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Mini adventures in a mini RV

It’s now been three years since I bought my Winnebago Rialta, the small RV that’s a Volkswagen Eurovan with a Winnebago camper body on it. RVs are funny commodities, as you can spend as much or as little for them as you want. It’s common for people to buy used RVs, take them on one or two trips, and park them in the yard—and before they know it, time ravages them.


The battery running down is just the beginning. Sunlight dry rots the tires, and the myriad vents on the roof cause leaks, and the interior begins to mildew. Add 40 gallons of bad gas to the picture and the result is something that’s often worth next to nothing. Because of this, you can essentially set your target price for an RV—right down to “free”—and find one for that price if you look. Perfect for a bottom-feeding do-it-yourselfer like me, right?


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We put 65,000 miles on an early 5-cylinder Sprinter Pleasureway. It was a terrific travel vehicle, rode and handled great, smooth at 70+ and got 19mpg. Maybe a little cramped but with just two adults and an occasional cat, it was sufficient to spend 5 weeks aboard on a trip from Florida to Hyder, AK, California and home. I found the Sprinter to be the perfect compromise of driving capability and living. For long trips, having the ability to have cold drinks and snacks on demand and a bathroom truly makes for superior road trips. Drove to Indy for the first MotoGP race and stayed (free) right across from the track. I carried a Vespa on the back sometimes, mostly I towed a small trailer with a motorcycle or two, The van pretty much never noticed. Only sold it when we decide we weren't going to be traveling much. Our friends bought it and added another 50,000 miles to date.

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