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Handbasket

Asheville, NC

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Joined: 01/17/2003

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Posted: 08/02/12 06:56am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

IMO, in your price range the condition of the individual unit is at least as important as the brand. If roof/window/plumbing leaks have been neglected, or the chassis hasn't had proper maintenance, it doesn't matter how good it was when new.

One example of lack of maintenance: low hours on the generator is not a good thing, tho' some folks advertise it as a selling point. The little Onans common on C's need a couple of hours running a month under load when not in regular use. This keeps the carb from drying out and varnishing up, and has other benefits. Neglect here can cost you $400-$500.

Jim, "Mo' coffee!"


'06 Tiger CX 'C Minus' on a Silverado 2500HD 4x4, 8.1 & Allison (aka 'Loafer's Glory')

ron.dittmer

Northern Illinois

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Posted: 08/02/12 08:43am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The most important consideration in selecting a motor home is how it is constructed. What methods are built to last, and what methods are built to be most affordable. Since you are considering a used motor home in the $10k-$20k range, this issue becomes even more sensitive.

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

When shopping for a motor home, don't get distracted with what I call "Eye Candy" and/or "Square Footage". 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 is a fine example. 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, & 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. 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, 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 look for a seamless bucket-like design. Some manufactures as of late offer a particial bucket design with fewer seams located in less-stressed areas. That seems to be a reasonable compromise. 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 Cap
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 a popular alternative to the E350 in the smaller sizes. The GM chassis is not popular, but is a very good choice for the right application. 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 other two. But there are a few people who tow cars with a Sprinter. They just take it easier to make it work for them.

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
- Offers a 35% 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, and even more anticipated with the upcoming Ford T-Series chassis. The general public hopes it will become available for the RV industry. It is kind-of like a Sprinter in size and fuel economy, but hopeful to be much more affordable.

The Chevy GMC 3500/4500 Chassis
I think these should be more popular than they are. I assume it has to do with the cost of the chassis. The Chevy/GMC 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 to store your rig, the Chevy/GMC adds an additional 9" to the front bumper compared to the Ford. I learned that researching rigs that could fit in my 25'-0" deep garage. By default, the Ford gave me 9 more inches to work with.

* This post was edited 08/02/12 08:53am by ron.dittmer *


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


gerrym51

unknown

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Joined: 07/31/2007

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Posted: 08/02/12 09:03am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Ron,

you must have this page saved because i've seen it before.

It dpends what size class c. if more than 25 feet your choice is ford or chevy 450/4500.

if less sprinter,ford ,chevy.

i think now for best overall chassis it's chevy 4500-

tatest

Oklahoma Green Country

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Joined: 05/14/2005

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Posted: 08/02/12 10:00am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

In that price range, finding one in usable condition will likely be more of a factor than "what brand?"

Inspecting new ones in 2004-2005, I could shorten that list slightly, dropping Coachmen and Forest River brands from my list (but those have changed substantially since).

I preferred the Winnebago brands because of the differences in basic construction and some of the details and materials choices, but we could easily have gone with Four Winds, Jayco, or Gulfstream. What ultimately decided our choice was a particular floorplan, although what made it work was the slideouts, and I was resisting slideouts as unnecessary complexity and weight.


Tom Test
Itasca Spirit 29B


NewsW

US

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Joined: 02/06/2012

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Posted: 08/02/12 10:06am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

ron.dittmer wrote:

The most important consideration in selecting a motor home is how it is constructed. What methods are built to last, and what methods are built to be most affordable. Since you are considering a used motor home in the $10k-$20k range, this issue becomes even more sensitive.

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

When shopping for a motor home, don't get distracted with what I call "Eye Candy" and/or "Square Footage". 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 is a fine example. 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, & 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. 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, 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 look for a seamless bucket-like design. Some manufactures as of late offer a particial bucket design with fewer seams located in less-stressed areas. That seems to be a reasonable compromise. 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 Cap
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 a popular alternative to the E350 in the smaller sizes. The GM chassis is not popular, but is a very good choice for the right application. 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 other two. But there are a few people who tow cars with a Sprinter. They just take it easier to make it work for them.

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
- Offers a 35% 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, and even more anticipated with the upcoming Ford T-Series chassis. The general public hopes it will become available for the RV industry. It is kind-of like a Sprinter in size and fuel economy, but hopeful to be much more affordable.

The Chevy GMC 3500/4500 Chassis
I think these should be more popular than they are. I assume it has to do with the cost of the chassis. The Chevy/GMC 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 to store your rig, the Chevy/GMC adds an additional 9" to the front bumper compared to the Ford. I learned that researching rigs that could fit in my 25'-0" deep garage. By default, the Ford gave me 9 more inches to work with.





Ron,

This post need to be put up as a sticky.


Excellent.

NewsW

US

Senior Member

Joined: 02/06/2012

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Posted: 08/02/12 10:10am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Ron, while you are at it... give us a running commentary on several reasonably well built RVs like the LazyDaze and Born Free.

cjoseph

WV

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Joined: 08/14/2006

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Posted: 08/02/12 03:51pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'm in the preliminary search stages too.

I found the Isata (recent Forest River acquisition) that offers floor plans on the Ford Truck chassis in addition to the van.

This should be more comfortable, but at what price? Also, makes it available in 4X4. I don't intend to take my rig too far off the beaten path, so I would pass on that. I can see why some would want it, though.

Thanks all for the input.

We're going to Hershey to get a better look at all the offerings. The DW and I are going to check out the Ford E350/450 at local Ford dealers first. We just don't have the luxury of local RV dealers stocking the latest offerings.

We tend to do long trips and have cross country plans in a few years. So, comfort while sitting/driving has to be top of the list for us.


Chuck, Heidi, Jessica & Nicholas
2013 Tiffin Allegro 35QBA

ron.dittmer

Northern Illinois

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Posted: 08/02/12 07:51pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

NewsW wrote:

Ron, while you are at it... give us a running commentary on several reasonably well built RVs like the LazyDaze and Born Free.
I have not examined either brand so I cannot elaborate on them, but from what I've seen on the web, they are sure winners. There are a number of great brands (or models of brands) out there. I hope others who know them well, would join in as to why in great detail.

blackfyreterv

Bellingham, WA USA

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Joined: 05/21/2012

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Good Sam RV Club Member

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Posted: 08/02/12 10:26pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

gotsmart wrote:


Welcome to Club Majestic.



Thanks I use it the most and so far so happy .. Easy and comfy to handle going down the road We added an awning (had Cruise America add it actually) and have a TV but still need to add an antenna, but if I was to do a serious addition I would have hydraulic or electric leveling system.. outside of that it's got all I need/want


BlackFyre Farms-Belgian Tervuren,Laekenois & Arabian Horses make me
Bellingham, WA USA


tpi

Southern CA.

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Joined: 02/22/2005

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Posted: 08/03/12 09:44am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I bought a floor model 2011 24' Lazy Daze front lounge a few weeks ago (w/ two outings to date). It was one of three or four Class C mfg. I had considered over the last few years. My primary consideration was based on the fact Lazy Daze is manufactured 45 miles from my home. A goal is relatively painless ownership and having factory warranty and service available nearby is a big plus for me.

The unit does not look as luxurious as some, but harbors a lot of nice details beneath the surface. Two Lifeline AGM batteries, 200 watts solar w/ MPPT controller, china toilet, heat pump, etc. Relatively large tanks. The cushions are very nice quality and comfortable. The cabinets are very solid and well built. The shower is large, sturdy and doesn't flex. There is a huge tinted window (with curtain) in shower. Well written owners manual often explains operation of third party appliances better than their own manual. Clock with outdoor temp and moon phases-just lot of little stuff.

LD burns in the third party appliances. Fridge, generator, AC etc. have been run a few hours to weed out the defective units. So far all the third party appliances in mine have worked perfectly.

Its wood framed which isn't my first choice, but the seams look to be very high quality, the aluminum skin is heavy, and the factory is nearby to address any leaks or resealing needed. Evidently it requires a major resealing at ten years. The structure is tight underway and the unit is fairly quiet. The aluminum roof is very solid. The painted aluminum skin is easy to maintain.

I have not taken anything apart to inspect, but all wiring, plumbing and workmanship I can observe looks good. I'm not finding debris in the back corners.

The one knock on the company I've heard, and I tend to agree, is a "have it our way" philosophy. They have strong systems in place, and overcoming them is an uphill climb. I asked to have a small inverter installed at my expense directly adjacent to the battery box- couldn't do it. I asked to have several items from the store installed or provided at delivery at my expense, but it wasn't done. My suggestion if ordering from LD- any options or requests emphasize importance, try to get in writing, and follow up. Emphasize at the beginning you want a two way dialog. My sister had Escape trailer built and the factory was much more willing to make custom adjustments.

All in all though I'm very pleased with the unit. It has a certain sturdy likeable charm to it, its livable and comfortable, and I can see why some hard core RV users make these their motorhome.

* This post was last edited 08/03/12 10:11am by tpi *   View edit history





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