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Old 09-15-2015, 05:38 AM   #1
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Default Hello from VA

I've been lurking here since my last big RV vacation. Now I'm back with a million questions, so I figured I'd better introduce myself.

I currently use a Ford Excursion and a 31' travel trailer to take my family of six where they want to go. Mostly short trips with one 7000 mi round trip in '13.

The DW and I are tired of fighting the truck/tt setup, and want to be able to move about during travel. Also, as our family has grown (children ages 11, 12, 14, &16 + a labrador and a neapolitan masiff) the amount of gear we carry has grown.

Now the DW is ready to take the children to Alaska next summer. I insist on more power, more space, more power, and some extra power before we set off on our next journey. That is why I am here.

Thanks in advance for your patience and your willingness to share your knowledge and experience.
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Old 09-15-2015, 01:28 PM   #2
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HELLO !

Where in Va ?? I grew up and have family in the shenandoah valley.

We lived in Stephens City for a few years - and i worked & lived all over the Northern Va area for many years.

POWER is good....more is better & you can never have enough

4 KIDS and 2 big dogs in a 31 footer is tight....we traveled w/ 3 teens and an old english sheepdog...the kids are almost out of the house (one lives in winchester, on in flight school / pensacola & one is a Sr. at Tx A&M)

Sounds to me like you're looking at a 45 foot coach w/ bunks...and the added 6" (optional) roof extension would be nice for the kids who sleep in the bed space above the drivers cockpit.

when you go to a 45' you're looking at a 2nd drive axle (w/ duel tires)...

advantage: safety - brakes, traction (being able to lock each driven rear axle diff independently or together is nice), tires (n the event of a flat), towing - you'll probably NEVER exceed the weight limit, slightly reduced mpg.

disadvantage: tires (assuming 700 each, means nearly 3k on cost for the extra rear axle), maintenance of the 2nd axle brakes, airbags etc, weight might need to be manages since you're missing that 2nd 20k lb capacity axle.

but lets face it we're likely never to need to add brakes & tires might only wear out by AGE not mileage.
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Old 09-15-2015, 03:32 PM   #3
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We are just south of DC in commuter country.

I confess that I am apprehensive about the 45 footer. I'd love to sit at the wheel on the highway, but I'm not sure getting through town would be much fun. I also don't have any idea of the maintenance costs on those rigs, the likelihood of catastrophic failures, the cost of minor failures, etc.
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Old 09-15-2015, 05:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by petrel View Post
We are just south of DC in commuter country.

I confess that I am apprehensive about the 45 footer. I'd love to sit at the wheel on the highway, but I'm not sure getting through town would be much fun. I also don't have any idea of the maintenance costs on those rigs, the likelihood of catastrophic failures, the cost of minor failures, etc.
c'mon youre excursion & trailer combo is at least 45 feet i bet.

as for maintaining a coach - a dynamax won't be any cheaper thats for sure.

our coach is 42 feet - and I've put it in our driveway (narrow street) plenty,
in fact our routine is to pull the coach from our storage - take it to the house, load the food/fridge/kids & dog and go....and i do this while towing the Jeep Wrangler behind us.

Any place a UPS or Fedex (local delivery) truck can go, we can go, 3 more feet would not make it any more difficult....sure it take time to get used to but if you've driven a 35 foot moving van you'll be able to get down ANY residential street.

I drive ours around the little town of Front Royal & Winchester, Va all the time.

Maintenance is low on our coaches! Our coaches are based on Class 8 long haul trucks built to haul 80k lbs for 750k miles w/ little to no maintenance (oil, oil filter & fuel filter changes are about it)....brake shoes or pads that are designed to go 250-500k miles etc....you won't wear your coach out vacationing i'd guarantee it.

500k mile tires...that will age out faster than you can run the tread off 'em.

our ENGINES are larger 12L plus (where most pushers are lucky to get 8.3L)
our transmissions are stout - 12 or 13 speed (automatics that use a conventional dry clutch) - pushers use 6 or maybe 8 speed torque converter based automatics.

almost every pusher i know comes off the factory floor near or AT its GCWR.
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Old 09-15-2015, 05:55 PM   #5
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I'll also add that all these coaches are piece parts for the most part - each manufacture (pusher, 5th wheel, travel trailer or conversation truck) uses 1 of 2 brand for the fridge, water heater, stove etc.

construction of some might be a little better than others, but the parts are all sourced form one of a few manufactures....right down to the furniture, doors & windows.

our Class 7 & 8's are more easily serviced in any truck stop or truck repair shop - no need to go THRU the coach or UNDER the coach just to get to the engine like a pusher.

Our MPG is better as a rule as well (we're not a stressed out pusher).
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Old 09-16-2015, 10:14 AM   #6
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And they're safer than a d/p. I'll second everything Don said. I am 36' but I also tow a enclosed car trailer. Total hitched length I'm at 68'. Love it.
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Old 09-16-2015, 10:38 AM   #7
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And they're safer than a d/p. I'll second everything Don said. I am 36' but I also tow a enclosed car trailer. Total hitched length I'm at 68'. Love it.
cant believe i left that out - our cockpits are VERY safe and well protected.
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Old 09-16-2015, 04:41 PM   #8
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I think I am sold. I also think the DW is almost sold. Now if I can just find a unit to fit the bill.

Funny, the DW is all but insisting on one of those Lonestar Internationals. That look really appeals to her! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a single one in our price range with the sleeping arrangements we need...yet!
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Old 09-16-2015, 05:22 PM   #9
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our kids never minded sleeping on the sleeper sofa (pull it out & leave the sheets on when you fold it up)....or the jackknife sofa or even the overhead bunk.

I looked for quite awhile before i found ours - but i wanted a specific configuration (2 couches across from each other)...once we knew what we wanted it didnt take long to pull the trigger so to speak.

the fancy stuff & graphics looks cool but imo it shows the dirt faster & ages quicker than an all white coach. while that lodestar doesn't necessarily appeal to me, i think its gonna go outta style (too trendy) and age much faster than anything else.

look for a freightliner (2010+ when they changed the front end and the interior dash) or a volvo and it won't age nearly as fast & the part will be 1) cheaper & 2) easier to find - if for nothing else because of the sheer number on the road.

dont let any of the pusher people tell you our coaches are too loud going down the road (theyre not) & remember pusher coaches don't usually have air ride seats up front (our seats swivel as well)...only the 1M+ pushers get air ride seats (and usually only the driver).
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'04 F350 CrewCab Longbed 4x4, 50g aux tank & gear vendors dbl over
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Old 09-16-2015, 10:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bushpilot View Post
our kids never minded sleeping on the sleeper sofa (pull it out & leave the sheets on when you fold it up)....or the jackknife sofa or even the overhead bunk.

I looked for quite awhile before i found ours - but i wanted a specific configuration (2 couches across from each other)...once we knew what we wanted it didnt take long to pull the trigger so to speak.

the fancy stuff & graphics looks cool but imo it shows the dirt faster & ages quicker than an all white coach. while that lodestar doesn't necessarily appeal to me, i think its gonna go outta style (too trendy) and age much faster than anything else.

look for a freightliner (2010+ when they changed the front end and the interior dash) or a volvo and it won't age nearly as fast & the part will be 1) cheaper & 2) easier to find - if for nothing else because of the sheer number on the road.

dont let any of the pusher people tell you our coaches are too loud going down the road (theyre not) & remember pusher coaches don't usually have air ride seats up front (our seats swivel as well)...only the 1M+ pushers get air ride seats (and usually only the driver).
The children don't mind spreading out on the furniture. They will sleep anywhere. Unfortunately, we find that on long trips it is best if they have their own living space, away from the common area. It keeps the camper uncluttered and everyone a bit happier.

Our first travel trailer had a double bunkhouse, the new one has double bunks and double pop-outs in bunk house. That really gives the children room to do their own thing without wrecking the rest of the camper. With that in mind we set out to buy a garage coach, so we could convert the garage to the children's bunkhouse. However, we found that the garage coaches tend to short the other accommodations. Now we are back looking for rigs with a big cabover bed, two bunks, and a master with a queen or king berth (and a washer/dryer). Showhauler makes a beauty, but I've only been able to find it in '15s and '16s which are out of our price range.

I agree on the no frills approach. White is our preferred color. However, at this point, I think I'd take purple if it had most of the features we want at a price we can afford.

We aren't too concerned about any noise. It may sound a bit odd, but we actually look forward to the rumble of a big diesel. We have three diesel vehicles and a diesel boat now.
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