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Author Topic: Ready to Roll - newby  (Read 1734 times)

jill

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Ready to Roll - newby
« on: March 07, 2018, 03:54:50 AM »
Hi and thanks in advance for allowing me to ask many questions during the next 10 months.
I am a 59 year old woman who will be attempting (for the second time) to thru-hike the Appalachian trail in March of 2019.
I am so ready to live off grid for the 6 months I expect to take to hike from Georgia to Maine - I decided to extend that life OFF trail as well.  So my plan is to pay my last month's rent in February 2019.   I will hike the trail - and when I get off I'll resume life in my already paid for converted for full time living van.
Although I have a year... I've started my search for the vehicle now. 
My biggest problem is not knowing enough about vehicles to know what MAKE vehicle is the best when considering age (I definitely need used), mileage, vehicle maintenance issues, etc.
I'm just happy to have found THIS community and hope to learn a lot here.

Jill


Camper_Dan

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Re: Ready to Roll - newby
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2018, 10:07:04 PM »
Greetings & Welcome!

Sounds like some ambitious goals.

The sweet spot on vans for me has been 1976-1986 Dodge vans with the 318 engine and automatic transmission.  I like the pre computerized ones, so much less to go wrong with them.  Passenger vans, and conversion vans are much easier to convert, you can simply remove the back seats and move your new interior in and secure it.  I paid $700 for mine over 10 years ago, it had 250k miles on it, and I have put another 200k+ trouble free miles on it since.

Mine is a 15 passenger model.  Lots of these were used as church and shuttle vans, and can be found in both high and low tops.  I chose a low top so I could so parking garages and drive thru's.  Some people prefer the high tops so they can stand up inside.  I just cook while seated, everything else I'd be seated or in bed anyway.  I have a super comfortable swivel reclining chair, so I can work or relax inside all day long in comfort, and everything is within easy reach.  My total conversion cost was aboout $200 all in.  No expensive baloney, just comfortable and fully functional, including super comfy sofa/bed, full kitchen, toilet & shower, power, heating & cooling.   I didn't do it on the cheap because of a small budget, I followed the lead of the most comfortable camper vans that I saw that others had. 

If you live in the rust belt, you may have to travel to a more rust free area to find a good deal on older vans.  Mine came from Spokane Washington, and is relatively rust free.  The owner was honest with me, telling me that it leaked oil, gas, tranny fluid, power steering, and radiator.  It was a spare vehicle and had been sitting.  Other than that, it ran and drove perfect.  For $700 I figured I had plenty of room to fix all the leaks and still be an excellent buy.  I had driven 10 hours to look at it, and ultimately buy it.  The previous owner told me that as long as I kept the fluids full, it would go forever.  Within a couple hundred miles, ever fluid leak stopped on their own.  It just needed to be driven.  Repair cost $0 and even the original tires were good for the first 40k miles that I owned it.

Previously I got suckered into building out a cargo van.  A huge money pit, and a huge mistake.  A window van or even a Class B or Class C RV is stealthier than a cargo van in cities at night.  I could have bought a very fancy RV cheaper than that stupid cargo van cost to convert, and thenn it was a dark, damp box to live in.  For me, windows, the view, and the ventilation, are what make my home on wheels comfortable to live in.  A view in all directions, both day and night, keep me both safe and sane.  Situational awareness is impossible in a cargo van, and the need to hide is baloney created by living in a cargo van.  In the public's view, as well as the cop's view, only scary people live in cargo vans, people who have something to hide.  I have lived in many vehicles from motohomes to vans, and I never felt alone, homeless, or as depressed as I did in that cargo van.  People judge you by what you're driving first, and old window van, or an old motorhome, get a much better judgement than a cargo van unless they're expecting some repair man.  Everybody knows what cargo vans belong in their neighborhood at night.  Obvious campers aren't nearly as suspicious as someone trying to hide.  As an obvious camper, they will judge you for you and your actions, rather than your vehicle.

In the end, a cheap, older, fully depreciated, and pre-computerized van or motorhome can save you a fortune.  A passenger van with a decent interior to start with can save you another fortune.  No roof vents, no solar panels, no 12v fridges, junkyard house batteries instead of expensive ones, and not gutting the interior can save you several fortunes without sacrificing any comfort or convenience.

When my current van eventually dies, I will probably replace it with a cheap Class C motorhome of about the same vintage.  They can be found in great shape with low miles for under about $2k, have all the goodies, and are still stealthier than a cargo van.  By then I'll be retired and likely acquire a travelling companion, so the extra room will be nice and it'll still fit in a standard parking space.

Good Luck & keep us posted!
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jill

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Re: Ready to Roll - newby
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2018, 09:20:13 PM »
Thank you so much for that info Dan.

I just drove an hour to look at a Ford Transit - and just decided on the spot that although cute it wasn't going to be right for me.  At least not yet.   

If I go with the idea of an older class C then I don't have to buy it before next fall - or spend all summer trying to get my new home livable. 

I really know I'm going to appreciate this forum very much.

Jill  :)

Camper_Dan

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Re: Ready to Roll - newby
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2018, 01:45:45 AM »
Greetings!

Always glad to help when I can.

Vans really shine if you're parking on city streets over night every night, but if that isn't a necessity, a small RV can make a world of difference in comfort and livability. 

Let us know if we can be of any help along the way.

Cheers!

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