Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

RV/Trailer Astronomy Fact and Fiction

  • Please log in to reply
249 replies to this topic

#226 Jim4321

Jim4321

    Skylab

  • -----
  • Posts: 4,325
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2014
  • Loc: Asheville

Posted 04 July 2021 - 08:54 AM

Jan,  I like class B's, having owned two before my current long-term B-sized class C (had it since 2006).  Class B advice... Most lack ground clearance, since often their tanks and plumbing are under the floor.  As long as you stick to pavement and graded gravel, they're fine.  4WD B's exist, but are pricey, and 3rd party 4WD conversions may have squirrely handling or suspect durability.   

 

My first, a Dodge Roadtrek, was bought used with no test drive.  Handled and drove very poorly, especially scary being passed by semis.  2nd was still a Roadtrek on a Chevy; drove fine, like a big heavy sedan.  But _no_ ground clearance.

 

Be sure your test drive includes some fast-passing  big trucks, and look or stick your camera underneath to find out where the low points are.  A built-in generator is a plus, but adds maintenance and can be noisy.  Seems that some modern B's add alternator capacity and use the vehicle's engine as a 'generator'; not sure I like that.

 

Black & grey water tank capacities are limited. Learn to take sea showers, and use public restrooms where possible.  Paper plates.  Learn about tire pressures, and 12 Volt systems.

 

But they're pretty nearly the ideal vehicle for going to dark sites.  Warm room, kitchen, and bathroom, all right there, and sleeping space close at hand in the wee small hours.

 

Jim H.



#227 iam1ru12

iam1ru12

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 588
  • Joined: 25 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Raleigh/Durham, NC

Posted 04 July 2021 - 09:37 AM

Jan,

If it were my wife, I know my little Aliner would be a little too much for her to set up with having to raise and lower the roof, she’s not tall enough.

 

Before I could recommend a good option for you, I need to know a few things:

  • What sort of places do you go?  Campgrounds with hookups or places with no connections (you bring you’re own water, electricity, etc.?
  • Do you have to travel off road to get to the places you travel?
  • How long are your astronomy camping trips, a day, weekend, several days, a week, longer?
  • What do you do during the day on your astronomy trips?
  • Where/how will you store your camper/RV when not in use?

From my own personal experience, I would recommend something you tow behind you.  This allows you to keep you camp set up if you are doing things during the day or need to run into town for supplies.  There are quite a few old, light weight campers that can be towed with mid sized SUVs or minivans.  NuCamp’s line of T@B 320s or the Little Guy Mini Max come to mind.

 

As with any RV/camper, there will be a learning curve in understanding how to use and care for your unit.

Check out the follow resource for women camping:  https://girlcamper.com.  GirlCamper also has a good social media presence.

 

-Mike


  • mrsjeff likes this

#228 NYJohn S

NYJohn S

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,782
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2016
  • Loc: Northport, NY

Posted 04 July 2021 - 11:30 AM

Wonderful thread!  Thanks everyone for your insights.   However, all of the messagers seem to be guys.   I'm a retired woman; my husband is not interested in astronomy trips.  I've been doing tent camping since I became interested in astronomy about 15 years ago, but tent living is getting less comfortable and I am more and more interested in a Class B unit.   Guys, if your wives were making these trips alone, how would your advice change?    I can only lift about 35 pounds.   I can't imagine dealing alone with a trailer.  I have a 8" SCT but always thinking about a bigger dob as long as I could lift and assemble it.  

 

Any advice?

My wife drives our Class B Winnebago Travato with no trouble. It's on the Ram Promaster chassis. and not much different than driving a mini van. There is nothing heavy to lift or carry. The water and propane tanks are permanently mounted underneath and get filled from outside the vehicle. 

 

The best thing about a Class B is they don't look much different than a mini van so you can park anywhere without drawing attention. They're small enough to park on the street in town to do some shopping, sight seeing or pull into a restaurant if you don't feel like cooking. They are nimble so no problem climbing steep hills or sharp curves to get to some dark skies. Everything is self contained for boon docking. You can get them with a generator, lithium batteries or just plug in at campsites with power.

 

Yes you are taking everything with you when you leave a campsite but for me that usually consists of pushing a button to retract the awning and putting away a few chairs. I leave and come back often to go shopping or out to eat. There's no leveling with jacks and Class B's typically don't connect to the sewer. They just dump the tanks before leaving. Backing into a site is simple with the backup camera. Nobody has to get out and direct me like a plane coming in for a landing. I watch the larger RV's and trailers back in for entertainment smile.gif So much commotion.

 

The down side is less space than a larger RV or a travel trailer. You're buying the chassis so they cost more than a travel trailer. From my travels so far I find people that like to move around a lot and explore really enjoy a Class B. If you're going to plunk down your trailer or larger RV and stay for a week or more then the extra space and possible second vehicle is appreciated. 

 

I usually bring my ST120 and a pair of binoculars. If I were traveling by myself there would be plenty of room for a large dob but I travel with my wife and 2 dogs. I would check out the Travato G model or the Solis. They both have a lot of storage under a raised rear bed. Plenty of room for a large dob. 

 

There is a good group on Facebook that could answer any questions you have. There are many women in the group, some are living full time in them. - https://www.facebook.../travatoowners/

 

I believe there's one for the Solis if you search. That model is less expensive but very similar.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Travato Smoky Mountains 1500px_8857.jpg
  • Shenandoah National Park Travato 1500px sm-.jpg

  • Garry, dmdouglass, justfred and 4 others like this

#229 Starry Jan

Starry Jan

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 24
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2013
  • Loc: Pennsylvania

Posted 08 July 2021 - 10:48 AM

 Thank you everyone, you have given me a lot to think about!   I can see I left out some helpful details.   Because our hobby is so weather-dependent, I like to be able to get up and go with little warning, and relying on a friend or a hubby might cramp my style so I want to be completely self-sufficient (yes, I live in the Northeast!).    The dark sky places I frequent don't have hookups (water, sewer, electricity) and might not have roads or gravel.     Also they might get cold at night.  I currently have a Camry Hybrid, and it can't tow anything, so getting a trailer would mean buying a new vehicle also.     Astronomy trips are usually 4-7 days.   Thanks for the great website and FB site referrals, and vehicles to check out -- lots of research to do!   

 

If you have any other thoughts for me, please post!  


Edited by Starry Jan, 08 July 2021 - 11:00 AM.

  • NYJohn S likes this

#230 Jim4321

Jim4321

    Skylab

  • -----
  • Posts: 4,325
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2014
  • Loc: Asheville

Posted 08 July 2021 - 12:13 PM

For self-sufficient no-gravel or no-road situations, your RV choices are _very_ limited.   You might look at the Tiger,

tho' they've gotten pricey over the years: https://www.tigervehicles.com/  , and used ones are scarce.  I've had my '06 CX since new, and love it.  Built on Dodge, Ford, or Chevy 1-ton pickups in your choice of engine & trim level, but they are custom ordered from the factory in SC. 

 

As I mentioned before, there are also class B camper vans with AWD or 4WD.  They're also pricey and hard to find used.

 

There are also pickup campers, and they don't care if the pickup is new or used.  But many require a 1-ton pickup, possibly a dually. 

 

Jim H. 


Edited by Jim4321, 08 July 2021 - 12:21 PM.


#231 RazvanUnderStars

RazvanUnderStars

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,348
  • Joined: 15 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Toronto, Canada

Posted 08 July 2021 - 12:25 PM

One thing to consider is whether you'll stay at the location for the duration of the trip, or simply drive away during the day (eg if there's a small town not too far) and come back. The self-sufficiency needs (food, water, hygiene, power) vary quite a bit between the two scenarios. 

 

Astronomy trips are usually 4-7 days.   



#232 jcj380

jcj380

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,474
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Hellinois

Posted 08 July 2021 - 12:27 PM

[...] I like to be able to get up and go with little warning, [...].    The dark sky places I frequent don't have hook-ups [...]    Also they might get cold at night.  I currently have a Camry Hybrid, and it can't tow anything, so getting a trailer would mean buying a new vehicle also.     Astronomy trips are usually 4-7 days. 

 

If you have any other thoughts for me, please post!  

I'm in a similar position except my wife does like to camp.  But she likes camping in trees, which makes it tough to observe at times.

 

Anyway, does it have to be an RV?  Many people have modified SUVs, Foresters, Outbacks, etc for camping.  You can't stand up in them, but they are more solid and secure than a tent. And they can get decent mileage.  Another option which I've looked at is getting a cargo / work van.  Put a cot and a portapotty in the back.

 

Heat can be a problem if you don't have electricity for a heater.  There are propane heaters, but they can be a risk due to carbon monoxide.

 

A tentcot would keep you above ground and they're easy to set up, but they're heavy.  They might weigh more than you want to handle.

 

Suggest you check out some of the van living discussion groups.  They have a lot of ideas and illustrations if you're interested.

 

Alternatively, your Camry might be able to tow one of these:

 

https://golittleguy.com/lg-mypod/

 

Anyway, I'm still researching and pondering, so keep us posted on what you decide.


Edited by jcj380, 08 July 2021 - 12:31 PM.


#233 rhetfield

rhetfield

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,901
  • Joined: 14 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Suburban Chicago, IL, USA

Posted 08 July 2021 - 04:10 PM

For self-sufficient no-gravel or no-road situations, your RV choices are _very_ limited.   You might look at the Tiger,

tho' they've gotten pricey over the years: https://www.tigervehicles.com/  , and used ones are scarce.  I've had my '06 CX since new, and love it.  Built on Dodge, Ford, or Chevy 1-ton pickups in your choice of engine & trim level, but they are custom ordered from the factory in SC. 

 

As I mentioned before, there are also class B camper vans with AWD or 4WD.  They're also pricey and hard to find used.

 

There are also pickup campers, and they don't care if the pickup is new or used.  But many require a 1-ton pickup, possibly a dually. 

 

Jim H. 

A pickup camper would be the closest thing to a Tiger vehicle.  I don't know that I have seen any that needed a duelly.  There are a few around that can go on a 1/2 ton.  This one looks like a nice example:  https://www.lancecam...ck-campers/650/

 

Probably not a bad option for a single person.


Edited by rhetfield, 09 July 2021 - 09:17 AM.


#234 stubeeef

stubeeef

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,043
  • Joined: 06 Aug 2012
  • Loc: NW NC

Posted 09 July 2021 - 12:29 PM

I'm looking at either an older Airstream Basecamp with the large double doors or a new LiL Snoozy2.

Still need a better tow vehicle first. Was looking at Teardrops, but wife's not so interested.

 

Nice classB NY John


Edited by stubeeef, 09 July 2021 - 12:34 PM.


#235 jcj380

jcj380

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,474
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Hellinois

Posted 09 July 2021 - 01:19 PM

[...]  a new LiL Snoozy2.

Did they get the bankruptcy (?) / class action suit settled?  I did like the looks of them a few years back.



#236 vsteblina

vsteblina

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,497
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2007
  • Loc: Wenatchee, Washington

Posted 09 July 2021 - 11:19 PM

A pickup camper would be the closest thing to a Tiger vehicle.  I don't know that I have seen any that needed a duelly.  There are a few around that can go on a 1/2 ton.  This one looks like a nice example:  https://www.lancecam...ck-campers/650/

 

Probably not a bad option for a single person.

Lance makes nice campers.

 

BUT check the weight limits. 

 

I own a 1-ton 2010 Dodge Ram pickup. 

 

When I looked at pick-up campers my weight limit was 3000 lbs!!!  Basically, when loaded I was limited to the only a few campers.  You really need a dually truck to safely haul a truck camper.  I cannot imagine hauling a truck camper on a F-150.

 

Up in the Yukon, lots of folks put truck campers on flat bed trailers and use them that way.  That works, plus it frees up your pickup bed.

 

Anyway, check carefully for weight limits on pick-up campers.  Try driving one before buying.  If your overloaded it is a interesting experience.


  • Jon Isaacs, Jim4321 and RobLSE08 like this

#237 jcj380

jcj380

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,474
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Hellinois

Posted 10 July 2021 - 06:46 AM

 If your overloaded it is a interesting experience.

https://youtu.be/Z7Kfl97b57s


  • DSOGabe likes this

#238 rhetfield

rhetfield

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,901
  • Joined: 14 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Suburban Chicago, IL, USA

Posted 10 July 2021 - 11:28 AM

Lance makes nice campers.

BUT check the weight limits.

I own a 1-ton 2010 Dodge Ram pickup.

When I looked at pick-up campers my weight limit was 3000 lbs!!! Basically, when loaded I was limited to the only a few campers. You really need a dually truck to safely haul a truck camper. I cannot imagine hauling a truck camper on a F-150.

Up in the Yukon, lots of folks put truck campers on flat bed trailers and use them that way. That works, plus it frees up your pickup bed.

Anyway, check carefully for weight limits on pick-up campers. Try driving one before buying. If your overloaded it is a interesting experience.

Uncle has had his multiple campers on 150/1500 trucks for as long as I can remember and has been from Florida to Alaska and everywhere between with them. I have never seen anybody put one on a duelly. Duelly guys I've seen always have 5th wheels and goosenecks. One always has to be careful with loading on campers and trailers, but some of the newer ones are a lot lighter than the old ones.

#239 MawkHawk

MawkHawk

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 727
  • Joined: 23 Aug 2009
  • Loc: SE Michigan, USA

Posted 10 July 2021 - 07:54 PM

 Thank you everyone, you have given me a lot to think about!   I can see I left out some helpful details.   Because our hobby is so weather-dependent, I like to be able to get up and go with little warning, and relying on a friend or a hubby might cramp my style so I want to be completely self-sufficient (yes, I live in the Northeast!).    The dark sky places I frequent don't have hookups (water, sewer, electricity) and might not have roads or gravel.     Also they might get cold at night.  I currently have a Camry Hybrid, and it can't tow anything, so getting a trailer would mean buying a new vehicle also.     Astronomy trips are usually 4-7 days.   Thanks for the great website and FB site referrals, and vehicles to check out -- lots of research to do!   

 

If you have any other thoughts for me, please post!  

I bet your Camry could pull a Time Out: https://www.timeoutt...ailer-s/108.htm

 

If I'm reading right, the Camry Hybrid can pull about 882 kbs.


Edited by MawkHawk, 11 July 2021 - 11:13 AM.


#240 rhetfield

rhetfield

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,901
  • Joined: 14 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Suburban Chicago, IL, USA

Posted 10 July 2021 - 11:00 PM

https://youtu.be/Z7Kfl97b57s

that is more likely an issue with having the sway bars set wrong and trying to pass a semi. It is made worse by the trailer likely being at the top of the vehicles weight limit. Hitting the trailer brake controller will straighten it out. Newer trucks include a towing package which can detect the sway and do that automatically.
  • jcj380 likes this

#241 ctcables

ctcables

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 578
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Oregon

Posted 12 July 2021 - 04:17 AM

Love using my toy hauler. We upgraded to one with a garage so we can keep the heat and light in the front part of the trailer and I can move my gear in and out at dark sky locations. Wish it was 8' shorter but most locations for looking at the stars are large areas. 

Attached Thumbnails

  • workstation2016.jpg
  • trailerdeck..jpg
  • Trailer back.jpg

  • 3 i Guy, TL2101, justfred and 2 others like this

#242 stubeeef

stubeeef

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,043
  • Joined: 06 Aug 2012
  • Loc: NW NC

Posted 12 July 2021 - 10:38 AM

Did they get the bankruptcy (?) / class action suit settled?  I did like the looks of them a few years back.

New owners and company based on original.

So glad I didn't do the original with all the sham dealings....

 

https://snoozy2.com



#243 rowdy388

rowdy388

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,391
  • Joined: 09 Apr 2013
  • Loc: Saratoga County, NY

Posted 12 July 2021 - 11:21 AM

The sky at my seasonal Adirondack campsite is darker than at Stellafane but I just use binoculars and a  cheap 4" refractor there because it is in a public

campground with firepits and torches everywhere. The Milky Way still blazes overhead and naked eye viewing is remarkable. I usually sit at the campfire

and point a laser at passing satellites (which fascinates everyone because they never noticed before) and identify any stars or constellations I get asked about.

Later in the evening when some of the fires are out and the sky is darkest, I usually do some outreach with the telescope. My home skies on the edge of the

park are almost as dark and I prefer to experience the hobby alone most of the time at my private site with my best gear. When I'm around other people, I

can't help but switch from private explorer mode to outreach mode. 


  • ctcables likes this

#244 Knasal

Knasal

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,824
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2014
  • Loc: Wisconsin, USA

Posted 21 July 2021 - 09:32 PM

Love using my toy hauler. We upgraded to one with a garage so we can keep the heat and light in the front part of the trailer and I can move my gear in and out at dark sky locations. Wish it was 8' shorter but most locations for looking at the stars are large areas. 

I like your rig but I’m confused by your response: if you chose to have a Toy Hauler, and it is the length that it is, but you wish it was 8’ shorter, doesn’t that leave you with a travel trailer, without the Toy-Hauler-Area?

 

Kevin



#245 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 94,648
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 22 July 2021 - 04:31 AM

I like your rig but I’m confused by your response: if you chose to have a Toy Hauler, and it is the length that it is, but you wish it was 8’ shorter, doesn’t that leave you with a travel trailer, without the Toy-Hauler-Area?

 

Kevin

 

I think it leaves him with with a smaller storage area and a smaller living area. 

 

Jon


  • ctcables and Knasal like this

#246 CCD-Freak

CCD-Freak

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,356
  • Joined: 17 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Whitesboro,Texas

Posted 22 July 2021 - 08:52 AM

This is my theme song when out in the camper...

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=m1VUNkukdHM

 

At SRO-2.JPG

 

Moonlight Manor at SRO


Edited by CCD-Freak, 22 July 2021 - 08:56 AM.

  • Garry and ctcables like this

#247 Starry Jan

Starry Jan

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 24
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2013
  • Loc: Pennsylvania

Posted 27 July 2021 - 04:31 PM

Thanks everyone, there are several solutions that look interesting to me.    NYJohn's ClassB Winnebago Travato for example.   Especially nice that it drives like a minivan and has retractable awning.   Quick setup.   Short enough that I can park in a regular parking spot.  Other general points:   I'm more likely to need a heater than an air conditioner.   I would like a dry place to hang out during the inevitable rain, so would like a vehicle high enough to sit comfortably (standing not essential).   Would like a refrigerator but don't need full kitchen.   Indoor toilet a definite nice-to-have.   Can't get a vehicle with super high clearance; I might  have trouble lifting scope and equipment into vehicle.   Possibly need a ramp.   Outfitting a regular passenger van with sleeping quarters might be a possibility but I'm not looking for a lengthly DIY project.   

 

I decided to visit the RV show in Hershey in Sept; thanks for giving me food for thought.  If anyone wants to suggest specific vehicles I should look for, please feel free.   


  • NYJohn S likes this

#248 TL2101

TL2101

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,717
  • Joined: 17 Sep 2010
  • Loc: Northern California

Posted 27 July 2021 - 05:29 PM

I ordered my Four Wheel Camper Project M truck camper in April and the factory called me Saturday to set an install time for February 8th 2022. I got the 8:00 am slot. I feel lucky I can get it in February. If you order one today it takes 18-19 months and the price has gone up 7%.

 

This is a bare bones camper where you build it out by installing modular components designed by different overland suppliers. I like the idea of being able to remove and repair any items that need attention without having to take it to a repair shop. Lots of online owner groups for custom ideas about how to equip the camper for different applications.

 

My brother is getting his Airstream Basecamp 20X in December and we are excited about going on road trips around the west.


  • NYJohn S likes this

#249 stubeeef

stubeeef

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,043
  • Joined: 06 Aug 2012
  • Loc: NW NC

Posted 11 August 2021 - 07:39 PM

Ahh our random universe, anyway my suv thread for camper towing and scope hauling gets moved but I'm here for this discussion....I digress...

Has anyone here had issues towing a camper with their 6 cylinder SUV/Truck in the mountains? If so how many pounds is the trailer?



#250 rhetfield

rhetfield

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,901
  • Joined: 14 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Suburban Chicago, IL, USA

Posted 12 August 2021 - 11:59 AM

Ahh our random universe, anyway my suv thread for camper towing and scope hauling gets moved but I'm here for this discussion....I digress...

Has anyone here had issues towing a camper with their 6 cylinder SUV/Truck in the mountains? If so how many pounds is the trailer?

I have towed a 4000lb trailer into appalachia with a 6 speed manual X-terra.  Engine is a 4 liter V6.  In general I needed to stay in 5th to tow on the flats.  On occasion, there was a hill that I could not maintain highway speeds.

 

I now have a Chevy Colorado, but have not yet been to the hills with it.  Seems to be a similar amount of power.


  • stubeeef likes this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics