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Motorhome must haves and nice to haves


BarbDan17

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Hello all-

 

My DH and I have decided on a Class A motorhome for FT. Our next decision is Gas or Diesel. We have no idea what to look for, except we believe we can either buy a new Gas or a used Diesel (somewhere between $100-$150k). We know we want 1 1/2 baths, can do a Queen bed and want back up cameras. Beyond this, we don't know what other preferences are critical and what is considered nice to have. I'm sure this question has been asked before and you're all so knowledgeable. Is there a thread someone can point us to, or a book you would suggest so we can learn more before we buy? When we built oiur house 9 years ago, we realized there were a lot of things we should have thought a little more about. We would like to minimize this feeling as much as possible and take advantage of all your experience.

 

Guidance please....

 

Barbara & Dan

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Welcome to the forum.

Floorplan is the single most important feature.....remember you will be staying in it more when not travelling than travelling.

Electric awning is nice to have...we have a manual and rarely use it because of the hassle.

All class As as far as I know have some type of leveling system so whether manual or fully automatic is up to you. I prefer my semi automatic system.

Back up cameras are pretty much on every class A I have ever seen so must be a standard feature as well.

 

Whether gas or diesel is kind of a personal preference.....there are lots of both on the road.

 

The rest depends a lot on what you are planning on doing . Are you planning on dry camping frequently? If so you will need large tanks and solar so might want to look for those features already on a MH. Also are you planning on pulling a toad? A toad to me is essential so I got a MH that can pull one with ease.

 

Lots to consider. Good luck and feel free to ask more questions.

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For me, in addition to self leveler so, it would be washer/dryer, exhaust brake, and air-ride, all of which point to DP.

 

First thing to determine is where you plan to travel. If you are going to do a lot of driving, ~10K miles a year including the mountains in the west, go with DP. Not as many miles mostly in mid-west or east, gas would work fine.

 

Barb

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Ok, all good points. I had forgotten to mention we also wanted auto-leveling and we would have a toad. We were originally leaning toward a new Gas MH, but I have a fear of overloading it and the toad, so we've begun entertaining the Diesel. We have a TT now and are used to the manual awning, so while electric would be nice, if we found the right unit it wouldn't be a deal breaker. I'm still up in the air about a W/D. We know nothing about "exhaust brake and air ride". Could you talk more about that, BarbaraOK?

 

We will probably will do some dry camping. I think I'm more interested than my DH. We'll see. Also, I'm not sure about the mileage per year yet, but I know we want to see it all, so there will be mountains and there will be plains.

 

Keep the thoughts coming about both Gas and Diesel, and thanks for the input so far. Like I said, if there is a book we could read, I would certainly take the time and money to find it. :-)

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Ok here are my thoughts as we fultimed in a fifth wheel for 7 years prior to getting the DP

!. You will get way more for your money in a quality used, well cared for DP.

2 There is alway a discussion about the washer dryer. When we started out, having at least a splendide was a must. I hate laundromats with a passion. When the combo broke we installed stackables. Our search for a DP included having room for them. There were a few things I was willing to give up to get that room. In the end to stay in our money comfort zone we gave up a bedroom slide to get that space. We do not miss that slide one bit.

3. Dont be fooled into thinking that you only need that DP power in the west. There are lots of mountains and very steep grades east of the Mississippi !!

4. We have auto levelers however they are not air levelers. But they work fine. I would recommend that you search for one with 4 levelers. Ours only has 3 and on occasion having 2 on the front would be better.

5. We did not search for one with solar, however ours ended up having 3. We love love love that feature. Just make sure that you have the proper batteries for it to run properly

6. Do not be put off if you find what you want but the company is out of business. One of the original owners of Country Coach has a great repair facility and we have had great technical back up from Monaco. Besides most stuff is out of warranty if the coach is over a certain age

7 Absolutely budget to have your coach gone over not only by an independenet inspector but a diesel mechanic as well. We planned for our coach to go have the engine tranny etc gone over. It was money we were willing to loose if a major problem was found. Write this into the deal....it has to pass these inspections or no deal.

8 Everything else is personal preferences. Do you want to upgrade to a residential fridge???? Then make sure that there is room to install one. In our case it doesnt matter but we would have a major remodel if we did as the furnace is under the refer.

7. Consider the Sat TV. Does the rig have a satellitte installed??? Is it going to work for the service you want to use??

8. If the floor plan is perfect are you willing to do upgrades to the window treatments etc if those don't suit your taste.

 

Happy hunting.

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Well we travel long distances and pull a fairly heavy toad so the diesel was to me a necessity. The drawbacks on a diesel is that they are more expensive to buy and more expensive to maintain. But they do have the exhaust brake and air ride suspension so are nicer to drive...especially in the mountains. They also have more power.

 

A gas MH on the other hand is more like driving an over sized pickup truck in that they have spring suspension, usually , and hydraulic brakes so they cost less and are easier to maintain.

 

Another feature that we do use a lot on our motorhome is the awnings over the wndows..sure helps keep it cooler inside.

 

One thing that I would not be without on either a gas or diesel MH is the double pane windows. A MH that has the " winter package " is well worth the money as they are more heavily insulated , have the dual pane windows and sometimes have heated tanks.

 

A very well built MH with these features is the Canadian built Triple E. There are dealers for them in the US.

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My 2 cents would not be on what to purchase but if you purchase used be sure to have it inspected by an rv technician. Other posters have given you good suggestions. Don't rush to buy something. Look for a floorplan that looks liveable to you. You really won't know until you live in it. We first purchased a 2000 Avion 5th wheel in 2005. It was a good deal, we didn't investigate too much. The floorplan was fine but it had very little insulation, the area around the bed was very cold. Good insulation helps with cold & heat. Good luck

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We know nothing about "exhaust brake and air ride". Could you talk more about that, BarbaraOK?

 

We will probably will do some dry camping. I think I'm more interested than my DH. We'll see. Also, I'm not sure about the mileage per year yet, but I know we want to see it all, so there will be mountains and there will be plains.

 

Keep the thoughts coming about both Gas and Diesel, and thanks for the input so far. Like I said, if there is a book we could read, I would certainly take the time and money to find it. :-)

Exhaust brakes use the engine & transmission to slow the coach coming downhill so you don't use the service brakes. You literally walk down the pass only touching the service brakes a couple of times.

 

The air-ride are air bags that inflate and raise the coach, providing a very comfortable ride going down the road. And when you set up, you dump the air so you are closer to the ground before leveling, which means less of a chance of wheels up in the air.

 

Barb

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Critical items/must haves:

a floorplan that YOU will be happy with

dual pane windows, the frame will still sweat on cold days but heat loss is much less as is the noise.

washer/dryer, get a gas dryer to eliminate the 220V requirement

residential fridge or the room for one

window awnings

enough windows to allow the coach to be ventilated on the warm days

leveling system with 4 jacks, power down and up

kitchen layout that is usable all the time, especially if you have slides that impact the kitchen area

vent fans

windshield cover to reduce sun heating

comfortable seating

television - comfortable viewing angle

probably need to go diesel to get the size you desire. I forsee a 37-40 foot DP in your future. Be aware a coach in excess of 40 ft requires a license endorsement in CA.

 

Notice that everything is for use when parked because that's where you spend the majority of your time. You will be parked for weeks to months at a time and if not comfortable you will not be happy.

 

That's my two cents,

Good luck with your search

 

Bill

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We were originally leaning toward a new Gas MH, but I have a fear of overloading it and the toad, so we've begun entertaining the Diesel.

In my opinion, the kind of fuel your motorhome burns should play little part in your choice of RV. There are plenty of experts to tell you that you must have a diesel to be successful as a fulltimer, but that simply is not true. Because we had a similar budget to yours, and because we chose to buy our home on the road new, we bought a gas powered coach and it worked well for us for almost 12 years. The fact is that either will work very well if you choose properly and either can be a total disaster if you choose wrong.

 

Modern gas motorhomes have nearly as much in cargo capacity as most diesels and more than many of them. They have the ability to tow all but the heaviest of towed vehicles as well. We wanted to have a new home which we ordered configured in the way that we wanted and not to have to adapt to what someone else had decided to sell. You need to balance the advantages of each and then choose based upon what the two of you value most.

 

There is absolutely no better ride in any current motorhome than that of a diesel with air ride. There are two companies that make conversion kits for gas chassis that reviews say come very close, but the kits are expensive. If you are seeking a coach that is longer than about 37/38 feet you will then need a diesel as no current gas coach is that long. Diesels do have air brakes which are somewhat better than hydraulic brakes on the gas chassis, but the gas chassis have 4 wheel disk brakes and with proper maintenance they come very close to matching. The diesels may have an exhaust brake which is better holding back than gearing down on a gas chassis, but gearing down can do the job and not all diesel chassis have the exhaust brake system and it adds to the extra cost.

 

If our budget had been large enough we would have bought a diesel coach but to us it was not worth the added cost. It is very true that we could have had a diesel that was 5 years or more old for the money that we paid for a gas coach. But our priorities were that Pam wanted a coach nobody had lived in to start out and I was not in mind to take the risk of what sort of treatment and care a used rig that I knew little about might have had. There is no need to worry about overloading a gas chassis, as long as you understand the weight limits and use them as a guide while shopping. And understand that not all diesels have high cargo capacities while some have much less than most gas chassis. It really comes down to a choice of priorities to which is better for you.

 

What is more important than what fuel the chassis burns is the quality of construction and of fit and finish of the coach. We chose a coach that was at the top of the quality range for the time when we got ours. I suggest to you that it is far better to buy a high quality gas coach than to accept a low quality diesel.

 

I would commend you for setting your purchase budget first and then shopping. Whether you buy new or used, the budget should not be broken as it is very difficult to live happily in an RV that costs you so much that you worry about the cost of travel in it.

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Some folks say to choose your floorplan first. We would disagree. A quality manufacturer should be your first choice then choose the floorplan. Take a look at this PPL consignment site for ideas on what you can purchase in your price range, look for a good mfg., then check out the floorplans. This will give you an idea of what's out there. PPL handles diesels and gas.

 

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/diesel/diesel-motorhomes.php

 

You could get a very nice diesel in your price range. We love our Newmar but there are other good quality motorhomes such as Country Coach, Monaco, etc. You stated you want 1-1/2 baths. For that you might have to go to a longer length than you envision. Also keep in mind the number of slides available.

 

We dry camp in national parks, national forests along with boondocking so we have solar. If you plan to dry camp big holding tanks would be nice. We fit in many public parks with our 40'. We wouldn't be able to go to places we like with anything bigger so keep size in mind.

 

We didn't want a washer/dryer because of our type of stays as they need a sewer hookup. Plus, we don't like the idea of constantly doing small loads of laundry. We go every two weeks and get it done in 1-1/2 hours.

 

We would also recommend window awnings but this could be an after market item if you find the right coach without them. We use the window awnings daily and because we're in the west with winds, we rarely use the big awning.

 

Pick a plan that you can easily get to everything without opening the slides for comfortable traveling.

 

We've full-timed for 16 years with only one bath. We'd prefer better use of the space for the extra 1/2 bath.

 

Everyone is different in wants. You'll have a lot to think about. Good luck!

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washer/dryer, get a gas dryer to eliminate the 220V requirement

I concur with Ron and Linda. A 220V dryer is as unnecessary as a propane dryer. Our 120V Whirlpool dries a load just as fast as our front loading Whirlpool washer washes one. Now, if you were talking about home sized units it might be a different story, but not with the apartment sized units everyone installs in their RV's.

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Have had them all so our list if very basic.

 

1. Generator, Diesel or Propane. New ethanol blended gas causes too many maint. problems so NOT gasoline.

 

2. Converter.

 

3. At least a 2-way fridg., propane & 12V.

 

4. Auto Sat. Dish., eg Winegard Trave'ler.

 

5. Storage, under & inside.

 

Pretty much everything else is workable for us or can be mod to our desires.

 

rocmoc n AZ/Mexico

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It seems ALL the new coaches you might buy new (no matter the cost) have a multitude of problems after delivery. Yes, these are all covered by warranty, but how much time do you wish to spend at the dealer or manufacturer having all the warranty items fixed. A good late model used coach will offer 2 advantages:

 

1) All these little warranty issues will hopefully have been taken care of.

 

2) The new unit will be worth many thousands less as soon as you take delivery. The depreciation is large for these new coaches. This is very important to your new versus used discussion.

 

I would definitely go with a late model used DP coach with air ride. With your budget you will be looking at a 40 foot or smaller coach. The advantages of a diesel have been discussed already, but the two points I have shown are also very important in your decision.

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One of the differences between a gas and diesel chassis will be basement storage. Diesels will have pass through bays, gas chassis don't. Again, this may or may not be important to you - - for us it has been really great for ease of access to things we have stored.

 

We bought a used coach like so many here. Another one to look at is Foretravel - yes you will have to go older, but they make very, very good coaches.

 

Barb

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One of the differences between a gas and diesel chassis will be basement storage. Diesels will have pass through bays, gas chassis don't.

Not entirely true. There are many gas chassis coaches that have pass-through storage as we did. In fact we had three such bays on ours and I have seen four. But, when they do have it, the pass-through part is not the full depth of the bay like some diesels have, but the floor goes up and over the chassis rails in a step-up fashion. In the case of ours, only the top 16" or so of those bays was pass through. I might also point out that it is not true that all diesel coaches have pass through storage. Our friend's Bounder pusher does not have any pass-through bays.

 

It seems ALL the new coaches you might buy new (no matter the cost) have a multitude of problems after delivery.

This is a popular argument of those who buy used, and it would imply that a used RV will be trouble free, while a new one will not. More mythology by those who want you to do as they did. I have owned more than one of both and by far the least service was required by the new ones.

 

Do not make the mistake of buying any RV based upon anyone's opinions but your own. Every one of us are biased to think that what we did was best, partly because it has worked for us or some personal reason. The most important thing is for you to be comfortable with your choice, regardless of who agrees or doesn't agree.

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The problem today seems to be that coach manufacturers are more interested in pushing product out the door, especially in the OP's price range, with the thought that problems can be fixed later under warranty. Because the economy is once again improving, RV sales are picking up. Manufacturers had to lean down their manufacturing during the hard times, but now that sales are picking up they have to get their product to market utilizing those leaned down resources while they hire and train new people.

 

This problem seems to persist through all levels of RV's, at least below those ultra expensive million plus dollar coaches. We had neighbors for a week last winter that had a brand new Newmar King Air (this is the top of the Newmar line, sells for $800K+ dollars) who were on there way to the factory with a list of 34 items to be fixed under warranty. This was their second such trip in less than a year. Read the manufacturer forums and see all the complaints about new coaches. It does seem to be a bad trend. Push them out the door and fix them later.

 

I am NOT saying there will not be problems with late model used coaches. I'm saying these multitude of nuisance fixes may all be solved prior to your purchase. And to be honest before we bought our CC, we were looking at new. We were convinced to look at this coach, and we are glad we did. With a new coach many if not most people will go to the dealer they purchased from or the manufacturer in many cases for these fixes. I guess they trust the people who work on their coach the most to fix them. In many cases this will involve a major trip. Tiffin was on the top of our list for new coaches, but many people have stated they have had to make the trip to Red Bay, Al. more than once and wait their turn (no appointments). Same with Newmar and Winnie. I read a blog last year about a new $400K+ Winnie Tour that was about to be turned in as a lemon. And this blogger had talked to dozens of other owners of new Tours that reported similar problems.

 

I suspect these trends are recent trends (within the last year or two) and that perhaps in the past manufacturers took more pride in turning out coaches without problems, but it seems this just ain't so any more.

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Weight capacity followed by floor plan.

Nothing else will matter if it's overloaded and your not comfortable.

Engine size wont matter if what it's pushing is over the body/frames safe capacity. Tires wont matter if the motorhome is too heavy. Engine exhaust wont be much help if the whole darn thing is tooooo heavy.

Work backwards with what you 'think' you will be carrying and leave a safe margin. Then look at the motorhomes carrying capacity.

 

regards

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The problem today seems to be that coach manufacturers are more interested in pushing product out the door, especially in the OP's price range, with the thought that problems can be fixed later under warranty.

 

.............................This problem seems to persist through all levels of RV's, at least below those ultra expensive million plus dollar coaches. We had neighbors for a week last winter that had a brand new Newmar King Air (this is the top of the Newmar line, sells for $800K+ dollars) who were on there way to the factory with a list of 34 items to be fixed under warranty.

There have always been and will always be anecdotal stories of people who have this kind of experience, but the new sales continue to be successful because most of the new buyers are actually satisfied. Most motorhomes come with a warranty period of 1 to 3 years so if you buy one that is beyond that warranty period, all repairs will be on you. In addition, many appliances have warranties that also state that they are valid to the original purchaser only. There are many good reasons for shopping for a used RV but this isn't a valid one. While it may in some cases be true but there is also the risk of buying an RV that was so bad that the original buyer has given up on it and with no warranty! Choosing the right dealer is even more important when buying used than for new for this reason.

 

If you do choose to buy a used RV, you can protect yourself to a large degree by purchasing what the dealers call an "Extended Warranty" that is really a health insurance plan for the RV. If you buy a good one it will protect you from the possible expenses that might be incurred should things go wrong. If you do consider this, I would invite you to read this article on my website, which has been published by Escapee's Magazine twice and is about how to choose such a policy.

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Not entirely true. There are many gas chassis coaches that have pass-through storage as we did. In fact we had three such bays on ours and I have seen four. But, when they do have it, the pass-through part is not the full depth of the bay like some diesels have, but the floor goes up and over the chassis rails in a step-up fashion. In the case of ours, only the top 16" or so of those bays was pass through. I might also point out that it is not true that all diesel coaches have pass through storage. Our friend's Bounder pusher does not have any pass-through bays.

This is a popular argument of those who buy used, and it would imply that a used RV will be trouble free, while a new one will not. More mythology by those who want you to do as they did. I have owned more than one of both and by far the least service was required by the new ones.

 

Do not make the mistake of buying any RV based upon anyone's opinions but your own. Every one of us are biased to think that what we did was best, partly because it has worked for us or some personal reason. The most important thing is for you to be comfortable with your choice, regardless of who agrees or doesn't agree.

 

My gasser has so much basement storage that I don't use much more than half. It also has two pass-through bays.

 

We also bought new and have had several small warranty repairs, but would much rather have to go through a little trouble getting the warranty repairs done than pay for repairs for a used coach. And, we got what we wanted by buying new. Diesel would be great, but we are very happy with gas.

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Let me echo what Bruce T wrote -- A MUST is adequate cargo carrying capacity. Some full timers carry 3,000 pounds of cargo and more. Make sure your motor home will handle what ever load you plan to carry and especially on the rear axle. Many motor homes are load challenged even for weekenders much less for full timers.

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Do not make the mistake of buying any RV based upon anyone's opinions but your own. Every one of us are biased to think that what we did was best, partly because it has worked for us or some personal reason. The most important thing is for you to be comfortable with your choice, regardless of who agrees or doesn't agree.

 

I chuckle every time one of these threads come up. People seem to think you can only fulltime in a class A, especially a DP or maybe a 5th wheel. We've fulltimed in our Super C for 3 years. Personally we prefer the security of our truck cab. I have 3 doors I can use to get in and out of the coach. We bought it 4 years before we went fulltime used. It had less than 2k miles on it. Another reason we like it is the 10k lb. hitch. I can tow my 24' enclosed trailer with race car and don't worry about it handling the Jeep. 100 gallons of water - 55 gallon black and gray tanks. It also has 2 pass through compartments too.

 

We don't have a washer/dryer - trips to the laundromat can be entertaining. Also just one bathroom in our rig. I guess we are roughing it. LOL.

 

Floorplan is important. We can use the kitchen and bath without extending a slide.

 

I have friends that have windshield problems with their class A's. One was sitting for a couple of months then one evening crack the windshield broke. Is this common?

 

Travel safe everyone.

 

Jeff

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We lived for 5 years on a 32' sailboat cruising the Pacific with two kids. It had a kerosine kitchen stove (that had to be primed with alcohol), no water heater at all (heated water on the stove, put it into a garden sprayer, took a shower), minimal refrigeration (made enough ice for ONE sundowner for each of us per day) and it was the happiest time in our lives.... so I am not at all sure we are typical RVers....

 

However..... and not in any particular order:

 

1. Window awnings for all the side windows and a good screen-type cover for the front windows. These cut way down on heat inside the coach.

2. NO LOUVERED WINDOWS! But windows that can be opened wide enough to allow air flow... with screens.

3. Large "patio" awning. I've never thought manual awnings were an issue (you should try one on a 32' sailboat).

4. Solar panels. At least enough to cover the "parasitic" loads when you have to store it somewhere with no power available.

5. Exhaust brake or transmission retarder.

6. At least 100 gallon fuel so you don't have to stop every 300 miles for fuel and can, instead, use GasBuddy to find enough savings on a fill-up to pay for lunch.

7. A comfortable place to sit down and read a book or watch TV. For me this is a reclining chair but on our sailboat it was a corner of the port settee in the salon with pillows.

8. A nice place to nap. Not necessarily your bed in the bedroom. I like to nap on a sofa or settee or even in the recliner. If I nap in bed I tend to sleep too long.

9. Enough storage. I have no idea what enough storage is.

10. Sufficient GCVW to tow your toad when your RV is loaded for travel. You'd be surprised just how few RVs can do this.

11. A generator. We don't use ours very much but when we need it we find it extremely useful.

12. Good ceiling fans and vents; preferably at least one that will work from a thermostat.

13. LED lighting.

 

WDR

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