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Some food for thought for the inexperienced RV buyer......


Kirk W

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Reading through the various discussions on these forums as I sit here on the site of the just completed Escapade, I find myself wondering what the results that will be for those who we see posting here and also how much of the advice given here is actually taken to heart? Having been involved in the security side of the Escapade, I had the opportunity to see every RV that was on the grounds and to observe, and often meet and speak with the various owners, both experienced and new. With the unusually large number of new members and first Escapade attenders we had here and the very large class for RV Boot Camp, we seem to have had a pretty good cross section of the folks who are coming into this lifestyle that so many of us here love and the exposure left me with some good feelings about the future but also with some concerns for some of those who attended.

 

Most of the new and potential RV owners that I got to speak with seemed to really be doing the homework and learning the things that are needed to succeed, but what surprised me was that there were several individuals who seem to have come seeking confirmation of their already held opinions and ideas with little willingness to accept the advice given by the experienced RVers and instructors that were here. I truly salute all of you who are here learning as you go! But I get concerned at times about our ability to get across the things that we experienced RVers have learned to some of those we attempt to advise....

 

This Escapade was host to as wide a range of RV as I have ever seen including two that were completely unique in my 35+ years of RVing. While one was a tiny RV, occupied by a lady who attended boot camp to do research and learn before she upgraded to something more suitable for full-time living and who was very open to learning and I have no doubt will be successful, the other was a new RV that seemed to be a potential disaster and was owned by one who left us all wondering why she attended since advice seemed unwelcome. Without a doubt, most of the new folks here were listening, learning, and moving in the right direction, but there were several attendees who left staff concerned about their future.

 

Even though advice given here does not always agree it is given with the best of intention and is accurate for at least the person who gave it. There is no one right answer for most questions in RVing, but there are many possible answers that will always be mistakes. It is more important that you learn what to avoid here than to find every right answer. The best way for you may well be unique, but the disastrous mistakes usually apply to everyone. Avoiding the pitfalls which apply to everyone, like weight issues is the most important thing that we here can help new members with. This is a wonderful way of life but like any big adventure, it has many risks lurking out there to avoid an it is those very risks which life exciting! Be sure that you are open to the advice given, especially about the errors to avoid. We are here to do our best to help you succeed! :)

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"...what surprised me was that there were several individuals who seem to have come seeking confirmation of their already held opinions and ideas with little willingness to accept the advice given by the experienced RVers and instructors that were here."

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I'm surprised that you're surprised! :) In my RVing experience (about 40 years), the "I'm not here to learn anything; I just want validation of what I've already decided on" attitude has been present for many years, even in education-focused venues like Life on Wheels (gone, but not forgotten!), RV Safety seminars, and several others where the emphasis was not on selling, but rather on presenting accurate information from experienced and knowledgeable people. Even as more and more people buy RVs, I would expect that the number of "just get the lowest monthly payment and whatever rig the closest dealer has on the lot" type of buyer would stay at pretty much the same levels in relation to total numbers as in the past; human nature seems to demand that some people maintain their determination to blow off the value of long experience, ask the same questions and ignore the responses, and make the same mistakes, over and over and over again.

 

It's certainly true that many potential RV owners do try to do the "homework" and advance along the learning curve as far as they can before making a decision; the web has made an almost incalculable amount of RV-related information (some of it absolute nonsense, of course; it does take time and diligence and a healthy skepticism to suss out credible sources!) available to those who take the time to find it and use it to avoid making very expensive buying mistakes. I participate in a very active brand-specific forum, and am always amused by the people, usually rank "newbies", who post their questions, receive accurate responses from those with long experience, both with general RVing savvy and with the brand, then proceed to argue with the responses, or re-post asking the same question using different terms, apparently hoping to get answers that agree with their preconceptions or choices they've already made, or dismiss outright any value to answers received.

 

One might assume that if a person came to an Escapade or to another "learning opportunity" venue, or to a message board populated with a good percentage of knowledgeable owners, that person would want to get as much feedback, guidance, tips, ideas, and suggestions for further "study" as possible, but, as Kirk points out, the "don't confuse me with facts" folks are always with us. Frankly, although many of us remain undaunted and keep trying, in my experience, some people can't be helped; they will shoot themselves in the proverbial foot again and again - and often try to shift the blame to someone else for the resulting screw-ups.

 

However, a positive note :) : the RV industry needs these "determined to remain clueless" buyers to maintain and grow their bottom lines; no RV is perfect, certainly, and they all require maintenance and service and care. And, I don't know anyone who hasn't made mistakes with their "vehicle" choices. But, the more educated buyer who has taken the time and opportunities to diligently research initial quality, design, engineering, materials, build integrity, manufacturer quality control issues, dealer and manufacturer after-sale support, and a host of other "mistake avoider" points, is hopefully more able to sort through the "stuff" coming off the lines and choose an RV that will not require immediate and/or frequent repairs to try to rectify shoddy workmanship, not be overweight as it comes off the lot, not require aftermarket band-aids that attempt to correct lousy design, and not have stuff on and in the rig falling apart, leaking, smoking, binding, and/or missing all together from the get go.

 

Well, one can always hope! :blink:

 

 

 

 

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"...what surprised me was that there were several individuals who seem to have come seeking confirmation of their already held opinions and ideas with little willingness to accept the advice given by the experienced RVers and instructors that were here."

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I'm surprised that you're surprised!

 

I agree. This is human nature for many folks, regardless of the topic. I've been involved in engineering, shooting sports, photography, RC planes, RV'ing and lots of other things. In every single one of these areas I've run across newish folks who know it all, have done it all, and will come to a seminar or class more to display their own "knowledge" than to learn something new. By the same token, some experienced participants and instructors expect their particular advice (which is often little more than an opinion) to be accepted as gospel without further discussion. Again, human nature.

 

I guess that folks go to gatherings like Escapees (or visit topic based message boards) for many different reasons...

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I'm a pretty good student, generally learning new stuff quickly and easily. Yes, your basic nerd. So before buying an RV, I researched everything I could find, solicited and listened carefully to all the advice offered. It all turned out quite well for me and I wouldn't go back and change a thing. But really, after I got it and began living in it, that's when the real learning started. I am absolutely astounded that it turned out so well for me and think I was incredibly lucky to have avoided all the land mines laying around. And not at all surprised that there are so many serious mistakes made in buying that first RV.

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Kirk, I share your concern and it seems we see more and more of it on the forums, or maybe I am just noticing it more. There seems to be feeling that those of us who have been out quite a while are being pessimistic and it is better to get the advice of someone who has been fulltiming for 3-6 months! You can almost tell from the way they demand validation that in 3 yrs they will be no where to be found when just listening to the cautions being given would probably help them adjust and enjoy their new lives. Such a shame, but I don't know that we can ever get some people to learn from the advice being given when it goes against their preconceived ideas. Maybe just time to go 'out to pasture'

 

Barb

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"RVing is no different to any other part of life. There are folks who walk with their eyes and minds closed to everything they don't want to see. The smart folks walk with open eyes and minds." The really smart ones use their minds to interpret what their eyes see, and question if they are really seeing what they think they see.

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Yes here are those that will always have all the answers no matter how many people prove them wrong.

BUT there are those who truly want to learn. Should we all stop trying to help just because of a few who want their preconceived ideas validated?

Where do those that truly want to learn turn to then? Do they turn to the few that assume they have all the answers no matter how misinformed or misguided?

Yes it can be disheartening to deal with someone who has no intention of learning, but it can also be very rewarding when you help someone who truly cares.

Don't let the few "bad apples" make you quit trying to help. Helping one another is what makes this forum so great.

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The issue that stands out in this thread is how easy it is to make serious mistakes when buying an RV and how difficult it is to buy an RV that is reliable, well built and meets the buyers needs and expectations.

 

Somehow it seems we want to blame the new buyer for not being willing to learn and for making mistakes. I certainly understand that there are a lot of different choices for style and size. The new RVer needs to pick the style and size of RV that fits their preferences, intended uses and lifestyle. Unfortunately there is a huge, huge problem. The quality of most RVs is very poor. That includes the design, engineering, materials and construction. This thread seems to imply that buyers are not careful. They must be able to pick from a selection of poorly made RVs. I am reminded of the quality of American cars in the 50s and 60s. They were all junk, poorly made, and few lasted more than a few years or even 50,000 miles. Was the consumer at fault? Should all the consumer have picked say a Cadillac because it might have been slightly better?

 

I see no reason to try to put the blame on the consumer. I put the blame squarely on the RV manufacturers. I am not usually an advocate for government regulation, but the RV industry needs some. If a car has an issue with a floor mat coming loose and jamming under the brake pedal, there are massive fines, lawsuits, recalls and negative publicity. Meanwhile many RVs are sold with cheap, insufficiently sized tires, frames that crack, bodies that shake themselves apart and leak, etc, etc, etc, etc. Even if we have owned one of the better units, any RV owner can quickly come up with a long list of problems which start with the manufacturing. The RV industry is way overdue for a good shake up. Government regulations might help, but what is really needed is foreign competition that finally woke up the car industry.

 

We can blame the new RVers for picking an unsuitable size and style or for not realizing or learning how to drive an RV, but I would not blame the buyers for the big issue of shoddy construction. If we had better RVs, the owner might even find they could easily sell the unsuitable unit and pick a different size and style. Now that is a costly mistake. RVs fall apart so rapidly, the depreciation is huge.

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"I am reminded of the quality of American cars in the 50s and 60s. They were all junk, poorly made, and few lasted more than a few years or even 50,000 miles. Was the consumer at fault?" Compare those cars to the cars of the 20's and 30's, though. Do you see any improvement in the 30 years? Of course. Now compare the cars of the 50's and 60's to the cars of the 80's and 90's. Again, there is improvement. Yes, beginning in the 60's we saw more Federal regulations, starting with safety requirements and later with emission requirements. Now we see fuel economy and emissions driving the design of cars, and sometimes it is difficult to tell what brand of car just went past the other way because they all look alike.

 

Ford offered a padded dash and seatbelts as options in the 50's, but very few Fords left the factory with them. Why? People didn't order them because they didn't see the benefit of them. I think we are seeing something similar in the RV industry. The information, and options, are there, but buyers have to do their homework and make the right choices. I suspect that more recreational vehicles are sold based on "bling" than are sold based on engineering.

 

I just checked the specs of a fifth wheel. It has a gross weight of 12,228 pounds, and tires that can handle 2,540 pounds each. That leaves the tires overloaded by 2,068 pounds. I'm guessing that stronger tires are an option, and maybe even a third axle. Why not make the stronger tires standard? Cost. That raises the price of the coach by a few hundred dollars. Of course, going back to the cars, power windows used to be an option only on luxury cars, then they became standard on the luxury cars and optional on some others. Now they are standard on all cars. Why? Enough people were ordering their cars with them that it made economic sense to just make them standard and drop the manual ones. I suspect that you could still order a car with crank-up windows, but it will probably cost extra. If everyone started ordering the stronger tires on that coach the manufacturer would soon make them standard.

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Could it be that these people are already vested in their RV and don't want to hear their mistakes?

:lol:

 

My point as well. I had a family acquaintance that was this way. My wife and I spent 2 years getting our act together for fulltime living. We read every blog we could, followed many ideas about how to ________ and have been generally successful for 4 years now. Bob though believed every word from the 28yr old sales kid. Let's say that Bob paid for all his home maintenance, vehicle maintenance, never changed a tire in his life. But because he went and bought an Airstream and was towing it with a Range Rover he assumed that he knew everything about RV'ing. Until he couldn't get his tanks to dump, blew a water line inside the trailer, and had several bad towing experiences from not having the hitch properly adjusted. They no longer RV, matter of fact Bob is no longer in the family... He was divorced thankfully.

I would say that 95% of all advice gleaned from other full-time long-term travelers- longer than 1 year, be it from forums, blogs, meetings etc, has been accurate. But so many folks believe the Camping World sales pitch, the truck dealer exclamations about how so so truck can pull anything, the E-bay review about XXX product, that when faced with the real world results of their decisions, they can't handle the truth and accept that they are not the smartest on the block.

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""I just checked the specs of a fifth wheel. It has a gross weight of 12,228 pounds, and tires that can handle 2,540 pounds each. That leaves the tires overloaded by 2,068 pounds. I'm guessing that stronger tires are an option, and maybe even a third axle. Why not make the stronger tires standard? Cost. That raises the price of the coach by a few hundred dollars. Of course, going back to the cars, power windows used to be an option only on luxury cars, then they became standard on the luxury cars and optional on some others. Now they are standard on all cars. Why? Enough people were ordering their cars with them that it made economic sense to just make them standard and drop the manual ones. I suspect that you could still order a car with crank-up windows, but it will probably cost extra. If everyone started ordering the stronger tires on that coach the manufacturer would soon make them standard"".

 

 

Without looking up exactly what you are seeing about the specs, many 5th wheel manufacturers assume that your truck is going to carry 15-20% of the total weight. So they undersize the axles and tires to carry exactly the towing hitched weight. In this case, the pin weight is around 2068lbs or so at 17% pin weight.

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It isn't just those that already own an rv it is the folks that feel they can tow a forty foot fifth wheel with a half ton truck. Someone who keeps their water hose in the same container as the sewer hose. They pack 10 k of possessions in to an rv with a 5 k wieght limit. They try to run a fifty amp rv on thirty amp and blame the park when both ac's won't run together. They blame the rv manufacturer when they have a blowout on tires that were under inflated and run at 80 down the road.

If you have been in any rv park or to any rally I am sure you have seen these folks.

Yes the rv industry does need to produce better RVs BUT you still are going to deal with those that overload an rv then blame the problems on the manufacturer.

Came across one fellow that was trying to tow a thirty foot TT with a Datsun pickup. He had nothing good to say about the truck or Datsun. When I suggested that he needed a larger truck to tow that type of load he called me stupid because I just wanted him to spend more money. He had already replaced almost every major part on the Datsun.

 

Just my two cents. You get what you pay for. So you did not pay for my opinion

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...I just checked the specs of a fifth wheel. It has a gross weight of 12,228 pounds...In this case, the pin weight is around 2068lbs or so at 17% pin weight...

How did you arrive at this 17% pin weight? If you divided the manufacturer's specs pin weight (which is for an empty trailer) by the trailer's gross vehicle weight, I do not believe that this reflects the actual pin weight of a fully an properly loaded trailer. That said, do manufacturers often skimp on axles and tires, yes.

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gvw (gross is fully loaded)= 12228-(2540*4(10160)) = 2068 pin weight

 

2068/12228=0.1691=17%

 

Back in the day, before the 'truck wars', I had a sales person telling me how my F350 dually could pull a MS fiver and so and so just pulled to and from Alaska. I said it couldn't. Next statement was a classic ' what if I had every mechanic in here swear that it could?' to which I relied that they would all be liars!! She and another sales person both took offense that I called them liars. I asked 'you have the internet? (back in 2006) which they did. I said 'look up a 1999 F350 diesel, ZF manual 6 speed,

 

21000-8400 is less 16500 (or so). Well, the new trucks.... sorry, you said my truck,

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gvw = 12228-(2540*4(10160)) = 2068 pin weight

 

2068/12228=0.1691=17%

And what if the trailer is loaded such that pin weight equals 25% of 12228# or 3,057#. then the weight on the tires is 9,171/4 or 2,293 provided that the weight is divided equally among all four tires. A 20% pin weight of 2,446% would result in a weight on the tires of 9,782# or 2,446# per tire. One can play all sorts of games with numbers and statistics.

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It seems like everyone wants to defend the RV industry and blame the new RVer because they buy a tow vehicle that is too small or overload the RV. I am sure those things happen but that does not explain the poor quality, rapid depreciation, short lifespan, and frequent repairs that seem very common.

 

I spent a lot of time researching and have a unit that was built on the high end of the industry standards. I have still experienced numerous issues that should never have occurred. First problem was the sink countertop. It was made of pressboard covered with laminate. The manufacturer used a router to make an attractive bevel on the edges. That exposed the pressboard which immediately swelled and started to buckle with the first contact with water. I used epoxy diluted with acetone to seal the bevel. Next the exterior flapper for the range hood broke. I had my choice of two replacements. For one the "hinge" for the flapper was a piece of something that looked remarkably similar to duct tape. That was obviously not going to hold up to years of use with vibrations, grease and high temperatures. My other choice was a flapper with two 16th inch hinge pins. That was identical to the design that originally failed. Of course it failed again after very minimal use. Eventually I spent a couple of hours rigging a piece of metal clothes hangar to function as hinge pins. At least that has held up for several years of use. Next to cause a problem was the water heater. The dealer looked at that after I failed to id why the unit would not light. The dealer cleaned the sensor. It seemed to work for one day before I again had failures. I spent hours online researching the issue. The best recommendation seemed to be to replace the electronic controller with a third party unit. Fortunately I found the problem was merely the electric connection to the controller. I have cleaned and jiggled that numerous times. Now it works almost every time because I use a office binder clamp to hold the connector. Based on my internet research it appeared that a great many other people had the same problem and ended up replacing the electronics. Next to go was the propane tank pigtails. The heat, cold and/or exposure to propane had caused the lines to become brittle and crack. No big deal. I just replaced them. Now in less than 10 years, I am on my third set. Something seems wrong with the quality. I have a BBQ tank pigtail that I have used for a great many years and it has not cracked.

 

I could continue but I think that is pointless. Every RV owner I have talked with has had similar issues. Many have had serious issues.

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Tt - we all understand that people play with the numbers. Jim and I are just going with the numbers that kb came up with. We can't run speculation numbers on what people do. Look at some of the MH's that are overloaded sitting empty on the lot before they are sold.

 

All we can do is our due diligence and buy and use our own safely. Jim is pulling a Teton and I'm pulling a New Horizons. We both run converted semi's.

 

My truck gvw is 80k, Jim is probably in the 60k range. My trailer running gear is 3 X 8k axles with G114's rated at 4800 ea. My individual tire weights are all less than 3400 lbs. I think Jim is close or the same. We've done our personal numbers. We know we are heavy and bought accordingly.

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I researched and bought a DRV. Very solid unit and never had any structure problems. Did have a couple of Goodyear tires separate. There were several items though that really surprised me for a high end camper. We parted company with it and got this Teton. It is a 2003 so I replaced some appliances, washing machine, tvs, faucet, tires. Upgraded some items. It has not given us much of any problem and is so far ahead of DRV in quality. According to original owner only warranty problem was to stabilize fridge, it rocked somewhat. But this company went out of business. I do not believe a customer can buy this quality of 5ther today unless they go custom build. This says volumes of the buyers. The high end units are gone. If customers bought them most would still be manufacturing.

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... Tt - we all understand that people play with the numbers...

I am not so sure that all the "experts" on the internet actually do understand what the numbers mean.

I just checked the specs of a fifth wheel. It has a gross weight of 12,228 pounds, and tires that can handle 2,540 pounds each. That leaves the tires overloaded by 2,068 pounds.

This rational has appeared more than once and on more than one forum/website to justify that manufacturers are providing deficient tires/axles. No 5th wheel puts all of its weight on the axles or tires. I also doubt that anyone intentionally loads their trailer such that the tires are loaded to the maximum.

 

As I said in post 16, I agree that manufacturers often skimp on the tires and axles, but dividing the GVWR by 2 for the axle or 4 for the tires (ignoring pin weight) and then stating that the axles or tires are overloaded is in my opinion often simply not true.

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OK who here purchased Beta video rather tan VHS? 4 or 8 track? We all make mistakes. It's only the smart folks who learn from their mistakes. I've been RVing a long time. Been involved in the RV industry. But after having 3 different RVs I'm prepared to say that none of them were perfect. We all have to be careful and accept that 'our perception' of what is right or wrong is flawed. Also keep in mind that we, on these forums, represent just a very very small percentage of RV users. Specialized users. Don't let what we/you think is 'right' cloud your judgement of what the vast majority of RV owners think is 'right'. All those weekend warriors in their less than perfect RVs are happier than hogs in poop.

 

When the bean counters sit down at the end of the financial year at an RV builders board meeting they only count money. Money that comes from buyers. Buyers that are still buying their RVs. So someone must be buying them. So their must be a lot of 'someones' out there happy with what the industry is providing. Happy with their choice of RV and happy with how it fulfills their needs.

 

Remember 'we' on these forums are all just RV 'nerds' trying to help new folks become RV 'nerds' just like us!

 

regards

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........ Buyers that are still buying their RVs. So someone must be buying them. So their must be a lot of 'someones' out there happy with what the industry is providing. Happy with their choice of RV and happy with how it fulfills their needs.

 

......

 

regards

Yup, this sounds just like the 60s American cars. Plenty of brands and plenty of models, but most were poorly designed and poorly built. They kept selling....until there was an option. I will say again I think we are way overdue for some serious competition.

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