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Old 10-24-2012, 09:20 AM   #1
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Upgrading to a Diesel-need advice

We are looking to upgrade our 1997 Itasca Suncruiser 34' (chevy 454) to a diesel pusher. We have been RV'ing for a little over a year, and absolutely love going on trips. However, with pulling a dinghy vehicle on trips from Florida to Michigan, we have noticed the rig struggling to get through the mountains. Also, the shocks/steering on the itasca is extremely soft. It seems that I am constantly working the wheel back and forth to keep it straight, and can only cruise between 55 and 60.

I have heard that most diesel coaches have some kind of air ride suspension or a banks system??? and I want to make sure that the new coach drives much better.

Here are a few of the coaches we are looking at. If anyone has any comments or suggestions (about these or other coaches we shoud consider) it would be greatly appreciated.

2001 Cross Country Elite
2000 Rose Air
2000 Bounder
2001 Monaco Diplomat


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Old 10-24-2012, 09:23 AM   #2
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I replaced the shocks on my sons car, which is a 2001. I was thinking looking at your choices if there was any chance the shocks and other front end components would be worn out?

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Old 10-24-2012, 09:26 AM   #3
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There is no comparison between a gasser and a diesel. I've owned two gassers, both Holiday Ramblers. They were good coaches, but they did struggle in the mountains (hills) and while my second HR on the F53 chassis was a much better driver than my previous HR on the P30, they still lacked in comfort.

In April this year we purchased a used 2007 Sportscoach diesel pusher. I'm in love with driving again. I can set the cruise control and just go. No struggling with the wheel, no listening to the engine under my feet screaming on the hills, quiet floating down the road. And, I'm getting much better fuel mileage to boot with a bigger motorhome. What's not to love?

I think all of the coaches you mentioned are decent coaches. It's all about condition and floorplan when you're looking at used. Get service records if available and if not, have the RV gone over by a competent mechanic and get some oil analysis done before you buy.
Mark Anderson - FMCA 351514 - Louisville, KY
2007 Sportscoach Pathfinder 377DS - Freightliner XC
2006 Jeep Commander
Cricket SW3 Personal Transporter
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:31 AM   #4
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Most folks think a well set up DP will always handle better than most Class C rigs... but it does sound like there might be some things you could do to improve the handling of you existing coach... unless your mind is made up.

Most DPs do have an air ride suspension... although I think Banks systems are probably much more common on gassers than on DPs.

I'll leave specific input on the coaches you listed to those with direct experience with them.

Best of luck.

Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

2007 Itasca Ellipse 40FD
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:55 AM   #5
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Well here's my take on gas vs DP. We have a 37 foot Pace Arrow Gas, I spent 40 minutes doing my best to drive it and pulled over and told da hubby he can drive it and I would look for my own. In August I bought a DP 40 foot Winnie, da hubby has had the "pleasure" of getting to drive it about 150 miles out 6K. That baby purrs down the highway perfectly straight in the lane, we can hear each other talk, and it cruises right on up those mountain passes without snorting and that is with pulling a dolly with a car. We're almost finished giving the GP Pace Arrow a through cleaning to drive it to the RV consignment lot... da hubby has decided he likes my coach WAY BETTER for couple of reasons, first he gets to leave the driving to me (shhh I prefer that) and two the little bit I permitted him to drive he loved the way it handled. My next coach will be 42' and have four slides and I'll come home twice a year instead of the planned 4 times a year... By the way, this 40' Winnie I can drive just as good as I drive my Suburban, even better! I suggest you spend some driving time behind the wheels of all those your interested in and make a list what you like and how you feel vs what you don't and then compare the lists. For me, I like everything at my finger tips and I like ease of getting in and out of the seat. I went Winnie over the Bounder because #1, Winneabgo #2 to me it turned sharper. Good Luck and Happy travels.
The Schnauzer and his Chauffeur's
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:03 AM   #6
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Why not slow down a bit and enjoy the trip instead of rushing?
Get new suspension components, freshen up the engine and enjoy the ride!
Duct tape and superglue.
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:42 AM   #7
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It's pretty well known that the upkeep and maintenance costs on a diesel pusher are more than for a gasser. MUCH more in my opinion. And if you're looking at a 2000 DP it's probably going to be needing lots of maintenance right off the bat.

I just spent over $300 on filters alone doing my yearly maintenance. Oil, Air, Air dryer, and 2 fuel filters.

Transmission filters (due every 36 months) will be another $200. And then there's the (48 months) Transynd transmission fluid at over $10 a quart. it takes 19 -29 quarts.

I think there's a post here that says the average yearly maintenance cost for a DP is around $2400, but that may have been someone who doesn't do any of the work themselves.

Tires for these big things are not cheap. Assume that you're going to put 3-5K into tires as soon as you buy one.


We had a 30" class C with a 460 and I do understand what you mean about hills. There were some we barely made it up in 1'st gear. Scary. That same hill gets our Bounder down to 3'rd gear with our toad on. Torque rules!

The brakes on most class C's are totally inadequate. The air brakes on a DP chassis are much better.

If you can find one with a jake brake or a retarder going downhill will no longer be a white knuckle affair.

You won't have to worry about how much 'stuff' you take along. My chassis is rated at 31,000 lbs and my loaded weight is just under 26K. I remember worrying about a couple hunderd pounds with our old class C.

Automatic levelers are the greatest invention since sliced bread.
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Old 10-24-2012, 08:14 PM   #8
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I just bought a 2006 Sport Coach and the driving is the best I have ever driven. We go to Michigan every summer and a DP is the only way to go for confront and pulling power
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:18 PM   #9
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Winnebago made their Ultimate series coaches from 1999 - 2004. Most you will find are 40' however they did make a 36' diesel. Very nice coaches.
You could look on ebay to see some pics of one.
'02 Ultimate Advantage 40J Spartan MM - Cummins ISC
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Old 10-25-2012, 05:26 PM   #10
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Hey Patpro, first, WELCOME to the Forum. Of the coaches you have listed, I would pick the 2001 Monaco Diplomat, got to be a really nice unit, well built.

If it is Cummins powered, and is a 270-300 hp engine, check to see if it has the "53" block. The number 53 will appear on the passenger side of the block just above the oil pan. If it does inspect it closely and see if there are any stains that form a line on the side of the block. These blocks were weak and have been known to crack, cummins states that it is about 1% but worth checking.
Do a search here on 53 blocks and you should turn up some info. The years of concern were about 97 through 2002 I believe, but definately 2001.
So bear that in mind when you inspect the engines of these vehicles.
The difference of a Diesel pusher and a gasser is just remarkable. My little 5.9L turns in fuel mileage that is unbelievable. The lowest I have gotton is about 9.5MPG, I have gotten 12.39, 11.1 and love it. These are calculated mileages, not readouts from a computer, and are on trips of over a thousand miles.
I change my own oil, buy most of my filters from the same freightliner dealer that I brought my 18 wheeler from many years ago as the Expedition is on a freightliner Chassis, love it.
You need to do a lot of reading, the air bags are suspension components and the Banks system is usually associated with the engine, Intake/exaust.
Some of the freightliner XC chassis' do not have air bag suspension, so if you are looking for that make sure and check that the unit actually has Air bags. The system gets its air from the same system that provides air to the air brake system. The ride that the air suspension provides is second to none, in my opinion, wish I had it on mine Mine is an XC chassis with only springs and shocks, but the ride is still a big improvement over any of the gassers that I have owned.
Anyhoo, those are my thoughts and I wish you the best of luck in your new endevor, and let us know what you get and post some pictures, we all like PICTURES
Happy Trails

MGySgt USMC(R) 1961-1991
2001 Fleetwood Expedition
2013 Jeep Wrangler Sierra Toad
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