Newbie trying to find just the right Class C

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Trigg

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For a long time I have dreamed of traveling the country in a huge RV?.but I also don?t like the reality of debt that would be required to do so.  Now that my husband is near retirement, we?ve been discussing the possibility of buying an older used RV, so we?ve been doing a lot of reading and have found it to be somewhat overwhelming.  This site has so much great information.

Our main purpose for considering buying an RV is so that we can travel with our three large dogs.  We wouldn?t be spending weeks at a time parked at a campground and we?d like for the RV to be small enough so that we can get around easily and go on short, impromptu trips.  I?d also like to be able to drive it myself and don?t think I could handle anything larger.  With our limited budget, we realize we would have to buy an older model.  A good, working generator is essential to keep the RV cool if we step out and leave the pets behind.

We are not so concerned about age ? as we are price -- if the RV has been well maintained.  My husband maintains our vehicles, lawn mowers, etc.  I can?t do electrical or plumbing, but can do a bit of carpentry and certainly paint anything.  We plan on removing the dinette area of any RV we purchase to make more space for the dogs and I would like to redecorate.

Of course we like Class A?s better, but I can?t imagine finding one within our budget.  We really like the ?basement? storage space in the Class A?s also. 
We?ve kind of narrowed it down to a 28-ft. class C with 2 or more slide-outs and a real bathroom.  We could do gas or diesel, depending on the price and condition.  I think we will have to buy one from an individual because of our budget.
DISLIKES:
Carpet-like ceilings
Crawl-in Corner bed
Wet bath
Fake wood cabinets, but I could live with it
The zero counter space models

We plan to rent a Class C for a very short, experimental overnight trip to see how we do because my husband has never traveled in an RV.
So if anyone has any suggestions to make as far as models fitting our ?likes? or whether our expectations are unrealistic, I would appreciate any input.
 

SeilerBird

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A 28 foot for two people and three large dogs probably will not work. Older RVs are money pits. Anything under $20K will likely cost you at least that much more in repairs to make it road worthy. There are very few RVs that are well maintained over their lifetime. Usually the person who buys it is in his 60s and by the time he has been RVing for ten years they start to get too old to maintain it like it should be maintained. Every old RV needs a roof redone and a new set of tires. There is a few grand for each of those two. Older RVs that just sit means the rubber dries out and all the belts hoses and other rubber goodies are shot.

There is no problem driving a larger rig. I feel a large class A is much easier to drive than a small class C and I have owned several of both. Something like this is the oldest and shortest I would recommend. Go visit an RV dealer and take one for a test drive.

https://www.pplmotorhomes.com/used-rvs-for-sale/class-a/2003-national-rv-dolphin_rv-39316

Check out this thread by a small female who recently bought a large class A:

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php/topic,116170.msg1050974.html#msg1050974
 

Trigg

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Thanks.  I think 28 feet would be incredibly tight, too, but that's a compromise with husband's thinking.  He did like some of the A's we saw at a dealership this week.  No salesman offered to come out and let us see them or anything, so we couldn't go inside.  I will show DH all of the responses here.  Thanks again.  Perhaps we will have to wait until we can afford something better.
 

Alfa38User

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Find another dealership!!! You can do a lot of homework on the Internet by shopping the many sites available just to get an idea what might be available, even in your area.
 

blw2

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I'll throw out the opposite opinion...
seems like you're not talking full time...just long trips...so I think smaller could in many ways be workable. Really depends on you.  28ft plans are probably closer to the sweet spot on a 450 chassis too.

I've often even thought even those smaller van based class B's look interesting for a single person or a couple to do road trips in...small enough to park anywhere, but yet you have amenities to sleep aboard at least some of the nights.  Maybe mix in some hotel type stays too to break thing up.  In practice, they'd probably be too small for me, likely too small for most...but still interesting I think.

On one hand, I think the smaller C's..such as 28ft and below make some sense.... compared to the larger ones like mine a smaller house on the same chassis would be all around better.  At some point thought, they step down to the 350 chassis and then I imagine it starts over again with the larger ones being a bit too big for the chassis.
But a 28ft really isn't all that much different from my 31, and I don't think you gain anything in terms of larger tanks and such...and you loose some storage and living space in the process.



I'm a big fan of the class C.  I think they fill a nice niche market, but that is mostly families, where the overhead bunk is needed. 
Class C's have negatives in my mind...
limited weight and towing capacity, with the larger ones like mine being overloaded nearly 100% of the time.
and tanks are too small...in my case the grey tank is a limiter.
Super C's, at least some solve these problems...but still for that niche of families with kids...

Otherwise the class A plans seem better suited for couples in my thinking.  The smaller "entry level" ones aren't really much different than a typical C (in terms of quality, storage space, price, etc..), but the floor plans are oriented more for couples
 

Larry N.

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I'll have to second Tom's (S-Bird) suggestion of a class A. You can tow a small car or Jeep for local getting around, and have the comfort and storage of a class A. As Brad mentioned above, class C's are limited in weight and towing capacity, since they are typically built on a van chassis, vs. the class A built on (usually) a chassis designed specifically for RVs or, in some cases, a bus chassis.
 

Trigg

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All of this input is really appreciated.  Whew -- so much to think about.  I've spent many hours reading, viewing various models for sale online, etc., trying to narrow down things for my husband to consider.  I think in our case a test trip is going to be essential.  Because of our dogs and just not liking the crowded, loud RV parks with tiny spaces I've been reading about, I think we need to be sure we can boondock; in other words, have all of the tanks and power that we need.
 

SeilerBird

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Trigg said:
Because of our dogs and just not liking the crowded, loud RV parks with tiny spaces I've been reading about, I think we need to be sure we can boondock; in other words, have all of the tanks and power that we need.
Then you will definitely want a class A. You should rent an RV for a weekend and go camping with the dogs to see what size will work for you.
 

LIVE NOW NO LATER

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:-[ wow...just in reading some posting of your guys that has been doing this for a long time ...I think that class C for me is not a good fit ..huch..more research is need.lol
 

SeilerBird

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Class Cs are wonderful for one or two persons going out for a weekend camping trip. But for more people or a longer time a class A is a better option. Much larger cargo carrying capacity, larger holding tanks, larger heater and air con, larger refer, and on and on. With a class C the first 8 feet are basically a waste so a 30 foot class A has a lot more room than a 30 foot class C. Visit an RV dealer and walk through a bunch of RVs to see what I mean. I lived in a 27 foot class A with three cats and it was way too small. Sold it within a year and got a 32 foot class A and even that was tight.
 

kdbgoat

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Other than a super C, we have one of the largest C's out there. 33' bumper to bumper. We really enjoy it for a couple of weeks camping, but that's the max. It's just two of us and a Bischon. There's no way to comfortably exist with three large dogs, no matter how much you love them. We have been practicing fulltiming in it as we have sold our house and will be going to settlement in two weeks. We are looking at fivers at least 38' long to put somewhat permanently on a piece of property we own. There's no way for us to full time in this C with the lifestyle we currently live.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Of course we like Class A?s better, but I can?t imagine finding one within our budget.
 

Wrong thinking! For the same size and amenities, a Class A and a Class C will cost pretty the same. If you prefer the A, look for a size & model that suits you.  One of the main cost differences will be a built-in leveling system, which adds around $3000 or so to the price. A's near always have them, while C's seldom do.

Class A's in the 30 ft and above range are readily available. If you want smaller than that, A's are more scarce, but rigs as small as 26 ft exist.
 

Trigg

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Thanks, Gary.  We drove up to a place recommended to us yesterday, only to find they had gone out of business.  We were planning on renting an RV there to see how we liked it.  The Class A would make a lot more sense for our lifestyle.  We are quite a distance from any dealers, so we will have to be patient and keep learning in the meantime.
 

LIVE NOW NO LATER

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Trigg... you are in the right place , a lot of info and folks that has been doing it for a long time. We too are out there looking for the right one...
 

Isaac-1

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In your initial post you mention money and budget a number of times, so let me say this up front, travelling in an RV is not cheap, particularly if you are not doing it full time.    Cost of ownership is significant, cost of travel is also significant.  Also consider buying from a private seller, dealers bring very little to the table when it comes to buying used RV's about the only thing going for them is one stop shopping, particularly at the big consignment lots like PPL in Texas where there may be hundreds on the lot to look at.  One thing many of  us say to look for in a used coach is detailed maintenance records, dealers almost never have these, and if they are in a  coach they take it in, the first thing they do is throw them out in case there was private information mixed in (credit card receipts, etc.).

On the class C vs Class A debate, I personally think you get better bang for your buck in a class A in the 30 ft size range.  The class A's (even the entry level cheaply built ones) generally have as good of or better materials than the comparable class C's, the class A's depending on vintage in this size range are built on 16,500 - 20,000 pound GVWR chassis where the class C's are built on 13,500 - 14,500 GVWR chassis resulting in the class A's tending to have bigger tanks, more cargo carrying capacity (pounds), as well as possibly sturdier construction.

Now down to the that money thing, owning an RV costs money, I bought a relatively good condition, 14 year old 28 ft class A about 2 years ago, I paid just over  $20,000 before tax, retrieval cost, etc. (it was 1,100 miles away)  after spending 5 months shopping, mine though was a relatively pricey model when new.    The previous owner had spent right at $10,000 in parts alone doing upgrades over the previous 2 years when I bought it (new tires, batteries, refrigerator, carpet, seating, 400 watts of solar panels, new inverter, backup camera, ...).    Since buying it I have spent about 100 nights onboard, travelled about 10,000 miles, and have spent about $10,000 in cost of ownership stuff, not counting travel expenses.  A fair chunk of that money went to initial provisioning, stuff pots, pans, BBQ grill, RV GPS, TPMS tire monitor, etc., maybe $3,500 has went to what I consider important maintenance / repair of which $1,500 went to professional shops though I tend to do most of my own work.  $400 when I had a service brake failure, that I could have saved much of myself if I had not panicked and pulled into the known RV rip off repair shop, it was 1/4 mile away when the pedal went to the floor though, so it made sense I the time.    The cap on the master cylinder had cracked letting all the brake fluid out. $20 part, plush $350 labor to flush and bleed the brakes.  $700 to get the dash air conditioner fixed, which I think was a bargain as the experienced air conditioner technician spent most of 2 days actively working on it.  Another $700 having a new hydraulic hard line fabricated and installed when the automatic parking brake hydraulic line blew a pin hole leaving me stranded on the side of the road a couple of months ago, I was able to add a quart of fluid and limp to a good local shop 3 miles away (barely, had to add more fluid in their parking lot to get it to the service bay).  The rest has been DIY, oil and fluid changes, new shocks though the old ones may still have had a little life, spark plugs, spark plug wires, another set of batteries, both starting and house this year, etc.  There is also insurance, which is averaging about $550 per year in my area.    When the weather cools down I plan to repaint the roof, have $350 budgeted as a DIY, it will need new tires in another 18 months are so as the old ones will be hitting the 7 year age point where most people suggest replacement, that will run another $2,000 if I go with mid range import tires, more if I go name brand....  At some point I will need to get the seals replaced in the double pane windows, the previous owner already had one done, most of mine are not bad yet, but all are showing some signs of seal creeping, estimate is $4,000 to get all redone...
 

LIVE NOW NO LATER

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??? wholly molly !!!! wow.... I think I will have to continue working beyond my plans to retire with 62 in order to be able to afford  " Matilda" I'm think to name my RV
 

Isaac-1

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It does add up, particularly if you track all the nickel and dime stuff, next month I need to get a new state inspection and license plate registration is up, thankfully I live in a state with very low registration fees $25 and $12 per year, though they do catch you with a 9 or 10% use tax when you buy / bring it into the state.  Then there is the little stuff, like buying a new  $10 can opener after the last trip because the old one walked off, also on the last trip I had front suspension helper airbag blow 500 miles from home, I had to get a new one sent in overnight to keep our schedule to get home that was an extra $70 on a $154 pair of replacement airbags, add about $30 on tools at Harbor freight to install it (the previous owner had the air bag that blew installed in March of 2015, though that was 28,000 miles ago, I have the shop receipt).  The alternative would have been to drive home at 45-50 mph.  Also on the trip the power seat switch on the passenger side seat went out leaving my wife stuck in the forward most position of the seat for the 500 mile ride home.  That cost me a couple of hours of my time, much of it researching replacement switches, and $35 on ebay for a used seat switch and harness from a 1998 Chevy Camaro which seems to share the same switch.
 

Trigg

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Isaac-1 said:
In your initial post you mention money and budget a number of times, so let me say this up front, travelling in an RV is not cheap, particularly if you are not doing it full time.    Cost of ownership is significant, cost of travel is also significant.  Also consider buying from a private seller, dealers bring very little to the table when it comes to buying used RV's about the only thing going for them is one stop shopping, particularly at the big consignment lots like PPL in Texas where there may be hundreds on the lot to look at.

That was a good dose of reality.  I'd rather know that I might be kidding myself than find out later and I'd rather let go of a dream than have it turn into a nightmare.  :)  We were definitely not going to buy from a dealer.  I will share this with my husband.
 
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