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Old 07-13-2015, 06:16 AM   #1
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Gassing through the mountains..owner experiences desired

Hello all.

My wife and I plan on full timing when we retire in a few short years,. For the moment, I am doing tons of research and tons of dreaming. I am looking at various setups that will work well for us. DW is thinking TT and a nice F150 so when we are sightseeing we have a truck that is not overwhelming. Problem is I don't think we can tow much except a "light" TT or 5vr that I don't believe will hold up for thousands of miles. That leaves me 3 choices. A nice 5vr with a massive diesel truck to drive around town, or a class A of some sort. We will need to buy everything as I have neither a truck or a car that works as a towed.

My dilemma is money. We are not loaded but we should have about $4k per month for full timing. I will have to finance as I don't want to touch what cash reserve I have as that's my exit fund. Diesel, even used seems beyond reach unless a large loan is attached, which I need/want to avoid. But I can swing a gas class A of modest length. I am no mechanic so ten year old rigs frighten me. Maybe a couple years old, that's about it.

So if I get a gas motorhome, and towed a small Ford Fiesta type econobox, can I drive around the Rockies without killing the MH? I don't mind 45mph up a hill but would I need to get out and push to maintain that? Not too worried about noise or heat as we won't drive but a few hours each day. I know diesel is the way to go, but I am staying to budget and gas is likely going to be the solution, or I will have to look at 5vr/truck combos.

I see so many gas units on the road. I also see many in the used RV listings. Are many sold based on price or impulse buys? Or are they just fine for those that do not necessarily want luxury. I'd like to hear from some gas Class A owners that fit this sort of user description. Do they do the job? Are they somewhat durable? Regrets? Anything to look for specific to gas MH's?

Thanks for taking the time to read and any time taken to respond!

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Old 07-13-2015, 06:43 AM   #2
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We did 9 cross-country round trips and drove over all the mountains without a problem in our gas motor homes towing either a Cherokee or a Colorado Pickup. We like our diesel better but a gasser will work great!

Jeanie, Ed & Slade the GSD
Cape Cod, MA
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Old 07-13-2015, 06:52 AM   #3
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I had two MH's on Ford chassis and traveled all 49 States almost twice and all 10 Canadian Provinces totaling 93,000 miles. There are plenty of others with similar experience. I would not hesitate to tell you that you won't have any problems climbing mountains.

Cliff,Tallulah and Buddy ( 1999-2012 )
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Old 07-13-2015, 07:04 AM   #4
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We have a 37 foot gulf stream with the 8.1 workhorse chassis. We tow A GMC Canyon. I would recommend any used motorhome be on a workhorse chassis 8.1 . We have been in the mountains on the West Coast and on the East Coast with no problems up and down mountains . I know on some of the mountains going up we have passed the semi's and some of the diesel motorhomes with our motorhome. Another note we have put 98,000 miles on this motorhome. As long as the one you buy has been maintained properly, ask for service records. We are on the road about nine months a year. We understand about the cost of purchasing a diesel we have looked at it and decided we will upgrade what we have.
Ron & Candy, Toledo Ohio
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Old 07-13-2015, 07:31 AM   #5
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IF you don't mind going a bit slow in the Rockies, take it easy, downshift and just get in line with the big rigs going up and through the passes, you will have no problems. After all you are not going to be doing the high mountain passes all the often.

AND don't max out your GVWR, you won't like it.

Personally, I think anyone looking at putting alot of miles on their rig would be better off with a SMALL 3/4 ton regardless of what powerplant. BUt many have success with the 1/2 tons.
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Old 07-13-2015, 07:47 AM   #6
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I have tried all of the ones you listed, pulling anything with size with a 1/2 ton is a no go I tried a 24 ft fifth wheel no way I couldn't even come close to pulling over the Rocky Mt ,ended up with a 1 ton diesel.
The Fifth wheel was getting a little small for 5 months in AZ ,so moved up to a 32 ft. 2004 Bounder 8.1 Chevy with a Allison trans 2 slide, pulled a 99 Jeep Cherokee sport , like the Jeep for off roading , had it about 4 years when hail totaled it.
Now I have a 40 ft 2001 Monaco Diplomat 330 hp Diesel. I like it a lot, maintenance is double the gasser, still pulling the 99 Jeep Cherokee, but thinking about a Ford Ranger so I can bring my Harley with me.
I would suggest if money tight that you go with a newer motor home ,ones with Chevy 8.1 or the Ford V-10 and get a slide out or two .
IRV2 has loads of information and experience Good Luck .
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Old 07-13-2015, 08:08 AM   #7
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The choice between a gas class A or a TT/5'er & truck, is personal preference. Thousands of folks happy in one or the other.
But forget the F150 idea unless you and the wife can live in a casita or popup.

As far as climbing the steep hills, as long as you stick with an appropriate size/weight for the engine, no problem. What does it matter if the diesel pusher can go up at 50 mph and your gasser goes up at 40 mph. Its not a race, especially once you're fulltiming. There are lots of advantages to a diesel pusher but speeding uphill isn't one.
The only time you'll have to get out & push, is if you stay with the F150 idea.
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Old 07-13-2015, 08:47 AM   #8
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As has been said, choice in most cases is personal preference. I did 7600mi NJ to Glacier Nat'l Pk, Portland, Oregon Coast, San Fran and return to NJ. Pulled lots of mtns, Rockies, Cascades, Sierra Nevada's and return with no problems. I have a 2013 Fleetwood Storm 32 ft. Copilot and I could talk fine and didn't have to shout. Ride was smooth and great. This is my second MH and decided against diesel for most of the reasons mentioned. Just came back from a trip with daughters family to Asheville, Smokey Mts. and Nashville and they all enjoyed the trip. Really comes down to defining how you want to use it. Lots of folks do a toad with no issues. Old rule of thumb having to do with mtns is you go down as fast as you go up which means down shifting trans. Did it a lot and had no problems. Followed the trucks and had no issues.
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Old 07-13-2015, 09:58 AM   #9
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My previous gas coach climbed the grades in the Rockies at about the same speed as my current diesel, or maybe a bit better. Not surprising, since the weight/horsepower ratio is similar, with the gas coach having a slight edge. The engine just has to rev higher to do it, so I usually drove it a bit slower on the hills to reduce noise and wear. Never had any problem going up, though. Down is a nother story - no exhaust or engine brake on the gasser. Have to be somewhat more cautious about keeping the speed down on long downhills.

Don't be afraid of an older gasser, say anything under 75k miles and built since about 2002. The engine and tranny will probably last your lifetime. Other than basic maintenance, you need to be more concerned about the condition of the house part than the chassis.
Gary Brinck
Former owner of 2004 American Tradition
Home is in the Ocala Nat'l Forest near Ocala, FL
Summers in Black Mountain, NC
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Old 07-13-2015, 12:52 PM   #10
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All good advice! I would like to add not to go with the F150 and TT for a full-timing. DW and I bought a Tundra (they only make 1/2 ton) and a new 33' ultra light TT. No problem pulling it, but the salesman didn't talk about the pin weight added to the cargo capacity of the truck. Just with DW and me, fuel, and the basics in the TT, maxed out my truck cargo capacity pretty fast. Driving on the flat interstates of south Texas wasn't too bad, until a light breeze came up and then it was white knuckle time. Side of this 33 footer became a giant sail that caused havoc at 65 mph. DW refused to do any driving. (Couldn't imagine driving up and down mountain roads.) DW and I had a 2,000 mile trip across country planned, but cancelled.
Something else you may not have thought about is mpg. With a 1/2 ton and TT, how often do you think you will need refill? My Tundra has a 26 gal tank, but only got about 7.5 mpg pulling my TT on a flat highway. Lots of stops to refuel, but not all stations can handle a pick up and TT. Most MHs have an 80 gal tank.
Thought about moving up to a 3/4 ton TV, but we decided against it. My TT is on the market. Will buy a 2-3 yr old MH as soon as it sells. I've read on this forum it's better to go used over new. Let someone else work out the bugs! Good luck!
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Old 07-13-2015, 02:08 PM   #11
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If you have a budget... what is it??

I think knowing what your budget is will help others give suggestions for you to look at..

Good luck in your search !!
Eric & Denise
2012 Itasca Sunstar 35F
2010 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited
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Old 07-13-2015, 02:32 PM   #12
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Sounds like the OP and I are in the same boat, maybe I can help. Maria and I are struggling with the same decision. We bought the Sightseer used, but well cared for, low miles, everything worked. $38K out the door, with a service plan and roadside assistance and all of that. From where we live in the Indian Territories of Oklahoma we have taken two long trips, both over mountains, while towing a Dodge. Once to Rutherfordton, NC to visit family there, great trip, and we've just recently returned from a trip to Mount Rushmore then on to Troy Montana, crossing the divide both ways at 6330 feet give or take a few for my failing memory The V10 Triton pulled the hills just fine, and we were for certain maxed out on it's towing capacity, no doubt. Don't get me wrong, it is not going to win any races going up a long 6 or 7% grade, but it never got hot, never coughed, and we didn't have to get out and push

Maria is going to retire, again, in about 2 years and we will be going simi-fulltime, we LOVE IT!! It's the travel. She is retired with 23 years of Army service, we've never stayed put for very long, guess it stuck. So the question came up, do we stick with what we have and upgrade, or do we trade it in for a newer diesel pusher? One thing we have learned is this, we did not buy an RV to live in what is essentially a traveling mobile home park. We want an RV that we can park anywhere, hook up to nothing, and everything works. (and a washer/dryer... happy wife = happy life). So, for now, until we decide to really go all out full time, we will upgrade as it is cost effective and the two long trips we've taken so far has shown us that our Winnebago is up to the task. Ultimately on both trips WE were the limiting factors, not the motorhome.

So far I've added solar, just did our first dry camp test this past weekend. Worked great! Already took out the massive TV and put in a flat screen, bought the Direct-TV SWM dish, that works great with a converter box out of the house. Changing all the light bulbs to LEDs, adding a Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer soon. Already had a portable swamp cooler, but the MH's 5500 watt generator has only just over 100 hours on it, lol, that's hardly any use at all. I will be adding the hardwired auto generator start soon. I suppose, from some of the threads I've read here, there is also something to be said for the difference between quality of workmanship and materials between older and newer motorhomes, but I can't really comment on that as this is the only one we have ever owned. We test drove a DP once and I have to admit that the air-ride was nice, but I understand that even this can be addressed on a gas coach, perhaps someone else can comment on that.
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Old 07-13-2015, 02:41 PM   #13
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We've owned our gasser 3 years and it has been in the Rockies twice with no problems at all towing a Jeep. You see more gassers on the road because they are more affordable and will take you anyplace you want to go.

As far as "no engine brake," I will disagree to a point... the Ford V10 has a "tow/haul" feature that downshifts on a descent and works nicely without overworking the brake pedal.
.2012 Fleetwood Bounder 33C | 2012 Jeep Wrangler

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Old 07-13-2015, 02:58 PM   #14
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Up da hill, Down da hill

Did a 7000+ mile round about to the Pacific and back this past December. The V-10 30Q Hurricane did just fine pulling our Chevy on a dolly behind us. This is the 2004 model and I believe it was in 2006 Ford increased the horses by adding another exhaust valve and putting a 5 or 6 speed tranny behind it. With this chasis being built all these years there are not too many suprises left in them either, fairly well debugged and are a proven platform for the class A home. I am not real sure but I think my motor is rated around 350 horse and the new ones are 20 or 30 more.
Happy Trails, Just Another Old Doggy, Don

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