“What’s He Up To Now”: Class B List Updated & Other Random Projects

Well, it’s November again. Since we’ve been home all month, I’ve had time to get a few projects cooking. Starting with my annual Class B Manufacturer List update.

Fall 2017 Class B Manufacturer List – Now including ridiculously tall coaches!

This year, only one builder dropped off the list, and I had four new Class B additions.  I couldn’t possibly cover them all, but there are also lots of new models and floor plans to choose from this year.  Maintaining the list is sort of a labor of love for me.  It’s been great to see the list explode from just a few manufacturers a couple years ago to over twenty today.  More evidence of the huge and growing popularity of this segment.

But that’s not all I’ve been up to lately.  I also upgraded the lithium battery system in Lance!

It’s not any bigger… but it is.

There will be a post with more details soon, but basically, Lithionics has been busy updating their batteries and BMS, and well… I just had to have it.  Our battery, which is still in the same size case, now has 525 usable amp-hours (up from 420), and the latest version of their BMS.

Believe it or not, the BMS is actually more exciting than the amp-hour upgrade.  Lithionics BMS now includes a feature that I’ve wondered why nobody has included since the dawn of lithium batteries:

Temperature monitoring.

Basically, the system can now prevent charging a frozen battery (which is very bad for lithium), and can prevent any kind of activity on a too-hot battery (which is also bad).  I really can’t wait to try this out, but first, I have to wait for it to get REALLY COLD.  Super-nerdy battery posts ahead!

This is almost an afterthought, but here’s another project I’ve started working on:  shelving for our galley cabinets.

Hey! I just remembered I love woodworking!

It felt good to be doing some straight-up woodworking for a change.  This is not nearly done yet, but I think it will work out just fine for us.  I’ll be making something for under the galley sink as well.

And finally, there’s this:

I decided I was “towable-curious”. 😉

I call him George.  He’ll be following Lance around sometimes.

Again – more details to come on that one when he’s ready for his debut.

James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.

    34 thoughts on ““What’s He Up To Now”: Class B List Updated & Other Random Projects

    1. Gordon Yaghjian

      Hi Guys. Are you going to the 2018 Tampa RV show? I’ll be there looking at B’s. We are newbies and will probably buy used. But must get in and lay on bed and get into shower. Stuff you can’t possibly experience looking at pictures and reading articles. For us (no bikes or toys) rear twin bed is perfect. Really like the Dodge Pro Master viability and turning radius. Love the Pleasure Way Lexor interior. But $$$$ will make the final choice. Enjoy watching and learning from you.

      1. James - Post author

        Hey there Gordon.
        YES! We will be at the Tampa show. You can find us on Friday and Saturday in and around the Winnebago Class B display.
        Stop by!

      2. Gordon Yaghjian

        Well, tomorrow is Friday and I have been waiting since Thanksgiving to go to the Big Tampa RV show.I found your blog and been learning a lot !! It’s been tough traveling so I hope you make it tomorrow so we can meet at the Winnebago Display. Wife and I will be looking at all the B’s. Sun will be out and temp almost 70* 🙂

    2. Barry Long

      Hi James,
      My wife and I are in the market for a Travato 59K. If we end up getting a new unit without all of the preferred options, or a used unit, say a 2016, how easy would it be to add options. For example, if we wanted side and rear door screens, or say the solar panel set up, are those options that we could order from Winnebago and get installed or install ourselves?

      Barry and Karen

      1. Barry Long

        Also, I noticed you have a diesel version of the Travato that was offered circa 2015/2016. Do you know why Winnebago stopped offering that engine in later years?

        1. Barry Long

          Woops… mistaken. I was watching your dealership test drive of a ProMaster diesel and was thinking that is what Lance was before reading more of your gas diesel blog…just curious as to why Winnebago stopped providing the option to buy a Travato’s with a diesel engine.

        2. James - Post author

          I don’t believe the diesels were selling all that well for them.
          But it’s a moot point at the moment, as the last time I checked, Ram was not offering the diesel ProMaster in the US.
          (Ram says that will change, but it’s been a while now…)

      2. James - Post author

        I think your dealer would be able to order them and install them, for sure.
        Some of them will be easier and cheaper to do than others though.
        The rear door screen, for example, would be a super simple add. Wiring for solar however, would be much more complicated.
        So the answer is, it sort of depends on what you want to have done.

    3. Steve ONeill

      What Lithionics battery are you now running and what inverter/charger?

      Howdy! I currently run a 2007 Sprinter 2500 outfitted with a Magnum Energy MS2712E MS-E Series 2700W inverter charger, feeding from two Group 34 AGM Marine batteries and the weak-ass factory 120amp alternator. To be fair, I use the van for overnight tailgating and mobile partying and its gettting a little long in the tooth.

      I have a Lithionics 12V195A-30H-CTRL200 battery (with internal BMS) that I am using as the heart of a portable homemade “Hurricane Power & Light” kit system coupled to a Xantrex HFS 2000 watt inverter-charger, 13.8v buck-boost converter and a slew of ham radio/solar panel/anderson powerpole input-output adapters (and 160 watt Zamp Solar portable panels). I am sold on the Lithionics product!

      I am currently in the market to sell our Sprinter and upgrade to a slide-in Truck Camer based on a Ford F550 (dual alternator) or another Sprinter based on the Winnebago Sprinter Revel 4×4. An extra alternator and 250 watts of solar are a must have option for me. So I am gathering ideas for a 500 to 800 lithium amp-hour battery option.

      So again, what is the Lithionics battery model you are now using? How much larger would you go if you could? And do you have any recommendations?

      Thank you,

      Steve O’Neill

      1. James - Post author

        Currently, we have a 525AH Lithionics battery with their latest generation BMS. Also running a Xantrex Freedom SW 3012.
        If I were designing my own rig and money was no object, I would probably go with 1200 Amp Hours, in two 600AH 8D boxes, that I would put on either side to keep the weight centered. But that’s just me being greedy.
        If I were being realistic, I would probably go with 600AH, and just realize that if I wanted to run the AC for more than 5 hours or so, I would need to run the engine as well. The times when we actually want to do that are pretty few and far between. Beyond the air conditioning, there’s nothing that would drive our needs up over 600 AH.

    4. Matt Gross

      Hey James, Congrats on the upgrade with the new BMS. Curious how the battery handles charge and discharge sources? Are there still only one set of positive and negative terminals? While it’s great that the battery now handles shutting off the battery with low temp (I’ve been asking for this for a while from different BMS makers), but my concern is if there is only one connecting for both charge and discharge loads then if it shuts down the battery for discharging, you’d have no way of powering the heater to warm up the batteries. I have a DIY lifepo4 setup and I’m looking at a secondary relay for all the charge sources that the BMS can trigger to disconnect the solar load. This would address the alternator and solar, but my only problem is shore power as Magnum doesn’t have any options for remote shutdown of the charger. Maybe an inverter/charger upgrade is in my future if Xantrex can support this. Hopefully your future post will talk about this.

      1. James - Post author

        Yes, there are still only one set of terminals. Charging and discharging are managed internally somehow – according to my understanding.
        I have to put a lot more time in with this new BMS before I can write a good post, but it’s coming.

      2. Mathew K.

        Isn’t it obvious? It’s a van, just start the engine and crank the dash heater till the battery warms up. Or run the propane heater direct from the alternate. Yeah it wastes fuel but your not going to do it for more then a hours and shouldn’t have to do it often. If you’re pulling the van out of storage in the winter just stick an electric space heater in it over night to warm everything up.

        1. James - Post author

          Actually, it’s not quite so obvious.
          Consider that you have a very cold van with a battery below freezing temperature.
          If you start the van to use the dash heater to warm it up, the alternator will also run, which will charge your frozen battery… Bad.
          If you start the van to move it around to the house where you can plug in a space heater to warm it up, the alternator will run, which will charge your frozen battery… Bad.
          If you try to run the propane heater from the alternator, that same alternator will start to charge your frozen battery… Bad.
          If the sun comes up, your solar panels will start to charge your frozen battery… Bad.

          All of the charging sources possible in your van mean that the best place to control charging is at the battery itself. That way, you have only one control system to worry about. Glad to see that a battery maker is including this important functionality.

    5. Tim Huffaker

      I see your going to Louisville to see the new RVs. I wonder if you could ask winnebago if the Paseo could come out with fords diesel like the Fuse.

      Thank you.

    6. Roger

      That’s a nice domestique towable you’ve got there. I’d be careful about the occasional breakaway, but it’s unlikely that either would swap positions, even though Lance is not much of a Sprinter. Do you think hooking up with George will slow down climbing in the mountains?

    7. David

      Is that the infamous Greg Schultz of the Travato dump light? You all are celebrities of sorts. You ought to take a picture of the three of you, Greg, Russ and James 🙂 all forward thinkers and not affraid to innovate.

    8. John Thorpe

      George is just more room for new toys. I can’t wait to see the inside all decked out. Next his and her class B’s. WOW

      1. James - Post author

        We don’t have any plans for his and hers Class Bs… but that’s an awesome idea!
        (Mine would have a lot less sand tracked in…)

        1. Stefany

          OOOO how fun, his and hers! Mine would have a totally groovy hipster chick design accentuated with bright colors, beads, and lots of shiny things! (…though I’d still need James on hand to keep it clean…) xoxo

    9. Smiley

      James, I had a Ford Windstar Mini van as a sales rep for Serotta bicycles and used to rent a U haul trailer (I think an 8 ft long one) and would take tons of bikes and stuff in the trailer to bike rallies and century rides. That Towable will suit you guys well when taking kayaks and bikes along on vacation.

      Start finding big hills to climb as Mallorca is around the corner.

      1. James - Post author

        We’re planning on doing a bunch of climbing in December and January!
        Our George is just a 4×6 trailer. We hardly notice he’s there.

    10. Roger Bohnke

      Towing? Oh my goodness! I know the G can hold a ton, but after reading about all your sports gear, bikes and now boats in the van, I was wondering how you do it. Can definitely see the need for George! Looking forward to hearing the details.


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