You will not hear anything bad about Pipestem! It's a great RV park with great facilities. The short drive off the Interstate is not difficult. I would recommend you take a short drive to Sandstone Falls while in the area and also stop by for an ice creme at the Dairy Queen in Hinton. There you can find inside dinning with a beautiful view of the New River and sometimes see Bald Eagles along the river in the trees. This is a beautiful area!!
We have had 3 5th wheels and on this last purchase we came close to getting a Class C. Then I realized that I must pull a TOAD so we could have the ability to run around and sight see, shop and so forth. Then I realized that I would still be pulling a trailer behind the motor home. If trying to get away from pulling a trailer this would not work!! My research led me to find out my insurance would double on a motorhome. It would be worthless to me when not traveling. A pickup gives you a great vehicle for doing practically anything. It would be hard to go to Lowes and get my mulch and supplies and then load it in the motorhome. Long periods of not running a motorhome may be harmful to the engine and transmission so I would have this to contend with. Many Class C's have this awful problem with leaking around the cab over bunk. Look at any Class C under the mattress and you will see water stains!
A fifth wheel has more livable space and storage. The truck I pull it with is used very frequently to pull my boat, haul anything the wife buys, gives us a usable 2nd vehicle in the driveway. If someday we decide to quit traveling and get a permanent campsite somewhere, the fifth wheel is perfect to put down permanently. I was already set up to pull a fifth wheel and had the right truck with a hitch. I was very experienced at pulling and backing trailers so there was no intimidation factor. I did not need a heavy truck with the Cummins diesel if I was not pulling a heavy trailer. Thus I would be selling it and the hitch and taking a big hit on depreciation, then looking for another truck.
Then I would have three vehicles in the driveway, a car, pickup and motorhome.
Motorhomes are very expensive and once they get to be a few years old nobody wants to buy it from you. I have a neighbor who has a 1991 34' Class A he can't give away. It only has 39,000 miles on the odometer!!
Ended up being a no brainer for us. Other than the joy of driving down the interstate in a big motor home I could see no other advantage. Once I got off the highway and parked in a campground then what? I would have to rent a car or pull something to drive.......still pulling something.
I post this once in a while and it seems to address your initial question. It is long-winded....my apologies for that.
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 what I call "Eye Candy" or "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 have a limited selection of sizes.
#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 series of extended continuous 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. It is common for seams to split there, most troublesome with age & exposure to the elements. HERE is a more recent example, one of many I have read. The small front aerodynamic cap of a B+ design HERE eliminates the overhang which eliminates most of the resonation, along with most 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. Born Free offers a seamless bucket design as seen in This Model. The Itasca Navion Here is another 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.
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 E-Series 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 chassis is not popular, but is a very good choice for the right application. Any of these chassis 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 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 or you are dangerously low on propane, or you have a mechanical failure with the generator or roof a/c. The Ford 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 Via, View and View Profile. 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 ideal for the straight "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.
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)
This was well written and very accurate. The observations were factural and noteworthy. I hope anyone considering a Class C will think about this before buying. Before we purchased our current 5th wheel I was seriously considering a class B or B+. I was....not my wife. It's hard to get a woman to give up floor space, counter space and closet space. They could care less about quality construction. I will force her to review this great write up and think about it when the time comes to stop towing and get into a motor home. Thanks for your time and knowledge.
Someone told me a few years ago: "Imagine if your stick house was subject to an earthquake for 4 or 5 hours a day, it would start to leak and fall apart like a RV does".
I think a lot of time it is build quality but a lot is also we just don't take into account how much stress we are putting on these units and how much we need to do to keep them in good shape.
A very good point!! You must constantly be vigilant about caulking and sealing any RV, even a Class A. They flex, twist and vibrate as you travel. This breaks the seal and allows water intrusion on all seams
My friend found an unbelievable deal on a used 2011 with only 3800 miles on the clock and wanted me to go look at it with him. It was in unbelievable condition for a 2011!! It had been stored under a roof mostly out of sunlight and rain. I could find nothing anywhere from top to bottom that looked questionable until I looked under the mattress in the over the cab bed. There were water stains on each end of the mattress on the bottom side. Close examination on the outside revealed water oozing out from the edge trim molding when you pushed on it. A classic example of lack of proper maintenance sealing. The owner was really shaken up by our findings and had no idea Class C's are famous for this. Now he was faced with a huge repair bill before he could sell it unless some poor unsuspecting buyer did not look under the mattress.
Yes it was!! My friend was ready to make a deposit but after we raised the cushions and saw the stains we made a closer inspection of the outside. The caulk had open cracks in it along the aluminum trim strips and there was mold on the underside along some seam caulking. I'm afraid some unsuspecting buyer is going to get burnt!!
Was this by chance the 21qb that was recently on ebay in Ohio? We had thoughts of going to see it but changed our mind due to a few issues regarding it.
While it is true they often leak, a lot of it stems from poor owner maintenance or poor initial build quality. I check my seals twice a year and reseal around the marker lights / front window every 2 or 3 years. My 1994 Minnie has never (knock on wood) leaked and I rarely cover it (We tend to use it year-round). Just wash it, keep it clean, and reseal when needed.
Also important is using the proper sealant. On mine I need to use 311 sealant, it is what they used from the factory. Dicor will not stick to this silicone based sealant. Some people use plain silicone, or just an incompatible sealant with what is currently on their RV. Then they forget about it and it leaks...
You are right, the type of sealant is critical. All RV's will leak sooner or later. I'm vigilant about keeping my 5th wheel sealed. I've also found that 3M 5200 Marine caulk is very very good. It adheres to fiberglass and stays rather soft to allow flexing. Good below waterline on boats so you know it's good. They make two different types with one being a "quick setting" formula. I usually use the slow setting formula. Silicone is worthless in some applications although it stays sealed on glass!!! I've sealed leaks on auto glass, boat windshields and camper windows with it. It remains water tight.
But some surfaces it will not stick....like the outside wall on an RV
Came close to buying a new Class C late last year but instead purchased another 5th wheel. Not so much because of their tendency to leak in the front overcab area but there was some other things that made us stick to another 5th wheel. Maybe sometime in future we will get a small c.
My friend found an unbelievable deal on a used 2011 with only 3800 miles on the clock and wanted me to go look at it with him. It was in unbelievable condition for a 2011!! It had been stored under a roof mostly out of sunlight and rain. I could find nothing anywhere from top to bottom that looked questionable until I looked under the mattress in the over the cab bed. There were water stains on each end of the mattress on the bottom side. Close examination on the outside revealed water oozing out from the edge trim molding when you pushed on it. A classic example of lack of proper maintenance sealing. The owner was really shaken up by our findings and had no idea Class C's are famous for this. Now he was faced with a huge repair bill before he could sell it unless some poor unsuspecting buyer did not look under the mattress. I've notice a major change in some higher end models where the front cap is all solid fiberglass and actually wraps around the side a few inches. Looks like this would be much better than just having a piece of molding on the edges. At any rate, if you
are in the market for a used C I suggest you pull the cab over mattress and check for stains!!
The type connector I have looks like this....scale it up so you can see the dual blades. Mine continuously open up and when I bend them back to look like this picture they open up again after a time or two of hooking up my trailer. The metal is not very springy and stays open...
I have a 2017 5th wheel and the cord from the trailer to the truck continuously gets loose connections every time I plug it back in. I have to take a small flat blade screw driver and bend the female blades on the trailer side of the connection back closer together for it to make contact. Is there not a better type of connection?? I've never had it happen after the connection is made, the brakes always work and I would become aware of this immediately if the connection opened up. But now I'm wondering about the brake and parking lights. How would I know the brake light is not working.....dangerous situation. There must be a better quality electrical connection available!!
I prefer to hand pack them myself , that way I get a good look at the brakes, bearings, races and all the other components. Plus it's just plain old too easy to blow out the seals pumping that much grease in there.
After actually pulling my hub off, inspecting, adjusting the bearings and pumping in the grease I have to say I completely disagree!
I felt virtually no resistance difference while pumping the handle when the cavity started to fill.
Do it whichever way you want too, it's your trailer, but on my trailers EZ lubes aren't a maintenance replacement for disassembling & inspection of bearings, races, spindles, brakes, magnets and other hub
If that cavity is totally full of grease, what happens when the brakes heat up the drum/hub and the grease expands. Where does the grease go?
The picture shown appears to be from an axle without brakes! On an axle like this Easy Lube is the only way to go! Just pump till your hearts content and let the grease ooze onto the wheel rim. If you have brakes on a trailer then the cleanliness of those brake shoes and magnet is of upmost importance.
Cut around my rails like everyone else. Works great. Plus I have a spray in liner too. This extra heavy duty rubber mat allows me to haul stuff without worry that I am hurting the expensive spray in liner. Hauled some concrete block last week to a job site......no problem.
First of all, Dexter's web site recommends a few brands of grease and Pennzoil 707L is on that list and Lippert's recommended list also. It's red and has a high drop point (holds up to heat). Also some web sites do not recommend combining two different greases. They recommend washing all the old grease out and then hand packing.
There are a substantial number of articles and forums you can read on the Easy Lube Hubs. I personally think they are great for a boat trailer but the possibility of putting too much grease in the bearing cavity is very great! My previous 5th wheel was pre owned when I got it and the brakes simply did not even begin to work. Pulling the manual lever on the brake controller did nothing. I took the brake drums off and what I saw was unbelievable. The brake shoes and magnets were totally covered in grease!!!!!!!! I called the previous owner and ask him about it. He said "why sure, we always put grease in the zerk each time we prepared for a trip." I did not replace the brakes but washed everything down in gasoline and lacquer thinner. I replaced the seals and hand packed the bearings. Brakes worked great after that.......for a while. Then I noticed little braking ability when using the manual lever. I removed all four wheels again and apparently grease had oozed out of the brake linings and contaminated the drum surface. So I cleaned them all our again. Brakes good for about a year then same thing....more grease had oozed out of the linings. I put up with this for a few years, never replacing the brake shoes and finally when I traded it in last year for a new 5th wheel with new brakes I was totally shocked at the braking power I had. Never had I been able to stop like this!!!
Bottom line....don't use the easy lube zerk fitting. Hand pack your bearings and use quality grease at least every other year depending on how many miles you travel. If your shoes are already contaminated then REPLACE THEM now.
How's route 89 from Interstate 70 south to Orderville, Utah?? Are there any steep grades to be concerned about while pulling a 5th wheel?? We want to set up a base camp and see the national parks in the area. Any recommendations??
Buck Creek near Marion NC is a great easy in easy out campground with access to the parkway close by. You are also in driving range of many great spots. Mount Mitchell which is the highest elevation east of the Mississippi River would be a "must do." Last time we were there we ate lunch in the cafe. Not sure about their hours or dates of operation. Be watchful of the weather. If it's overcast or especially if foggy just forget trying to drive the parkway! We have driven the entire length from Front Royal Va to Cherokee NC and it is worth the effort to see. Every summer we now camp somewhere nearby and drive a section for a while. It is my favorite drive in the East!!
Many roads giving you access to the Parkway are very steep and some are very curvy. Choose your route carefully. Your rig is not small but you can still make the trip. Meadows of Dan is a great campground just off the Parkway at the same elevation. Other campgrounds near the parkway require a steep decline. Buck Creek near Marion NC is one of our favorites but we always make it a base camp and drive up onto the Parkway from camp without our 5th wheel. The parkway speed is also rather slow, posted limits of no more than 45 MPH. It takes a while to drive it. This is a beautiful drive!!!
You do realize that the tube is just a tube, and only the drum rotates?
Has nothing to do with that, take 8 feet of wire and try and use it like a jump rope. This is what happens going down the road. That wire bounces around inside the tube.
While this is true I don't lend much to this explanation on this problem. It looks more like chafing during the install to me. I have seen many many trailers that have never had this issue and that goes for the 3 campers and multiple utility trailers I have owned.
The thin rubber grommet entering and exiting the axle tube will also wear with all the bouncing of the wire inside. Keep this in mind also. Since we do not know the condition of smoothness inside the axle I'm not comfortable with my wires in there bouncing. My friend had his trip to Yellowstone nearly ruined by this intermittant problem. He thought it was his brake controller and stopped by two different Ford dealers only to be told it was functioning properly. Had it not been for the nice fellow at the campground who suggested to remove the wire inside the axle they would have turned around at the end of the second day and returned home!! This video I have posted at the beginning of this thread and the opinions of those who have contributed look pretty darned conclusive that the wire inside bouncing could put you along side the road somewhere in the mountains.
This would especially be true on trailers with lots of miles on them.