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Four Season Class A Selection Help needed!


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#1 shane

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:57 AM

  • Hello all! My fiancee’ and I are planning on replacing our honeymoon with what we’re calling a Post Wedding Adventure. We are brand new to the RV world and are having trouble selecting the right one for us. So far we know the following:
  • We’ll be starting in early December in Montana
  • We will be full time in the RV for at least 4 months (possibly indefinitely)
  • We have two medium sized dogs
  • We have a $40,000 budget (for just the RV)
  • Need one capable of extended living in sub-zero weather (ski bums)
  • We prefer class A somewhere between 28 and 34 feet.
  • We will have motorcycle pass through hitch that will both carry our dual sport bike and tow our toyota tacoma wheels down.
  • Can someone help us find some good options?
  • Also, what can one expect to budget for heating costs in a four season RV in very cold weather?


~shane


#2 sandsys

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 12:27 PM

Welcome to the SKP forums. Since most of us spend our time trying to avoid cold weather you may have to wait a bit to get an answer from a person with knowledge to help you here. In the meantime, we're not ignoring you; we just don't know how to help.

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#3 Clay L

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 01:38 PM

You will use propane at a very high rate.
We used to stay in CO at 5000 ft until December before we headed south.
We would empty our 80 pound internal tank in eight or nine days and it was only getting down to 20 degrees or so at night.
We added an "Extend a Stay" tee that allows us to use an external 40 pound tank so we didn't have to move the motor home but could take the tank to have it filled.

I have never seen what I would consider to be a true four season motor home, but some have double paned windows and many have heated tanks. Most are heated via air vented from the furnace into tank compartments.
A few have heating pads on the tanks but they usually require 120 vac, so a generator or connection to shore power would be needed to provide power. Using dc voltage would run the batteries down too fast to be any good.

Clay(WA5NMR), Lee(Wife), Katie & Kelli (cats)
Full timed for eleven years in our 2004 Winnebago Sightseer 35N Workhorse chassis but now snowbirds.
Honda Accord toad.
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#4 shane

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 02:05 PM

Clay, Thank you! That is a wonderfully useful piece of info. Is your RV "four seasons"? Also, I see you're from San Diego? I too live there now and am considering buying the RV in Cali and then driving it to Montana. From what I hear a 28-34ft class A with a Gas motor will typically get between 7-9mpg when towing (a Toyota Tacoma), would you say this is correct?

Cheers,
~shane

Edited by shane, 25 May 2012 - 03:07 PM.


#5 Clay L

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 03:51 PM

No it's not what I would consider a four seasons unit.

But we have stayed overnight in temps down to 2 degrees and stayed weeks with overnight temps down to 19 or 20 with daytime temps of 40 or so.

I added an outlet in the service bay where the sewer dump valves are and plug in a ceramic cube heater when it is going to be below 32 degrees at night. That bay has an opening to the big enclosed compartment that contains the waste tanks and fresh water tank.
That way we can turn the furnace down to 50 degrees at night without having the tanks, sewer outlets and valves freeze. We use a king size down comforter on our queen size bed and are comfortable.

We have a heated water hose that doesn't freeze down to at least 5 degrees. If we are traveling we keep water in the tank, use it and don't leave the hose connected. We put it in the shower when not being used to fill the tank.

Our goal however is to go someplace warm when it gets cold where we are. Sometimes we have to be places we don't want to be (family health issues we have to help with). That's why we are somewhat prepared for temps lower than we like.

The SD in my signature stands for South Dakota. SD is very friendly to us full timers with no state income tax or tax on dividends. They make it easy to register to vote, have no vehicle inspections, and low yearly vehicle registration and plate fees. A lot of full timers use SD as a domicile.

Clay(WA5NMR), Lee(Wife), Katie & Kelli (cats)
Full timed for eleven years in our 2004 Winnebago Sightseer 35N Workhorse chassis but now snowbirds.
Honda Accord toad.
SD residents, changing to CO next summer


#6 shane

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 04:01 PM

I see, thanks again!

What would you recommend as far as RV Makes/Models (Class A 28-34ft, <$40K used) that would work better than average in cold climates?

~shane

#7 Barbaraok

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 05:19 PM

With your budget you will be looking used. Look at the Triple E line - they are made in Canada and have probably more insulation than any of the others. Also, you need to think about climbing mountains and how much a gasser can do. What is the weight of the toad you will be pulling - make sure that it is less than the hitch. A lot of smaller Class A gassers have 3000# hitches.

Barb

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#8 Darryl&Rita

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 05:22 PM

And watch this intro video for some tips:Youtube. It's not the be-all end all, but it'll give you someplace to start.

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#9 shane

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 06:57 PM

Barb,

Thank you, our toad is right near 4100lbs, plus I'll have a dual sport bike between the hitch and tow bar. I'll be sure to check for a class III hitch, thanks. I'll also look into the Triple E line as you recommend.

~shane

#10 Kirk

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 07:14 PM

Thank you, our toad is right near 4100lbs, plus I'll have a dual sport bike between the hitch and tow bar...

I think that you need to learn about weight ratings of RVs and associated equipment, before you get too far into this planning. As one who lived fulltime in a class A, gas powered RV and owned a second one before that, you need to know that it is very easy to overload the rear axle with what you plan. I think that you would also be wise to spend some time in study of RVs and how to rate one for quality and to evaluate a used one. An RV is a very complicated machine and there is a great deal to know about choosing one as well as about using one. What you have in mind can be done, but you need to do a lot of study first to be sure that you get a good one and one designed to do what you have in mind. The best place to start this process would be to join the RV Consumer Group.

EDIT: I almost forgot my manners! Welcome to the Escapees open forums. Feel free to ask as many questions as you wish and to join in on any discussion. :)

Edited by Kirk, 25 May 2012 - 07:16 PM.

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#11 shane

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 08:46 PM

Kirk,

Thank you for the link and the advice and the caution. I am quite familiar with load ratings and have significant experience towing and operating large vehicles. As my motorcycle is well under a class III hitch's tongue weight rating and our truck is well under the hitch's tow rating I feel comfortable with the loads, assuming the motor, brakes and suspension are strong enough.

I agree there is an enormous amount to learn, this is why my fiancee' and I are both sitting here on our computers trying to absorb as much of your wisdom as possible :)

We are going from no RV experience to becoming full timers starting in a snowy winter climate so please feel free to spill as much knowledge as you're up for, because we are in sponge mode!

A few more questions:
  • Is 7-9mpg typical for a 28-34ft classA towing?
  • Are there any front engine diesel class As?
    • If so, are they worth considering?
  • What would be a good budgetary range for operating expense?
    • Excluding driving gas/diesel
    • Propane, parking fees, hookup expenses, maintenance, etc.
  • If we were to consider an order Class A (say 1990-2000) what are key problem areas to look for?
~shane

#12 docj

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 09:40 PM

One thing that hasn't been mentioned in this thread is that quite a few larger, higher-end DPs are equipped with diesel-fired heating systems such as AquaHot, HydroHot and Hurricane. Not only do such systems typically put out lots of heat (our Hurricane is rated at 45,000 BTUs), they run off the large diesel fuel tank rather than a more limited propane supply. We used about 60 gallons of diesel last winter in Port Aransas TX (not a very cold climate, I admit) but we didn't have to worry about running out. Our Hurricane has kept us warm and cozy at temperatures down to ~25F and we have no doubt that we would be able to go considerably lower; it has two heating zones in the living area and another in the basement where it keeps both the holding tanks and fresh water tank above freezing. Our coach has dual pane windows which also assist in keeping it warm.

Sandie & Joel

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#13 George Stoltz

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 06:26 AM

Shane,

Howard and Linda Payne have full-timed for about 6 or 7 years although they travel in a fifth wheel. However, Howard posts monthly complete financial information about all of their full-timing costs. I know of no other more comprehensive and up-to-date source of such information. In addition, if you read back through their regular Journal you will learn a great deal more about the full-timing life style.

You can find them at:

www.rv-dreams.com

Edited by George Stoltz, 26 May 2012 - 06:42 AM.

George Stoltz



#14 shane

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 08:47 AM

George,

That is a great link. Thank you!.

Doc, thanks for the heads up on the diesel heating systems. I'll be sure to look into that.

~shane




#15 Smitty

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 10:30 AM

Hi Shane - What an exciting way to start a new life together:)! Good input all over this thread so far, concur with Barb that Tripple E knows how to make a more robust winter unit. (They are not all made the same, so research of course.)

Suggest you keep doing what you are doing - reading, and asking questions. Also check out RV.Net, IRV2 and other boards too.

As you are in the San Diego area. A drive up for a 'meet and greet' with Steve Wilson at Holland Motor homes, in San Marcos - would also be recommended. Steve is one of those rare sales dudes, that cares as much about 'getting it right' for the buyer, as he does about the sell.

When we were looking, we did our research, and came up with a list of Must Have's and Nice to Have's (go to some of the RV shows at the stadium, where you can walk thru many units at a time, all in one location.) We then came up with a short list of builders and specific models that we felt would work for us.

I then, from advise by many posters I respect on several boards - went in and made contact with Steve Wilson. Steve has access to units that you will never see on a site for sell. Units coming in on Consignment, units coming in or trade in, etc. The 'good ones' are gone before they hit a lot..

At your budget range, you will need to drop years to get to the quality of a rig that will handle the cold weather. Nothing wrong with an older higher end unit, gas or DP, as long as they have been well maintained. Condition, condition, condition is what you are shopping for. Steve Wilson can act as your 'years of experience' person in looking these things over. And, don't be worried about 'will he be interested in working with me' at this budget range. Steve builds relationships, so the next time you two are ready to move up the food chain, he hopes you will give him another shot. (I also got the same good positive feed back about Steve (can't recall his last name) at California Coach Company.)

Best of luck, have fun, go slow and take your time...
Smitty
Be safe, have fun,
Smitty
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#16 George Stoltz

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 11:09 AM

Shane,

Smitty's advice is like gold. You cant readily find this kind of information everywhere. If I were in your shoes I would set up an appointment with Steve Wilson. He sounds like the kind of guy who can give you a lot of information that would take a lot of research to uncover on the web.
George Stoltz



#17 Lou Schneider

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 11:37 PM

You might consider a high end 5th wheel instead of a motorhome. That big windshield at the front end of the motorhome is nothing but a giant thermal sink - hot in the summer and cold in the winter. For a given quantity of insulation the 5th wheel without the windshield will stay a good deal more comfortable.
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#18 George Stoltz

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 11:44 PM

Lou is correct. but when you are not driving, the windshield can be easily insulated. One big advantage to a motorhome (in my opinion) is that you can easily access the toilet when driving. In some fifth wheels you might have some difficulty getting to the bathroom.
George Stoltz