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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Newbie ongoing RV search (to buy)
Date: Tue, 09 Sep 2003 23:27:51 -0400
Message-ID: <>

I see the usual suspects in this group are regurgitating third hand rumors
again.  How about some first hand experience?

Before we bought our rig we borrowed a relative's Toyota-based Keystone MH.
We did a couple of short weekends and a 7 day Florida vacation (about 2200
miles in total) in it.

My first reaction upon looking at the rig was yours, "My gawd, it's a FOUR
CYLINDER.  How often do I have to get out and push."  My first drive convinced
me otherwise.  I was frankly amazed at the power.  Certainly not as much as my
current V8 powered rig but quite respectable.  I took it up the side of Sand
Mountain in Trenton, Ga, which involves about a mile of approx 12% grade.  It
pulled that in second gear at about 25 mph.  Adequate for the circumstances.

On the Florida trip I towed a utility trailer that contained my 4kw Yamaha
generator, a 200 lb ice box, lounge chairs and various other accessories.
With that load attached I could still merge with freeway traffic with safety
and maintain the speed limit on all the (minor) hills between here and
Daytona.  I got 18-and-change mpg for the whole trip.  I LIKED that.

This Keystone also did not have a built-in generator.  Nor did it have a genny
box.  Adding one would have involved fabricating a box, cutting a hole in the
side of the rig and mounting a door.  Plus the wiring and plumbing.  Doable
but probably not practical unless you're a DIY'er.  I started to buy that rig
and had already figured out how I was going to do it.

Towing a small utility trailer is another very viable option.  There isn't
much room in one of these mini-MH's so the trailer is nice for general
portage.  I initially found it restrictive but then I realized that it was no
more restrictive than driving say, a 24 or 28 ft rig.  The advantage is, the
trailer can be left at the camp ground for local traveling.  The downside is,
the power to run the roof AC is also left at the CG.  On the Keystone we
didn't need the roof AC.  Toyota's dash AC kicked *ass!! and kept the whole
rig cool while underway.  This was Thanksgiving in Daytona with the highs in
the upper 80s.

Finally, you could fabricate a box to sit on the rear bumper for the genny.
I've seen some quite nice fabrications - and some real trash.  If you make a
full width bumper box you will also have some storage.

There are two candidate generators that are small enough to be practical.
Onan makes a cute little 2.8kw "camp" genny.  Generac makes the 3.8kw vertical
shaft Impulse inverter generator.  The Generac is actually physically smaller
than the Onan by virtue of it being vertical shaft and of the inverter design.
I put one in my rig last fall and am very pleased with it.

The overload issue.  Some MH mfrs took the Toyota chassis and grossly
overloaded it.  Some didn't.  This Keystone was NOT overloaded.  So said the
scales.  Keystone had installed an American-made (Dana, I think) floating axle
dual wheel rear end on this rig with 8 lug wheels all 'round.  Actually a
larger axle than the one on my current MH.  The handling was about like that
of a large van.  Some lean in turns but not much.  Great brakes, more than
adequate for the weight.

If you're really interested in this rig then perhaps you could take it to a
truck stop and weigh it.  Compare that to the weight specs for the chassis,
normally on a tag inside the driver door jamb or sometimes in a closet.  You
might also contact Toyota and ask what the weight rating on this chassis was.
Most likely if it handles and stops properly it's not overloaded.  You can
also probably search the net for that particular model.  If it was overloaded,
someone has probably written about it.

The other thing you need to be aware of is that in a rig that small, the tanks
are not large enough to allow much in the way of dry camping.  If my memory
serves, the Keystone only held 15 gallons of fresh water.  That's good for 2
people for maybe 2 days, omitting showers.  I got in the habit of spending
every other night in either a campground with showers or a truck stop (Flying
J, et al) with rentable showers and dump/fill stations, alternating with
sponge baths the other nights.  That has worked quite nicely.

If the rig is in excellent condition that price is reasonable, certainly
within heebing range.  If you use it a year or two and take care of it you can
get most if not all your money out of it.  My relative actually got about $500
more than what he paid for his when he sold it.


On Tue, 09 Sep 2003 08:37:18 -0500, Skyhooks <> wrote:

>Hi Folks,
>OK, I'm posting back to say my significant other and I have perhaps
>found an RV we might want to purchase (?).  However, I thought I would
>ask the opinions of those here who will know better than I.  Please note
>this is the first RV we will have ever purchased, nor have we ever been
>"exposed" to an RV before first hand.  Another consideration is money --
>we don't want to invest much since we're just starting our RV
>OK, here's the ad: 1986 MOTORHOME, Toyota, Outstanding condition, sleeps
>5-6, $4,500.
>We've looked at the unit and it is very clean considering it's nearly 20
>years old.  It's 21' long, so it will fit in our driveway, and we won't
>have to store it for a considerable monthly fee.
>However, the drawback is the engine only has 4-cylinders :(  Supposedly
>it's called a "Super 4" engine, or something like that.  When I test
>drove it, it did have a little pep, but no zest.  But then, I'm used to
>a big, 8-cylinder, full-size, conversion van!  The owner has no problem
>with us driving it nearly 50 miles so our mechanic can examine the
>engine, etc. for soundness.  If I'm buying an engine, I want to make
>sure of what I'm getting.  I don't want to have to replace an entire
>engine (or what have you) in any near future.
>It has 42K miles, new tires, good roof A/C (the cab A/C leaves a bit to
>be desired).  The refrigerator is two-way.  The bathroom is extremely
>Alas, there is no generator, and I just know I'll want a generator so
>the roof air can run whilst driving, not to mention for "stand-alone"
>reasons.  I don't want to have to rely on plug-in electricity.  So,
>about how much money do y'all think we'll have to spend to get this
>puppy generized?
>Are there any other considerations I should know about???  Personally,
>I'd prefer a "full size" Class C RV, but this unit seems to be a good
>starter for newbies?  TIA!
>   hmardis "aht" uiuc "daught" edu
>"reply to" address antispammed -- get rid of the xxx.
>P.S.  We'll be driving in mostly prairie country.  It's not too often
>when we hit "hills" of any magnitude.

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