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Old 10-07-2010, 11:36 AM   #1
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Hello all, I'm new to this site and actually trying to find a good used class c to start my RV-ing life. I'm looking at a 1999 Coachmen Catalina w/38k miles. It looks nice. Can anyone give me any suggestions on which class c to start with?

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Old 10-07-2010, 03:23 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum Karen! I'm sure you'll find a lot of advice headed your way soon but I'm not a Class C expert.

Good Luck!


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Old 10-07-2010, 05:23 PM   #3
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Hi Karen and welcome to the forums.

Your question may seem pretty straightforward but there really is no "right" answer. There are a few Class C motorhomes (and only a few) that seem to rate higher in satisfaction than others but that does not mean you wouldn't be happy with that Coachman which is probably considered fairly average. Since you are looking at a motorhome that is 10+ years old, the overall condition is (in my opinion) more important than what brand name is stuck to the side of it. Whatever you find and buy, plan to put another couple thousand dollars (minimum) into it. There WILL be things to fix/replace on an older motorhome regardless of what the seller/dealer tells you.

You need to consider your base criteria:
  • The price you can afford, plus any after purchase expenses
  • How much (sizewise) of a coach you want/need
  • What compromises you are willing to accept, based on the first 2 items
Then go out and look at a BUNCH of motorhomes - new and used - just to get a feel for them. Even looking at the ones on eBay and CraigsList can help. Don't even think of buying until you've had a chance to do this. Then you will be able to better focus on what you really want and can ignore the ones you don't - there will be plenty of those.

Of course that is just my opinion. I'm sure there are some folks who bought the first motorhome they came across and have been happy, but I think that considering the big chunk of money you are about to spend a bit of caution and thoughtful planning are advised.

P.S. I have a Coachmen and I'm quite happy with it.
1995 Coachmen Santara 360MB 36' w/slide.
Ford F53/460 chassis, 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee "toad"
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:43 PM   #4
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With the class C's inspect the overhead compartment very closely for leaks. They are notorious for leaks up front. Also, the larger ones have the chassis pushed to the limits when loaded and some can present handling issues that can be resolved with anti-roll bars and HD shocks.

First MoHo should be used as you will be changing after a couple of years to something you like better.

Amateur Radio Operator (KE5DFR)|Full-Time! - 2012 6.7L Ford Crew Cab Dually -2013 HitchHiker Champagne 38RLRSB - Travel with one Standard Schnauzer and one small Timneh African Gray Parrot
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:49 PM   #5
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Karen, Welcome to the forum....
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:48 AM   #6
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Welcome to this site. We found the site by chance and am very glad we did, it is a good help for us in many ways in dealing with the day to day issues of RVing. I wish we had found it before we purchased..lots of info here easily accessed that I spent lots of time trying to ascertain from other sources. You are here before and that is a good thing!

We are Class C owners and can share some of the thoughts we used in purchasing. Nick B's and TXiceman posts are good advice.
We knew how we would use our RV. For us, weekend stuff to campgrounds within a 150 mile radius; periodic family boondock weekends with my siblings at their farm and the 1-2 time per year excursion to see leaves turning..that kind of thing. We would be driving on a mix of roads from Interstate to County Roads. We would not be towing. We made a list of "gotta haves" "nice to have" and "don't want" systems/features of a MH.

We looked at lots and lots of MH. We went to RV shows to see new stuff and we talked to seasoned RVers for opinions. We looked at used RV's on Craigslist, the free RV for Sale mags, and dealers. We used NADA online price guides. We test drove as many varieties as we could.
One of our criteria was to focus on older MH's with low tech systems, manual as much as possible. Our reasoning here was I am a competant tinkerer but not a software or electronic guy..I can troubleshot mechanical systems but not electronic controls/blackboxes..so it was a maintenace decision for us. Downside of this is parts/records are more scarce. We looked at motor blogs (460/454)and got a feel for engine issues so as to have some intelligence concerning the drivetrains. We knew we wanted a permanent full/queen bed so that meant a longer unit..and with longer we were told and can confirm, for ride comfort one with a tag axle. The tag takes the dual tire "bounce" out, and traverses bumps and potholes much smoother than single axle units of equal length. A tag axle also usually is found on higher end units as it was an expensive original equipment feature. Downside is we have 2 extra tires to replace at some point and additional brake/suspension issues to deal with.

We live in NE Indiana within 100 miles of Elkhart, IN. Elkhart is a major RV mfg area and home to both HR and Newmar as well as many other brands. Having mfg close, many employees there purchased Rv's thru employee programs so the supply of used RV's here is likely greater than other areas : )

Coachman is a well established and financially strong brand with offerings from entry level to higher end. A solid well maintained unit with the features you want would not be a bad decision. Things to be aware of and which affect cost is tire (~$300/ea) condition. Advised that any tire should be replaced when 6 yrs old regardless of tread..there are posts on this site on tires..how to read their date codes and such. Engine recall issues...find the make/model of the engine (and chassis) and research to ensure all recall issues have been dealt with. Forums on this site for MH chassis. Ford v-10 have a slew of them and depending on year/model could be an issue.

We decided to have fun with the process of shopping and control the itch to "just get one" and begin the fun. We were tempted by units that looked good and we liked the folks selling it and seemed a bargain but we stuck to plan, got the correct/accurate info researched out and glad we did. We are at peace with our eventual choice and deal with the day to day issues without regret.
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Old 10-09-2010, 09:18 AM   #7
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pennies worth

Hi Karen,

I hesitate to to post this, as I have never gone full time. I have owned and used over the years a Star Craft Pop up, a Holiday Rambler Presidential 33', an Airstream 30', and now own a 93 class C Ford Firan Telstar 27'6. In the Star Craft we could sleep 6, had A/C for hot weather and furnace for cold weather plus all other items that (except shower or bathroom) the rest had. It was easy to put anywhere I wanted. Very easy to level. Cheap to pull and insure. And we had a car to get around with once we parked. Now the 2 other trailers and the Firan could only sleep 3, are very expensive to pull drive, and insure, plus now I need another vehicle to get around while I'm parked. As I'm now alone; I wonder out loud if I should have bought a Pop up. Mine was no less comfortable than the "big" ones and considerably less expensive, and easier to use. I retired from a maintenance shop, so looked for an older RV in good shape I found the Firan the price was more than reasonable, and it was in great shape. Just a thought for you to consider. If you have never used a Pop up you may want to go look at some, before making up your mind. If you decide on the Class C and you get a used one take it to a trusted mechanic before the purchase. You should also check the date code on the tires, even if they look new. The sidewalls become dangerous at 5 years. Tires can sit on a MH, at a dealer or other place for a long time.

Just my pennies worth. Get something Go camping!

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