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Old 04-02-2019, 05:14 PM   #1
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First Long Road Trip Advice!!

Hello fellow skoolie members!

My wife and I will be taking off in a month to move back to Montana and will be living in our skoolie full time moving forward. We currently live in Vermont so the drive is 2400+ miles. Has anyone done a drive like this/recommend any particular routes to head west? We were thinking of doing the first leg up through Canada because it's apparently not as mountainous. We have is a 2002 International with a T444E and Allison 2000 transmission. I've got "R, N, D, 4, 2, 1" for my selector if that helps at all. Any advice/recommendations is highly appreciated.

Thanks!!!
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Old 04-02-2019, 07:32 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by KevinDarcy11 View Post
Hello fellow skoolie members!

My wife and I will be taking off in a month to move back to Montana and will be living in our skoolie full time moving forward. We currently live in Vermont so the drive is 2400+ miles. Has anyone done a drive like this/recommend any particular routes to head west? We were thinking of doing the first leg up through Canada because it's apparently not as mountainous. We have is a 2002 International with a T444E and Allison 2000 transmission. I've got "R, N, D, 4, 2, 1" for my selector if that helps at all. Any advice/recommendations is highly appreciated.

Thanks!!!
I did the drive twice and back in my International 4700 box truck (26' box with lift gate) starting once in Maryland and the second time from North Carolina. Since this was a moving trip including guns I tried so stay out of Illinois as much as possible.

From VT you could take I-90 all the way to Billings, Bozeman, Missoula but Upstate NY has some hills. I would go the Northern route and spend some time in Montreal and Toronto.

West of Sioux Falls, ND its I-90 anyway. The Badlands and the ICBM museum across the interstate are worth visiting. You can get on HWY-212 shortly after Sturgis and take that to Crow Agency where it rejoins I-90 but staying on I-90 through Wyoming is prettier IMO- albeit longer.

On the second trip we detoured through the Black Hills near Rapid City and visited Mt. Rushmore, ignoring the "No trucks" sign. But the 10% grades is ambitious for a T444E in front of a vehicle "loaded for bear".

As far as carrying spare parts for the engine I followed

Your transmission with locking converter will cause less pucker factor in the "hills" than I experienced with my AT545 slushbox. Just change the fluid/filter before the trip if it is of unknown age and call it good.

Where is your destination in MT? We left Bozeman after 3 years due to the insane real estate prices that are in no way matched by the salaries in MT (most independently wealthy MT residents made their fortunes out of state). My current box van to offroad RV conversion project is an attempt to enjoy MT and adjacent states in the Summer without having to engage in the real estate rat race.
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Old 04-02-2019, 09:06 PM   #3
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I've been back and forth several times. I first think about what i want to see. I take the 80 west for ease. The 70 for the view and things to stop and do. The 90 is boring. I don't like to do it in 8 hour shifts but will. I love the road. That white line fever is why i do it. You sound Like you are tied to the northern route but that 66 is still sweet. I park the bus along rivers and parks. National forests and state parks rule.$35 for full hook up. KOA's despise us. There are some that will take a skoolie, but not most. There is always wal mart.
I put out my sign that i do minor r.v. repair and pick up some dollars. So the park/ forest is the way to go.
I hope you have fun on your journey. America still has some wonder left in it. Everyone loves the bus and wants to see it.
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Old 04-03-2019, 02:24 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by KevinDarcy11 View Post
Hello fellow skoolie members!

Any advice/recommendations is highly appreciated.

Thanks!!!
I used to live in VT myself & made the drive between there and Seattle several times. Lot's of options. 90 is pretty boring...but I did tow an overweight UHaul with an early model Dodge Darango one time & didn't die. Lots of traffic from the west side of NY through the other side of Chicago. If you go through Canada & break down you stand a pretty good chance of getting help...if you go south of the lakes maybe not so good of a chance.
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Old 04-03-2019, 07:37 AM   #5
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I-80 is **MUCH** kinder in the hills than I-70 or I-90.. I-70 gets high enough that you get snow in june... I-80 is boring for sure but its an easy route.. gets a little dicey if going as far as wyoming and switching over to 84 west... some tough hills there but nothing you cant make with taking it easy..


just dont get your engine hot!! the cooling system wit hthe split radiators on these navistars is weak... if the weather is cool you leave your heater valves open and that gives you some more "ballast" as far as 5 more gallons of coolant to get hot.. plus you can turn your heater fans on if you start to get warm...

-Christopher
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Old 04-03-2019, 09:24 AM   #6
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Alpine44: Thank you for the great info!!! I'm a little bit nervous about driving through Illinois as well since we will be transporting firearms. On our drive out to VT I had everything pieced apart and locked, plan on doing that again. Hopefully if we run into any LEO's that will suffice.
This video is phenomenal and I'll definitely follow suit. Want to make sure the wife and I are prepared for anything.
We will be heading back to the Whitefish/Kalispell area. The real estate prices are definitely a pain in the ass but I think we will be buying some land to build on so hopefully we can find a good deal. We definitely live more for the view and enjoying the outdoors opposed to trying to strike it rich. There's just something about Montana we have yet to experience anywhere else and can't wait to get back out there!!
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Old 04-03-2019, 09:32 AM   #7
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Dead Pirate and everyone else: Thank you as well for the great info. Unfortunately we will be under a bit of a time crunch. The wife got offered a job and I will be working from the road so we are basically looking for the route that will be easiest on the engine but also not take a tremendous amount of time. I believe we took the 90 out here.

Tugboater: Do you think going through Canada will be pretty easy on the engine? Also we will be transporting multiple firearms and it looks likes pistols are on the 'restricted list' so that may pose a problem. Have you had any experience dealing with this? It looks like there are different laws and separate documents needed for each province so that might be an issue.
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Old 04-03-2019, 09:59 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by KevinDarcy11 View Post
Alpine44: Thank you for the great info!!! I'm a little bit nervous about driving through Illinois as well since we will be transporting firearms. On our drive out to VT I had everything pieced apart and locked, plan on doing that again. Hopefully if we run into any LEO's that will suffice.
This video is phenomenal and I'll definitely follow suit. Want to make sure the wife and I are prepared for anything.
We will be heading back to the Whitefish/Kalispell area. The real estate prices are definitely a pain in the ass but I think we will be buying some land to build on so hopefully we can find a good deal. We definitely live more for the view and enjoying the outdoors opposed to trying to strike it rich. There's just something about Montana we have yet to experience anywhere else and can't wait to get back out there!!
I know what you mean about the certain "Je ne sais quoi" of Montana. Even one of my dogs gets it. He sat on the passenger seat and looked out the side window for hours like a tourist in a bus when we drove out there.

We were also looking for bare land but near Bozeman that means either a subdivision with two pages of restrictions (aka covenants) or millions of dollars for a "gentleman's ranch". Very little in between. I went so far to cold-call owners of larger, older ranches asking for a couple dozen acres where I could have my peace and privacy. Road access, power, etc. would have been on me. Still no cigar.

You guys should have more luck than we did with real estate. By living in a bus you can change the scenery as you desire and time is not working against you financially. We finally got tired of living in the typical rental complex while shoving money in other people's pockets.

In contrast, it took us two weeks to find 24 acres with 360 degree mountain views near Asheville, NC for about a third of what something comparable would have cost in MT. I love the Eastern hardwood forests in the fall, winter (plenty of firewood!), and spring. In the summer it gets a little too humid here for my taste, hence the plan to spend these month out West on wheels.

Handguns are definitely a no-go in Canada but you could easily ship them to a FFL in MT.
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Old 04-03-2019, 10:43 AM   #9
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Regarding traveling with guns:

FEDERAL LAW ON TRANSPORTATION OF FIREARMS
A provision of the federal law known as the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, or FOPA, protects those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage.

Under FOPA, notwithstanding any state or local law, a person is entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry it, if the firearm is unloaded and locked out of reach. In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm must be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. Ammunition that is either locked out of reach in the trunk or in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console is also covered.

Travelers should be aware that some state and local governments treat this federal provision as an “affirmative defense” that may only be raised after an arrest. All travelers in areas with restrictive laws would be well advised to have copies of any applicable firearm licenses or permits, as well as copies or printouts from the relevant jurisdictions’ official publications or websites documenting pertinent provisions of law (including FOPA itself) or reciprocity information. In the event of an unexpected or extended delay, travelers should make every effort not to handle any luggage containing firearms unnecessarily and to secure it in a location where they do not have
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Old 04-03-2019, 10:59 AM   #10
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Great info, thanks Steve!! Hopefully all goes smoothly like it did on the way out here
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Old 04-03-2019, 11:55 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by KevinDarcy11 View Post
Tugboater: Do you think going through Canada will be pretty easy on the engine? Also we will be transporting multiple firearms and it looks likes pistols are on the 'restricted list' so that may pose a problem. Have you had any experience dealing with this? It looks like there are different laws and separate documents needed for each province so that might be an issue.
I think easy on the engine is probably more a factor of the way you choose to drive it. If I was in your shoes, I'd be looking at the mountains/hills out east as confidence builders for the bigger stuff out west. When we bought our bus we had to drive it a couple thousand miles through Canada just to get it home. For us, part of the fun was taking the "leap". It sounds like you know as much as I do about travelling through Canada with guns. I'm going to avoid it altogether, I know it's a PITA, but don't know details. I'm sure someone with more experience will weigh in on that one. I'm avoiding the thought of what I'll have to do with mine once we turn to full time bus dwellers. Other than the firearm issue, I don't think travelling through Canada is as much of a pain as many on here talk about, but that's based wholly on my personal experience. Keep us all posted...I'll be rooting for you!
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Old 04-03-2019, 12:12 PM   #12
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I think easy on the engine is probably more a factor of the way you choose to drive it. If I was in your shoes, I'd be looking at the mountains/hills out east as confidence builders for the bigger stuff out west. When we bought our bus we had to drive it a couple thousand miles through Canada just to get it home. For us, part of the fun was taking the "leap". It sounds like you know as much as I do about travelling through Canada with guns. I'm going to avoid it altogether, I know it's a PITA, but don't know details. I'm sure someone with more experience will weigh in on that one. I'm avoiding the thought of what I'll have to do with mine once we turn to full time bus dwellers. Other than the firearm issue, I don't think travelling through Canada is as much of a pain as many on here talk about, but that's based wholly on my personal experience. Keep us all posted...I'll be rooting for you!
generally speaking, if you are legal where you come from you should be fine coming into Canada - a couple of exceptions that I know of is you have to have an air ticket on your license if you have air brakes on your rig and gun laws are extremely strict - if you are caught trying to sneak guns across the border, enjoy your time in jail - if you declare them at the border there are some cases where some guns can be secured and transported, and/or you would have the option of leaving them at the border or sending them home - I don't know ALL of the ends and outs of that law, just remember the Canadian attitude about guns is far different than the attitude about guns in the US
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Old 04-04-2019, 11:20 AM   #13
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Tugboater: Yeah when I bought our bus it was down in NJ and had to learn to drive it on the NJ Turnpike, then up through the Adirondacks, and snowy back roads in VT to get it home. Needless to say the bus and I had some serious bonding/trust moments Thanks a lot for the support we are really excited to get back west but also enjoy the road as it comes!!!

Sleddgracer: Thank you for your input!!! We definitely would not be sneaking (nothing to hide) and like to do things by the book haha! Makes for a much smoother/enjoyable journey! I'm thinking we will just avoid Canada all together for this trip. Once we get out to Montana I think a BC trip will be in order, so excited for this life!!!
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Old 04-04-2019, 01:14 PM   #14
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Also, does anyone have advice on replacement headlights? I have a 2002 International and the headlights are absolute trash on this. Would like to do LED's so we can get some good night driving in. Again, any help is appreciated!!!
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Old 04-04-2019, 04:22 PM   #15
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I have the same engine set-up in my bus. I have a 2001 T444e. I love it. I have driven through the west - up mountain roads (including a 13 mile 10% grade up and then back down).
IMG_9483.JPG %b6aE4rdSqC7id%p%EsqRg.jpg
My bus struggles on the longer hills - but it's not bad - I usually have a truck in front of me going a bit slower. The 10% grade for 13 miles was tough in August - I had to pull over 4 times to let the engine cool down - and twice on the way down to make sure I didn't over heat the brakes. But all was well. I took I-90 from Montana headed toward Virginia - but then went down some county roads through the Mid-West.
I highly recommend doing that if you have the time - I spent two weeks heading east. I general cruise at 55 MPH - because if I was in a hurry, I would not be driving bus
I just returned to Montana last month - and came up from Arizona. I did not find any hill that my bus could not handle.

I carry extra Oil / Oil Filter / Fuel Filter / Serp. Belt / Radiator Hose / Coolant - And I have Good Sam Roadside.


Headlights:

https://www.amazon.com/Rectangle-Hea...=AB6LU143WBBUX

Best ones I have found. I love them. $45 for the pair is not bad.

I am in the Helena area. Hopefully making Montana home base. I love it out here. Visit any time!

Roger
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Old 04-04-2019, 04:24 PM   #16
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Roger we need to pump your engine up lolol
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Old 04-04-2019, 05:08 PM   #17
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Roger, thanks so much for the kind sentiments and info! Your rig looks incredible. I saw your tag in the picture and added you on Instagram.
It looks like we have the exact same bus even the handicap lift on the side ha! I'll definitely order a pair of those lights, that's a great deal for a pair. I hope you don't mind but I may wind up asking you a bunch of questions if that's alright! I am not a mechanic, carpenter, or fabricator so just learning as I go. I'd love to hear how you fab'd your hitch... I'm not too thrilled about having to pay 2K+ to ship my car out to MT from VT.

Ha! That's crazy. My wife and I lived in Flagstaff for 3 years, then Montana was our next stop. We absolutely love it out there! The land and the people are really something special. We lived in Whitefish for some time and moved out East due to family which has now been resolved so we can't wait to get back! We'd love to meet up at some point.
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Old 04-04-2019, 05:08 PM   #18
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Chris, you should make a trip out to Montana! You could tune Roger's bus, and we could tinker with the EFRC on mine! Lol... I'm back in Texas, but will head back to Montana around the 1st of May for the summer.


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Old 04-04-2019, 05:26 PM   #19
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lol Montana.. thats the state last year where I pulled up my starbucks app and it showed ZERO within 150 miles!!! lololol and im gonna go back there again? hehehe


was a fun drive in a 40 year old bus though..
wait maybe that was wyoming.. i went I-80 so there is hope for montana to have my life-blood.. oh and in wyoming my cell phone died in several places..



id rather be in TEXAS!
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Old 04-04-2019, 08:45 PM   #20
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Hey sleddgracer, you mentioned you need an air ticket in Canada?
I'm a southern vermonter newbie, will be Alaska bound this June and crossing into Canada in Buffalo. They will require something cause I have air brakes?
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