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Old 05-18-2006, 07:45 AM   #1
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With fuel prices over $3 and headed toward $4, I am thinking a lot about whats wrong with the design of today's RV's. What would it take to get the mileage on motorhomes into the teens. I thought I would start a discussion on what tomorrow's RV's should look like.

My 35 foot motorhome has the aerodynamics of a brick. We need to get back to some sort of aerodynamic nose. I don't know if that means the engine needs to be up front or not. But the shape has to be better. The drag on the motorhomes needs to be reduced. We need to get all of the protrusions off of the roof. Move the AC's downstairs and lower the profiles of the vents, TV and satellite antennas. Flush mount the slides and awnings. The new high end Newall's have an interesting roof line. I don't know if this improves aerodynamics or not. But it looks as if it might help.

Then the motorhomes need to go on a serious diet. Weights are going through the roof. Both for gas and diesels. Gas chassis are now up to 24,000 lbs with some diesel chassis over 35,000. With that come bigger and heavier engines and larger and higher rated tires. How about using alloy steel and composite materials to lower these chassis weights. All I see being used is plain low grade steel. In order to provide enough strength these material have to be really thick which means heavy.

Why couldn't we have some sort of hybrid engine. My roof is 35 feet by 8 1/2 feet wide. Can you imagine how many solar cells could be put up there. My motorhome weighs 20,000 lbs. That should produce some pretty impressive charging rates if we use regenerative braking. Instead of the lousy 300 watt inverter that I have which only powers the TV and VCR, how about some really big units like 3000 or 4000 watt inverters. These could power microwaves, refridgerators, maybe AC units. Couple these with a large roof solar cell array and a large amount of batteries and perhaps we could live with only 30 or 15 amp campground power. Power for campgrounds is getting more expensive and this might help keep prices in check.

I know I said that the weight of motorhomes needs to come down, but energy efficiency is also important.

While we are dreaming about redesigning the RV, how about a rear facing slide. This would allow a shorter RV for travelling and maneuvering but one that opens up rearward when parked. I am talking about a slide that would extend rearward by 5 to 6 feet when parked. Maybe with a bed that folds down from the wall the way one of the Newell floor plan does.

We need to start demanding better designs out of the manufacturers of RV's. I don't think they are being creative enough. Perhaps we need to start an organization to lobby the industry on behalf of better more efficient designs.

I love RV'ing. But I am worried about where we are headed. Already people are talking about shorter trips. I would not be surprised to see $4 fuel this year. What are things going to be like at $5 or $6 or more... Now is the time to pressure the RV industry to respond.

The automobile industry continues to build large gas hungry vehicles. Now that people want hybrids, the industry can't build enough and there are not enough models. People have to pay surcharges to get hybrids. Lets not allow the RV industry to fall into the same trap.

I am sorry about the length of this posting, but I am really upset about the state of the RV industry. I hope this gets everyone to thinking. Post your ideas. What do you think? What would you want? Let's share our thoughts. Maybe we can make the industry listen.
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Old 05-18-2006, 07:45 AM   #2
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With fuel prices over $3 and headed toward $4, I am thinking a lot about whats wrong with the design of today's RV's. What would it take to get the mileage on motorhomes into the teens. I thought I would start a discussion on what tomorrow's RV's should look like.

My 35 foot motorhome has the aerodynamics of a brick. We need to get back to some sort of aerodynamic nose. I don't know if that means the engine needs to be up front or not. But the shape has to be better. The drag on the motorhomes needs to be reduced. We need to get all of the protrusions off of the roof. Move the AC's downstairs and lower the profiles of the vents, TV and satellite antennas. Flush mount the slides and awnings. The new high end Newall's have an interesting roof line. I don't know if this improves aerodynamics or not. But it looks as if it might help.

Then the motorhomes need to go on a serious diet. Weights are going through the roof. Both for gas and diesels. Gas chassis are now up to 24,000 lbs with some diesel chassis over 35,000. With that come bigger and heavier engines and larger and higher rated tires. How about using alloy steel and composite materials to lower these chassis weights. All I see being used is plain low grade steel. In order to provide enough strength these material have to be really thick which means heavy.

Why couldn't we have some sort of hybrid engine. My roof is 35 feet by 8 1/2 feet wide. Can you imagine how many solar cells could be put up there. My motorhome weighs 20,000 lbs. That should produce some pretty impressive charging rates if we use regenerative braking. Instead of the lousy 300 watt inverter that I have which only powers the TV and VCR, how about some really big units like 3000 or 4000 watt inverters. These could power microwaves, refridgerators, maybe AC units. Couple these with a large roof solar cell array and a large amount of batteries and perhaps we could live with only 30 or 15 amp campground power. Power for campgrounds is getting more expensive and this might help keep prices in check.

I know I said that the weight of motorhomes needs to come down, but energy efficiency is also important.

While we are dreaming about redesigning the RV, how about a rear facing slide. This would allow a shorter RV for travelling and maneuvering but one that opens up rearward when parked. I am talking about a slide that would extend rearward by 5 to 6 feet when parked. Maybe with a bed that folds down from the wall the way one of the Newell floor plan does.

We need to start demanding better designs out of the manufacturers of RV's. I don't think they are being creative enough. Perhaps we need to start an organization to lobby the industry on behalf of better more efficient designs.

I love RV'ing. But I am worried about where we are headed. Already people are talking about shorter trips. I would not be surprised to see $4 fuel this year. What are things going to be like at $5 or $6 or more... Now is the time to pressure the RV industry to respond.

The automobile industry continues to build large gas hungry vehicles. Now that people want hybrids, the industry can't build enough and there are not enough models. People have to pay surcharges to get hybrids. Lets not allow the RV industry to fall into the same trap.

I am sorry about the length of this posting, but I am really upset about the state of the RV industry. I hope this gets everyone to thinking. Post your ideas. What do you think? What would you want? Let's share our thoughts. Maybe we can make the industry listen.
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Old 05-18-2006, 07:57 AM   #3
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Pete, the way I see it is the manufacurers are only building what the public is asking for, and buying. I remember when a 4" battery operated TV was the utmost in camping luxury. Now look at what we think we need to enjoy NATURE.
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Old 05-18-2006, 08:16 AM   #4
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Something that has always puzzled me (and I know the answer is "it looks good and we can") ...Why flooring of heavy stone (ceramic) tile, heavy stone (corian) counters, and heavy china toilets & sinks? Just cause a Class A can weigh 50,000+ lbs and a fiver 20,000+ lbs, doesn't mean it has too.
Seems the worst MPG problems with our RV's is aerodynamics and the second is dead weight. I know of one fiver (cant remember name at moment) that has a more aerodynamic nose that extends over the roof of truck and there is the ever present Airstreams, but do those have any MPG benefit?
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Old 05-18-2006, 01:50 PM   #5
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Stone floor tiles, porcelain commodes, solid surface countertops, big tvs & satelite dishes - it's all "just like home" and what many - or even most- customers desire. And as many people spend more and more time in their RV (not just camping for the weekend), more homelike amenities are appreciated.

And since the public has demanded amenities rather than fuel economy (or low prices), that's what the manufacturers have concentrated on.


Fuel cells powering electric motors seems like an ideal application for Rv power. An Rv can carry the battery weight and the same fuel cell and batery bank can handle the Rv's aux power needs too.
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Old 05-19-2006, 06:15 AM   #6
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"And as many people spend more and more time in their RV (not just camping for the weekend), more homelike amenities are appreciated..."


Many Motorhomes are not rated by the Mfg. for
actually living in. Our old Fleetwood Flair
Class A 29E was a case in point. Said right
in the Owner's Manual "Not for extended living"
(or something to that effect) It was in there.
We originally came from tent camping and kinda
backpacking, a young family outing style, and
"moved up" to a Volkswagen Westie Camper Van,
which slept all of us and got 16-17 MPG.
For us, it may be "Back to the Future" and a
really nice Vanagon 4WD Pop-up Westie to get
waaay back on free BLM lands and enjoy the
outdoors *like it used to be*......
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Old 05-19-2006, 12:22 PM   #7
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Since, as you have mentioned above, people want a HOME on wheels with everything they have or had at home.We gross 20K also and with the minimum of things we carry I am alway harping on lightening the ship. told the wife that for every nre item we buy we have to get rid os something of equal weight. Food is disposed of as fast as possible.
I got rid of the silly J-couch and heavy recliner replacing them with Euro stly recliner and a Futon.
An aerodynamic nose would help a little.
Titanium frame would help but who could afford it. A Carbon-fibre body also might save alsong with Carbon-Fibre cabinets with Vaneer on top.
A Granit counter top is silly when you can build a counter top that is lighter and still good looking.

For many RVer's it's not until later that they find they are very limited in weight capacity.

The sales gimics work well.
You would have to talk to an RV Engineer to find out what could really be done to cut the weight.
I did read of a Class A with electric drive motors on the rear axle, but can't remember the name.

If you were an RV Manufacturer and new that the public was easy to fool you would go for it.

How about a small diesel engine that turns a generator and powers the motors on the rear axle.BRILLIANT.
THEY TOLD US THAT THE GAS TURBINE WAS IMPRACTICAL, but it will burn ANYTHING that is combustabile. Run out of fuel--Stop at a liqure store and fill-r-up.

Business controls what we want. We have little to say about it accept, yes, this will be on Visa.

US Postal Trucks try Diesel/electric
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006...ntroduces.html
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Old 05-19-2006, 12:31 PM   #8
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The material, a black fabric weave held together by a transparent resin, weighs one-third to one-fifth as much as similar-strength steel but is seven to 10 times as expensive, said Steve Loud, editor of Advanced Materials & Composites News.

Slicing weight would dramatically improve fuel economy and performance, and is why carbon fiber is used in race cars and jet planes.
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Old 05-19-2006, 12:41 PM   #9
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Business controls what we want. We have little to say about it accept, yes, this will be on Visa. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


I have a somewhat different slant:
Businesses produce what people will buy. They only change what they sell when their customers start buying someone else's product 0r or simply aren't tempted to buy at all.

The reason all these gee-gaws have become standard is that's what potential customers ooh & aah over at Rv shows and dealer lots.
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Old 05-19-2006, 12:46 PM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Many Motorhomes are not rated by the Mfg. for
actually living in. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


Actually, none of them are. The disclaimer you quote is a legal caveat. A "recreational vehicle" is by definition not a home and that is the justification for using lesser federal and state standards than apply to mobile homes. An RV must also be under 400 sq ft to qualify as a recreational vehicle rather than a mobile home.
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Old 05-19-2006, 09:54 PM   #11
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"The disclaimer you quote is a legal caveat...."

I know about the legal caveat part, I just didn't say it right.

What I meant was: Our present Newmar does not say anywhere in
the paperwork or anywhere that it cannot be lived in, for say
3 or 4 months in Arizona--but--in our old delaminated Fleetwood, the paperwork DID say that extended human occupation (breathing moisture, etc) was very bad for the Coach (wallpaper, furniture, carpet, etc), in other words
a legalese statement of protection from being sued by someone.
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Old 05-22-2006, 07:41 AM   #12
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Steady Eddie:
"The disclaimer you quote is a legal caveat...."

I know about the legal caveat part, I just didn't say it right.

What I meant was: Our present Newmar does not say anywhere in
the paperwork or anywhere that it cannot be lived in, for say
3 or 4 months in Arizona--but--in our old delaminated Fleetwood, the paperwork DID say that extended human occupation (breathing moisture, etc) was very bad for the Coach (wallpaper, furniture, carpet, etc), in other words
a legalese statement of protection from being sued by someone. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
my two coachmans said the same thing, NOT for HUMAN occupation for 14 days or more
our creek doesnt really say either way, they sort of tap dance around it,
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Old 05-22-2006, 05:06 PM   #13
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Good thread, Pete B.,

Just saw a piece on the Discovery Channel about 360 laptop batteries being used in a carbon fibre sports car; the thing did 0-60 in 3.6 seconds, and had regenerative braking. It matched the performance of a Ferrari Enzo.

Of course, speed is not what RVs are about, but imagine if the same ideas and technology were applied to a slimmed down, aerodynamically shaped motorhome.

I'm sure someone will do it...hopefully sooner.

Richard
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Old 05-22-2006, 06:35 PM   #14
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"my two coachmans said the same thing, NOT for HUMAN occupation for 14 days or more
our creek doesnt really say either way, they sort of tap dance around it...."

Well, thank you, Robert, for backing me up
The idea of spending thousands and thousands
of American Dollars for a camping rig that
you cannot really camp in, always seemed to
me to be a little stupid. It is, like
delamination, a dirty little secret of the
RV Industry.
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