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First time RV buyer


Farmer/camper
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Hello,  First time poster here. Wife and I are looking to purchase a new RV. We really like the floor plan of the Thor Four Winds 31Y. Have found a new one that’s fairly reasonable priced and thinking hard about going ahead and buying it.  Just curious if anyone here has one? Or if they know much about the unit as far as the good and the bad on this particular Motorhome? Thanks!

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First, let me welcome you to the Escapees forums. It is always nice to have new folks join us here. 

Thor Industries is currently the largest manufacturer of RVs that exists. As such, they build a very wide range of RVs in both price and quality. The company was founded in 1980 for the purpose of buying the Airstream RV company. As they became profitable the company continued to buy other RV companies and they went public in 1984 and have continued to expand by buying up smaller companies or companies in financial trouble ever since. While they are not the most highly rated company in the business, they have shown continued success and growth, so they must do something right. 

I have not personally owned any RV built by Thor, but have known many others who have and most are satisfied. What I would strongly suggest is careful price comparing not only with other brands which could be of higher quality construction, but also locate at least one other Four Winds dealer to compare prices with. RV sales are in many ways similar to automobile sales and very seldom will you find two sales for the exact same price. But the RV industry does not have to show the buyer any MSRP like car dealers do so you are at the mercy of the sellers. Most of the sales price listings shown to the buyer are created in the dealership and use whatever numbers that dealer wishes to show you. Whatever you do, make that salesperson work hard to get you to his price!

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Wish we had that flexibility, our budget will be around 20K, but in perusing the nation on Craigslist, some decent units can be had for not that much money. Naturally, any unit will be thoroughly inspected by a pro I hire. Besides, there will be upgrades (house electrical is priority #1). I have my system designed. :D

Based on things I have read, I think it's worthwhile to have YOUR guy inspect a NEW unit, so you can make the dealer make the needed corrections before you take delivery. If they balk at ANYTHING (remember, you haven't signed anything), walk immediately. Waste a bunch of their time, Be...indecisive,

Edited by OldMan
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Thanks guys for your replies.  All good advice, we have been taking the whole process quite slowly while trying to avoid any very costly mistakes. One thing my wife and I are both certain of is we neither one want the hastle of maneuvering a class A around. I’m not even sure we will like a 31 ft. Class C? Thanks again!

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Welcome to the Forum.

Kirk gave important notes about about shopping and shopping around. But often people buy on price. I won't get into business names but look at service and warranty repair service.

Before you buy, make a list of everything you hope to travel with whether traveling 20 miles or 2000 miles. Then go to the RV and pretend our living in it a several hours, does thing workout for you. I previously had a Fifth wheel that had large Bathroom sink flat surface but my wife hated it as most it slanted into the sink and things fell over easy. Get what you want not what the salesperson wants you to have.

Do watch the weights as RV furniture is light and good replacements is heavier. That's another point, is the bed a standard size or require special size sheets, little things that effect the cost of owner ship.

Clay in a 40 foot Fifth Wheel  who likes the southern sunshine in the winter months

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We owned a Thor Four Winds 31L and were satisfied with it overall.  The comment on how this will be used is really key, though, because there is limited carrying capacity on these vehicles.  We used the Four Winds for camping trips that lasted anywhere from three days to 7 days.  We liked the floor plan and it was comfortable for that type of use.  We were very, very careful not to overpack the rig and always watched weight.

We did have some issues: two significant water leaks, one under the furnace area (poor sealing outside near the vents) and under the shower.  We also had some minor leaks around the slides we fixed with sealing.  We also had some spider cracks around the cab on the passenger side that needed repairing under warranty.

All-in-all, we enjoyed the rig, but had some issues that we had to attend to.  When we determined we were going full time, we ultimately went with a Class A given the weight carrying limitations: different use, different coach.

One other thing: if you're buying from a dealer, research their reputation closely.  Service after the sale can make all the difference in the buying experience.  

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On 1/28/2018 at 7:39 AM, Farmer/camper said:

One thing my wife and I are both certain of is we neither one want the hastle of maneuvering a class A around.

Don't underrate your own ability to adjust to the larger vehicles. I suggest that you at least test drive a class A. Having driven both I can tell you that your ability to see around you is better in a class A.

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On 1/28/2018 at 6:39 AM, Farmer/camper said:

Thanks guys for your replies.  All good advice, we have been taking the whole process quite slowly while trying to avoid any very costly mistakes. One thing my wife and I are both certain of is we neither one want the hastle of maneuvering a class A around. I’m not even sure we will like a 31 ft. Class C? Thanks again!

We had a 29' Class C for running around in before we retired.  Knew right away that it wasn't going to be enough for two of us for fulltiming.  Our Class A is 37' long, plus the tow behind.  SHE DRIVES EASIER than the Class C.   I have better vision in the Class C, I can see several cars ahead,  which makes it easier to anticipate and avoid problems.  No harder to back into a site with it - just practice to learn where to place the wheels before turning (tip, hug the curb on the side of the road where you will be parked),  factory installed levelers make it easy to get level, all the hooking up is the same no matter what the rig.  Plus bigger water/waste tanks.

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At age 69, I had never driven ANY RV before I bought my 32' Class C.  It looked HUGE in the dealer's showroom and almost as big in the parking lot.  How was I, a short older woman, ever going to drive that enormous thing??  But I wanted a larger motorhome for full-timing.  (Cargo capacity was not a big factor because I travel alone and do not tow another vehicle.)  So I went for it, and have never regretted buying big.

It IS scary at first, but it took me only a few weeks to feel really comfortable behind the wheel.  I love being up high so I can see over the other vehicles on the road.  And I have gotten into the habit of using my large side mirrors and checking for the substantial tail swing my rig has.  I can whip into a gas station or parking lot with no problems.  And I can back it up into a campsite without help nearly always.  (Everyone needs help with a difficult site once in a while, so I won't say I never need help.  Low branches, narrow entrances, and such mean I have to often get out and look a dozen times, or get help.)  

And if I ever have the money or the need to replace this thing, I would not hesitate to go with an A that is maybe 3-4 feet longer.  So, if this old lady can do it, so can you!! 

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OP - Welcome, and salute to doing you're due diligence upfront:)!

Agree with the comments about how will this be used, as very important to getting the right unit. And if going with a Class C, agree with the 450 based units for the reasons mentioned. 

You two determine what is important to you, as far as layout and usability differences between a C and an A. 

I will jump in with the other's and say driving a Class A, is in many ways easier then driving a Class C. As mentioned, better visibility. But besides the driving, the Class A usually provides a more livable space inside, higher CCC, and larger bay storage, then most Class C's.

Another choice point, is new vs used. Suggest you pick a budget range, and then compare what that will provide for a Class C and or Class A. 

I've been helping a friend thru this process, who will live with his wife in this unit for about 4 months a year (Escaping Montana winters.). As we went thru the pro's/con's, they ended up deciding to look at a Gasser 34-36' Class A's. They're focusing on used units between National Dolphin, Rexhall, Mountain Aire, Triple E as the primary RV's. They're going to also look over the Rexhall and Holiday Rambler's UFO chassis with rear 8.1 GM engine too. This will push them up to 37', but with the super slides of say the Rexhall - they feel it will give them as much livable space as a 42-43' DP:)! With the exception of the UFO chassis based units, they're OK with either the F53 (New enough to have the 5spd transmission, which I believe is around the 2005/2006 model year(?)), or Workhorse with the 8.1. Layout, and condition in relation to price, will be the key decider on this. They plan to add an Extended Warranty. This was a bit of a conversation, as he just wanted to put the funds away each year to cover normal maintenance as well as any 'pop up' surprises. But she wanted the peace of mind of the EW, so he went with he 'Happy Wife, Happy Life!'. 

Finally, they're retaining a budget fund to cover any catch up maintenance, and or modifications customizations to make it 'their coach'. The catch up maintenance, if needed, is to allow them to start with a solid mechanical baseline. They also decided to only consider what they felt were a bit higher quality Class A's - which of course, is always subjective, vs going for the lower purchase point of say an entry level Class A.  

I share this info, as this is the process that seems to work for them. They went to a Stadium Super RV sell, and went into several Class C's, and sat in them for along time to get a feel for them. Kitchen galley refrigerator size, ease of getting out of the seats to go back while driving, and some can swivel driver/passenger for seats for extended seating, waste tank size for boon docking, pushed the 'livability decision' to the Class A. 

They both agreed, that if they felt they thought they'd be boon docking off the beaten path quite a bit, they would have gone with a Class C on the 450 chassis. A few can be found with 4x4. 

So OP, just more input for you to consider. And no right or wrong about this, just options and choices. 

Best to you, and as you can see - this forum will provide you with lots of $.02 - so please do come back and ask questions along this journey:)!

Smitty

 

 

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Thanks to everyone for their replies. I have to admit after reading through all the replies there is far more to concider before making a purchase than I had ever imagined. The weight issue brought up was a real eye opener for me. I just hadn’t given that enough thought obviously.  We’re putting any purchase on hold until we do a lot more thinking and investigating. Thanks again all!

Edited by Farmer/camper
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Welcome, Farmer/camper. Several years ago, when we were researching, I was known for saying that I'd rather ask 1000 questions before writing a large check than ask the same question 1000 times afterward.

Suggestion 1: whatever you decide on, buy it USED. Very few people get it right the first time, and the depreciation on a new coach can be huge. Some friends of ours bought a popular brand of motor home when they first became full-timers. Less than a year later they traded it even-up for a 10-year-old Foretravel because they could see that what they picked originally didn't have the quality needed for full-time use.

Suggestion 2: spend some time discussing how you will use this coach. Are you going to be full-timers, snowbirds, or weekenders? How many people and pets? Any mobility issues? Are you going to move every few days or will you stay in one spot for several months at a time? Get used to the idea that something will tow something else. Sales people will tell you that a Class B or C can be driven nearly anywhere. What they don't tell you is that before you make that run to Walmart you have to pack everything just like you would if you were going to be driving for five hours.

Suggestion 3: look carefully at the carrying capacity of each rig you look at. As was mentioned above, Class C coaches are not noted for being able to carry a lot of weight. Class A motor homes and fifth wheels are much better in this regard. The Class A can tow a fuel-efficient vehicle, while towables need a truck that will use more fuel. How much stuff (and how much space it needs) will play a big part in what RV best fits your needs.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There was a big big difference from a 1/2 ton Chevy to a Ford 3/4 Ford diesel. I  now pull a trailer 8 ft. longer and 8000# more with a 1 ton Ford diesel and like its not even behind me. Found a big difference in the brakes from the Ford to Chevy. Worked for GM for 40 yrs. and pull with my Ford. (work truck) but still have my Chevy (grocery getter). The safety factor is in the control and braking NOT pulling.

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On 1/28/2018 at 7:02 AM, ms60ocb said:

Do watch the weights as RV furniture is light and good replacements is heavier. That's another point, is the bed a standard size or require special size sheets, little things that effect the cost of owner ship.

I had to laugh at this. We will be the only two humans in the rig (though three cats will torment us). If anything, because we'll be full-time, we want to be rid of extra furniture. Dinette? Naah. Medium weight TV trays will do. Captain's chair behind the passenger seat? Did I mention only two humans?

Think maybe losing the dinette will make way for the weight of 750 watts of solar panel? Oh wait, dumping the lead-acid batteries in the house (eventually in the engine compartment. too) will make room for the weight of the panels, which will NOT be installed on the roof. Lithium-iron (not the explosive lithium ion) batteries weigh far less than an equivalent Trojan.

Oh boy, antiquated technology, heavier than I can lift without severe back injury, explosive gases and, if all that were not enough, only 50 percent of the power will be available. WOOHOO!!!

Long ago, I flew light aircraft. At the time, it was a seller's market in used aircraft. I got taken, so I know. The plane is now flying in South America.

Johnny told me when I was buying to get a proper inspection done by an IA (A&P mechanic with Inspection Authorization). To never let the seller know what you think. Vito Corleone had that one right.

What I plan to do, is before any inspection is made, I will agree to his asking price. Yep. Every nickel. In cash if he's willing to sign the DEA banking papers (more than $10K sends red flags) down at his local branch WF branch.

The catch is, my guy, whom seller has never seen before, will inspect the rig. You can have your guy observe, if you like (at your own expense) to prevent my guy from doing damage during the inspection though if an inspection breaks something, I'll be hard-pressed to believe whatever broke wasn't already on the verge.

But whatever he finds, minor, major, whatever, whatever he finds, seller agrees to have professionally repaired. No compromise that results in a freebie for the seller unless it's zero-sum or better for me. Contract will specify this.

Any hesitation in his reaction to that requirement will be greeted with my backside walking away. Immediately. Any "OK, OK, wait," will be greeted with, "That'll cost you $500. Did you expect someone would NOT want the unit inspected by HIS guy and have all known squawks addressed? Please."

I don't know if anyone else will like this approach, though I couldn't care less.

Edited by OldMan
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9 hours ago, OldMan said:

I don't know if anyone else will like this approach, though I couldn't care less.

I'll be very interested to hear how that approach works out for you. I could only speak to my reaction to your approach in the 3 times that I have sold our used RV's. You may have more experience in RVs than I do........

8 hours ago, Dutch_12078 said:

Sorry, OldMan, but that $20K price point you mentioned earlier will pretty much keep you in the "As-is" category of older used motorhomes.

If you are looking at motorhomes this is pretty much the case. If you are shopping for a towable RV then $20k will go much farther. 

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To Farmer, I would say try to find a "near" new, but used MH, that initial depreciation hit is BAD!

The license tags on my 2 year old MH was $1100. this past June.

To OldMan, yes your $20K will go a lot farther buying a travel trailer.  And again it depends on where

you want to travel.  There are many campgrounds around the country that do have 10 year rules, meaning

if your RV is more than 10 years old they do not want you.

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