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Old 07-05-2014, 12:09 PM   #1
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First Time Class A Buyer

So after talking about motorhomes for 5 years, I think we are about ready to take the plunge. We (wife and I) have been boaters for years owning 2 houseboats, and 2 cruisers in the last 10 years. We have now decided to try out the Rving world! We also will be traveling with our 5 yr old daughter.

We have decided on a class A 35-38' Gas or diesel for mostly short 3 day trips, and possibly a few week long trips per year within a 500 mile radius. I think gas would probly be fine for us, but I do like the idea of rear engine, and resale of a diesel. Especially if we decide this is not for us after a year. Make sense?

We are looking at 10-12 year old MH's for a few reasons. We figure most of the depreciation has taken place, and most have had tires replaced. These years seem to be the sweet spot for value. Many we have found have very low miles, but these concern me since they have likely been sitting for extended periods. I am thinking as a general rule the 40-60k mile range would be ideal since they likely have been used, but still have plenty of life left. Thoughts?

After looking at 100's of motorhomes online in the 40-50K price range, we are finding it difficult to narrow manufacturers. They all seem very similar, and we don't live near any large dealers with lots of used units. We would also like to purchase from an individual for sales tax reasons in our state.

We are also thinking a minimum of 2 slides is a must. LR and BR

Recommendations for best value and resale? Are there any we should avoid?
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Old 07-05-2014, 02:08 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forum.

You are certainly doing your homework and that's good. Your logic seems sound to me as well. For your purposes, I would think a gasser would be just what the doctor ordered but I'm sure some of our experts will be along soon to add their opinions.

Best of luck.

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Old 07-05-2014, 03:14 PM   #3
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I recommend the RV Consumer Group Guide to help you make your decision. It will not identify the exact unit to purchase. It will help push to the top or bottom of the list, a lot of units by giving info no salesman will ever reveal. I used the guide as a tool, for both private purchases I made.

Note .... we also lived aboard for 5 years fulltime. You will be pleased to know ..... when you park for the night in your RV, put the jacks down, there is a good chance you will be in the same spot come morning. When you anchor for the night, all bets are off.

RV Consumer Group - We Rate RVs
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Old 07-05-2014, 08:42 PM   #4
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What he said

What he said. I used rv.org paid the price and it was the best money I spent on my rv. We've been full timing for 4 yrs starting yr 5 and if not for rv consumer group we probably would have bought a golly gee wiz everything looks good till you drive it down the road coach and been out of it within year. The information they provide gives you an excellent place to start your search and educate yourself on what good like and what poop look like.
Good Luck and happy hunting

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Originally Posted by gruelens View Post
I recommend the RV Consumer Group Guide to help you make your decision. It will not identify the exact unit to purchase. It will help push to the top or bottom of the list, a lot of units by giving info no salesman will ever reveal. I used the guide as a tool, for both private purchases I made.

Note .... we also lived aboard for 5 years fulltime. You will be pleased to know ..... when you park for the night in your RV, put the jacks down, there is a good chance you will be in the same spot come morning. When you anchor for the night, all bets are off.

RV Consumer Group - We Rate RVs
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:36 PM   #5
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ljh..... First of all, Welcome!

X3 on the RVCG. Everything they said.

A few points: 1) Your intermittent usage does generally point towards a gas coach, but I'm partial to diesels for a few reasons: a generally heavier, more solid chassis and a smoother ride; 2) the rear engine, because that goes hand in hand with a forward mounted generator. In many gas models you sit right beside the engine all day, then (try to) sleep right on top of the generator all night (if you need it at night-- like maybe boondocking in 90* heat?). 3) winter storage. my sense from the forum is that gas owners seem to run into more niggling little problems when trying to rejuvenate their RVs in the spring. I think diesels can tolerate non-use far better than gasoline engines.

Whatever you decide, Best of Luck!
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:35 PM   #6
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ljh..... First of all, Welcome!

X3 on the RVCG. Everything they said.

A few points: 1) Your intermittent usage does generally point towards a gas coach, but I'm partial to diesels for a few reasons: a generally heavier, more solid chassis and a smoother ride; 2) the rear engine, because that goes hand in hand with a forward mounted generator. In many gas models you sit right beside the engine all day, then (try to) sleep right on top of the generator all night (if you need it at night-- like maybe boondocking in 90* heat?). 3) winter storage. my sense from the forum is that gas owners seem to run into more niggling little problems when trying to rejuvenate their RVs in the spring. I think diesels can tolerate non-use far better than gasoline engines.

Whatever you decide, Best of Luck!
All good points on the diesels... Food for thought.

On a side note... I'm glad to know there's a brave kitty who shares my name
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:38 PM   #7
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I'll over a bit of a differing opinion. I don't find those RV review organizations to worth anything. There are two of them out there, both of them started by disgruntled RV salesmen with ax's to grind. They don't actually test the units, instead they (or other people) look at them at RV shows and give their own biased opinions. Some information is put into a spreadsheet but the reality is there is no hands on testing of coaches and no long-term data so they are nothing like consumer reports. Think of them more like boat reviews in magazines written by someone who saw the boat at a boatshow.

As far as diesel vs gas (I've owned both) I think you are correct about getting a gas MH for now. Diesels are good if you plan on driving a lot, pulling heavy loads or cruising up and down mountains. Driving a lot means 12,000+ miles a year for full-timing (we do about 5-7K a year and move our coach about every week). Many people talk about the generator as a reason for a DP but I find the exact opposite is true in real life. NOTE: Not all gassers have them in the back, I had one behind the driver's seat and didn't like it, read on to know why.

I have never run a generator all night, but I have run it all day. During the day you might be in the front of the coach entertaining or doing other stuff and with the generator up front you also have that noise. However at night, when you are in bed and quite hours are enforced or it's cool enough to open windows it's off and you are farthest away from it. Therefore I have always though the best place for the generator is at the back.

As far as the coach sitting and not being used, I think that is a big non-issue. I have owned 6 coaches in 17 years, all of them used and all of them gently used and never an issue with "lack" of miles. In fact low mileage still makes a coach much easier to resell (gasser or DP). Another thing to consider in the gas vs DP is maintanence. If you follow the recommended guidelines it will cost you between $500 and $1000 a year for the DP while the gasser will be under $250 (even less if you do the oil changes yourself).

As far as deciding what manufacturer there are lots' of opinions. I would say that both Newmar and Winnebago make quality gas coaches, some would throw in Tiffin (I disagree) and fleetwood (cosmetically they wear faster than Newmar, Winnie's and Tiffin's). However the first thing I would be doing is looking at floor-plan and narrowing down what you like. Then you can start doing a search for those specific units and problems that follow them.

I would also say that your price point is pretty high for the years and miles you are looking at. My current gasser is a 2007 that I bought barely used 2 years ago with 6,000 miles. I paid a hair over the range you are quoting for it at an auction. There was a 2006 36' Newmar gasser also at that auction, it had 18K miles on it and went for just a hair over 40K. So if you are looking for good deals you need to skip "dealers" and buy through auctions, estate sales, or private parties. It takes more work but the savings are substanial.

Good luck to you and remember these are just my opinions, others will have disagree (have different perspectives) so you need to see whose philosophy matches yours the most. And just like boats, there is no perfect motorhome, they are all compromises. There is also no one manufacturer that does it right every time, they all have good units and they all have made some duds.

Steven
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:24 PM   #8
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Steven,

Very good points indeed... Thanks for taking the time to educate me!

My concern with inactivity is if one sits for longer periods of time... Like 2 or 3 years. My experience with boating has told me many systems suffer from prolonged non use. Not that I would rule one out with exceptionally low miles, but I would certainly be a little leary going in.

Good stuff guys... I feel more informed with each post!
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Old 07-06-2014, 12:26 AM   #9
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I've got about 9,000 blue water miles under me so I understand your concerns but it's very different with MH's. Ideally the MH will have been stored covered and not anywhere near salt water air. I tend to only buy coaches that have had homes on the western part of the US, dryer climates, less road salts and less humidity make them last much longer.

Boats stored in a slip are constantly moving, a MH is not, even boats on the hard are in a marine environment and usually under harsher year round sun. So there are lots of differences. But you have to go with whats important to you.

If you have any other questions you can always pm me. As i said before I've owned both gas and diesel and I've part-timed and full-timed. I've had 6 different coaches from 6 different manufacturers so I'm not super partial to anyone brand. Good luck in your quest.
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Old 07-06-2014, 06:59 AM   #10
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Unless it's going to be stored someplace out of the weather, I'm thinking if there is a potential for this coach you are thinking of to be sitting for 2-3 years, you might be further ahead renting on the occasions you need one?
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:41 AM   #11
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We did it by eliminating categories and specific brands/models to end up with a manageable list of possibilities.

One question is: do you want to consider an orphan product? These consist mainly of the units made by now defunct manufacturers. However, be aware that existing manufacturers will separate themselves from units built by "that other company" (i.e. the company of the same name before the bankruptcy or take-over). Monaco are noted for this, and I was surprised to hear the same sentiment from a Fleetwood rep recently.
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:55 AM   #12
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Have owned more than a dozen boats, I wouldn't take one away from the dock if it had sat for even a year....without several hours of testing every system; especially batteries.

We are very much in the same situation as you are, except we anticipate trips every couple of months to somewhere. While looking at gassers because the entry cost was much less, we were told by enough people about engine and tranny loads on gassers when doing mountain or hill driving, that we opted for a DP.

If your sits for a year or two at a time, then I'm with the people that suggest that you rent one when you need it. Depreciation will far exceed cost to rent, and you'll have zero R&M.
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:36 AM   #13
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Unless it's going to be stored someplace out of the weather, I'm thinking if there is a potential for this coach you are thinking of to be sitting for 2-3 years, you might be further ahead renting on the occasions you need one?
I was referring to coaches we are looking to buy that have been sitting 2-3 years.
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:01 AM   #14
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Let me chime in on floor plan. We just traded for a "new to us" MH. It's basically the same floor plan as our old one, but what a difference it made just moving the fridge to the other side and not having the TV mid ship. Funny..we thought we wouldn't like the TV up front, but now we do. The bathroom has a different configuration, which seems better to us, and we now have a 2nd vanity, which is a huge improvement for us. So, as I've read over and over....floor plan first...then narrow it down by the other factors that enter into the equation.

Enjoy the hunt.
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