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frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
6/28/22 3:59 p.m.

Colin my co-pilot started to go semi  full time RVing.  Just before the pandemic hit.  He bought a 9 year old Winnebago with only 21,000 miles on it. One owner, spotlessly clean. And apparently needing nothing.  That's the report he got from the dealer when he brought it in to be checked out prior to purchase.  
      From the sound of it he's had nothing but trouble with it.  In fact the longest he's gone without a problem is 18 days.  To be fair everything is a big problem to him.  Zero mechanical skills.   It doesn't matter if the microwave popped a fuse or the transmission needed rebuilding.  
      Anybody know of reliable 25-30 foot RV brand.   Only real requirement is a large bathroom. His lady has an issue

NY Nick
NY Nick GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/28/22 4:17 p.m.

In my experience having zero mechanical skills and RV's are not a great combo. I don't know of one that doesn't need regular fiddling.

nocones
nocones GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/28/22 4:34 p.m.

Mine constantly needs $$ and time fed to it.  I can't imagine how bad it would be to own one without being able to repair it yourself.   

I've had to do Refrigerator, heater electronic board replacements, water pump replacement, water filter replacement, general sealing and weather based wear repairs, the electronic stairs needed work, I have windows that need resealed, and my generator still won't run for more then 20 minutes reliably but I'm too cheap to pay to get it fixed and it's something electronic in it.   Additionally we chased a CANBUS issue that ended up being a faulty throttle body to the tune of $2500 total repair costs.  Mine had 23k miles when I bought it and is a 2010 so "only" 12 YO.   Ours is a Fleetwood Tioga which is not a "bad" brand but they all have the same appliances and electronics (mostly)

We have a aquantaince we know with a BRAND NEW $120k one that is 15 month old and has been in the shop more then they have had it for similar everything breaks repairs.   His is a reasonably high end class C also.  

I've heard the Class A ones and the tour bus based ones are more reliable and weather tight but still have the same interior appliances and generally have the same Onan generator.  

It's great to have and I'm finally on top of it about 3 years into ownership such that it had no issues on our last 3000mile trip except the genny still doesn't work.  

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
6/28/22 5:26 p.m.

Tiffin puts together a pretty good RV. Ford builds a pretty good chassis. 

Mine has needed very little since I bought it. 

Beyond the tuneup it got when l bought it, is has needed rear brakes and a valve in the refrigerator. That's in 3 years and 10k-15k miles. 

I do think the newer ones are pretty complicated. They may need more attention than my 27 year old version. 

They will have to do some searching for the right floor plan. Our bathroom is pretty tight. 

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/28/22 6:39 p.m.

They are all pretty bad. 

https://www.irv2.com/forums/f258/unbelievable-number-of-major-flaws-583864.html

Lots of owners of every brand chipping in with horror stories. 

NY Nick
NY Nick GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/28/22 7:00 p.m.

I don't have an RV I have a travel trailer so I don't get the driving related problems. You have to work on it because there are little silly things like cabinet latches and door latches and draining water heaters and refrigerator drains that get clogged and bees in the hot water heater burner. Those kind of things. Always some little thing. Oh and sealing roofs and windows and bearings etc. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/28/22 7:16 p.m.

There's a saying that, "90% of sailboating is just working on your boat.". I would imagine that RVs are similar. 

For RVs is seems all the problems of a cheaply/thinly built house (built too close to the railroad so it shakes all the time) and all the problems of an overloaded vehicle. 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/28/22 7:57 p.m.

Yeah, we've put somewhere north of $7k into ours over the not quite 11-months we've owned it. 
 

If you want a cheap RV get a class-B built on a full-size van chassis(not a newer Ram van or Sprinter) and rebuild the whole thing first. 

Shadeux
Shadeux GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/28/22 8:32 p.m.

I would take Winnebago/Itasca build quality over anything in their price range. Tiffin and beyond are in another class (but not that more reliable, IMHO.)

It's a house that moves. Think of it as an upside-down boat. Reliable is not something I would include in a sentence about RV's.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
6/28/22 8:56 p.m.

My 1990 E250 Coachman camper van has been pretty good in the 15 years we've owned it.

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/28/22 9:14 p.m.
NY Nick said:

In my experience having zero mechanical skills and RV's are not a great combo. I don't know of one that doesn't need regular fiddling.

I had this exact conversation with my wife the other day after I got done replacing the awning motor and gray tank valve on our travel trailer. We literally can't use the thing without something breaking. If I didn't have a modicum of mechanical ability, it would have put us in the poor house a long time ago with constant dealer visits. It's a 2016 Keystone Outback we've owned since new, by the way.

NY Nick
NY Nick GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/28/22 9:26 p.m.

In reply to Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) :

I also have a Keystone. Its a 2016 and I've had it for 2.5 years. I haven't had to do anything that costs much but I've had to re-staple the panel at the dinette, replace the check valve for the city water fill, "fix" the hot water heater (bees built a mud nest in the burner). Again all easy things and free or close to it but if I had to take it to the dealer I would have sold it after the first month. 

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/28/22 9:44 p.m.

My Wanderlodge is 41 years old and other than a lot of deferred maintenance it is pretty solid. It does not have to be a Wanderlodge, but I think an old, simple, non slide version with a one piece roof is the way to go. And be sure it has a history of regular use because they sure do not like to sit around. 

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
6/28/22 9:46 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

My 1990 E250 Coachman camper van has been pretty good in the 15 years we've owned it.

I bet it doesn't go to the dealer to have a fuse replaced?   Plus living in something that small for a long term would be, well not something I would do at my age.  

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
6/28/22 9:52 p.m.
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) said:

My Wanderlodge is 41 years old and other than a lot of deferred maintenance it is pretty solid. It does not have to be a Wanderlodge, but I think an old, simple, non slide version with a one piece roof is the way to go. And be sure it has a history of regular use because they sure do not like to sit around. 

Well since the last one was built in 2009 and cost over a million.  I'm not sure he'll be in that market.  We didn't talk money so I could be assuming wrong. But are they as reliable as a Chevy or Ford pickup?   

ShawnG
ShawnG MegaDork
6/28/22 11:32 p.m.

Build a house made of scrap lumber, paneling and staples, then make it live in a permanent earthquake. 

None of them are reliable.

 

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/28/22 11:55 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

The ones built this century are the farthest thing from simple. Well built perhaps but complex and expensive to maintain. 

mdshaw
mdshaw GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/29/22 12:12 a.m.

I can vouch for Fleetwood on the diesel class A platform. Our 02 has been great 80,000 miles so far. Can't wait for diesel prices to drop & cruise more. 
 The Cummins 5.9/Allison 6speed/Onan diesel 7500 generator are great. 
All rvs have issues. In the Florida humidity had to replace the inverter/charger & ATS's & some loose wiring in some outlets. 
I cannot imagine owning an RV & not being able to fix it. One has to be a bit Magiever sometimes. 
When the serpentine tensioner broke halfway across Oregon & had to ratchet strap the tensioner tight, I learned how awesome Fleetwood 24/7 tech support is. I called & they knew my name because a few years earlier I called to ask how much Freon the engine system takes. Based on vin it varies. Anyway the guy gave me the P/N's & told me the Fleetwood truck dealer had the tensioner but not the belt in stock & suggested to replace the water pump also since it's so easy. Also since it's an RV to consider a 6.7 pump which moves more water & is great for summer but not advised for cold weather. Then he suggested to just get the parts from Napa since they are the same & more likely in stock. I was really impressed. 
Got the parts from Napa & they were easy to change. 
Another time the slides wouldn't retract when it was time to hit the road in the morning. That's a real bummer. A relay connection was bad & 1 of the 2 control boards had some oxidation on the main connector. 
Replaced the relay cleaned the oxidized connectors & 1 slide worked then swapped the boards around to test if 1 was bad & they both worked. 
Even the best rvs will have issues. It's basically an ac/dc house moving & bumping around. 
Even my wife & kids ask what people do with rvs that don't work on them. I really feel sorry for the amount of $ they spend & time they waste waiting to get fixed.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/29/22 10:08 a.m.

If it were a van I wanted, I would consider something old and simple and do an LS or ford power train update. Simple build, modern fuel economy, emissions, and reliability. 
 

A "van life" channel had their new to them camper burn to the ground from probably a cracked fuel line.  So there's a reason to update everything. 

Jay_W
Jay_W SuperDork
6/29/22 1:50 p.m.

Bearmtnmartin is right. Most all the new RV's are ... not good. If you're looking to fullltime you want a class A diesel prettymuch by definition. And if you aren't budgeting 7 figures, you want to stay away from the new stuff. As far as I'm concerned there are 2 makes of older class A, Bluebird and Foretravel. I give the edge to Foretravel as they aren't as complex and you can still get service and parts from the manufacturer. Both makes have fantastic online forums chockful of tech data and sound advice. If they didn't, I wouldn't recommend either.. But they're both overbuilt, they're both Very high quality, they'll carry everything you need without getting overloaded, as well as enough tankage do the liveaboard thing with the least possible hassle... something the 5th wheels and trailers just can't do.  I paid 13k for an 1989 36 footer that has done everything we ask of it, including a 3500 mile Yellowstone loop trip at avg 11mpg, rallycar support vehicle and road condo galore. It was 290k new. We've had it for ten years and it's still doing great (although, I gotta admit, taking the radiator out and getting it re-cored and then putting it back in was NOT FUN) (but other than that, it's offered up very little trouble). Now if you're excuse me, I gotta go take it down the hill and kiss goodbye to my wallet and put some diesel in it to get 'er ready for the 4th... 

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
6/29/22 1:57 p.m.

In reply to Jay_W :

How is Foretravel's dealer service nationwide?  
   He's covered much of the US and now wants to do Canada in the Summer and Mexico in the winter but is reluctant for fear of getting stuck someplace without anyone to service him. 

Jay_W
Jay_W SuperDork
6/29/22 3:49 p.m.

It sorta depends on what needs servicing. They have a bit of a network, for some stuff. For factory- specific parts,  you prettymuch have to talk to the factory. But the running gear can be serviced at any big-truck place. Rockwell hubs, Allison trans, brakes and such is all commercial heavy truck gear. Aside from oil changes and the above mentioned radiator r n r, the only gotta-do-it mechanical fixes I've had to do so far is replace a leaky oil seal on a front hub, and just recently, fix a no-start issue where the fuel cutoff solenoid was sticking in the "off" position. Oh and we had to stop in Billings to replace a leaky oilpressure sender..

porschenut
porschenut HalfDork
6/29/22 4:07 p.m.

With that skill level, nothing will keep them happy.  Stuff built in the last 3 years is crap due to demand, material issues and labor turnover.  He needs to develop some mechanical skills or spend a huge wad of cash.  The girlfriend with bathroom issues is common.  When we check out a camper the wife stands in the shower, sits on the toilet then gives a thumbs up or down.  

Send him to the IRV2.com forums and he will get an education there.  

Driven5
Driven5 UberDork
6/29/22 4:36 p.m.
Jay_W said:

If you're looking to fullltime you want a class A diesel prettymuch by definition.

For some types of people, yes. For other types of people, no.

My parents have been full timers for the last 15+ years. They started out in a Class A diesel-pusher for a few years, then downsized to a pop-up truck camper for a few years, then a 4x4 Sprinter conversion for a few years, and most recently a small travel trailer for the last few years. All were extensively researched, and subsequently were respectably reliable.

Like most people, they started out with the philosophy of starting with the comfort of a house and removing as little as possible to make it reasonably mobile. Over time, as a result of reflecting on both their (and others') experiences, their philosophy evolved to starting with the mobility of a tent and adding as little as possible to make it reasonably comfortable... And they couldn't be happier.

Jay_W
Jay_W SuperDork
6/29/22 4:53 p.m.

In reply to Driven5 :

If you can fulltime in that size by all means doooo eeet. I *wanted* a sprinter or equiv setup. But I couldn't *afford* it... and the rest of the family said "nope too small" but I bet I coulda convinced em. Turns out I pay on the tires-and-diesel installment plan instead. 

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