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Vehicles Use for Transporting Telescope Equipment

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#1 JayinUT

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 01:51 PM

I am just curious on one item and have a question on a second. So I'll go in reverse order. I currently own and use a Nissan Pathfinder 2001 to transport my stuff to my dark sites. The SUV works just fine with just over 100,000 miles, though it doesn't have great MPG at 18 to 20 mpg (yes, I track my mpg and gallons etc as I learned it from my dad in a little notebook I keep in the car). Anyway, I'm keeping the Pathfinder but looking to get something to transport to the field that gets better MPG with less miles. I am leaning toward the Mazada CX 5 or the Nissan Rogue. If you drive either let me know if you think the following would fit in the back of either with the seats down.

14" DobStuff Telescope (base, struts).
Eyepiece Case, Speciality Case (hold Catseye and Glatter Collimation systems); Sketching Case and Equipment Case. Mat to set up on. Observing Chair that will lay on its sides and the seat and footrest easily come off.
I rarely, and I mean rarely ever transport anyone to the field. Last, I'm six foot and am wondering in the summer when I stay at a site overnight if I can fit my body in the back (I bring a nice 6 inch memory foam to lay on that works perfectly) as I like to sleep off the ground. That's not a deal breaker as I have an Kamp Rite Oversize Tent Cot . That does take up more space.

So if you own a Rogue or Mazada CX 5 let me know what you think if that all will fit in the back and with the front passenger seat folded down.

Now on to what I hope is discussed here. What do you use to transport your self and equipment to a dark site? Does the cost of gas or has the cost of gas made you rethink what your doing? If you could have any vehicle to transport what would it be and why? Please realize that for me, a car just doesn't it cut based on where I go to observe.

#2 csrlice12

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 02:10 PM

I have a 2005 Ford Escape I use, but it doesn't get much better mpg then you're getting. Love that little SUV though. Unfortunately, they ruined the Escape and turned it into a crossover last year. If you don't need "Off Road" capability, the Ford Edge (still a crossover, but bigger) might do. It's more a SUV/Van crossover. Has lots of room, but more of a car-type ride.

#3 Pinbout

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 03:39 PM

heres a 12.5 dob in my 2 door civic

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#4 Phil Sherman

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 03:40 PM

Transporting my 8" metal tube Newtonian with GEM and full astrophotography gear was a requirement for me when I replaced my car a few years ago. I ended up with a Toyota Yaris, a very small hatchback with an unbelievable amount of cargo space. The rear seat folds flat and the entire space from the front seats to the rear of the car has a flat floor. Conservative driving on highways gets very close to 40mpg (stick shift) and the only problem I've had is the self inflicted damage to the rear drums.

The Yaris actually has more cargo space than my wife's Sienna van! I can carry more in the van but need to remove and store the rear seats to do that.

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#5 Dick Jacobson

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:15 PM

I love wagons. My Passat wagon is perfect for transporting my 20" equatorial. Gets great gas mileage (about 35 on the road). Wagons combine the fuel and purchase economy and road handling of a sedan with about twice the cargo capacity. Unfortunately, Americans seem to hate wagons and the pickings get slimmer every year.

#6 kevint1

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 08:49 PM

+1 for wagons

I use my wife's 2010 Subaru Outback. Admittedly, I don't carry much more than what fits in the rear cargo area floor, but it has a lot of head room back there and the rear seats fold flat for more space. My eyepiece case(s) go on the floor behind the front seats where they won't slide around when braking for deer. The Outback gets great mileage and the all wheel drive gets me up the hill to the dark site with ease in the winter. You can turn off all the interior lights and leave the rear hatch open. I set my eyepiece case(s), notebooks and snacks on the rear cargo floor and the open hatch keeps the dew off everything in the summer.

#7 BradleyB

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:21 PM

quote> "looking to get something to transport to the field that gets better MPG with less miles. I am leaning toward the Mazada CX 5 or the Nissan Rogue."

There is a large difference in the gas mileage of these two vehicles. Checking the www.fueleconomy.gov site for what other people get for mileage, the Rogue gets between 20.5 and 24.5 mpg. The CX5 gets between 22.7 with mostly town driving to 30.1 with highway driving. Our neighbor got one (and really likes it) and is claiming 40mpg on the highway, but one may want to dismiss outlying reports. I have not seen these up close so can't comment on space.

Space in a car can be deceiving. I currently own an old 1996 Rav4 4 door and a 2000 CR-V. The rear seats are very easy to remove from the Rav4 and when done has an incredible amount of cargo space. The rear seats in the CR-V would not be easy to remove and compared this way, the RAV easily has double the cargo space. I fit my 12.5 dob f/6 and all my camping gear into the RAV and it only comes up to the bottom of the windows. It gets about 24 in normal driving and 28 mpg on the highway.

The newer RAV4 is much larger than the old ones and still get about 24 mpg for the 4cyl. I traveled a good bit in one recently and it was quite comfortable and capable.

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#8 jwaldo

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:20 PM

I transport my gear in a '96 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It holds my 8" Dob, 4" refractor, 66mm refractor, and a week's worth of camping gear with room to spare:

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Unfortunately, it's also basically a giant money black hole that sucks in all fuel and replacement parts in a 100 mile radius. Not that I'd willingly trade it for anything else :lol:

#9 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 01:10 AM

The most economical scope hauler we ever owned was a 1994 Ford Escort Wagon. It had plenty of room for my 16 inch Dobstuff plus a refractor and chairs, eyepieces etc... On the road it got around 35-37mpg....

Too bad they quit making em...

Jon

#10 rogercelliott

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 01:32 AM

I used to stuff my 10" f/4.5 into the backseat with the mounting and all its parts into the truck of my 92 Toyota Paseo! ANd I could get as much as 38mpg if I kept it below 65. I also still had room for a passenger! I miss that car.....

#11 Aquatone

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 01:38 AM

I use a Sprinter Van to carry my 24" which I can wheel down ramps out of the side slide door. (Visible in the picture) As it is also a Class B RV it provides a comfy bed, air conditioning, electrical power as needed, cooking, cold drinks in the fridge, and a bathroom. It is also a diesel and does 20 to 22 mpg so quite economical for a hotel on wheels.

Chris

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#12 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 02:10 AM

For larger, lower valued items a small trailer can dramatically expand what you can take along, regardless of vehicle. I use a Rack & Roll kayak micro trailer for my observing ladder. Yakima makes streamlined boxes that can be attached to the trailer to carry more valuable items that need key-lock security and protection from the elements.

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#13 stratocaster

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 02:29 AM

Now on to what I hope is discussed here. What do you use to transport your self and equipment to a dark site? Does the cost of gas or has the cost of gas made you rethink what your doing? If you could have any vehicle to transport what would it be and why? Please realize that for me, a car just doesn't it cut based on where I go to observe.


Up to this point I use a Camry Hybrid. I can fit all my camping gear, a 10" solid tube dob, and a tripod, mount, and 4" refractor with case. And the front passenger seat is fully available for my wife.

A good portion of the camping gear goes in the trunk (which is smaller than the standard Camry trunk due to the space the hybrid-related gear takes up). The dob tube goes in the trunk. The base goes in the back seat. The refactor/case slides into the base in the back seat. Tent goes on the floor between the front and back seat. And various other somewhat creative placement of gear and supplies. But the whole back seat area is taken up.

So I can bring one passenger, but not two...unless I can get a bit more creative.

Mileage is between 34 and 36 mpg, depending on the season.

With this arrangement gas would have no bearing on a decision to go to a dark sky site.

If I could have any vehicle it wouldn't be a Camry (or my alternate vehicle, a Corolla). Probably something like a Honda Fit, but I really haven't thought about this much because I haven't been faced with having to make an actual decision. Good mpg would be a prerequisite, though. No way I'd get a vehicle that got 12-15 mpg. That may make me think a bit about long trips for a dark sky weekend.

We used to have a 2003 ford explorer. That thing got 18 mpg on the highway on a good day. Even at that I would think about the expense of long trips (remember when 20 mpg in the early 70's was considered great mileage?)

#14 CJK

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:48 AM

I use a Sprinter Van to carry my 24" which I can wheel down ramps out of the side slide door. (Visible in the picture) As it is also a Class B RV it provides a comfy bed, air conditioning, electrical power as needed, cooking, cold drinks in the fridge, and a bathroom. It is also a diesel and does 20 to 22 mpg so quite economical for a hotel on wheels.

Chris


Wow, that's a beauty! Someday... :fingerscrossed:

-- Chris

#15 Starman1

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:27 PM

You don't need a large truck to carry a truss scope. I own a VW GTI (42 cu.ft. in rear) and I can easily carry a 16" LightBridge along with my 12.5" Teeter (I've done it).
When the Mrs and I go to star parties, we carry:
--12.5" dob
--5" Mak on iOptron MiniTower mount
--2 sleeping bags
--2 lawn chairs
--Starmaster astronomy chair
--folding table
--large duffle with winter clothes
--small duffle with winter clothes
--milk crate with parts and stuff
--3 eyepiece cases (the 12*18*8 size)
--large rechargeable battery pack
--large bag with books, blanket, pillows, and scope covers
--ground tarp
--2 thermoses
--binoculars mount
--tripod for binoculars mount
--binoculars
--2 prs boots
--couple bags of food
--butane stove and coffee pot
--laptop computer
--chargers for phones and laptop
and it all fits in the back of the GTI. My wife sits in the front and nothing is high enough in the car to block my view out the rear window.
And I get 32mpg on the highway with all that stuff in the car (I get a lot higher when the car is empty, but it never is when I go to star parties).

I could hold a scope up to about a 20" dob in the car if I were going to the mountains by myself. The picture on my website shows some of the stuff (but not all) I carry to the mountains with me every month, and nothing is above the window line.

You don't need a big truck to carry a lot of stuff. You just need to pack well. I should mention my wife and I have spent 10 days in Europe and took everything we needed in two carry-on bags. It's all about how you pack.

#16 GeneT

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:38 PM

I was able to easily haul an 18 inch Ultra Compact with accessories in my Honda CRV. I could have hauled an 18 inch classic, but it would have been tight, and very little extra room for camping equipment. For my 12.5 inch Portaball, there is plenty of room for telescope, accessories and camping gear. For one or two nighters, I often sleep in the vehicle. South Texas rarely has the extreme cold to contend with. Heat, yes, but cold, no.

#17 StarStuff1

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:48 PM

In the early 90s I was searching for a scope toting vehicle. I had a small Chevy wagon and it was great but was wearing out. To me at the time a SUV was too heavy, more expensive and not enough storage capacity (sometimes I would take two other club members with their gear to observe nearly all night). I resisted getting a mini-van because I didn't want to drive a "soccer mom" car. But a good deal popped up for a low mileage Dodge Caravan. I loved it so much that when it was nearly worn out 6 years ago I bought a newer used one. This time it was the Sport model that could seat eight. That was great for taking a bunch of folks on a trip but normally it has only three seats installed to carry astro gear, the wife's shopping surprises, etc. The gas mileage is not fantastic at 23-27 on the road but it is dependable, roomy and has plenty of power.

Plus both Caravans had a rotary switch that not only dimmed the interior lights but turned them off completely.

#18 FirstSight

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:54 PM

2005 Ford Escape Hybrid compact SUV. It's been to Winter Star Party and back twice (950 miles each way), hauling me + two scopes (Orion 12XTi + refractor) + other astro gear (tripod, eyepiece boxes, foldable tables, viewing chair + camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, clothes) for a week. It's been my astro-vehicle on lots of shorter trips with BOTH astro and regular gear, including golf clubs (including to the beach).

It gets 28-31mpg.

#19 jeff heck

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 07:55 PM

Here is how I travel with the 16" with the UTA assembled in a Dodge Grand Caravan. The back seat has been removed since this model was before "stow and go" seats.

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#20 GeneT

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 09:03 PM

Here is how I travel with the 16" with the UTA assembled in a Dodge Grand Caravan. The back seat has been removed since this model was before "stow and go" seats.


How do you load the Teeter? Wheel barrel handles, or do you lift it in?

#21 Martin Lyons

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:05 PM

This is how I transport mine.
Using a trailor, It doesn't really matter what size car you use, so fuel economy is not an issue and I can buy and sell cars without having to worry about load capacity.

Martin

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#22 ZRX-Steve

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 07:36 PM

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#23 CJK

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 09:12 PM

Dang! I didn't know they'd discontinued the Element! I always wanted the SC version!

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#24 JimMo

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 09:35 PM

We bought an Element for my son to use at grad school. He loved it but after he returned it to use I wasn't thrilled with the ride or it's cargo capacity. The gas mileage loaded up with my gear was only 20 miles per gal which I get with my 13 year old Jeep Cherokee.

My brother in law is a Honda dealer and he said the Elements sell at a premium now due to limited supply of used units available. Seems most folks hang onto them, and while we didn't we got a great deal trading it in.

I always thought a Chevy Astro van would be appropriate for hauling gear. I currently have the Jeep and a 2010 Chrysler Town and Country which is very astro friendly. The light kill switch was mentioned earlier and this model year doesn't have the flashing school bus lights when opening either side door like my last one had.

#25 jrbarnett

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 11:35 PM

Howdy Jay.

I'm a Subaru guy. Love 'em. Indestructible, reliable, durable, capable, capacious, reasonably fuel efficient for AWD vehicles, and they hold their value well. I have two of 'em currently. A 2007 Forester with ~140k miles on it and a new 2013 Outback. I couldn't part with the Forester even though I bought the Outback. It's just too darned useful. It has become our "truck" for nursery and hardware runs and I use it to haul my kayak to and from the river. Best of all, Subarus drive like cars.

Here's the Forester in June at 11,500 feet:

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You can see the rear of the new Outback here:

Posted Image

The Forester handles better (sharper, almost sporty) but is noisier and less compliant. The Outback is smoother, quieter, holds more cargo and actually gets a bit better fuel economy.

Regards,

Jim






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