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Old 01-06-2016, 05:53 PM   #1
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Please help me keep from making a MASSIVE mistake

Hello All! New to this forum and my first post will be lengthy but Ill try to keep it as concise as possible. I need your help.

My wife and I are both going on 35 and talking about having our first(maybe only) child, but before we do that we have been talking for about 1 1/2 years about doing a cross country road trip and we've decided that we want to do it in an RV. I will be taking a 2 month leave of absence from work to do this and my wife is finishing up her masters then we're off. We feel that this is kind of a once in a lifetime trip and it is very important to us.

The Trip

We plan to be travelling from Aug 1 to Sep 30. We chose this timeframe because we plan on doing quite a few overnight backpacking trips in all the national parks and weather-wise this timeframe works very nicely for almost all locations. The following is a rough outline:

Nashville to Badlands/Yellowstone/Tetons
Tetons to Seattle/Olympic/Rainier/Portland
Portland to San Fran/Yosemite
Yosemite to Pismo where we will likely leave the RV and take TOAD along the PCH(putting us on the PCH Sept 1)
Pismo to Joshua Tree/Phoenix/Sedona
Sedona to Grand Canyon/Bryce/Moab
Moab thru Grand Junction to Aspen/Breck/Denver
Denver to Nashville

Round trip is approximately 6000 miles. There are quite a few stops missing as this is just a rough outline.

The RV

We plan to buy the RV before the last freeze here in Nashville and take as many weekend trips as we can before the Great Trek. I'm not an idiot and I am trying very hard to appreciate the gravity of what we're doing(that's why I'm here) so I feel its of the utmost importance to know the machine Ill be travelling in as well as possible. Financially, the most comfortable place for us to be is around 100k all in, but if it would help greatly reduce issues, we would be willing to go quite a bit higher and could still do so responsibly.

My current plan is to look for a slightly used FR3 30DS and doing the handling mods given what I've read about the F53 Chassis. We also plan to tow my wifes Honda Fit 4-down. We will very likely be selling the coach upon returning home so I feel like buying used would accomplish two things. First it would, I assume, help soften the depreciation blow we will take by putting 6000 miles on the unit. Second, from my reading it seems possible that some of the "new unit" bugs might have been worked out by the previous owner. The latter is of course not guaranteed.

What I'm looking for here at IRV2

To be blunt, after reading the horror stories around these forums about RV's in general it made me scared spitless. I'm a techie and do odd jobs around the house. I consider myself mildly mechanically inclined and have been able to accomplish most jobs I set out to do, but I haven't done a whole lot with autos or repaired major appliances. The thought of constantly battling issues with the RV or worse, having it need to be in the shop for large parts of the trip is mortifying to me. The trip is only 2 months so having it in the shop for even 2 weeks would be 25% of the trip.

What I'm really looking for from anyone reading this is to know......is what we are thinking about doing ridiculous? Are we just asking for a disaster here? Trying to go too far? Am I making too much of the forum horror stories? Are there any red flags blaring at you as you read this text? I'm open for any commentary or suggestions and will answer any questions regarding our plans. I'm just looking to make the best decisions possible.

Thank you.
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:06 PM   #2
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Your going to get lots of advice.
I think it is is good that your getting gas instead of diesel.

Can you fix your own cars?
Can you fix things around the house?

If yes, your in pretty good shape.
If possible, it would be great to get an oil analysis of the engine before you buy. it gives lots of info about engine health.

Watch out for old tires. after 8 or so years, they need to be looked at closely.
Also look at battery age because those are fairly expensive to replace.

Also, how "picky" are you? If your fussy about things, you may find more stuff to fix. IF not too fussy, then less work.

One thing to check into is roadside assistance, since once you leave home, it is not easy to fix things.

And many shake down trips would be a big plus.

Good luck,

Dan
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:13 PM   #3
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For a 2 month once in a lifetime trip why not just rent one??
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:18 PM   #4
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Welcome aboard. As with anything in life, there is a certain risk in undertaking such a voyage but in many ways that is what makes the adventure exciting. If everything were predictable what fun would that be?
For every horror story we hear about rv's there are thousands of people thoroughly enjoying themselves. Mishaps occur but rather than get their skivvies in a knot they fix the problem and carry on.
Hang around here, soak up as much information as you can while learning to separate the kernels from the chaff and start planning on the vehicle you want. Once you have decided on the floor plan and amenities you want, start pounding pavement and looking. Attend the local rv show, they are starting shortly. Talk to the dealers. Once you have decided on a particular coach get it inspected by a qualified independent facility, don't rely on the selling dealer. You are wise planning on short shake down runs to iron everything out before the Great Trek. Above all, QUIT OVERTHINKING, STOP WORRYING and have fun with it.
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:20 PM   #5
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If I were going to buy an RV for a short term experience, I would look for a lightly used older unit. I would look for a 10 plus year old with no slides since it's just the two of you on a short term mission. I just sold a 2000 Thor Hurricane 30q that would have been great for such a trip. Save your money for travels. I would not waste any money on doing any handling mods, get in whatever you get and go. Before you go, have a mechanic check things out and make sure it's road worthy. Do NOT waste money on new tires. There is a lot of jibberish about tires on all these forums. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I just gave you mine. Have them inspected if they are over 6 years old, but even then they will most likely last another two months. Essentially you are renting a motorhome for two months, and you should spend accordingly.

You will lose money on the transaction, and the older unit you get, chances are the less you will lose. Good luck and have some great memories.
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpinvidic View Post

Can you fix your own cars?
Can you fix things around the house?
I am about to attempt to replace the brake switch on my car and Ive installed a stereo. That's about the extent of my automotive work. Around the house I figured out why our dishwasher wasn't working, installed a garbage disposal and a new sink fixture in the kitchen. That's about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpinvidic View Post
Also, how "picky" are you? If your fussy about things, you may find more stuff to fix. IF not too fussy, then less work.
Honestly neither of us are very picky at all. As long as the thing will drive down the road, the AC works and the fridge works I'm good to go. Small stuff like latches, knobs, jangly stuff don't really concern me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpinvidic View Post
One thing to check into is roadside assistance, since once you leave home, it is not easy to fix things.

And many shake down trips would be a big plus.
Both of these things are very high on our to-do list.
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:24 PM   #7
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eonblue,

You're NOT ridiculous! You have a dream and are researching it well in advance. Go to PPL Motorhomes on the internet. Start looking at the gas MH's and see if you find a floor plan that works for the two of you. Do you have a local dealership where you can go and walk around the MH to see if the shower fits, bed works, storage and start thinking about what you will want to take with you.

We stayed in Yellowstone the first week of August and got a foot of snow through the night. Gone the next day but you might want to research the weather in the places you want to visit. It was beautiful but cold.

If you can afford to spend $100 K and have money left over for repairs if they become necessary, then you are set. You should be able to get a good rig for around $80,000 since you are looking at a gasser. You can get comfortable with the rig in a few weekends of using it. Won't be a pro, but there is always someone at a CG (campground) willing to answer questions and help you. Just ask.

Sounds like a wonderful trip you have planned. The horror stories come when things go wrong and there are no guarantees. You can plan it all out and it can go beautifully without issue or a small issue can come up or it can all go wrong. Even brand new rigs can have issues and sometimes other things happen.

Just go with the best you can do with the rig, study old threads here and YouTube, YouTube videos on how to dump your RV tank, leveling your RV, driving your RV, or anything else you want to know. Great advice on a roadside assistance! If you do have a problem, you can get help.

Best of luck, Lynne
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger Smith View Post
For a 2 month once in a lifetime trip why not just rent one??
When we priced the depreciation vs the cost of a 2 month rental with the given mileage, the difference in price was negligible compared to the condition and quality of the units we looked at for rent vs what we would buy. We are prepared to take a large hit and chalk it up as just the "cost" of the trip.

That being said, we only reviewed a unit at a "rent-an-rv" type place. Perhaps there are more resources available.
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:34 PM   #9
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Your whole post I agree with wholeheartedly as general life advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoyM View Post
Once you have decided on a particular coach get it inspected by a qualified independent facility, don't rely on the selling dealer. .
Can you give me an example of such a place? Is it something like this?

Accurate RV Inspection

Ill search these forums for "rv inspection service".

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoyM View Post
Above all, QUIT OVERTHINKING, STOP WORRYING and have fun with it.
I research and overthink obsessively

That being said, my main goal is just to make sure everyone was going to be like "DUDE!!! You are an idiot to think this is a good idea!!!" It seems that isn't the case so I already feel a lot better!
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:40 PM   #10
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The problem with RV's is they break. What is the best fix? Owning the problem or renting it?

I would rent before buying. Have fun.
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:43 PM   #11
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I've heard that many people rent their personal rvs. Why not put an ad on Craigslist or something similar and see if you can work out a deal with someone who maybe doesn't use their unit much?

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For a 2 month once in a lifetime trip why not just rent one??
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:48 PM   #12
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Enjoy the journey!


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Old 01-06-2016, 07:02 PM   #13
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What you hear on forums are the worst case scenarios. We have been full time with a 2002 F250 and a 2007 Montana fifth wheel for 4 years. The only repair that I have not been able to do myself was replacing the transmission in the truck. It went out after 2 1/2 years. Many people travel for years with maintenance only.


Go and have fun!! I wish I could have done something like that at 35. It is not as much fun at 70.
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Old 01-06-2016, 07:09 PM   #14
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I have friends (a couple) that did a 7 month cross country trip in the same scenario, about 15 years ago and we still talk about their adventure. They bought a fairly old <LeoCraft> for $23,000 at the time and sold it for $21000 when they returned. The most major issue is when they hit British-Columbian and started up some mountains the engine started acting up but a mechanic fairly quickly fixed it, it needed adjustments for altitude...

I have been RVing myself since 1986 (am 58) and I find that most breaks won't leave you stranded, for instance if you lost the furnace you might use portable heaters, if you lost the stove you could use a portable butane stove etc...

My only other comment is two months is short for 6000 miles (100 miles per day avg.)
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