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knb53

Independent RV purchase consultant?

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Greetings!

I'm new to this forum, and in fact just joined Escapees RV Club... I imagine I'll get my membership number first part of the week.

I'm very interested in buying a small TT. I've been looking at the Solaire Expandables online. So here's my question: Years ago when my kids were small we bought an RV. At the time somehow I found a guy online who had an independent consulting service where he'd talk with you on the phone, help figure out some options that might work, and if memory serves would even help you look for something appropriate, review some advertisements, etc. I can't recall if it was a flat fee, or by the hour... but I do recall that it was a big help. I'm wondering if this is still a thing, and more specifically, anyone in the St. Louis area who might do this. I'd prefer to pay a fee for help from someone with no dog in the hunt rather than go to an RV dealer and ask for help. Thanks!

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If you are willing to post what types of things you want/need there are lots of people on this forum that will give you feedback for free. Just like in reviews of anything, you will need to filter the responses through your own perceptions but then you can ask more questions and we'll give you more of our feedback. We are a very friendly group who wants everyone to find the right rig for them so you can enjoy the lifestyle as much as we do.

Linda Sand

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I don’t remember ever hearing of anyone listening themselves as RV buying consulting. There are pre-purchase inspectors around who might be interested in the job. 
 

I agree that you could get a lot of guidance on these forums if you are willing to spend the time and do the research as members point you to information. To do that we would need to know how you plan to use the RV, what budget you have, and a little about yourself. 
 

There are many members of the forums who have found the RV which is perfect and probably no two are exactly alike because the people who travel in them are not alike. 

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knb53, you have made the most important and in my opinion useful step, but posting here with the rvnetwork. I was an active member for many years, before Facebook came into my life and then it seemed to keep me distracted and when I logged in to day I had to reset my password. I am in the process of deleting my Facebook account and will choose to come back to the Forums. They are specific to my needs and desires and offer not "targeted" advertisements only meant to distract you and put an image in your mind that you subconsciously see when you are shopping in real life. Ask your questions, evaluate the answers you get hear and see what happens. 

Purchasing an RV for pleasure is like purchasing a Boat. There are two great days. The day you buy it  and the day you sell it. All the rest of the days can be either really fun or really bad. It's sad we won't know how the day was until after we've been through it. There are usually a lot of Wants or Doesn't that look great? moments. It really boils down to what you "NEED". What you cannot do with out and what you are willing to trade as a want to get what you need. It's all about trade offs. 

 

Good luck with your search. 

We Must Do Better

I Will Do Better, Will You?

 

Rod

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13 hours ago, knb53 said:

Greetings!

I'm new to this forum, and in fact just joined Escapees RV Club... I imagine I'll get my membership number first part of the week.

I'm very interested in buying a small TT. I've been looking at the Solaire Expandables online. So here's my question: Years ago when my kids were small we bought an RV. At the time somehow I found a guy online who had an independent consulting service where he'd talk with you on the phone, help figure out some options that might work, and if memory serves would even help you look for something appropriate, review some advertisements, etc. I can't recall if it was a flat fee, or by the hour... but I do recall that it was a big help. I'm wondering if this is still a thing, and more specifically, anyone in the St. Louis area who might do this. I'd prefer to pay a fee for help from someone with no dog in the hunt rather than go to an RV dealer and ask for help. Thanks!

If you wish to start this process here, please tell us your intended use and for how long a period at a stretch. This begins the information building phase, which leads to types of RV's.

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I'll only address #5.... the tandem axle will ride and tow MUCH nicer.

BTW, I'm also 66 y/o, retired farmer.  Good luck in your next adventure.

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The tandem axle (two sets of wheels) trailers tow much better and do not impact the tow vehicle nearly as much as a single axle trailer. That does increase the cost but it also has a great effect in increasing the safe payload of the trailer because two axles can carry much more weight. Notice that the tandem axle model has almost twice the cargo capacity (CCC) of the single axle model. It also has to be some longer in order to accommodate the second axle. 

An expandable trailer, sometimes called a hybrid, has a number of advantages as they weigh much less and require less space to store and they cost less. I would strongly encourage you to shop as many brands as possible before you make your choice as there are several companies that build models of that type. 

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When we owned a tent trailer I loved that I could park it in our garage. I loved how easily it towed. I did not love that the canvas would leak in the rain whenever one of us touched it making for wet sleeping. And i did not love that we were not allowed to camp in Yellowstone because we were not safe from bears.

Linda Sand

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You guys are great! Thank you!

Rick, I come from a long line of farmers and consider myself an old country doc! We moved back to the St. Louis side of the Mississippi when I mostly retired 4 years ago, but before that we were on a little farmlet across the river in Southern IL (18 acres) with chickens, grew a lot of our own veg, etc. I was wondering if a double tandem would feel more stable and secure, and appreciate your and Kirk's observation that that is the case. I do also like the greater cargo weight, not because I plan to travel over packed, but just like engineering reduncandcy.

Kirk, any specific models I should take a gander at? 

Linda, the TT that I'm currently looking at allows one to camp inside without deploying the tent beds at either end... they can remain closed. Both a small couch and the dinette inside convert to a bed. Would that be acceptable in places like Yellowstone? (That's one of the areas I'd love to go!)

Thank you all again! I really appreciate this.

Keith

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Yes, with the tent portion closed you'd be allowed at Yellowstone.  If you have more people staying in it that you would need to open it for sleeping all the national parks have other campgrounds  just outside the gate of the park that you'd be able to stay.  I also agree to get the double axel, if possible.  That's a very good design for one person and the 163 would be best if you have another person.  RVs get tight fast in bad weather!  I'm impressed by the fresh water and grey and black tank capacity in such a small RV.  Also, they have a 'dry' bath.  Some RVs have a 'wet' bath (no enlosed shower) and everything, indeed, gets wet.  You have to basically dry the whole bathroom with towels.   I think you're on the right track with this style.  Hopefully, you can go to dealers that carry various manufactures so you can compare.  You'll have a great time traveling.

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Keith, Fishing Bridge CG in Yellowstone is the only CG restricted to hard-sided trailers, which BTW is the only FHU CG in Yellowstone NP.

The best fishing area is Madison CG, dry camping only.

I agree, tandem axles are the best option, both for redundancy and much less road vibration to the trailer and contents, plus weight capacity.

When choosing how big a trailer your prospective tow vehicle may safely tow, many use an online weight calculator, when making such calculations, always use the trailer's GVWR, never use the unloaded weight unless you plan to never take anything like clothing and food and water along on a camping trip. The vast majority of RV sales people are only interested in how fast you can write a check.

I have no comments on tent/hybrid trailers, as I've never owned one.

Edited by Ray,IN

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Good catch, Ray.  I knew that about Yellowstone. Sandsys's comment threw me.  I replied too fast before thinking.... again.  😁All the other campgrounds in Yellowstone are full of tent campers.  It's just Fishing Bridge campground that has issues.  It's a popular grizzly area.

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6 hours ago, knb53 said:

Linda, the TT that I'm currently looking at allows one to camp inside without deploying the tent beds at either end... they can remain closed. Both a small couch and the dinette inside convert to a bed. Would that be acceptable in places like Yellowstone? (That's one of the areas I'd love to go!)

In our tent trailer not deploying the bed still left us with a partial canvas wall. That was not acceptable. You need a hard side RV to be allowed into that campground. I don't remember if the trailer you are looking at had hard sides once the top was lifted before the beds were deployed.

This was many years ago so I don't think Fishing Bridge campground even existed back then. Bears go where they think the food is. My memory of tent camping says we were much more careful to stash food appropriately when we were in a tent than once we moved into a motorhome. But, I hadn't thought about stashing toiletries before a bear stuck his snout into my backpack. 

Linda

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I didn't camp in Yellowstone many years ago when I took a motorcycle trip to the west. We did tent camp at many places and never thought about not being able to in the park. It does make sense though. I will say it's not only Bears you need to be careful with with any tent or van or soft sided enclosure. Back in 1987 or 1988 while in Nursing School I had to travel 90 miles for a Clinical location. Most would find a cheap motel to stay at but I decided to camp in my parents 4 person tent. I brought food, a small grill and cooler and thought I was all set. The first week was great it was cool enough to sleep and there wasn't any rain. The weeks got worse as I stayed each week for 4 nights before heading back home to work the weekends. The first thing that happened was it got hot and stayed hot all night. A small group of people were camping in their Van a few spots from where I had my tent set up. I wasn't sleeping well and suddenly heard screaming. A Raccoon had entered the van in search for food and scared the young lady half to death. It was hot so they had left the van sliding door open. They departed pretty quickly that night. I didn't see them back. 

The next thing was my cooler. It had a pretty good latch on it and the Ice lasted longer if I didn't keep it in my trailer( actually it was my Dad's motorcycle and trailer.) Well I hear something out side the tent and when I turned on my flash light I could see probably the same Raccoon with it's head in my cooler. It had figured out the latch and was unwrapping and eating the cheese I had brought for sandwiches. It sure left a mess of cheese wrappers. The cooler went back into the trailer and I just bought more ice. 

Finally, and I should have known better, I had a loaf of bread in the tent with me. It was a good night for sleeping except every time I seemed to drift off I'd be awakened by a scratching noise. I finally pretended to sleep and caught sight of the Raccoon trying to paw it's way to my loaf of bread. Apparently it saved some of the cheese and wanted to make a sandwich. 

I have tent camped a little bit since but am so glad my current home is mobile and has walls that are pretty much impermeable. 

Rod

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16 hours ago, knb53 said:

Kirk, any specific models I should take a gander at? 

If there is an RV show anywhere near you, plan to attend and spend at least a day there and try to see everything that is offered. RV equipment and options have changed dramatically over recent years and I think it would be a mistake to restrict yourself to one type of RV without spending time looking at all available choices. I know that both KZ and Jayco build hybrid RVs and there are several others. Rockwood, & Aerolite & Coleman & Kodiak

You can get some ideas from visiting this link.

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The trailers in Kirk's link are a whole new option to me. Much safer than our tent trailer but much heavier to tow. The link I found before showed floor plans but not exterior photos so I only guessed they were the more typical tent trailers with which I am familiar. Thus, my opinions were based on wrong information. Sorry about that.

Linda

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Thank you all!

2gypsies, I'm going to look over these links right now... 

Kirk, I wonder if places are still doing RV shows with COVID going on... that's a great idea, though, if I can find one!

Rod, that's a great story! Racoons are pretty wily and determined, for sure.

So I have a general question: How likely is it that a 66 year old with very limited towing experience can become comfortable hauling a small TT, backing up, etc? Years ago I bought a 1956 25' Airstream... never really learned to back it well, never really used it except as a guest house... finally sold it. But I was still working then, taking call 50% of the time, etc., so didn't really have the time/energy to put into the endeavor. I'm more committed and able to spend the time now... but am I hopeless? 😉

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RE: Backing up..... practice, practice.  Go to a large parking lot off hours and try to fit it inbetween the lines keeping in mind that RV sites would most likely be wider so you have some leeway.

Many campgrounds have pull-through sites.

There are RV Driving Schools:  https://www.rvschool.com/

A rear camera would help.

You can do it!!   There are many older singles out there managing - even women!! 😄

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The tip about backing up I found fascinating is to put your hands at the bottom of the steering wheel then move them the direction you want the trailer to go. I think even I could do that! :)

I think it might be like learning to ride a bike. I couldn't believe it when my brother said if you are falling to the right you need to lean to the right. That sounded so wrong. But when you lean to the right your feet push the bike to the left and you come upright again.

So turning your steering wheel the "wrong" way by placing your hands at the bottom instead of the top probably uses that same rule.

Linda

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That's great advice... and my brother (soon to be 80) is great at backing campers/trailers, and is a sweet and patient teacher.

And I also really like the idea of the driving school... I'm bookmarking that site! And a big yes to the rear camera! My Prius has one, and it's a big help for gauging where and how far.

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18 hours ago, knb53 said:

So I have a general question: How likely is it that a 66 year old with very limited towing experience can become comfortable hauling a small TT, backing up, etc?

Backing will be the biggest challenge, or it is for most of us. The main thing to remember is to take your time and get out and look frequently. Many years ago, in order to learn about backing more easily a friend loaned me a flat-bed trailer that was empty so that I would be better able to see what the trailer would do in response to my actions. If you can do that first, it is much less difficult than backing a trailer that blocks your view. 

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That's a great idea! I know a couple of folks with a decent sized hauling trailer I could borrow, one being a car trailer. 

Last night I signed up for RVers Online University... I can't really do any in-person training right now because I'm in the midst of cancer treatment which requires me to be at the hospital M-F for radiation and chemo... (Great prognosis, no worries. But the treatment sucks... I much prefer being on my side of the stethoscope, but this is a good learning experience. lol!) So online is a good place to start right now. I watched several modules last night and feel like I learned a ton! For me a good value for $79.

Consumer Reports rates used Dodge Ram pickup trucks pretty highly. Any thoughts for this as a tow vehicle? 2WD vs 4WD? 1500 vs. 2500? Used 1500s are more plentiful and cheaper... and the TT I'm looking at has a UVW of 4985 lbs and a CCC of 1563 lbs.

Thank you all again... I appreciate all your help.

Keith

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