Well, I took my first boon docking trip this past weekend and learned a few things about the practice and the Palace. We went up to Lexington Ohio for the Mid Ohio vintage grand- pre. I had the Palace pretty well set for the trip but was really apprehensive about it; the last trip I took I had a small breakdown on the way home. I had gone through everything prier to the trip and had even used the Palace to run errands and just drive it around trying to gain my confidence. Well when i past that same spot on my way back home I said a big hooray. some of the things I learned. The Palace is definitely better than a tent. The rain and high winds was really playing havoc on the tenting community, often was the times I would look out only to see a tent flying by and a camper ( not happy ) in close pursuit. I found that the Palace was quit stable up on my stackers and also quiet as the wind noise never made it unpleasant. I did find out how woefully under powered boon docking with only one battery is. It's the last weekend In June and it got down in the upper 40's. One cycle of heat through the furnace and the battery was pretty well shot. I don't have a gen set yet so It was up to engine power to do the recharge. Another area of concern was my fresh water tank. The last time out I found that the vent line from the tank had become plugged and so being proactive I changed out the line and at the same time I changed out the drain hose as well. Murphy must have been watching over me because at some point my drain decided to open the flood gate and soak my floor. I am so happy the RV Gods that built my Palace had the wisdom to use nice thick plywood instead of that pressed sawdust and Elmer's school glue they used to build Mobile homes out of. I'm the culprit in this latest issue though and have only my self to blame. I will however make a change that will stop this event from ever happening again. An other thing I learned was when you are basically camping in a field and the ground becomes saturated with the type of weather event we had this past weekend you need to compensate for settlement. This problem showed it's self when we went to exit the camper Sunday morning and the door wouldn't clear my steps. Now mind you it only affected my steps because of the way I altered them to help me get in and out with my disability but, I can see this being a problem with things like the refrigerator and awnings with legs or stored supplies under the coach.. Well I've bent your ears long enough on this subject and I will close with saying that even with all the rain and ugly weather I had a great time with the experience and plan on doing it again but, with better planning and a little more experience.
Sounds like you had fun irrespective of the weather (and your water leak).
I drive mine around to run errands occasionally to give it some exercise and to gain more confidence. My very first trip was 125 miles to Hershey, PA. Talk about nerve wracking. I'd never driven anything so big, I had just replaced the engine myself and knew nothing about the reliability of the rest of the drivetrain.
My first dry camping experience was NASCAR last year. The batteries do drain quick - the furnace fan(s) is the biggest draw. I'm not sure how your Palace was originally configured, but if you can find room for dedicated house batteries that's the way to go. My Dead Metal rig has a dedicated chassis battery and room for 3 house batteries. The previous owner put a piece of plywood in the spot where the 3rd battery would go. Not sure why. So I have 2 house batteries. I got a pair of cheap Wal*Mart deep cycle batteries when I first put it on the road last May. They are holding up really well. It got a little chilly at NASCAR a few weeks ago and I ran both furnaces all night without any problems. Had plenty of juice left to start the generator to charge the batteries back up (the gauge said they weren't depleted down to a hair above 1/2 if memory serves).
My girlfriend makes fun of me because I was emphasizing all weekend how cool it was that these things are "self-contained". What is it? "SELF CONTAINED". She would pick on me. But that's the really cool thing about it. All (or most) of the comforts of home, but you just bring it and park it. The middle of a field, the woods, or a Wal*Mart parking lot.
It's a bit of an addiction. Now I'm trying to see exactly how self-contained I can be. With a big inverter and solar panels I can stretch it out quite a bit.
Anyway, I'm rambling now. Glad you had a great time.
Thanks Jim, I did have a good time. Both days the rain stopped or slowed enough that they got all the races in and I was able to hit the paddock and check out all the motor head stuff I could stand. I have a one coach and one chassis battery set up with a deep cycle battery for the coach. one big problem I found was some time during the day my oven light had been turned on and I never caught it. I think before I go out again Ill double up on the coach. I'll assume that I'll need to up grade my alternator to handle the extra battery to charge though?
I don't know. I have what appears to be a standard GM alternator that is tasked with charging 3 batteries. I do know that it is pretty stressed - I can't keep the belt tight enough and it squeaks when I first start it up. I had a custom-built 250-amp alternator in my limo to power the 2,000 watt sound system and 1,200 watt inverter. I'm thinking of getting another one of those for peace of mind. Or maybe adding a second alternator.
If you haven't done it already, swap those automotive-type bulbs out with LEDs. The panels on eBay are cheap, brighter and draw a fraction of the current. I've accidentally left all 3 of my porch lights on for days at a time with the rig unplugged and the batteries still showed full. Word to the wise when choosing a color for the LED lights. "Bright White" is typically blue and pretty cold. "Warm White" is the way to go.
Cool! Sounds like a fun trip. My Dad had old Dodge motorhome aka The Rolling Box, he always hauled 2x12 x 3 boards to park on. We camped mostly in woods in Washington State and rain was a given.
Even with having gen we decided to go with Mr Buddy heater. Works great, no battery drain and makes boondocking time alot longer.
The Fort had walmart marine battery when we bought it that was dead. We were lucky and also got manual. Manual called for a true Deep Cell Battery with at least 95 amps. Git that and it keeps charge and things running longer.
Feel for those tenters. Been there done that. Any trip you had fun is a plus!
Dry camp boondocking is a subject dear to my heart. We do a lot of it in Colorado and Utah etc in USFS Natl Forest Camps or BLM lands etc. For two people in a 29 Ft Class C we used to "get by" with two true deep cycle 6 volt golf Cart batteries in series with 230 Amp Hrs of stored energy. I highly recommend for dry camping the use of true deep cycle golf cart batteries as opposed to the so called RV/Marine 12 volt semi deep cycle units like sold at Wally World. However to increase our dry camp stays we now have four deep cycle 6 volt golf cart batteries in series/parallel for 460 Amp Hours of energy storage capacity. Of course, convert to all LED lighting to save energy. Similar we got by with two 100 Watt Solar Panels (200 Watts) but recently upgraded to four 100 watt panels (400 watts) so now were self contained indefinitely unless it were to rain with no sunshine for days on end.
HOWEVER its NOT electricity that limits dry camp time, with 400 Solar Watts and 460 Amp Hrs of battery (plus an Onan 4KW Genset) ITS THAT YOU RUN OUT OF FRESH WATER OR YOUR BLACK HOLDING TANK FILLS UP. My goal was to be able to dry camp at least 12 days, so I added another fresh water holding tank (now have 110 gallons), another extra 40 gallon gray tank, plus one more black tank, plus bought an electric recirculating toilet, so now we can stay for 12+ days before we have to move to take on water and dump the holding tanks.
Gotta love the ability to dry camp for extended time periods
John T, what type of electric recirculating toilet did you decide on?
Pat, I bought the Thetford Electra Magic 80 Recirculating Toilet (but its NOT for everyone) . It can greatly extend dry camp time (Black tank doesn't fill so quick) and save on water use HOWEVER odor control is much more critical and more of an issue. I have found the old style blue powder formaldehyde type of toilet chemical in heavy quantity about the only thing that works in my situation. We stay at one Antique Tractor Show in Florida like 12 days straight and I wanted to make that without having to be pumped out on site.
Well, Rich thanks for sharing these experiences with us. The more folks camp, particularly dry camping which we love, the more "learnin" we all get. After a while it just becomes second nature as we keep going down the road in our good old rvs. Enjoy the ride buddy.