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Old 06-25-2012, 08:25 PM   #1
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Considering a Class A

The DW and I current have a 5er. Lately, we have been discussing possibly moving to a Class A. We have been doing a lot of research over the last couple of weeks, and still can't decide if a gas or diesel coach would work best for us. The first few years, we would probably put less than 5k miles per year. We are looking to retire in 5 to 6 years and then doing much more traveling. I know that there are plenty of people from both camps that are adamant about their choice, but I would like to here from some folks that have spent time in both. Gas or diesel, we are leaning toward the following manufacturers in this order: Newmar, Winnebago/Itasca, and Tiffin. We would like to hear any thoughts on their product lines also. I am 6' 4'' and an 80" long bed is an absolute must.
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:24 PM   #2
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You have choses three good brands to consider. All have a good reputation for building quality products. We happen to prefer Winnebago and think it gives us the most bang for our buck. We are especially pleased with all the documentation that Winnebago maintains on line, and the customer service is wonderful. That's not to say that both Newmar and Tiffin also have good customer service. It will really boil down to which one has the best floor plan for your particular needs, and the deal you are able to negotiate.

Gas vs Diesel is another question. I have only owned gas so have no personal experience with maintaining or driving a diesel. The diesel will provide much greater low end torque than a gasser, and of course in the case of rear engine, much quieter in the cockpit while driving. We own a 36' Winnebago on a Workhorse chassis with 8.1 GM and Allison 6 speed trans. Seems to have plenty of power for us and drives wonderfully. I have been told that diesels are made to be driven and won't show much economic advantage over gas with only 5000 miles per year. I would suggest that you test drive both and see what your personal feelings are. I think it is again a personal choice. I'm not convinced there is any great advantage of one over the other. Although once you get to 38' and longer the diesel may be the better choice there.

I don't think the bed issue will be a problem for you, if you are planning on buying new, as all of those brands offer plans with 80" beds. Most people who buy new units will tell you that they will spend substantial time getting warranty issues taken care of in the first year. Doesn't seem to matter what brand, they all have issues that will need to be taken care of. If used, make sure you go over it carefully, ask questions and ask for a service history if one is available. Test everything!!!

We've gone from camping trailers to a class C and two class A's. For us, the class A is the nicest form of travel we have found.
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:34 PM   #3
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We've had both a gas and a diesel class a. There is no question the diesel is better. Lots better. The quiet in the cockpit is the biggest advantage, followed by the air ride suspension, followed quickly by the sheer mass of the beast.

Our Ford based gasser was so noisy we couldn't talk to each other. It rode so bad... and crosswinds and passing semi's pushed it all over the road.

Note that while I owned it, I didn't know these things. I thought driving with a 2 handed death grip on the wheel while shouting at my wife was perfectly normal.
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:16 PM   #4
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We pulled 5er's for 20 years , you cannot beat them for staying in one place for a long time. Have had a gas A and now on the second diesel class A. If you are only going to do 5k a year in my opinion a gas would be a better choice. If you maintain a Diesel coach the way the warranty requires you will need to change oil yearly $300 roughly, change antifreeze and brake fluid every 2 years $500, bleed the air brakes monthly plus a lot of other maintenance items not required with a gas coach. You can ignore the warranty schedules but if you cannot prove you have maintained your diesel accordingly you may not get a claim honored.
I agree with JimM that the diesel pusher is probably the best way to travel but the operative word is travel. Diesels make sense over the long haul but not for 5000 miles a year.
A note of caution though, really check out the weights on gas coaches, many of them are legally to heavy when loaded up with your gear and also require auxiliary braking on any towed vehicle you pull in most states and Canada.
All in all you will enjoy a class A more than a 5er.
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:19 PM   #5
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May I humbly suggest you take a look at the Entegra ----most unbelievable company I have done business with in the past 40 yrs.----I would be happy to expand on that if you wanted to pm me.
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:40 PM   #6
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chazworth - you did not say if you were looking new or used? When I got serious about three years ago and started going to see and test driving motor homes I bought everything I could find that gave some expert recommendations as to which type of RV is the best for your uses, gas vs diesel, and extensively gave information on basically every unit built. Three years ago the RVCG was the best and JR Consumer books second best. I would be open to all brands of RVs until you look at them personally. Newmar, Winny, and Tiffin are three good makers that fit in the middle of the market, but are only three of many quality RVs. Of the new RV builders I would suggest adding at least American Coach (really a nicer built rig than N, W, & T.), Entegra, and Monaco. But we do like Dutch Stars quite a bit. They offer a lot for a mid range price.

I looked at hundreds of RVs on the internet and went to see in person and drove many motor homes. We wanted used. I like quality and deals. The coach we bought was a fantastic deal. Seller was a formerly rich person. But now three years later there are not so many distress deals. When we bought we were one of the few with cash in hand.

Have fun shopping.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:10 PM   #7
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Ask for opinion

Ask for opinion and opinion you will get. There is really no way for anyone to decide what is best for you.

The brands you mention are very good, but Thor (from Damon & Four Winds) and Monaco offer very nice coachs too. Ditto on the "first year warranty punchlist." You will want to make everything perfect - under warranty.

If you can afford the Class "A" I'm sure most will agree that would be the best motorhome for anyone. Class "C"s are very good now, but everything they offer (except price point) can be found in the modern Class "A"s.

Now, Gas vs. Diesel is not so clear-cut...I own a gas powered Thor Outlaw because it was the best for me.

In the begining of my search for the MH of my dreams, I wanted to stay with a Diesel powered rig because of years towing a camper and big 'ol boat with a Diesel truck (F-350, then Dodge3500), but the price point and floor plans offered in the gas powered lines changed my mind.

I'm sure the DP crowd will give you much praise for that design. I just didn't need the extra cost at purchase and maintenance. Plus, in much of the Southwest, Diesel is the same price as mid-grade or high-test gas.

BTW, If you are white knuckling it and yelling over the engine...then you might want to slow down. There's just as much or more noise in a speeding Diesel rig too...it's just behind you.

And there's even more to think about...like there are rigs with a FRED - FRont Engine Diesel. See the Thor Serrano and Monaco Vesta. They offers alot of benefits of both designs.

For gas, if buying new - reality is that most new gas powered Class "A"s will come on the Ford equipped w/ Triton V10. It's a good and common chassis which makes service easy to find. You just have to understand that the engine will want to REV-up for peak power.

If buying previously owned - then there are many out there on Workhorse chassis equipped with the 8.1L GM V8 w/ 5 or 6 speed Allison tranny.

If you want more power than that you will really have to consider that the big Diesel in the back is your only option...and expect to pay for that power.

Having said that, there's the "Super "C"...Basically a Diesel powered commercial truck with a camper box on the back. If you want power - that's BIG POWER.

I did my homework and made a choice based on as much info as I could find and I love my rig. We are putting about 6000 to 7000 miles a year on it and when I finally retire (for the second time) in a few years, I am sure we will enjoy our current rig even more.
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:16 AM   #8
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It appears that you are not pressed for time to make that decision, as retirement and more camping are possible at that time, your needs may change. Here are some considerations that we factored into our decision making.

-Storage capacity. We take lots of stuff and needed all the basement storage we could get.
-Towing. We wanted good brakes, and the DP offered that.
-New vs used. We have owned two used DP's and have been lucky. I said lucky, not skilled in the selection process. As we saw it our options were new gasoline model or used DP. We are happy with that choice.
-Washer and dryer. If this important, then a unit with the space for installation. no more combination units for us.
-Overall build quality. I know I am generalizing here, but I believe that DP owners take good care of their major investment. There are of course exceptions, but those abused units can be spotted quickly. I know gasoline model owners generally take good care of their stuff also, but we saw a lot of late model gasoline units on the market that had been rode hard and put away wet. Hope that made sense.
-Comfort with complex systems. This is an important factor, as as you move up the food chain there are lots more of them.
-Rock solid heating and cooling systems and good coach insulation. When we leave our stick house, we want to be just as comfortable. Aqua-hot vs propane is a factor as well as a quality a/c system.
-you have the time- do a spread sheet and analyze your needs, finances, and planned usage. Lots of good tips on this site. Good luck.
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:43 AM   #9
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Thanks for the quick replies. I should have put in that we were looking at used coaches. Gas units 5 to 7 years old or diesel units 8 to 10 years old. We have seen many of these on the internet that have 30k to 40k miles on them. Our max price would be $65k, but would rather stay under $50k. We have a family member with an older Dutch Star DP and they absolute rave about it. What bothers me most about internet shopping, is that no one will list the bed length in their ads. With Newmar and Winnebago, it's pretty easy to find brochures that will provide that info. I saw a Harney Renegade at a very good price, but I can't find any info on it's Magnum chassis so I decided to stay clear of the orphans. I stopped looking at American Coach, Entegra, and Monaco as anything less than 10 years old was out of my price range. We found a floorplan that we really like, Winnebago Adventurer 35U, but the basement AC is questionable, especially since Winnebago stopped using them.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:11 PM   #10
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I too was concerned about the basement a/c in our "new to us" Winnebago Voyage. We have the 35L floor plan and it works perfectly for us. After hearing stories about how inefficient the basement air was, we were out in mid 90's weather in direct sunlight. That a/c will freeze you out of the coach. At least ours works extremely well. I think it may be a testament to the care the previous owners took. I have a tendency to look after everything as carefully as I can. Preventive maintenance seems to be the answer for us. I generally follow or exceed the manufacturer's rec's and have things looked at and corrected at the slightest sign of trouble. We traded a '98 Brave 32' for this one. Due to the Brave's condition the dealer had it sold the same day we traded it.

The bed in ours is a short queen. Not sure there is enough room for an 80" bed when the slides are closed. I have read of others that have had an extension fabricated to put at the head of the bed thereby making it 80" or more when in use. When they pull the slides in (if it affects the bed) they simply pull the extension and place it on top of the bed, push the matress back up and away they go. Might be something to think about if you find a floorplan you like.

We are also on a Workhorse chassis with 8.1 and 6 speed allison. Even though Workhorse is currently out of production I think this is one of the best built gas chassis on the market. The ride and handling far exceeds the P-32 we previously had, and is nicer than most of the Ford chassis we test drove. Hopefully Navistar will find a way to put these back in production. In any case I feel secure that will will have no problem finding parts and service when needed.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:39 PM   #11
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We are very happy with our gasser...it is also on a Workhorse W24 chassis and has the Chevy 8.1L, which I agree is the best gas engine/chassis combo...but we do eventually want a DP for all the reasons mentioned above, but for our first Class A, we wanted something with a little less initial price point and less maintenance dollars.

Also, we live in a great place for RV'ing, so we mainly do short weekend trips withing 100 to 250 miles, so that plays a factor...we've owned our Tiffin gasser since February and have put 3k miles on her, so 5k to 7k miles a year will be about right.

Once we start making month-long trips that are farther than a thousand miles consistently, we will move to a diesel pusher...but for the next coupld of years, we will be very happy with what we have now...it just fits the bill and we can afford it!
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:42 PM   #12
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We began our ownership with a 27' Southwind with the old 454....lots of power pass anything on the road except a gas station!!! Traded it in on a 34' Condor 1 slide with the Workhorse chassis and an 8.1 gas. Thought that would be our final coach wrong. Currently have a 41' Gulf Stream 4 slide with a Cummins ISC diesel. All this being said I think the answer to your question is get what fits your needs that you can afford. Needs vs use vs budget equals your coach.

Gas is easier to maintain and cheaper out of pocket at the time. Diesel does have a learning curve (at least for me it did) and a heavier out of pocket initial purchase and maintenance. Comfort is diesel hands down!!! GM 8.1 got me up to 10 mpg, Cummins so far is 6.8mpg.

Weekend trips and the 1 to 2 week vacation once a year tells me gas is probably your answer, if full time is your use diesel is probably your best choice. We have been living in ours for 2 years now and not looking at going back to our stick house for some time yet. Course all of this is just my opinion, others will say different, hope this helps.
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:14 PM   #13
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Welcome to the forum.

All good advice so far IMHO.

Get a good used gasser with a floorplan you like. You'll get your "sea legs" over the next few years and once you're ready to retire you'll know if you want to move up to a DP then or if you're OK with what you've got.

DP's are wonderful but they can break the bank if you're not careful and the real benefit of having them is in mountain driving (mostly out west), comfort on long stretches, and cargo carrying capacity... which could be the determining factor for a full timer.

Best of luck.

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Old 06-27-2012, 10:29 AM   #14
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Chazwoth - OK now I know you are looking used and your price range. If I was in your situation I would look for the low end DP. I would try to concentrate on one built in the eastern USA as that is where you live. That should be easy as many makers are in Indiana and Tiffin in AL. I would also strongly recommend the CD disk put out by the RV Consumer group for 100 bucks. It is a very easy way to get objective and subject information on thousands of specific models. Even if you only use the object info it is well worth the 100 bucks. With it you can easily scan the CCC chasis length and so on.

I think the DP design is more fun to own because the motor is in the back and normally very quiet and air ride is almost always included. Both very important features. If you pick a motor home with less fru fru you will spend way less to maintain. Our motor home has almost every fru fru you can name and that is what goes out on our coach. Simple systems usually do not require much work.

Some friends of ours just bought a really nice Monaco Knight 40' DP at just a hair over your budget. It was a 2005. It was built in Indiana.
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