Maine to Montana - Trip Stats and Insights

So, it might be a stretch to say that a lot of people are building tiny houses. But it's probably not a stretch to say that of the people that are building tiny houses, not many of them are traveling 3/4 of the way across the country with them! I've learned quite a few lessons on this trip, but we will get to that later. First, the trip map!

Each pin represents an overnight stop. Not the most direct route, but you never know where the day is going to take you! Now, on to the trip stats!

Wicked Tiny House - Bangor, ME to Bozeman, MT Trip Stats!

Total Mileage: 3,053 miles

Total Driving Time: 63.6 hours

Days on the Road: 17 days

Average Speed: 48 miles per hour (MPH)

Maximum Speed: 64 MPH

Minimum Highway Speed: 23 MPH on Bozeman Pass

Total Truck & Trailer Weight: 25,900 pounds

Gallons of Diesel Fuel Burned: 383 gallons

Total Diesel Fuel Cost: $931.77 (Average $2.43/gallon)

Average Fuel Mileage: 7.97 miles per gallon (MPG)

Best Fuel Mileage: 9.98 MPG from Laramie, WY to Casper, WY (tailwind + approx. 2,000' of elevation loss)

Worst Fuel Mileage: 6.84 MPG from Frederick, CO to Laramie, WY (approx. 2,200' of elevation gain)

Truck Tires Replaced: 2 (One in New Hampshire, one in Indianapolis, both due to blown sidewalls at an approx. cost of $300 each)

Tiny House Tires Replaced: 5 (2 due to locking brakes, 2 due to wear, 1 due to faulty installation, approx. cost of $100 each)

Traffic Tickets: 1 (Improperly registered vehicle, cost of $139)

Close Calls: 1 (uneven lanes in Ohio)

That's everything I can think of that other people might find of interest, but if there is something else you want to know, just ask.

Now on to the other fun stuff I learned on this trip. We'll bypass all the boring stuff I've learned in the past such as bring a spare tire, don't run out of wiper fluid, don't run out of gas, etc, etc... and move on to the more interesting stuff.

1. Truck tires ARE NOT the same are car tires! Obviously, I had tire trouble on this trip, but we'll start with the truck tires Although the truck tires were heavily loaded, they WERE NOT overloaded. I learned from one of the tire shops that at least one, and likely both, of the truck tires that blew had been re-treaded at least once. Basically, once the truck tire tread gets worn down, they take off the old tread and glue on a new one on., and, voila, you have a brand new tire. Sort of. The tire may look new with that nice, deep, new tread, but the sidewalls may be hiding damage from the past 100,000+ miles of use. Truck tires can be retreaded 2-4 times, and sometimes even more! My tires likely were overloaded in the past, and I was just the unfortunate one who got to deal with the consequences.

2. Trailer tires take a beating! I went through five trailer tires on this trip! Luckily I left with four spares. Part of the issue was my inexperience towing a trailer with brakes. The first two ruined tires were completely my fault. I locked up the trailer brakes coming down a couple of steep hills on back roads in Pennsylvania and wore flat spots into, and even through, the belts. One blown tire was the tire shop's fault, as they put a valve stem rated for 65 psi into a tire rated for 110 psi. The last two ruined tires were due to wear, which I think was caused by a combination of three things. First, the trailer tires were overloaded. They were rated for 1,850 lbs and were carrying close to 2,500. Second, the trailer tires were old. One set of four was dry rotted pretty bad. The second set of four weren't dry rotted, but were obviously older, probably at least 10 years old. I'm sure the rubber compounds start to break down at some point and can't deal with the friction and heat like they could when new. Third, I don't think the axles on the trailer were aligned perfectly straight by the previous owner. If you've read any of my griping about some of his previous mistakes, that won't surprise you. So, let me reiterate what many other tiny house builders have already covered extensively. If you intend to tow a tiny house for any amount of distance, good tires and a good trailer will save you trouble (and money) further down the road.

3. Not every gas station has diesel! Although I didn't come terribly close to running out of diesel, I did have the "LOW FUEL" light come on once due to my planned pit stop not having diesel. Lesson learned, fill up before you get below a 1/4 tank. Speaking of diesel...

4. Diesel engines are meant for towing! I've always heard how diesel engines are sooooo much better than gas for heavy loads, but was hesitant to touch them after a bad experience with a 1989 Chevy Suburban with the 6.2L diesel. After driving this Ford F-550 with the 7.3L turbo diesel across the country with a car in the back and a tiny house in tow, I'm a diesel believer. The truck was never quick, but adding all that weight hardly made a difference. The 3/4 ton GMC Sierra with the 6.0L gas motor that I had previously never would've had a chance. Yes, a diesel costs more to run (12 quart synthetic oil changes, 8 gallon cooling system, diesel additives, etc), but it was the right tool for the job and I'm glad I spent the extra money on the bigger truck.

5. People LOVE tiny houses! Ok, ok, I kind of already knew this! But seriously, any stop for gas, food, bathroom, whatever, typically became a minimum 20 minute stop because people wanted to come and talk about the house. I expected some attention, but not this much! And even while driving down the road, the house was a moving attraction. I can't even start to count the number of times that a car would pass going only a hair faster than I was so they could get pictures. Keep in mind that my cruising speed was 55 mph, so when cars are only passing me going 60 mph, and the speed limit is 70, 75, or even 80 like it is out west, the tiny house kind of became a moving traffic jam. Even out in the middle of Nebraska, there always seemed to be a line of cars waiting to pass. I don't have a problem with any this, just sharing my observations.

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