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RE: Fulltime 5er to MH - Help?

TheTripp, Looks like you're getting lots of good feedback. As I said, when we started looking, the folks on this forum were very helpful. It's nice to see that hasn't changed. Ivylog, That floorplan you posted is an example of a bathroom layout I would recommend against with much more than 2 people in the rig. When someone is in the shower, isn't the front of the rig separated from the back? If the fam is getting ready to go out to dinner or some such after a day out, those closed doors form a bottle neck and other people can't freely pass from front to back to get dressed or whatever. My recommendation is for a bathroom in which the sink, shower & john are all on one side. A definite PLUS IF the john is located so when you're sitting on it, you face the rear of the rig. Why? So IF someone was on it while travelling down the road and hard braking was required, you're pushed back against the wall. I guess you could install seatbelts on the john! LOL That was one of those things we didn't think about when we were purchasing, but it was a nice bonus. We told the kids that everyone sits to pee when rolling down the road. Ok...enough potty talk! LOL Ah man, as much as I like our rig and a "new" one isn't in our immediate future, I made the mistake of doing a bit of searching on RVTrader.com and doing a bit of day-dreaming. Hmmmm...if only I could retire THIS year! LOL ~Rick
Rick Jay 02/24/21 06:16pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: Fulltime 5er to MH - Help?

TheTripp, Welcome to the forums! First of all, I can tell you that there is NO BETTER WAY to travel with children than in a motorhome. When we got ours (ordered new from the factory) our children were 8, 4, 3 & 11 months. We researched over 2 years looking for our "ideal RV". Note, this was also our FIRST RV, and I wanted to get it right the first time. I spent A LOT of time on this forum, and the folks here were VERY helpful in guiding us to our final purchase. (Just to put things in perspective, we started out looking at small trailers to tow behind our Honda Odyssey, and ended up with a 36' gas Class A that we use to TOW the Odyssey. Yes, we were fortunate that I could increase the budget from $15k to $100k. Hey! It's only money! LOL) We took our time, investigated all options, and ended up with the RV & floorplan that fit our lifestyle and expected use the best. Seventeen years later and we STILL like it better than just about anything else we're ever seen. Ours is the rare (for a gasser) dual-sofa layout. As you know, travelling with youngsters in a car/pickup truck for any length of time is a challenge. I can tell you that we travelled for long days in the motorhome with the kids, and it was a breeze. Whenever we'd run into traffic, the kids did they're potty breaks and the wife would break out snacks/lunch/drinks. Heck, a few times wifey and I even switched places in stop & go traffic allowing me to hit the restroom. The great thing about it is when the traffic clears, we just keep right on cruising down the road. Most of the other cars are headed for the next exit or rest stop. We might not travel as fast as a car, but the fact we rarely had to stop, other than for gas, allowed us to keep pretty near a 50 mph average speed when on the road. Again, NO better way to travel with the kids. You WILL need counter space to prepare food for a family. Make SURE that counter space and everything else in the rig is accessible when the slides are IN. If you're pulled over in a rest area, you generally don't want to have to put out your slides, and sometimes you can't if there isn't any space. Bathroom(s): while more than one would be nice, we made do quite well with just one. I WOULD recommend that if there is a bathroom in the middle of the rig, make sure it is all on one side of the rig or the other. Some mid-ship baths use both sides of the aisle and if someone is in the bathroom, you have now completely isolated the front of the RV from the rear. NOT a good idea with kids. It's also not convenient when you're trying to get ready to go out and people need to get clothes, etc.. Oh, you WILL need LOTS of storage, as you already know. I've never been a fan of the bunk model Class A's, and they really were not much of a "thing" back when we were buying. But if our rig had bunks, they would take up space which would cause us to lose more than 50% of our clothes closets & drawers plus our utility closet (plumbed for a washer & dryer, but we never installed one). NO WAY could we live that way. Heck, just in shoes, with the 6 of us, there were at least 3 pairs of shoes per person....that's 18 shoes...and the water shoes were kept in the bin underneath the rig! LOL Oh, the Washer/Dryer setup. We thought we'd want one so we had the rig prepped for it (plumbing and electrical). But after seeing how small of a load it could handle and that we'd have to give up our utility closet, the wife decided we'd just use campground facilities. Which we have done. Now, the longest trip we ever took when the kids were young was about 5 weeks on the road when the kids were about 11, 7, 6 & 4. Not full timing by any stretch, but we lived very comfortably during the trip. I do carry a good assortment of tools and some spare parts, but we still had sufficient storage in our rig. While travelling, we often overnight at Walmart Supercenters where we pick up supplies, spend the night and get breakfast from their bakery. We ruled out the few bunk models that were available because we decided that "living space" was more important then "sleeping space" for the kids, and that really was true for our clan. Having those two sofas and dinette up front gave the entire family enough relaxing room to play games or watch a movie when the weather was bad, or if it was too cold out. (We fairly frequently camped well into the Fall, early Spring, and sometimes even in the Winter here in the Northeast.) Wifey and I got very efficient at the evening/morning ritual of prepping the sofas and dinette as needed. Probably 5 minutes at most. Bedding and pillows were stored directly above each sofa & dinette. As the kids got older, they helped. (OK....sometimes with them helping it actually took us LONGER...but they enjoyed "helping".) Oh, when they're young like yours, you can fit atleast 2 on the dinette, and three on a fold-out sofa. As they grew, then we needed to deploy both sofas & the dinette. But they loved it. The kids got the front of the RV at night and mommy & daddy had the back to ourselves, with some decent space in between. With the A/C's running and/or heaters or fans and the front TV on, that even allowed a bit of "privacy time" for wifey and I. (My gripe with most bunk-model class A's is the bunks are a paper-thin wall away from the adult bedroom.) Our rig has an RV Queen bed in it and it's good for us. I'm 6' about 250 lbs., wifey is a bit over 5' and NO WAY will I put her weight on here! LOL It works find for us. I've seen King size beds in RVs and always thought that was an inefficient use of space. You already know about outdoor storage. You should know that some rigs have basement AC's instead of roof mounted units. There might be some advantages to those, but understand they use up a fair amount of storage space. With a family, you'll need the space. Heck, you'll need a fair amount of space just for tools and things, assuming you do your own work. For what you want to tow, I think you will be looking at a rig with a tag axle. I'm assuming you have plans to home-school your children. If so, GREAT! We did that with our kids and it worked out VERY WELL for them. The curriculum we used was not cheap, but it was VERY rigorous and complete. Send me a PM if you want to know more. Though...it looks like you've got a few years before that's much of a concern! :-) I think at this point I'd be tempted to advise you to look for high-quality rigs from the early 2000's or so, well kept and low mileage. In this way, most of the depreciation is gone and if in 3-5 years you decide that you need a different floorplan, then you won't lose much by selling this rig. You're undoubtedly going to learn some things as you go, and as the children get bigger, you might find a different floorplan to be preferable. For instance, a bath and a half instead of a single bath. While we still enjoy our rig and I don't see changing it anytime soon, I think if I ever did I'd be looking for a 20-25 year old, top of the line, class A which has been gently used and nicely kept. Buying new has some advantages, but you take a hit on the depreciation if you have to sell or trade. We knew we'd be holding onto ours for a long time and with a growing family, I had to (sort of) watch the budget. But I've seen some REALLY NICE classic Prevost's and Newmars in campgrounds and I could possibly see myself being tempted in a few years after I retire. Oh, the other thing, be sure to check for seatbelted positions. Our rig came from the factory with 12 belted positions: 3 on each sofa, 4 on the dinette, passenger & driver. In addition, I installed three across our bed so that when we travelled at night and the kids were young, we put all four of them in the bed and put the straps over them loosely. Just enough so that if I had to lock up the brakes they wouldn't go all rolling out on top of each other! LOL Anyway many rigs only have 4 or 5 belted positions. You can always add more yourself, just be aware that you might have to do that. The advantage of having more belted positions than butts to put in them is that the kids had the option to move around and change seats throughout the trip. And along those lines, try to find a rig that has a lot of windows up front. The huge windshield of the class A and some nice glass area on the sides gives the kids the opportunity to see the sights too! OK...I think that's most of what I wanted to tell you. ON EDIT: Oh, one other thing...when you say "fulltime", do you mean that you don't have a physical home someplace that you can retreat too on occasion? The reason I ask is because there would be a big difference for me between packing the rig for being out on the road knowing I can come back home if needed, and packing it with everything I own that I want to keep with me. I bring a cross-section of tools with me in the rig when we travel, but no way could I bring everything I wanted to have. I guess it depends upon individual preference, but I've amassed quite a selection of tools over my life (60 yrs. old now) and I'm not ready to part with any of them now. IF wifey and I become full-timers when I retired, I plan on keeping the house. I'm sure at least one of the kids will be interested in living in it while we're away. But to pare down EVERYTHING...THAT would be real tough for us. Good Luck in your search. Take your time and please don't hesitate to ask us questions! ~Rick
Rick Jay 02/23/21 05:02pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: Winterizing the coffee maker

Well...I don't use a Keurig, and I'm sorry to hear you had that issue. One thought...perhaps your last "cups of coffee" for the season should be made with Vodka instead of water? LOL And I have NO IDEA if heating up vodka would cause it to catch fire...so use this advice carefully...maybe brew it out over the firepit? ;) ~Rick
Rick Jay 02/19/21 02:32pm General RVing Issues
RE: Braking system required?

Whenever this issue comes up, there's always a good banter of legal, required, tested, etc. Many good points are raised and made by most. My personal thoughts are that additional braking is a good idea, and having a break-away system makes sense. But that's just me. So...when it was time to equip our Odyssey to flat-tow behind our gasser Class A, I did my own research and here is what I found. For the model year of our motorhome, both Ford and Workhorse said in their owner's manual that auxiliary braking systems were REQUIRED on anything being towed over 1,500 lbs. Our Odyssey is about 4,450 lbs. So we were way past THAT. At that point, it didn't matter to me what any individual State requirement was, the manufacturer of the chassis of my motorhome said that auxiliary brakes were needed. So I installed them. And yes, I can tell a difference in stopping whether the brake controller is on or off. While I'm not one to be easily "spooked" by "what ifs" and "going to court", etc., I did figure it would be pretty easy for even a dysfunctional lawyer to find the same statement I did in the manual. So, my answer is, check the owner's manual for your chassis and/or motorhome and see what the manufacturer says. But in my personal opinion and thoughts, auxiliary braking systems are just a good idea. Period. Stay safe! ~Rick
Rick Jay 02/10/21 12:49pm Dinghy Towing
RE: Window fog

wjschill, We have dual pane windows in our rig and a few have begun to show signs of the fog. Not bad yet, but perhaps this Spring the boys and I will give an attempt at repairing them, or having someone local repair them after we remove them. I know in years past, folks have posted the names of places which do such work very quickly, as in drop your rig off one day and pick it up the next. I don't know the name of it, but I know at least one place is down in Florida. Next time I'm down that way, if I haven't gotten to the job myself, I may do the research and schedule them to do it. They seemed to be highly recommended. Dual pane windows ARE very nice in terms of their insulation ability when it's HOT or COLD outside. But, bouncing around in a motorhome can take it's toll on the seals between the two panes. Everything has it's price! LOL ~Rick
Rick Jay 02/04/21 10:08am Class A Motorhomes
RE: Ford V-10 vs GM Vortec for towing

wjschill, When you say there is a "difference in color", could you elaborate on that just a bit. Are you talking interior or exterior. If the latter, does one have full body paint and the other doesn't? Or do both have full body paint, or does neither have full body paint and only decals? I'd one has full body paint and the other doesn't, I'd go with the one with the full body paint. As for the engines, I think that's a wash. BUT...I WOULD have a preference for the Workhorse because of the Allison transmission. If the floorplans are identical, I guess if one of them was in a more preferential color scheme, that could be important as well. Also, check the quality of the cabinets. When we ordered our rig, we opted for a rather pricey cabinetry upgrade ($4,000ish) over the basic cabinets. The quality of these are MUCH better than the stock cabinets and I believe that was an important upgrade for us as the cabinets have really withstood the test of time. Heck, the cabinets in our motorhome are actually better built than the ones we have in our house!!! LOL Tough call to make as I think a lot will have to do with which one looks better for you, all other things being equal. As others have said, pulling around a 2,800 pound TOAD shouldn't be much of a problem with the proper towing gear. Both Ford and Workhorse require an auxiliary braking system, so that's a wash as well. I think it's kind of neat that you were able to find two mostly identical rigs just on different chassis's. :) Good Luck, ~Rick
Rick Jay 02/04/21 09:57am Class A Motorhomes
RE: Ac engine compressor

If the compressor is shot, I'd be really surprised if you could get it replaced for $500. That would be one heck of a deal. When I had to change the A/C compressor on our Workhorse rig several years back, I think the compressor by itself was a bit over $200 from a local auto parts store. I think the Workhorse dealer wanted over $700 for it!!!! Do you know that the compressor is bad, or could it be just the clutch? If it's just the clutch, that's can be quite a bit cheaper because the system doesn't have to be opened. We could probably give better advice if you can tell us more of the symptoms you observed. How do you know it's the compressor? If the refrigerant leaks down below a certain level, the compressor won't engage to protect itself. So a leak can mask itself as a bad compressor. Good Luck, ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/31/21 08:04pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: Advice and experience with older DP Class A's

We'd also like to have our kids families join us now and again, and the newer Type C's and smaller A's seem to be better suited for this. If you look at the early to mid 2000's DPs, you'll probably find a good selection which had two sofas AND a dinette. That's the floorplan we have in our gasser, which is pretty rare for a gasser. BUT...it's worked out GREAT for us and we've been using the rig since before our youngest was 1 year old. He's 17 now, and we still make it work. You might even find a bath-and-a-half model with that floorplan which would be even better. I've begun casually doing the same type of searching, even though I've got a couple of years to go before I'd make a switch from our gasser. Be patient, take your time, and find a floorplan that will work for your needs. Good Luck in your search. ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/30/21 05:16pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: Need an Education

luvmydogs, You asked: "Also, why do you need the motor to be running to get slides in?" I know on my gasser, with the engine running, the slides get an extra boost of voltage and retract with less strain, especially the heavy main slide. They won't extend if the engine is running, though, but extending doesn't require as much power because the slide doesn't have to be "lifted" first. I'm assuming for some diesels the same would be true. But I agree, I don't know why folks will idle their rigs for long periods of time. In cold or hot months, perhaps they're doing it for the heat or A/C? I figure it's their rig, let 'em do what they want. Oh, and I think some guys just love to hear the rumble of their diesels! LOL ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/29/21 07:51am Class A Motorhomes
RE: Let's beat this horse once again

Hi Bob, My memory isn't good enough to remember which brands did what, and since my wife at the time specifically said "No diesels", I didn't spend too much time with the issue any way. I think there's something to be said that a quality manufacturer is likely to have higher quality in ALL of their products than those manufacturers who mostly cater to the entry level rigs. Your question: "Would a lower end DP from (Newmar, Tiffin, Monaco) be the same build quality as the upper end?" I would think the answer to that is no, that there would definitely be better quality in the higher end rigs within the same manufacturer's offerings. What I was trying to say is that I noticed that a high-end gasser from those "quality" manufacturers might be better built (cabinets, appliances, windows, conveniences) than an entry level diesel from, say, Fleetwood. (OK, I just chose "Fleetwood" as an example. I could be all wet, and I know they have higher level lines too! Insert your favorite "entry level mfg in place of Fleetwood if you must! ;) ) I don't know if, for example, a high end Tiffin gasser has better interior construction & appliances than a low end Tiffin DP. I'm sure someone who actually has experience with those model lines could answer much better than I. One technique I used to use when physically shopping for rigs, I would look at the cabinetry. The quality of the woodwork will tell you volumes. Then open a drawer or cabinet and look inside. If the drawer glides are sloppy, uneven, of the drawer doesn't operate smoothly, those are all signs of either shoddy construction (when new) or lack of maintenance or neglect on used rigs. Ditto cabinet doors which are crooked or loose. Screws don't hold as well in pressboard construction as they do in REAL solid wood, and after being tightened over and over, they tend to strip-out and require some additional attention. You are correct though, trying to sort out manufacturers, models and years, especially when going back 10-20 years, can be a challenge. Good Luck, ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/25/21 11:43am Class A Motorhomes
RE: Let's beat this horse once again

Hello again! I suppose there is one option which usually doesn't get mentioned, and it involves a bit of extra research for each specific model brand. Most people put a dividing line between diesel pusher and gasser. Fair enough. But WAY BACK in 2002/3/4 when we were doing our research, I did notice something. And that is there are several manufacturers which produce a "low end" diesel which didn't cost much more than their "top end" gasser, or perhaps, a higher quality manufacturer's "top end" gasser. I found this to be curious...I could almost purchase a new DP for the cost of a gasser. Then I looked closely at the cheaper DP. Yes, it was a DP. BUT...what struck me first was the quality of the interiors and appliances. They were basically similar to what you found in the low-end to mid-end gassers. Looking at the mechanicals, things like airbags, leveling, tow ratings and other things were well below the quality of what was normally assumed to be found in a DP. So, I guess what I'm saying, is that make sure you look at more than just being a "DP" or a "gasser". Do some research to see where that model fits into the manufacturer's offerings. After 15-20 years, I would really expect one of those "low end DPs" to be pretty "beat up" inside. The engine might be low mileage, but the house construction is basically the same as the low end gassers, which is definitely in the same league as the high-end gassers or most DPs. As always, Buyer Beware! But if you limit your searches to the gasser upper-end manufacturer lines such as (Newmar, Tiffin, Monaco, etc.) you might be able to find a good used, gasser built with quality, yet having the gas platform. Just a thought! Good Luck in your search! ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/24/21 10:20am Class A Motorhomes
RE: Adding Heat Strips

Loganhorse, Every time this comes up we always get the same range of responses, which at first seems to be unhelpful. For those who say they don't notice ANY difference when their heatstrips are "on", I wonder if they ever checked their system to make sure they were actually wired up correctly. Even from the factory, the techs could mess up and not plug in the heater element. I just don't see how you can have roughly 1200 watts of heat added to an air stream and there be NO apparent change in the temperature. Something is amiss somewhere. My experience. We have a 36' motorhome and we have two A/C's, and we ordered it so that both units had heat strips. I've used my heatstrips EXTENSIVELY over the years. They work very well for taking a slight chill out of the air, but they DO work slowly. Our A/C's are ducted as well, so there's a nice distribution of the air throughout the rig. They have saved me LOTS in propane usage over the years. Floor and space heaters are an option, and we used them to supplement the heat strips, usually at night. We always had kids and dogs in the RV with us, and portable heaters get in the way and tend to be knocked over. We have even used the furnace (controlled by our forward thermostat) in combination with the heat-strips in our rear A/C unit. With the ducted system, this did a great job of distributing the air while also saving a bit on the propane. Our rig is pretty well insulated (dual pane windows), and I think the quality of insulation on a rig has a lot to do with it, as well. I posted a long post several years back relating some of our experience with them. I'll see if I can find that thread and add the link here. On edit: I found these....but not the one I was looking for...maybe it was too long ago! Hopefully these will help. Thread One... Thread Two... Thread Three... ...just found Thread Four. We use the heat strips while travelling in the motorhome in the late Fall, Winter & early Spring along with the dash heat to keep everyone comfy. Before we pull over for the evening, we'll turn on the rear heat-strips an hour or so before stopping so the entire rig will be comfy and ready for us to get to bed. I'd recommend that you do it. I think the convenience is well worth it. After you do, though, please come back to this thread and let us know how it worked out for you. :) ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/22/21 04:32pm Tech Issues
RE: Let's beat this horse once again

Hi, Yes, this horse has been beating a time or two before! LOL I'd just like to make a few comments and questions for you. First, I'll say that the floorplan is probably the MOST important thing for the majority of RV'ers. Once you're parked, that's what's most important as that's where you will live. You want to make sure that it works for your expected use. If you'll be stopping at rest stops/Walmarts/Flying J's/etc. for sleeping while on the road, make SURE that everything you need access to is available when the slides are in. You may not be able to deploy your slides in such areas. If you're going to do A LOT of travelling, the DP will invariably give you a better experience. That said, we've done fine in our gasser. But I've been warned never to test drive a DP unless I'm going to buy one, as I'll never be happy with the gasser again. Knowing me, I believe that could be true! LOL What are you plans for towing a vehicle to get around with once you arrive at your destination? You have to make sure whatever chassis you select has adequate towing capability. This might require some investment in your current vehicle to make it towable and/or purchase of a different vehicle. Personally, about the time period you mention for the newer, used gassers, RV manufacturer's seemed to adopt a "dark theme" for the interiors of many RV's. Both my wife and I dislike the dark color schemes. I've noticed now they do offer some "white-wash" look lighter shades, but I still don't like them as much as the lighter, natural wood shade we have in our motorhome and those manufactured back in the first decade of 2000. I knot that's personal, but it might come into play if you're not crazy about the "dark" look. (I'll admit, my eyes aren't the greatest, which is why I LIKE it fairly bright in a room when I want to see something. The dark interiors just aren't conducive to that requirement.) The other thing I've noticed is that the "newer rigs" seem to have way too much "technology" in them for my personal preference. I come from the era of wanting a button, knob or switch for appliance controls. I don't want to reach for my phone or a tablet to adjust the thermostat. Some like that convenience, but for me, it's an extra complexity that is likely to cause problems down the road. And then what do you do when the "app" is no longer available for your latest model phone? Computers have their place, but aside from my personal devices (and the engine & transmission), I don't really want them controlling stuff in my RV. Again, this tips the scales toward older units if it's a concern of yours. On Edit: Ok...I just read your latest post about Fivers. Disregard this paragraph! ;) As for getting a Fifth Wheel as you already have the truck. But is that truck capable of pulling a Fifth Wheel which will satisfy your needs, and what's it overall condition? Will you have to trade it in for another? I know people with Fivers and they love them as it works best for them. (Though, a few have mentioned they'd probably get a moho if they could). I can see the advantages of one for many people. But while travelling, the motorhome is so much more convenient. Everything is at your finger tips while on the road. In my opinion, it is the BEST way to travel, especially if you're travelling with a family. The level of convenience while travelling in a motorhome just isn't possible by any other solution. IF we ever decide to change our first & only RV purchased new back in 2004, it most likely will be with a gently used, high-end DP from the early 2000 vintage period. They are out there, and I believe you might be able to find one in your price range. For $75k now, you should be able to buy a rig which cost over $500k new 20 years ago! The quality in that used high-end rig will be apparent as soon as you step into it. Good Luck in whatever you decide. ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/21/21 09:20am Class A Motorhomes
RE: pass or pursue?

cyber_ballz, Thanks for the more detailed, un-encrypted description! :) It definitely helped understand what you're trying to do and why. Although with the help of some selective internet searching, I believe I eventually figured out your first post! ;) LOL Sorry for the loss of your dad. Believe me, I know how the loss of a loved one can cause us to refocus our lives. Although in a way completely differently from yours, a serious family medical situation brought us into RV'ing as well back in 2004, and I STILL think it's one of the best decisions I've made in my life. (Not that there are a LOT of them to choose from! LOL) At the time I did it, though, most of my friends and family said we were crazy. But after losing our 12 year old daughter to cancer 4 years later, they ALL saw the "genius" in our decisions. So, I understand about wanting to do this for & with your kids.) That said, building a floorplan from scratch IS a lot of work (plumbing, 12V electric, 120V/240V electric, heating/AC, insulation, appliances, etc.) but it definitely sounds like you've got the resources & know-how to do it. The only impediment I see for you is "time". Kids grow quickly, so you have to weigh that into the equation as well. I'm wondering if you have considered picking up a gently used 25 year old Prevost bus conversion (or other high-end rig) and get started with the RV'ing right away. There are quite a few available, if you look hard enough. Yes, the initial $$$$ are greater, but it will afford you the additional time to make even more memories with your children. Anyway, Good Luck and I'll be interested to see which direction you end up the fruits of your labor! :) ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/21/21 08:40am Class A Motorhomes
RE: pass or pursue?

cyber_ballz, Welcome to the Forums! I'm hoping you'll get some good input on your ideas. I have to ask, though....Is there some sort of "translator" available for your jargon filled post? LOL It's rare that I'm at a loss to at least know a little about what a poster is trying to convey. But your first post is almost like reading a coded message! LOL I think I understand your second post a bit better! I guess I'm just getting old! Anyway, again, Welcome and Good Luck on what you're trying to do...whatever that is. Something about a bus? ;-) ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/20/21 10:40am Class A Motorhomes
RE: Bolts to Replace Retractable Steps

TC&Z, I can't give you the answers you seek for your particular rig. The one thing I CAN tell you is to make sure the fuse is pulled for the step motor circuit and disconnect the motor power wire(s). I have heard that the stair scissor mechanism can sever fingers caught in between the bars. It's very tempting when working on the steps to unknowingly put your hand or arm in harm's way while attempting to get into a better position. Make sure the circuit is completely dead. Be safe & good luck, ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/13/21 01:34pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: 2004 DAMON CHALLENGER 348 VORTEC OPINIONS?

Probably the most important thing is to check for water leaks inside. If evidence exists, probably good to pass this one by unless you're 100% sure the problem was dealt with promptly and solved. Make sure the floor plan is what you want. If they have maintenance records, that's always a plus. By "vortec" I'm assuming it's on the Workhorse W-22 (22,000 lb. GVWR) . If it's on the W-20 (20,700 lb. GVWR), that might be a bit light for a 34' motorhome. The Workhorse units came with an Allison transmission, which is a HUGE plus over the Ford offerings at the time. Workhorse chassis were not as common because they had an upcharge of between $3k-$5k over the Fords at the time. In my opinion, the Workhorse was a better chassis at the time, as evidenced by the rig in my signature! :-) If it has slides & levelers, make sure they work as they are supposed to. Most other things can be replaced or fixed. It's not new, it's 16 years old, so judge it accordingly. Can't say much about Damon as a manufacturer. My uncle had one, a late 1990's model Class A, and he mostly spoke highly of the rig. The old Ford chassis left him wanting on hills and maneuverability, but the house part was pretty good. Good Luck, let us know what you found. ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/12/21 04:38pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: Forrester 2151SLE

Did you look at the 2251SLE? It has the bed on a slide out AND a slightly larger dinette. Plus, I think the bench style dinettes are more comfortable than the U-shaped dinettes if you're trying to seat more then 2 people. The U-shape units seem to be short on leg/feet room underneath. BUT...the holding tanks are a bit smaller on the 2251. I guess it depends how you're going to use the rig? Or, go a bit over 4' longer to the 2551 and you have the best of both models, PLUS a couch AND the bathroom sink is in the same room as the commode, which was always important to us. And a little bit of actual counter space for food prep. Good Luck in your search! ~Rick
Rick Jay 01/08/21 12:49pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Best floor plan for 6 sleepers

matthewjscott, I don't know what's available since 2014 that will fit your needs, but I can just relate our rig & family experience. We bought our gas Class A new in 2004 after doing about 2+ years of research on different options. This was our first (and only) RV purchase and we wanted to get it right the first time. At the time we purchased, we had 4 kids (ages of about 1, 3, 4 & 8). We started looking at hybrids to tow behind our Honday Odyssey and ended up with a 36' dual slide gas class A and we tow the Odyssey behind. We looked at all options in between, but that looked to be the best option for us. Here we are almost 17 years later and it's STILL the most functional floorplan we've seen for our crew. Back in 2004, there were NOT that many bunk model class A's, and I never liked most of them anyway because the majority put the bunks right near the rear bedroom. NOT good for privacy. Anyway, our rig has dual sofas and a dinette upfront which always gave us sufficient sleeping space. I've heard people complain about how much trouble it is to setup and put away the bedding every night & morning. I'm not really sure what the issue is. When the kids were younger, my wife and I did it in about 5 minutes for both sofas & dinette. The trick is to stow the bedding/pillows in the cabinets right above where they're sleeping. Easy peasy! :-) Also, our rig came with 12 factory installed seatbelt positions (3 on each sofa, 4 on the dinette, passenger & driver), so the kids always had options as to where to sit. For the first 3 or 4 years we were using 1 or 2 car seats as well. This worked out well as they could change their seating positions on longer trips depending upon whether they needed the dinette, or were watching a movie, or whatever. We decided that living space was more important the sleeping space. Kids can sleep anyway, especially younger ones, so there was no problem with that. Now that they're "full sized" they still make it work. Note, over the years, we also had 1 or two medium sized dogs travelling with us. The problem is dual-sofa layouts seem to have fallen out of favor with the advent of the bunk units. Too bad. The kids had the front of the rig, mommy & daddy had reasonable privacy in the back. The AC or heater blower masked any sounds coming from the rear bedroom and the jacks keep the rig pretty stable. So wifey and I could watch whatever we wanted on our TV and not worry about their "little ears" listening in. Or we could do our cuddle time and even get a little "frisky" as Howard Cunningham used to put it on "Happy Days". :-) It worked great and would NOT have been possible with bunks on the other side of our door. Plus, without the bunks, we had a decent sized bathroom AND a good size closet and storage drawers midship which is needed when you've got a crew of 6 people travelling. One thing you might consider is to widen your scope. You might be able to pick up a mid-2000 era higher-end Diesel Pusher with a dual sofa floorplan for less money than the new rigs you're looking at. When (or IF?) I ever replace our rig, I'll most likely be looking for a well cared for, early to mid 2000's high-end DP, which probably sold for over 1/2 million. I'll get all of that high end quality in a rig that's just broken in. My budget will probably be in the $100k range or so. Well, I just wanted to give you another solution, which worked well for us. My best advice is to take your time and leave no stone unturned! Good Luck!!! ~Rick
Rick Jay 12/29/20 12:50pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: 2006 Itasca SunCruiser 35A

Back in its day, the Workhorse chassis seemed to be leading with the innovations, and Ford was playing catch-up. The Workhorse chassis also came with a $3,000-$6,000 premium in price, depending upon your dealer, so there were fewer of them ordered. Most people didn't know or care that there was a difference. Both the Ford V10 and GM 8.1L are good engines, and I wouldn't worry about either one. In my mind, and the minds of many who ordered their motorhomes with the Workhorse chassis, is the fact that that WH chassis has an Allison transmission attached to it. I can't speak to parts availability issues as I haven't experienced that yet. On the other hand, our rig hasn't had any chassis-specific issues, either. 8.1L engine items and Allison transmission parts should be available for a good long time. I think most people have more issues with the coach part of the motorhome than the chassis, anyway. Winnebago/Itasca is a good brand with LOTS of technical documentation (plumbing diagrams, electrical diagrams, etc.) on their website, which in my mind, is a HUGE PLUS!!!! To be honest, if the floorplan works for you, THAT is more important than the chassis it is on. Obviously, general condition and any maintenance records are important as well. Good Luck, ~Rick
Rick Jay 12/22/20 07:18am Class A Motorhomes
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