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Old 03-26-2014, 03:31 PM   #1
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Not to wear out the subject, but .....

Is there as much difference as one my think in driving and manuevering a 26' Class A such as a Safari Trek vs a 36' Class A such as a Mountain Aire.

Or does one in time not really notice or think about how much coach is behind them when driving?

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Old 03-26-2014, 03:53 PM   #2
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We fall in the middle of that range, with our 32' Georgetown. We started out with a 26' Class C and I find the bigger rig easier to drive. That may be due more to the better visibility in the Class A than anything else.Unfortunately, DW isn't tall enough to reach the pedals within the range of seat adjustment and with the non-telescoping steering column.

Between selling type "C" and buying the "A", I did 2 years (post retirement from an engineering career) as a transit coach driver. The fleet was almost all Gillig, and once you learned the basics, it didn't make much difference whether you were drivine a 30' or 40' coach. The only place to be careful with the longer ones was sighting for a right turn in-city. You had to go farther into the intersection before you started twirling the wheel with the longer coach, otherwise you'd have the back wheels over the sidewalk.

If you're driving just one type of vehicle and not swapping back and forth, I don't think length is a big issue, except when getting into a camp-site!

Frank Damp -Anacortes, WA,(DW- Eileen)
ex-pat Brits (1968) and ex-RVers.
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Old 03-26-2014, 03:54 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by SissyBoyBob View Post
Is there as much difference as one my think in driving and manuevering a 26' Class A such as a Safari Trek vs a 36' Class A such as a Mountain Aire. Or does one in time not really notice or think about how much coach is behind them when driving?
When over the road you are responsible for the hole the front of your coach is making in the air in front of you. I look at it as being 10' wide and 13' tall. If the drivers seat goes through that hole then the remaining footage behind you will follow, what ever that might be. As you get into tight turns and slow speed campground situations this changes some what but probably not as much as you thing.
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:00 PM   #4
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You must always be aware of your size and turn radius and
tail swing. Some seem to do it naturally, others do not seem to
be able to conquer the spatial relationships. Even us
seasoned veterans will stop, get out and look it over. Never back up
without a tail spotter. If you are not sure, go very slowly and get
out and check it as you go. You might try going to a school bus
company, get your learning permit, and have them take you out
and see how you instinctively handle the size of the coach. Many
start out in empty parking lots before going on the road.
You may find out it is just not within your capability, or you may be
OK with learning and some practice.
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:05 PM   #5
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I agree with the three posts above. Once you are sure the vehicle fits through the hole, just drive on. Turns, especially if your driving position is in front of the axle takes a bit of attention. Take your RV out in an empty parking lot with some cones and practice turns, backing, etc.
Another thing to learn is behavior on hills. The RV is heavy and you need to pay attention to engine temps, RPM, speed, etc. Downshifting to keep engine in best torque range is important, you can't always depend on auto transmission. Braking and using engine compression going downhill is also needed. Apply brakes firmly to drop speed by 10 mph or more, then let off until speed builds again. Don't ride the brakes.

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Old 03-26-2014, 04:12 PM   #6
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Generally speaking, I believe it's a mistake to choose a smaller coach simply because you have concerns about being able to learn to handle a bigger rig.

Our first RV of any kind was the new 40DP we purchased in 2007. Once I got past the "OMG" factor... it became a piece of cake. Do all of the things pointed out above, and you'll be fine.

Buy the rig which will best meet your needs and you'll quickly adapt to driving it... whatever it's size.

Best of luck.

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

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Old 03-26-2014, 04:19 PM   #7
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We had a 28' Safari Trek. Now a 37' Pace Arrow. No big difference in driving the two. Love the additional room. Don't buy small because of concern over difficultly to drive the larger coach.
Vince and Susan
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Flat towing a modified 2005 Jeep (Rubicon Wrangler)
Previously a 2002 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 37A and a 1995 Safari Trek 2830.
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:24 PM   #8
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:29 PM   #9
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Simply no.
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Old 03-26-2014, 05:03 PM   #10
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Hi SissyBoyBob,
I started with a 26' coach and now drive a 40' coach. When turning, one needs to remember the pivot point is the rear axle. Right turns need more attention than left turns. Other than that, the difference is not noticeable.

To help with the turns this is what I did. You will need two helpers.
1. Sit in the driver's seat in the driving position.
2. Have helper #1 stand at the rear axle where the wheels touch the ground.
3. Have helper #2 place a small round marker on your outside rear view mirror so the marker covers where the feet of helper #1 is standing. I use the small sticky round things that one can put on the feet of chairs so they do not scratch floors.
4. Do the same thing for the other side of the coach.
5. This will aid you in determining where the rear wheels are when making a turn. It comes in handy for low speed tight turns.
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Old 03-26-2014, 05:04 PM   #11
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Some of the maneuverability issues are based on the length but also on the steering "cut". My previous 39' Winnebago on a Workhorse gas chassis had a 50* cut while my current 43' DSDP has a 57* cut. I can get my DSDP into some places I couldn't get my Winnebago into.

The unit you linked to looks like it is a 2002 MACA 3560 or 3566. Here is the link to get you to the Brochure Archives


Go to 2002 and go to Mountain Aire...the brochures that year combined both the diesel and gas models into a single one.

All of the MACA line is on the Workhorse W22 chassis with the same 8.1L Vortec engine they used to drive my larger/heavier 39' Winnebago so horse power will not be an issue that should give you pause. There are some issues with the brakes on the W22 chassis that had recalls done on them so research that carefully.

Here is a link on info regarding the brake recall.


Keep an eye out for the queen bed. It looks like it is a "short queen" being 75" long instead of 80". Depending on how you sleep or how tall you are, it is something you will want to check out. That was common for many MHs including my 2006 Winnebago. We didn't see that one coming.

The chassis is a W22 with a GVWR of 22,000# and GCWR (total MH & toad capability) of 26,000#. After filling the gas tank it has about 3700# of useful cargo carrying (fuel, LP, water, waste tanks, passengers and living "stuff") if it was stock without any options. Any options will reduce that but a single person shouldn't have any problem with that much CCC. It has a 5,000# hitch. With full fuel, LP & water I would estimate the remaining cargo for stock model is 3700# - 1200# (full fuel, fresh water (both 75 gal) and 32# of LP) = 2500# for you, clothes, food and stuff.

Newmar coaches are well made and insulated evan in the gas coach line. While 36' seems long, it isn't unmanageable and quite capable of fitting into any small CG spot.

While 36' is a bit big to run around in, you will easily be able to park it away from most vehicles in big shopping areas except in exceptionally busy parking lots. Keep an eye out for some parking lots with guards to keep tall RVs out. If you decide to tow a car, that will make things easier when you are parked for a few days.

If you are a good driver you will not have too much problem learning to drive a 36' model. It takes a little more planning but even with a toad can get into most any reasonable parking area and fuel pumps. Not all, but most. With a toad you just have to learn how to judge your turns, especially right turns onto narrow streets. Even a 29' class B needs a little more planning compared to a car.

With a gas model the overhang (part of MH behind the rear axle) is relatively long and you can't cut turns real tight if you are near obstacles on the off turn side. Also, you can't turn tight into an obstacle until your rear wheels are passed it. In both cases the trick is to not park too close to gas pumps so you have good options to turn to or from the gas pump when done.

The handling issues with a short Class A vs a B+ will vary. The A will be taller and more prone to cross winds and being blown around. That can be a little or a lot. OTOH, you will have a great view in front of you to see further down the road. Some folks have a problem begin blown around and there are some handling fixes that can help improve the stability of a gas Class A including new/upgraded trac and stability bars. I won't get into those except to say they can help a lot.

Here is an article on steering


Hope that helps more than confuses.
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 03-26-2014, 06:23 PM   #12
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In time, you adapt and adjust. Like riding a bike, it will become second nature to account for the rig that is following you behind the driver seat. However, I always have a very healthy respect when I climb in the drivers seat of a 40' motor home.
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:01 PM   #13
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Thanks all. It seems like the common opinion is go with the larger one so you won't regret not having enough room or storage area. Since it will be my full time home for the rest of my life, I am sure that makes since.

I just want to make sure I enjoy driving it for I will be traveling almost constantly with short stopovers to take in the sights of a new area before moving on down the rode to the next sight to see. Am thinking I might stay at a full service camp ground once a week to empty and refill up the coach.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:02 PM   #14
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the shortest we have owned is a 23' class c. would pull in anywhere and not worry about an "escape route" our biggest was a 36' and wouldn't pull in any where I couldn't see an easy way out. our last 3 have been 30' and still won't pull in if I can't see an easy way out. as for driving down the road they all seem about the same, its just when it comes to parking things get totally different...

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