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RE: Looking for a good RV

ron.dittmer Thank you for such a detailed post, I will have to reread it this weekend. Thanks for all the time it must have taken, I really appreciate it. ...........Bill TYou are very welcome, but don't give me too much credit. I didn't write it exclusively for you. ;) I initially wrote it many years ago and maintain/update/expound upon it as needed. It's very easy to copy and paste. Ron Dittmer
ron.dittmer 09/18/20 05:32am Class C Motorhomes
RE: PLAN B on RV "carport"

10 inches seems like three rows of those interlocking retaining wall blocks. First row trenched into a ditch, the next two rows locked on top. This will give you a 12" high wall that you can dump 10" of gravel behind.X2 If ordinances allow, I would seriously look into a steel building for your motor home, and also to replace your current steel storage shed. Build something to last, built to increase the value of your property, and built bigger than your rig in case you later desire a bigger rig. If you have the space on your property, include some extra interior space for another bay for other vehicles. I wish I had that for my seasonal cars. A steel building will cost a lot less than most people realize. A lot of the expense is the concrete floor and electrical, but maybe you can add both later. Just have the building made with them in-mind.
ron.dittmer 09/17/20 04:53am Class C Motorhomes
RE: Gravity Water Fill

I find it remarkable that new entry level rigs are not are equipped with a fresh water gravity fill. The gravity fill is essential for the way my wife and I travel. I would be furious if I bought a new rig to learn that it lacks this basic motor home item. This leaves me to wonder.... "What Else Is Missing?"
ron.dittmer 09/16/20 09:41am Class C Motorhomes
RE: Looking for a good RV

Hi again abdiver, Here are some general considerations when shopping for a "good" motor home. New, used, or well used, when shopping for a conventional class B+ or C, the most important consideration is how it is constructed. This post outlines construction methods which are most affordable and methods that cost more, but are built to hold up much better to the elements and also the punishment of the road. Some motor home manufactures offer different levels of quality through their various model lines. Instead of providing a list of brands to consider, it is best to identify what "Better" is. When shopping for a motor home, don't get distracted with "Eye Candy" and "Square Footage". You want to pay close attention to how the house is constructed. Water infiltration is the number one killer of motor homes, rotting them away long before anything is worn out. Once water gets inside, it is like termites. By the time you realize there is a problem, a lot of damage has already occurred. Also consider that mold & mildew can grow inside the walls which then you have a health hazard. My advise focuses on identifying a reliably well sealed motor home. #1 BEST (Very Expensive, Can Be 1.5 times the cost of Second Best) NO structural seam work. The brand Coach House is a fine example. It is seamless, made from a mold. The only places where water can leak is cutouts for windows, entry door, roof-top vents & a/c unit, storage compartments & maintenance access, all of which are in areas of very low stress. Because they have a seamless shell, these motor homes are not common and have a limited selection of sizes and floor plans. #2 SECOND BEST Common, Affordable, & comes in Many Sizes so this is my main focus I own an example of this type. My Rig Here manufactured by Phoenix USA. Made in sections, but assembled in a way that greatly reduces the threat of water damage. Here are the good things you want to look for. a) Structural Seams Away From Corners When a motor home is driven, the house bounces, resonates, shakes, and leans countless times, representing a endless series of earthquakes. Corner seams see greater stresses than seams located elsewhere. Corner seams are more easily split, especially when the caulk gets brittle with age & exposure to the sun. One extremely bad bump in the road can instantly breach a corner seam. Seams hold up much better when they are brought in from the corners in lesser stressed areas. b) A Seamless Over-The-Van Front Cap A huge bed above the van’s roof is the most vulnerable area of a motor home. No matter how well they are made, that long frontal over-hang resonates when the RV is driven making it common for seams to split there, most troublesome with age & exposure to the elements. HERE is an example, one of many water-damage threads I have read. Scroll down in that thread to see pictures of the real damage. The small front aerodynamic cap of a B+ design HERE eliminates the overhang which eliminates most of the resonation, along with the most vulnerable seam work. There are a few conventional “C” Designs (big over-van bed) where that area is seamless. If you absolutely must have that huge bed, then look for a seamless bucket-like design. The Itasca Navion is a fine example. If your requirements are to have a large class-C with a massive over-van bed, the best example I seen was this Fleetwood Tioga model offered around 2008-2009. It is unfortunate all class-Cs don't practice seamless cab-over area construction for it would greatly improve the class-C industry. Increasing in popularity by many manufactures is a shallow bucket design with fewer seams located in less-stressed areas. The Nexus Triumph is one such example. This shallow bucket design is a reasonable compromise. If you plan to accommodate more than 2 people, having that large extra cab-over bed will be extremely useful. c) A Crowned Roof Rain and snow melt runs off a crowned roof. A flat roof will sag over time, then water puddles around heavy roof-top items like the a/c unit. Water eventually finds it's way inside after gaskets & caulk have degraded from age, sun, and change in seasons. d) Rolled-Over-The-Edge seamless Fiberglass Roof Sheathing A single sheet of fiberglass as shown HERE that rolls over the right & left sides of the roof, down to the wall. The overlapping of fiberglass to the wall provides a good water seal and the fiberglass sheathing holds up better than roofs made of sheet rubber or thin plastic called TPO, which require more attention to keep your RV well protected. e) A Five Sided Rear Wall Cap A five sided back wall moves the seams around to the sides to areas of much less stress as seen HERE. The rear wall resembles a shallow rectangular cooking pan standing on it's side. Like the example, some rear wall sections are constructed with an integrated spare tire compartment and rear storage compartment. Not only are they convenience features, but that rear wall/cap offers a solid double-wall for exceptional strength which is more resistant to flexing the adjoining seam work. It helps in keeping the house together. Don't be fooled. Some manufactures add rear wall sectional styling which gives the appearance of a 5-sided pan design. Though not as desirable, they are still an improvement because all the holes for lighting and such are not in the structural wall where water could otherwise get inside the house. You can easily tell by noting the sections & seams between them and the flat back wall that remains exposed. CLICK HERE to see an example. f) Walls Are Either Resting On The Floor Or Bolted Against It Common sense would say the walls should rest on the floor, but some manufactures actually bolt the walls into the side of the floor framing. This means the weight of the roof and walls (and everything hanging on them) rests on mounting bolts. How well will that method hold up when being driven for so many thousands of miles? Checking for this is very difficult. It takes a trained eye for sure. CLICK HERE for an example of it done right with the walls resting on the floor. Bigger Will Be Weaker The size & floor plan you select MUST FIRST meet your needs before this consideration. The bigger the house, the weaker the structure will be. Consider two cardboard boxes made from the exact same corrugated material. The smaller box would naturally be stronger. It will be more resistant to bending, twisting, and other types of flexing. So if you are on the fence between models, the smaller one will be your stronger choice. Potentially Troublesome Construction Entry level motor homes are made with seams in corners and finished off with trim, including the massive cab-over bed. Their roof is flat and finished with rubber or TPO. They are most affordable, and come in all sizes. HERE is one such example. If considering this construction type, keep in-mind they require more regular care with bi-annual inspections. Plan to use a caulking gun now and then. When buying a used one, consider that you really don't know how well the previous owner maintained it. Buying new or used, that construction method will be counting on you to be a good non-neglectful owner. There are also the rare exception of the Lazy Daze which has seam work in the corners, but the substructure and sealing method is of the highest quality that it holds up like a seamless body. It's excellent sectional construction methods are not commonly found in other brands. I am no expert on this, but I'd give it a #1.5 Almost Like Best A Caution Concerning Slide Outs Slide outs are most popular. Everybody loves the extra floor space they provide. There are so few motor homes made without at least one slide out. Unfortunately slide outs can introduce risk of water damage to the main floor around them. Good seals work when the rig is young, but can loose their ability to seal properly as they age. When looking at used rigs with slide outs, closely examine the main floor around each one. If you can lift the carpet adjacent to the slide out and see the wood floor is a gray color, that is a sign that water gets inside. Also, completely open the slide out and step on the main floor adjacent to the slide out. If it feels soft, the plywood or chip board material underneath likely requires replacing. About The Chassis The most popular is the Ford E350 and E450 with the V10 engine, and this year Ford replaces that 6.8L-V10 with a larger, more powerful 7.3L-V8. The Ford Transit diesel and the Mercedes Sprinter diesel are popular alternatives to the E350 in the smaller sizes. The GM 3500 & 4500 chassis are not popular but are a very good choice for the right application. Any of the chassis mentioned made since 1998 are real good, new or used. If you plan to tow a car or heavy trailer, be aware that the Transit and Sprinter will be least powered. People who tow with them naturally take it slower. I am not sure a Transit can tow anything significant. That needs further research. If considering a recent “small” class B+ or C motor home, here is a comparison between the two current main chassis contenders, the Sprinter with the V6 diesel engine and the Ford E350 with the V10 gasoline engine. Advantages Of The Mercedes Sprinter With Diesel Engine - Offers a 35%-50% improvement in fuel economy over the Ford-V10, when both are loaded and driven identically. - More ergonomic driver compartment with more leg room. - Comfort continues with a car-like feel & quiet ride. - A grander view out the windshield - Made by Mercedes which people are attracted to. Advantages Of The Ford E350 with V10 Engine - Given identical motor homes both brand and model, the Ford is around $24,000 MSRP cheaper - The Ford V10 engine has 50% more horse power and torque - The Ford E350 chassis handles 1430 pounds more weight. - The E350 is able to tow a heavier load. - The E350 rear axle is significantly wider which translates to better stability. - In most places traveled, gasoline costs less than diesel fuel - The Sprinter diesel has limited mechanical service shops around North America - The Sprinter diesel is typically outfitted with a propane generator. Propane is a critical fuel for RV operations, and generally needs to be rationed when dry camping. - This Next Point Is Debatable But Still Worth Noting....The V6 Sprinter diesel engine is not allowed to idle for extended periods. This limitation is detrimental when you need a/c but there are generator restrictions, you are low on propane, or you have a mechanical failure with the generator or roof a/c. The Ford offers a great backup system. The V10 can safely idle for hours on end, heating, cooling, and battery charging, all valuable if you have a baby, pets, or health/respiratory issues. You decide what your priorities are, and pick the appropriate chassis. There are some really sweet motor homes being built exclusively on the Sprinter chassis, such as the Winnebago Navion and View. The Ford Transit Chassis This chassis is increasing in popularity in the smallest sizes. According to Ford's website, the Transit DRW chassis is offered in the 156", and 178" wheel base, and is rated as high as 10,360 GVWR. Ford offers a motor home package specific for the RV industry. It's diesel engine compares to the Sprinter in power and fuel economy, but is more affordable and is easily serviced at Ford service centers, just like the E350 & E450. The cab has a lower stance than the Sprinter making it much more friendly to get into and out from for people in their later years. Entering and exiting is more like a mini-van rather than a standard van. The Transit's lower cab also offers roomier over-head bunks that are easier to access. The Dodge Promaster 3500 Cut-Away Chassis This front wheel drive chassis is another recent entry in the RV industry. I am concerned over it's lack of load capability as reflected with single free-wheeling rear wheels. I have been reading posts written by new Promaster RV owners stating they are over-weight with just two people, some personal effects and food. They say they can't carry water and never a 3rd person. I would not be comfortable with such a limited load range in a B+ or C. This chassis does seem to be a good option in the "B" motor home market. The Chevy 3500 & 4500 Chassis Unfortunately this chassis is not more popular, primarily because GM sort-of gave up on competing with the Ford E350 & E450. It offers more interior comfort than the Ford, but not as much as the Sprinter. It's power & weight ratings are a little less than their Ford counter-parts making them a great chassis for all but the heaviest of class Cs. They are also a little better on fuel consumption. One thing to keep in-mind, if you are counting inches in storing your rig, the Chevy is a little longer than the Ford by a number of inches which was critical for us with our garage as seen HERE with our Ford 2007 E350 rig. That could be the reason why the Chevy has a little more interior driver/passenger leg room. The Ford E350 & E450 The majority of class B+ and C motor homes are built on one of these two chassis for a number of very good reasons, and with the changes in recent years to the engine and transmission, the good reasons increase. They have more power and load capability than the others. Ford approves outfitters to modify the chassis to increase or decrease the wheel base which supplies motor home companies a lot of design freedom. Ford has off-the-shelf components that work with the wheel base modification. So if you need a new drive shaft, fuel line, brake line, parking brake cable, wire harness, whatever, Ford has them available. Finally, the E350 and E450 chassis is competitively priced. Engine Power Ratings of Ford, MB-Sprinter, Chevy, and Dodge Ford E350 & E450 - 6.8L-V10, 305hp, 420ft (7.3L-V8 starting in 2020) Ford Transit Diesel - 3.2L-I5, 185hp, 350ft Mercedes Sprinter Diesel - 3.0L-V6, 188hp, 325ft Chevy 3500 & 4500 - 6.0L-V8, 323hp, 373ft Dodge Promaster - 3.6L-V6 (GVW only 9,300 pounds) Now to supply some data as to why I feel our Phoenix Cruiser stands above most other brands. These two videos drag on, but provide lots of data and also clarify critical things to look for when evaluating any brand. CLICK HERE on a comparison between a Phoenix Cruiser and an undisclosed brand. I think it is a Nexus. There is a lot of nit-picking but is notable when adding it all up. It is also educational on what makes a better motor home...of coarse at a higher price too. CLICK HERE for a slideshow on how a Phoenix Cruiser is built. I feel this slide show teaches so much, especially about hidden things that unsuspecting buyers would never think about.
ron.dittmer 09/13/20 07:54pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: 24 ft ClassC MH downsides

Never realized that short C's had handling issues with a WB/L ratio of .54 of 54%. Mine is 52% and I drive it like my car with one hand even with trucks passing me. I notice most of the C's I looked at were as high as my A. I wonder if the height to length has more affect because of the higher CG. Do shorter C's feel tippy when cornering than say longer C's on the same chassis? ............just not sure of the corner bed and getting up 3 times a night to go to the bathroom, but everything is a trade off.Any class C with a poor wheel base ratio (like we have) will not handle as well as one with a better ratio. Fortunately if your new rig has a "handling" problem, $1000-$3000 in aftermarket upgrades will get you satisfied. You should have a much better chance with a brand new E350/E450 today than I did back in 2007, to have the rig handle well without that additional investment. I read somewhere that Ford is installing some of the aftermarket "equivalent" upgrades into the RV package of their new 2021 chassis with 7.3L-V8 engine. They got with the program installing heavy duty front and rear stabilizer bars. You might still have to invest in a rear trac bar or heavy duty steering stabilizer, but you are at a much better starting point. You might even find your new rig to handle just fine without further investment.. Hi Ron, I must be missing something if you do the math a 24ft MH with a 158 in WB will have a WB/L ratio of .54 or 54% which is suppose to be good. So I don’t think poor handling of these shot MH’s is do to poor WB/L ratio. That is why I thought there must be something else causing poor handling like height to length or weight distribution or too much weight for the Ford chassis.Our rig is surely "tail heavy" which takes weight off the front axle, thanks in-part to the wheel base. Some time since, our specific rig became available on a Sprinter with a 170" wheel base. The Sprinter handled our model rig much better because of the longer wheel base that also distributed the weight better....more weight placed on the front axle.Ron, your 2350's floor plan is very similar to that of our 24 ft. 2005 Itasca 24V on it's 158" WB Ford chassis. However, I have never experienced the handling issues you had that you attribute to maybe not enough coach weight forward onto the front suspension of your chassis. From a weight distribution perspective ... where is your motorhome's generator and propane tank located? My Onan 4000 and 18 gallon propane tank are centered under our dinette. Those two relatively heavy items towards the front help to load the front suspension. Also, my spare tire is not way at the back above the bumper like yours is. My spare is down low between the frame members and slightly further forward right up against the gas tank. The spare is fairly heavy, so maybe having it mounted both down low and slightly further forward help with front loading and tail wagging a bit. These are just me thinking out loud on what could be going on. :hHere is the distribution of our weight. Our front axle weighs 3160 (rig empty), and 3260 (rig full during a trip including people in the front seats), obviously the teeter-totter effect is in play here. Note that we don't have a slide-out and we always carry a full load of fresh water. https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/48533409317_0b01673426_z.jpg width=640 A major difference between your rig and my rig is that though the same generation of chassis, you are on a 2005 E450, I am on a 2007 E350. Up to and including model year 2007, the E350 cutaway chassis was not equipped with any kind of rear stabilizer bar. Starting 2008, Ford installed them on every E350 cutaway. I have all the aftermarket heavy duty suspension upgrades and extras for improved handling, but they obviously don't influence weight distribution. My front axle weight is light enough that it allowed me to swap out the front coil springs to a lower-rating (Rock Auto, Moog Springs, $100/pair). The result was a lowered front end by 1-1/4 inches that leveled the rig. Needless to say, both we and our house are happier with the softer ride up front.
ron.dittmer 09/11/20 12:13pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: 24 ft ClassC MH downsides

Never realized that short C's had handling issues with a WB/L ratio of .54 of 54%. Mine is 52% and I drive it like my car with one hand even with trucks passing me. I notice most of the C's I looked at were as high as my A. I wonder if the height to length has more affect because of the higher CG. Do shorter C's feel tippy when cornering than say longer C's on the same chassis? ............just not sure of the corner bed and getting up 3 times a night to go to the bathroom, but everything is a trade off.Any class C with a poor wheel base ratio (like we have) will not handle as well as one with a better ratio. Fortunately if your new rig has a "handling" problem, $1000-$3000 in aftermarket upgrades will get you satisfied. You should have a much better chance with a brand new E350/E450 today than I did back in 2007, to have the rig handle well without that additional investment. I read somewhere that Ford is installing some of the aftermarket "equivalent" upgrades into the RV package of their new 2021 chassis with 7.3L-V8 engine. They got with the program installing heavy duty front and rear stabilizer bars. You might still have to invest in a rear trac bar or heavy duty steering stabilizer, but you are at a much better starting point. You might even find your new rig to handle just fine without further investment.. Hi Ron, I must be missing something if you do the math a 24ft MH with a 158 in WB will have a WB/L ratio of .54 or 54% which is suppose to be good. So I don’t think poor handling of these shot MH’s is do to poor WB/L ratio. That is why I thought there must be something else causing poor handling like height to length or weight distribution or too much weight for the Ford chassis.Our rig is surely "tail heavy" which takes weight off the front axle, thanks in-part to the wheel base. Some time since, our specific rig became available on a Sprinter with a 170" wheel base. The Sprinter handled our model rig much better because of the longer wheel base that also distributed the weight better....more weight placed on the front axle.
ron.dittmer 09/10/20 06:51pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Looking for a good RV

I recently heard that Phoenix Cruisers are a NEW manufacture of RVs?No, not true. We special-ordered our PC brand new in 2007, eight years after their first class B+ came off their assembly line. So far, very good. We do keep ours garaged when not in-use which helps keep it in like-new condition. We really love our rig. We bought it primary for the two of us for our later years without consideration for guests. We do well with an occasional guest, but 4 people sleeping in our PC would put the 4th adult on the floor or in a reclined captain seat. CLICK HERE to see many inside and outside of our 2007 Phoenix Cruiser, model 2350 without the standard slide out. The money we saved by not having a slide out, we instead invested in the full body paint job.
ron.dittmer 09/10/20 08:23am Class C Motorhomes
RE: 24 ft ClassC MH downsides

Never realized that short C's had handling issues with a WB/L ratio of .54 of 54%. Mine is 52% and I drive it like my car with one hand even with trucks passing me. I notice most of the C's I looked at were as high as my A. I wonder if the height to length has more affect because of the higher CG. Do shorter C's feel tippy when cornering than say longer C's on the same chassis? ............just not sure of the corner bed and getting up 3 times a night to go to the bathroom, but everything is a trade off.Any class C with a poor wheel base ratio (like we have) will not handle as well as one with a better ratio. Fortunately if your new rig has a "handling" problem, $1000-$3000 in aftermarket upgrades will get you satisfied. You should have a much better chance with a brand new E350/E450 today than I did back in 2007, to have the rig handle well without that additional investment. I read somewhere that Ford is installing some of the aftermarket "equivalent" upgrades into the RV package of their new 2021 chassis with 7.3L-V8 engine. They got with the program installing heavy duty front and rear stabilizer bars. You might still have to invest in a rear trac bar or heavy duty steering stabilizer, but you are at a much better starting point. You might even find your new rig to handle just fine without further investment.
ron.dittmer 09/10/20 07:49am Class C Motorhomes
RE: Class C Specifications

I weighed our rig empty removing anything that wasn't bolted down, no people, no fresh or waste water, but it did have a full 55 gallons of fuel and full 40 pounds of propane. It weighed in at 9,920. For the record, we don't have a slide out. Loaded up during our "heaviest trip" full fresh water, two adults, full fuel, etc, the rig weighed 11480, just 20 pounds shy of the chassis limit. During that "heavy" trip, our rear axle was officially over-loaded by 420 pounds, and our front axle was under-loaded by 1340 pounds.And it sounds like it worked out just fine. Per the photo in your sig (it's a beautiful rig) have a great trip! Chum leeYes the trip worked out perfectly fine. I never noticed the extra weight being of any concern. I made sure the tires were inflated according to the load and had a good trip. I wonder if "some" of the reason why the 2007 E350 and earlier years, the Ford spec'd rear axle limit of 7800 pounds was stated as such because the rear end was not equipped with any kind of rear stabilizer bar or trac bar. My rig has both (heavy duty versions) installed after I took delivery. The rig handles nicely. Maybe my suspension upgrades indirectly increased the rear axle limit by some amount. It would be nice to hear from an expert on this subject matter.
ron.dittmer 09/09/20 07:13am Class C Motorhomes
RE: Class C Specifications

I weighed our rig empty removing anything that wasn't bolted down, no people, no fresh or waste water, but it did have a full 55 gallons of fuel and full 40 pounds of propane. It weighed in at 9,920. For the record, we don't have a slide out. Loaded up during our "heaviest trip" full fresh water, two adults, full fuel, etc, the rig weighed 11480, just 20 pounds shy of the chassis limit. During that "heavy" trip, our rear axle was officially over-loaded by 420 pounds, and our front axle was under-loaded by 1340 pounds.
ron.dittmer 09/08/20 09:03pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: 24 ft ClassC MH downsides

Nice write up Ron. I have been camping for a week up in the Wht Mtns of NH,(no internet service) and I stopped and talked to a lady that had a Phoenix Cruiser 22ft long with the rear kitchen, very nice looking MH. The only down side was setting up the bed every night. Very expensive also. She traveled with no toad.Yes, Phoenix Cruisers have been on a steady price increase, accelerated when the original owner sold the company to the two current owner partners. We paid $67,200 for our model 2350 back in 2007, but could not afford a new one today. That one you seen at 22 feet long is model 2100. Adding 2 feet gets you what we have, a permanent rear double bed. Three things were critical for us at the time when shopping for a rig. 1) it must fit in our garage 2) it must have a main floor bed for two adults 3) it must have a dinette Everything else was important, but not critical.
ron.dittmer 09/07/20 10:07am Class C Motorhomes
RE: Doghouse change in E450

I looked at 2021 E-series pictures of the interior on Ford's website, but I cannot make out any difference. It must be subtle.
ron.dittmer 09/06/20 07:53am Class C Motorhomes
RE: 24 ft ClassC MH downsides

Just a tid-bit about the Ford E350 and E450 standard wheel base choices. Last I recall, 3 wheel bases were offered. I don't know what is available for 2021. - 138" (most often used in the ~21 foot lengths) - 158" (most often used in the ~24 foot lengths)) - 176" (for the longer) If the motor home you are considering has a wheel base other than the 3 mentioned, then the frame was modified, either lengthened or reduced by a Ford approved outfitter. The change does not affect the Ford warranty. On a personal note, I am comforted in knowing that my chassis was not modified. The affected parts from such a modification are stocked well for my rig through the life of my motor home.Taking as an example, a 24’ M/H, what the OP was talking about, and even if it’s on a 176” (14’ 8”) wheelbase (most aren’t), if for round numbers there’s even 3’ ahead of the front axle that means there’s still 21’ behind the front axle. But 21’ minus 14’ 8” means there’s 6’ 4” behind the axle (7’ 10” if it’s on a 158” w/b). There’s definitely a stretch in the frame regardless.As you stated, every motor home has a frame extension behind the Ford, Chevy, or Mercedes frame. My point pertained to "modifying" the frame to change the wheel base. The wheel base of Sprinters cannot be modified like an E350/E450 or the 3500/4500. The only allowance is bolt-on frame extensions behind the chassis frame. Welding of any kind is not permitted on the Sprinter by the manufacture Mercedes and I assume similar restrictions apply to the Transit. The strength of the Sprinter and Transit frames are created through the use of higher strength but much thinner steel utilized in a box configuration. Heat from welding weakens the steel hence no welding. Cutting the frame to adjust the wheel base like is common with the E350 and E450, the box collapses, the strength is compromised, and all is lost. That is why if there is any frame damage on a Sprinter motor home, it is immediately "totaled". I was at the Chicago auto show some years ago which displayed a Sprinter cut-away chassis. I took some pictures of it. I understood the frame is glued together, not welded for the reasons I previously mentioned. https://live.staticflickr.com/1561/24825863610_a335bb6a21_z.jpg width=640 https://live.staticflickr.com/1616/25095177356_005381af61_z.jpg width=640
ron.dittmer 09/02/20 06:47pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: 24 ft ClassC MH downsides

Just a tid-bit about the Ford E350 and E450 standard wheel base choices. Last I recall, 3 wheel bases were offered. I don't know what is available for 2021. - 138" (most often used in the ~21 foot lengths) - 158" (most often used in the ~24 foot lengths)) - 176" (for the longer) If the motor home you are considering has a wheel base other than the 3 mentioned, then the frame was modified, either lengthened or reduced by a Ford approved outfitter. The change does not affect the Ford warranty. On a personal note, I am comforted in knowing that my chassis was not modified. The affected parts from such a modification are stocked well for my rig through the life of my motor home. Affected parts in such a modification include the following - frame is cut and welded with additional supporting steel (concern of rust) - drive shaft - parking brake cable (if equipped so) - wire harness - exhaust system - brake lines - fuel lines I understand that all the affected parts are also Ford parts with Ford part numbers. But I wonder how readily available they will remain as the rig gets up in years.
ron.dittmer 09/02/20 07:17am Class C Motorhomes
RE: 24 ft ClassC MH downsides

I agree with you guys. I also have the spec sheets for a number of previous Ford model years on the E350 and E450, to compare technical differences. Too bad that information is not available for the new 2021. As of late, every Phoenix Cruiser, regardless of floor plan, is built on an E450. From 21 feet to 32 feet, they get the same chassis, just different wheel bases. Their shortest model 2100 must bounce, shake, and rattle down the highway quite a bit. If I owned such a rough-rider, I would surely get the springs modified or replaced to work with the "actual" load. The spec sheets we are referencing here state a 2007 E350 has the exact same front coil springs as the E450. I just replaced our front springs to a lower-rated version. It explains why we had a rough riding front axle all these years. It's all better now. You can read about it HERE which includes many pictures.
ron.dittmer 08/31/20 06:13pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Water Valve leaking - Help!

Your valve leak is very common. The water most likely is leaking where the shaft of the handle passes through. Tighten the nut that the shaft of the handle passes through. You only need to turn maybe 1/16 of a turn, not much, just a tad to stop the leak.
ron.dittmer 08/31/20 07:17am Class C Motorhomes
RE: 24 ft ClassC MH downsides

Hi Gjac, Our rig (SEEN HERE) measures 23'-8" end-to-end. We special ordered it new back in 2007 without a slide out. It is built on a 2007 Ford E350 chassis with 158" wheel base. When loaded up on trips and when empty, the tail is heavy and the front is light. I improved handling and ride by investing in the following extras. - heavy duty front and rear stabilizer bars made by Roadmaster - heavy duty RV shocks made by Bilstein - heavy duty front steering stabilizer made by Safe-T-Plus - rear trac bar made by Henderson - changed the front coil springs to a lower-rated pair (to soften the ride up front) - had a wheel alignment done Today the new 2021 E350 and E450 is a much better chassis with a new engine that offers even more power, also a transmission with more gears. The chassis also has improved fuel economy and is more load-capable. The differences between the new E350 and E450 are very minor for 2021 compared to years ago because of today's limited production. Back in the day, the E350 cut-away utilized the E150, E250, E350 van parts bin. But since the van was discontinued (replaced with the Transit) the E350 cut-away has more commonality with the E450 cut-away to keep unique parts to a minimum. You would have to compare the specs of each to understand every difference today. I personally would consider the E450 but budget for spring adjustments so the chassis closer matches your actual load. If you don't do that, your rig will shake and rattle so mush worse than it needs to. There are two basic class C rigs in the shorter lengths. - rear corner main double or queen size bed - no main floor bed, you sleep in the cab-over bed Regarding which class C (and B+) are better, consider the following. Ron Dittmer ------------------------------------------------------------------------ New, used, or well used, when shopping for a conventional class B+ or C, the most important consideration is how it is constructed. This post outlines construction methods which are most affordable and methods that cost more, but are built to hold up much better to the elements and also the punishment of the road. Some motor home manufactures offer different levels of quality through their various model lines. Instead of providing a list of brands to consider, it is best to identify what "Better" is. When shopping for a motor home, don't get distracted with "Eye Candy" and "Square Footage". You want to pay close attention to how the house is constructed. Water infiltration is the number one killer of motor homes, rotting them away long before anything is worn out. Once water gets inside, it is like termites. By the time you realize there is a problem, a lot of damage has already occurred. Also consider that mold & mildew can grow inside the walls which then you have a health hazard. My advise focuses on identifying a reliably well sealed motor home. #1 BEST (Very Expensive, Can Be 1.5 times the cost of Second Best) NO structural seam work. The brand Coach House is a fine example. It is seamless, made from a mold. The only places where water can leak is cutouts for windows, entry door, roof-top vents & a/c unit, storage compartments & maintenance access, all of which are in areas of very low stress. Because they have a seamless shell, these motor homes are not common and have a limited selection of sizes and floor plans. #2 SECOND BEST Common, Affordable, & comes in Many Sizes so this is my main focus I own an example of this type. My Rig Here manufactured by Phoenix USA. Made in sections, but assembled in a way that greatly reduces the threat of water damage. Here are the good things you want to look for. a) Structural Seams Away From Corners When a motor home is driven, the house bounces, resonates, shakes, and leans countless times, representing a endless series of earthquakes. Corner seams see greater stresses than seams located elsewhere. Corner seams are more easily split, especially when the caulk gets brittle with age & exposure to the sun. One extremely bad bump in the road can instantly breach a corner seam. Seams hold up much better when they are brought in from the corners in lesser stressed areas. b) A Seamless Over-The-Van Front Cap A huge bed above the van’s roof is the most vulnerable area of a motor home. No matter how well they are made, that long frontal over-hang resonates when the RV is driven making it common for seams to split there, most troublesome with age & exposure to the elements. HERE is an example, one of many water-damage threads I have read. Scroll down in that thread to see pictures of the real damage. The small front aerodynamic cap of a B+ design HERE eliminates the overhang which eliminates most of the resonation, along with the most vulnerable seam work. There are a few conventional “C” Designs (big over-van bed) where that area is seamless. If you absolutely must have that huge bed, then look for a seamless bucket-like design. The Itasca Navion is a fine example. If your requirements are to have a large class-C with a massive over-van bed, the best example I seen was this Fleetwood Tioga model offered around 2008-2009. It is unfortunate all class-Cs don't practice seamless cab-over area construction for it would greatly improve the class-C industry. Increasing in popularity by many manufactures is a shallow bucket design with fewer seams located in less-stressed areas. The Nexus Triumph is one such example. This shallow bucket design is a reasonable compromise. If you plan to accommodate more than 2 people, having that large extra cab-over bed will be extremely useful. c) A Crowned Roof Rain and snow melt runs off a crowned roof. A flat roof will sag over time, then water puddles around heavy roof-top items like the a/c unit. Water eventually finds it's way inside after gaskets & caulk have degraded from age, sun, and change in seasons. d) Rolled-Over-The-Edge seamless Fiberglass Roof Sheathing A single sheet of fiberglass as shown HERE that rolls over the right & left sides of the roof, down to the wall. The overlapping of fiberglass to the wall provides a good water seal and the fiberglass sheathing holds up better than roofs made of sheet rubber or thin plastic called TPO, which require more attention to keep your RV well protected. e) A Five Sided Rear Wall Cap A five sided back wall moves the seams around to the sides to areas of much less stress as seen HERE. The rear wall resembles a shallow rectangular cooking pan standing on it's side. Like the example, some rear wall sections are constructed with an integrated spare tire compartment and rear storage compartment. Not only are they convenience features, but that rear wall/cap offers a solid double-wall for exceptional strength which is more resistant to flexing the adjoining seam work. It helps in keeping the house together. Don't be fooled. Some manufactures add rear wall sectional styling which gives the appearance of a 5-sided pan design. Though not as desirable, they are still an improvement because all the holes for lighting and such are not in the structural wall where water could otherwise get inside the house. You can easily tell by noting the sections & seams between them and the flat back wall that remains exposed. CLICK HERE to see an example. f) Walls Are Either Resting On The Floor Or Bolted Against It Common sense would say the walls should rest on the floor, but some manufactures actually bolt the walls into the side of the floor framing. This means the weight of the roof and walls (and everything hanging on them) rests on mounting bolts. How well will that method hold up when being driven for so many thousands of miles? Checking for this is very difficult. It takes a trained eye for sure. CLICK HERE for an example of it done right with the walls resting on the floor. Bigger Will Be Weaker The size & floor plan you select MUST FIRST meet your needs before this consideration. The bigger the house, the weaker the structure will be. Consider two cardboard boxes made from the exact same corrugated material. The smaller box would naturally be stronger. It will be more resistant to bending, twisting, and other types of flexing. So if you are on the fence between models, the smaller one will be your stronger choice. Potentially Troublesome Construction Entry level motor homes are made with seams in corners and finished off with trim, including the massive cab-over bed. Their roof is flat and finished with rubber or TPO. They are most affordable, and come in all sizes. HERE is one such example. If considering this construction type, keep in-mind they require more regular care with bi-annual inspections. Plan to use a caulking gun now and then. When buying a used one, consider that you really don't know how well the previous owner maintained it. Buying new or used, that construction method will be counting on you to be a good non-neglectful owner. There are also the rare exception of the Lazy Daze which has seam work in the corners, but the substructure and sealing method is of the highest quality that it holds up like a seamless body. It's excellent sectional construction methods are not commonly found in other brands. I am no expert on this, but I'd give it a #1.5 Almost Like Best A Caution Concerning Slide Outs Slide outs are most popular. Everybody loves the extra floor space they provide. There are so few motor homes made without at least one slide out. Unfortunately slide outs can introduce risk of water damage to the main floor around them. Good seals work when the rig is young, but can loose their ability to seal properly as they age. When looking at used rigs with slide outs, closely examine the main floor around each one. If you can lift the carpet adjacent to the slide out and see the wood floor is a gray color, that is a sign that water gets inside. Also, completely open the slide out and step on the main floor adjacent to the slide out. If it feels soft, the plywood or chip board material underneath likely requires replacing. About The Chassis The most popular is the Ford E350 and E450 with the V10 engine, and this year Ford replaces that 6.8L-V10 with a larger, more powerful 7.3L-V8. The Ford Transit diesel and the Mercedes Sprinter diesel are popular alternatives to the E350 in the smaller sizes. The GM 3500 & 4500 chassis are not popular but are a very good choice for the right application. Any of the chassis mentioned made since 1998 are real good, new or used. If you plan to tow a car or heavy trailer, be aware that the Transit and Sprinter will be least powered. People who tow with them naturally take it slower. I am not sure a Transit can tow anything significant. That needs further research. If considering a recent “small” class B+ or C motor home, here is a comparison between the two current main chassis contenders, the Sprinter with the V6 diesel engine and the Ford E350 with the V10 gasoline engine. Advantages Of The Mercedes Sprinter With Diesel Engine - Offers a 35%-50% improvement in fuel economy over the Ford-V10, when both are loaded and driven identically. - More ergonomic driver compartment with more leg room. - Comfort continues with a car-like feel & quiet ride. - A grander view out the windshield - Made by Mercedes which people are attracted to. Advantages Of The Ford E350 with V10 Engine - Given identical motor homes both brand and model, the Ford is around $24,000 MSRP cheaper - The Ford V10 engine has 50% more horse power and torque - The Ford E350 chassis handles 1430 pounds more weight. - The E350 is able to tow a heavier load. - The E350 rear axle is significantly wider which translates to better stability. - In most places traveled, gasoline costs less than diesel fuel - The Sprinter diesel has limited mechanical service shops around North America - The Sprinter diesel is typically outfitted with a propane generator. Propane is a critical fuel for RV operations, and generally needs to be rationed when dry camping. - This Next Point Is Debatable But Still Worth Noting....The V6 Sprinter diesel engine is not allowed to idle for extended periods. This limitation is detrimental when you need a/c but there are generator restrictions, you are low on propane, or you have a mechanical failure with the generator or roof a/c. The Ford offers a great backup system. The V10 can safely idle for hours on end, heating, cooling, and battery charging, all valuable if you have a baby, pets, or health/respiratory issues. You decide what your priorities are, and pick the appropriate chassis. There are some really sweet motor homes being built exclusively on the Sprinter chassis, such as the Winnebago Navion and View. The Ford Transit Chassis This chassis is increasing in popularity in the smallest sizes. According to Ford's website, the Transit DRW chassis is offered in the 156", and 178" wheel base, and is rated as high as 10,360 GVWR. Ford offers a motor home package specific for the RV industry. It's diesel engine compares to the Sprinter in power and fuel economy, but is more affordable and is easily serviced at Ford service centers, just like the E350 & E450. The cab has a lower stance than the Sprinter making it much more friendly to get into and out from for people in their later years. Entering and exiting is more like a mini-van rather than a standard van. The Transit's lower cab also offers roomier over-head bunks that are easier to access. The Dodge Promaster 3500 Cut-Away Chassis This front wheel drive chassis is another recent entry in the RV industry. I am concerned over it's lack of load capability as reflected with single free-wheeling rear wheels. I have been reading posts written by new Promaster RV owners stating they are over-weight with just two people, some personal effects and food. They say they can't carry water and never a 3rd person. I would not be comfortable with such a limited load range in a B+ or C. This chassis does seem to be a good option in the "B" motor home market. The Chevy 3500 & 4500 Chassis Unfortunately this chassis is not more popular, primarily because GM sort-of gave up on competing with the Ford E350 & E450. It offers more interior comfort than the Ford, but not as much as the Sprinter. It's power & weight ratings are a little less than their Ford counter-parts making them a great chassis for all but the heaviest of class Cs. They are also a little better on fuel consumption. One thing to keep in-mind, if you are counting inches in storing your rig, the Chevy is a little longer than the Ford by a number of inches which was critical for us with our garage as seen HERE with our Ford 2007 E350 rig. That could be the reason why the Chevy has a little more interior driver/passenger leg room. The Ford E350 & E450 The majority of class B+ and C motor homes are built on one of these two chassis for a number of very good reasons, and with the changes in recent years to the engine and transmission, the good reasons increase. They have more power and load capability than the others. Ford approves outfitters to modify the chassis to increase or decrease the wheel base which supplies motor home companies a lot of design freedom. Ford has off-the-shelf components that work with the wheel base modification. So if you need a new drive shaft, fuel line, brake line, parking brake cable, wire harness, whatever, Ford has them available. Finally, the E350 and E450 chassis is competitively priced. Engine Power Ratings of Ford, MB-Sprinter, Chevy, and Dodge Ford E350 & E450 - 6.8L-V10, 305hp, 420ft (7.3L-V8 starting in 2020) Ford Transit Diesel - 3.2L-I5, 185hp, 350ft Mercedes Sprinter Diesel - 3.0L-V6, 188hp, 325ft Chevy 3500 & 4500 - 6.0L-V8, 323hp, 373ft Dodge Promaster - 3.6L-V6 (GVW only 9,300 pounds) Now to supply some data as to why I feel our Phoenix Cruiser stands above most other brands. These two videos drag on, but provide lots of data and also clarify critical things to look for when evaluating any brand. CLICK HERE on a comparison between a Phoenix Cruiser and an undisclosed brand. I think it is a Nexus. There is a lot of nit-picking but is notable when adding it all up. It is also educational on what makes a better motor home...of coarse at a higher price too. CLICK HERE for a slideshow on how a Phoenix Cruiser is built. I feel this slide show teaches so much, especially about hidden things that unsuspecting buyers would never think about.
ron.dittmer 08/31/20 06:50am Class C Motorhomes
RE: Towing a 2 horse trailer

I realize that this was a few years ago, but are you open to a few questions about this? Thanks either way. If buying a new motor home and favor a class C or B+, consider a shorter/smaller/lighter motor home which would normally be built on an E350 chassis, but instead order it on an E450 chassis, and have the manufacture beef up the frame extension and also have them install a 7000 pound hitch. Our shorter E350 rig HERE with a main floor double bed is a popular rig for an E450 upgrade. The manufacture Phoenix USA HERE is exceptional for such upgrades including more demanding frame extensions and hitch. For your particular horse trailer application, I would also get front and rear heavy duty stabilizer bars, a rear trac bar, and a heavy duty front steering stabilizer. All setup properly, you and your 4 legged cargo will be safe, and you'll be driving in full confidence. I also recommend the same for people who want to tow a serious travel trailer, a car in or on a trailer, or a serious boat. Tongue weight and curb weight is the issue at hand. When towing another vehicle 4 wheels down like we do, it's all good with the standard E350 along with those same suspension upgrades I had mentioned. I suppose if your travels are consistently an hour or two away, always on flat terrain, then you can get away with much less. I am assuming you are traveling around USA, driving all kinds of paved roads.Sure, ask away.
ron.dittmer 08/24/20 11:34pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Salvage class C

vrunner, Years ago when our son was in college, his car got side-swiped and totaled by the driver's insurance company. We got the money for the totaled vehicle, then paid back what they wanted to keep the car. The title never exchanged hands. It remained unchanged. I thought that wasn't right, but that's what happened. In the end, the title was clean, though I don't know what a Carfax report stated. If it's a great deal and you are very handy and up for the challenge, I would go for it as long as the title is not salvage or rebuilt. Like others state, you will have serious insurance troubles.
ron.dittmer 08/24/20 06:01am Class C Motorhomes
RE: New to me--2014 Freelander 21QB rough ride

It's a 2014, but what chassis? Ford E350 or E450, Chevy 3500 or 4500? It sounds like you have an E450 or 4500 with too much extra load capability, causing your exceptionally rough ride. You need to be on a trip fully loaded including full fuel, fresh water, and drained waste tanks. At a truck stop, get the front and rear axles weighed independently, then adjust your tire pressure based on the weight placed on them. But BEWARE of tire gauges. CLICK HERE to read my evaluation of tire gauges. What I thought was my best tire gauge was 9 pounds off, reading high which meant I was putting in 9 psi too little. Likely with an E450 or 4500, consider having a professional adjust your rear spring packs to reflect your actual load with some margin for variation in your load. Our short 23'-8" E350 is tail-heavy and front-light. Our front coil springs today are unmodified Ford original. They are the same ones installed on an E450. This week I will be replacing them with the next rating lesser in hopes to reduce house jolting up front, increase driver comfort, and lower the front a bit to better "level" the rig. Here is our load distribution causing the teeter-totter effect, actually raising the front a bit. The ride is rougher than it needs to be up front. Hopefully my front spring swap experiment will yield an improvement. https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/48533409317_0b01673426_z.jpg width=640 I had our rig weighed empty but with full fuel and nobody inside, and then a second time loaded full during a trip with my wife and I sitting up front. Fully loaded, the weight increase on the front axle was only 100 pounds. The teeter-totter effect is that bad on our rig. The front is affected so much that the front suspension required offset bushings for a proper front wheel alignment. After my spring-swap, I assume another alignment will require the original center-hole bushings. BTW, the 21QB is a very nice rig. Congrats on your purchase.
ron.dittmer 08/23/20 06:37am Class C Motorhomes
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