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Old 03-03-2010, 11:42 AM   #1
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Posts: 11
Just getting into RVís and have a million questions

Hi, Iíve recently retired and my dream has been to buy a RV and travel the country. Looking at the RV world I realize that there are many styles of RVís in which to choose from and buying the wrong one can be an expensive mistake. Hereís some background on us, just me, my wife and our dog, a 2 year old black Labrador would be traveling. We live in NJ and do travel to Florida. Looking to spend $40,000.00 or less and very happy buying used. We want to travel for months at a time and have the RV as our home on wheels. My questions are:

Is there a better area in the US to buy RVís as per price, selection, etc?

What size RV would you recommend, I assume the bigger the RV the more difficult it is to maneuver and the poorer the gas mileage?

What year range should we be looking at, at what point does the age of the RV make it cost prohibitive?

What models or brands are most recommended?

What do you check when you are looking at an RV?

Insurance, what companies?

What features are a ďmust haveĒ verses really not needed?

Towing a car, I assume they all can?

Gas or diesel?


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Old 03-03-2010, 01:07 PM   #2
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Hi Mike,
Welcome to iRV2. You may get quite a variety of opinions. Here are my views:

Is there a better area in the US to buy RV’s as per price, selection, etc? Use the Internet to do your research and narrow your selections. This may be a long term purchase. A trip to test/checkout and close a deal is nothing compared to the $s you are about to spend.

What size RV would you recommend, I assume the bigger the RV the more difficult it is to maneuver and the poorer the gas mileage?
This will be determined by the amount of $s you are spending. If you have a tow vehicle (truck). You may want to consider a 5th wheel RV. For the $s mentioned in your post, you can do very well with a 5th wheel RV. Once one gets into a motorized RV, for $40K the choices may be limited.

You are correct about the fuel mileage. Size = weight = fuel consumption. However, this should not concern you. The cost of fuel is only a portion of the total cost of ownership. RVing is a lifestyle. As to the maneuverability, what ever you purchase, you'll quickly learn how to maneuver the unit.

What year range should we be looking at, at what point does the age of the RV make it cost prohibitive? That all depends on the condition of the unit. How did the previous owner take care of the unit? Are the maintenance records available and complete. For $40K you may be looking at:
Class A = diesel over 10 years old & older
Class A = gas over 5 years old & older
Class C = diesel 5 years old and older
Class C = Gas 3 years old & older
5th wheel = new and pre owned
Travel trailer = new and pre owned

What models or brands are most recommended? This is a deeply religious question, I can not answer. The floor plan sells the unit. Usually the female partner has a better handle on this and the male. I know I never begin to look at a coach unless the wife "lights up". At first blush, look for water stains in the coach (ceiling, walls & floor), waves in the walls (inside and outside) and overall condition (cleanliness, worn an torn, etc.) This is normal stuff you'd look at before buying any house.

What do you check when you are looking at an RV? You'll need to have a certified RV tech check out the coach. And a certified automotive tech check all the automotive components.

Insurance, what companies? There are too many companies to mention. When you get to this point, repost the question about insurance.

What features are a “must have” verses really not needed? This depends on how you'll use the unit. Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall, touring or travel and park for several months and your tolerance for climate changes. Decide on how you think you'll use the unit and repost here.

Towing a car, I assume they all can? If you are lucky and own a vehicle that can tow a 5th wheel or travel trailer, you already have your vehicle. If you purchase a motorized coach, check the hitch rating. Next you need to know the gross combined weight rating of the coach (GCWR) and how much the coach actually weighs when loaded for travel. This includes fuel, water, clothes, food, misc stuff and passengers. The calculation can then be done to determine how much the coach can tow. A motorized RV is really a truck, with most of the weight already claimed by the coach. Lastly, you'll need to know if the vehicle(s) you own can be towed either 4 wheels on the ground or on a dolly. Post your vehicles here and we can let you know.

Gas or diesel? If you will be touring quite a bit, diesel may be considered. If you will drive the coach less than 10K per year a diesel engine may be considered a luxury. There are a couple of exceptions:
1.will do a considerable amount of mountain driving?
2. Is all the stuff and towed vehicle more than the gas coaches being considered can handle? Diesels handle weight better than gas powered coaches.
2005 Newmar KSDP 3910 + GMC ENVOY XUV 37K lbs Moving Down The Road
The Avatar Is Many Times Around The USA
Nobody Knows Your Coach Like Somebody Who Owns One Just Like Yours
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Old 03-03-2010, 01:20 PM   #3
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Congratulations on your retirement, and on fulfilling your dream. You will get lots of different opinions on what make/model motorhome to get, as most folks like what they have and recommend it. No different here, but I will go on to say that when we started out in 1987, out first was a Fleetwood class "C" rig, built on a Ford F350 chassis. It was a pretty good rv, and we had lots of fun with it. After 11 years, we wanted something else.

I researched, and looked first-hand, at a lot of different brands, and visited several factories, read hundreds of threads, and got my short list of what I could afford. There was one company whose motorhomes were a standout to me, for reasons that are not obvious to the casual observer.

I wanted a class "A" style, no rubber roof (they are problematic), I wanted solid construction and a steel firewall (not plywood, as in some makes), driver/passenger steel roll-cage construction, and cabinetry and appliances that were bolted to the frame, and would stay put, in the event of an accident. Some manufacturers screw appliances and cabinets in to wood, and they can become projectiles in an accident.

I also wanted to have made available to me, wiring and plumbing diagrams, should I want or need to perform some of my own maintenance or upgrades, and factory wiring that was easy to identify specific purposes.

This rv didn't have to have the flashy, fancy lights and mirrors, or other fancy trappings; just practical, useful, thoughtful design and finish.

The only company that had everything on my list, was Winnebago. I bought a Brave, and years later, bought an Adventurer. I think the 32 Adventurer is probably the most bang for the buck and anything out there. Fiferglass roof, energy management system (standard equip, and not even offered as an option on many other makes); windshield is bedded into a steel frame, like your car or truck (not held in by a big rubber grommet that can pop out of the frame, or crack the glass), stamped-numbered wiring every 6", which matches the wiring diagrams that you can download from the website; and a lot more.

We've had 4 Winnebago products now, and I would buy another. If I were you, I'd look for an Adventurer somewhere in the '01 or '02, or newer. I don't think you'll regret it. Our's was on a Ford chassis, but they build them on Workhorse also. I don't care for the Workhorse chassis, but a lot of folks do. Check for recalls and TSB's on whatever chassis you buy, to make sure they have been taken care of.

Have fun, Good luck, and enjoy.
USAF 1965-1971; USCG Master
2002 Horizon 36LD
Indian River, De
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Old 03-03-2010, 01:51 PM   #4
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Gary and Bill have both given good advice. You have lots of decisions that only you can make. You can't go wrong looking at Winnebago, Tiffin, or Newmar. Good luck.
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:15 PM   #5
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Hey ... how about Toyhaulers? Any possibility you would be bringing a toy with you in your travels. Toyhauler 5th wheels have a separate garage in the newer models for the toy ... be it a motorcycle, dirt bike, buggy, quad, golf cart, etc... There is TONS more storage all over the RV in a toyhauler than in most traditional RVs. You can now have washer/dryer units in toyhaulers, as do many traditional RVs.

I'm just giving a shout out to a very overlooked breed of RVs. Even if you DON"T have a toy to haul, the added 'storage' space, place for the dog(s) to keep them out of the way while you clean or cook or whatever.

Just MHO .... : ? )
Joe & Mariel Warren, Swan Valley, ID/Seattle, WA
'97 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins, 2011 Dutchman Voltage, and a 90LB Yellow Lab
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:31 PM   #6
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One thing you should do is look around at the different threads and posts and under search for problems with various coaches and chassis. That will let you know what you DON"T want.
NOTE; I am not responsible for typos, poor grammer or misspelled word !
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:38 PM   #7
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Chuck ... REALLY good point & advice. I've searched for MONTHS on line. Can't find the coach AT a dealer so we can touch and look and open doors and drawers.

Mikalle: FYI ... look at the Cherokee Wolfpack 396wp. That is a BIG toyhauler with tons of storage, good layout, and WINDOWS galore. Just a suggestion. Mariel
Joe & Mariel Warren, Swan Valley, ID/Seattle, WA
'97 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins, 2011 Dutchman Voltage, and a 90LB Yellow Lab
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Old 03-03-2010, 06:23 PM   #8
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more thoughts and a possible RV

Hi, and thanks for all the great advice, Gary and Bill you have given me much to consider. I am in Florida right now visiting family and will be heading home to NJ on march 12th. I’ve seen the following ad on craigslist and will be taking a look at it tomorrow. I was wondering what your thoughts were on this RV? I was planning on fling home but if I buy this RV I will drive it home.

The ad has 4 photo’s and here’s the link:

30' HOLIDAY RAMBLER by Monaco ~ Flawless with 19,000 Miles ~ - $14900 (Central Florida)

This Holiday Rambler "Aluma-Lite XL", manufactured by MONACO, was the premier Class A Motorhome in 1995. This coach sat in a garage for over 12 years, out of the elements and out of circulation with LESS than 16,000 miles. It is constructed using only Aluminum and Fiberglass from the frame up for light weight construction. It has a Fiber Glass Roof that has NEVER leaked, and with some care NEVER WILL. I bought it a year and a half ago and replaced everything that goes bad from sitting, basically New House Batteries, New Starting Battery, New Belts, All Oil/Filters Changed and SIX New Michelin 10 Ply Tires (Top-of-the-Line). I have spent a year making this into a FLAWLESS motorhome. The interior is PERFECT, Solid Oak Cabinets, Carpet throughout, Carpeted Headliner, and Oak Panelling. It features 4 Burner Stove with Conventional Oven, Built In Microwave, Hood Vent with Light, Split Bathroom/Shower, Full Size Closets, and Private Bedroom. Entertainment includes New SONY Stereo with Speakers throughout, Satalite and DVD Player showing on Bedroom Flat Screen, Dash Mounted TV, and 26" Flat Screen on Patio, under a Spacious Awning. An Onan Generator, that Runs Perfect with Very Low Hours, keeps AC running Cold while Driving. Refrigerator/Freezer operates on Gas, 12V, or 110V and looks/works like NEW. A Monitoring Panel inside keeps track of Fresh Water, Grey Water, Black Water, House Battery Voltage, and LP Gas Level. It runs on a Ford Chassis and the EFI 460 has PLENTY of power to "Cruise" on Mountain roads, I know, my daughter [9] and I did the Smoky Mountain Trip last summer for 3 weeks. This Motorhome is a True "TEN". I am only considering this sale because I am looking at another MONACO built Diesel Pusher, also Top-of-the-Line. You can not find a cleaner motorhome than this, or a better deal for the money. If perfection is not for you, than this motorhome will [probably] not impress you, but if you can appreciate what "Clean" means, come take a look. You will not waste your time. E-mail for more interior pictures, or call Ron at (352) 242-4480 to see this coach.
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Old 03-03-2010, 07:23 PM   #9
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there is definitely a better region if you are looking for new, we bought our new 5th wheel at All Seasons RV Dealer | Jayco, Puma, Rockwood & Wildcat RVs in Michigan after scouring the whole country online and we found that the midwest with West Michigan to be the best deals. As far as pre owned i do not have much experience there, good luck !!
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Old 03-03-2010, 07:50 PM   #10
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Mikalle: Welcome to IRV2.
The Motorhome sounds like a good find. But--Buying an older Motorhome like buying an older used car leaves the door open to a lot of surprizes. As posted-- a good inspection of the "house" part by a reputable RV dealer, and the Chassis part by a good mechanic will go a long way to verifying how good it is...
Maintenance records are important, and the seller has certainly provided a lot of necessary updates since the unit was in storage.
The hard part is realizing what are minor, expected normal wear and tear items and what indicates a more serious or disqualifing problem.
Evidence of leaks or water damage, internal water stains or soft flooring, external bulges or delaminations are usually expensive to corrrect.
The Ford 460 has been around a long time and is very reliable. My 1990MH had the 460, strong engine, about 6-7 mpg, uphill or down... At one time it was prone to manifolds warping, Ford had several revisions/updates to that manifold so by 96 it may not be a concern.
For a 1996 MH, condition and how it meets your needs are more important than "blue book value"..

Good luck.
Hooligan, Pensacola, Fl -U.S. Coast Guard 1956-1985
2016 Thor Siesta Sprinter 24ST diesel -1972 Moto Guzzi
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