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Old 04-30-2011, 04:14 PM   #1
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Talking Oh, Lord, another newbie... :)

Hi Guys,

I am a first timer who will be thrust into the ranks of full-timing very soon. My budget is under $70,000 and I've been looking at 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004's in all makes and models consistent with my budget. When I find the right MH I'll be walking away from the house I live in today. My financing is now firmly in place and I've talked with an insurance company. Since I'm going to create an LLC in Montana for this purchase I'll need to find another insurance provider because I just found out that Progressive will not cover LLC registered MH's. So, basically, most all of the requirements are in place to pull the trigger with just a few details left to handle. Given that I am a deliberate shopper and not impulsive I am in no real hurry, but finding the right MH sooner rather than later would be a very good thing. There is no countdown clock running that would force me to make a hasty decision. I just want to find the right MH for me. I've been shopping 38-41 footers with 2-3 slides and less than 50,000 miles. I'd much prefer to start with 25k miles versus 75k miles. I expect to go from point A to point B in the MH and then release my toad for sight seeing and exploring. On the personal side I'm retired and 2 years divorced. It will be just me and my trusty road dog and "chick magnet" pup, Romeo (4.5 lb Maltese). I sure hope there are some available women where I'm going, otherwise I might have to rename my dog coyote bait.

It would appear I'm on the cusp of this thing actually happening and I'm excited and anxious all at the same time. I'm here to try to arm myself with as much info as possible to help me minimize my mistakes. It would be nice to not make the same mistakes as others, but we all know there are enough mistakes to go around for everybody. Let me also apologize up front for making such a lengthy post, especially as a newcomer to www.irv2.com. If you can find the patience to read the whole post I would appreciate it. Unfortunately, lengthy posts are a kind of forum abuse that I can't always seem to avoid. My head is ready to explode from all the "facts" I've been mulling over for the last 3 weeks of this process. Thank you in advance if you can see your way clear to respond and offer your advice. I've developed some preferences of my own, but I will gladly defer to your personal experience when justified. For instance, I already know I don't want a rubber roof. Too many people have complained about them and my reasoning is where there is smoke there is fire with respect to leaks and tears. The only people I have heard from who prefer rubber roofs are those who were selling an RV with one. I want a one piece fiberglass roof for all the reasons that other's give. A metal roof would be a second choice. I've also learned that storage is an important consideration. I'd really like that addressed by full-timers if possible. Full basements seem to be the most desirable, but not all MH's I've liked have them. I don't need entertainment systems and TV's in the basement. I'm going full-timing and not tailgating. Cabinets and drawers inside the coach are also a perceived premium and I trust the old axiom that says you can't have too much storage. It would appear the bedroom slide is a really good thing as it provides for the rear hanging closet that you don't get otherwise. Next comes the bathroom. I've determined that I don't want or need more than one bathroom sink and I don't need privacy for the toilet. Hopefully, this concession alone will help narrow my search and create additional bulk space and maybe even save me money. Since I've been an avid cook my whole adult life I am critical of the kitchens I see in these motorhomes. They just seem so tight.

To this point I've narrowed down my ideal choices as coming from Newmar, Monaco and Safari. What follows are my thoughts about various aspects of MH's. I value the voice of experience and full-timer opinions will be especially welcome. PLEASE respond if you are technically oriented.

1. My first concern relates to chassis. I've made this an important focus for a number of reasons. Safety, quality of ride, tire wear and turning radius topped my list of concerns. I've read a lot of complaints about Freightliner chassis'. I've also read about proprietary chassis' like Roadmaster, Magnum and Spartan. I don't know if the argument is valid that a custom chassis designed for RV's will do a better job, but it makes sense on the surface, at least. We all like the idea of a better quality ride coupled to better handling. Getting objective opinions has been difficult in my online research. However, just recently I've come across a $5k active suspension system that is supposed to be cure all of what ails inferior chassis and suspensions. The system incorporates sensors that feed several computers that then tell a compressor which airbags to activate to achieve a desired result under all driving conditions. I believe they also provide automatic air leveling while parked, which could be a substitute for traditional leveling systems. This is really techie stuff that I like, but I will also concede that adding complexity can often be a double edged sword. That said, I'd prefer to not have to install active suspension if proprietary chassis from Spartan and Roadmaster are adequate to the task. It would appear the real value of such an upgrade would benefit the least worthy of the chassis most, which I've determined to be Freightliner. But, if Freightliner's chassis can be meaningfully upgraded then I would have to add Freightliner back into the list of possibles if an active suspension could be retrofitted. Then there is just the bigger turning radius of the Freightliner to consider.

2. Motors and transmissions: I've read a lot of discussions and some arguments relating to Cummins versus Caterpillar. I can't say I fully comprehend why some prefer one over another. I don't know enough about their respective technical aspects to make a valid judgment, but my preference is still leaning towards Cummins. I read somewhere that the decision to buy a MH shouldn't be predicated on which motor it has provided the HP and torque ratings are adequate to the task. I do know that certain models of Cats require a 50,000 mile valve adjustment and I have read about a lot of Cummins needing replacement oil pumps at $6,000 per, ouch! My attitude has always been that you can't have too much horsepower in motorized vehicles whether they are airplanes, boats or cars. Motorhomes seem to be different in this respect since I've read the MPG ratings users give their MH's. I see now there needs to be a delicate balance between fuel consumption and real world needs for power. I'll be towing a 5,000 toad and I'm going to be spending a LOT of time in the mountains. Given a GVWR of low 30k pounds and a GVCWR of closer to 40,000 lbs. I'm thinking the Cummins 8.3L ISC and ISL's at 350-370 HP will be more than adequate for my needs. I'll be driving 55-60 mph and expect to see 8+ mpg on the flats. If the fuel consumption of the Cummins can be significantly enhanced with the Banks Power mod then I might consider buying it. I already know their mod requires the MH3000 Allison. It is also my understanding that HP for HP the Cummins develops higher torque. If true then that is meaningful. I fully understand the importance of torque in this equation and so I've been leaning towards Cummins. Further, I've developed a logical preference for a side radiator versus having one in the stern. Getting easier access to things like belts and accessories like A/C compressor, alternator and belts makes sense and I'm thinking it could save $$ in routine maintenance to have the easiest engine access possible. I've also noticed that some Newmars, Safaris and Monacos that have a side radiator also have an elevated air intake. On the surface this doesn't seem like it would be very significant, but in my mind keeping the air intake high and out of the dust and debris turbulence wake makes sense and shows forethought on the part of the manufacturer. It would also hopefully make for longer intervals between air filter changes.

3. Brakes: This one is simple, I hope. Big antilock drums with lots of stopping power seem to be the order of the day.

4. Gensets: I've narrowed this one down to front, slide mounted Onan 7500 Quiet Diesel. I like the idea of a variable speed gen that will be more fuel efficient at lighter electrical loads.

5. I've seen enough coaches online to make anyone's head explode. I've seen all the floorplans available in my price range and it would appear that layouts are mostly a personal preference. However, if there are significant considerations with respect to quality I'd sure like to learn about. I know better than to put cosmetics before structural integrity, for instance. It's like putting lipstick on a pig. It still squeals. I would think the big nightmare with coaches is rattles and trying to isolate and stop them. I don't want a rattle trap!! I don't want cheap cabinetry. Also, I would prefer a roomier shower with a seat versus a smaller one without. I don't need more than one bathroom sink. I don't need privacy for the toilet. I don't want a combo washer/dryer. I do, however, want a stackable, separate washer/dryer. Ceiling fans are a great idea over the bed and in the kitchen, but hard to find, especially in lower ceilings in my price range. I want satellite. I want Internet. I don't want a J-couch. I don't have to have leather. I want a computer desk. Hardwoods are best, but not a deal killer by any means. Thermopane windows are better than single pane glass. Heat pumps are better, especially when connected in a park in moderately cold temperatures. I've seen larger windows in a living room that made a big difference in feel. To that same point double slides in the living room also are better. Getting a bigger kitchen at the expense of some living area is ok with me. I'm an avid cook.

6. Water and Sewage: The plan right now is to boondock more often than not and it would appear the biggest single limiting factor determining max length of stay is water capacity. In the specs I see it would appear they are including the water heater. I've been looking only at 90-105 gallon coaches with black and gray tanks also appropriately sized. When I look at basement water/sewer bays I see varying quality. I've never even seen a dump station, so I'm a bit lost here. Maybe you've got some good insights.

7. Electrical: I don't know a lot about the electrical systems aboard MH's. I know parks have varying amperage levels of connections depending on your needs. Everything I've been looking at has a 50 amp service connection. It seems to also be the norm to have a 2kw inverter and it would seem that not all inverters are created equal. I don't know the differences, yet, but it looks like replacing a 2 kw inverter is a $3,000 proposition. Obviously, it would be best to be able to run everything in the MH at the same time when either connected in a park or on the hook, to borrow a yachting expression. I've also read nightmare stories about connecting to a 50 amp service and then due to local demand being "under volted" and ruining the inverter in the process. Apparently, under voltage kills inverters when demand exceeds the supply. I don't know how one guards against such a thing, but maybe you can tell me. I also a quality, well organized electrical bay when I see one. MH's that have a bird's nest of wires show me a lack of forethought and consideration. When something goes wrong I want it to be easily diagnosed and fixed. Getting easy access to critical components seems part and parcel to a quality installation. I assume the Onan 7.5 kw genset is adequate to run everything at the same time. I know that a/c units require an initial voltage surge to get them started, but once running they run more efficiently. Integrity in the electrical system is a must for me.

8. Slides, awnings, retractable steps, etc.: I've seen slides that are deeper than others and some even have extra windows on the ends. I don't know anything about the mechanicals of slides, except that slide locks must work before the MH can be driven. I've also seen extendable/retractable awning covers that look to be for keeping out debris and providing shade from UV rays that could deteriorate seals. I know wind is the bane of awnings and I've seen a few pictures of shredded awnings. I guess it would be nice to have an auto/motorized awning, but it just seems like something else to break. I also see the value of a metal cover when fully retracted. I don't know anything about retractable steps other than motors burn out. I also know that bedroom slides provide for more closet space and room to walk around the bed.

I know this has been a very long winded post and I know it is always easier to ignore this kind of post. I would, however, greatly appreciate your participation and responses to the issues I've brought up here. Your experience is most valuable to me. I'm going to be buying my new used motorhome in the next little bit and it is to that end that your contributions considered. It seems that at about every turn I learn something new. And in all humility let me just say that I know I'm just scratching the surface of the subject. You are the real experts and it is to you that I am looking for guidance. I've heard about all the BS I can stand from dealers and now I'm turning to users for the final word. Lastly, I'll be hiring an independent inspector for my pre-purchase inspection. I'm not sure who that will be, but someone said to simply take it to a service center and they will do a good job. Feedback?

Best Regards,

John Dent
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Old 04-30-2011, 06:16 PM   #2
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Personally, I think you are 'jumping the gun' from owning a stick house and going on the road full-time. If you are selling the house to get the RV and full-time, have you considered the possibility you might NOT-LIKE-IT ??. Then you will have a heck of a time getting rid of the RV(they depreciate faster than the Titanic sank!!) and back into the stick home.

Without living in the RV for extended periods on long vacations(for example), you cannot know if you like it at all. You are just now buying a unit!!

JMHO, I think you need to set down with your DW and re-think the whole idea.

cheers
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Old 04-30-2011, 06:47 PM   #3
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Dave - I think there is no DW. (or does DW now stand for divorced wife?)

Regardless, WOW! That post was Long! Lots of questions, but good ones - maybe you can separate the post into multiple post questions, I think that would generate more answers for you. I will say that I know of a person who, after his divorce, purchased a 40' DP and used it for FT living, and was good, but now after a some years, it is not the right thing for him, and is stuck with the mortgage payments.
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Old 04-30-2011, 07:02 PM   #4
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John

1st welcome to the forum. I think what you have programed for buying a motorhome give you alot of flexiblity. Have you looked at the classifieds on this site yet?? Some nice ones in there. Decide if you want a gas or diesel. With your travels in the mountains and towing a 5000 lbs toad, I'd suggest Diesel. I stumbled upon a coach I had never heard of before and appears to be in great shape, might want to take a look:

1964 Flxible Flxliner

You might also look at country coaches and within your budget if not looking at new.

I fell asleep reading you post and hit my head on the table. Got a hell of knot on it. Therefore I now go before you fall asleep reading this.

jack
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Old 04-30-2011, 07:07 PM   #5
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We own a 5er so we can only talk about a few things here that may help you. We went from a S&B to FT in our 5er. Sold the house & got rid of the stuff in March & moved into our 5er on April 19. That said we made sure that we had a bathroom all in one room (not the bedroom). We also wanted toppers or awnings on our slides. So far so good, we have gone through a rain & now in the middle of a snow storm (yes the end of April). We also asked them to install a water treatment filter under the kitchen sink as we planned on being in lotsa different places & not sure of water quality in some parts of the country. We got one that does double duty, it filters out bacteria & sediments. Cdn $175. As an added precaution we also use the inline sediment filter when hooked up to city water. The other thing we got installed was the 3 solar panels & 4 LIFELINE batteries (they need no deep cycling). All this was rather pricey, but we figured that becuz this was our house now we would spare no expense up front. So far very satisfied with all that was done. We have not had the opportunity to use the storage batteries from the solar panels as we are connected to shore power. But we intended to boondock down the road so we are happy with things so far. Happy trails...Jeannine & Joe
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Old 04-30-2011, 07:25 PM   #6
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Sorry, Didn't read the entire post, but welcome to the forum.
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Old 04-30-2011, 07:48 PM   #7
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Way too much input for the out put you are willing to pay. I don't think you'll get much for your money - hopefully you'll get lucky - buyers market - really bad gas prices - best of luck to you.
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Old 04-30-2011, 08:02 PM   #8
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Thanks, I'll check out the classifieds.

JD
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Old 04-30-2011, 08:05 PM   #9
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Thanks for the welcome.
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Old 04-30-2011, 08:53 PM   #10
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Welcome chofujohn to irv2.
You have compiled a long list that you should use when looking at coach's you maybe interested in.
Most RVer's will say floor plan floor plan is the most important because if you really didn't check it out your stuck with it.
Here are some links that you can use when checking out the coach's and than you can make comparisons between them.
By the way I have had rubber roof or really Brite-Tek roofs on all my coach's and there was never a problem with them.
Good luck in your quest and have fun.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:10 PM   #11
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Welcome to motorhoming! A couple of thoughts, IMHO...

In your price range, a Montana LLC probably isn't worth the time and effort vs. the one-time sales tax savings realized. Plus it adds complexity to the insurance situation, as you are finding out. As a full-timer, the way to go for most seems to be establishing residency and a mail drop in South Dakota or Texas, for the long-term benefits of no income tax, and minimal sales tax(in SD).

If you were to ask me(I'll tell you anyway), a 40 footer is a large boat to start motorhoming with. A 34-36 footer probably has plenty of living space for a single man with a dog, and I think you will find them significantly cheaper than a comparable 40(less desirable for families). Don't for a minute believe this will be the only m/h you will purchase. Many of us went in to motorhoming with that thought, and then learned from experience what we REALLY wanted, and traded for another(or several) m/h. There is definitely a learning curve for this lifestyle.

Research the weight sheets and the C.C.C. of your coach beforehand. Some C.C.C. weights(water in tanks + all your stuff) can range from under 800# to over 4000#. Some motorhomes can be overloaded before you move in your stuff... dangerous!

Boondocking can be very enjoyable for many. Be aware that many, many state/national parks cannot accommodate 40 footers in their campgrounds, which were built in an era of 25 footers.

IMHO, most holding tanks are not proportioned properly. The gray tanks are undersized, and always fill first, even with taking 'navy' showers. I feel that a ratio of 2:1 gray:black would be the optimum ratio for maximizing your boondock stays. Most m/h tanks are more 1:1 ratio.

Rather than doing our laundry in-coach, we prefer using the campground laundry about once a week. Using 2-3 washers at once, we are done in two hours. It's just a lot less hassle for us. If you are boondocking, you can't afford to fill up your gray tank with laundry water anyway. And by removing the existing washer, you gain a lot of additionalstorage space!

Considering the age of your new purchase, immediately I would consider the need for new tires($3-4k) and a reserve fund of at least $5k to account for the various gremlins that will appear in your new purchase... this from my experience of having purchased 3 used motorhomes in the past 5 years, all 6-7 years old at the time of purchase. You will spend some time and $$ to get the m/h in reliable condition to drive cross-country.

Most of the higher end motorhomes have substantial chassis and engines, and will serve you well if they have been well-maintained. Freightliner, Cummins, and Cat are ubiquitous in the motorhome world, and can be serviced readily almost anywhere. Independent front suspension(IFS) is definitely a step up in luxury ride, and cost.

Don't rule out Winnebago(see 3 motorhomes above). They all have fiberglass roofs, the company is still in business(parts availability), and they have an outstanding website with all the parts catalogs, electrical and plumbing schematics available free for download.

Good luck with your purchase! It sounds like you have given it a lot of thought. Safe travels.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:23 PM   #12
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Welcome, and that was a long post indeed. Gotta say if I was recently retired and divorced, hitting the road full time would be at the top of my list as well.

And what a list you have there!

I really like the RR8R roadmaster chassis. Hemmed and hawed a bit as my coach was built the year prior to monaco going under... But I'm very happy with it. The active suspension you describe is standard on these in the rear. Almost spooky on cloverleafs, she turns in, levels out, and then just digs around the corner. Wish it was fast enough to handle driveways too....

I looked at a lot of coaches that didn't have a raised rail chassis. You cab spot em in a heartbeat, the basemenbt bins come out with the slides, no passthru storage. Lotsa otherwise very nice fleetwoods like this in your pricerange. The main basement in my knight is almost 180 square feet.

40 ft DP's with ISL's don't really get 8 mpg very often.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:25 PM   #13
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oh, almost forgot, state farm will write a policy on a financed LLC owned motorhome.

Suncrest is about the only place that will finance one these days.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:47 PM   #14
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Thanks for the welcome reply... :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 007";844075]Welcome chofujohn to irv2.
You have compiled a long list that you should use when looking at coach's you maybe interested in.
Most RVer's will say floor plan floor plan is the most important because if you really didn't check it out your stuck with it.
Here [B][URL="http://www.irv2.com/forums/f58/pdi-list-for-mhs-13589.html
are some links[/URL][/B] that you can use when checking out the coach's and than you can make comparisons between them.
By the way I have had rubber roof or really Brite-Tek roofs on all my coach's and there was never a problem with them.
Good luck in your quest and have fun.
Hi 007,

I'll check out the link you provided. I sure could use some kind of comparison guide.

Regards,

John Dent
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