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Old 08-06-2010, 03:18 AM   #1
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Default Helllllp! Trying to buy a B camper..OVERWHELMED

MORE questions added -
I have decided to buy a used B size camper for extended travel over the next year. It's just me and my dog - both on petite side, so I'm not so much worried about enough room, HOWEVER, other questions I have;

Diesel vs. gas - Diesel seems the way to go for mpg, but most diesels are the MB 3.0 L on a 7500+ lb. vehicle i.e Roadtrek 190, Agile. Do they have enough horsepower for reasonable speeds (not planning to tow, but would like to be able to tow BMW convertible if I wanted to).

Generators: Who likes what? Recommendations? Noise considerations?

Street legal parking: what's the maximum length that is legal at parking meters in most cities?

Best financing: any suggestions?

Where to find B's to drive...This has been a daunting task as very few are on the local RV lots.

Best brands - everyone weigh in here with your favorite B mfg and year - pros and cons REALLY appreciated.

Please help me get educated on this stuff - I'm a single female and trying not to do anything stupid - knowledge is power! ha.

Any comments, thoughts on owning/buying/using B class RV's will be greatly appreciated.

Happy trails!
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Old 08-06-2010, 05:21 AM   #2
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Default Re: Helllllp! Trying to buy a B camper..OVERWHELMED

Would that be "Clark", "Coral" or "Anne of Green" then?

Diesel vs. gas - power might be an issue when towing or in hilly terrain.
My 2002 Rt is challenged on steep climbs as it only has a gas powered Chevy small block 350 V8.
It does get around 15 mpUSg, though.
I think a diesel engine could better handle this type of abuse.

Generators - gas versus LPG. Mine is an Onan Microlite, 2800 watt gas genset and I
think it's noisy. I'm currently looking into modified exhaust systems to quiet it. Many
campgrounds public and private have noise regulations requiring gens be run at specific
times.

Parking: Varies, but I think whatever fits between the lines is legal. Most Bs do, or are very close.

Financing: Get the best deal you can where ever that might be.

Test drives: Search online for Bs for sale near you, and call/email and ask if they'll take you for a spin
and let you try it. They pretty much drive like a cargo van with a weight problem. You get the hang of it
pretty quickly.

There are quite a few brands but it usually comes down to age/condition/mileage/price/options and personal preference.
When you actually start searching in earnest, and seeing them in person, you'll just know when you've found the right van.

Pros/cons - My main issue with our 2002 Roadtrek is the aisle shower or lack of a separate shower enclosure inside.
If I had to do it over again, I'd try to find a B with that extra level of convenience. We don't use our aisle shower,
and have to find shower facilities when on the road which isn't usually too big of a deal. Another issue is the engine
power is a bit low for the weight of our van as previously mentioned. Third, as we do a lot of driving in hilly terrain,
a better transmission/engine/braking combo system would be nice. It's adequate, but could be better considering the
added weight of the van fully loaded.

Good luck.
It's a chore to search, call, see, and then decide, but when you find "the one" it'll be worth it.
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Old 08-06-2010, 12:17 PM   #3
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Default Re: Helllllp! Trying to buy a B camper..OVERWHELMED

I'd add only this to Mike's thoughtful reply; forget getting it all right the first time and just find the soundest, best cared for, most well documented B you can buy privately. There must be some around within suitable driving distance. Just study the shoppers and newspaper ads. Then, get some experience and sort out what you'll get when you trade up, which we all do. Or, if you get as old as I am, you'll trade up then trade down to get back to basics.

Happy hunting. And my choice of electric generator is Honda's e2000i, which is a stand-alone sort and not built in. But none quieter. Except solar and I have that too.
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Old 08-06-2010, 05:34 PM   #4
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Default Re: Helllllp! Trying to buy a B camper..OVERWHELMED

What he said!!!

I'd forgotten "well documented". Nice to know what issues you might be dealing with, if any.
I have every receipt for everything I've ever done to ours, and would expect the same if looking again.
Regular oil changes, to manufacturer's specs, are an absolute must, for me at least.

I'm also seeing more separate gensets in little cage things on the backs of some Bs and small to large C
sized RVs of late, so if the B you finally purchase doesn't have one, you could always add one after the fact.
There are many which are quieter than the Onan, which may be the industry standard for built ins, and
you might get a better deal on an after the fact add on.
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Old 08-06-2010, 11:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: Helllllp! Trying to buy a B camper..OVERWHELMED

Where to find? i)try Kijiji. Click on RV and type in "van". Search more than just local. I found mine in another province on Kijiji. ii) Ottomobile in Edmonton is a great Class B dealer. However you go, be prepared to pay $$$.
Generators? I dislike generators in campsites. Could you get by with solar panels?
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Old 08-07-2010, 03:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Helllllp! Trying to buy a B camper..OVERWHELMED

Large draw appliances like A/C, M/W, and even our coffee maker (nominal 900W) would probably
overpower most solar panels on direct draw, from my limited understanding of most panels and
their output wattage capacities. For lots of stuff solar would work, like TV, laptops, lighting.
I guess you could try adding lots of batteries until you had an array that you could charge with solar,
and then draw down using an inverter system.
A long time ago there was a thread where markopolo did a calculation of an energy profile of
how many batteries it would take to run A/C while dry camping, and the resultant recharge time,
and capacities for someone who wanted to know what it would take to do it out in the boonies.
The numbers were almost ridiculous, but it was a good example of where even a genset running
continuously for hours couldn't recharge the battery array in anything resembling a reasonable
amount of time, let alone trying to do it with solar panels.
Personally, I wouldn't think of using my genset in a campground, I'd rather "go for a drive" while
using it to do anything, or at least finding a deserted area to do what needed doing.
I guess it depends on how much juice you need?
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: Helllllp! Trying to buy a B camper..OVERWHELMED

THANK YOU to EVERYone that answered my post. Thanks for taking the time to help me figure out what I'm doing. Your actual experience is invaluable.

If you've owned more than one B van camper, I'd love to hear your comparisons. It appears the Honda generators are winning in quiteness and fuel usage. Does that sound right to anyone here? My only concern with the generator was for cooling in hot times...do I need to be thinking outside that on generator usage?

For anyone using their B camper for extended lengths of time (3 mos. or more), what is the one thing you wish you had gotten, and the one thing you NEVER use that you paid for?

Is the lack of ability to level a B camper a common problem?

Do you ever take your campers 'downtown' and park and explore cities?

Thanks again!

Jen & Lizzie
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Old 08-08-2010, 02:03 AM   #8
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Default Re: Helllllp! Trying to buy a B camper..OVERWHELMED

You can also stop at a campground and pay for a serviced site, which should have an electrical
hook up. Your B will most likely have a convert/charger/inverter which allows most Bs to use
shore power (external power supply at a serviced campsite) to run your appliances, including
your A/C if using a generator is inconvenient. You just plug your van into the outlet on the post.
Or, visit friends with an outside power outlet and park in their driveway.

Only owned one B. I like my van.

Levelling can be a challenge for any RV, but some larger versions have hydraulic systems to assist.
I've seen Bs using wheel chocks, and all sorts of improvisations to try to level themselves a bit more.
A slightly uneven parking place shouldn't cause too much trouble, unless you've got a billiard table
in the back.

If it fits in the space, we park there. State Capitols are one of our faves, and they're
always downtown somewhere.
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:10 AM   #9
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Default Re: Helllllp! Trying to buy a B camper..OVERWHELMED

Re: level parking - I know this is a requirement for the refrigerator. I have a small portable bubble level. It can be off by 1/2 bubble and the fridge still works. I do carry some levelling wood in my storage area. I have 2 of each of the following:
1. 2" x 6" x 10" long board
2. 2" x 6" x 12" board with a 1" x 6" x 10" nailed on top.
3. 2" x 6" x 14" board.
These can be used in combination to compensate for virtually any reasonable slope.
Re: city parking - I generally stay away from curbs and don't parallel park on a street.'ll park in malls, in parking lots or at McDonalds, no problem. You just have to get in and do it. Oh, and get used to using the side mirrors!
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Old 08-09-2010, 02:41 AM   #10
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Default Re: Helllllp! Trying to buy a B camper..OVERWHELMED

Thank you to all who have taken the time to answer my questions!

Jen
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