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Old 08-25-2018, 02:31 AM   #1
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Default Another “What Should I Get” Question

First off, this is my first post and I just want to thank everyone for their posts to this forum. It’s the quality of the posts that make the forum, and there is a lot of quality here. Second, let me introduce myself and give you context for my question. I am a total RV newbie living in Alaska. I would like to do some extensive domestic travel but I hate all the small indignities: standing in lines at airports and elsewhere; sleeping in unfamiliar beds; packing and unpacking; having schedules to make and keep; etc. A class B will allow me to travel Alaska and the lower 48 without most of these indignities, even if I will have to put up with some new ones: dumping tanks; putting up with things breaking; etc.

I believe that I will be putting in an order for delivery maybe next spring or the following spring. I’ll be buying new because I can afford it, I am intrigued by the new technology like the Volta or Xantrex systems (one less internal combustion engine to worry about), and it is very unlikely that there will be a used unit in Alaska that I’d want to buy. I value quality and reliability and would be willing to pay *something* for them, so I’d consider some of the more expensive OEMs.

Given all this I believe that I have two options:

1) Buy a Travato GL in Alaska. It makes a lot of sense for me to buy a RV close to where I live so that I can take it back into the dealer, possibly many times, during the warranty period without being far from a home base. The only new class B that I know I can get through a local dealer is a Travato. It seems likely to me that the lead time on a Travato may be short enough that I can order one this fall and still get a GL by next May/June (i.e. spring in Anchorage). I am watching closely to see how reliable the Volta system is on the Travato. The downside of a Travato is that the lack of quality and reliability, the short warranty, and a more custom rig could have better insulation and design for colder climates. But I think I could live with these tradeoffs for the floorplan and the Volta system.

2) Buy something pricier like a Sportsmobile, Advanced RV, Midwest Automotive Design, or Outside Van in the lower 48. If I have to travel to the lower 48 to pick up a rig, I want to limit myself to OEMs that offer quality, pre-tested units that will work for at least a good amount of time after I drive one off the lot. One problem here is lead-time – I believe that most (all?) of these OEM have long backlogs so i will need to limit myself to spring 2020 (or possibly even later?). Another problem may be value obtained per unit dollar (based on ARV’s used listings, they must be getting $300k and up for their new rigs (wow) whereas RV Trader data suggests that the other quality/custom OEMs may be more reasonable.

So:
1) Should I choose an Alaska-delivered Travato or something nicer in the lower 48?

2) Am I fooling myself to think that these are my two best options?

3) Should I be so concerned about picking a new unit up so far from home?

4) Will the more expensive OEMs be materially more reliable and offer materially better customer service?

5) How much do rigs from each of the fancier OEMs really cost if one doesn’t care about fancy fabrics, etc. but does want things like better cold weather range and the flexibility of having no generator (so I can be stealthy but still have the flexibility to park overnight someplace hot)? I don’t want to limit myself to campgrounds, especially crowded campgrounds.

Thanks in advanced for any help. All comments greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-25-2018, 03:16 AM   #2
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.

Note: Check the temperature limitation of lithium batteries.
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Old 08-25-2018, 04:06 AM   #3
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Great choices. My opinion would be buy something with a nearby competent dealer so you can use it for a while and get all the inevitable problems fixed. Then hit the road.
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Old 08-25-2018, 04:40 AM   #4
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This is definitely a good comment and a valid concern. Based on Advanced RV white paper:
https://advanced-rv.com/wp-content/u...hite-Paper.pdf,
Volta batteries can charge and discharge down to freezing and -4F, respectively. Volta batteries can be stored all winter at -4F, and down to -40F "for short periods." Xantrex batteries can also charge and discharge down to freezing and -4F, respectively, but they can't be stored below -4F.

My current thinking is none of this matters while i am using the rig since a properly insulated and heated battery box can easily be kept above freezing, especially with me there all the time and running the engine, etc. If the Travato does not come with a proper battery box, i can add insulation and some heat tape (or perhaps some better heater) for not much money.

Storage could be a problem but it rarely gets below -4F here in the hills around Anchorage. I can't believe that it would ever get too cold to store the Volta batteries here. As for the Xantrex batteries, if it does threaten to get cold enough for a concern, i can always plug the rig into shore power to keep the battery heaters going. I can even, i believe, install some sensor system to send my phone temperate status and alert messages for not much money.

Thanks for asking this question. Responding has helped me clarify my current thinking about this. Is my current thinking faulty in some way?
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Old 08-25-2018, 06:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowy View Post


1) Should I choose an Alaska-delivered Travato or something nicer in the lower 48?

2) Am I fooling myself to think that these are my two best options?

3) Should I be so concerned about picking a new unit up so far from home?

4) Will the more expensive OEMs be materially more reliable and offer materially better customer service?

5) How much do rigs from each of the fancier OEMs really cost if one doesn’t care about fancy fabrics, etc. but does want things like better cold weather range and the flexibility of having no generator (so I can be stealthy but still have the flexibility to park overnight someplace hot)? I don’t want to limit myself to campgrounds, especially crowded campgrounds.
Considering where your home base is and that WGO service is pretty much the only game in town, I think your focusing on the 59kl or 59gl is a good choice.

But where you buy the coach is another matter. The conventional wisdom is that you are more likely to get better service from the dealer you buy the coach from but that hasn't been my personal experience. You will probably be hit with serious freight charges for taking delivery in Alaska rather than taking delivery at a dealer that's close to the factory.

Purchase price in Alaska is another thing you will need to consider. WGO discounts from MSRP are typically 25% and I have received a quote for a 59kl from an east coast dealer that offered a 30% discount. My guess is that your local dealer has the advantage of a less competitive environment and will be less generous with their discount. Go to them with the best price you can get from other dealers and see if they will meet it. If they will, the freight surcharge might be worth it.

I wouldn't be the least concerned about where you buy the coach. The warranty travels with you.

IMO to get a significant increase in reliability and warranty service you will have to look at the top of the line like Advanced RV or a custom built Sportsmobile but you will spend a lot more money to accomplish it and I don't think it's worth it. The Travato 59kl or gl is the best bang for the buck in the B class. I wouldn't worry about the Volta system. Volta has been providing similar systems to high end class A coaches for a sufficiently long period to iron out any bugs.
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Old 08-28-2018, 08:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowy View Post
This is definitely a good comment and a valid concern. Based on Advanced RV white paper:
https://advanced-rv.com/wp-content/u...hite-Paper.pdf,
Volta batteries can charge and discharge down to freezing and -4F, respectively. Volta batteries can be stored all winter at -4F, and down to -40F "for short periods." Xantrex batteries can also charge and discharge down to freezing and -4F, respectively, but they can't be stored below -4F.

My current thinking is none of this matters while i am using the rig since a properly insulated and heated battery box can easily be kept above freezing, especially with me there all the time and running the engine, etc. If the Travato does not come with a proper battery box, i can add insulation and some heat tape (or perhaps some better heater) for not much money.

Storage could be a problem but it rarely gets below -4F here in the hills around Anchorage. I can't believe that it would ever get too cold to store the Volta batteries here. As for the Xantrex batteries, if it does threaten to get cold enough for a concern, i can always plug the rig into shore power to keep the battery heaters going. I can even, i believe, install some sensor system to send my phone temperate status and alert messages for not much money.
Just now I've seen the PDF you shared with us, very detailed information about the RV battery. Most batteries should be used at -20℃ to -60℃, while LiFePO4 can work at -20℃ to -75℃. At extreme temperature of 350-500℃, it still works.
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Old 08-28-2018, 10:34 AM   #7
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We bought our Van in NJ and live in Florida. We have been to our local guy twice for warranty issues and the service folks "could have cared less" where we purchased from. I have read stories from others not so fortunate but for us the trip saved 3% even after the quick flight and drive.
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Old 09-24-2018, 04:07 AM   #8
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In Oregon, dealers will not service your RV if you bought it somewhere else. That's been said to me by every dealer I have visited.
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Old 09-25-2018, 06:12 PM   #9
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This may be too late to be helpful, but I do think renting is a good way to figure out what you might want in an RV and if you enjoy it. Rvshare may have something relatively local to check out, or if you are serious about something like ARV you could schedule a trip to southern California or Ohio. Most people look at the rental price and think they would rather put the money into a purchase, but transaction costs are high if you buy something and don't like it.

Many of ARV's used units are pretty optioned out which may put their price at the upper end of what is possible in a build, but if you are like me you might find you want a lot of those options once you look into them. A used unit may allow you to get something right away, but it helps to be handy with anything used. As for lithium battery storage, if you can store your RV plugged in, it isn't really a problem, there are people in Minnesota who have had lithium batteries without issues.
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Old 09-25-2018, 06:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by krbmmrn View Post
In Oregon, dealers will not service your RV if you bought it somewhere else. That's been said to me by every dealer I have visited.
I think this is somewhat dependent on the particular upbuilder. Some have no contractual arrangement for service of their coaches. I think Roadtrek dealers are obligated to service and repair Roadtreks regardless of the origin of purchase. Further, I believe they can bill at their regular shop rate rather than some diminished flat rate. But that said, as a practical matter, there is no way to prevent a dealer from stalling your repair into oblivion.

FWIW, the internet has generally resulted in nationwide competition for your purchase but from what I've run across, RV dealers in Oregon are in a non-competitive world of their own.
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