Home » A Reader Wants To ‘Challenge The Stale Thinking’ Of Motorhome Design, And A Forty Year Old Idea Might Do The Trick

A Reader Wants To ‘Challenge The Stale Thinking’ Of Motorhome Design, And A Forty Year Old Idea Might Do The Trick

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Looking for a new house can make replacing a car seem like a walk in the park. When my parents moved to a small college town years back, I can remember the family accompanying them on an endless parade through properties that were often rather disappointing. One rather contemporary Brady Bunch-style house was packed with odd elevated loft areas, sunken living spaces, and catacomb-like hallways. “This is a pretty shitty house,” quipped my brother, “but it would make a great laser tag arena.” He was right.

There are plenty of instances of designs missing their true purpose; other times the world just isn’t ready for the idea yet, or the technology just isn’t there. Forty years ago, there was a transportation concept that suffered from both of these issues and was quickly dismissed as a failure. However, I think it’s worth revisiting and reanimating with the advances of today. Actually, I’d like to repurpose it as something that it could be a better fit for. Spoiler alert- this will get weird.

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Camping In The Same Old Crap

A week or two ago, one Autopian named put a comment into an ill-publicized piece by yours truly about yet another dumb motorhome idea that I had. OverlandingSprinter lamented the lack of innovation in camper design:

Comment 1 29 24

I came to the defense of these typically small northern Indiana shops with limited manufacturing capabilities, but don’t for a minute think that I don’t feel his disappointment. As a little kid, if you asked me what a larger recreational vehicle in the year 2024 would look like I would likely describe something akin to a then-current (yes I’m old) 1973-1978 GMC Motorhome:

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Gmc Motorhome 1973 Images 1 29
General Motors

However, my mind was seeing a GMC Motorhome on steroids. The visions of space-age campers in my Tang-and-Count-Chocula fed mind would include designs like Larry Shinoda’s Rectrans camper, the vehicle from the short-lived Ark II TV show (which had a companion machine based on a Brubaker Box), and even the electronic Big Trak toy that we all wanted to see under the tree for Christmas in 1979 (I didn’t get it, of course).

Inspiration 1 29 24
Rectrans, screenshot, wikipedia

At one point, I even looked at what a GMC motorhome for 1989 would have looked like as a love letter/mix tape to this masterpiece. With four steerable front wheels and individual V6s driving each rear wheel, it captured a bit of what I was hoping tomorrow world would hold :

Gmc 1989 Camper 1 30

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Indeed, the reality of the real 2024 is far, far from any of that; boring boxes on old-school truck chassis that have barely changed in decades disguised with absurd graphics. If anything, we’ve gone backwards from the great GMC masterpiece.

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2024 Camper 1 30 24
Thor Industries

Actually, I already did a Cybertruck-style trailer for Tesla, but I think I know the deeper question that OverlandingSprinter is asking. What if some large company threw budgets out the window and, like with that early seventies General Motors masterpiece, developed a clean sheet of paper approach to the best large scale motorhome you could imagine? Come on, we thought we’d be flying around in Jetsons cars by a quarter of a way through the 21st century. Throw us a bone, here, somebody!

Anyway, the other day I was reminded of a stillborn old concept that wasn’t right for what it was designed for, but possibly perfect for our challenge. Let’s take a look.

Low Rider, Get A Little Higher

A picture can tell a thousand words, and the one below could push that number into at least the five or six figure range. Feast your eyes on this:

Steinwinter Side 1 29 24
Steinwinter

First of all, yes, that was a real thing. In 1983 a German company called Steinwinter (which had a logo that looked almost exactly like Ferrari) wanted to revolutionize the trucking industry by creating a more efficient truck that could get cargo into the maximum length allowed by law. A sixty foot long truck? How can we get that to be ALL cargo? Possibly some designer at the Steinwinter company saw some movie or TV show where a car drives into the void space under a semi trailer and said “Damn (or whatever that is in German), we could make a tractor like that!” Before cooler heads could prevail, Steinwinter went headlong into the idea of a truck where no tow vehicle takes up usable length and disrupts the airflow. The Steinwinter Supercargo 2040 was to be the answer for the future. Besides cargo, the Steinwinter was supposed to be able to tow a passenger bus style trailer; you can see it below (and also the juxtaposition to a normal sized European semi):

Supercargo Comparison
Steinwinter

Of course, this wasn’t the case. If you take a glance on any highway now, you’ll see the trucks out there still look pretty similar to the ones seen in Smokey and The Bandit nearly fifty years ago. There are a number of reasons why this is the case, and some are rather obvious in the answer-to-a-question-nobody-asked.

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Visibility and Control: Sitting so low gave drivers used to being king of the road a commanding view of ants. The overhanging cargo box of the Supercargo made stoplights invisible, and it was supposedly impossible to see the extremities of the truck with mirrors. Worse than that, apparently, was the front overhang made maneuvering the thing a pain in tight situations since the “tractor” turned much earlier than the cargo box above. Look below and you’ll see how contorted things get for drivers in turns:

Steinwiter Turning 2 2
Steinwinter

That tiny passenger compartment under thousands of pounds of cargo looks like a “so this is how I will die” situation. Still, that reclined sports-car driving position looks cool, and that interior is a 1980s car guy’s wet dream with those Recaros, acres of buttons, and the huge old Benz steering wheel.

Stein 1
Steinwinter

Mechanical Problems: It didn’t run all that well. The lack of a large grille meant overheating was a problem, and understeer was a rather big issue as well.

Size and Efficiency: The expected fuel economy savings and advantages of the slightly large cargo capacity didn’t end up making much difference. What put paid to the whole thing was a change in regulations not long after the concept was released that determined how long a trailer could be, eliminating the last possible advantage of the Supercargo.

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play, right? Sure, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some kernels of good stuff here, and what if this design wasn’t used for an eighties era semi truck, but instead a more modern motorhome? Hard to believe, but I can see a pretty good fit there; Overlanding Sprinter wanted to see next generation RVs, so here we go.

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This Ain’t No Winnegabo

Buyers of large motorhomes really have two choices; a giant bus-like loaf of bread or a huge trailer that would be towed by a gargantuan pickup truck with a “fifth wheel” connector like on a semi truck mounted in the open bed space. Each one has some challenges. The bus design makes for a rather cumbersome vehicle that necessitates towing a small car behind in many cases for the owners to venture on trips from campsites. The fifth wheel versions are over sixty feet long when connected yet have gobs of wasted space; the large F-series 250 or 350 trucks used to tow them don’t have a lot of usable space either with the towing equipment in place.

This is the dilemma with cargo-carrying trucks as well, and the Supercargo was a well-intentioned solution to this by having as large a cargo box as possible and minimizing the size of the towing apparatus.

Note that we’ve used the same approach with our Tesla EarthRover motorhome concept with some very important changes. Take a look:

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Ford, Heartland RVs, and Thor Motor Coach

Here’s the problems with the Supercargo, and how we combated them with our EarthRover:

Visibility and Control: I actually think sitting Countach-style in a truck is pretty cool, but I don’t doubt that would limit the appeal of a motorhome. Also, while a cargo truck needs every square foot of space available, a motorhome can make some concession. For example, we can afford to angle the whole front back to a more wind-cheating form, and the very front of the “cabin” of our motorhome would be a king-sized bed for the main bedroom, so we don’t need a full height ceiling in that area. The extra space under the bed will be used to allow us to raise the passenger’s cabin of the tow unit to a more livable height.

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I’ve angled the front back a bit and eliminated overhang over the windshield. I also wonder if a “locking” feature on the fifth wheel might be nice for situations where you don’t want or need the articulation; on icy roads you’d never “jackknife” with the fifth wheel locked.

Don’t forget that the Supercargo debuted in a time long before multiple rear view cameras or proximity sensors. Today some car companies seem to be telling us that we don’t need a rear window on a car anyway.

Mechanical Problems: Naturally, we’d want a future machine to be an EV. I can see how something like the SuperCargo with zero frontal area for a radiator might overheat, but having no internal combustion engine would solve that (or a very small motor as a range extender, or the generator for the whole camper). Dual turning front wheels will hopefully help with the understeer issues.

Size and Efficiency: The one-piece bullet-train-like-shape will almost certainly be aerodynamically efficient, or at least as efficient as something the size of a house can be. Notice the angled-back glass nose; the front of the “trailer” follows the same profile. The vehicle shape also tapers slightly at the front widthwise for even less blunt frontal area.

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That giant space for the camper “cabin” would be quite usable; I’ve got room for that aforementioned large bedroom with a bath, a separate bedroom, another bathroom, and a big “open concept” space with living and kitchen area, all accessible for a staircase in back (London Bus style).

Floor Plans 2 2

Ah, but there’s a lot of void space in the area below the living area. This would be available for Greyhound bus-like storage area but it’s larger than a motor coach; ATVs, personal watercraft, or even a low sports/race car could be made to fit.

Separated from the trailer, the tow vehicle looks pretty strange, but The Future is a weird place:

Tow Vehicle 2 3

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Note that the tow vehicle, which seats five people (or six with optional front center seat), can be detached from the “trailer” to be used on local trips (sadly you’ll need to tip or rotate the front seats to access the back area). It’s a bit big- around the size of an F450 tow vehicle- but relatively low and it has covered cargo areas flanking the fifth wheel. Notice the sliding bar windshield wiper that also cleans the headlights.

Small Vehicle 2 3 2

As described earlier, the very bare Tesla dashboard could put relevant displays projected onto the windshield, while a wide reconfigurable screen below shows a panoramic rear view of the rig. Note the “ghosted” “invisible” trailer that lets you see what’s happening in the adjacent lanes and behind the trailer.

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Was The Steinwinter An Answer To The Wrong Question?

Xerox is sometimes known as the first company to create the mouse-operated computer with the Alto in the seventies. The brand had essentially no idea how important what they had created was, yet Apple’s Steve Jobs did know and brought it to the masses with great success.  Is this the case with the Steinwinter SuperCargo? It would seem that the technology of today makes it possible for this space efficient design to be a great clean-sheet-of-paper approach to a motorhome. Well, at least a clean sheet of tracing paper over an old idea approach.

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Regardless, I’m glad that people like OverlandingSprinter are vocal in their demands for the RV of tomorrow that we should have received yesterday. He’s not alone, and now we have a bunch of Boomers with money ready to sell their houses and shell out the likely high cost of one of these things. General Motors led the RV way before, but I doubt they’ll do it again. Come on, Elon, can you just say screw it with the Mars thing and accept that the Boring Company is, well, boring, and just give us something cool to drive out to the Grand Canyon? Please!

Relatedbar

How I Think You Could Turn A Tesla Into The World’s Fastest RV – The Autopian

Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines A Cybertruck-Shaped Camper Trailer That Almost Makes Sense – The Autopian

Our Daydreaming Auto Designer Reimagines A More Modern Version Of The Legendary GMC Motorhome That Died In 1978 – The Autopian

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Could A Camper Based On The 1939 GM Futurliner Be The Future Of Fun-Looking RVs? – The Autopian

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Sean Ellery
Sean Ellery
2 months ago

Just as long as you never, ever, need to go up a steep hill…. or any sort of gradient for that matter.

Ana Osato
Ana Osato
2 months ago

EV camper, because those vehicles definitely don’t cover great distances and don’t trade off heaps of convenience with long charge times.
All the added weight certainly isn’t a problem either, and living in a thing that’s basically impossible to extinguish once on fire… what’s not to love!

Marlin May
Marlin May
2 months ago
Reply to  Ana Osato

The trailer can be powered making long range travel supremely easy. You have plenty of room for batteries so you can have a huge skateboard for very long range. Speaking of batteries, not only are Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries highly resistant to thermal runaway (they’re so safe that the FAA allows them to fly on planes) but, newer battery chemistries are coming online, that are even safer. Battery technology is improving at a startling rate.

Meanwhile, in over a century of use, nothing has made gasoline and diesel safer. There have been no changes in the fuel chemistry to make either burn at a lower temperature, nothing to make either spread more slowly once the container is punctured, nothing to make either less likely when exposed to common environmental conditions like static electricity and nothing to make either less likely to fill an enclosed space with lethal fumes when evaporating.

Your comment was a very, very poorly constructed troll.

Ana Osato
Ana Osato
2 months ago
Reply to  Marlin May

The FAA allowed the 737MAX to fly.

You’ve stripped yourself of any credibility, mate, sorry.

Marlin May
Marlin May
2 months ago
Reply to  Ana Osato

Get back to me when an LFP battery brings down an airplane.

Tim Beamer
Tim Beamer
2 months ago

Dude, you nailed this! This is the kind of absolutely bonkers thinking that we need right now. Bishop, you are the man!

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
2 months ago

Bishop, you missed a grand opportunity to revive a classic design element in the tow truck. Instead of side doors, have the front open up Isetta or Dodge Deora style! Rear seat passengers can just walk between the front seats.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
2 months ago

This Ain’t No Winnegabo”

Do you mean Winnebago?

You forgot about the Cyclops, the nuclear-powered bus from The Big Bus flick that is Doppelgänger of this RV…

OCS-BN
OCS-BN
2 months ago

I think the tow vehicle on its own would sell incredibly well in the US. Just lift it a foot or two and you got a truck that is superior to the Tesla. Oh, and please give it a round steering wheel.

J Wamsley
J Wamsley
2 months ago

Cool take on a vehicle type that needs some outside the box thinking.

Strick trailer, also had a cab-under tractor prototype. I grew up right down the street from their manufacturing plant outside of Philadelphia. When the prototype debuted, it made front page of all three local newspapers. As a kid, I thought it was amazing. We would see it driving around with a 2-trailer configuration occasionally in the 70s. As The Bishop noted, interest died out when the length restrictions were changed to exclude the tractor. As an adult, I still think it looks cool, in a GT40 meets retro future style. Apparently it’s being restored. Hemmings article below (sorry, don’t know how to make the link live):

https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2022/05/27/stricks-length-law-beating-cab-under-prototype-returns-to-the-united-states-restoration-underway

Martin English
Martin English
2 months ago
Reply to  J Wamsley

A wider perspective on these UFO (Under Floor Operated) tractors / prime movers that includes both the Steinwinter and the Strick.

https://historicvehicles.com.au/truck-feature/cab-under-trucks-didnt-make-it/

Space
Space
2 months ago

Can you design a offroad vehicle that can jump over obstacles. Not a flying car (because that’s 50 years away)
Let’s say it should jump at least 5m across and objects 1m high.
I will leave the “how” and what vehicle up to your imagination.

Sam I am
Sam I am
2 months ago

I’m getting a bit of a Mammoth Car vibe. (Speed Racer)

Greensoul
Greensoul
2 months ago

Bishop, your talent will never cease to amaze me. You’re the best!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago

Hey Bishop you are a great designer. I think all of your designs are perfect and should be implemented. I agree to finance all of their builds. Let’s agree to meet at the Arkham Asylum and plan on where to go from there. I will have several people dressed in costumes of a ice cream man to hold a reception for you. We plan on pretending to wrap you up in a wrap, just play along.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago

I’m thinking Hyundai’s self-driving cargo concept would work better with the driver operating the rig by wire in the bow of the container which holds the living spaces:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PehqWm0cQKQ

Then just have a couple of seats, a retractable windshield and a convertible roof open from the center of one of the drive units for your local runabout.

Meanwhile the living container need slides – because not only are they expected these days, but nobody likes living in a furnished bowling alley or railroad car. You also need a fold-down terrace so that the outdoors we all love so much that we want to live in it is more accessible than through a narrow door in the corner and small porthole windows.

Oh – and nix the Tesla thing.
We have other EV manufacturers with more efficient motors and less toxic CEOs.

Last edited 2 months ago by Urban Runabout
MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
2 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

…nobody likes living in a furnished bowling alley or railroad car.

Have you not seen the popularity of container homes? I’d be willing to forgo the slides to keep weight down/increase range.

We have other EV manufacturers with more efficient motors and less toxic CEOs.

Less “openly” toxic CEOs. I’d be willing to bet at least some of those other CEOs are just as toxic but aren’t as megalomaniacal as the Musky one.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago

Have you not seen the popularity of container homes?”

Have you not seen the popularity of living in cardboard shacks under freeways?

I don’t believe most people particularly want to live in container homes long narrow windowless boxes – they just so as it is generally more cost-effective than the stick-built house they really want.

No doubt there are CEOs out there who are just as toxic if not more so – but most are smart enough to keep their hands to themselves and their mouths shut.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
2 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

There was a container home built roughly a mile from my home on 30+ acres. I think it was a second home or home-office-on-steroids on the property. I can guarantee you that containers were used by choice, not for cost efficiency. There is a market for minimalist lifestyles.

Not the one by me, but some good examples.
Custom 20′ Dripping Springs model container home. More pics and tour soon to come! . . . #bobscontainers #containerhome #containerhouse… | Instagram

Jj
Jj
2 months ago

I like it very much, but it does undermine what I think would be the greatest benefit of a large RV. I imagine it would be great to pull over and park (as quickly as you can park a large RV) just to run back for a quick bathroom break. Getting out of the tow vehicle, Chaplin-walking the 40 feet to the door and climbing the stairs offer too many chances for complications.

It also eliminates the second great (I imagine) feature – calling to a passenger to grab me a snack or soda from the kitchen.

Space
Space
2 months ago
Reply to  Jj

Maybe a trapdoor can be designed to go from tow vehicle to trailer. Only in locked mode or someone might be slightly hurt when turning.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
2 months ago

The RV looks cool, but it also looks a bit scary to me. Like a cabover truck, the driver is much closer to the front of the vehicle than in most vehicles. Unlike a cabover truck, there is no heavy engine below you to absorb some of the impact. It reminds me of a VW van in the sense the driver and front passenger are integral parts of the crumple zone. Unlike a VW van, though, there are multiple tons of RV stuff behind the passenger compartment. It seems like the momentum of the heavy stuff behind the passenger compartment could lead to the passenger compartment being crushed in the event of a severe front-end collision. That does not sound fun.

I am probably being paranoid, though. I suppose there might be ways to make this safe? If nothing else, it looks far less terrifying than the Steinwinter.

Last edited 2 months ago by Stig's Cousin
Rapgomi
Rapgomi
2 months ago

Its the BIG BUS from 1976 – only with a fifth wheel hitch and less radiation!

The Bishop
The Bishop
2 months ago
Reply to  Rapgomi

HA! I was gonna put in a still from that movie! Again, I was under 10 and saw the trailers on tv so that absolutely polluted my mind. You can tell!

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
2 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop
UnseenCat
UnseenCat
2 months ago
Reply to  Rapgomi

I thought the same thing!
Yes, I’m getting old…

Jj
Jj
2 months ago
Reply to  Rapgomi

I was completely unaware of this movie. I was still in diapers when this came out, but I’m surprised I didn’t catch it on a rerun at some time.

Was Denver a more important destination in 1976?

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
2 months ago
Reply to  Jj

I’m guessing that they stopped in Denver because of the Rocky Mountains, west of town. East of Denver is miles and miles of mostly flat, at least until you hit Pennsylvania.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago

Okay, Bishop, you have missed a MAJOR opportunity here.

The big thing in today’s RVs are toy haulers, and this design would be PERFECT as a toy hauler.

But NOT like typical toy haulers.

Put the toys up front in the elevated area.

Can you imagine pulling into the RV area at your local off-road park, and that section splitting down the middle, and you just LAUNCHING your dirt bikes or side-by-side out, hitting the ground, and roaring off to the trails!! Then, when you get back you just ramp it straight up the windshield into the bay like a total badass!!!

You would be the KING of the campground!! Feel free to blast your Euro techno music with accompanying laser show, because NO ONE tells the king that his party is out of control. And if anyone tries, LAUNCH THE DIRT BIKES! After all, you automatically have the high ground!

Hail to the king, baby…

The Bishop
The Bishop
2 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Indeed, I did mention that the whole void space below is ideal for this kind of use. Glad you were able to elaborate!

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

No, no, no. You want them up top so you can make a grand entrance! And a spectacular exit!

Then rule the campground from on high, space efficiency be damned!

Steve Walton
Steve Walton
2 months ago

Two things:

a) put the driver in the top part, not the bottom, driving by wire. Then you don’t need the big bump on the tractor, which is then realized as simply a way to articulate the front end to accommodate turning the gigantic trailer. You lose the separable drive-around, but you didn’t need that anyway.

b) ditch the hallway that uses up a ridiculous percentage of the floorplan. Connect the rooms with center alcoves like God intended and gain more table and cabinet space.

The Bishop
The Bishop
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Walton

Also, once we have legitimate self driving, the Steinwinter might make sense.

Jj
Jj
2 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

We’ll have teleportation first.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago

Paging Mr. Banzai, Mr. Buckaroo Banzai, your mobile HQ is ready for pick up. Please come to the 8th dimension and see the cashier.

JDS
JDS
2 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Doesn’t the Mobile Command Center also need a recording studio and neurosurgery suite?

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy!

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
2 months ago

Rodimus Prime?

MrLM002
MrLM002
2 months ago

Honestly I think the future of RVs is smaller, not large. Affordability is a huge issue but so is finding RV parking, especially when many people live out of their RVs full time. Cool idea though

Jj
Jj
2 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

If full-timers are a significant part of the market, smaller probably won’t happen in a significant way.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
2 months ago

I’m honored my hand wringing resulted in a clean-sheet design, and a pretty cool one at that.

The Bishop
The Bishop
2 months ago

Glad I could do it. I appreciate the comments!

James Carson
James Carson
2 months ago

Cool machine. Xerox PARC also created the modern bit mapped displays, laser printers, LANs using XNS (networking protocol), modern word processors – inventor went to MS and created MS Word, graphics paint programs. The company didn’t get what PARC was creating.

Freddy Bartholomew
Freddy Bartholomew
2 months ago
Reply to  James Carson

I was in the PARC General Sciences Lab as a post-doc in 1980-1981. It was unbelievable what I witnessed. I was not as clever to ‘steal’ the ideas as Steve Jobs, who toured the labs in 1979. Used to sneak up to the Computer Sciences Lab for the better coffee and fun seminars. Laser printers actually came from Rochester, but were the size of a room. IIRC, it was PARC that shrank it. Developments from the lab I was in became a hard disk media company (Komag), a diode laser company (SDL), various display companies, plus others that I’m forgetting. Cool place, but no full-time jobs when I finished my stint. I was working on basic research on amorphous silicon for solar cells and x-ray imaging (dPix). Great cafeteria food and a fantastic outdoor seating area overlooking Silicon Valley. I’m still friends with my then boss.

James Carson
James Carson
2 months ago

I discovered them in University indirectly through Smalltalk and bitslice computers. I was aware of their work in advanced computer tech. Studied EE and Computer Science. Wrote a smalltalk interpreter for a class term project and we did a bit slice cpu for another class project. What a fascinating company to work for. I worked for several telecom companies after grad where I worked on realtime OS kernels, compiler parts, and some board level hardware design.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
2 months ago

My first reaction is that it looks like the old Burlington “shovel nose” streamliner from the thirties.
I like the idea of a low cab forward tow vehicle, the concern is how popular a specialist vehicle would be compared to a multipurpose vehicle.
Optional utility trailers, either flat bed or dump body might help since it would be less of a one trick pony.
Another idea if you’re going EV is to build a docking power unit that can be detached and driven separately. It could even be at the rear of the camper and operated remotely like some railcars.

The Bishop
The Bishop
2 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

Yes, there’s a Streamliner in the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago. Love it!

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago

“I also wonder if a “locking” feature on the fifth wheel might be nice for situations where you don’t want or need the articulation…”

I’m what situations do you not need or want to be able to steer? I’m confused.

This idea is an interesting one, but it’s not difficult to understand why nobody has tried it. This would be rather difficult to drive, at least compared to more normal motorhomes. Accordingly, this requires a Class A CDL in all states, not being part of the motorhome exemption. It’s also an oversized load, being a trailer longer than 53 feet.

The Bishop
The Bishop
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Not sure if locking is necessary, as I mentioned in the article. More concerned about preventing jackknifing at speed on slick surfaces but traction controls would likely do that.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

…this requires a Class A CDL in all states, not being part of the motorhome exemption. It’s also an oversized load, being a trailer longer than 53 feet.

Maybe, maybe not to both of your assertions. Before I go further, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site, I want drivers of large RVs and fifth wheels to have the same or equivalent training and licensing as commercial drivers. IMHO, drivers of anything heavier than 26K lbs owe it to their fellow motorists to demonstrate they have the skills, knowledge and physical ability to operate their large vehicle.

But back to your point about a CDL required to operate the EarthRover: How is this different from a one-ton pickup towing a 48-foot fifth wheel travel trailer? To my knowledge, neither paw-paw or me-maw need a CDL to tow their fifth wheel TT.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago

Because, unlike a fifth wheel camper, this is a combination vehicle over 26,000lb GVWR. It’s also over 53 feet long.

The CDL motorhome exemption only applies to straight trucks.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

With all due respect, the EarthRoamer is a hypothetical vehicle. It may or may not weigh more than 26K lbs if put into earthly form.

Regarding non-hypothetical vehicles, 2024 one-ton crewcabs weigh 8 to 9K lbs, and the heaviest 5th wheel I found is 20K lbs. So that combination is into CDL territory in some states — mine for example.

I think we’re arguing in the same direction.

Jj
Jj
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Wasn’t there a tractor / trailer combo on here a few weeks ago (very expensive, unpainted one with popout decks all over the place) that was technically still an RV because they had a sleeping compartment in the cab? It sounded like the owners had to send the tractor somewhere to convert it for rv use, but I’m not sure what else was involved in getting it compliant.

Brockstar
Brockstar
2 months ago

Can you imagine how much Barkeeper’s Friend it will take to polish that!? Tennis elbow aside, that looks pretty great. It could be an interesting rental prospect with a few different sizes/configurations of trailers. Also not to give you more work already, but what if you took the bendy-bus idea and sized it down to something similar to a short wheelbase Sprinter or similar with a detachable bunk/ living space unit to leave behind at the campsite?

The Bishop
The Bishop
2 months ago
Reply to  Brockstar

That’s a pretty interesting idea- so you’d still get the combined living space.

You can give me more work. I’m out of work, I’m out of a job.

Brockstar
Brockstar
2 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Exactly! It would be a miniature version of the Jurassic Park 2 rig, but with fewer dinosaurs and better mobile device connectivity.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago
Reply to  Brockstar

Forget scrubbing, just bombard it with walnut shells.

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