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Old 03-12-2012, 05:51 PM   #1
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Default Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Hi -- I decided it is time to delurk, since I am hopefully soon to become a newbie, instead of a wannabee as I am now.
We have been looking at RV's off and on for years and finally we are good to go and have decided that a class B is the best choice. With gas prices being what they are, we really want to get one of the diesel powered ones and the Sprinter based models are the obvious choice. That being said, we aren't exactly wanting to deal with the 100K-plus new vehicle prices and have been searching the used market, such as it is. We've been trying to gather all the information that we can and of course, the 3500 chassis has a much shorter history and is pricier. We've heard/read some comments about problems with the 2500 models, largely due to their being overweight. For instance, Roadtrek's SS Ideal, which is so recent that we probably wouldn't be going for it anyhow, seems to have very little leftover weight allowance. It's also confusing and sometimes difficult to determine which chassis a particular vehicle was built on when reading descriptions. Even the Roadtrek website is confusing and sometimes inconsistent in describing older models.
The other frustration is our inability to SEE practically anything that we are reading about. The last local RV show had no van campers whatsoever. We finally saw a new Airstream -- not that we were going to spring for it anyhow, but it was the first Airstream van we've been able to see anywhere. We still have never seen an SS-Ideal.
My question here is basically what others think about the models based on the 2500. We're pretty committed to not getting a gas powered model and as you know, that limits our used selections to very few. Do you think we should eliminate 2500's consideration as well? I'd appreciate your opinions. Thanks.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

I had a 2005 Pleasure-way Plateau Sprinter 2500 chassis and I now have a 2011 Great West Van Legend 3500 chassis. In model year 2007 Mercedes Benz brought out a new body and V6 engine. The van was longer, wider, taller and heavier than the old I5 engine models. With the older model none of the Class B RV converters were building on the 3500 dually chassis. With the new model quite a few started converting on the 2500 chassis but most all abandoned that idea by the 2010 chassis model year. Most all Class B RV converters now only offer models on the 3500 chassis. There is a reason plain and simple. The old model was possible to convert on a 2500 and there are a lot out there. The new model converted on a 2500 for a brief couple of years was very marginal. Bottom line. If you are buying new you may not have any choice. It will be a 3500. If you are buying used, most all old models will be 2500s and you will not really have a choice. If you are buying used, and looking at the new model style, there will be some 2500s from converter years 2007 to 2010 that I would avoid. I'm not sure what was being used for the shorter 140" wheel base but I heard Great West Van was looking at building on the 140" 3500 dually chassis not the 2500. Bottom line, again it is not your decision and the converters have clearly figured out they need to build on the 3500s.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Hi! I'm a newbie as well, I haven't even seen my coach yet - it's still in FL awaiting my Spring Break so I can go fetch it! About 2 weeks ago I purchased a 2011 Pleasure-Way Plateau and the 3500 chassis (I think) it's got the dual rear tires which I think it a feature of the 3500.

I wanted to point out that Roadtrek no longer makes the SS-Ideal - that was a model with a rear slide out. If you are interested in that one you'll have to look for used, there are usually some on RVTrader. They do currently make the SS-Agile which is built on the short sprinter chassis. It's only 19ft long! That's the model I thought I had my heart set on until we found this great deal on the 2011 PW and now after just seeing pictures of the PW and looking over features and such and comparing both coaches I have to say that I'm pretty sure the PW is the better coach. Yes it's a big bigger but the floorplan and design of the PW is so much more appealing (to me anyway) than the RoadTrek.

I recently saw an Agile on RVTrader - it was in FL, at Sunshine State RVs and I believe it was $79,000 - can't remember what year - 2010 maybe?

Good luck! Keep us posted on your decision!
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Old 03-13-2012, 01:13 AM   #4
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Thanks for the replies. I think we actually saw the Pleasure Way that you are buying--online, not in real life of course -- and wondered about whether we should jump on it. Did you have the opportunity to look at one like the one you are buying? It's SO hard to get to see any of them. Good luck with your purchase, and please keep us posted about how it works out for you. What were some of the features you liked about the P-W?

Davydd, I have read your posts about your Great West purchase with great interest. Looks and sounds wonderful. From the Roadtrek site, it looks like they were building their RS models (regular Sprinter as opposed to SS short Sprinter) on the 3500 chassis for several years now. They list the specs for past model years and it gets confusing because there is stuff like "2009 built on 2008 chassis" and such. It looks like they were using the 3500's for the RS for longer than 2010 and 2011. Am I missing something?
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

You have to pay attention to Converter model year and chassis year. Usually they are a year apart because the converters buy up chassis in advance and then convert them. So right now 2012 chassis are available but they will soon be calling their new models 2013s built on those chassis. The new model V6 engine chassis came out in 2007 so there are some conversion models called 2008s, 2009s and 2010s that may be built on the 2500 170" wheelbase chassis. By the 2011 converter model year most finally figured it out and now build on the 3500 chassis. Also, the 2010 chassis model year (2011 Conversion models) were the first to get the upgraded V6 horsepower and torque engine. That's why I would look closely at any Sprinter conversion sold between 2008 and 2010. They might be 2500s and will have the less HP and torque engine. I purposely waited to buy a 2011 model and double-checked to make sure I was getting then new 2010 3500 chassis.

You can drive any converters Sprinter to test drive because they do nothing to differentiate them in setup that I am aware of. Most all the equipment, such as AC, refrigerator, generator, etc. are pretty much the same. If you are considering a Pleasure-way you can rest assure you are getting top quality fit out and cabinets. The biggest Sprinter decisions are plan design layout and features. Those are preference issues with everyone's needs, wants and perceptions differing. I've posted my reasons on those.

One last thing to clear up some confusion. Up until 2010 chassis year Sprinters were badged Mercedes Benz, Freightliner or Dodge. Rest assured they were all Mercedes Benz with no differentiation other than grill and badging. Now they can be badged Freightliner or Mercedes Benz but not Dodge anymore. A Sprinter is a Sprinter plain and simple.
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Old 03-13-2012, 08:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Hmmm...I'd be surprised if you saw my coach online - we found out about through word of mouth, it was at a campground in Naples, FL. The only place I saw it advertised online was on the PW Owners forum, but that was after I'd decided to purchase it. I only looked on RVTrader though so you might have seen it...it was a pretty great deal!

My parents are "snowbirds" and live in Naples (in their 36' County Coach) during the winter so they have looked at it, test driven it, etc and have sent pictures and such....they have also fallen in love with it and while it's registered in my name and I paid for it I have a feeling I might have a hard time prying the keys out of their hands.

Last July I rented a "Majestic" from Apollo Rentals in CA and one of the things that occurred to me was that if all the "tall stuff" was behind the driver then you could actually use the rear view mirror to some degree - useful mostly for merging. The PW has all the tall stuff lined up right behind the driver, which the RT does not. This is also good because when you are in the coach and look out you get to see "your" campsite, rather than the neighbors! Also, when you turn the driver/passenger seats around you can see out of the coach and have a view.

Another feature is that the PW is built on the dually chassis (or at least mine is) which means you can carry more weight and they put in a larger fridge with a separate freezer. This is great for me because I don't intend to do a lot of cooking in the coach and I can freeze meals ahead of time and have a place to put them!

I also like the bathroom better in the PW. The RT has an aisle bathroom and while you might be able to shower in the actual bathroom it's very cramped and the whole floor would get wet outside the bathroom. Also on the RT the bathroom has a double door which seems awkward and unnecessary.

The PW doesn't have the macerator - which I happen to think is a good thing since it's one less part to break! I can see the benefits of having the macerator, but I have a dump station nearby and I'd rather not run the risk of it failing.

I'm still unsure if it has an inverter - this has been unclear to both my dad and I - Dad looked it at and he's read the owners manual, apparently there is a 1 plug inverter behind the TV so you can unplug the TV and plug in something else. I believe the RT have inverters - not sure if they are integrated or if they only power 1 plug. There are, I believe, 2 12-volt plugs that you could plug a portable inverter into or get 12-volt chargers for stuff! I plan on doing a lot of dry camping so this is important to me!

The one thing it does not have is a Sat/MP3 Radio in the dash! No backup camera or navigation system either. All of that could be added later, but I do believe it's standard in the RT.

Honestly though, outside of the buying process you prob won't be comparing coaches and learn to live with whatever your coach has.

Good luck with your search! Let us know what you end up with!
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:38 PM   #7
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Pleasure-way's standard is an inverter to power only the TV off the batteries when boondocking. My Great West Van Legend is set up the same way. What I didn't like about those small inverters is they had a fan to cool them and to me was annoying. So whenever connected to shore power I always disconnected the TV and plugged into a nearby 110V outlet. I think the inverters are about 450w. That won't power anything else except maybe other electronics including laptop computers. You would need a larger inverter of about 1750w to 2000w to power a microwave or 110v coffee pot. You couldn't have enough batteries to power an air conditioner. I don't know what Roadtrek's setup is in regard to inverters other than maybe they power the 110v outlets when boondocking?

In 6 years of Class B RVing I never encountered a situation where the gravity 3" flexible waste hose did not work. It is positive, quick and clean. Dump the black tank and then rinse with the gray tank. Simple. No clogging, no electrical malfunctions. The slinky flexible hose compresses to about 2 feet in length and has its own storage tube. The only positive I can see in a macerator is I could theoretically empty my tanks at home. I just dump at a campground on the last day of a trip and have a public campground near my house I could go to if needed.

You made good points about the orientation of the Roadtrek vs. the Pleasure-way and the location of the tall cabinet items. Roadtrek, Airstream and Winnebago ERA subscribe to the tall items on the passenger side and the Pleasure-way, Leisure Travel Vans and Great West Vans have similar layouts with the tall items behind the driver and the major windows looking out over your campground. By putting the tall items behind the driver you also have more length to play with to also raise the refrigerator off the floor and put the microwave oven at viewable eye height instead of under the kitchen counter. The Roadtrek plan allows you to add a second row of two passenger seats much easier. A lot of people like that. I don't have a need or desire to tie up space in a Class B with two additional seats I would rarely use. That's a preference item you might like if you use your B as an every day vehicle, have kids or use it other than touring and camping such as tailgating at a football game. Although all the manufacturers have electric sofas with legal seat belt seating in the back, it is not the most desirable place to ride as the bounces and bumps are magnified.

The two biggest debits I found in the newer Pleasure-ways was the bathroom was so tight to the driver's seat that you could not turn it around to a table and use as living space upfront and they regressed in regard to adequate under electric sofa storage in the back. Those two criteria drove me to Great West Vans on my second go around.
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Old 03-14-2012, 05:56 AM   #8
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Your replies are great -- I'm amazed at how closely both of you are talking about the same things I/we have been debating about. We have had a big go-round about the tall things on the driver's side. Davydd, I had already read about your GW so I knew you didn't want the second row seating and neither do we. We don't want to be driving a mini! It's annoying how often they seem to be standard equipment and the alternates, especially Winnebago's which I've only seen in photos, look like cheap add-ons. Winnebago's added "wardrobe" leaves a gap between it and the counter top and looks like something from Walmart, in the photo at least. On the other hand, we were in the 2012 Pleasure Way at a local dealer and my reaction was that the driver's seat felt much too cramped and isolated from the rest of the coach. What with aging hearing as well as radios going and whatever, I am afraid that communication with anywhere other than the passenger seat could be a real problem. Likewise, I like the option of placing the table up front and it appeared that there wouldn't be enough room to swivel the driver's seat around and use a table, in fact I don't think they even provided a mount for it. It left me thinking that maybe having the third seat, but not the fourth, was a good compromise. The other thing that I didn't like was the way the tall side obstructed the view across from the entry, since visually it seems to emphasize the smallness while the open view seems larger. I definitely liked the larger fridge in the P-W and one thing that we don't like is the lack of options for an upgraded fridge -- seems like there are almost none larger that 3.5+/- cubic feet -- our friends sleeping outside in our driveway in their much older Chinook have a fridge at least as big as the P-W's.
Teach, I did see a couple of really good deals in Florida--glad you found yours--it gives me hope. With the size of the bathrooms, I haven't compared enough yet, but I did notice the small shower in the R-T. I also noticed the lack of undersofa storage in the P-W and was surprised; I've seen pictures of others that looked much better.
Davydd, I was wondering about the screen doors that you have with your G-W. If they can do them, how come everybody doesn't? Are they available as an add on anywhere? Like you, we want actual doors, not curtains, because of our dogs.
Thanks for all the great info, guys!
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Old 03-14-2012, 01:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

To my knowledge no other B converter has offered a screen on the side sliding door of a Sprinter. It seems exclusive to Great West Vans and the screen is their own proprietary design to enclose the opening. Closing off that opening is difficult. I managed to make a custom screen enclosure for my 2005 Pleasure-way Plateau but it did not keep our cat inside as the GWVan screen does.


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Old 03-14-2012, 03:19 PM   #10
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Default Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Nice photo -- I was really studying the photos on the G-W site to try to figure out how it works. Even in your photo it is hard to figure out. Does it slide to the left, behind the sink, or to the right? In G-W's photos, it looks like it goes to the right, towards the passenger seat, but I don't see how it makes sense that way unless the screen sort of accordian folds, like a curtain or something like that. It looks like maybe that's how it works, but then I don't get how the framing around it would work. Sheesh! I can imagine it was difficult to make one yourself -- but I would sure try if I had to and probably work off of the G-W design, not knowing anything else to do. Could you possibly show a photo of it opened? And how is it working for you?

Nice looking kitty, too.
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