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Old 05-07-2015, 05:59 PM   #1
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Question for DP Owners

Since we now have more time for RVing, much of it in the mountains, Iíve been considering the purchase of a 5-8 year old DP. But after following a number of forums here and reading many tales of woe and even expensive rebuilds, Iím wondering if I really want to get rid of my super simple and reliable gasser.

Are we only hearing from the unlucky minority while thousands of folks who have few or no problems with their DPs are happily motoring along and have nothing of issue to post here?

I don't mind routine maintenance expenses but I want to have a reasonable degree of reliability and faith in the rig.

Thanks.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:07 PM   #2
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Depends on what you're looking for but typically, a DP is the highest operating cost of all. The trade off is size and handling if you choose the right coach but make no mistake, they are not cheap to operate.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:25 PM   #3
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Stuff happens to all rigs, DP's are just more expensive to fix some things.

We went with a 2001, so far so good with minor stuff. But the difference in towing my toad around is like going from the Wright Brothers to the USS Enterprise.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:25 PM   #4
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The big annoyance I had was being able to troubleshoot the hydraulic pump for the side radiator, which just took a lot of time since it wasn't a complete failure. But I've had just as big and annoying issues finding niggling driveline issues in my Subaru, so it's really anything mechanical these days, I think.

For us it was comfort as much as anything else. We can be pounding up an 8% grade and holding a normal conversation, which we couldn't do with our gas coach. And my wife likes that we can drop the coach before leveling it.

All that said, maybe one of the UFO Winnebagos might be a compromise for you? I think they eventually worked the various bugs out...

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Old 05-07-2015, 06:34 PM   #5
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Yes, maintenance on a DP is higher then a gasser. Maintenance though is the key to preventing premature failure of components. I do most of my own maintenance, oil changes, lube, filters, etc.

If you plan on putting on a lot of miles then the DP may be a good choice as the recommended service interval is usually 15K miles or 1 year. This may offset some of the maintenance costs since it usually cost me ~$200 for oil and filter change including the fuel filters and coolant filter. With proper care a DP can go +250K miles. I have 101K on mine and it's still running strong.

Depending on the DP you choose the fit & finish will be better then a gasser although some manufacturers are stepping up to the plate making a higher quality of product.

Good Luck on your choice.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:35 PM   #6
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We have lost two rear inner tires at different times which could happen to any coach if you put cheaper tires on--we now run Michelins. We have been stranded twice--once with a burst hydraulic hose, and the other time a fuse to the engine computer--took Caterpillar a while to find it. No issues with the engine at all with 164k miles on it. Just had transmission serviced with Transynd--about a $1000 cost, but good for 5 years. Two years ago I had the engine coolant lines replaced and chassis overhauled, but that was after 19 years. Many of the house systems are the same as a gasser, although you usually have bigger inverters, bigger diesels have Jake brakes or retarders which are very efficient compared to engine braking on a gasser. Once you test drive a quality diesel, I think you,ll find it's well worth the extra cost.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:37 PM   #7
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The main reasons for considering the upgrade are the increased power (torque) for dragging our 4000 lbs. Jeep over mountain passes at something more than 40 mph, better handling and a cushier ride.

I've spent a small fortune on improving the ride and handling of our Suncruiser and it paid off. But it still ain't no DP!

I'd really like to have a Newmar. A Kountry Star to be exact.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:40 PM   #8
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There's no doubt that it isn't cheap to operate and maintain a DP, or any rig for that matter, and it is something you should know before jumping in feet first. If you based you opinion on this subject solely on the tales of woe you hear on the internet, you'd likely steer clear. However, you must understand that it's far easier to complain, talk about what isn't working, discuss unexpected woes and tragedies than it is to start a thread about how great your coach is running or how you thingamajig worked exactly how it is supposed to work. Like news, a building that isn't burning is rather boring. This isn't to say that failures don't happen, they do. But for every blown engine, there are many more out there doing what they're supposed to be doing -- moving you happily along the road.
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Old 05-07-2015, 08:02 PM   #9
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You're probably going to get a thousand different answers to your questions and thoughts.

The opinions from each person will of course be based on how their coach will be used.

We just drove 530 miles today through Montana. We held the speed at about 70 MPH all day. Winds varied from 20 MPH to 40 MPH with 50 MPH side wind gusts. A couple of hours of today's trip was in a snow storm, much of the day was in heavy rain. It was not an idyllic scenic leisure drive in the park kind of day. We ran a few 6% - 7% grades, managed to hold highway speed on most of them except for two climbs that actually pulled us down to 40 MPH. The diesel engine had a real work out today, and reminded me of that fact when I filled the tank tonight. The day's fuel mileage rang in at 6 MPG. By comparison, on a normal calm sunny day, I can expect the mileage to be about 8 MPG.

Having said that. From my perspective sitting in the driver's seat, it was an easy day. My wife rather enjoyed the day's trip, offering the opinion that only once or twice did it feel like we were possibly going a little fast for conditions, for which I profusely apologized. The time passed quickly as I listened to some movies that my wife was watching on her computer. The first thing I knew, we had arrived at our destination and it was time for a nice steak supper.

Life is good.

Jim
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Old 05-07-2015, 08:20 PM   #10
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Basically Sir,
With:
Are we only hearing from the unlucky minority while thousands of folks who have few or no problems with their DPs are happily motoring along and have nothing of issue to post here?

In all reality, you answered your own question with that statement. What many folks on these forums don't really realize is, the amount of folks, participating in ANY RV forum, is so infinitely small, in comparison to the actual amount of real world RVers out there. People join these forums for various reasons.
But, the reporting of issues, for any particular coach or, engine or, trans or, whatever, is from a very limited amount of folks. That's not to say that there's not "grand" problems out there with engines/transmissions/suspensions/certain brand coaches/tires, and a zillion other items that make up these rolling Kleenex boxes.

But, let's take the engine in question. Your model and series. I'm not really familiar with them other than, based on what I've read HERE, there appears to be some sort of issue with that series of Cummins.

But, of ALL OF THEM THAT HAVE BEEN PRODUCED, just how many of them have had this CRACKING issue? I don't have a clue. It's like saying that ALL Caterpillar C-7 engines are bad, because SOME of them have had issues with the HEUI fuel pump on them. There's a few zillion miles on a few hundred thousand C-7s out there that have had no issues with that pump what so ever.

And so goes it with many other components on RVs. Now, as for you making a choice to "move up" to a diesel pusher, well Sir, you've been around for a while and most likely realize that you'd be purchasing a more expensive unit than what you presently have. Does that mean that you've getting a totally PERFECT coach, just because it's a diesel pusher? Heck no.

Everything out there is man made and, man made stuff can break. Some will break earlier and some, later. There's lots of reasons people make the choice to move to a D/P after using a Gasser for a while.

1. Different and, normally, a better ride.
2. Stronger chassis with normally larger tires and wheels which also provide for a better ride and more carrying capability.
3. Large and or, stronger Diesel engines which, provide for more torque and power, at much lower RPMs
4. Quieter ride and cabin area due to the engine being in the rear.
5. More towing capability and higher hitch rating
6. Generally more load carrying capability (usually more storage but, not always)

A question would be, "Can you purchase a D/P that would be trouble free and, reliable for many years to come"? Sure you can. How often does that happen, one might ask? Well, like I stated in the beginning of this answer, we only hear from the folks that belong to these forums, not the rest of the masses out there. So, we really don't know just how many are "trouble free" and or, ultra-reliable.

Our coach, an '04 Itasca Horizon 36GD with the C-7 330HP CAT, is a very nice coach. We've owned it now for 4 years. I've had to repair a few things on it since we purchased it. Some things, A REAL PAIN IN THE A$$! But, we've had three other motor homes. All were gassers. Two Class Cs and, one A. I had to fix stuff on those too.

Some guys recommend walking away from a D/P that maybe say is, 10 years old or so, but has really low miles. As in, say, 5K to 10K miles. I say bull-s... Why walk away from a nice coach, simply because someone has not attempted to drive the wheels off of it? If it runs good, no oil, water, trans, or other leaks, and it rides nice in otherwise is in outstanding shape, I'd jump on it.

But, anyways, anytime you purchase an "up-scale" model of something, especially if it's used, you take your chances, without a doubt. Everyone hopes they make a good decision and choice. Sometimes we goof up and get a lemon.

Scott
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Old 05-07-2015, 08:59 PM   #11
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Our last four coaches have been DP. All of them were bought new. Because they were new, we have not had any major problems in the last 16 years. We had a 2003 Phaeton for 8 years and just changed the oil once a year. To my knowledge, the new owner is doing the same. Find one that has a good up to date maintenance record and if you like the floor plan buy it and enjoy.

To your original statement, there is nothing wrong with going over the mountains at 40 mph or even 30 mph. If your gasser is paid for and you like it, why not just keep it and enjoy the ride. On the other hand, if purchasing a DP will not change the lifestyle you want, go for it. If you should come up behind me on I-70 west of Denver, I will be going about 38 mph with our 450 Cummins pushing our 51,000#'s up the grade. Wave when you pass me.
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Old 05-08-2015, 06:24 AM   #12
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I would start by asking if your present coach is paid for or not. If it is, and it gets you from point A to point B more comfortably because of the mods you've made....then I'd keep it. You say you have more time to travel now, so what's your hurry? What's wrong with 40mph over mtn. passes. When I've traveled through the rockies in our DP I was at 40mph more than once. Better to have a coach you know, than one that could become a money pit.
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Old 05-08-2015, 07:46 AM   #13
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We moved from a 29' gasser to a 35' DP last summer and have yet to take a "long" trip in our new to us DP but we made 2 month plus trips in our gasser. One to CO, UT and a 2nd to WY & MT. We did not set any speed records climbing those big rocks called the Rockies and fortunately, didn't set any going down either! We tow a Jeep Wrangler. Our '11 G'town got the job done and we really enjoyed camping in it. What we did not enjoy was the ride, noise, handling and heat.

Perhaps we should have done more research on a higher quality gasser but we jumped on the '11 Ventana and have been extremely happy with all it offers including the improved ride.

We generally traveled between 62-65 and that did not change with the DP. We've not had a chance to tackle big mountains other than the Cumberland Mountains on I-75 which we had no issues with. We weren't looking to set a new land speed record and I suppose could have gone up a lot faster if we wanted to. We enjoy cruising along at a speed which allows us to take in the view and aren't concerned with who & what passes us. We smile and wave as they go by!

Drive a DP if you can and see for yourself the difference. You may decide that your gasser is everything you need or it may ruin you for life and nothing but a DP will do. Be prepared.
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:12 AM   #14
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When we retired and decided to get a MH instead of the 5er we had pulled for 12 years, we too were faced with the decision, DP or gasser. We made the decision based on the following factors:

1. Compared to a DP, the gasser engine's expected life span is very short. I would be very reluctant to purchase a gasser with anywhere around 100K miles, whereas that's nothing for a diesel that can easily go 500K if properly serviced!

2. For the reason above, if I buy a new gasser and put 100K miles on it, I would not expect to get much on sale or trade should I decide to get rid of it. A DP with 100K still has a good resale value.

3. I can't speak from experience, but from what I read on the forums, it seems there is no comparison in the comfort and driving of a gasser and DP. I barely hear the Cummins diesel engine 40' behind me while traveling at highway speeds. The DW and I can carry on a normal conversation or listen to the radio without raising our voices. Somehow I don't think it would be that way with a gas engine under our feet.

4. At the time we bought our 2002 Windsor in 2012, they were selling in the $70K range. It had 84K miles on it. We have probably spent another $15K making changes for comfort and safety. I expect it to outlive us!
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