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Old 01-26-2014, 03:23 PM   #1
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Need help deciding on brand.

My husband and I are in our late 20s/early 30s.
We want to go full time RVing and work on the road. (we both have jobs that can be done from a computer). Tagging along are our 2 dogs.

Our RV goals are to travel the country at a fairly leisurely pace, we'd like to be able to stay in parks so trying to stay 35feet or less. We want a good high quality RV that will last us 10+ years with few headaches (we know all motorhomes have problems, but we want to minimize them). Neither of us are particularly handy, so the less things break the better. We can figure it out if we need to, but we're no experts. We plan to do a mix of monthly stays in campgrounds to boondocking in public lands / parks. We will be snowbirds for the most part, but RV needs to accommodate temps from 30 - 90, so this means good insulation, heated basement/tanks, good AC, double pane windows. We ruled out diesel options because we didn't feel the higher price was worth it for the amount we'd be driving.

We've been doing research for about 6 months now. We had narrowed it down to Tiffin, Winnebago and Newmar as far as brands. 100K or less is our budget, so we're looking at entry level models here (Allegro, Vista, and Bay Star respectively).

Tiffin got axed because they don't have dual pane windows and we've read enough about them to know that many little things go wrong, and we don't want the headaches.

Winnebago is the cheapest of the 3, but we've read too many mixed reviews about their quality.

Newmar is the one we've heard most consistently good reviews for both in terms of quality and customer service.
The only issue with newmar is they don't have a floor plan we love, and everyone says floor plan is a big deal.

Now, today, I stumbled upon a Fleetwood Bounder 33c floor plan that seems to have everything we're looking for, including all double pane windows, etc. I know Fleetwood went bankrupt and was bought out in 2009. This worries me for 2 reasons - one is that the quality of the brand will suffer and two the customer service will suffer.

Given everything I've said, is the Fleetwood a good choice? Is there something else we're not considering?? This is a big decision for us, we certainly don't want to make the wrong one.
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Old 01-26-2014, 08:23 PM   #2
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Have you looked at Thor, Forest river Jayco or any others that make class a gas?
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Old 01-26-2014, 08:31 PM   #3
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We have a Newmar Canyon Star 3642 in our opinion there is not a better gas motorhome
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Old 01-26-2014, 08:36 PM   #4
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Fleetwood is much better since their reorganization and their customer service is very good. In my opinion, consider the Fleetwood.
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Old 01-26-2014, 08:49 PM   #5
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Hi,

I think you should recheck the Winnebago option as there are a lot of good things to say about Winnebago.

We are on our 4th Winnebago and really like them and their quality. Sure all motorhomes have a problem now and then but try driving your stick house down the road.

Winnebago does have the insulated windows and they are almost flush with the outside. The nice partis they crank out so you can leave them open in the rain. Winnebago also has Motor Aide heater which gives you hot water while driving down the road plus makes heat for floor heating and to keep tanks warm while driving. I would go to Winnebago Industries and check out their brochure on the 35 footer as it also has a washer and dryer option but is still the size that will fit in most CG's you want to get into.

We have a 35P Adventurer and really like it as it has the washer and dryer (2 sep units) and a king size air mattress plus a 4 door refrigerator with ice maker. If you go to Winnebago, Itasca, Era New - Used Motorhomes for Sale, Iowa RV Dealer - Lichtsinn Motors and check out their new stock they show what the coach looks like and it's features.

Good Luck!

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Old 01-26-2014, 09:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allgood718 View Post
we'd like to be able to stay in parks so trying to stay 35feet or less.
While this sounds great on paper, most people (myself included 47yo full-timing and working from the road) find that they need a slightly bigger unit. I am currently in a 39' well thought out floor plan. While this may exclude me from some parks it really does not stop me from seeing or going anywhere I want to go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by allgood718 View Post
We want a good high quality RV that will last us 10+ years with few headaches
Again this sounds nice on paper but you are young, I bought my first (of six) RV's when I was 26. I thought it was going to last me 10 years but guess what, I grew out of it in about 4 years. As you age, goals change, want's change and your "ideal" coach will change with you. I have owned 6 'great' coaches but each one was for a specific mission (or season of my life) and none of them lasted more than 5 years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by allgood718 View Post
We ruled out diesel options because we didn't feel the higher price was worth it for the amount we'd be driving
This could be a smart move. I sold a DP to full-time in a gasser because the floor-plan fit our full-timing needs more. Plus I realized that I would not be driving that much, when compared to our week-long road warrior trips.


Quote:
Originally Posted by allgood718 View Post
Winnebago is the cheapest of the 3, but we've read too many mixed reviews about their quality.
Winnebago builds ton's of coaches and you are bound to here from some squeaky wheels, their Vista and Adventurer line though are pretty rock-solid. The great thing about having lot's of coaches out there is that you get an idea if there is a problem much quicker (recurring complaints) and you can check to see if your potential coach has it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by allgood718 View Post
Newmar is the one we've heard most consistently good reviews for both in terms of quality and customer service.
Newmar builds good coaches.

Quote:
Originally Posted by allgood718 View Post
The only issue with newmar is they don't have a floor plan we love, and everyone says floor plan is a big deal.


Ummmmm, yes this will be your house, if you don't like the floor plan you will not be happy with the coach no matter how flawless it is. I have owned a Newmar coach, the coach is built very well but there were a lot of things about the floor-plan and the way it was set up that was not to my liking. A major problem for me was the lack of kitchen counter for prep (covering the sink or stove sucks) or many times the overall lack of windows gave the coach a closed in feeling. I can list many other things too but these are mostly subjective complaints about the coach.


Quote:
Originally Posted by allgood718 View Post
Given everything I've said, is the Fleetwood a good choice?
With deference to all of the Fleetwood owners out there, Fleetwood is a couple notches below Winnebago and Newmar in build quality. Their cabinets, drawers, latches, hinges, etc are of thinner material. Some of their system set-ups don't show a high degree of engineering behind them. With that being said, they make a good coach for that price point and if the floor plan suits you the best and you don't mind slightly lower grade wood/hardware/appliances than go for it. It's sort of a "you get what you pay for (usually).

Quote:
Originally Posted by allgood718 View Post
Is there something else we're not considering??
Possibly, have you looked at used coaches, if you went to a gently used 2005-2007 model you could buy a higher end coach under your price point.

Have you budgeted in your toad and toad setup?

Hope this helps.
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Old 01-26-2014, 09:44 PM   #7
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IMO the best place to start is by purchasing the ratings guide from the RV Consumer Group. The best 78 bucks I spent during both my motorhome purchases.

rv.org
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:21 PM   #8
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I second checking out RV Consumer Group. I used them before making my purchase. I also second Newmar as the brand to get. I would forget about a gasser though. If a new DP is out of your budget, get a used one.
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:37 PM   #9
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I wear my bias on my shirtsleeve, but we did our own pre-MH survey by walking campgrounds and talking to owners about their motorhomes. Hands-down, the Winnebago owners appeared the most passionate about their purchases. There's a lot of great choices out there; we found time and again, just by talking to RVers, that Winnie's were comfortably in that top group. I'd give them a second look. Walk the loops and conduct your own survey! Don't forget to ask the obvious, "Would you buy a Winnie again?" My two cents... Best of luck with your decision! \ken
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Old 02-05-2014, 05:50 AM   #10
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If you were going with diesel I would suggest Tiffin or Newmar. Their DP are top notch. Since you are looking at gas, I suppose many of the top brands would work. IMO you will not get the performance or ride from a gas coach that you would get from a DP. Yes I know, the DP are more money, but again IMO you do indeed get what you pay for.
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:21 AM   #11
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Quote:
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IMO the best place to start is by purchasing the ratings guide from the RV Consumer Group. The best 78 bucks I spent during both my motorhome purchases.

rv.org
I totally agree. We purchased the ratings guide from RV Consumer Group before we started looking for a RV. One of the booklets also helps you to decide what type of RV - MH, Class C, Class B, fifth wheel, travel trailer. After deciding on a 5er, we decided to look at rigs that fell within a certain raging range.

Bottom line - you have more control over brand bias. I'm not saying there is no bias in the RV Consumer Group ratings, but I believe there is a lot less bias than asking someone if they made a good purchase - many, if not most, people will tell you they made a smart decision when they purchased the rig they have.

Good luck and have fun - the research can be just as exciting as the purchase.

Jim
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:38 PM   #12
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AHHHH....the beginning of the search....SUCH FUN! It can be, really.

Some things to consider.

1. Yes, number one is FLOOR PLAN. You have that right.

2. Gas vs DP. This can be a lot of give an take/pro and cons. We started with a 2006, 39' Winnebago Adventurer thinking we could use if FT. Didn't work for us. We maxed out the rear axle well before we could even load it for FT use. Within 10 months we traded it in for our 43' DSDP with a tag. No regrets of any measure. That being said, I think 33' MH could get a tad cramped but that is MY feeling. Along with that is the drivability of a gas vs similar length DP. The DP will be heavier, less over hang and thus more resistant to being pushed around by winds and traffic. Even after some handling mods we never really got our Adventurer to be fun to drive in cross winds of much velocity. Trucks that passed us in either direction required a firm hold of the wheel. Finally we didn't like the noise level of the engine under the dog house. I do have to admit that we really liked the floor plan of the Adventurer.

3. Insulation is important along with the double paned windows. Energy usage can be rather expensive if you are in very hot or cold areas. While lots of windows has a nice aesthetic value, even if they are double paned they affect your overall use of energy to stay comfortable. The less window space you have, the better from that angle. After that, you have to also consider the R values of the coach. Newmar products typically have as high of an R value as you will find in MH. I have heard there are some 5th wheels that are better all around in that area. Keep in mind that if you are using monthly rates (and in a few instances weekly) you are paying for your own electricity and you are not getting the rates that residential users get. BTW...for the most part, electricity will be cheaper than LP for heating needs.

4. As I touched on in gas vs DP is the issue of cargo carrying capacity. When we bought the Adventurer it had over 1650# of CCC. That sounded like a lot to us but even after doing everything we could do to put weight on the front wheels, we maxed out the rear even though we had 400# left in GVWR. OTOH, DPs tend to be nose heavy compared to the front GAWR. Make sure that what ever MH you choose that you get an accurate weighing with full fuel, water and propane to see if you might have problems with weight. BTW...I am not sure many gas MHs have a lot pass-through storage because of the drive shaft. DPs will generally give you a lot more CCC and basement storage compared to a gas MH.

5. Obviously slides are now considered essential by most FTers. Now, that doesn't mean you need 4 slides or big full wall slides but a couple well placed ones really helps. Slides add weight and if they are not "balanced" you can run into individual wheel weight issues. Also, more slides means more places for air leaks, water leaks and mechanical service. I don't know this for a fact but I THINK the sides of the slide do not appear to get the same level of insulation as the outer walls. That means when they are deployed you may have a significant area that is not well insulated. Again, I don't know that for a fact but from my observations, it seems plausible.

In the end it is really a long shot that your first MH will be your last if you continue in the world of FT use. That doesn't mean you will trade it in within 10 months like we did but it is something to consider. In the end, Sandee and I took our best shot at it with the Adventurer but missed the mark. OTOH, it was a great learning platform and for us it was not a bad first attempt. It really revealed the things we didn't know, that we didn't know. LOL

BEST LUCK!
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Old 03-07-2014, 07:46 AM   #13
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Just my 2cents worth....I understand you ruled out a diesel. We did also and almost bought a Tiffin. Then I found a used Foretravel. Check out a used Foretravel and you will be surprised on the options (dual pane windows standard since '93) and the quality compared to some others. Most are 36' and newer ones are 40'-45'. They did make a nice '34 floor plan model too. Foretravel is out of Texas and still in operation with great customer service...even for my 1989

Good luck in you search!!
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Old 07-28-2014, 04:01 PM   #14
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Thumbs down Tiffin Phaeton Motorhome

We purchased a new 2014 Tiffin Phaeton 40QBH 3 months ago, been having problems with the slides. No help from General Rv in Draper, Utah, they don't even return calls, and NO help from Tiffin. Don't like to give bad reviews but when you end this much money and a couple of months later have major issues, the dealer or at least the company should try to fix this problem. Had heard that Tiffin was great that's why we decided to go with that brand. Never again. The response we got from Tiffin was to bring it in to the plant, it's 37 hour drive to the plant. Already looking at trading it in. We had an Entegra before and had exceptional service from this company and will be going back to an Entegra.
Don't buy a Tiffin, very disappointed with the dealership and the company .
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