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Old 07-29-2014, 10:50 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi, folks. Bob here. Retired sans pension (Dad and Granddad died at 65 from heart attacks so why should I worry about a pension? Had the requisite heart attack at 65 but the damn doctors fixed me by reaming out my tubes and boy, was I PO'd when I woke up.) Now, I live in Florida and my daughter, her hubby and 2 kids lives in Cabo San Lucas, about 4,000 miles away. And recently I have gotten a touch of wanderlust. But I have to do it all on only Social Security so all aspects of my travels has to be free or low cost. I can do it and I figure other retirees might be interested in how (by, among other techniques, through ecomodding).
I recently sold my home and packed up my belongings into copy center boxes. I ended up with 16 boxes 18" x 12" x 9" so I need a trailer. Now Walmart and big-box Kmarts let RV's overnight for free so I also need an RV. Fortunately, Harbor Freight has a trailer with a 4' x 8' bed that only runs around $250 with a 25% off coupon and I have an instant-up Coleman tent measuring 7' x 8' so I only need to build a box 10" deep for my stuff and, using a 4 x 8 plywood top, I can add 2 each 1 1/2' side extensions on piano hinges to allow my 7 x 8 tent to sit on top. Viola! an RV is born.
The reason I am a lurker here is that I need a fuel efficient vehicle to pull the trailer and keep the fuel costs down. And I prefer to run of biofuel which means a diesel in my future. But how big an engine do I need to cross the Rockies? The Centurion engine at 0.85L probably won't cut it but Jack McCornack is running a Kubota 1.1L that might. And I am told that VW 1.4 L engines can be hotrodded while still being efficient (I found Lupos on sale in Mexico City). Just for sheer availability, I am seriously considering a Geo Tracker with an Acme adapter allowing use of a VW 1.6L or 1.9L VW engine in the Tracker. The only problem there is that I crawled under a Tracker and found that the engine was mounted high above the frame. There is a full 5 inches between the frame crossmember under the engine and the bottom of the engine so I am seriouxly worried about it's propensity to overturn due to the increased weight of the diesel engine riding that high. Sure could use some guidance on this issue from you more knowledgeable ecomodders. Or maybe some suggestion for a better vehicle/engine combo for my purpose.
Thanks in advance.
Bob S

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Old 07-29-2014, 11:56 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome. I have a few questions about your plans and perhaps a few suggestions. First if you plan using biodiesel how do you plan on getting/making it while on the road?

Also as an option have you considered finding a car you can sleep in? Perhaps a VW TDI passat wagon or a subaru outback or forester with the 2.0 boxer diesel swapped in? All of those options will be at least 40 mpg cars and have plenty of power to get through the Rockies and have awd which might be nice for some areas you'll travel through. A car would also provide more weather protection than a tent and is more sturdy plus you could focus on making your trailer more aerodynamic and lighter for even better fuel economy since you don't have to worry about sleeping on it.

Look up some of the trailer builds on here for some inspiration.
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Old 07-29-2014, 12:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hey Bob,

When you say "Acme adapter," the only thing that goes through my mind are hundreds and hundreds of cartoon coyotes going kaboom against a yellow cartoon sky.

It doesn't sound like you're planning on putting much weight on your ersatz travel trailer, so I think virtually any vehicle with a tow rating of any kind will be up to the job. I wonder if you would consider a smaller tent that could fit on a smaller - particularly narrower - trailer that would tuck completely behind your tow vehicle? Or if not a smaller tent, then still consider the smaller trailer, but add flip-over floor sections to allow it to be wider while serving as your tent's floor, and then fold up to convenient, thrifty compactness for on the road.

BamZipPow's grating tendency to spell for as "fer" notwithstanding, he seems to be having excellent results building a trailer with closer panels to seal up the gap between vehicle and trailer. Of course his is a very compact single wheel trailer that is laterally rigid on the rear bumper, but just as a for-instance a rig like that, with a flip-over floor, could be an impressive boat tail while rolling for whatever you come up with.
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Old 07-29-2014, 06:01 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Hi, folks. Bob here. Retired sans pension (Dad and Granddad died at 65 from heart attacks so why should I worry about a pension? Had the requisite heart attack at 65 but the damn doctors fixed me by reaming out my tubes and boy, was I PO'd when I woke up.)
Bummer...

Better luck next time...


Quote:
recently I have gotten a touch of wanderlust
Get a Toyota Motorhome.

Toyota Motorhome For Sale - Classifieds

or craigslist.

Up to 20mpg and all the comforts of home.
(toilet, shower, full kitchen, bed, storage, heat & ac)

Carry a moped on the back for all your running around.

Solar panels for power.


Small motorhome

5,000 miles / 20mpg = 250 gal. x $4 = $1,000


Small car & trailer

5,000 miles / 40mpg = 125gal. x $4 = $500


$500 more in fuel for a roof over your head...

Priceless...



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Old 07-29-2014, 06:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A motorhome would be your best bet I'll second rednecks suggestion. Unless you're really set on a car and trailer in which case i still recommend a car you can sleep in vs a tent on a trailer.

Just thought of this though but what about a pickup with one of those campers that fit in the bed. You could get a diesel pickup and maybe even get 25 mpg.
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Old 07-29-2014, 09:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi, guys. Thanks for all the feedback, keeps me moving away from ignorance. Backpacker 3, it was my understanding that biodiesel was available at truckstops. Shows what I know.
One of the options that your information suggested was to get a 4 door Suzuki Sidekick and put a VW diesel in it. VW cars break down too often for my purposes but have good engines.
Elhigh, you are right. Jeff Kerr of Acme is fighting an uphill image problem. The trailer with side extensions folded would only be 4' wide and with a 10" bed depth. That should hide behind all but the smallest cars. Also, my computer is running antivirus software and I cannot get it to allow your message thru. But ecomodders are doers and when the test equipment is just on the other side of the door but remains unused, I find it difficult to ascribe a positive reason for the behavior.
Redneck, I have had 3 more with the same results so seems I am stuck here. So I changed my diet, went out and flipped a house, turning 4378 into 39900 and am ready to blow some. Your motorhome analysis is spot on and is probably what I will do. Thanks.
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Old 07-30-2014, 12:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi Bob,
I have similar finance situation as yourself, 63 and retired, but no SS, and no pension. I am "mining" my savings account. Money is a non-renewable resource.
I own a 29 ft Coachman Leprechaun RV, and a Chevy Metro. The RV gets 9MPG on a good day, but the Metro gets closer to 60MPG. I tow the Metro behind the RV.
I bounce back and forth between Florida and Texas a few times a year. I try to park someplace central, and use the Metro as much as possible. I have slept many nights in the Metro.
I removed all seats except drivers seat, and put in a camping cot on the right side. A mosquito net is a good thing, so you can keep the windows open for a breeze.
The RV has solar panels, and I can park it in the boonies for about 3 weeks before I have to dump the tanks.
I can do cheap because I have two friends that have ranches that allow me to stay on. But no hookups.
Good luck on what you decide.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:44 AM   #8 (permalink)
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VW s break down often.... Where do you get that info? My 86 gets over 50 mpg. Certainly more durable than a suzuki/chevy clone.
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Old 07-30-2014, 10:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Actually the sidekick is the same car as the tracker so you'll still have the issue you talked about originally. I was thinking more along the lines of findng a wagon type car like the VW passat wagon or a Subaru outback or legacy wagon and then swapping in the boxer diesel (the swap would only apply to the subaru option) that way you could sleep in the car as the wagon layout gives more room in the trunk.
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Old 07-30-2014, 10:25 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Varn View Post
VW s break down often.... Where do you get that info? My 86 gets over 50 mpg. Certainly more durable than a suzuki/chevy clone.
Are Volkswagen reliability concerns well-founded? « Bankrate, Inc.

I would not say that they break down often, but VW's have had some issues in the past. But, to be fair, plenty of manufacturers have had their issues as well. Aren't the TDI's hit and miss through the years? I remember something about fuel pump failures and cams (PD engine?) that wear really fast? Diesel fuel pumps and camshaft replacements are major work and cost $$$.

We know OP is on a tight budget, so he needs to buy something he is comfortable with. I don't think he was trying to insult the VW owners.

Your 86 gets 50 mpg on more expensive diesel. After 15,000 miles of driving, it would only cost $150 more to drive my 40 mpg Civic around. How much are replacement parts for the 86? I'm asking, I really don't have a clue. But, I can say the Civic parts are stupid cheap. That $150 savings could go out the window with a diesel repair. Don't get me wrong, I love the TDI's, but the gas savings doesn't always add up.

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