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Old 10-18-2015, 08:04 AM   #1
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Talking Surprise Test Drive 40' vs 45' w/TAG

Well we are moving from a 44' Toy Hauler (Cyclone 4100 King) to a Class A Diesel coach and had some surprises during our shopping and evaluation process. We drove a new 42' Itasca Mederian early on and liked it allot but it was really more than we wanted or could spend. SO we looked at several used Monoco coaches on the same dealers lot and they were all just too rough for us. Didn't seem to have been well cared for.

Headed to another dealer after seeing a few coaches on the web site that looked interesting. First we fell in love with a 45' 2011 Tiffin Allegro Bus with a Tag and Cummins 450HP (maybe it was 500HP not sure) engine, 37K miles. Clean looked babied etc. Needed new tires due to age not wear, dealer agreed to replace them. Then we walked the lot and saw a 40' 2007 Tiffin Phaeton with a 350HP Cat and 49K miles. Tires were new Michelins.

We liked the bath and a half since we still have 3 kids in the barn and 3 out plus the Allegro Bus was simply beautiful. I was able to drive it fine but it had a feel of simply being massive and large. Not that it drove bad it just drove really really big. A side note there were lots of creaks and pops coming out of the dash when not on a smooth highway. But over all after pulling a 44' 5th wheel I figured I would get used to the size pretty quick.

Long story short sat down and ran the numbers and it simply was more than we could afford. SO I said lets go look at the 2007 Tiffin which was super clean.

We took that one out on the same test loop of 2 lane and interstate and I was blown away at how much easier it was to drive! Is felt literally light on its feel compared to the 45' unit. Not near the roll and sway when taking corners. Straight line tracking was perfect with no effect from passing trucks. I also would bet money it was more peppy! It seemed to accelerate up the freeway ramp with less noise and effort with a much smaller motor. I know it weighs allot less but did not expect it to get to highway speed so easily. Also it was super quite inside. Not a pop or creak coming out of the dash, the hum from the engine seemed more refined and smoother than any of the Cummins coaches I drove. Whisper quiet at 65mph... At any rate I could go on but my wife even had to admit it was a nicer experience on the road that anything we had driven.

My big question as a Diesel Pusher newbe is WHY? I thought the Tag axel was supposed to add stability and smoothness to the drive, more air bags were better, a high end chassis made a big difference, etc. I get the you cannot hide weight thing but I certainly thought you could manage it way better.


Now as a note I suspect that the 45' unit could have had a problem but I don't think so. It was a stunning coach and had obviously been well cared for. Plus with so few miles what could be worn out??

At any rate just curious to gain some knowledge as to why I experienced what I did. I have always been a bigger is better guy LoL (see 44' 5th wheel). In this case that does not appear to be the situation.

Also this may save some ignorant buyer like me allot of money some day! I could have made the first one work but it would have been painful. I believe I will be happier with this coach for less than half the cost which is awesome.

Scott
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Old 10-18-2015, 09:25 AM   #2
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Well Scott, did you buy the Phaeton?
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Old 10-18-2015, 09:52 AM   #3
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That's really odd. All the DP owners say all the DP's ride so smooth and wonderful and the tags are even better.
Think I will stick to my affordable gas coach.
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Old 10-18-2015, 10:41 AM   #4
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The Tiffin Phaeton is one of the most popular diesel pushers in the motorhome industry. Feeling a difference between a 40 foot and a 45 foot tag after just one test drive is totally SUBJECTIVE. Tag axel motorhomes are way more stable in cross winds. Both ride on air bags which is a huge ride improvement over leaf sprung vehicles.

I would suggest before making up your mind on whether to go tag or not you make several more test drives. One response does not a survey make.

We ride in a short non-tag axel DP because we full time and want the campground access and maneuverability that you cannot get with a longer motorhome.

There are A LOT of things you have to consider before making the decision to spend this much money. Take your time. Enjoy the hunt.
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Old 10-18-2015, 11:08 AM   #5
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Do you recall which chassis was under the Bus? Tiffin's in house Powerglide or the outsourced Freightliner? The Powerglide has a 6300 Lbs GVWR advantage over the Freightliner. I'm wonder if the tested coach might have been on the Freightliner which would be roller down the road a bit closer to maximum limit than the Powerglide or the other way round considering both rigs were more or less empty. Load up both for a week on the road and the Bus may settle down while the Phaeton becomes a handful.
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Old 10-18-2015, 11:18 AM   #6
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As Sweetbriar says, what chassis? All Cummins powered rigs do not sit in the same chassis. I have had 3 coaches and I really like the Spartan chassis with side radiator. Way easier to drive.
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Old 10-18-2015, 11:30 AM   #7
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Tire pressure can make a huge difference. If the Bus tire pressure was too high it could feel more harsh than the Phaeton. Most people report the Bus rides better because of independent front suspension as well as the tag axle. Some day I will get to drive a Bus and can comment more completely.
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Old 10-18-2015, 11:56 AM   #8
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Hey Scott - Fun place to be in, shopping for a new ride!

Too many variables, without enough info, to really answer specifically why one coach felt different then another. A few reasons:
> As mentioned, different chassis
> Tire pressures could be off on one, or both coaches. (Never trust the shape a coach that is on a used dealers lot. If a coach really strikes you as a possible coach to consider. Bring your own tire gauge, and do a good walk around to check pressure. Hard to know 'where' the PSI should be, but on a big coach, if you see PSI's below 100, good chance they're too low.)
> Different levels of fuel, water, tanks, etc. Weight does make a different.
> Comparing coach A with coach B, the weights of the total coach regardless of tank levels, is a factor. Two different 40' coaches with tags, could have several thousand pounds of differences.
> Alignments could be off.
> Condition of used coaches in general. A poorly maintained and or abused coach, even cleaned up and looking shiny - could still be a very non representative ride due to poor mechanical condition.
> A lower down the food chain coach, will usually have a smaller engine. And rear vs side radiator.

As you start your research, I suggest you keep doing what your doing, kicking tires, and visiting different coaches. Make a list of Must Have's and Nice to Have's, on our list, we each were able to pick five items, and reward up to 5 points. So if the coach had an item that was on the list, by default it was 1 point. But say that was something our wife really wanted, she could elect to award it 5 points. Do your scoring independently, then merge the two together. This helped my wife and I really look past the excitement of a specific coach, and be more objective on our search.

Pick our budget range, come up with a short list of manufactures and specific models and years that match your lists. Then go shopping.

Also, just my opinion, don't e afraid to 'Drop years to remain within budget range, while buying the highest quality coach that you can. Quality lasts.'

Another advantage of dropping years, is usually after year 4-6, the dramatic over the cliff free fall on depreciations starts to slow down.

Retain some budget to do catch up baseline maintenance, if needed. And to do any immediate mod's to make it 'your coach'.

A good quality coach, becomes a good foundation to build off of.

When driving coaches, also try to test drive a Newmar with the Comfort Drive system. Many owners that have had multiple DP's, say they will never go back to a coach without the Comfort Drive. Newmar is also a pretty dang good coach!

Some coaches to consider, that are medium to higher quality, again my opinion:
-Beaver Patriot Thunder and Marquis
-Monaco - Dynasty on up - with the Executive respected coach
-Country Coach - Allure, Intrigue, Magna, Affinity
-Newmar - Dutch Star and Mountain Air (And on up the food chain.)
-Travel Supreme
-Entegra
-Foretravel
-Tripple E
-Wanderlodge
-American Coach line
-Alpine
-(Not a complete list, but these are worth a look to see if you like.)

Recommend Tag, Side Radiator, Bigger Block Engine (ISM/ISX, C12/13/15, Detroit) - a bigger block can actually yield higher MPG then a mid size block (ISC/ISL, C7/C9) due to gearing and loafing while working, with a family look for larger size grey tanks. If you have the space where you store it, a 42' does usually get you back the full third basement storage vs a 40' tang quite often having 2 1/2 bays. Aqua/HyroHot also recommended. Three roof airs, or at least two 15K units. The higher up the food chains coaches, usually have superior chassis, which makes a difference in handling and overall coach integrity down the road.

Best of luck on your search, have fun,
Smitty
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Old 10-18-2015, 12:48 PM   #9
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Wheelbase length divided by overall length. 55% + for maximum stability.
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Old 10-18-2015, 12:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dezolen View Post
That's really odd. All the DP owners say all the DP's ride so smooth and wonderful and the tags are even better.
Think I will stick to my affordable gas coach.

I would agree. DP's are incredibly smooth and stable compared to gas motorhomes. Air suspension is amazing. Not even close in comparison.

Cheers!
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Old 10-18-2015, 01:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
That's really odd. All the DP owners say all the DP's ride so smooth and wonderful and the tags are even better.
Think I will stick to my affordable gas coach.
Please explain the value of your post, in replying to the OP's question.
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Old 10-18-2015, 03:02 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by csdavis62 View Post
Well we are moving from a 44' Toy Hauler (Cyclone 4100 King) to a Class A Diesel coach and had some surprises during our shopping and evaluation process. We drove a new 42' Itasca Mederian early on and liked it allot but it was really more than we wanted or could spend. SO we looked at several used Monoco coaches on the same dealers lot and they were all just too rough for us. Didn't seem to have been well cared for.

Headed to another dealer after seeing a few coaches on the web site that looked interesting. First we fell in love with a 45' 2011 Tiffin Allegro Bus with a Tag and Cummins 450HP (maybe it was 500HP not sure) engine, 37K miles. Clean looked babied etc. Needed new tires due to age not wear, dealer agreed to replace them. Then we walked the lot and saw a 40' 2007 Tiffin Phaeton with a 350HP Cat and 49K miles. Tires were new Michelins.

We liked the bath and a half since we still have 3 kids in the barn and 3 out plus the Allegro Bus was simply beautiful. I was able to drive it fine but it had a feel of simply being massive and large. Not that it drove bad it just drove really really big. A side note there were lots of creaks and pops coming out of the dash when not on a smooth highway. But over all after pulling a 44' 5th wheel I figured I would get used to the size pretty quick.

Long story short sat down and ran the numbers and it simply was more than we could afford. SO I said lets go look at the 2007 Tiffin which was super clean.

We took that one out on the same test loop of 2 lane and interstate and I was blown away at how much easier it was to drive! Is felt literally light on its feel compared to the 45' unit. Not near the roll and sway when taking corners. Straight line tracking was perfect with no effect from passing trucks. I also would bet money it was more peppy! It seemed to accelerate up the freeway ramp with less noise and effort with a much smaller motor. I know it weighs allot less but did not expect it to get to highway speed so easily. Also it was super quite inside. Not a pop or creak coming out of the dash, the hum from the engine seemed more refined and smoother than any of the Cummins coaches I drove. Whisper quiet at 65mph... At any rate I could go on but my wife even had to admit it was a nicer experience on the road that anything we had driven.

My big question as a Diesel Pusher newbe is WHY? I thought the Tag axel was supposed to add stability and smoothness to the drive, more air bags were better, a high end chassis made a big difference, etc. I get the you cannot hide weight thing but I certainly thought you could manage it way better.


Now as a note I suspect that the 45' unit could have had a problem but I don't think so. It was a stunning coach and had obviously been well cared for. Plus with so few miles what could be worn out??

At any rate just curious to gain some knowledge as to why I experienced what I did. I have always been a bigger is better guy LoL (see 44' 5th wheel). In this case that does not appear to be the situation.

Also this may save some ignorant buyer like me allot of money some day! I could have made the first one work but it would have been painful. I believe I will be happier with this coach for less than half the cost which is awesome.

Scott

Hey Scott,

Here are a couple of points about that 45' coach.
1. It could have had the Cummins ISX13 engine rated at 500 hp. That is a very heavy engine. It probably weighs 1500 pounds more that an ISL and even more difference over a Cat C7. All that extra weight is cantilevered out behind the rear axles.
2. A tag axle can be fine tuned as to the amount of weigh it carries which also affects the load on both the drive and steer axles. It sounds like the balance may have been off due to the tag not being adjusted properly.

This is just spitballing. Don't know the situation of course but these are possibilities.


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Full time since '07
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Old 10-18-2015, 03:15 PM   #13
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Tough to make a value decsion based on the information provided. Howeve, the experience provided by the OP is valid based on his evaluation.

He is comparing two actual coaches rather than generalizing about tag vs non tag. As mentioned in previous posts there are lots of variables that have to be checked between the two coaches to make it a fair evaluation.
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Old 10-18-2015, 05:16 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ChasA View Post
Well Scott, did you buy the Phaeton?
Yes we are waiting on the bank to open on Monday but expect to pick it up on Tuesday.
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