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Monday, January 1, 2001

Why We Bought Our RV - The Respones!


In the RV Doctor Newsletter #6 I wrote this:
 
"I'm curious how you came to choose your particular RV, not so much for the type of RV as there are obvious pluses and minuses for each of the different classes. But why that one? What drew you to the coach you now own? What do you like the most, the least?"

Well, more than a couple of you responded. Presented here in no particular order are what you all had to say. Thanks for responding!

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From Jack Armstrong:

First, let me say that Niki and I enjoy your articles. We always find them informative and useful. We had ten particular requirements when we were looking to buy our new 5th Wheel last Spring:

1. Headroom in the bedroom, so that I wouldn't have to continually stoop. Also, wanted some space around the bed so that we didn't have to be contortionists to make the bed.

2. We wanted a sturdy shower enclosure, again with enough headroom going through the door.

3. We wanted an "L" or "J" shaped kitchen layout so we could double-team the food prep more easily.

4. Plenty of windows so that we could get a good look at the scenery when we stopped for the night.

5. We wanted a dining table rather than a booth.

6. Plenty of closet storage.

7. Plumbed for a washer & dryer.

8. At least generator ready for the future.

9. All built into a maximum length of 35'.

10. It had to be a good price after our trade-in.

We weren't so sure it could be done. Fortunately, we had a crackerjack saleslady, with a can-do attitude. The one thing she could not manage was the length! We ended up with a 39' Brookstone 5th Wheel by Coachmen. It has all of the other things we wanted, and I have to say it pulls as easily as our 27' trade-in had in the past. It has 4 slides, and a plethora of windows surrounding the rear living room. It also had some extras that we hadn't asked for, but enjoy, like the built-in fireplace, desk area, 42' living room TV, plus the bedroom and basement TV's. We have had it on the road, covering around 5,000 miles so far, with no complaints, but with a whole lot of enjoyment.

As far as what we like least? Niki, when pressed for a dislike, says she would have liked to have inside storage for the central vac hose and attachments, but really not a big deal. As for me, I would have liked an outdoor radio antenna. We also had to buy a larger truck to pull it, but we have come to love it as well. Keep up the good work.


From Peter “Peteski” Karcmarczyk:

This is response to your asking why the wife and I bought our particular RV. We looked at several different brands of travel trailers both by using the Internet and going and seeing them. We didn't want a big one. We looked mainly for storage capability. We settled on getting a R-Vision MS 23. We liked it very much. I did, however, a few embellishments to our unit. It is not on the high-end scale of finished RVs.

1. The first thing we did was caulk and painted all the seams (most of the joints were stapled rather than screwed.) We wanted more of a finished look.

2. The placement of electrical outlets needed a lot to be desired. On either side of the bed, were outlets just at the height of where a person would could possibly knock out anything plugged in while sleeping. I relocated them to below the bed.

3. The designers had placed an outlet almost on the floor at right side of the table. I left it there, however I added one directly above on the storage cabinet that was more readily accessible.

4. I added another outlet opposite the one on the storage cabinet to the bed side for a shelf that I installed for our clock radio.

5. I installed another cable outlet to the side of our RV for when we were at campgrounds that had cable TV. I used it instead of going through the existing regular antenna outlet.

6. Since I read, in one of your earlier messages to all of us RVers, that on real hot days, the refrigerator would hard pressed to keep cool without some additional help. I hard wired a switch to a small fan at the back of the frig so I could turn it on or off when needed.

7. For the outside storage areas, I added hangers to get most things off the floor of them. I have, in fact, eliminated a lot of stuff I thought we had to take along. I know that most of your readers have Class As and 5th Wheelers, but I thought that this could give a few of us TTers some ideas. Thanks a bunch for your great articles.


From Randy Heasley full-timer in East Texas:

We did some research on RV's and discussed the pros and cons of first the 5th Wheel vs Motorhome. We wanted to full time in the RV and we picked the Motorhome. Many full timers we had talked to told us how many coaches they bought to find the right one and we didn't want to do that. So the prevailing suggestion was get a well-manufactured diesel pusher.

So then we moved on to what floor plans we liked in the coaches. We visited a large RV show in Dallas and went through many companies’ coaches trying to determine livability for us. We also looked at construction. What manufacturers were using what construction methods, materials, and what did fit and finish look like, and sound like at the show. After we had a good idea of what we liked in the floor plan and what New coach price range would give us what we were looking for, we started looking online for used coaches between 2-5 years, old to put this all together. We then narrowed the selection down to certain companies and the series of coach they made which fit into what we wanted and liked. Mainly the companies we decided we liked were Newmar, Monaco and Tiffen. I also found the web forum IRV2.com <http://IRV2.com> and read many forums here and asked a few questions.

In 2010 we found a 2005 Monaco Diplomat 40PDQ that we liked and was in our price range At PPLMotorHomes.com. We sold the house, moved into the coach and have lived in it since. We live and work in East Texas during the school year and travel all summer. We have racked up 11,900 miles since and had very little in the way of problems with our home.


From Tony Jenzer in Sutherland, VA:

In response to your question of why I chose the RV that I did: Price, was my first issue, being as this is my first RV purchase. I also researched different models based on price, features and availability (Close to home) so I could visually inspect them. I ended up purchasing a '99 National Tradewinds, with 39 K miles. Excellent condition, good quality features and benefits and Freightliner chassis with Cat engine. Still working on it mostly mods, intend to add a fire suppression system next before I head out on the road. I am somewhat surprised that the fire suppression does come stock or as a option? Thanks for all you do , enjoy the newsletters and videos learning all I can.


From Richard Brandt:

I wanted an aluminum frame first of all. Then went to The RV Consumer Group to get their ratings of the TT in the size I wanted. Then I visited local campgrounds to talk to owners and found a Sunny Brook group that was very helpful AND there was a SB dealer within an hour or so from my house. Never regretted the choice in our 8 seasons thus far.


From Judy Brown in Lebanon, MO:

We had friends recommend Jayco and while shopping around we stopped at an RV dealership here in MO that has been in business for over 40 years and the majority of their RV's were Jayco. We asked why and they said that through the years they had come to realize that this company manufactured the strongest, best quality product on the market. Then they made the decision to stock at least 75% of their offerings from Jayco. We purchased a 2010 27' travel trailer from them and have been very pleased with our decision.


From Duane Albrecht in Pawnee, Illinois:

I chose Jayco because of past experiences owning Jayco, the support from the factory, and the absolutely fantastic dealership from whom I purchased it; Kuhl's Trailer Sales, Ingraham, Illinois.

If I have ever had any problems (which have been very few), Kuhl's and the Jayco factory have taken care of them without question (warranty work) and promptly, with little down time for me.


From Steven Smith in North Grafton, MA:

You asked in Newsletter why we chose the coach we now own. Here are the main reasons we picked ours:

1. We could only afford a used coach.

2. We liked the floor plan and 2 slides.

3. The coach has low miles (28,000) and was in good shape.

4. The price was right.  Our Coach is a 2002 Winnebago Adventurer 32 ft built on a Ford F53.


From Art Darling, full time RVer:

How we came to choose our current coach was not a hunt, but a chance encounter. We had a 35' FRED we were pretty much satisfied with except the power (we thought). While picking up some supplies at an RV store in Portland, OR, we went out on the lot to look at their inventory of new and used coaches. This was the last one we looked at. It is a used (15K miles) 2010 Thor 41' 4 slide on a Freightliner Chassis with a 400 Cummins. So the chassis, engine and surprisingly low price were the main things.

It did not have a washer/dryer (good). It did not have a residential refrigerator (good). It did have a king-size bed (good). The exterior color scheme mimics the Tuscany landscape of Italy and the interior wood and fabrics really are Italian in design. It has mostly tile floors (good) and a split mid-coach bath area (good).

We have put 10K miles on in six months. The ride and comfort underway are great features. We did just have to replace a set of guides on one of the drawers and have an extra roller added in the kitchen area of the big slide. The fit and finish could have been better. But the coach is giving us the lifestyle we love and we are still pleased overall with this unit. Because we relocate every week or so, power, ride quality and minimal devices to need repair top our list of considerations.


From Sue Tsuda in Yucca Valley, CA:

I bought my 35 foot 1995 Thor Residency because I didn't want slides - more weight and one more thing to go wrong - and I liked the big windows and the layout. I don't like that the inside is put together with staples and had too much carpeting. (I have taken most of it out and replaced it with bamboo flooring. I also have put in a larger radiator and insulated the gas line running the full length of the coach to the engine. Also a rebuilt engine, replaced water pump, fan clutch, brakes, and fuel pump. But those items, I suppose, resulted from poor maintenance on the part of the previous owner.


From Myron Bird:

I purchased a 2005 Winnebago Adventurer 33' motorhome in September 2011. It's my second RV, the first being a 2008 KZ Coyote travel trailer.

I chose the Winnebago over many other used models on the lot for the reason that it was in better condition than the newer models of other makes simply because it appeared to be better made, all the way from its frame to the finishing touches in it. I could see in the other makes that they had had inherent design problems that had become worse as the units aged. I paid a little more for the "Winnie", but I think I got a better unit. So far, I've been right. One example of the difference: Winnebago paints their exterior designs; others use decals that can and do eventually tend to peel.


From Carl Fuller in Portsmouth, VA:

Your topic of "why I chose the RV I did" is very intriguing. Being somewhat anal about my choices for almost everything I might be wanting to purchase, I was really in a fix trying to figure out what I wanted next when I was ready to move up a little. I went to an RV show and made that mistake when I wasn't quite ready both financially and "mentally" to make a purchase. It was going to be a 5th wheel because of some of our personal list of reasons.

Here are the things in order of importance that we had on our list of "to look for or stay away from:"

* Kitchen/toilet arrangement so we could access either "underway".

* Without opening slides.

* Shock reducing system on undercarriage (axles/springs) and hitch.

* Wide stance on front jack legs so I didn't have to crawl halfway under to deploy or stow.

* Electric rear jack/brace, self-leveling.

* The rest of it, fit and finish, is the standard crap in the field. Embarrassing just how sloppy and cheap they are.

My choice, both because it fit our list and because it "showed up" when we were vulnerable, was a Thor built Grand Junction at 34 feet. 2008 model. It has the accessible kitchen/bath, wide stance front, self-leveling, electric rear jacks, MorRyde shock absorbing axle and hitch arrangement, larger tanks. Stupid stuff they didn't do is include the drain system into a single port for discharge. Not caulk around the sink where the cabinetry and counters meet. Not caulk around the granite top for the stove to keep food and grease from between the granite and walls. I contend that most RV's are "other than quality" when it comes to standards. Thanks for listening. I think we have similar likes and dislikes in our RV's.


From Kitty Francen full-timer from Emery, SD:

We bought our rig solely because of the floor plan. It is one of few with a full side slide (which was our #1 requirement) and is a manageable length (38'), was reasonably priced & was built by a quality manufacturer - all of which were factors in the choice.


From Debbie Ashby in Bonham, TX:

The main things that drew us to buying our current 5th wheel was the large back window w/recliners & slide layout. Our first 5ver had no slides so we learned from that experience that they were a must have and I wanted the large back window. When both living/kitchen slides are open it makes a huge living space, which is great especially when we have our kids with us. I had also decided that while we were upgrading because we keep our units for many years that a BR slide was necessary too.

A couple of other things that we decided were good when we saw them (not even on our short list) was the amount of counter space we have (although DH did not want a kitchen in the slide but after examining it decided it would be ok) and the W/D closet space can be used to carry/store his music equipment.


From Gale Wilson:

Enjoy your RV columns and have read your stuff for several years. Great! To answer your question as to why we chose our RVs. We have always been Class C RVers and bought our first Lazy Daze motorhome in 1986. Lazy Daze is a family business in Southern California and has always been focused on producing a quality RV. I'm sure you are familiar with them so you know they are a factory-only business that only builds an RV when they get an order, and then it takes 4-5 months. They produce around 200 units a year. We are now on our third Lazy Daze and we have had ZERO problems related to Lazy Daze. Our only problems have been Ford or Chevy issues. We ordered that first one on the advise of my father-in-law who owned four Lazy Daze motorhomes in his lifetime and his story reads pretty much the same as ours. No, they don't have slide outs, and probably never will, but their quality is hard to resist. Keep up your great work!


From John Pereira:

When we decided to purchase an RV, we found a program on how to evaluate an RV. It was a series of manuals and CDs on what to look for. One criteria we gave great weight to was stability on the road -- we live in OK, and travel in the West where it is always windy. The other criteria we gave emphasis to was reliability. One factor not in the program was the financial stability of the manufacturer (this was in 2007 and builders of coaches were crashing). We even went to 3 RV shows to look around. Your article was right - some RVs were really flashy - but the quality was not there. Looking "under the hood" you could see that the RV was put together either on a Friday afternoon or a Monday morning! We finally decided on a Tiffin. We initially chose an Allegro Bay, and then after discovering we loved the coach but wanted something bigger with a better ride, we traded it in on our 40' Tiffin Phaeton. The Phaeton is, other than the accessories and finish, exactly the same as the more expensive Allegro Bus. We studied Tiffin as a company. It appeared well managed and very financially stable. We got on the web and talked to actual owners and found that all said they would buy another Tiffin. Most owners almost bragged about the service. Then we looked at some Tiffin coaches and found that they were well built. (You can even go to the factory in Red Bay Alabama and watch the coaches being built on the factory floor - and ask the workers questions about the mechanics of putting it together!) Many people told us that if you have a complaint, go see Bob (as in Bob Tiffin, the founder) (He has no door on his office). As for the reliability criteria, we have been very pleased - and they stand behind their product even after the warranty is over. The service you get at the service center in Red Bay is great. As for the less than important "flash" of the coach, the floor plans are well thought out. The company encourages owners to give suggestions. The interior is attractive, and the outside too (with full body paint on all coaches). As you can tell, we would buy another Tiffin when (if) we wear this one out.


From Ira and Mary Jean House:

A few reasons I chose the RV/Trailer I now own are; it has an aluminum superstructure, the holding tanks are located over the axles which keeps the balance the same either empty or full, the underbelly is enclosed and most of the cabinetry is good quality, I also like a walk around dedicated bed.

A couple of items that gripe me in most RVs is that manufacturers are sloppy about fit and sealing around points of entry like plumbing and electrical penetrations, every unit I have ever owned, I spent hours sealing and refitting these type things, it sure would have been better if it had been done during the build process, I realize they need to speed production but access is hard after the fact even if it is no more than foam type filler. I enjoy your articles and your no nonsense to approach to technical issues.


From Sue Balsamo:

I'm a 73 old woman who chose a used Winnebago Rialta 8 years ago. I usually travel alone and I wanted a unit that was small, offered most amenities, easy on gas yet lent itself for day trips with grandkids (primarily instate sports events, it has 8 seat belts). It is easy to drive and easy to park (I test drove several other small units, the Rialta was the best). I live in the Midwest and took a six week, 5000 mile trip out west in 2010 focusing on the southwest. I loved it and hope to travel out to the northwest this summer. The amount of natural light inside the coach is also a big plus for me. Now if I could only get my husband of 53 years to travel with me. He's healthy and fit but a homebody.


From Sue Gearhart:

Before I retired, I did a lot of day dreaming about the next stage of my life. I followed up with lots of computer research regarding RVs. I started with a list of priorities. How did I expect to use the RV; how would I travel; etc. I never RV’d before so I was a real newbie. After all was said and done, I made the right decision 8 years ago and haven't regretted my purchase.

I knew I would probably be traveling solo so I had to feel comfortable with the length of the unit. Maneuverability was at the top of the list. Self-containment was next. I didn't want to have to exit my vehicle after arriving for example at a rest area. For safety reasons I wanted to be able to stay in the vehicle if I didn't feel safe with my surroundings. I wanted a comfortable bathroom. Enough floor space to change clothes following a shower. I wanted my closet inside the bathroom so I could easily have access to my clothes.

The Safari Trek (Holiday Rambler Traveler 26 feet) fit the bill. I wasn't going to travel with family members so the Trek was perfect for two adults. The fact there is no bedroom (the bed is stored above the living space) wasn't an issue for me.

Now what I don't like about my Class A: There is way too much furniture for such a small unit. I have two removable upholstered "barrel" chairs and two "parson like" dining chairs. I removed all four pieces and added two large sized upholstered storage cubes for additional seating. The front seats turn around so with the sofa there is plenty of seating. I don't like the battery compartment. I have four batteries, which require maintenance. The back two batteries are almost impossible to reach. A rolling tray would have made my job a lot easier. I don't like the fact my unit didn't come with a side camera. I have a great rear camera but they tell me I can't add on a side camera for changing lanes. I know I would have liked the added safety. The unit has wood laminate and light beige carpets. The light beige carpet isn't practical when you are camping. Hope the above info helps with your survey. Really enjoy your newsletter. Keep up the good work.


From Marv McGowen in Ridgecrest, CA:

Why we chose our RV model 2006 Winnebago 25F. While looking for Class-C about 24-feet long, out of the dozens of models available, it was the only one that had the TV mounted directly across from the couch. In every other model we would have had to sit sideways which we were very tired of painfully doing in our slide-in Lance. Also, since it was made by a top manufacturer, mounted on a good chassis, and priced well below most others, it was a no-brainer. After getting it, we found many other reasons why we were very glad we chose it, but simple as it may seem, the TV location was the reason that we chose it in the first place.


From David Henderson:

We chose our Hitchhiker II LS 2007 from Bailey RV in Lufkin, TX after visiting them and other dealers for a year. We wanted to full-time RV, sell our house and drive off. Tried to get a size big enough to full-time, so picked a 32.5' fifth wheel and 2500 Dodge truck. When my wife was in this model, she said, "This feels homey." We ordered it and got it July 2006. Been great so far and mom and pop Bailey's RV have been great to us.


From Vince the full timer:

To start off, I love your articles and videos on the Net. I spent 3 months searching for my RV at the beginning of 2010. I'm from Illinois and there was no way I was going to buy a rust bucket from the Midwest. I stayed in Lake Havasu City, AZ looking for a clean, rust-free unit. I learned the desert is not kind to fiberglass. That is when I decided to find something clad in aluminum. That narrowed down the field quite a bit.

I was looking for a Revcon at first. I liked the concept of front wheel drive but parts could be an issue. Most of the units I looked at were more restoration projects and I wasn't interested in that. Then I came across my 1989 Barth Regal. It is on a P-32 chassis with a 454. Parts are easy to find. Barth built motorhomes like tanks. I'm the second owner and the previous owner did a great job taking care of the unit. I paid $5000 for it and put another $4000 in tires and updates/upgrades. I'm still not done and doubt I ever will be done. An RV is just like a boat on wheels, a money sink, but I love it!

The reasons I chose my Barth:

1) It is built on a common chassis so parts are not a problem.

2) One piece aluminum roof, only perimeter seams and vents to keep sealed.

3) Buck riveted, aluminum frame and body, not stick and staple. No fiberglass delamination.

4) No particleboard inside. Solid cherry cabinets. (Nice to look at, heavy to haul around)

5) Unit is 25 feet so no problem parking it with a 15' cargo trailer for my motorcycle.

6) Being from Arizona, it is totally rust free. Sikkens paint held up great with no fading.

7) GREAT community at barthmobile.com <http://barthmobile.com> to help with support.

We started full timing last December. We missed the winter in Illinois, or should I say DIDN'T miss it. We will start our first workamping job on May 1st and couldn't be more excited. Life is good. Thank you for your contributions to the RV community.


From E. J. Armstrong in Fresno, CA:

Reading RV publications, I found there were manufacturers who were constantly criticized regarding their response to problems with construction, etc. both under warranty and not. First, was Keystone. I would NEVER purchase a Keystone product, just because of so many complaints by owners. Second, Coachman, another unconcerned manufacturer. My purchase was Gulf Stream, because of their reputation.


From Keith:

When we bought our last travel trailer (a Puma 23') a couple years back, here's what we most considered:

1) CRITICAL: The Bathroom -- I'm 6'2" and bulky athletic, my wife is "generously hipped"... so 95% of the trailers we looked at literally couldn't take her on the throne (wedged between cabinets or into a "broom closet with plumbing") or me in the shower.(If I have to stoop in the shower, I'm showering outside... and not all the neighbors like me au naturale). Our camper devotes about 1/4 of the total length and full width to the bathroom -- still a camper bathroom, but at least adult size.

2) NO slides -- this may seem "retro" but all the slides we saw moved like they were about to fall out of the mount, or moved herky-jerky inchworm style, or otherwise just didn't inspire confidence that they wouldn't break down or jam at the worst moment. So, we wanted a floor plan that didn't NEED a slide to still be usable. The notion of needing to operate the slide to get into the bathroom on a long drive seemed absurd.

3) NO dedicated bunks -- this was surprisingly hard to find! Being only a young couple at the time, we didn't want to drag wasted space. We figured we'd outgrow the trailer by the time any future kids grew too big for the couch/table beds, so dedicated berths weren't going to be relevant in this trailer. Now we've fostered 4 teenagers, so... OOPS in planning there -- we just carry a giant tent when they come with us.

4) Washable floors... yes, we CAMP. People come in muddy. Similarly, the cushions all really do flip to waterproof versions.

5) Carpeted bedroom... we use the trailer 3 seasons, and it can get COLD at night. Surprising how many had washable bedrooms and carpet in the main area -- backwards of what makes sense to us!

6) Big tanks... we have 60 gallons in each of fresh/gray/black, so we don't need to hitch and dump more than a typical campsite visit.

Now, with experience, what we like:
So far, this has worked really well for us in all the areas we planned, besides unexpected family expansion.

What we don't like:
It would be nice if the "optional" beds were more adult sized. There's no reason the couch couldn't be longer instead of a 7th vertical cabinet. With 12 overhead cabinets, there's actually TOO MUCH storage. The table-bed, I don't really see making much bigger without turning it lengthwise as some trailers do (again, we didn't need more than a 4 person table originally).

We added a generator to this rig after far too many brownout campsites and a little boon docking. There really isn't room to put it on the tongue, nor does a 4KW (AC capable) genny fit through any of the external bay doors (where there IS available volume, but not entry). It would be nice if the genny could stay reasonably stored or installed, rather than lugging it from the tow vehicle or inside the trailer.


From Donna Williams in Corte Madera, CA:

I selected a 27 ft Lazy Daze Class C after an extensive search. Had a 26 ft Class A previously but felt I wanted the ease of driving a class C. Chose the Lazy Daze because of quality. Everything felt solid and well built. The company focuses on limited models tested over years. No slide outs to cause trouble. No excessive length to unbalance the chassis length. Everything well thought out. Have had it nearly 4 years and still feel the same.


From Sandy Hallberg:

Why we chose our new 2006 class A Hurricane 31 D. We purchased it at the 2006 Seattle RV Show. It had great quality for the low price of $68,245. The front seats turned 180 degrees around. Many other motorhomes would not do this. By turning the seats around they become part of the living area. At 32 feet long it would fit in our back yard and would fit in 80 percent of the parks we go to. Bigger is not always better. The two slide-outs were in the living area and opposite each other reducing any frame twisting. This also gave us two view windows to look out, one the left and one to the right.

In six years the only Thor build problem was a small water leak when they did seal a half-inch under a bracket.

I bought your Maintenance book at the Renton Votech RV classes and love it and have it here in Tucson, AZ.


From Carole in San Diego, CA:

In answer to your query about how we chose our motorhome. My husband gave me a list of what he was looking for (i.e. Workhorse Chassis, no rubber roof, etc.) I got online, found those motorhomes, and started checking the inside layout. We then went to the Pomona Show and looked at the actual coaches I had narrowed down and we chose current motorhome. My only complaint is with the sofa; the bottom cushions slide forward and the back cushions slide down. I am constantly having to fix it! I also believe that less carpeting and more linoleum would be helpful for me and the way we use our coach. Desert sand, mountain dirt, etc. mean constant vacuuming!

My husband’s only complaint is with the fresh water tank/fill. If filled to capacity, we can lose 1/4-1/2 tank driving down the road. And when boon docking, as we do 90% of the time, we need to carry an electric pump along to re-fill when needed. The coach could use a "direct" input system! You know, put the hose or water jug spout in and fill! As it is we need to "hook-up" to a water spigot with the hose or use the pump and a five-gallon container.


From Dan and Pat in Lake City, MI:

In response to why we bought our Class A motorhome: We started looking at used and did this for over a year. We must have walked through 100 coaches! Our criteria was floor plan and convenience. We stepped into showers and raised our arms as we turned around. Tried laying on beds together and rolled over several times. Put a pan on stoves and carried to the sink and table. All the things that we knew we would do on a daily basis while on the road. It is amazing how fast you can eliminate a motorhome by just "playing house"! No we didn't go quite that far! We settled on a Damon Challenger 377. It was within our price range, had separate living areas that allowed each of us some privacy, and met all the criteria above. We can honestly say we are very satisfied and have put on nearly 12,000 enjoyable miles. Keep in mind that we went directly from camping on a motorcycle with tent and sleeping bags to a 38' motorhome with no stops in between. We made the right choice.


From John Litwinka in Jupiter, FL:

We chose a 2007 Forest River Georgetown SE 350DS new in 2007 based on: Price, bunk beds, quality of components (same as much, much more expensive units), and livability. All of this was more than confirmed during our post purchase factory tour in 2007. We thought we would replace it after 5 years, we now do not see any benefit to do so. Dealer quality played NO role since we had purchased a new 2003 yacht from the BEST boat dealer chain in the country (Marine Max) and had the absolute worst service; we figured we would never return to the RV dealer (who actually closed shortly after our purchase anyway) again to avoid such frustration. We found a local shop in Jupiter, FL (Land Yachts) to perform ALL warranty and other work, and we have been thrilled with the service and the Coach!


From Beth Arnett:

I purchased my 2003 Rialta for the small size and ease of driving. It handles so well on the road and is small enough to get into small sites in campground. It also gets great fuel mileage, about 20 mpg. As far as the interior goes, with the 22HD floor plan, I can keep my bed made up at all times while still having a table that seats two. It is roomy and open inside. I also like the two 12V batteries and the large 3-way refrigerator, microwave and 3-burner stove top.

What I don't like is the small trunk space, and the shower is so small that even for me, a small person, it is tight. Having a small on board propane tank limits my extended boon-docking trips. Also, the electrical cord is cumbersome to get to for plugging into electrical hookups.

The pros out weight the cons for me by a huge amount and I can't imagine trading this in on anything else. The ease of movement both in driving and living inside is well worth the few minor shortfalls.


From Ralph Graner in Stowe, VT:

We had been backpackers and car campers for many, many years, living in a small backpacking tent and traveling all over the USA. Six years ago we decided that we had the financial ability to purchase a truck and trailer. We wanted something that would be ample size for the two of us (50s and 60s ages respectively), plus big enough to travel with our son and his wife. The truck was the easy part - a mega cab Ram diesel. The trailer was tougher. We knew that we would be taking major trips annually and needed something that could be dependable and aerodynamic as possible for fuel mileage. We also wanted something that could fit in easily in National Parks where there were some size restrictions - under 30ft. was an aiming point. As kayaking is one of our sports, we needed to have four kayaks on the roof and cap of the truck, thereby eliminating a 5th wheel trailer. What could we pull on the interstates at high speeds for long distances - 500 to 700 miles per day (2 drivers sharing time)? We didn't need a lot of bells and whistles or decorative interior, just something with clean lines. After visiting shows and dealers, and reading histories and reports of many brands and models we went with a 25ft. Airstream. In five summers we have traveled over 40,000 miles and are totally convinced that we made the right choice. We are headed from Vermont to Florida in mid April for several weeks. July into August will find us going round trip from Vermont to Rocky Mountain National Park, CO; to the Grand Tetons; and then Yellowstone - 3 of our favorite USA parks!


From Thomas Lewis:

I took a two-day bus ride to purchase a Sprinter Freightliner Vista Cruiser from a dealership. When I got there and sat in the RV, I didn't want it. So, the salesman and I looked at another mini class C on their lot. It didn't have much storage, either, for a guy like myself who wanted to adapt from living in a house as close as possible without losing amenities. We drove by a diesel pickup in the golf cart we were in, and I remarked that I wouldn't mind having the pickup. Well, that pickup made possible the inclusion of 5th wheel trailers, so we started looking at 5th wheel trailers. One was very steep when inside it. It was like being in a hole. I didn't like it. In fact, most of the 5er's made me feel that way, kind of claustrophobic. However, there was one 5th wheel on display in the showroom that had opposing slides in the rear, and I remarked how spacious it seemed, so I took it. I am basically able to recreate my house life as long as I have a plug-in electric source, and I still use the bathroom in the house (until the house sells), but I have for the most part transitioned to a house on wheels and have preserved livability, I think. So that is why i chose an opposing slide 5th wheel, because as one of the salesmen also told me as he approved and agreed with my RV choice, always go for the maximum number of square feet as you can.


From Albert Hall in Montana:

I purchased a brand new 2003 Itasca Sunrise Class A motorhome in December
of 2003 (Ford V-10). I wanted the 36M floor plan, as I had seen one at an RV
show about a year prior. It has a hallway down the driver's sidewall, with
a large bathroom. At the time, my mother traveled with me occasionally, and
needed a wheel chair. I found that this floor plan allowed her access to the
bathroom without the problems other floor plans presented. I enjoy the large
corner shower and space around the toilet. I looked for a floor plan that
would also allow me full use of the motorhome, without putting the slides
(2) out, which this one does. Of course there are many other features I
enjoy about this RV, but the hallway and bathroom, plus access to everything
without the slides blocking it, were the major reasons I bought this model.

I had owned, and traded in, a Class C 24 foot Itasca Spirit (Ford V-10), so
knew and appreciated the quality of Itasca. I was a full-time RVer at the
time, but have since purchased a cabin in the woods of Montana and travel
south when the snow flies.

I love this motorhome and it has all of the features and comforts I want. I
did replace the fixed captains chair for a comfortable recliner, that allows
me to position it as needed. I now have just over 34,000 miles on it and
during some routine maintenance; the mechanic noticed that my brakes in the
rear were metal on metal. I don't ride the brakes and do little mountain
driving, although I do tow a Jeep Cherokee as my toad. I thought that the
brakes should last longer than the 33,000 miles I currently had on the
coach, but I've had no other problems with the motorhome and will continue
to enjoy it.


From Bob Beard in Apple Valley, CA:

You ask why we picked our RV.

1. Price / used.

2. Floor plan with table across from couch for several people to sit and talk.


From Elaine Runkle:

My husband of 38 years passed away 9 years ago. We owned several RV's (for
about 27 years) so I was familiar with the routines and exercises involved with RVing. I had never driven our coaches but was quite familiar with the operation of all the features. When he passed, I was faced with the dilemma of selling the RV and giving up one of my favorite past times or keeping it and following through with our retirement dream to buy a new diesel pusher. I decided to "go for it". I learned how to drive our 34' Winnebago Itasca gas model and when I could successfully maneuver a U turn on a city street without any help, I decided I was ready to "take the plunge". I researched and looked for about 4 months and finally decided on a new 40' Newmar Dutch Star (diesel). I decided to get front wheel independent suspension since I am a small woman and had experienced a blowout on a front tire while my husband was driving. I felt this would help me maintain control in a similar situation. I looked for top of the line features and craftsmanship, Spartan suspension, Cummins 350 engine, Allison 6 speed transmission, exhaust brake, and everything else that came standard with this model. I added quite a few "perks" to this and wound up with the perfect coach for me; that was 7 years ago. Since then, I have solo driven (with friends and family for company only) over 62,000 miles throughout the US (all but 2 states) including 2 months in Alaska, both western and eastern Canada including the Maritimes, and spent 2 months with a caravan through Mexico including the Copper Canyon. It has been a phenomenal journey and I am still going strong at 67! I love my coach and it still looks and performs as it did the day I purchased it.


From Alan Fisher:

We own a 2011 Airstream 30' Classic trailer. We tow with a 2010 Dodge 3500
Ram Dually, which we purchased as a TV for our 32' Cameo FWS fiver, which
weighed nearly 15k#! The AS purchase resulted from several negatives
with the Cameo.

Cameo: Pros:
1) Best fiver on the market (at that time) (we won't discuss the subversion resulting in their closure).

2) Spacious, roomy, well appointed.

3) Easily deployed with the automatic leveling system. (Big Foot)

4) Interior storage abundant.

5) Exterior storage reasonably adequate.

6) Fireplace...nice ambiance.

7) 32" TV.

8) Satellite dish.

9) Protected / lockable outside water connections.

10) Outdoor shower facility.

11) Central vacuum.

12) 2KW inverter.

13) Disc brakes.

14) Independent suspension.

15) Upgraded tires to "H" rating.

16) Onan generator 5K.

17) AC ducted to BR.

Cameo: Cons:
1) Vertical Ht of 13'5". Hard to access fuel b/c fiver often would not fit under the gas station canopy.

2) Substantial wind resistance when towing--lower fuel economy.

3) Five steps to enter unit. (risk of falling and injury) (we are only 68 y/o).

4) Weight of loaded unit 15,000#!!!

5) Tongue wt: 3400#.

6) Length 34'5".

7) Hard to boon dock b/c of size, ht, and wt. Even with additional batteries.

8) Fire escape routes dangerous (from bedroom to ground > 8' ).

9) Awkward entry into Lav, which exited onto interior steps.

10) Limited mobility in CG's. Limited CG choices.

11) High ceilings, hard to heat in colder temps, insulation not really adequate (even had larger LP tanks).
 
Airstream: Pros:
1) Best TT on the market.

2) Length: 31'.

3) Ht: 9'6".

4) Wt: GVW, 10,000 ( actual= 8400).

5) Sleeps 6 (grandkids) (dinette is a plus).

6) Less wind resistance; easier towing (obviously better economy).

7) Safer, faster, easier fire escape-egress.

8) Much easier to dry camp; solar panel (will add another).

9) Access to more CG's b/c of smaller silhouette.

10) Easier main entry and exit.

11) Better construction /materials /insulation.

12) Incredible interior storage (most of items in the Cameo were easily stored in the AS).

13) Easy to heat with LP- < 4 min. "warm-up time"!!

14) Cozy interior.

15) Satellite dish.

16) Easy to maneuver in CG's, parking lots, and gas stations.

17) Larger refer in AS !

18) Spacious open type floor plan.

19) Very stable footprint-- no "shaking" with interior movement.

20) Iconic Image of AS.

21) The AS just seems to "fit" us and our lifestyle. (cozy, convenient, comfy, mobile, maneuverable, and easy to wash! ) :-)

Airstream: Cons:
1) No generator; carry twin Honda 2k's in the covered truck bed.

2) Smaller tanks; these do not really present a problem.

3) Minimal ext. storage; compensation with the covered truck bed.

4) A little more hassle in leveling, but a very shallow learning curve!

5) Smaller inverter...we will eventually change this when we upgrade to additional batteries and another solar panel.

6) Lots of windows for natural cooling (vis-à-vis the Cameo; which had very, very small window openings).

7) Manual awning -but not a significant problem, as the awning is rarely used. (We devour your columns regularly --and have learned accordingly).

In sum: We believe we now have a better quality RV that more appropriately
fits our mobile RV lifestyle and creature comforts. We spent 115 days in our
AS last year. We remained in one park for 5 weeks. The newly opened local
AS dealership in Portland rendered us a terrific deal for our Cameo, which
they quickly sold.

Again, my wife and I really appreciate you and Chuck for all that you so significantly contribute to the RV population's enjoyment and quality of life. Thank you!


From David Stewart in Buffalo, NY:

The reason I chose our current Class C RV, first of all I prefer the Class C over a Class A due to drive ability and once you are out of the cockpit and into the coach they are very similar. Another reason I chose this particular Class C had very little to do with the brand and more with the mechanics of the coach and the floor plan. This model, a Coachman Santara, compartment to house the hose outside access to such items as the LP, slide out pump and drain for dumping the tanks. Everything is in a compartment similar to a Class A and not under the unit like my previous motorhome, which makes them exposed to potential damage. We looked at many units and they either had a small or poor layout of the galley or the floor plan was not good for our use. It is interesting how when the right one comes along you just know it. The owner’s manual for this unit is very thorough. It does lack a complete 12-volt wiring diagram though, but it does explain the use and maintenance of all the features and items in the coach. We bought it used and with the regular routine maintenance this unit is in very good shape.


From Chuck Custer:

First, thanks for all your really informative tips and lessons. About why I chose my RV: I have a Lazy Daze that I bought used. The reason I bought it was because from all the reading I'd done it appeared to be one of only two or three that seemed to be really well made. I've now owned it for 6 years and I can attest to that. Mine is a 22', and I bought a small one because I wanted to boon-dock and dry camp, which I do nearly all the time. I can't say enough about the quality of workmanship in this RV.


From Lloyd Haskins in Sallisaw, OK:

Why did I buy my Monaco 2005 HR Endeavor? At the time I was impressed with the support and service of Monaco Coach. I liked the extra's that were added and my wife liked the floor plan since she wanted four slides for room.

Today I might consider other coaches such as Tiffin due to their support of their owners. Due to all the changes in Monaco I am not sure I would want to be one to check out too many improvements at once.


From Gaetan and Helene Lavoie in Orleans, ON:

I have a Newmar Dutchstar 2006 with Spartan IFS/ISL 400 Cummings. I chose Newmar because of their reputation and service and also the location of the factory if I need work done. I do not trust the work performed by dealers. I also chose the Spartan Chassis because it is robust and the service at Charlotte, Michigan is outstanding.

I spend my winters in the south of Texas or Arizona and it is easy for me to travel through Michigan and Indiana and make an appointment at any of these two locations if I need any work done.


From Penny Heist:

Fiver of choice: 2002 Glendale Titanium 32/37DS

#1 - Reasonably lightweight for the length.

#2 - Towing less behind the truck than a regular fiver of same length.

#3 - Aerodynamics

#4 - Kudos for brand from another owner.

#5 - Liked the floor plan with a door between bathroom and bedroom and bath and house.

#6 - The fact that you can get to the fridge, the sink, bathroom and bedroom while closed up.

Glendale is no longer in business (poor management) but Heartland has bought the design rights and stuff and is now making the same RV.

Unfortunately, with all the solid surface counter-tops and other new stuff, the fiver weighs a bit more than mine. Even though the new ones are shinier and have bigger pantries, I still like mine, thankfully because I think it is going to be my "forever" home.


From James Parsons:

The first thing that attracted us to our 2004 Bounder 35E was the size of the shower. We had been full timing for 5 years in a 5th wheel, and although we loved it, the size of the shower was too small to be comfortable. The Bounder had what seemed to be a huge shower, and after looking at other RV's, we kept coming back to the Bounder. We have had it for eight years now and still love the shower, and it is a fine full timers coach. It is on a Workhorse chassis, and the 8.1 litre engine and Allison transmission are a great combination. Other than fixing the sloppy work done at the factory, it has been an easy coach to maintain for the past 53,000 miles.


From Ron Lowry:

My wife and I have owned several RVs over the years. We started with a 16' bumper trailer in 1972 and progressed to a 26' fifth wheel in 1979; this is during the period our three children were growing up. In both of these cases we weren't well educated regarding RVs as simply purchased units that matched our budget; in both cases, the RV industry was suffering through hard times and prices were favorable.

After our children went on their own in 1992, we purchased a 10' Lance camper. This purchase was based upon the recommended quality of the manufacturer; price was less of a consideration. We used this unit for many trips including one to Panama and several to Mexico but discovered, early on, our camper didn't offer enough storage so we purchased an 8' enclosed cargo trailer and dragged it alone as a supplement, this worked well. While the quality of the unit was adequate, the lack of moving around space within the unit caused us to decide to go back to a fifth wheel.

During 2001 we located a 26' Nomad fifth wheel that had been previously purchased but never used and purchased it. In this case our selection criteria was the floor layout, the flat skinned exterior, and the price. What we didn't think about at the time was the coupling between the RV and our tow vehicle, first a 4WD Dodge diesel and later a 4WD Ford diesel, both with very elevated beds. Fortunately, the trailer's axles could be elevated without flipping to make the ride semi-horizontal. As it has turned out this trailer has met our needs totally. As it has gotten older we've look around occasionally for a replacement but haven't found anything, including motorhomes, which would do the job as well, at a reasonable cost. That's our story and I'm sticking with it!


From Steve Yother in Lawrenceville, GA:

I chose the Sportsmobile because it met my criteria. I needed a class B that is short and can go just about anywhere. Sportsmobile was a little less expensive than other name brand vehicles, with a diesel engine and 20+ MPG.

Mostly it was because I could get it the way I wanted it, i.e. custom layout. It is "all electric" with a port-a-potty instead of a wet bath. With the microwave and refrigerator we don't miss having a stove. It has worked well for us including two trips from Georgia to Alaska. I would recommend it to anyone.


From Jane Nowlin:

Why we chose a Phoenix Cruiser:

1. We were allowed to tour the factory while it was being made.

2. We talked to many of the technicians and most had been working there over 10 years.

3. We watched the video explaining why they did things they way they do. For instance putting dampers between the coach and the chassis to help prevent a hard ride and they never cut any of the electrical cords during the install unless it is at the place where they put a outlet or fixture.

4. They thoroughly answered all our dumb questions patiently. When we found that the generator wouldn't start a day later we went back to the factory and the owner himself came out and fixed it.

5. They were willing to add any features we asked them to put in like over bed reading lights.

6. We enjoyed working with Stuart and Kermit during the purchase. Both had an obvious love for the products they make.

7. It was priced competitively.


From Andy Brown:

We have a 34ft 5th Holiday Rambler Presidential (2002). Why, at the time only RV dealer nearby and had several brands fancy levels etc. Several things appealed, mostly a bunch of little like lights in closets, useful storage in usually unusable areas, etc. Also appeared better fit and finish than many.

Why not like, frame defective; rt rear wheel attach folded up and rt wheels locked. So-called "I" beam not really. Vertical with top and bottom horizontal webs spot-welded every foot or so to the vertical. To me this is not an I beam. Could have been serious. Monaco did not even want to stand by, as it was not on the list of PIN numbers on their recall list.

At any rate we have had ten years of mostly good experiences. Have never had it weighed, have same stuff as old unit on board and calculate (it was weighed) at 12,600 or so. Within its limits, except of course we have had two left tire failures, side with slide-outs, heavier. One caused about $600 damage. Also rear bearings failed one year ago; other just now. Dexter Nevr-lube. Wonder how to know if early damage, Each destroyed hub so needed all replaced, not known until got bearing and it was loose in hub. Returned, at cost and restock fee and just got new hub with bearing instilled, $485. Plus labor, not yet known. Still enjoy RVing, but getting toward 'hang up the keys' time one day soon. Next Birthday 86, Hassles getting a little bigger. Thanks for listening, so to speak, a long time fan.


From Rick Bourne:

I'm intrigued by your research into why people chose the RV that they do. And, I'm looking forward to the reading about the revelations you acquire. So, along that vein, I'm prepared to contribute my thought process.

My wife and I retired six years ago. While working, I had always held on to a dream of touring America. We live in the Boston area, so touring for me meant "in the winter months". New England is too nice a place to stay away from in the summer.

A Class A was what I wanted. I craved the comfort and control of carrying my "stuff" on my back. After that, a diesel pusher was what I desired. Being a bit of a motor head, I needed to have the engine that the big boys have. Nothing like a big Cat or Cummins mill to fill the need for power.

After that, I wanted a high level of quality, with a large dealer network for support. After going to my first RV Supershow in Tampa to do my homework, I settled on the size range of 34-40 feet. Not too big, and not too small.

As my search started for real, I was referred to a 36' Winnebago Journey at a local RV dealer, Hill's RVs, in Conway, NH. In meeting Craig Hill, the dealer, I knew that I had found my partner in RVing. The rest is history. So, bottom line, Gary, is that I figured out the style of RV that I wanted and then selected the brand and dealer based on quality. That's how the decision got made. I'm now on my second Winnebago Journey for those same reasons.


From Jim Sinclair in Valencia, CA:

Love your articles and even the TV shows you've done.
I recently bought a 2009 Bounder 35E Fleetwood coach. My previous coach was a 1998 36S model Bounder. We liked our old RV a lot which kind of led us toward another Bounder. The floor plan was really important to us. Storage was another big consideration. Although my new Bounder was about a foot shorter than my old one, there was a lot more storage inside and out. We also wanted a number of upgrades and it didn't make sense to put a lot of money into our old 1998, although it was in great shape.

We really like the size of our new unit. Not overly big so we can get into a lot places easily. We love the big bathroom area in the back and particularly the HUGE shower. It has an inverter, satellite dish, automatic awning, and a few other niceties that we appreciate.

What I don't like is the furnace. There is only one compared to the two we had in our old coach. The temperature sensor for the furnace is placed up front near the door and it controls the temperature for the whole coach, which does not work well, especially keeping things at a good temperature in the back. There is also a furnace vent in the back under the back sink and when the furnace is on, it blows lukewarm air. I've contacted Fleetwood several times and they have concluded that this was an "engineering flaw" and that the hose run to that vent is too small and turns to many times which diminishes it's effectiveness, but they say there is nothing that can be done. Having the two furnaces in my old rig gave us the option of controlling both front and back separately, which worked great. The hot water heater and furnace are both located mid coach and located on the passenger side "within the area we sit in while outside" which doesn't make any sense to me because all of the hot exhaust goes straight into your camping area.

The RV also has a HUGE front windshield on the coach, which reaches almost to the top. I'm 6' tall and can't easily get to the top of it even with a squeegee. The regular ones at the gas stations are way too short to reach to the top. Being that large doesn't make sense to me. I can't see out of the top of the front because the cabinets are in the way anyway, so why have it that large?

I also don't like the way the toilet is set up, although I didn't like the way the one in my other Bounder was set up either. Why don't manufacturers make toilets that drop their contents directly into the black tank (like my old class C did)? I never had a problem with the class C toilet. Now toilets are built with pipes and angles that waste has to travel through and is easily clogged. I don't know how many times I've had to unclog both of them. Why the sewage doesn't drop straight down into the tank is a mystery to me. My new rig also has a flat spot at the top of the tank where the sewage enters and then the tank slopes but even the debris that enters the tank without clogging can accumulate on the short ledge instead of running all of the way down into the tank.

Light and fan switches are also confusing. The water switch and some light switches, along with the switches for the hot water heater, are located behind the cabinet doors under the sink. If the water heater fails to light, a light comes on, but unless the cabinet door is open you can't see it. The water pump switch is also there and has a light on it, but you have the same problem of not being able to see it with the doors closed. There is a fan in the kitchen area, but it is not switched and has to be turned on at the fan. The middle toilet room has switches and one is a switch that turns on the fan. Then in the very back there is another set of switches, but these control the lights and one for the water. There is no fan switch there either, but you have to have one of the light switches on to energize the fan above.

One of my pet peeves is the range and oven and the hood above it. One of the reasons we bought our RV was because it still had an oven in it instead of a combo microwave & convection set up. In my '98 rig when you switched on the range fan a door opened to the outside to vent the heat and any smoke, etc. The new rig is not vented to the outside, it is vented INSIDE the RV. The hood pulls air at the bottom and sends it out into the rig at the top. It is near the ceiling vent, but that doesn't work if the vent is not open and is not very efficient if the fan is not running. Even with the fan open and running we've had the smoke alarm go off on multiple occasions. I retired several years ago from the Southern California Gas Company and one of the biggest safety features was to make sure that gas appliances were vented properly to the OUTSIDE. I don't know how the RV industry gets away with this.

I probably sound like I'm really a complainer, but we actually really like our rig. It's big and spacious inside and the two slides, one in front and one in back provides a ton of room. It just seems odd to me that these days the RV industry does things that don't make any sense. Even years ago there were odd things that they would do. In my 1998 Bounder my black tank capacity was larger than my gray tank capacity. Now does that make sense?

Anyway, these are some of the issues that I have with the way things are built. We've looked at many brands of RVs and travel with a lot of other RVers. I don't think it matters what brand of RV you have, none of them seem to have everything you want and are configured or made in strange ways in my opinion. Thanks for the opportunity to fill you in on those that are like the most and the least on our RV.


From Ted and Jan Werner:

When Jan and I were in the market for a larger fifth wheel RV for full-timing, we continued our practice of doing factory tours whenever we found one nearby. We took hundreds of pictures to document what we saw. We also hit a few off the beaten path (New Horizons, Excel, and Hitchhiker). When the dust settled, we kept coming back to the same three: Excel, Hitchhiker, and Mobile Suites. Each had much to recommend it and a few points for discussion.

The final decision came down to floor plan. The Mobile Suites had the floor plan and lots of light coming in through the windows. Yes, Excel had a similar floor plan and yes, the smaller windows would save on heating and cooling costs, but we opted for light.

We have had issues (appliance problems, wheel problems, and manufacturing errors), but then a friend with an Excel has had problems, too (slide mechanism, appliance problems, holding tank puncture during manufacture).

We have six months to go on finishing three years. We are satisfied with our choice for a full-timing rig, but that does not mean that we are not keeping our eye out for the "next" one.


From Carolyn Miller:

The first consideration in moving up from a fifth wheel trailer to a Class A motorhome was price. A new coach was out of the question but what could we buy for our 90,000 budget? We decided that quality was more important than age. The 2003 Mountain Aire we bought had been well cared for. All systems worked or were easily repairable. The color scheme was neutral so the color doesn't give away its age. The interior features that influenced us were the double door refrigerator, the roomy shower, sliding doors so the bath could be private from either side and the extra sink in the bedroom.


From Fred and Gladi Burns, full-timers:

We made the decision to go full time in 2007 and spent the next year researching and inspecting at least 150 different models before coming to a decision. We wanted a fifth wheel that was truly built for four seasons and 24/7 living. Many models claim to be four seasons, but as we became more educated and knowledgeable we realized many of these models are four seasons in name only. One model we learned about online was New Horizons Mfg., which was priced just over our planned budget of $70k to $90k. New Horizons is a small family owned manufacturer in Kansas that doesn't have dealers and builds their custom units to order. They build specifically for full timers and their fifth wheels are the only ones with a five star industry rating. We had a chance to see one of their models at the 2008 Spring Good Sam Rally in Perry, GA. This was everything we were looking for. It was a true four season, well constructed fifth wheel. We were not interested in fancy gimmicks that looked cool or impractical features. We wanted features we would use every day for the next 10-15 years of full timing. They build a rigid frame trailer and as a result they were one of the first 5th wheels to offer automatic leveling with a Big Foot system. They also would install a solar system during construction, not as an aftermarket add-on. I am almost 6' 4" tall and was able to have the ceiling in the bedroom raised 3" to accommodate me. We were able to have electric outlets added where we wanted them and an additional propane terminal added for our Olympia catalytic heater. It also had some of the largest water capacities and one of the few that allowed us to carry over 3,000 lbs of gear. We picked out all our own flooring and treatments. The final price was no more, and in many cases less than some of the "top of the line" brands that didn't offer many of these features. The solar has been used extensively since we dry camp a lot and the Big Foot automatic leveling was worth every penny we spent on it.

I feel it's impossible today to buy something as complicated as a large RV and not expect a few minor glitches or warranty issues. We had a few but I was able to fix most of them myself. Another feature we liked was their warranty program. We can take the RV to any dealer in the country and New Horizons will cover the warranty work. Their warranty at the time we bought was one of the best in the industry. We've now traveled and lived in the RV for 3 1/2 years, as this is our only home, and we still feel we made the best choice.


From John Griffin:

I had been looking at RVs for over 20 years without ever buying one. It got so my family would no longer go to a RV show because they thought I would never buy one. I must say that thru the years we had reached some decisions based on what we heard and what we saw during the shows. Then one day in 2008 we went to a dealer and saw a new 39ft Fleetwood discovery model 39R. It was the floor plan that sold my wife. The full wall slide and two other slides really opened up the coach. We started looking at a more expensive model and the dealer put both coaches together so we walked from one to another comparing what we would be giving up for the lesser price and decided it was trim items only and I liked the clearance lights on the discovery better. The coach was very well equipped which was another requirement. I could sum it up by saying that the coach was everything we thought we wanted and would enjoy. So we bought it.

I know that everyone said do not buy the big coach first but I had looked for so long we were ready. We have had a blast with this rig. We have crossed the US twice since we got it and both of us just can't wait for our next trip. We have had our experiences in traveling but nothing any worse that you have owning a house that needs work all the time.


From Loren Robinson in Brentwood, CA:

The reason we chose our 1997 32' Bounder Motorhome are:

1. Size does matter, we had 33 feet [length] in our backyard to store it, the Bounder is 32' 11".

2. I wanted the side to side, through compartments.

3. We do a lot of boon docking. We liked the 100-gallon water and the 50-gallon gray and black tanks.

4. I liked the 2 6-volt batteries much better than competitors 1 or 2, 12-volt RV/Marine batteries.

5. My wife loved the floor to ceiling, four-door pantry this model has.

6. This model had a full Queen bed. I am 6' 4" tall; those short queens just don't get it!

We have looked at newer motorhomes but have never found one we would trade this one for. Once in a great while a slide would be nice, when we have our whole family with us, but we rarely need one.

This is on the Chevy P3 chassis and I have done all the upgrades on the chassis [Henderson's, IPD, Koni's, etc.], and now have 136,000 miles on it. It is on its third fuel pump, second distributor; transmission was rebuilt at 80,000 miles.


From Joe and Kathy:

Per your online newsletter request as to why we chose the RV we did. We have five grandkids and when they are in the same campground they want to stay with us, at least I guess until they get older. We tend to spoil them as much as possible. Anyway the 5th wheel we saw had a second room in the back with a half bath and a sofa that made a full sized bed, and above it a drop down bunk. A place for a TV and some storage drawers and a small cabinet, my wife was sold. I looked for plenty of shower space, and a good-sized bed. The tank drainage was as most and it was winterized for colder climates, which was a plus. Those factors sold me. We have been very pleased so far. Going into third year. It is a Keystone Copper Canyon. I read some negative reviews but overall it had a good rating, and we bought at the near bottom of the recession so the price was very good for a new RV.

We park it in a seasonal site in North Georgia, and plan on leaving it there
as we are just starting to look at a small A-class, or C-class to do some traveling as soon as wife adjusts to retirement. It can be smaller due to Grandkids won't be with us most of the time, but it will have some space for an unexpected sleep over if necessary. I will be researching for ease of care more than the last one for sure. Lot's of looking to go yet. We always attend as many RV shows as possible and near to get a review of many models all at once. We have even discussed a smaller 5th wheel since the other one is 38' with the back bedroom and half bath.


From Alan in Horseshoe Bay, TX:

We bought our Heartland MPG 184 for the following reasons:

1. Size and weight.

2. Floor plan.

3. Reputation of company.

4. It's just right for the two of us!


From Ric Newton in Harlingen, TX:

I chose the RV I have after over twenty years of "camping", and full timing. I'd always had trailers, little ones, folding ones, bubble shaped ones, and then a 5th wheel, then another, bigger one, trucks got bigger, more power is the name of the game, and we got older, no longer did the kids go along, they had their own to worry about.  We began visiting them, Missouri, Minnesota, Washington (state), Oregon, winters in AZ, NM, TX, TX again, then sell the house on Whidbey Is., buy a l2+2 brick one on a golf course in TX!  Summers began to include Volunteering in state Parks, US Forest Svc. CG's, etc., the CG's weren't plush and more and more they required longer, more difficult leveling, backing, even trimming of trees at times, then one day a couple of years ago, pass! ing by an RV lot, saw an out of production Jayco Class C, it was neat looking, and had a gas engine, having just paid $5.00 for a gallon of diesel, it looked interesting, a Kodiak chassis looked strong, rear vision camera, looked neat, the HWH leveling system was fascinating, it only had 23k miles on it, how much?  Would you take a truck (F350) and a 5th wheel?  Of course they would, almost an even swap. Two slides, nice interior and according to the 3 grandkids with us on the way to the beach, it had an "attic" on the front for kids!  With their own TV too!!  So, now we have a 2007 Jayco Grey Hawk, 33DS, with an 8.1 gas engine, it gets 2 or 3 miles less than my 6.4L diesel F350 and doesn't have as much torque, but it is so much less expensive to run and maintain, we don't care.  Now we leave TX in the spring and return at the beginning of winter; life is sweet!  And in the states we have interests in the kids love "Gramma's attic"!


From Bob and Joan Weinberg full-timers:

I was sold on the idea that a bus chassis or semi chassis would last much longer and things inside would hold up much better. That led me to investigate Foretravels. I also learned that Foretravels came with a six position Allison transmission retarder for superior braking (along with front and rear air disk brakes). In August 2004, we bought a 2000 Foretravel U270 that had 60+ inches of kitchen counter space, a stand-alone desk, and about 3,000 pounds of carrying capacity. We have been full timing in it since 4/2005.


From Carl and Pam Houston:

I've owned motor homes for 34 years. First three were gas engines. I wanted a diesel. Friends of ours have a Country Coach and that is what I wanted. I bought, two years ago, a 1998 Country Coach Magna. It had less than 22Kmiles and always stored in an airport hangar. Wow talk about clean and new. With a little negotiating, which I did NOT want the previous owner to say NO, we came to an agreement. In the last two years we've put on 26,000 miles, but who's counting, we're enjoying the R disease (retirement).


From Bernie in Killarney, Manitoba Canada:

What I like most about my fifth wheel is that it has no slide out. One less thing to go wrong and it's a lot lighter. The thing I dislike the most is that the fiberglass side is not continuous from top to bottom. There are two seams making it more prone to water leaks. If I had bought the same model one year newer, I would have had no side seams.


From Malcolm Hepburn in Fort McMurray, AB:

Our first RV was a 1978 GMC Royale Motorhome. We bought it in mid 90’s from the second owner. To this day, it’s still very clear to me, the only person that buys a GMC Motorhome are people that have researched them and know exactly what they represent. There was very limited Internet information and no Google in those days. You wrote letters and went to the library for research. I have lots of great campfire RV stories when I talk about our GMC. As we get closer to retirement, the GMC was not suitable for us to full time. I sold our GMC to a young co-worker/engineer who is just completing an $80K makeover. His whole family has become “GMC Motorhome Nuts” – great to see the enthusiasm and passion.

Two years ago we purchased a 2003 Monaco Signature/ISX525. I focused daily on my search for two full years, before we found “the one”. Personal musts for us were; 2003 Monaco Signature with 3 slides, two sofas, dinette/chairs (no booth). The make and model ensured we would get a big screen TV with an auto aiming satellite receiver and a coach capable of comfortably towing 10K lbs.

Why a Monaco? I believe the coach and chassis combination of the Monaco products are among the best-engineered designs available in an RV, before moving up to a bus. The air bag suspension, ride stability, excellent handling and features like the smart steering wheel, all make the coach a pleasure to travel in. Installed equipment like multiple cameras and night docking lights ensure I can maneuver the coach in all conditions and without assistance. One-piece fiberglass roof ensures the most reliable protection from the elements. The electrical shore power/inverter/generator integrated features ensures smooth steady delivery of power in all conditions. I was aware of all the features while I searched for our coach.

Why a Signature? It simply has the best of everything that Monaco has to offer. Interior finishes, lighting, zoned heating/cooling, large capacity tanks all make this the perfect home away from home.

Why a 2003? Now, this is the key point. '03 was the first year for the Cummins ISX (high pressure common rail injection system). This was the first year Monaco introduced 3 slides and added big screen TV drop down from the ceiling. So, with a 2003 Monaco Signature, we could get all the features we wanted and stay within our budget limit of $200K. We found our coach at $175K through RV Online as a private sale from an 83 yr old gentleman from North Carolina. We completed the sale at Lazy Daze facilities in Tampa. We did the PDI and all deficiencies were resolved before we completed the sale. The AC Pump and Water Pump had both seized, which the previous owner replaced before turnover; he even paid for a full detailing by Lazy Daze before the turnover. Great coach, great purchasing experience. I believe we set our goals clearly and realistically when we started.

I’m retiring next spring when we plan to full time for the next what-ever years. I’m presently an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control System Maintenance Manager in a large industrial processing facility. I really enjoy performing diagnostics and added improvements (detailed maintenance) on our RV. My technical background and complexity of the systems on the RV make the perfect match. Gary the articles that you write and videos you make available to help people like myself apply my technical knowledge in areas where I don’t have familiarity, but with the right outline, I’m easily able to manage complex issues.

I often tell my wife, I fully expect at least one issue or item that requires attention everyday. When we don’t have one, that’s a bonus. I believe a lot of people buy these highly complex, sophisticated machines and fully expect them to look after themselves. Well, I’m a realist.


From Glenda in Austin, TX:

I had gotten comparison data from the Internet and looked at only those rigs that were rated 4 or 5 stars. Then I got base and options pricing information from some of the top ones. I settled on the 26-foot Lazy Daze mid-bath model as my first choice.

I found a 5-year-old one near Austin with only 5,550 miles on it and the owner was wonderful to work with. She went through a long list of things that she would do if I decided to buy it. I didn't have to ask her for anything! And, best of all, the price was right.


From Jeff and Debby Clark:

My husband and I bought our first RV over 2 years ago after I retired from Federal service. He had been a painting contractor for years, and neither of us had ever RV'd before. I'm a data geek, so I set out to find an RV by doing tons of research. I bought a bunch of books from the RV Bookstore on how to pick an RV. So, I tried to find the criteria that would help me choose the first RV, and it was really hard. There's not one book that says, here, look past the Corian countertops and pick the RV for how well the manufacturer built it, nor is there any discussion (somewhat understandably) that says, this manufacturer is great, but this one is just so-so. That could be your next e-book. :)

So, how did I do it? Well, we looked at dealers and saw flashy materials, but I knew there had to be some criteria that set one apart from another. One of my pet peeves in reading your article was when you said "some manufacturers" take time to put in good materials and tend to details with how they secure wiring etc. Well, how does a beginner RVer begin to know that? Which manufacturers do that? There's not a Consumer Reports for RVing that I can go to and find how reliability or safety ratings for different RV's. I scoured books and websites and found out that there are no safety regulations for RVs regarding how much stuff one can put in them and that Cargo Carrying Capacity is a big deal. That was a number I could use!  I found a set of CDs put out by a guy who was concerned with safety and compared different manufacturers and CCC, and came up with a list of manufacturers that seems to pay attention to details about safety and had a measure of quality in their coaches. (I don't recall his name right now, but the product was great.) We decided we would be using it a lot, and wanted quality, but also had a budget of not wanting to pay more than 60k for it. So we narrowed it down to a Class A, diesel motorhome, with a short list of perceived manufacturers who produced quality coaches.

From that I started looking for used coaches by those manufacturers, and we found our RV, a 2000 Allegro Bus that only had 28,000 miles on it. Luckily I had read a bunch of stuff from you and Chuck Woodbury, so we checked all the tires and they were old so we replaced all of them at once. I had my husband go up on the roof to check the seals and the condition.

We had a "walk through" of the coach by the dealer, which by the way was a small dealer that dealt in various manufacturers' models and coaches that had gone to auction. We went there because the coach I wanted to look at was there. We've been to those dealers who just want you to buy the high-end flashy model with the cheap materials. We even videotaped the walkthrough, but when you are really green at this stuff, that was a bunch of information in too short a period of time that didn't even cover the important things in the coach like you mention.

No matter how much you know (or don't know) in the beginning, it doesn't prepare one for the amazing number of systems and details involved in owning
an RV. Most people won't take the time or effort to make sure their tires are good, or their batteries are maintained, or how much the coach weighs and how much stuff they can put it in safely. Thank goodness there are guys like you and Chuck and others to help us out!


From James Betts:

Our choice was a no-brainer. Our first RV was a new Conquest Endura in 2009. It was a disaster. Dealer was 2 1/2 hours from home and the unit was a mess. It took 5 months to get it out of the shop and that was mainly because we gave up on both the dealer and Gulfstream, both of whom were terrible. With ongoing problems we traded for a new Winnebago Adventurer from Camping World 3 miles from home. The unit is as clean as a new one could be and CW is great in dealing with a few minor issues. In short the decision was made based on Winnebago's reputation for back up service and the ready availability of CW dealerships around the country.


From Full-timer William Doyle:

It was used, so it didn't have the huge initial depreciation of a new rig.  Also the famous brand name of Winnebago; and the fact it was a diesel pusher; and, most importantly, that it was loaded with "bulletproof" major components, like a CAT engine, Allison trans, and Cummins-Owen genset. Boy was I wrong! The CAT engine blow-by leaves a film of yuk on my toad, the Allison trans failed so bad it had to be replaced with another, and the genset's stator flew apart in little pieces taking the rest of the genset with it!  All this in less then 2 years and with less than 60K miles!  So much for "bulletproof" reputations.


From Dann Gravett in St Louis, Mo:

I selected my RV, a tow along trailer for several good reasons. Here they are and not necessarily in order of importance:

First, I selected a trailer because I could unhitch from it and take the car on a day trip with no serious problems or repercussions.

Second, having experienced the terrible feeling of a vehicle breaking down along the trail, we decided to sell that vehicle and never buy a motorized home again. Its just too tough on a guy's wallet when you know the mechanic is drooling and the repair will be costly.

Third, our trailer is smallish; 20' and easy for our modified Mercury Marquis to tow. No big truck needed.

Fourth, the trailer was selected because we didn't desire to wait and watch as depreciation picked our financial bones dry.  We bought a classic old used Dutchmen 20' 1982. We replaced all the foam to get the "new" smell my wife was wanting.  This saved us $$ in the long run.

Fifth, without guilt, without concern for depreciation, without fear of the local tax assessor, and as all my other RV's have done, it now sits mostly in the backyard and each spring I talk a lot about going here and there.

Meanwhile, it makes a great hideout when she is on the warpath or seeking yet another "Honey Do" bird. We actually take the RV and go maybe three times per year.


From Bruce Besmen in Silver Spring, MD:

My wife and I have been going to RV shows for years. When we were younger (early 1970's) we did a lot of backpacking, often setting up a base camp in a state or national park campground. Sometimes we would set up near larger RV's. We thought 'Why do people come to camp and bring their house with them?' Later after having two sons 1979 & 1982, we went to full size tents. After several years we were given an old 1972 Starcraft Galaxy 8 pop-up. After installing new canvas, lift cables, wheel bearings, and some plywood, it was ready to go. This was much nicer when it was wet out for dealing with bored kids and cooking. Also it was still kinda like "real" camping. We took that old pop-up all across Canada, down to Florida, and the mid- west.

After a few years we knew we needed something new. At a show we looked at travel trailers and thought 'This is nice' and almost bought one. I really liked the 5th wheels but didn't have the money to get a tow vehicle.

Then my wife said, "You know, the boys are getting to the point that they're not going to want to go with us any more. Why don't we just get a new pop-up for now and save our money for something larger later." I was bummed, but it made good sense and that's what we did.

Eight years later at the show in Hershey, PA we were looking at 5th wheels (again) and thought we would go in a motorhome. While having been in many before, we really looked at it. Back at the motel we started going over the pros and cons of both types of RV's. Motorhome? Fifth wheel? With the 5th wheel we would have to get a new tow vehicle. I already had a Chevy Colorado Z71,4 X 4 perfect for towing four wheels down! So we spent day two looking at motorhomes. While not prepared to buy at the show, we started looking.

Now as I sit in our motorhome (a 2005 Damon Challenger 327W) after a full day of golf or sightseeing I understand those people I sneered at 40 years ago. Those people were not there for the "camping experience", they were there to explore the area or on their way to somewhere else. I just like having my own place to stay. My own shower, toilet (especially on a rainy night), the galley, and you got to love the bed. It also sets up faster than most tents or pop-ups.

The reasons we chose the coach we have are:

* We bought this unit NEW in January 2008.

* Thor had to unload coaches off their factory lot so the price was right after negotiations.

* The floor plan is perfect for our needs.

* The quality for the money is very high.

* The 33' length is large enough to be comfortable and short enough to be easy to park. Also at this length and weight, the 8.1 Vortec has the power needed to pull my toad up grades at a decent pace. As this was an unsold special order unit it has most option upgrades. When it is time to replace her I will definitely look at Thor products again.


From Jim Buske:

Let me explain our "checklist". First and foremost is cost. We are retired and making do with savings, social security, and modest pension funds. Knowing what our budget will allow to do, we then consider several things about equally.

Weight (we are trying to avoid purchasing a different truck) and finding a floor plan we can live with. We have purchased new and used and frankly would prefer used because of being more comfortable looking the owner in the eye and getting an honest answer. Also, avoiding Sales Tax is nice, too. Actually, the make and model are quite a ways down our list, because service and repairs are dependent upon the local RV dealer, who services all makes and models. I think it is especially frustrating when the owner must contact any number of manufacturers for warranty or other repairs. So we rely on our local dealer to take care of our needs. Automobile and truck dealers handle nearly all warranty problems so why shouldn't an RV dealer do the same? In fact, we are looking for a different unit right now and have mixed emotions about it. It should be enjoyable, shouldn't it?


From Charlotte Massey in San Jose, CA:

I bought my Born Free RV because of its reputation for being the best built & safest on the road. I’ve had it for 8 years and still can’t believe how lucky I was to buy a totally awesome rig. The company is owner operated, been in business for years & years & has the finest staff one can imagine. By the way, my Class C Born Free has roll bars. How many others build their rigs with that kind of integrity. Wouldn’t own anything else. Also, I’m a senior solo female driver so having this rig has NOT meant that I’ve had to pour money into it to fix shoddy manufacturing, normal oil change, tire replacement, that sort of thing is the cost I’ve dealt with.


From Mark Walsh in Quispamsis, New Brunswick, CA:

I have decided to purchase a 2008 Glendale Titanium for several reasons. The size fits my needs and it appears to be well built and it is a quality product compared to many new ones I have viewed at an RV show recently. The fit and finish is superior to new ones on the market. I was particularly disappointed in the Heartland Sundance, which was at the top of my list. I still intend to view the Open Range and Prime Time Mfg. products but somehow I know they will be inferior. The new products are all about flash, splash and cash.


From Eric and Ginny LaJuene:

We are going full-time in about 3 weeks. We bought a used 2004 Winnebago Vectra 40AD Diesel Pusher in July 2011 for full-timing.

We have been shopping for this rig for 5 to 6 years.... yeah, that's right. We have been collecting paper brochures and downloading pdf files from manufacturers sites since 2006. We had the older brochures in PDF only. We have been making lists of "like to haves" and "must haves" and it really came down to one main thing that made us decide and that was the TV. I know I know, that seems frivolous but we saw where TV's were mounted and hated almost all of them. Over the drivers seat forces you to turn your head to the side, TV in the end of the slide means if watching with slide in you cannot see the TV completely. The 2004 Vectra 40AD has the TV on the side and the sofa and recliner both across from it. We took the old TV out and installed a flat screen. We discovered only about a dozen models with this set up, most were Winnebago and only the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Vectra and sister rigs Itasca Meridians. We were also happy that it was Winnebago because we consider it a great company and RV line.

We attended your class at the 2011 Hershey RV show and talked to you. We enjoyed it a lot and took many notes. So to summarize, the floor plan was main consideration and brand was second. It had to be diesel too. Full-timing will take a toll on any rig and we wanted a strong one.


From Full-timer Karen:

We've had 4 toy haulers; 2 Weekend Warriors, 1 Keystone Raptor (why I will never know) and now a Heartland Road Warrior. We've had trouble with all of them, but are still quite happy with our Road Warrior. One reason we chose it is the layout of the garage with a toilet and sink, the all in one bathroom, the double door fridge, and the room in the galley to play WII.  We've had trouble with the furnace, refrigerator, converter, and air conditioner. So far everything has been under warranty. It's just a shame things are not built with quality in mind.

We are full-timers and our Road Warrior is perfect. Kinda feels like a mini apartment. My husband has "his" room, the garage when all the toys are unloaded, and I have "my" room, the galley. Both of us have our own TV's and computers. Having two rooms we don't feel confined. We are happy campers for now with our Road Warrior.


From Dale Johnson in Hudson, WI:

Regarding Selection of Motorhome:

1. Floor plan

2. Galley

3. Conversation Area

4. Pantry

5. Efficient use of space eg No Rear Bath

6. Price/Value

We have a 2008 Fleetwood Providence 39R and have not found anything I would trade for at any price.


From Phil and Peggy Smith:

Near the end of 2001, we bought a new 2002 Winnebago Minnie, but only after having researched and examined every other brand available to be seen in the Tampa Bay area and at multiple visits to the annual RV Supershow at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

The Primary items on our checklist were based on our experiences with two previous RVs; 1) the roof needed to be fiberglass (preferred) or aluminum -- NOT rubber. 2) The wheel-wells needed to be enclosed such that damage caused by any failure of a tire would be contained -- I could not believe how many coaches I saw that had wiring harnesses and propane tubing routed across the top of a wheel-well, or tanks/plumbing within easy reach of a flailing tire tread.

If a coach passed those primary criteria, then we went on to consider floor plans, fit & finish, and whether we thought the designers had ever actually gone RVing. Having lived, and traveled extensively, in our unit full-time since we bought it, all the deficiencies we've uncovered in that time we attribute to what we believe the builders' design philosophy was: "It's a weekender, it wasn't designed to be lived in." Our next unit will have "designed to be lived in" added to the primary criteria.


From Gene Bjerke in Forest, VA:

Not a question, but a response to your question of how I chose my present RV. It is a Roadtrek RS Adventurous, built on a Sprinter body. My experience, limited as it was, convinced me that Roadtrek built the best Class B; mainly on the basis of layout, but that convinced me that the machines were carefully engineered. When we changed, I wanted diesel for its superior fuel mileage (superior enough to overcome the difference in price). The fact that the engine and chassis were built by Mercedes also helped. So far my expectations have been met.


From James Pelletier:

I purchased my current unit based on history of mfg, quality of construction, amenities, auto leveling system, insulation, size, total weight, read the forum from current owners, price point.


From Mercedes Hall in Bon Wier, TX:

We chose our 2004 Itasca Suncruiser after researching construction information and materials on several manufacturers. I also watched the monthly recall list for nearly one year to see which manufacturers were constantly on that list and for what reason their RV was being recalled. Aesthetics were important, but not nearly important as how the home was constructed.


From Bob Cordy in New Meadows, ID:

Here is our RV history.

1990: VW Westfalia, purchased and shipped to England for picnicking in the countryside. Ended up RV for a month in Norway. I guess we took to it.

1993:  Returned to US, made a few, un-toileted trips.

1995: Dear wife decided she wanted a toilet. For the right price we purchased a very nice 1993 Prowler, 19 ft. Toilet, oven, microwave, shower. Wonderful.

2001: Decided we wanted a real bed. Found Arctic Fox with twin beds, factory tour, and right price.

2010: Wanted to modernize, loved Northwood products and support. Never consider SOBs (Some other brands). Bought 2011 Arctic Fox 25R. Love it.

Bottom line, we buy Northwood products for quality, support, location (factory is 200 miles from our home), and finally, a terrific forum on the web.


From Sherry Geddes:

I have a 1998 Safari Serengeti mid-entry 40 ft. diesel pusher. It's my 5th RV if you count the old VW camper:-) It was chosen for the following characteristics:

* Metal frame and exterior

* Fiberglass (not rubber) roof

* Wonderful solid wood cabinetry with great fit and finish

* Highly usable with the single slide in

* Dual-pane windows

* ITR Hurricane hydronic heating and hot water system (not Aqua Hot)

* Low profile (11'10" vs 12'-13' for many rigs this size)

* Adequate basement storage but not so much it would be easy to overload

* Mid-entry! Easy ingress/egress and don’t have to carry everything thru whole coach!

* Dining on PS, not DS! The view is always on the PS at pullouts and vista points so why put the dining table on the roadside?

* Diesel

* Good to excellent support from Monaco tech staff (they've saved my bacon many times!)


From Anthony and Cathy Thim in Williamsport, MD:

We have a 2007 Cameo by Carriage (who unfortunately is no longer in business) that was the main line that a dealer in Hagerstown, MD sold.  We liked the unit from the start but looked at many different models from many different makers.

During this research, we used 5 main components of the Cameo that we really liked/wanted as our measuring criteria. These were: Side windows by the head of the bed for cross ventilation, toilet in room separate from the shower/sink, AC & heat in the toilet area, Electric motors (not hydraulics) controlling the slides, landing gears & rear stabilizers and access to both the refrigerator & toilet while traveling. Many makes/models had some these components but we don’t recall seeing any that had all 5.


From Michael and Jennifer Butts:

We were looking to move from a pop up to a travel trailer and needed at least three beds. Finding a trailer with three beds (I don’t count folding down the sofa or dinette as a bed) meant getting something too expensive and too large. This meant going with a hybrid.

For my wife and I, we absolutely wanted a “real” queen sized bed (tired of the tiny full size in our old Coleman). We also wanted large beds for the kids so they wouldn’t outgrow them instantly. There was exactly three hybrids on the market in 2007 with three beds and only one, the Kodiak 23TT, with 60 x 80 mattresses. I suppose you could file this under “floor plan,” but it was more “bed plan” that led us to this particular trailer.


From Bob:

This subject has become dear to my heart over the years. My 5th wheel is a 2002 Holiday Rambler Alumascape 28RKSS weighing in at about 8,500lbs unloaded and about 10,500 being the loaded limit. I was looking for a 5th wheel unit because I had a 2001 2500HD 4X4 Chevy truck with a 6.0 gasoline engine that fit the parameters of the weight classification of the unit.

Until this point we had owned travel trailers and had subscribed to Trailer Life for several years and had read the tech articles and product reviews from the magazine. Basically, we didn't know much. We had visited RV shows and had pretty much decided on either a Montana with a similar floor plan and also liked a Sunnybrook but no dealers were close. My wife found a used Montana like we were considering at a non-Montana dealership and I told the salesperson that we were just looking at the floor plan to see if it was what we wanted. He was very comfortable to be with, never trying to sell us anything but did allow us to look thru some units on the lot. I casually mentioned that I had always heard good things about Holiday Rambler but didn't feel we could afford one.

He asked me if I would buy one if he could get the price within $2K of the Montana. I said yes. We sat down with an order form and added all the options and Presidential upgrades (except dual pane windows) and added a Pull-Rite Slider hitch. We did the deal and I still have both the truck and 5th wheel today. We have traveled from NC to CA on three different occasions, work camping four different time periods, and many other trips of one to three weeks in state parks, national parks, and private campground/resorts.

The point I would like to make to you is that I am thankful that I did not get the Montana. I have read the horror stories in blogs and forums and personally acquainted with people who have had multiple problems with the Montana axles, spring shackles, water system, slide out, and other problems. My Holiday Rambler has never been back into a dealership for any service and my truck with 140K miles just had to have the left front wheel bearing replaced last week. Of course, the truck has had to have regular maintenance performed and tires have been replaced twice on the trailer.

Since, my RV purchase, I have taken an early retirement and I have done RV sales so I am aware of the many improvements and amenities on the newer generation of 5th Wheels as well as other types of RV's. What I try to impress on people is that it is best to see how much quality you can get for your anticipated expenditure and not how cheap you can get something.

Trying to keep this short but wanting you to know that I did not start out understanding quality but I have come to appreciate quality more as I have learned lessons.


From Dave and Kathy Merrifield:

Well I am pretty happy with our 2003 Bounder. It is a 35 E, it has two large slides, one living room and one bedroom slide. It has a huge shower with sink and vanity in the bedroom. We really love the floor plan; it is great for entertaining. We love the ability to turn the captain chairs around and they are then easily included into the living room area. We love the refrigerator and freezer, its very large and convenient. The slides are both much deeper than a lot of the newer coaches. The living room is about 28 inches deep and the bedroom about 20. I have the V-10 and am very pleased with its performance, it would be nice if it would get better gas mileage, I average about 7.3 mpg. It is a nice looking coach but I think some of the newer paint scheme's that bounder has are nicer. My only concerns are that I feel the coach batteries would be better located in the compartment directly above the propane tank, and put on a pull out tray. This would make them much easier to service and maintain. They are currently in a box below the entrance stairway and it is time consuming to get into to service them. The only other suggestion is to NEVER use the electric motor/gear box from Power Gear to provide power for the slides. I was stuck in Tok, AK. for two weeks while Power Gear made a new unit to ship to me. In my opinion this motor/gear combination is not strong enough to sustain continuous use. I would like to see the slide units powered by a hydraulic mechanism like many other coach manufactures. Back in the day the common use was for folks to use their rigs only a few times a year, but today we use them for months at a time, and may put the slides out and in 30 - 40 times or more and that is two much for the current type of slide motor I have. I know from some Internet searches that this slide issue is a big problem with bounders.

But overall we like our unit and are glad that some coaches are available at a reasonable price for the working class folks. Thanks for providing an opportunity to share our thoughts and concerns, should you get an opportunity to share this with those who design MH please do. It would be nice if manufactures would talk to the using public about ideas for improvements and then incorporate them into future models.


From Roger Marble:

In Winter 2008 we decided to get a Class-C. We had used a pick-up slide in camper for a few years while I was actively racing but that was bought based on smallest that would fit as I was towing a 26' enclosed race car hauler at the time and price.

We had a short list of must have: shower, queen bed, Chevy chassis. Short list of must not: Ford (as the foot well on the Ford is much smaller for the co pilot than the Chevy). Something I have never seen anyone doing a review mention.

Initially we looked at used units to keep the price down but we got such a good deal, $48k out the door including tax etc. for a new Coachmen Freelander 2130QB we could not pass it up.

They have a few real good things such as gigantic storage space and a power suction water inlet that makes winterizing very easy. What I did not know at the time was the abysmal quality of Coachmen product. You have seen the bad holding tank valve. The awning failed at 2 years, the vinyl graphics failed at 3 years, exposed electrical wire ends, bad water drain location (on top of propane electrical connections) and the list goes on. We now know that this is not unique to Coachmen but endemic to the current RV industry where they just build it good enough to not fall apart the first summer then they don't care.


From Harold Bagdonas in Santa Rosa, CA:

We were in the market for a newer 5th wheel. This to be our third one. Also this was way back in 2002. We shopped every manufacturer and model in a 75-mile radius of our home. We looked at fit and finish as well as floor plan, storage capacity, weight, length and style. We had in mind a basic floor plan that we were looking for. Had to have two slides and the capability to reach the refrigerator, sink, stove and toilet without opening either slide. We were planning to travel the US, shore to shore. My wife wanted plenty cabinetry and closet space. I wanted lots of under storage and room for a built in generator.

After several weekends of looking and making notes about various models and styles we chose a 30-foot Cardinal by Forrest River. We now have over 49,000 miles on it. (I have a hubometer on it). We are preparing to leave again May 1st for the east coast from California.

Other than a blown tire, which caused some damage, we have only had one problem, which is the hydraulic pump for the slides started leaking a few months ago. Had that replaced and we are ready to hit the road. Really happy with our 5th wheel. The main point in keeping an RV running for this many miles is preventative maintenance. I keep the brakes adjusted, wheel bearing cleaned and packed, tires rotated and inspected, unit washed and waxed, roof cleaned and maintained, vent covers and other plastics coated with a UV protection. My wife keeps the interior immaculate, still looking like new.


From Rod Rowan in Nehalem, OR:

Choosing: When we bought our RV we had rented RV's three times for ten day trips so we were very green. We started by looking at the dealers within 100 to 150 miles of where we live (which is in the middle of nowhere big city wise) to see what was available and went to the RV show in Portland. Spent about 4 months looking. When we figured out what we wanted it was mainly based on the size and floor plans. We wanted a walk around queen for the bed and my wife had some feeling about the location of the bathroom which I can't remember now. She also paid attention to the configuration of the kitchen area (working space vs sink, range and refrigerator locations). We needed a slide-out in the living room due to having three dogs (one a Great Dane) and two cats that go on all trips. Storage space was also important. We wanted to stay as small as possible, but have room to relax. After much looking we decided on a Winnebago Class "C" unit, but when we took our last test drive my wife complained about the leg room in the passenger seat, so after looking around and seeing that was a problem in all Class "C" units we looked at Class "A" and decided on a 28' Winnebago Sightseer (2004) with the almost the same floor plan. At 27 3/4 feet it is relatively small, but has a bedroom that meets our wants, a bathroom shower configuration that satisfied my wife's desire (we actually use the shower as a wardrobe and space for a cooler), an efficient kitchen area and when you turn the front seats around a large enough living area for our needs. It also has a reasonable amount of storage, inside and under.

Likes: I love the size, not "big rig" size so fits almost anywhere, but room in the interior for some comfort. We "camp" on our trips so we spend most of the daylight hours outside, hiking or by the fire, but when it rains (which it tends to do rather often here in Oregon) we have comfortable refuge. We don't enjoy sleeping on the ground anymore (old age does that) so we have a bed that even with the small dog trying to hog the space has room for us both to sleep comfortably. The television in the living area is in a reasonable place (a lot of units we looked at just put it where it would fit, not be reasonably watched) and we had them add a small one in the bedroom (we like to watch movies in the evening).

Dislikes: I would have liked slightly larger holding tanks for black and gray water. Also I looked at a newer model and they moved the water and sewage connections to different compartments (a configuration I like better), where mine are in the same one. It would have been nice if they had tied the TV sound system and the cd/radio/cassette stereo systems together, but I can live without it.

We go on a 10 to 14-day trip each spring and fall and periodic 3 or 4 day ones from time to time and our RV does the job very well.


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