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Vehicles Use for Transporting Telescope Equipment

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#26 JayinUT

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 12:00 AM

Jim,

Thanks. I watched a great review of a Forester over a Rav 4 (Rav is what one rides in, and the Forester is what one drives), Rogue and the Mazda CX 5. I am mow leaning to either the Forester or the Outback. A friend has an Outback 2002 with 201,345 miles and he just got a 2012. I like his 2012 A LOT.

#27 bierbelly

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 12:08 PM

2006 Toyota 4Runner. A nearly perfect truck (and a REAL truck to boot, with body on frame construction). Average about 20.5 mixed, and about 24 highway. Don't bother with the V8, the V6 has great power/torque.

#28 killdabuddha

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 12:59 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.


We originally got a 92 Nissan hardbody pick-up for dark sky transportation, and recently added a 99 Subaru Outback for these winter months (it has heat). The mileage is disappointing at about 22 mpg, a real surprise for any 4-cylinder and considerin the pick-up gets almost 28 mpg.

#29 Shneor

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 04:36 PM

I transport my 22" f/4 with all accessories (including an equatorial platform), large box of charts and books, observing chair, table, camping gear when I'm out for more than overnight, in a Honda Fit. I also sleep in the Fit, on a cot and Thermarest when I'm out for more than overnight. Mileage is 35-38 mpg depending on season (California winter gas is lower mileage). I need to drive 1.5-2 hours to usual observing sites depending on where I'm observing.

Clears,

#30 turtle86

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 05:17 PM

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


Chris, that's just awesome.

#31 turtle86

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 05:24 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:

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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


Thanks for the comparo. My wife and I recently saw a new Forester and Outback on display at an art festival and both looked great. I'm pretty happy with my Honda Element for now. It's a bit spartan but it's very reliable and has an excellent cargo capacity. Since Honda is no longer makes the Element, some day one of those Subarus will most likely be my next set of astro wheels, though Chris's Sprinter Van also looks mighty tempting.

#32 Pat at home

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:18 PM

This is it for me. 3500 dually 4x4 extended cab diesel.

Not kidding either.

We own an undeveloped piece of land with all around view of the sky, no neighbours for miles therefore no street lights or porch lights and a sea beach on a shallow warm water bay as a bonus. However access is a bit difficult as I've not built a proper road into the site yet but there is a trail wide enough to get this rig in. The 8 foot covered bed is big enough to carry any scope and mount I own and all the camping equipment and food for the family. The cab seats me, the boss, our daughter and the mutt.

Another place we go to is a small secluded camping park way outside of any nearby town. They deliberately turn off all outside lights when the telescope is out. So we drag a travel trailer with all the amenities, i.e. coffee maker, beer fridge and a comfy bed.

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#33 gillmj24

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:36 PM

I'm keeping my 10 year old 9-5 as long as I can. It's orphaned now :(

Once I fit a Meade RCX400 12" in a HUGE JMI case (same case as the 14" LX200), Huge RCX tripod (which thankfully separated into 4 pieces), LX200R 10" OTA, LXD750 HUGE mount, and HUGE folding tripod (tall version). No room for passengers that night though. Also have fit a 20" f5 obsession, though the altitude bearings were hitting the roof.

Also mine is souped up a bit so at 300HP/285ft-lb max, it doesn't quite get the sticker mileage (24 is typical on the highway doing 65mph, rated 27 though I could get above 30 doing 55 driving slowly with scopes). I'd probably win any race among other scope haulers though! :grin:

#34 Alvin Huey

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:38 PM

Third one down

VW Beetle. :) I had two VW Beetles, the one with a supercharged VR6 has a blown tranny. :(



#35 Starman1

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:43 PM

Alvin has me beat: twice the scope in half the space.

#36 CJK

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:03 PM

Third one down

VW Beetle. :) I had two VW Beetles, the one with a supercharged VR6 has a blown tranny. :(


I was waiting for a picture showing all the clowns getting out :jump:

Seriously, you deserve some sort of award for most enormous scope in a small car :bow:

-- Chris

#37 bherv

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:19 PM

Not good on gas but great for hauling my equipment and towing my 21 foot camper, my 1998 Dodge Durango. Since my commute to work is only 4 to 5 miles each way, I am not spending a fortune on gas. I usually only have to fill it every two weeks.Plus I have a gas rewards card that I earn points on every day when filling my company truck and use points to save 10 cents or more a gallon when filling my Durango. It is only 45 miles to our club's dark sky site so it is not a big expense to go observing.
Barry

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#38 Alvin Huey

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:53 PM

Third one down

VW Beetle. :) I had two VW Beetles, the one with a supercharged VR6 has a blown tranny. :(


I was waiting for a picture showing all the clowns getting out :jump:

Seriously, you deserve some sort of award for most enormous scope in a small car :bow:

-- Chris


And my supercharged Beetle moves really well. 0-60 in 4.6 sec. Now I gotta get that tranny replaced.

#39 Dan Watt

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:58 PM

1985 Volvo 240 Wagon with 360,000 miles.

Posted Image

Got a cargo carrier for free!
Posted Image

I picked this up over a year ago for $420 off Craigslist, it wasn't running at the time. Tossed in a new fuel pump and everythings perfect now. I can haul an impressive amount of gear and two people can comfortable sleep in the back with the seats folded down. I've upgraded the suspension a bit and it has no problem traveling miles down washboard dirt roads and while it's a little slow I can still make it to all the faraway dark sites in the mountains while its fully loaded. Best of all, I get 25-30 mpg. Everything works, doesn't leak a drop of anything so I'm not going to be getting rid of it anytime soon. I recently looked at new cars and I really can't find anything that I'd be happier with. Considering it costs me maybe $500 a year in maintenance I think I'll keep it!

#40 StephenW

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:22 PM

Subaru Forester for me. Handles all my gear, drives like a car and isn't afraid of some off-roading

#41 Joe Bergeron

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 02:39 AM

I transported a 6" refractor with G11 mount, a couple of smaller refractors, some art supplies, camping gear, and photo gear in a Chevy Sonic hatchback. 44MPG on the highway. No room for any passengers though. Also useless for anything off road, as it has no ground clearance to speak of.

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#42 TL2101

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 03:30 AM

Not the greatest for mpg but holds all the camping gear I could ever want and tows my 6,500lb boat along with my scope. Also leaves plenty of room for future larger scopes. I only use my 3/4 ton quad cab truck for recreation so mileage wasn't a huge concern for me. Has 4 wheel drive for off roading.

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#43 Chucky

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:42 AM

<< 1985 Volvo 240 Wagon with 360,000 miles. >>

Impressive indeed! With the money you've saved over the years, you can buy more astro toys. Looks like you have plenty of those things.

#44 roscoe

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:06 AM

'98 Ford Ranger long-cab pickup with cap. Not impressive mileage, but it's a carpenter truck in real life, and with the tools out, there's lots of room for my 120mm refractor and gear..... usually, I put an old foam mattress in the back, which cushions my gear, and gives me a place to snooze.
Russ

#45 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:32 AM

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.


Ouch! My 2008 Honda CRV gets an average of 27 mpg. I usually set the cruise control on 80 mph, if I slow it down I can push that to about 30 mpg. It has 7" of ground clearance too. I won't do serious off-roading with optics in the car, just enough to get me clear of headlights on the road.

#46 jrbarnett

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:31 AM

The new generation Outback is large inside and has lots of rear seat legroom for times when you're using it for passengers. One thing to keep in mind is this - in 2013 they updated the Outback with the new DOHC 2.5L engine. The 2012 and earlier Outbacks use the old 2.5L SOHC engine, as does my 2007 Forester. There is one chronic weakness with the old SOHC engine - it tends to develop external head gasket (oil only) leaks as the mileage piles on. Mine are "seeping" presently. I have a buddy in Australia whose HGs on a SOHC have been "seeping" for more than 50k km. This is common and doesn't really use enough oil to even require a top up between oil changes. If, however, the HGs start "leaking", you'll need to get them replaced and that's pretty expensive.

The new motor (which has been in the Forester for 3 years now and was added to the Outback for the current model year) is more modular and suffers less from the differential expansion that causes the issue. The other requirement for the old engine is that you need to change the timing belt every 105k miles. The new engine uses timing chains.

The last item that is necessary for all Subarus (due to the Symmetrical AWD system - an "always on" system) is that you must religiously rotate the tires. If you let the fronts wear more than about a millimeter more than the rears, you start putting stress on the AWD system as it has to cope with materially different rotational speeds between the axes.

All that said, these are the toughest most capable cars I've ever owned. The AWD system is fantastic for dirt roads. I've even done segments of the Old Mojave Road in my Forester. Two years ago I encountered a Jeep caravan headed the opposite direction on one of the segments. These guys had lifts, dual lockers, Cepek rock crawler rubber, etc. My only non-stock bits were some AT tires and a front belly plate to protect the oil pan and lower radiator. You should have seen the looks when I squeezed by them and headed down the portion that they'd just climbed without so much as a pause at the crest to spot it out.

Some men "play" soldier. Others drive Subarus. :lol:

More Subaru propaganda...

Two Australian brothers drove from the UK to Australia in a high-mileage second generation Forester:

http://www.london2sydney.net/

An Irish couple travel the world in an even older Forester:

http://www.getjealous.com/subaroute

I'm actually looking at a Mercedes/Sprinter 2500 Crew Van. I'd like to find a gently used one a year or two old, to sidestep some of the depreciation. It has huge capacity, decent fuel economy for its capacity, a turbo for elevation and there's just something "cool" about arriving in what looks for all the world to be a "moving van". :grin:

Regards,

Jim

#47 jrbarnett

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:37 AM

Love it!

Those 240s are another zombie car - hard to kill.

- Jim

#48 jrbarnett

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:40 AM

Yup. Subarus are notorious for lousy fuel economy. It's one liability of a full time AWD system. There's a lot more stuff to spin around even in situations where AWD is not needed. The new ones have improved fuel economy by virtue of dropping the venerable JAT 4 speed automatic in favor of a CVT transmission, switching to lighter weight synthetic oil, etc. Sad to say that my smaller, lighter Forester gets 10-15% worse fuel economy than the much bigger Outback. :(

Regards,

Jim

#49 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:48 AM

'98 Ford Ranger long-cab pickup with cap. Not impressive mileage, but it's a carpenter truck in real life, and with the tools out, there's lots of room for my 120mm refractor and gear..... usually, I put an old foam mattress in the back, which cushions my gear, and gives me a place to snooze.
Russ


My scope hauler was a 2003 Nissan Frontier extended cab with a shell but someone totaled it while it was parked. Now we have a 2004 Nissan Frontier extended cab with a cap. On a long trip, it gets about 26-27mph. Last May-June we did 7,000 miles of camping and visiting... On the freeway around here, about 25mph.

Jon

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#50 FirstSight

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 01:00 PM

Third one down

VW Beetle. :) I had two VW Beetles, the one with a supercharged VR6 has a blown tranny. :(


I fear to ask for more detail on one of your Beetles.
:step:






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