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Kiltedpig

Gas or Diesel for full-time?

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Finally settled upon a MH instead of 5er, now the decision comes down to gasser or diesel. For the same money I can get a newer gasser than a diesel. The diesel's that I can afford are about 10 yrs old and the gassers are only about 5 years old. I am thinking that the diesel will be best considering I"m in central CA and no matter where I go it is over mountains. Our plans are to travel around the country and see all the things we haven't seen since we've been self employed and rarely took vacations. Anyone with experience with a gasser as full-time? The main concern is interior space and basement storage considering the gassers don't have a lot of weight we can carry and as full-time we will probably need that storage. 40' seems to be the right size and gassers are pushing it when you get over 35'.

 

All comments and suggestions are welcome, we will be on a fixed budget so I want to make sure I analyze everything before the purchase.

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Anyone with experience with a gasser as full-time? The main concern is interior space and basement storage considering the gassers don't have a lot of weight we can carry and as full-time we will probably need that storage. 40' seems to be the right size and gassers are pushing it when you get over 35'.

 

All comments and suggestions are welcome, we will be on a fixed budget so I want to make sure I analyze everything before the purchase.

We were fulltime in a 36' motorhome on a Ford chassis for nearly 12 years. We traveled pretty much everywhere that you are likely to go, and over all types of roads usually traveled in a class A. We towed first a Ford Ranger, then later a Honda CR-V and in those years we traveled less than 100 miles total without the tow vehicle connected. It is true that we were not always the first to the top of the mountains, but we did OK and racing was not a part of our agenda. It is not true that all diesels have more cargo capacity than any gas chassis and in fact, today there are many gas powered class A motorhomes that have more cargo capacity than many of the diesels at the lower end of their price range. I would not buy any coach that had less than 2000# of cargo capacity and 3000# would be better. There are very few gas motorhomes that are more than 38' long and I have only seen one that was 40' and I'd agree that if you really need an RV of 40' or more in length, then you should probably be shopping diesels.

 

It is important to realize that the cost of operating a diesel is significantly higher than that for a gas rig, particularly if you do not do the maintenance yourself. As you increase the annual mileage driven the diesel does begin to balance out since it don't have oil changes as often, but most recommend at least an annual one so the difference there is mileage dependent. Do not allow anyone to convince you that gas motorhomes are not up to full time living as there have been fulltimers for much longer than diesel motorhomes have been common and there still are a significant number of them burning gasoline. It is also important to remember that even the largest of RVs is far smaller than any stick house. They never exceed 400 sq. ft. and most are 300 or less. Diesels do have significant advantages over gas chassis coaches, but cost to purchase and operate are not among them.

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The daily cost of operating usually makes gas cheaper. The number of miles you can accumulate if you stay out there long enough usually makes diesel cheaper. Pretty much all answers in life come down to, "It depends." We preferred diesel partly because I cannot move well around the doghouse of a gas until. It's a price we chose to pay for ease of access.

 

Linda Sand

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We have been living full time in our 36' "gasser" for over three years now. It is a 2007 Dolphin, Ford Triton 10-cylinder engine, Banks Power Pac. Gas mileage has been about 9 mpg, and once on I-10 in New Mexico - Arizona achieved 10... :) We have traveled Western States, including mountain grades, totaling about 19,000 - 20,000 miles, pulling a 3500 lb Honda CR-V. We have Two slides, 'standard' internal equipment (refrigerator, stove, etc.), large basement Storage Cabinets, generally well built. Extremely comfortable. I love the shower and I love the bed.

 

It is the only RV we have ever had. We like it just fine, but nothing to directly compare it to. Of course, if we bought a larger, heavier motorhome, we would probably like that better... just like we would/did a larger SB house... or car. Some of the perceived positive differences in a Diesel over our gas motorhome that are worthy of mention would be a quieter ride (diesel engine in rear)... air bag suspension... air brakes. Our Dolphin roars going up mountain grades (engine in front)... pleasing in a way, but difficult to talk. And air suspension - given some roads we have traveled, anything that makes up for potholes... is wanted. And brakes are hard to have too much of in the mountains.

 

Compensating factors? For us, Money. For what we got, our Dolphin was cheap. We kept our house and did not have to downsize our retirement bank any too much. Frankly, we had anticipated when we left to go full-timing... that if we liked it, we might consider moving up into a larger diesel. We don't see the need, or the benefit, considering the cost of such a move.

 

Hope that helps... Good Luck!

Jim

Edited by Jim&Alice

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We've full timed in a 37' 2-slide Workhorse W24 and a 40' 4-slide DP. We traveled all over the West over mountain passes without problem, although the engine noise required turning up the radio volume. Maintenance costs were low, and I could buy parts anywhere. We love our DP, but the maintenance costs are much more than the gasser. As a full timer, it's a rare location that will let you work on the rig, so you're limited to diesel maintenance facilities. The DP certainly drives better, but you'll spend a lot more time sitting. Keep looking, the right choice for you will become apparent after a while.

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I'm not full time yet, but when i do its going to be a DP. a buddy of mine is FT. he's had 6 RV's an said it's always going to be a DP.

Cost is High if you have to make repairs. but with a DP. ya going to get more out of it. a diesel gen imo is more longer lastings, stronger holding up if the need comes up for long running. But like most said it's also personal preference .

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I just can't see myself going over Donner Summit or the grapevine or pulling the grade from Salt Lake City eastbound at 30 mph. It will take me time to relax and enjoy retirement.

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We have been full-time for 5 yrs with a 36' ford chassis Triton V-10. We have plenty of storage and are very happy with our choice. Comparing our 2000 to the newer for build, quality of materials and options included, we will stick with the rigs that are a little bit older. We have noticed the newer one are not as insulated, when the door or a bay door is shut, it sounds like a tin can. We will be updating ours rather than going newer and have no desire for a diesel other than the BEAUTIFUL interiors we have seen on some.

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I just can't see myself going over Donner Summit or the grapevine or pulling the grade from Salt Lake City eastbound at 30 mph. It will take me time to relax and enjoy retirement.

I have been over both of those several times in our gas rig towing a CR-V but we never traveled that slowly and have no idea why anyone would? We didn't beat the monster diesel engines but we could keep up with the smaller ones. Even if your diesel climbs at 20 mph faster than a gas rig, it will get you to the top of a 5 mile long grade all of 3 minutes ahead. :P

 

It is true that the big diesel rigs of today will outrun a gas coach on the grades but if I really wanted to race I'd never by any motorhome.

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I have been over both of those several times in our gas rig towing a CR-V but we never traveled that slowly and have no idea why anyone would?

 

Our experience too, Kirk. We have done the SLC Eastbound trek... and the I-17 Camp Verde (Flagstaff to Phoenix) haul several times in our gas unit, towing a CR-V. Typically maintained an approximately 45 mph speed on those grades.

Edited by Jim&Alice

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Our diesel is only 275hp so we do climb those grades pulling a Ford C-Max or Jeep more slowly than most. Once we drop below 50mph we turn on the caution lights and take whatever time is needed to get to the top of the grade. Has never been a problem. On one trip in Utah a couple of years ago we crossed 18 passes over 7,000 feet with some near 10,000. Always plenty of torque to pull the grades, just not very fast (some down to 25mph). On the plus side of the smaller HP engine, our lifetime miles per gal is 9.8mpg and we take trips in mountains much more often than on the flatsl

 

rocmoc n AZ/Fld/Baja

Edited by mocroc

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FWIW here's our take on Gas versus DP right now: As much as hubby's dream (think of him as Tim the Toolman Taylor!) is for an Entegra, Tiffin or Newmar DP - when we start FT Rving in less than a year now (RE market willing!!!) We do a ton of extended trips in recent years, so think we've had a great intro to what FTing will be like overall minus the emotional "this is our only home" right now! It was some sage comment Kirk said a couple or so years ago that had us about turn in our thoughts coupled with cost of maintenance, repair, higher initial purchase cost, and huge depreciation again of a newer DPl.

 

Our Gas 2003 (AKA Betsy or the Rolling Turd) owned since new by us has a) depreciated immensely B) Still runs great and we love the floorplan minus would like bigger drying area in bathroom and maybe extra slide or two would be nice = but what you haven't had you don't miss! c) With current exchange rates C$;US$ can buy an awful lot of gas and repairs for the extra couple hundred thousand extra dollars we'd spend d) Love the size to fit in most everywhere at approx 37ft d) We know her intricacies, nuances and systems after all these years and that was a HUGE learning curve for us e) The biggie was Kirk's comment we still get to the same places just sometimes up the mountain passes we arrive a few minutes later than if we were driving a diesel. f) Hubby can barely switch on a smart phone or a computer, so with all these new state of the art toys (think more to go wrong), DEF, Aquahot systems and so on and so forth, we perish the thought of learning a whole new way again and more maintenance considerations. g) Sticking with our Gas for at least a couple of years out on the road will keep more initial dollars in our accounts to stretch more years, or until we establish in reality what our actual versus budgeted spending based on style of travel will be for sure.

With all the above said though, I have no shadow of a doubt in my mind, that hubby will "one day" get his dream of our upgrading to a DP provided the stars and incomes from investments all align.

 

Another disclaimer, we have never ever towed anything other than a horse box loaded with 2 horses a handful of times (max 4 hours from home) or a jet ski. To be honest, we intend to stay that way for as long as possible even when FTing because it encourages me as a diabetic to get more exercise walking, biking etc. My blood sugar readings are ALWAYS, way lower returning after an RV trip, than when being the previous couple of months or so at the SnB = go figure!

 

The biggest AH HA moment I have got over the years talking with hundreds ahead of us KiltedPig, is there truly is no right or wrong way to enjoy this lifestyle; everyone has different "must haves versus would likes" in regards to how, where, when what they drive, tow, stay at, hobbies/interests, go to areas etc. We've met many living frugally in older C-series/truck campers on $1500 month that are some of the happiest folks on this planet, travelling and exploring everywhere - equally we've met some folks in brand new state of the art rigs that are miserable as sin with Champagne tastes and beer budgets that do nothing but complain about everything and are so stressed about the financial situations they've created. No different to any other areas on planet earth I guess, but nonetheless it's reinforced to us starting out to LBYM (live below our means), and create as many happy memories together every day we possibly can - as that's all that truly matters in the big scheme of this new phase in our lives. As you can probably tell we are very Keep It Simple Silly folks.

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I like Linda's comment about 'It depends':)! For sure no wrong or right type answers here, from what you have shared. IF you were saying you needed to also pull a double stacker 18' trailer to carry your sports car and exotic other toys - well then it would lean more towards a DP with a BIG BLOCK being a good choice... The one key thing I heard you comment on that nudges it still towards a DP, is our thoughts on size at 40'. That being said, have you ever looked at a 37' or 39' Rexhall UFO Gasser with the two Super Slides? The 37', has more room inside then our two slided 40' Country Coach. Might be worth a look.

 

And as far as bang for the buck quality wise. I've always suggested to 'Drop years to remain within budget, and buy the highest quality coach that meets your needs.' I'm partial to large block diesels, in the upper tier coaches. They usually have better quality chassis, better components and materials, and higher craftsmanship in cabinetry. They provide a good foundation to modify specific interiors to your likes. (Upgraded electronics, change of carpeting or wood flooring, etc.). They've usually pretty much reach the end of the deep decline in ongoing depreciation. The BIG BLOCK (ISM/ISX, C12/13/15, Detroit) engines can quite often yield the same or better MPG then a mid size engine. Both from not working as hard, and quite often they have different rear end ratios too. Another big advantage of the BIG BLOCKS, is the have more displacement, which yields much higher Braking HP via Compression Jake Brakes. 2 or 3 Stage, or sometimes like in Foretravel you get the Retarder Transmission. I also like that most of these higher end older coaches, have Aqua/Hydro/Hurricane heating systems, for both water and heating. I also feel these rigs provide a safety edge over gassers, due to sturdier frames and cages around the occupants.

 

OK, devils advocate, and going back to Linda's 'It depends.' comment. If you feel more comfortable in a newer rig, or if say $400-500 more a on maintenance is a budget deal breaker. The gas is for sure a good fit for you. And one thing I feel quite often missed is that later Work Horse and Ford F53 Chassis, came with engines that produced plenty of power, and 5 or 6 speed transmissions, many with different formats of transmission provided brake assist. Big difference between our 1st coach, a 98 Bounder 275HP V10 F53 4spd auto, compared to the latest 26K chassis F53 coaches with 365 or so HP and 5spd transmissions. Great improvements. As I mentioned, I liked the concept of the UFO 8.1 Work Horse chassis coaches. Two that to mind of IMO higher quality, were the Monaco Holiday Rambler, and the mentioned Rexhall (I liked the 37' over the 39', and felt it had plenty of room.). For front engine units, the Mountain Air had one of the highest quality finishes I've seen in a gasser. Depending upon year, they came with Workhorse or F53 chassis.

 

Intangibles are the cost of comfort while driving, the way higher CCC abilities between a gas and DP. For Fulltimers, the ability to relax a bit with 'weight creep' is much easier with a DP.

 

So, as always, you will find that you will get many 'It depends.' like comments, as others share their perspectives:)!

 

And of course, the one that matters, is yours - as you're writing the check...

 

Happy hunting, whatever you end up looking for,

Smitty

Edited by Smitty

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