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Old 09-05-2016, 08:26 PM   #1
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Default Prospective B owner. Lots of questions

Hi

I apologise if this gets posted twice. It kicked back the first couple tries.

My wife and I are only 51 and expect to be able to retire within a couple years. We love the outdoors and actively hike, bike and boat throughout the year.

We've had tents, camper trailers, but mostly haul our boat to rental cottages these days. I know from my tent trailer and boat hauling that I'm no fan of the associated parking challenges - thus why we are looking at Bs. We are comparing long term rentals to RV ownership as well. Having a dock at your rental property is a sweet advantage.

While we may buy sooner I'm still recovering from sticker shock for Bs. Our Canadian dollars don't go very far these days. The ERAs from Winnebago go for around 120k up here. The pleasure way units are about the same. I can't help but think we may get more bang for our cdn buck buying Canadian conversions (pleasure way and road trek).

May sound crazy to some but going from working 60 hours a week to not working has me doing a lot of research and planning about retirement now to ensure I keep busy and active.

We've been looking at pleasure way, road trek and Winnebago units. My wife really likes the wgo 70A. At over 24 feet it's on the long side to me. I prefer the pro master versions (shorter, cheaper) from the different companies. Money isn't a huge factor in the decision aside from opportunity cost.

The prices I'm seeing for used units is killing me. 8 year old units selling for more than 50 percent original purchase price. Is that fair game in the industry? In Canada at least, getting 12 years out of a vehicle is generally considered doing well. The 50 percent pricing mark for vehicles is usually 4 years not 8. I realize an RV has a big RV component in the price but rust kills all vehicles regardless of contents.

A couple questions to owners...

While I like the MB sprinter conversions dealing with MB is a huge concern - I hate and never deal with dealers for any of my vehicles. I've read from delivery fleet owners that the sprinter Maintenance costs are 10 cents per mile with as much as a 10k hit around 100k to 120k miles due to emission system failures. Have others found this? Is the thin dealer network a big concern to others as well - getting stranded with potentially very long tows to a shop.

Our empty nest dog is a concern as well. We are huge into the outdoors (skiing, boating, hiking) and simply don't know what to do with the dog; especially in US national parks that from what I've read all but ban dogs altogether. She is a great dog (border collie / Aussie shepherd mix) but dealing with the dog restrictions could put a big damper on multi-month trips. We can't just leave her behind for that kind of time.

Do owners often feel restricted by the RV in terms of being in the middle of things? For example, we just spent 3 weeks in Newfoundland. Most of our favorite locations didn't have campgrounds nearby or anywhere I could think of to park an RV. This may not be a popular question but I'm trying to go in eyes wide open. With our camper trailers we always camped in campgrounds. I'm just not familiar with boondocking and how prevalent it is or how much you can push it.

While I wouldn't be driving an RV around in Canadian road salt, I can't help but wonder how units stand up to rust. there are so many cuts to the factory framing and body panels in RV van conversions that the word rust is ringing in my ears. Again my experience is with vehicles exposed to road salt, but most vehicles that have had major accident repair up here have rust issues within 3 years. Not comforting when you are hoping for vehicle life of 12 to 15 years.

The couple lots we've been to, the salesmen quickly tried pushing wide body and C vehicles saying we would be back within a year or 2 looking for something bigger than a B. Maybe this is a common theme. The B+ and C options are often cheaper so it's not up selling. I told them aside from setup hassle, I've always been happy in a tent. I don't see the space being an issue but maybe I should?! I like the stealth look of the Bs, particularly the shorter Bs like the Promaster. They just don't scream RV and put your neighbours off if you had it on the driveway for a while.

One final question is about towing a trailer. Our boat and trailer weigh 3500 lbs. I'm having a hard time imaging launching a boat from an RV. My wife and I have already sort of concluded that compromise to have the tow capacity likely isn't worth it. May just need 2 vehicles if traveling with the boat. I can't see having the boat more than 10 hours from home anyway.

Sorry for writing a book. I'm bad for that. Just thought I'd see what insights people in the know can provide in response to my concerns and questions.

Thanks!
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Old 09-05-2016, 09:43 PM   #2
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a B is a whole mishmash of compromises- if you read threads you will see that how the bed is oriented and the size is #1 for some ( me) and less important for others- maybe they care about the head and shower.

the best you can do is go look at various types and models- watch youtube sale videos, figure with features matter to you and which do not. watch how the often hefty salesguys move around in the van- watch how they open cabinets- can you open doors etc with out stepping to the side?

can you rent to try one out- even a larger unit rented can give a sense of space and how you both deal with it.

( we rented a unit in Ireland - which made us decide to get out of the tent and onto wheels)

Dogs are welcome-...when we travel we have Luna's rabies and vac certs and license work...when we cross the border there is no problem and Luna( siberian lab mix- "aggressive" breeds can be another thing esp Ontario) has been more than welcome in various State, Nat'l and private parks and campgrounds- I don't think that'll ever be a concern- long as you attend to your pet.
I have seen rangers break windows out of a hot car and also eject people from bear country for leaving their pet tied up and food at the campsite.


Boondocking, there are guides online and some places welcome some don;t we have stayed overnight at friend's driveways, streets, rest areas, casinos and walmarts.
for instance in Oregon you can stay 12 hours at any of the coast highway turnouts which are not within state park boundarys...."campskunk" famously has this down to a science with daytime spots overlooking the waves and nighttime spots quieter.

Newf being as welcoming as people are I bet you could have stayed pretty much anywhere you wanted- ask permission on private lands.


chassis- i drove a 2010 era when we were shopping- it was awesome. the quality of the conversion was shockingly poor if you lifted the cushions.

we looked at a number of used units and ended up buying a 2006 PW Lexor TD on a Chev. this was the largest bed ( 72" w...70"L pass side, 74"L driver side) and had many of the features we wanted.
the head is not large and that was fine with us- we don;t use the shower inside. but others NEED a big wet bath and shower
The quality of the PW build is outstanding.
I like the chev as I work on my own stuff- I am ok with an older vehicles...80k when we bought it, and 20k added by us with nothing beyond oil and filters

we also much prefer the size of our "van" to a "motorhome", the advantages are always MPG ( 16) , parking and spouses solo trips without worry.
But if you are better in a bigger vehicle, as long as you don;t have regulations at home...20 x 8' vs 24 x 9' isn;t much diff

the B does have a high $ per square foot cost compared to a B+/C

we did a month long trip from AZ to Ont, Que, NY and MI last year- this year was 3 weeks to OR-we didn;t kill each other. and we have a whole bunch of week long and 2 or 3 night trips away from the heat of the city

towing- we are rated for 5000/500 which I have not used.

boat launch - you should look into this as many B's have a genny mounted near the rear...I was discussing this with a neighbor who just bought a PW ascent and has a boat- it ma require ( depending on ramp angle) carrying a hitch extender and adding that once at the boat ramp to keep the genny from getting dipped.- I dunno I don't have a boat

2

Mike
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Old 09-05-2016, 09:59 PM   #3
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We downsized from a 35' class A diesel to a 19.5 foot Promaster van I converted. It will park anywhere, has everything we want in it, and drives like a minivan. For towing the boat you described I would only recommend the ECOBoost Ford Transit, it has the HP/TQ to pull most anything without effort. The diesel vans are so slow to begin with, adding a large load would be agony for me. If you can deal with a 24' B, you might as well save some money and get one of the shorter class C's as they are in the same boat for parking. The average parking length is 18', sticking out 1.5 foot is not a big deal but hanging out 6' is usually unacceptable.
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Old 09-05-2016, 10:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cannuck View Post
Hi
:
The prices I'm seeing for used units is killing me. 8 year old units selling for more than 50 percent original purchase price. Is that fair game in the industry? In Canada at least, getting 12 years out of a vehicle is generally considered doing well. The 50 percent pricing mark for vehicles is usually 4 years not 8. I realize an RV has a big RV component in the price but rust kills all vehicles regardless of contents.
::
Thanks!
Don't let the asking price scare you.

Most of them never sold anywhere near the asking price.
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Old 09-05-2016, 10:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mojoman View Post
We downsized from a 35' class A diesel to a 19.5 foot Promaster van I converted. It will park anywhere, has everything we want in it, and drives like a minivan. For towing the boat you described I would only recommend the ECOBoost Ford Transit, it has the HP/TQ to pull most anything without effort. The diesel vans are so slow to begin with, adding a large load would be agony for me. If you can deal with a 24' B, you might as well save some money and get one of the shorter class C's as they are in the same boat for parking. The average parking length is 18', sticking out 1.5 foot is not a big deal but hanging out 6' is usually unacceptable.
Have you actually driven a Sprinter? We've only had our '16 Roadtrek for a few months but drove from CA to FL. Went over the Rockies on I-70 in CO (~11,000 ft elevation) at 50 MPH. Cruises at 75 with no problems and 17 MPG. It's rated to tow 5000#. I haven't towed with it yet but don't believe it will be a problem. I have a Wrangler JKU that I plan to tow soon.

To the OP:

We downsized from a 38' Newmar Dutch Star. While we're still adjusting to the smaller interior of the class B it's SO much easier to drive and SO SO much easier on fuel.

We travel with 2 dogs, one is a border collie. As far as National Parks go, there are restrictions where the dogs can go in the park but we haven't experienced any problem camping in the parks with them.
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Old 09-05-2016, 11:36 PM   #6
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Yes, the I've driven the sprinter and it doesn't compare with the Promaster or Transit standard 6v gas engine, day and night difference, the Transit with the ecoboost engine blows them all away. The Promaster has a very low tow rating so I would avoid the Promaster if you plan on towing anything substantial. The gas motors just accelerates so much faster than the diesels. Traveled through Lake Tahoe, Reno, Yellowstone and have yet to climb a grade under 70mph if I wanted or could traffic allowing. I just drives like a normal car.
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Old 09-06-2016, 12:03 AM   #7
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Cannuk,
Congratulations on being able to retire before 55!

A "B" van will definitely take care of your parking concerns, I have a Promaster Travato and love how nimble it is driving and parking.

Renting makes sense for a couple times a year, but one of the advantages of a "B" is the tendency to use it more. I take mine to work at least once a week, and we usually use it every weekend for shopping trips and such. In my situation buying a larger rig didn't make sense, because I know how much time it would be sitting in the driveway un-used. A compact "B" Van is a much more versatile rig: it is not for "vacations only", and should see a LOT more functional use than bigger RV's.

The prices (per square foot) ARE high. But it much more difficult for an upfitter to build a B in the confines of its body, than it is to build on the back of a flat bed truck, and then put up the walls. As you have seen, The "B's" also retain their value far longer than the "C's" and that is for good reason. One of the biggest in my opinion, is that they do not have the above mentioned built up walls and roof, which historically have led to leaks and problems in "C's". You can find a lot of "hardly used" "C's" around for the reasons mentioned above; they are usually unwieldy to drive, underpowered, and inconvenient for use other than a long camping trip at campgrounds.

I can't really comment on other brands. Pleasure Way has an excellent reputation, there are thousands of good old roadtreks on the road (though I'd caution against the newer "high tec" variants), and I am nothing less than ecstatic about my Winnebago Travato. I considered having a van built before I bought mine, and I too was convinced early on that the Promaster was the best chassis for RV use. AFter 12,000 miles I've had one complaint: A mud flap fell off... The biggest difference between brands might just be the floorplan and amenities you have on your "must have" list. You will probably find that most "B" RV owners are happy with what they bought, because they bought what fit their own personal needs best.

I also agree regarding the MB. 24' is too long to park easily. The long skinny, tall format does not lend itself well to RV's in my opinion. I prefer the handling and "get up and go" of the Promaster, and didn't want a diesel with all its expensive pollution control problems. People like to talk about how a diesel can last twice as long as a gas engine; and that may be true, but what will it cost in inconvenience and maintenance to get you there? At the premium you pay for a diesel, you could probably BUY a second gas engine if you really wanted to keep the vehicle that long. Just my opinion of course, diesel lovers will argue with me, and what can I say? ..they are wrong...

I have no help for your dog issue.

"Boondocking" is not a big deal. We spend about 1/2 our time out camping in places other than campgrounds. You just have to do it, it comes easily in a "small" van. It takes a special kind of person to be willing to trade the "comforts" of a larger rig for the convenience of a "B". It's my guess that is why salesman towards to gravitate to selling them. They feel better on the showroom floor, it's an easier sell. I still get a bit envious of space and storage every time I step into a big lush RV, but the envy quickly fades when you think about driving, parking, maintaining, and actually USING the behemoths . They are nice once set up at the campsite (if you can fit in there), but after that, nothing but trouble in my "not so humble" opinion. We are very active too though, and spend the majority of our time outside the RV. It has a comfortable bed, a functional compact bath and galley, and gets us where we want to go in absolute comfort; that's all we wanted.

Your trailering concerns are also valid. To me, its limited towing, and lack of a tilt wheel are the only things I could think to improve on a Promaster. But again, it's personal, if you can get around the towing, I definitely think you are headed in the right direction.

And one more note: regarding mkguitars bit on bathrooms. One of my wifes "must haves" was a larger shower (hard to come by in a B). We have used our shower in the Van, ONCE to date... and that was me, in the driveway, just checking to make sure it worked! Showering in a van (any van) is going to be cramped and difficult at best. Water supply when not hooked up is very limited, and there is not much room to dry off, spread out your clothes, change, etc. We always use campground showers, so think hard on that if it is one of your deciding factors. Though a useable shower is nice, and it wouldn't have changed my mind on my rig, shower size won't be high on the list NEXT time I buy a Van.

Good luck, happy shopping, check out as many as you can; there is nothing that compares to driving, sitting in, and going through the motions of living in your prospective rig. We were surprised to find in some of the older style vans (and even some layouts of the newer MB's), we couldn't even pass each other in the aisle. That was a deal breaker for us.
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Old 09-06-2016, 05:09 AM   #8
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Thanks very much to those who replied already. The reminder that parking spaces are typically 18' put things in perspective with respect to RV length. Also the feedback on the 24' put things in perspective as well. Pleasure way have some of the nicest units I've seen, new and used. They currently stick to a 21' Promaster and a 22' Mercedes. A bit longer than the ideal but workable in my opinion.

Being an engineer I've dealt with poorly commercialised German product too often. They play up poorly supported albeit creative technology like a feature you are too stupid to properly appreciate. What they don't get is well engineered products tend to be easy to maintain because thats a huge part of the design goal. Yes, there are trade-offs between capability and maintainability. The problem with too many companies like MB is service revenue is a huge profit centre and it's a conflict of interest. I'm not playing up to those who simply fail to be innovative at all. I just don't think I could own an MB product, and would suggest others be cautious.

Thank you very much for the responses!
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Old 09-06-2016, 03:43 PM   #9
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Since you're in Canada and mention hike and bicycling activities you might be interested in the Flex series from Safari Condo. They're available in both Promaster and Sprinter chassis and incorporate interior gear storage underneath an adjustable height bed.

Nice designs, I wish they were distributed in the states.
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Old 09-06-2016, 04:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rockymtnb View Post
Since you're in Canada and mention hike and bicycling activities you might be interested in the Flex series from Safari Condo. They're available in both Promaster and Sprinter chassis and incorporate interior gear storage underneath an adjustable height bed.

Nice designs, I wish they were distributed in the states.
Safari Condo doesnt have distributors in the US but they do sell them here. You would need to provide the van and drop off/pick up at the factory. When we contacted them the prices were quite good but the issue was the lead times to full completion is 12 months plus...
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