Originally Posted by txviking
Thanks everyone for the replies! I know my post was generic, and I have been reading through numerous similar posts on the forums as well. But this has given me a good starting point -- I have some brands to look at, I know that I have a realistic budget (even though it could stand to be bigger) and I know I need to moderate my expectations of fuel mileage a bit -- a compromise I'm willing to make for the comforts of a class A.
I do get the impression that as far as reliability goes, the drivetrain manufacturer seems to matter more than the RV brand. I'll be looking for a pushbutton Allison automatic transmission and either a Cummins or Caterpillar engine, although there are various models and I still have more research to do in that arena. I also have some research to do on generators, although I do want one and I do want it to be diesel.
Thanks again so far; all opinions are appreciated!
I'm thinking the majority of the DPs you'd be considering would have a diesel generator. Probably shouldn't be too much of a concern to you at this point.
However, when you mention "reliability," there may be several components you might take into separate consideration.
First, yes, the chassis manufacturer would be the one who supplies the basic mechanical underpinnings to the coach manufacturer. As you research further, you'll see that there will be multiple combinations. In the age range you're looking, the major chassis makers will be Freightliner (FCCC or Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation), Spartan, and Roadmaster. There will be a few others but those are the main chassis manufacturers in that era. Some coach manufacturers made their own chassis, i.e. Alpine (Peak), Monaco (Roadmaster), etc. There are also some coach manufacturers that may have used a different chassis manufacturer for different models such as Newmar that used both Spartan and Freightliner chassis in those years you are shopping.
Second, the coach manufacturer designates, specifies, or approves of the engine that the chassis maker will use when supplying the chassis for any specific model. As you already have mentioned, the main engines supplied during that time were Cummins (ISB, ISC, etc.) and CAT (during that time frame, probably most were 3126E, the precursor to the C7).
And finally, the coach manufacturer is responsible for the "reliability" of the basic structure of the "house" itself and they are the ones who specify which appliances, plumbing fixtures, lighting, flooring, etc., etc. will be used. They are ultimately responsible for the entire coach itself as they are the ones who dictate even what chassis and engine combination to use and see to it that the total product is properly coordinated and will work well symbiotically with each other.
So, you have to consider all three of those things when contemplating "reliability."
You'll see not only on this forum but on every RV forum, the classic debates on:
1. What coach is better? Newmar, Tiffin, Winnebago, Monaco, etc., etc., etc.
2. What chassis is better? Roadmaster, Spartan, Freightliner, etc.
3. What engine is better? Cummins, CAT, Detroit, Mercedes, etc.
You'll see the classic debates on this forum as well as other RV forums "Tiffins are the best and I'd buy no other" or "the Roadmaster chassis can't be beat and doesn't come close to the junk Freightliner" or "I've had Cummins engines in all my motorhomes and trucks and wouldn't buy any vehicle without one." ...etc., etc., etc., etc.
What it will boil down to is the Ford versus Chevy debate. You'll have to come to your own conclusion as to what you believe is "best."