The “Perfect” RV (Part 3)

The inside dimensions of the trailer are 16 feet by 7 feet. The roof has been raised by one foot over the standard 7 foot high ceiling making it 8 feet tall inside. This will accommodate the Rhino (side by side). I suspect it will accommodate all ATV models, but didn’t confirm that.

There will be four – 12 VDC LED dome lights centerline on the ceiling. They will be powered by one 12 VDC battery which will be stored inside the trailer. The battery will primarily be charged by a solar panel on the roof. Did not opt for 120 volt AC.

Decided to add two five gallon propane gas cylinders and regulator on the tongue. The spare tire will be mounted above them.

Added four E-track rails, two on each side of the trailer. E-track is a tie-down system for trucks and cargo trailers. It will create a great deal of flexibility for how the trailer can be used. You can find information about it readily on the net.

Besides tie-downs for the ATV and boat, the E-track rail will provide support for furniture, primarily beds which can be put up and taken down (easily I think). Or, they could fold up and be stored against the sides of the trailer – or both. I’ll decide on that later. Also had six rings installed in the floor for additional tie-downs.

The floor will be covered by heavy-duty rubber matting. I want it to be easy to wash out if necessary so I also had a one foot high kick plate will be installed around the perimeter of the floor. The matting extends down the ramp as well.

I decided that insulation was important, so everything but the floor has R7 insulation.

The standard metal door will be replaced by a 36 inch RV door which will have a window and screen. Three additional windows will be added appropriately. They are 30 inches x 22 inches and will pop out per safety standards. I added a few extra running lights and a light by the door.

The trailer will have a “straight axle” upgrade that will create four inches of additional clearance and two boogie wheels should help reduce damage to the rear end of the trailer if (and I will) I drive over sharp inclines like when I take it one the ferry to Webb Track and the tide isn’t perfect.

Went with scissor jacks on all four corners to make it more convenient to keep it level. A cable hatch will allow me to breach the wall with wires or hoses as necessary without making additional holes in the wall.

In order to load my Boston Whaler, I’ll need to build a boat dolly and remove it from the current boat trailer. I’ve been looking at options and going through some mental gymnastics. I’m pretty sure it will work out. I may have to take the 20 HP Mercury motor off each time I load it, which will be a pain. I’m hoping it will squeeze in.

I also have a twelve-foot aluminum boat that would be easy to load, but the whaler is a much better option.

The cargo trailer will also be an option for storage in cases where there is a short-term need such as remodeling and needing a place for furniture storage.

There should be enough room for three people to sleep inside, but they’ll be getting to know each other quite well. I had a Fantastic Fan installed so at least there will be good ventilation.

I would have posted the plan, but it is property of the builder, Forest River, Inc. Wouldn’t want to made anybody mad at me.

Decided to be conservative and go with gray exterior paint.

That’s about it for now. I’m waiting to hear how long it will take to build it. Will post some photos at that time.

RV Search (Part 2)

Frustrated in my effort to come up with a plan to consolidate the RV situation, I stepped up my search for improving the situation.

My priorities: 1.) Have a place to sleep while on hunting and fishing trips. 2.) Have a second place where a guest can sleep if I’m taking somebody else hunting. This is mostly a problem with duck hunting, which is mostly done with at least one other hunter. The issue is compounded by the fact that the two main duck clubs on which I hunt often require an overnight stay. 3.)Be able to haul  a variety of boats, atvs and other auxiliary equipment or gear. 4.)An RV that can be reasonably managed (stored) when not in use. 5.) An RV that can remain in an outdoors location for months at a time without being overrun by rodents and other critters. 6.) No net gain in vehicles or trailers to store in my side yard at home and better yet, a reduction of those types of items. (This is #1 on my wife’s list.)

Last year I rented a travel trailer to deal with #2 above. Then I towed it to the duck club behind my truck and camper. My guests were quite comfortable. But it was only a temporary fix and it cost over $1,000 to have the trailer available for about a month. Not a solution, just a quick fix.


Rented this travel trailer last December/January. it functioned well as a place to sleep and get out of the weather, but it didn’t solve other issues about hauling and storing equipment.

A trip to a weekend RV show fired me up, the cost of solutions presented there was overwhelming. I checked out a four-wheel drive Mercedes van which would be a great tool, but the cost of the van without any improvements was over $60,000. Estimates for finished vans were $100,000 and up. Non-starter for me.

Then I spotted the Airstream “Base Camp” travel trailer. What I great toy. I sat in it and imagined my camp. Definite infatuation. But the Base Camp trailer cost over $40,000 and it created many new issues.

Next came a few days searching the internet. I was impressed by the numbers of RV’s I found. They didn’t solve my problem.

For years I’ve known about a friend of mine who used a cargo trailer for a place to sleep while camping alone in remote places. Unfortunately he had a very bad experience when a propane explosion destroyed his camper and seriously burned him.

However, the idea of converting a cargo trailer to a combo utility trailer, cargo trailer and RV sounded interesting. Finally I drove to Tracy and looked at cargo trailers. It was clear at once that I was on the right track.


The cargo trailer can haul any ATV  or any boat I own. It stores equipment out of the weather. It is sixteen feet long and has a 5,000 lb double axle. The total out-the-door cost of the customized trailer  will be under $15,000.

The picture above is not the trailer that I purchased, but it is close enough for display purposes. In order to make the cargo trailer versatile it had to be customized. That will be the subject of my last (I hope) RV post.

Search for the Perfect RV (Part 1)

Boats, boat trailers, ATVs, utility trailers, trucks, campers and travel trailers (what have I left out) are necessary for a life as a ranch owner and outdoorsman, but you can only afford to own, or store, a limited number of toys. Here are some of them and what they cost me.


This 13 ft Boston Whaler ($300 used) is old and ugly, but it is a very useful and stable boat that doubles as a fishing and duck hunting platform. The 20 hp motor ($2,000+ new) moves it along, but not like a bass boat.


This eight foot boat, called the “Final Attack Duck Boat” ($600 new) has been idle for a couple of years, but it rests upon a very useful trailer originally desired for Personal Watercraft, like wave runners ($250 used). It works well with the duck boat and may figure into my future RV plan.


About fifteen years ago, my brother and I had this utility trailer built to haul our gear on out-of-state hunts. It holds two one person ATVs or one side by side, in this case a Yamaha, Rhino. It travels well and is not bothered by rough roads. We have about $2,500 invested in this trailer. It also hauls a nice load of gravel on occasion. The side by side is a nice way to travel when you have company, but it is a noisy vehicle.

A few years ago, I purchased a camper for my F-150. F-150 (42,000+ new).


This Raven camper fits on the short bed of my 2013 F-150. It holds enough gear and has a comfortable bed over the cab. Cost $10,000 new about three years ago.

The camper model is the Raven and it is made by Four Wheel Campers and they are located in Woodland, CA.

My camper is just a shell, which means it has only storage, a fan, a battery and a bed. The bed is located over the cab. It works well for me and I don’t need a stove, heater or potty because I spend most of my time outside the camper anyway.

This camper is fine for one person, but not all of my friends have trucks and campers and I don’t own a travel trailer for guests. Not to mention that I potentially hunt on three duck clubs so I’d have to haul the travel trailer to each duck club during the season.

The advantage of a camper is that you can haul a trailer, but I need a trailer for ATVs, boats and sleeping. I suppose that’s why somebody came up with the toy hauler concept, but I don’t want to tow a 25 foot long travel trailer. And just like with the camper, I don’t need a stove, heater, potty and built-in table. Just not my style.

This line of thinking has led me to search for a solution that will impact and simplify all of my needs. Although this is a never-ending search, I made a specific decision related to the next stage in progress. I’ll explain in part two of this post.

Notice from The North American Bird Banding Program

Received this notice today. Thought it worthy of re-publishing it here.

“Bird banding is important for studying the movement, survival and behavior of birds. About 60 million birds representing hundreds of species have been banded in North America since 1904. About 4 million bands have been recovered and reported.

Data from banded birds are used in monitoring populations, setting hunting regulations, restoring endangered species, studying effects of environmental contaminants, and addressing such issues as Avian Influenza, bird hazards at airports, and crop depredations. Results from banding studies support national and international bird conservation programs such as Partners in Flight, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and Wetlands for the Americas.

The North American Bird Banding Program is under the general direction of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Cooperators include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexico’s National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity and Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources; other federal, state and provincial conservation agencies; universities; amateur ornithologists; bird observatories; nature centers; nongovernmental organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the National Audubon Society; environmental consulting firms and other private sector businesses. However, the most important partner in this cooperative venture is you, the person who voluntarily reported a recovered band. Thank you for your help.

U.S. Geological Survey
Canadian Wildlife Service

Please Report Bands at
call 1-800-327-BAND”

Follow-up on Golden Eagle Band

The area near our ranch has a large concentration of eagles, both golden and bald. These eagles have been closely monitored for many years.

The individual who captured golden eagle 629-41062 was Daniel Driscoll. When contacted by my friend Joe DiDonato (Joe has a long history of working with golden eagles), Driscoll had the following comment.

“We captured 629-41062 as a breeding female at the Lower Indian Creek breeding area on 5-30-1996. Since she was at least 4 years old (adult) when captured, the eagle would be at least 25 years old this year.”

The Lower Indian Creek breeding area is located on the south side of San Antonio Reservoir in Alameda County. It is approximately a mile from the location where the carcass of a banded golden eagle was found yesterday. (See previous post)

Golden Eagle Band #629-41062

Over the years I’ve collected the bands of waterfowl, mostly mallards, but also a greater Canada goose, greater snow goose, one sprig and a greater white-front goose.

Once upon a time I actually participated in banding raptors at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory as a beginner at the Marin headlands. And, the band of a sharp-shinned hawk (one of the few I personally banded), was recovered and reported. It was surprising to read the report in the Raptor Observatory newsletter.

Today, Rob and I recovered a band from a non-waterfowl bird. It was the band of a golden eagle, probably one the eagles we have often observed and maybe even photographed.

The carcass of the bird was found along side the road to our ranch. It was deteriorated and rotten, but there was a band on its leg – a band that led to a great deal of interesting information about the bird.

The band report said that the bird was banded in 1996 near the Arroyo Sanitorium (about four miles south of Livermore California) and that it was hatched in 1993 or earlier. It was female. Now, over 20 years later, and at the age of 24 years or greater, the bird is dead, a testimony to the ability of eagles to survive in our modern world full of obstacles and danger.

After 20+ years, the dead bird was found only about five miles from where it was banded. Based upon a quick internet search, it appears that this bird lived to be quite old for a wild North American golden eagle.


The 20-year-old band was scratched and scared. The diameter of the band is approximately equal to the diameter of a quarter.