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Last Post 20 Sep 2005 10:49 AM by  autoxgod
Anyone have a motorhome?
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mwood
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27 May 2005 11:59 AM

    I'm thinking of getting a motorhome for weekend events as well as family vacation use.

    Anyone have thoughts on issues to be aware of or types to look for/avoid?

    I'll be towing either a SS class Z06 on an open trailer, dirt bikes or ski boat, so I think that indicates an E450 rather than E350 starting point, if I go with a Class C.

    JimD
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    27 May 2005 04:30 PM

    My wife and I have spent the last six years towing either a '94 Miata or a '92 MR2 all around the Pacific states to various autocrosses with a Class C. We average about 15,000 miles per year (including the annual trip from Oregon to Topeka and back). We use a 23', '94 E350-based Tioga (Fleetwood) Montara. It's got the 460, with EFI of course, and the dreaded E40D "transmission 'o doom".

    The Fleetwood coach build quality is not the best, but the Ford chassis and drivetrain have been very reliable. We've avoided tranny trouble so far by doing lots of fluid changes and running a Banks TransCommand to firm up the shifts.

    Andy Hollis on this board uses a much newer Chevy-based Class-C with the really big gasser (8.1 liters?). He's put a lot of miles and camping time on his also and will probably chime in.

    Our Ford only gets about 8MPG (on regular) towing or not. This, combined with west coast gas prices, has caused us some second thoughts about long distance trips this year.

    Jim Daniels
    Gladstone, Ore.

    mwood
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    27 May 2005 05:46 PM
    Thanks, Jim.
    I've heard the Fleetwoods are good "bang for the buck". I'm thinking right at 23-24' would be good, although as soon as you get to 26' most all have the E450 chassis. I'm avoiding 27' and above, because I've heard they aren't too good for towing, between the GVWR rating and the leverage effect of the hitch at the end of that long, rear overhang making the front end light, under certaing conditions. In a perfect world (unlimited $$), I'd get a 330 Cat diesel pusher with an Allison tranny[H]

    I'm keeping my eyes open, with the current concerns with the cost of gas, I'm thinking it might be a good time to buy.
    Phillip S. Osborne
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    29 May 2005 07:24 PM

    I'm on my 4th RV over the past 18 years or so, all of them Class A's. While a Class C has it's advantages, so to does the Class A, mostly exemplified by the extra usable interior space. You can buy a Class A up to 35' and still avoid the long overhang you see on so many Class A's. It generally depends on the chassis you get, and typically those on Ford chassis will have the longer overhang due to wheelbase limitations on Ford RV chassis. My latest is a couple of years old now, but on the GM Workhouse chassis and 35' Georgia Boy coach, with 8.1 engine and Allison 5 speed automatic. This has been the best combo of any I have had in the past, which includes a 28' Holiday Rambler with 454 GM power, a 32' Newmar Dutch Star with Ford 460 chassis, and a 35' Winnebago Adventurer on Ford V10 chassis, which had the longest overhang of all of them.

    The current unit has proven to be quite economical compared to all the others, getting me nearly 9 mpg pulling a 24' enclosed trailer, and will actually get 9 mpg plus without the trailer attached. The chassis is much tighter than the previous Ford chassis units, although I must admit, all the Ford units gave exceptional service in terms of reliability, the Winnebago being the exception...but that thing's a whole different story in itself. The GB unit has two slide-outs, allowing ample space for my wife and I, along with our two Schnautzers, without suffocation over ten day stays. The cost differential between the Class A and Class C is not enough to truly warrant the C over the A, IMHO.

    Hope this helps.

    Phil Osborne

    preparedcivic
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    29 May 2005 08:00 PM
    Up until about this time last year, I owned a 29' Class C; an early '95 Gulfstream Ultra built on a stretched '94 E350 460/E4OD chassis. It had a 208" wheelbase, which made for a very stable platform. Power was OK, but could have used more. The drivetrain was all stock, and I'm sure some Banks pieces would have waked it up some. Towing it was good for 7mpg doing 65-70. In serious hills (I-80 in Pennsylvania), it would go down to 6 to 6-1/2. It was fun to have, but I sold it due to being paranoid something really expensive was going to break, and I found it too much of a fire drill to get ready for an event. The car stuff is always bad enough, but getting the "house" together too came close to putting me over the edge many times. The replacement rig is a crew cab pick-up pulling an enclosed trailer, with a front cabinet set-up of a fridge, microwave, sink and potty.
    tkotzian
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    30 May 2005 09:21 AM

    Mike, I have a 36 ft. and have towed the Z06 on an open 24 ft tilt bed trailer. It tows without any problem. I added the banks system and it really woke it up and improved mileage and added stabilizers on the rear and it made all the difference in the world. Tows 70-75 all day long. If you use it as you say for all the activities it will be a great way to go. We went the longer route so that a person wouldn't feel all confined with the whole family on board. It does give you the room to stretch out. No problem manuvering the 60 ft. We bought ours new and now only have 15K on it. All miles were portland to LA, San Diego etc. Then the Grandkids ventured off into there own interests and the coach has been idle for several years now. I am interested in selling !!!!!!!!!!! Warrenty is good thru the summer 05

    sccaITSsentra
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    30 May 2005 10:58 AM
    hey I deliver new motorhomes, have had many of my own and have driven just about everything. A class A in my opinion is better... size, ride, convience, ( a big class A versus a mid size class C the A gets better mpg if your talking ford v-10) Now it depends on how much you want to spend, but for what your wanting to do the 350 would do it fine, the differences between a 450 and 350 arent that much and the reason they use either one is usually the size of the coach, the towing capacity between the 2 is usually the same or very close ( you can build a bigger coach on a 450, with more slides etc..) If you can find a gm chassis or workhorse based unit buy that 10 times over a ford... and if you get a ford find the 460 over the high winding bad gas mileage problem monster called the v-10 although there about as durable as it gets they lack on hills, and average maybe 6 mpg while towing. The new 8.1 will due 8-10 all day and tow a house.. I had a 32 ft class A georgie boy for awhile and pulling my car,tools etc it got 8 and had plenty of power up hills. But the main thing to look for is coahc quality.. some are built with furing strips and glue and squeak, rattle and leak, some have aluminum sides and are well built. Since the chassis were all built by the same plant and just shipped to the coach builder to be made a motorhome, there all basically the same from coach builder to coach builder.. a fords a ford and a chevy or workhorse is the same, provided teher of same year and platform.. Now anything made by winnebago is usually pretty good, there is national rv brand stuff thats pretty good as well, and the rest is made 10 miles from me in elkhart IN. Jayco is decent, coachmen is too, anything made by thor id stay away from , four winds and forest river are alright . Now there is hundreds of names of RV's but if you look at the vin tag it will say, model made by ---------- check them out look at the construction and so on. If you have the time go buy one out of the souther states , no rust, no huge pot holes, no large grades to toast parts, no winters and usually alot better coach not to mention there the best price of all. ( i buy and sell motorhomes about 30-40 a year ) You can get them dirt cheap, people take them down and then pass away or buy a house so there is so many down there they have to sell them cheap to move them. But like I said check it out to see how it was built dont buy one with wood sides your just asking for problems, get aluminum framed sides. Then next buy a GM or workhorse, second a ford witht he big block, third a v-10 and spend a few bucks on some upgrades, like k&n better exhaust maybe a power programmer, to help with shifts ... but it works fine they make life alot easier, I have one at the club races and its great the time between races you can relax , watch TV , shower, hang out instead of sitting in your truck it beats it everyday no question....
    Dick Rasmussen
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    30 May 2005 11:58 AM
    Question for the Experts (such as sccaITSsentra). My wife and I have a Class B (88 Coachmen on carburated Dodge 360 1 ton chassis and 3 spd automatic) that has been "adequate" for towing a formula ford on an open trailer but there is no way it will tow any sort of standard enclosed trailer without self destructing (it currently has over 100K miles). We like the Class B's because of their size (for our purposes) but the "ship in the bottle" construction makes them relatively expensive new for what you get. New is NOT in our budget! Do these show up in the used market at drastically reduced prices? If so, what is a good engine combo for them since the Ford V-10 is such a gas hog? (our existing unit with open trailer gets about 9-10 mpg towing at 65 mph max . . . ugh). We live in North Carolina so access to Florida for used units is practical. Thanks! Dick
    Andy Hollis
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    30 May 2005 10:07 PM
    JimD wrote:

    Andy Hollis on this board uses a much newer Chevy-based Class-C with the really big gasser (8.1 liters?). He's put a lot of miles and camping time on his also and will probably chime in.

    Our Ford only gets about 8MPG (on regular) towing or not. This, combined with west coast gas prices, has caused us some second thoughts about long distance trips this year.

    As Jim says, we have a 24' Winnebago Minnie built on the Chevy 3500 Express Van cutaway chassis. I wanted the biggest motor I could find with the lightest functional motorhome box on it. The 8.1 Chevy Vortec motor puts out 455 lb-ft of torque!! Quite the ticket for climbing the Rockies. This combo was only built for two years (2001-2002) and I got one of the last ones built. The Winnebago Class-C's have a queen size bed in the back, where other brands in the same floorplan have only a full. Wifey likes that. Winnebago also has a fiberglass roof where others have rubber. Its not huge, but it does everything we need. Best of all, it can easily negotiate every road in the national park system, which we do a lot of (drop the trailer for the twisty stuff). Big class A's can't do that (Hi Phil!).

    Oh yeah, the Chevy motors seem to do better at mileage than the Fords. We get 10 MPG towing when travelling on the flat stuff back east. 8-9 out West when having to climb hills a lot. But that's at 60 MPH with no headwinds. If you want to go faster, be prepared to suck fuel and stop more. All that frontal area starts to create huge drag above that speed.

    Best advice is to get educated. Spend some time on the RV forums/lists. There are a whole new range of Class-C's built on bigger chassis like the Chevy 5500 Kodiak (see Endura by Gulfstream). The problem with most of the diesel Class-A's is that the chassis is so much heavier you also need to get the big block motor to get back some reasonable power-to-weight. That gets you into the higher priced units. But if you like lots of living space, you'll need a Class-A.

    Regardless of what you buy, you'll probably want to make a few improvements immediately. Suspensions on these things are designed for your grandparents (i.e. Buick ride quality). Stock shocks are typically garbage (get Bilstein or Koni RV shocks). Upgrade your house batteries at the earliest convnience (Trojan golf cart batteries or Odyssey sealed). Make sure it has a good converter/charger section (three stage charger). And put some real sway bars on the thing. And synthetic fuilds in the motor, tranny and diff. Especially the diff.

    We've got 60K miles on ours in a little more than two seasons and just love it.

    --Andy

    christoc
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    31 May 2005 09:35 AM
    my folks bought this last year, if I could just get them to let me use it...
    mwood
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    31 May 2005 10:54 AM

    ^Now, that's what I'm talkin' about!!

    Thanks for the reponses, I'm still in the fact/info gathering stage. I'm leaning towards finding a smaller Class C with a 8.1 chebby that I can buy for $25-30k, to see if we like owning a motorhome.

    sccaITSsentra
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    31 May 2005 12:04 PM
    hey Dick R yes they do show up, drastically reduced not really.... The class c is a very popular model you can usually get a bigger badder class A for alot less with alot more. The B is popular too because of its size alot more people feel comfortable driving one because there not much bigger then a van sometimes. And I know there expensive I just delivered a new four winds chariot or something like class B maybe 22 ft and the COD check was for 58,000 and that was dealer price, Now I have delivered some of the new dodge/mercedes sprinter chassis units and those thinsg are awesome. Pulling my 3400 lbs tow vehicle it averaged 24 mpg ( turbo diesel) I went to NJ with it and that was thru some hills and so on.. It had more then enough power up hills and long grades and still plenty of room inside.. But there not cheap also and still pretty new so there isnt many used ones around. But If you can get a copy of the rv trader from any of florida regions ( I belive there are 3 ) you will get a good look at what is out there. Its all available online aswell. There is about 10-15 auctions I frequent but most are dealer only. But do a simple internet search and Im sure you will come up with a few. As for an engine choice in the smaller class B units the v-10 is alright with some minor mods such as a banks kit ( anything to make it inhale and exhale better ) the B fords have tons of power and alot better on gas just when you start to load a ford out ( Big class A 3 slides type stuff ) they really go downhill quick on power and MPG. The chevy is a better choice doesnt really matter what motor... tranny wise the fords pretty much have had that 4 speed in them for awhile same with the chevy... Only the new 05 fords have a 5 sp and some 04's the same with some 03 and 04 chevy's . and actually that dodge you got is one tough machine and isnt to bad, ... as for the new super C's as there being called now, ( the kodiak 5500and 6500 also Ive seen a few f-650 f 750 ) there great. But a power programmer would make a significant difference most of them are so choked down there slower then a gasser, but mpg gets upwards of 12-13 with 3400 lbs behind them, There is a slew of companies usuing them now jayco makes one called the seneca.... really nice, Gulfstream is the endura, Four winds makes one in a few models one called the "toy mover" I just delivered one to VT and it was bad bad bad it had about a 10-12 ft storage area in the back with a lift gate a viewing area on the roof, tons of carbon fiber, 2 slides,diamond plate flat screens, and alot of black and white checkered.. It was alittle lacking in the real bed area but just about everything turned into one. It did alright. the difference from one unit to another in mpg and power is huge, granted weight and set up all factor in. . Some simple quick mods would make those things the best tow vehicle out there, they handle the road, wind and hills better then any class C and better then most A's ( except big pushers) If you can afford one get a ford f-650-750 with a cummins those are great I took one from elkhart to tampa Fl for 164 dollars in diesel it averaged 14 mpg and never slowed or came of cruise of 75 once
    Dick Rasmussen
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    31 May 2005 06:12 PM
    sccaITSsentra, Thank you VERY much for the specific Class B info and for the general advice. Good to hear that the new Dodge/Mercedes turbo diesel delivers on its claims. Dick
    sccaITSsentra
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    31 May 2005 07:16 PM
    the Benz is bad.... the one dealer told me with a few mods, and synthetic oil they pull 28-30... the dually models are only 1-1.5 points less MPG.. and will still tow 5k some are even rated up to 8 k
    RotaryRacer
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    31 May 2005 09:42 PM

    I didn't read through all of the posts. From what I did read I saw a lot of great comments. I have one thing to add. Have you considered a truck camper? If you have a 3/4 or 1 ton truck already to tow with adding a camper may be the least expensive and most effective alternative. If you don't have a truck it still may be the best option. It is amazing how convenient and easy it is to drop the camper and still have a vehicle to use for towing or household stuff. You could even use the truck for a daily driver. Here is a picture of my rig.

    SCCAForums Image

    autoxgod
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    20 Sep 2005 10:49 AM

    I have a Class B, Roadtrek 210 Popular, 2004 model, 6.6 L gas Chevy chassis, SRW towing a 24 ft box tag. It's great for everything we do. I can get 9.5-11 towing in the Chicago area through In to Toledo. It's got a 4.10 rear LSD gear, tranny cooler, power steering pump cooler, engine oil cooler and 7500 lb tow rating, 1000 lbs tongue. It's the only one I found that pulls enough for what I want. Much better to drive than the Endura/Golf Stream I was considering. We can go anywhere and park anywhere we want too since it's licensed as a passenger vehicle and not as an RV. It appears more like a large conversion van but has a KING size bed, shower, toilet, stove, ref/Freezer, generator, 12,500 btu a/c, sink, etc. All the comforts of home is nice when we're at an event.

    Jim

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