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Last Post 18 Jul 2008 11:46 AM by  Primetime Glick
Class C RV and hitch attachment/MTW, other issues
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Primetime Glick
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18 Jul 2008 09:53 AM

    An hour or two away there is a 1980 Champion Transvan, 17', with 58,000 miles, for $2600. It's like some really short, small Class C built on a Dodge Ramvan chassis with single rear wheels. Almost looks like a Class B, except the camper body extends about 4' beyond the rear axle. Has a V8 (not sure which yet). Looks in really good condition, and looks to be the perfect cheap weekend race-stayover vehicle EXCEPT one thing....

    Isn't the MTW rating of some Class C RV's very low because the hitch attachment is precarious, i.e., nothing as solid as the traditional rear framerail cross-brace to weld it to, just the body of the camper?

    The goal would be to use it to pull a tow dolly and light car (i.e, 2600 - 3300# MTW) twice a month, I guess a total of 100 - 500 mi/mo.

    I looked around some new RV sites (e.g., Roadtrek) for an equivalent setup and the MTW specs, but can't find anything quite equivalent to this thing nowadays, nor how exactly their hitches are attached.

    ----

    The big picture is that I'm trying to decide between

    (a) $3,000+ into my 4cyl Tacoma to strain it to pull a car

    (b) Getting another truck altogether, i.e., a hi-mileage cheap gas guzzler that can more than pull the weight, but would also be a project in itself to rebuild the chassis and driveline (gaskets, bushings, ball joints, bearings, etc).

    (c) Getting an old RV like this, and cutting hotel costs, but having the same issues as (b) but possibly some more (one-off used mini RV toilets anyone??)

    (d) Forget all of this, play it safe, and pony up for a significantly more expensive, modern, decent shape, lower-mileage, "real" truck with a factory towing package that doesn't turn into a project in itself.

    marka
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    Posts:2258


    --
    18 Jul 2008 11:24 AM

    Howdy,

    Check the GVWR sticker on the RV and it will probably tell you some of what you need to know. Also look at the rear frame extentions & load range of the tires to see if that answers your questions.

    As a _huge_ guess, its pretty likely that the rear frame on that thing is barely adequate to hold the back of the RV body up and you're close to overloading the rear axle as it sits (particularly with single rear wheels). But seeing is believing.

    Also, I wouldn't get an RV expecting to save money on staying somewhere... Chances are that you'll spend at least as much total as you would staying in a motel, after you factor in campsite rental (one I looked at recently was ~$50... i.e. as much as to stay in a fairly cheap hotel) and fuel to get there.

    If you're looking at this as a way to get to the event, I think you'd be hugely better off getting a normal truck/cargo van/fullsize suv & trailer. Prices right now on fullsize trucks are quite low and fullsize suvs are probably worse, both new and used.

    No issues with towing capacity, parts availability is easy, working on them is straight forward, etc.

    New vs. used is up to what sorta deals you can find, what you want to spend, and what matters to you.

    Now, all that said... I have an older RV. Its a '84 26' small class A w/chevy 454 & turbo 400 tranny. A friend is at this moment re-inforcing the rear frame, adding rear spring, etc. to get it ok to tow real weight (my 24' enclosed trailer). I have it primarily for one single reason... With my wife & young child its very, very nice to have A/C, a bathroom, and a kitchen when I'm at autox events. We will also occasionally use it for RV vacations as well, but from a cost perspective those are a wash with just staying in a hotel.

    Our older RV was in pretty good shape, but its needed its fair share of "fix-its" for sure. If you want to spend something like the price of a newer truck, you can get a class C that's say five years old or so and would probably be in a little nicer shape & would use more modern running gear.

    But any RV you buy, outside of a toter or other medium duty truck conversion, is going to have a pretty crap tow rating. You're going to be looking at 5k lbs max, and perhaps not even that much. That's true even with the newer Kodiak chassis based motorhomes. They're more chassis, so they build more house. Its probably enough to do what you say there (i.e. light trailer & light car), but it certainly wasn't enough for me to keep living the enclosed trailer lifestyle I've become accustomed to.

    Mark

    Primetime Glick wrote:

    An hour or two away there is a 1980 Champion Transvan, 17', with 58,000 miles, for $2600. It's like some really short, small Class C built on a Dodge Ramvan chassis with single rear wheels. Almost looks like a Class B, except the camper body extends about 4' beyond the rear axle. Has a V8 (not sure which yet). Looks in really good condition, and looks to be the perfect cheap weekend race-stayover vehicle EXCEPT one thing....

    Isn't the MTW rating of some Class C RV's very low because the hitch attachment is precarious, i.e., nothing as solid as the traditional rear framerail cross-brace to weld it to, just the body of the camper?

    The goal would be to use it to pull a tow dolly and light car (i.e, 2600 - 3300# MTW) twice a month, I guess a total of 100 - 500 mi/mo.

    I looked around some new RV sites (e.g., Roadtrek) for an equivalent setup and the MTW specs, but can't find anything quite equivalent to this thing nowadays, nor how exactly their hitches are attached.

    ----

    The big picture is that I'm trying to decide between

    (a) $3,000+ into my 4cyl Tacoma to strain it to pull a car

    (b) Getting another truck altogether, i.e., a hi-mileage cheap gas guzzler that can more than pull the weight, but would also be a project in itself to rebuild the chassis and driveline (gaskets, bushings, ball joints, bearings, etc).

    (c) Getting an old RV like this, and cutting hotel costs, but having the same issues as (b) but possibly some more (one-off used mini RV toilets anyone??)

    (d) Forget all of this, play it safe, and pony up for a significantly more expensive, modern, decent shape, lower-mileage, "real" truck with a factory towing package that doesn't turn into a project in itself.

    Primetime Glick
    Veteran Member
    Veteran Member
    Posts:1279


    --
    18 Jul 2008 11:46 AM

    Mark, thanks for all the advice.

    marka wrote:

    Also, I wouldn't get an RV expecting to save money on staying somewhere... Chances are that you'll spend at least as much total as you would staying in a motel, after you factor in campsite rental (one I looked at recently was ~$50... i.e. as much as to stay in a fairly cheap hotel) and fuel to get there.

    Oh, this is important. The AX sites I have in mind where I'd be doing sleepovers... not even sure if there's a nearby campsite or truckstop or whatever. Or cheap hotel for that matter. Didn't factor those details in.

    marka wrote:

    If you're looking at this as a way to get to the event, I think you'd be hugely better off getting a normal truck/cargo van/fullsize suv & trailer. Prices right now on fullsize trucks are quite low and fullsize suvs are probably worse, both new and used.

    The retail value depreciation on modern V8 trucks is not where I want it yet. {Sorry, no SUVs for me.... I'm not sharing air and carpet with stinky gummy race tires or a leaking ebay differential.} In FL/GA, late-model F150s with the factory trailer tow pkg, cloth, x-cab, and 50-75k are still listing for $9 - 10k. Hoping for almost half that, because the current trade-in values are like $4,000 or less.

    FWIW, even 3.0L/tow pkg Rangers in similar condition/age are listed for $9 - 10k, they only have MTW ratings of 2400# and don't have cruise control. Forget about similar condition/age V6 Tacomas and Frontiers for under $10k...

    Ultimately, though, I guess I have plenty time to chew this over... need to pay down some bills and keep saving $$$ with my little beat up Tacoma. Hopefully when I'm at the point of making the move, said trucks will be where I want 'em...

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