Finally! Picked up the MH Today!

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chaajoad

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May 29, 2006
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322
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Poulsbo WA
This may be a boring post so I'll try to keep it short ...

Our new-to-us Bounder is sitting in the driveway tonight. Sort of.

I refinanced the house to get cash to buy the MH. I was told after a three day wait, the $$ would be in my account and I could wire it to the seller in Portland - we live in Seattle. Soooo ... I took Weds. off (that was day #4) on the assumption (I know, I know) that the cash would be in my acct later that day. I drove my SUV to a Park & Ride. Took a bus to a ferry. From the ferry I walked to the Amtrak station and hopped a train to Portland. During the train trip, my wife informed me - no $$$ in the account. Great. The seller would be meeting me, expecting his cash and I was planning on driving the MH back.

I ended up spending the night in a motel. For some dumb stroke of luck, I'd thought to grab a change of clothes and a toothbrush, stuffing it in the bag I carry most everywhere. Still, it was weird - the whole thing was unexpected and just threw me off.

Thursday the cash showed up and it was wired to the seller. Here's where the fun starts.

When I first saw the Bounder I was struck by just how BIG it is. You MH vets are used to it but do you remember the first time you took a look at the big rig you would be driving? After a few basic points, I was on my own. Heading out of Portland around 3PM, the traffic is beastly. The MH was edging near empty and, moving a 5mph, I was getting nervous. What to do if I run out of fuel on I-5 with no real shoulder or anyplace to pull over? Seeing a "gas" sign, I pull off 5 and find myself in a narrow-street neighborhood and an Arco station with 11' canopies - no go. Lots of turns and squeezing down neighborhood streets, I'm back on 5. A few more exits up is a Shell with a 15' clearance - hallelujah!!! But as the kid is trying to pump the gas, we can't find the fuel input. A call to the seller saves me further embarrassment.

Once traffic opens up a bit, it was almost an out-of-body experience. Every few moments, what I was doing would hit me. The money, the effort, the shot nerves - but I was driving my motorhome back to Polusbo WA. I gotta say - this thing handles great. Real smooth. 60-65 no problem, not so much as a quiver. Double trailer semis would blow by me and I'd barely feel it. The unit is odor free and I literally can't find a mark on it anywhere. Everything works. I have no idea how old the tires are and after reading posts here, y'all have convinced me that age is more important than mileage - I'll check them. The brakes seem to "pulse" a bit so I'm thinking that might be an indication to at least ck. the pads. The dash AC blows cool but not cold - again, I'm thinking a quick AC service should help that.

One major problem - no manuals at all. So I guess I'll ck Fleetwood or an online source to get one. I literally am starting at scratch. The seller ran over a few things but you know how that is - you're head is spinning just from seeing the thing in person.

I'll try not to be a pest here but I'll have LOTS of questions. It's strange for a guy my age (55) to be so pumped, but ... this is pretty cool. Even though getting it down my dirt road and drive was a challenge and getting it out will take at least 10-15 minutes each time (the "sort of" remark earlier) I'm totally looking forward to our first trip. My wife and 8 yr old boy were sitting on the porch and seeing their eyes as I wheeled that beast down the drive was truly priceless. My wife sat in the front, quietly imagining Montana through that bog windshield. Adam was beside himself, already talking about adventures we'd have.

I've gone on a bit. I'm tired and the adrenilin has yet to wear off. But we are official MH owners now. For better or worse, we're embarking on a big adventure and I'm glad there's a forum like this where the vets and pros are so willing to share.   
 

Betty Brewer

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Mar 10, 2005
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Hi Chaajod, (is that your name?)
Whoopie!

What a story.  I think all first time  mh owners have that feeling of "big."  You are  going to have wonderful adventures and yes do use this forum for specific questions.  All of us who have driven down that narrow street praying to not to run out of gas or into a tree are on your side to help you avoid our adventures.  Congrats!

Betty
 

Ron

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Home is where we park it
Congratulations on your purchase of the Bounder.  They are a great Motorhome.  Thanks for sharing your experience.  I am sure you and your family will really enjoy it.  When questions arise just ask and we will try to provide the answers.

 

Shayne

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Jan 22, 2006
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Glad you settled on a unit and now enjoy.  hat's what it's all about.
 

John From Detroit

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Davison Michigan
==I'll try not to be a pest here but I'll have LOTS of questions.==

Well, as it happens we love questions.  I'm sure someone will point you to the fleetwood company site, and the fleetwood owner's site (Which has some lovely downloads on it)

Most all the manuals you need can be downloaded as .PDF files on your computer.  I suggest doing so by the way

Check compartments.. If there is a suitcase in one of them, Odds are it's the manual
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Congratulations! We still remember the thrill of driving our first Class A motorhome home, even though we had been towing big trailers for years.

There really is no "owners manual" per se. What you get is a collection of separate manuals for the appliances and various appliances, often in a big file folder or loose leaf notebook. Maybe there will be one manual of a very general nature describing the motorhome systems as a whole, but nothing as detailed as you might expect, e.g. a car owners manual.

Make notes of the make and model numbers of your major appliances,  e.g. fridge, water heater, stove, furnace, etc. and search online for manuals for them. Or ask other Rvers, most of whom will have the exact same units in their rigs (or their manuals will cover several models, including yours). You can ask to photo copy their manuals.  You will probably be disappointed in these manuals too - they have only the most basic info.

I also recommend purchasing Trailer Life's RV Maintenance & Repair Manual by Bob Livingstone. It wil tell you more about most any RV compoent or appliance than any manual from the manufacturer. Simple and practical info on common problems and repairs. It's available at Amazon.com or at many Rv stores.
 

chaajoad

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Joined
May 29, 2006
Posts
322
Location
Poulsbo WA
Excellent advice, folks! I'll get on it. I already sent $8 to Fleetwood for a "manual" but after reading these replies, I'm guessing it will fall short.

I'm sure all these adventures are nothing to you to y'all and eventually it will be second nature to me as well. We sat in it today (no license plate until monday) and it was truly a thrill to see my wife so happy. She sat in the co-pilot's seat, imagining out loud what Montana will look like from that seat - Montana in the MH is her big dream. I had no idea how important it was to her until today.

The engine battery seems to be dead. I'm thinking I left something on I shouldn't have. It's being charged overnight to see if that will help. I used the aux battery (the seller showed me that function, thank God!) and it started right up. Generator started right up, too. Runs quietly so that's good. Actually, I'm kind of wondering where the catch is - the unit is in such great shape and I got what seems to be a terrific price. I know the owner didn't lose money on the deal, but unless there's something hidden ...

But I literally know nothing about the daily functions - water, sewage pumping, battery management, etc - so it's all from scratch. I'll have to have a 110 outlet installed so I can run the rig off house current.The plan is to use the Bounder as an office a few days a week so we'll definitely get use out of it.

Still, it's just amazing that this massive vehicle is parked right next to the house. Only in America ...
 

Ray D

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Jun 4, 2006
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Boise, Idaho
chaajoad:  First, disclaimer. I have been using this board for information, helpful to getting started right, for several weeks. I know very little as to what I am talking about.

But, I did one thing I really like, on my own, two years ago. I had 30Amp service installed on the outside of our garage wall, in the back yard, where the pad is for our, then, 91 Allegro. It costed me only $75.00. I think that was a good  price.

Last year, we bought our new Damon Challenger and I had the back yard service upgraded to 50Amp. $75.00, again. We are really glad we installed service sufficient to run the whole MH. We use it "all the time."

Sometimes, due to medical stuff, we can't get out for two or three weeks at a time. So, we "camp out" in the back yard, now and then. We have power and water. We need to dump, occasionally, but we keep that down by using stick house fascilities as much as possible. While we are dumping, we buy propane if neccessary.

City wide power interruption? We just "go camping" with the generator running. In the back yard, we have lights, TV, and airconditioning. Power outage is no problem, for us. Our generator is relatively quiet, and we have had no complaints since installing the service.

Company from out of town? They use the "Guest House" in the back yard. The motorhome-guest house is much nicer than the stick house, and makes a wonderful guest house.

You'll be glad you installed the electrical service for the motorhome. Just be sure to install enough service to run everything.

WOW! Here I am, a newby, and giving advice, already!

Ray D
 

Smoky

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wherever we are parked
someone above mentioned Fleetwood has a good web site with some lovely downloads.  that is true!  I use their Discovery site because of the map downloads I can get for bridge clearances, truck stops, WalMarts, and the like.  (These can be imported into most GPS programs.)

Here is the site I use:

Fleetwood Discovery site

I am sure the folks there can get you to the bounder site.
 

Ned

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USA
The discoveryowners.com web site is run by Bob Cook as a service to all RVers, and is not associated with the Fleetwood company at all, although membership in the club is limited to Discovery owners.? The files are available to all, however.
 

Rex

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Joined
Feb 15, 2006
Posts
253
Location
Alabama Gulf Coast
chaajoad, you didn't tell us what length coach you bought, so we don't know how big Big is.  I can understand what you thought when you first saw it.  I had the same thoughts on my first coach which I bought having only seen pictures of it. 

The dead battery may be caused because you did not turn off the battery switches.  Yep, there should be one for the engine battery and one for the house batteries.  On my first RV, a 34-foot Bounder, they were located over the door.  They should be turned off when you are not using the coach. 

Hope this helps some.  There is lots to learn, but it will all be fun.

Rex
 

scottydl

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Land of Lincoln
Man, reading this thread makes me want to go out and buy a MH right NOW!  ;D  The thought of waiting until next year is killing me, but I know it would be better to have all (or at least a large portion of) the cash to buy rather than going into debt.  Glad too to have found this forum... I'm an Admin at another automotive forum, so now I know how new members feel when they first show up and get all their questions answered within minutes.  ;)
 

chaajoad

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Joined
May 29, 2006
Posts
322
Location
Poulsbo WA
First - thanks for all the responses.

The MH is a 34J - it was advertised as a 35' but I guess it must be 34. And of course, it's tall. It's just bigger than I thought - and who knows what I was thinking? But it seems that buying a MH is a lot like buying a motorcycle, boat, etc. I recall my first "big" motorcycle - a Yamaha 750. Man, it felt like a chopper Peter Fonda would be jealous of. That went away pretty quickly. First time I rode my 1100, it felt HUGE. Now it feels like no big deal and I'm fighting the urge to get a bigger bike (this one is paid for!)

I'm calling an electrician tomorrow and will get on that recommendation to get a big power 110 outlet. I plan on using the MH as an office a few days a week and will need that power. I asked a sewer company (we use a septic tank) and was told it was NOT a good idea to dump directly into the tank. So that's settled.

I'll check the battery switches but I'm such a novice I might not know them if I see them or what to do with them. When I had the charger on today, the power steps came out and the minute I unhooked the charger, nothing. Trying to start the unit only results in that dead battery click sound - using aux battery, it fires right up. I wanted to check the engine battery's specific gravity but it's sealed.

The generator works like a charm and both AC units blow heavy cold air - really, really nice in the bedroom. Like I said - it seems like a primo unit so far.

As for waiting - I understand. I hadn't even thought of buying any kind of RV until the last 6 months or so. I need to work at home and our space is pretty much maxxed out inside. Building an addition would be an easy $50k and up. I started thinking - why not get an office that moves? At first I came close to getting a TT but the wife kind of convinced me to go to a MH and I'm glad. We refinanced the house to get the $$ so no MH payments but real estate in seattle has gone nuts so we could do it. Our house has gone up about 75% in four years!

Made the first MH purchase today - napkins for the kitchen. It felt great putting them in the cupboard.

Thanks again for the sound advice. I'm gonna need a lot of it - and Ray? Your advice was excellent. No matter how long you've owned a MH, it's longer than me!!!
 

Smoky

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Mar 11, 2005
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wherever we are parked
Actually you CAN dump your black and gray water into the sceptic.  But you need to take some precautions.

We are fulltimers, and at several of our stops we use sceptic tanks.  We had the advantage that we bought our coach new, so no chemicals have ever been put into our holding tanks.  At the outset we used RID-X in our blackwater tank.  We have never experienced any kind of odor using a bacteria based holding tank solution.  Rid-X is the same thing that goes into a sceptic.

We also added a macerator, so that when we encounter a sceptic that is uphill from us, we can still pump sewage.  For about $250 you can purchase a macerator and one inch hosing (lightweight accordion style) from a company in Kentucky.  This is the same system that Monaco is installing on their new coaches and that Newmar is installing as a special order.

Do not use deodorants or "RV holding tank solutions" if you are planning to use sceptic tanks.  These solutions will kill the bacteria action needed in sceptic tanks.  We chose Rid-X because this is what most people use in their sceptic tanks.  If you believe the previous owner used RV chemicals, you might try camping for a few days and use repeated flushings to get the chemicals dispersed and a good base of Rid-X started, before using your sceptic tank.
 

Ron

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Home is where we park it
I asked a sewer company (we use a septic tank) and was told it was NOT a good idea to dump directly into the tank. So that's settled

I would not think this would be a problem unless you use Chemicals that contain Formaldehyde,  We as well as others here use NO chemicals at all in out black or grey water tanks.  Not necessary just another gimmick to releave you of money.  Also DO NOT use RV toilet paper that will clog the tank.  We use Scott's single ply  AngelSoft is also acceptable.
 

Rex

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Feb 15, 2006
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253
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Alabama Gulf Coast
chaajoad, the 34-J is the best floor plan Bounder has in my opinion.  That is what I had, and I loved it.  What year is yours?  The battery switches should be above your door on the left side as you exit.  While they do turn off most of the electrical functions, there are still some systems being powered by the batteries.  The engine battery will still have the radio memory, clock, engine computer, and perhaps your LP gas detector powered up.  These will drain the battery over time, even with the switch off. 

Sounds like it may be time for the engine battery to be replaced.  It is the same type as in your car.  The two batteries down by the front bumper are the house batteries.  They are deep cycle type.  You may have a solar panel on your roof air conditioner.  If so there will be a small light in the ceiling air intake of your front air conditioner.  When it is shows red, the solar unit is charging your house batteries. 

The alternator will charge the engine and house batteries.  You should have a converter in one of the basement compartments on the passenger side of your coach.  When connected to shore power, that converts 110vac to 12vdc to provide power for your lights and 12-volt systems in the coach.  It also has a battery charging function, but will only charge your coach batteries.

There is lots to learn about your coach, and you will have fun doing it.  What chassis is it built on, Chevy, Ford, or Workhorse?  Also what year is it?

By the way, the chassis will be a year older than the coach.  That is because Fleetwood buys the chassis, they don't build them.  Then they build the coach on the chassis.  If you have a 1998 coach, it likely has a 1997 chassis.  No real big deal, but you may need to know the chassis year when it comes to having the it serviced.  My Bounder was on a Chevy chassis.  I owned it 5-years and never had any problems.  Changing oil and filters was all it ever needed. 

Does your coach have leveling jacks?  I think I may have some information on various Bounder systems.  If so, I'll gladly send it to you.  I'll see what I have and let you know.

Keep that grin on your face,

Rex
 

chaajoad

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May 29, 2006
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322
Location
Poulsbo WA
The Bounder is a 1999 with 49k miles and because the Chevy bow tie is on the steering wheel, I'm guessing it's a Chevy frame, right? And because you owned one, you might want to comment on this: I'm not sure if it's kosher to mention price on this board but I've seen others do it - I got it for $25k cash. From everything I can see on line and in dealer lots, it seems like I got a smokin' deal. I'm telling you, I can't find a single mark or stain. The dealer sticker still on the windows says $49k. So unless I got snookered - and I don't think so - it's a bargain. Your opinion?

I looked for months and months and this one jumped out at me - I truly love the look and the interior. I jumped through a lot of hoops to make it happen but it's parked beside the house. There are a few amenities it could use. No awning and no leveling jacks. I think I'll be okay w/o them for awhile. I'm nervous about leaving it uncovered but others here say no problem so I think that will be okay for now.

I had a nasty surprise today and it's all my bad - $2400 in sales tax when I went to get plates. Ouch! Tags are only about $150 a year after this hit. I was thinking about an RV shelter or putting new tires on it but ... that might have to wait now. I still haven't figured out the age of the tires. They're not originals - lots of tread left.
I'll try to figure out the battery thing - can a repair shop tell if a battery is shot even if it's sealed? Any way of testing the 6 volt aux batteries? So far, the only to start it is with those aux batteries. I'm taking the family on our first ride together in it tomorrow - backing it out of the driveway alone is a 10 minute ordeal - and I'd rather not be stranded because it won't start, ya know?

So, the learning experience has just begun. 
 

scottydl

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chaajoad said:
I still haven't figured out the age of the tires. They're not originals - lots of tread left.

In my newbie wandering, I did come across this link (on another RV forum  ::) although it's probably around here too):

http://www.michelinrvtires.com/michelinrvtires/other/RvVideos.jsp

Two great videos, one about handling motorhome blowouts while driving (about 10 minutes long), and the other one covers RV tire basics (about 13 minutes long).  That second one shows how to determine the age of your tires by "reading" the manufacture codes stamped on the sidewall.  HTH -
 

Ron

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Home is where we park it
Yep that link is here along with a link to Goodyear site that has a lot of good info.  Personally I consider those videos as required veiwing for safety.
 

Smoky

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Mar 11, 2005
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3,589
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wherever we are parked
I concur with Ron's black/gray tank strategy.  No formaldehyde, no RV toilet chemicals or toilet paper.  I use Scotts single ply.
 
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