floridarandy

Diesel 36' Or Less

29 posts in this topic

After 40 + years of camping from tents-popups-5th wheels we're planning for retirement and want a Class A Diesel.  Pre-2008 diesel emissions power.  Exhaust brake/retarder important as we intend to do as many and as an elevation as North America provides.  No slide configurations are OK.

Length is important as we prefer having unlimited access to smaller parks, especially state parks.

Kitchen layout is important as DW is a great cook and needs as much counter space as possible.

Outside storage is important.

Ultimately we'll shop by the short list that is developed from the suggestions we get.

Budget $100k or less.

For now  we're primarily interested in Make/Model/Year/Floorplan suggestions.

Floridarandy

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My short list was developed by reading a lot of threads in various forums.

My personal definition of quality/level of coach was critical, as was my willingness to remodel the inside, my diy skills,

inspector skills, house service skills, and lack of chassis skills.   

================= 

My wife really would prefer a 5th, as would I, but based on our planned usage we have settled on a coach.

Our first step is buying the toad, which should happen in July. My wife has not yet focused on the need to

fit our Boxer into the toad once we have arrived at our destination. A smart car won't do, from my perspective.

========================

The cooking challenge has been the hardest part to deal with having settled on a coach.

A residential oven is the hardest appliance to do without, but

that can be in large part dealt with by buying a good BBQ grill/smoker and cooking with the lid down and

a good baking/grilling stone (one option).

Having finished cooking school, I have ditched most of our popular appliances. 

=================

As to the length issue, I have sort of resolved to simply make due with a better toad on the assumption that we

will likely spend more time in the private parks than I first assumed. Need someone to share my bakery end-products with, if

nothing else. 

==================

I didn't find the pros and cons of gas vs diesel, and mh vs 5th very useful at the end of the day. If I'm flying, I need an airplane, even if I would rather take a boat. 

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As Herman suggested.  I was there 2 weeks ago getting work done on mine and a nicer, more knowledgeable are hard to find.  That said, they have a great selection and fair pricing!  Since your in FL you might also try Lazydays in Seffner....they always have 1,000 + RV's on hand.  To buy there is good, but service stinks.  My suggestion would be a pre 06' Monaco DP, Holiday Rambler DP or Safari DP. 

Welcome to the Forum and wish you luck.

Carl C.

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If you are looking pre-2008, you are already 8 years old and the price limitation at that age shouldn't be much of a barrier.  Look for a high quality coach.  These coaches are pre-recession coaches.  Coaches manufactured after 2006 were manufactured in the waning years of the RV boom.  Fuel prices were affecting the sales so manufacturers were beginning to cut corners to reduce purchase prices.  Post 2008 many of the manufacturers went out of business.  The Monaco family (including Holiday Rambler, Beaver and Safari) went through bankruptcy.  They were purchased by Navistar and continued to manufacture limited models.  Recently they were sold to another company, ASV which has restructured their operations, now Monaco and Holiday Rambler are part of the REV Group which includes American Coaches and Fleetwood Coaches.  Through all this, the Monaco support, tech support and factory service centers have continued to provide excellent service.  I mention this to alert you to the fact that there are some coaches that are truly orphans.  Their manufacturers no longer exist and your requests for assistance from a manufacturer will be futile.  There are user groups for most brands but finding parts and factory quality service can be a problem.  Do your due diligence on the manufacturer so you aren't surprised to find no support is available.

We love Monaco products, the 8 airbags mounted in line with the tires give a superior ride.  Cummins diesel has served us well though you must understand that maintenance on any diesel engine isn't cheap.  Even if you are doing your own maintenance, the parts aren't cheap.  We had a 38 foot and now a 40 foot coach.  I think the ride will get better with the longer length.  Our 40 footer has had only minor adjustments in slides and we are now going on 13 years on the road in this coach and 150,000+ miles.  Most coaches manufactured after 2000 will have some slides.  We started with no slides in our first coach.  Having slides to expand the coach are almost never a problem in campgrounds (even in Canada and Alaska) and they make the living much more comfortable.  The outside storage is obviously greater with larger coaches.  Pass through compartments are really nice and if they don't have sliding tray storage, it can be added by any number of suppliers.  The pass through slide out tray in our coach is more valuable as time passes and I get older! 

If a 36 footer is your choice so you can fit into smaller campsites, state and national parks and others, that is fine.  Otherwise there really isn't much difference in driving a 36 footer and a 40 footer.  Your choices are much broader in the 40 foot category.  That is a big rig and there are more models manufactured at this level.  If you are planning to tow a car you can find parks near the state and national parks and do your exploring in your toad.  Without a toad you will have a difficult time getting around to tour a state or national park.  We have found state parks and in Canada, national parks that have sites for 40 foot coaches.  State parks that don't have sites for 40 footers often don't have full hook-ups or 50 amp electric.

Beyond Monaco and Holiday Rambler, Country Coach is another brand that I have always looked at as a quality coach.  Even if you aren't interested in the higher priced brands, I would encourage you to look at them to see the quality of those coaches.  There are many low quality coaches, buy the highest quality you can afford, it will serve you well.  Many coaches have nice paint jobs, quality is in the cabinetry, suspension, design, windows, doors, compartments, plumbing, lighting and floors.  Drive it, see how much it rattles, how it handles, how it rides.

Floor plans are so much an individual decision I wouldn't even begin to make suggestions here.  The issue of a conventional oven can be answered by the convection microwave oven.  Louise is quite happy with ours.  We lived full time in our coach for almost ten years, Louise insists on a good sized pantry.  She also makes good use of the Splendide washer/dryer.  We have replaced the Norcold 1200 refrigerator in our coach with a residential refrigerator.  Norcold 1200 LRM model refrigerators have been subject to recall and the retrofit kit for them is a problem.  They are a serious fire hazard.  I slept better once ours was replaced.  You won't find too many coaches pre-2008 with residential refrigerators as original equipment but it is an upgrade that you might want to consider. 

We use 120V AC full time in our coach.  We have an inverter that is always on.  4 6V batteries is standard for most larger coaches as is 50A electric.  You can get by with 30A but the larger coaches with 2 air conditioner/heat pumps require 50A to be able to use both these appliances at the same time.  This time of year, having 50A electric means comfort on hot days.

Size of tanks is a consideration.  We have 95 gallons fresh water, 60 gallons gray water and 40 gallons black water.  We can go a week living on our tanks alone if we have to.  Our fuel tank is 127 gallons for a range near 1000 miles.  Keeping the tank 1/4 full to keep the generator fueled limits that range to something like 750 miles.  We just turned 2000 hours on our generator and we use it frequently.  It is handy for boondocking and for travel on hot days when the dash air conditioner isn't sufficient for comfortable travel.  A generator means increased flexibility in your travel options.

You are buying a used coach so service from the dealer isn't a huge factor, there is no warranty service and you can get service anywhere.  If you have a good repair shop near your home, they will service what you have.  We have obtained service as we travel for fifteen years on the road.  There are good service centers and those that are not.  Most will do a suitable job.  Since the recession, dealers and service providers are anxious to provide service.  It was common in 2001 to find dealers that wouldn't provide service if you didn't purchase from them but we haven't encountered that recently.  The RV industry is slowly recovering but will likely never return to the boom days of the 90's and early 00's.  You need work done and they are hungry to serve.  We are this year beginning to encounter RV parks that are reserved and have no sites available.  That hasn't happened for years. 

These are a few of the considerations in selecting a coach.  I don't have specific recommendations beyond these.  Take time, examine a wide variety of coaches, you will find something that meets your needs.

 

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19 hours ago, Manholt said:

As Herman suggested.  I was there 2 weeks ago getting work done on mine and a nicer, more knowledgeable are hard to find.  That said, they have a great selection and fair pricing!  Since your in FL you might also try Lazydays in Seffner....they always have 1,000 + RV's on hand.  To buy there is good, but service stinks.  My suggestion would be a pre 06' Monaco DP, Holiday Rambler DP or Safari DP. 

Welcome to the Forum and wish you luck.

Carl C.

Carl, I have to disagree on the statement regarding pricing.  I did not buy from them because their price on the same coach was much higher than the competition.

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The OP asked for possible choices  in a 36' or less DP. They are out there I am sure. Our 40' would not fit into most NFS or BLM sites. Do miss them though, but the long gravel roads getting there would be tough on a rear radiator unit.

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"I'm quite sure the issue of a conventional oven can be answered by the convection microwave oven for many coach owners, but not for my needs."

The answer is primarily one of convenience, which is relevant in a MH. 

Microwaves, as such, are best for reheating and heating, not cooking. Microwaves tend to dehydrate a lot of products.

Convection ovens cook by circulating dry heat. A coach convection oven is not equal to a residential convection oven and a residential convection oven is not equal to a commercial convection oven.  Just because a coach convection oven has a little fan in it, does not make it a good residential or commercial convection oven. But it is a winner as to convenience and having one rather than none.  In fact, there is a huge difference between an at home convection oven vs a commercial one, and the fans are not the only issues, but the cooking elements are also a big issue, which is why a MH oven is often unreliable because gas has commonly been the primary fuel source for those ovens. Have not yet seen any electric ovens yet, but then 220 is a common plug in anyway. 

========

Both ovens and BBQ grills (lid down) are extremely popular appliances to cook food using dry heat without a medium such as oil, as in a saute pan. Cooks commonly avoid the convection/microwave option, but then they aren't often cooking in a MH.
 
Of the two, grilling is an older method than the oven, but the oven is perhaps a more versatile method of cooking today. Both are dry cooking methods. 
 

Before the advent of the present day microwave oven, earthen ovens were used extensively for heating and thus, cooking foods. These were chambers that produced intense heat and cooked food in a short time. They were called Tandoor in Asian cultures, and were used to make different types of breads and roasted chicken. Grill is just a variation of application of dry heat as it involves putting food item over a heat source, usually charcoal though, modern grill make use of gas to provide direct heat in the form of flame.

If we look at differences, there are many, right from shape and size to location as well as a variety of foods that can be cooked using these two cooking methods. Grills, whether they use charcoal or are gas based are bigger in size than ovens, and are usually kept in the backyard or any other outdoor place so that the smoke produced by grilling goes up in the atmosphere. On the other hand, ovens, that are mostly microwave ovens, are smaller in size, and kept inside kitchens.

(Unfortunately, many men use a grill as a good excuse for burning food...many claim they are not really cooking. )

Whereas, grilling requires food to be placed on wired mesh made of a metal just above the heat source, an oven provides heat from all sides to the food item thus, heating it evenly. In some ovens, there is a provision for grilling the food item through a distinct process called broiling, where heat is provided from the top instead of below, which is characteristic of grilling otherwise.

(Broiling is a very effective method that many cooks have forgotten about)

In grilling, dry heat is intense and chars the food which is not the case in an oven. An oven broiler is another discussion. 

(When you grill you use maximum heat, but if you use your grill as an oven, the key is working with less heat. In any case, it is important to use it in combination with a wet method to avoid drying out the food.) 

In ovens, heat is just sufficient to brown the surface of the food item which is why oven is mostly used to prepare breads, cakes, biscuits, and some vegetables.

Ovens don't conduct heat well which is why you can open your oven and stick your hand in momentarily and not burnt it vs putting your hand on metal, which is a much better conductor of heat. 

Meats can also be baked or broiled in an oven. However, there is a lot of difference between meats that are grilled and meats that are baked in an oven as grilled meat is full of flavors and aroma it soaks from the smoke of the fire from below. Gas vs charcoal is basically just an issue of smoke and how to produce smoke.

(Which is why there is a market for smokers that are even better at it due to long smoking times at lower temperatures.)

The high heat the meat gets from below develops flavors that are not there in an oven. Charring is one feature that takes place only in a grill and not in the oven but this charring is what makes meats delicious. However, burnt food  vs charring destroys flavors. 

One of things I have learned is to get rid of duplicative appliances. I prefer to use a good grill with the lid down as an oven and toss the microwave/convection oven from my house and it follows from the coach I plan to buy. In fact, I keep throwing appliances and the related stuff out.  Basically, a good chef's knife, with trained knife skills added, starts the changes in ones perspective.

Edit: before someone accuses me of saying one can't cook in a MH convection oven or that someones cooking is no good...please reread and notice I don't say that.

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FIVE.  I had no issue with the price, just service.  Then they may have changed in the past 42 months!

Roger S.  What has the above rant got to do with the OP's original question?

Floridarandy.  Check out PPL, they have some 36' and 37' DP's at a good price and layout.  Though most are 40' for DP.

Carl

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Actually I rather enjoyed the "rant" or the dissertation as I learned something, very interesting.

 

Bill Edwards

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The definition of rant is:

1. "To speak or write in an angry or emotionally charged manner; rave.
2. To express at length a complaint or negative opinion."
 
Neither of those definitions apply to my post, Bill.
However...
It would be accurate to characterize it as a "penser tout haut," expressed in writing.
 
As to relevance, I could have said that if you have a good BBQ grill you can toss out your coach microwave/convection oven. But,
I prefer to provide the information and let people come to their own conclusions. Needs vary.

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I also cook Roger.  I do it for myself and friends in a commercial kitchen at home, I even have a Salamander.  But I still don't understand what this has to do with the OP's question?!

Carl

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4 hours ago, Manholt said:

I still don't understand what this has to do with the OP's question?!

Carl

I opened this can of worms.  If you read through my whole dissertation you will find a single sentence where I referenced Rodger's previous remark regarding the microwave oven.  Obviously, I'm not the cook that Rodger is and my remark could be taken as dismissive by someone who is much more qualified than I.  There was a great deal to be learned from Rodger's posting which I take in the spirit of the normal back and forth discussion that we have here on the FMCA forum.  For one, I thought that our convection microwave was the same as a home model, the label says "Sharp Household Microwave Oven Model No. 1870."  On the door is says "Sharp Carousel" and "Sensor Microwave Convection."  It works well for the kind of cooking that we do in the motor home.  In fact if I'm doing the cooking, Rodger probably wouldn't even consider it cooking.  No one who knows me would describe me as a foodie!  I was pleased to learn that Rodger does agree with me regarding BBQ fuel and technique.  So I will be more humble and cautious about what and how I say something about cooking!  :) 

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Part of Rodger's rant is not correct.  We do not have an "RV" convection  oven.  Ours is off the shelf residential...and it works fine.  Much rather have it than all the storage space we'd lose for a very very seldom used regular oven.

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Thanks for your kind reply TButler.  The reason I write long replies is so that I can provide some of my thoughts in addition

to and support for my opinion. 

==============================

To Five: 

The issue is not if an appliance works, but matching the appropriate cooking method, and the appliance, to the results you want. 

If you can cook without recipes, and are process focused, then what I'm saying should make sense. 

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FIVE is correct in the thought that we need inside storage.  Also, in a RV of any kind, there is a limit to what you can cook.  That is why I carry a Cajun cooker and 2 Weber 200's in a bay for outside cooking when weather permits it.  Rodger is correct in his answer to you. 

Rodger.  The greatest chefs in the world, use recipes! 

Carl

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"Rodger.  The greatest chefs in the world, use recipes!"

"Use" is the troublesome word Carl vs "duplicated." 

Chef Gaby, who trained at 2 and 3 Michelin star restaurants, said he and his sous chef recently experimented with well over 100 variations of ingredients and flavors to create one of his signature dishes at his French restaurant in SF...yes, he does provide his cooks the "recipe" so they can consistently replicate his creations for their customers. 

My key "book" is The Flavor Bible, The essential guide to culinary creativity. It has no recipes in it. 

Recently I made a chimichurri sauce, using a list of ingredients from a recipe (what did you just say Rodger???).

I went to my flavor bible and looked up cumin. That told me that the taste is bitter, sweet AND that they need to be added early in the cooking process. I know that to bring out that sweetness I have to toast them brown, not burnt, but until I can see them smoking a bit, to bring out that sweetness and increase their flavor. The ingredient list shows 1/3 cup (80 ml) of red wine vinegar. I had some cabernet wine vinegar that I slowly added in because its flavor is very powerful. I don't think I add more than a 1/3 of the 1/3 of a cup called for on this list, otherwise it would have blown out the taste. 

Obviously, I wasn't that creative, but in addition to what I did above, I looked up all the ingredients in my flavor bible to refresh my memory, and I didn't measure the ingredients but tasted my way through it. I didn't grind the cumin too fine as I wanted some texture. The are a lot of ways to fill a cup of parsley or a cup of cilantro or a cup of flour. 

If you say I used a recipe = ok, but no I didn't try to duplicate it and because I taste a lot and understand my cooking processes it, as usual, it worked out great. 

Well not the best example, but there it is...I'm not the greatest chef, but I try to think like a chef within my constraints. 

You could say that burn your recipes for me means to avoid getting stuck on duplicating them...that is my interpretation of burn your recipes or toss out your recipes. 

Tip: by the way, bakery goods are considered formulas. You get consistent results if you weight, not measure your ingredients! A cup of flour today is different tomorrow if you go by measures instead of weight. 

Rodger S. 

 

Thanks Carl for inspiring me to write this. Rodger and Out

 

 

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We have plenty of unused storage above and below in our 40' Phaeton and we have a three burner stove with oven below. Travel lighter. 

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floridarandy, 36' Diesel would be an interesting coach, I have seen small Diesel Class A's before and they look neat. One thing to keep in mind while shopping is overall quality of the coach, look a the fine details inside type of wood, is it real wood, the manufactures reputation for quality etc.. Take a look at how it was taken care of by the previous owner, most rv dealers will show it in its worse condition, while that drives my DW crazy It gives me a feel on how the previous owner took care of it. Floor plans; keep an open mind with these, what you think you might want might not work best for you, open it up, sit in different spots throughout the interior and take it all in. If it has slides on both sides and you like to sit out side under the awning, again open it up put the awning out and give it a try. A 4 slide coach or a coach with slides on the passenger/patio awning side wouldn't work for us, I spend a lot of my time in and out of the under storage compartments under the awning, the slide hanging above me would be in my way and all it would do is add lumps to my head, since no one would be inside the extra interior space would be a waste, to keep it closed just creates a tighter interior than if it wasn't there in the first place.

This one is a miss for most people; close all slides and walk around the interior, ask yourself, can I access the things I would need while on the road, i.e toilet, shower, kitchen (cabinets, refrigerator). While on the road often times you cannot open up the coach if you stop in a rest stop for the night or a parking lot, be sure you can still function and be comfortable with the slides closed in this situation.

Hope this helps, one other thing, if the dealer makes you promises they do not keep walk away before you sign for it, while it may be frustrating and a disappointment there is another dealer somewhere that will want to earn your business.

good luck

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Tiffin makes 36' DP's, Winnebago had 36' DP and the storage bay comes out with slide, Fleetwood has several models of 36' DP's. Also, Foretravel and Blue Bird, Monaco and HR.  Surprised you did not know that, Joe.  Nice write up!  Life in the slow lane, don't start at 38',,,,LOL

 

Herman.  Right on! :D:wacko: Enough.

Carl

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