This post is part of Patrick’s Beer & Gear series. We realize we’ve talked a lot about the Minnie without giving her a proper introduction!
The real estate agent said, “The house is only 160 square feet but the yard is upwards of two billion acres.” We said, “Sold!”
Since early July this 2004 Winnebago Minnie has been our only home. Most of our belongings are stored away in a POD. We have only what we can carry on our backs and in the various drawers and compartments of the Minnie. So far, it’s been just enough space for us. Here’s what the floor plan of our house looks like:
We get lots of questions from non-RV folks about her so here are some vital specs.
Drivetrain: Ford 6.8L Super-Duty V10 SOHC Triton engine, 306-hp, 457 ft·lbf torque, automatic 4-speed overdrive transmission. That’s some serious power. The engine is the same one they put in the giant 30+ foot RVs. She’s pulled up over 10,000 feet in elevation with no problem.
Fuel Mileage: 10-11 MPG. Some say that’s terrible, some say that’s not so bad. It is a house on wheels. I drive with fuel economy constantly in mind, letting her momentum roll when possible, and accelerating… well if you can call it that… as slowly as possible. Wind resistance is the biggest factor for mileage. It’s best to keep her at 60 mph and slower or the tank will really start draining. We’ve climbed up over and down huge mountain passes in the Owen’s Valley and still nailed a 10 MPG fill-up.
Refrigerator: I’ll never want to travel with a cooler again. The Minnie has a mid sized fridge and freezer that runs on propane (magically) or 120 VAC when we are docked. It’s spacious enough for a full weeks worth of food plus a twelver of cheap beer.
Water: Yup she has two sinks with running water! Not to mention the showers (indoor and outdoor) and the stool. There’s a fresh water tank that holds 36 gallons plus another 6 in the hot water heater. That’s right, hot water. It’s hard to call it camping when you’ve got a couch and hot water. We can typically get two full showers (Navy style), do dishes, and run the commode for 3 days on one tank. Running out of water is the limiting factor on how long we can stay out in the boonies. To get the water out of the tank there’s a noisy little pump hidden under the couch that turns on anytime you run the water. If we are docked somewhere with a spigot we can connect directly to pressurized water and bypass the tank and pump and take a shower that nearly feels like your house without wheels.
Propane: The Minnie sports an 18 gallon propane tank. This supplies flammable gas all around the cabin to the fridge, stove, oven, heater, and hot water tank. We typically go for about 3 weeks between refills. And at that rate it’s only ever taken 10 gallons to fill er up.
Electrical (my favorite): The Minnie has three, count ’em, three batteries. There’s one standard car battery under the hood for starting the engine. There are two more deep cycle batteries in the cabin for running the house power. The house batteries power the inside lights, water pump, heater blower, and the all important bathroom exhaust fan. The heater fan and water pump seem to drain the batteries the fastest. To recharge those batteries there’s a built in charger that runs if your plugged in to AC power or, once you start the Minnie, a switch connects the house batteries to the engine 12 Volt system to charge. We also have an assortment of adapters and converters so that we can charge our cameras, iphones, and ‘lectric toothbrush. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention the generator! The Minnie has a built in 4000 watt gasoline generator. If there’s nowhere to plug in simply push a button and voila, AC power. This will recharge those batteries and run the cabin AC and microwave. The generator even pulls gas straight from the main gas tank.
Camping: Well I wouldn’t say we are really campers anymore. We do sometimes stay in campsites with campfire rings and picnic tables. But the idea of cooking s’mores over a campfire and sleeping on the ground just isn’t that appealing anymore. It is amusing to watch other real campers come spend the better part of an afternoon setting up their gear. The tent is always first, then the cooler comes out. Maybe a table cloth and shade structure. Oh, don’t forget the stove and lantern and tiki torches. Maybe string a clothesline, set up a dish washing station, find the batteries for the radio and headlamps and set up those camp chairs. Jeez, I get tired just watching. I used to like that part of camping but now we just roll up, open the back door, and lay out the door mat. Done! Then we quickly get on to more important things like where should park the house tomorrow.