2017 Ford C-Max Energi
Having moved from the 5th wheel/pickup combination to a motorhome our next big move was getting a vehicle to tow behind the motorhome. We wanted something we could pull with all four wheels on the ground, not needing any kind of trailer. There are several candidates, most notably a Jeep Wrangler – a legendary “towed.” We decided that the Jeeps are too high and difficult for us to get in and out of at this stage of life. As I researched I found that Ford hybrids can be flat towed so we narrowed our focus to those vehicles. We found this very low mileage 2017 Ford C-Max Energi and decided this was the one.
The Energi is a “plug-in hybrid.” That means that you can plug it into an outlet and the batteries will deliver around 20 miles of electric only travel. After that the car acts as a regular hybrid, running the engine or using the batteries (or both) as needed. The car is very quiet to operate and drives great. It also has more technology than we’ve ever had on a vehicle. We really like the vehicle and are a bit surprised that 2018 was the last year Ford made a C-Max.
The next step was getting it ready to tow. That is a rather big deal as a front base plate has to be installed. Also, a braking system, tail lights, and tow bar is needed. We went with the popular Blue Ox baseplate and tow bar. Then we got the best braking system available for a car being towed behind a diesel motorhome; a SMI Air Force One. This system uses the power from the motorhome air brakes to operate the car brakes proportionally to the brakes being applied on the motorhome. None of this was inexpensive – but it was all part of the process of moving from a pickup pulling a big 5th wheel to a motorhome pulling a small car.
Later on I plan to do an article comparing the 5th wheel experience with the motorhome experience. I may have more to report on towing the C-Max. For now, we have just one tow under our belts. That through Houston I45 traffic to Conroe. That’s a tough drive in any kind of vehicle.
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One of the few things we don’t like about RV Fulltiming is dealing with severe weather and the other night we had a big thunderstorm come through. For a few minutes we had nickle sized hail. Tell you what, having hail beating down on the RV is attention-getting! Our motorhome has three roof vents/exhaust fans. One is covered. The other two, one in a hallway and the other in the bathroom, have no cover over the lid.
We were already aware that one of those lids had a small corner crack so replacing it was on the agenda. The hail storm, though, moved that project to the front burner. The hail broke through that lid, knocking holes in it. The other lid cracked but held. As the storm continued, I grabbed some gaffer tape and taped the broken lid from the inside the best I could. The next morning I got on the roof to survey the damage. Happily, the only damage was to the two lids. I taped them both up some more and ordered replacements as well as new vent covers.
The project was easy enough and in an hour or so I had the new lids plus new covers installed. The covers will not only protect the lids in rough weather and against sun damage but will keep the rain out if the vents are left open. They can also be cracked open when we are traveling to create airflow through the camper.
This is an easy upgrade and I recommend it to anyone who has a RV that doesn’t have the covers.
One thing I really dislike about the floorplan of many motorhomes is the placement of the TV over the driver’s seat. I know that newer rigs are being designed differently, but motorhomes of the era of our “new” Safari Cheetah are all laid out like this.
With that in mind, one of our first projects after getting moved in was to relocate the TV. Since there are just two of us, picking a good spot was easier than it would be for a family. Our rig had two couches facing one another, so we got rid of one of the couches and put our recliners in place of the removed couch.
Then, I mounted the TV over the couch on the opposite side of the rig so that our recliners face it. My approach was pretty low tech. First, I put two hooks in the cabinet above the couch. Then I built a shelf that sits on the back of the couch and is attached to the wall below the window. The front of the shelf isn’t attached to the couch – it just rests on it and is kept in place by a couple of L-shaped brackets that “saddle” the couch.
The TV, then, sits on the shelf, but is also attached by chains to the hooks. This keeps it pretty stable. However, it will not stay there when we are moving the motorhome. I can just unhook the chains, disconnect the HDMI cable, and lay the TV down on the couch. This process will take less than one minute.
Meanwhile, we had a big blank space where the TV had been mounted above the driver’s area. We recovered it will stick on cork shelf liner and attached a much-needed clock there.
Again, this is all low tech and it is also low cost. We’re happy with this early motorhome project.
Note: happily, the scenes on the TV aren’t our local weather!
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Posted in Scott