That New Car Smell: EarthRoamer FAQ
Q: Who drives?
A: We both do, thank you very much.
Q: How many miles to the gallon does it get?
A: On average, an EarthRoamer can get between 9 and 12 MPG depending on the terrain you're driving on. Throughout this trip we've been clocking about 10 MPG pretty consistently (though that's certainly dipped, especially while traveling through the mountains).
Q: How the heck do you change that tire?
A: The tires actually have their own winch-and-pulley system that breaks down and is stored in the back of the truck. There's essentially a metal fork that's inserted into the middle of the tire and then held in place by inserting it into a hole in the rear bumper. We lower the tire down on this "arm" of sorts by attaching the winch cord and pulling it off the back of the truck. Then we used a hydraulic lift (that we fill with air from the truck's air compressor) to hold the truck up, switch out the flat with the spare and basically do the pulley process all over again in reverse. It's hard to visualize, but that's the gist!
Q: What are all the lug nuts for?
A: The outer lug nuts are for the bead system, which locks the tire to the wheel. It's called a run-flat system. That essentially means that if your tire goes completely flat, it won't fall off your wheel. The middle ring of lug nuts are what attach the wheel to the axel. These are the ones we take off to change a flat. The inner lug nuts serve as part of the adaptor for the Ford axel.
Q: How much does it weigh?
A: The one we're driving (28 feet) is roughly between 18,000 and 20,000 lbs. Obviously the weight will increase or decrease depending on the amount of water and fuel you've got inside the vehicle.
Q: How does it drive?
A: Surprisingly, it drives a lot smaller than it looks. We were both intimidated the first time we took this beast on the road, but after clocking about 1,000 miles a week, we've definitely gotten the hang of it by now. Because it's situated on a Ford F550, the vehicle as a whole rides like you'd expect a truck to. The cab is specially built as a single fiberglass piece that sits atop a pivot mount. This allows the cab to remain relatively steady as you're traveling while the frame of the truck flexes.
Q: What's the water capacity?
A: 90 gallons.
Q: Do you have a bathroom?
A: Yes. In this EarthRoamer there's a wet bath, meaning that the shower sits over the toilet. Because each EarthRoamer is made-to-order, there is an option to separate the two (that's what we call a dry bath), but you compromise space from someplace else, usually the kitchen.
Q: How much fuel do you have? Is it diesel?
A: Yes, it's diesel. We've got 90 gallons of fuel total, but have two fuel tanks: one main one that holds 40 gallons and an auxiliary one that holds 50 gallons. The auxiliary automatically feeds into the main fuel tank as you're driving so that the fuel levels remain level.
Q: Can you access the cab from the rear of the truck?
A: Yes. You can access the cab the traditional way (i.e. through the driver or passenger-side doors) or you can enter and exit through the living quarters. EarthRoamer has custom-cut the truck body so that you don't have to go outside to get to the living area. All you have to do when setting up for the night is pull in, lock your doors and head to bed!
Q: Where's the generator?
A: There is none! (There's no propane on board, either.) The electronics in the EarthRoamer (think the fridge, reclining sofa, outlets, etc.) run off of solar and battery power. There are five solar panels on the roof that generate over 1,200 watts of power. The energy is stored in four AGM batteries that sit below the truck's left side for a total of 1,000 amp hours.
Q: Do you actually cook in this thing?
A: Yes! When we're not grabbing some grub at a rest stop or treating ourselves to a nice dinner, we're cooking and grilling in the Roamer. So much of our trip has been spent in National Parks, on BLM land - basically away from people - so we've had very little choice in the matter - not that we mind. There's an interior kitchen with induction stovetop and a convection oven/ microwave as well as an exterior kitchen with an infrared grill and cooktop. The grill and the outdoor cooktop are the only things that need small propane canisters.
Q: What can you watch on the TV?
A: Prepare to be really jelly. We watch Netflix. And Hulu. And movies from our hard drives. That goes for both the interior and exterior TVs. In addition to satellite capabilities (which we don't have enabled on this trip) we do have wireless Internet access thanks to our sponsor, Verizon, and a cell booster. (It really works!)
Q: How much does one of these things go for?
A: If you want all this luxury, it'll cost you. A typical EarthRoamer will come in between $380,000 and $550,000.