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Sunny Florida USA

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Posted: 06/12/18 08:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have a Jayco that is VERY entry level, and has been discontinued. Most of our problems have been original owner neglect vs. actual Jayco problems. Redhawk is now their entry level, but they seem to have upgraded it from what we have. That makes its "appointments" nicer than ours. J-Ride is a step up in ride and handling, something either Ford/Chev or RV builders should do. Still, it's made up of upgrades that an owner can add. And at a very modest cost if they can DIY the job.

Any way you cut it, the Thor coach belongs at the bottom of the list.

Anytime you can get a fiberglass roof, it's better than "rubber" but how much better depends on how it's been implemented. By that, I mean that if it is not 1. Crowned for runoff and 2. Wrapped over edges, it has the same seams to leak that rubber does.

Personally, I think a fiberglass front end cap is more valuable than a fiberglass roof from a durability and leak prevention standpoint.

I liked the 2860 suggestion and looked it up. Started with floor plan and wondered how they got all that in a 28-footer. They didn't. It's a 31 with a 28 name. Going to specs, I'm concerned about wheelbase. The "as built" weight will suggest carrying capacity, which the broshure calls 1800 pounds for the Chevy version. OK, but the 203" wheelbase suggests to me that it might be rear heavy and front light. Only way to learn the individual (front and rear) axle loading is to go weigh the coach or get the info from somebody who has one and weighed it. If you go look at a new one, try to include getting scale weights. You'll have to guess at how loading will affect it, but on ours, most loading (except pilot and bombardier/navigator) tends to be near the rear axle.

To give you an idea about weight and wheelbase, our GVWR is 14050, closer to Chevy's 14200 than newer Ford's 14500. Our front axle is at 4600 on a 4600 rating and rear at 9200 on a 9450 rating. But our wheelbase is 218, over a foot longer than the 2860. That's the basis for my concern and suggestion you weigh it.

If God's Your Co-Pilot Move Over, jd
2003 Jayco Escapade 31A on 2002 Ford E450 V10 4R100 218" WB


Oklahoma Green Country

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Posted: 06/13/18 04:42am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How does each feel for living in it, the way you plan to use it? What works easily, what is an inconvenience or a struggle? These things have a lot more to do with satisfaction than issues like price, feature sets, or build quality (which is never very good). One our fellow camping club members downsizing from a 36-foot Class admired our Class C, bought a Forest River C with somewhat similar floor plan, then traded that for a Winnebago identical to ours, because the FR did not work out so well when actually using it. The Winnebago worked OK for the rest of their camping life.

Not about Winnebago vs FR, rather about spending some time in the RV, going through the motions of living in it, setting it up, breaking camp. We put 15 months into a search, the result was good for the remaining seven years of my wife's lifetime, although the RV is a bit excessive for my needs as a single, unless I choose to snowbird or full-time. Thus suggesting you also look forward, not just immediate uses.

Tom Test
Itasca Spirit 29B


North-East Illinois

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Posted: 06/13/18 10:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi Bren53,

Here are some general class-C things to consider. It is a long read, but worth the investment of your time. It might help narrow your selection further.

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.

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 Here is a fine example. Some manufactures as of late offer a partial bucket design with fewer seams located in less-stressed areas. Some manufacture models like the Minnie Winnie and the Nexus Phantom utilize a compromising partial bucket design, making it a better choice compared to a fully seamed cab-over bed.

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. There are a select few manufactures who add rear wall sectional styling pieces over an entry level rear corner seam design which gives the appearance of a 5-sided pan design. You can easily tell by noting the sections & seams between them and the flat back wall that remains exposed.

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

About The Chassis
The most popular is the Ford E350 and E450 with the V10 engine. The Sprinter diesel is a popular alternative to the E350 in the smaller sizes. Also within this past year is the recent introduction of the Ford Transit. 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 Sprinter & Transit will be least powered. People who tow with them naturally take it slower.

If considering a current-day “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 $13,000 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. Others like Phoenix USA build their model 2350 and 2400 on both the Sprinter and Ford E350. They will even build it on the heaviest duty E450 upon request for a nominal fee. People who request an E450 for a small motor home, tow heavier things like for example, a multi-horse trailer. You can even special order a E350 & E450 4x4.

There is so much cool stuff offered in recent years on the Sprinter and most recently on the new Ford Transit.

The Ford Transit Chassis
This chassis has the potential to dominate the class B+ & C motor home market in the smaller 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 much lower stance than the Sprinter making it much more friendly to get into and out from for people in their later years. It's 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. 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
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)

2007 Phoenix Cruiser model 2350, with 2006 Jeep Liberty in-tow


Chillicothe MO

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Posted: 06/13/18 10:10am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We are looking at Coachman Freelanders. Any pros cons on those?



Sunny So Cal

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Posted: 06/13/18 10:59am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One Pro it that it also is available on Chevy Chassis [emoticon]

Former El Monte RV Rental

Buying A Rental Class C

Chevrolet Based Class C



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Posted: 06/13/18 11:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Bren53 wrote:

We are looking at Coachman Freelanders. Any pros cons on those?

We have a Freelander 21qb (24ft) on the Chevy chassis.


-Large Cargo carrying capacity on the shorter unit with the 4500 chevy chassis. We have over 4500 lbs. capacity. With every single tank full (including waste, fresh water, fuel (57 gals), propane), plus 4 of us and all our stuff we still have almost 2000 lbs left.

-Large fresh water tank for an rv this size at 50 gallons. We like to be where hookups aren't. Plus room in the battery box for a second battery.

-Larger inside storage closet than the comparable-sized Thor unit.

- U-shaped dinette when made into a bed is nice and large. Actually usable for an adult. The main bed is also nice at 60X80.

-Nice large outside storage area with large door on the side. Not much we can't fit in there.

-24 foot length: we could get everywhere we wanted to with it. Never felt uncomfortable with size in any parking lot, gas station, Park, etc.. Got a fantastic spot in Glacier NP practically by ourselves due to it's size combined with a "hard-side unit only" restriction due to bears.

-A pro for us is no slide.


-Being a more budget-minded camper it is missing a few things. It has non-ducted Air Conditioning (a little louder). No radio or even speakers in the house section. 2-way versus 3-way refrigerator (it barely sips gas on propane tho). Gas DSI water heater only, no electric element. Rubber type roof versus fiberglass. No standard vent fans except the dinky one in the bathroom. There is an option for some to be added. Look through the listed standards and options and you'll see some of the differences compared to the more expensive units.

-The table for the dinette is not the most stable at times. You do not want to physically lean on it at the left/right edges. We added small curtain tension rods to firm it up. Don't get me wrong, it isn't wobbly loose.

Build quality is on par with most others, no better and certainly no worse. If the stories about the Thor units are to be believed, I would say it may be a tad better than those. We had ours out on a roughly 20 day trip immediately after we took delivery of it and had no failures of anything at all. A few warranty issues to take care of but nothing that has left us stranded or without the use of some system (knocking on wood...). Next long trip coming up, so we'll see how it holds up.

* This post was edited 06/13/18 12:03pm by Newbiecampers *


Pittsburgh PA

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Posted: 06/13/18 12:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you have the money, consider Coach House, Phoenix Cruiser, and Lazy Daze. Although more expensive, generally they are more trouble free than some of the entry=level models. I would rather pay the price than have a rig that is in the service bay frequently.

When going to an RV show, go to one sponsored by many dealers, not just one. There you can compare build-quality, floorplans, space, amenities, and weight capacities of various brands and builders. If you can't find a show near you in MO., the Hershey RV show (self-billed as the largest in the country) in PA occurs in mid-September. Remember to focus on what you need and want, and do your best to avoid eye-candy.

Best wishes and good hunting.


Chillicothe MO

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Posted: 06/13/18 08:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Party of 5, Do you by chance have names of any of the RV dealers in St. Louis? I've found a few on line but thought you might share names.
Thank you


Chillicothe MO

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Posted: 06/14/18 07:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well we are still looking. Party of Five, if you could share some of the St. Louis dealers would appreciate. I did google and found some. Apache Village had several, calling them today.
Found a Coachman Leprechaun we really liked. We are trying to stay at $70,000.00 or lower. We have also looked at a Thor Chateau. Going to look at Jycos again. I thinks this looking could dry a person crazy! LOL


rhode island

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Posted: 06/14/18 10:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I know this will ruffle feathers but stay away from Thor. Im not going into details, but look at a thor product VERY carefully and you will see why they are less money to purchase.

Proud father of a US Marine

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