Our new coach is a fully electric coach. It needs a 50-amp service to run all of the onboard electrical systems.
A typical household breaker might offer a 20-amp service although our panel has quite a few 15-amp breakers. A 20-amp service requires 2,400 watts. A 30-amp service will need 3,600 watts and a 50-amp service will take 12,000 watts. That is quite a difference in power between 30 and 50 amps.
Plugging a 50-amp coach to a 30-amp service means that you won’t be able to use everything on the coach. In our case, we have two large air conditioning heat pumps on the coach as well as a number of large appliances. Connecting to a 30-amp service, we could only run appliances if we used our generator.
Last week we had our electrician install an outdoor 30-amp service for our RV. For a number of reasons we could not go with a 50-amp service.
We had room for the 30-amp breakers in our panel and we also had 8/3 wiring roughed in from the panel out to the back of the house. 8/3 can easily support 30 amps. For a 50-amp service, 6/4 wiring would be required.
For our site, the electrician had to run a conduit from the side of the house, trench an 18-inch conduit out to a decking post, and terminate the 30-amp service in a covered outlet (pictured above). It took two electricians a full day to complete the task. And it was very expensive. The cost of site inspection, labour, the trenching equipment, the conduit, the 50 feet of additional 8/3 cable as well as the outlet was much higher than we expected. It was important to us that we installed the service to code. Make it right.
The coach will be on our site for a number of months and we need to have some shore power. We will need to run our generator if we are in the coach during the hot summer months to have some air conditioning. For cooler evenings, we can do our work in the coach and have enough power to run the lights and perhaps the AV system by being connected to our 30-amp service. And it will give us a bit of practice for when we have to connect to 30-amp services at other sites.
Do you need a commercial driver’s licence to drive an RV?
The answer is yes if you live in Ontario and the RV is more than 11,000 kilograms (24,250 lbs). If the RV has air brakes, you also have to complete an air brake (Z) endorsement.
From the Ministry of Transportation’s website:
Class D Licence
The Class D licence lets you drive any truck or vehicle combination exceeding 11,000 kilograms, provided that the towed vehicle weighs less than 4,600 kg. If it weighs more, you will need either a full Class A or restricted Class A licence.
With a Class D licence you can also drive a car or light truck covered by a G Class licence.
To apply for a Class D licence, you need to:
- be at least 18 years old
- hold a valid Ontario licence other than G1, G2, M, M1 or M2
- pass an eye test
- submit a medical report
- pass a written test about operating large trucks and tractor-trailers
- pass a road test
Both Lorraine and I had to go through the somewhat lengthy and expensive process of becoming truckers.
You can call me Trucker Rick. I have my DZ licence.
In a few weeks time you will be able to call Lorraine Trucker L. She is in her air brake program today and tomorrow and her D program in another two weeks.
We both found the courses to be very interesting and very worthwhile.
If things do not work out in retirement, I can always try my hand at trucking.
When we returned to Canada from the Hershey RV Show in October of 2015, we came back with thousands of pages of brochures, guidebooks, and magazines. In a word, the show was a bit overwhelming. So much to think about and so much to process.
Our main objective was to decide on a new motorhome. We had already narrowed down our field of choices based on Class A Diesel Pushers. And we had already narrowed down to the following manufacturers: Newmar, Entegra, Tiffin.
Lots of research followed. I went to all of the manufacturer sites. I went to all of the major Internet forums and followed as many threads as possible on ownership experiences with these particular brands. I went through hundreds of videos on YouTube. I downloaded manuals and brochures. Over a period of a few months, I took in a lot of material about RVs.
Granted, this was not the first time we had looked at RVs. We had come very close to purchasing a Newmar Dutch Star back in 2006. It looked like this one:
In all of our research, we kept coming back to Newmar. No company is perfect and certainly no motorhome is perfect. Newmar has built a terrific reputation in the market. Lorraine and I particularly admired Newmar’s corporate principles:
At Newmar, we believe that a motor coach is more than just a vehicle. It should be a dream come true. A passport to countless hours of fun with your family and friends. A road to a lifetime of cherished memories and new discoveries.
For over 40 years, we’ve applied our Christian principles to the creation of motor coaches that have enhanced the lifestyle of people all over the world. And we’ll continue to do that for countless generations to come. It’s why we take pride in every rivet, every weld, every mechanical function and aesthetic of design.
Part of our research was to determine how we would get to a fair deal price on a motorhome in Canada. At the Hershey RV Show, there were all sorts of deals to be made.
Depending on the coach and dealer, 25 – 30 percent off list seemed to be in the range for a new motorhome.
Being Canadian gets complicated though. You have to start from the US list price converted to Canadian dollars, a much higher amount. The Canadian currency floats which means that a deal price is subject to the volatility of the currency markets. The Canadian dollar was in a bit of a free fall during the latter part of 2015. And every penny drop in the value of the Canadian dollar added a significant amount to the overall cost of the coach. A deal might need a right of refusal based on currency volatility. And, of course, we pay taxes. Thirteen percent on the deal price. Ouch.
The Canadian dollar was trading closer to 80 cents at the time we did our deal. Many pundits were predicting a 60 cent dollar within a few months. That did not happen and the Canadian dollar today is almost at the same level as it was last October. At the time we were really concerned that we might see a steep drop in the value of the Canadian dollar. We decided that we should do a deal sooner rather than run the risk of a decline in our currency.
We wanted to buy in Canada. This is where we live and we wanted to support our Canadian businesses. Although there were some great deals to be had at the Hershey RV Show, we intended to shop Canadian.
We headed out to the Toronto Fall RV Show in October of 2015. Most of the major dealers were there and we were able to spend time talking with a few of them about their coaches. We also made several stops at dealers in and around the Toronto area. We probably logged close to a thousand kilometres of driving over those two days to look at different coaches and to get a feel for the calibre of the various dealers.
We knew when we went to the Hitch House that we had found a good dealer. It helped that Newmar also had their Canadian manager on site for our visit. We spent most of the day at the Hitch House and, shock of all shocks, we decided to put an offer down on a new Dutch Star 4002 then and there.
We were now committed to our future dream. At least from a financial perspective.
This was our production report when our order went to the factory in November:
Here we were, in late October, making decisions about our future. The first of many decisions.
The time that we spent at the Hershey RV show last September was a milestone for Lorraine and myself. And not because of RV shopping. That part was fun and educational. That part was really an outcome from a much more significant decision, a time when we decided to dream about our future and to answer the question: what happens next?
I was quickly closing in on sixty years of age when we went down to Hershey. I was very uncertain about the future and, frankly, a bit concerned about the lack of vision for life after work.
How could it be that at this time of my life, I was so anxious about what happens next?
I thought the plan to get to retirement was pretty straightforward: get the kids off to a good start, save money, pay off the house. Only, there wasn’t a plan on what we would do during retirement. Aside from planning for it, we hadn’t really talked about how we would live during that time of our lives.
I had read Chris Crowley’s Book, Younger Next Year. This book was really life changing in many ways. Highly recommended.
In his book, Chris talks about the waterfall. The waterfall is the moment in time when our life ends. As we get older, it becomes louder. We can hear it. We know that it is coming. We think about it more and more. And it challenges us to think about one of life’s more important questions: what happens next with the time we have left?
Chris highlights four important attributes of living life well until we reach the waterfall: exercise, nutrition, connecting with others and kedges. A Kedge is his term for ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
All I was focused on was getting to the number.
Lorraine and I spent most of our time talking about the future in terms of the number. What number do we need to retire? What number do we need to live well in retirement? What number do we need to deal with the unexpected during retirement?
I had built highly complex spreadsheet models going out thirty years. I had introduced multiple scenarios. Retire early, retire late. Different rate of inflation numbers. Different rates of return from our investments.
I would go through the number with Lorraine. Is this the right number? What if I had made a mistake? What would happen then?
Lorraine kept telling me that the last thing she was worried about was the money.
I did not have the presence of mind to ask her what the first thing was that she worried about.
But I knew.
It was us.
It was about our ability to keep growing and developing as a couple. To take those wonderful moments that we have been able to enjoy together over the past thirty-five years of marriage: the long weekends, the one-week vacations, the evenings out here and there. To build anew our relationship.
We started dreaming about what life could look like after retirement. And we knew what wanted: new adventures.
We started to think about traveling. And then about traveling in a motorhome. And to do so full-time.
Retirement will be an exciting change and a lifetime accomplishment. Lorraine and I will create the future us.
- We will pursue a new chapter of life — the best time of our lives
- We will follow our passions and our dreams
- We will awaken our spirit
- We will rediscover joy and serenity in life
So, although part of the journey on our blog will focus on our new RV, which has been a terrific and fun experience, what happens next is really a challenge to think about the future. Our future. The future us.
In many ways, our journey really started at the RV Show in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It was here, in September of 2015, that we began to take a really hard look at the lifestyle and whether it would be for us.
We also began to take a really hard look at RVs.
The first one we saw as we entered the show was this Entegra:
Stunning coach. The salesperson tried to make a deal on that coach right then and there. We were not ready to buy. We wanted to get a sense of which RV and floorplan might work for us. We still had a lot more research to do before making any purchase decisions.
The Hershey show is big. Billed as the largest RV show in North America, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of RVs on display.
We were really interested in RVs from three manufacturers: Newmar, Entegra and Tiffin. Mind you, we looked at Class A Diesel Pushers from all of the manufacturers at the show. We also looked at Super Cs and fifth wheels.
For whatever reason, the Newmar Dutch Star took hold of our imagination. We loved the 4002 floorplan.
We walked in and out of the 4002 several times during our stay at the Hershey RV Show. The last time I walked out, Lorraine was still in the coach. Behind the wheel.
And, nine months later, we will be bringing our new Dutch Star 4002 home.
The 2016 Show will be held in September. You can find out more information about the Hershey RV Show here.
This is our first post on our new blog, RV Castaways.
We still have a bit of a journey ahead of us before we become RV Castaways. We have a home to sell, possessions to release and a transition to make from working life to retirement. We might not get to our dream for another few years.
We have started though. And this blog will chronicle our journey, before and during, of becoming RV Castaways.
Thank you for following along.
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney