Badges – Truths and Fictions

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A car emblem is more formally called a badge, and it’s the tip of the spear when trying to communicate your brand to the auto-buying public. Car makers have used taglines and sometimes even the distinctive design of the car itself to help brand their cars. Long ago they could rely on that small figure on the hood to help, but those were deemed hazardous. Still, the badge is consistently the first insight members of the public get with a brand. Like all attempts at branding, it can be entirely misleading.

background-3276749_1920A number of people believe the BMW logo is based around a propeller. In actual fact, it was based on the Bavarian flag, which is also blue and white. Having looked at the Bavarian flag though I would say that the propeller theme is more obvious which might explain why so many sources on the internet continue this myth.

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BMW isn’t alone in this type of confusion. Look at Chevrolet’s badge for instance. It may have been based around the Swiss cross (but then again a “+” is such a common symbol) or it may have been inspired by a specific design of wallpaper.

Chrysler, however, has an obvious theme. The 1930’s gave birth to the age of the jet engine and Chrysler wanted to draw subtle connections.

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Audi’s four rings are based on the link of four companies, one of them being Audi, the other three being audi-1721126_1920DKW, Horch, and Wanderer.

If you are like me you haven’t heard of any of these companies but DKW or Dampf-Kraft Wagen was into creating steam-powered cars, so understandably was a thing of its time. Horch created a number of cars in Germany including the Cabriolet.

Wanderer made automobiles, but also vans, bikes, and even trucks. This is a four-ring emblem with lots of history.

ferrari-2151244_1920.jpgFerrari is based on one of the enduring Italian symbols of the prancing horse. Apparently, a fighter pilot had a horse emblazoned on his plane. It isn’t linked to Ferrari family though, they just happened to like the design. The idea that Ferraris have horsepower and so are represented by a horse doesn’t quite work; Italians don’t use the word horsepower to describe the force of a car.

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Mercedes had the idea of a three-pointed star to represent success in land, sea, and air, though nowadays most people have forgotten that they made boats and planes and just remember the manufacturer of cars.

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Despite seeming to be only three rotated diamonds the badge of Mitsubishi, in reality, relate to two Japanese families, namely the crest of Iwasaki and the crest of Yamanouchi, the former holds a shipping business, the latter the head of a great clan. Since both represent three objects; Iwasaki was chestnut leaves and Yamanouchi was oak leaves the symbol relates to them both.

car-3258541_1920The origin of Subaru’s stars is a bit obscure. There are five stars on the logo and there are six stars in the Pleiades which is a kind of sub-constellation found in the constellation of Taurus, which is what Subaru means in Japanese. It would make more sense to have the logo have nineteen the same number as Taurus, but maybe that would be too obvious? Also, nineteen stars wouldn’t make a good badge.

When Ferdinand Porsche broke away from VW, he chose the Coat of Arms of Stuttgart (where his company headquarters was located) and the flag of the Free Peoples of State of Wurttemberg to create one of the more interesting badges.

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Still, they help to sell quality brands of cars and that’s the main reason they are there. The histories are just an added bonus.

 

Car Hacks (Vlog 21): Smells part 2b

Well, this post is a little late. I confess it should have posted yesterday. We had a collaborative miscommunication combined with crazy schedules. But things are back on track.

Today Mike revisits car smells. We’ve actually addressed smells a few times, LOL, because it’s an issue that comes up (or should I say, comes out) often.

We’ve covered:

Now, Mike is going to cover, head on, the biggest source of smells in a car…your passengers.

The Sound of Silence

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This post was written by our overseas contributor, Paul. He’s from the U.K. so I’ve provided some interpretations for those of us in the U.S. Just having a go at you, Paul.

  • Indicators = Turn Signal
  • Windscreen = Windshield

The Sound of Silence

When you use a car all day every day you begin to recognize its individual sounds. The sound of the ignition starting up, the sound of the windscreen wipers, the sound of the indicators. When you hear a noise you don’t recognize you instantly get the feeling something is wrong. But stepping back a bit, why do cars make any noise at all?

We assume cars make a noise for the same reason jet airplanes make a noise–big engines are noisy. It’s all do with their mechanical nature. Despite the fact that many components in a car have become computerized, it is still really a mechanical object.

Internal combustion engines suck a fuel-air mixture into two or more chambers, and POW, there’s a series of explosion. Tiny explosions, sure, but it’s going to make a noise. That sound would actually be quite a bit louder except for the exhaust system which channels the exhaust and sound back along the bottom of your vehicle to dissipate it before dispersing it out to the world. Along the way, it goes through a muffler designed specifically to reduce the sound. (Except, of course, for the jerks that live behind my house, who’ve never heard of a muffler.)

But some noises are harder to place than others, the sound of rubber tires on the road is something we all recognize, but why do objects like the windscreen wipers and the indicators make the noise that they do?

Although they are performing mechanical functions, the circuitry performing these actions helps create a noise. In the case of the indicators, what we hear as a click is a circuit whose function is to cause the indicators to flash. This might not make much sense, as we encounter lights all day long which don’t make a noise, apart from some humming, but because the indicator is needed to flash, there needs to be a certain type of circuit here.

Why does a faster car make more noise? Well, when a car is accelerating its exhaust has to work harder. It’s quite complicated what is going on, but in layman’s terms, it is a mixture of axles, pistons, and transmissions which need to work harder in order to increase the speed. More work means more energy, which we hear as sound. This is also why the engine is more vocal when you start the car up, especially on cold days.

We tend to be more suspicious of the less mechanical noises, the thumps and the twangs, such as may happen when the tires rub against metal or something in the trunk hits the side of the car. It might be part of our survival instinct; no one wants to drive a vehicle which is a death trap. If there’s a problem it should be fixed. It doesn’t mean that everybody takes notices of these sounds, but many drivers feel it is part of maintaining a car properly.

One fun fact, new cars often come with long mileage tires which have very hard rubber. So they will make a lot more sound inside your car than the ones you put on later.

So what about a silent engine? Well, that can only be achieved by an electric car but they provide their own problems. Pedestrians are used to cars making a noise, so when they don’t hear a car they feel that no car is there. It makes sense, therefore, to add sound to the noise of the electric car. The only problem is that a selling point of an electric car was its smooth movement, its lack of noise. So you remove this if you add a different noise when the car is in motion.

For good or bad it seems that cars will be noisy for quite a time yet.

Are AV’s on hold? Should they be?

OP-ED by A. Bunch

There’s so much we could say on the topic. Actually, there’s a lot we have said on the topic. The opinion above is interesting and worth viewing.

I notice these city tests always take place in a special zone of a city that’s pretty straightforward. More than that, they’re also specially mapped. That means that they don’t just download the same navigation you or I do, they specifically vet the maps in that zone. This means even if AVs start taking over certain city zones, the outlying areas will still require human assistance.

Why is that? Because things happen that haven’t been specifically foreseen and accounted for by programmers. Will these zones be the challenging downtown areas with heavy pedestrian use that TNC (rideshare) drivers already hate to navigate? NO! Not at all. GPS is notorious for dropping when the signal is blocked by skyscrapers.

The goal of all automation should be to replace the types of routine work that people don’t like to do and therefore grow bored and unproductive at. But if humans will still be needed for rural areas and inner-city areas, what’s the point of automation?

Crash avoidance systems, automated braking, and automatic transmissions reduce driver fatigue but it seems like the challenge of replacing drivers entirely may not be worth the billions some folks are willing to spend to do it. Will automakers be able to train their machines to recognize a human in a crosswalk? I’m sure they will. Will it justify the money they’re spending? Only the future will tell.

Living in your car: Short or Long Term

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Legality:

The first question is, can you live in your car in your specific state? Whether you are permanently living in your car or just doing it temporarily for an economical grand adventure across the US it is always best to check.

There’s not a lot of agreement among experts, it seems. Perhaps one reason is that it’s hard to make a law against something like that. As much as many cities would like to prevent you from living in your car, what can they specifically ban to prevent it? Sleeping? Many drivers’ education programs told us to pull over if you’re getting tired and take a nap. Truck drivers are required to rest a certain number of hours after driving for 10 hours. Should a patrol car come around every hour and make sure they didn’t fall asleep? Sounds like a good use of tax dollars.

Wimsett_Living 2There are a number of cities in which it is illegal to sleep in your car. One example is Palo Alto, California. Those who get caught receive a $1000 fine and up to six months in jail. Even without these vagrancy laws, you could still get charged with indecency for changing in your car. Or you may become victim to the anti-loitering laws.

There’s a movement among cities to ban car living, and cities like Los Angelis banned decades ago, however, it’s a little difficult to tell someone they can’t use their property for a certain purpose. LA’s law was struck down as discriminatory against the income disadvantaged.

This article in compare.com contains a list of cities that have banned sleeping in your car and they point out that if you are intoxicated you can still be given a DUI even if you never started the vehicle up.

It seems many states are against you living in your car…States like Texas ban it unless at a state rest area. Some states ban it entirely but generally, you can get away with it, with a few caveats. According to AskDeb.com it’s considered suspicious behavior to be asleep in a car as you aren’t necessarily the owner of the vehicle. Police can awaken you and verify your identity; they can search your car and since many people choose to commit suicide in vehicles they can spend as long as they desire to determine your mental state. This can be so interruptive that you aren’t really getting sleep.

Where to Park if you’re not Sure:

For those who simply wish to live in their car while crossing the country, truck stops and rest areas are some of the best places to sleep. Perhaps the most commonly recommended places are Walmart’s or other big box stores, which are notoriously tolerant of overnight guests since they tend to wake up and buy groceries. If you do pick a parking lot the park under a street light. Here’s a list of Walmarts that allow it from allstay.com.

Natural/Federal land allows you to park 14 days out of any single month, as long as following guidelines. City parks are an option if they haven’t posted signs against it. Industrial parks, yachting marinas and so on might be good places to park.

The experts are split on the topic of camping along seldom traveled (blue) roads. Might depend on your personal aura—some of us project a natural sense shield that tells bad guys to stay away yet invites the police to come check us out. If you fall into that category then a rural road might work better than a neighborhood street. One caution about roadside campsites is that they’re often privately owned.

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Learn to spot good neighbourhoods—too upscale and you’ll stick out, too run-down and you’ll get swept up with someone else doing what you’re doing and making a mess of it. Look for a street that looks like you’re just parked there overnight while you’re visiting Uncle Fred.

 

 

Safety:

There’s no real way to guarantee safety. However here are some precautions to help you.

Window tinting is a must for three reasons:

  1. Police don’t notice you sleeping inside you won’t get hassled.
  2. If thugs don’t see you or piles of your belongings you’re less of a target.
  3. Neighbors are less likely to identify you as a vagrant if you don’t have mountains of trash and possessions in your car, which is easy to see without tinting.

According to a Reddit post on the topic which distilled several hours of Youtube video advice down to these points:

  • don’t park in the same spot twice in two weeks
  • Come at dark, (sleep, and nothing else) and leave at dawn
  • Never poop/shower/sleep etc where you sleep–take care of that before and after

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Under the Radar is the Best Policy:

Vans can be more spacious and worth the risk, but the rule of thumb is to avoid looking like you’re living in your car so you may want to choose a vehicle that doesn’t look like you could live in it. Still, adequate space is a must.

By that same token, a new car is less targeted by police and neighbors and less likely to break down on your trip. Breakdowns are more than simply annoying in your situation for bathroom reasons listed as you read on.

Use a sun guard in your front window instead of a tarp or blanket. Again the idea is to blend in but to prevent people from easily seeing in.

The ultimate under the radar is, again, not to do your toiletries where you’re going to sleep. Defecating in your car leads to needing to dispose of said waste and having that on hand is not something you can explain away when they police wrap on your window. Don’t get caught with your pants down.

What to Pack:

You will need a great amount of water, especially when crossing the desert. For practical purposes, you will need an emergency gas can with a couple of gallons of gas inside. Note that gas fumes can be more dangerous than your thinking if you’re asleep, so if you can smell gas put the can outside for the night. Better stolen than dead.

You will also need a fully working camera to record your journey. It is also well worth keeping a journal of your experiences.

Preparing for your Journey:

You may need to rent a private mailbox in order to receive your mail, or you might choose to use the residence of a friend or a relative as a postal address. You may need to put valuables in a safe deposit box in a bank—but never, EVER, put your will in safe deposit box (your executors can’t access it until its officially read. Catch 22 anyone?)

It is always a good idea to have personal ID close at hand, such as your driver’s license and personal insurance forms when the police want to see your details.

It’s a good idea to buy a steering lock and make sure your car’s steering wheel is locked as much as possible. If your car is really your home you don’t want it stolen from you any time soon.

In order to sleep you need a mattress and a blanket. Place your foodstuff in plastic containers when they won’t get smashed.

If you chose to sleep in your car it is my hope that you stay as safe as you can be. Hopefully, your life will pick up soon.

Budgeting Car Maintenance

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Cars require a lot of upkeep, and just like your own body the more TLC and preventative care that’s provided, the longer it will keep running. However, keeping up with the costs of car maintenance can be a challenge. This is especially true of many luxury cars and foreign-made cars in which parts might come at a high price. How can you enjoy the car of your dreams while making sure there’s money in the budget for routine maintenance?

Start by considering the upsides of different manufacturers. For example, BMW parts might be more expensive than Ford parts, but the manufacturer warranties and upkeep programs might more than make up for this disparity. Customer service is a cornerstone of every business, including car manufacturers. Make sure you read the fine print and know exactly what maintenance perks may be included.

Sage advice

You’ve probably heard countless times that oils needs to be changed every three months, but that’s not necessarily true. That’s what many mechanics may want you to believe, but it all depends on the make and model of the car. Read the owner’s manual in detail, because the company that makes the car has the best advice on care. Not all machines are created equally.automotive-1159508_1920

At the same time, consider dedicating a bank account solely to vehicle maintenance. Just like you put a certain amount of each paycheck towards savings, retirement, or a vacation fund, make sure you’re not caught by surprise in case a car emergency pops up. Something like a popped tire or clutch going out can cause big problems if you’re not prepared. Budgeting for big ticket items is always smart, and if you don’t need the funds, that’s just extra savings.

Do your research

Before buying a car, look beyond the fuel economy and safety ratings. What do owners say are the most common problems? How often is routine maintenance recommended, and will you be the one paying for it or will the manufacturer? Some vehicles are more demanding than others, and you need to compare those figures with your own maintenance budget (in other words, an old Delorean may be your dream car, but it’s also a financial black hole).

A fully functioning car isn’t just a convenience, but a requirement for many. It’s how you get to the office, escape to your weekend warrior activities and shuttle the kids to soccer games. Don’t skimp on maintenance; make sure you’re prepared and financially ready to take care of your freedom on wheels.

 

 

New Car Smell

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It’s one of life’s great mysteries, why the new car smell is so appealing. But what exactly is it?

Maybe the smell is just newness in general? If a car hasn’t been used it doesn’t have that “lived in” feel? It’s an unfamiliar situation which might be reacting with our noses? Okay, that’s not very scientific talk. So then – let’s get scientific.

You’d think it would be a simple question to answer, like “the leather” or “the paintwork” but the answer is a great deal more complex than that. Any salesperson will tell you that consumers are rational but not logical, which means we care about the features of the car like gas mileage, safety, and reliability but our decision is ultimately an emotional one.

Our five senses heavily influence our answers to questions like:
How does it run?
How does it look?
How does it feel?

We may not consciously be aware that we’re asking, “how does it smell?”

And ‘smell’ is the best description, right? It’s a pleasant odor, but not perfume. Its fresh like ozone more than sweet like air freshener. It can be hard to put your finger on, and one reason could be that it’s a complex cocktail of other odors.

 

 

So what does a new car smell of?

Well, it could remind you of a newly washed sweatshirt, a bath sponge or an escalator. This is because the most active ingredients are both polymers found in those two items; polyester (sweatshirt) and polyurethane (the sponge or an escalator). Not really connecting the two odors? As appealing as you may find the smell of sweatshirt/sponge/ escalator, there’s a big difference in intensity. Escalators are in big rooms and we’re not usually closely confined with our sweaters and sponges. The odor doesn’t collect and stagnate the way it does in a car. The complexity of the molecules in a car is greater too.

 

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The scent of polymers comes from something called “outgassing” or releasing their raw materials. Fortunately, vehicles are not as insulated as houses because continued exposure to polymers it can cause headaches or dizziness. Despite the innocuousness of these materials, compared to exhaust fumes or cigarette smoke it may also lead to lung cancer if you have too much exposure to these types of materials.

 

Some simple chemicals come into play as well, which don’t account for as much volume but due to their volatile state put our more scent.  And not all the chemicals are simple. A number of more complex ones include benzene and formaldehyde. Benzene is found in gasoline while formaldehyde is a disinfectant type substance.

Most likely the compelling odor comes from all these substances coming in “one big hit” which would be a happy accident for car sellers, at least at first. Used car dealers quickly adapted and the industry has managed to bottle the scent so they can spray it in any freshly cleaned vehicle to add that special zing.

While the bottled smell fades rapidly after purchase a truly new car smell is hard to remove quickly. If you are one of the folks who doesn’t enjoy the smell of a fresh new car, don’t bother trying to mask it with a car air freshener—they’re not up to the task. The best thing is just to avoid taking the car on too many long journeys and if you do take some long breaks park in the shade. Sun and warmth just exacerbate the problem.

So to sum up, the new car smell, while pleasant is only mostly harmless. The problem is of course that people generally like a new car smell and it’s one of the reasons people buy a new car. There has been some attempt to remove some of the more volatile substances but the actual smell won’t be going anywhere for a long time.

 

5 Benefits of Diesel

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Shopping for a new truck—and thinking about going diesel? You may be surprised by the sheer number of benefits and perks that a diesel engine can offer. There are still some lingering stigmas about diesel from years ago that no longer apply thanks to new technology, so you have to have the right information. Whether the Duramax has caught your eye or it’s the Denali that’s captured your heart, here’s the icing on your diesel-fueled sweet ride.

  1. Electric Complexity? Forget About It.

“Regular” ignition systems are managed by complicated electrical systems—which can have glitches and have you shelling out thousands to the mechanic. Diesel ignition systems are simply, well, simpler. This means they’re more reliable, while even touting better thermal efficiency. You need your truck to be a true workhorse, and going diesel can help you get there.

  1. They’re Green

Diesel fuel burns cleaner than other types of gasoline, making a GMC diesel truck more eco-friendly than other options while still maintaining their rugged clout. For those who wouldn’t be caught in a Prius or Tesla, but still have a soft spot for the environment, diesel is the ultimate alternative—no tree-hugging bumper stickers required (unless, of course, that’s your thing).

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When it comes to sheer power, diesel provides more torque than other fuel options. There’s more horsepower in every square inch of displacement, leading to an increased revolution-per-minute of fuel. Basically, when hauling heavy loads, you simply need a diesel engine for better, stronger and faster performance. GMC diesel trucks are the ultimate ride for heavy haulers. From boating gear to construction supplies, if you actually use your bed and hitch, you need the right fuel to pull the goods.

  1. Better Fuel Consumption

There was a time when diesel was cheaper per gallon than unleaded. Those days are sadly over, but what many people don’t realize is that diesel is still more affordable. Diesel engines consume less fuel, which means when you fill up the tank, it’ll last longer. When compared to a gasoline truck that averages 15 mpg, you can expect 22 mpg from a diesel engine. That’s something both you and your wallet will enjoy.

  1. It’s Safer in a Crash

ford-pick-up-truck-2821964_1920Hopefully, you and your loved ones will never be in a serious accident—but if the worst does happen, a diesel engine can help protect you. Diesel is less flammable than other types of fuel, so you have a reduced risk of fire or, even worse, an explosion. This isn’t something that people like to think about, which means that it’s not a common conversation starter when checking out a diesel dealership. However, your diesel engine might just save your life, and it’s something worth considering.

When shopping for your new heavy hauler, there’s more to think about than extended cabs and lift kits. How you fuel your truck can make a huge difference in your bank account, your safety, and performance. Choose wisely.

 

 

Mobile Living (Part 2)

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In part one of our tour of the mobile living movement and its close cousin, the tiny home, we introduced the concept and the controversies around it. We discussed the types of homes typically included when discussing the topic of mobile living based on the purpose they were designed for. For a recap of that information please follow this link.

In upcoming installments, we’ll explore the lifestyle and potential ways these “newmads” are supporting themselves. For now, let’s delve a little deeper into the types of homes. For our purposes, let’s divide the list into stationery tiny homes and vehicle-based living quarters.

Stationery Tiny Homes (STH’s) Definition:

I’ll define STH’s as dwellings under 500sf, either built in place or manufactured elsewhere and then placed on a permanent or semi-permanent location. Major types of STH’s include Park Models, Shipping Container Homes and most custom-built Tiny Homes (even if they’re on wheels).

Vehicle-based Living Quarters (VLQ’s) Definition:

I’ll define VLQ’s as vehicles designed with living quarters or dwellings that were made to be pulled by a vehicle regularly. Major types of VLQ’s include RV’s (Class A, B, C, or 5th Wheel), and certain Ultra-mobile Tiny Homes.

Notice a couple things about these definitions? I didn’t mention whether or not these homes have traditional residential hookups for utilities, RV style hookups, or are built to work off-grid. This is because you’ll find all of the above in either category.

You’ll also notice that I listed the major types as examples but there are quite a variety of uncommon types of home in either category. An example of an uncommon STH would be a yurt or an earthbag home, but we’ve encountered homes made out of everything from concrete pipes to fuel containers. Examples of uncommon VLQ’s actually aren’t uncommon at all, just not thought of frequently. Economically disadvantaged nomads often choose an urban off-grid lifestyle and find it easier to do with a vehicle that they already own such as a car, which has the added bonus of not looking so obvious that someone is living in it.

What’s not on either list is manufactured homes, which are just non-traditionally built homes with slightly more potential to be transported a second time. It’s not mobile enough to bother with in a blog devoted to commuting and transportation.

So why bother with stationary tiny homes? Well two reasons. 1st because we’ve got some awesome pictures of some unique ones, and 2nd because the minimalist lifestyle enables one to relocate more easily—which is many peoples’ definition of mobile living.

 

Stationery Tiny Homes (STH’s)

I don’t want to spend too much time on these since most people are familiar with the concept.

 

Park Models Features:

As discussed in part one, Park Models are made by Manufactured Homebuilders for the purpose of being more portable and less expensive. If you need to live onsite at a campground or construction site this could be your answer. The downside, and it’s a big one, is that you can’t get a certificate of occupancy or a vehicle license so you have a really tough time with Johnny Law if you leave it someplace for more than a year. On the bright side, it’s larger and more comfortable than most custom-built tiny homes.

 

Shipping Container Homes:

As geo-arbitrage became a way to do business overseas manufacturing created a glut of used cargo containers in the US where goods are imported more than exported. Some ingenious home builders have managed to create very modern homes out of them.

Their advantages are that they can be transported easily to the build site and be customized relatively easily with grinders and welders. They have big double doors and wooden floors (which must be removed because they’re treated with chemicals to repel exotic bugs). One need only see some pictures of what people are doing to appreciate why you someone might want one.

Many shipping containers homes have a square footage that really doesn’t qualify as an STH as we’ve defined it, but the idea of creating villages of them to replace garish apartment complexes gets bantered about continuously as a possible solution to the housing crisis in America. We’ve yet to find anyone who’s doing it, but we’re always looking.

 

Custom-built Tiny Homes (even if they’re on wheels):

Tiny Home manufacturers are springing up around the country. What isn’t keeping up is the number of places you can locate that will let you live in one. Zoning laws can be stricter some cities than others but very few really welcome tiny homes. It is sad because they provide an opportunity for more fiscally responsible living that is less impactful on the people and environment around them.

The big difference between tiny homes and other towable living options like 5th wheels is the building materials and design. RV’s were never meant for year-round inhabitation and it will ultimately become obvious to anyone attempting to do so. Tiny homes have incredible insulation and offer monthly winter utility and heating bills as low as $50. They’re also designed with some unique features that reduce the feeling of being in a small space and they’re built to last decades longer.

 

 

Drivable VLQs

Starting with Drivable VLQs where lots of options abound. Sources include (https://www.expeditionmotorhomes.com/blog/what-is-the-difference-between-class-a-b-c-motorhomes/) and (https://rv-roadtrips.thefuntimesguide.com/rv_class/).

 

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Class A

 

Vehicle-based Living Quarters (VLQ’s)

Class A RV’s Features

Typically built on a bus chassis, Heavy Frame and Large Wheels, bad fuel economy (8 to 10 mpg), and measure up to 45 feet in length. Advantages include lots of storage, homelike feel, and ability to tow up to 5,000 lbs. A big reason some owners select Class A’s is that up to 8 passengers can converse while in transit. Disadvantages include fewer places to sleep overnight guests and did we mention the bad gas mileage because it’s worth saying twice.

Class A’s typically market well with couples and serve best as luxury touring coaches and as such tend to be pricey (starting around $75,000). One more thing worth noting about Class A’s is that some have diesel engines (diesel pushers) which are desirable and retain value a little better than gas equivalents.

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Bus Conversions Features

Do it yourself bus conversions are on the rise alongside tiny homes. A surprising number of first timers to both construction and mobile living have decided to wing it. Some of them spend quite a chunk of change.

A few custom bus conversion specialists have thrown their hat in the ring, but not as many as van conversionists. Here’s a link to one a site where you can buy bus conversions at various stages of conversion. Here’s a link to a basic how-to take on a project like that. Notice at both of these sites, the intimate connection between bus converting and tiny houses.

 

Class B RV’s Features

Built on a van frame but modified to allow someone to stand upright inside. They are self-contained, meaning they have bathroom and kitchen facilities although typically very modified and lacking features—for example, they commonly use a wet bath where the toilet and sink are inside the shower. Advantages include good fuel economy, easy to drive/park, less expensive than other models. Disadvantages include low livability for more than one person for more than a few nights in a row.

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Van Conversions Features

People have been doing there own van conversions for decades, the most famous of these being the VW van. Most recently, however, is the kit conversion which allows a cargo van owner to install the Class B features onto a standard Cargo Van. Many dealerships offer to professionally install the conversion on your new van purchase and can sometimes finance the entire purchase on a 15-year loan instead of a typical five or six-year auto loan. Here’s a link to a website with more information.

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Class C RV’s Features

Class C’s are built on a cargo van chassis, with an attached cabin space. They are visually distinct because of the cab-over space much like campers have, which adds a lot of storage or sleeping room. If they look like a cross between the class A and B…it’s because they are. The fuel economy, storage, sleeping and towing ability right between the two other types of motorhome, however with just enough extra room to allow better common areas which vastly increase the ability for more than one person to live in them for a longer term. This could be a better option for the typical family size looking for more extensive travel than just the occasional camping trip.

It’s also worth noting that they tend to be shorter than class A’s (20 to 33 feet long) which means they’re easier to maneuver and can fit into most campgrounds. Also, a big plus is that because they’re made from standard cargo van lines like Econoline, Ford or Chevy Express it’s easier to get parts and mechanical than a big diesel bus.

A final word about the difference between Class B and Class C, because both are built on a cargo van chassis. Plan to spend about as much on a Class B despite getting less room and cramped amenities, but what you’re getting in exchange is ease of maneuvering and fuel economy. With a longer Class C, one with a rear bedroom, for example, your rear-end is overhanging the wheelbase by a lot and that can make cornering tricky. It can also be an issue to store a Class C when not in use, while a Class B fits anywhere a large van does.

Towable VLQ’s

Shifting into towable living spaces lets look at three options. Sources include (https://www.hensleymfg.com/travel-trailer-vs-5th-wheel/) and (https://rv-roadtrips.thefuntimesguide.com/rv_trailers/). There’s a myriad of layouts and features in either design so here are some basic differences that may not be initially obvious.

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Travel Trailers Features

Have the biggest variety of size and features to fit your needs. They start around 8ft long which can be towed by anything, and go all the way up to 40 feet to rival 5th wheel for space and comforts. The ability to be towed by almost anything with a trailer hitch makes this much more versatile option for most people. However, larger trailers require several things beyond just a bigger engine. The wheelbase of the vehicle (the length between the front and back tires) greatly affects the length of the trailer it can tow. Also, larger trailers are much easier in high winds and corners when your vehicle is equipped with sway bars and other stability options specific to vehicles built to tow.

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Trailer weight plays a big part also, with both fuel economy and stability on the road. Regardless of the type of trailer, you’ll need to consider what the trailer weighs when loaded with the things you need to live, work and play. Most trailers now come with either a raw weight or a burdened weight so that you know if the number includes typical extra weight or not.

5th Wheels Features

The weight of the 5th wheel lands in front of the rear axle which allows the weight to distribute onto all four tires instead of connecting at one single point at the rear. This radically increases the stability while in transit. It also puts some of the living space over the truck bed minimizing the overall length of truck and trailer combined. That factor makes it possible to back the trailer more easily which is what allows 5th wheels to be longer. It also means there are stairs in a 5th wheel, which bothers some RV owners.

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Ultra-mobile Tiny Homes Features

Ultra-mobile tiny homes are the ones built to be towed around the country. They include all the features of STH tiny homes only the size is typically even smaller and great pains were taken to use the lightest materials available. For example, if you’re building a tiny home in a large barn and then towing it once to a plot of land where it will stay, you might not worry too much if it nudges over 15 high at the peak. Ultra-mobile tiny homes need to stay below 14 feet with the tires inflated so they can go under bridges and overpasses. Ironically, you’re more likely to see RV hook-ups on ultra-mobile style Tinys because it can be harder to locate a good off grid location as you travel around the country. The unique features you can build into one of these makes it interesting to some freedom seekers who just don’t want to live in an RV.

 

Campers Features

While you don’t technically tow a camper, you carry it, this is the closest category for it to fit into. There are several sizes of camper, which must be matched to the bed size and carrying capacity of your truck. Like a trailer, you can store it easily at your single family home when not in use and regain the full use of your truck. Campers come in two main varieties, self-contained and not. This refers to the amount of bathroom in the camper. Given the tight amount of space and availability of bathrooms at campgrounds, rest areas, and truck stops many people like the option of not having to deal with hauling a stinky bathroom with them everywhere they go. This saves a lot on maintenance too, as things can go wrong with plumbing and the minimum you’ll have to do is drain your holding tanks.

If your wife doesn’t mind a little hike in the night to pee, a non-self-contained camper can be an affordable option, that still keeps you warmer, off the ground, and more bear-resistant than a tent.

 

In Summary

Regardless of the type of Towed VLQ there’s an advantage to having a separate living space from the vehicle in that once you arrive at a location you’ll be able to unlink the two and drive around normally. If you need to grab some groceries in town, it’s hard to decide if you’ll try to find a store with a big enough parking spot for your motorhome or if you’ll pay for a rideshare into town.