Full-Timing Book Helps RVers Take Their Home On The Road
Gordon and Janet Groene, F47166, longtime columnists for Family Motor Coaching magazine, demystify the idea of RV full-timing in the third edition of their book Living Aboard Your RV (Ragged Mountain Press). As in previous editions, the Groenes have packed this book with information for those considering the full-timing lifestyle. The book, based on the Groenes’ own full-timing experiences, provides advice and ideas on nearly every aspect of full-timing, including how to select the best RV and equipment; moving in and hitting the road; regular maintenance; and living affordably and comfortably. The couple even devotes a chapter on how to successfully settle down once your full-timing adventure has ended.
New in this book is a chapter on how to use the Internet to earn a living, manage your finances, and keep in touch with family and friends. It also includes a new section on home-schooling; a more comprehensive resources list; and updated categories such as banking, communications, medical care, and paying bills.
The book is available in bookstores or through online booksellers. FMCA members can purchase the book at a special price of $14.95 (postage paid) by sending requests to RV Books, Box 248, DeLeon Springs, FL 32130.
Future Fuel Systems In Development
While gasoline and diesel fuel continue to be the primary fuel sources for vehicles, XCELLSIS, a German company with operations in San Diego, California, and Vancouver, British Columbia, is in the developmental stage of new fuel cell technology that could one day make the combustion engine obsolete.
The compay’s ZEbus (Zero Emission Bus) uses hydrogen fuel cell technology that combines hydrogen and oxygen into water to generate electricity. The only byproduct created is heat. Bus-style chassis powered by fuel cells have been and are being tested and proven under real-world operating conditions. Originally developed to power small electrical components for use in outer space, this type of fuel cell is capable of powering vehicles as large as a 35,000-pound bus. One day the fuel cell may be an option offered in motorhomes.
To date, this next-generation propulsion system has been tested in city transit systems in Chicago, Illinois; Vancouver; and Palm Desert, California. In Palm Desert the testing occurred under the harsh summer conditions of the Mojave Desert. There, a single ZEbus traveled 14,900 miles while compiling a run time of 865 hours. In 2002 XCELLSIS plans to begin limited manufacturing to provide 30 fuel cell engines for use in buses in 10 European cities.
In this application, fuel cell engines generate enough electricity to power a 275-horsepower electric bus motor. The fuel cell also provides the power necessary to operate all other onboard electrical systems.
Fuel cell technology works like this. Pure hydrogen, stored in high-pressure tanks, is passed through a fuel cell stack, a structure that features what is called a proton exchange membrane (PEM). The PEM is made of exotic metals (gold and platinum) that act as a catalyst. As the hydrogen atoms reach the PEM, the electron in the atom is stripped away from the proton that makes up the nucleus of the hydrogen atom. Protons (positive charge) pass through the PEM, while the electrons (negative charge) flow as current around the PEM where they reunite with the protons, once again forming atoms of hydrogen. Hydrogen has a great affinity for oxygen, and during the process the hydrogen and oxygen combine, creating molecules of water vapor.
The DC energy generated during this process can be used to charge conventional batteries, or it can be put through an inverter that sends AC electricity to the 205-kilowatt electric motor.
With the current lack of a refueling infrastructure (liquid and compressed hydrogen gas facilities), hydrogen fuel cell engines are best utilized in a fleet scenario, where all units return to a central facility for daily refueling. There a single set of hydrogen storage tanks can service the entire fleet. When the hydrogen tanks are full, the ZEbus is said to have a range of approximately 200 miles. It has been tested at speeds up to 60 mph.
A subset of the fuel cell technology undergoing research and development is a device called a reformer. Like a small onboard refinery, a reformer takes methanol or gasoline (which in the future could mean the use of refueling infrastructures currently available to consumers, i.e. gas stations) and vaporizes the fuel to create hydrogen for the fuel cell engine. The heat source for the reformer is generated by combusting some of the hydrogen generated by the reformer itself.
For additional information about this new technology, visit www.xcellsis.com.
— Lazelle Jones
Marathon Coach Stars On The Travel Channel
Marathon Coach, C2654, a luxury coach conversion company based in Coburg, Oregon, recently was featured on the Travel Channel in a program titled “Ultimate Travel: Cars, Trains, Planes.” The program, which aired several times during December 2001, will be rebroadcast throughout 2002.
Filmed last summer at Marathon’s Coburg headquarters, the program presents the biggest and best ways to travel in style, comfort, and luxury. It also provides an in-depth look at the motorhoming lifestyle, including interviews with celebrity Marathon Coach owners Paul Newman and CART racing star Michael Andretti.
For additional information about Marathon Coach, call (800) 234-9991 or visit www.marathoncoach.com.
Spartan Motors Names New CEO
Spartan Motors Inc., C3322, based in Charlotte, Michigan, recently announced that the company’s board of directors has elected John E. Sztykiel as its new chief executive officer, beginning in June 2002.
Mr. Sztykiel, 44, has been with the company since 1985, serving in numerous operations, sales, and marketing positions. He has been president and chief operating officer of the company since December 1992, during which time he also was president of Spartan Motor Chassis, the company’s largest subsidiary. Mr. Sztykiel was instrumental in Spartan Motors’ entry into the motorhome market with its rear-engine diesel-pusher chassis in 1985.
The selection of Mr. Sztykiel ended an 11-month process to replace the company’s founder and CEO, George E. Sztykiel, who will remain on Spartan’s board of directors until June 2002. He will continue to serve as a consultant for the company’s fire truck chassis business after leaving his management role.
New Book Offers Advice For Traveling With Grandkids
If you’re making plans to take the grandkids with you on a motorhoming adventure this year, then you might consider picking up a new book by Virginia Smith Spurlock titled Traveling With Your Grandkids ($11.95, AAA Publishing). Ms. Spurlock — a psychologist, author, grandmother, and seasoned traveler — offers numerous ideas, suggestions, and possible itineraries to help any grandparent plan an enjoyable excursion with the grandchildren.
The book is the first in AAA Publishing’s new “Ready, Set, Travel!” series. Traveling With Your Grandkids provides advice on how to decide whether the child is old enough to handle a trip away from parents and how to set limits and establish rules. The book also has suggestions for keeping the grandkids active and interested in the journey, such as allowing them to help plan the trip, and packing a “travel” box for them filled with books, games, and puzzles. Ms. Spurlock also includes a section for planning a trip with disabled grandchildren.
The book is available at bookstores, online book retailers, at AAA offices, by calling (877) 222-2665, or by visiting www.aaa.com.
Workhorse Adds New Chassis Options For 2002
Workhorse Custom Chassis, C8291, based in Highland Park, Illinois, is offering several new options on its W20 and W22 gasoline-powered chassis for 2002.
The company now offers an 8,500-pound front gross axle weight rating (GVWR) option on the W22 chassis and a 14,500-pound rear GAWR option on the W20 platform. According to Workhorse, these options do not change the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 22,000 pounds for the W22 and 20,700 pounds for the W20. “By offering these new axle weights, we are giving manufacturers more flexibility in the how they distribute weight in the coach,” said John Margalski, director of motorhome sales for Workhorse.
Workhorse also is offering an 18-inch leather-wrapped, brushed aluminum steering wheel in both the W20 and W22 chassis to give these platforms a more diesel-like feel and appearance.
Another change made for 2002 is that the alternator amperage in all Workhorse chassis has been increased from 130 amps to 145 amps to better handle the electrical loads of today’s motorhomes.
At the beginning of 2001, Workhorse platforms accounted for approximately 22 percent of all gasoline-powered chassis produced. By August 2001, that number had climbed to 31 percent, according to type A motorhome registration statistics compiled by R.L. Polk & Co.
For additional information about Workhorse Custom Chassis, call (877) 294-6773 or visit www.workhorse.com.
Luxury RV Resort Completes First Phase Of Development
Desert Shores, a new RV resort located in Indio, California, recently finished phase one of its development plan with the completion of 42 sites. Developing the project is Bob Lee, who founded Country Coach Inc. in 1973.
The 64-acre gated community has 22 acres of lakes, complete with waterfalls and tropical landscaping, offering prospective owners 60-foot-by-120-foot waterfront sites.
Each site also includes 750 square feet of what is known as a “casita” or little house. This building can be used as a three-car garage with complete bath, or additional living space in any combination of facilities. Site owners work with staff designers to personalize their casita. Each site is landscaped to suit the owner and can incorporate outdoor features such as a swimming pool, spa, or California kitchen.
Community amenities include a 5,300-square-foot clubhouse, a fitness center, a swimming pool, a spa, tennis courts, and an 18-hole putting course. The resort is located near a PGA golf course. A security office at the park’s entry is manned around the clock.
The second phase of development, which includes the addition of another 50 sites, has already begun and is scheduled to be finished by this fall. The final phase of development, 49 more sites, is expected to be completed in 2003. Lot prices start at $189,000 plus options. For more information, call (760) 775-9808 or visit www.desertshoresresort.com.