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judatt

Lurking For Some Time - Now Ready To Buy

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Greetings, everyone. We have been lurking here at FMCA for a little while as we have been doing research on buying a MH. Short background - my wife retired as a nurse (RN) 8 years ago. I'm a CPA and will be retiring on Dec 4 after almost 30 years with the same company. She has been traveling with me (about 125 nights a year) since she retired and we really like spending time together after 42 years of marriage. Looking forward to spending full time together in just about 6 weeks. We are both 63 and live in VA. We have been to our local dealer a few times and really like everyone we have met there including the sales guy we are dealing with. It's only about 3 miles from our home.

We think we have narrowed it down to a couple of MH's. They are both Newmars - one is a gasser the other a DP. In reading these boards it seems the recommendation is for newbie's to buy a gently used gasser to get into the lifestyle and see what you like and don't like and then move up to the coach you will have for an extended period. I think that is good advice but I'm a little concerned since I know nothing - absolutely nothing - about mechanics and maintenance. Ask me about numbers and I can talk all day but I don't even check the oil on our vehicles. I do make sure they get regular maintenance at our local place but I don't do anything myself other than drive it over to the shop. So, I'm more inclined to go new. Also, we really like our local dealership and tend to want to go new with them.

We drove both units today - first time driving a MH. We had been in a few but never drove one. Here is our initial reaction:

Ventana LE 4044 (DP) - Quiet and drove like a dream. Engine noise almost nonexistent. Coach seemed very solid and we loved the ride. Comfort Drive was great.

Canyon Star 3953 (gasser) - As we expected, the gasser had more engine noise. What we didn't expect was that the body seemed to creak/squeak much more than the DP. It was "noisy" but not so much that we wouldn't consider it.

In short - we loved the DP but it is also right at $50k more expensive for basically 11" more length.

Both are within the budget we have set - the DP is under by a little and the gasser by a substantial amount.

This is getting long but I have faith in your experience and have really appreciated everyone's willingness to share their experience with us newbies. Look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks.

David and Judy

p.s. You might ask how we found FMCA? Several years ago we met a couple who if I remember correctly he was president of FMCA. I'm originally from Oklahoma and he had signed my CPA certificate when he was on the state board of public accounting. Small world.

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We once had a gas engined 30ft Winnie with no slides. I could not get over the noise level, especially going up hills, but that is, of course, a very subjective issue.

We now have a 40' DP with four slides. It has a 350 hp Cat engine, and I would like a little more power. But then. I would also like a 45 ft coach!

I am going out on a limb here, and guessing that the creaks and groans from the body of the gasser you tested are as a result of a less than perfect chassis, Perhaps DP's are put on a better chassis, typically, than gassers?

There will be many, much more qualified, responses than mine, but my feeling is that there is less to worry about with a diesel - until something goes wrong! Most RV gas engines are just pickup truck engines. Most DP's have very serious engines which are going to last longer than most people what to drive them in an RV.

Having owned our DP for about 5 years now, I would never go back.

JT

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judatt,

We are among the minority who went from a DP to a gasser. After owning two fifth wheels we purchased a 2008 HR Ambassador 40SKQ in May of 2013. We owned it until Oct 15th this year. The H/R had good bones but we had many problems with the "little" things, some my fault and some poor coach quality.

We purchased a very gently used 2015 Tiffin Allegro Open Road 36LA. The previous owner installed Summo suspension, rear stabilizer bar, and Safe-T-Steer on the front. It also came with a Winegard Traveler satellite receiver setup for Direct TV.

The ride with the above additions is as good as my DP. In fact it is more stable when a semi passes than the DP. If you are not going to live full-time then consider the gasser. You can have the additions added to a gasser and pay a lot less. If you are going full-time then the DP would probably be a better choice.

Good luck in your search and also take a look at the Tiffin line.

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Tried a few Gas coaches before we purchased our Ventana 4037. Yes, the DP is more money, but as you mentioned, ride quality and quietness makes a huge difference in your MH experience. Imagine when you need to do an 8 hour day behind the wheel, with a cross wind (it happens), and heavy truck traffic. Hands down the DP wins. Another plus is the DP will not depreciate as quickly as the gas unit.

If you can, factory order the coach with exactly the options you want/need, rather than purchasing a loaded dealer unit. For example we deleted exterior TV, and interior TV over dash, and used savings toward the Oasis heating system. Another item we saved a few thousand dollars on was going with carpet in the bedroom rather than extending a few square feet of ceramic tile. All a matter of personal preference to each individual, but something to consider.

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The Landon's said: "Good luck in your search and also take a look at the Tiffin line."

Thank you for your informative message, Jack and Sheralyn. Thought I would let you know as we did our research we narrowed it down to Tiffin and Newmar. In fact, I would say that Tiffin was probably our choice until we actually visited dealerships. In that process, Newmar began to come out on top and maybe for the wrong reasons but they were important reasons to us.

First, you need to know that I know nothing - absolutely nothing - about maintenance. I believe in maintenance of vehicles and probably do more than most people but I don't personally do it. I have a local guy that I take our vehicles to and he keeps them in excellent condition. So, for our MH we would plan to have all the maintenance done at our local dealer.

When we walked into our local dealer that sells Newmar's we were warmly greeted. They have a huge service department and in fact had several units and several people there that were having their units serviced. All seemed to be happy. They had a customer lounge with lots of drinks and snacks and it actually had a lady in there greeting people and offering to help. The restrooms were immaculately clean. Then we got with our salesman. He spent time talking with us about what we were thinking and how we planned to use our MH. He then showed us several units and we spent a good bit of time with each unit. We went in expecting to spend 15 minutes or so getting some information and ended up spending 4 hours there and left feeling as if we were much better informed. At the end of the 4 hours I told him that based on our original research I still felt like I needed to look at a Tiffin.

So, I looked and sure enough there is a dealer just north of us that sells Tiffin's. We went to the dealership and walked in and no one greeted us. We only saw 3 people in the entire dealership and all seemed to be employees. No one was there looking or having their MH serviced. In fact, I'm not sure how big their service department was - I saw an awning and a bay but no one was there and no vehicles seemed to be there. I asked if we could look at a Tiffin and he said sure - we have 2 out there and they are open. He went out with us but then pretty much left us alone - no explanations of anything. Frankly, I'm not sure he knew anything about them. So we were left on our own to explore which in some ways I tend to like but in this case I want to know about how things work because I don't know anything. Fortunately, I had just spent 4 hours the day before with the Newmar guy so I did know a few things to look for.

After visiting both places, I feel confident the Tiffin is a great product. However, considering the entire experience, I feel like for us the Newmar would be the better MH. Maybe these are all the wrong reasons but they are important to us. Setting all the dealership experiences aside, the two brands are pretty similar in many respects and the Comfort Drive on the Newmar is a big selling point for us. Although, I'll admit we didn't drive the Tiffin and probably should have.

Thanks again for your great input. Look forward to further conversation. David

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Tiffin is a great line, but dealership relations is of utmost importance. When buying, as long as the DP is within your budget, I would highly recommend going that direction because of ride and handling abilities.

Also you should be informed that in mountainous terrain the ability to climb hills with the diesel is quiet a bit better, as well as the unit if equipped with a "jake" brake is very handy for descent.

The diesel unit requires less maintenance than a gasser, although it is more expensive than gas due to the amount of oil and other liquids.

The diesel can sit much longer than gas because diesel will last much longer than gasoline without going bad.

Good luck with whatever you decide, and welcome to the world of motorhoming.

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Welcome.

I would also lean toward the dealer that treated me like I was important to them, both coaches are of exceptional quality, I do not believe one would be better than the other in quality.

We started with a Gasser Class C 31', looking back I wished I had talked my wife into the DP on the first purchase. Mostly the ride quality and the overall quality of the unit is much greater. I didn't have to modify the suspension and steering on the DP to handle a pickup truck passing me and blowing us off the road. Now tractor trailers do not move me. When we arrive at our destination I feel relaxed and comfortable, not stressed and exhausted. The increase in fuel mileage and power was another big plus.

Good luck with your shopping.

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I've driven about a dozen gassers and DPs, from Class C to Prevost.

The wife, too.

We agree that a sweet spot in value, utility, site access, ease of driving, fuel economy, depreciation, maintenance seems to happen at 40' in a basic diesel pusher with 350-400 hp.

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David and Judy,

Seems like in your demo rides of the DP and gasser you already found something you didn't like about one of them. I would wonder how much further that would extend to over time. You are going to find so many different responses. In the end it comes down to how you feel about a particular unit.

I'm eleven years older than you and there is not way I can crawl around doing maintenance on my 40 foot DP. I do know how to pull out the DIP sticks and check the oil and transmission fluid, and also the radiator holding tank. After that it is to the shop it goes. I would wager that there is a very high percentage of motorhome owners that do not do their own maintenance. In my case I put it in the Freightliner shop for annual maintenance.

As a learning experience on operation, the manuals you will get will be a great start. Then, go to a campground near by for a shake down. Pull in, then see if you have a friendly neighbor. Ask them questions and anyone else that is friendly. Most likely you will find everyone around you friendly. That is the nature of RV'ers.

Or, get out of VA for the winter and come on down here to Texas. We have several campgrounds in the area and you can pick my pea brain for whatever knowledge I have.

Personally, go with the diesel. After a couple years of trying it out and decide it's not for you, you will still get a better return on $$ than the gasser - in my humble opinion. Jump on in, the water is fine.

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Greetings, everyone. We have been lurking here at FMCA for a little while as we have been doing research on buying a MH. Short background - my wife retired as a nurse (RN) 8 years ago. I'm a CPA and will be retiring on Dec 4 after almost 30 years with the same company. She has been traveling with me (about 125 nights a year) since she retired and we really like spending time together after 42 years of marriage. Looking forward to spending full time together in just about 6 weeks. We are both 63 and live in VA. We have been to our local dealer a few times and really like everyone we have met there including the sales guy we are dealing with. It's only about 3 miles from our home.

We think we have narrowed it down to a couple of MH's. They are both Newmars - one is a gasser the other a DP. In reading these boards it seems the recommendation is for newbie's to buy a gently used gasser to get into the lifestyle and see what you like and don't like and then move up to the coach you will have for an extended period. I think that is good advice but I'm a little concerned since I know nothing - absolutely nothing - about mechanics and maintenance. Ask me about numbers and I can talk all day but I don't even check the oil on our vehicles. I do make sure they get regular maintenance at our local place but I don't do anything myself other than drive it over to the shop. So, I'm more inclined to go new. Also, we really like our local dealership and tend to want to go new with them.

We drove both units today - first time driving a MH. We had been in a few but never drove one. Here is our initial reaction:

Ventana LE 4044 (DP) - Quiet and drove like a dream. Engine noise almost nonexistent. Coach seemed very solid and we loved the ride. Comfort Drive was great.

Canyon Star 3953 (gasser) - As we expected, the gasser had more engine noise. What we didn't expect was that the body seemed to creak/squeak much more than the DP. It was "noisy" but not so much that we wouldn't consider it.

In short - we loved the DP but it is also right at $50k more expensive for basically 11" more length.

Both are within the budget we have set - the DP is under by a little and the gasser by a substantial amount.

This is getting long but I have faith in your experience and have really appreciated everyone's willingness to share their experience with us newbies. Look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks.

David and Judy

p.s. You might ask how we found FMCA? Several years ago we met a couple who if I remember correctly he was president of FMCA. I'm originally from Oklahoma and he had signed my CPA certificate when he was on the state board of public accounting. Small world.

We purchased a Canyon Star new in 2012 excellent quality, formerly owned 2 Fleetwood motorhomes,one gas one diesel.

Newmar in a league of there own. Most gas coaches are maxed out on their chassis. This contributes to banging, creaking,etc.Get ready to spend some money upgrading chassis with heavier duty sway bars, trac bars and engine upgrades with a Banks header and cold air intake.Call 5 star tuning get their scanner and reflash the stock computer with their program.Don't even waste time thinking about it just do it! Trust me you will never regret it.

Lastly you can buy an awful lot of gasoline with the money you saved by not buying a DP. Enjoy your new motorhome

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Judatt -

I concur the relationship with the local dealer is vitally important. You will have minor problems with almost any unit (New or Old) you purchase. For that reason you need a place that can and will reliably correct the problems.

While there have been many words written about the gas vs diesel choice, last year I discovered a difference that stands out in my mind. Because of all the problems the automotive industry, the only remaining class A chassis manufacturer is Ford. The latest Ford Chassis has a base Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of only 16 thousand pounds. With all the upgrades they can reach 26,000 pounds GVWR. There are several manufacturers of Diesel Pusher (DP) chassis so I will use the Freightliner as an example. Their smallest DP is rated at 26,000 pounds and the largest at 54,000 pounds. Other DP's are similarly husky.

Why does this make a difference to the owner. It is all about construction. With the extra carrying capacity of the DP, the coach builder can select full thickness wood and heavy steel construction while the gas models need to use aluminum, plywood and plastic to keep the weight down. The gas models also tend to have smaller battery packs, less fuel and water capacity as well. It is not to say that either is bad or good, but as you noted, the gas units bodies tend to flex more due to lighter construction.

I will not claim either fuel is better as I have owned and enjoyed both, but for mountain driving I love my DP. With an exhaust brake and retarder control on the engine and transmission I can drive down the hills pretty much like I drive up hills and the extra carrying capacity allows me to enhance my rock collect without worrying about an overload.

One final thought. Turning radius. A Class A motorhome is a whale on the road at best. As you have no doubt discovered it is longer, higher, and wider than anything on the road except the simis. Many of the DPs have something like a 55 degree wheel cut. The gas units can not match that. That means that when you try to back into a camp site you only have to get the back wheels in position then cut the wheels hard and the front of the motorhome will go almost sideways to get into line. With the gas units I have seen you need a more sloped approach that many find hard to manage.

Like I said, I have owned both in my life and I do not regret either purchase. With my gas unit I did all the maintenance my self, but then I was much younger. My DP goes to the shop when the clearance light burns out.

The best plan is carefully consider all your options then purchase the one your wife likes the cabinet in the best the go have fun.

As my engineer friend noted as I agonized over my leap to the DP. Just buy one. Used units do not depreciate very fast. So what if it cost you a few dollars to trade up to the other one. It is cheep and fun education.

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