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Old 08-25-2015, 09:40 AM   #15
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Look for a DP 5-7 years old with records of maintenance history. Big Bang for the buck.


Steve Ownby
Full time since '07

===============

I also recommend picking a budget number to purchase, and then drop years to remain in budget, while buying the highest quality coach that meets your needs. Quality lasts, and usually a high quality used 5-10 year old coach, will still be a better quality unit the say a new lesser quality coach after 5 years of running.

Budget some funds to do catch up maintenance, if needed, and any cosmetic items inside that you may want to change over to something else. (TV's, trim materials, modify cabinets, etc.) A good quality coach, gives you a good foundation to build and modify into what the both of you may want.

The budget questions have been answered well. We basically budget $300 a month. This allows for normal yearly maintenance, and then the as mentioned other items that come over every 3-4 years. And also build a bit of a contigency fund for if something more unpleasant were to pop up. For example, we just had two things that popped up on this trip: 1) Cracked manifold ~$1250; 3) Two tires damaged from pot holes needed to be replaced ~$1300. So budgeting a bit more, and building up a 'contingency slush fund' for pop up's that will happen over the years, is something to consider.

I looked back at some numbers the other day, while hunting thru the receipts, and we have spent over $45K on making modifications to our coach, and adding equipment. (Solar Panels + Controller, Upgraded size/capacity Lifeline Batteries, Upgraded to PSW Magnum Inverter/Charger, Road King shocks, Motion Control Units, 4K LED TV-Oppo Blue Ray-Marantz Receiver-Matain Logan 14" ceiling speakers, 2 Recliners, Cellular and Wifi Boosters, Travler Dish, Automatic OTA, Buskote roof coating, front MCD like shades, brass interior trim changed over to satan chrome, first a Amish Cooling Unit on a Norcold 1200 and then a Samsung Residential fridge, many cabinet modifications, Hughes Autoformer, Centramatics on all axles, LED lighting changeover, Propane stubbed out inside for Heat Buddy usage, major maintenance of our QD8000 Generator (New radiator in this mix.), Galley backsplash makeover, etc., etc.) We bought the coach that we wanted, and knew we'd be customizing it to our likes and personalties. We've owned the coach now for over 5 years (Bought a few years earlier then we had planned before retirement, as it was a 'buyer's' market for awhile after the 2008 drop.) and plan to use it for another 10-15 years. So, the upfront costs, and more to come as we will be changing the darker color paints over to a lighter color, we look at as amortized over the we hope 15-20 years of usage. A good quality coach, well maintained, can do this for you. Unless you get your mind doing games, like - 'Should we liquidate some other assets, and go to a Prevost XL based Marathon?' (MUST STOP THIS THINKING, MUST STOP THIS THINKING...).

I shared that, and know of others that have sunk much more into modifications then we have, and yes into older good quality coaches. (Talked with a gent in Colorado Springs, with a non slide mid 90's Newell, that had just put in $125K + of upgrades and changes to this old rolling jewell of a coach.)

Suggest you keep looking at different coaches, determine gas vs DP, make a list of Must Have's and Nice to Have's, build a scoring sheet (We each had up to 5 items, that we could assign up to 5 points, vs the default of 1 point if an item was on a coach. (I wanted Side Radiator so 5 pts, she wanted a big galley so 5 pts.) Each of us scored the coaches we checked individually, then we merged the scores. It helps take out the emotions when hunting! Narrow your search down to manufacturers and models and years that you feel meet your needs the best - then go shopping. And be willing to both travel some, and have your funds ready to go, and take your times as you have not yet retired.

Or, if it is what the two of you want. Go order a new coach with the stuff that you want on it.... As, it is what is important to you two, and how you feel between new vs used, that matters!

Best of luck to you. And just an observation, if you are three years away, and market corrections are making you nervous about investments and being able to retire. Take a solid good look at your asset allocations, as while they should have dipped some with this market correction, they should not have free called!!!!! (You may have been more joking then being serious, but in the retirement planning phase of life, and say with 5 years away of pulling the switch, you (and all) really want to be allocated in such away as not being overly impacted by these market swings.... Again, just an opinion! And well intended.

Happy coach hunting,
Smitty
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Old 08-25-2015, 09:58 AM   #16
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Another topic yet to be addressed is towing. As a full-timer do you intend to travel frequently? Most gas I looked at were limited to 5k towing which covered toads but limits trailers. Most DP are 10-15k. We are full-timing it now, and with toad we bent the scale at 45,000lbs. However, still under max GCWR of 55k and little affect on acceleration and braking from when we were only weekending it at 34k.
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Old 08-25-2015, 09:07 PM   #17
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Smitty77,
Thanks for the detailed answers it helps a lot. Yeah I'm half kidding about the market and not really worried. I'm only 54 and and just started trying to figure-out how soon I can pull the plug and go full time, with the wife having RA sooner is better than waiting until FRA. I think the biggest variable will be what pre-medicare insurance is going to cost in several years.

I've have been looking hard at Newmar DPs and already have a want list, all electric, Oasis, Comfort drive.

Playtime,
We'll probably be pulling a small wrangler.
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:19 PM   #18
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Smitty:
"I also recommend picking a budget number to purchase, and then drop years to remain in budget, while buying the highest quality coach that meets your needs. Quality lasts, and usually a high quality used 5-10 year old coach, will still be a better quality unit the say a new lesser quality coach after 5 years of running."

Ditto on the advise by Smitty.

I would take quality over glitz any day of the week. If you're going to live in this thing you want it to hold up to every day use. What good is floor plan if the cabinets are falling off the walls, gouges in the floor from poorly designed slides..etc. A lot of the MHs are made for occasional use and not to be lived in 24/7. Start looking at how they are made...dig deep. Look at storage. Crawl behind cabinets and see what they are constructed with. A lot of the newer stuff is cardboard and particle board covered in plastic to look like wood. Look at the chassis and see if it is an air ride...where the airbags are mounted determines ride and stability. I had a well known SOB that felt like it would tip over on every corner. It didn't even have a decent drawer for silverware.. But it had a nice floor plan! Just take your time, drive as many as you can and do your homework. Wish I had done this before buying my first one. We went backwards and bought an older coach that was constructed so much better and is set up more for full timing instead of weekenders.

As they say you can change TVs, water pumps and so forth but you can't come back and add quality it a cheaply made coach. I would rate it this way...purely my own opinion.

1. Quality
2. Quality
3. Power train and chassis
4. Floor plan

Good luck in your endeavor... And don't be afraid of asking questions and opinions. There is a vast amount of knowledge in this group.


Bruce & Teresa
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Cummins ISM 450hp
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:33 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Ownby View Post
Look for a DP 5-7 years old with records of maintenance history. Big Bang for the buck.
Yep, can save a bunch buying a used rig but even with perfect maintenance records a valve can still break with no warning.
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:41 PM   #20
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As Bruce mentioned above:
Some rigs aren't rated for full time use. We ordered the '02 Dutch Star to do exactly that. I was VERY surprised to find in the owners manual (after delivery) a statement that it was NOT rated for full time use!! But, that doesn't mean it can't be used that way, just that it might not last as long under that condition.
Our Magna doesn't say one way or the other but I assume it is!
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Old 08-26-2015, 12:55 AM   #21
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If you plan to live in a coach, I'd buy one rated for Full-Time. Before spending tens of thousands on a new coach, I'd spend $130 to subscribe to RV Consumers Group which rates practically every coach out there. Thor's are not rated for full-time and the ratings guide will show you they aren't the most reliable. But maybe you can find that floor plan in a better rated model.
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Old 08-26-2015, 07:57 AM   #22
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Smitty you have Satan chrome and Amish cooling, what a combo! I know you meant satin but funny. I to the op, I too loved the same challenger floor plan you were looking at. I ended up purchasing a bounded and then had the chance to go back and look at the challenger at a show. Boy am I glad I bought the bounder. After owning it for a year and then going back and comparing the little things and build quiality, the Fleetwood is head and shoulders above the Thor product.
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