Discovery 39 or similar?

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Aug 18, 2006
Cranberry, PA
Just starting the education process prior to the search for a retirement motorhome. Last owned was a Bounder 40Z, so obviously like a big rig. Next one will definitely be a diesel, have looked a bit at the Discovery 39 (possibly L, S or J). Also, would be buying used, perhaps 3-4 years old or so to get the price under $125 and closer to $100.

Looks like Fleetwood has upgraded the Bounder a lot, and the floorplan of the diesel is very similar to the Discovery, however I wasn't that happy with some workmanship bits on my last Bounder. Also, the Discovery (of course due to the fact that it's a step above the Bounder) has some features unavailable on the Bounder. Interestingly though, one item (a REAL oven) seems to be missing on the Discovery ??? My wife is quite the cook, and I absolutely do not see her being happy with a little convection microwave "big enough for a chicken!" There are any number of aftermarket installers so I suppose if the oven was the only item missing it could be added. (Any comments on that thought?)

Anyway, some questions for Discovery owners out there (or anyone with knowledge of same):

Aside from the floor plan (which is fantastic) what drew you to the 39? Anything unique/special about the Discovery 39 that simply can't be found elsewhere?

There is always something an Rver would change about his rig, what do you wish was different on yours (or what have you seen on Discoveries that you didn't like)?

Have you had any problems? How do you feel about the workmanship?

Living "back east" we have very cold winters with which to deal, so it's an absolute must that the unit can easily be used in zero degree weather with no freeze-up problems. How is the heating in the basement? Have you (or others you know) had the Discovery in extremely cold weather?

Having been out of the market for some time (and even when I was in it, we're talking about a completely different market i.e. 40' gas), I am not the least bit familiar with the myriad choices out there in the under $150K 40ish foot pusher diesel class. I am sure that in this market (like every other) there are brands/models with substandard workmanship, poor design, etc. What brands/models would you avoid and why? What brands/models would you consider as an alternative to the Discovery and why?

I was VERY dissatisfied with the brakes on the Bounder, so used a compressed air dinghy braking system that I was fairly happy with, but of course with gas (and therefore no air brakes) I had to have an auxiliary air compressor and tank dedicated to said braking system. Now considering a diesel with air brakes, I assume there will be no braking issues. Does one even need dinghy braking with such a unit?

Also, I assume one would want engine braking?

What is the winterization process for the Discovery? Back in PA we of course have to winterize as least once a year, and several times if used in the winter. Some rigs can be a very tedious process. Mine was a tedious hour long process with pink fluid, always hoping that when I de-winterized something wouldn't be cracked.

With a 36,000+/- GVW are you happy with the power? Does the 330 Cat have a turbo? I see units of this size with anywhere from a 285 Cummins and up (500+ on the luxury rigs). Realizing that the answer is subjective, what kind of power should one be looking for (considering towing around 5000 lbs)?

A follow-on question to the power - Cummins? Cat? Other? Turbo? Known problems?

What kind of mileage do you get and what is the fuel capacity?

What is the water capacity on the Discovery?

Does anyone have interior shots with the slides retracted that they could email? Having had a unit with a single 12' X 36" slide, I do realize there is some impact on the interior when retracted. I am particularly interested though in what these units with opposing slides look like inside when retracted.

I see some ads that say "auto-start" generator - what's that?

Phew! That's all for now! (More later I'm sure)

Thanks all,


I have don't have a Discovery, so I'll answer the generic questions:

. Now considering a diesel with air brakes, I assume there will be no braking issues.

Correct. I have the M&G system, but here's a wider range of options.

Does one even need dinghy braking with such a unit?

Yes. Most states require auxiliary braking on a dinghy over some relatively light weight.

Also, I assume one would want engine braking?

Yes, since a diesel engine does not have the inherent compression braking that a gas engine has. Here's an article that might help.
[edit]Link update[/edit]

I don't own a Discovery either, though we have looked at some while window shopping. We looked at a 2006 with the full wall slide and it was gorgeous! Well out of any price range we could consider, though.

The winterization procedure is pretty much the same no matter what brand you buy. You need to drain tanks and either blow out water lines or pump in the pink stuff. Ditto for water heaters and ice makers. There is no magic here except maybe to keep the heat on inside and buy a rig with an adequately heated basement. Or drive south until the thermometer gets well above 32!  ;)

Modern gas rigs (including Bounders) are built on much-improved chassis (Workhorse or Ford) and have quite adequate brakes and drivetrains.
RV Roamer said:
I don't own a Discovery either, though we have looked at some while window shopping. We looked at a 2006 with the full wall slide and it was gorgeous!

Thanks "Roamer". Yes, noticed the full wall slide in the brochure - quite something!

I seem to recall I started to see some sort of centralized winterization panel on new rigs at the shows a few years ago - was I dreaming? I know the lines either have to be empty or pink, just have to imagine there have been advances in this. Re blowing out the lines - how effective is this?

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