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Old 07-19-2010, 03:14 PM   #1
Winnebago Owners Club
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Trying to decide

My husband will be retiring next Feb. or so from Kennedy Space Center in Fl. We are in the process of looking for an RV for weekends and some extended trips. He and I differ in opinion as I do not want anything too big and he feels the extra room would be more appreciated later. We have been looking at Class A's and B Plus motorhomes. Does anyone have any comments on the Itasca Sunstar 26P? They also have a 30' which does not look too bad. We have 3 dogs which we will have to take if we take an extended vacation. I might be able to farm out one, but haven't checked into that yet. Any info anyone could give us would be appreciated. We are the salesmen's worst nightmare!!!

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Old 07-19-2010, 03:28 PM   #2
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As soon as possible start trying out different types for a few days at a time.

Driving, parking, **backing up**, towing etc have to be experienced but that also applies to the living, cooking, bathing and storage areas as well.

Once you have some experiences with which to form your OWN opinion (the only one that counts) the selection process will be much smoother.

Either that or just buy the first one you see that seems OK enough (for real cheap) and expect to trade up two years later. This is meant as a joke really but an amazing number of people seem to do exactly this.

Bryan. 2000 Georgie Boy Pursuit.

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Old 07-19-2010, 03:58 PM   #3
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Bryan sure hit the nail right on the head. We bought a real nice 26' Class "C" Tioga and in two years we moved to a 36' Class "A" pusher. We had three dogs and the shorter coach just didn't have enough space for the five of us. Renting would have made a lot of sense and saved us some money. Same goes for a towing setup, rent cars for a year or two and see how often you really need a toad, then the investment to tow can be made with facts a data.

I assume you aren't planning to Full Time in the near future.

1999 Tradewinds 7372 Cat 3126
Albuquerque, NM
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Old 07-19-2010, 04:03 PM   #4
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The correct choice comes with experience and asking a lot of questions. First take the highest decision level (Budget?), then down to the next (TT, 5th Wheel, Motorhome), down to the next, etc until you are at a place of choosing between one or two. There are no exact guidelines to follow since there are hundreds of variables. It takes a 500 page book to list all there is. Your research, test driving, talking to dealers, indivual owners, etc is most important. Go to a few RV parks and talk to the people there. You'll get a hundred opinions, and a few will match what you're looking for.

Travel Trailer? 5th Wheel? Motorhome?

Cost to fit budget? Size? Frequency of use? How many people? 1 bath? 2 bath?
Privacy concerns? Towing rating? Insurance? Maintenance? Parking (storage), Floor Plan? Options?

For many Full-timers, the bigger the better. Part time use, well, it really all depends on so many things. I think most people end up with what they like and what they can afford. That's it... If you love that cute pop-up, then that's the one for you. If you just gotta have the 45 foot monster tag, then that is it for you.

As you learn, the right RV will come into view.

Take a look at these beauties The Lower right Platinum Plus cost $2.5 Mil
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Fleetwood Providence 2008 40e
Ford F-350 4x4 Diesel 6.0L 2006
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Old 07-19-2010, 04:18 PM   #5
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Ah! Decisions, decision. We are both retired CS from JSC. Over the years we have camped in a few things. When we retired in 2007 we purchased a 40 ft 5th wheel. Those were the days of using blocks of wood under the tires for leveling. The newer 5th wheels have all the leveling that some of the motorhomes have. The advice to research, and rent, if possible is good advice. From what I have gathered, most will move up to bigger units after a year or so. If you want to stay away from that, then go bigger from the beginning. I have never regretted the 40 ft 5th wheel, or the 40 ft motorhome. I like the motorhome because I can be set up in 15 minutes or less. A push of the button here, and a push of the button there, then hook up electrical, water, and sewer (if needed) and I'm done.

You have some pretty good CG's in the area. Even one there at Kennedy, KARS Park. Take a run through. Stop and talk to some folks sitting around outside. You'll find a friendly bunch of owners who would share information with you. Maybe some RV tours.

Good luck.
Wayne MSGT USMC (Ret) & Earlene (CinCHouse)
2015 Winnebago Tour 42QD
It is what it is, and then it is what you make of it.
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Old 07-20-2010, 12:49 PM   #6
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Mos t people buy too small and then have to trade up soon. That's very expensive. A 26 footer isn't much for two adults and three dogs for more than a day or two, so I'm inclined to your husband's point of view.
Gary Brinck
Former owner of 2004 American Tradition
Home is in the Ocala Nat'l Forest near Ocala, FL
Summers in Black Mountain, NC
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Old 07-20-2010, 01:31 PM   #7
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Lots depends

Hi Doglover,

I recently went through the RV buying process so will try to offer some guidance. There are alot of questions to ask yourself. One thing is that you appear to be looking at the shorter units, even the 30 ft is considered short nowadays. There are some advantages to these shorter ones. For instance with my 30 fter I can park in two spaces across in just about any parking lot. I can also get into and out of gas stations pretty easily. Getting to the air compressor is sometimes tricky but can be done. We do not tow a car.

How do you plan to use it? Do you want to stay in the National Forest with no hook-ups, state parks, commercial parks etc? Many of the older or more rustic camp gounds have length limitations. With up to 30 ft you should be OK here. Going over 30 ft you will find alot of places that have a more natural setting cannot accommodate you.

I looked at the Sunstar 26p. There is one at our local dealer for $79,999. I had some reservations that most people don't likely share with me but these are some things to think about. What is the floor plan like with the slides in? Can you still move around? Can you access the storage? Where will the dogs stay while the vehicle is in motion? How big are your dogs? Will you use seat belt harnesses or install crates and securely fasten them down?

I purposely went older for four reasons. One, the RV width in an older model is not considered a wide body so is legal on all roads. I'm also more comfortable driving a narrower RV even though it is 8 ft wide.

Secondly, I like the large windows on the older RVs. The newer ones had small windows which would limit seeing the beautiful scenery at a nice campground.

Third, I don't like what I'm reading about slides coming out while people are driving and the associated maintenance of the slides. We didn't really need the extra room and I didn't want to pay for it. Also I question the strength of the chassis when a large hole is cut in the frame work and a giant heavy moving box is installed. Ok, its mostly just me but I'm an engineer and things like this bug me.

And finally I like not going up 5 stairs to get in the RV with bad knees. I only have 3 steps.

A good thing to get is the RV Consumer Group rating package. It is very informative and had me looking at brands that I didn't know about but were highly rated.
RV Ratings for motorhomes, fifth wheels, trailers, toy haulers.

The cost seems high at $150 with shipping but for a new RVer is well worth it. Also the book "How to Select, Inspect, and Buy an RV" which comes with the package is very useful.

Also if you do get a new one be prepared by reading the threads of people horrified at all the things that don't work right on their new units. Everyone seems to say, you got to expect it, they are all like that, but those of us new to the industry would be shattered.

Pics of my dogs in our RV.
1994 Brave 29RQ RV: 2nd Trip-Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Montana, Northern Idaho

1994 Brave 29RQ RV: Driving Yellowstone
If you scroll down on both posts you can see where we have the crates on the floor. There were seat belts that used to go to club chairs which we wrapped around the crates to fasten them down.

Proud owner of 1994 Winnebago Brave 29RQ.
Chevy 454 on a P30 chassis.
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Old 07-20-2010, 03:05 PM   #8
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I want to thank everyone for replying - you all gave us some very useful information. In response to micd, we have 3 large dogs - you gave us something to think about regarding restraining them when moving. I will have to give that a lot of thought. Does anyone have multiple dogs they travel with, and if so, how difficult is it in campgrounds and sightseeing?
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Old 07-20-2010, 03:19 PM   #9
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We travel with 4 dogs quite often.. we travel to Dog Shows with our Afghan Hounds which are very big. BUT we never let them loose in the Motorhome... i.e. hair, urine, etc etc. They're either in a crate while traveling/sleeping or outside in the exercise pens. Here's a pic of our crate setup. I had to remove the dining room table/chairs and make a restraint system for the crates.. but just being weekend warriors we didn't really need the table/chairs too much.
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Spartan/Cummins 8.3C-300HP/Allison 3060 WTEC-II/25yr RV Tech RVIA Certified/Onan-Cummins Certified
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:42 PM   #10
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Traveling with dogs

My hubby and I just went through the same process. We went from 29's to 40's, always thinking about the dogs and comfort for us all. We have 3 German Shepherds (our kids) and decided on the Newmar Canyon Star 3920. It has a garage which is our dogs kennel when we are out. So far we have only gotton in a few day trips (locally - Florida Keys) to see how they ride in it. Two got right on the couch and one on a dog bed and went to sleep. Our first overnight is this weekend and we're looking very forward to it. I think we made a perfect choice. We're both really glad we did not go smaller (and wish for more space). It has 3 a/c's and the garage is more like a second bedroom, with a bed that lowers from the ceiling for guests (or the dogs to enjoy).
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Old 07-22-2010, 06:07 PM   #11
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We have been in travel trailers, pop ups, class As, class Cs and 5th wheel trailers and now back to vintage travel trailers. All of them have pluses and minuses. You have to make the decision. As a first RV, I'd suggest a nice used one so you don;t have the big depreciation hit of a new one. Also, rent one first to see what your likes and dislikes will be.

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 07-23-2010, 07:48 AM   #12
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Know EXACTLY where you are coming from

Been where you are & done exactly what you are doing.
Best advise - make a list of the things you feel are important in a unit, starting with budget, options, AC (roof or ducted), Construction (wood/metal or aluminum/fiberglass), length, slides, drive or tow, weather where you plan to visit & time of year, etc. Once you have list, then prioritize the list, and then cut it down from there. Our journey to the perfect unit over the last 15 years is below - hope it helps & good luck.

We had a 1997 Shasta 24RB to start out with & absolutely loved it, but thought it wasn't big enough, so went to a Holiday Rambler, then a Class-C. But now we are looking for another unit similar to the Shasta. It was really the PERFECT unit for us. It was a no frills unit, but the size & layout are the best. It was low profile 5th wheel, our 1997 Ford F-250 7.3L diesel didn't know it was back there. Went out to CA from FL, going out the southern route, up to No CA, then took northern route back. The rear bath towable units almost always have a large wardrobe that can handle both of our clothes for extended trips. It had a small slide, that provided what seemed like alot of floor space, we never tripped & stumbled over one another. The lower profile 5er doesn't give you the wind drag, so you don't fight the big rigs on the road, or when there is a strong head wind. Our mileage cross-country wasn't effected at all. We did learn over the years, that a rear kitchen is not so good. Back end of any unit has more movement & sway and so my kitchen cabinets were tossed around like a tossed salad !
Anyway... we have 3 dogs as well & the 24RB just seemed to work best for us as well as for them. Other thing to look at is the seasonal use. If you are going to be using unit in colder climates in the winter, you want to make sure you have a unit that can handle the cold weather (insulation, enclosed belly, heated belly-pads, etc.) Best unit we found over years for living in up north was the Rockwood Ultra-Lites. They are pricey, but well built & have good insulation in the roof, walls and floor that are compare to a home. Loved the unit, but we are now at the point where we want something smaller/lighter so I can help drive & use if something should happen to hubby.
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Old 07-25-2010, 09:01 PM   #13
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As the husband of a fellow dog lover...2 rescue yorkies, who we cannot board or leave with anyone, I can relate. I opted for a 31 ft Motorhome, having had regular Class B's, a Class C, and a 24ft travel trailer in the past. This was the minimum size for the two of us and the two dogs. I bought a used motorhome to try it out and make my mistakes (two minor scrapes already) with a relatively inexpensive investment, so if I decide to go full time in the future, I can get a nicer one and not have a learning (driving, clearances, parking, backing) curve. If you don't like your used one, and want a different, bigger or better one, you can turn it around with less of a money loss than a new one. Good luck and enjoy. Rich
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:15 AM   #14
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I travel with a St. Bernard and a Great Pyranees

in a 40' Monaco Knight with 4 slides. When I had the coach built, I requested that it only have the sleeper sofa and 2 movable recliners which I removed and leave at home. That way the Boys have room to turn around and lay on the floor without being cramped. That space is their eating area. When the slides are out, we have plenty of room, when they are in, we move around carefully. On the road, one sleeps on the couch and the other either goes back in the bedroom or sleeps on the floor beside the couch.

The dogs are good, but the St. Bernard does not get along well with other dogs so I have to be careful. Aside from that, traveling with them is a joy. I stop every 3 hours or so at a rest area for a pottie break, but I need to stretch and shake out the cobwebs at those intervals anyhow.

I spend about 6 months a year traveling all over the country with these guys and can't imagine going without them. I also can't imagine having too much smaller an RV. Keep in mind that many public campgrounds that are really quite nice, cannot accomodate a 40'.

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