutored her in What is Expected of a Hound in This Household.

BTW, if you are a reader, check out the Dale Kinsale mysteries by Doranna Durgin. Or should I say, the Sully Beagle mysteries? Doranna has Beagles -- conformation, agility, and tracking.

I did look. The next nearest dealer is in Houston, and after Hurricane Harvey, I'm not inclined to go there. After that, Atlanta. I get up to Atlanta exactly once a year.

What I would dearly love to do would be to show up, crates, car fridges, chairs, and all, and experiment with loading a vehicle to see if everything fits.

Unfortunately, the probability of a dealer letting our Hounds on board a vehicle we haven't bought is slim to none.
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Old 09-23-2017, 12:18 AM   #6
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HITCH CARRIER: If I were you, with a freezer that elaborate and expensive, I'd commission a custom-made hitch carrier. No big deal - hire a reliable weekend welder / hobbyist to put it together for you. In that regard, you can look over this series of blog posts to see how my husband and I built our own. Not for that freezer, but same idea. I now freeze food in solid blocks of ice to take in our Yeti cooler. The blocks last well over a week before melting, and the Yeti is about $900 less than that freezer - good enough to meet our needs.
I am VERY impressed with your and your husband's abilities. I could do the covers, but neither I nor my husband could do the welding.

Something like that could make either an Airstream or a PW Plateau FL a possibility. I believe both of those have wet baths, and that's something I have to be careful of, as I am both plus-sized and mobility-impaired.

I acknowledge that the ARB Elements freezer is VERY expensive, but we paid for our two current ARBs with credit card points -- all those motel stays have to be good for something! And it does save on the fuss of finding dry ice or water ice. (I agree with you, btw -- I wouldn't want to have dry ice sublimating inside our Grand Caravan!)


Quote:
MODEL / DOG MODS: On Air Forums, I have seen several dog show people who have customized Airstream Interstates for their needs over the past few years. One of them had the username K9CarCrate. This is one of their pictures of a crate retrofit where a passenger seat had been - it's a lovely job. This from 2013 or else I'd refer you directly but (s)he doesn't seem to be a frequent poster. Point being, this can be done, and there are upfitters out there who do it.

How does one find those upfitters? I would actually be looking at East Coast Crates. Those are the ones Harper's breeder likes. We'd probably be looking at two of the 200 size. If I could swing it, I'd go with the stacking crates, as 2-4 of those would fit in the space of one chair. And I think they lock together, which would make them safer.

(The possibility of additional seats, btw, is one of the things I really did like about the Airstream.)

One of the Barn Hunt judges has a B (I can't remember which make) which she outfitted to have a single twin bed on one side, and the dog crates where the other twin bed would normally go, because she has Belgian Tervurens and they take up a bit more space than a Dachshund and a Beagle.
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Old 09-23-2017, 12:46 AM   #7
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I travel to dog shows as well and have a Travato 59G. the murphy bed in the back allows for a hallway that is large enough for cargo underneath. I can put two gordon setter size crates there, and still lower the bed over the top. THe dinette in the front also becomes a bed and is another option for dog crates. I have traveled with 5 dogs on board. 1 gordon setter in a crate, two whippets in crates and two senior gordon setters riding loose. For a small motorhome it has a lot of space.
I've heard many good things about the Travato, although I've never seen one. The problem with that corner bed set up, though, is that a person has to crawl into from the end, and I simply am not physically able to do that. Neither is my husband.

I am definitely impressed by your load-meistering, that you can manage 3 gordon setters and two whippets in one!
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Old 09-23-2017, 12:22 PM   #8
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Someone else on Air Forums did stacking dog crates a couple of years ago. I don't know how to find them... best way is probably good old internet sleuthing. Search threads and contact users for leads.

Some people with mobility issues don't favor the Interstate due to its small size. Additionally, almost all Class Bs need to be modified with extra electrical capacity if the intention is to remain off-grid (for instance, at a dog show parking lot) and run appliances such as CPAP.

Airstream just debuted a new B-plus model called the Atlas at the Hershey show. It is larger but so is the price tag (MSRP north of $200K). It appears to be aimed at larger people with variable physical needs. I'm middle-aged but I'm in good health (knock wood), athletic and about 130 pounds. The Interstate fits me like hand in glove. Not so much for larger people and mobility-restricted people.
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Old 09-23-2017, 11:02 PM   #9
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Someone else on Air Forums did stacking dog crates a couple of years ago. I don't know how to find them... best way is probably good old internet sleuthing. Search threads and contact users for leads.
The East Coast Crates have stacking crates. And will actually build to custom sizes for what you need. It would just be a matter of installing them. To be honest, this is the first RV Forum I've asked in because most of them appear to be focused on Class A or Class C, and the response pattern (like the one dealer we spoke with) is that we don't want a Class B, we "need" a bigger vehicle.

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Some people with mobility issues don't favor the Interstate due to its small size. Additionally, almost all Class Bs need to be modified with extra electrical capacity if the intention is to remain off-grid (for instance, at a dog show parking lot) and run appliances such as CPAP.
Actually, I did like the Airstream that I saw last year -- and I didn't have trouble moving around in it. It was mainly figuring out where and what type of freezer we could have -- and I think your suggestion of getting a custom cargo carrier could be a solution. (I recognize the one I'm looking at is beastly expensive, but we got our two ARB inside freezers (37 quarts each) with credit card points, and I'm almost halfway to the cost of the fancy all-weather one. I know my husband, and while I may think the dry ice one you have would be great, HE won't want to have to hunt up dry ice, and all the rest.

I would definitely want a good solar rig, because there is a CPAP in this mix, AND keeping the freezer and fridge and all going -- at a dog show! -- could be problematic. I've also been researching how to run an air conditioner on solar, because, well, south Louisiana is NOT cool.

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Airstream just debuted a new B-plus model called the Atlas at the Hershey show. It is larger but so is the price tag (MSRP north of $200K). It appears to be aimed at larger people with variable physical needs. I'm middle-aged but I'm in good health (knock wood), athletic and about 130 pounds. The Interstate fits me like hand in glove. Not so much for larger people and mobility-restricted people.
I just found an intro video on the Atlas, .

Quite an impressive model. Looks like it is Airstream's version of the Pleasureway XLMB. Except it does have a Murphy bed which is accessible from both sides, unlike the PW, which has the same problem as the Travato and Thor corner beds: the person on the inside of the bed has to crawl up from the end. I'm not sure, though, that the Atlas is worth that $200,000 price tag!

Plus, I admit to a slight prejudice against slide-outs.

I actually went looking for an Accessible RV -- the only one I found was the Newmar 3911 -- and while it was a dang nice coach, it is also quite a bit larger than I really want to try to drive, and I suspect the fuel efficiency sucks rutabagas, and not very well.
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Old 09-24-2017, 03:58 AM   #10
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Old 09-24-2017, 12:40 PM   #11
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For perspective on that vid, they have a Class A, and a TON of lithium and solar -- far more than the most ambitious owner could ever put on a van.

Additionally, I'm amazed they got it started at all without an EasyStart (they call it "soft start" which I think is the generic description - EasyStart is a trade name by Micro-Air).

Additionally still, they didn't discuss the load on their inverter. It's going to get hot, the question is how hot. Right now, without a supplemental cooling mechanism, we actually exhaust the capacity of the inverter before we exhaust the capacity of our lithium batteries. The inverter gets too hot and shuts down temporarily.

That being said, here's the wider view of a typical Class B scenario for comparison (i.e., our set-up): 300 watts solar (highest-efficiency monocrystalline), 2,000 watt inverter, 300 amp hours of lithium batteries, with EasyStart installed on an 11,000 BTU roof a/c (which is smaller than many units that are being installed on Bs right now).

^^ That configuration allows us to run a/c for 1 to 2 hours off-grid, before needing a complete battery recharge. That is all we can realistically get out of it.

It may not sound like much, but it's a life-saver. A week ago I got back from a month on the road. I drove the first 3,000 miles of it solo, with our dog (I was later joined by my husband who flew out to meet me). My daily pattern was to start driving at dawn, and drive until about noon, then take my lunch and (crucially) take a nap before proceeding. I could not have done that drive without napping, and I could not have napped without the ability to run the a/c for about an hour each day, off batteries (because outdoor temperatures in the travel area were up to 100 degrees).

There is, of course, also the generator option, but (a) many places don't allow their use due to the noise and exhaust gases (forget about pulling into a strip center with a Subway, getting a sandwich, and running your generator in the parking lot as you eat and rest) and (b) an on-board Class B generator typically can run a coach a/c unit for maybe 8 to 16 hours before needing a refueling, if it's a propane generator. Again, not much. Maybe one night's operation, but then the owner has to go in search of propane.

Our solution to these limitations is to simply not dry camp during the summer months. We live in Houston. Being heat-limited on activities is just part of life here.
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Old 09-25-2017, 05:45 AM   #12
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Thanks, BBQ... I have seen that video. Been following the Wynns for awhile.

The trick now is figuring out how much solar to run the AC on a B+!
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:49 AM   #13
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For perspective on that vid, they have a Class A, and a TON of lithium and solar -- far more than the most ambitious owner could ever put on a van.
Yes, I had noted that they had, what, 750 amp hours of battery, and somewhere around 1500 watts of solar.

Quote:
Additionally, I'm amazed they got it started at all without an EasyStart (they call it "soft start" which I think is the generic description - EasyStart is a trade name by Micro-Air).

Additionally still, they didn't discuss the load on their inverter. It's going to get hot, the question is how hot. Right now, without a supplemental cooling mechanism, we actually exhaust the capacity of the inverter before we exhaust the capacity of our lithium batteries. The inverter gets too hot and shuts down temporarily.
Well, they did have all sorts of disclaimers, and then went back and mentioned the softstarter. That would probably be a good reason to have the largest inverter you could carry. I think your 2000 watt one is moderately standard on Class Bs from what I have read.

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That being said, here's the wider view of a typical Class B scenario for comparison (i.e., our set-up): 300 watts solar (highest-efficiency monocrystalline), 2,000 watt inverter, 300 amp hours of lithium batteries, with EasyStart installed on an 11,000 BTU roof a/c (which is smaller than many units that are being installed on Bs right now).

^^ That configuration allows us to run a/c for 1 to 2 hours off-grid, before needing a complete battery recharge. That is all we can realistically get out of it.
Probably would need to sit down with a solar and RV air conditioning specialist and figure out what we would require for what we intend to do with the RV.

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It may not sound like much, but it's a life-saver. A week ago I got back from a month on the road. I drove the first 3,000 miles of it solo, with our dog (I was later joined by my husband who flew out to meet me). My daily pattern was to start driving at dawn, and drive until about noon, then take my lunch and (crucially) take a nap before proceeding. I could not have done that drive without napping, and I could not have napped without the ability to run the a/c for about an hour each day, off batteries (because outdoor temperatures in the travel area were up to 100 degrees).
To be honest, my inclination, in that kind of hot would be to drive at night so that when I stopped, it might be cooler. Although that's not characteristic is you happen to be in humidity-ville.

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There is, of course, also the generator option, but (a) many places don't allow their use due to the noise and exhaust gases (forget about pulling into a strip center with a Subway, getting a sandwich, and running your generator in the parking lot as you eat and rest) and (b) an on-board Class B generator typically can run a coach a/c unit for maybe 8 to 16 hours before needing a refueling, if it's a propane generator. Again, not much. Maybe one night's operation, but then the owner has to go in search of propane.
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Our solution to these limitations is to simply not dry camp during the summer months. We live in Houston. Being heat-limited on activities is just part of life here.
Yes, and that is so in New Orleans, as well. However, the one place I might be dry camping is for a Barn Hunt in north Louisiana, and that would be around 5 days. I'd have to figure out some way to have AC at night. We'd be doing without it during the actual event... but I have to sleep cool. I'm headed up there this week... "camping" in a nearby motel, since we don't yet have an RV.

Thanks very much for the comparison of your rig to the Wynns. I knew theirs was a Class A and wondered how it compared to a Class B in terms of solar, inverter, and batteries.
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Old 09-25-2017, 01:09 PM   #14
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Thanks, BBQ... I have seen that video. Been following the Wynns for awhile.

The trick now is figuring out how much solar to run the AC on a B+!
HOw much solar?

Well, you don't really run the aircon off the solar.

the aircon runs off the batteries, and you use the solar to replenish the batteries.

if the aircon could run off the solar, here is a quick & dirty estimate:
1. how many watts is your aircon? (usually around 1100w to 1850w)
2. how many watts are your solar panels? (usually 100w each)
3. how many full sun hours do you have per day?

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Old 09-25-2017, 01:57 PM   #15
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...

Probably would need to sit down with a solar and RV air conditioning specialist and figure out what we would require for what we intend to do with the RV.

....
^^ This may be harder than you assume, because demand way, WAY outstrips supply at this point. The only installer I know of right now whom I'd trust is Lew Farber, who works at least half of the year through AM Solar which is located in Oregon (I think he works in Florida the other half of the year). On July 8, 2016, AM Solar posted a Facebook message noting that they were booked up through the end of 2016. I don't imagine 2017 was any less pressured. I know of one owner who got into AM Solar in 2017 after a 4-month wait, I believe it was. They were smart - they booked their upfit with AM Solar well before taking delivery of their Interstate from Airstream, so that there wasn't a large gap between the two events.

There's a local couple here in the Houston area that searched far and wide for a basic solar upgrade on their new Interstate. They came up empty-handed and decided to DIY the job out of necessity. Their thread on Air Forums is titled "Our (reluctant) DIY Solar Upgrade". But their upgrade config was nowhere near what would be needed to run an a/c for even a short period of time.

If anyone here on Class B Forum knows of additional skilled and reliable solar / AGM / lithium contractors, please share the info and/or the best threads.
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Old 09-25-2017, 05:11 PM   #16
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Regarding running aircon while off-grid.

There are 2 challenges one must consider to make it work:

1. You need a battery sized to match your running time

2. You need to find a way to replenish the battery at the end of each run.
do you use solar?
do you run the generator?
do you use the RV's alternator? (idle the engine)
do you take the RV for a long drive?


It can be done; it just needs some careful planning.
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Old 09-25-2017, 11:05 PM   #17
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HOw much solar?

Well, you don't really run the aircon off the solar.

the aircon runs off the batteries, and you use the solar to replenish the batteries.
True. My apologies for the mis-statement.

Quote:
if the aircon could run off the solar, here is a quick & dirty estimate:
1. how many watts is your aircon? (usually around 1100w to 1850w)
2. how many watts are your solar panels? (usually 100w each)
3. how many full sun hours do you have per day?

Well, #3 is, of course, "It depends."

#1 is, "Not sure." If it's an 11,000 BTU AC (what the PW I'm eyeing has), then browsing around for conversions came up with, for a Honda site, 1,600 starting watts and 1,010 running watts.

Which then means that the answer for #2 is that we'd need at least 16 100 watt panels to keep from going into power debt on the AC. Those are NOT gonna fit on a Class B. The PW uses 95 watt panels, and can take 5, which is 475 watts. That monster deployable Go Power thing that the Wynns have would yield another 900 watts or so. So that could potentially work. The only problem, of course, is, where to put the monster when you don't have it connected, IE, when it has to be folded up so you can travel.

My personal preference would be not to dry-camp and need the air conditioner, but the one Barn Hunt site I go to most often IS dry-camp. Most of the time, it's winter-camping, so I actually would have to worry more about my tanks freezing than the air conditioner, but I'm headed there presently, in our Grand Caravan, for a motel stay.
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Old 10-13-2017, 06:23 AM   #18
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Muttering to myself here.

Still can't locate a place which has the XL Pleasureways.

I understand that the Airstream Atlas won't be out until spring, so of course, seeing one is not an option. Closest dealer is about 90 miles away, which is do-able on a weekend if I do not have a dog show.

Ran across a Leisure Vans unit which is on the Sprinter chassis, but is actually a Class C.
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Old 09-05-2018, 04:19 AM   #19
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Finally got a chance to look at an Airstream Atlas yesterday.

Color me impressed.

There's enough space between the driver's seat and the murphy bed to fit either one of our two-step or three-step pet stairs which will let me and the Dachshund and the Beagle get on and off the very high murphy bed.

I should be able to fit a mattress shelf near the head of the bed to set my CPAP on. (No, I'm not going to set it on the floor -- I can't reach it from the bed to turn it in and off!) It's a plus that they have a 110 plug on that side of the bed.

The steps can also fit at the end of the bed, and still leave enough room to get around them to the bathroom.

The kitchen sink is nice sized. I'm glad they have a microwave/convection oven instead of just a microwave, since I hate microwaves. The drawers in the kitchen are nicely arranged. I didn't see adequate storage for pans. The Instapot and food processor would have to go in outside storage unless being used. (These are not "I wannas" -- they are essential for preparing food I need for a special diet.) The refrigerator and freezer are impressive and for week long trips would probably be adequate for me and for the raw diet we feed our dogs. Longer trips might well require an ARB Element (weatherproof car freezer) on a rack, with an electrical hook-up to the coach.

I like the roll-out pantry -- I can think of a number of things that could be used for.

Didn't test it, but it appears that the dogs' crates might be able to tuck under part of the end of the bed.

The driver's seat is adjustable enough to meet my needs.

The shower is large enough for me to get in and out of it. I can even bend down as if to wash my feet. That's impressive. The toilet is not quite chair height, but it's close. Plenty of well-organized storage. Forgot to ask if a shower bidet could be added to the toilet.

The couch has two seatbelts which will work well for clipping the dogs' car harnesses to. PW does not have seatbelts on its couches.

I'm less impressed with the outside storage -- the bays are really very small, and I would want to fit extra dog crates and folding chairs and the crate covers in them, as well as my mobility scooter.

I'm also VERY un-impressed by the fact that the bay doors do not fold all the way up. You have to bend over and under them to access the bay. (Contrast this with the Pleasureway XL series where the exterior bay doors swing all the way up out of the way.) That's going to going to make it a bear to maneuver my mobility scooter into the only bay where it MAY fit, the driver's side large one.

The main door steps have very tall risers which makes it a real bear to drag myself up them. It's scary, and dangerous. My husband's long legs had trouble with them. They need three, and better four, steps there. It is actually easier to climb in the driver's side door, into the driver's seat, swivel around, and enter the coach that way.

Not much in the way of options as to inside color. Airstream likes BLACK and DARK. BLACK and DARK is not good if you live in the south.

However, if it weren't half again as much as the PW XLTD, I'd certainlyput it on my short list.
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Old 09-16-2018, 12:12 PM   #20
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Unfortunately, the probability of a dealer letting our Hounds on board a vehicle we haven't bought is slim to none.
A dealer might not, but if you buy one used from an individual they probably will, especially if they are dog owners. We just bought an oldie but goodie and our 80# lab mix “Miss Kitty” went on the test drive. She is a tripawd and we were thrilled to see how easily she navigated the steps and rode on the sofa/ bed like a princess!
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