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Old 11-17-2015, 04:19 AM   #1
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Default New to B Motorhome

So, we just got our first B motorhome, a 1997 Great West Van Classic Supreme Special Edition on a Dodge B3500 chassis with a 360 cid V8 and 4 speed OD automatic transmission.

We started out in 2010 with a huge 36' 5'er...we loved that beast but it was showing age and it was a beast to haul around. In 2012, we graduated to a 32' Class A...still have it. We really like it too but again, usage is limited due to its size and thirst for hydrocarbons. We decided to try a Class B and is it ever fun traveling the countryside at 17 mpg and parking in almost any lot we choose, camping out in driveways etc. Of course the most obvious downside to a B is, it's very small.

We plan to drive the B quite often, when we go to town (20 miles) and to "the city" (50 miles). We live in Northern climate so I just got a set of snow tires mounted up for the B. Here are a few pictures of our great little van!
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Old 11-17-2015, 06:49 AM   #2
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Congratulations on the van. Looks like a nice setup. Do you have any storage under the beds?

I've never driven a class A or towed a trailer, so I can't compare them with a van. But I sure like driving mine, a Winnebago Travato. Countless times over the past year since I got it I've squeezed it down narrow forest service roads or into tight, remote campgrounds and thought, "There's no way I could get any other RV in here." You'll appreciate that aspect, especially if you like to avoid commercial RV parks and enjoy disperse camping.

And I think you'll appreciate the stability of a van when you drive it in your first big windstorm. Today I drove in strong, strong winds around Carlsbad Caverns and then through a dust storm on the way to Roswell, NM. Got thrown around a bit, and it was two-handed driving for sure, but always felt relaxed, safe, in control.

Good luck!
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Old 11-17-2015, 03:58 PM   #3
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Congratulations on the van. Looks like a nice setup. Do you have any storage under the beds?

I've never driven a class A or towed a trailer, so I can't compare them with a van. But I sure like driving mine, a Winnebago Travato. Countless times over the past year since I got it I've squeezed it down narrow forest service roads or into tight, remote campgrounds and thought, "There's no way I could get any other RV in here." You'll appreciate that aspect, especially if you like to avoid commercial RV parks and enjoy disperse camping.

And I think you'll appreciate the stability of a van when you drive it in your first big windstorm. Today I drove in strong, strong winds around Carlsbad Caverns and then through a dust storm on the way to Roswell, NM. Got thrown around a bit, and it was two-handed driving for sure, but always felt relaxed, safe, in control.

Good luck!
Thanks Dahi. Besides the overhead storage, there is very little storage in this unit. We will use the front bed for storage when travelling as it's just the two of us. We will probably never set up the dinette either, this van will likely be used mostly for travel, one night stops etc. Unfortunately, there is no storage made available under the dinette benches, there is a little space but it's very little, and there are no doors to access it besides taking up the whole bed/dinette. There is just that full width "trunk" at the back for storage plus what we call "the dungeon"...the lower storage box beneath the "trunk" as we call it. I'm sure there will be times that we will tow our cargo trailer in order to take along more cargo for whatever reason.

The B certainly is easier to get accustomed to than the A. I'm accustomed to moving from one vehicle to another due to my past professional driving experience with included tour buses, big rigs, limousines, all manner of straight trucks etc. My wife finds the A intimidating but she drives the B with ease. I think the perceived greater width of the A is the biggest issue, even though it's only 12" wider. Cabover or flat nosed vehicles can take a bit longer to get comfortable in as there's nothing to follow...the driver can tend to wander a bit on the road.

This past summer we drove home in a rather nasty wind storm in the A and even with years of experience, it was not a relaxing drive. It's not something I think about at the time but it certainly is more work than when there's no wind at all. Of course the A is not as susceptible to those conditions but the wind still catches that big mushroom top a considerable amount.

We're toying with the idea of flat towing the B with our 32' A on certain occasions...I'm sure that'll be an interesting experience!
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Old 11-17-2015, 10:30 PM   #4
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Does your Dodge have a narrower rear axle width than the front axle width? If yes that has been an issue with others on the forum (including me) having issues with cross winds.

See the thread below for some details on how issues have been dealt with

http://www.classbforum.com/forums/f8...ades-2684.html
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:31 AM   #5
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Does your Dodge have a narrower rear axle width than the front axle width? If yes that has been an issue with others on the forum (including me) having issues with cross winds.

See the thread below for some details on how issues have been dealt with

http://www.classbforum.com/forums/f8...ades-2684.html
I never considered the rear axle would be narrower...who in their right mind would design a van like that?? I'll have to measure mine up to know for sure.

I found one reference in that thread to a 4" difference. Is that what you have?
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Old 11-18-2015, 02:26 AM   #6
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Does your Dodge have a narrower rear axle width than the front axle width?
I was just out and eyeballed it...by golly I think it does! Well I'll be hornswoggled!
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Old 11-18-2015, 08:17 AM   #7
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RoadHogg,

Sounds like you won't need much storage space, based on your travel plans, but a cargo trailer will surely help with that. Also, those receiver hitch cargo boxes can carry a bunch of stuff. Might be easier than pulling a trailer. I travel for three weeks to a month at a time, and the van is packed to the gills. Haven't needed additional space--so far anyway.

Once I drove for about 14 hours across Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle and eastern New Mexico in winds that blew over a couple semis. I surely wouldn't call it relaxing, and I had to stay alert for sure, but at the end of the day I didn't feel more worn out than I normally do from a full day of windless driving. Hope your van will redeem itself in a similar way when you encounter those winds.

Your idea of towing the van behind your A is intriguing. I've seen it a few times, but never was able to talk to the drivers about it. I'm wanting to sell my house next summer and go full time in a 37' diesel pusher, but I really, really enjoy dispersed camping up in the mountains and forests, which I won't be able to do in an A. I've played around with the thought of modifying the van for towing, keeping it as a daily driver, then parking the A somewhere and taking off for the woods in the van for a few days. I'd probably never do it, since the dang rig would be about 60' in length and I have a good car that I'd want to keep and tow, but it's intriguing nevertheless. Let us know how it works out for you if you ever try it.
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Old 11-18-2015, 10:59 PM   #8
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It was designed with a narrower rear axle so that if you ordered a dual rear axle they only had to have one axle instead of two. I love all things mopar but in this instance they cheaped out.

I am still running iwth the narrow axle, but will be fixing it come spring. Unsure what the remedy will be however. I will use that thread I posted for some serious advice.

As a note, in Manitoba I have heard that spacers will cause you to fail an inspection, so a proper fix needs to be completed.
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Old 11-19-2015, 01:02 AM   #9
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It was designed with a narrower rear axle so that if you ordered a dual rear axle they only had to have one axle instead of two. I love all things mopar but in this instance they cheaped out.

I am still running iwth the narrow axle, but will be fixing it come spring. Unsure what the remedy will be however. I will use that thread I posted for some serious advice.

As a note, in Manitoba I have heard that spacers will cause you to fail an inspection, so a proper fix needs to be completed.
Thanks for the tip on the inspection. I was under my van a while back but didn't take note what diff is in there. Is it a basic 9.25"? If so, is it a shorter one than the half tons use? Maybe it's not that the rear is narrow, maybe the front is wide? I guess just a measuring tape is the answer. Too bad my B won't go in my garage. I built a new garage in 2012, put in 10' ceiling and 8' door. Wish I'd have gone higher now.
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Old 11-19-2015, 01:53 AM   #10
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The spacers I used are bolted to the hub and then the rims are bolted to the spacer. I used loc-tite on the spacer/hub nuts and hand torqued them tight, after close to 25k miles they are still tight. I check them when I rotate the tires.
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