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kstills

New Member Introduction and First Question

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Greetings! 

Kevin and Terri (Me and my wife) are planning on full timing in another 4-5 years, so I'm trying to learn as much as possible now to avoid as many mistakes as I can when we hit the road. 

As of now, zero experience in RVs between us. 

I'm the type that, while I appreciate the rainbow and unicorn aspects of living in an RV, want to know about all the problems that I'll face when I finally own one. And boy, do there seem to be plenty of problems, lol. 

We've gone from TT, to 5th wheels, to Class C's and now down to B+ motorhomes. That style seems to have the best bang for the buck as far as being able to get into out of the way places (first few years we intend to boondock quite a bit)_while still providing all the creature comforts we'll want to have on the road. However, as much as I've looked, I've yet to find the perfect floor plan. 

Which brings me (finally) to my question. 

Have any of the members here bought a used RV and had it reconditioned? By that I mean interior changes, roof repair (leak prevention), 4WD conversion etc? Pricing on reconditioning a used unit with low miles would appear to be the same as buying a new unit, with the added benefit of having the floorplan and interior bits done to my specification. I'm sure it's not as straight forward a proposition as I envision it, so anyone's personal experience who would be willing to share that would be appreciated. 

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You have lots of time to find what you may desire. Maybe you will find what is very close. Imagine living in it (especially on a rainy/stormie day) do you have room. Anyway I bought what we liked about 2 years later we was looking and I traded to overcome a few features that we originally thought was great.

What I'm saying don't lock yourself in on something you won't like down the road.

Read the forum, will you have a enough storage without having the unit over weight. Listen to the people here rather than some salesman

Clay having had Tents, 14 foot TT, 23 foot Class B++ and two FW's

Happy Travels

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Have you checked into Sportsmobile.com? They will build an interior to your design. I loved my van and am still sorry I sold it.

Linda Sand

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19 minutes ago, sandsys said:

Have you checked into Sportsmobile.com? They will build an interior to your design. I loved my van and am still sorry I sold it.

Linda Sand

Hi Linda, 

 

The sportsmobile appear to be a little smaller than what I have in mind. Practically, a 24 foot B+ would be the minimum length, I think. That size allows me to get all the things in it that I want, while my wife would prefer the 27-30 foot sizes to get the separate queen sized bed (I can live with a good fold out couch). 

Not much longer than that, as the ability to get into some areas would be restricted. 

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When you are getting into that size maybe you should consider a small Class A. Lot more storage and livability.

Have you considered renting for a couple weeks to try out a Class B?

 

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Such as? 

 

The review I did shows that the smaller ones are either very difficult to drive or have build quality issues. I am also very leery of Class A MH because of the lack of regulations regarding the safety of the driver and passenger seat occupants. With a B or C I know I have a Ford or Mercedes (well, Ford, I won't be going the Mercedes route) cab that has passed occupant safety regulations. With a Class A, especially the lower priced ones, I wouldn't be so sure. 

Edited by kstills

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We came across a couple that were full-time in  Class B in Dawson YT.  If the weather was bad they said life was very difficult because of the lack of space. 

Comment on your concern about crash safety.  I think that you need to relax a little and think of where you can go and the beauty you will view. 

Bill

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Kevin & Teri, welcome to the Escapee forums! You are wise to start your research early. Since you have no RV experience, I'm wondering what your background is. Do you both have any experience in camping with a tent or other more primitive camping? You mentioned getting a 4WD unity in the RV which leads me to ask if you have experience traveling off-road with that type of vehicle? Of the hundreds of thousands of RVs in use today, the vast majority never get very far from paved roads and highways. In my years of camping and RV traveling, I can only remember having seen perhaps a half dozen RVs that were 4WD. We did tow our first 2 RVs with 4WD vehicles and took them well away from paved roads, but even then our RVs were never into the more rugged areas that we drove the 4WD tow vehicle into. Those questions make me wonder what sort of travels you have in mind?

As you consider the type of RV you may want, do not forget that the more compact the RV, the less living space it will have and that also means less interior comfort. Since all self-contained RVs have pretty much the same appliances and facilities inside, the space to move about decreases rapidly as you go to smaller vehicles. Another consideration that many people fail to consider when looking at an RV is that the height and the girth of each person who will be inside of it becomes very important. We are smaller people and so we tend to need less space that our physically larger friends. But even smaller people find that an RV becomes very restrictive when you are in a situation that requires you to stay inside together for extended periods due to weather, illness, or some other cause that will always happen if the RV is your only home. We lived for almost 12 years in a 36' class A with no slides and today have downsized to a 20' travel trailer with no slides and we have spent as much as 5 continuous months in it. I can tell you that our little trailer would not have worked for fulltime living, at least for us. There are very few, if any types of RV that are not being used as a fulltime home by someone, but the question to ask isn't if the one you are looking could be lived in but rather as if you can live in it. 

With the time that you have to study, I would strongly encourage you to rent some type of RV for a trip of at least a week, and to do so as soon as practical. There is no way that anyone here can say accurately what sort of RV will work for you. The perfect RV for me might well be your worst nightmare!

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Hi, Kirk!
 

First off, thank you for such a thoughtful reply. The reason I join forums is because of people like you. 
 

So, experience. Very little camping, very little 4wd. The 4wd on the rig is not so much to get into the those out of the way places, just to get a little further in then everyone else. We intend to do some winter camping, so it will be useful in inclement weather. The toad will be the exploration vehicle, however I’m well aware of my limits, so unless I take an off road driving course I’m not going to challenge the vehicle to its limits. As far as plans for traveling, we’d like to get to Alaska, Canada, follow fall south from New Hampshire, spend winter in the Keys, etc. The first few years, being our healthiest, will also be our busiest. So the RV doesn’t necessarily have to substitute for a house, at least initially. 
 

I’m a fit 6 footer, she’s petite. The dog will take up the most space. We’ve looked at a Phoenix 2910T and that seemed to have enough room at just over 31 feet. Giving up 4 of that to gain better control of the vehicle and park access would seem to be a fair trade. In researching rigs, there are only a few that meet my quality criteria, and they are close to my budget new without having a floor plan that I like. 
 

Which is why I’m considering buying a high quality used rig, doing a partial tear out and rebuilding it to my (my wife’s) tastes. But like everything else regarding RV’s, I have zero exp with that option, so I’m hoping someone here could share their’s. 

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4 hours ago, kstills said:

Which is why I’m considering buying a high quality used rig, doing a partial tear out and rebuilding it to my (my wife’s) tastes.

Rebuilding an RV is harder than remodeling a house because everything is inside something else. For instance it's hard to replace a couch if your fresh water tank is built into it.  We had a dinette where the furnace was built in under one bench. It's not unusual for the engine compartment to be partly under the bed. A water heater may be under the kitchen counter. All those things would restrict what you could do. Maybe if you are good at playing Tetris you could figure it out but I sure wouldn't want to do it. :)

Linda Sand

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8 minutes ago, sandsys said:

Rebuilding an RV is harder than remodeling a house because everything is inside something else. For instance it's hard to replace a couch if your fresh water tank is built into it.  We had a dinette where the furnace was built in under one bench. It's not unusual for the engine compartment to be partly under the bed. A water heater may be under the kitchen counter. All those things would restrict what you could do. Maybe if you are good at playing Tetris you could figure it out but I sure wouldn't want to do it. :)

Linda Sand

Fair points, however I will be letting a professional do the remodel on the rig. Were I younger, I'd do it myself, but I'm now at an age where I would prefer to benefit from the expertise of others doing the manual labor while I enjoy the end result. 

A big concern I have is relocating the refrigerator. I'm not entirely sure how well that can be done, as it would appear that the old outside access in the coach would have to be sealed and a new one would have to be cut. That is a little concerning, and one of the things I'm looking for advice on. 

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2 minutes ago, kstills said:

I will be letting a professional do the remodel on the rig.

That does not negate the challenge of you wanting specific items which may or may not be doable but you won't know until you pick an RV, make your design, then find out if what you want can be done. You may not know that many RV manufacturers build the interior before enclosing the walls so they have good access which is not available later. In my van, the furnace was nearly unreachable because it was installed before the cupboard was built around it. Once the service guy got it out where he could reach it he decided not to put it all the way back which affected my storage space but I decided was a reasonable trade off. You might want to consider having a tiny house built instead as those builders are used to doing custom builds and they can build to RVIA standards if desired.

Linda

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6 minutes ago, sandsys said:

That does not negate the challenge of you wanting specific items which may or may not be doable but you won't know until you pick an RV, make your design, then find out if what you want can be done. You may not know that many RV manufacturers build the interior before enclosing the walls so they have good access which is not available later. In my van, the furnace was nearly unreachable because it was installed before the cupboard was built around it. Once the service guy got it out where he could reach it he decided not to put it all the way back which affected my storage space but I decided was a reasonable trade off. You might want to consider having a tiny house built instead as those builders are used to doing custom builds and they can build to RVIA standards if desired.

Linda

From what I see, the systems in these rigs are pretty basic. There aren't  a  lot of complicated bits that can't be moved or modified if there's a partial tearout that allows the remodeler access to them. The plumbing is all PEX, which is stupid easy to work with, all the AC units sit up on the roof, and the furnace, well, I've installed a coal boiler in my house then re-plumbed all the hydronics to get them to work efficiently.  I suspect that if there is a partial tearout I'll be looking at a hydronic heating system to replace the hot air usually found in these things (the one in the Airstream would be ideal). I'll be putting in a composting toilet to reduce water usage and extend boondocking ability, so that will eliminate the use of a black water tank and all the dump paraphanalia associated with it. 

You are correct that a lot of these things will be hidden in hard to reach places, however with some exceptions (If I can find a rear bathroom model I like that area wouldn't have to be remodeled) taking off cabinets and removing furniture en masse shouldn't present a major problem for relocating the mechanical bits when it comes time to put them back in. 

However, I am looking at this from the perspective of someone who has done quite a bit of work on his own home (currently have the kitchen gutted and in the process of putting new flooring and cabinets in) and not from the perspective of someone who has worked on a motorhome. While the folks I've talked to in the industry haven't expressed concerns, I do want to hear from owners who've been down this path so that I can factor their experience into the decision making process of buying new or used. 

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There are custom builders out there, you would probably be better off going that way but until you RV you don't really know what you want. I have recently seen a mfg. that had essentially drop-in units for a van. There are many options out there but I would think a custom build would be an easier solution.

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2 minutes ago, SWharton said:

There are custom builders out there, you would probably be better off going that way but until you RV you don't really know what you want. I have recently seen a mfg. that had essentially drop-in units for a van. There are many options out there but I would think a custom build would be an easier solution.

Who would these folks be? 

And by easier, you don't mean cheaper....😉

 

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Here's ab example of what I'm thinking of doing:

 

https://www.rvtrader.com/listing/2005-Coach-House-272XLS-5013355545

 

That's a 2005 Coach House. The integrity of the fiberglass shell won't have changed much over the years (subject to inspection, of course) however the interior is quite dated. 

I'm reliably informed that for 50K I can have it gutted, Li batteries installed with a solar hookup and all new furniture and cabinets. I would consider it a sin to remove the cabinetry from this rig (subject to inspection) as it looks immaculate as it is, however the sofa, chairs, heating and cooling system would all come out and be replaced. 

 

A new Coach House 272XLS lists for around 190k, and if I get the best deal I can I might get it for 150k or so. At 109k all in on the used, I could replace the engine , drivetrain and suspension in the rig and still come out ahead. 

On this particular rig I wouldn't be doing a lot of reorganizing per se, however there are others on my list that I would be shifting the kitchen and bedroom around to make it more to my tastes. 

So, it sounds good to me, a lot like buying an old house and fixing it up. Just make sure the old house has a solid foundation and is in a good location before putting the money in. 

 

 

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This is a second option (the preferred, actually)

 

https://www.rvtrader.com/listing/2012-Phoenix-Usa-CRUISER-2551-5012493043

 

On this unit, the kitchen would relocate back into the area where the beds are, the front would be opened up to a living space with a fold out queen sized bed. The roof would be treated by RV Armor or similar with a lifetime guarantee not to leak, while the drivetrain would be converted to 4WD. 

 

In the case of the Phoenix rigs, the reconditioned unit would be much closer in price to the new units, however I would have the floor plan that I'm looking for (bathroom in back, bedroom/living are in front). 

There are issues with windows, refrigerator etc. that the remodeler would have to address, and that's one of the things I'm looking for answers on. 

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8 minutes ago, Darryl&Rita said:

Cabinets don't move around easily. They're attached from the outside. $50k will get eaten up faster than you can believe. Hang onto your wallet.

https://theflippingnomad.com/renovated-rvs/

 

That's 50k for a completely renovated fifth wheel. I'm sure that  is the lowest price, but obviously they are moving cabinets around. 

What do you mean that the cabinets are attached from the outside? 

https://www.google.com/search?q=how+are+cabinets+hung+in+an+rv&rlz=1C1GCEU_enUS821US821&oq=how+are+cabinets+hung+in+an+rv&aqs=chrome..69i57j0j69i64.6071j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#kpvalbx=_jE4zX8CYCoSO5wKhqYqwDg25

 

They look like they are screwed into the ceiling and back wall in this video. 🤔

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10 hours ago, kstills said:

What do you mean that the cabinets are attached from the outside? 

Since you do not understand the way in which RVs are constructed, I would suggest that you start by visiting at least one and preferable several RV factories and tour them to see what it is that people here are talking about. You seem to believe that it is a very simple thing to do and that most anyone could do it. I think that what you have in mind is much more complicated than you realize. Most of the larger cabinets and appliances are installed inside of the RV before the exterior is put on. Twice I have helped a friend convert a bus into and RV and over my years of RVing I have made many modifications to them. Very little in those projects was ever easy and most of the time it is also expensive. 

As we consider the cost of this RV, NADA lists the 2005 Coach-House as average retail of $34,900. Then if you add another $50,000 to your cost that will get you to a cost far above what you would ever be able to recover, should you not choose to keep it. In addition, you will have difficulty finding an insurance underwriter willing to insure it for that far about the usual depreciated price. 

Before you get too far into this project, I advise that you contact some RV remodeling companies and discuss with them the plans that you have in mind.

Edited by Kirk W

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I don't understand the wording in the link you provided for renovated RVs.  It states:

 

The minimum budget required is $50,000 for a fifth wheel or $30,000 for a travel trailer.

This budget covers purchasing the RV from us and the renovation. 

 

I'm reading that for $50,000 you can buy the RV and have renovations done.  What kind of RV are they talking about for that price?

You might want to pick out your RV and then go to the manufacturer to see how it's built before renovation.

Before putting a lot of money into an older RV decide if you will keep it a long time.  Most RVers will not buy an old RV.  You'll have a very limited audience for resale especially if you include a composting toilet and removing the black tank. When you start talking about changing the drivetrain and moving the whole kitchen you're going to get into more money than you think.

You're considering winter camping so want 4x4.  You'd had better have a satellite phone.  Driving in the backcountry on unplowed roads could easily turn into being stranded.. even with 4x4.

Good luck with your project!  I hope you'll return with the finished RV to show us it CAN be done. 

 

 

Edited by 2gypsies

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22 hours ago, kstills said:

I suspect that if there is a partial tearout I'll be looking at a hydronic heating system to replace the hot air usually found in these things (the one in the Airstream would be ideal).

Seems from here that hydronic heating and a composting toilet to extend time for boondocking are opposite extents of the objective.  

Am I missing something?

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7 hours ago, Kirk W said:

Since you do not understand the way in which RVs are constructed, I would suggest that you start by visiting at least one and preferable several RV factories and tour them to see what it is that people here are talking about. You seem to believe that it is a very simple thing to do and that most anyone could do it. I think that what you have in mind is much more complicated than you realize. Most of the larger cabinets and appliances are installed inside of the RV before the exterior is put on. Twice I have helped a friend convert a bus into and RV and over my years of RVing I have made many modifications to them. Very little in those projects was ever easy and most of the time it is also expensive. 

As we consider the cost of this RV, NADA lists the 2005 Coach-House as average retail of $34,900. Then if you add another $50,000 to your cost that will get you to a cost far above what you would ever be able to recover, should you not choose to keep it. In addition, you will have difficulty finding an insurance underwriter willing to insure it for that far about the usual depreciated price. 

Before you get too far into this project, I advise that you contact some RV remodeling companies and discuss with them the plans that you have in mind.

You have confused what I have said. 

However, I am looking at this from the perspective of someone who has done quite a bit of work on his own home (currently have the kitchen gutted and in the process of putting new flooring and cabinets in) and not from the perspective of someone who has worked on a motorhome. While the folks I've talked to in the industry haven't expressed concerns, I do want to hear from owners who've been down this path so that I can factor their experience into the decision making process of buying new or used. 

I understand that there are challenges to this process that I am unaware of. One of the folks on your list gave me the ballpark price I have referenced (specific to my thoughts about modifying the 2552) and did not seemed concerned about being able to do what I had asked. However, he's in the business to get this kind of work, which I understand, so instead of taking his word for it I wanted to get some feedback from folks who've been through the process.  

You seem to have done some of this before, I get that it's 'hard', what I don't know yet is in what way is it hard? Generally speaking, is it impossible to relocate the kitchen? Is the furnace unable to be relocated in the unit? One of the biggest issues I see are windows and placing cabinets around them, can the windows be modified or am I stuck with them where they are? 

That is the type of information I'm really interested in finding out. 

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44 minutes ago, 2gypsies said:

I don't understand the wording in the link you provided for renovated RVs.  It states:

 

The minimum budget required is $50,000 for a fifth wheel or $30,000 for a travel trailer.

This budget covers purchasing the RV from us and the renovation. 

 

I'm reading that for $50,000 you can buy the RV and have renovations done.  What kind of RV are they talking about for that price?

You might want to pick out your RV and then go to the manufacturer to see how it's built before renovation.

Before putting a lot of money into an older RV decide if you will keep it a long time.  Most RVers will not buy an old RV.  You'll have a very limited audience for resale especially if you include a composting toilet and removing the black tank. When you start talking about changing the drivetrain and moving the whole kitchen you're going to get into more money than you think.

You're considering winter camping so want 4x4.  You'd had better have a satellite phone.  Driving in the backcountry on unplowed roads could easily turn into being stranded.. even with 4x4.

Good luck with your project!  I hope you'll return with the finished RV to show us it CAN be done. 

 

 

I'll confess that the fifth wheel  conversion seems to be a pretty low price, however it is what it is as far as I can tell. You get the fifth wheel renovated, unless I'm missing something. They specialize in the Montana, seems to be pretty much all they'll work on. And they have an higher opinion of it than I do, but my opinion is theoretical not practical. 

A huge issue is one you've touched on, that's deciding on a rig that we'll want to live in after the renovations. We plan on renting as we get closer to our departure date and won't commit to a rig unless we've spent time in one that has the same approximate footprint. It would really suck to dump 50k into a rig and find out that it was too small for our tastes. 😟 I don't really care about the resale (given we pick the right rig). I have six children, one or more of them will get use out of the rig once we either come off the road or pass. That's why I have a limited set of rigs that I will consider, the basic construction has to be good enough that it will last many years.

Drivetrain is 13.8k. Manageable. 

Stranded is a distinct possibility. However, I'm  at my age I won't head into the wilds of a National forest in the Rockies in the winter in order to see nature. I'll be winter camping somewhere where I can experience the weather but bug out if needed. ;) 

As far as showing off the project, if it comes to fruition, I'll be happy to. If I simply buy a rig and modify it for boondocking, I'll post that one also. 👍

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