Most laminated wall TTs will have similar construction to your Jayco C. Some manufacturers do the job consistently better than others (Lance has devotees) and they are quite lightweight at any given size. Northwood (Nash and Arctic Fox brands) has a reputation for building traditional framed construction to a high quality, but are heavy for the size.
Possibly neither incorporates construction features you might equate with quality. Rear caps are pretty rare in TTs and fiberglass or aluminum roofs tend to come only with fiberglass or aluminum shell construction, rather than box construction.
My consideration for downsizing from my motorhome has me looking at unconventional TTs: molded fiberglass shell (Bigfoot, Oliver, Escape, Scamp, Casita) or aluminum shell (Airstream). This construction is more costly than assembling a box from flats, and for the size, priced sometimes much higher. Except for Airstream, there are no really large sizes. At Bigfoot, the largest shell is about the same space as a 28 foot C has behind the cab, everything else is smaller, some brands limited to 16-17 feet.
Queens or short queens are more typical of bed size, and some of the tiniest TTs you might not find actual queen dimensions in small molded shell trailers.
I suggest you look at Lance floorplans, most space for the weight. You may not find many Lance TTs used, the company is relatively new to the TT market and owners have been keeping them.
From where to where?
I sometimes use I-80 from Des Moines to Chicago, Angola or Toledo if I'll be going through at the right time of day. I use I-40 west into Arizona, east into Tennessee or North Carolina, but those are different destinations than my I-80 destinations.
City and town frequency depends on where you are. 50+ miles in the desrt west and across Wyoming or New Mexico, 20-30 miles apart on the southern plains or through the corn belt, closer than 20 miles east of the Mississippi.
The RV parks I've stayed in along I-80 have been adequate. My wife preferred KOAs and Good Sam affiliates, and they've all been what we expect from a KOA, whether the park was franchised or not.
East from Utah, I-70 becomes a third option, headed ultimately for Baltimore through places like Denver, Kansas City, St Louis, Indianapolis and Columbus. You can join I-70 by following US-50 out of Reno (that is some pretty empty road) or taking I-80 to Salt Lake City and going south to connect. From the west side of the Rockies to the Midwest, I find I-70 the more interesting route, as it crosses the mountains through more scenic places.
$7000 to $10,000 higher price and enough extra weight that a smaller motorhome has to be built on a chassis of same GVWR. Then for a genset, it needs either a more expensive diesel model, or LPG version of a gas genset and a larger LPG tank.
No "FRED" chassis for A's today, they sold a few in the past. A couple former suppliers are still building mostly smaller diesel bare chassis for step vans, small buses, and other non-RV markets.
They are still offering front diesel C's, although Ford no longer has a diesel to fit the E-series, Chevrolet can put one in the express, and it is an option on RAM Promaster and Transit (latter not yet used to build Cs, but in the B market). And of course there is always the Sprinter cab chassis to work with, about twice the price of an E-series or Express cutaway.
Except for building on Sprinter, manufacturers currently offering diesel Cs don't sell as many. Sprinters usually get used to build a separate premium line, which helps get past the price sensitivity of most RV buyers.
You just go.
You should buy gas at any station that looks roomy enough to you, once you are down to about a 1/2 tank, so you are not in panic mode about finding a place when it is almost empty. Most C's have nearly 400 mile range, they fit into gas stations easily in rural areas (don't try to fill in cities and suburbs) and there are no places where the stations are more than 400 miles apart.
Walmarts are where you find them. Small towns have other stores with emergency supplies, and RV dealers are more frequent along the highways than you would expect, you just don't see much of this from the Interstate Highway system, that was intentional in the planning and design.
Very narrow roads? You have to get off the highways, to find the narrow roads, as the highway system is designed for 8.5 foot wide trucks, up to 65 feet long and 80,000 pounds. Your C is a lot smaller.
Where you find more narrow roads will be on city streets, particularly residential areas, or on secondary and tertiary roads in rural areas. A RV doesn't belong on city streets;you just don't go there unless you know the route well.
On back roads in rural areas, you will be on slow speed roads where there is a protocol for two vehicles sharing a space less than 16-18 feet wide; most of the time these have no traffic. When you see oncoming, it is often best to pull over and stop, the locals know more about what they are doing.
Otherwise most narrow road situations will be construction zones, where you have to slow down to thread your 8.5 wide RV though a spot 11 to 12 foot wide. Any narrower, there will be warnings for wide vehicles to take detours; pay attention to that. You will build "staying in lane" skills quickly driving a RV. Often drivers can't keep a 5 1/2 foot wide vehicle within a 14 foot wide lane, because they've never had to concentrate that much on the task. Drive a RV for a while, you'll outgrow that lack of concentration quickly, all it takes is making driving your primary task, instead of something you do while eating, texting, or brushing out your hair.
If you've not driven in mountains, you'll need to learn to control your speeds downhill with minimal braking, which means using engine braking to maintain the speeds needed to make it around the curves, rather than running up to 70-80 mph and them trying to slow to 35-45 to negotiate the curves. Speed limits in mountainous areas are set to maximum safe speeds for the whole section of road, pay attention to that.
P.S. Walmart is not a particularly good place to buy fuel, whatever your discount/rewards program, if in a RV. Many of the discount store and supermarket fuel sales points are way too crowded for negotiating large vehicles. I like the rural gas stations that cater to farmers and ranchers, who are almost always towing something when they pull in. The pump layouts are designed to take care of that, you'll learn to recognize them. Clue: pumps parallel to the highway, wide entrances with no sharp turns or change in grade.
RV A/C units are not usually small, they are usually the biggest that can be operated on a 120V 20 Amp circuit. Much over 28-30 feet, they install two.
There is a reason for this. With sun loads, air leaks, other heat leaks, and generally poor insulation, it takes a lot to cool a RV box, just as it takes a lot to heat it in the winter. My 29-foot motorhome needs a bigger furnace than my 1200 square-foot, built in the 1930s, masonry house. That's just for handling temperatures approaching freezing, doesn't begin to cover a couple of months of lows -10 F, which determined sizing of the house unit.
RV roof units start at 11,000 BTU/hr and go up to 15,000. Small window units are often around 5000 to 6000, I've seen them as small as 2,500. They put a 13,500 on a tent camper. Chances are the window unit is way undersize for the heat load. If in Missouri, you are where summer heat loads are high, as it is sometimes necessary to condense the water out of the air before cooling it beyond the dew point, and that is 40x the load of dropping temperature 1 degree Farenheit.
TPMS is a Federal mandate on passenger vehicles, so it will be standard on the passenger van. System on my 12 passenger is a PITA, there is about 30-60 minutes work resetting each monitor if you choose to rotate tires, and there is no sensor on the spare.
I don't know TPMS status on commercial non-passenger vans, but it is not available even as an option on the bare chassis, cab-chassis, and cutaway. Almost any aftermarket system would be an improvement on what was supplied OEM on the passenger vans.
This time of year, with summer sun heat loads across the Great Plains? I would figure on packing the free space in the freezer with dry ice and maybe buying more along the way (most supermarkets have the stuff in this part of the world).
I can't imagine that a 1/2 steer is worth enough more in Virginia vs Washington to haul it across the country using $1000 worth of fuel. Double that, you have to drive back. The fuel costs alone would buy a whole steer: cut, dressed, and frozen.
I don't know about California, but on the Great Plains, a 28-foot RV site is still small, and if you don't need hookups, you can usually back into the parking spot at a tent site, because if you can get the rear overhang off the edge of the lot, a 28-30 foot C is no longer than a crew cab pickup.
You could call it a class C, but the RVIA and its classifications and certifications did not yet exist.
The Fleetwood Body long chassis for ambulances, hearses and limousines was also popular for these small motorhomes. This was the "long" chassis shared by Cadillac sedans, Olds 98, top two lines of Buick, and one line of Pontiac.
At funeral homes (which provided most of the ambulance service in that era, with little incentive to get you to the ER on time) the preferred nameplate, at least in SE Michigan, was Cadillac. Specialty ambulance services seemed to like the Pontiac, as it was the least ostentatious marque one could obtain, since Chevrolet did not build on the long wheelbase Fisher Body platform.
When all vehicles on the road are driverless, controlled by a central computer, and talking to each other constantly there should be no driver errors. Most collisions, injuries, deaths are the result of driver errors or bad decisions, though we like to dismiss them as accidents or blame it all on the other guy.
Of course, there is still the problem of killing careless pedestrians, children, and animals. We would need to replace all those with robots controlled by the central traffic computer.
There is a vision for doing this with aircraft also, and are much closer in that regard. The modern generation of commercial aircraft can be flown by computer from takeoff position on the runway all the way to stopping after landing at many airports, leaving the flight crew nothing to do except taxi to and from the gate. Some airlines insist the pilots operate this way, and do not permit them to ever fly the aircraft with passengers aboard, except in an emergency the computer can't handle. Others allow some flying time to maintain proficiency, and a few actually conduct training during revenue flights.
The problems with computers driving vehicles or flying aircraft arise when situations are encountered that the computer programmers did not anticipate. For aircraft today, the computer just shuts down to a mode that allows manual control (but control is still through the computer). The pilots are then supposed to fly the plane and try to fix the computer problem. The tendency of more recently trained pilots to put more emphasis on the second problem has produced some interesting aircraft crashes.
Then of course, what happens if the computer shuts down?
The best battery for $100 for the way you say it will be used is the largest cheap deep cycle battery you can afford. You aren't going to get best quality at that price, you might as well go for the most capacity.
I like the Everstart or Everstart Maxx from WalMart. They both come in Group 24, 27 and 29 sizes, successively large packages with correspondingly more capacity.
You want the DC model, number ends in C, not the MS which is the marine starting battery. In a given size, the Maxx is $10-20 higher, it has a longer warranty. I don't know if you are just buying more warranty or if it is actually better construction, it is not really much more capacity. Having to choose between Maxx or getting the next larger size, I would get the next larger size, particularly if I were planning to replace it with 6V golf cart batteries within a year. E.G. a 29 DC might be right at $100, the 27 DC Maxx the same price. Go for capacity, not an extra year of warranty.
The same manufacturer (Johnson Controls) makes similar batteries for other house brands and store brands. I find that for cheap batteries, Walmart usually has the lowest prices and freshest stock. I've figured out the Everstart branding, so would rather not try to work out how Costco, Interstate, or AutoZone/O'Reillys/etc are branding their products.
You have to cross the Appalachians somewhere. Home was Detroit, duty station was MB, late 60s before most of the Interstate highways. I had a 40 HP car weighing about 2400 poinds loaded withbride and our worldly goods, so needed the easy way over the mountains.
My choice was the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Breezewood, then south across the Piedmont through Hagerstown to pick up US-301 on the coastal plain. Then 301 to 501, 501 to the beach. Route of 301 was roughly that of I-95, but you don't want to get to that much north of Richmond. Problem is what has happened to the rural highways I used to use. Interstate system has turned northern Virginia into one big suburb, and the highways all want to take you to DC.
When they finished I-75 as far south as Chattanooga, I switched to that, but then it meant crossing the mountains on the slow winding two lanes. Today, there are two more places to cross by superhighway. I-40 is a short but busy and winding section from Eastern Tennessee into Ashville, the other is I-77 through West Virginia. I've driven them both since the beginning of this century, prefer the West Virgina drive, but have only done it in midsize sedans with great power to weight ratios.
Where do you go from there? Both 77 and I-26 (down from I-40) take you across the Piedmont to Charlotte. I like US-74 out of Charlotte pick up 501 out of Laurinburg, or go to Whiteville for BBQ then south on 701 to Conway. Old familiar roads, we would drive day trips to Charlotte to shop.
Keeping to Interstates, I-77 continues through the Piedmont to Columbia, the I-20 across to Florence and the Coastal Plain, from which it is now all fourlane divided through Marion and Conway to the beach.
My last time to MB I used I-64 where it split from I-77, but I was going first to Charlottesville, Jamestown, the Outer Banks, then taking US-17 into Myrtle Beach. That would be way out of your way. It was five days from dropping my brother off at DTW so he could fly to his snowbird house in Florida, getting to MB. Interesting stops included Monticello, the Jamestown settlement site, the historical reenactment site, Williamsburg, National Monument in Kittyhawk. We could have visited USS North Carolina in Wilmington but had already done that.
Detroit to MB is roughly a day and ahalf to two days drive by any route. Any route you take has enough to see and do on the way that it can easily use up a week if you try to do them all and know where to look. Places we've visted between Detroit and MB have included Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, Appomattox, DC, Gatlinburg, Lookout Mountain, GSMNP and sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. But these are on different routes of the many possible, and we didn't visit them all on one trip. What to do on way thus depends on how much time you want to allow for that part of the trip, and the route you take might depend on what you want to visit. Like that little BBQ place in Whiteville I've been visiting from time to time over the past 45 years.
I suggest you look at what living space you can arrange inside a van. What would be a Class B motorhome if someone built a house inside. Vans can be up-fitted with lifted suspensions, larger tires (but not always to floatation sizes) and 4WD. E-series/Econoline is the more popular for this, it has had a frame under it since 1975. Suspension mods are easier if you are not trying to deal with unit body construction and subframes of limited extent. Taking E-series to 4WD means using F-250 front end parts (a lot of the rest of E-250/E-350 is already F-250 of same vintage).
Problem with trying to do this with a Class C is that it can be difficult to gain much additional clearance. For many C models, much of the house and utilities hangs down below the chassis frame rails. The major exception would be excursion RVs, which were more often built on conventional cab 3/4 ton to 2 1/2 ton chassis, with the house built to clear pretty much what the chassis will clear.
You won't be finding excursion vehicles with houses on your budget, even the older ones from Tiger and from Frank Industries/Xcursion will be too recent, too much in demand.
One of the guys I work with in community theater is building his go anywhere RV on a 2.5 ton military 6x6 he picked up for about $800. His choice was a shop van body, as it is already insulated, has big windows, and forced air ventilation. That one might also run on just about any liquid that will burn.
Another low cost starting point for build-your-own on the house would be a box van or box truck. Truck is more likely to have larger wheels and tires, and thus greater ride height. Old U-Hauls are popular because of the lower floors, but that might work against you.
There is no technical reason. There have been rear-engine gas motorhome chassis and rear-engine gas passenger coach chassis in the past, and there are rear-engine LPG and CNG coaches running today.
Why you don't see them in RVs is probably a market issue, the last one offered was not well accepted, it was almost as expensive as the same class of chassis with a small diesel engine (e.g. the leaf-spring Roadmaster). That was also a market flop.
Really, the difference in cost from rear engine gas to the lowest cost diesel Freightliner is less than the difference in cost from the Workhorse W-22 to the Workhorse UFO. I think if buyers are willing to pay the cost of getting a rear engine, they are usually willing to go a little further and get the rest of the advantages (air springing, air brakes etc) of a low end diesel pusher.
Almost every GPS based navigation device does its own routing on the fly. The device has its own map information, which includes routing priorities, and uses at most only the stops identified on the route imported.
I found this to be the case even when using identical map data on the computer, i.e. map data in the GPS device came from the computer, and the routing program came from the GPS manufacture.
In the case of Good Sams online planner and Rand McNally's device, it is unlikely that they have map data in common to the extent they might share routing details. The work around is to put in enough stops or waypoints to force the GPS to come up with your preferred route.
The actual model number (not necessarily just the number on the side, rather the longer number on the manufacturer's VIN label) should contain a code letter or number for which model line.
In 2006, Alfa fifth wheels, a SeeYa! Gold was priced about 25% higher than a similar size SeeYa! but I don't know the difference in details. I was shopping Carriage, so better knew the differences Cameo to CarriLite to Carriage, and for those there were actually some construction differences because the different models were targeting different weight markets as well as price markets.
At Alfa the difference could be just level of trim and household fittings, or it could be something more. In the motorhomes where Alfa had three lines, the differences included different chassis models and capacities.
"Low book?" Dealers buy at substantially lower than "wholesale" so they have some room to resell it at that price. Did the book carry prices labeled "wholesale" and "trade-in value?"
If you want more, you have to find a retail buyer, and they will be considering a private sale in hopes of getting the RV for something less than the lowest retail prices at dealers.
In any case, NADA and BlueBook values for RVs tend to reflect a standard depreciation scale rather than data collected from actual transactions, as might be done for cars. There are too many different RV models, too few resale transactions for many of those models, to gather useful sales price statistics. So you might be looking at a number far from market realities.
1994 to end of production in 2003 was essentially the same van. At some point the 4-speed OD automatic became more common, I would want that vs the 3 speed, with today's full prices. The best are 1998 and later, with some chassis improvements with no major body or styling change.
Previous generation, 1979-1993, the dimensions and major body structures were similar, engine and drive train options varied more, with slant sixes, V-6s cut from the small block V8, and both LA and LB engine series (318 to 440 CID) and at least five different transmissions, the parts situation gets more complicated depending on just what it is that you have.
I would stick to 1994 and later, with Magnum engines shared with pickup trucks from the era, and a more limited variety of automatic transmissions installed.
Most of the body from A-pillar back is interchangeable with parts from 1979 on. Chrysler stayed with the same unibody from 1979 to end of production, while GM and Ford scrapped earlier unit construction for body on frame (Ford in 1975, Chevrolet after 1996). Of the three brands, Dodge offers the widest model year range for body parts from beginning to end of production.
That's weird, compared to an equivalent Jayco. One company, two brands.
Depending on the model, it either gets built for Starcraft at one of several Jayco plants, or it gets built for Jayco at the Starcraft plant, with differences in trim, equipment, and of course branding.
Autumn Ridge line is bigger than what Starcraft builds, so it is a Jayco product. Do the Jayco employees intentionally do shoddy work on the frames of trailers that will be Starcraft branded? How would they know, at the frame plant, which is a separate operation, which brand is it going to eventually be.
But could this brand rivalry be the explanation for the rough finish on a Jayco popup I looked at in early 2014 at the factory showroom, considering that the Starcraft plant was building that model for Jayco?
As a conspiracy theory, could it make national news?
Just wait 'til the seams start leaking and the walls rot. I think you are doing pretty well for buying rock bottom on the price scale. I've seen a lot more go bad, more quickly, for some of the members in our RV club.