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Old 09-14-2014, 05:15 PM   #1
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Fleetwood Bounder 36H vs Winnebago Vista 35B

We saw lots of rv's this weekend, and are narrowing down the search, but could use your opinions. We are a family of five looking to purchase a Class A Gas Motorhome. Ideally we'd like a bunkhouse, bunk over, 1/2 bath, outdoor tv and some good kitchen & outside storage. So far we really like the Fleetwood Bounder Classic 36H and the Winnebago Vista 35B models. The Bounder is less expensive but it doesn't have the cab over for our 12yr old son. In your opinion is the Vista worth the added expense? For us it's not just about the money, but longevity, durability (with littles) and customer service. I would love to hear about your experiences with either one. Thank you in advance
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:52 PM   #2
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Choices

I Would check both very carefully and stay away from rubber roof. I myself prefer the Winne
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Old 09-15-2014, 05:36 AM   #3
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Check the differences in compartment storage.
Check the differences in fit/finish and quality of the interior since you mention durability.
Talk to other RV techs who work on both
The overhead motorized bunk found in the Winny - I've repaired dozens of those... they can be problematic.
The slideout mechanisms used in the Winny - I've repaired dozens of those... they are problematic.
Talk to other local RV techs who work on both, not salesmen.

Disclosure: I have a 40' Newmar Diesel, I don't own either model you're comparing. The dealership I work for sells both Winny and Fleetwood, but I can assure you, that if my decision was between the two of these units, the Bounder wins hands down.

Did I mention you should talk to local RV techs who work on both? :-)
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Old 09-15-2014, 06:02 AM   #4
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FWIW, my BIL went from a Winnebago Aspect, to a Thor Ace, to a Bounder Classic 36H in less than 3 years. About the same amount of time I've owned my Suncruiser. He said he wished he had bought another Winnebago product. He is currently at factory with a list of repairs to be done to new Motorhome.
I don't know which one would be better and would tell you get the floorplan that works for you and your family. That way you won't have regrets in that department.
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Old 09-15-2014, 03:40 PM   #5
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Glad you're aboard. Best of luck in finding the right rig for you and your family. Enjoy your adventures and be safe.
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Old 09-15-2014, 05:14 PM   #6
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I have an Itasca Sunstar 35F.. its not the exact layout as your 35B.. but I'm guessing, while the guts may not be the same, the rest is...

You mentioned having a family of five and I noticed you mentioned you have a 12yr son.. not sure what the others are and their ages..

I will share my situation.. hopefully it helps !!

I have three kids.. 14yrs (boy), 12yrs (girl) & 11yrs (girl)...

We are usually weekend warriors with, at least, one week long trip.. Since getting our new RV, we've taken the kids to Yellowstone and this years trip was Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown and then up to Gettysburg.

While on these trips, we always have plenty of storage, plenty of room for the kids to stretch out and enjoy the ride. Obviously, with my kids being older they need room.. thankfully in our situation, things are very comfortable..

One of the reasons I asked about your kids ages was for future considerations.. When we were looking.. my kids initially like the idea of getting a bunk house RV.. but quickly realized, they're small... and my 14yr old, who is 6ft tall now... would not have been comfortable at all.. So, that may be something for you to look at.. My kids sleep very comfortably in our unit.. my son usually takes the couch while the two girls share the booth bed.. sometimes one of the girls will even sleep on the floor..

Finally.. another thing we considered.. with our youngest at 11yrs old (12 in December) was about life after kids.. eventually within the next 5 years.. they likely won't be too excited about RV'ing the way they are now.. The last thing I wanted to do is buy a new RV, only to have to think about something different in the next few years.. I figure this one will last us between now and when we start thinking of retirement in 10 or so years..

Getting back to the RV... I will say.. I would not give up having the 2nd bathroom for anything.. with the kids.. it is absolutely a must in my book.. Also, we have been very please with the performance of our RV.. We have had a few minor warranty issues and they were all addressed promptly by Itasca..

In fact.. I recently found a possible slide issue and while communicating with Itasca.. we have an appointment to have it checked out and fixed in the upcoming weeks.. mind you.. this RV is over one year out of warranty, but they will fix it for free.. mind you.. I have to take it to the factory.. but I wouldn't have it any other way.. being from WI, we are close enough to make a long weekend out of it.. We're actually looking forward to seeing the factory..

So.. while I'm sure the Fleetwood will offer you the same, if not a better, experience.. It really all comes down to taste and opinions.. YOUR taste and YOUR opinion.. I can only speak to my experience and dealing with Itasca has been fine.. no real issues that I can speak negatively about..

I wish you the best of luck in your decision
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Old 09-15-2014, 05:40 PM   #7
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I traded out of a '13 - 35B for my current Phaeton. I have absolutely no experience with the Bounder, but I will tell you my biggest dislikes with the 35B (only 2).

First, the center and rear plumbing have their own black and grey tanks. While that is good when it comes to extending time between dumps, the tanks have their own dump valves. To me, the valves are way too far apart to be able to "Y" them in together, so I always found myself dumping twice (AND RINSING) each time I dumped. The center dump valve is just in front of the rear duals, and the rear dump valve is in the very last basement bay. Anytime you're looking at pictures of the DS outside of a 35B, look at the distance between those two bays.

The other dislike was that I was always uncomfortable with the emergency exit in the rear bathroom... the exit you would use if you were in the bedroom and the emergency, like a refer fire, was in the center. The exit window is VERY SMALL, HIGH up from the ground, and there is absolutely nothing to use to climb out of the window... so the ONLY way out is HEAD FIRST, and as stated, it's a LONG way down!

Those were my dislikes of the 35B. Other than those, we really did enjoy the coach for the single year that we had it. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 09-17-2014, 11:26 PM   #8
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Kids' ages :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by oakcreekeric View Post
I have an Itasca Sunstar 35F.. its not the exact layout as your 35B.. but I'm guessing, while the guts may not be the same, the rest is...

You mentioned having a family of five and I noticed you mentioned you have a 12yr son.. not sure what the others are and their ages..

I will share my situation.. hopefully it helps !!

I have three kids.. 14yrs (boy), 12yrs (girl) & 11yrs (girl)...

We are usually weekend warriors with, at least, one week long trip.. Since getting our new RV, we've taken the kids to Yellowstone and this years trip was Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown and then up to Gettysburg.

While on these trips, we always have plenty of storage, plenty of room for the kids to stretch out and enjoy the ride. Obviously, with my kids being older they need room.. thankfully in our situation, things are very comfortable..

One of the reasons I asked about your kids ages was for future considerations.. When we were looking.. my kids initially like the idea of getting a bunk house RV.. but quickly realized, they're small... and my 14yr old, who is 6ft tall now... would not have been comfortable at all.. So, that may be something for you to look at.. My kids sleep very comfortably in our unit.. my son usually takes the couch while the two girls share the booth bed.. sometimes one of the girls will even sleep on the floor..

Finally.. another thing we considered.. with our youngest at 11yrs old (12 in December) was about life after kids.. eventually within the next 5 years.. they likely won't be too excited about RV'ing the way they are now.. The last thing I wanted to do is buy a new RV, only to have to think about something different in the next few years.. I figure this one will last us between now and when we start thinking of retirement in 10 or so years..

Getting back to the RV... I will say.. I would not give up having the 2nd bathroom for anything.. with the kids.. it is absolutely a must in my book.. Also, we have been very please with the performance of our RV.. We have had a few minor warranty issues and they were all addressed promptly by Itasca..

In fact.. I recently found a possible slide issue and while communicating with Itasca.. we have an appointment to have it checked out and fixed in the upcoming weeks.. mind you.. this RV is over one year out of warranty, but they will fix it for free.. mind you.. I have to take it to the factory.. but I wouldn't have it any other way.. being from WI, we are close enough to make a long weekend out of it.. We're actually looking forward to seeing the factory..

So.. while I'm sure the Fleetwood will offer you the same, if not a better, experience.. It really all comes down to taste and opinions.. YOUR taste and YOUR opinion.. I can only speak to my experience and dealing with Itasca has been fine.. no real issues that I can speak negatively about..

I wish you the best of luck in your decision
So we have a soon to be 12, 6 and 4 year old. When would you say the kiddos were "too small" for the bunks? I see us staying with the motorhome we pick until the kiddos are older. So 8-10 years? We are a bit gun shy as we made some poor choices with our fifth wheel in the past. We are in California so factory vists would be days of driving :( We did try seeing a Sunstar at the show but no bunk models. I agree that the bathroom is a necessity, after 3 out of 5 of us have needed our house's downstairs bathroom at the same time. Thank you so much for your info, we truly appreciate it!
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Old 09-18-2014, 12:05 AM   #9
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Double dumping...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeWat View Post
I traded out of a '13 - 35B for my current Phaeton. I have absolutely no experience with the Bounder, but I will tell you my biggest dislikes with the 35B (only 2).

First, the center and rear plumbing have their own black and grey tanks. While that is good when it comes to extending time between dumps, the tanks have their own dump valves. To me, the valves are way too far apart to be able to "Y" them in together, so I always found myself dumping twice (AND RINSING) each time I dumped. The center dump valve is just in front of the rear duals, and the rear dump valve is in the very last basement bay. Anytime you're looking at pictures of the DS outside of a 35B, look at the distance between those two bays.

The other dislike was that I was always uncomfortable with the emergency exit in the rear bathroom... the exit you would use if you were in the bedroom and the emergency, like a refer fire, was in the center. The exit window is VERY SMALL, HIGH up from the ground, and there is absolutely nothing to use to climb out of the window... so the ONLY way out is HEAD FIRST, and as stated, it's a LONG way down!

Those were my dislikes of the 35B. Other than those, we really did enjoy the coach for the single year that we had it. Your mileage may vary.
Thank you so much! Hubby was checking out the double dumping system, and I know he had some questions. I will point this out to him and have him take a look. Regarding the emergency exit, I have to say I didn't give that much thought Guess we will have a talk about this part. Glad to hear these were your only two issues.
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:29 AM   #10
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As for when are they too big... that really depends on the kids... I know my son could technically sleep in a bunk.. but would he be comfortable.. He's had growth spurts the past two years.. so... if you have boys.. I'm guessing around 12+ is when there would be question about fitting and being comfortable..

Now, my middle daughter.. well, she'd sleep in one of the basement compartments if I let her.. she's a tiny little thing and I could stuff her anywhere...

As for the dumping issues... yes.. there are two dump valves... but I don't think it's too much of an issue.. the macerator does most of the work.. All you have to do is pull the dump valve on the curb side (mid bath) and then go back to the main facilities compartment and everything is at your finger tips... I dump the gray and rear black tanks like normal.. the only difference is I have to hold down the macerator pump button to "pump" the black from the mid bath... I am overly anal about my tanks to begin with, so I normally flush about 2-3 buckets of clean water thru the mid and back bathroom black tanks.. but that's just me...

On the emergency exit... on my Sunstar.. the emergency exit is the large window at the top of the queen size bed... plenty of room for a clean get-away for all shapes and sizes...

Wish you the best of luck... all I know for certain... when you do get YOUR RV.. it will be the RV of your dreams and you (and the kids) will have a blast creating life long memories..

GOOD LUCK !!!
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:57 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oakcreekeric View Post
...
As for the dumping issues... yes.. there are two dump valves... but I don't think it's too much of an issue.. the macerator does most of the work...
...
That's the 35F, the 35B doesn't have a macerator! When it comes to dumping, the 35F and 35B are different animals. Sure you can "Y" the two dump valves into each other, but the distance is so far, you loose all elevation by the time you reach the "Y", and there's no angle left to keep the flow going. The only time I can not see this being a problem is that if you can park with the campground's sewage pipe exactly in the middle of the two dump valves... but what are the chances of that happening each trip?

Quote:
Originally Posted by oakcreekeric View Post
...
On the emergency exit... on my Sunstar.. the emergency exit is the large window at the top of the queen size bed... plenty of room for a clean get-away for all shapes and sizes.
...
Again, the 35F and not the 35B. The only bedroom windows in the 35B are the two small slide bedside windows.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:31 PM   #12
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We looked at the Winnebago 35F and 35B, as well as the Bounders before buying. The Winnebagos drove much better than the Bounder did in our opinion and actually became our second choice. We ended up paying a few thousand more for the Newmar and we are really glad we did. Don't let the msrp's fool you, the bottom line is what you get it out the door for and they all give different percent discounts. We took two years looking, driving and comparing the manufacturers.

As mentioned before talk to the service managers, see how many MH's are waiting to be repaired, and what kind of repairs as well as how long the wait is. Some dealers don't fix things until you actually buy it, then it becomes warranty work rather than normal PDI issues. One of my friends has had his MH in the shop for 6 weeks out of 7 months of ownership, for things that should have never got past the factory inspection.Things will go wrong, so far I've had mine in twice for minor warranty issues, both times the parts were pre ordered, I took my MH in, waited with it, watched what they did(so I can fix if it breaks again) and took it home the same day. That alone is worth the extra money to me.

Someone mentioned to stay away from a rubber roof, not true with todays technology, our rubber roof is under warranty for 12 years. I wash it about every 3 months and it stays nice and clean. We have had no issues with the rubber roof.

We also have the bath and a half, first off with that configuration you get alot of extra holding capacity, so if you do any dry camping it's great. Yes the dump valves are in two different locations. I don't always dump the back tank when we are traveling, but when I do it literally only takes about 5 extra minutes longer at best to do so. It is only a matter of switching the dump hose to the front tank after dumping the back tank, then I dump the front tank followed by rinsing when I dump the grey water. This is no big deal, and well worth the effort to have two bathrooms.

We did not go with the bunk beds because we like our layout better, there is plenty of room for everyone to sleep when we take our grandkids, and when we don't have them we don't have the wasted space of the bunkbeds. Also as stated before the bunks are small and I think the kids will outgrow them quick.

As for the emergency exit, they are what they are, to be used in an emergency. If your MH is on fire and you can't get out the front door, droping out of the emergency window is better than dying in a fire.We have taught our grandkids to go out feet first, hang from the window and then drop, it's not that far to where you will break bones ect.

My best advice is to take your time looking, don't limit yourself to two manufacturers, or a price. Look at multiple dealers of the same brand, their prices can vary alot when you are talking this price point. You are spending alot of money, so buy what you really like and don't just settle when the price difference may only be a few thousand dollars. Good luck and Happy hunting, that's the fun part.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:43 PM   #13
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My bad.... Sorry..

I "assumed" they would be the same... guess the ol' saying is right... you know the one about "assuming"...
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Old 09-19-2014, 01:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike and Cha View Post
...
As for the emergency exit, they are what they are, to be used in an emergency. If your MH is on fire and you can't get out the front door, droping out of the emergency window is better than dying in a fire.We have taught our grandkids to go out feet first, hang from the window and then drop, it's not that far to where you will break bones ect.
...
Agreed, and not an argument but the reason for my statement about going out head first. None of us want a fire, but preparation is extremely important. Unless changes have been made, there is nothing on the inside of the 35B's rear bath to grab ahold of which will allow you to go out feet first. I actually considered installing a grab bar outside the exit window on my 35B, but didn't keep it long enough. All it takes is for one to go inside of a 35B to the rear bath, draw a mental picture of how you would get out in an emergency, then open the window and look down to gauge the height. Informed buyers are the best, and all I am doing is passing the information. I loved our 35B, but this was still a very sore and scary point for me.
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