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Old 08-15-2011, 12:51 PM   #1
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Question Best DP $70-$75K can buy (LaPalma, Crescendo, Tropical, Cross Country)?

Hi all,
We're trading in our 5th wheel for a Class A Diesel Pusher, after reading so many people's stories we're getting a bit scared to purchase something. All the DP in our price range ($70,000ish) are all used, and we dont know anything about engine inspection. I looked at GoodSam ESP, which lots of people say is a scam, and it doesnt cover a lot of things like gaskets, hoses, seals, etc. I read somewhere (this forum or somewhere online) that even if it has low miles, it doesnt mean the engine is in good condition, it depends how it was stored.

When I'm looking at things within our budget, here's what i'm seeing:
2005 to 2007 models, 35 to 39 feet: Coachmen Cross Country, Gulfstream Crescendo, Monaco LaPalma, National TropiCal, Tiffin Allegro. I saw the Tiffin Allegro is a FRED (front engine?) so i'm crossing that off the list.

The National is nice , with 350HP CAT, air brakes and airbag suspension, and 3 slideouts, but there were big maps of brown stains on white ceiling carpet and my husband noticed lots of bright white caulking on the roof. Dealer said stains were probably from the AC condensation, but we're thinking its probably from a roof leak. Its also going for $86K - outside our budget but we havent negotiated yet because we want to take our time and look at other units. I dont know anybody that owns a motor home so i'm hoping the kind souls at the irv2 forum would give some advice to a young couple looking for an affordable RV.

The LaPalma and Cross Country are both 300 Cummins or 300 CAT - the Tropical dealer told us they are sleeveless engines, and not has reliable or hardy as the sleeved engines. plus the ride is not as smooth as the ones with airbags. Of course, the Tropi-Cal has a sleeved 350HP CAT engine.
Well, coming off a diesel pickup truck, ANYTHING is smoother.

If y'all had $70K to spend, would you get an older model with airbags and airbrakes and a 300HP CAT, or a model 2 years newer, but with non-air suspension and only a 300 "sleeveless" engine? How different is the ride?


I also read somehwere, don tknow if its true - that to bring the LaPalma in for an oil change, the mechanic will have to go into your bedroom and get underneath your bed - is this true!?

Can anyone tell me the difference of an ISB and ISA and side/front in laymans terms?

previous storage is unknown on all units, these dealers get these stuff from auction or wherever, so they dont know if it was stored indoor/outdoor, maintenance is unknown.

I'm budgeting extra $5,000 to replace all 6 tires and batteries and replace all fiters, oil, lube, and buy a blue ox when i get it.

I'm stil kind of freaked out what will happen a week after i buy it, and the check engine light comes on, or the generator wont go on, or the fridge wont work, etc. AGGGHHH!

About us: we are a young couple that has been RV'ing (5th wheel) for almost 2 years. we do 2-3 month cross country trips, 2-3x/year (traveling salesman, if you will. 6 mos a year total on the road)
We dont stay in a city more than 1 week, sometimes just 2-3 days, so we figured a Diesel Pusher is the way to go! We also like to take our rig when we go skiing, and our current rig has survived 17 degree coldness. I understand i have to put chains on the drive axles now when driving through chain control areas, which we didnt have to do with our 5th wheel setup, but i guess we will live. When we bought our 5th wheel, it was brand new, and had LOTS/TONS of small and irritating kinks and thank god it had a manuf warranty. (the ceiling fan, power converter, shower door, tv, furnace issues x2, 12v power, air bed, etc)

Looking forward to your comments, thank you!
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:59 PM   #2
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A sleeved motor is only important if the motor has in excess of 350K miles on it. As long as you do not plan on rebuilding a motor what difference does it make? As for what to purchase? It is all up to the quality and appearance of the product. Spending 70K on a newer one is crazy if the previous owners did not take care of it. Same goes for an older one. Find one with low miles, in good condition and then still be prepared to put more money in it for things like new tires, oil and filter changes, belts, brakes, hoses, radiator flush, etc,etc. You get the picture. Anything used can and will need money spent on it to get it road worthy for the long haul. IMHO if I were spending 70K on a used MH I would have another 10K in the bank to spend on repairs and upgrades.
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Old 08-15-2011, 01:22 PM   #3
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Well, "Best" is in the eyes of the buyer.

I would strongly look at something like this quality MH with only one slide but heavy duty features and materials rather than the rigs in your question. The purchase price could be $10-15,000 less than the asking price.

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Old 08-15-2011, 02:01 PM   #4
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Thanks 450Donn, i wasnt sure what the sleeves were about.
DeanDec: Thats the problem..i wouldnt know what is "heavy duty" or not, since I havent owned a motor home before, not sure what to look out for. For example, i dont know the difference of sleeved and unsleeved. i dont know what chassis is rated higher than others. I'm presuming higher HP is better than lower HP on an engine, and the link to the 2001 with a Dynamax chassis is better than a 2007 LaPalma with 4,000 miles? It's 10 years old though??? wont the parts be more susceptible to breakage due to age?
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Old 08-15-2011, 02:20 PM   #5
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Suggest a bit more surfing and reading on DP Class A's in general. Side vs Rear Radiator, IFS vs Solid Front Beam, Air Bags (how many, inboard/outboard) CCC, Aqua/Hdro vs WH, Jake vs Pac, self leveling, air leveling, jack leveling, tag vs non tag, HP/Torque vs Weight, slides, how many, pro's/con's of passenger side slide, rail vs non rail construction, etc.

Forget the salesman for awhile, and just go in and kick a few tires, walk thru as many different rigs as you can, at all price points and years, to get a feel for all of the different interior layout and options available.

Then sit down and come up with a list between you of 'Must Have's' and 'Like to Have's' - on what is important to you two. Ours was broken down into chassis/mechancial and then interior and storage sections.

Then look for two or three manufacturers and their models that best fit your listings.

I agree with keeping a bigger nest egg for 'just in case'.

If you don't feel comfortable doing the PDI yourself, hire someone to do the independent inspection for you. Or, you do the things you two know, and take it to a Cummins/Cat (depending) and pay for an inspection of the engine and chassis.

For us, we went with the 'Dropping years to reach the quality level we wanted, within the budget we had set'.

Lots of good coaches, and some great price points for some quality rigs.

Have fun, and best of luck on your search,
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Old 08-15-2011, 02:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wackodacko View Post
DeanDec: Thats the problem..i wouldnt know what is "heavy duty" or not, since I havent owned a motor home before, not sure what to look out for. For example, i dont know the difference of sleeved and unsleeved. i dont know what chassis is rated higher than others. I'm presuming higher HP is better than lower HP on an engine, and the link to the 2001 with a Dynamax chassis is better than a 2007 LaPalma with 4,000 miles? It's 10 years old though??? wont the parts be more susceptible to breakage due to age?
A DP is generally cherished for its ability to move more weight (with Torque) and the engine in the rear for quiet ride. Also, the engine is very durable and the maintenance of the chassis is generally less frequent although more expensive.

At minimum strive for a ratio of 1 hp for 100 lbs of vehicle weight loaded. Then be sure to have at least 850 ft lbs of torque (more is better uphill).

Once the rig has the correct chassis combination, then look for heavier materials in the house. Real wood cabinets, stone floor tile, corian or granite counters, big refrigerator, diesel generator with 2500w inverter, 440 amp hours of battery bank for the house 12v systems, decent sized galley counters, and attention to construction detail are symptoms of a quality rig.

In my opinion, yes the linked coach is more desireable even though it is 10 years old. I would keep my 16 year old 86,000 mile rig over the La Palma (except that if the trade was even up dollars, I might then be able to buy the Magna that I linked )

JMHO

Here is a post on RV.net that might interest you since the connotation is that high end is greater quality.

RV.Net Open Roads Forum: Class A Motorhomes: What are the High End Diesels?

Have fun hunting and learning.
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Old 08-15-2011, 03:54 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by deandec View Post
A DP is generally cherished for its ability to move more weight (with Torque) and the engine in the rear for quiet ride. Also, the engine is very durable and the maintenance of the chassis is generally less frequent although more expensive.
Dean, what do you think of this coach?

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Old 08-15-2011, 04:24 PM   #8
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We went through the same process almost a year ago. Took several months to investigate, research, and learn.

My comments.

Any diesel engine with normal maintenance should last 250k at a minimum. That would be the last of my worries.

I would be concerned about the ride, brakes, and other critial items.

We bought a 2001 Safari Panther for a really great price. Because we wanted everying to be in top notch condition we did the following

New brakes
New Koni shocks
New Tiger track
New exhaust system
New alternator (warranty)
New icemaker (warranty)
All other normal services (oil, radiator, transmission, hydrahot, etc)

Spent almost $15 k on upgrades but now I know it is in the condition I want it. has Cat 425 which is like a corvette for power.

I was also able to get 5 year 50 k warranty for about $4k. So far, they have paid $1700 for the icemaker and alternator in first year.

I agree with others. Take the time to decide what features you want and look around. I would recommend Tiffin, Beaver, Safari, Monaco and some Winnebago and Itasca in your price range.

Even with the repairs, we were within your price range. Idon't have the facilities to do any of the work myself.

Buy quality over price and years. I would much rather have a 10 year old model from above than a 3 or 4 year old Fleetwood or other manufacturer.

Good luck
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Old 08-15-2011, 05:06 PM   #9
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Thanks guys, I will do more research on all the items mentioned above. Aside from Fleetwood, what other manufacturers should I stay away from? I heard Alfa Seeya isnt that great, and post 2008 Monaco (although thats not even in my price range)
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Old 08-15-2011, 05:52 PM   #10
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Look at Best Preowned RV. Used Motorhomes in Houston, Texas
I saw one I really liked but dear hubby said no. Darn!!
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Old 08-15-2011, 06:47 PM   #11
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I know they are quite rare but any airstream moho will deliver the best possible quality. raised oak cabinets, very advanced technology even on 90s models, a fantastic web site that will answer any question you might have. the newest you can get wud be a 2006. the new class b's are equally amazing. put the nickel and dime stuff behind. get an airstream. enjoy!
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:00 PM   #12
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put the nickel and dime stuff behind. get an airstream. enjoy!
They are young and on a budget, they may have to nickle and dime until they can truly afford a Safari or an Airstream. Oh and kids don't get a FLEETWOOD!
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:34 PM   #13
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I'm really biased, I would stick with the top first or second models from Country Coach, Beaver, Monaco or Foretravel in the late 1990s to early 2000 years. These are the best production line MHs built during those years and available in your price range. One drawback you may consider important, the late 1990s coaches may not have a slide.

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Old 08-15-2011, 08:37 PM   #14
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I wouldn't get too hung up on "the best" and start overlooking what you want out of it. With your budget, you're in a good range. We started off with a 2003 Fleetwood Excursion with 18,000 miles, I found on eBay at a good price. It wasn't "the best" but it was very serviceable. We didn't spend much of anything on it beyond normal maintenance and adding things like a satellite dish. We took it on a 3500 mile trip soon after buying it and took it out every month.

It's been a few years, and we've upgraded since then because we wanted more room, but not because there was a problem with the Fleetwood. The Fleetwood had two small slides and it was just too snug for us and our dog. The only "problem" with it was the floor plan. If I had it to do over again, I would have paid more attention to the floor plan, but at the time I didn't realize how much time we'd spend in it.

The highest quality coach may not be right for you. Try to find a balance so you don't get a "best" motorhome that you really don't like.
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