Adventure Van Expo, RV Floor Install, Russos in SD, Pivot Point


This week, Jeff Johnston takes us to the slopes of Mount Hood in Oregon state for the Adventure Van Expo, where he finds an array of off the road vans along with numerous displays of outdoor and camping equipment.

Then we join Michelle and Laurie from Two Gals and a Boston Brood as they wrap up their installation of the new Infinity Woven Vinyl flooring in their Lance trailer.

Later, we catch up with Joe and Kait Russo from We're the Russos on their South Dakota van adventure. Also, we'll visit with Mark and Dawn Polk from RV Education 101 and see what they have in store for us this week.


Adventure Van Expo

Today's location is the slopes of beautiful Mount Hood, Oregon. We're here to attend the Adventure Van Expo which is sort of an event that represents one extreme of RVing, that is to say people who have taken class B type motorhomes and built them into rugged off-road, off the beaten track type adventure vehicles.

Well, the expo is a gathering of vehicles like that, where they exchange ideas, look at cool new products, and so on. We think it'll be a pretty fun thing to see, so come on along and let's go take a look. The expo occupied a good portion of the parking lot at the Mount Hood Meadow ski area.

Neil Morse: We're here at the Adventure Van Expo at Mount Hood. And adventure vans are built out Sprinters and Mercedes vehicles that have been customized for special purposes, sports, road trips. Some people live in them. And what we have today is actually a show put together with probably some of the best builders all over the Pacific Northwest and, you know, basically from the west. We're drawing from Washington and Southern California as well.

An adventure van is a class B motorhome generally outfitted with features designed for longer-term, off the grid living in comfort. Many have four wheel drive for go-anywhere capability. Spectators can learn a lot from seeing the adventure vans on display.

The relatively small size of a van means owners need to be clever about designing an efficient but comfortable interior, plus suitable exterior storage facilities. An old favorite, Volkswagen vans with camping conversions, were also present at the event.

It can be successfully argued that Sportsmobile was instrumental in shaping and improving the entire adventure van class of RVs. Well, we stopped by the Sportsmobile booth, where the owner, Alan Feld, has a pretty exciting new product to tell us about.

Alan Feld: This is the new Sportsmobile classic. We developed it over the last couple years after Ford discontinued their Econoline in 2015. But it was such a popular truck for us that we're getting the cutaway chassis from Ford, so the front end is Ford, and we're building the whole back rear half out of fiberglass, and adding a wrapper lining on the outside. And then we're putting all our own interiors in just like the old Sportsmobiles, but it's got our four-wheel drive system, which has the Dynatrac axle, the Atlas transfer case, and custom Fox suspension. So, it's all the good stuff that we've been using in the past, but on a brand new cutaway chassis from Ford.

While wandering around here at the Adventure Van Expo, guess who we ran into? Our friends the Russos - you can learn more about them at weretherussos.com and also watch the show!

If serious backcountry RVing is in your plans, check out an Adventure Van Expo.


RV Flooring Install with Infinity Luxury Woven Flooring

In this final install of the Infinity Luxury Woven Flooring,  we jump right in by  unscrewing the threshold. And we found underneath the threshold were three lines. But there's room for the flooring, so we're good. The other moldings we took off and they had little, short barbs on them, so we knew we'd have
to add little longer nails.

The template is simply made with craft paper and masking tape. And there it is, our template. Now, we pick it up and bring it outside. Lay it on the material.

I left the material out for 30 minutes, it was a bright, sunny day. Let it acclimate. And then I rough cut to get some of that extra material away, and then cut closer. Again, even though it was pretty thick, the scissors did a fine job at this point. And there it is, the cutout template.

Prepping the floor can be one of the worst parts of any job like this, but it's a new floor. All I had to do was sweep it and give it a nice wash down. Now that we're into
this project, I'm realizing a couple of things. I'm not as flexible as I used to be and--but I'm gonna take my time and get this done, and it may be the last time I do it.

The other thing I wanted to share is that, out in the grass, I was using scissors. And I thought, "I can finish this off with scissors inside. But because there's no molding around most of this, you really can't use scissors, it's not going to come out perfect. And I can see right here it's not perfect, so I went and got the right tools, and now I'm going to finish the job up.

We used double sided tape instead of glue. Near the front door where the lines are, the water and electric, and I'm slipping it under. Because the threshold is going over here scissors are fine, that edge isn't going to show. But where the edges show, you need to use a straightedge and a razor.

We were pretty happy with the way it came out, both into the bathroom and overall. We finished it off with molding even in places where there was no original molding. Once the floor was done, it was time to do under our table. Laurie pulled off the top, the pedestal.

Laurie Church: So, what we're doing next is we're going to take the base of the dinette table out, which requires a special tip. Now, most RVs are put together using not your typical Philips head or flathead screw, they have a square tip. And most local hardware stores will have them, just ask and let them know you're working on an RV.

So, we're going to line our cupboards, 12 inches by 22 inches. I cut two pieces. And because this has a nice foam back, we're going to put that face up. Let me slide this one in first. Doesn't need any tape because it's not going anywhere. And now we can see it's not
going to go anywhere as we're driving down the road, see?

Okay, now the top piece could slide out, so we want that to be stable, especially since we're going to put the vinyl down. So, I put a piece of double-sided tape here. And we'll just slip that in foam side up. And now I can put this stuff back into the cupboard. Putting this into the bottom made a really nice difference.

Thank you to Infinity luxury woven vinyl for the flooring.


Roadtrip through South Dakota with Joe and Kait Russo

Joe: This week, Kait and I take you on a roadtrip through South Dakota, our 44th state in an RV. Learn more about the Russos at weretherussos.com.

The mammoth site is a research facility where you can tour an active dig site of mammoth remains found in an old sinkhole. If you are going to be at mammoth site, they do have RV parking.

The next stop is Wind Cave National Park, where we take Charlie the lab for a stroll. I just talked to the ranger, and they have two dog-friendly nature trails at the park. Let's go to the one that's right by the visitor center here.

I was just looking at the map, and there's a section of Needles Highway that is only 9'10 tall with the tunnel. And this is I think just around 11, so we can only go, let's see, this far up to Sylvan Lake.

Kait and I walked the Presidential Trail of Mount Rushmore to see the four presidents from different vantage points.

The trail is awesome, and it gives you a number of different views of the presidents that you would never see from down below. Looking at it straight on, you don't get the full complexity of everything. And I didn't even realize that they had kind of carved in glasses for Teddy Roosevelt. Mount Rushmore was amazing, and
now we're off to the Badlands.

Be sure to watch the show for much more on Joe and Kait's South Dakota roadtrip. And follow then at weretherussos.com 


Finding your RV Pivot Point

Mark Polk of RV Education 101 - This RV driving skill segment is on your pivot point. I think it's safe to say that lots of RV accidents are a result of not understanding where the pivot point is on your RV and how it applies to making turns. Let's take a closer look.

The pivot point is defined as the fixed point on a vehicle at which the vehicle rotates around in a turn. On a two-axle vehicle, it is the center of the rear axle. This means that if an object, for example a tree, is located at the center of the rear axle or behind the rear axle, you can turn toward the object and not hit it.

If the object is ahead of the pivot point and you turn toward the object, you will hit it. On most vehicles, you will not be able to see the rear wheels when you are driving, so you will need to establish some reference points to know where your pivot point is located
when you are looking in your mirrors.

Look in the mirrors towards the rear wheels and identify a spot on the side of the coach that is in relation to the center of the rear wheels. Putting a traffic cone or some other marker on the pavement to mark the center of the wheel will help locate your pivot point initially when you are looking in the mirrors. An awning arm, compartment door edge, a light, anything at or slightly behind the center of the rear wheel that you can see in your mirrors will do.

Once you determine where your pivot point is in the mirror, you will know when it is safe to make a turn. Well, there you have it. Understanding where your pivot point is and how it applies to making turns with the vehicle can make maneuvering your RV less stressful.

This RV driving skills tip is from our "Drive Your Motorhome Like a Pro" DVD.

Happy camping.

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