So we hit our first semi-major snag in the plan, we want to carry more than this RV can carry. So let’s start with what the plan was.
We wanted to be able to drive around more efficiently than the 10MPG that the motorhome gets and we didn’t want to need to pack up the motor home completely every time we needed to get groceries or I wanted to go kayaking, so we were planing on towing our Pontiac Vibe behind the motor home with some kayaks on top of it. This would allow us to drive everything to where we wanted to camp and then we could leave the motorhome alone while we still could get around with the car. Its a similar plan to lots of other RVers whose blogs we follow. RV Love, Technomadia, and Gone with the Wynns all have towed cars behind their rigs (otherwise know as Toads). One thing you’ll notice about all of those rigs though, is that they are giant Class A bus-style rigs. Our’s is a much smaller Class C van-style rig.
This brings us to our problem. I was digging through all the owners manuals that came with our rig (I think it has every single manual for every single piece of equipment in the rig, it has made researching how to use and fix it MUCH easier). And I found the actual model number and weight ratings. While I thought it was a 28 footer, it is actually a 26 footer. So a little smaller than expected but not bad yet. But lets talk weight ratings for this 26 foot RV.
The important numbers you need to know are Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). There are other ratings for individual axles and the tow hitch and other things but lets just stick with these two. The GVWR is the maximum allowed weight of the motorhome itself fully loaded with gas, water, people, dogs, clothes, dishes, etc. The GCWR is the maximum weight of the motorhome fully loaded, plus the weight of any trailers with cargo plus hitches. On most vehicles, the GCWR is a couple thousand pounds higher than the GVWR. Apparently that isn’t the case with our rig. Both the GVWR and the GCWR on this vehicle are 11,000 pounds (-2% per 1000 feet of elevation, oh boy).
So the total weight of the motorhome, all of our stuff, ourselves AND the Vibe and kayaks needs to be under 11,000 pounds (or 10,000 here in Denver and less higher up but we can get creative about filling up water tanks near our destination and driving the Vibe over mountain passes separately if need be). I need to get it weighed at a weigh station but the previous owner mentioned that it was around 7000 pounds last time he weighed it. So, we need the motor home (7000), the Vibe (2700), the kayaks, rack and towing equipment (300), another 3 batteries and mounting hardware and interconnection cables (180), solar panels and mounting hardware (100), us and cheat (~420), and water (35+6 gallons * 8 pounds/gallon = 328)
7000+2700+300+180+100+420+328 = 11,028 pounds > 11,000 pounds = illegal to drive.
And that is assuming it was exactly 7000 pounds with a full tank of gas, and we don’t have any clothes, computers, kitchenware or food accounted for yet.
I’m pretty sure I can pull 500 pounds out of it. TV antenna, microwave, furnace, speakers, twin beds in the back, ladder, and the luggage rack on the roof and maybe even a chair can all go. I’m probably over-estimating a couple other places and we won’t need to take on water until we are at or really close to our destination.
But even with that best case scenario we’re really close (a lot closer than I want to be in the mountains). First step though is I need to weigh the thing and start from there. If it comes back at 8,000 pounds or more, we may need to make serious changes to the plan, but we’ll see. Let me get back to you.
Follow-up: Weight Problems- Solved!