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Old 09-20-2020, 01:37 PM   #1
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New/Used Higher End Coach - Smitty Fuzzy Math

Gang. I've received far more from the IRV2 comment then I've ever been able repay by sharing input to others. I hesitated sharing this info, but time after time over the years, I've seen the same sort questions and research come up on what my wife and I have just completed. So, I wanted to share our (Mostly my.) thought process.

To be clear, this is what I decided to do, after my 12-18 months of analysis and research. I totally understand that many of you make different decisions, and that is fine - as we all have differences in what is important to us. And I respect the right to differences in opinions!

I also want to be clear, that in no way is any of my comments intended to pick on any Manufacturer. But they were my honest assessment.

Background (Skip over this info, if you only care about 'What we did!'.)

My wife and I travel 7-10 months per year. So very close to full-time. In 2008/9, we elected to pull forward our retirement rig coach purchase by a few years. Post 2007 economic downturn, placed many higher end RV's into the market from those who had to get out from under them. We kept our same planned budget, and got much more coach then we had anticipated.

We also thought the early years of our retirement, we'd be 'traveling' pretty extensively. Want to be able to stay in some State and Federal Parks, as well as extensive boon docking. So wanted to size a coach that would be a compromise on fitting, as well as living.

I wanted DP, Tag, Side Radiator, at lest 2 slides. Late 2009, purchased 2010, we found a low miles, but consistently drive throughout the year, 04 Country Coach Allure 40', High Cascade, 2 Slide, 40' coach. Paid a fair, not killer price, considering the times. But to me, paying a bit more for a well cared for higher up the food chain (Nope, for sure not the top!) coach that matched our Must Have's and Like to Have shopping list well - was more important then rock bottom price. We budgeted about $25K into suspension, solar, HiFi (Got Tubes?), Communications, Interior mod's, etc. And for the next 4 years, we budgeted and prioritized $5K each year, for other customization. (We wanted to go live with the coach, but had learned from other's here and on other boards, that modifications to make a coach 'your coach' was normal. And we wanted to really get a feel for some of those things. Two of which we dropped off our list, and replaced with others, in year 3 & 4 - so glad we did not go 'all in' on these mod's when we bought the coach!).

We ended up due to family member medical issues, not being able to travel as many of the places we had expected to the the first 10 years. Electing to remain usually within a two-three day drive of the Southwest to get home rapidly if needed. But, we did have one 17K+ year of travel - but most were between 7-10K per year.

Our Allure treated us very well. Never left us stranded, and we confirmed that we really like the experience of RV'ing.

So as my wife and I came up on our 10th year, 7 after retiring, of travels - we sat down over a few month period, and thought over what we wanted to do the next 10 years? Sell the RV and go take cruises? Or fly and travel on different continents? Or, whatever. We decided we were going to do a bit of both. But we figured over the next 10 years, we'd especially in the early years, again due to family member care dynamics, probably do 50% RV'ing, and 50% a mix of the other options. With the expectations that the first 5 years or so, would be heavier RV traveling.

So then we started to do the math on keeping our Allure, and making modifications for the next 10 years. Which is a fine coach, and young at 80K miles, and more then capable of we felt safely covering the next 10 years! Or. Look for a different coach, to reinvest in for the next 10 years.

The wife really wanted to keep the Allure. As we knew it inside and out, and it was very livable. I wanted to have the ability to safely pull either a heavier Toad and or possibly a Stacker Trailer. Yes, the Allure with ISL370(400) could do this. But it would struggle in the mountains, and I'm an advocate of more reserve power capacity provides a safety edge via better acceleration capability. My wife left the final decision to me, which I appreciated. (And, admit now in less then then our third/forth week with the new coach, I get looks at from her from time to time - WHAT DID YOU DO!! Looks!)

====

And those of you who know me, know this background info was a short bit of sharing from my normal volume of word choices. I shared it, as it might help others starting out, or making similar 'What do we do now?' decisions.

====

What we did!


> First. We chose a budget range.
-Used with upgrade, for older coach (Max $300K)
-Used with less upgrades, for mid teen years coach (Max $450K)
-New (Or mostly new) later year coach, with even less upgrades (Max $850K)
(For the first two, we'd have gone all cash. For the last one, we would have financed a portion. Specially pulling equity out of a home with a 1st ReFi, due to the current low interest rates.)

> Once we had these three buckets of budget ranges. We went and kicked tires over a 6 month or so period. Looking at many different manufactures. But I'll share we reviewed Country Coach, Monaco, Newmar, Entegra, Foretravel, Prevost Based Marathon and Liberty and Country Coach.

> We also anticipated these next 10 years of usage, we'd be doing a higher percentage of going to a RV Park, and staying for one to two months at a time, to immerse our self in a region. Still some boon docking, but not as off road as before. And still some State and National Parks, but were OK with missing those that a 45' coach would not fit. (45'? Well, I had determined 42-45' vs 40' would be our target replacement coach.)

> As we looked at the mid teens, and newer coaches. Only the Prevost based coaches we felt gave us comparable quality of our Allure, which in 2004 was called the 'Entry level to CC higher end coaches. At that time the Inspire was slotted and built to a different price point in their model line up. And the Tribute was on the drawing board. I will not single out a specific coach, but will share we were targeting the Newmar Essex/London Aire/King Aire with Spartan K3 chassis. The Entegra Cornerstone, Spartan K3 chassis, Foretravel Phoenix, Realm (And IH45). Monaco Executive/Signature (And Holiday Ramble equivalent.). (And while not a targeted coach, I did also again look at Beaver Patriot Thunders and Marquis on my initial search of the older coaches.).

> Engines considered were Detroit DD60, Cummins ISM/ISX (Pre DPF, CM870), X12/X15, CAT C13/C15 (Pre 2007 Emission level.). My preferred engine was the DD60. My least preferred engine were the newer X12/15 with DEF and other smog items. ISX with CM871 builds in 600 & 650 HP config, as well as the CMXXXX generation of ISX's with Ceramic components, were avoided.)

A bit of a flashback to our first choice of the Allure. We targeted pre hey smog changed engines when we bought our Allure.

While on engines. IF buying a ISX525 or ISX600 Pre DPF CM870 build, I would budget and factor $20-25K on preemptive new improved Heads, and related items upgrades.

I wanted to avoid Regen's, etc... (And looking at the new coaches, my thought process did give those coaches a minus score due to higher smog level engines 'stuf'.)

> Chassis considerations. Dynomax, Roadmaster RR10, Spartan K3 or K3GT were the target chassis. I gave plusses to Newmar for Comfort Steer, and Foretravel version of the TRW steering assist (Basically one in the same.). I gave a plus to the Foretravel Retarder Allison's too.

> Prevost based. Well this was tough, as mechanically I would have liked the Prevost chassis, most with DD60's. But, the majority of the interiors did not match our personal interior tastes. Buying older, maybe cheating a bit on budget, we could have customize the interior to our liking. But then I factored in another level of learning curve, shifting to Prevost coaches. So early in our search, nudged away from Prevost based.

> Interior Construction Quality and Interior Paint Quality.... Again, not signaling out any of the above coaches. But in general, we found the mid teens and newer coaches, with the exception of Foretravel, did not have the quality level we were looking for. They were nice looking, many had great floor plans and livability factors. But we found cabinets to be less 'stout' then we were accustomed to. Interior doors that we could hear rattling while while driving. On the new coaches, not impressed with the paint work. Was also not impressed with some of the OEM included house battery choices of some of these coaches. Digging a bit deeper, on both new and mid teens. Looking under the coaches, and inside of the access panels, the quality of finish work on wiring, plumbing, hydraulics, etc. - well, lack of assembly line attention to detail is all I'll say. (On one 2016 private sale coach, crawling under the chassis, I found a chaffing hydraulic line, near a hot exhaust pipe... Let the owner know of this potential fire hazard.).

I'll stop here, on the mid teens and new coaches... And share an opinion. That at the upper end of the manufacture food chain models, no excuse for not having the assembly line craftsmanship and attention to detail on build for these coaches. They certainly are pricing them a a higher level, and I would not accept or expect to need to spend months sorting out and redoing items at the high end of the food chain.

> Misc Info: I gave Newmar plusses, with their Emergency Exit Doors. (Real like this feature. And would like to see it mandated as required on all new coaches. It has, and will save lives ahead ---- I gave plusses to all coaches with two baths. ---- I saw in the mid teens and new coaches, more options that included communications consideration as part of the packages. That is especially nice for non geeks, as it can give them an edge in useable internet. --- Oasis vs Aqua Hot. Well, I know Hydro/Aqua Hot well. They're not perfect. And like the Oasis, will need ongoing diligence and maintenance ahead. I did note that on some of the mid teens coaches I researched, that Oasis had some problems. --- Smart Electronics Controls. Well same comment, different generations of these type controls, had some teething pains.
--- Micro Checking. Many of the coaches on our Older listings, have Micro Checking considerations. Darker the color, and outside vs inside storage when not infuse, also impact this. Many of the Monaco, Newmar, (And I did look at, respected, Travel Supreme Select's) had Micro Checking issues. Some were light enough colors, that I could have risked the Micro Checking ahead. But, it remained a factor

> Ongoing Maintenance - We usually are on the West side of the country. So returning to East of the Mississippi periodically for factory related visits, was a part of the final decision process. (Not that we could not get help elsewhere, but if new. I'd take factory delivery, and expect at least one return to the factory while still under warranty. Warranty? Well with most warrantees being so short house coach wise - not much of a factor. Chassis/Engine warranty, a bit more of a factor, but not enough to offset smog complexity.

What we purchased, and why:

> 2007 Country Coach Magna Rembrandt 45' with ISX600 Pre DPF CM870 build, 40K miles.

> Why?
- I consider the Dynomax Magna/Affinity Chassis to be one of the most solid 'foundations' in the industry, short of Prevost.
- I like the look and design of the 2005 and newer Magna/Affinity exterior. They were a design that I feel influenced other manufactures.
- I know the family of Country Coach owner's, and knew I could get ongoing help as needed. (And note: Foretravel, Monaco, Newmar, Entegra - the same!! Very strong owner clan's and participation. Many I 'internet know' from several boards, and meeting many as we travel over the years. So while I know more CC owner's, I'm positive that any of these coaches owner's would help as much!)
- West coast factor, and ongoing maintenance. As mentioned, we are more on the left side then elsewhere. This gives me many excellent businesses that know Country Coach well. I won't list them all, but share that we currently do use Premier RV Service for our yearly maintenance on the majority of our chassis, and all of our coaches, systems. I have a good rapport with Service Manager Jim Cooley, Owner's Louie and Gary are decent straight shooting people. I know and respect the majority of the Tech's (Learning the group that recently came over from when Winnebago closed the Junction City Country Coach and Winnebago facility. (THIS trust of Premier, was one of the key decision points.)
- The Magna itself. No coach is perfect!! And I knew the Magna would be a more complex coach to maintain over the years ahead. But it hit the marks on quality of construction/design, components and materials, and craftsmanship of assembly. It was an older interior generation of design, and I did give the new Newmar's and Entegra and Foretravel the nod as being a fresher livability design.
- The learning curve to transition from the Allure (A previous generation design.) to the Magna, would be lower.
- We do have two smaller paint 'swooshes' that are black paint. And those will be painted a complementary lighter color to reduce risk of Micro Checking ahead. (Micro Checking, even in lighter colors, was one of the biggest negatives on choosing this coach.)

The numbers!

I hesitate to share this, and will do this high-level and easily + or - a few thousand or so. But thought it could help others in their decisions on coaches ahead...

$170K - Purchase (IMO a fair price.)
$22K - ISX600 New Revised Heads, EGR. (Could go $5K higher.)
$12K - New air bags, refresh other suspension components
$12K - HWH Active Air
$44K - Paint, cabinet and interior modifications, MCD's, electronics

(Note: Coach had $25K of TV/Entertainment/Two new 3K Inverters/Road Kings/X's 6 Fullriver AGM's and other modifications within the last 18 months from the previous owner.)

~$250K for the above. I'll also note, that I have not yet decided if we will add solar to this coach like we did our Allure. And am positive when the Fullriver's need replacing, I'll go with Lithium house bank. So potentially another $25-35K investment within the next 5 or so years.

Final Comments:


> Just as with our Allure. We amortize the coasts of the purchase and upgrades over a 10 year usage period. We receive 'dividends' from this investment in hopefully safer less problem traveling, and 'smiles by the miles' of usage.

> Resell is not as much of a factor. When were planned for retirement. We worked, and invested, enough to factor these kinds or expenses. And still 'cement/anchor' our financial security for the retirement years ahead. (Personal info, but I again share this. As I feel it is important to not overextend in retirement.)

For lets just say $250K with the budgeted year of modifications ahead, nothing else met our desired level of quality and comfort and safety.

All of this is subjective. And again we all come at this RV'ing thing from different perspectives, with different backgrounds. My choices for my wife and I, will certainly not align with everyone else's choices. And that's OK. Very much respect everyones right to disagree with what we've/I've done.

And again to be clear, no intended slighting of any other manufacturer. I shared my honest assessment and opinion. But do sincerely appreciate that many prefer 'new and warranty', and heck, where would good quality used coaches come from, if new ones were not ordered!!!

My best to all, and if this helps anyone in the future, great! If I ticked off anyone, my advance apology!!

Be safe, have fun, and best to all,
Smitty
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Old 09-20-2020, 05:50 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing!!! It was an interesting read. My wife and I are both still working and we're in our upper 50's. We bought our first Coach 2 years ago. We are certainly not in your price catagory but as everyone that owns a 40" diesel pusher knows, there's "money" then there's "Motorhome money"!!! Nothing is cheap about this lifestyle!!

We went from tent camping off the back of a motorcycle to buying a 40' diesel pusher. We skipped everything in between. I bet we saved enough money by not buying bigger and newer campers and coaches to pay for the one we bought!! I told my wife if we liked it we would "upgrade" to a newer unit. We got a great price on the 40' 2006 Holiday Rambler Ambassador that we bought. It only had 36K miles on it when we bought it!! So, I knew if we didn't like it we could get almost all of our money back. As it turns out we LOVE it!!!

So, we spent the last 12 months looking at new RV's. I was having a hard time swallowing the new prices and kept hearing the horror stories of the hit or miss quality of the new coaches compared to the older ones like we have. We finally made the decision to have Classic Coach Works in Ormond Beach FL. renovate our coach with new tile floors, new carpet, new captains chairs, and fixing a hand full of minor things that were irritating me and my wife. Our wish list came to $19,000. We wound up trimming a few things off the list so we could do them later and spent $14,000. We go pick it up next week. I figure this saved us approximately $225,000 over buying a new one similar to what we have now. It certainly made spending the $14,000 a lot easier!!!

I'm sharing all this because even though we had different budgets and we were shopping for coaches at different price points it sounds like we both wound up doing similar things. This leads me to believe that there are a lot of other people remodeling their coaches as well. I had no idea!!! This would have been good information to have BEFORE we bought our coach. I'm not saying we would have done anything differently but it makes me glad we got lucky and bought a 2006 Cummins which was pretty much pre-emissions (no re-gen and no DEF), and bought a year when coach builders were building quality coaches. Sounds like we are in good shape going forward especially now that I have swapped out all the TV's and installed a stainless steel residential refrigerator then had Classic Coach Works do all the hard stuff. Our coach may be better than new!!!

If you get time, I'd love to see some pics of the renovating you did on your last coach and some pics of the new one.
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Old 09-20-2020, 09:02 PM   #3
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We are half timers and went through much the same 2.5 years ago. Had not planned on upgrading but when your kid says they want to buy your 14 year old DP, instead of a new Class C (smart kid...adopted) I started looking. Looked at new and the bloated prices and weights, most with only a ISL plus DEF made buying used a no brainer for us.Because of a dumb 10 year rule at our snowbird park (once in at 10 or less, you’re grandfathered) we had to go 08 or newer, making it harder to find a non DPF engine.

I loved how our Dynasty (S-10 chassis) handles so going with another Monaco made sense plus Monaco bought a bunch of extra 06 engines. The rig that had almost all of our wants at a good price ($165K) was a 08 HR Navigator with a 06 ISX 525 and 42K miles. Had hoped to find a DD60 engine and bought before learning about the ISX #6 valve issue. Other than needing 2 front tires, everything worked plus it had several expensive options...Vorad radar cruise-blindspot indicators. The dark colors has some checking but cosmetics are not a priority.

Spent $5K in upgrades... SilverLeaf, DIY 1000W solar and 880 AH AGM batteries, 2nd basement slide out tray, 2 Smart LED TVs, and replaced a propane stove/oven with an induction cooktop...already had a residential refrigerator so added a 100A charger to reduce generator time when boondocking.

Have put 20K miles on it without anything major needing repair...did the AquaHot nozzle this summer and changed the oil. The multiplex system is the only thing “new” compared to the Dynasty so the learning curve was fairly easy. Had M&M do a backup of the multiplex system when they were in Florida last winter as cheap insurance.

Other than the ISX issue...I’m rolling the dice on that one, we are very happy with our “new” rig.
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Old 09-20-2020, 10:28 PM   #4
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Love both of these stories. I too went used as I love the quality of the higher end coach. Around 2011 found a nice American Tradition which was a victim of the financial crisis. Upgraded it through out over the next few years. It is a 2002 and looks young for her age. Was able to pay cash for it and it has been an exceptional investment and should be worth around 90% of my original purchase.

A few months ago we upgraded to a 2007 Monaco Executive. Using the same MO, making a few interior/entertainment updates. Fireplace, 65 tv, 40 tv bedroom, regular king in place of rv king. Purchase ($100k) and a $25k budget for upgrading and all standard maintenance. All interior upgrades complete, all normal maintenance complete, need to paint top front cap (botched job from PO) sanded and prepped, replacing steer tires in a couple weeks, chasing a leveling air leak then she is ready for the next 8-10 years. Love this vintage of coach.
Happy travels.
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Old 09-21-2020, 06:00 AM   #5
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Interesting and informative post. Would like some detail on why:


(And, admit now in less then then our third/forth week with the new coach, I get looks at from her from time to time - WHAT DID YOU DO!! Looks!)


Just adjusting to the different coach?
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Old 09-21-2020, 08:07 AM   #6
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Thanks for taking us through that, Smitty. I've always valued your counsel and always will.

Steve
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Old 09-21-2020, 08:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by triplewide View Post
Interesting and informative post. Would like some detail on why:


(And, admit now in less then then our third/forth week with the new coach, I get looks at from her from time to time - WHAT DID YOU DO!! Looks!)


Just adjusting to the different coach?


LOL!

The DW misses the interior cabinet storage capacity of the 40' with two Driver side Slides, compared to the 45' with 4 slides. Probably 30% (+ or - 5%) less space in the Magna then in the Allure.

We'd modified the Allure to add more cabinet. Had a J-Lounge with underneath storage (The Wine Basement!). Not having slides on the Passenger side, the cabinets went all the way to ceiling. And the Allure had cabinets over the window in the front sitting area of the Passenger side, where as the Magna does not. Toss in in 2007 the slide mechanisms required almost 8" per side wall of the slide (8 slide side walls times 8" = about 64" of wall space that no cabinets could be installed on. Compared to the Allures about 5" side slide X's 4 = 20").

Thus the reason for adding more cabinet space to the Magna... (And we did have way too many things accumulated. The Allure's 11K of CCC - made this a non issue!).

And mostly, she was/is still getting to know the Magna. It will become 'our' coach as time goes by. And to be fair, she felt the same way when we went to the Allure from the 98 T-28 Bounder too... Change, is not at first, her friend!

Best,
Smitty
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Old 09-21-2020, 08:57 AM   #8
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Smitty,


Thanks for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. And, thank you for sharing the economics...which is a significant portion of these highly engineered class of vehicle. I read regularly even when the content goes over my head, hoping that something will stick for recall later if/when I really need it.


All the best!
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Old 09-21-2020, 10:44 AM   #9
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Had a Navigator with DD60 located on a consignment lot in early January. Story was the owner had hung up the traveling spurs due to health about 3 years ago, and put the coach in his heated RV barn. He had a friend come every three months and take the coach out for an exercise run. And supposedly twice over the last three years, had a mobile mechanic come and LOF the coach/generator.

His widow called the consignment lot, and asked them to come get it and sell it for her. The price was in line, and the interior pictures provided reflected top care. Had a few pictures from the outside. It took me about 4 calls to get the Manager of the consignment lot to authorize a Zoom walk thru with me. Every time I asked the Salesman doing the Zoom to go to some close ups of the exterior dark paint, he deflected. I finally told him he was wasting my time, and that if he did not walk the coach on both sides to show me the black paints - I was going to hang up. He did, and extreme micro checking... Salesman said 'We can buff those out...'.

I thanked him, and moved on...

I added this, because when looking remotely for a coach, do not be afraid to ask for a video walk thru, and ask for specifics... This saved me the cost of a inspection, and then possible flight to look over in person. Oh, when I brought the inspection, I was informed that can be done 'Only with a non refundable deposit.'. Which was what really prompted the Zoom session...

When you see yellow or red flags, be wary...

Some great used coaches were available during the time we were considering, and semi looking. Now? Not near the same inventory, due to C-19 sparked purchases. I'd suggest anyone really looking, consider waiting until next year...

Another $.02!
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Old 09-22-2020, 04:38 AM   #10
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Thanks Smitty for the DW detail.
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Old 09-22-2020, 06:46 PM   #11
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We too went with an older coach. Looked at new and was almost ready to pull the trigger. During walk through it all went south. Ended up with an 09 Dynasty. ISM 500 with no DEF or DPF. After purchase price and complete remodel of all appliance except res refer, we were still many thousands less than buying new junk. The quality of the woodwork is just incredible, all solid cherry wood, solid doors. Has everything on our wish list. The residential refer has cherry wood fronts so we need to keep that going, that's the only weak link. Just hoping as the years pass we can keep it going should it fail. You can not, at least we have not found anything, to replace it. Yeah, hard to find parts sometimes, but the quality of the older ones makes it worth it.

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Old 09-22-2020, 07:14 PM   #12
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Late on this but fun to read... A nice write-up Smitty!
Yep, 07 Magna is the sweet spot in terms of quality and model lineup from CC. you've got a gem!
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Old 09-22-2020, 11:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty77 View Post
LOL!

The DW misses the interior cabinet storage capacity of the 40' with two Driver side Slides, compared to the 45' with 4 slides. Probably 30% (+ or - 5%) less space in the Magna then in the Allure.

We'd modified the Allure to add more cabinet. Had a J-Lounge with underneath storage (The Wine Basement!). Not having slides on the Passenger side, the cabinets went all the way to ceiling. And the Allure had cabinets over the window in the front sitting area of the Passenger side, where as the Magna does not. Toss in in 2007 the slide mechanisms required almost 8" per side wall of the slide (8 slide side walls times 8" = about 64" of wall space that no cabinets could be installed on. Compared to the Allures about 5" side slide X's 4 = 20").

Thus the reason for adding more cabinet space to the Magna... (And we did have way too many things accumulated. The Allure's 11K of CCC - made this a non issue!).

And mostly, she was/is still getting to know the Magna. It will become 'our' coach as time goes by. And to be fair, she felt the same way when we went to the Allure from the 98 T-28 Bounder too... Change, is not at first, her friend!

Best,
Smitty
Great read, very informative, thanks for sharing. I see your point about the extra space used by slides (roughly 64 inches rather than 20 inches of wall space), but you get about 120 extra inches of wall space with the Magna. So that is still a net increase of about 76 inches of wall space, so you must have other added space on the Magna (seating or otherwise) on the walls.

I think the Magna still only has a 10K towing capacity though, and you mentioned you might want to tow a stacker trailer. So how close did a 2016 London Aire come in your competition, given that it has a 20K towing capacity, flush floors in the slide, full wall slide, comfort steer, steerable tag axle, etc.? Or a Mountain Aire that has most of the same features (except 15K towing and smaller engine) but you can get it in a 40 ft model?
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Old 09-23-2020, 07:50 AM   #14
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What impresses me the most is not the choice you made, but rather the thoroughness of your analysis of your wants and needs. Once you figure out what is important to you, the shopping gets a lot easier. Not easier in the sense of less time-consuming or effort, but easier to identify potential candidates and accept or reject them.
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