Isn’t alcohol lighter than water?

We’re overweight. What’s new, right? I mean, aren’t something like sixty percent of Americans overweight now? Except I don’t mean “us”, but our home. How much does your home weigh? You don’t know? Who weighs their home? We do, up to 2X/year. How else can we maintain any margin of safety relative to our trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) or our truck’s gross combined weight rating (gcwr)?

Jim likes to pull occasionally into a Flying J or Pilot or another truck stop with scales. He can pull the truck and trailer onto the scales platform and, for less than $10 and five minutes, we obtain a printed weight report for each of the truck’s two axles and for the trailer. We try to have our home weighed once or twice a year.

How’s it working out? Not too badly for having moved everything from a 3,000 sf house into a 184 sf trailer. Well, not everything — it wouldn’t fit. We moved what we thought we should and could take with us. We tried to be very judicious about our belongings, only taking what we thought we would need and use.

Gradually we have accumulated stuff. Mostly the increase seems to be food, clothing, and books. Wait a minute, aren’t these the only things we have in the trailer? Not really, since we have cookware, place settings, radio equipment, and cleaning stuff, too.

Still, the trailer has gained weight in the three years we’ve been full-timing. Here are our weights over the past four years:
date              trailer truck
25-Sep-06 5580 7400
12-Aug-07 6060 8160
17-Aug-07 6040 8080
4-Jun-09 6120 8840
22-Oct-09 6220 8760
28-Mar-10 6400 8700

The first weight is one of our first outings with this trailer, packed for a weekend. The next two are in the first week of our maiden voyage as retirees, on our 8,000 mile shake-down cruise. The weights, interestingly, are pre-solar panels (60 pounds), pre-6 volt batteries (50 pounds increase) and pre-roof-mounted ham radio antenna (40 pounds?). Also, we had a weight in 2008 (not shown) that is 800 pounds heavier and we attribute it to scale (or math) error and tossed it out.

Our last three weights are current, last year and last week. And we decided we have finally reached the tipping point. We are officially over-weight. Last year we emptied the trailer’s outside storage bins (curb side and rear) of all weighty gear, including chemicals and shoes. Nice thought, but this left a lot of work yet to be done.

Today we earnestly started cutting out excesses in our rolling home. First to go? Bose Sound System sub-woofer and Almost Invisible speakers, comprising 20 pounds, are de-mounted and heading for storage where they’ll await another, heavier home sometime in our future.

Next? We pored through our clothing totes in the trailer and found almost five pounds (woohoo!) of clothes to give away or store for backpacking or winter. The stored ones will stay with us, but in the truck which has almost limitless weight capacity. Well, not really, since the gvwr is 9,200 pounds and we’re already at 8,700.

And we’re carrying all the gear we have room for — the truck bed is full enough already. We lack no tools or fun gear. We will swap out Jim’s golf clubs and add our backpacking gear for some adventures in Washington or Oregon late this summer or fall. Our challenge, then, is to find the stuff we aren’t using and don’t really need but just happen to carry along.

The best examples are our pretty Airstream books, or our complete Martinis and Medicine MASH dvd collection. We can’t watch but so many episodes in a year’s time, and as much as we love the books we spend more time reading books and periodicals. Speaking of periodicals, we’ll save a few pounds if Jim will catch up with Debbie on Time, Appalachian Trail Conference, Carolina Alumni Review, and QST magazines so we can carry fewer of these.

And we have increased our food stocks without any regard for weight totals. Who wouldn’t? What do you want to do without, beer, chocolate, or ice cream? Nah! We want them all! And the truck isn’t a good place for these items. But we can move ten or twenty pounds of canned and other dry goods to the truck.

What else can go? We have carried two spare sets of sheets and one spare set of towels. And have never needed them. We can wash and dry either in one day and put them back in service. Rarely do we have overnight house guests needing linens, although once we did have a granddaughter stay overnight two nights. Okay, we’ll shed the oldest set of bed linens and the remainder comprise almost five pounds more we can move to the truck.

This weight reduction will help, but we could cut the most weight by keeping our fresh water tank empty. Jim prefers to maintain the fresh water tank full. But at 39 gallons X 8.3 pounds per gallon, we can trim some part of 320 pounds right there. Traveling without fresh water isn’t a great idea, but we can carry less than a full tank. Lacking water, if we get thirsty we’ll still have a case each of beer and wine and a few fifths of liquor, right?

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr


10 responses to “Isn’t alcohol lighter than water?

  1. Hi Jim and Deb,
    Happy Easter!! Love reading your blog. We also only carry 1 set of towels and a spare twinbed sheets for company. My biggest weight reduction is my Kindle, no more books. I totally love it and since I have a Kindle Rich can download books to his netbook. I have read on the beach in Fl and everywhere else we have been..It is a great investment. Rich is also now reading more magazines on line as they become available. See you in Gillette?

    • Julie,
      Mom’s vision is her biggest challenge. The Kindle has rekindled her passion for reading. My brother shares books with her, she can carry it anywhere, and best of all, can see it more clearly than printed pages. But now my sisters have one fewer source for books. Hmm, maybe we can lighten our trailer and share our books with them?

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with Julie about the Kindle. Faith and I are on our second book on the way from Mesa Az. to Hagerman, Id. And the best part is I haven’t paid for one book yet.

    Be sure to load up the Ipod with those music CD’s and with one of the new ones you could carry your MASH collection on it too.

    ps: I have always thought winterizing with vodka would be a good idea, what a party the first trip out.

    • We have all our CDs on the iPod, but not any movies. Yeah, we could save a lot of weight if we could dump all the DVDs too, but our 4th gen iPod hasn’t any room left. Hmm, sounds like a good excuse to upgrade the iPod, right? How many CDs and movies can you store on a 160 gig iPod?

      News clip could read, “couple found in their RV, dehydrated and starved, movies running continuously on televison from their iPod”. Can movies run on the television directly from the iPod? Moot point for us, since our iPod has total cap of 20 gig.

      Kindle idea is nice, but we’d require two — we most often read at the same time, but not the same material at the same time. Maybe they’ll offer a twofer sometime, we can look at that deal.

      BTW, we’re on our way this weekend to see the iHouse plant and the first iHouse built — really excited about it — guess what we’ll do after we see those? No! Not buy one quite yet, we’re not quite ready to stop traveling, but we we will enjoy seeing this and sharing it with you guys.

  3. Great post!!

    We haven’t weighed our home away from home in a couple of years. Will add that to the list! I think our floor plan has a larger total gvwr, by several hundred pounds as I remember. May be time to trade!

    • Yeah, Barry, we can trade for same model, later production date, and get additional 1,000 pounds payload. Go figure! On the other hand, we should price axle change-out — same result without replacing entire trailer. Just trade our 3,000 pound axles for 3,500 pound rated ones.


    • We talked this morning to NC DMV about our weighted tags. It is less a big deal than we thought. Apparently it will cost us an increase of less than $100 per year to get legal on our tag weight “tax”. They prorate the amount now until our next renewal. No physical change to the plates, just changes the records. Oh yeah, and protects us from some hefty penalty if we didn’t take care of this.

      The website for determining the amount of the extra weight fees is here for NC. We couldn’t find this on the NC DMV website, finally found it through a 4X4 club’s website. Doesn’t matter how you find info — just amazing how it links up through the WWW, isn’t it?

  4. Very, very thought provoking. You two have put me on a new track. I’ve thought long and hard (in the last 3 minutes) about what I can jettison from our land yacht. Finally, I have come up with my solution, barring the fact that we haven’t weighed the rig for a long time, and I don’t know if we are overweight or not; there is something I have that is totally unnecessary to life on axles. Please don’t send cards commiserating with me. I am strong about this and will not, I repeat, will not grieve my impending loss. I have an extra camel-hair face powder brush in my cosmetic bag that I will pitch at my first convenience. There, I’ve said it in public. Now I must follow through. Done deal. Excuse me while I go have a moment alone with my swirling emotions. Later, friends…

  5. Thank you! With your kind of support, example, and encouragement I will succeed. ;)

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