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Spacecraft or Continental Coach


Heavymetal

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Looking for a new fifth wheel. We are ready for a new RV and have been doing a lot of research on the Spacecraft and the Continental Coach. We currently have a 2013 NH 40' and are looking for a little more space and something with a cleaner ( modern) interior. I have been in contact with both Marsha from Spacecraft and Jay with Continental Coach but would like some feed back from those that own one of the units. I was at the HDT rally in TN this past week to speak with Gregg about a hauler and was able to walk through one of the Spacecraft units and spend a few minutes with the owner but, I still have a few questions.

Suspension... Spacecraft uses a torsion bar suspension or a air ride how do they compare with the the Morryde? We have owned two fifth wheels a Newmar with tandem dually Mor Ryde and the NH with the triple Mor Ryde. I myself preferred the tandem dually over dragging the third axle around corners.

 

Insulation... Exterior wall construction. I have reservations about how the CC does the side wall insulation. It would seem to me that over time the road vibrations and bouncing would cause the wool bats to slip down towards the floor. This would leave the upper part of the wall uninsulated.

 

Slides... Both units use the electric slides which I prefer over the hydraulic slides used by NH. I dislike having all four or five slides powered by the single hydraulic pump and not to mention all of the lines coming from a central reservoir.

 

Batteries... We are also forgoing the genset and will increase our solar and install a lithium ion battery bank (1000 amp hours) for our power needs. If anyone has made the switch from AGMs to the lithium I would love some input.

 

One last question would be about the Spacecraft semi trailer vs the fifth wheel and towing. I have never towed a semi trailer so I can't speak to the difference in ride or cornering. I do know that I like a few aspects of the semi vs the fifth wheel first being the storage and second the large porch and wide steps and being all on one level does have its advantages as we age.

 

Thanks for what ever input you can give. Looking forward to hearing what Jack has to say about the solar.

 

Rick

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We have a Continental Coach Elegance 41' 5er from Forks RV. For our two years of ownership we have been extremely pleased with the product and the company. Jay Troyer and all of the Stutzman family have been wonderful people to deal with. We have a tri-axle with Dexter IS MorRyde and Blu Dot brakes and a Trailer Saver three bag hitch. Trailer rides fine and stops well on 17.5" GY 114s. No issues with the four electric slides. Forks has done air ride with air brakes in the past. They also have offered a "low boy" design with has one small step inside. You might ask Jay about those and if they are still available. We found Forks to be very willing to do what we wanted in our design. Shipshewanna is a one day drive from our summer home which was a plus too! We have no experience with Spacecraft and it is several days away. We looked at several New Horizons and they seemed like very good units but again we have no personal experience. Our previous rig was one of the last Tetons and it was nothing but trouble which is why we bought the Continental Coach. We know two other CC/Forks rig owners that were built the same time as ours and they also seem to be satisfied with their rigs. Can't provide any insight into the concern about insulation settling in the walls other than to say that several of our early years rigs were travel trailers that we hauled many miles and never saw any evidence of such. But in all honesty we don't camp in extremely cold weather preferring instead to go South! In summary any of the three custom builders (Forks, NH, Spacecraft) can turn out high quality product if you are willing to spend the money. Best Wishes, Jay

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I put in a lithium battery. What is it you want to know about it? I am no expert but I would share what I can. I could have shown you our system at the ECR. I chose what I thought was best for me at the time,if I had a do over at this time, I would follow what David Dixon (Nuke E) is doing with a 48V system using a used Chevy Volt battery.

 

Jim

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Hi Rick,

 

You may want to contact me via email to discuss solar/electrical in more detail. I have specific ideas about a large system and integration with the rest of the coach. And while I agree that Lithium is the way to go, it does imply that you are willing to "caretake" it some. It is not install and forget, like AGM would be. David Dixon is doing some interesting things with the Volt battery pack, but he may not be in the product development phase that you need him to be - yet. But that is a possibility.

 

I have specific ideas about a semi-trailer, and if I was building another unit right now that is the way I would lean. That would have air disc brakes on dual tandems, and air ride suspension. If I was building that, I would use Spacecraft, since IMO they have the most experience with semi running gear, and weird customization's.

 

I also like the electric slides, but the hydraulics work fine and have been pretty trouble free - so I would not choose a unit on that basis....but it would be a contributing factor. The wall insulation on a Spacecraft is done like a NH - same pinch-rolled, laminated technique. It is a structural component of the coach. I prefer that over the 16" centered stud-based hung walls of the Forks. For various reasons, one of which you mentioned. But you can argue the point either way. Spacecraft will do 2" wall, if you like. They can also foam the ceiling, or fill the aluminum with foam.

 

Spacecraft also has pretty extensive experience with basement air -which would be a major point for me. The AC in traditional RVs is effective and relatively cheap. But it is exceptionally noisy and not very efficient (not that efficiency is a big deal, most of the time). My next unit will have probably a combination of basement air, and a mini-split unit in the bedroom for quiet sleeping - and that unit could be driven by the Lithium pack.

 

There are lots of things you can do.....if you want to continue this discussion email me. jackdanmayer AT gmail

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We have a Continental Coach Elegance 41' 5er from Forks RV. For our two years of ownership we have been extremely pleased with the product and the company. Jay Troyer and all of the Stutzman family have been wonderful people to deal with. We have a tri-axle with Dexter IS MorRyde and Blu Dot brakes and a Trailer Saver three bag hitch. Trailer rides fine and stops well on 17.5" GY 114s. No issues with the four electric slides. Forks has done air ride with air brakes in the past. They also have offered a "low boy" design with has one small step inside. You might ask Jay about those and if they are still available. We found Forks to be very willing to do what we wanted in our design. Shipshewanna is a one day drive from our summer home which was a plus too! We have no experience with Spacecraft and it is several days away. We looked at several New Horizons and they seemed like very good units but again we have no personal experience. Our previous rig was one of the last Tetons and it was nothing but trouble which is why we bought the Continental Coach. We know two other CC/Forks rig owners that were built the same time as ours and they also seem to be satisfied with their rigs. Can't provide any insight into the concern about insulation settling in the walls other than to say that several of our early years rigs were travel trailers that we hauled many miles and never saw any evidence of such. But in all honesty we don't camp in extremely cold weather preferring instead to go South! In summary any of the three custom builders (Forks, NH, Spacecraft) can turn out high quality product if you are willing to spend the money. Best Wishes, Jay

Jay, did you have work done on your Teton at Forks before having them build you another?

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Rocky, no, we had Texas Custom Coach in Pipe Creek work on the Teton several times. However, since then Forks has "adopted" the orphan Tetons and has done a lot service/repair on them. We found out about Forks from a fellow Teton owner and went to visit at Shipshewanna. We met with Jay Troyer and the Stutzmans and they spent a lot of time with my wife designing our rig. Since owning our CC we have been back to Forks twice for some minor service. While there they were working on rigs for several of our Teton friends. Forks has sent a crew to the last two Teton rallies to do minor service/repair work which has been well received by the TCI members. If you have an issue with your Teton it might be worth a phone call to discuss it with the folks at Forks. Best Wishes, Jay

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I put in a lithium battery. What is it you want to know about it? I am no expert but I would share what I can. I could have shown you our system at the ECR. I chose what I thought was best for me at the time,if I had a do over at this time, I would follow what David Dixon (Nuke E) is doing with a 48V system using a used Chevy Volt battery.

Jim

I sent David an email but I think he is still on the road. How many amp hours of storage do you have and also what all can you run off just your batteries?

Thanks for the response.

 

Rick

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Rick,

 

We have a 9kWh 12 volt which I think would equate to 750 amp hours. We do not have the a/c units, hot water heater, or fireplace wired to the hybrid inverter. We had an issue with a faulty cell monitor and after replacing it, we are just now trying to determine the capabilities of our system. We just ended our 3rd day without shore power. First day was sunny and 1060 watts of solar panels kept battery around 100% with residential fridge and a separate freezer in basement running. The last two days have been very cloudy or raining. It seemed the solar was just able to break even and keep battery from discharging during the brightest part of the cloudy day. But between the overnight draw of fridge and freezer, our use of tv and dish, pumping water, some lights that are mostly LED, a little microwaving, and a thorough vacuuming of the trailer, we were down to 45% when sun went down on third day (today). Tomorrow the sun will be out and it should recharge. I almost wish we had one or two more days without sun to see just how long we could go before needing to hookup the Honda 2000i generator. There are several variables to factor in, such as just how cloudy it really is. We were getting some charging today even while it was raining. We also have large trees on east and west sides of trailer, limiting early and late day charging. I think I saw we had harvested 1.4 KWH of power from the sun today. I would guess we used 2 or 3 times that, just during the day.

 

Inverter was showing 160 amp draw increase when vacuume was running. Freezer is on 12 volt, so that load as well as water pump, leveling jack's we used yesterday, and slide motors run directly off 12v system so I could not watch inverter remote display to see what they are drawing.

 

As I said, we are just starting to figure this out. It appears so far, we won't need the generator unless we get a couple days with little solar in a row. That's without seriously heavy loads like a/c. If we wired a/c to inverted circuit, we should be able to run one a/c for a short time, but not all day even in best solar generating conditions. I want to look into wiring options that would allow us to run an A/C off battery and extend the time by charging with the Honda 2000i and the solar panels.

 

Were you able to attend David's class on lithium batteries at the ECR? He has, or will be, posting his presentation materials on the ECR website.

 

Jack is a tremendous resource. You should take him up on his offer of assistance.

 

Jim

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Jim,

 

I was not able to attend David's class but I emailed him Thursday for some info. I have been researching the lithium for our RV for a while. I have talked to the people from tesla about thier 7kw battery and have spent time talking with Starlight Solar. The guys at starlight seem to be on the right track and have a complete 500 amp hour setup for around 4,100 it has a EMS for each bat, it's computer controlled and comes with a 7" monitor to track the bat and warns of any problems. What I like is it monitors each individual sell not just the bank as a whole. I am thinking two separate 500amp systems with an inverter on each charged by 1600 watts of panels. We live in Texas and spend most of our time in and around the state so sunshine is not a problem.

 

With regards to Jack. I have never meet him but have trolled the forums and u tube enough to know he's the one to poke for solar knowledge. I think between him and Gregg (RV Hualers) they've made more videos then MGM.

 

If you would post your numbers ever so often. It would be good to see how your system and your knowledge of it improves over the summer. A few months of averages will be a big help to many of us.

 

Rick

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Rick,

 

Jack and Gregg are both tremendous assets to look to for assistance.

 

If your going that big, you also want Dave Dixon's input. I think you would save thousands of dollars and have a much better system going to 48 volt. I forget the exact number, but I think the Chevy Volt battery will give you more KWH than the 2x500 amp hours you are considering. You should save on weight with lighter wire using 48 volts as well. He has shared a link to a really good charger that you can configure exactly to what you need for lithium. Run everything through inverter and use all sources of power to charge the battery bank.

 

P.S. We had 36% left in battery this morning. So it used about 9% overnight, but it was cool overnight so fridge and freezer would not have used as much. I will need to keep a record as you said and look at it over time . There are too many variables to base any conclusions on a few days.

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Jim, you should be able to rewire pretty simply to get your AC on the inverter panel...assuming there is space. If not there are some other things that could work. The issue is more on the "passthru" power handling. But if you just want to experiment with it there are pretty simple ways to wire it for that.

 

Your electric usage sounds about like what I would have expected without any real conservation. Next thing to try out is how the Honda drives the charging of the batteries...that will be interesting. The 2000 can push 100 amps without too much issue at 2000' elevation or less. Above that it tends to drop off and is marginal for 100 amps. So set your stuff accordingly or you will kill the Honda. You can play around with it and see....you will hear the Honda "grunt down" if it is set too high.

 

BTW, I'll have an article on batteries/solar, etc in the next New Horizons Newsletter. It will cover use of the Lithium technology. New Horizons is offering limited availability of a Lithium bank. It really depends on the customer "qualifying"....this is not technology you put in and forget about.

 

Rick and I are are talking...

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We also have a Continental Coach from Forks RV. 46 ft with five slides. We just completed our first year of ownership in January and have been extremely pleased with the quality of their product, and everyone we have dealt with at Forks. Jay Troyer was great to work with, and all of the Stutzman family have been wonderful people to deal with during the design phase, build phase and have been excellent after the sell.

 

If you would like to discuss more do not hesitate to contact us.

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You should be approved, now. I'm up earlier than Rod, apparently.

No Jack, I have been up and was out on a bicycle ride this morning already. I'm still in the Eastern time zone and was drinking coffee at 0545 this morning. Thanks for the approval.

 

Rod

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We also have a Continental Coach from Forks RV. 46 ft with five slides. We just completed our first year of ownership in January and have been extremely pleased with the quality of their product, and everyone we have dealt with at Forks. Jay Troyer was great to work with, and all of the Stutzman family have been wonderful people to deal with during the design phase, build phase and have been excellent after the sell.

 

If you would like to discuss more do not hesitate to contact us.

I couldn't agree with ken more. He said it best.

 

We both had our coaches built almost back to back. I believe grumpy docs came in between ours units. The craftsmenship is excellent and the family is great to work with.

 

As for the bat insulation in the external walls, can say that ours has not "fallen after nearly 40k miles. Was doing some additions to an exterior wall and the insulation was defiantly there.

 

Pleas feel free to contact me via PM and I'll give you my cell and email address.

 

James Canterbury.

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I couldn't agree with ken more. He said it best.

We both had our coaches built almost back to back. I believe grumpy docs came in between ours units. The craftsmenship is excellent and the family is great to work with.

As for the bat insulation in the external walls, can say that ours has not "fallen after nearly 40k miles. Was doing some additions to an exterior wall and the insulation was defiantly there.

Pleas feel free to contact me via PM and I'll give you my cell and email address.

James Canterbury.

JC,

 

I was hoping to see you at this past rally. I have watched Greggs video of your unit a few times and the the simple interior (modern) of your unit. The one thing I dislike about the CC or the steps they are similar to the ones on out NH. Due to my advancing Parkinson's I need a little more stable set. This is one of the issues I will discuss with Jay.

 

Rick

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JC,

I was hoping to see you at this past rally. I have watched Greggs video of your unit a few times and the the simple interior (modern) of your unit. The one thing I dislike about the CC or the steps they are similar to the ones on out NH. Due to my advancing Parkinson's I need a little more stable set. This is one of the issues I will discuss with Jay.

Rick

 

Rick

 

Sorry we haven't been able to make the spring rally. We will be in Dallas June 1st to about June 15 if your interested to come take a tour. We would love to meet you and show our unit to you.

 

I have the "new design" that were installed last fall. They are way more stable than the ones use in the past. I believe they are a new design that forks was one of the first to use. They are after Market porches that can be bought and used. My wife has been wanting a porch as well.

 

JC

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  • 3 weeks later...

Lithium ion batteries.

 

I am ordering 2 48v 100ah lifepo4 batteries next week. I am only going to use 1 of them right now to try out a new Moge 48v 5kw inverter if anyone wants the other battery let me know. The battery cost is $1,760.00 plus $435.00 freight the weight is around 67kg (147lbs) the battery is I closed in a steel case with external connectors. If you are interested I will email you some pictures and specs.

 

Rick

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have seen many post on the CC, but I have a Space Craft.

I like the Space Craft. Marsh has only one problem and that is she does not know the word "NO". You ask you get.

My wife loves her front kitchen. Loads of work space.

As for the three axles. 99% of the time you are going straight, so twist is a mute concern. With three axles there is five points holding the trailer steady when one hits a bump or pot-hole.

The foam insulation is good. We were in Toledo, Oh. in December and had a week of single digit temperatures and all the water worked fine, We stayed hooked to the water.

Space Craft builds a lot of semi-trailer.

I like the torsion suspension. It only has 2 inches of travel, but I have not had a problem with that.

 

I can not address your other questions because I have not dealt with them.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have questions for the owners of the larger than mass produced 5th wheel units, more like custom triple axle or semi full time type units, this seems like a good place to get started, I see the owners of the larger units are in this discussion. If I am incorrect please point me in the right direction.

 

I have been talking New Horizon, Spacecraft and contacted Forks RV but for whatever reason they where not responsive, to the point where I was not sure they were still in business. Based on the information on this site and the HDT rally that is not the case, I may try again. I do have three other custom manufactures in mind, this will be a custom build so I'm trying to get ahead of this in planning, its like building a house, so much to investigate. Thanks to the people on this forum there is a lot of information out there.

 

My question is regarding HVAC. Based on your experiences, if you could build a new coach what would you use? Traditional propane heat forced air sometimes two are required, radiant heat like Aqua hot, electric mats, roof AC units, multiple ductless units with one condenser? or a combination of two of the before mentioned? I understand condensation is a big deal in these units so de-humidification and ventilation must be considered.

I think using residential equipment in these coaches may be cheaper and more energy efficient, there are some good options for homes out there. Is there a down side to using residential type equipment? I plan on having lots of solar and min 10K diesel gen to back it up (another discussion).

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Black Pearl, we have a Continental Coach that we have been very happy with. We went with two roof top AC units and two propane fired heaters rather than anything else. We prefer different temps in different areas of the coach at different times :lol: We had no experience with other types of heating/cooling and got mixed feed back from friends on such. most we talked to liked their AquaHot units but some had issues. The potential for leaks concerned me. A single residential style AC unit seemed less flexible too. However, many people have such units, especially in MoHos. Best advice might be to talk to the engineers at the manufacturer and get their recommendations and reasons why. The better custom builders will do just about anything you ask for if its do-able. Just costs money! Sorry I can't be of more help to you other than to say we were satisfied with our experience at Forks RV, Best Wishes, Jay

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