Arkansas Camping Trip May 2017

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Arkansas Camping Trip May 2017

Unread postby RV4BT » Tue May 09, 2017 1:15 pm

This trip was our first for 2017 in our 1986 LeSharo. This trip covered almost 900 miles round trip from Nebraska to Arkansas. This is the second full year we have enjoyed the RV after completing the engine/transmission repower of the RV. The RV is now a front engine and rear wheel drive setup. It is powered by a Cumming 3.9 4BT motor, 5 speed Ford transmission, and Ford 9” Trutrac rear axle. For this trip we did not tow a car as you have in the last two long journeys. Prior to this trip we removed the front overhead AC system to give more headroom and redid our dash to change out the heating and A/C system and controls.

The first leg of our journey brought us to a low cost city campground called Linn County Park Camp Ground. We drove a mere 221 miles and say 19 mpg average. Driving above 70mph hurts the mileage a good bit. We arrived just before dark to get settled in.

ImageDSC_0025 by Ken Bradford, on Flickr

This park is nicely layed out at a lake where you can see a power plant on the other side of the camp ground. There was a slight odor, nothing too harsh, that was probably from the coal being burnt. The facilities were clean, camp areas dated in appearance but adequate, and an office/supply store during business hours. There is strong evidence of long term campers as we witnessed many porch, sheds, and outdoor furnishing around some of the camp sites. The price was right, $15.00 per night, and experience acceptable given that we were passing through.
1165 W. Huntington Drive, Fayetteville, AR (785) 492-7922

Our second leg of our journey brought us to our final destination, Devil’s Den State Park. The park is reached only after traveling through about 10 miles of winding roads and through steep hills as you near the park. The local area around this park is lush with thick woods, streams, and country life. We arrived just after lunch and found the park to be well supervised and maintained. Historically speaking, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built much of the trails and park areas under a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States. This program offered employment to unmarried men from relief families as part of the New Deal. Originally for young men ages 18–25, it was eventually expanded to young men ages 17–28. Historical evidence of the herculean efforts to use stone on trails, camping areas, and waterfalls show the massive work they put into this park that was established in 1930. This park has modern cabins, RV camp sites, and tent only camp facilities. The true draw of this place are the many trails that surround the park rated from moderate to strenuous, from 1 ½ mile to 8+ miles, covering hills and along streams.


ImageIMG_0870 by Ken Bradford, on Flickr

Before nightfall of our first day here we ventured along a trail that is only 1 mile in length to checkout a small waterfall. The park seemed somewhat empty, as this was a Thursday, and we only saw one other person hiking the trail. There were only a few campers and only a few “reserved” signs at different sites. We discovered that the park rangers start placing these signs in the morning and we spoke to at least two park rangers while we hiked. We saw them in ranger patrol car or a park ranger bikes. There was a very friendly and helpful attitude among everyone who works here.

ImageIMG_0857 by Ken Bradford, on Flickr

On day 2 at this park we moved the RV to be next to a stream and enjoyed breakfast at this location before a strenuous 3 mile hike to the Yellow Rock overlook. The stream has a green appearance due to the high mineral content in the water. The stream was very cold and peaceful setting; we wished we could camp with the stream noise for background sound! Wow, this was a wonderful place to relax. We got to use our generator to make coffee and keep the fridge cold during our morning hike.

ImageIMG_0882 by Ken Bradford, on Flickr


ImageDSC_0049 by Ken Bradford, on Flickr

Later that afternoon we moved the RV to be near the trail head for Devil’s Den cave and twin water falls. This was also a 3 miles hike that twist and turns until you reach a segment of small caves and gloriously beautiful waterfalls. Hiking sticks are most helpful to navigate the various rock surfaces and gives a sure footing to irregular surface along the trail. The afternoon got a lot warmer but the shade of the trees along the trail protected us from most of the sun’s heat.

ImageDSC_0063 by Ken Bradford, on Flickr

That evening and next morning we took advantage of the shower and bathroom facilities. They were very clean and well supplied, plenty of hot water; rustic appearing from the outside and modern and new on the inside. The price for camping was $16.00 per night. Be warned that there is no internet or cell services over most of the park. You have to claim a mountain trail just to get a call or text message out. Highly recommend to get away from everything.
120812 W Devils Den Rd, Winslow, AR 72959.

The drive home was a long one. We drove 424 miles in about 6.5 hours with speeds just below or at 70 mph. We averaged 20mpg for this return leg and found the Cummins powered RV to prefer less labor of not towing a car. A few observations of how our RV drove. The adapted sway bar I installed last year in the front helped with most of the leaning in turns; I noticed there is still a pronounced oversteer as we changed lanes driving on the highway. I find that I have to purposefully pay attention when changing lanes and steer steady in order to prevent some heavier swaying. I strongly suspect my front suspension caster angles may be slightly off to prevent smooth tracking on turns. I have a 2003 Crown Victoria suspension installed with a sister frame. When I initially set this up I stuck to the 3 degree minimum and may have been off ½ a degree on one side. It tracks very well on straight driving and seems to be trying to find a balance when changing lanes. Not sure if I can correct this without major suspension surgery. For the time being the rule of thumb is to slow down from 70mph going into any serious turns to help smooth out the wobble. We also noticed the rear axle needs a better shock system. We have more than enough leaf spring support, but the bounce is not sufficiently being slowed on the rebound and this causes occasional overbounce or recoil from the sprints. The answer may be to install airshocks to further stiffen the ride when we are heavier in our truck area. I am looking into this when we get back and plan to at least install air shocks to further slow the rebound of the leaf springs.

We even ran the generator and roof AC in the last hour as it was getting into the 90s this day. I have not made the final connect on the dash AC so this was our only option for cooling the RV significantly. With the overhead AC system removed we enjoy much improved head room for entering and exiting the front seat area. The cold are from the roof AC flows nicely to the front compartment; chilling the head and shoulders and making it quite cold in no time. I still need to consider window tinting the front side windows and upper windshield to further reduce the heat gain from the sun.

ImageIMG_0672 by Ken Bradford, on Flickr

The dash controls we updated give us ability to run the radio on engine or house battery, check voltage of both, and control overhead lights. The larger flat area on top of the dash allowed plenty of space to stow small items to be near reaching distance.

ImageIMG_0564 by Ken Bradford, on Flickr

Everything functioned wonderfully with the exception of our heater / air vent controls which never put out cooler air; I must have mixed the feed line from the engine into the heater core. This was no problem when we needed heat, but just trying to get some airflow was not possible unless you like it real warm… the windows and turn on the vent fan. The MAXX Fan is without question the Cadillac of vent fans. It cost us a pretty penny but peacefully cooled the RV at night and has a wonderful remote control. Truly a pleasure over the stock fan.

ImageMAXXFAN by Ken Bradford, on Flickr

ImageMAXXFAN CONTROL by Ken Bradford, on Flickr

In closing, I continue to be amazed by how few of these RVs we see on the road. We saw one LeSharo off the highway that was parked at a storage lot. Most people who witness our RV have never seen one this size with so many amenities. One lady took a peek in our RV and noticed we have a nice bed in the back, a dining setup in the middle, and a kitchen and bathroom to her amazement. The RV industry would do well to return to emphasizing smaller RVs but that is for another conversation. The truly believe the platform we have now and engine setup will serve us very well for many years with proper maintenance. The way I built it, it is easy for me to maintain, obtains reasonably economical MPG, and satisfies our desire to explore and stay wherever the road lead us. To future adventures in the outdoors!

Ken Bradford
1986 LeSharo 4BT conversion

ImageIMG_0958 by Ken Bradford, on Flickr
Lesharo 4BTRV
Cummins Powered Bliss
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Re: Arkansas Camping Trip May 2017

Unread postby theboar17 » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:50 pm

Awesome trip report. Hope mine would turn out well. Got any plan this year?
Current truck project: fender flare removal and ready lift installation. Waiting for my customized bumper to arrive.
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Location: Santa Clara, CA

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