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Old 06-25-2015, 03:05 PM   #1
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Question Need assistance from knowledgeable RV owners

Hello, my husband and I have just retired and decided to buy a Class A used motorhome. There is so much to learn and I want to make the best decision I can. We are looking at three:

1. 2005 Itasca Sunova 29' with a V10

2. 2000 Damon Intruder 36.5' also with a V10.

The problem is, I am a little nervous about actually getting on the road in my house! I want it to be as safe as possible. I looked at the wheelbase of each, and the ratio seems about identical.

The 2005 is more expensive. The Damon is so loaded I'm afraid it might not be stable if we load it down with our things some more!

We do plan to haul a small car eventually, but for now we are just going to take a few trips to get used to it. I feel we should start with the shorter one, and go up once we are seasoned into the life.

I will appreciate input anyone has on models, size, safety, etc.

Thank you!

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Old 06-25-2015, 03:16 PM   #2
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All RV's should have a weight sticker, inside a cupboard or closet , like the picture below.
That weight sticker will give a CCC ( Cargo Carrying Capacity) in pounds, and detail how it is determined.
It will also list trailer tow capacity and GCWR . ( Gross Combined Weight Rating )
JMHO for the 29" look for a CCC of at least 2,000 lbs.
for the 36.5 at least 3,000 lbs. Because of the additional storage space.
Do either of the RV's have 22.5" wheels ?
Ford chassis , went to the 22.5" ,from 19.5" on their heavier chassis, and again JMHO, the larger wheel and tires make for a better handling coach.
Good luck in your search , hope you find exactly what your looking for.
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Old 06-25-2015, 03:35 PM   #3
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Itasca/ Winnebago would be my choice of those 2. Winne has been make rv's from the beginning and good quality.
2007 Fleetwood Revolution LE 40V
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Old 06-25-2015, 03:59 PM   #4
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Hi Dora! Welcome!

We have RVd with my in-laws and now on our own for 10 years. We've had a 17' hybrid towed camper; a Class B Sprinter based model (24'); and now a Class C '14 Winnebago View Profile (24'). We take our two terriers with us.

IME, you want to first find an interior layout that suits your needs. Two beds? One? A dining area or a multi purpose area next to the galley? Full lav or one that's split? They make something for everyone!!!!

Are you going to full time or take a few trips?

After you have settled on a layout, you need to envision how you will actually use the interior. Sounds crazy but if you, for example, pretend to make a meal and vision where you would keep the knives/forks/plates/pots etc. you may find the designers were't so bright in designing the galley. Oven or a convection microwave? Got room under the sink? Or, did the manufacturer take up space with poorly designed plumbing?

Same with the bed... Walk it through...How easy/difficult is it to set put the bed? Sounds crazy but two dozen times setting up the bed by using the table top & a wood board and then putting the puzzle of cushions together before you breakout the bedding gets old..fast! Are the TVs viewable from seating positions or the master bed when you lay down? Is the storage easy to access and abundant?

Are the shore utilities easy to hook up, use and store? How do you level it for camping?

Is the house AC ducted (like an airplane) or does it just dump cold air into the cabin? Is it noisy compared to another model?

Check out the generators and decide if a diesel powered or LP powered one suits your needs.

Planning on towing a car with you? How much will it tow? Does it have a hitch and wiring?
How much payload capacity do you have?? Some RVs are limited in load capacity.

V-10 Ford powered RVs are popular. However, they do suck gas... My neighbor's Allegro gets 5 on a good day, downhill with a tailwind.... Some may get 7... A smaller Mercedes diesel powered "As" like a Reyo will easily get 14-15. My WVP gets a steady 14 to 15.5+...

Take your time... Do envision how you would efficiently use the inside.... The outside is just a skin.
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Old 06-25-2015, 04:10 PM   #5
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Welcome" "seasoned into the life" implies full timing is in the future. If so, I would think anything less than 34' would be insufficient. Floor plans and price always come into play. Any new motor home should be both comfortable and affordable....unless you want to go modestly until determining the lifestyle fits comfortably and then upgrade to bigger and costlier.

And don't overlook the W24 workhouse chassis. I've seen a couple of great National Dolphin 38's with the 8.1 Workhorse and the owners love them.
Bill and Debb---2010 CT Coachworks Siena 35V
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Old 06-25-2015, 06:05 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dora View Post
...I feel we should start with the shorter one, and go up once we are seasoned into the life.
Personally, I'd avoid the "start small and work our way up" train of thought - in favor of one focuses on what your needs are for several reasons. First and foremost - if you need a larger coach in order for you to be comfortable, cramming into something smaller isn't any fun. I liken it to buying shoes ... buy what fits you.

Secondly - if you've got limited financial resources - buying something small with the intent of upgrading in the future doesn't move you towards your goal. Unlike "stick and brick" homes - motor coaches do not appreciate in value. You'll almost certainly take a financial loss every time you switch vehicles.
2012 HR Endeavor 43' DFT, 2012 Jeep Liberty
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Old 06-25-2015, 06:26 PM   #7
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Go to a RV show, not to buy new, but to get an idea of what layouts are out there. Also, do you have any neighbors or friends that have an RV?

Go talk to them, it sounds crazy, but you might even ask them if you can "camp" for the day in their driveway, or just for a meal. Tell them will splurge for take out and a movie, and see if they are willing to spend some time with you in their driveway with their RV. You can walk around it with them, let them point out different features, ask them what they like and what they dislike about their RV. Most people are more than willing to talk about their RV, sometimes it difficult to get them to shut up about it in fact! As stated before, sit in a chair or on the couch and watch a movie if possible.

You might even go to a local campground for a day and walk around. Talk to people who are outside, don't make a nuisance of yourself, but tell them that you are considering purchasing and want to hear about RV's from owners, not sales people! WRITE THINGS DOWN! Take a pencil and paper and write down pros and cons of motor homes you see. Write down the year, make, and model #. Write down what people like, and what they don't like. If you're like me, you may remember that someone had a really good point, but forget what the point was! That's why I make lists, of course I then lose them, but that's another story.

Do a search here about PDI's (pre delivery inspections) lots of people have them. If you are purchasing from a private party, they really come in handy. Also, regardless of who you purchase from, get someone unrelated to do a vehicle inspection. Some areas have motor home inspectors, just like you would hire to do a pre-purchase inspection of a brick and mortar home. Use them.

Ask the perspective seller if they have any problems with taking the vehicle to a dealer/inspector of your choice for them to inspect it. If they balk at all, leave! They may require a deposit before they take it to an inspector, that's normal and understandable, but make sure you purchase agreement stipulates that if the inspection is not acceptable, you get your deposit back. Get it IN WRITING.

Just for kicks, what part of the country do you live in?
Scot & Laura Kellersberger
Newmar 4 wheel drive Dutch Star 3891, 2005 GMC Canyon. Demco Tow Bar & Baseplate U.S.Army (ret)
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Old 06-25-2015, 09:26 PM   #8
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I am still figuring out this forum. I think I sent private messages to some of you. Anyway, My husband and I are going full time. I never wanted to "take my house with me" but now I do! I favor a smaller one for now until we get used to driving it around.

We want to find out how little we need to get by. We have a huge house we just put on the market, and it is ridiculous how much pure crap one can accumulate when one has the space. Truthfully, I prefer the size/amenities of the Damon, but it might be so very heavy already, with the mirrors, lights, double paned windows, etc, that I don't know how it would handle. We are jumping into the unknown with both feet.
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Old 06-25-2015, 09:28 PM   #9
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You have all been so helpful! We have been driving around RV camps to talk to folks about their rigs, and overall, people are happy with what they have.

Thank you and maybe we'll see you around.
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Old 06-26-2015, 06:14 AM   #10
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There is some commonly quoted financial wisdom that suggests you'll be WAY ahead if you can buy the second coach first.....

Regarding handling, you'll need to get used to whatever you wind up with. I would suggest you do your best to not be intimidated by the larger coaches (especially if you're considering going full time!!!). You'll get used to one of those in about the same time it will take for one that's 6 feet shorter. You aren't likely going to be taking either to the grocery store....
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Old 06-26-2015, 06:59 AM   #11
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Having owned both a gasser and now a DP...Some thoughts...

1. Handling. You will be surprised on how quickly you can learn to handle a MH but it is always good to get someone with previous experience to teach you. Along with that I found the large DP easier to handle and maneuver than the gasser because of bigger angle the front wheels can "cut" into a turn and the shorter overhang. Also, on the road there was a huge difference in comfort and stability with the DP winning hands down.

2. Storage & cargo carrying. Again, in comparison the DP wins again. The problem with gassers is that the weight on the rear axle can become excessive once you look at full fuel and water sitting on it along with all the rest of your stuff. It is not impossible at all to FT in a gasser but that does depend on how much stuff you want to carry and still be able to have full fuel and water. DPs will also tend to carry more fuel and water along with having bigger waste tanks which can be helpful.

3. Fit & finish. DPs TEND to have higher quality fit and finish. HOWEVER...top line gassers can be very competitive in this area so judge accordingly.

4. Floor plan is nearly everything. You can have the best of everything else but if you don't like your floor plan you will not be happy. The trick is to find the floor plan that gives you comfort to live in and yet has all the other things (handling, horse power, towing capacity...) to make it travel nicely too.

As a few others have said...be very careful about thinking you can "upsize" later. Been there, did that, wish we hadn't though it wasn't a horrible mistake. Depending on your limited budget you could get trapped into your first purchase wishing you had gone bigger/better. HOWEVER...only you can know what will fit into your budget. We could have saved several thousand dollars in the long run had we just bought the DP first. But...I have to admit the gasser we started with taught us a lot of valuable lessons and was key in determining the next step.

The bottom line is that owning a class A motorhome for full time use takes a lot of effort to get it right the first time. If you haven't owned a MH before the homework can be intimidating. You will have to consider setting aside what you have come to know as standard configurations in a house and shift your brain towards efficient use of space. As an example, our first MH had a swinging door for the bedroom. Opening the door presented some problems if someone was at the sink on the other side. We have come to value pocket doors since. Evaluating what you use to own vs what you need. How many cooking and eating utensils, plates, pots and pans do you have now and what do you need on the road? Room for clothes, groceries, and all the things that will make it your home require some planning being conscious of volume and weight.

The systems are complicated and require you learn about how they work. If your husband is handy with mechanical and electrical systems in general and likes to work on them, it can keep him busy attending to them.

I don't mean to scare you just help you understand that to get it correct the first time takes...TIME. Time to study, research, evaluate your needs, wants and budget. It can be fun, frustrating and tiresome but in the end, if it gets you there and you find it fulfilling...AWESOME!

Good luck!
Don, Sandee & GSD Zeus. Guardian GSDs Gunny (7/11/15) & Thor (5/5/15)
2006 DSDP 4320, Spartan MM IFS, 2013 CR-V, Blue Ox Avail, SMI AF1, Samsung 197R Refer.
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Old 06-26-2015, 07:16 AM   #12
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FWIW as a couple I would not try to full time in a 30 ft MH. I would do a 36 as the extra few feet get you the room to do stuff alone or together. Think about what hobbies and activities you both want to have room for. How do you manage with 3 days of rain? There is also a difference between clutter and stuff you need. clutter you just haul along. Stuff is things you would need to buy again and again or pay for service you could do yourself. Cool weather clothing and a basic tool kit come to mind. It is also the hobby stuff that keeps life interesting for both of you.
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Old 06-26-2015, 09:18 AM   #13
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You are going to make a long term decision and need to be sure you can live with it. Take your time and look at a lot of coaches. Expect it to take several months to find the one that fits your needs.
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Old 06-26-2015, 09:34 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by dan-nickie View Post
You are going to make a long term decision and need to be sure you can live with it. Take your time and look at a lot of coaches. Expect it to take several months to find the one that fits your needs.

Don, Sandee & GSD Zeus. Guardian GSDs Gunny (7/11/15) & Thor (5/5/15)
2006 DSDP 4320, Spartan MM IFS, 2013 CR-V, Blue Ox Avail, SMI AF1, Samsung 197R Refer.
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