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Old 10-03-2014, 06:25 PM   #1
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Class A decision time getting closer.

My wife & I have narrowed our search for our 1st ever used Class A diesel down to the following brands. Fleetwood, Holiday Rambler, Newmar & Monaco. Our budget is below 100k if that helps. We hope to complete our purchase in the next couple of months as we are eager to hit the road and commence our journey, which at this point in time will be on a regular but not permanent basis.

We would value opinions from owners of any of these brands for both positives and any potential problems that we may not be aware of. We have been lucky enough through forums to go from complete novices to what we believe is fairly well informed.

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Old 10-03-2014, 06:33 PM   #2
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Hi HereWeGo1,
Remember, you are purchasing a truck, not a car. For me the first three items to identify regardless of brand are in order of importance:
1. floor plan
2. Will the coach carry you and all your stuff? (GVWR minus UVW) from this number subtract the weight of propane and fresh water. This provides the available weight for carrying what you need to carry.
3. Will the coach tow what you want to tow? (GCWR minus GVWR) Also check the receiver/hitch weight rating.

After these items are okay, one can make the decision as complicated as one wants to make it.

You should be able to get a pre 2007 Newmar DP for the budget mentioned in the OP. If you choose Newmar, post a questions about your choice in the Newmar Owners Forum here on iRV2.
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Old 10-03-2014, 07:27 PM   #3
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Here are some good choices.

2006 Fleetwood Discovery $79,900
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2005 Monaco Windsor. $89,950
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2004 American Eagle $99,900
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Old 10-03-2014, 07:50 PM   #4
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Monaco and Holiday Rambler are basically the same coach as both were made by Monaco (along with Beaver and Safari). Monaco Corp has gone through several owners in the past few years, closed down all their plants in Oregon and from what I hear, parts are getting scarce. That said, 2008 and below were some very good Monaco products and should be within your budget constraints.

Newmar makes an excellent coach and like all other brands make everything from the basic entry level gas rig to a very expensive DP. Newmar products are highly recommended.

Fleetwood products have been around since the spanish inquisition and recently (2008 - 2009) went bankrupt....along with Monaco....and oddly enough, both are now owned by Allied Specialty Vehicles.

i'm with others, find the floor plan that suits your needs first...then the make/model....then the price.

Good luck

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Old 10-03-2014, 10:50 PM   #5
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One of the big ticket items that I would look for is engine size. In 2005, Monaco started putting the 400 ISL engine in all their coaches in the Diplomat and Camelot level. The ISL is one of the best RV engines ever built, in that size, and is the mainstay of most motor homes today.

A 2005 - 2007 Diplomat or Holiday Rambler Endeavor will fall into your price range. Look around and start counting the different brands you see on the road. More than likely, Monaco will the list.
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Old 10-04-2014, 03:14 AM   #6
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All coach builders have produced great coaches and some lemons in their past so it's impossible to give you advice without knowing which specific models you are looking at. GaryKD gave some great advice, floor-plan is the #1 consideration and is highly mission and individual specific. Only you can figure out what floor-plan works best for you. So once you have narrowed down your search to a few models, IRV2 readers can give you some specific advice rather than vast generalizations.
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Old 10-04-2014, 06:39 AM   #7
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I'm sorry but I disagree, my DW picked out our first 2 by the floor plan which she did not drive them. I think # 1 should be chassis and engine and work around it.
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Old 10-04-2014, 06:53 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tha_Rooster View Post
I'm sorry but I disagree, my DW picked out our first 2 by the floor plan which she did not drive them. I think # 1 should be chassis and engine and work around it.

Tha Rooster has a very good point. All chassis are not created equal. One of the early steps in the selection process should be the fleshing out of some broad requirements based on your plans for using the coach.

Once you have formulated some criteria for coach selection then start filling in some specific manufacturers and coaches which are good possibilities. Then go tire kicking and test driving to see how your requirements should be refined.

Knowledge is power.


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Old 10-04-2014, 08:00 AM   #9
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I also have always put chassis and engine at number one, floor plan number two. No reason you can not get exactly what you want in both.
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tha_Rooster View Post
I'm sorry but I disagree, my DW picked out our first 2 by the floor plan which she did not drive them. I think # 1 should be chassis and engine and work around it.

My logic is this. I travel about 6,000-7,000 miles a year, which equates to about 1% of the total hours in the year is spent driving. The other 99% of the time I am living in it. I focus much more on the item I use 99% of the time rather than the occasional used 1% item. That doesn't mean that I ignore the chassis, but it's near the bottom of my list. I can also say after owning 6 different coaches, finding the perfect floor-plan is truly the holy grail for us. YMMV.
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:33 AM   #11
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For no particular reason, I will jump in and claim that our 2005 Newmar 3910 KSDP is our current coach. We are completely happy with it with the exception of my wishing for a side radiator. The floor plan has separated vanities, one in the wash room and one near the shower. DW loves that, and it's really what sold the coach.

The quality of the coach is top notch, and the wood finish is light oak, not the gloomy dark stuff you see in the trade show models.

The W/D unit is great and works really well (most coaches in that range will have that, but it is important).

The Spartan chassis is as good as any and better than most---full air ride, Cummins ISC, 3060 transmission; it's a mechanical engineer's dream. It drives really well, too.

We paid less than $90K last year. That was just (a lot) over the top of my budget, but we have no regrets at all.

I don't have any brochures to send you, but there are plenty of those around. I'd offer you ours, but we still want it...........

And no I didn't buy this one to copy GaryKD; he does have good taste, though.

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Old 10-04-2014, 08:41 AM   #12
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I also have always put chassis and engine at number one, floor plan number two. No reason you can not get exactly what you want in both.
X2 If you have the platform (chassis, engine, tranny), then the box built on top of it contains whatever floorplan suits you. After Floorplan was quality.

Brand was near the bottom of our criteria and became the result of looking at the other factors. Once we determined the size and DP platform, it didn't take too many trips through a few MHs to determine which brands were worth it and which ones fell short with quality of construction and the types of amenities.

The Mandalay we have would never have been found if we had put brand name at the top of the list. We would have missed out, because we had never heard of, or seen, another Mandalay Coach. Glad we found it.
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Old 10-06-2014, 12:37 AM   #13
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Another Newbie's Perspective

As a first time buyer myself, I'm not going to pretend I know as much about specific models as anyone who has already responded to your post, but I can give you my perspective as someone who has done (and is still doing) hundreds of hours of research on buying my first Class A.

In my opinion, the chassis/engine vs. floor plan debate is a non-starter because they're not necessarily separate issues. The perfect floor plan in a rig that has an engine that's too small to get it from point A to point B efficiently, safely and reliably isn't even going to make it onto my list. Conversely, I'm not at all eager to waste money on an overpowered unit just because the perfect floor plan fit inside a 35-footer. Instead, whenever I'm researching specific models, I look at the relationship between the chassis/engine and floor plan. There may be some minor compromises you'll have to make on one or both, but I don't think you'll have to look very long to find a unit that fits your parameters for each.

Next, I think considering specific brand names is very important, but for a reason opposite of what you might suspect. Certainly, there are makers that routinely float to the top of everyone's list, but I wouldn't necessarily buy one just because it supposedly 'out-ranked' another. BUT... there are a few brands that sink to the bottom of a lot of lists for a wide variety of reasons, and these are the brands I tend to avoid no matter how perfect the floor plan or engine size might be. I'm not going to point any fingers here, but there are more than a few makers who consistently suffer from the same or similar issues across multiple models in their lineup, and that's a strong indication of a lack of quality in their designs and/or manufacturing. There are simply too many better units to choose from out there; rolling the dice on a maker who's willing to risk their reputation to save a few bucks on slides - for instance - just isn't a smart bet.

pasdad1 posted three examples of excellent units in your price range; the third one - the 2004 American Eagle - is one I've actually ranked very highly on my list. I doubt that exact unit will still be available in 6 months when I'm ready to write the check, but it's an excellent example of what I was talking about above.

That almost 40' unit has beautiful floor plan pushed by a 400HP Cummins engine on a Spartan chassis. Would I like a 425 or 450 in it? You bet, but 400 is plenty big to do the job well. Do my wife and I need two 6' couches, one directly in front of the other? No, but the rest of the floor plan works for us, and I can either work around it or change out one of the couches to something that makes more sense for just the two of us.

My point - which I've taken way too long to make - is that it's not a matter of what criteria comes first, second or third, it's the relationship of how everything works together for you that matters. It isn't always easy to find, but it is out there and you will find it.

My 2 cents - worth every penny. Good luck!
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Old 10-06-2014, 06:45 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Wryly Blithe View Post
As a first time buyer myself, I'm not going to pretend I know as much about specific models as anyone who has already responded to your post, but I can give you my perspective as someone who has done (and is still doing) hundreds of hours of research on buying my first Class A.



In my opinion, the chassis/engine vs. floor plan debate is a non-starter because they're not necessarily separate issues. The perfect floor plan in a rig that has an engine that's too small to get it from point A to point B efficiently, safely and reliably isn't even going to make it onto my list. Conversely, I'm not at all eager to waste money on an overpowered unit just because the perfect floor plan fit inside a 35-footer. Instead, whenever I'm researching specific models, I look at the relationship between the chassis/engine and floor plan. There may be some minor compromises you'll have to make on one or both, but I don't think you'll have to look very long to find a unit that fits your parameters for each.



Next, I think considering specific brand names is very important, but for a reason opposite of what you might suspect. Certainly, there are makers that routinely float to the top of everyone's list, but I wouldn't necessarily buy one just because it supposedly 'out-ranked' another. BUT... there are a few brands that sink to the bottom of a lot of lists for a wide variety of reasons, and these are the brands I tend to avoid no matter how perfect the floor plan or engine size might be. I'm not going to point any fingers here, but there are more than a few makers who consistently suffer from the same or similar issues across multiple models in their lineup, and that's a strong indication of a lack of quality in their designs and/or manufacturing. There are simply too many better units to choose from out there; rolling the dice on a maker who's willing to risk their reputation to save a few bucks on slides - for instance - just isn't a smart bet.



pasdad1 posted three examples of excellent units in your price range; the third one - the 2004 American Eagle - is one I've actually ranked very highly on my list. I doubt that exact unit will still be available in 6 months when I'm ready to write the check, but it's an excellent example of what I was talking about above.



That almost 40' unit has beautiful floor plan pushed by a 400HP Cummins engine on a Spartan chassis. Would I like a 425 or 450 in it? You bet, but 400 is plenty big to do the job well. Do my wife and I need two 6' couches, one directly in front of the other? No, but the rest of the floor plan works for us, and I can either work around it or change out one of the couches to something that makes more sense for just the two of us.



My point - which I've taken way too long to make - is that it's not a matter of what criteria comes first, second or third, it's the relationship of how everything works together for you that matters. It isn't always easy to find, but it is out there and you will find it.



My 2 cents - worth every penny. Good luck!

Excellent, well thought out post. Congratulations on taking the time to do the research and gain the knowledge that you obviously have. When it comes time to open your wallet, you have certainly stacked the odds in your favor to make a sound and well reasoned choice.

My wife and I made the same observation about buying a coach with two opposing sofas. Everything else was right however so we purchased our full timing coach. After 5 years full timing, we spent July of '11 in Elkhart for some extensive interior remodeling. We said goodbye to one of the sofas, the Norcold frig and the OEM floor coverings. We have 3 more years now with our remodeled coach and are as happy as clams.

If you buy a coach with an outstanding chassis, there are plenty of people in the Elkhart area that can work wonders. Good luck to all you coach hunters.


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