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Old 07-04-2014, 02:21 PM   #1
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Small Class A or Super C?

Hello all, I am new to the forum, but I've been RVing for about 10 years now.

Started with a pop-up, switched to a 32' TT for more living space and room for dogs. Got rid of the TT and diesel GMC 2500 because we didn't have time to hassle with retrieving it from storage and loading/hooking it up for a short 2 day weekend when i was deploying for 6-7 months per year. Bought another pop-up this year and quickly added an inverter, 100W solar panel, battery monitor and a 200ah AGM battery. Lots of work, but works great for just the two of us.

We're working on a family now, and with the possible adoption of a group of siblings in the near future, we think that pop-up with kids and three dogs may not be a fun place for long.

We're leaning toward a motorhome in the mid 30 foot range. We don't want a van based Class C due to the tiny passenger side footwell (we're both nearly 6 feet tall) and the low towing capacity.

Our "requirements" are a king bed for us plus either bunks or a drop down overhead queen, a kitchen with some counter space (in addition to the sink and stove), and the ability to SAFELY tow 5,500-6,000 lbs.

Can we realistically do this with a gas class A? If so, what are some good options? The Bounder Classic 34B seemed great, until I realized there was no way we could put a reasonable load, 4 people, 3 dogs and full tanks and still pull our Durango (or anything else).

Some (including a local dealer) have advocated installing a 10,000 pound hitch, but I won't go beyond what the manufacturer specifies. I don't like towing more than about 70% of what the manufacturer rates, and I certainly won't blow past their max numbers. We had enough white-knuckle experiences towing our "1/2 ton capable" TT with a GMC 1500 and GMC 2500 gas truck. Never again.

That said, I really like the Thor Super-C with the Powerstroke diesel and the Palazzo models with the Cummins. My big concern is how much quality compromise is being made in the "house" to get a diesel powered rig in the $110-130K selling price category.

If not a Class A gasser, are the two diesel options I mentioned good bets?

Standing by for comments,
Case Garrison
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Old 07-04-2014, 02:38 PM   #2
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Short answer is "probably". There are units in production with King beds and a 5000 lb tow capacity. Not sure if there are one's with the King bed and bunks. Then there is the J-couch and dinette as bed options. Some of the new shorter A's are pushing the drop down front bed along with the back bedroom. You need to start looking as you will probably need to compromise on something. The point is that it may not be too painful.
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Old 07-04-2014, 02:46 PM   #3
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I can't help with information on a small "A". We love our Thor Four Winds 35SK. It's ride is incredibly smooth, all the power to handle the MH fully loaded, 10-12 MPG, residential fridge, 6000K generator, king size walk around bed and much more. No,, I don't work for TMC. . You can pm me if you'd like. Enjoy the holiday folks.
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Old 07-04-2014, 03:01 PM   #4
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Think more on the line of what chassis will work and your chassis/engine/tranny OEM preference - based on your questions the motor home make/model would be secondary. Each chassis has plus and minuses - pick one and research it.
If you are looking used, here are a couple popular examples:
- Ford V-10 has the power you want
- Workhorse 8.1L with Allison is a very nice arrangement with better fuel economy. There are a few recalls/upgrades you need to make sure are done (brakes/ignition plugs/wires).
- I easily tow 3500 lbs with the Workhorse 7.4L, but the 8.1/Allison would be my choice.
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Old 07-04-2014, 03:28 PM   #5
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Tom,

I agree that the Ford F53 with the V10 likely has enough power (362/457), but I'm concerned about the GVWR/GCWR ratings. It seems like these manufacturers are pushing the chassis limits all the time. I'm worried I'll invest $120K into a rig only to find I can't tow our vehicle if I put a reasonable load in it. For example, the GVWR on the Bounder I looked at was 22K, and the CGWR was 26K. If the rig is fully loaded, the REAL tow limit would be only 4,000 pounds, and again, that means pushing the numbers to the limits.

Do you know what year the 8.1 went out of production? I'm not opposed to buying used (2-3 years old would be great), but I remember how lightly built my TT was, and how beat up it was after 6 years of normal use.

Case
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Old 07-04-2014, 06:47 PM   #6
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>>My big concern is how much quality compromise is being made in the "house" to get a diesel powered rig in the $110-130K selling price category. <<

IMHO, with two adults, kids, 3 dogs, and towing a full size pickup, you need to be looking at a 38-40 ft DP. And I believe you can find any number of good condition used units in the price range you seek.

You say you are looking at about 34 ft, class A or super C. The difficulty in that size range is that you're right at the crossover point for most manufacturers. I think a Class C of that size is a disaster waiting for a location, and for me it would be a non starter. At that size Class A, they're still building on their smaller chassis, so you wind up with one of those units with the looooooong ass-end overhang because the wheelbase is just too short. It swings wide on turns, scrapes on sloped parking lot entrances, and weaves down the highway because the body's just too long for the chassis-- and too heavy, too. Your wheelbase should be an absolute MINIMUM of 53% - 54% of overall length, and ideally 56%-57% for real stability. Once you get to the 38 ft plus range almost all are built on larger, longer, heavier chassis, and your problems with loading, tow capacity, and handling tend to melt away.

Suggest you check out the RV Consumer Group at http://www.rv.org/ for ratings and evaluations of RV brands and models. Good Luck with your search!
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Old 07-04-2014, 06:57 PM   #7
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Take a look at used Diesel pushers; I think you are well in the right price range (or significantly lower) and you'll have the towing capacity you want... and no engine next to you roaring on the hills (which, in California, are everywhere).

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Old 07-04-2014, 07:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 60Bubba View Post
Tom,

I agree that the Ford F53 with the V10 likely has enough power (362/457), but I'm concerned about the GVWR/GCWR ratings. It seems like these manufacturers are pushing the chassis limits all the time. I'm worried I'll invest $120K into a rig only to find I can't tow our vehicle if I put a reasonable load in it. For example, the GVWR on the Bounder I looked at was 22K, and the CGWR was 26K. If the rig is fully loaded, the REAL tow limit would be only 4,000 pounds, and again, that means pushing the numbers to the limits.

Do you know what year the 8.1 went out of production? I'm not opposed to buying used (2-3 years old would be great), but I remember how lightly built my TT was, and how beat up it was after 6 years of normal use.

Case
I think 2001 thru 2009 "W" Series were the 8.1/Allison combo. Chevy stopped making the 8.1 right when the car makers were getting gov bailouts.
Lot of wisdom in going with a used 38' or bigger diesel.
With your concerns of getting close to gross weight, I think Ford/Chevy/Workhorse is like you said - pushing the limits.
DW, myself and 2 small dogs fill up our 30 foot gasser - plenty of power but interior living space is at a premium. We do tend to travel lighter than most.
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Old 07-04-2014, 09:28 PM   #9
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Great information, and I appreciate the comments. It's definitely true that you can't get anywhere around central California without pulling some serious hills, and pretty much anyplace the Navy might send us is likely to be similar.

I do think we're going to have to look at the bigger diesel rigs. I think it's going to be a trick to find one without tons of luxury items (and weight) we don't need and the little ones will probably break anyway!

JXFG. I've seen some of the info from RV consumer group, and I've actually been calculating the wheelbase to overall length ratio on most of the models we've been looking at. From what I remember, the Thor F550 diesel based Super-C's work out to about 62% for the longer (35') model and better than that for the shorter model. Could you elaborate on why you think a class C in this size range is a disaster waiting for a place to happen? If I'm missing something important in my calculations, I guess I better know it now before we get too far along in the process.

I pretty much agree with you on van based class C's of that length, as I've seen some where it looks like there is as much house box behind the rear axle as between the two axles. Ridiculous!
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Old 07-04-2014, 10:05 PM   #10
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I confess to no great knowledge of Class C motorhomes other than observation, and I may have misspoke. If there is a substantive design difference in what is referred to as a "Super C", then I apologize, but what I have in mind is those long Cs that seem to have so much rear overhang they look to be almost lifting the front wheels off the ground. And there are many a mid-size Class A with the same feature.
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Old 07-04-2014, 10:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 60Bubba View Post
Hello all, I am new to the forum, but I've been RVing for about 10 years now.

Started with a pop-up, switched to a 32' TT for more living space and room for dogs. Got rid of the TT and diesel GMC 2500 because we didn't have time to hassle with retrieving it from storage and loading/hooking it up for a short 2 day weekend when i was deploying for 6-7 months per year. Bought another pop-up this year and quickly added an inverter, 100W solar panel, battery monitor and a 200ah AGM battery. Lots of work, but works great for just the two of us.

We're working on a family now, and with the possible adoption of a group of siblings in the near future, we think that pop-up with kids and three dogs may not be a fun place for long.

We're leaning toward a motorhome in the mid 30 foot range. We don't want a van based Class C due to the tiny passenger side footwell (we're both nearly 6 feet tall) and the low towing capacity.

Our "requirements" are a king bed for us plus either bunks or a drop down overhead queen, a kitchen with some counter space (in addition to the sink and stove), and the ability to SAFELY tow 5,500-6,000 lbs.

Can we realistically do this with a gas class A? If so, what are some good options? The Bounder Classic 34B seemed great, until I realized there was no way we could put a reasonable load, 4 people, 3 dogs and full tanks and still pull our Durango (or anything else).

Some (including a local dealer) have advocated installing a 10,000 pound hitch, but I won't go beyond what the manufacturer specifies. I don't like towing more than about 70% of what the manufacturer rates, and I certainly won't blow past their max numbers. We had enough white-knuckle experiences towing our "1/2 ton capable" TT with a GMC 1500 and GMC 2500 gas truck. Never again.

That said, I really like the Thor Super-C with the Powerstroke diesel and the Palazzo models with the Cummins. My big concern is how much quality compromise is being made in the "house" to get a diesel powered rig in the $110-130K selling price category.

If not a Class A gasser, are the two diesel options I mentioned good bets?

Standing by for comments,
Case Garrison
Sent you a pm on an idea for you to explore. Didn't want to take away from the public comments and ideas. Best of luck.
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Old 07-04-2014, 11:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 60Bubba View Post
Hello all, I am new to the forum, but I've been RVing for about 10 years now.

Our "requirements" are a king bed for us plus either bunks or a drop down overhead queen, a kitchen with some counter space (in addition to the sink and stove), and the ability to SAFELY tow 5,500-6,000 lbs.

Can we realistically do this with a gas class A? If so, what are some good options? The Bounder Classic 34B seemed great, until I realized there was no way we could put a reasonable load, 4 people, 3 dogs and full tanks and still pull our Durango (or anything else).

That said, I really like the Thor Super-C with the Powerstroke diesel and the Palazzo models with the Cummins. My big concern is how much quality compromise is being made in the "house" to get a diesel powered rig in the $110-130K selling price category.

If not a Class A gasser, are the two diesel options I mentioned good bets?

Standing by for comments,
Case Garrison
First, thank you for your service to our country.

For your requirements, I offer that for a growing family there is no better RV than a Toy Hauler and a Class A Toy Hauler is probably the apex of that totem .
You can take all your stuff with the kids - all in 1 vehicle...and tow the Durango.

For examples, See: Class "A" Toyhaulers

I have a 8.1L gasser version and feel that the only better chassis would be a Diesel, like the legacy mid-engine (ME) Newmar AllStars or the Front Engine Diesel (FRED) in the GulfStream Bounty Hunter or Thor/Damon Outlaw (that one has a loft that fits a king sized bed!).
Like this one: #C1599 - 2009 Damon Outlaw 3612 Toy Hauler W/Slide for sale in Alvarado TX

Best luck on your search.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:03 AM   #13
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I confess to no great knowledge of Class C motorhomes other than observation, and I may have misspoke. If there is a substantive design difference in what is referred to as a "Super C", then I apologize, but what I have in mind is those long Cs that seem to have so much rear overhang they look to be almost lifting the front wheels off the ground. And there are many a mid-size Class A with the same feature.
OK, gotcha. I think we're on the same page. The Thor Super C is an F550 pickup chassis with the Powerstroke diesel. Much longer wheelbase and I suppose theoretically better highway tracking. Still going to put some major time into looking for a good DP used, but it seems many of those are optimized for empty nesters and don't have kid friendly beds. I guess I need to look more closely at the class A toy haulers too. Never thought about them since we don't have power toys, but I guess that area would be a good spot for tricycles and dog crates.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:36 AM   #14
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Yes, after your post I went to the Thor site and was impressed! That F550 Super C tallies at about 59% W/L-- slightly better than my Dutchstar's 58%. And their other Cs seem to be equally well designed (although their 28ft Tuscany Class A measured a scary 50%).

Re the sleeping arrangements-- you might look at some of the Fleetwood models. Last fall we met a family in Kentucky- a great couple and their six young kids fulltiming and home schooling in a Fleetwood Discovery 40. They had adequate sleepers, but in truth I don't know if they modified it themselves or not. You could check their blog at LivelyRV.
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