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Old 09-03-2013, 07:10 AM   #1
OWV
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Are we overlooking a DP?

As mentioned in a previous thread, the Bride and I are preparing to become fulltimers (hopefully for the next 10 years or so) and thanks to the great responses we have received from irv2 family, a number of pieces to our puzzle are falling into place. The search is narrowing down to Fleetwood, American Coaches, Winnebago, Newmar, with Thor, and Tiffin in the wings, perhaps because those are the ones we hear about the most. However, as we prepare for Hershey next week we wanted to know if we are overlooking a good quality, mid-priced 35-40 footer from a company that has a very good to excellent reputation for customer service and a nationwide network of dealers ???? Monaco and Holiday Rambler have been mentioned, but understand that they have recently been bought by the parent of Fleetwood and their status is a little murky right now. I have also heard some mention Entegra, but there has been no mention of Coachman, Forest River, or Gulf Stream. Any thoughts on these? Are there any others we might be overlooking, besides the really high end manufacturers like Provost or Foretravel?

As always, thanks for taking the time to read and respond to this post; your input is greatly appreciated.

Regards,
OWV
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:28 AM   #2
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Are you thinking new or used? If used, price/age range?

I would also caution you regarding the rosey picture painted by many dealers regarding a "company that has a very good to excellent reputation for customer service and a nationwide network of dealers". Most people that buy into that story are soon badly disappointed? There is no similarity to the automotive industry available in the RV industry when it comes to service. Don't believe it if somebody tells you otherwise. There's a very good reason many/most RVer's perform whatever service work they're able to on a do it yourself basis.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:34 AM   #3
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Everyone has an opinion. I've owned two Holiday Rambler products and they were excellent. My latest class A is a Coachmen Sportscoach. I would have never given anything by Coachmen a second look in years past, but I finally went inside one and was impressed. For a mid-to-entry level coach, it's great. Lots of great features and it's very well built. Looks great with full-body paint. It appears to cost a lot more than it actually did.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:45 AM   #4
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We have a Forest River Berkshire and it has been an excellent coach. We have found Forest River to be an excellent company to work with and they have gone above and beyond what was required by the warranty. I would suggest you check out the Berkshires in Hershey. I believe they are being represented by RVOne (Buffalo RV, Albany RV, Des Moines RV, and Orlando RV) which is the dealer we bought ours from. From everything I have seen they are the best bang for the buck out there.
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:29 AM   #5
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As ahicks asked, are you looking for new or used?

I have never bought any coach new as I don't like the depreciation loss. Most coaches a few years old already have lost the depreciation and is reflected in the price. they also have most of the bugs worked out. There will always be something to fix and parts are available for these everywhere.

A good used coach is out there, you just have to look.
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Old 09-03-2013, 11:19 AM   #6
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You're ten years out, correct. Who knows what will be available in 10 years. I would advise you to get a small Class C and spend weekends/vacations in it as a way of easing into the RVing lifestyle. While doing that you will be able to meet people with LOTS of different types of coaches and learn about them. If we were looking right now, we would look for a 4-6 year old Foretravel. Great coaches and you can find some very good deals on used ones in that age range that will be just as up to date as brand new entry level coaches.

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Old 09-03-2013, 11:34 AM   #7
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You're ten years out, correct. Who knows what will be available in 10 years.

Barb
I read that as they hope to full time for the next ten years or so...

Either way, I will add the orphaned National brand coaches of those to be considered. We've have our (now) 14 year old Tradewinds a year (we have put about 7000 miles on it since purchase). It is very well built, has most of the same features as newer models - which is surprising since they were standard equipment (according to the on-line brochures) and optional on current models.

With older coaches, if original manuals and maintenance records are included, DOT dates on tires, and floorplan etc. are acceptable, then most likely any bugs, or recalls have been done and your odds of having a good experience are improved.

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Old 09-03-2013, 11:43 AM   #8
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I would think that floor plan and storage would be your key items in your search. I might consider storage a couple of ticks higher than floor plan. I can live with a less than perfect floor plan. I can't live with poor storage.

I would wear glasses with "glitz" protection and sales/BS eliminator ear plugs. Have a great time.
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Old 09-03-2013, 11:51 AM   #9
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We have enjoyed our 34ft HR DP. Never let us on the side of the road, and stays cool while climbing mountains.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:18 PM   #10
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I read that the OP is shopping NOW for something to USE for the next 10 years.

We need more info. Are you going to travel a lot or park it, do you need 1 or 1.5 baths, need full pass through storage? Going to tow a TOAD, if so, what does it weigh? How much money do you want to spend? Do you mind performing repairs yourself?

I don't full time, but if I did I agree with JohnT, storage would be a KEY requirement. Floorplan a second, at least in specific layout not usable square footage.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:24 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by OWV View Post
As mentioned in a previous thread, the Bride and I are preparing to become fulltimers (hopefully for the next 10 years or so) and thanks to the great responses we have received from irv2 family, a number of pieces to our puzzle are falling into place. The search is narrowing down to Fleetwood, American Coaches, Winnebago, Newmar, with Thor, and Tiffin in the wings, perhaps because those are the ones we hear about the most. However, as we prepare for Hershey next week we wanted to know if we are overlooking a good quality, mid-priced 35-40 footer from a company that has a very good to excellent reputation for customer service and a nationwide network of dealers ???? Monaco and Holiday Rambler have been mentioned, but understand that they have recently been bought by the parent of Fleetwood and their status is a little murky right now. I have also heard some mention Entegra, but there has been no mention of Coachman, Forest River, or Gulf Stream. Any thoughts on these? Are there any others we might be overlooking, besides the really high end manufacturers like Provost or Foretravel?

As always, thanks for taking the time to read and respond to this post; your input is greatly appreciated.

Regards,
OWV
My wife and I are currently 6.5 years full time in our coach. We are both 66 years of age and in reasonably good health. Our coach is 10 years old now and I'm absolutely sure it will be a comfortable and roadworthy home/ vehicle for as long as we are capable of this lifestyle. I monitor many forums and I do my own maintenance and I consider myself to be pretty informed as to motorhomes and their abilities.

My wife and I spent considerable time in the beginning of our search defining our full timing goals and then developed a wants and needs list to guide us in our search for a motorhome. We are completely happy with the result we have achieved.

If I were starting the same process again, this would be my starting point:

1. 40' to 45'
2. Tag axle
3. Hydronic heat/water heater
4. Less than 100 pounds per hp
5. 3-4 slides
6. Queen bed
7. Washer/dryer
8. Year range from 2005-2008
9. Floor plan suitable for full time living for 2 with reasonable provisions for a couple of over night or short trip guests.
10. Adequate interior storage space and exterior basement storage with slide trays.

Coaches in this age range will probably have to have their TVs updated. If the flooring is carpet that should be replaced with tile. Some of the furniture may need replacing. A change to a residential refrigerator may be considered. It goes without saying that a complete base line maintenance should be done and the tires should not be over 7 years old.

I would consider the top two or three coaches from the following coach builders:

1. Monaco/Holiday Rambler/Beaver ( semi monocoque chassis). In the interest of full disclosure, my coach is one of these.
2. Country Coach(semi monocoque chassis)
3. Newmar

Many will disagree with these and a case can be made for some others. I would concentrate on these and if something else came along I would weigh it against this yardstick.

Good luck with your search and safe travels.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:29 PM   #12
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We have a 2013 Coachmen SportsCoach 385DS.

It is a bunkhouse floor plan. We LOVE it!!

It gets great fuel mileage, plenty of storage and lots of ammenities typically found on higher end coaches!

Ceramic Tile flooring throughout
Power Awing
Outdoor entertainment center
on demand hot water
Full width storage bay slide trays
Washer / Dryer
Power Sun / privacy shades
8 kw Onan Genset

lots more!

We love our coach!

PM for pics
Mal
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:24 PM   #13
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When we were shopping for the coach we have now are wants were the same as Steve points out in his post above. We did include a few more builders in our list. Don't make the mistake of going to small for a fultime coach.
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Old 09-03-2013, 02:06 PM   #14
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I think that the issue of whether or not you are overlooking a DP is a tough one to answer straight out.

First...

Lots (most?) DP owners will be leaning to the direction of getting a DP. DP owners often have been through the upgrade process from Class C, to gas Class A and then to the DP. In many cases that was a logical progression but some of us (me at least) made a mistake and didn't get what we should have gotten in the first place. The trading up process can be much more expensive than you might think. Not always but...

OTOH, based on your post your current needs are not clearly spelled out. It isn't clear if you are going FT for the next 10 years or plan to go FT in about 10 years and that makes a HUGE difference all by itself.

If you plan to go FT very soon, then buying something to support you for as much at 10 years is more critical to get right. If you are not going FT for 10 years you have time to make a couple mistakes. LOL

When Sandee and I bought our first MH (Winnebago Adventurer) in April of 2012 we thought we got it right. We certainly were glad we didn't go through the Class C then upgrade route. That was for US! HOWEVER...we didn't know what we didn't know. We didn't understand the impact of 4 corner weights and weight distribution. We didn't realize we got a MH with a short queen bed. We didn't appreciate the difference between a basement AC and roof top. We didn't really appreciate the difference in handling. Lots of things we didn't understand and didn't really know we need to know these things.

I'm a techno person. While I TOTALLY agree that floor plan is probably the #1 thing, understanding the chassis limitations is nearly as important. As in the case of our Adventurer, it had over 1600# of CCC which seemed a lot to this knob. The problem is that there is no coach out there (gas or diesel) where you can use all the CCC because at some point you will max out an axle weight first. Gassers tend to max out the rear axle first while DPs the front. There is only so much shifting of cargo you can do to minimize this issue. I have a 44,200# GVWR with over 9000# of CCC. At my last weighing I was at 36,800# (fully loaded) but my front axle (rated at 14,200#) was 14,120#. I only have 80# I can add to the front axle! (OK...I probably have some more room for weight shifting but not THAT much. I don't even want to get into tire weight rating, left/right balance, and derated axles. My point is to illustrate the technical understanding you will need to gain to better help with your choice. BTW...there is no way I will ever get close to my drive and tag axle max weights...not possible. So...I always say this...DO NOT BUY ANY MH UNTIL YOU GET IT WEIGHED INCLUDING 4 CORNER (6 FOR A TAG) WEIGHTS. At a very minimum make sure you get full axle weights.

Basement design is important. Do you have enough pass through storage and is it tall enough? As a FTer you will need a basement that meets your storage needs. Of course, you could go big with a large car hauling trailer with storage to spare but that is a whole different line that can take up pages of thoughts.

Power to weight. The rule of thumb I learned is that having 1 HP per 100# of weight is a good balance. For ME that works because if you add about 3200# for my toad to my MH weight of about 37000# my 400 HP engine is nearly exactly at that ratio. Even if I got a heavier toad or opted for a car hauler/trailer I would not be seriously short of HP for all but the most steep climbs and even then I could just go slower. Given my performance I don't think a ratio of 1 HP per 120# would be too bad.

Speaking of weight...The heavier you are the harder it is to get pushed around by wind and trucks. If you add a tag axle, it gets better. If you have a Newmar with comfort drive...well...it is even better yet. I don't think there is a gasser that will ever be as wind and truck resistant as a DP. Maybe close but for the most part it will not even be a fair comparison.

One last techno issue...insulation. Make sure you evaluate the insulation values and window designs. Our Winnebago had lots of big windows. Great for scenery, not so good to keep it warm or cold. That doesn't even take into consideration it's lower R values compared to our DSDP. You will be living in this and want to stay comfy without a huge electric and/or propane bill.

There are certainly FTers in gassers so I wouldn't tell you you can't nor would I even say you would be unwise to either. It all depends on what you are looking for. We travel heavier than we need but that was our choice. And we paid accordingly more for that choice. We don't regret that choice.
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