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Old 12-25-2017, 01:05 AM   #1
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Question Questions about bathrooms(!) and wide body vans

Hi everyone!
I am actively looking to purchase my first class B for solo travel and have some concerns/questions for which I could really use your experience and input. My plans are to travel 1-3 months at a stretch and I hope to boondock at least 50% of the time. I do plan on adding solar.

Background: As an older woman with some health issues, my need for the best possible bathroom set-up for ease of use, quick access and privacy is a top priority!! The shower itself is secondary. In the floorplan I would prefer twin beds so that I can leave one made up all the time as my bed and use the other as a couch - or make a second bed when I have friends visit. The power sofas are OK, but not my preference. I don't need any extra seating in the front as I prefer storage.

I would like it to be a gas model as diesel engines are not something I am familiar with - especially the required maintenance and expense - and I prefer the convenience of having easier access to fuel and to mechanics who can work on a Ford, Chevy or Dodge engine.

I have narrowed my search to mostly used Pleasure Ways as I appreciate their quality and found that the PW Excel TD has everything I want i.e. THE PERFECT ease of use bathroom .... and it even has drawers and a window(!) with a regular access door for privacy that you just open a single door and close it behind you - no extensions or fold outs or having to draw curtains (ease of use!). It also has the twin bed configuration and is about 20' long. Note, I so like Roadtreks overall, but darn it, none I've seen in my price range have the ease of use bathrooms as compared to the PW.

I am looking for used but well-maintained with reasonable mileage as the budget is about $40K - $50K. This likely puts me in the 2008 to 2010 model range for the Excel TDs from what I have seen.

However I was not looking for a wide body, so I have questions about it. Is it as easy to maneuver as a regular width van? Has anyone regretted buying the wide body, or anyone who can let my know if they appreciate it over the regular width? Does anyone have specific thoughts as to why they wouldn't get a wide body for themselves? The width would likely not be an issue for parking at home as I don't have an HOA and while traveling I don't think I plan on having to be stealth. Walmart and Cracker Barrel would be my in town options. Out of town I'm planning on staying at BLMs, National and State Parks. (I currently have a 1/2 ton crew cab 4 wheel drive truck as my daily driver so am already familiar with some of the limitations of parking larger vehicles and navigating smaller towns!)

The other options I've found with good floorplans have rear baths and twins, but just are not in my budget - the Coachman Arriva, the Travatos, the Banff etc. as they are newer and are too much $$. I did find the 2006-2007 Pleasure Way Plateau TD has THE perfect layout in a regular width Sprinter van, but it is 4 feet longer than the Excel and is a diesel. My initial thought is I really don't want to go longer as the length of the Excel is perfect for my needs, I am wanting to stay as small as possible but at the same time I still want to have the conveniences I am looking for.

I would love any suggestions for any models I might have missed that are in my price range under $50K used, or any thoughts you may have regarding the ones I am looking at.

Here's a pic of the PW Excel bath - which I find perfect! (it is almost identical to the older 24' PW Plateau diesel bathroom I mentioned)
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File Type: jpg Excel TS bathroom.jpg (6.9 KB, 244 views)
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Old 12-25-2017, 01:40 AM   #2
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I don't think the wide body will be much of an issue, as they aren't all that much wider than the stock van, but you should definitely make sure you drive one typical places in your test drives.

Personally, I would be more concerned with being comfortable with the handling of the Ford chassis. Some people have found them to be scary to drive, while others say they are OK, as handling is very very subjective. Improvements can be made to the handling, but have costs involved. Be sure to drive it in traffic, around semis on the freeway with them passing from behind you or you passing them, and in windy conditions, as those are the conditions we all see much of the time we are traveling.
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Old 12-25-2017, 01:59 AM   #3
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.

Winnebago Travato have pretty good size bathroom.



ps. Both Travato models (G & K) come with a bidet hose



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Old 12-25-2017, 02:29 AM   #4
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.

Plan on getting a 24/7 gym membership.

The limit to boondocking is not food, but the amount of water you can carry with you.

Most of the fulltimers plan their trips around the gym, so that they can take a weekly unlimited hot shower.
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Old 12-25-2017, 03:22 AM   #5
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Thank you, I do love those Travato floor plans - but even used they are $60K+ and the very top of my budget is $50K!!
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Old 12-25-2017, 03:27 PM   #6
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If build quality is not an issue and you can do some of the fixes that pop up, you may be able to find a Camping World Sunlight Van One (same as Carado Banff) for very close to $50K if you are a good bargainer. Many have been on the lot for over a year. It would come with a 2 year warranty from Hymer.

It isn't the great Pleasureway bathroom though. I would also warn against the Ford drive. My first rig was a 2004 on a Ford E350 and it was a horror to drive except on 2 lane roads with no wind.
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Old 12-25-2017, 05:24 PM   #7
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Hi Mumkin, thank you so much for responding. I had read so much about the build quality of the Sunlights at Camping World, but maybe I'll take the time to see one in person just to double check to determine if that is an option.

Second time in this thread I've been warned about the handling of PW Excels on a Ford 3500 Chassis esp. in the wind and with passing - I'll have to watch out for that for sure.

I've also heard about the older RTs on the Dodge chassis have a tendency to wander as well. Hmmm. I've already ruled out Diesel engines - so it looks like I should see out Chevy, GMC or maybe a ProMaster?

Anyone with "best" chassis recommendations? Maybe if I start at the bottom - literally(!) I can work my way up from there.

Merry Christmas all & thanks for your help
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Old 12-25-2017, 05:44 PM   #8
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I wouldn't necessarily limit yourself to gas engines just because it is new to you. That eliminates a very large percentage of later model Class B's. Maybe there is a reason the big companies now use mostly diesels.

I never owned a diesel engine in my life before I bought a Sprinter Class B. It isn't much different. You just go to the diesel gas pump instead. There are Freightliner dealers and service centers in most areas. My local Freightliner dealer is cheaper for oil changes than the Honda and Toyota dealers that i use for my cars. In fact, the service intervals are longer on my Sprinter (every 20,000 miles although I go a little shorter). You may very well find that a Sprinter is more reliable than an older gas van.
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Old 12-25-2017, 08:59 PM   #9
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GettinHitchy, I see you are CA. If you are willing to consider a diesel, here are three possibilities from the San Francisco area Craigslist:

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/rvs...437039807.html

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/rvs...432724704.html

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/rvs...421851387.html
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Old 12-25-2017, 09:16 PM   #10
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jrobe - I appreciate the info on your experience regarding diesels, you make a good point - I may have written them off too soon so I will consider them as well. Thank you for the personal experience perspective!

Phoebe3 - great listings!! I've been having trouble finding anything in California (even though I am in So. Cal), these are much closer than all the Florida listings. Diesels may very well fit what I am looking for.

I appreciate both of you pointing out the possibilities!! Merry Christmas!!
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