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Looking for an RV to go fulltime in


TripKitty

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I'm new to this forum. It was recommended to me by a friend on here.

My plan is to sell my house and go full-time. I'm looking to get set-up in my RV and do a month or two on the road before actually putting the house on the market, just to make absolutely sure that the lifestyle will work for me. But as I'm not living in a town that I want to stay in, I feel there is little risk with selling the house as if I did want to settle down again, it would be in a different location.

I have an Xplorer van which I have used for a couple of trips and some camping, so I have some minimal experience with RV stuff, but I know going full time will be very different and I have a lot to learn. If it weren't for my two cats, I would seriously consider just packing up in the Xplorer and taking off, but it's not enough space for all of us. It will have to be sold, and I will be sad to see it go.

I've begun my search for something else. I spent a couple of days going to every dealership in Albuquerque which is the nearest city for me. I'm still debating a little on exactly which way to go- TT, fiver, class A, Class C. I was thinking about a fifth wheel, but when I looked at a couple, I just felt little and couldn't really imagine towing one. Then I was thinking Class C, but after looking at several of them, I just don't think they have the space I want. Plus I'd like a washer/dryer and those seem pretty rare when it comes to Class Cs. Looking at a Class A, I really felt like I could see myself able to live in it without feeling like I was making too many sacrifices to deal with limited space and storage.

The process of searching for an RV and buying it feels a little overwhelming, but I figure I just need to start by looking as much as I can online and in person and reading up on it as much as possible.

Currently, I am leaning towards a Class A. My budget for it is around $25,000 including whatever repairs, upgrades or customizations that I want to do. So, I am clearly looking for a used unit, probably around a 2000's model. One thing I've found is that many dealerships tell me that if they get something like that as a trade-in, they just wholesale it and they won't sell those to the public. So, I'm wondering, where do the wholesalers resell these?

Beyond Craigslist and RVTrader, any advice on websites or dealerships I may want to check out to find what I am looking for?

I'm also wondering about the gas/diesel question. I've heard a lot about diesel being better, but also that it's more important to find a floorplan that I'll really be happy living in. I'm sure this question has been answered before, but any thought on gas vs. diesel?

Thanks in advance for any answers and help.

I have a lot to figure out about this and it feels overwhelming, but it is also very exciting. Browsing the forums here has already given me tons of useful information.

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First let me welcome you to the Escapee forums! We are here to help so feel free to ask anything you wish and to join in on any discussion.

 

As one who prefers class A motorhomes as a way of travel I can say that I believe that your feeling of comfort with the type RV chosen is of vital importance and you seem to be doing things right, thus far. With a budget of only $25k you will be looking to pretty experienced RVs and while you may find gas powered ones in the 15 year age range for that price, you probably will need to go at least 20 years or probably more of age for any diesel RV. One thing that concerns me is that with a budget as small as yours it will be very difficult to find an RV in condition to be reliable and you really need professional help to be sure when you find one you like. A professional inspection is probably going to cost you somewhere between $250 and $500 if thorough and complete. You may need to have more than one inspected if you are not sure what to look for. A good inspection check list would likely be helpful and this one from the RV Consumer Group I believe is one of the best.

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Just to give you an idea of what a $25,000 budget will get you, take a look at this site. You can click on gas or diesel and there are even a couple diesels in your price range. I'd definitely recommend that you look at any of these in person and have an outside inspector take a look, too. Good luck!

 

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/classa/class-a-motorhomes.php

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Kirk, I am definitely printing off that checklist and taking it with me when I go looking. I agree that an inspection by somebody much more qualified than me is an absolute must. I figure that will kind of be the last step after I've figure out it's the unit I absolutely want as I don't want to pay for an inspection and then decide I don't like the floorplan or something like that. But I know that it will be money well spent whether it reveals something that makes me go with something else, or just gives me a better idea of what the one I'm getting is going to need.

 

2gypsies, thanks fot the link. I could definitely see something like this working for me on the diesel side. It's a 99 model but only has 36K miles.

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/diesel/1999-Holiday-Rambler-Endeavor-28450.htm

 

Alternatively a couple of the gas models also seem to fit my requirements. I could see myself going with something similar to this, although I don't like the total lack of counter space in this model if you want to be able to also use the sink and stove.

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/classa/1999-Suncrusier-29799.htm

 

There are a couple of models for sale locally that I would like to go check out soon. One is a 99 National Tropi-cal with about 70,000 miles. I actually looked over it a few days ago, but would like to take it for a drive and just really make sure I am comfortable with actually driving a Class A. They're asking $25,000 for it, but I think that's way too high for this model. It's on a dealer lot and I know they paid much less than that for it on trade-in so I think there would be some bargaining room and if I couldn't get a price I liked, I'd move on. The only thing that didn't thrill me when I looked at it is the design on the outside. I really don't need (or like) the palm tree decals. I don't know that would really be a deal-breaker for me though, just something that would forever bother me or that I would change if I could do it for a reasonable price.

 

There is also a Safari Zanzibar- another 99 with 74,000 miles on it. I haven't seen it at all yet beyond a few pictures, but it looks like it's worth checking out. They're asking $26,000 and it's for sale by owner, so there may not be as much bargaining room, but I'm sure I could get it down into my price range.

 

Any thoughts on those two models or things I should think about as I'm looking at them?

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Alternatively, this one is in my price range. http://albuquerque.craigslist.org/rvs/5086488233.html

 

It's even a 2013 with under 12K miles on it.

 

 

NO, no - and NO !!.. :(

 

Even a DIY person will need to drop *at least* $50K into that - maybe *LOTS* more!

 

Then there's another can of worms with the slavage title.

 

BTW - hint......it was totaled for a good reason.

 

.

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NO, no - and NO !!.. :(

 

Even a DIY person will need to drop *at least* $50K into that - maybe *LOTS* more!

 

Then there's another can of worms with the slavage title.

 

BTW - hint......it was totaled for a good reason.

 

.

 

I was joking.

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I'm new to this forum. It was recommended to me by a friend on here.

 

My plan is to sell my house and go full-time. I'm looking to get set-up in my RV and do a month or two on the road before actually putting the house on the market, just to make absolutely sure that the lifestyle will work for me. But as I'm not living in a town that I want to stay in, I feel there is little risk with selling the house as if I did want to settle down again, it would be in a different location.

 

I have an Xplorer van which I have used for a couple of trips and some camping, so I have some minimal experience with RV stuff, but I know going full time will be very different and I have a lot to learn. If it weren't for my two cats, I would seriously consider just packing up in the Xplorer and taking off, but it's not enough space for all of us. It will have to be sold, and I will be sad to see it go.

 

I've begun my search for something else. I spent a couple of days going to every dealership in Albuquerque which is the nearest city for me. I'm still debating a little on exactly which way to go- TT, fiver, class A, Class C. I was thinking about a fifth wheel, but when I looked at a couple, I just felt little and couldn't really imagine towing one. Then I was thinking Class C, but after looking at several of them, I just don't think they have the space I want. Plus I'd like a washer/dryer and those seem pretty rare when it comes to Class Cs. Looking at a Class A, I really felt like I could see myself able to live in it without feeling like I was making too many sacrifices to deal with limited space and storage.

 

The process of searching for an RV and buying it feels a little overwhelming, but I figure I just need to start by looking as much as I can online and in person and reading up on it as much as possible.

 

Currently, I am leaning towards a Class A. My budget for it is around $25,000 including whatever repairs, upgrades or customizations that I want to do. So, I am clearly looking for a used unit, probably around a 2000's model. One thing I've found is that many dealerships tell me that if they get something like that as a trade-in, they just wholesale it and they won't sell those to the public. So, I'm wondering, where do the wholesalers resell these?

 

Beyond Craigslist and RVTrader, any advice on websites or dealerships I may want to check out to find what I am looking for?

 

I'm also wondering about the gas/diesel question. I've heard a lot about diesel being better, but also that it's more important to find a floorplan that I'll really be happy living in. I'm sure this question has been answered before, but any thought on gas vs. diesel?

 

Thanks in advance for any answers and help.

 

I have a lot to figure out about this and it feels overwhelming, but it is also very exciting. Browsing the forums here has already given me tons of useful information.

 

 

 

Hmmmm .....long story for - an interesting sense of humor - you appear to be a ..."joking troll"... <_<

 

But - good luck with your search for the perfect RV - (and credibility).

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

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I could see myself going with something similar to this, although I don't like the total lack of counter space in this model if you want to be able to also use the sink and stove.

http://www.pplmotorh...usier-29799.htm

 

My motorhome has a similar lack of counter space, and makes up for it with a pop-up counter extension that goes in front of the entry door. Not an ideal solution, but workable for quick meal prep if you're by yourself.

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If it is in the condition that the ad says it is, that Suncruiser could be a really good choice. I do wonder just a little bit about the excessively low mileage but there may be a good reason for that. In most RVs which are owned by someone still working the annual mileage is around 5k/year so this one is only half that. It could be that there was some reason, but I'd want a good mechanic to check it over. We were fulltime in a class A on that exact same chassis and it served us well, but at 38' long you need to take a hard look at the weight ratings it has and I'd also want it weighed before I bought it, just to make sure that it has the weight capacity to carry personal belongings. The F53 chassis it has was offered in only two weight capacities at the time it was built, 18K and 20.5K so it may be very close to maximum weight before you add anything. In ours we could not travel with a full fresh water tank and still be below our GVWR. If you do not understand RV weight ratings, this article might be a good place to get started as they are very important.

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For the age RV you will be looking at, you will need to consider future repairs beyond the initial findings. Things that may be OK now that will require future repairs are

A/C unit

refrigerator

brakes

tires

transmission

roof repairs

shock absorbers

wheel bearings.

 

These can put a major dent in your finances unless planned in advance. We have run across a couple of people that retired to travel with a older or newer motorhome only to be parked in one spot for an undetermined amount of time while trying to raise the funds necessary to make a major repair, So, be sure to have a fall back plan in case you have unforeseen repairs.

 

The other thing that that put a major drain on the bank account is health issues.

 

Enjoy life while you can.

 

Ken

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Hmmmm .....long story for - an interesting sense of humor - you appear to be a ..."joking troll"... <_<

 

But - good luck with your search for the perfect RV - (and credibility).

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

My sense of humor may be 'interesting', but I assure you I'm quite serious about my RV hunt. That doesn't mean that I'm not willing to have a laugh here or there. I really thought by the condition of that unit that it would be apparent I wasn't serious.

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My motorhome has a similar lack of counter space, and makes up for it with a pop-up counter extension that goes in front of the entry door. Not an ideal solution, but workable for quick meal prep if you're by yourself.

I like the models similar to this but that have that pop-up counter that goes towards the dinette rather than in front of the door. http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/classa/2004-Simba-29433.htm

 

That said, I that's not a deal-breaker for me, but a preference. If I found the right unit, I could see doing some sort of modification- either adding a pop-up counter, having some sort of folding table or doing my prep on the dining room table. Although there is a good chance I would remove any dinette booths and replace them with a desk and some office space. With just one of me I don't need to seat a family for dinner and would be happy setting up a folding TV tray to eat off of- outside with a folding chair if the weather is nice.

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Kirk, thank you for the weight info. I will definitely thoroughly check that out for anything I look at getting. Since I am going to go full-time, I know that I will need to have pretty much everything I own with me and the weight of stuff adds up fast. I want to have something that can actually handle it if I want to take advantage of all that great storage space offered in a Class A. I also plan to tow my Toyota Avalon, which weighs in at about 3500. It will need a dolly for towing, so that will add on some weight, but I should still be well under the 5000 that seems pretty standard for the weight ratings of the Class A hitches.

 

I guess I assumed that some RVs just have super low mileage because some people buy them imagining that they will have time to use them and then they get busy with life and the RV just sits around. Of course, while low mileage can look nice, I'm thinking sitting around may not be that good for the RV.

 

Ken, I've definitely taken the repairs into account. I know they're really a factor with any model- new or used. I'm 27 and still working, so I have a pretty steady income and shouldn't have a problem covering repairs, maintenance, etc. I don't have health insurance as I'm self-employed and any plans I look at just really don't seem to offer me any benefit but cost quite a bit. But hopefully barring some sort of accident, my health expenses won't be over-much. Of course if I do come across huge health expenses, that's a challenge that would hit me pretty much the same if I had a stationary residence.

 

I picked the $25000 budget because that's the amount I can currently actually afford without really going in to debt. (Some temporary debt for it, but once I sell my house I should be pretty much debt free and own the motor home outright). If my career continues to be successful and I'm loving the RV lifestyle, I would likely upgrade at some point in the future. What I want to avoid right now is buying something that will be virtually worthless due to depreciation when I'm finally through making payments after several years. The depreciation aspect of any RV, and most especially the new ones, is something that I have a little trouble accepting. I have to remind myself that really what I will be paying for is the experience. Plus at this point in my life I know I want to live somewhere other than where I do, but I don't love anywhere enough right now to want to settle down and buy a house somewhere. So that would mean renting somewhere which would really be pretty much throwing my money away.

 

I'm really trying to think through all aspects of this. I may have a tendency to over-think things at times.

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Of all, I like the Holiday Rambler DP with 36,000 miles. Of the manufacturers, this is the best quality. Of course you'd need to see it in person and have a full inspection done. PPL inspects the 'systems' - stove, refrig, etc. but you need someone to really check the engine and components. That is extremely low mileage so obviously it wasn't driven that much - probably a snowbirder who takes it to a park for a season. Nothing wrong with that - many people do and their motorhomes are just fine but checking it out is necessary. Also, buying used it's to your advantage if the customer has kept all maintenance and repair receipts. This could help you a lot. When we sold ours (through PPL) that was the first comment we received from the buyer - great recordkeeping.

 

The one on the very bottom is the salvage unit. That definitely is not something to deal with. Being in an accident you have no idea of hidden damage and with the whole rear end falling apart? Yikes!!!

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I have already sent you a message about the typical lack of counterspace in MH's. In my case in my own 5th wheel, there are opposing slideouts, dining and kitchen.

 

If you were to get a MH with the similar configuration, It would be possible to install and island. My rig came with a 3' long by 16" deep island. Not nearly big enough, so I made a longer and deeper one. 60" long by 24" deep. In order to not have the xtra depth conflict with the slideouts, the island sits on plastic blocks and slides 6" one way for travelling and 6" back the other when parked.

 

One of the layouts someone sent you had a washer dryer setup. As I pm'd you, if you got a setup like that, a Fisher Paykel dw drawer unit may fit between them if they are a non stacking pair.

 

Don't be in a rush. What looks good on paper may or may not work in the real life application. Perhaps check out RV's for sale and drive or fly to them to check them out in person. Also ask for their service records.

 

You will laways be tweaking something or adding a gadget.

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Of all, I like the Holiday Rambler DP with 36,000 miles. Of the manufacturers, this is the best quality. Of course you'd need to see it in person and have a full inspection done. PPL inspects the 'systems' - stove, refrig, etc. but you need someone to really check the engine and components. That is extremely low mileage so obviously it wasn't driven that much - probably a snowbirder who takes it to a park for a season. Nothing wrong with that - many people do and their motorhomes are just fine but checking it out is necessary. Also, buying used it's to your advantage if the customer has kept all maintenance and repair receipts. This could help you a lot. When we sold ours (through PPL) that was the first comment we received from the buyer - great recordkeeping.

 

The one on the very bottom is the salvage unit. That definitely is not something to deal with. Being in an accident you have no idea of hidden damage and with the whole rear end falling apart? Yikes!!!

From the pictures, I really like the Holiday Rambler, too. Plus, I like the kitchen on the side opposite the door and it seems to have at least a little bit of counter space to work with. Miles are low and it seems to be in pretty good shape. No washer/dryer, but it has connections so I could add one in with the benefit of being able to choose the model myself. That model also puts the entrance door by the passenger seat, giving more useable space along the wall on that side. I think I may really like that feature as well. It really opens up more options for being able to do a bit of remodeling. I'm taking a trip to Texas in July and if it hasn't sold by the time I'm out there, I may seriously consider going to check this one out. And if this one is gone, I'm sure they will likely have something else in that I may be interested in. And I definitely plan on getting an inspection before I buy. I know virtually nothing about engines and really need somebody qualified to look it over for me.

 

I wasn't being serious about the salvage unit. As pointed out, the rear end is in pieces, not to mention the slides being all wonky, actually, the whole unit looks a bit wonky, the windshield being knocked out, the gaping whole by the passenger seat, the trashed inside and the fact that it looks like it has rained and gotten dust blown through it. I have no idea how they think anybody would pay 25K for it and the part I love the most is that they point out the MSRP as if it's even relevant at this point. They mention that there is no generator, probably because it was the only thing that wasn't totaled and they already sold it. I mostly posted it as a joke. But I also think that sometimes it's good to look at things like that and remember that a mistake driving and my RV could end up looking like that too.

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I could see doing some sort of modification- either adding a pop-up counter, having some sort of folding table or doing my prep on the dining room table. Although there is a good chance I would remove any dinette booths and replace them with a desk and some office space.

One advantage of having a double sink is you can leave the cover on half to increase counter space.

 

If it is a true dinette you are thinking of removing, check first to see what they installed under the bench seats. If the water tank or furnace is there you might want to think again.

 

Linda Sand

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IMO, the reason why some seemed to take your "joke" seriously is that it is not necessarily that unusual for someone with no RVing experience to buy something like the "As Is" offering thinking that it can be patched up and made safe and serviceable. I'm pretty sure that somebody will buy that thing with those expectations!

 

You've received some good advice; add to it a strong suggestion to have whatever you're seriously considering checked thoroughly for evidence of water damage! A rig that has leaked from the roof, windows, or anywhere else is will often need extensive and expensive structural repairs. Having the chassis, engine, coach, and all systems carefully inspected by a knowledgeable RV tech and a mechanic before committing to a purchase will save you a lot of time, hassle, grief, and cash down the line.

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Hi TripKitty,


In 2009 I was a neophyte (never RV'd *at all*), did some research and bought my RV. I still have it, 6 years down the road and LOTS of miles, and plan never to sell it (...people keep bugging me "want to sell it??!!!)


Now that I'm 6 years down the road, I (surprisingly even to me) would have bought the same thing.


FYI I ended up removing a lot from the original, as I found I didn't need it (3rd seat, TV, DVD player, spare tire/continental kit engineered so that no one over age 50 can move it ;-0


If I could have a "do over" 6 years later, I would rent a few different RVs, drive them around, live/camp in them a bit, and see what works. You might find you want to build from the ground up.


In the end, I would have bought what I did. But I would like to have realized that up-front instead of 6 years later (ha ha :-)


Hope this helps :-)


--Rachael

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Sandsys- I will definitely check to see if there is anything under the dinette benches. If I needed to, I suppose I could design a desk space around any water-heater, or furnace, it would just take a little extra planning and I'd want to make sure I left an easy access to whatever was there. Of course, all of this really depends on what floor plan I finally end up with.

 

I've had several people suggest renting. It seems like that would start to get expensive pretty quick?

 

I have spent quite a bit of time in my Xplorer van, so I do have some idea of things I like about it and things I don't like as much. Of course, in some respects, it's hard to compare that to a class A.

 

I looked at a couple of RVs for sale yesterday. Two of them were from Craigslist. DPs that looked great in the ads they had, but it was quickly clear that neither was anything I would want at all-mice, rust, a moldy refrigerator, a shattered windshield that was duct-taped on, an owner telling me the batteries were all brand new when they were filthy and I could see date stickers that said 9/10 right on them, etc. I'm guessing most everybody here knows what I'm talking about.

 

Then I went back and test drove a 1999 National Tropical 6350 with a Chevy engine at one of the dealerships. It's got 72,000 miles on it, but seems like a pretty clean and well cared for unit. I could not find anything on it with weight ratings for GCVWR, UVW, CCC, etc. The only thing I found was a GVWR which was around 19,000 pounds. I'm a little concerned that it's not rated for the amount of cargo that I want. I tried looking in all of the cupboards/closets to see if I could find a sheet for the weight ratings and didn't find anything. Is there another place that is common to find those? I've asked the salesman to get that info for me, but I would feel much better verifying it for myself. Since National is out of business, any sort of Google search just turns up listings for used models or other irrelevant stuff. I'm having trouble finding good information on this model.

 

I did test drive the Tropical. It was my first time ever driving something larger than a van. So, it was nerve racking and I don't have much comparison. But I did feel like I could handle it so that does make me feel like going forward with a Class A is OK. I'm a little worried that the Tropical may not have a whole lot of power, especially once I add my stuff, and am towing my car. It will probably be a little slow going up hills. I'm wondering how big of a deal that really is. It may take a while longer to climb a hill, but it's not like that would be the end of the world. I've certainly seen semi-trucks and other RVs crawling up hills in the past when I'm out driving. And sure, if there is no passing lane and I'm the car behind them, I may feel a little impatient, but it's not a disaster. Still, I don't want to be in something that is way under-powered.

 

My other concern is that for a gas engine, it is starting to get up there in miles. But it could last 200,000 and I'd still have quite a lot of miles I could put on it. And I'm not sure I want a gas model at all. I've heard diesels would offer more power and get better gas mileage. Despite a few concerns, I'm still seriously considering the Tropical. It has many things I like including a washer/dryer, a great closet, a nice floor plan, a single large slide-out, a separate bathroom instead of a pass-through bathroom, a kitchen with the counter design that I like, etc.

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We made a test drive that included a pass over a CAT scale for one rig we were considering buying. There's nothing like knowing the actual weight of the rig you have an interest in. The salesman was new and he said he learned a lot just by following us around as we discussed things. :)

 

Linda Sand

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We made a test drive that included a pass over a CAT scale for one rig we were considering buying. There's nothing like knowing the actual weight of the rig you have an interest in. The salesman was new and he said he learned a lot just by following us around as we discussed things. :)

 

Linda Sand

 

Thanks. I may do just that.

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I've had several people suggest renting. It seems like that would start to get expensive pretty quick?

You are correct as most rentals will cost $600-$800/week and since you have experience with your van I'd say that there may not be that much need to do the rental experience. I am one who suggests renting to those who have no RV experience at all, but it sounds as though you already know what life in the RV world is like.

 

Then I went back and test drove a 1999 National Tropical 6350 with a Chevy engine at one of the dealerships. It's got 72,000 miles on it, but seems like a pretty clean and well cared for unit. I could not find anything on it with weight ratings for GCVWR, UVW, CCC, etc. The only thing I found was a GVWR which was around 19,000 pounds. I'm a little concerned that it's not rated for the amount of cargo that I want.

With this a 1999 model, the chassis would be from GM as that was prior to Workhorse taking over and the GVWR of the P-30 chassis was only 16,000#. If the one you looked at has a tag axle (a second rear axle with a single wheel) then it may have been boosted up to 18K or so, but not much more. Back in 1990 the weights were not as clearly posted as today but there should be axle weights as well as the GVWR and the GCWR posted somewhere. You should also take a look at the hitch rating on one of this vintage as some had hitches rated for only 3500# and others had 5000# rated hitches. If it is a 3500# hitch that will limit very much what you will be able to safely tow. Of course, that may still be the case since you can only tow the weight which is left after the RV is fully loaded and you weigh it to compare to the GCWR limit. I would not buy that RV until you have seen the weight limit sticker. It may be located near the driver's seat on a wall but it has to be there somewhere, unless it was removed by an owner. If you post the actual model number we may be able to find the information for you.

 

It was my first time ever driving something larger than a van. So, it was nerve racking and I don't have much comparison. But I did feel like I could handle it so that does make me feel like going forward with a Class A is OK. I'm a little worried that the Tropical may not have a whole lot of power, especially once I add my stuff, and am towing my car. It will probably be a little slow going up hills.

The most difficult thing that you will have to overcome is the mental one of feeling you are driving a battleship in a canoe pond! The class A of modern times actually drives quite easily and with a GM chassis you can also adjust the handling somewhat by adjusting the air pressure in the front air bags which all P-30 chassis have. It has coil springs in front and each spring has an air bag inside that usually operates somewhere between 75 and 100# of air pressure.

 

On the power issue, the engine is a 454 an it don't have the climbing ability of the larger engines of today but it was a very good engine and most of them run for a long time. It will be slower in climbing the steeper grades and towing may slow it some, but not a great deal as the percentage of weight increase won't be that great if you tow a small car that don't exceed the towing weight limits set by the chassis design. We lived in a gas powered motorhome which did have a larger engine than yours but not even the diesels of the period you are looking in had large engines such as today. Many diesels of that era are only 275 HP and they don't win any races up hills either, but most of us don't travel by RV to go fast. Engines like that one will get there only it takes a little bit longer. So you spend an extra 5 to 15 minutes going up, why would someone really care?

 

My other concern is that for a gas engine, it is starting to get up there in miles. But it could last 200,000 and I'd still have quite a lot of miles I could put on it. And I'm not sure I want a gas model at all. I've heard diesels would offer more power and get better gas mileage.

While most RV forums are dominated by those who own diesel engines in class A motorhomes, the fact is that most of the time you spend in any fulltime RV is spent with it sitting still. RV living is not about who gets there first, climbs grades the fastest, or has the most horsepower. It is about taking the time to see the places that you go and to experience life along the road. There is a little bit of social strata to what one owns but in the RV community that is minimal and humans never manage to get completely away from that so put on your thick skin and ignore that factor. To most of it it doesn't matter what you life in. As you shop older RVs there is some truth that the diesel engines do last longer than gas, assuming that both have had proper care and maintenance. But either one has greater risk of having been neglected or abused with the increasing mileage. Modern gasoline engines & transmissions should last at least 150K miles and many last longer. If you expect to travel very high mileage each year, then you probably should not look to RVs of that much mileage but most fulltimers only travel between 5K & 20K per year so this one should easily have another 10 years of good life if it is in good condition and is then cared for properly.

 

Fuel mileage of the diesels of that vintage will perhaps be somewhat better, but remember that the diesel fuel costs more and the maintenance on a diesel also costs more. As you consider what to purchase you need to plan also for any maintenance and repairs and if you look at labor rates in truck shops you will find that labor for a diesel usually costs significantly more per hour and parts are more expensive also. It is also important to keep in mind that an older RV will require more repairs on the RV part as well and appliances will be in later stages of life if still original so plan for repair and replacement of those in either type of RV.

 

I believe that a floor-plan which you like is of major importance if you are to be happy in any RV. By far the most important thing to consider when shopping RVs that are more than 10 years old is the condition that they are in. Be sure that you look more deeply that just how the interior seems since things like drawers and plumbing that are hidden from you also wear out. See if you can determine the ages of the appliances and especially the tires. The Tropical of that era was a very well thought of RV but it probably will need new tires so check the tire ages and cost for replacement of them. I would also want all belts and hoses to be replaced in order to be sure of a long and happy life.

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Thank you Kirk. You make a lot of excellent points. I totally agree that I'm not getting an RV so that I can drive fast. And while I'm not exactly sure how my mobile lifestyle will work out, I'm not imagining moving every day or anything like that. I'm thinking more along the lines of staying a couple of weeks to a couple of months at most locations so I will definitely be parked more than I am driving.

 

The model that I'm looking at is the 6350 built on the Chevy chassis. (They also had ones built on Ford chassis.) I did get the salesman to send me a picture of the weight ratings from the driver side door. This one does have a tag axle and the information give is

GVWR: 1950 lbs

GAWR front: 5500 lbs

GAWR intermediate: 4500 lbs

GAWR rear: 11000 lbs.

 

I cannot find an unloaded weight for it or a GCVWR for it. If I have to, I can get the unloaded weight by taking it to a scale, but that still won't get me the GCVWR. The trailer hitch is rated for 5000 pounds. If it was me designing it, I would want the GCVWR to be 5000 pounds over the GVWR if that is what the hitch is rated for, but it doesn't seem like I should just assume that is the case?

 

I have found a copy of the original brochure here: http://www.mediafire.com/view/nz2nfhudtnt/National+RV+1999+Tropi-Cal+Brochure.pdf

 

But I can't find any spec sheets for it. I even tried looking at the Internet Archive to see if the archived versions of National's website had it, but no luck. Apparently 1999 was before they loaded that sort of stuff online. I did find the spec sheet for the 2003 Tropical there, but that was after they re-released it as a DP.

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