Join Date: May 2013
I apologize for being so late in responding to your posts, ldassociate. I registered on iRV2 in order to exchange information with other EP owners, so I am very happy to hear from you.
I bought my EP in 1993, just after Firan had bought out Champion, and June 2 will mark my 20th year living in it. (I actually purchased it in April, as soon as my house in Washington, DC was sold, but it took a couple of months for Howard Motor Homes in St.Louis, MO to get it ready for me.) I registered it in no-sales-tax New Hampshire, where I was born and brought up, and where my sister provided an address for my residence. I then established my legal domicile at the headquarters of the Escapees RV Club in Livingston, Texas, and after a year registered my coach there without having to pay sales tax, a significant saving.
Firan was not in N.H.ís vehicle registration system, so my EP was titled and registered as a Champion and has remained such. It is labeled a 378-QB (queen bed), as Firan did not offer it with twin beds, but it is actually the 368-TB (twin beds) that Champion built. It has drawers beneath the TV compartment in the bedroom, as in the Champion model, rather than a continuation of the wardrobe, as in the Firan version. Both are 37'8" long, with enclosed baths, side aisles, and side doors. I did not want the walk-through bath that provides more space but less privacy, and I did not want the front door, since most traffic is from the patio to the kitchen. I initially thought of using the compartment just forward of the door for my catsí litter box, making an entrance to it on the inside steps, but I decided it was more convenient to have it in the bathroom, which is a main reason for my wanting a large bath. (On my lot in Mexico, where it never gets very cold during the day, I built an outdoor shower with an electric heater showerhead, which I prefer to the indoor one.)
The Firan name was removed from the coach when it was repainted. "Europremier" remains on its front and back, along with "Maurigam," the name I gave it. Having had boats, I thought that the coach should have a name, and my two cats when I bought it were Maurice and Gamin. A man said, "Maurigam. I donít know that brand." (I had thought of retiring on a boat in San Diego until I realized how expensive and limiting that would be.) Years ago I found in the road a Nissan emblem that fits perfectly where the Firan emblem had been on the front. Anther man said that he didnít know that Nissan made motorhomes, so like the name, it has been a conversation starter. I just found that the Nissan emblem has come loose and needs to be reattached.
I purchased the cherry wood option and had book shelves installed over the driverís and passengerís side windows and the door, which was otherwise wasted space. (A major difference I noted between the EP and the top-of-the-line Foretravel is that there is no wasted space in the latter, and everything fits together perfectly. In my bathroom, for example, there is space on both sides of the shower enclosure that would not occur in a Foretravel.) I opted for the dinette instead of the free-standing table and chairs to have storage space under the settees (which is full, the space under the forward-facing settee being used for kitchen appliances--mixer, crock pot, salad dryer, etc.; I had the seat belts removed). Instead of the standard barrel chair, I had a very nice "space-hugger" recliner installed; when its reclining mechanism failed and could not be repaired, I purchased a recliner rocker that is very comfortable but inconveniently much larger than the original. An AC lamp is on the cabinet forward of the recliner into which the flip table top fits (I removed the 12v fixture that was above the cabinet), and an identical one is permanently fastened on the night stand between the twin beds. Another AC lamp, with timer and dimmer, is on the round table made by the steering wheel. I attached an antique Tiffany-style lamp that belonged to my parents on the dining table, so the coach has a residential look. A four-slice toaster is in back the lamp and my third coffee maker, a thermal carafe Contouri, is above it. With my printer on an extension on the forward side of the table (my modem is attached under the table on the aft side, and when not in use my laptop is stowed under the printer), seating on the settees is limited to two, and I use a folding stool to provide a third seat at the end. If there are more than three people, we eat at a long table under the awning.
Although I had specified a combination washer-dryer, Howard installed stackable ones, which I rejected, as I had also specified shelves above the washer-dryer for my pantry. A two-burner electric stove top, which I never use now (LP is cheaper than electricity in Mexico), covers the back two burners of the gas stove top, with a micro-convection oven above, which I think was standard on all EPs. The Norcold fridge, with ice maker, is the second one. When it goes, I intend to replace it with a residential, AC-only model, though finding one with an ice maker will be difficult in Mexico, where bottled water is generally used for drinking. Both A/Cís have been replaced, with wall-mounted thermostat controls retained. The 7.5KW generator still works well; I rarely need to use it, but I "exercise" it every few months.
I had to replace the 2500-watt inverter in 2000 and thereís now an occasional problem with it when AC into the coach through it is momentarily interrupted. I canít do anything about that here in Mexico. (The original inverter had to be repaired when it would no longer admit AC into the coach and I had to bypass the AC into the inverter.) The inverter is connected to eight 6-volt golf cart batteries, which, with three 100W solar panels on the roof, made me pretty well self-contained, but electricity is seldom interrupted where I am living, so I donít really need so many batteries now. (And of course the solar panels donít work under the roof that I had built over the motorhome.) I installed a battery charger for the two engine batteries in the engine compartment that I turn on via the circuit breaker in the panel when the volt meter on the instrument panel dips below 12.
Pumping water through the 5-micron and 0.5-micron filters for the ultraviolet purifier is hard on pumps. I replaced the original old-reliable Shurflo 2088's with the Smart Sensor 5.7 as soon as it became available in 2006, and went through a succession of those, replacing the last one with the new Revolution, Shurfloís replacement for the discontinued Smart Sensor, last fall. But I still have a couple of 2088's as spares stowed in the air-return space under the drawers beneath the stove top. (Are FloJets now better?) The furnace still works OK, as does the hot water heater, in which I have had to replace the circuit board and some other parts.
I replaced the original TV above the dash with a 26" LCD; how I installed it with hinges at its top, leaving the TV compartment for storage, was described in an issue of Family Motor Coaching, published by the Family Motor Coach Association. I realized too late that I could just as well have installed a 32". I ran cables so that I can use the TV to display whatís on my computer. I installed a 21" TV in the second compartment aft of the door when I bought the coach, and it still works, as does the small one in the bedroom, which I intend to replace one day with a small LCD. I have satellite TV. I have both a VHS and, would you believe, a Beta VCR, neither of which have been used for some time to view the many tapes that are in an overhead compartment. The DVD player and laptop are used now. I installed drawers for cassette tapes to the right of the driverís console; theyíre not used much now either, and no, I no longer have an 8-track. (But come to think of it, I do still have an 8mm movie projector.)
I have never seen a floor plan that I like better than the one I have in a coach that I could afford to buy. I note that some of the new coaches have only a single kitchen sink, and I would not want to be without a double one. Slide-outs are nice, but I get along very well without one.
My EP has traveled in every U.S. state except Hawaii (which I have visited several times), every Mexican state, and every Canadian province and territory except Nunavut, which has no roads. It has been as far north (Inuvik, NW Territory, Canada), south, east, and west as one can travel on a public road in North America and has logged nearly 241K miles, the last 58K of those being with a rebuilt C8.3-250 that replaced the original engine after a mechanic at Cummins in Houston, Texas neglected to fasten the air filter inside its cannister, resulting in severe damage to the engine, and replacement was a better option than repair. The speedometer/odometer had to be replaced at 158+K miles. After having a flat and difficulty in finding a replacement tire, I built a support for a spare in front of the folding bike rack that attaches to a long hitch extension, which extends the length of the coach to maybe 40'. My current toad is a Honda CRV.
Iíve replaced the twin bed mattresses with foam ones that I purchased here in Mexico. Iíve had less success with replacing the dinette cushions; the foam is too soft. As I said in my original post, the coach has been repainted, recarpeted, and twice reupholstered with Ultraleather. Some of the furniture could use reupholstering again--my cats are hard on it--and I would prefer tile in the living room, which many new coaches have.. (The galley floor is parquet, which I think was standard on all EPs.) But the coach is still very livable. My major interior problem is lack of space for books and for files for the organizations Iím active in; one of these days Iíll discard books I no longer need to keep. I use space under the dining table for files, since only two can sit at it anyhow.
I had a major issue with the coach while Firan was still in business when a fan in the compressor for the dash A/C froze, there was no fuse or breaker in the hot line to the fan, and a fire in the wiring in the engine compartment occurred as we were driving along. It could have been a disaster, and not having a fuse or breaker in the line was a violation of NFPA requirements that the coach was certified to meet, but Firan would not acknowledge its libility. I obtained the forms to file a small claims suit in Elkhart, but didnít pursue it as there was no telling how long I would have had to stay there. That incident led me to install a second smoke/fire detector in the bedroom. (I also installed a CO2 detector in the hall.) I also had a fire in the house battery compartment when the positive cable from the batteries to the inverter chafed where it left the compartment and there was neither a fuse nor a switch in the line. I installed both a fuse and a marine battery switch.
My major problem with the coach has been the roof. Before buying it, I had only rented a tiny Casita trailer. I researched motorhomes for a couple of years before buying the EP but didnít realize that a metal roof is not good, because the seams require periodic resealing--until I had a leak. Thatís a major reason for having a roof over the motorhome now. The major inconvenience with the EP has been the lack of a roof ladder. The Howard salesman assured me that a roof ladder could be added and I specified that in my RFP, but the service chief told me that there is simply nothing to attach the top of a ladder to. I had to settle for a heavy folding ladder stowed in the third compartment aft of the door. If I were going to be doing much traveling now, I would buy one of the lighter collapsible ladders that Camping World sells.
A current problem is that the aft support for the black water tank has given way. I had a plumber look at it, and he said that it could be repaired by an iron worker, so I am hoping that the guy who built my roof can repair or replace the support. Work on the Cummins and the chassis is no problem in Mexico, where passenger transportation is mainly by bus, but there are no RV repair facilities here, and Texas is a three-day drive. The HWH automatic leveling jacks have been down for some time now, but I assume that the system still works. I may have to find out for repairing the tank support.
As you may know, after Firan closed, Mike Ward, who had worked, with his father at Champion-Firan, operated a repair facility in Elkhart and had all the molds for Champion-Firan products. (I was having work done on my coach there on 9/11/2001.) He closed shop some years ago, and I was not able to find out what happened to him. So as far as I know, Europremiers are truly orphans now. Some trim around the compartment doors on mine has deteriorated and cannot be replaced. Otherwise, if I would get around to washing the coach, it would still look pretty good.
You said that youíd like to hear about my experience with my EP, and this may relate more experience than you expected. Now Iíll await hearing about your experience.