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Old 08-26-2018, 12:13 PM   #1
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2006 -vs- 2016 Full Time Coach

In June 2017 I did a long post about using a Big Class A for boondocking. Since then several major events in our life have dramatically changed our plans - broken hips and femurs with poor repair results and cancer with major surgery but pretty good long term prognosis. Boondocking and serious bike riding have now settled below the horizon and we need to move on to a life of less physical activity and more comfort.

We, married 44-years, are West Coast natives and have lived in San Diego, Ventura, Tacoma, and Bellingham for most of the life we did not spend cruising on our sailboat. We've now spent almost two years trying to live in SW Florida but have decided we really need to get back to the US west of the Rockies.

We want to buy a biggish Class A diesel pusher and spend a couple years full timing around the 'warm winter' part of the US trying to decide where to purchase our permanent retirement home.

My big question is about reliability and on-going maintenance issues with high end tag axle coaches that are 12-years old compared to 2-years old, assuming fewer than 50,000 miles.

I am a skilled and experienced mechanic and electrician. We bought our 40-foot sailboat new in 1995 and I installed and maintained every conceivable electrical, electronic, safety and comfort feature on it during the last 23-years, including almost 16-years of full time live aboard cruising from SW Mexico to Alaska and back again, several times. I have never hired anyone to work on my boat or it's equipment.

What Class A diesel chassis, plumbing, electrical, electronic issues might I encounter in an "older ~2005 to ~2008" coach compared to a "newer ~2014 - 2016" coach that I might not be aware of given my 45+ years operating and maintaining large diesel powered boats?

I still enjoy working on electrical and electronics problems but really do not want to deal with plumbing, chassis, or mechanical engine problems. We can afford to hire mechanics, but what do we do if our full time coach is in the shop for a week or more?

We can easily afford to purchase and operate a newer $300,000 coach but I see lots of nice 40'+ tag axle coaches, which are 15-years old with fewer than 20,000 miles. What problems would I be buying with the older coach that I might not suffer with a newer coach?

We understand a bit about the full time life because my parents did it during most of the 1980's visting every state in Mexico, the US, and Canada, except for Hawaii. We traveled with them quite a bit. I also operated large charter buses in the US west for many years and have a lot of back road and worse driving experience in big tag axle buses and straight trucks.

That experience is the main reason I want a diesel pusher and tag axle. I always felt far more comfortable and secure on the interstate driving a tag than a four axle bus.

We will be visiting potential home locations and staying in RV parks for several months at a time while we explore our possible new home territory.

We are not fans of the "all electric coach" after living with propane cooking on the boat for all those years. Our current home is all electric and we really do not like cooking with it. But, it appears almost all coaches built in the last five-years are electric cooktops.

What do I gain by spending more than $220,000 for the first two below:

$273,000 for a 2017 Entegra Coach44 with 6K miles
$220,000 for a 2016 Forest River BERKSHIRE XLT 43A with 7K miles

compared to less than $115,000 for the two older ones listed below?

$114,000 for a 2008 Holiday Rambler Scepter 40PDQ with 46K miles
$105,000 for a 2006 Newmar MOUNTAIN AIRE 4304 with 16K miles

I do appreciate any advice you can offer because my wife really hates to spend money! (Which is why we have a bit. But - now that we are in our early '70s I feel it is time to spend some of those savings)

Maintenance and reliability is my primary concern but livability and comfort are also important when comparing 2006 to 2016.
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Old 08-26-2018, 01:26 PM   #2
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The mountain sire is the way to go, as Im loyal to Newmar, also I have a Dutch Star thinking about due health reasons
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Old 08-26-2018, 01:48 PM   #3
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If you have maintained a boat and kept it up to date, then you will be right at home in a motorhome.
We have refurbished three older class a coaches in the last few years. I think some of the older coaches are better built than most of the new ones and you can get a lot more coach for your money buying used.

The first issue with the older Class A coaches will be the TV and electronics will need to be updated. The hard part here is fitting a new flat screen into a cabinet made for an old CRT.
You probably will need to replace the Norcold RV refrigerator. Most of us go to a Samsung RF18 residential fridge because it fits in the Norcold space with some slight modifications.

Tires and batteries will be next. Tires should not be more than 7 years old. Large 22.5" tire prices have gotten very expensive (Aprox $500-750 each). Batteries are good for 3-5 years and depending on how many and what type will cost $300-800.

The slide out covers will probably need replacing. If you do the work yourself you can spend about $500-1000 on quality Stone Voss replacements.

The inverter provides 110v power from the batteries and also recharges them. The older inverter may need replacing. Plan on $1500-2000 for that.

You may need to update the carpet in an older coach or even the newer one.

You can take the coach to a good coach care shop and have all the engine, trans, and rear end fluids changed/updated. This may vary from $500-2000. Even your newer coach will need this service.

IF you decide to go the legacy used coach route, look for a coach with a side radiator and at least 400hp. For livability and comfort I would insist on 4 slide outs. I would also recommend an Aqua Hot heating and hot water system (unlimited hot water).

Look at 2002-2010 used Foretravel, Newmar Essex, Monaco Dynasty or Executive, Holiday Rambler Imperial or Navigator, Country Coach Intrigue or Magna, Travel Supreme (they became Entegra), high end Tiffen, American Eagle, or even a used Newell. If you find a coach you like and it is too expensive, just drop the model year back slightly to find one that fits your budget.

The Newmar Mountain Aire can be a good choice, but they vary widely. Some were made with gas engines all the way up to the Cummins 500hp ISM. They also came with different chassis.
My personal preference is to avoid the Freightliner rear radiator chassis. They are built to a lower price point.

Go look at the newer coaches and then look at some of the older ones I listed. Look more than skin deep. Look at how the cabinets and drawers are built and look at the chassis construction.

Make sure you search nationwide as pricing is all over the place. You may save $20-100k by using an online search. Look at RVT.com and RVTrader.com as well as the classified section on this forum. Learn to rank order by price, lowest first.

Hope this helps you decide.
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Old 08-26-2018, 01:57 PM   #4
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I'd go with the Mountain air. I really doubt with your experience that you will experience to much you can't take care of. You will loose the warranty of the new coach but for the difference in price I'd just fix it myself. Also when you have a NEW coach you are at the mercy of the dealership and the wait on service is not something I'd care to do while full timing
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Old 08-26-2018, 02:25 PM   #5
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I put off going all electric to long (spent to much on a NoCold) because we boondock often and the mis-information on RV forums about energy hog residential refrigerators...they are very energy efficient. Skip the electric cooktop and go induction...much faster and energy efficient. Most SS cookware is magnetic and will work on an induction. I just replaced a propane cooktop/oven in my “new” ride with an induction.

Had not planned on changing rigs but my son wanted it over a new class C...smart boy. We really liked our Dynasty...solidly built, reliable, and great handling so it was a no brainer to go with another Monaco product...the cheapest of the four manufacturers that use 10 airbags. Provost, Newell, Foretravel, and Monaco/ Beaver/ H R/ Safari. The “newest” Monaco’s do NOT use 10 airbags so only a Monaco in name. I still do multiple 750 mile days as the handling is rock solid even on curvy roads if the slow cars would get out of the way.

I looked at a lot of new big MHs last winter and was not impressed...part of the reason I bought something 10 years old for 1/3rd the money saving on sale tax and insurance too. Yes, I changed out the halogen lights to LED (75 lights for less than $70), the TVs from LCD to LED (did not have to) but the LED are very energy efficient and very thin making it possible to put a bigger TV on the face of the cabinet. Energy efficiency is important as we boondock often.

Replaced a 37” LCD with a 50” smart LED by putting on the face of the cabinet:
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Old 08-26-2018, 03:15 PM   #6
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We are very happy with our 2004 Newmar Mountain Aire DP 4016 so I would recommend that Mountain Aire over the others every time.
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Old 08-26-2018, 10:02 PM   #7
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I would look for a mid 2000s Monaco, Holiday Rambler, or Beaver focusing on their upper tier models with the larger engines. They have beautiful cabinet work and are pretty reliable. Be prepared to update the electronics. The only thing you generally wont find in these year models are the bath and a half. Id look for one that had been stored indoors and would pay more for it. Be careful of units coming from freeze zones, the AquaHots can be severely damaged if not properly winterized.
Look for signs of fogged glass and peeling clear coat, and water damaged slide corners.
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