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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/ltlt-hope-this-doesnt-sound-too-silly-a-25327366.aspx

Subject:  Re: Cost of Living Comparison Date:  3/25/2007  8:38 PM
Author:  NewPenny Number:  1053 of 1492

<< Hope this doesn't sound too silly a question, but is an RV hard to drive? Do you have to be careful to only take certain roads, etc? >>


Not a silly question at all, but a large subject.


There are several different kinds of RVs, and each has it's own driving issues.

I live in a "Class A" motorhome - the flat front-style drivable RV. I like this style because I can see over traffic because I sit at the same height as 18-wheelers. This helps me get into the best lane before traffic bogs down. My RV is 37 ft long, and about 10 ft wide. I can drive down any road an 18-wheeler can. (probably smaller, since I'm not as long, but a good rule of thumb.) Yes, there are smaller and curvier roads I have to avoid, but there are other size RVs that can if that's where you what to travel. I can take most neighborhood roads, but avoid cul-de-sacs and dead ends simply because turning in tight places can be challenging. Dirt roads are largely off limits, and roads that are thickly over grown with vegetation that would scrape the sides would make me unhappy. It was very helpful to take a sharp turn in a snow covered parking lot when I first got the RV so I have a visual idea of how tight it can turn. Tight parking lots are a challenge when I'm towing my car.

Turning is something to think about. Taking corners takes a bit of extra thought. All vehicles pivot on the rear wheels. With a car or small truck, that's not something we need to think about at all. The rear wheels will generally follow the path of the front ones. Longer vehicles get a little trickier. My RV has two rear axles, and the forward of the two is the drive axle and the pivot point. I have to remember that there is 9 ft of vehicle behind the pivot wheels that will swing out into the lane beside me if I turn too soon. I'm sure the cars beside me wouldn't be too pleased. (grin) Just as a bus or truck driver has to swing wide to make a turn without climbing the curb, so must I. That means either swinging left to turn right, or going farther forward into the intersection before turning, then guiding back into the desired lane.

Backing up is a challenge, but was pretty easy to learn. It took me a while before I remembered just where beside me the leading edge of the obstacle needs to be before I turn to slide in beside it. I have a backup camera that helps me stop exactly where I want. There are companies that give driving lessons in our own rigs that are quite helpful.

There are two other classes of drivable RVs. One is a Class C. This is the one that's built on a pickup truck-type chassis. In most cases part of the house hangs over the top of the truck's cab. These drive just like an ordinary pickup, except for the length and width. They feel more comfortable for some people, but you can see in traffic only as well as any other small passenger vehicle, and the overhang cuts some visibility as does the wider box for the living quarters. The challenge in turning and backing are directly dependent on the length, and range between barely more than a cargo van, and just like the larger RVs.

The next is Class B. This includes conversion vans, and the camper shells you can mount in/on the bed of a pickup. They drive exactly like vans and pickups, though visibility may be more of an issue depending on the model. These have the least restriction as to the size of road they can travel. They're great if you like the wilderness experience.


There are also towables -- travel trailers and 5th wheels. Turning is similar to long RV's in that the towing vehicle has to be far enough ahead of before turning in order to let the trailer clear the curb. Backing up takes a little more technique. The tricky part is that turning the steering wheel of the truck sends the trailer in the opposite direction when backing up. An easy way to keep this straight is to turn the truck with the hands on the top of the steering wheel, and move your hands to the inside bottom of the wheel when steering the trailer. I've been told that this type of rig can back into a tighter space, since it essencially bends in half. Travel trailers hook onto a simple trailer hitch behind a truck or large car, while a 5th wheel hooks onto a large hitch installed in the bed of a healthy-sized pickup truck. The 5th wheel-style hitch gives more stability and the tightest backing turns.



I hope that gives you the answer you were looking for. If I just created more questions, feel free to ask.

Penny
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