Adventures With Our New To Us RV:

First of all, much has happened lately, but nothing I felt like writing about on the blog. However, I do miss writing on here so I decided to start a new series on the blog focused on our experience with buying a new RV. I have never had an RV prior to this. Of course family members have, but that of course is not the same. The wife had an old trailer she did some work on to fix it up. But overall we are fairly new to this.

We were looking for something used due to not only the initial cost seeming astronomical to us, but also because the value of new RV’s seems to drop very quickly and we were not willing to take the loss that quickly on our first RV experience. Besides that we had a fairly low monthly allowance we were giving ourselves to play with this new RV. I will cover that in more detail in later installments.

For this first installment, I will cover where we were prior to purchasing an RV which will also lead to the thought behind why we wanted an RV. Also, what types of RV we were considering. I will probably cover what we decided on in the following post as this has grown to be a bit longer post than anticipated.

The wife and I are both from families that enjoyed going camping when we were young. As adults, we have our kids that we want to provide those same experiences for. We also have a couple big dogs, as seen previously on this blog. We had a small SUV (Honda Pilot) that we use to take the family around town in and also on camping trips. As you can imagine a Pilot is fairly small for 6 people and 2 Great Danes. At first we took the kids camping with just a basket in our receiver hitch that carried coolers and the tents and other supplies. That worked out OK, but it really limited how much stuff we could take. No guns, or fishing poles, or outdoor games would really fit. And even with just that setup, the rear suspension on the Honda was reaching its limit.

So we bought a trailer. Not a camping trailer mind you, but a cargo trailer. The thought behind this was I had a kart that I was racing and if we got a trailer I could stop paying for a garage at the racetrack and have the added bonus of being able to carry more stuff when we go camping and also be able to use it as a tent if weather got bad. It’s an 8’ x 12’ with the tall ceiling so that it has more head room and the longer ramp for the kart. I think we took it camping just a couple times. It was handy for the racetrack, but once I got out of karting to autocross with my wife, it became obsolete. For camping, it was nice being able to haul more stuff. And it was not bad for finding a spot to park as it is fairly short. But we had a couple catastrophic incidents with the dogs that kind of turned us off of camping in a tent. Packing up a tent full a Great Dane diarrhea is not a lot of fun. And without a hose, cleaning it out before hand is not an easy task. So that, combined with our new hobby of racing the wife’s car, my resurrection of wanting to train with guns more, and no longer racing a kart, the cargo trailer was relegated to being our storage unit where we store the saw, seasonal yard equipment, and various other seldom used items to save room in our garage.

Later, we upgraded to a larger SUV that was capable of towing 9,000 lbs rather than the 3,500 the Honda was rated to tow. It not only gave us more room, but got almost the same mileage, and should be able to tow much more easily. The Honda showed signs of that trailer being a bit too much for it when we were moving into our new house across town. The transmission started acting odd, and we never exceeded what it is rated to tow, so it should not have been acting up. But that told us, we should get something bigger which might allow for us to get a camping trailer someday. But the camping trailer was pretty low on the priority list at the time; we really just wanted something bigger and stronger than the Honda.

That leads us to where we are today. We are now proud new RV owners. So what did we decide we needed an RV for? Number one was taking kids with us to races and having a place for them to stay cool and safe and being forced to participate a bit more than they do now. Yes, forced, because somehow we managed to have kids that have no interest in cars or racing. Not that we force them out of their box often, but those kindles and laptops are becoming a problem in my mind. Number two was being able to take the kids on vacation. Every year my kids go over 500 miles away to see their mom for the summer and we could make a vacation of it. Also, there are many other places we would like the kids to see. I think this may have been kicked into gear by our trip to Alaska this summer which made us realize again, how little of this amazing country our kids have seen. And number three was my gun training. When I do these events, the wife either stays home with the kids or they stay at relatives’ houses while I am out playing. Having an RV would allow for the family to be close by, and allow us to do a bit more together in my downtime. It may even allow the wife to have some fun shooting with me. And again, if the kids had any interest in it they could as well.

So we have an SUV capable of towing a reasonable amount. But fifth wheels are out since it is not a truck. That leaves us with a bumper tow trailer, or a class A, B, or C motorhome. Class B motorhomes are out because they cost more than class C and sleep fewer people. That left our choices to trailer, A, or C.

Advantages of a trailer: we would be able to drive our truck into town while on vacation. It would sleep enough for a reasonable price. Also, at camp sites we could disconnect and park the truck next to the trailer if necessary for shorter spots. The downsides are: we could not tow the car to races, so either me or the wife would be in a different vehicle. The water and propane capacities are really limited on bumper tows, as is storage space. Mileage on the truck would be fairly low while towing. Camping is not highest on the priority list, racing is. So that hurts the trailer.

Advantages for the class C motorhome: The whole family could travel together. They are short enough to fit in most camp sites if you get a shorter one. If we buy a high mileage one you can get them for a reasonable price. Most of them can tow 3,500 lbs which is more than the car weighs. And they have decent storage. They also have a ton of sleeping space due to the bed above the driver’s seat. Disadvantages being: To be affordable, they have to either be old or high mileage. They get about the same mileage as the SUV does towing. They have the same small water and propane capacity as the trailers. Even though they have a lot of sleeping space, the overall space is limited. And when camping, you have to break camp to drive into town or go do anything unless you towed a vehicle along. This is a disadvantage for all class of motorhomes.

Advantages of the Class A motorhome: The whole family can travel together. Most can tow the same as a class C, but if you go a diesel pusher they can town even more. They have even more storage than the Class C. They can have a ton of water and propane capacity in them. When configured right, they can sleep as much or more than the class C, but also have more room while traveling. Diesel pushers get reasonable mileage, gas ones do not. They can be had in a huge variety of lengths from 24’ all the way to 45’. Disadvantages being: like the class C, to be affordable they are either old or high mileage. If you get a big one, it won’t fit in most public camp sites. Our back yard is only 38’-2” deep, and the highly desirable diesel pushers are usually too long to fit in that space.

Of course this did not cover all advantages and disadvantages of each type, but it covers what was high on our priority list. We have already made our decision and our purchase, so we are not looking for advice on the choice of vehicle, this series is just about our experiences and some insight into our thought processes that help produce said experiences. Right or wrong, we are in it for the long haul, and hope that our family has some fun and educational experiences because of it. I am sure it will be a huge learning experience for me. And I hope that we did not bite off more than we can chew. The wife is happy to have a project to fix up and I am happy to have something else to write about in detail on here.

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Modified Marlin XT-17 .17 HMR

I have been wanting a .17 HMR for years. But could never justify purchasing one as the round is almost as expensive as a .223 yet barely has better range than a .22LR. But I have always loved how small and sleek the round is and how pleasant the rifles are to shoot.

Savage 93r17TRR-SR

A couple months ago, the range near my house had an event  sponsored by Sportsman’s Warehouse where all of their firearm and bow vendors were invited. And most of them accepted. When you arrive, you buy tickets. Each caliber cost a specific amount of tickets per shot or per group of shots. Like any true keeper of testosterone would do, I spent quite a few tickets on the Barrett .50 and the Savage chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum. Well, I also got to shoot probably 10 other rifle calibers (and a bunch of pistol as well). But I always found myself wanting to shoot that Savage 93R17TRR-SR. I hogged that thing up for a good 10+ tickets worth. I think each ticket got me 5 shots.

So as soon as I left, I went straight down to Sportsman’s Warehouse to buy one. All they had in stock was a different 93R17 that felt like it had a little kid’s stock on it. Or some horrible abortion of a gun with a laminate thumbhole stock made with bright red and blue wood. The basic little kid version was $230. The abortion was a little over $400. They couldn’t even get me a price on the one I shot at the event. So I talked to another gun shop which quoted me around $480 for the one I shot at the event or $440 for the version without the terrible quad rail thing the TRR-SR has.

Wow, over $400 with no scope or ammo or anything? I could get a decent gun in a real caliber for that and I REALLY want something chambered in 25 WSSM.

Well, weeks went by and I came across Cabela’s running a deal on a silencer ready (like the TRR-SR) model for just $230. So I called them to make sure it was in stock and drove straight there. Turns out, it had the same kid’s stock, and while it was a threaded barrel, it was a skinny little needle dick barrel. However, right next to it, was a Marlin. It had a very basic cheap wood stock. But it had the fat barrel. I felt it, and wow, it was actually made for an adult. The stock was slick and about slipped out of my hand and right through their glass display case. But it had a trigger that is supposedly very similar to the Savage (the Cabela’s employee told me they were identical, this is not the case) and a couple sling swivels so mounting a bipod would be easy. It did not come with sights at all which I think is good as it makes for a cleaner look and does not leave an easily rusted hole in the barrel.

Stock Marlin XT17

The Marlin was just $20 more than the little kid Savage with the needle dick barrel. It wins. I took it home. And the next day stripped it apart to get ready to paint. After taking all the components off, I spend about 15 minutes sanding the stock to rough it up so the paint would stick.

Pulled apart for paint

Here is the stock after the first coat of paint:

After 1st coat

And here is the stock on the gun put back together all painted and dry after 2 days of coating then allowing to dry:

Painted stock on Marlin XT17

As soon as I bought it I began the search for the scope. I have typically had cheap scopes. However, after purchasing a Vortex Viper for my .300 Win Mag, I have been spoiled and must have better glass. I wanted to stay under $300 as I did not want the scope to cost that much more than the gun. Especially for something that realistically is useless over 300 yards. Under $300 you get all the Chinese garbage that is surprisingly overpriced such as: BSA, Barska, NCStar, etc… Over $300 you move into some decent scopes, but usually lower power until you get around the $450-$500 price range. I turned to Natchez who I have purchased scopes from before and found the winner. A Weaver V24 6-24×42 that can focus down to 50 feet. Turns out this is the same scope that my cousin uses for silhouette competition. It was on sale for $270 off from the regular price of well over $500. Granted, they can be had for about $340 online, but $270 was still a great price.

Weaver v24 6-24×42

Now since I was already paying shipping from Natchez, I figured I would add some rings and a bipod to the order. The bipod I got last time for my .300 Win Mag was out of stock. As was every variant of that bipod. So I took a chance and ordered a UTG OP-1 Picatinny mount bipod. It comes with the picatinny adapter and an extension for the sling mount. It looked pretty slick and was cheap. Turns out it is very solid feeling. It does not swivel, but I found I dislike swiveling bipods.

UTG OP-1 Bipod w/Picatinny mount

And slap the whole contraption together and we get this:

Marlin XT-17V w/Weaver V24 & OP-1 Bipod

Marlin XT-17V Modified

All said and done, I have a gun that should shoot just as well as the Savage, I think looks just as good,  with a quality scope and decent bipod for around $70 more than the Savage would have cost me without any accessories.

On the Boom front

A wristwatch for gun nuts. It’s called the “Son of a Gun” created by a Swiss watchmaker called ARTYA. The majority of their watches are hideous monstrosities. This one is barely an exception. But since it is sort of gun related I figured I would post it here.

According to ARTYA, those are real 6mm bullets held together with copper wire. The bullets are 6mm Flobert (or Flaubert depending on your location) bullets. Which from quick searches seems to be antique (dating back to around 1842) rimfire ammunition. There was also a great quote in ARTYA’s press release: “Guns don’t always kill people, time always does.”

While I am not a fan of the style of this particular watch, there was another encouraging bit of info in the ARTYA press release: “A complete new line of products incorporating the world of firearms will take shape in the near future.”

The movement is a 25 jewel Swiss made automatic which has 42 hours of power reserve. The case is 316 Stainless with a reticle engraved on the bezel and a width of 47mm. The crystal is sapphire. The back of the case is open with a sapphire crystal. It has what ARTYA refers to a “ballistic style” bracelet. In other words, it is canvas. And it’s water resistant and has a 2 year warranty. No idea on price, but even if it is inexpensive, I’m not buying one. I do however look forward to seeing their future firearm related watches.

My first AR15.

That’s right. I am a gun guy that up until this weekend has never had an AR15. Sure, I have shot a couple. But I have never been able to justify the cost involved in building one. Well, this year I had to pay a lot of taxes. And it hurt. So to ease my pain, I spent some money. I bought the complete lower assembly about a month ago. And I told myself I would wait until I got the stock money at work to buy an upper. I also told myself I would not buy a .223 upper. Well, the Crossroads of the West guns show came to town and changed all that. Continue reading

Dangeruss, artistic mercenary

For this post, I will hit on a few of my favorite topics by introducing you to one guy. Russ Schwenkler. I won’t go into much detail or show you his work here since #1, I never bothered to get permission from him, and #2- I don’t have enough space on a simple blog to cover all the cool stuff he has done.

He is an amazing graphic artist that goes by the name Dangeruss. You can check out his site here. The reason I say I will hit on a few of my favorite topics is because he has done cars, guns, watches, & architecture. And of course he has done a bunch of other random items. You can go here to check out his deviant art page with links to tons of his work. He is pretty much just an artistic mercenary. Hiring his talents out to the highest bidder. So go check out his work. You are sure to get some good desktop wallpaper if nothing else. And if you happen to need some work done, I am sure he would be happy to take your money.

UPDATE: I guess I spent too much time drooling over his work and not reading enough of his journal. As of February of this year Russ had been doing design for 4 different watchmakers and seen at least 5 of his designs make it to production for 2010. And he has produced about 35 designs for 2010 models. Also, I found he has a blogspot site dedicated to his watches. But it has not been updated for quite some time.

Game Gun Designer Talks to Real Gun People

Over on The Firearm Blog they recently had a guest blogger that I have looked at in the past. His name is Pascal Eggert. He is a graphic designer that design guns for video games.  He does amazing work. And he is a big fan of guns in real life. This a great thing as functional and conceptual details are a lot better when based in reality.

Pascal Eggert Thor

The article is a good read.  And I definitely recommend checking out Pascal’s site as he has some crazy cool ideas. And I am with the guys at The Firearm Blog. I hope this guy gets a job designing real guns some day.