I have been looking online at used Class C’s in from the mid 90’s to 00 year range. Is there any appreciable difference between the Ford and Chevy chassis? Is there anything as a general rule that I should look for or avoid? All the ones in my range have either the big blocks or the V-10. I have owned 2 trucks with V-10’s and the Vortec 7.4L so I am a little familiar with them but never a TBI 7.4L or 460 besides gas guzzlers anything else to know. Where do you typically take these for engine, chassis or brakes repairs, at Ford or GM dealership or RV dealer/repair shop? Are their tires, brakes and exhaust priced with 1 ton vehicles or do they tend to be more?
03 Ford Excursion Ltd 6.0L ARP studs/HG, 6.4L banjo bolts, blue spring mod, coolant filter, K&N CAI, turbo back exhaust, IDP tunes, SCT Livewire
00 Acura RL
08 Jayco 31 BHDS G2
96 Regal 258 Commodore
I had the Ford 6.8L V-10 in my 29' Class C. I loved it. It got about 9-10 mpg. Could take it to most larger Ford Dealers if needed, but in the 10 years I owned it (and I got it used, It was a 1997) I never had a reason to take it in for a problem.
Plenty of power. Had no trouble going over the Rockies two or three times.
If I was still pushing a C I would have no hesitation about getting another. Had limited experience with the Chevy, it just did not seem to have the power the Ford did. IMHO
Alaska is next! Still trying to fit the pontoons to the RV so We can get to Hawaii!
I have a 2000 Chev 7.4 Vortex (454). Have lots of power and live in the Mts so pull grades all the time. We run about 10 mpg pulling the grades and 12 to 14 out on the flats. But are seldom in the flats. The Chev's Ride better, have more leg room and are quieter in side. Seem to have fewer sway problems. But if I found a floor plan I liked I would go with eather one.
We spent most of our money traveling... Just wasted the rest..
Thanks for the replies. A few more questions if I may. How much are their tires, brakes and suspension components compared to 3/4 or 1 ton trucks? Are they the same or similiar parts? How are the trucks in unimproved lots (dirt or rocks)? Are they easy to get out after sitting awhile if they settle in? I found that when my trailer tires settle in soft ground I have to use 4wd low to pull out but how are the Class C's with their dual rear tires?
Most of the Class C motorhomes in that age group I know of are running 16" tires. And every one I know is running 10 ply. General price is about $250+or- each. Treads runs from highway to AT.
All of the ones I know are running 1 ton front ends as they are just 1 ton Vans cut off. At that time the Chevy cut off was $1500 to $2500 more than the Fords.The reason you see more Fords. And most Chevys came with a beefed up rear spring system.
As far as how much they sink off road. How soft is the area? How heavy is the rig you are going to buy? We get off the pavement often, but are in the 10,000 lb range. So not to bad. But if we hit some thing soft we get into trouble. If you look around many of them from 1996 to 2002 were built with 4WD. We found the floor plan we like in a 4WD and 2WD and decided to go with the 2WD. As most of the areas we go are gravel but well traveled. You may need to spend some time looking and may need to go some miles before you find the one you want. We traveled 7 western states looking.
Again as I said before, I have a Chevy and love it but would go with Ford or Chevy if I found what I want in condition and Floor Plan. If you go with the 4WD you can forget about fuel mileage as it drops fast. We had to spend time thinking about how much we are off road and on. We decided to stick to the well cared for gravel and go for the better fuel mileage of the 2WD. As here in the west every thing is miles apart. But a couple times I have questioned what we decided.
In our area there is a large Ford dealer that has a separate truck/RV service area, a few blocks away from the main lot. They have an RV service manager employee. Call around, may be a similar setup in your area. Changing your own oil and filters is easy, seldom need more serious engine/chassis service.
Your request for input is primarily focused on the chassis. Given that you are looking for a low priced older motor home, you need to be aware that there could easily be more issues related to the house that are impractical or impossible to repair, than with the chassis that can be repaired properly and reliably.
Here is what I advise new-to-RVing people who are shopping for a older motor home.
When shopping for a motor home, don't get distracted with what I call "Eye Candy". You want to pay close attention to how the house is constructed. Rain, ice, and snow-melt is the number one killer of motor homes, rotting them away long before anything is worn out. Once water gets in, it is like termites. By the time you realize there is a problem, a lot of damage has already occurred. Mold can also form and then you have a health hazard. My advise focuses on identifying a Reliably Well Sealed motor home.
#1 BEST (Very Expensive, Can Be 1.75 to 2 times the cost of Second Best)
NO structural seam work.
The brand Coach House RV is a fine example. Google them and see what I mean. It is seamless, made from a mold. The only places where water can leak is cutouts for windows, door, roof-top vents and a/c unit, all of which are in areas of very low stress. Because they have a seamless shell, these motor homes are limited in size.
#2 SECOND BEST (common, affordable, and comes in many sizes, so this is my main focus)
I own an example of this kind. SEE IT HERE
Made in sections, but assembled in a way that greatly reduces the threat of water.
Here are the good things you want to look for.
a) All Structural Seams Located Away From Corners
Seam work in the corners and edges is bad. Seam work away from them is good. When a motor home is driven, the house bounces, resonates, shakes, and leans, many thousands of times. 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 lower 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. The small front aerodynamic cap of a B+ design 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 be sure to get a seamless design. If you plan to accommodate more than 2 people, that extra bed would be extremely important.
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 the caulk has dried out from age & sun, as well as fatigue from the change in seasons.
d) Rolled-Over-The-Edge seamless Fiberglass Roof Sheathing
A single sheet of fiberglass that rolls over the right & left sides of the roof, down the wall a few inches. 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 5 Sided Rear Wall
This 5 sided back wall moves the seams around to the sides to areas of much less stress.
Potentially Troublesome Construction Try to avoid this if possible.
Entry level motor homes are made with seams in corners and finished off with trim. They are most affordable, and come in all sizes. If considering this 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 rare exception like 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 bringing up the rear, becoming popular in the smaller sizes. The GM chassis is not popular, but not a bad choice. Any of those three brands since 1998 are real good, new or used. If you plan to tow a car or trailer, then I advise to avoid the Sprinter because it lacks the power of the others. But there are a few people who tow cars with a Sprinter. They just take it easier to make it work for them.
Just about every motor home manufacture offers one or more slide outs. LazyDaze is only one I know who does not. I own a Phoenix Cruiser which is offered with and without slide outs, per individual request. Ours, the #2 Second Best example given, does not have a slide out by our request. We special ordered it that way. It's not a popular decision, but we are extremely pleased with our choice. If done over again, we’d get the same motor home, brand & model, but with a few extra options added.
If considering a recent “small” class B+/C motor home, here is a comparison between the two main contenders, the Sprinter with the V6 diesel engine and the Ford E350 with the V10 gasoline engine.
Advantages Of The Sprinter With Diesel Engine
- Provides a 1/3 improvement in fuel economy over the Ford-V10, when both are loaded and driven the same.
- More comfortable driver compartment with more leg room.
- Made by Mercedes which people are attracted to.
- Has a better resale value.
Advantages Of The Ford E350 with V10 Engine
- Given identical motor homes both brand and model, the Ford is around $14,000 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. A diesel generator costs thousands more and is heavier. Propane is a critical fuel for RV operations, and generally needs to be rationed when dry camping.
- Per the owners manual, 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.
There is so much cool stuff offered in recent years.
ADDING: A search on Google for "Telstar motor home", it seems the 1993-1995 model years are made well enough to withstand the test of time, and with patience and travel can be had for under $10,000. There were a variety of floor plans available. Here is a picture of a 1993 currently for sale.
ADDING: There is a low priced 1999 PC-2350 on ebay HERE right now, an earlier version of what I own. It lacks the better 5 sided rear cap, and a lot of other improvemnts that were introduced in later model years, but still a great value at the $13,000 Buy-It-Now.