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Old 09-28-2012, 09:53 PM   #41
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Default Re: Decisions, decisions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by wabbit
I don't think that there is any advantage to them to go head to head. Let's go back to the analogy of phone/computer reviews and benchmarks. There are 3 parts to a review: the equipment, the performance benchmarks, and the user interface. All of the B mfrs publish their equipment list (batteries, generator size, inverter, etc.). It would cost the mfr or the reviewer to do performance benchmarks the way that the vehicle/chassis mfrs do - they would have to rent a track and equipment or arrange to have the various models driving a set course in a row on the same day(s) and hope for the right conditions for a meaningful test. The "user interface" reviews for phones/computers are highly subjective, as they would be for B coaches. This part would include interior layout, ease of use, comfort, and "feel".
I guess the converters aren't too worried about how their conversions affect the van's performance and handling. At least not concerned enough to do much beyond making sure they are CSA/EPA/UL/TSA etc. approved and aren't creating any glaring functional safety problems with their changes.
"All manufacturers publish their equipment lists separately". True, yet no one has taken the time to combine the lists and create an industry-wide comparison chart by make/model. To let a potential buyer see the differences in standard and optional equipment at a glance. I would be less interested in the "user interfaces" at this point, and they wouldn't be quantitatively measurable anyway. That is subjective, as you say.

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Originally Posted by wabbit
As discussed earlier, a good performance benchmark test series between one member of each chassis family would generally suffice. If RT provided one of each model to the reviewers and they could be tested against each other, the numbers would be very similar for the other B converters using that same chassis.
There have been some conversions that have been reported by owners to have had significantly more adverse effects on performance and handling than some others, so I still believe a test of post-conversion performance would be appropriate. Some older Pleasure Way conversions on Ford chassis comes to mind. Many complaints about handling problems - too much added weight for the chassis, iirc. Many folks have done after-market mods to their vans for various reasons, and in most cases, the OEM chassis isn't the problem. It's the added stresses of the conversion which in some cases push the vans to their functional safety limits. "Driveway roll" has been mentioned online, and corrected on many makes/models by the use of everything from rear torsion bars to air bags apparently, as another example.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wabbit
So, most reviews focus on the "user interface" and thus are very subjective. Different reviewers might rate differently for the same unit. And it is the "user interface" that will often make the difference to the buyer, since the top B converters use similar equipment.
Agreed. And since they are the opinions of others, largely meaningless. At this point the user interface becomes important, and you have to get touchy/feely with them. Up close and personal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wabbit
.... Since Mercedes has both on-road and off-road test tracks in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and allows MB car and SUV owners to test there, I wonder if they would allow the great Sprinter chassis B test-off...
Probably - NOT!!!
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:28 PM   #42
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Default Re: Decisions, decisions...

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I guess the converters aren't too worried about how their conversions affect the van's performance and handling. At least not concerned enough to do much beyond making sure they are CSA/EPA/UL/TSA etc. approved and aren't creating any glaring functional safety problems with their changes.
I'm sure that the converters do some testing. I'd be very surprised if they don't know the exact weight distribution side-to-side, front-to-back, and on each wheel, with tanks empty and full, and with various other weight loads. They also know what the chassis mfr says are the limits. I'm sure that they also do some road testing - now there's an interesting job! "I've got to take the new model for a road test, I'll be back in a week or two." Their tests are nowhere as exhausting and detailed as the computer modeling done on automotive test tracks, of course.

The dealer was not surprised at all when I stood in the back of the RT models and tried to see how far I could get them rocking with my weight thrown from side to side. I'm sure that that put a check in his mental box next to "experienced"." I don't know of any other way to check center of gravity in a showroom. The road test on the twisties will reveal more, of course.

I have my own little comparison chart of equipment for those models in which I am interested. It is in a weird format, since I want it on my cell phone when I visit a dealer. I'm somewhat surprised that none of the RV publications hasn't done a comprehensive list in one of their reviews.
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Old 09-29-2012, 01:22 PM   #43
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Default Re: Decisions, decisions...

Rocking my van side to side to check my tanks when I realized the monitor panel wasn't always entirely accurate was pretty easy. The problem with some converters is that they do know the OEM's specs and limits, but the equipment and additional weight they add often stretches and uses up the chassis manufacturers safe operation allowances. Roadtrek, for example, might road test their finished vans to check for handling issues, but I have no idea where they would do it, having been to the area surrounding their factory on several occasions. There is a medium to high speed, somewhat winding, highway nearby, so I guess that would be their "test track".
It is worrisome when you google a particular make/model and add keywords like "handling problems safety issues" and get lots of internet hits. That said, some handling issues are undoubtedly personal perceptions and very subjective. One man's annoying driveway roll is another man's normal handling.
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:12 PM   #44
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Quote:
It is worrisome when you google a particular make/model and add keywords like "handling problems safety issues" and get lots of internet hits. That said, some handling issues are undoubtedly personal perceptions and very subjective. One man's annoying driveway roll is another man's normal handling.
That's one of the problems with subjective reviews and user perspectives. When looking for a restaurant, the reviews are all over the map. Some say the food is horrible while others say it is great. It's a similar case for anything with reviews or where someone is relaying personal experience. I don't see any way around it except to evaluate for myself.
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:29 AM   #45
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Default Re: Decisions, decisions...

Agreed.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:52 AM   #46
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One of the "user interface" items is the ease of filling and draining the various tanks. I hadn't thought of that before, but it is something that I will make a note to check.

One of the tasks I'll have to do is to calculate the battery hit for a night of dry camping with an outside temp reaching 30F (just above where I'd have to worry about draining water tanks), watching a movie on the teevee/dvd, interior lights, and a pot of coffee in the morning. Anyone have any numbers that they have already calculated?
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Old 09-30-2012, 03:36 AM   #47
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I think filling is usually easiest, but it might be worth looking into. I can't imagine it would be a show stopper, but as far as draining goes, a macerator can be a single point of failure. Gravity is more reliable, in my opinion.

I have dual 100ah AGMs and I've never run out of power for watching a little TV, running the furnace, and having lighting, even at temps approaching freezing. I haven't tried making coffee off the batteries as I don't have a single high output inverter, although I have 2 400W inverters that I've considered trying to combine somehow to run a coffee maker that uses just under 800W for 15 minutes. Might work. Experimentally speaking, it would be a stretch, but I may try it anyway. I also have a 2.8kw generator which powers the same coffee maker handily, although it's noisy, so typically I move the entire vehicle to an area where the noise isn't a problem before starting to brew.
If you have propane, and a stove/range with burners, you might try making coffee the old fashioned way with hot water and a French press, instant if you're not too picky, or by using a regular percolator.
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:14 AM   #48
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That's good to know about the power usage. I might even consider a 12v coffee maker, since my wife smiles a whole lot more when she has fresh coffee in the morning.
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:01 PM   #49
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For coffee...

I used a french press - it' looks complicated, but it's really easy - put the coffee grounds in, put in boiling water, let it stand for 4 mins (or more) push the plunger and done! No electricity needed, just propane long enough for the water to boil! You do need a kettle, but I found a small one at Wal-Mart or somewhere. If you are in a rush and don't have time to clean out the french press, then Starbucks VIA is very good - just open the packet, add hot water!
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:51 PM   #50
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We have often gone down to 20F overnight and water in the system has never been a problem. We also don't leave heat on overnight but turn it on just before hopping out of bed in the morning. Our removable flannel lined sleeping bags are rated to 25F and have proved adequate for those cold nights. Most of the cold nights have been in mountains and desert. If the temperatures go above freezing during the day there should be no problem with water. We don't envision camping during 24 hour freezing temperature situations. Planning ahead would avoid those days and places and planning ahead we would just dry camp (meaning no water in the tanks) in those situations.

If we can't wait for the usual 8 AM restriction on generator use to brew a pot of coffee in our 120V built in coffee pot we simply revert to a French press and heat water with the propane stove.

Like Mike, we've had no problems overnighting with 2 auxiliary batteries. On our previous B with one battery we did cut it close a few times but did manage once two dry camp 5 straight days in a national forest and mostly kept our batteries charged just from morning generator use to brew coffee and some driving around during the day. When touring and driving a few hours each day battery drain was never a problem.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:19 PM   #51
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Default Re: Decisions, decisions...

wabbit - is the Roadtrek RS E-Trek on your list of Class B's to consider?
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Old 09-30-2012, 03:44 PM   #52
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Default Re: Decisions, decisions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by wabbit
That's good to know about the power usage. I might even consider a 12v coffee maker, since my wife smiles a whole lot more when she has fresh coffee in the morning.
We LIKE our coffee on the road or not. Took our big 12 cup to Alaska & back. Made a pot every morn. If we weren't connected to elect. we used the generator - a good trade - expensive gasoline for a cup o' hot joe...
If there were gen. restrictions or we left early - I set the coffee maker up before we left then ran the gen. while driving. Worked great!
I might shop for a 12v. But not necessary yet.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:33 PM   #53
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wabbit - is the Roadtrek RS E-Trek on your list of Class B's to consider?
The E-Trek is something that I will be checking out thoroughly and keeping up with the reviews and evaluations. But, as someone who has spent his life working with technology, I have a hard and fast rule against buying version 1.0 of anything. I would be interested to upgrading to some of its technology though.

Regarding coffee, we like the nice quiet campsites in the woods and actually prefer those to the more crowded spots with hookups. Firing up the genset to make coffee would be a bit much. Luckily, my wife likes Via and doesn't mind a little effort in brewing a cup the old fashioned way, so it looks like that won't be a problem for us. She does use her Starbucks locator app on her phone while we're traveling too.

Does the PW really have a 2,000 watt inverter, or am I reading the specs wrong?
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Old 10-01-2012, 02:42 AM   #54
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......... But, as someone who has spent his life working with technology, I have a hard and fast rule against buying version 1.0 of anything............
Smart man. Hopefully, there will be a few early adopters that will report back.

Give us a link re: the Pleasure-Way inverter. I can't find one on a quick search of their site.

If you're buying new than see if you can add in a 1800 watt or so inverter. (normal household circuit)
That would take care of making coffee quietly. It would be a minor factory upgrade of wiring. I'd recommend an automatic transfer switch for the inverter.

In my '04 Roadtrek I had the factory installed 650 watt inverter and I added a 2,000 msw watt inverter.
In my '05 Trail-Lite I added a 1,200 watt psw inverter
My '04 Bigfoot Class C had a 2,000 watt msw inverter
My current '97 Custom has a 1,000 watt psw inverter

In my mind, this stuff is standard equipment now (even if you add it).
I'd be happy to help with inverter and wiring specs when you getting close to ordering.
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:57 AM   #55
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Default Re: Decisions, decisions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by wabbit
Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
wabbit - is the Roadtrek RS E-Trek on your list of Class B's to consider?
The E-Trek is something that I will be checking out thoroughly and keeping up with the reviews and evaluations. But, as someone who has spent his life working with technology, I have a hard and fast rule against buying version 1.0 of anything. I would be interested to upgrading to some of its technology though.

Regarding coffee, we like the nice quiet campsites in the woods and actually prefer those to the more crowded spots with hookups. Firing up the genset to make coffee would be a bit much. Luckily, my wife likes Via and doesn't mind a little effort in brewing a cup the old fashioned way, so it looks like that won't be a problem for us. She does use her Starbucks locator app on her phone while we're traveling too.

Does the PW really have a 2,000 watt inverter, or am I reading the specs wrong?
We usually get a tent site (they're almost always cheaper, and we are fairly well equipped to dry camp) but the coffee situation can be a challenge. We've driven from our campsite, with the trailer hitch mounted satellite dish still deployed, to find a spot where I can fire up the generator to make a pot of coffee. We bought a 110-120 AC powered Hamilton Beach Stay or Go drip brewer system, because the power draw only lasts for the duration of the brewing cycle (around 15-17 minutes for a full 12 cup pot). It uses a stainless steel insulated carafe that keeps the coffee hot for at least an hour. No energy use required to run the heating plate required for a glass carafe. So, overall, and without a large capacity inverter to use the coach batteries, it was the best and most efficient way I could come up with to make coffee.
Now showers, that's another story.

If the PW has a 1200W inverter it would run most coffee makers easily. 2000W would be a bonus.
Starbucks recently announced (in Canada?) they are going to get rid of the "post cards" for free drinks. Any accumulated beverages will be automatically credited to your loyalty card. We use Starbucks almost exclusively for morning coffee if there's one nearby. Otherwise we resort to plan B (no pun intended).
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Old 10-01-2012, 10:33 AM   #56
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My 2011 PW Plaetau does not have a built in inverter! That was one small compromise I made with it, however it's not been an issue for me & I don't even miss it!

I have a 12v plug in the back that I use for charging my phone & my camera battery - I have 12v chargers for both. I also have a small 12v inverter I can plug in if I need to charge my laptop or my kindle. I also set the computer up to charge while I'm running the generator! The in-dash 12 volt plug only work when I'm driving so I generally keep my phone plugged in if I'm driving.
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Old 10-01-2012, 01:59 PM   #57
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There are two 12V plugs in the MB dash. The one in the pull out ashtray is actually a cigarette lighter and is on only when the engine is. There is another just below the pull out ashtray that is hot all the time. I use it to charge iPads and iPhones all the time with little fear of draining the chassis battery when in camp. We also have the 12V outlet that comes with the TV antenna booster inside the B that works off the auxiliary battery.

My GWVan has an 850W inverter primarily for the TV that has a duplex outlet we have used with our crockpot while driving. GWVan has a 2000W inverter option.
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:02 PM   #58
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Coffee problem solved just copy and paste 12 volt DC coffee maker: http://www.jcwhitney.com/12-volt-coffee ... 1997g2u0j1 and there are many other sources as well.
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:06 PM   #59
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Or http://www.12volt-travel.com/
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:16 PM   #60
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We use a perculator on the stove to brew coffee which we pour in a 2 qt thermos to keep hot, a holdover from our old 98 Ford E150 Sherrod high-top conversion van that we had before we bought the AmCruiser in June. The Sherrod had no generator and just the chassis battery, so power was limited. For cooking, we used a portable propane camp stove hence the perculator for coffee. The van had a built-in 12V TV & VCR that we used most evenings on the road with no problem. When we added a small 12V portable cooler to serve as our refrigerator, however, a dead battery in the morning quickly taught us not to run the cooler overnight. Instead we added ice. We also picked up a portable battery/jumper pack just in case.

We still use the cooler in the B to augment the 5cu ft 3-way fridge and we still use the perculator & thermos for coffee. So far the 2 house batteries have handled the TV/DVD (through a small inverter), the pump, a couple of lights and the 12V cooler (we now do leave it plugged in overight) with no problem, but even though the chassis battery is isolated from the house batteries, we still carry the jumper pack just in case.
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