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Dusty R

Charlotte Michigan 48813

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Posted: 10/10/18 06:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How limber are you? If you don't mind climbing up over the cab to go to bed, that will give you more floor space for daytime use.

ron.dittmer

North-East Illinois

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Posted: 10/10/18 06:35am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So...

- 28' to fit in driveway
- 2 adults
- 1 big dog
- 1 cat
- 1 week to multi-months
- travel everywhere (assumed national parks, national monuments, national forests, even cities)

I do not recommend a typical class C to avoid having the big wind catcher above the van and also tends to be the most vulnerable part of a motor home with regards to getting damaged on a low hanging tree limb, and water leaking inside. Class C's are ideal for a family, placing your children up there at bed time.

That leaves you with a class B+ and a class A.. There are a lot of low-grade RVs out there. Don't assume they are made using the same quality standards as a typical car, because no RV is. The lesser quality ones will be requiring a lot of TLC throughout your ownership. The better made ones will require noticeably less work and generally will last longer, a consideration if buying an older one.

Class A's in the 28 foot lengths are generally going to be entry level units made with lesser quality. When considering a class A, read the reviews on the unit you are considering

A class B+ will be easy to find in the length you desire. Quality brands are easy finds in this category.

Being a hands-on B+ owner and volunteer auto mechanic including an occasional motor home, a class B+ is my recommendation because the front portion is a standard van with automotive precision and with safety standards applied, using all off-the-shelf parts. Unlike a class-A, most auto repair shops will service them. I also appreciate the convenient solid automotive quality van doors with windows that work just like a car.

Now....how to shop smarter. This is a long read. If you get through it all, you will be wiser for it.
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New, used, or well used, when shopping for a conventional class B+ or C, the most important consideration is how it is constructed. This post outlines construction methods which are most affordable and methods that cost more, but are built to hold up much better to the elements and also the punishment of the road.

Some motor home manufactures offer different levels of quality through their various model lines. Instead of providing a list of brands to consider, it is best to identify what "Better" is.

When shopping for a motor home, don't get distracted with "Eye Candy" and "Square Footage". You want to pay close attention to how the house is constructed. Water infiltration is the number one killer of motor homes, rotting them away long before anything is worn out. Once water gets inside, it is like termites. By the time you realize there is a problem, a lot of damage has already occurred. Also consider that mold & mildew can grow inside the walls which then you have a health hazard. My advise focuses on identifying a reliably well sealed motor home.

#1 BEST (Very Expensive, Can Be 1.5 times the cost of Second Best)
NO structural seam work. The brand Coach House is a fine example. It is seamless, made from a mold. The only places where water can leak is cutouts for windows, entry door, roof-top vents & a/c unit, storage compartments & maintenance access, all of which are in areas of very low stress. Because they have a seamless shell, these motor homes are not common and have a limited selection of sizes and floor plans.

#2 SECOND BEST
Common, Affordable, & comes in Many Sizes so this is my main focus
I own an example of this type. My Rig Here manufactured by Phoenix USA.
Made in sections, but assembled in a way that greatly reduces the threat of water damage. Here are the good things you want to look for.

a) Structural Seams Away From Corners
When a motor home is driven, the house bounces, resonates, shakes, and leans countless times, representing a endless series of earthquakes. Corner seams see greater stresses than seams located elsewhere. Corner seams are more easily split, especially when the caulk gets brittle with age & exposure to the sun. One extremely bad bump in the road can instantly breach a corner seam. Seams hold up much better when they are brought in from the corners in lesser stressed areas.

b) A Seamless Over-The-Van Front Cap
A huge bed above the van’s roof is the most vulnerable area of a motor home. No matter how well they are made, that long frontal over-hang resonates when the RV is driven making it common for seams to split there, most troublesome with age & exposure to the elements. HERE is an example, one of many water-damage threads I have read. Scroll down in that thread to see pictures of the real damage.

The small front aerodynamic cap of a B+ design HERE eliminates the overhang which eliminates most of the resonation, along with the most vulnerable seam work.

There are a few conventional “C” Designs (big over-van bed) where that area is seamless. If you absolutely must have that huge bed, then look for a seamless bucket-like design. The Itasca Navion Here is a fine example. Some manufactures as of late offer a partial bucket design with fewer seams located in less-stressed areas. Some manufacture models like the Minnie Winnie and the Nexus Phantom utilize a compromising partial bucket design, making it a better choice compared to a fully seamed cab-over bed.

If you plan to accommodate more than 2 people, having that large extra cab-over bed will be extremely useful.

c) A Crowned Roof
Rain and snow melt runs off a crowned roof. A flat roof will sag over time, then water puddles around heavy roof-top items like the a/c unit. Water eventually finds it's way inside after gaskets & caulk have degraded from age, sun, and change in seasons.

d) Rolled-Over-The-Edge seamless Fiberglass Roof Sheathing
A single sheet of fiberglass as shown HERE that rolls over the right & left sides of the roof, down to the wall. The overlapping of fiberglass to the wall provides a good water seal and the fiberglass sheathing holds up better than roofs made of sheet rubber or thin plastic called TPO, which require more attention to keep your RV well protected.

e) A Five Sided Rear Wall Cap
A five sided back wall moves the seams around to the sides to areas of much less stress as seen HERE. The rear wall resembles a shallow rectangular cooking pan standing on it's side. Like the example, some rear wall sections are constructed with an integrated spare tire compartment and rear storage compartment. Not only are they convenience features, but that rear wall/cap offers a solid double-wall for exceptional strength which is more resistant to flexing the adjoining seam work. It helps in keeping the house together.

Don't be fooled. There are a select few manufactures who add rear wall sectional styling pieces over an entry level rear corner seam design which gives the appearance of a 5-sided pan design. You can easily tell by noting the sections & seams between them and the flat back wall that remains exposed.

Bigger Will Be Weaker
The size & floor plan you select MUST FIRST meet your needs before this consideration.
The bigger the house, the weaker the structure will be. Consider two cardboard boxes made from the exact same corrugated material. The smaller box would naturally be stronger. It will be more resistant to bending, twisting, and other types of flexing. So if you are on the fence between models, the smaller one will be your stronger choice.

Potentially Troublesome Construction
Entry level motor homes are made with seams in corners and finished off with trim, including the massive cab-over bed. Their roof is flat and finished with rubber or TPO. They are most affordable, and come in all sizes. HERE is one such example. If considering this construction type, keep in-mind they require more regular care with bi-annual inspections. Plan to use a caulking gun now and then. When buying a used one, consider that you really don't know how well the previous owner maintained it. Buying new or used, that construction method will be counting on you to be a good non-neglectful owner.

There are also the rare exception of the Lazy Daze which has seam work in the corners, but the substructure and sealing method is of the highest quality that it holds up like a seamless body. It's excellent sectional construction methods are not commonly found in other brands. I am no expert on this, but I'd give it a #1.5 Almost Like Best

About The Chassis
The most popular is the Ford E350 and E450 with the V10 engine. The Sprinter diesel is a popular alternative to the E350 in the smaller sizes. Also within this past year is the recent introduction of the Ford Transit. The GM 3500 & 4500 chassis are not popular but are a very good choice for the right application. Any of the chassis mentioned made since 1998 are real good, new or used. If you plan to tow a car or heavy trailer, be aware that the Sprinter & Transit will be least powered. People who tow with them naturally take it slower.

If considering a current-day “small” class B+ or C motor home, here is a comparison between the two current main chassis contenders, the Sprinter with the V6 diesel engine and the Ford E350 with the V10 gasoline engine.

Advantages Of The Mercedes Sprinter With Diesel Engine
- Offers a 35%-50% improvement in fuel economy over the Ford-V10, when both are loaded and driven identically.
- More ergonomic driver compartment with more leg room.
- Comfort continues with a car-like feel & quiet ride.
- A grander view out the windshield
- Made by Mercedes which people are attracted to.

Advantages Of The Ford E350 with V10 Engine
- Given identical motor homes both brand and model, the Ford is around $13,000 MSRP cheaper
- The Ford V10 engine has 50% more horse power and torque
- The Ford E350 chassis handles 1430 pounds more weight.
- The E350 is able to tow a heavier load.
- The E350 rear axle is significantly wider which translates to better stability.
- In most places traveled, gasoline costs less than diesel fuel
- The Sprinter diesel has limited mechanical service shops around North America
- The Sprinter diesel is typically outfitted with a propane generator. Propane is a critical fuel for RV operations, and generally needs to be rationed when dry camping.
- This Next Point Is Debatable But Still Worth Noting....The V6 Sprinter diesel engine is not allowed to idle for extended periods. This limitation is detrimental when you need a/c but there are generator restrictions, you are low on propane, or you have a mechanical failure with the generator or roof a/c. The Ford offers a great backup system. The V10 can safely idle for hours on end, heating, cooling, and battery charging, all valuable if you have a baby, pets, or health/respiratory issues.

You decide what your priorities are, and pick the appropriate chassis. There are some really sweet motor homes being built exclusively on the Sprinter chassis, such as the Winnebago Navion and View. Others like Phoenix USA build their model 2350 and 2400 on both the Sprinter and Ford E350. They will even build it on the heaviest duty E450 upon request for a nominal fee. People who request an E450 for a small motor home, tow heavier things like for example, a multi-horse trailer. You can even special order a E350 & E450 4x4.

There is so much cool stuff offered in recent years on the Sprinter and most recently on the new Ford Transit.

The Ford Transit Chassis
This chassis has the potential to dominate the class B+ & C motor home market in the smaller sizes. According to Ford's website, the Transit DRW chassis is offered in the 156", and 178" wheel base, and is rated as high as 10,360 GVWR. Ford offers a motor home package specific for the RV industry. It's diesel engine compares to the Sprinter in power and fuel economy, but is more affordable and is easily serviced at Ford service centers, just like the E350 & E450. The cab has a much lower stance than the Sprinter making it much more friendly to get into and out from for people in their later years. It's more like a mini-van rather than a standard van. The Transit's lower cab also offers roomier over-head bunks that are easier to access.

The Dodge Promaster 3500 Cut-Away Chassis
This front wheel drive chassis is another recent entry in the RV industry. I am concerned over it's lack of load capability as reflected with single free-wheeling rear wheels. I have been reading posts written by new Promaster RV owners stating they are over-weight with just two people, some personal effects and food. They say they can't carry water and never a 3rd person. I would not be comfortable with such a limited load range in a B+ or C. This chassis does seem to be a good option in the "B" motor home market.

The Chevy 3500 & 4500 Chassis
Unfortunately this chassis is not more popular, primarily because GM sort-of gave up on competing with the Ford E350 & E450. It offers more interior comfort than the Ford, but not as much as the Sprinter. It's power & weight ratings are a little less than their Ford counter-parts making them a great chassis for all but the heaviest of class Cs. They are also a little better on fuel consumption. One thing to keep in-mind, if you are counting inches in storing your rig, the Chevy is a little longer than the Ford by a number of inches which was critical for us with our garage as seen HERE with our Ford 2007 E350 rig. That could be the reason why the Chevy has a little more interior driver/passenger leg room.

The Ford E350 & E450
The majority of class B+ and C motor homes are built on one of these two chassis for a number of very good reasons. They have more power and load capability than the others. Ford approves outfitters to modify the chassis to increase or decrease the wheel base which supplies motor home companies a lot of design freedom. Ford has off-the-shelf components that work with the wheel base modification. So if you need a new drive shaft, fuel line, brake line, parking brake cable, wire harness, whatever, Ford has them available. Finally, the E350 and E450 chassis is competitively priced.

Engine Power Ratings of Ford, MB-Sprinter, Chevy, and Dodge
Ford E350 & E450 - 6.8L-V10, 305hp, 420ft
Ford Transit Diesel - 3.2L-I5, 185hp, 350ft
Mercedes Sprinter Diesel - 3.0L-V6, 188hp, 325ft
Chevy 3500 & 4500 - 6.0L-V8, 323hp, 373ft
Dodge Promaster - 3.6L-V6 (GVW only 9,300 pounds)

Now to supply some data as to why I feel our Phoenix Cruiser stands above most other brands. These two videos drag on, but provide lots of data and also clarify critical things to look for when evaluating any brand.

CLICK HERE on a comparison between a Phoenix Cruiser and an unknown brand.

CLICK HERE for a slideshow on how a Phoenix Cruiser is built. I feel this slide show teaches so much, especially about hidden things to consider.

* This post was edited 10/10/18 06:19pm by ron.dittmer *


2007 Phoenix Cruiser model 2350, with 2006 Jeep Liberty in-tow


DrewE

Vermont

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Posted: 10/10/18 08:38am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

28' class A's are practically non-existent.

In my opinion, there is less difference between a lower-end (gas) class A and a class C than there is between a diesel pusher class A with air suspension and a gas class A. The main practical difference between the C and the A is the shape and configuration of the cab area; a class A will have a bigger windshield, and you'll be closer to it and higher up, and not have a cabover "cap bill" sort of thing to shade it--which is sometimes nice and sometimes not so nice.

I would suggest looking at a bunch of units and seeing what you like. I'd also suggest thinking about renting a motorhome for a weekend or week, as it will give you some better idea of some things to look for or avoid that may not be immediately obvious at first. Some motorhomes have rather puzzling details, like no good space to put a trash can or having a shower and sleeping for up to six people but only one little towel bar (and perhaps no good place to add another). Many have very limited kitchen counter space, which may not matter much to you or may be a rather important consideration, depending on how much you cook. Some have inconveniently located television sets (or more TVs than a small sports bar). And the list goes on....

Buying used is a good plan, in my opinion. Be more concerned about the quality of the maintenance of the unit than the quality of the initial manufacturing, though of course both are important. A poorly maintained motorhome, particularly with water damage, is a poor purchase.





Artum Snowbird

Campbell River, B.C., Canada

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Posted: 10/10/18 09:01am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you can find one of these, they are awesome motorhomes. You get the overhead bed, but a molded front cap too. Tons of counterspace. Room for the kids, an up top place for the cat, a back bed for the dog.

If you don't want to use the upstairs area for a bed, (it is an awesome bed), it is a huge storage space.

Fits in your driveway as you require.

Winnebago Impulse Silver 26QP

Product details

Winnebago puts in lots of features to make it a top quality rig.


Mike and Carole
2012 Winnebago Impulse Silver 26QP
2005 16.6 Double Eagle
2018 Jeep Wrangler JK
previously Snowbird Campers

DouglasC

Grand Haven, MI

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Posted: 10/10/18 06:31pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My wife & I have been RVing for 32 years and have owned 7 motorhomes. We've had them from 19' to 39". The Class A motorhomes do have panoramic windshields and it's nice to have all that room when you are camped but the Class C motorhomes are generally more maneuverable and maintenance costs are significantly lower (smaller tires, can use fast lube oil change places, etc.). We've owned our 28' Class C for 12 years now and have even lived in it for as long as 6 months one time - - so that size seems to work best for us now that we are no longer full-timing.

We suggest that you rent a Class C and decide if it will work for you. Our son owned a 31' Class C for 7 years when his 2 kids were younger that size worked well for them.


Doug
2006 Jayco Greyhawk Model 27DS
Towing 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid with Brake Buddy


AJR

Close to Madison Wisconsin

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Posted: 10/10/18 07:02pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I don’t know what some of the above are talking about, really. I have had two TT, class A, a 28’ class C and now a 29’ class C. The 28’ was a Ford based unit. The 29’ is a Chevy based unit with a much better road manners stock. Plus I can get out of the driver’s seat into the MH with ease. Also more mpg.
Both have had rear bedrooms. The first one had a bunk over the cab. Great for the grandkid when not used as storage. The current one has an “entertainment console” that has the same storage behind the TV I had last time. A win, win I think.
The overhead storage also blocks the sun when driving. More so when going south. I think that is a big plus.
It all boils down to the floor plan you like, really.
If you want tips here is what I have found works for me.

Things to look for I have found value in while having in a class C ….

Walk into shower. Some showers you have to step up to get into them.

Corner shower, some are bigger than others. Big ones are real roomy inside.

Counter space by the kitchen sink for food prep.

Large outside rear storage. They can be up to 100cu ft.

No window over the headboard of the bed.

Livable with slide(s) in.

A north south bed that is offset to one side. That gives you room to walk & dress on one side.

60x80 real queen bed. Uses standard bed sheets and such.

Ford E450 or Chevy 4500 chassis. As a Ford guy, I have found the Chevy better. Hate to admit that.

Just a comment. All class Cs have an overhead above the cab designed to be a bed or audio center. It is a great place for storing things.


2014 Leprechaun 290QB Chevy 6.0
2015 GMC Terrain AWD

whizbang

Kenmore, WA

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Posted: 10/12/18 02:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

First off, do lots of research and lots of looking. As first timers, I would not recommend buying anything until you have walked thru at least two dozen RV's and driven at least 6 of them.

Without lots of detail, let's cut to the chase:

1) What's your budget?

2) How handy are you guys with mechanics (engines, suspensions, generators, etc) and home repairs (plumbing, electrical, mechanical)?

MOST RV's are entry level garbage designed for family weekend trips. If you as a couple plan to spend at lot of time in a rig, 80% of the stuff out there is wrong for you.

And you have no clue. Please, do your homework.


Whizbang
2002 Winnebago Minnie
http://www.raincityhome.com/RAWH/index.htm


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