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Old 09-20-2013, 04:38 PM   #1
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In Uncharted Waters - Need Guidance

Hello IRV2 Forum. As you can see, this is my first post on this forum. I have been reading the many posts on this forum for most of the last 3 months, which have been immensely helpful. We haven't traveled in a RV as such. I once lived in a 22' travel trailer for six (6) months. We car and tent camped for countless years, and sailed a 23' Ranger sailboat for many years on the southern part of Lake Superior. So I have a bit of an idea about some aspects of RV travel.

Our RV interests have evolved during the last many months of RV research, like so many people on this forum. And the process was anything but a straight line. Some days I was about ready to throw in the towel. (There is so much to learn and so little time.) We are certain that we'd like an older Class A diesel with good bones. This forum has been instrumental in helping me sort out those two (2) thorny issues.

I am 67 years old and recently retired. Finances are a significant issue for me with this entire RV adventure. I hope we can afford the routine maintenance expenses, storage, and insurance without putting us in a financial hole.

Secondly, I have read a good many posts of long-time RV travelers who are giving up the road because of age. While my wife and I are healthy, feel good, and we still have some energy, but we aren't spring chickens anymore. So I wonder if we are too late in life to attempt this next adventure?

Finally, we are struggling to understand what's a prudent length Class A that could work for someone like my wife and I. We plan to stick to the main roads and park for a few days in areas that we'd like to explore. And at this early stage, we think we'd like to take 2-3 30 day trips a year, plus a bunch of shorter trips in the state parks in this area with our grandchildren. Those 36' to 40' Class A RV's look wonderful from the inside … my wife just loves them. Those same Class A RV's look like a football field from the outside … gulp!

I have rambled on too long. We'd be most grateful for any guidance that may come to mind from this post. Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-20-2013, 04:53 PM   #2
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We chose a 2000 Newmar with low milage, it has one big slide and is 37 ft. Easy to drive, but you do have to pay attention to turns and heights. It is pleanty big for two, too big for one. It was planned to be full timers for ten years, but after the first trip my DW became ill and passed away from ALS. I have used it a few time by myself, still love it when it comes to staying for an extended stay. But it is not for short trips, like a weekend. If you can do some work yourself there are good deals on used units, lots need the TVs replaced, some carpet or upholstery work, and minor stuff fixed. I enjoy that sorta stuff, so it has never bothered me to repair a step, or a broken sunshade, or do upgrades.
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Old 09-20-2013, 05:18 PM   #3
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You want at least a 34 ft with at least 1 big slide...16x3 are nice and what we have. We spend 5 months in Fl each winter and have enough room. Of course an extra 2 ft or so is always nice. Diesel - you will pay more upfront and maintainance will cost more. But, if you want a diesel, go for it.

Age is a state of mind at least partly , if you two feel good, just go for it. We're in our mid 60's and see plenty of folks out there that could be our parents.
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Old 09-20-2013, 05:36 PM   #4
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Welcome Traxless We also bought a 2000 Newmar Dutch Star. a 38' diesel pusher. It's a lot easier to manuever than my 38' Irwin sloop, more storage also. It gets better mileage up wind, not as good downwind,or on a reach, but it doesn't top out at 8 Kts. Diesel maintenance isn't much different than my old Iron jib and it's easier to work on than standing upside down with my head in the bilge.
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Old 09-20-2013, 05:38 PM   #5
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Welcome to irv2.

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Old 09-20-2013, 05:44 PM   #6
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Wife and I have a 37.5 foot I broke my leg and she is the driver been all over n.c to mich an back we are 60 and 59 you are as young as you like Wife just got out of the hospital as she got sick on our last trip had to have a stint put in She is back home and cant wait to get back to seeing the world and she says she,s driving first So you see just get out and live Wife say,s we leave the first of the month go figure
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Old 09-20-2013, 06:10 PM   #7
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FIRST



Where to start is always the hard part. So much depends on what you think you will need and want. Budget is absolutely important to plan around.

So...here we go:

1. What are your "house" needs? Some of it is very mundane but essential. Do you want a bathroom with everything in it or a separate toilet from the shower area. I don't think you want a 1 1/2 bath unit because that will generally be a bit more expensive and also push the length out too. Basement lay out become important in that area also. Do you need a big open space in the MH? That might dictated the number or arrangement of slides. CAUTION...watch out for slide design. 4 slides on a single rear axle is a recipe for not having enough CCC to carry what you want and may need.

2. What kind of features are important? Do you want a hydro hot system for quiet heating with its pros and cons or is forced air good enough? If you were going to be in cold areas a lot, it might be worth considering but not to the point if has to be a "must". Do you want a residential refrigerator?

3. Convenience. How easy is it to get to essential items with the slides in. That could be important while driving and maybe during severe weather if you bring the slides in. Does the door layout make sense. In our previous Winnebago the bedroom door opened into the vanity area and if Sandee was at the mirror it would cause a problem. Are the cabinet designed well and deep enough to carry stuff.

4. What is the CCC of the MH? Some MHs are nearly over weight when built. Make sure you know what the REAL axle weights are as a minimum and preferably the weigh on each tire or tire set before you buy. You might find you have a fair amount of CCC but one axle will max out quickly.

5. Personally, I would look in the 36-39' range. I think that since you previously spent time in a boat and have some experience you have a good idea on understanding that you have to keep what you need and not to over do the amount of "stuff" that doesn't contribute to your journey. That being said, you might find you can do well in something a bit smaller. My general impression is that smaller units tend to be less equipped for FT or serious long time use. Not always but it is what I think I have seen. Anything 39' or less should get you into all but the most restrictive parks.

6. Do you plan to flat tow, dolly or trailer? What kind of vehicle to you plan to have? For the most part, unless you want to carry/pull something big you shouldn't have too much trouble with any hitch that comes on a DP. Only if you planned to haul a big car or use a trailer to haul a lot of weight will you need to get too concerned about hitch.

BTW...While diesel maintenance might be more expensive per task, it is done less often so that is a bit of a wash.

These are just some random thoughts and things that I have learned became important to us. It isn't all inclusive but just something to get you thinking.
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Old 09-20-2013, 07:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Traxless View Post
Those 36' to 40' Class A RV's look wonderful from the inside my wife just loves them. Those same Class A RV's look like a football field from the outside gulp!
After a few trips, that 36 to 40 ft won't look much different than your family car. Don't buy too short. Many have traded for a longer motorhome. Good luck in your search.

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Old 09-20-2013, 07:51 PM   #9
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The size is intimidating, isn't it? Trust me, the first 20 minutes driving one of these beasts is terrifying, after that it's a snap! Great advice from others so far, nothing else I can add. Good on you for doing the research first. Good luck and keep us posted!
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Old 09-20-2013, 08:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traxless View Post
Hello IRV2 Forum. As you can see, this is my first post on this forum. I have been reading the many posts on this forum for most of the last 3 months, which have been immensely helpful. We haven't traveled in a RV as such. I once lived in a 22' travel trailer for six (6) months. We car and tent camped for countless years, and sailed a 23' Ranger sailboat for many years on the southern part of Lake Superior. So I have a bit of an idea about some aspects of RV travel.

Our RV interests have evolved during the last many months of RV research, like so many people on this forum. And the process was anything but a straight line. Some days I was about ready to throw in the towel. (There is so much to learn and so little time.) We are certain that we'd like an older Class A diesel with good bones. This forum has been instrumental in helping me sort out those two (2) thorny issues.

I am 67 years old and recently retired. Finances are a significant issue for me with this entire RV adventure. I hope we can afford the routine maintenance expenses, storage, and insurance without putting us in a financial hole.

Secondly, I have read a good many posts of long-time RV travelers who are giving up the road because of age. While my wife and I are healthy, feel good, and we still have some energy, but we aren't spring chickens anymore. So I wonder if we are too late in life to attempt this next adventure?

Finally, we are struggling to understand what's a prudent length Class A that could work for someone like my wife and I. We plan to stick to the main roads and park for a few days in areas that we'd like to explore. And at this early stage, we think we'd like to take 2-3 30 day trips a year, plus a bunch of shorter trips in the state parks in this area with our grandchildren. Those 36' to 40' Class A RV's look wonderful from the inside my wife just loves them. Those same Class A RV's look like a football field from the outside gulp!

I have rambled on too long. We'd be most grateful for any guidance that may come to mind from this post. Thanks in advance.
Traxless..
Well lets see.. I went through a similar process a few years ago.. We had been camping in a 76 GMC motorhome (One of the classics). We had decided that if we were going to travel more we needed more room.. So I did a search and ended up with a 97 American Eagle that had been very well cared for by the previous owner. This is a coach that I would consider have excellent bones! We kept it 4 years until this spring when we decided we wanted slides.. We spend 3 months in Arizona at Lake Havasu and just wanted more spread out room.. We ended up buying a 04 Travel Supreme 40 foot with 4 slides.. Boy do we have slides now..
But back to the eagle.. It didn't really have any drive line issues at all.. There were some house stuff.. Rebuilt one furnace, replaced the toilet (Which could have been rebuilt), replaced the satellite dish that sort of stuff.. I do all of my own preventative maintenance.. But at 69 with creaky bones gets harder all the time..
I sold the Eagle to a nice fellow locally for 35K. He and I felt that was a fair price.. It still really looked good and he is more than happy. It will give him excellent service for quite a few years I believe..
I would advise you go for a coach at or near 40 feet. And I would say avoid the early slides as they were leak and trouble prone.. But Just my opinion.. Buy a high line coach like the eagle. Be sure it had a fiberglass roof at that age and just do or have done a really good pre-purchase inspection.. Look out for tire age and battery age and just enjoy.. Ours was still stunning to look at an live in.. And I miss it.
Good luck on your search.. That is a lot of the fun!
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Conifer, CO
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Old 09-20-2013, 08:26 PM   #11
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Welcome to irv2.
Here is a link about driving a coach in different situations and here is another..
Its not something to be intimidated by because I may be more intimidated sailing your boat until you showed me how.
Some coach's you look at may have large body over hangs from the rear duels which can cause a problem when turning in tight situations. Something to consider when buying a coach.
Your age is no problem at near 80 I still enjoy getting behind wheel.
Do all maintenance on gas coach its just a small bit harder lifting jacks for replacement.
Just think, less rocking, on solid ground in a good coach.
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Old 09-20-2013, 10:11 PM   #12
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The quick responses and thoughtful comments are just great. I especially enjoyed the on-line training videos and I bookmarked them for future use. I can see that we may be attending a RV driving school in our area.
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Old 09-21-2013, 11:06 AM   #13
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If you have an RV driving school close by, you're very lucky. Our first MH was a 26' Class C and was relatively easy to drive. I'd helped our kids move to/from college, so had driven U-Hauls a fair bit.

After I retired from Boeing at age 57, we moved to Anacortes. I got a bit bored of retirement, so I applied for an job opening at Skagit Transit and was accepted as a driver trainee. Two weeks of 4 hours a day in the coach with an instructor and they turned me loose with passengers!

Once you've driven a 40' bus with 60 passengers on board through Everett's evening rush hour, nothing will faze you again (except maybe one of those 65' articulated rigs).

For those folks who don't have driving schools within easy reach, call your local transit agency and get recommendations for an instructor to teach you in your own rig.
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:01 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Cooper View Post
After a few trips, that 36 to 40 ft won't look much different than your family car. Don't buy too short. Many have traded for a longer motorhome. Good luck in your search. Fred
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramblin View Post
The size is intimidating, isn't it? Trust me, the first 20 minutes driving one of these beasts is terrifying, after that it's a snap! Great advice from others so far, nothing else I can add. Good on you for doing the research first. Good luck and keep us posted!



First of all, let me welcome you as well!

Both of the quotes above are accurate. the size CAN be intimidating, but only for a short while. I suggest going with a fairly large size for two reasons:

1) Buy large enough that you and DW are not constantly bumping into each other, or having to scoot around to pass each other in the center. A little elbow room makes everything seem nicer. Too big will only seem too big for a short time, but too small will be too small forever.

2) If you're thinking in the mid-thirties, bump it on up to 39 or 40 ft. This will benefit you in several ways. More room inside, as mentioned; more belly room for storage; possibly larger fuel, water, and waste tanks; but most importantly, getting past the 34-36 ft range will (with a quality brand coach) put your coach on a longer, beefier chassis. Greater weight bearing capacity, and with the longer wheelbase a smoother ride and better stability and handling.

Whatever your choice, Good Luck!!
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