This week we update you with some inside information on the 2019 Sprinter van, probably the most popular chassis used by Class B RVs. They’ve been in short supply for almost two years now and we’ll learn this week that a new Sprinter factory in South Carolina is about to change that. Plus, lots of RV news, tips and reports.
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
Show Notes for Episode #218 Nov. 14, 2018 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast
We’re coming to you this week from Okaloosa Island on the Florida Panhandle’s Emerald Coast where we’ve been enjoying some time at our condo.
Mike’s been doing a lot of writing, video editing and tinkering with our new 2018 Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL, adding some accessories and personalizing it for his tech gear. I’ve been cleaning our condo down here, doing a little redecorating and visiting friends.
We’re set to travel back to cold and snowy Michigan over the weekend. I’ll have to winterize the RV before we hit the road because the weather forecast says we can expect freezing temperatures from Nashville on.
Remember the Wooly Caterpillars and the animals in Kansas? When we were there a month ago for one of our Roadtreking gatherings, the cowboys we met on the cattle ranch we were visiting said the animals were developing much thicker than normal winter coats much earlier than normal and the wooly caterpillars had thick black bands.
Yup. According to folklore, the amount of black on the woolly bear in autumn varies proportionately with the severity of the coming winter in the locality where the caterpillar is found.
I read this morning that it was snowing in Amarillo TX and I see posts on our Roadtreking Group on Facebook shows a lot of people have been experiencing very cold weather this past week. There are a lot of snow pictures there.
At the same time, California has been devastated by the deadliest wildfires in history. So many lives have been lost, homes and property destroyed. Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by those fires. We’ve heard from several of our Roadtreking friends this week that they have their RVs packed and ready to flee in case those fires head their way.
Giant plumes of smoke can be seen on satellite images rising from the West Coast and then getting picked up by the Jetstream and carried east. As we record this podcast, some weather experts were predicting that some of that smoke could be detected as far east as New England today. So sad.
As far as our RV Lifestyle goes, this has been a particularly busy week. I haven’t said a lot about this but I’ve been working hard on a new book which deals with a subject that we are asked a lot about: Buying an RV. I’m pretty excited about this book which will be published this week. It is jam packed with practical buying advice that I think can literally save you thousands of dollars and prevent lots of headaches or buyers resource as you shop for an eventually purchase a new or used RV. We will announce this book first to those who have signed up for our RV Lifestyle newsletter. If you are already part of that community, look for an email soon about availability. And if you have not yet subscribed, now’s a chance to do so. Just go to https://roadtreking.com/newsletter You can become a part of our community there for free. And when you do, you’ll get lots of perks and special discounts for RV services and products.
How big is that Roadtreking community now?
Between all our various platforms and social media, we’re talking well over 550,000 people. It’s pretty amazing how we’ve grown.
Who would have thought this would be so big when we started this journey almost seven years ago. Oh… hey… what about that video you promised last week about our visit to Walt Disney World?
It’s coming. Almost done. It will be on the RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel tomorrow…Nov. 15…or Thursday. It was so much fun putting together and it answers the question, are you ever too old for Disney World?
Obviously, the answer is no. We had a ball there. It was the first time we visited without kids or grandkids and the first time we stayed at the Fort Wilderness Campground there. I think it’s safe to say… We’ll be back.
RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK
Couple fleeing California wildfire abandons campsite, uses RV as rescue vehicle helping others escape
We talked a minute ago about those horrific California wildfires. I ran across a story that was both terrifying and encouraging about a couple who turned their RV into a rescue vehicle of sorts. The couple started their morning at their campsite in Paradise, California, making their morning eggs when they got the call to evacuate immediately because of an approaching wild fire. The couple quickly packed up and hit the road, and as they headed to safety, they stopped to pick up people stranded or on foot, at one point driving down a road with flames threatening on each side. We’ll put a direct link to the story on the shownotes for this episode at Roadtreking-dot-com-slash-218
Viral video of mother bear and her cub example of stress drones cause wildlife, story says
Did you see the video of a mother bear and her baby, with the baby struggling to climb a snowy cliff, all captured on video? The video was shot by a drone in Russia, and was in the news last week as an example of the incredible stress drones can cause wildlife, altering their behavior and putting their very lives in danger. With drones becoming smaller and less expensive, it is important to remember to use them wisely, and even if the drone does not seem close to the wildlife, the animal may still be incredibly stressed.
Renting a camper van becoming increasingly popular story says
While this newsletter, and everything Jennifer and I do on the RV lifestyle, is open to all forms of camping, we know some of you are still considering what to buy, which is why I wanted to share a story on the growing popularity of renting your Class B RV. A story out last week highlighted the growing trend, even mentioning how Thor Industries, Inc., the world's largest RV manufacturer, formed a joint venture with a New Zealand-based tourism company earlier this year aimed at increasing its rental business. And if you are interested in renting an RV, we urge you to consider a peer to peer rental company like Outdoorsy, which lets you rent directly from an owner.
Missouri state campgrounds with electricity to charge $2 a night more in 2019
Missouri state parks are joining the growing number of state run campgrounds that will be raising the cost of renting a campsite next year. The cost of renting a campsite with electricity will rise by $2 a night beginning in May 2019 in the first rate hike since 2013. To read more click here.
Don't want a full bathroom in your camper van? Try a portable option
Remember the story we shared last week by a writer who argues for no full shower or toilet in her camper van? Well, apparently she received a LOT of feedback – both pro and con – and this week provides five partial toilet options, for those so inclined. In case the detailed description of the portable toilet options are of interest, we wanted to share the follow-up story and you can find a link in the shownotes for this episode at Roadtreking-dot-com-slash-218
This part of the podcast is brought to you by OvernightRVParking.com, the only place you can access a searchable database of the most complete, accurate and up-to-date listing of places where RVers are and aren't allowed to park overnight.
JENNIFER'S RV TIP OF THE WEEK
As Mike and I were driving from Disney World's Fort Wilderness campground to the Florida panhandle last week, I saw on the road a camping trailer with a sticker of the United States stuck on its back door, complete with colorful stickers in place of the states these travelers had visited, and blank spots in the locations yet to be explored.
Have you ever seen one of these maps on your travels? I love them. Not only is it fun for the RV owners to mark each new state they camp in with a color sticker, it is also fun for the owners to look back and remember all their adventures in states past. And these maps are fun for other travelers to see, too. It can be a great conversation starter in a campground if you see a neighbor has been to a state that is next on your travel plans. I even enjoy just looking at one of these maps, as we're traveling down the road, seeing where someone has been and remembering the trips Mike and I have made.
I wrote about those maps on our Roadtreking RV Lifestyle travel blog a few days ago.
Here's one for U.S. States https://amzn.to/2qsO1yx
Here's one for Canadian Provinces https://amzn.to/2qsBqf1
There is just one drawback to these sticky decals and that is they stick — on the paint —sometimes forever.
Seeing this map stuck to the paint of what looked like a brand new travel trailer, made me think back to a tip I received some time ago from a listener named Sharon. Sharon was also a fan of these maps and also was concerned about the damage these stickers can bring to the paint on her rig. Her solution? Put it on a magnet.
Sharon recommended getting a magnetic sheet and putting that on the body of your RV. Then, stick your decal of the United States and the provinces you've visited on the magnet instead of the back door. The magnetic sheet will protect your paint from the decals.
And, should you sell your rig, or for some reason need to take off the stickers, you can do so without worrying about permanent damage.
These magnetic sheets can be purchased at craft stores, office supply stores and, of course, Amazon. I found a four pack of 4 by 12 magnetic sheets for $13.99 that can be made to fit most of those decal maps. Or you can use a single one for a bumper sticker if you’d like. https://amzn.to/2z7GQRo
So there you go. Your RV’s finish will be undamaged, and you can apply your map decals and bumper stickers without worry.
Do you have a tip or and suggestion about the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Roadtreking.com. Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.
I love hearing from you!
Jennifer's tip of the week is brought to you by RadPower Bikes ,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping
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RV QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
Here are three email questions that came in this week:
- Sorry to bother you but no one else I know has your experience with diesel Alde. We are in Catskills at night ~27*. The inside temperature never got above 55*. Is that all the system is capable of or am I doing something wrong. Thank you.
- We happened upon one of your YouTube videos and got hooked. Great information and a terrific resource for us. Our biggest problem is deciding on a manufacturer that produces a quality product. We have decided on a “C” class but who builds a good one? We have heard of the poorly engineered and manufactured ones and really want a well built and engineered motor home. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you, Lloyd
- We are looking for handy ways to organize things in our RV. I see from your videos on the RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube that you have little mesh pockets attached to various places inside the RV. Where do you get those?
We get our mesh pockets from an outfit known as Organized Obie. Here’s a link – https://www.organizedobie.com/tag/2
RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
When it comes to the Class B campervans, perhaps the most popular chassis used today by RV manufacturers and Class B van upfitters is the Mercedes Benz Sprinter. They are so popular that, for the past year and a half or so, they have been in extremely short supply, with many orders taking a long time to be filled because Mercedes just hasn’t been able to get enough of them to North America.
But with a new state of the art facility recently opened in South Carolina, that is about to change. And the new 2019 Sprinters are stirring lots of interest because of new features. To help us understand that and to get an idea when those 2019 Sprinters will start showing up for customers, we talk this week to Mike Neuendorfer from Advanced RV, an Ohio-based RV upfitter that specializes in custom made RVs. Mike recently visited the new Sprinter factory and gives us an insider’s perspective on these very popular RVs.
Here’s a video of the interview:
Here’s a full transcript:
Mike Wendland: Joining us right now from Advanced RV is Mike Neundorfer and Mike, welcome to the program and tell us about the 2019 Sprinters. Everybody's anxious to learn all about 'em.
Mike Neundorfer: Well I'll tell you what I know, I'm not an expert but I have visited with technical people and marketing people in Dusseldorf within in the last couple months at the main production headquarters, actually at the RV show. And then again subsequent to that I visited South Carolina, did a tour of the new production plant, half a billion dollar plant. So I have a little bit of insight. I was able in South Carolina to actually drive the new 2019 Sprinter and there's a lot exciting about it.
So just a few of the things, most of the changes have been in safety and in comfort. The big thing that's happened with drive and handling is that the diesel engine now has a seven speed transmission where in the past its had five speed and I think this made a difference in how it handled or how it drove, and I think this will be a big benefit.
Couple other things that people will be interested in that they'd been asking about is an electric actuated sliding door. Finally have a door that is full open and closed motor driven. And another thing that people will be very interested in I think is the customer interface or the user interface. There's a 10 1/2 inch display option with a smart voice actuation. It has a 360 display option. It has the new GPS and subwoofers, the sound system is much better.
And then another big thing is the seats. The seats have been totally redesigned for more adjustment, there's an under thigh pull out that is like the old BMW's I think the first one I saw, and the seats are generally much more comfortable than the Mercedes seats. There is an electric actuated option on the seats. So these are a few of the things that I think make the 2019 pretty unique and big improvement over past units.
Mike Wendland: Now Mike you had a chance to visit the brand new factory in South Carolina, tell us a little bit about that. What's that factory like? And more importantly I think is when are RV manufacturers going to actually start getting their hands on these 2019 models?
Mike Neundorfer: Well the second question is the toughest one. The production line, the new plant is very impressive. It's about a half a billion dollars invested over the last 18 months to two years. The production line is very similar to Dusseldorf and it's up and running but as you can imagine it's not going full force right now. They are still hiring and doing worldwide training actually for the production workers there. When the plant's full up I think that there'll be 12-13 hundred employees. But lot of robots and there's action. And in the parking lots around the plant there are quite a few cab chassis in stock. We saw on trailers leaving the plant, actually on the street we saw the first one with the Amazon Sprinters which would be coming off the line already, I think people know that there were 20,000 ordered and they're being produced.
So there's production coming off the line, they're still tuning things up and hiring people and training but it's working.
Mike Wendland: So those 20,000 Sprinters, 2019 Sprinters that Amazon bought, that kind of a great customer, they're gonna get the first service and by the time it's released to the various manufacturers and upfitters, we're second in line I guess for all that. Mike they're gonna be producing a gas engine for the Sprinter, is that right?
Mike Neundorfer: It is, it's gonna be on the 1500 model which probably isn't something interesting for upfitters.
Mike Wendland: Yeah.
Mike Neundorfer: Doesn't have the weight capacity, it's a low … I think it's the engine that's in the Metris right now with a transmission. I haven't paid a lot of attention to it because it doesn't really fit with upfitters but has a transmission that I don't know if it's a nine speed or a 10 speed but it's a multigear transmission but it's on the lightest version of the Sprinter.
Mike Wendland: What did you think of that new factory? Mentioned a lot of robots, obviously it's state of the art but do you think that that will result, because they're making it now in the US, a little cheaper for at least the US upfitters?
Mike Neundorfer: Great question. I think that there's a cost saving certainly from avoiding the chicken tax by building in Dusseldorf, taking it into three or four components, putting it on shipping containers and then reassembling it in South Carolina. So there's cost savings there. The options that are available and the changes made on the new Sprinter make it a little difficult to figure out the pricing because they've added so many things like the seats, the seven speed transmission. I would think it would be about a wash. I think that it's gonna keep them from having to raise pricing certainly. Very seldom do manufacturers like that actually lower prices but I think that they should be in good shape for value pricing going forward.
Mike Wendland: So all we can say so far is pretty much some time next year for these 2019's to really start showing up with the upfitters. I would imagine first quarter, hopefully that's the target and then of course it takes some time to build 'em.
Mike Neundorfer: As you can imagine one of our biggest concerns now is being able to get chassis. To answer your question earlier Mike, I'll tell you what I know about production at least as of today. Should we go into that or do you?
Mike Wendland: Yeah, just before you go into that, you have committed to do the Sprinter van only. I know you have looked at the Pro Master and I am sure you've looked at, I see many of the other manufacturers have kind of looked at the Ford Transit as another chassis probably because it's so hard to get these Sprinter chassis but you're staying with Sprinter, correct?
Mike Neundorfer: We are, and there are a few reasons and I think both the other chassis, the Transit and the Fiat, the Dodge, have benefits. There's some things we like about 'em but all in all, neither one has the weight capacity of the Sprinter and none of them have as we can judge the safety and some of the other amenities that this Sprinter chassis has. The couple other little things, and they're not so little but they're things important to me as a user, the Transit is much more difficult because of the way the engine comes back into the passenger compartment to get up and go to the rear while you're running. And we like to keep a seatbelt on but Marcia, when we travel, gets up to go make a sandwich maybe or grab an ice tea or go to the bathroom while we're running and the Transit, the way it's configured makes it difficult to do that.
So that's one of the issues, plus it doesn't have the weight capacity. The Travado is a little uncomfortable for me as a larger person to drive and so, there's some other things. Again the weight capacity, we get a lot of those Transits and the Travados in to upgrade the air suspensions and the smaller Travados are always down on the bus stops. In other words, the suspension once they're built as a motor home is bottomed out. Now the 2500 are a different story.
So there are some things that looking at the overall evaluation of the competitors to the Sprinter, we're gonna stick with Sprinter.
Mike Wendland: Now tell us a little bit more about the production of the Sprinter? What do you know about that that might help people understand as they try and make their buying decision about these new 2019's, whenever they become available?
Mike Neundorfer: Well the encouraging to me this summer when I went to the factory was the line is moving and they are manufacturing and there are quite a few in the lot there. We will have an official order guide now the first of December and I think that's a pretty good number, it's kind of shifted. It was supposed to be October then November, but I think we'll be able to officially order the 2019's in the first of December. We do have an allocation that we've been able to negotiate with Mercedes. The production for that allocation will start in December with the two wheel drive 144's and the standard length, 170. The 170 extended will start production in January and the four by fours will start production in February and between production and delivery it's four to six weeks is what we're figuring.
So it's not ideal but I think those schedules are fairly good and that we have a significant backlog as we usually have of clients who have deposited for their custom Sprinters and we think that we're gonna be able to, with the production schedule, we'll be able to build ahead some of the components and then start shipping without too much interruption this spring.
Mike Wendland: Mike Neundorfer from Advanced RV, thank you for making some time for us today and helping us understand the new Sprinters are coming.
Mike Neundorfer: Well Mike, thanks and I hope you and Jennifer can visit us soon and it's an open invitation. Anyone else who would like to take a tour, we're always anxious to talk and learn from folks and show 'em around.
Mike Wendland: I'm suburban Cleveland, Advanced RV. Thank you Mike.
The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country
TRAVELING TECH TIP
By Andy Choi
We all know holiday spending can certainly add up, but giving doesn’t have to mean going broke. Which is why Verizon offers plenty of popular products that are easier on the wallet – so here are some top tech ideas for gifts under $100.
First, the Google Chromecast Ultra – Just plug it directly into your TV’s HDMI port. It connects to your Wi-Fi network to link to your devices, so you can stream videos, movies, and much more in 4K resolution. There are also over 1000 Cast-enabled apps to choose from, including Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify. And when you take those holiday photos, there’s no better way to show them off from your phone to your big screen!
How about for your music lovers, the JBL Link 10 – These wireless speakers by JBL pair high–quality sound and hands-free convenience. Plus with the built in Google Assistant, holiday help is just a “hey Google” away.
If your loved one just got the new Google Pixel 3 smartphone, why not get that person the Google Pixel Stand to go with it – Compatible with Android and iOS devices, this stand keeps your phone upright so you can charge and use the phone at the same time. And if you have a Pixel 3, placing your phone on this charger now turns it into a visualized Google Home!
And finally a great gift to protect those mobile investments, the OtterBox Defender Series Case (available for Apple, Samsung, and Google devices). The holidays aren’t always smooth sailing and these rugged cases will protect your device against drops, bumps and dust.
So you don’t have to break the bank to provide a little holiday happiness for your tech savvy loved ones. All of these gifts under a hundred bucks you can find at verizonwireless.com. With this week’s traveling technology tip, I’m Andy Choi with Verizon.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT
By Tom and Patti Burkett
One of the pleasures of travel, off or on the beaten path, is discovering or rediscovering regional and local foods. There are some specialties that most everyone has at least heard of–Maine lobster rolls, Gulf Coast Po' Boys, Miami Cuban sandwiches, and the many varieties of barbecue including North Carolina, Texas, and Kansas City. Sometimes you can find one of these far from its home, cooked just right by a transplanted native. Mostly, though, you have to go to where they live if you want the real deal.
And there are some things most people haven't heard of. Just like quirky little museums, you have to roam away from the main roads to find these. For example, everyone knows that Buffalo, New York is legendary for buffalo wings, but unless you've spent some time poking around neighborhood bars in this city, you've missed out on what's probably the best roast beef sandwich on the continent. Start with a freshly baked kimmelweck roll, topped liberally with pretzel salt and caraway seeds. Pile on hot sliced roast beef and spoon on the grated horseradish. That's beef on weck, invented by a tavern keeper, for the 1901 Pan American Exposition. You'll find it on nearly every Buffalo bar menu.
Maybe, after that horseradish, you'd like something to cool your palate. Soft-serve ice cream you can find all across the country. Some say this summer staple was invented by Dairy Queen, others say Thomas Carvel was the first to serve it. It's the battle of the Buster Bar versus the Flying Saucer. Head north, though, and you'll find that in Vermont these cones are called creemees. That's because in this very dairy state, soft serve has the highest (creemee-est) butterfat content you'll find anywhere. Visit a sugar house or an orchard stand at the right time of year and order the maple flavor. Maple syrup replaces the sugar in the mix, and such a smooth, rich treat is hard to match. Dairy Queen or Carvel? Who cares? One maple creemee, please.
Mining communities have their own unique culture. Whether it's the Welsh immigrants in Pennsylvania, the Eastern Europeans in Appalachia, or the Scandinavians and Irish who worked the Great Lakes copper deposits, they shared the common need for a tasty, nutritious lunch that could be eaten quickly out of hand in a dirty environment.
You'll find one of these in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Pasties, hand pies filled with chopped meat and root vegetables, arrived here with miners from Cornwall and now boost the tourist trade. Farther south, and spreading out from Fairmount West Virginia, where it originated, you can find the pepperoni roll. Once a staple miners' food, it's now common in grocery stores and gas stations throughout the region.
Fort Wayne has frogs, Louisville has horses, and Dothan Georgia has peanuts. But drive around the Cincinnati and you'll find painted pigs decorating the sidewalks and lawns. After all, this was a meat-packing town full of German immigrants. Lots of sausage and lots of beer. Hardworking people in the town nicknamed Porkopolis took meat scraps and stretched them with steel-cut oats. This mixture was packed into loaf pans, sliced, and fried. Most neighborhood diners in this town still have goetta on the breakfast menu, but don't look for it anywhere else. Skyline chili, sure. Graeter's ice cream, undoubtedly. But goetta's where it's at for pure Queen City flavor.
There's no end to the foods you can only find in one small place. How about pickled wrinkles in Maine? Or burgoo in Kentucky. Head to the deep south and you'll find red eye gravy on the menu. Ever had chislic? No? And you won't unless you're within twenty miles of a small town in South Dakota. Hubcaps in Iowa, beignets in New Orleans, or poutine in Quebec. Get on out here. Way out here where the tourists and the four-lanes don't go. Where the fast food drive-throughs and chain restaurants are thin on the ground. We're Patti and Tom Burkett, and we'll save you a place in line, waiting for a hot bierock at some little county fair, off the beaten path.
Off the Beaten Path is brought to you by Harvest Hosts http://roadtreking.com/harvesthosts, a membership site that provides truly unique overnight stops at wineries, farms and attractions. If you haven’t joined Harvest Hosts now is the time. January 1st the price will increase to $79 per year (up from the current $49), but only for new members. So anyone who is signed up before Jan 1 gets locked into the current rate, which is only $49/year. But as a listener to this podcast, you can beat even that price. Get yourself Grandfathered into the lower price!!! If you want a 10% discount, sign up through https://roadtreking.com/harveshosts .
RV CALENDAR OF EVENTS
- November 17-18, Sand, Water, RV Expo, Lake Havasu State Park, Lake Havasu, A
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