Wellington and Me

Wellington and Me
My rolling home!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

How I decided on a Class A Motor home with gas motor for my full time RV living

So there's a number of types of recreational vehicles out there, from motorhomes to trailers and different types in each group.  Class A, B, C, fifth wheel... It can be a bit confusing.


In the Motor homes there's class A, B, and C.  Class A is what you see on the road roughly resembling a bus.  This is the type I finally landed on.  Class B is what you see that looks like it's built on a passenger or cargo van type body.  Class C is larger, but still with the cab of what might be a van. 

Trailers, or towables, range from a travel trailer to a toy hauler that folds open with a rear "garage" for atv's or motorcycles, popup trailers of different sorts - half trailer, half tent, and 5th-wheel trailers which are the largest and require a special hitch in the back of a truck. 


I originally was leaning toward a 5th wheel trailer.  I'd seen many of them at rv shows and was very impressed with all the space and storage in them.  Many have slide outs on both sides of the living space which can quite literally make it feel like a very large living room.  Some had full kitchens with a wrap around bar and more. One I saw had a "forward living" design where instead of the bedroom being in the upper area, the living room was there with 2 couches, a recliner, a fireplace with tv above, and the sleeping area was in the back.  So they are very versatile and spacious.

The downside of a 5th wheel, or even a large trailer, is that you have to have a pretty beefy truck to pull it.  The bigger the 5th wheel (and I would have wanted pretty large to live in full time) the bigger the truck needed.  Now I plan to be stationary in the Portland area a good portion of the year, and even when traveling I'll likely be in one place a few weeks here, a couple weeks there, or more.  So during the time the trailer was parked, I'd have to drive that big truck around as my daily vehicle. 

I also spoke with my friends Bobby and Darrell (Hi guys!) who have been full-time rv'ers for going on 4 years now and the informed me too that the setup when you reach your destination is more time consuming and involved.  Additionally, passengers including my pugs, could not ride in the trailer when in motion. If you have a guest with you, they can grab a beverage a snack, etc (carefully) on the road.  Not so when it's a trailer of any sort. 

So with those details in mind, I shifted my search back to a Class A motor home.  With a class A everything is self contained and it's very easy to arrive, park, level, extend the slide outs, hook up to the park water, power, etc, and you're done. 


Then, I had to consider a gas or diesel model.  This is a considerable piece of the puzzle. It seems that most people would tell you that diesel is better.  They often get better MPG, I believe I've been told that the motors likely are more durable and longer lasting, and you'll usually hear that they have more power for climbing hills, for towing, etc.

Wellington RV!  A 2003 Fleetwood Pace Arrow
with GM 8100 gas motor, Workhorse Chassis, Allison Transmission
What I also discovered though is that they are more expensive in MANY ways... in the used rv market diesel typically meant 10-30k more expensive.  Service on a diesel coach is much higher, as you can't take it into a typical auto repair shop, and the service is much more specialized.  My gas coach is a GM engine and chassis.  So the motor can be serviced in many standard auto shops.  Even the tires are more expensive, since tires on a diesel coach are HUGE. They are often larger than tires found on a semi truck. Since that means they are a low demand item to stock, they can often run upwards of $800 EACH.  Tires on a gas coach are smaller, are frequently used on other types of trucks, and therefore are more common and easier on the wallet.  For all these reasons I started researching gas options and found that the specific motor/chassis/transmission (allison) combination of my coach (Fleetwood Pace Arrow 2003) had great customer ratings and mentions on blogs and websites.  Owners talked about how it had plenty of power, often passing by diesel coaches on an incline.  And so far, I've been very pleased with my gas coach.  Even the mileage is comparable to what many say is normal for a diesel. 


Also, with a class A I can tow my jeep wrangler unlimited behind the RV from place to place.  With the addition of a tow bar on the jeep, a tow bar, and some lighting wires installed, I can quickly hook up my jeep to the back of the RV and tow it down the road.  It's easy to disconnect when I arrive and then I have my beautiful Mango (name of my jeep) with me to drive around wherever I happen to be.

It happens that Jeep Wranglers are one of the easiest vehicles to modify and tow 4-down (all wheels on the ground) of the limited number of cars that can be towed this way.  And since the transmission is completely disengaged when towing, no miles are added to the odometer while towing it. 


So all of these considerations have to be weighed if you're considering an RV for part time or full time use.  In the RV parks I see probably a near equal number of Class A and 5th Wheel types, and then a lower number of trailers.  Of course I don't know how many of of them are full-timers.  And within each class there's many near standards of floorplan pieces, but also many many creative and unique layouts suited for different needs.  It's a good idea if you're considering an RV to try to visit a good RV show, to see how things vary and get a sense of options.  If you're looking for a used RV, check out a number of different dealerships to see what might be available and in your price range. 

No comments:

Post a Comment