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Old 09-17-2016, 09:27 AM   #1
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First Post - Are we qualified to RV?

A little about us:

Early 50’s, active/good shape, one high school age son at home, two grand kids one in each neighboring state, no pets, have rented class A RV’s several times over the past few years primarily “camping” travel and have enjoyed it. My job allows me to work from anywhere I have Internet and a phone (which is another reason I’m thinking starting to RV now is attractive).

My wife and I have had this goal of when I retire (mid to late 60’s) to purchase an RV and travel the country. Go see grand kids and see the rest of the country at our own pace. I’ve traveled extensively throughout my career but it’s been Airport – Hotel – Business Meetings/Convention – Airport, never really stopped to see anything outside of say NYC, San Francisco, Chicago and a couple other major cities.

Recently we had neighbors over for dinner who are in their early 70’s, were discussing retirement and what we wanted to do regarding RVing and they both advised us if that was something we wanted to do we should do it now as we don’t know how our health etc. will be in 18 years. While they are healthy enough to travel they both said they couldn’t handle driving a large RV. The next week I had lunch with a colleague who is getting ready to retire and she shared the same position, do it now.

So wife and I start looking at RV’s. Since we’re buying prematurely vs. at retirement we’re not looking to spend a lot as we’re currently maxing out everything we can for retirement, budget $50,000. I’m thinking we’d like a gently used DP (although everything we’ve rented to date has been gas), 35 – 40’, two slides, no need for bunks. Hopefully that gives you a good idea of what we desire. Surprisingly we've found some good options around our price point.


I found this site and have been reading at least a couple hours every night absorbing as much information as I possibly can. Which leads to this post; from what I gather I don’t think we’re the right profile for RV ownership. It seems that to be good at RV ownership you have to be mechanical and in some cases a MacGyver type, I am neither. My entire tool collection can fits in a small fishing tackle box, I screwed-up mounting a flag pole holder on my house, I couldn’t build a pre-fab bird house with instructions! Anything mechanical or handy is foreign to me, I just don't get it as hard as I try.

From what I’ve read it seems like there are regular fixes/repairs that need to be made and often times while you’re on the road. I read these stories and become overwhelmed thinking about what we would do if we were in a similar situation. I’d pick-up the phone, hope I can get someone to come out and fix it for me and pay through the nose.

So at this point I’m thinking maybe we’re not RV ownership people and stick with rentals.

Anyone been in a similar situation? Looking for some real experience feedback. Thanks in advance, I greatly appreciate it.
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Old 09-17-2016, 09:31 AM   #2
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Hi ! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined the gang!

Hope you find the perfect rig for your needs!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old 09-17-2016, 09:45 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forum. We have met several folks in our almost 2 years of full timing who have confirmed the "do it now" mantra. Your expectations as to coach and price seem reasonable but don't totally rule out a late model gasser.

While things can and do happen to your rolling home, one does not need to be an accomplished mechanic to make this lifestyle work. Get a good towing plan if you have a breakdown (we use coach net but have yet to need them) and learn as much as you can about your coach. This forum is very informative.

Driving a motor home with car in tow is pretty easy IMO and totally uneventful if you are essentially a good driver. With experience you will become very comfortable. Don't let others rain on your parade and good luck.
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Old 09-17-2016, 09:51 AM   #4
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CrapsGuy, thanks for the post. In my opinion, you are very qualified! I was worried about the same thing when I started RVing. My entire tool collection fits inside a tackle box, just like you, and I would never attempt repairing anything of significance. However, we have been very happy RVing for 4 1/2 years. Here's how we do it. First, I read a lot, like you. John and Nancy Higgins have a awesome book call "So you want to be an RVer" that might be perfect for you. Second, I am meticulous about maintenance. When we first got the coach, I read through every manual and made my own maintenance schedule and make sure everything is done on time by me or, mostly, a mechanic. Some things are easy to do yourself, like clean the AC filter, live the locks, etc. Third, I have several lists and I'm religious about using them. Many problems are self-inflicted, and by using my lists I avoid them. I have lists for setting out on a trip, setting up camp, breaking camp, putting the RV back in storage, and also one for when we tow our CRV. Fourth, we have peace of mind by having good insurance, including RV Insurance, Extended Warranty, and Good Sam Roadside Assistance. Fifth, and finally, I read iRV2.com a lot. The people here are very knowledgeable and also very generous. It's a great community. Once after pulling into camp I noticed a screw in the tire. The folks here helped me diagnose whether I needed to call roadside assistance, which would have been expensive because they don't fix flats, just replace tires! Anyway, they showed me how to extract it and know if it was leaking even a little bad if it was safe to drive. I hope this helps with your decision. Take care!
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Old 09-17-2016, 09:55 AM   #5
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I am one who picked up a lot of skills early in life and have been learning steadily since. That said, nearly all of the "handyman" skills are not rocket science.

If you tackle few little jobs, you can get over your fear and start to build your confidence. A lot of the people who say they are "not handy" are reasonably intelligent, but have just never really tried. These days, you can find "how-to" videos on YouTube for most home and RV repair jobs. You have already found the iRV2 forum, which is a great resource for help with all kinds of RV repairs. Look at the Owner's Forums and the Chassis forums, and learn how to search them for detailed technical information.

Remember, you CAN do it, if you really want to. Good Luck!
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Old 09-17-2016, 09:59 AM   #6
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If you have the RV well maintained there will be few problems. And of those problems I have yet to see where one could not get repairs. You don't see the 1,000,000's of miles driven by RVer's every year on Blogs only the problems. A screw driver or two a couple small wrench's, a hammer, a pump handle pliers, zip ties and some Gorilla tape is all that many carry and survive rather well.

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Old 09-17-2016, 10:00 AM   #7
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Good morning,
I have read and re-read your post. I understand your concerns. There are a lot of handy folks here that do a lot of repairs and fixes that can be overwhelming. We started out with a 28' class C with no slides. We were weekend warriors at best with an occasional 5 or 6 day trip thrown in. It seemed like every time we took the MH out something went wrong with it. It wasn't major things but always something. We traded up to a 35' class A and we have not had a moments worth of problems. My point is you may need to be Mr. Fixit but you may not. I would recommend you go to a local dealer and ask about a class on MH upkeep. When we purchased the first unit they offered a class that covered everything from tires to roof top A/C maintenance. When we upgraded the dealer there had a more extensive class again covering everything you could think of. While the classes were very good, there will always be things not covered. You will find that most if not all folks at an RV park are willing and able to help you with anything... I definitely recommend you look at extended warranties and road side assistance. There are several good ones and some not so good, so shop around. While we are not full timers, we do use the MH more now than we did when we started, we go for weeks at a time. The RV lifestyle is an exciting and fun experience. People at work ask me all the time why not just drive the car and stay at hotels??? It is hard to explain to someone that has not done it, but with the RV style you are more free to do what you want. Sleep in your own bed. Use your own shower. Watch your own TV in your own living room... So, don't let the lack of some mechanical experience or not owning half of a HomeDepot or AutoZone tool department scare you away. Some of the best folks we have ever had the pleasure of meeting were at the RV parks helping us with an issue or repair to our MH. Hope this helps.
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Old 09-17-2016, 10:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrapsGuy View Post

I found this site and have been reading at least a couple hours every night absorbing as much information as I possibly can.
Which leads to this post; from what I gather I don’t think we’re the right profile for RV ownership.
It seems that to be good at RV ownership you have to be mechanical and in some cases a MacGyver type, I am neither.
My entire tool collection can fits in a small fishing tackle box, I screwed-up mounting a flag pole holder on my house, I couldn’t build a pre-fab bird house with instructions!
Anything mechanical or handy is foreign to me
, I just don't get it as hard as I try.
From what I’ve read it seems like there are regular fixes/repairs that need to be made and often times while you’re on the road.
I read these stories and become overwhelmed thinking about what we would do if we were in a similar situation. I’d pick-up the phone, hope I can get someone to come out and fix it for me and pay through the nose.

So at this point I’m thinking maybe we’re not RV ownership people and stick with rentals.
Looking for some real experience feedback.
Thanks in advance, I greatly appreciate it.
CrapsGuy
Unless you have unlimited financial resources, (aka: money to burn), I suggest you plan a different retirement lifestyle.

Sorry.

Mel
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Old 09-17-2016, 10:23 AM   #9
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We are new to this forum (but not new to RVing and other RV forums)

We are in our mid 60's and just retired. Owners of a new Class C.

When I was in my late 20's my uncle passed away. He was probably in his early 60's. I remember my aunt saying, "But there was so much we wanted to do!" That comment stuck with me.

We began as weekend RVers in 1986 with a Class B, then a Class C and then went back to tent camping for a few years. Then another Class B for 14 years and now this new Class C.

We are not mechanically handy at all. I do, however, search the Internet if we have a problem so that we can, with some intelligence, know about the workings of the problem. That helps us.

I believe that the rewards of RVing are worth any of the problems you may encounter.

We do joke that by hiring handymen around our sticks and bricks house and paying to have mechanical work done that we are doing what we can to strengthen the economy!!!

Also, once at a campground, we opened the hood to check the oil and about three other RV owners came over to ask if they could help us. we find RVers to be a very helpful, friendly and kind group of people!
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Old 09-17-2016, 10:56 AM   #10
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I'll also going the 'Go do it!' gang's input.

Join the Escapees, and go to one of their rallies and do the Bootcamp. A good place for even seasoned RV'ers to pick up new tips - and just a wealth of general information for a newer owner and RV'er.

Yes to a good emergency program, we too are Coachnet. Extended Warranties can work, and they can also not work - dependent upon the quality of the EW you choose. Suggest a call to Wholesale Warranty, as they give good guidance thru the process. The devils are in the details, and they do a good job of making sure you're desire of coverage is matched with an appropriate EW.

On doing your own repairs and maintenance. Many owners are 'Get in and drive.', and just take the coach in for regular maintenance. Finding a good shop, with competent tech's, is always a challenge. Networking here for recommendations for such a shop, or technician, in an area that you'd regularly be visiting. If keeping your home, that would be a good place to establish a relationship. Or maybe one of the two grandkids states, and then oh darn, you have to stop by yearly for an RV maintenance and Grandkid fix.

On the road, sure things will happen. Same thing, check in here for recommendations. I've also found that at many places either RV office, and or the Work Campers, may have good recommendations. Many mobile techs available, that will come to where you are for many to the pop up items that may come along.

Another option to hedge your bets, is to have a person on retainer that you can call for assistance. For example, Kevin Waite and his BIL Butch, are very experience RV techs. (Kevin and Butch both worked at Country Coach, but they also know other models too.) If something pops up, you can then call one of these two gents, and talk over what the symptoms are. They maybe able to advise you on how to repair it over the phone, enough that even I can do it, so you'd have a shot at doing so too! Or, at least let you know what to check on when going to a shop or having a mobile tech come by. They will even talk with the tech for you, and that can help. This has two benefits: 1) It could save you in diagnostic time as the tech trouble shoots. 2) You have experienced phone support to review the findings of a tech's troubleshooting. Sort of proving you with a sanity test on any recommended repairs.

Besides Kevin and Butch, other techs provide this same phone support on retainer. Anywhere from say $200-450 year for this service.

I see nothing wrong with your strategy on buying an older $50K level DP. I also agree with don't discount a gasser model too, as you may find one that is a good fit for you. In this hunt, beside to pay for a competent independent inspection of the coach and chassis and engine driveline you're considering. They can let you know if you have a good one, or an opportunity for both frustration and expenses ahead!

I'd suggest a mid level coach, which I normally do not, as the higher end coaches can quite often have more sophisticated systems requiring more involvement by an owner. Mid level coach, will have simpler systems (Say water heater vs aqua/hydro hot, as just one example.).

A few DP coaches that I feel fit that parameter include:
-Fleetwood Bounder/Discovery/Excursion
-Monoach Diplomat
-Newmar Dutch Star
-Winnebago Journey or Itasca Meridian
-Alpine
-Rexhall

For sure not a complete list, but all of the above were good bangs for the bucks when new, and were available in trim levels of simpler systems.

On this board, the Owner sections is a great resource to go and ask questions about specific coaches as you come up with a short list of likely coaches. They can share the specific models to or years to possibly avoid, or options that were not such a great idea.

One other tip for you, since you plan to work from the road. Check out the Technology section here, and read up about WiFI and Hotspots and cellular amps. Retain some budget to purchase some gear when you first buy the coach. Have it installed if needed. This will greatly improve your capability to stay connected on the road. You may even find it is good to have two different internet sources. Say Verizon (Seems to still have the best overall coverage, depending upon regions your visiting.) And perhaps a Millinecom T-Mobile HotSpot plan too. (I mention Millinecom, one of many available. But the key to this would be no contract, and the ability to suspend the account when not needed, and activate for a month if you're in a location where Verizon does not work, but T-mobile does.) (Just examples here, but having a few tools in the tool box to stay connected, will be more important to you then many just checking emails and surfing. And remember, anything you purchase to support work, is a potential tax deduction too!

Enough. But the key message here, is go do it. Being able to work remotely, gives you two a great opportunity to go see some country, grandkids frequently, and do so at a young age. This way if something does happen in your 70's, 80's or I suppose no a days even 90's - you will have had that experience to smile back on!

Best to you,
Smitty
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Old 09-17-2016, 12:29 PM   #11
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You've received many good recommendations in the above posts and Smitty gave some good details.

We full-timed 16 years and like you, our tool box was a small 1'x2' bag. We have no interest in working on these RVs. We did many years ago when cars were simplier. We just set aside a good amount for any needed repairs. Our kids will just get less inheritance! Luckily, we just had to do the usual maintenance. The maintenance is very important to keep up with and will save you some big repair bills.

For your budget you'll be looking at probably years in the range of a DP at 2006 or earlier. A gas unit perhaps a little newer. it will be necessary for you to find one in very good condition to begin with. If the owner has the repair/maintenance records that's an added plus. You should also have a qualified person doing a once-over before purchasing. Don't take a dealer's word for it. Get an outside opinion.

To give you an idea for looking at what's out there for what price and for floorplans, this site might help. There's a section for diesel and one for gas:

Diesel Motorhomes for Sale - PPL Motor Homes

Good luck to you and you're wise coming up with this initial question as to 'should you do it'. Yes, I definitely think you should. As far as driving these monstors.... many women drive them; many seniors drive school buses full of screaming kids! You can do it, too. Have fun planning!!!
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Old 09-17-2016, 12:30 PM   #12
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When I purchase a used sail boat or motorhome, I generally count on half the money for purchase and half for repairs and upgrades. So I just purchased a very clean 1994 Winnebago Adventurer 32 feet gas jobbie. It has had some issues which I expected, new tires, brake job, electric stair issues, jack issues, "auto park" (don't ask) problems.

I first use said unit close to home, but intensely use it, not a weekend length shake down, more like a minimum of three weeks, preferably longer. Usually things that are going to go wonky will on these longer shake downs. Also boondock for at least a week, again to see if everything is working well, including your generator. The boondocking will give you confidence in your unit and in yourself as well.

So when I am done, my 1994 motorhome that cost me $16,000 will top out at around $30,000 but that will include a new tankless water heater, power awning, new imitation wood vinyl floors or engineered wood floors. In the case of my unit, it has a 454 V8 fuel injected motor with Alison transmission, both known to be work horses. The mileage on the unit at the time of purchase was 61,000 miles so lots of horses left in the engine.

So far only the tankless water heater is in but by this time next year a power awning and new floor.

Another tip, when shopping old used, get the well known brands. When I bought my 1975 27 foot Catalina sailboat, I knew there were tens of thousands of these boats out there so help in terms of parts and advise on the forums were plentiful. Same thinking went into the Winnebago purchase, I know there are many of these units on the road of all years. And help is just an internet away. So don't be the only guy in your state with a particular brand of motorhome if purchasing used.
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Old 09-17-2016, 01:26 PM   #13
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When I purchase a used sail boat or motorhome, I generally count on half the money for purchase and half for repairs and upgrades.
rsn48
That is excellent advice for a "do it yourself-er".

However "half for repairs" may be overly optimistic for a buyer with no mechanical ability.

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Old 09-17-2016, 01:58 PM   #14
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WOW so many great posts with helpful thoughts and suggestions. I'm going to re-read these tonight and compose a thorough reply with questions and additional information. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to contribute so far, it is greatly appreciated!
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