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Old 02-04-2005, 05:07 AM   #1
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I need a little help selecting a suitable used motorhome. I do not have easy access to the internet or telephone since I'm deployed to Iraq so I'm looking for a comprehensive guide or resource that compares all of the manufacturers.

I originally started out thinking about Diesel Class A's but was told that they weren't quite up to the task. Thats when I stumbled on truck conversions and so far I like what I see in regards to towing / handling / braking abilities and overall sturdiness.

My primary need is to be able to reliably tow up to a 35-foot 20,000 lb (total) tag trailer for long distances and up and down some pretty steep grades in and around California / Arizona / Nevada. At this time I am interested in staying with a tag trailer and not going to a fifth wheel.

The motorhome would need to have the room and amenities (full size bed, generator, heat/ac, kitchen, full shower, etc) to live aboard for a week or two at a time. This does not mean that I need granite counter tops, high quality wood floors, etc. I would actually like to avoid this to keep the cost down.

So what I'm looking for is some sort of guide or reference manual that lists all of the motorhome manufacturers and their chassis along with things like:

Tow ratings
Hitch ratings
Max combined payload
Engines / transmissions / axles offered on their different models

Thanks in advance

Matt
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Old 02-04-2005, 08:36 AM   #2
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Matt,

From what you have stated, you will be legally limited to a 30ft motorhome as most States have a max overall length of combined vehicle and tag trailer of 65ft. By stating 35ft as the trailer length was this including the hitch or just the body? If you have to add the hitch of 4 to 5 ft, then you will be another 4 or 5ft shorter on the motorhome.

With a 35ft trailer you may be better with a Totter-home with a 5th wheel capability. I am not sure on the max length for a non-commercial 5th wheel combo, you will have to check on that and the 65ft I mentioned above in your home State as I said, they all vary a little.

You can find your States' Statutes online and delve into them for hours.......... Good luck.

Peter.
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Old 02-04-2005, 08:39 AM   #3
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Matt,

I forgot to mention that there is an overall length exemption for motorsports usage, but as far as I know, this is only for 5th wheel trailers, as I have not found any reference for tags.

Peter.
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Old 02-04-2005, 11:36 PM   #4
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by madbrit:
Matt,

From what you have stated, you will be legally limited to a 30ft motorhome as most States have a max overall length of combined vehicle and tag trailer of 65ft. By stating 35ft as the trailer length was this including the hitch or just the body? If you have to add the hitch of 4 to 5 ft, then you will be another 4 or 5ft shorter on the motorhome.

With a 35ft trailer you may be better with a Totter-home with a 5th wheel capability. I am not sure on the max length for a non-commercial 5th wheel combo, you will have to check on that and the 65ft I mentioned above in your home State as I said, they all vary a little.

You can find your States' Statutes online and delve into them for hours.......... Good luck.

Peter. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thanks for the advice and info. I have not selected the trailer yet so I am a little flexible with the length.

I want to avoid a fifth wheel if possible since there are more tag trailers available in the size, weight, and cost range I am looking for.

Matt
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Old 02-05-2005, 09:32 PM   #5
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Hi Matt,
Hope you make it home safe and sound. My brother has been over there for some time now, I hear it's not a lot of fun .

There are a lot of different opinions on the length issue. I'm 72' (42' coach and 30' trailer) and have traveled through about half of the states without problem. Several guys I race with are even longer (one is 84'), and I don't know of anyone else that has had a problem. I do know of a factory support team that had their rig impounded, but they had it painted it up with sponsors and such, and the statie's didn't buy the "private coach" angle.

What I was told was that interstate commerce and DOT laws don't always apply; in the case of RV's your home state laws govern, and other states should have reciprocity statutes. I'm legal in my home state of NH, and I carry a copy of NH MV laws with me just in case.

I don't know of any comprehensive comparison source, but your options are kind of limited by your requirements and the size of the market. For the most part everyone builds on a Freightliner chassis. The Columbia is the most popular in the +28' catagory. Get it with the Meritor Freedom transmission, you won't be sorry. The Freightliner M2 is another popular chassis, but your towing requirements eliminate that as a possibility IMO.

Most conversion companies will build on the chassis of your choice, and I am seeing more and more Volvo's lately. I stuck with Freightliner because they have service depots everywhere (although a friend that is a Volvo tech was curious why Freightliner needs so many service depot's ) The builders just have more experience with Freightliner.

Once you select a chassis, the decision becomes more subjective. If you look at the floorplans of the top 5 or 6 builders you will find they are all quite similar. Everyone uses the same components, more or less, so the manufacturers flexibility and quality are the variables. You want more, you pay more. If you think you are buying your last conversion, one you will keep for several years, then spend a bit more and go for the quality and flexibility. Showhauler and Kingsley are two companies I consider in this catagory. If you are looking at a 2-3 year window, go for one of the more mainstream builders like Renegade, United Specialties NRC or Haulmark.

Don't expect the higher end converions to fare better in the resale department, though. The resale market is pretty much blind to quality; features and capability add more to the bottom line. For best resale, and to reach the widest market, go for the largest genset you can justify, the best towing and the auto trans. From my search of the used market, fully loaded middle-of-the-road coaches fare better than stripped down coaches from high end builders.

Good luck with you purchase!
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Old 02-05-2005, 10:23 PM   #6
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.....right now unless one has a pizz pot full of throway money- I'd suggest you check the racers market places for used vehicles...a gouge of about 30-40% when you drive over the curb with a new unite is not uncommon now....and racers get a big discount right up front and will deal on their old equipment if you have the time to dicker a little-'specially if they can smell cash anywhere close.....geof kaye
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Old 02-06-2005, 12:07 AM   #7
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.....also there is a guy in Indiana named Mike Bechelli that has 2-3 rigs very reasonably priced he advertises on "AutoTrader" or one of those racing trader sites....geof kaye
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Old 02-06-2005, 07:16 AM   #8
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Check out http://www.racingjunk.com. There are a lot of units there and a very active classified section. I found my unit at http://www.truckpaper.com it is almost entirely commercial trucks, so my find was an anomally.

As far as I can tell there aren't any comprehensive reviews of the units available. My advice is to read everything that you can get your hands on. This site and the escapees site has a lot of good information. http://www.escapees.com
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Old 02-07-2005, 10:56 AM   #9
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Shamelss plug time - I've got a 29' Showhauler for sale. Nice but not pimped out, pulls a 24' Renegade tag all day long with no complaints, pulls hill great, never been slower than 55mph - even did that up the hill coming out of LA towards Vegas twice last year.

Mines got everyhting listed here - http://forums.13x.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=37985

It's got more miles (62k I think) and the price has dropped since I posted that on my bbs. I've also added a self aiming sattelite dish and upgraded the backup camera screen - new one has a second video input for a trailer mounted camera and a vga input so I can run my GPS stuff to it form my laptop, it's also a touch screen to control the computer. Anyway - if you're interested give me a yell at wera@wera.com.
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Old 02-07-2005, 11:47 AM   #10
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Now that that's over I'll try to answer your question - I don't think there is a single website that will compare the manufacturers any better than this one will. Just read this board, look through all of the older posts and you'll get a feel for the experiences of the people who have gotten the factory tours and how each rig is built.

I like the escapees site for overall RV information as well. Used them a lot when I first got into this with a gooseneck race trailer that had living quarters in it.

Good luck over there come home safe and once you do get a rig you'll absolutely love it. Just driving one compared to the marshmallow feel of a regular Class A or C is amazing, the towing ability is unreal, and the style points - well those are a given
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