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Old 03-08-2011, 01:02 PM   #1
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1997-2003 Makes/Models (Best to Worst?)

I know this thread is similar to the one below but I think it narrows the gap a little. Some of us newbies dont really know the best makes and models of RV's to buy (and cant afford the best in the business).

I'm hoping we can compile some sort of list to assist in our searches. Realizing personal taste is always a factor, I think over-all quality is what we are shooting for here.

Example: I have personally been considering the following and have no idea how they fit from best to worst
Bounder
Hurricane/Georgie Boy
Four Winds
Fleetwood
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Old 03-08-2011, 03:03 PM   #2
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The best one is the one that fits your needs and budget and doesn't break down constantly. Judging from the list you provided it won't make a whole lot of difference what name is stuck to the side of it.



You do have some confusion with the brands listed.
  • Bounder is made by Fleetwood and is kinda mid level.
  • Hurricane is made by Four Winds and is also mid level-ish.
Georgie Boy made some nice coaches. At some point (not sure when) they were purchased by Coachmen which has since been purchased by Forest River.

Mind you, my level ratings are a personal view and apply only to gas motorhomes.

Best of luck with your search!
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:00 PM   #3
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BadBoy - Nick has it pretty right. My own experience in 31 years of motor homing and talking to others is that most owners like their coaches. There are not that many lemons. I have two friends that own Bounders. One is a 2004 35' diesel pusher. The owner could afford anything and really like his coach. It has had few problems. My other friend has a very worn 1984 34' gas Bounder. The thing looks terrible but it runs pretty good and they like it. The only company that does a survey of all the popular brand motor homes and then specifically rates them is the RVCG - RV Consumer Group. I used their ratings extensively when I was last in the market 18 months ago. I found their ratings to be very accurate. At there very least if you get their ratings you can easily find out what the CCC's and other valuable data is quickly.
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Old 03-09-2011, 04:09 AM   #4
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I agree with others, pick what fits you best., All of them will cost bucks to keep running.
After almost two years of searching, we settled on a "pre Monaco" Safari. Virtually the same as Beaver. 2001. Finish is great, solid built, we like the floor plan. Only issue, as with all RV's manufacturers that are out of business is that some parts can be hard to obtain.

Also looked at Winnabago, Itasca (Winnabago) Tiffin and Newmar. All in our price range. At the end of the day, liked the layout and finish of the Safari and got it for about 60% of low bluebook.

Good luck and enjoy.

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Old 03-09-2011, 08:39 AM   #5
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I am prejudiced as the owner of a 1998 American Eagle.After 2 years of use and 20K miles with virtually no problems (light bulb replacements, refrigerator burner cleaning, replacement of magnetic switch for the steps), my conclusion is that true quality equates to a very high level of reliability and definitely makes the ownership experience excellent.


The American Eagle was the flagship for Fleetwood at the time and is generally "overbuilt" with superb fit and finish. It has the following features which should be included in any diesel coach that makes your best list from the years you listed IMHO:

-Fiberglass Roof
-Diesel generator on a slide for ease of servicing
-Dual pane windows
-Good thermal and acoustical insulation
-Large Cargo Carrying Capacity (4,000 pounds +)
-50 amp electrical service with dual air conditioners
-dual furnaces
-heated tanks
-Large tankage (150 gallons fuel, 100 gallons fresh, 60 gallons grey,40 gallons black,40 gallons propane)
-Cargo trays that slide out for ease of loading (Eagle has pantograph doors like a la
a tour bus but that is pretty rare)
-solar panel to keep your batteries topped off
-Battery bay that accommodates 2 12 volt starting batteries and a bank of 4 6 volt house batteries. Battery trays should be plastic construction
-Side radiator for ease of access to your engine for checking fluids or if a rear radiator an alternate way to easily check fluids

There are many top quality coaches that have these features and more. Country Coach, Monaco/Beaver come to mind.

Since your quest is for quality, take a close look at any coach you are considering and see how the electrical harnesses are designed and equally important how the wire terminations were made. Insulated terminals and splices crimped in the correct tooling will likely be the exception rather than the rule. If you see ring tongues or splices with torn/pierced insulation that is an indication that the manufacturer did not invest in the appropriate tooling and likely did not standardize on rings and splices from one manufacturer.

If you see extensive use of quick disconnects (also called Fastons by some) consider that fact that a MH is going to be a high vibration environment and while this type of connection is faster to connect than a ring on a stud, it also can come loose causing you a major problem while rolling down the road.

Fleetwood coaches will all have terminals and splices from a single manufacturer crimped in that manufacturers tooling. This will be true from the Bounder up through the American Coach line.

There are quite a few top quality coaches in the years you listed.

Happy hunting!

Dave
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:02 AM   #6
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I went through the same things your going through... After lots of reviews, recommendations and going to look for myself... I chose a 1999 Bounder with the Ford V10. I have no regrets and think I made a very good choice. I've had it for 3 years now and it has 87,000 miles... runs great, passes smog with out a problem every time.
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Old 03-11-2011, 06:42 AM   #7
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We have a 2000 Pace Arrow 33V w/2 slides. It is showing over 110,000 on the clock and still runs fine. The tranny died at 105,000 and from what I hear, the tranny is the weak link in the power system. The coach is generally good and reliable for us. We are on the road about 7 months a year. The slides work well and the coach is well constructed. Sure, it has the ''little things'' that can go wrong with it or one that costs a million dollars but that is part of RV,ing.
Consider a Pace for your coach ..... you wont be sorry ....

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Old 03-11-2011, 06:55 AM   #8
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I second Formerboater. You are trading age of MH for cost and I would definitely go for an upscale MH. It will hold up better and be easier to maintain if repairs are needed. American Eagle, Newmar, and Tiffin would be a place to start and I would be looking there if I trade.
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:36 AM   #9
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Little things make the difference. Are the interior electrical wires neatly bundled and out of sight, or is there a rats nest of wire laying on the floor behind the couch ? Is the rear ladder sturdy enough to safely allow a 200# man access to the roof, or is it so flimsy and poorly secured that only Spiderman could get up there? Do the roof vents have aerodynamic covers, or just the square covers that bounce around while traveling down the road? Are the captain's chairs real chairs with full adjustments, or merely seats screwed onto a boxy plywood base? I settled on my Bounder because it had all of the former and a similarly priced '99 Damon Hurricane had all of the latter. After two years of full-time use (due to work) the Bounder still does not look or feel 'cheap'. I really didn't know much about RVs when I bought it, but for the price at the time, and the knowledge I have now, I don't think I could have done better .

Keith
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Old 03-11-2011, 11:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BadBoy View Post
I know this thread is similar to the one below but I think it narrows the gap a little. Some of us newbies dont really know the best makes and models of RV's to buy (and cant afford the best in the business).

I'm hoping we can compile some sort of list to assist in our searches. Realizing personal taste is always a factor, I think over-all quality is what we are shooting for here.

Example: I have personally been considering the following and have no idea how they fit from best to worst
Bounder
Hurricane/Georgie Boy
Four Winds
Fleetwood
When you say "best makes and models" then say "can't afford the best in the business", just what are you saying? The models you mentioned are way down on the list for "best makes and models". If you stated your price range it would be easier to respond. "overall quality" is not consistent with "can't afford the best in the business". For the best in overall quality you will have to look way above the models you mentioned. I would suggest you think late 1990's model years from, Country Coach, Monaco, Beaver and Foretravel.

Jim E
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Old 03-11-2011, 05:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Pairajays View Post
When you say "best makes and models" then say "can't afford the best in the business", just what are you saying? The models you mentioned are way down on the list for "best makes and models". If you stated your price range it would be easier to respond. "overall quality" is not consistent with "can't afford the best in the business". For the best in overall quality you will have to look way above the models you mentioned. I would suggest you think late 1990's model years from, Country Coach, Monaco, Beaver and Foretravel.

Jim E
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Old 03-11-2011, 07:06 PM   #12
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Every MH has its good and bad points. We owned a '03 Bounder and loved it. Great floor plan on the 35E, it has a rear shower, W/D and lotas other upgrades for a mid level MH. We traded our Bounder for a Gulf Stream DP. On this forum that was like buying a "YUGO" but we went for a floorplan that we liked and what was within our budget. So with me it is floorplan first, are the doors still on and opening and closing. Does it run and can it make me happy camping and does it make sense financially . You are the one who has to 1. Pay for it 2. Live in it. 3. Love it.
Peace.... D
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Old 03-11-2011, 09:47 PM   #13
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In terms of a "budget" Class A gas coach, you can do well with either a Fleetwood or Winnebago. They are by far the most popular, and for good reason. They build enough of them to have developed the product well over the years. We've looked at a lot of coaches over the years, and they seem to hold up the best. You really don't have to go to a so-called "high end" coach like some mentioned here. Probably the best value are the Bounders / Southwind / Storm and the Winnebago Brave / Adventurer models. I believe in buying the newest, best example of a good coach, and that doesn't mean the most expensive coach. Old coaches have old systems, old drivetrains, none or single slides, etc. A 2002 Winnebago has a fiberglass roof, steel frame, quality furnishings, etc. Overall, a good solid coach, even at 11 years old.
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Old 03-12-2011, 06:26 AM   #14
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Buy service, not just the product. A good dealer/ service department can make the worst situation better and a bad dealer can make a great MH a pain. Even if you are not buying from a dealer, check for authorized dealers in your area. I bought a used fleetwood but live in a world of Tiffin, Holiday Ramblers, and Winnebago. I purchased from a dealer and they have been great but if I need anything Fleetwood specific, I have to wait for them to order it since they are not a Fleetwood dealer. It took 4 weeks to find the dome cover for the outside light above the door, seems my light was only installed during assembly on every other thursday in odd months when it rained. I ended up putting an entire new light above the door.
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