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Old 02-26-2010, 12:40 PM   #1
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Used DP purchase questions...

(sorry, couldn't think of a better title).

I've read through various forums and worked on expanding my knowledge, but at the same time, I know a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Right now we have a older (1991) 30' gas class A. It serves us well, but we've been considering upgrading. The financial realities, though, mean that we're not looking at anything new, but rather, ideally, stuff in the $50-70,000 range. There seems to be a number of nice appearing diesel pushers in that range.

The things that are important to us in this upgrade:

* at least 50 gallon black tank. We dry camp at racetracks a lot (10-15 times a year) and while we manage with the 38 gallon tank we have now, it does require some planning, which I think another 12 gallons would take care of.
* good amount of wardrobe storage -- my race gear is pretty bulky and consumes space. Also, we need space for quilts, sheets, pillows, etc., for the second bed which we use a lot.
* the ability to run the generator for 50-60 hours without needing to refuel, etc (think 4-5 days of daylight use sitting in an asphalt parking lot on Labor Day weekend running the a/c from dawn through dusk). A quiet generator (unlike out current Generac) would be a real bonus but not essential since one engines start at the track, the generators get lost in the background noise.

Also a plus would be handling hills fairly well. We end up going from the SF Bay area over the Grapevine, Donner Pass, and up I-5 to Portland and beyond. Our current rig can manage to hold at least 40mph even in the worst of spots with the 460+Banks setup it has.

We're not looking to full-time and in the near future I think a 2 week trip would be about the longest I could imagine (not all of it dry-camp). At the same time, we enjoy just being able to go out for 2 or 3 days over the winter in a casual exploration mode.

So now, just some of my questions. But if anyone can think of things I'm *not* thinking of, that would be great.

For example... rear radiator vs. side radiator. I understand the advantages of side radiators (I think it's easier maintenance) but how much is that really worth, dollar wise?

There seem to be million different chassis references, are there some that have serious gotchas?

A lot of Fleetwoods don't have front generators... they don't SEEM hugely loud, but are there other advantages to front generator rigs?

Front vs. middle entrances: aside from just the layouts, are there any advantages between the two mechanically? My wife doesn't like the idea of not sitting "even" with me as we go down the road, and about how much of a hassle those sliding floors might or might not be to manage in a front-entry model).

Brake systems. I'm not clear if air/hydraulic is really a "potayto-potahto" thing, or are there worthwhile advantages to one or the other?

When I started this post I was sure I'd have even more questions... (it seems kinda puny) but I appreciate people taking the time to read.



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Old 02-26-2010, 01:35 PM   #2
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Most DPs over 325 HP will pull most hills just fine, certainly as good or better than your current MH.

You are correct that most Rear Radiator DPs are a bit more difficult to service but not that major of a deal. The side radiators often cool easier so if your pulling hills it may have a slight advantage.

Front Generators separate your sleeping area from the generator making it more quite with less vibration. Front mounted generators seem to be more isolated from the chassis for vibration as well.

Front entries on DPs actually give you more usable floor space as the actual LR is not taken up with a stairwell. Side entries lose a little storage as opposed to fronts.

Most DPs with slides are laid out so that you can pass front to back with the slides in while traveling. The extra room of opposing slides is pretty nice when in a MH for days on end.

Most all DPs are going to have air brakes and they are very good compared to Gas MHs.

Most Monaco products with an RR4R chassis may have trailing arms failure problems and if not already fixed is about $3K to solve. You can find which ones by searching this forum for "Trailing Arms".

There are a lot of "Orphan" MHs (manufacturer is out of business) that may be more difficult to get model specific parts. 80% of most MHs are generic parts and are available with a little research.

Whatever brand/model MHs you look at, do a search for any recalls and make sure they have all been completed. In addition, come back here and ask about specific models, engines, etc. and you will get many responses. Also make sure about dating codes on tires as a new set will set you back between $2,500-$4,000. Dates are almost more important than mileage on MH tires.

Welcome and good luck in your search.

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Old 02-26-2010, 01:51 PM   #3
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Hi Steve,
I will not repeat what has already been said.

Floor plan sells the coach. You'll remember the floor plan long after you forget the chassis or engine. Depending on the weight of what you tow, do not eliminate a new gas coach. A $100K MSRP new gas coach should be had for $70K which is the upper end of your price range.

There are a lot of coaches out there with the "toy hauler" designation. These floor plans should provide everything mentioned in your OP.

Good luck and post often during your search.
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Old 02-26-2010, 02:26 PM   #4
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Since you aren't going to fulltime, why a DP? There are some really nice late model gas models that would serve you well at much less cost and do just fine in the mountains.

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Old 02-26-2010, 02:36 PM   #5
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I just bought a used 40 ft Holiday Rambler 2002 Endeavor and got a great price 56k with three slides. The thing to remember is that most, I say most people do not really take care of their motorhomes and what I have found is that just because it has low miles is not always a good thing. If someone was living in it, if it sat in the rain a lot with the slides out if the batteries were properly cared for, if the slide seals were properly cared for are all huge things to pay attention to. Used is great if you are mechanically inclined but if you are not you will have troubles. Hope this helps some. There are some excellent deals out there, my model with all the bells and whistles is going used for around 100 to 120k and I worked a deal for 56k with 52k miles. But it does need some TLC. If you would like to talk more let me know as I just did huge amounts of research on all of the used rigs and it came down to Monaco, Holiday Rambler and Alpine. My preference is the 8 bag roadmaster chassis for the ride but they all ride good if maintained.

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Old 02-26-2010, 04:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Barbaraok View Post
Since you aren't going to fulltime, why a DP? There are some really nice late model gas models that would serve you well at much less cost and do just fine in the mountains.
Good question. It seems like most people have talked about the better driving experience of the DP, both in handling and in lower noise, that I had been trending that way. We definitely spend quite a few hours driving -- we aren't the kind of people that do just a couple hundred miles in a day.

And handling wise, while our current class A drives pretty well, the previous owner lavished a lot of love and care on it.. added airbags, steering stabilizer, sway bars, etc. I've been concerned that a more or less "stock" gas coach wouldn't drive nearly as well :(

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Old 02-26-2010, 05:40 PM   #7
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You asked about side entrances. I have the front entrance on our coach, but Alpine also made a 36 footer with mid entrance. There is an Alpine forum that is pretty active here and can give you a lot of good info and help if you go that way.
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Old 02-26-2010, 08:11 PM   #8
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How many rigs meet the 50 gal black tank requirement? I sent the OP a couple used rig ads that friends of mine are selling, (Dutch Star and Beaver Patriot), but neither meet his requirement for holding tank size. Are there any class A's that meet that requirement and in his price range?
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Old 02-27-2010, 08:40 AM   #9
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I would think that gray tank capacity would trump black tank if your boondocking most of the time.
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Old 02-27-2010, 09:35 AM   #10
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We've currently got 38 gallons in grey and black, and we have to be judicious on the black, but we manage okay with grey. We've never been ones for long showers.

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Old 02-27-2010, 09:49 AM   #11
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Steve, on some MHs with small grey tanks, one of the grey drains dumps into the black tank. That may be your case and the reason that you are running short on black capacity.

If you can, dump your black completely and then close the valve. With grey and black vavles both closed, run water for 5 minutes at all of your grey sources; kitchen sink, bath sink/s, shower and waher/dryer if applicable. When you are done, go outside and pull the grey valve and see if it drains a lot of water. If it does, the above described scenario is your problem. You may only need the standard capacity black tanks if all of the grey dumps into the grey tanks.

My DW and I stay at her Mom's in our MH and use our toilet exclusively for 2 weeks at a time before we have to dump the black!
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Old 02-27-2010, 10:07 AM   #12
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A 50 gallon black is going to be rare, that's for sure. Mine is 42 gal and we can get 7-10 days out of that with careful use. Gray water tank size is more beneficial, in my opinion.
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Old 02-27-2010, 10:09 AM   #13
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Alpine Coach has large holding tanks. 100gal fresh water, and 84/64 or 100/78 on the gray/black tanks for the 34/36-38-40 footers.

We head out to the desert for 10-12 days w/full fresh & empty holding tanks and don't even worry about the holding tank capacity.

You can check out the other specs at the ACA Tech Library page, under Brochures.
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Old 02-27-2010, 10:24 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by bdaball View Post
I would think that gray tank capacity would trump black tank if your boondocking most of the time.
bdaball is right on. It is the gray tank/s that you have to worry about. We have two gray tanks. On an extended weekend trip we can fill the gray tanks and have very little in the black. I tried the "equalizing method" of allowing some of the gray tank liquid to drain into the black and it worked once. After that it would not work at all. Here is a link to what I am talking about:

Holding Tank Maximizer - 88-1413

I had made my own maximizer, but my advice is to not bother doing this unless you have the gray tank/s mounted much higher than the black. If your tanks are at the same height, like mine are, you will just have a big mess with the black and gray water mixing together. Our only solution is to have a dish pan in the kitchen sink and when it is full we dump it into the toilet. This helps. My wife likes to cook and that causes her to have a lot of dishes, etc to wash resulting in a lot of gray water. The State Park that we have been going to has water and AC, but no sewage dump at the sites. Since we do not have a toad, there is no way to drag the "blue tank" to the single dump site. That is the ONLY thing that I do not like about our coach.

We wanted to be as earth friendly as possible, but our only solution is to use disposable paper plates, cups, pre-cooked food to take along, food cooked on the park grill instead of our own, etc. I believe that even though we have two gray tanks, the total capacity is no more than coaches with one gray tank. One tank fills from the shower and the other fills from the two sinks. I had looked into having the plumbing changed so that the gray water would go into the black tank after a certain amount, but my dealer didn't recommend anything like that with the tanks all being at the same level.

To sum it up...the size of the gray tanks is what you have to consider, rather than the black. I know this got a little long winded, but I hope it helps in your decision. Joe

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