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Old 10-01-2011, 11:40 AM   #15
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Not as bad as you'd think. 40 DP from start. Like anything else, OJT--on-the-job-training--eventually settles the nerves. Now I'd rather drive coach then my car.
A bit of advice if you want it. Backing into a 10' wide grass lined driveway with an 8' RV is a lot easier if you have a spotter but if not, try this. 1st (the obvious) make sure way is clear of children, other vehicles, and your pet.
2nd, place an 8' treated 4"x4" where you want to eventually stop backup. Measure distance from obstacle to rear wheel stop point(dah).
3rd, when backing, lower angle of rear view mirrors on both sides to see lower side of RV and rear tire placement in relation to driveway. Right side really helps. I learned this the hard way and have saved many hours of yard maintenance.

Pay attention. Avoid distractions and try and think ahead of the moment. Most of all, enjoy! One more thing. I don't think truckers really like RV'ers--especially 40' Coaches--but try and cut them some slack. There out there paying a lot for fuel and it's their livelihood. They can be pain,
but they can also be your immediate best friend.
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Old 10-02-2011, 06:01 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSW View Post
Please note, Texas law exempts drivers of personal motorhomes and RVs from the requirement of having a class B CDL.
That is what I had been told but couldn't find it anywhere and the drivers license office couldn't confirm it so rather than finding out the hard way, went ahead and got the Class B and now its behind me.
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Old 10-02-2011, 10:42 AM   #17
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It is a common thing for a first time owner to start smaller, then discover that it isn't really big enough. The result is that you wind up spending a lot more than you needed to if you had just bought the right one in the first place. My first coach was a 42 footer. Here are a few things to think about:
1/ Every time you trade up you are selling at wholesale and buying retail, and the spread is thousands of dollars to tens of thousands.
2/ A tag axle is much easier to drive than a two axle coach - they are more stable in cross winds and if you drive on wet roads or snow, the tags will keep you planted if your drive tires lose contact. They also have a smoother ride.
3/ A "smaller" coach is often just as wide and just as tall as the longer coach, so most of the driving issues are the same. Length is minor complication as you need to be a little more careful as you approach intersections where you plan to turn, but it is really not that complicated.
4/ To my last point, and no offense to truckers or bus drivers, but are they all smarter than you are? No, it does not require great gifts to drive a large vehicle, all kinds of ordinary folk do it, so can you. You just need a little practice and you can get some of it test driving someone else's coach!

I can't compare driving a 40 footer to a 37, where both have two axles, others here can advise you on that, but fear of handling it in traffic should not be a consideration. I can tell you that having a toad on the rear makes a big difference since you can't reverse the coach without breaking off the toad, so when I have the Suburban hitched up, I use great caution before I pull into a location to make sure I can easily get out. I rely heavily on Google Maps satellite view to look at entrances to campgrounds or other places I plan to stop. Truck stops are usually pretty self evident, but if I plan to stop over night at a Walmart I have not been to, I will look at it closely to decide how to approach it.

Good luck and don't worry.
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Old 10-02-2011, 12:13 PM   #18
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We started in a 33' long 8'3" coach and learned to handle it by staying on back roads for the first few hundred miles, not towing. Then we added the tow'd and spent time, lots of time, traveling the country. When we traded up to our current coach, after 3 years, the 4 foot actual difference in length was not even noticeable.

One key to remember is that if your coach is 8'3" wide all you need to know is that the space you are pulling into is wider and there are no obstructions high or low, then just worry about the driver side, the curb side will be exactly 8'3" away at all times. When I back into a tight location I walk the area first, often with DW who may or may not be at the wheel for the maneuver (depends on whose turn it is) and decide on the turn points. Mark the pivot point for the drive wheel and then back to that point and swing the wheel to the angle necessary to make the entry. Driver is responsible for the front of the coach, spotter is responsible for the back. Hand signals are critical. If the driver can't see the spotter the coach is not moving.
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Old 10-02-2011, 12:40 PM   #19
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Test drive it in a business park or other low travel wide road areas if nearby. The seller should be able to get you to a suitable place if they really want to sell it undamaged.

The terror begins to be replaced by a smile shortly thereafter.
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Old 10-03-2011, 12:00 AM   #20
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mdo, you have to do what you feel comfortable with. I have driven crew cab dually trucks for years pulling long enclosed trailers...I remember my first ride with an enclosed trailer..I was as you...wondering if this was the right thing to do....after a couple trips....it came 2nd nature.
My 1st class A a 36 footer was bought 1 month ago....Had a 400 mile ride home in the pouring rain, T storms, high winds. My first thoughts were the same as my first enclosed trailer drive....now after having used it, I can wheel it around like its my small daily driver.
Don't let it intimidate you....make sure mirrors are set so you can see perfectly. Seat and steering set comfortable, Take a deep breath and relax and drive.
Just think how many school buses you see out on the roads...all those folks can drive them...most buses are 36 foot
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Old 10-03-2011, 12:06 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSW View Post
Please note, Texas law exempts drivers of personal motorhomes and RVs from the requirement of having a class B CDL.
Your statement is 1/2 true.... Texas exempts drivers of personal motorhomes that are over 26001 lbs from having a CDL but NOT from having a Class B NON-CDL License. A Class B NON-CDL IS REQUIRED for anyone driving a personal motorhome that is over 26001 lbs and a Class A NON-CDL is required if they are towing a vehicle/trailer that is over 10001 lbs.
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Old 10-08-2011, 07:09 PM   #22
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Today I test drove my first Class A.... a 32' Fleetwood with Ford V-10 and a 36' Fleetwood Expedition DP.... Now I have the fever! Really found the 32' easy to drive but had some side to side movement in curves. Not noisy, but I could hear the engine. I was crusing at 55 on I-95 and a 18 wheeler blew by and it felt like it was sucking me over into the next lane...not too bad but we all could feel the MH move or sway as it went by.... Drove 5 miles south bound on I-95 and back to dealer on Rt 1 in moderate traffic without issues. Brakes were good but seemed like it took some effort to stop this thing....This was FUN!

Next came the 36' DP... when the first 18 wheeler blew by me, I was waiting for that sway but didn't feel any movement at all. Drove 10 miles on I-95 (I wanted to keep on going!) and back on Rt.1 The airbrakes are great... feels like I had more brakes than I needed.... as I was headed back to dealer on Rt 1, a biker suddenly stops in the lane to make a left turn and I had to make a quick stop... It is amazing how fast the 32,000 lb vehicle came to a straight stop.... and how quiet it was accelerating from each stop... much nicer having that engine in the back!!! Nice ride but 90K more than the gas 32' Glad I drove the DP.... Now I understand why so many have told me that it is wiser to invest in a lightly used 2-3 year old DP as a first purchase, instead of trading up to one later...
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Old 10-09-2011, 09:20 AM   #23
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Now go drive a tag DP.
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Old 10-09-2011, 11:28 AM   #24
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Old 10-09-2011, 05:39 PM   #25
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mdo - We have spent this weekend with our small RV group at a rally and it seems to me that there are a lot of smiles on the RV owners faces with small, medium, big, gas, diesel, and so on motor homes. If you are rich you can buy anything you want. If you are not you may want to right size your motor home for how you are going to use it. More use = bigger size and amortize the higher cost of the diesel driveline. If you are only going to weekend and do moderate vacations a gas motor home is fine.

Without a doubt though a big heavy DP has way more stability to resist truck wind wash than most gas front drive motor homes. However, there are several add on accessories that will minimize this issue.
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Old 10-09-2011, 08:25 PM   #26
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Not rich... Looking for a 2-3 yr old MH in gas, up to 3-4 yr old if DP. One piece windshield is a must and at least 34'. No emotional buying. I'm getting a good education on this forum and will be ready to purchase after Jan 1. Plan is to have one in my driveway NLT Sept 2012 Gas or Diesel. I'm sure we will be happy with either.
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Old 10-10-2011, 01:29 AM   #27
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mdo - In my humble opinion a one piece windshield is a disadvantage and not an advantage. When buses flex the windshields can become unseated in their rubber holding mouldings. If they are two piece they usually just have to be reseated. One piece ones break many times when this happens. One piece bus windscreens are big bucks.

Be careful of the years when everyone was going broke.

But you have allowed yourself plenty of time to make a really good study, test, and choice. I do think fall is a good time to buy as that is the end of the season.
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Old 10-10-2011, 04:54 AM   #28
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Cams

I'm still pretty new on driving RVs. I have been fixing up a 34' Class A, Fleetwood MH, gas. It's an older model with no slides or anything, only 15000 lbs rating. I was thinking about adding a camera system. At least one on the back and maybe side cams too. Even a cheap B&W cam seems like it would really help for backing up and even on the road. Anyone got them? Is this a good upgrade?
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