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Old 08-22-2009, 11:51 AM   #1
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Newbie question

First, let me say I love this site - so many versatile areas of information!

We have a TT and are new to it, about 5 months now. We're ALREADY dreaming of the day we can own a Class A! We've camped with friends who own one but we've never driven one nor rode in one.

When you are looking to buy a coach, do they let you take it out for a test drive??????? How do you learn how to drive one?

I can't quite imagine plunking down that kind of money and never having taken it out on a 'test' drive...........how exactly does that work when you go to buy one???
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Old 08-22-2009, 12:06 PM   #2
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Welcome GoodTimes to irv2.
You can drive a class A if you showed interest to a dealer in buying a coach. You shop around and test drive a few. You already know how to drive with a TT its just that the cab, drivers seat, will not be turning before the coach.
Adjust your mirrors and your ready to go. Slow speed until your use to feel of coach and no over turning of coach just as with a TT.
There are driving schools you can try but test drive a few coach's I think you will do OK.
Enjoy the forums and do post often.
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Old 08-22-2009, 01:54 PM   #3
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It can happen ...

Accidents can happen on test drives ...

A BAD one
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Old 08-22-2009, 03:20 PM   #4
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There are a lot of things that you have to watch out for, beside the other driver. Two things that are not apparent is when to make a turn, and tail swing. What I do, since I'm basically sitting over the front axle (almost) is wait until my body (butt) is where i want the front to go an then I start my turn. Of course, you have to make sure you will clear any object in your front path. At the same time, you have 12 feet, give or take a few depending on length of RV, of overhang past the back axle. It does not turn like a snake, but like a log. So, you have to be constantly alert of your back end "tail" swing. As stated - go slow. One practice I always try to abide by is whenever backing my co-pilot is back in the rear, on the ground, directing me. (As best she can and she is getting better all the time at this task) This is even though I have back up camera and mirrors. It's almost human nature to get trapped in one mirror or the back-up camera and ignore the others, but arms flailing, and voices shouting (my back-up has audio) usually gets my attention.

When going down the highway be aware of other vehicles approaching from the rear. Don't let one get caught in your "blind" spot. And for big rigs or other MH's passing you there will be a "suction" trying to pull your MH into that rig, or theirs into your rig. I always try and be polite and get my right side where I can just see the shoulder line. This suction is caused by them breaking your draft. If one is following to close it will also break your draft and want you vehicle to sway a little. Don't over adjust for these occurrences.

A flat tire (blow-out) is not something any of us wish to have. There are videos on how to drive when a blow-out is encountered. Do not slam on the brakes. Instead hold a steady pressure on the accelerator and even accelerate a little until the vehicle comes under control, then slowly stop.

Remember that your stopping distances is a lot further than the average vehicle so allow extra space for the car in front of you. (Yep! Idiots will pull in front of you and slow down - we all expect it.) Typically there is the 2 second rule for cars, but for the MH, I'd go 6 seconds. Find a spot in the road that the vehicle in front of passes, and then count to 1000 and 6 to see if that is when you pass that same spot. Also, scan ahead at least 12 seconds down the road, and even a little more - trying to anticipate problems you may see in the traffic.

Do a google search on "driving a motorhome," or "driving a recreational vehicle." You will come up with a lot of information.

If you have someone nearby that has a motorhome and they are willing, ask them to be your co-pilot.

The first time out, find a nice large un-used (like on the weekday for a church) parking lot and practice the different maneuvers like, backing, parallel parking (yep, some times it is necessary) turns, etc. Then hook up the TOAD and do it again.

Read the DMV manual for your state regarding CDL's, even though you don't need one. You will find a lot of informtion in there that pertains to what you will be driving. Maybe you do need a special license for your MH, just not a CDL.

I wish I could just list everything, but now-a-days I just get in a drive and it sort of just comes to you.

Lessons from a driving instructor are never a bad idea. Check with your local bus company to see if they offer them, or know who does in your area.

Good luck.
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Old 08-23-2009, 11:00 AM   #5
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Hi GoodTimes,
I am new here, too, and really enjoy it.
What about renting a Class A for a weekend? Then you could see if this was something that you really liked or not. Maybe you would find that you are a Class C person (LOL!).
My Dad purchased an "A" about 10 years ago and that is what he did. He said it helped him refine what he wanted in his own and cemented the fact that he really did want it.
For some reason though, he decided that he didn't want a slide, in his own coach. Not sure why. I'd want them as they add so much living room. So the coach he bought did not have a slide.
Sheila :)
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Old 08-24-2009, 08:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNWGirl View Post
Hi GoodTimes,
I am new here, too, and really enjoy it.
What about renting a Class A for a weekend? Then you could see if this was something that you really liked or not. Maybe you would find that you are a Class C person (LOL!).
My Dad purchased an "A" about 10 years ago and that is what he did. He said it helped him refine what he wanted in his own and cemented the fact that he really did want it.
For some reason though, he decided that he didn't want a slide, in his own coach. Not sure why. I'd want them as they add so much living room. So the coach he bought did not have a slide.
Sheila
All of the above are excellent ideas. And I have never thought of renting a Class A since we already have a TT. But it's brilliant! My argument with my DH is we could certainly "make do" in a Class C but he wouldn't hear of it so I've sorta given into the Class A - even though we're far down the road from that moment! I'll keep this in mind - another thought just scared me: what if we rent the Class A and he only wants to buy it SOONER? This could be both good and bad.............
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Old 09-01-2009, 01:36 AM   #7
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Hi,

Over that past 30 years we tried a variety of rigs, starting first with a 16 foot Aristocrat trailer pulled behind our station wagon . After a couple more trucks/trailers and a smaller gas class A we finally purchased a new 36 foot diesel pusher class A. We took the pusher some places where there was no way we were supposed to fit. After 8 years with the pusher we realized that we hadn't been able to go to some of the places we liked because we were too big. I also realized we didn't do quite as much exploring because of concern that we couldn't easily get out of difficult spots. This year we downsized to a Dynamax Dynaquest class C diesel puller. It's appointed in many ways nicer than our pusher and has greater load carrying and towing capacity than the pusher. Set on a Freightliner truck chassis with air bag suspension it's a comfortable and solid ride. It runs cooler and is ideal for some of the mountain destinations that we love. It's just easier to drive and less worry because it's shorter.

The technology evolved and we tried out different alternatives. It's more than a quarter century later and I think we finally have the right setup. But wait, I think that was what we thought with the previous rig.
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Old 09-01-2009, 07:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodTimes View Post
I can't quite imagine plunking down that kind of money and never having taken it out on a 'test' drive...........how exactly does that work when you go to buy one???
We did take a test drive but, in the grander scheme of things, I'd question its value in our purchase decision. For all the things that have been already been pointed out as different in the class A, be biggest thing was the difference in the feel with all of that glass - or so we thought at the time.

I once saw a post that said it takes 100K miles to become proficient in a new type of vehicle. I thought it was silly at the time. After 40K miles in a class A, I'm not sure that there isn't more truth than laughter in that statement. As background, we had rented class Cs (around 30 feet) and driven them 7,000 miles. I have lots of miles and hours in U-Haul type trucks. Nothing prepared us for the class A except driving it. As suggested, we took it to a mall parking lot early several Sunday mornings in a row and practiced. We scheduled a few trips close to home when we first started using it. Getting used to keeping the driver's side near the center white line was one of the greater challenges. After our mall lot practice, turns were OK but got better with practice. Getting use to the air brakes just took time.

It wasn't until we had over 5K miles of use that we figured out that our RV had handling problems. After a number of changes (new tires, new shocks, anti-sway bars) it handles much better but I had to get a feel for it to even be able to tell. Perhaps I'm just a slow learner.

From a safety perspective, the key items were
1. gauging stopping distance
2. making turns, especially right turns
3. changing lanes and passing, especially with the toad
4. handling down hills - you cannot read too much about the techniques for this one. When you want to test your skills, there is Palo Duro Canyon
5. handling in windy situations, especially cross winds

From a "pucker factor", the biggest problem was cars cutting us off, some toll roads with toll booths and going through construction with cement barriers One particular strip of 30 miles at Little Rock saw the lane width shrink to less than 2 full lanes every time we went under an overpass. Somehow, we happened upon that a midnight. I promise you that no test drive is going to help you with that. You just have to anticipate the traffic flow and take both lanes where you need to. The idiots who just have to pass will just have to wait.

Like many other things in life, I think you have to "grow into" a class a. A test drive is but a drop in that bucket. We wouldn't trade ours and have had 5 wonderful years of use along with some really hairy moments, like driving along the fringe of a hurricane.
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Old 09-01-2009, 10:20 AM   #9
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Goodtimes---

Make wide right turns----
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Old 09-01-2009, 03:28 PM   #10
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GoodTimes... you already have the most important thing you'll need... that beautiful little Westie! We travel with two Westies and a Sheltie.

Two years ago, I was in the same boat as you... except I had never even owned an RV of any kind. I took one test drive and bought a new 40' Diesel Pusher. I had never driven anything larger than a pick up towing a ski boat. In spite of a high pucker factor, I adapted and began to feel much more comfortable as I got more miles under my belt. With only about 100 miles experience we took off on a three month cross country trip and loved it. We are now only three weeks away from close on the sale of our stick house and we'll be full timing!

You've gotten some great advice here already so I won't add anything other than to say "just go for it." The important thing is to maintain a very high level of respect for what you are doing when you're behind the wheel. EVERY single time you put the coach in gear you must dedicate your full attention to moving it. The consequences of not always being on top of things are just too great.

Good luck to you.
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