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Old 04-26-2011, 12:13 PM   #1
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Newbie with Questions

Hello all!

I just want to first open by saying that I think that all of you have some very informative responses and I wanted to thank you all in advance for letting me read this forum over the years!

Now for the question(s):

I am thinking about taking the plunge on a Diesel Class A this year and trading in my fifth wheel. With gas prices going up, I think I can land a decent deal on one. Here is where I stand to date.

I know that a gas unit for me is probably better for me than diesel, but I really want a decent chassis under the bus for stability. Are there any decent chassis that are beefier than an F53 or Workhose that I should consider or that are just as stable as a Roadmaster or Freightliner? (Not trying to start a chassis war here..)

I'd like to get the best fuel mileage possible, (between 8-10) if it's doable. I'd like to also stick with a Cummins unit

I have been looking at 99-01 Monaco's, 98-00 Newmar's, 00-02 winnebago journey's and that's been about it. Any other unit's I should consider that are in this price range and comparable build / better build?

I am hoping to get into a unit for around the 30-50k range, which I think I can do with a little elbow grease. Can you guys give me your opinion on which engine size /trans are good in these units? (5.9 v 8.3)

Anything I need to watch out for while looking at each of these 3 brands? I have read about the trailing arm issue on the monaco. Anything else from a MAJOR perspective?

Do you think this is a better approach than a newer Gas model?

Let's start there...LOL. Sooo much to consider!

Oh, I do know the standard things to look for and have been RV'ing virtually my entire life, but it's been with Class C's, fifth wheels and TT's, but never a Bus, and they certainly are a different beast.

Oh, another piece of information that may help sculpt the conversation is that my father owns a rigging company and I have been around large diesels most of my life, primarily internationals and KW's. Busses are still a different beast IMO. I also restore old cars, motorcycles, etc, so I am pretty well mechanically versed.


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Old 04-26-2011, 04:13 PM   #2
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You can agonize over the gas vs diesel question for years and not come to any conclusion. You have a good idea of what you want, so I'd go with the diesel and work on more productive questions, like floor plans.

The Monacos and Newmars you are looking at are excellent choices. I'd through American Coach and Country Coach of the same years into the mix.

As I understand it, the trailing arm problem is on just one Roadmaster/Monaco chassis (recent R4R) - not a pervasive thing.

The larger coaches are going to have an 8.3L (ISC) or 8.9L (ISL) engine while the lighter ones will have the 5.9L. Just make sure the engine has the horsepower & torque for the performance you expect. You sound like a car guy, so performance is probably a key thing for you. 100 lbs/hp gives adequate performance, but you are probably going to want something hotter, down around 75 lbs/hp.

Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition; 2014 Buick LaCRosse
Homebase in the Ocala Nat'l Forest near Ocala, FL
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Old 04-26-2011, 05:06 PM   #3
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For 9-10 + MPG The ISB 5.9L with 6 speed will do that.
It will get you up the same hills a 8.3 will.
The ISB takes less oil for oil changes also. 17 QT
Should be plenty of them in the MH's you are looking at.

Get the one with the floor plan you want. The engine will be what it is.
99 Discovery 34Q ISB
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Old 04-26-2011, 05:18 PM   #4
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Hi Patrick and

You've already outlined the best reason for you to buy a diesel. Because you WANT one so go for it. As Gary and Triker have said, focus on floorplan.

I'll leave comments on the various chassis to those with more expertise but I can tell you that my Frieghtliner with Cummins ISL 400 in a 40DP weighing just over 30,000lbs won't average much over 7.1 mpg towing a Ford Explorer at 62mph.

Good luck...
Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

2007 Itasca Ellipse 40FD
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Old 04-26-2011, 08:47 PM   #5
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Hey Guys, thanks for the advice! I thought I would hear more banter and pros and cons on brand loyalty, but I guess not! I also am looking at a Travel Supreme as well on a spartan chassis. I think now is a good time to get one. Hopefully, I could get it to last a few years.
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Old 04-29-2011, 07:05 PM   #6
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Looking at a HR Ambassador 34PBD tomorrow! Looks nice and clean!
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Old 04-30-2011, 08:20 AM   #7
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Pplumber, we bought a 38' 2001 Sportscoach with a 275HP Cummins ISB about 6 months ago for way under $50000.00. We chose it for the 275 ISB and we get 11.5 MPG at 65 MPH. We live in Florida which has no hills so if we are in the mountains it will be slow going. We have had to fix a lot of small things and we have totally re-done the interior but that was part of our plan. The brands you are looking at are great, some more expensive than others. The Freightliner chassis was what we wanted also; a large dealer network and relatively few problems. Same with the ISB. We joined the cummins power club which gives us a 10% discount on parts and labor and we do most of our own work. Cummins also has great technical support if you call them with a problem. Good luck on your search and keep us informed. DACOTAH
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Old 05-01-2011, 07:12 PM   #8
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Thanks. I seriously considered an ultrasport, but decided on the smaller Roadmaster chassis instead. This will be a weekend / week long vacation unit for the family. I came across a one owner HR ambassador 34PBD with 70k miles on it. All service records, all history. He walked me through it and showed me where he's had issues and his repairs. Wow. What a breath of fresh air. I could never get a dealer to do that for me with anything used on the lot. I found one with lower miles, but unknown history. I will pass and probably get the higher mileage one because I know so much about it. I think I am going to get a decent deal on it. I am fairly well inclined and have owned many RV's, so I am not going to sweat the small stuff, and have my friend who is a Cummins mechanic look it over. The place that services the MH is really good to deal with too.

I too plan on doing a make-over on the interior as well and that's in my budget. Any idea on how to go about finding a carpet guy in the Raleigh area that installs in MHs? Googling doesn't seem to help much. Maybe i'll call a few local RV shops.
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Old 05-01-2011, 08:02 PM   #9
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PPlumber - I have not had to replace the carpet in our current motor home, but when I did on the previous one I looked up RV Interiors on the internet. I found a really good one less than ten miles away.

Since you are looking at motor homes 10-12 years old it would be my opinion that you stick with higher quality builders. Generally speaking they tend to hold up longer. We are very happy with our nine year old Country Coach and I think that they are very well built. I would also add Beaver to your list. They were bought by Monaco and have beautiful interiors. Quite a few people in this forum recommend Tiffin. I have no personal experience with that brand but do think the Allegro Bus is similar to Newmar Dutch Stars and a good motor home. Tiffin seems to be a brand that attracts people that love them and people that hate them.

On the other hand almost everyone likes Country Coach.
B Bob
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Old 05-02-2011, 08:45 AM   #10
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PPlumber, We did this "what to buy thing" a year and a half ago and we narrowed down our lines to Beaver, Monaco, HR (all made by Monaco), Newmar, Country Coach, and Tiffin. Given all things I knew I would have put Newmar in the lead. We then picked the floor plan that we thought we could live in. We were planning to be full-timers. We found a great deal on a 2005 Monaco and we love it! We work in the winter and travel all summer. We're pretty heavy and pull a Trailblazer and I love the 400hp ISL. Most full-timers we met over the years camping said one of two things; I'm going to get a diesel next or I started with a gas coach and moved up to this diesel. You're on the right track, just take your time.
2005 Diplomat 40PDQ, Jeep Liberty Diesel Toad
Randy, Pam & Rascal (150lb Rottweiler in a Jack Russell Terrier body)
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Old 05-02-2011, 06:37 PM   #11
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Thanks. I figured I'd skip the whole gas thing. I have a commercial drivers license (because my father owns a trucking company) and have owned numerous diesel trucks. I don't think I could deal with gas (for me).

I think I am going to go with a holiday rambler 34 footer with a 5.9 cummins. Since it's a weekender unit for me I want something that's not too big and I can get it into state parks. Also, my old fifth wheel fits on my 35 foot parking pad, so I know I can get the bus on it too.

A few things I've found on this particular unit

The edges of the eternabond are turned up about a half an inch in some places. I called HR and they said most units that left the factory never had the edges caulked. He said to take a yard stick and trim the edges and caulk it. Either that or replace it.

There are some black marks appearing on the ceiling of this unit that follow what I would consider the ribs of the unit. Again the factory thought this was from the aluminum ribs sweating and rubbing on the panels on the roof. I confirmed no leaks.

Most everything else was little stuff I will take care of. The gentleman that owns it has all records and paper since new and is the only owner. Mechanically, it's in excellent shape. Cosmetically, it's a 10 year old unit. (but no problem for me)

Another interesting point. When I called HR to ask them about cost on a few parts that I wanted to replace, he thought I was nuts. He asked me why I wanted to replace the parts I was talking about (grab handle, wiper arms, a few plastic pieces). I told him they were faded, cracked, etc and they looked awful. He said "ok, whatever you want!". I think he thought I was crazy.

I take very good care of my stuff, and love purchasing used things and working on them to make them immaculate. It's just my thing I guess. People get in line to buy my stuff from me when I'm done with it :-) I am just surprised that some people let their units get so bad when they spend so much on them! I have purchased things in worse shape. This one should be a quick week's worth of work in my spare time.

I'll keep you posted. Any other comments, recommendations would be appreciated.

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