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Old 07-15-2009, 09:52 AM   #1
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$40k max budget, need to tow 5k lbs

Howdy,

Ok, I've had a couple threads on here asking for info and advice as we narrow down our options for upgrading our current setup.

The short version is that I'm looking for recommendations for a five years old or newer motorhome with at a minimum a queen bed & living room slide that can tow 5k lbs or so (open trailer with a racecar on it), and that costs $40k or less.

Here's the longer version:

We do motorsports events. Currently we have a 24' enclosed trailer that we've had for a while and had been towing to events with a truck. That trailer is in the 9k lbs loaded range. A couple years back we had a son, and he started coming to events with us. It became quickly clear that we needed a little better accomodations at the track, so we bought an older motorhome ('84 26' class A on a P30 chassis). It was awesome having AC, fridge, stove, a place for our son to nap, etc. at events. We'd stopped doing most of the national events and were only running locally and would take the RV, plus use our truck and drag the trailer over there.

We wanted to start doing national events again, so we did some work to the RV, reinforcing the frame rail extentions, upgrading tires, adding a couple springs in the rear, upgrading the hitch, etc. Plus the unit already had some swaybar & shock upgrades. With those changes we started towing our enclosed trailer. And yes, we are way over the listed specs for our unit. I think its safe, given the upgrades (and I've had it across scales to check tire loadings and such), but others may disagree.

Along the way we were evaluating if we liked having the RV. And the answer to that was clearly yes, but perhaps not this one. :-) In particular, the lack of a slide in the living area and only a double bed stinks. We want a slide and we want a queen bed. A unit that's a lot more modern would also be good in all sorts of different ways, from having mirrors that aren't useless to having an interior that doesn't look like "that 70's show" etc. Our unit is in very good condition, but its still 25 years old.

This time around, I know I want a unit rated to tow the weight I'm going to ask it to do. So we started looking at diesel pushers, but ran into two problems. First, we'd be over length with most of them (28' ball to bumper for our current trailer). Second, even if we stretch our budget we just barely reach the bottom end of the DP units.

So we took a step back and re-evaluated and decided that if we want to stay with the motorhome path, we need to get rid of our enclosed trailer and go with an open trailer. I can get that trailer setup to around 5k lbs (3300 lb car, 1700 lb trailer, with more of the crap we carry stored in the coach), plus its shorter (22' or so max) so combined lengths shouldn't be as big a deal.

In addition, we need our budget to stay under $40k, so I'm looking at gas powered class A's or perhaps class C's. I still need to stay within the GCWR and rear axle weight limits. I really don't want to have to reinforce rear frame rail extensions, but I suppose I could if that's the only way to make it work (this seems to apply to the few class C's I've been under). The coach has to be in the "around five years old or newer" range. It has to have a living area slide. It has to have a queen bed. It has to have an interior that my wife likes (which seems to be some combination of is clean and looks well taken care of, doesn't look cheap, and some sorta color based stuff).

So... If you made it all the way to the end of that... Thanks! :-) This whole process has been fairly frustrating. My wife and I are both about sick of talking through all the different options and if I can't get a path forward figured out soon I'm just going to bail on the whole motorhome thing altogether and just get a new trailer that has AC & a fridge. :-)

Thanks for any pointers!

Mark
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Old 07-15-2009, 10:32 AM   #2
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Mark
I think a pusher is what will serve you best. Here is a link to one on ebay in the price range you are looking at. http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Diese...ZRVsQ5fCampers
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:14 AM   #3
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Given your towing needs, I'd recommend an older diesel that is in your price range. 5000 lbs of trailer or toad is pretty much the outer limit for most gas chassis, so it can be done, but the diesel would likely give you 10,000 lbs or near that. You could keep the closed trailer (a big plus, since you no doubt have gear as well as the car) if you bought a 32-36 foot coach. The only real downside of going diesel is that maintenance costs are significantly higher than a gas coach, even if you do most of it yourself. Cost of filters, quantities of fluids, etc. or much greater.

If you go with gas, a Workhorse Wxx chassis will give you 5000 lbs towing and so will a late model Ford chassis (V10). Stick with the 34-35 coaches so that there is an actual 5000 lbs left after the coach body and passengers are riding on the chassis!
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Old 07-16-2009, 06:43 PM   #4
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Howdy,

Thanks folks. We went to another three dealers today, looking at various units and talking things over more.

I think a diesel pusher is still an option for us... Looks like $50k can get us into a 10 year old DP, and we can stretch the budget to that if we had to. We also saw a couple shorter (35' or so) gas units that were a little cheaper on both the Ford and the Workhorse chassis that seemed to have 26k gcwr's and room to handle our open trailer.

Here's a related question... We looked at one diesel pusher today ('99 Damon Ultrasport 37') with a 275 Cat & 84k miles for $55k. We looked at a gas class A ('01 Georgie Boy Landau 3502 35') on a Ford chassis (20.5k gvwr, 26k gcwr, 16.6k uvw) with 23k miles for $40k. Comparing those two, how should I consider the mileage? I've heard the diesels last longer, but is 85k half way through life to a major service? Can I expect 80k trouble free miles from the Ford?

The $15k difference in price also buys a lot of racecar parts... :-)

Mark
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Old 07-16-2009, 07:05 PM   #5
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Mark,

We have owned gas coaches and have modified them similarly to what you probably do to your race car.

A DP is what you will need. Our Gulfstream (pictured in my avatar) is a 36 foot unit (actually 36'10") and it can tow 10,000#. I modified the hitch to make it stronger and less prone to dragging in and out of driveways as well as other things.

The maintenance is more in terms of items and costs due to sizes of filters and quantities BUT it will last far longer than any gas coach if taken care of which since you race I am sure you do (I used to race).

Ours had around 78K on it and was just over $50K when we bought it. After two new windshields (one per side), new Koni FSD shocks, new air leveling valves, a complete (well, almost) fluid/filter change, a complete chassis lube and various other...er...projects, it is a very nice coach.

ATM $40K-$50K gives you a good chance of getting a fairly low mileage, good condition DP. Check out:

Diesel Motorhomes for Sale at PPL

Look at D723, D722 and D737. Remember that the length is an "approximate number" and can vary up or down depending on the Mfr. I believe you can have a combined max length of 65 feet so if you keep your 28 foot trailer, your rig needs to be less than 37 feet max. Our GS-DP would fit (Hmm, should I sell it after all of my work...??? ).

Some other (sorry for the long post everyone) good sites are:

Pre-Owned Class A Diesel Pampered Motorhomes|Used RV New Braunfels,Texas|Roman Holiday Motor Homes

Look at D-16634-01 at the bottom of the DP section. If you bought this one, tell Buzz or John that you were given the link by Ken H. Who knows, maybe they will give me a "deal" on my next purchase from them...
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Old 07-16-2009, 10:42 PM   #6
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To further what I was typing before I almost missed my vanpool ride home...

Our particular DP is rated at 500K miles before anything major needs to be done to it. That is several lifetimes in MH circles so no worries there. Ours is a big block with more torque than some but even the small block diesels can be reliably pumped up in power.

If you check out RVTrader.com now RVT.com New and Used RV Online Classifieds.

RVs for sale Online

or RV TraderĀ® - New and Used RVs for sale on RV Trader

or RV Classified Ads - Used RV, RV for Sale, Diesel Pusher Motorhomes, Gas Motorhomes, Trailers, Toters, Park Models, they all have loads of MH's etc for sale. The ads aren't always up to date (i.e. already sold units) but it is worth a shot.

Re: the PPL site, you call on the one you are interesed in, put a reasonable offer on that unit and then give a refundable $500 deposit if the deal doesn't work. They are a consignment lot so unless you can go see them in person, the web pics will have to do.

We did this with RHMH and allthough the unit had some issues that were not visible in the pics, The price made it a reasonable decision to buy it and for me to fix the issues.

In hindsight, I would check out every unit I was interested in and then make an offer. There were few units within our price range at the time we bought ours (August 2007) and the economy hadn't sunk nor gas prices skyrocketed.

Look around as I am sure you have a lot more options now but IMHO, a 34-37 foot DP is not only what you want but need.

Check out Newmar (primarily Dutch Stars in this range/size), Monaco (Diplomat, Knight, Cayman), Beaver (Patriot, Monterey), Holiday Rambler (Endeavor), Winnebago (Journey), Alpine, Tiffin (Allegro Bay, Allegro Bus), Gulfstream (Sun Voyager), Fleetwood (Expedition etc), Country Coach (Intrigue etc) etc. You are in the 1997-2002 range depending on the model, features, length, drivetrain and mileage. Living room slides started around 1997/1998 in most of these models before it became standard.

Oh yeah! on the RV trader type sites, use the "advanced search" option, select "diesel", "length", "price range" etc. to see what is available and narrow/focus your search better.

Good hunting.
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:05 PM   #7
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Howdy,

Well, we put a "bring it here so we can see it" refundable deposit on a '99 Newmar Dutch Start this afternoon (its nice when your local dealer is part of a network). Its a 38' DP. Ad says Cat 300 on a Spartan, but some stuff I've found searching around on the web says the Cat's only came on the Freightliner version and Cummins came in the Spartans... Who knows. Seeing is believing anyway. :-)

Broke the budget up to $50k, but with everyone recommending a DP to us and just about nobody recommending a gas unit, it seemed like a better way to go.

Sure wish there were easier ways to find floorplans and specs for older used motorhomes. I've not had much luck. The specific unit is supposed to be a '99 Newmar Dutch Star 3862 with a 300 cat on a Spartan chassis. I guess I'll post in the Newmar forum to see if there's anything specific I should check for!

Thanks for all the advice. We're hoping our search is over... :-)

Mark
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Old 07-18-2009, 02:12 PM   #8
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Good luck!!!
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Old 07-20-2009, 09:39 AM   #9
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Can't wait to see it!
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Old 08-14-2009, 01:14 PM   #10
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Mark,

Although a DP is better for towing, if the DP doesn't work out, don't discount a gasser. I was also looking for an A that could tow a car on an open trailer and found that the smaller gasser A's (ie. mine is 31') had the capacity to tow 5k lbs. Either way, good luck with the search and at the nationals.
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Old 08-14-2009, 01:25 PM   #11
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Howdy,

We ended up buying that '99 Dutch Star.

There are pics here:

'99 Newmar Dutch Star

We're on our first trip with it as I type this... Its been pretty nice overall. Drives nice down the road, etc. We had our first clogged fuel filter, but got it straightened away without too much impact so its all good.

Its early days yet, but so far we like it quite a bit. :-)

Mark
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:18 PM   #12
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Mark,
Re-check the tires and look for the DOT numbers. The last 3 numbers (if prior to 2000) will give you the week and year. If it is after 1999 the last 4 numbers give you the week and year the tires were manufactured. Shelf life on tires is about 5-6 years, so if they are old you should probably get them inspected by a professional. It's a hunk of money to replace all 6 at one time. But it's a hunk more if one blows while on the road.

Good luck. Glad you found what you wanted.
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