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Old 02-28-2016, 04:42 PM   #1
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Advice for Used Class A (or DIY instructions to build a padded room)

Howdy

I am hoping to get advice on a used Class A. I had never seriously considered a Class A before visiting an RV Show in Dallas on 2/27/16. I had assumed these started well above my budget—like $250K. After checking out a 2016 Jayco Alante 26Y show-priced at $70K it had me thinking—if a new albeit smallish Class A with 2 slides and an intriguing over the cockpit “bed elevator” only cost $70K, what would a mechanically sound, clean used one cost.

Beyond mechanical, clean and safe, I don’t really know what I’m looking for. I see 10 year old units with fewer than 20,000 miles, and 5 year old units with more than 100,000. Living in Texas, I wonder for those that were used very little if they may in some ways be worse off than one that was regularly used based on heat exposure or neglect—somebody who isn’t planning on using an RV might not take as much care of it. I don’t have a specific budget in mind, but I’ve seen several that looked nice in photos with less than 25,000 miles for less than $25,000… Are there people you can hire to perform an inspection? Are they reliable or at least more so than the guy that did my home inspection (and missed everything)? Do you have any red flags you look for?

Apologies for being scattered—I’ve suddenly become a sort of addict jumping from RVTrader to local dealer’s sites to manufacturer sites…


More detail in case anyone is still awake:

About my family-- I have a wife and soon to be 4 year old daughter, so a smaller RV suits us. Also, we usually don’t spend a lot of time indoors. We expect to eat breakfast and head out, not to return until we’re ready for bed. I have read and heard from numerous sources that slides may not be the most dangerous feature, but they surely aren’t the safest. In particular with the Jayco Alante (and virtually every other Class A we looked at), I was shocked to see that other than the driver and passenger, there wasn’t a single place to sit that wasn’t attached to a large slide. In my mind, not needing or wanting slides or a lot of space seems like it should complement my limited budget, but sadly the world doesn’t always consult my mind when setting prices.

Last year we rented a Class C and drove from Dallas to Sanibel Island, FL and then to Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World. It was the first time since I was a child to travel in/with an RV. It was a great experience overall, and we’d like to do it again but we don’t want to rent. I had been considering a small travel trailer similar to 2016 Gulfstream StreamLite UltraLite 24RBH (has dry bath and toilet w/ sink, use bunks for storage, double axel), but the RV show left me confused—every salesman we encountered either kept repeated how they really needed the commission (seriously) or how every other brand of RV is garbage…

Thanks for any advice to help me resolve my manic enthusiasm!
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Old 02-28-2016, 04:59 PM   #2
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Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined us!

Boy, that's a lot of ground you covered there! Buying your first RV is a big decision.

How you're going to use it should be the starting point. If you're going to do a lot of long distance extended trips, and considering the $70 figure you mentioned, you might want to consider an older diesel pusher.

If it will be mostly weekend trips with an occasional longer trip then a 5th wheel or travel trailer might be a better choice. Of those two, I highly recommend a 5th wheel because of it's handling on the road, but of course you've got to have a truck capable of pulling it!

Just don't rush into anything. Do a LOT of research and kick a lot of tires before spending the money!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old 02-28-2016, 05:12 PM   #3
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We bought a 10 year old 35' class A 3 years ago. It had 52,000 miles, was in good shape and was at a trusted dealer. We bought it for just under $30,000. We might of been willing to pay more but this one had a floor plan that met our needs.

It now has about 75,000. We have had no mechanical problems. We are watching the tires closely because they are near end of recommended life although they are still b good.

Our dinette and couch are in the slide but we also have a captains chair. No problem since the kitchen and bathroom are still accessible when the slides are in. I think you will appreciate the extra room the slides provide when you do need to be inside because of weather or in the evening.

Ours, BTW, is a a Georgetown gas. There are lots of good units out there and some garbage. You do have to do your homework, which you have started by asking.
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Old 02-28-2016, 05:13 PM   #4
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Thanks for your reply. The Florida/Disney trip will be at least an annual trip (total 2 weeks, about 2,500 miles). My wife has family all across the north and north east and we'll be making a round up there every couple of years (about 4,000 miles). We expect to be on on the road about 4 weeks a year not counting monthly weekend trips in the area (3-6 hours away).
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Old 02-28-2016, 05:22 PM   #5
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Do you already own a vehicle capable of pulling a trailer or a truck to tow a 5th wheel. If not then that will go into the financial aspect of the decision.

If you don't have a tow vehicle then you would have to buy in addition to the RV.

We started out in a 31' Class C, no slides. It served us well and we put +69k miles on it . We then wanted to upgrade and I wanted a diesel pusher for the size, stability, power, and comfort. We got lucky in 2008 and fount a 2002 Monaco Windsor for a really good price. It is 38' long and has 2 slides. Lots of room and the floor plan worked for us. This type of vehicle you can full time in, which is an indication of the type of RV we were looking for.

Initially we didn't tow a vehicle but now tow a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Lots of things to consider. Look at as many RV's as you can. Make sure the floor plan is one you can live with and the RV is the type that suits you the bests.

Good Luck
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Old 02-28-2016, 06:46 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jacwjames View Post
Do you already own a vehicle capable of pulling a trailer or a truck to tow a 5th wheel. If not then that will go into the financial aspect of the decision.

If you don't have a tow vehicle then you would have to buy in addition to the RV.

We started out in a 31' Class C, no slides. It served us well and we put +69k miles on it . We then wanted to upgrade and I wanted a diesel pusher for the size, stability, power, and comfort. We got lucky in 2008 and fount a 2002 Monaco Windsor for a really good price. It is 38' long and has 2 slides. Lots of room and the floor plan worked for us. This type of vehicle you can full time in, which is an indication of the type of RV we were looking for.

Initially we didn't tow a vehicle but now tow a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Lots of things to consider. Look at as many RV's as you can. Make sure the floor plan is one you can live with and the RV is the type that suits you the bests.

Good Luck
I have a 2011 Nissan Titan w/ Towing Package... Despite Google and Nissan owner's manual, I still am not 100% I know my specific vehicles towing capacity. It is allegedly somewhere between 7,000 and 9,300 lbs, but I wouldn't dare approach either of those numbers. I once had a full pallet of sod in the bed and the truck let me know it didn't love it :/ That being said, I guess 2,500 lbs over the axel is more than most of the travel trailers I've looked at (tongue weight).k
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Old 02-28-2016, 09:32 PM   #7
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I don't know what you're heard about slides being unsafe but they aren't. We've used slides for 16 years in two different RVs. Thousands of others use slides and even the top RVs have slides. You might have heard of people having trouble with slides but it really isn't common. You hear about people with problems. You never hear about people who have no problems.

The Jayco 29UR Precept has a drop down bed over the cockpit and only one slide - for the master bed.

2016 Precept Class A Motorhome Floorplans & Prices | Jayco, Inc.

There are a few other mfg. who have made the drop-down bed over the cockpit such as Winnebago's Vista and Thor A.C.E. I know nothing about any of them or if they're still made.

Rather than a drop-down bed, you might also look into a little bunk room for your daughter. She'd love her own space and could even have a friend with her.

Good luck in your search and keep in mind...there's nothing unsafe about slides.
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Old 02-28-2016, 10:38 PM   #8
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Slides really give you some extra room and you will appreciate it the first rainy day. The bunk room is a great option for your little girl. It adds separation/privacy for when she goes to bed, extra storage as needed and allows you and your wife to have a life. Do your research and find a floor plane that works for you guys.
We use to tow a 5er and loved it but eventually moved into a MH. Our decision was made after stoping one summer afternoon in triple digits and opening up the oven of a 5th wheel that had baked all day as we traveled. Now we travel with the temperature perfect and setup is easy. Lots of good options out their.


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Old 02-29-2016, 04:22 AM   #9
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First I see you have just joined the forum so WELCOME.

To answer your question, yes there are inspectors out there I myself am not sure how to locate one I am sure someone will come along with info on that.

You seem to have a good thought process and have at least a good idea of what will fit your needs. With just the three of you you should be able to stay on the smaller size but as others have said slides are nice and not a negative.

In my opinion in most cases a motorhome with a little higher miles is not bad and an indication it was used instead of just sitting around, the mechanical systems of these things need to be used. We purchased our first just over a year ago with 75 Thou on it and have had no problems with a 45 hundred mile trip since purchased.

Set your budget, set a distance how far you are willing to go to look, DO NOT rush into this and let your perfect ish motorhome come to you. You should have no problem finding a good MH for under 50 Thou. I only paid 13,000 for our 14 year old mh.
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Old 02-29-2016, 05:29 PM   #10
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First I see you have just joined the forum so WELCOME.

To answer your question, yes there are inspectors out there I myself am not sure how to locate one I am sure someone will come along with info on that.

You seem to have a good thought process and have at least a good idea of what will fit your needs. With just the three of you you should be able to stay on the smaller size but as others have said slides are nice and not a negative.

In my opinion in most cases a motorhome with a little higher miles is not bad and an indication it was used instead of just sitting around, the mechanical systems of these things need to be used. We purchased our first just over a year ago with 75 Thou on it and have had no problems with a 45 hundred mile trip since purchased.

Set your budget, set a distance how far you are willing to go to look, DO NOT rush into this and let your perfect ish motorhome come to you. You should have no problem finding a good MH for under 50 Thou. I only paid 13,000 for our 14 year old mh.
Thank you. I think the slide-aversion I have is based partly on reading the structure of the RV with slides is weaker than one without, but if I think about it, knowing they have to add reinforcements along the "jam" makes me wonder if that conclusion is justified.

The other factor was believing that slides add to cost-- but I can see now that if 90% have them (made up, guessed statistic), it may be less important a distinction than I thought.

A lot of good things to consider. Do you happen to know if there are any educational videos that I could watch to immerse me more into RV mechanical literacy?
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Old 03-01-2016, 05:07 AM   #11
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Thank you. I think the slide-aversion I have is based partly on reading the structure of the RV with slides is weaker than one without, but if I think about it, knowing they have to add reinforcements along the "jam" makes me wonder if that conclusion is justified.

The other factor was believing that slides add to cost-- but I can see now that if 90% have them (made up, guessed statistic), it may be less important a distinction than I thought.

A lot of good things to consider. Do you happen to know if there are any educational videos that I could watch to immerse me more into RV mechanical literacy?
SlowLearner,
First I am certain there are plenty of video out there just can't say where, I would just search this forum possibly youtube. Continue to ask questions perhaps in a new thread with specific criteria.

I'm all for being safe in the motorhome but I don't get obsess with it, keep in mind that if you are in a class A say 32 feet you are much larger than most of the vehicles on the road.

Now what I have learned from being on this forum is motorhomes in general don't do well in crashes.

I believe they say the class C provides better protection because they are a truck or van cab and have air bags.

Personally I would not let the slide issue sway me on the integrity of the motorhome structure or safety, not saying it isn't perhaps a small factor. I am not an engineer but there are many on this forum that could better speak on this subject.

To me it appears that you might consider a class C since there only three of you, unless that number will increase in the future.

Hope this helps good luck with your search.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:43 AM   #12
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Do you happen to know if there are any educational videos that I could watch to immerse me more into RV mechanical literacy?
Here is one source: RV Education 101 - videos, DVDs, books, tips and information for RVers

I have only watched some of his FREE videos, so I cannot comment on any of his paid material.

Another thought is youtube.com. Type in the keywords that interest you and look through the results. Keep in mind that all sorts of folks, with widely-varying skillsets, make videos. I've seen some strange, and dangerous, things being recommended. (Like the guy who wanted to paint a car: He built a "spray booth" in his garage with sheet plastic walls and a cheap window fan, then was spraying solvent-based, flammable paint! One spark at the right/wrong time and his house would have been toast with him in it.)

Best of luck!
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:13 AM   #13
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Boy,.......what a task! To learn about RVs in a short period of time, decide what one wants/needs, then find the RIGHT used unit........you are in for a ride!

All people on this forum have couple of things in common. Traveling/camping/outdoors,.......everything else is different (age, size of the family, budget, ......and MUCH more). What each person considers the RIGHT unit for his/her situation, varies wildly. And we all have an opinion too!

I am VERY familiar with the task you are facing. I just went through it, and made a typical "beginner's mistake". I found mechanically excellent older ClassA (I won't bother you with the thought process involved in deciding in favor of ClassA, vs. all other types of RVs out there), that was dirty/outdated inside, but well maintained, and regularly used (65K on the odometer). This was my trial at RVing, and wife (who had RV experience earlier in her life) suggested I buy something cheap, "to see IF I even like RVing". Sound advice.

I bought this cosmetically neglected, and mechanically perfect ClassA for peanuts (each person's definition on "peanuts" is different!). Since I am hopelessly OCD, I "had to" make it new inside, and outside. I gutted it out, purchased all new furniture, carpet, Pergo flooring, wallpaper, and all new stripes on the outside (stripping material alone was over $1600). I put more money into it, than the original price (labor was all mine, and "free").

After it was done, we took it from CA to ID (2500 miles RT) without a single issue. Great! Loved just about everything on that trip. Except it was too short (34') for me, and climbing grades was downright dangerous (being shoved side to side by OTR trucks passing me at speed limit, and me barely holding 25mph!!).

So why I wanted longer ClassA? Wife and I (+3 big dogs) needed more room. I decided early in my search that I don't want any slides. We all have our opinion, and mine is as such (yours might be different). So I decided I want/need 40' minimum (45' would be even nicer). I also wanted tag axle (opinions on this also vary) for stability, and DEFINITELY big diesel (for torque and power on the grades).

Luckily my neighbor fell in love with my first MH (observing how meticulously it was restored), and bought it 30 minutes after I said that I'm thinking of getting something bigger. I got all my money back, except my labor, but I learned a LOT about MHs, and every school costs money/time.

I found what I wanted 800 miles away, and drove there to pick it up. 1995 40' ClassA, garaged it's whole life, MINT condition, all books/records with it, 350HP DP, 1350fp of torque, 10K Isuzu genset, Alison World 6 speed, and 100K on the odometer. Barely broken in for Caterpillar. It sold new in 1995 for 375K, and looks like new 21 years later. I purchased it for a SMALL fraction of that price.

So,.......first of all, sorry about the long post. I just wanted to give you an example of my recent search, and outline some of the experiences I've encountered. Think long, think careful, and buy whatever you think you will need/want, right away. It's a VERY good idea to rent couple rigs for the weekend trips, in order to feel the difference between gassers and DPs (for example). In hindsight,.....I'm sorry I didn't do that (I would've searched for DP right away, and save two months of my labor remodeling that gasser). I know,......some readers will say "why didn't you drive it 2500 miles BEFORE remodel"......and all I can say,.....it was so filthy inside my wife refused a test drive, and I wouldn't force my dogs inside. It was beyond cleaning. EVERYTHING needed to be replaced. Single father with two teenage boys used it for taking kids offroading in AZ (sand and dust EVERYWHERE), torn couches (from dirt bike boots I'm sure), greasy upholstery (from hands that were wrenching on the bikes) carpet was GONE, and they probably had quite a few food fights in there! Stripes on the outside were burned/cracked/peeling, and the gelcoat hasn't seen the buffer in years. But no rust, no dents, and no leaks.

When I brought it home wife's mouth fell open, and she said "when I said CHEAP,.....I didn't mean THIS cheap"! (after I was done with it, she loved it, and named it "Walter")

RVs are proverbial "money pits", and nothing is ever "good enough". We are constantly looking to "upgrade something" (just look on this forum!)......from induction cooktops, to solar, to audio, video....the list never ends! And then,..... there is regular maintenance!

Read this (and other) forum, watch Youtube (as mentioned before), and LEARN. Think carefully about your family's specific needs (or wants), and then start searching for the PERFECT coach for you nationwide. Be prepared for MANY disappointments (driving/flying to see some misrepresented junk), but persistence will pay off eventually.

Good luck in your endeavor.
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Old 03-01-2016, 12:07 PM   #14
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Danielsand,

Thank you for taking the time to give us your thoughts and experiences. I find it very helpful. Your comments are probably going to save me lots of time and $$$.
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