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Old 04-16-2017, 03:34 AM   #1
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I'm new here, hello to all of you that have some experience with class B motor homes. I am a dairyman in Utah, 56 years old. My wife and I are trying to learn how to relax and travel to places that aren't just industry meetings. We are transitioning our business to the next generation and they would like some breathing room. My wife and I have always been intrigued with class B van concept.
Having lots of rolling stock in the operation of our business some things we see that we would like are dual rear wheels for stability after pulling varied machinery and cattle trailers with both single and dual rears over the years. The economy and performance of the diesel engine would seem to be an advantage in this type of application.
The variety, price and number of manufacturers is a bit overwhelming. How do you begin to narrow things down? New, used, is a nearby servicing dealer important? On the dairy we do most all our own maintenance and repairs but stil find nearby service a plus.
We are not real interested in sleeping lots of people, the box style van seems like it would be more prone to leaks and noisier and perhaps be less fuel efficient. I think in size and option level we would aim for more middle of the pack.
I would like to hear opposing viewpoints so i can learn. Looking forward to your discussion, and a time when my life is not entirely ruled by cows. Thank you in advance
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Old 04-16-2017, 03:54 AM   #2
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I'm new here, hello to all of you that have some experience with class B motor homes. I am a dairyman in Utah, 56 years old. My wife and I are trying to learn how to relax and travel to places that aren't just industry meetings. We are transitioning our business to the next generation and they would like some breathing room. My wife and I have always been intrigued with class B van concept.
Having lots of rolling stock in the operation of our business some things we see that we would like are dual rear wheels for stability after pulling varied machinery and cattle trailers with both single and dual rears over the years. The economy and performance of the diesel engine would seem to be an advantage in this type of application.
The variety, price and number of manufacturers is a bit overwhelming. How do you begin to narrow things down? New, used, is a nearby servicing dealer important? On the dairy we do most all our own maintenance and repairs but stil find nearby service a plus.
We are not real interested in sleeping lots of people, the box style van seems like it would be more prone to leaks and noisier and perhaps be less fuel efficient. I think in size and option level we would aim for more middle of the pack.
I would like to hear opposing viewpoints so i can learn. Looking forward to your discussion, and a time when my life is not entirely ruled by cows. Thank you in advance
Well, if you enjoy opposing viewpoints, let me assure you that you've come to the right place.

I think your first task is to decide on the platform that best suits you and then look at the various builders that build on it. The platforms currently available in class B are:

Mercedes Sprinter
Ford Transit
Dodge Promaster
Chevy Express

If your preference is for dual wheels and a diesel plant, you will find that combination only in the Mercedes 3500 Sprinter which is a popular choice.
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Old 04-16-2017, 12:36 PM   #3
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But don't make those absolutes. Sometimes, experience can be a detriment--B's are not farm equipment. You don't need dual unless you load it down and diesels are having enough problems with emission controls you might look more favorably at gas.

Take yourselves to a city that has dealers for all four choices of base vehicle. Drive them all, even several lengths of each. One will probably grab you more than the others.

Then think hard about the amenities you want.
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Old 04-16-2017, 02:08 PM   #4
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Another thing to look at is the trending of the increase of taxes on diesel. California is raising the diesel tax 20 cents. Other liberal states tend to adopt California trends. That is why we are hated so much. England who once promoted diesel cars are now against them. Once they convince the public that diesel is bad for the environment, they will use it as a cash cow.
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Old 04-16-2017, 04:40 PM   #5
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Another thing to look at is the trending of the increase of taxes on diesel. California is raising the diesel tax 20 cents. Other liberal states tend to adopt California trends. That is why we are hated so much. England who once promoted diesel cars are now against them. Once they convince the public that diesel is bad for the environment, they will use it as a cash cow.
CA Taxpayer Here...

Sometimes good intentions are easy to act on when it is not your money paying for it.

$204 million has been allocated for a Golden Gate bridge suicide barrier.


While not being insensitive to the plight of those suicidal, but if someone wants to take their life, I'm not sure one can stop them. Are we going to build barriers around all buildings, bridges, etc.?
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Old 04-16-2017, 05:08 PM   #6
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If you don't mind used, then I'd hang out at the barrier and see if you can pick up a Roadtrek, as their owners are obviously done with them..
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Old 04-16-2017, 05:40 PM   #7
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Why don't they charge a fee, require them to register, or tax them, thats seems to be the methods by government that are typically used to discourage behavior and generate revenue.
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Old 04-16-2017, 05:58 PM   #8
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Your questions are typical- where to start?

most B's have either a large bed or head- not both !
we went for the largest bed we could find- sideways sleepers will require a climbover and be limited.
It seems model with a large head have a smaller bed- some are fine with that.
we don;t use out aisle shower- we either use campground shower or are remote enough to use exterior shower ( which most B's have)

seats? 2 seats that swivel suit us- more seats would reduce our use of space

the B's advantages are ease of driving, parking and mpg- the C class are a better value if these advantages mean little to you

for fixin' you'll be the best judge.
i have GM's so am familiar with the layout of the chassis and major components- my tools and manuals I have for my truck translate to the chev 3500 van

So I can work on it, so can anyone anywhere with parts from autozone. other brands may have a long and narrow supply line.
call your local autoparts store about say a brake caliper for a sprinter or the fiat/dodge- then ask about a chevy. compare price and availability.

our chev doesn;t need dual rear- it is fine as is. typical use is highway rolling with 5% dirt track.
we don;t use our expensive specialized rv for a "2nd vehicle" as some builders advertise

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Old 04-16-2017, 09:04 PM   #9
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FarmerJohn, Many of us can share our journey finding a suitable RV. We wanted a recently used Class B campervan, MB diesel. We looked at numerous models and brands at several dealerships to get a feel for the layout and accessories that appealed to us. Then I did extensive online searching. We got lucky and found what we wanted just a few hours away. Depending on your location in Utah, perhaps visit dealerships or RV shows in SLC, St George, Las Vegas.
By the way, after considering Class B Winnebagos, Roadtreks, Airstreams, and Pleasure-Ways, we got a well-cared for 2010 Leisure Travel Van Free Spirit 210B (on 2008 MB Sprinter 2500 Chassis, 20+mpg) I found it listed on rvtrader.com at a used RV dealership in Mesa, AZ. The LTV Free Spirit model is no longer made, but used ones are out there. In the year we've owned it, both the chassis and coach have performed well. We've modified and upgraded a few things (added solar and new batteries) and we love it! Best wishes on your search.
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Old 04-16-2017, 09:15 PM   #10
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FarmerJohn,
Among the scads of online sources for info about Class Bs, I've enjoyed and learned from this blog, and they are from Utah! Part of their blog is about customizing their Winnebago Travato, part about fitness and cycling, and part about Class B rigs and travel/camping in general.
https://www.thefitrv.com/
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Old 04-17-2017, 12:09 AM   #11
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I think your wants are very well suited for your business and I will agree duels are great for hauling heavy loads while diesel does defiantly give better MPG. You will pay more for a diesel power rig and diesel does cost more plus in some areas it is not as easy to come by. Sure it is always around the freeways but there are some that try to stick with the back roads. By the time you calculate the higher initial cost and the higher price per gallon you may be paying more than just having gas power. Plus if you have a generator it can run off your gas supply. As far as duels are you going to haul a heavy trailer, or any trailer?
Keep in mind the companies that build them know a few facts and most people really don't need some things. They put in and build according to needs as well as what sells. Give the companies as well as all the people credit for knowing what is needed.
What I recommend is decide what equipment you need such as AC, generator, refrigerator toilet etc you want and what would be nice. Then decide what kind of chassis you think you want or don't want. Armed with that do your shopping
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Old 04-17-2017, 01:37 AM   #12
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Thank you all for your responses, all very thoughtful. I am still interested in more compact but seems odd that there is quite a premium for small. The price you pay extra would take a long time to pay off in fuel use I'm thinking. My thought is that if it got used by us 5,000 miles a year would be a lot except for the occasional year that we might take bigger trips.
How many miles do some of you typically drive your motor homes annually?
There was a comment about class c being a better value. What is a B + model?
Our plan is to try to go to Salt Lake this week and start out by ding as you have suggested, drive several different vehicles and keep bothering you guys.
Another question for today, how do your machines do in really hot ,dry desert heat as far as cooling the coach and helping the engine keep its cool? Thank you. John
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Old 04-17-2017, 05:41 AM   #13
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What is a B+? It is actually a Class C MINUS an over the cab bed. I guess it would be called a salesman term used because they think C- sounds bad, but it is quite different from a Class B.

You need to check out a few models... see the sleeping, eating, cooking, and bathroom arrangements to see what fits your needs.
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Old 04-17-2017, 02:12 PM   #14
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...odd that there is quite a premium for small.
each piece of cabinetry has to be handed in through a "door-hole"- the labour costs are high- it's like a ship in a bottle

a C can be built on a platform and then the exterior skin put on- cheaper to build, more room



a,b,c can be legal definitions, B+ is a marketing term

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Old 04-17-2017, 03:26 PM   #15
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My wife and I have always been intrigued with class B van concept.

Having lots of rolling stock in the operation of our business some things we see that we would like are dual rear wheels for stability after pulling varied machinery and cattle trailers with both single and dual rears over the years. The economy and performance of the diesel engine would seem to be an advantage in this type of application.

The variety, price and number of manufacturers is a bit overwhelming. How do you begin to narrow things down? New, used, is a nearby servicing dealer important?
You're at a very interesting place in the process of owning a motorhome. The world is at your disposal... narrowing it down can be a daunting experience... or a pretty easy one. I've edited your original post to the three main concepts you're concerned about.

The one thing you've not mentioned is what your budget is. That's going to make a HUGE difference in what you're looking at. If you're willing to spend $100k and up (and willing to spend is a LOT different than "being able to afford") then your choices may be a little different.

There are really nice, used B-vans out there for less than half that amount... and even less if you shop hard. I have a '95 Coachmen B-van with all the amenities I want in the best configuration for my use and I paid a whopping $5k for it... with 26k miles, just two years ago. I've got another $5k in it in maintenance items... and almost $2200 of that has gone into the genset (but that's another story.) It's an e-250 chassis with a 351 Windsor and an E4OD trans. I average about 13mpg with it. I've put 25,000 miles on it in the past two years. The interior was like new, if dated, and all of the major systems work as designed. I'm just as comfortable in it as I would be in a new Sprinter-chassis B-van at ten times the cost, even though I could afford a new van if I wanted one. Duals are only important for weight carrying. They do little for stability. Investing in some Roadmaster anti-sway bars are a much better investment, if the coach doesn't need duals.

If you're concerned about cost of ownership, forget about fuel mileage. Fuel economy advertising on a motorhome is just an advertising hook. The worst mileage you'll see in gas Class B mohos is about 8mpg, and the best about 15. Over the average 5,000 miles a year, the difference is only a couple of hundred dollars... just not significant. Diesel will give you around 20mpg... but you'll pay a premium cost for a diesel coach; diesel costs 30% more (avg) at the pump, and your maintenance expenses will be two to three times what gas engine maintenance costs. Solely from an financial perspective, a small motorhome with a diesel makes little sense.

The way to compare motorhomes is "total cost of ownership per mile;" that includes fuel expenses, insurance, total maintenance costs, AND depreciation. On a new coach, you'll lose as much as 30% in value driving off the lot. That depreciation adds a significant amount to the total cost of ownership per mile... MUCH more than fuel expenses annually.

Now, all that said, I've traveled towing trailers of various sizes and manufacture and in motorhomes since about 1980. There is no "perfect" RV. They're all a series of compromises and likely you won't even know what you want/need/despise until you've bought a moho and have used it for several months. Many of the things you think might be important now just won't be in practical use, and there are many things that you don't even know about yet that you'll find are critical to you.

The brand of coach really isn't all that important. They're all built on chassis or completed vans by various automotive/truck manufacturers. The appliances are all by Dometic or Norcold. The seating is by Flexsteel or other manufacturers. The only thing that the coach manufacturers can really call their own is the quality of materials they select and the workmanship in putting it together.

So, you'll find most of those vans to be more similar than different. When you get into class C coaches, that's a different story as the manufacturer actually constructs the "box" onto a cut-away chassis, so there's more variance there, and the quality, quantity and type of materials make a bigger impact on the finished coach. My favorite class-C is Born Free (and I have one, my second Born Free now) for a variety of reasons; fit and finish, quality of materials, and safety.

So... enough of my rambling for now... but my advice is to look at each and every coach you can find... class B, B+, and C and begin to note the similarities... and then the differences will become more and more evident more quickly.

Happy hunting!
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Old 04-18-2017, 01:53 AM   #16
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Thank you, you make some really excellent points that I appreciate very much. As for your question about budget we could spend and afford $150,000 but having said that I'm quite sure we don't want to for something that will get used the amount of this. I've wondered where all the used ones go, there must be thousands of hardly used ones out there. Maybe as much value as anything is one that has not lived out in the sun all its life. That seems to ruin machinery more rapidly than rain.
I'm curious about needs and wants. You mention that some things seem important as features you must have and others that don't seem critical really are. What are some of those things?
We want something that doesn't give us a lot of mechanical hassles, is relatively comfortable and requires little or no setup when you quit for the day. As I mentioned before the van concept, or class b as much for its perceived dimunitive size. Places are getting more crowded and I don't want something that requires my cdl to drive or that my wife won't drive. Thank you
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Old 04-18-2017, 01:58 AM   #17
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I've wondered where all the used ones go, there must be thousands of hardly used ones out there.
You may be underestimating how much fun B-vanning is.
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Old 04-18-2017, 02:23 AM   #18
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Thank you, you make some really excellent points that I appreciate very much. As for your question about budget we could spend and afford $150,000 but having said that I'm quite sure we don't want to for something that will get used the amount of this. I've wondered where all the used ones go, there must be thousands of hardly used ones out there. Maybe as much value as anything is one that has not lived out in the sun all its life. That seems to ruin machinery more rapidly than rain.
I'm curious about needs and wants. You mention that some things seem important as features you must have and others that don't seem critical really are. What are some of those things?
We want something that doesn't give us a lot of mechanical hassles, is relatively comfortable and requires little or no setup when you quit for the day. As I mentioned before the van concept, or class b as much for its perceived dimunitive size. Places are getting more crowded and I don't want something that requires my cdl to drive or that my wife won't drive. Thank you
Well, I also have a Kodiak chassis class C... and my wife is right at home driving it. It's just a big van, after all.

All of them will have been out in the weather, because none of the high-tops fit in garages, and most of us don't have a machine shed for them to stay out of the weather when we're not using them. But honestly that's not such a big deal. A B-van has very little in common with commercial or farm equipment. They're much more like your car than your pickup.

Some of the things that you likely won't think of are: how easily can the tanks can be dumped? how easy is it to winterize on the road when you hit below freezing temps? how easy are the plumbing systems to access when you spring a leak? How much clothes storage is enough? Do you need hanging clothes storage or can you do without? Is there a good place to store a basic tool kit that you can get to easily? Are you ever going to need to use the back doors of the van to carry long things like a kayak or bikes? Or in my case, building materials sometimes? Do you want to carry and use lawn chairs? Where do they go? are you tall enough that you need a north-south bed instead of an east-west one? How many gallons of fresh water do you really need to carry? Do you really need a 30 gallon black tank, or will a 12 gallon do?

I'm sure there's a lot more stuff like these that other folks could add.

There are just lots and lots of relatively small things like these that you won't think of or really have answers to until you're actually using a van/moho and they come up as you go. Everyone, while having some common experiences, uses their vans differently. Some go to campgrounds with hookups and stay a week or a month. Others live for months off-grid. I travel and am seldom in the same spot for more than a day or two when I'm out. Each of those scenarios are very different in the way the van is used and what you require of it. The amount of setup at the end of the day depends on where you're staying and how 'connected' you want to be. And that's your choice and is independent of which van or moho you choose.

After you get some experience you begin to look for those things like what I've listed above that make your life on the road just a little easier. None of those things are killers by any means... but it's sure nice if you don't have to fight with stuff.
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Old 04-18-2017, 12:21 PM   #19
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I've wondered where all the used ones go, there must be thousands of hardly used ones out there.
RVTrader.com has something over 1100 used B-vans listed for sale nation-wide right now...
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Old 04-18-2017, 04:25 PM   #20
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I'm curious about needs and wants. You mention that some things seem important as features you must have and others that don't seem critical really are. What are some of those things?
That is where it becomes totally individual. What seems so important when you are looking can often become irrelevant or even negative once you are using the rig.

For instance, you may think that sleeping in a crossways bed won't be a problem for you and your wife... but once you use it, you might find that it is just a bit short for the tallest of the two of you. Or then there are those possible nightly trips to the toilet. Seems some tend to drink more beer when camping. (or whatever) LOL You find yourself starting to think you should have gone with a lengthwise bed. Everything is a trade-off in such small rigs, and none of us know what might become your pet peeve.

As a rather scrawny older female, I have easily driven two Class Bs and one 25' Class C. I highly recommend the Leisure Travel small Class C's. They have a wonderful variety of floor plans on the Sprinter and a new unit on the Transit. Check them out if you can. They are top of the line:

https://leisurevans.com/
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