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Old 07-08-2014, 10:00 AM   #1
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Getting a handle on handling

As with many other new RV shoppers, I'm having a hard time ignoring the attractive pricing on the 34-37' gas class A motorhomes. Beyond the towing capacity limits, which I've discussed in another thread, I'm wondering about the handling issues I've read much about.

I understand the wheelbase versus overall length issue, and that most recommend a ratio of 54% or better. Also, I guess some of the trouble stems from the leaf spring truck chassis the Class A's use.

For those who have experience with both, can anyone give me a better explanation about the actual issues you've experienced driving gas motorhomes, as well as the technical explanation for it if you have one.

Case
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Old 07-08-2014, 12:27 PM   #2
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I have not owned a gas rig. The below comments do not address your specific handling issue but do discuss other owners' handling issues.

Two of my RV acquaintances had 30+ gas rigs. One a Winnebago Adventurer and the other Rexhaul. Both very nice, well built early 2000 rigs in my opinion.

Both owners complained of noise due to high RPM's while pulling the grade, for example, from Sacramento to Myers Grade and return.

Both had occasions where they disconnected the toads (Honda CRV) to pull grades here in the West Coast mountains.

I think the rigs would handle the work just fine. The owners' just did not like the circumstances. It appeared to me that they pulled uphill at a higher speed than I do with my diesel.
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Old 07-08-2014, 12:55 PM   #3
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Hi,

I had a 2013 Winnebago Sightseer 35G for a year and just traded it for an American Coach Revolution 42G. Primarily because of the handling and noise. Couldn't play the radio because it would have to be too loud and was worn out after a 3 hr drive. Hadn't done anything to optimize the handling.

The ride difference is about like an old Ford F140 versus a Lexus. The Rev is a better ride than our 2012 Honda Pilot.

Granted, totally different price points, but if asked I would say to look at used DPs and save the money I lost by starting off with a new gasser and changing my mind a year later. Expensive lesson.

John
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Old 07-08-2014, 02:43 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 60Bubba View Post
As with many other new RV shoppers, I'm having a hard time ignoring the attractive pricing on the 34-37' gas class A motorhomes. Beyond the towing capacity limits, which I've discussed in another thread, I'm wondering about the handling issues I've read much about.

I understand the wheelbase versus overall length issue, and that most recommend a ratio of 54% or better. Also, I guess some of the trouble stems from the leaf spring truck chassis the Class A's use.

For those who have experience with both, can anyone give me a better explanation about the actual issues you've experienced driving gas motorhomes, as well as the technical explanation for it if you have one.

Case
I think you need multiple test drives in the actual units you're interested in. Moreover, folks may have different interpretations of what you mean by "handling". Not to mention, what are your planned uses?

But I'll give you my take subject to your clarification.

I think a gasser may or may not handle as well as a DP. My reading suggests many DPs have steering boxes that allow 3" of play in the wheel. This can be fatiguing and, depending on circumstances, downright scary. Many folks spend thousands chasing down these issues whilst never checking play in the wheel and their steering box.

If I were a single guy, just for example here, towing motorcycles over relatively flat ground, for no more than a weekend, and wanted new, I would look at gassers, sure.

But my wife much prefers the quiet, ride, and room, of a DP. Wife acceptance factor is very important to men with a low tolerance for divorce.

And I do appreciate that I know very little about your circumstances and desires. But I also know that starting out many people are also unsure of their own desires! So I'll risk giving you some advice that may or may not help you.

These days I think you can get a 2004 tag axle Monaco Dynasy with an S Series custom chassis and four slides for the same or less than a lot of new gassers. This would be my target coach. If you can swing more try for an Executive, Signature, or HR Navigator with an ISM or ISX as the ISL is a little lite in oomph for a heavy coach like a Dynasy in our western mountains.

Drive those, and some gassers, with your wife, and see what you think.

I like the Roadmaster S Series as not only was I a tour bus driver for several years, but I am a German sports sedan driver. If you love the ride of a 1979 Cadillac this may be the wrong chassis for you.

Try to get one with a TRW steering box.

You may want to check out what Tim DiMartini has in Grass Valley. IIRC the website is rvdeals dot net. He's known to deal to competitive pricing with no games. But, of course, with all the hidden problems that can pop up on a used or even new coach, I'm sure there are people who have issues there. It may be best to pay for a used coach survey and fluid analysis.

YMMV, but personally, I would go for a used DP, not spend more than I could afford to lose, finance as little as possible, and try to convince my wife she likes the floor plan and colours of the coach I like the ride of. (That's a joke, let your wife win! (But between you and me, push for the one that handles well.)

Hope this helps. I probably could have gone on in more detail, but I banged this out on my phone and think I'm getting carpel tunnel in my thumbs.
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Old 07-08-2014, 02:52 PM   #5
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And Case I really mean it about driving each one. Sometimes they're not right from the factory. And different components are used on different models. And even the weight of the coach makes a difference. Even full tanks vs empty can affect handling. And many, many, people find a gasser works better for them than a DP.

I suspect your worry is you won't know what works for you until you try -- and then it's too late! So don't be shy about going on test drives, but try to waste the time of the person you're going to ultimately buy from rather than a convenient local dealer you believe to be too overpriced to buy from.

And some people recommend trying to rent a comparable unit for a weekend.

Good luck!
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Old 07-08-2014, 03:21 PM   #6
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We've put 9,000 miles on our new gasser that we got for a very attractive price. There are three major issues that I have with our gasser: one, the engine is right there and you hear every last bit of it. The ride is loud. Two, it's a work truck chassis and you feel every bump. Three, filling up with fuel. I'd say I have more big rig driving than the average joe and can get out of some pretty precarious situations but you meet the challenge filling up with auto gas at a station that isn't made for 37 feet plus a toad.

These three issues would be nearly eliminated with a DP. I really wish I would have looked closer at used DP's. I think southpark is right, before you pull the trigger, test drive both on the interstate, local roads, and state highways so you can get a good feel for it. When you go to a gas station, imagine your rig filling up with fuel and your exit plan without backing up.

Which ever one you choose, it will be a good time. We really enjoy ours!
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Old 07-08-2014, 03:59 PM   #7
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And here's a few more thoughts: I am, personally mind you -- I'm sure many disagree -- a fan of the so-called "high-line" coaches built on all steel cage chassis (the so-called semi-monocoque designs (I think they term may be abused here)). These include, with my preferred years (I'm going to leave out my reasons), Country Coach Dynomax 2005 to before it got close to BK; Monaco (Holiday Rambler, Monaco, Beaver) S-Series Roadmaster Chassis 2004 to before it got close to the end (and do note that Monaco now again sells a fancy coach with a chassis called a Roadmaster, but it is not.); and Foretravel's TravelRide, 2006 to date. My next coach will probably be a Foretravel. I think they are really well made and handle AWESOMELY.

Finally, many people think there's no way they'll own another coach without an independent front suspension. I find the solid axel S-Series Roadmaster and TravelRide's don't suffer, and may benefit, for not having an IFS. Opinions vary, and you'll have to discover what you think it important.

If I were going to get a non-custom, non all steel, all welded chassis (here, I'm talking about the support cage of the house/body being all steel and welded, rather than just the undercarriage) I prefer Spartan and custom variants with Spartan ends over Freightliner. Again, as with most things, others will surely disagree. Since "handling" concerns you, however, I suspect your tastes would come close to mine.

Hope this helps you or anyone else researching this subject.
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Old 07-08-2014, 04:06 PM   #8
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Looking back, some folks may opine that I've been a little verbose. Please keep in mind that I did try to limit myself. For example, I didn't even get into Prevost and Newell coaches!

Edit: Doh! I should also mention you'll probably prefer the handling of a tag axle. Though at the cost of some bay storage. I say it's worth it. YMMV
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Old 07-08-2014, 06:28 PM   #9
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Case, we have owned 3 Class A’s, all gas. I realize lots of owners will say DP or nothing. We travel 5-6 months each year, however we have yet to cover over 5K in mileage. Just cannot justify the additional cost. I like my coach to handle like a car (Good Luck) so I added front & rear trac bars and a steering stabilizer. Wind and trucks don’t push me around. When climbing steep grades, 6%, things get noisy, but not for long, when we are in overdrive the noise level is conditional on road condition, not engine noise. Our 10 year old coach has a better floor plan than 95% of the new units offered.
We are happy, and fortunate to love out unit.

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Old 07-08-2014, 06:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
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.........---

That's it? That's all you got? ;-)
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Old 07-08-2014, 07:13 PM   #11
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Thanks to all. And don't worry about length. Sometimes the real answer is more than can be easily said in a paragraph. I appreciate when those in the know take the time to really explain things. All (most) answers are appreciated, but sometimes the one-sentence, "we love our coach!!!!!" responses just aren't that helpful.

I certainly agree about test driving, but so far I haven't gotten the "test drives are welcome" vibe from my local dealer, even though we've been in several times. They haven't offered, and I don't want to push. I'm sure the issue is that I'm still several months away from a decision. Trouble is, it's awfully difficult to commit to a purchase bigger than some houses without doing a little more than kicking the tires. Hopefully, I can narrow the choices down some and then just wait for them show up on the used lot...
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Old 07-08-2014, 07:29 PM   #12
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I would take a look at gassers and 40'+ used DPs here: DeMartini RV Sales, Recreational vehicles (RVs), Holiday Rambler, Holiday Rambler Motorhomes, Monaco Motorhomes, Monaco Coach, Monaco Coach Corporation, Used Diesel Pusher, Used diesel, Endeavor, Scepter,** Imperial, Dynasty,* Windsor, Camelot, Na
It looks like they have a huge selection of good used rigs of the sort I was talking about.

Ring them and ask for Tim the owner. Explain your situation and timetable. Tell him you've heard he's a good guy and ask if he is still super competitive on pricing. Then say you would like to take a weekend with your wife and come out and test drive a couple gassers and several DP and that if his prices are competitive you'll be giving him your business when you're ready to buy. Now gauge his response and attitude. If it's to your liking and better than your local guy, bingo, you're on the right track. Then make plans with your wife and make sure Tim will have someone available to help you when you get out there.

I can't begin to tell you how many people I've heard from who've traveled clear across the country to buy their rig AND SAY IT WAS WORTH THE TRIP. If I remember your info correctly, Dimartini isn't even that far from you. I'm pretty confident you'll have a much better feeling for which direction you want to go after taking a weekend to do this.
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Old 07-08-2014, 07:31 PM   #13
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That's it? That's all you got? ;-)
NO! See above...
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:16 AM   #14
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Getting a handle on handling

As to the handling, a motorhome is just a big bread box going down the road catching a lot of wind. Put a large brick in the box and it becomes more stable because of the weight. I went from a 32' to a 40' and the ride difference was dramatic. Of course the 40' is 11K heavier. DP's tend to be heavier and have an airbag suspension which helps. Also the location of the airbags makes a difference. The semi-monocoque design with 8 or more outward mounted airbags give the best ride IMHO. (Putting bricks on the outside corners of the breadbox as opposed to a couple of bricks near the center of the box. Which is going to tilt over easier or not get blown across the road. I'm partial to the Foretravel but there are others are out there with similar designs. It all boils down to "Is this going to be a cross country driver or something to get from A to B on the weekends and maybe a long trip once a year. If the later stick with a gasser as you won't be putting a lot of miles and use the money you save on floor plans and accessories but if you're going to be putting a lot of miles behind you, try to make it a comfortable ride and you will be much happier.

Good luck and don't be afraid to take some test drives. One salesman looked at me said " we have a very strict policy concerning test drives. I looked at him and said "so do I, no drive, no buy!" Find some hills and don't be afraid of driving too far. They are there for your money so let them squawk. Usually i look at the floor plan and price on the first day.... come back the next day find the same guy and he gets the impression you are more serious about buying when you come back the next day for a test drive. Good luck with your endeavors.

Bruce
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