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Old 09-01-2014, 09:38 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Southpark View Post
For people looking for something that is a great driver, as well as solid quality, and bang-for-the at the high end, I think you have it exactly right. There are NO new coaches built today outside of a Prevost conversion, Newell, or Foretravel, that are built to this level. NONE. The high-line coaches some of you may suggest are, in my opinion, lacking in the construction of the house and how it attaches to the lower chassis.

It really is true -- they don't make them like they used to! With the demise of new Dynomax and Roadmaster S-Series the only thing comparable left in plastic coaches is the Travelride.

My only caution would be to be cautious or avoid Country Coach units made at the end when they suspected things were going to shut down.
Thanks for the comments and good point about being cautious of the last runs of the Country Coach...something to keep very much in the forefront when looking at units.
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Old 09-01-2014, 10:11 PM   #30
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Depreciation never stops, but it certainly slows quite a bit. I'm sure some of you have seen this depreciation schedule from Bob Gummersal:

Year Depr
0 18%
1 10%
2 7%
3 6%
4 6%
5 5%
6 5%
7 4%
8 4%
9 3%
10 2%

It's a good smooth approximation. NADA is a bit lumpier. I have complied 100's of prices of Monaco, HR, Tiffin, Newmar, CC and so on, taken the mid-point of average retail and low retail, averaged all the resulting data and here is an example of about what I get:

Year Depr
0 23.4%
1 2.5%
2 0.3%
3 6.7%
4 5.0%
5 4.1%
6 5.3%
7 1.8%
8 2.9%
9 8.4%
10 5.7%

A big drop around 9-10 years.

One thing that confuses many people, end even Bob has two conflicting spreadsheets, is that each year's depreciation is a percentage of the original MSRP. It is not calculated from each successive year's depreciated value.

Also, these depreciation figures are calculated against MSRP, not the bargain you struck with the dealer to get an out-the-door price. That's why year zero is about 25% -- the average MSRP discount of a new MH.

Many factors come into play but NADA is pretty consistent within a few percentage points across all brands and models.

I find it a helpful guide if for no other reason, to let me know what I can expect depreciation costs to be for the model year I purchase and how long I might expect to keep it.

As for how accurate it reflects pricing, it's not bad. PPL has website that shows "sold" prices and dates for Diesel Pushers. People are generally striking deals between NADA average and low retail. But there are plenty that score near wholesale (~20% below low retail) and some that pay well above average retail. In looking closely at the listings, nothing about the unit would suggest why the selling prices were so low or so high other than seller desperation or buyer enthusiasm.

As always, ymmv.
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Old 09-01-2014, 11:45 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Southpark View Post
For people looking for something that is a great driver, as well as solid quality, and bang-for-the at the high end, I think you have it exactly right. There are NO new coaches built today outside of a Prevost conversion, Newell, or Foretravel, that are built to this level. NONE. The high-line coaches some of you may suggest are, in my opinion, lacking in the construction of the house and how it attaches to the lower chassis.

It really is true -- they don't make them like they used to! With the demise of new Dynomax and Roadmaster S-Series the only thing comparable left in plastic coaches is the Travelride.

My only caution would be to be cautious or avoid Country Coach units made at the end when they suspected things were going to shut down.
I tap these out on my phone so I'm prone to error. It should read "bang-for-the-buck".
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Old 09-02-2014, 02:40 PM   #32
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This leaves scratching my head. The underlying construction of these is not very comparable, IMO.
Not sure what you mean here Having just got back from the Forest River International Rally in Goshen, IL I have been to the factory and observed the assembly. Both Berkshires & Charlstons are very well made coaches with a company that stands behind them.

Cummins ISB Turbo Diesel (360 on the Berkie, 450 on the Charlston)
Allison 6 speed tranmission
on a Freightliner Chassis

This is the same construction that semi trucks use - you know, the trucks that log 30K+ miles a year.

I am not trying to start a flame war here - just trying to come to a reasonable understanding because we are considering moving up to a MH from our 5er just before we retire.

Now I completely agree that the appointments in a Foretravel or Prevost will be an order of magnitude above a Coachman, Berkie or Charlston. But when it comes to materials used in construction (and all the materials I saw used on the FR MHs were of good quality - hardwood cabinets with tongue in groove and dovetail joins for example).

Finally, what resources are out there to search for used high end coaches?

Wanting to learn from those more experienced...
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Old 09-02-2014, 05:12 PM   #33
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This comes down to what a specific buyer feels comfortable with. Some just want new, and thats OK. We went the used route, and glad we did. Some one liner thoughts:
>Don't buy any coach that does not fit your living needs.
>Pick a budget range. And if buying used, add three buckets of added budget lines: 1) Maintenance Catch Up (if needed, to get it to a level that you know); 2) Making it your coach modifications (old tv to lcd, change of flooring, change to residential fridge, change to LED lights, modifications of cabinets to your desire. All of these, are subject to what you want, and will vary depending upon chosen coach; And 3) Contingency funds.
>In general, drop years to obtain the highest quality coach that you can, while staying within budget purchase range. (Quality lasts.)
>When shopping, look for a 'solid foundation' to tweak into your coach.
>If uncomfortable without a new coach warranty. Budget in an Extended Warranty from a reputable provider.
>Make sure you buy enough engine for your rig. Most higher end coaches come with adequate to superior power to weight ratios. But when doubt, go bigger.
>Dropping years, usually drops you down to lower smog equipment and non DEF coaches. (IMO, that was a real plus.)

Before signing any papers, negotiate any of the above items that you want covered by a dealer (If buying from a dealer. And, if this dealer is reputable and has a good service shop.) For example if you want minor mods to the coach as part of the purchase agreement. Negotiate the shop rates down to a lower amount. (We got 100 hours 'at cost', about a $35 and hour discount. We also got a parts cost + 10% to cover handling by the dealer.)

When shopping, look for Documentation, Documentation, Documentation of maintenance. Trust No One, if it ain't documented, it needs secondary validation.
Do budget into your shopping, independent inspection of house, chassis, engine and transmission. Pull oil and transmission samples and send them into a lab.

Where in real estate it's Location, Location, Location. IMO, in RV's it's Quality, Quality, Quality.

Best of luck on whatever way you go. And that is important to remember. It's your dime (well, thousands of dimes) spend it the way you want to. New is OK it that is what you want!!!

Have fun,
Smitty
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Old 09-02-2014, 06:31 PM   #34
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Older is better. We bought a 41' Travel Supreme Select triple-slide DP at the end of May, three months ago. It has a 500HP engine, granite counter tops, new high def LCD TV, Hydrohot, and new tires and batteries. 56K miles.

It was $115K for the coach and it's 2004 Honda CRV dingy (72K miles). The coach is in excellent condition physically and mechanically. ALL of the systems work. The only issues with the coach were a kitchen sink drain leak (original installation or a newer repair was not done properly) and some minor chips in the paint that the clear bra didn't cover. Other than outfitting the coach like we want it, we've put maybe $100-$200 in minor fixes.

It drives fine, but I'm going to have the front-end aligned for $350-400 locally, and have X-bracing put in late this year or next year at Precision Painting for about $2,500 to $3,000. Electronics upgrades we're considering are:
- New color backup camera system
- New dashcam
- New stereo/dvd player with Carplay

Total maintenance/upgrades in the next year will be about $4,000-$5,000.

The CRV was in great physical shape, but needed some mechanical work - new brakes, tires, front struts, clutch, and all of the fluids. That was about $6,000. But it handles and drives like it was new.

Overall, we're extremely pleased with it and would make the same decision again.

Here's a link to our gallery: New RV - DanClark

And a link to a 2003 Travel Supreme search on RV Trader: New and Used Travel Supreme Class A For Sale On RV Trader

Below is a pic of our baby.

Good luck with your decision.

Regards,

Dan.

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Old 09-02-2014, 07:30 PM   #35
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Looking at the classified here on IRV2 a great buy $110,000
2005 Newmar Tag Axle Diesel Pusher - RV & Motorhome Classifieds
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Old 09-02-2014, 09:27 PM   #36
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For convenience I'll put my comments in blue within your quote below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSVBamaBob View Post
Not sure what you mean here Having just got back from the Forest River International Rally in Goshen, IL I have been to the factory and observed the assembly. Both Berkshires & Charlstons are very well made coaches with a company that stands behind them.

My comment was in no way intended to bash or put down Forest River or their products. They may well be very well made coaches with a company that stands behind their products.

Cummins ISB Turbo Diesel (360 on the Berkie, 450 on the Charlston)
Allison 6 speed tranmission
on a Freightliner Chassis

This is the same construction that semi trucks use - you know, the trucks that log 30K+ miles a year.

I am not trying to start a flame war here - just trying to come to a reasonable understanding because we are considering moving up to a MH from our 5er just before we retire.

Thanks for noting that. Because it is sometimes hard to discuss these things without people losing their tempers. Just imagine how you might take things if you had just bought a new coach like you describe above!

Also, not to start a flame war, but the first thing that came to mind was "are you planning to go RVing on the flatbed of an OTR truck?"

Now I completely agree that the appointments in a Foretravel or Prevost will be an order of magnitude above a Coachman, Berkie or Charlston. But when it comes to materials used in construction (and all the materials I saw used on the FR MHs were of good quality - hardwood cabinets with tongue in groove and dovetail joins for example).

If you go back to my original quote, I believe you'll find I said "the underlying construction of these is not very comparable". And that, I believe, is true.

I look at cabinets as window dressing. Sure, they're important. And I would absolutely prefer solid wood cabinets rather than a lot of MDF. And sure I would prefer glued dovetail joints to staples. But by underlying construction I am talking about the foundation that lays under everything.

Without meaning to be rude (truly, by the way), it appears to me that your factory visits did not include a trip to the Prevost factory in Canada and that you are also unfamiliar with Prevost construction. Prevost coach shells are built using a beam system where the house frame and the lower chassis are integrated with welded stainless steel into a single, unified structure. This results in a number of benefits including incredible torsional rigidity compared to the typical fiberglass or "plastic" coaches most of us are familiar with.


In contrast, I believe you'll find the coaches you cited have a steel (not stainless mind you) lower chassis. I think you'll find the house, however, has a tubular aluminum frame. Now how is that aluminum top connected to that stainless bottom?

Now lets go back to your reference to OTR trucks on a Freightliner chassis. Whether you're talking about a solid steel wall Conex box on a flatbed, or a cargo trailer, neither is constructed with a tubular aluminum frame, with a bunch of windows, glued to thin luan and fiberglass sheeting, then screwed to the steel chassis -- or wood floor screwed to the steel chassis.

So no, those coaches are little more comparable in their underlying construction to an OTR cargo hauler than they are to a Prevost.

And that was my original observation -- they are not comparable in their underlying construction, in my opinion.

That is not to say that they don't suit the needs and wants of many many buyers. Nor does it suggest they are not built with quality.


I've never purchased their information, but I understand there is an RV consumer group that I'm hopeful someone can link to that publishes a guide on Class A shopping.

Leaving expensive all-aluminum Newells or stainless steel (and Kevlar???) Prevosts out of it, it may be very helpful in understanding the differences between fiberglass (or "plastic") coach construction decisions taken by various manufacturers.

For example, many buyers who put significant emphasis on how a coach drives and handles (including squeaks, rattles, groans, and torsional twists caused by uneven ground (think about the stories you've read of windscreens popping out or cracking)) prefer "custom" chassis.

These chassis generally eschew taking a Freightliner or Spartan OTR chassis and converting it to RV use and using an aluminum framed house construction screwed to the lower chassis. Instead, they use custom steel chassis designed for RV use and a house that also uses tubular steel framing which is then welded (IIRC Travelrides may be attached with Huck bolts) to the lower chassis.

This also results in more of a unified, or monocoque (or semi-monocoque) chassis construction where the house and lower chassis sections are integrated into a structural whole. Torsional rigidity is enhanced not only through this, but by using vacuum bonding techniques to bond the roof and side materials together to make them stiffer.



There is a very popular coach maker that, unless I'm terribly mistaken or something has changed, does not vacuum bond their walls together at all, let alone use a steel house structure welded to the lower chassis. I suppose the plus here is that you can't have a delamination issue if the walls are not laminated to begin with. Yet I think that plus comes at the cost of no increase in stiffness from the vacu-bonding technique. I'm sure each side would argue the benefits of their approach.

And keep in mind, many choices regarding construction technique are likely driven by costs. Likewise, many buying decisions are driven by price sensitivity.


It may be useful to search old brochures to see if people had to pay more to get a high-line coach made with an aluminum framed house, or a steel house.

Moreover, post recession (did it ever really end?) the only manufacturers still making custom chassis are, to the best of my knowledge, Prevost converters, Newell, and Foretravel.

Everyone has different priorities and tastes. And I'm certain not all enthusiasts share mine. For example, if someone never drives over the mountains out west, and spends six months at a time sitting in one spot, they might not care – legitimately – as much about chassis construction and engine power that I might. I also know that when people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on something they tend to avoid putting it down or expressing regret publicly.

Hopefully this provides a springboard for further research before you buy

your next rig.

Finally, these are my personal opinions. Your mileage may vary and you may find I'm factually wrong on some points. I welcome correction as I hate spreading misinformation. And I've no issue with people who agree with my facts, yet disagree with my conclusions. Different strokes for different folks is A-Ok with me, as long as you don't try to pass a law to forbid my stroke! Take care.
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Old 09-02-2014, 11:02 PM   #37
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UAV - you can make either of those two type of coaches work. The key is to buy the one that fits your needs and wants best. For full time I would recommend the longer coaches. Also, full time you need heavier duty materials like solid countertops, tile floors, aqua hot, and so on. These types of heavier duty items are more common on higher end coaches.
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Old 09-03-2014, 09:12 AM   #38
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Southpark,

Thanks for your very well written discussion of what makes a quality rig. I had not considered many of the points you brought up and appreciate the fact that you took the time to educate me!!
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Old 09-03-2014, 09:28 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Southpark View Post
For convenience I'll put my comments in blue within your quote below:
I think you provided a great analysis of how custom chassis/coach makers differ from volume production makers in the basic approach towards chassis and coach construction. For folks like myself, we will probably never own a custom MH but that is OK.

I suppose it might upset some top of the line production owners.
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Old 09-03-2014, 07:31 PM   #40
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Southpark,

Thanks for your very well written discussion of what makes a quality rig. I had not considered many of the points you brought up and appreciate the fact that you took the time to educate me!!
You're very welcome. There so many options, pratfalls, and compromises inherent in RV shopping that it's probably impossible not to miss something. Keeping data straight in my head and being willing to drone on about it endlessly is just one of the few talents I can still use. I'm too broken for dancing, and too married for womanizing, after all.


Another thing about Prevosts I meant to mention was that they claim they design and engineer them to go 150,000 a year for 10 years straight 1.5 million miles. I would guess NONE of us would ever do that in an RV.

And if it weren't clear, I would rather spend my money on a used custom chassis coach -- Prevost, Newell, Foretravel Travelride (Foretravel now also makes a unit with a Spartan, I believe, chassis), Country Coach Dynomax, Monaco/Beaver/Holliday Rambler S-Series Roadmaster (note, not all models from each brand use the S-Series) (Note also that BlueBird may be in this mix as well though I'm not familiar with their details. And many somewhat older Country Coaches were built on a custom Gillig chassis which I believe were also made to a high standard.), than a newer coach for the same money. Everyone's wants/needs/comfort levels, may vary, of course.
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Old 09-03-2014, 08:29 PM   #41
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"The other thought not mentioned so far is diesel engines have changed quite a bit since somewhere around 2007? Then again in 2010? The dates I may have butchered but IMO none of those changes was for the better.
Just another thought."

I have to echo what TMan59 said. What the EPA has done to diesel engines since 2007 is very expensive for the operators and will get worse as they age.
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Old 09-03-2014, 09:07 PM   #42
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THANK YOU ALL I think I learned more on these 3 pages then I have in the past 2 months
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