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Old 09-13-2015, 05:02 AM   #1
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Default Coachmen Saratoga ducted air conditioning

I am thinking about buying a 1996 coachmen Saratoga which has ducted air conditioning in the ceiling, I think there are three or four vents throughout. I'm wondering how efficient it is compared to regular RV air conditioning. It is the only class b I've ever seen with this type of ducting, I've seen it in bigger motor homes.

Also, I am wondering how useful the layout is with the twin beds in the front area of the van.
I would more than likely leave them in the twin bed position and not convert them into a queen sized bed.

It has no inside shower but I have had 3 Class B RVs and I never used the inside showers in any one of them so I do not need one... I've used outside showers quite often to rinse my feet off and to pre-clean dishes.

Also, it does not have a mounted coffee maker but I suppose I could just sit one on the counter or mount one somewhere.

It also has a generator with 400 hours.

Attached are pictures of the van.
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Old 09-13-2015, 09:49 AM   #2
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I have the same model and year in tan. Mine has no ducting but has low profile AC duct . Too bad you don't have a picture of it. I'm sure we're all interested. We leave the back rests in the garage and use it as 2 single beds. The way the back rests are shaped makes a strange bed. We also don't want to crawl in and out of bed. We really like tge floorplan that's why we like tge Travato 59k so much.
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Old 09-13-2015, 09:54 AM   #3
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Looking closer at the pic towards the rear I don't see the air distribution thingy hanging down. I don't know how well that cools considering there is no roof insulation but at least you won't bump your head.
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Old 09-13-2015, 01:52 PM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback re. the floor plan. I just sold a 96 Leisure Travel that had a transverse couch that electrically folded down and I didn't like that arrangement. Twin beds are way better. I had a 96 Pleasure Way with twins and I really liked it.

In the Coachmen with the twins forward it appears to give an appearance visually of more space.

I had read at the Good Sam Open Road forum that the when the twins are converted to a queen that it is uncomfortable due to the shape of the backrests, just as you had said.

The person that was posting the thread said that the older models had the forward twins that the back rests mechanically folded to the center of the aisle and that this setup was more comfortable In the queen position but I saw pictures of that type of setup and it appears that in the twin position the sleeping area is narrower due to the backrests not being removable so in order to sleep you would always have to fold one of the backrests down to sleep on a single twin or fold into the queen sleeping arrangement. Also, when only one of the twins is folded down it appears that there isn't much room to walk front to back in the aisle to access the toilet. This is all conjecture on my part as I'm just using pictures I've seen as a reference.

I live in the Florida Keys far away from everything and I don't have a chance to look at many class b's. It's very rare to see one of these popup that is relatively close to me: 250 miles. If I don't move on this one I may not get another chance to buy one but who knows?
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Old 09-13-2015, 03:05 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by stanw909 View Post
Looking closer at the pic towards the rear I don't see the air distribution thingy hanging down. I don't know how well that cools considering there is no roof insulation but at least you won't bump your head.
No insulation in the roof, that is a serious consideration. If there isn't insulation then it seems that the cold air that is travelling thru the ducts may get heated up and therefore may be not be as cold when it reaches the register. Maybe the ducted air would keep things cool at night but not during the day.

I live in the Florida Keys and it gets HOT down here. My previous class b had a hard time keeping it cool during the day and it was non ducted.

So I guess the only way to find out if the ducted air conditioning is efficient in HOT weather is to talk to somebody who has that set up.

I wouldn't want to purchase this RV if the air conditioning would not keep up during the day, but I may buy it anyway because I really like the floor plan. Hard decision.
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Old 09-13-2015, 09:16 PM   #6
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I have a 95 Saratoga without ducted AC and it cooled it when it was over 100 deg on a trip a couple years ago. Can't say anything on the ducted version, I never knew it existed.
As for the bed it is very comfortable whether you are using it as 2 singles or queen size. Getting in and out of the full queen size is another story though. Despite that fact, we often use it as a queen and store stuff under the middle. It does make it inconvenient going from front to back but that is very minimal.
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Old 09-13-2015, 09:52 PM   #7
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Hi glg,
You were travelling in 100 degree weather? Did you run a generator (if you have one) while you were travelling? That's a good report re. your vans ac efficiency.

Re. your folding couches: if you just want to use one couch for sleeping or laying down do you have to unfold it? If you do unfold only one couch can you still walk through the aisle to the rear bathroom?
Thanks,
Noel
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Old 09-13-2015, 10:03 PM   #8
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If you pull down the trim on the power vent fan it is possible to blow in insulation. I insulated mine using batting but could not get it all the way to the back without taking AC off. My wife has rheumatoid issues so for her minimal crawling is Huge for her. The floorplan is very open. There is one coach battery below the floor below that back cabinet in the rear. I put 2 6volts where the cabinet goes and made a cabinet to hold it. Mine came without that cabinet.
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Old 09-13-2015, 10:32 PM   #9
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If you pull down the trim on the power vent fan it is possible to blow in insulation. I insulated mine using batting but could not get it all the way to the back without taking AC off. My wife has rheumatoid issues so for her minimal crawling is Huge for her. The floorplan is very open. There is one coach battery below the floor below that back cabinet in the rear. I put 2 6volts where the cabinet goes and made a cabinet to hold it. Mine came without that cabinet.
Thanks for the info re insulation.and the batterys... I'm wondering that when the coach was being built that they might have added insulation to insulate the ducting. I won't know until I look, or I could ask Coachmen.

So there are 2 options, batting and blown in insulation? ?
Thanks,
Noel
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Old 09-13-2015, 10:42 PM   #10
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Bet on them not insulating the roof. Did you see the ducting in person? These vans are pretty rare compared to Roadtrek's and Pleasureway. I'd go see it and try it out.
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Old 09-13-2015, 11:04 PM   #11
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As you said, probably not insulated. I haven't seen the van yet. I'm seeing it tomorrow. I have to drive 250 miles one way. All I've seen is the few registers for the ac in the pictures. If I buy it could I blow in part of the insulation to the rear and past the ac unit and do the rest of the ceiling forward with battens? I don't know if I want to tackle removing the AC unit.

Rare for sure, I rarely see the Coachman Saratoga's for sale in Florida, even nationwide. As you had said, there are more road treks and pleasure ways available than there are Coachmen Saratoga's. It seems to me the ideal layout for a Class B. I wonder why the other major manufacturers don't have the same layout?

The Saratogas are extremely difficult to find, especially one with a generator.
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Old 09-14-2015, 01:13 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shoalster View Post
Hi glg,
You were travelling in 100 degree weather? Did you run a generator (if you have one) while you were travelling? That's a good report re. your vans ac efficiency.

Re. your folding couches: if you just want to use one couch for sleeping or laying down do you have to unfold it? If you do unfold only one couch can you still walk through the aisle to the rear bathroom?
Thanks,
Noel
I was traveling to and from a campground. While at the campground it was always plugged in for 2 days and it was fine the entire time. As for the couch I did not like the folding system as I skinned my knee on it once. I took them off. I put 3 steel bars across the base then just set the backs on that, so I don't just have one down
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Old 09-14-2015, 07:28 AM   #13
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Good luck. Hope you told the seller to have that fridge going. That would be my biggest concern. It should be quickly clear if the AC will be a problem in South Florida this time of year.
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Old 09-14-2015, 12:32 PM   #14
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Thanks. I did tell the seller to have the fridge going. Also asked him to run the roof air with the generator. It doesn't have an awning but I can't be too picky as these birds are rare.
Noel
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Old 09-15-2015, 04:01 AM   #15
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Good luck. Hope you told the seller to have that fridge going. That would be my biggest concern. It should be quickly clear if the AC will be a problem in South Florida this time of year.
Looked at the van today. I like the layout. He had the ac running and it was really cool in the van. It was 1pm and hot. The ducted ac works better than I thought it would. The owner said that Coachmen put foam insulation in the ceiling and then they cut channels in the foam to route the ducting. I pushed on the ceiling and I could feel the insulation underneath. I was impressed. I think it had 3 ducts up front and there were 2 ducts in the bathroom area. Also while the ac was running it was very quiet, I couldn't hear the blower motor running. When my ac was running in my Leisure Travel it was noisy.

He fired up the generator and ran the ac and overall it wasn't too noisy as the gen set is underneath the van.

He plugged in the refrigerator for 2 hrs before I arrived and it wasn't working,. We found the 110volt breaker tripped and reset it and the heating element started heating the capillary tube but didn't get too warm. Waited another hour and still no indication of any cooling in the freezer area.

Since the fridge wasn't working I offered him lower than his asking price but he wouldn't budge.

Also, the overall exterior appearance wasn't too good, surface rust here and there and one very deep rust spot near the windshield. Also there was a good sized crease and damage in the passenger door.

Best layout I've seen in a class b, better than the Pleasure Way and Leisure Travel I had, and I really liked the ducted ac, quiet and efficient.
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Old 09-15-2015, 07:33 AM   #16
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Better luck next time.
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Old 09-15-2015, 07:45 AM   #17
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I found the ad for the van. The price is still pretty good even if the fridge has issues. When I bought mine it took a couple days plugged in to get the fridge cold but that guy should have got it going the night before. Rust was not an issue since mine was stored in the Mojave desert. Did you lay underneath and check for rust and leaks down below. I might tell him that if he can get the fridge cold I'd pay him his price.
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Old 09-15-2015, 08:28 PM   #18
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You were fortunate to find yours in the Mohave Desert, I imagine that rust is less of a problem there.

After we found The tripped breaker I hung around for Least an hour to see If the refrigerator would get cold. I told the owner that if it was to get cold I would buy it. The freezer portion had not gotten any cooler. That is a good idea To mention to him That I would buy it if he would fix refrigerator, I'll throw that at him if he doesn't sell it to someone else. I don't know if I had mentioned it but The refrigerator had not been used in three years and I read last night that that can cause problems.

I looked underneath and it was in fairly good shape. Under the hood was a lot of surface rust and the vacuum assist for the brakes looked almost rusted through. The pictures in the ad didn't show its actual condition. Down here in Florida older cars will rust from the inside out. I just sold a really nice Leisure Travel class b because the roof seams were rusting through Internally.

I had said that the fridge not working was the deciding factor but the body and rust issues were too. Down here in the Florida Keys we sometimes get torrential downpours and if there is a windshield that has severe rust adjacent to the windshield seal (which this one has) then it will be a BIG problem keeping water from getting into the cab.

This is one of those deals where if I don't buy it I will regret it and if I do buy it I will be worrying about the rust problems. Also it's high mileage but that is expected due to the low asking price.


Coachmen replied regarding the air conditioning duct construction and said that Dynamax might have been the ones that produced those vans in those years, I think they were a part of Coachmen or Coachmen were a part of them for a while. From what I recall the Starflite small motorhomes were made by Dynamax and they all had ducted roof air conditioning.

Oh, I just called my local RV guy and he told me that if a gas refrigerator sits that many years without using it it has to be left on for at least 12 to 15 hours for it to start working and longer still for it to get the refrigerator cold. Something to do with chemical sedimentation in the heating tubes. I'll relay this information to the owner.
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Old 09-16-2015, 12:17 AM   #19
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The guy selling mine had the fridge running when I got there but it was only a little cool.I thought my fridge was bad but after running it a couple days it has been great. That being said. I got the rig so cheap that a new 12 volt fridge would still put me well in the black. Class B's command high prices here in SoCal. The only reason I got the rig is that it was so far out in the boonies. Maybe you should focus your search to the desert South West. I should add that I think using the fridge on 110 really got it going but now it works just as well on propane.
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Old 09-17-2015, 07:25 AM   #20
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I have the 95 Saratoga I love it. We are a family of 4. We use the main bed, build a frame in the back (over the rear toilet) that lifts up for access and became a bed for one kiddo. We also made a front cab pvc hammock. Ours is really similar to yours.
I do not have a/c, we have the fantastic breeze fan which has been great.
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