Travel Trailer versus Motor Home - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-13-2021, 05:39 PM   #1
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Travel Trailer versus Motor Home

On our way out for three days of camping at a state park a couple hours from here, we noticed the Casita acting strangely. I wondered if maybe a brake was grabbing, but it felt like a loose hitch, so I pulled over. Sure enough, the big nut that holds the hitch ball had come loose. Fortunately, I carry a hefty pipe wrench, so I was able to get down on the ground and tighten it up.

Good thing we noticed it within a mile of home. Which of course led us to wonder what would happen if I had no wrench, or if I had broken a leg or had a stroke. I handle all the technical apparatus on the trailer; hitching, leveling, etc.; not that my wife couldn't learn (she's a retired physician), but she has no interest. And, as she likes to remind me, I'm not getting younger.

That led us to wonder if maybe something like a Class B/B+ motor home might not make more sense for the future than a travel trailer. Something happens to me, she could just jump in and drive it home; no need to hitch up, at any rate.

In the state park we came across a young couple who had built their own camper in a Dodge cargo van. The wife said she didn't like driving with a trailer. It is something else to worry about when you're busy trying to navigate unfamiliar roads.

So what are the plusses and minuses of travel trailers (TT) versus small motor homes (MH)? Number one, of course, is cost; with a TT you're not buying a truck. We're not putting a lot of miles on our two vehicles now; do I want to pay insurance and maintenance on a third one that's going to sit most of the year? Is the MH going to be one you can drive around on errands and carry grandkids in?

Number two: With a TT you can leave your camp set up, and take your tow vehicle out on the town, to events or attractions, and return without having to set up again. With a MH you have to put everything away and secure any items that might roll around, just as if you were packing up to leave. Of course, you could set up a kitchen tent or gazebo and leave stuff there. But you've still got the question of how flexible your MH vehicle will be. There's a reason why folks with bigger ones tow a small car behind.

The couple with the converted Dodge camper van carried a motor scooter on the back!

Number three: An MH with more space than our Casita (which we would like) is going to be a hefty truck—maybe a Class C, with a bunk over the cab? More money, more gas, less flexibility.

Sounds like the TT makes more sense than the MH. . . But, there are the issues of age and ease of use. At some point, after years of trailering, my parents moved to a Class C motor home. I wonder now if managing the mechanics of trailering wasn't getting too much for my father. Unhappily, it's too late to ask.

But maybe some of you have been through these same questions. Your thoughts? —LEJ
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Old 10-13-2021, 06:01 PM   #2
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Me, I drill a hole through the hitch bolt, under the nut and insert a pin that can not come out to insure the nut cant come off the ball hitch. A safety measure. Just Sayin.
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Old 10-13-2021, 06:16 PM   #3
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We have one of each. Our MH is a Chevy Roadtrek Class B. Interior size is closer to a 16-17’ molded trailer because the cab seats become part of the cabin when parked (that is not true for most Class C’s, BTW). Most of the pros and cons you have already enumerated. Add cheaper road tolls to the list of pros and cabin squeaks and rattles to the cons.

On ours, I like the large longways rear bed and very comfortable front seats, which swivel to become lounge chairs in the cabin. Downside is the super tiny wet bath.

Cost of ownership is a lot higher than the Scamp. Class B’s are going through the same demand-driven price spikes as small molded trailers. Still, if buying a trailer also requires a new tow vehicle, the total investment may be similar. If you buy a trailer towable by your daily driver, the economics changes. Interestingly, fuel mileage of the Roadtrek is pretty close to our Scamp/Pilot combo, at around 18-19 mpg.

My mom was the original owner of ours. This was the last (and best IMO) in a series of small class B and C motorhomes in which she traveled solo for 30 years after dad passed. She had no interest in dealing with a trailer.
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Old 10-13-2021, 07:16 PM   #4
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Well if something were to happen that's what tow trucks are for in either case.
Financial state and preference would be the deciding factor.
I have enough powertrains to maintain.
Except I really like the early Winnebago Scout so,,,,,,
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Old 10-13-2021, 07:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Lynn View Post
On our way out for three days of camping at a state park a couple hours from here, we noticed the Casita acting strangely. I wondered if maybe a brake was grabbing, but it felt like a loose hitch, so I pulled over. Sure enough, the big nut that holds the hitch ball had come loose. Fortunately, I carry a hefty pipe wrench, so I was able to get down on the ground and tighten it up.
Turn the ball mount sideways in the receiver and then you can use a cheater or stand (jump) on the wrench as required to apply the proper torque.
"During hitch ball installation, torque all 3/4" shank diameter balls to 160 ft. lbs, 1" shank diameter balls to 250 ft. lbs., and 1-1/4" shank diameter balls to 450 ft."
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Old 10-13-2021, 07:41 PM   #6
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If something was to happen to you, the ability to tow the trailer would be the least of her worries. She could always leave the trailer for an extra couple of days and drive away with the tow vehicle, get a friend to come help, or manage to drive out of the desert to the nearest place for help with the trailer attached, not having to learn about backing up or dealing with traffic.

How do you know you are going to go first anyway?

I say, quit worrying about it and continue having fun for as long as you can. Trailers offer low cost of ownership, low maintenance, and the other advantages you've mentioned. A motorhome is no picnic to park, or negotiate through traffic either. It seems most of us that have finally settled on a trailer, have done so for mor-or-less the same reasons. Convenience, freedom to wander from the campsite, low cost to operate, etc.

One possible advantage of the motorhome is security. You can simply drive away in the same vehicle you are living in, if things go sideways somehow.
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Old 10-13-2021, 07:59 PM   #7
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Our Travel trailer is now 17years old and in good shape.
Registration on a travel trailer is a small fraction of a motorhome registration.
Insurance on a travel trailer is not even required, whereas it is required on a motorhome.


Finally we are now towing our trailer with a 2019 tow vehicle which is also a daily driver. Would you be comfortable taking a 17 YO motorhome on a thousand mile trip?


These considerations don't even include the convenience of day trips while at your destination.
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Old 10-13-2021, 08:23 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
Me, I drill a hole through the hitch bolt, under the nut and insert a pin that can not come out to insure the nut cant come off the ball hitch. A safety measure. Just Sayin.
Good idea. Maybe a large cotter pin? I was thinking a second nut might be a good idea.
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Old 10-13-2021, 08:27 PM   #9
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The advantage of a class b would be parking. When I am towing my trailer, I often can't stop at interesting spots along the way because of the length. A van style camper could whip in and out of parking spots.

As far as old motorhomes, look up Wandering Dano on Youtube. He just drove from Ohio to the Olympic Peninsula (Warshington) in his 1990 class B. He was pretty nervous about it though.

I'll stick with the Casita unless I win the lottery but I buy about one ticket a year so that ain't gonna happen.
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Old 10-13-2021, 08:35 PM   #10
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Turn the ball mount sideways in the receiver and then you can use a cheater or stand (jump) on the wrench as required to apply the proper torque.
"During hitch ball installation, torque all 3/4" shank diameter balls to 160 ft. lbs, 1" shank diameter balls to 250 ft. lbs., and 1-1/4" shank diameter balls to 450 ft."
Good idea. Would have had to unhitch, though. I don't have a hefty enough torque wrench, either. When I put the ball on a new ball mount, I put it in a vise and used the pipe wrench. Not tight enough, I reckon. —LEJ
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Old 10-13-2021, 08:36 PM   #11
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Good idea. Maybe a large cotter pin?
Go to Uhaul and buy one of their balls. Has the hole already drilled and comes with a cotter pin.
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Old 10-13-2021, 08:40 PM   #12
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I have enough powertrains to maintain.
Yes, that.

A smaller Class B isn’t as bad as a large class C or A because most regular garages can work on it. If a couple can manage with one grocery-getter plus a van as an occasional use second vehicle snd RV it’s not so bad.

Four drivetrains here.
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Old 10-14-2021, 05:49 AM   #13
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Me, I drill a hole through the hitch bolt, under the nut and insert a pin that can not come out to insure the nut cant come off the ball hitch. A safety measure. Just Sayin.

Or a little red locktight. Or a lot of rust?
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Old 10-14-2021, 06:29 AM   #14
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[QUOTE=Jon in AZ;827785]

because most regular garages can work on it.

Maybe not so easy to work on though. I always think of the last job I worked on before retiring from a Nationwide truck rental / leasing company. I had to work on a Ford E350 van, one (simple sounding) task was to replace the leaking oil pan. After removing all the bolts I couldn't get the pan out because suspension components were in the way. After jacking up the engine until it hit the firewall still couldn't get it out. Then it was determined that the body had to be raised. So how do you do that on a class B motorhome. And what shop would even want to take on a task where they had to work on inaccessible parts of the engine.
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Old 10-14-2021, 07:27 AM   #15
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That’s a good point, and it’s especially true if the unit has undercarriage-mounted camper modifications, as do many mass-market conversions.

There’s a breed of newer “adventure” conversions that confine all camper systems within the cabin, but they tend to be more utilitarian than traditional Class B’s.

The OP may want to spend some time on the Class B forum before making a decision. Folks over there are just as committed to their choices as we are to ours. It includes so-called “Class B+” vans as well.
www.classbforums.com
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Old 10-14-2021, 07:54 AM   #16
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We have had motorhomes and the Scamp 16 and have found that the Scamp serves up well and is maneuverable enough to allow us to stop most places we want to visit and those roadside flea markets and restaurants etc where a motorhome would be a problem.
We like being able to leave our equipment setup and explore in our Touareg tow vehicle. Of course a TOAD would serve, but that is even more complications when traveling.
The other question is what if I am disabled and cannot hook up the trailer and tow as SWMBO has no desire to do these things.
She does help inspect my getting ready to make sure that the cables, hoses, stabilizers and hook-up.
I suspect that if she wanted to she could handle it, but she could also just leave FrankenScamp where he sits and drive home. At that point I might not care one way or the other, but I would hate to think that my remodel and modifications would be just tossed aside.
We have lived in the Scamp for extended periods of time while traveling, and other reasons and find it as comfortable as many would find a motorhome as we have rebuilt it to meet our needs and desires.
At one time she said she needed to take time to learn how to handle the Scamp, but that time has not come and when I bring it up it seems to be slip slip slipping away...
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Old 10-14-2021, 09:38 AM   #17
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Or a little red locktight. Or a lot of rust?
Not red! You need heat to break red loose. Read The Difference Between Red, Blue, Green and Purple Threadlockers Use blue, you don't have to tighten as obscenely tight, and it doesn't need heat to break loose. Years on the farm and wanting a tight, but removable connection taught me that red is only if you never want to remove the item. Blue is all you need.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 10-14-2021, 10:02 AM   #18
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Following this discussion. There are so many pros and cons, either way.
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Old 10-14-2021, 10:06 AM   #19
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Motor home or trailer

My wife and I have had both over the past 30 years. If we go on a trip where we are camping somewhere different every night, we rent or buy a conversion van for the trip. If we are spending several days in one spot, we take our Casita (2002 17 FD). We purchased our last conversion van for a leaf peeping trip from Maine to S. Carolina (a month on the road).
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Old 10-14-2021, 10:15 AM   #20
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Quite well aware.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perryb67 View Post
Not red! You need heat to break red loose. Read The Difference Between Red, Blue, Green and Purple Threadlockers Use blue, you don't have to tighten as obscenely tight, and it doesn't need heat to break loose. Years on the farm and wanting a tight, but removable connection taught me that red is only if you never want to remove the item. Blue is all you need.

Enjoy,

Perry
I don't want to break it loose. That is exactly the point.


TBH I wouold think blue would not work well given the extreme sideways tensions applied to a ball. It just seems like it would loosen anyway.


Red for sure.



My ball is one of those '3 fers' with a simple pin in a hole holding the shank in the slot. I can rotate it as I wish.
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