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Old 09-12-2015, 03:08 PM   #21
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Almost all Class Bs can boondock a day or two or more with proper energy management and especially if driving most days. What I wanted was full electrical use of all systems, appliances and outlets whether plugged in to shore power or not and not needing to run a generator. In other words total no-brainer electrical transparency. It seems to be a concept RVers don't understand since the RV world seems to accept the idea you use half your capability when unplugged. That's history to me. Right now only Roadtrek and Advanced RV are delivering that concept. Others are doing after market upgrades to achieve some semblance of theoretically throwing away your power cord.

I am not sure you could easily modify an ERA to all-weather four season use. I would think you would have to gut it and start over. Other than James and Stef's Travato I've never heard of Winnebago doing any customization. You would get that second TV on the kitchen counter for instance and would have to remove or modify it yourself.
What I wanted was full electrical use of all systems, appliances and outlets whether plugged in to shore power or not and not needing to run a generator.

That seems like a very realistic feature. Do you have a sense how much this capability added to the cost of the RV?

I am not sure you could easily modify an ERA to all-weather four season use.

As you well know, taking the time to do due diligence before buying an RV pays dividends. WGO offers a heated drainage system option for $300 for the Sprinter however, many consumers buy off the lot and may miss options that may benefit their RV experience.

Obtaining the RV detailed schematic and having a professional review it identified opportunities to improve the RV during the construction phase in a way that does not deviate from the existing construction process.

It's just like a brick and mortar home in that certain improvements taken during construction phase can easily be incorporated (especially when a certified professional is providing the necessary review and guidance).

Winnebago RV Ordering Process
Winnebago is very accommodating on small changes when you are ordering an RV and processing it through your local dealer. Of course you can not change the layout but small things like wanting an upgraded insulation material, running an extra wire trough an existing route, or deleting a standard feature (TV) are possible.

I will have an external outfitter write-up for us what is wanted, the materials and labor costs for WGO to review and approve. May have to sign some documents but that should not be a problem.
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Old 09-12-2015, 03:39 PM   #22
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These upgrades are fairly simple. For your electrical all you need is around a 2000W inverter to power your appliances and outlets. You also need solar panels, solar charge controller and extra batteries. For four season you need pipe insulation wherever exposed water lines are with heat tape or the Espar hydronic system Avanti mentioned.
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Old 09-12-2015, 04:04 PM   #23
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This may sound all over the place, but here some thoughts of mine on your project:

Be cautious on dealing with factory mods from WGO. There is one couple on my facebook group who had a fairly simple change - using a different flooring from their other color scheme - and that ended up being screwed up. WGO is a high volume manufacturer with systems in place to put these units out at great prices. Upset that apple cart, and it's a crap shoot on the results.

I think you have in your mind needing greater capabilities than you probably really need. My computers are all 12v. I can get by without running the microwave. In some places, I need the AC, so you are hard press to do that on anything but the largest and costliest battery banks, inverters, etc. I ended up getting a $500 remote controller so I can have my generator run on a whim. That's been more than satisfactory for what little I've needed 110v power. My advice to you is to just get 12v computers and be done with it.

Davydd's RV is amazing. YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT. I've seen it, been in it. It is amazing. But that does come at a price. And it's not 150-160k that the OP listed as the price point for ARV. They can go much higher depending on your needs/wants. The Roadtreks seem to be frought with problems in this early stage of their adopting this new technology. I don't see how Airstream is any greater than an Era to justify the price difference. They use all the same tech, but they do have a flashier look if that is your thing.

Another thing to consider - you don't need to do all your mods at once. You can get a stock Era and do things as you see you need them. Like the drawer style microwave. There is no savings in doing everything at once. You may even find while you use it, you come up with other things you like, or maybe some on your list, that you didn't really need after all.

I think you'll find, no matter what you choose, they are all basically good. I wouldn't fret over something being a lemon or exceptionally problematic. You may have some minor issues out the gate, but if you've chosen a good dealer, then you'll get the service you need.

Good luck!
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Old 09-12-2015, 05:05 PM   #24
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Looking again at your wish list it might be smart to look at an used expedition vehicle. They have most of what you want and are built to take on most all conditions and abuse.
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Old 09-12-2015, 07:03 PM   #25
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These upgrades are fairly simple. For your electrical all you need is around a 2000W inverter to power your appliances and outlets. You also need solar panels, solar charge controller and extra batteries. For four season you need pipe insulation wherever exposed water lines are with heat tape or the Espar hydronic system Avanti mentioned.
Had a rental RV in Europe with an Espar unit. They really produce the heat with little fuel consumption.
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Old 09-12-2015, 07:17 PM   #26
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This may sound all over the place, but here some thoughts of mine on your project:

Be cautious on dealing with factory mods from WGO. There is one couple on my facebook group who had a fairly simple change - using a different flooring from their other color scheme - and that ended up being screwed up. WGO is a high volume manufacturer with systems in place to put these units out at great prices. Upset that apple cart, and it's a crap shoot on the results.

I think you have in your mind needing greater capabilities than you probably really need. My computers are all 12v. I can get by without running the microwave. In some places, I need the AC, so you are hard press to do that on anything but the largest and costliest battery banks, inverters, etc. I ended up getting a $500 remote controller so I can have my generator run on a whim. That's been more than satisfactory for what little I've needed 110v power. My advice to you is to just get 12v computers and be done with it.

Davydd's RV is amazing. YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT. I've seen it, been in it. It is amazing. But that does come at a price. And it's not 150-160k that the OP listed as the price point for ARV. They can go much higher depending on your needs/wants. The Roadtreks seem to be frought with problems in this early stage of their adopting this new technology. I don't see how Airstream is any greater than an Era to justify the price difference. They use all the same tech, but they do have a flashier look if that is your thing.

Another thing to consider - you don't need to do all your mods at once. You can get a stock Era and do things as you see you need them. Like the drawer style microwave. There is no savings in doing everything at once. You may even find while you use it, you come up with other things you like, or maybe some on your list, that you didn't really need after all.

I think you'll find, no matter what you choose, they are all basically good. I wouldn't fret over something being a lemon or exceptionally problematic. You may have some minor issues out the gate, but if you've chosen a good dealer, then you'll get the service you need.

Good luck!
Thanks for all the excellent advice.... Based on all the post contributions, i'll simplify my want list.

1) Want a B Class RV with a floorpan like the WGO ERA 70A, 2) and need winter capability (4x4 / tires, heated tanks) to comfortably get to Lake Tahoe for winter sports, 3) would like an efficient heating system / options supplement the coach heating (ESPAR D2) and use one fuel source, and 4) increase the unit insulation R-values before as opposed to after the unit is purchased. I guess the solar and battery stuff can occur at any point?

The items above I think make sense if you are going to use the RV in the winter months.


Davydd's RV is amazing. YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT. I've seen it, been in it. It is amazing. But that does come at a price. And it's not 150-160k that the OP listed as the price point for ARV.

I was aware of the 'actual' price but did not want to be specific due to possible privacy concerns Davydd may have. He is very fortunate to purchase exactly what he wants.
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Old 09-12-2015, 07:24 PM   #27
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Looking again at your wish list it might be smart to look at an used expedition vehicle. They have most of what you want and are built to take on most all conditions and abuse.
Took a 'sobering pill' and have scaled down the want list. It just seems wasteful to buy an RV knowing it needs more insulation and efficient house heating for cold climates without being able to address it before 'the walls go up'.

To me these seem like RV 101 basics that any manufacturer should be able to provide as standard or as a factory option.

I'll trade the corian counters and fancy finishes in place of robust and efficient HVAC system.

Is this unreasonable in 2015?
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Old 09-12-2015, 07:38 PM   #28
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As long as a heating system has enough output, then the insulation is largely irrelevant.

Have you looked at the Winnebago 59K? I think it would hit most of your wish list - all the water piping is inside the van in the heated space. It has flip up table for a workstation. The Truma system is an excellent heating system by all accounts. The front wheel drive would be good in the snow. And you'd save $30-$40k over the other makes you mention.
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Old 09-13-2015, 02:14 PM   #29
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Have you looked at the Winnebago 59K?
Yes, I currently drive diesels and want that engine in an RV. Plus, with Sprinter being so present in the US market, I feel the service network is broader and fixes will be corrected faster should they occur.

The Sprinter Store is excellent for resources here and globally if you want to upgrade your vehicle.

Have you had any major challenges with the 59K?
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Old 09-13-2015, 03:16 PM   #30
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None. Not a single warranty claim. Certainly no engine/drivetrain issues.

Of course there is a huge Chrysler dealer network. I'd say greater than what you'd find for Sprinter.
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Old 09-13-2015, 09:50 PM   #31
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ClassB4Me, I too fell in love with the ERA A floor plan, but it wasn't quite everything I wanted. I ended up with Advanced RV after 3 years of research, shopping and trying. I have the shorter model (22' 9") with a layout similar to the ERA 170A. I have a composting toilet (important to me). No propane, also important to me. I have an awesome custom desk area in the front has the removable table.

If you want to view it, my desk is shown started at 4:30.
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Old 09-14-2015, 12:27 AM   #32
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You may want to do some reading in the sprinter forum about service network and speedy repairs. After some time reading the forum, I took a new sprinter off my list. Seems pre 2006 models have less emissions equipment problems. I wanted a sprinter at first but after learning about the service costs and limited availability as compared to ford and dodge, I decided otherwise. If I had a higher income, I would have probably bought a sprinter but I have to count my pennies these days.
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Old 09-14-2015, 03:38 PM   #33
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None. Not a single warranty claim. Certainly no engine/drivetrain issues.

Of course there is a huge Chrysler dealer network. I'd say greater than what you'd find for Sprinter.
That is amazing...

I've been following your web site for quite some time. I always wanted and Oliver camper and for a while they stopped producing units. Did you not have a prior year Travato and was it as reliable?
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Old 09-14-2015, 03:40 PM   #34
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You may want to do some reading in the sprinter forum about service network and speedy repairs. After some time reading the forum, I took a new sprinter off my list. Seems pre 2006 models have less emissions equipment problems. I wanted a sprinter at first but after learning about the service costs and limited availability as compared to ford and dodge, I decided otherwise. If I had a higher income, I would have probably bought a sprinter but I have to count my pennies these days.
Wise choice... I wonder are the higher Sprinter service cost tied to the diesel drivetrain. I have always had diesel cars and while service is more expensive the service intervals are longer.
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Old 09-14-2015, 03:42 PM   #35
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ClassB4Me, I too fell in love with the ERA A floor plan, but it wasn't quite everything I wanted. I ended up with Advanced RV after 3 years of research, shopping and trying. I have the shorter model (22' 9") with a layout similar to the ERA 170A. I have a composting toilet (important to me). No propane, also important to me. I have an awesome custom desk area in the front has the removable table.

If you want to view it, my desk is shown started at 4:30.
Thanks for the link to the video. Based on help from the forum I am having to consider the Ducato/Promaster in addition to the Sprinter. The desk is compact but is well built.
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Old 09-14-2015, 06:24 PM   #36
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That is amazing...

I've been following your web site for quite some time. I always wanted and Oliver camper and for a while they stopped producing units. Did you not have a prior year Travato and was it as reliable?
Yes and yes.
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Old 09-14-2015, 09:02 PM   #37
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Travato's now have a diesel option and people on Facebook have reported 23 mpg but propane tank is considered too small to run generator for extended periods. Maybe WGO will address this issue with enough complaints. I've heard it said(Windchaser?) that there is room for a larger tank.
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Old 09-14-2015, 09:53 PM   #38
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Travato's now have a diesel option and people on Facebook have reported 23 mpg but propane tank is considered too small to run generator for extended periods. Maybe WGO will address this issue with enough complaints. I've heard it said(Windchaser?) that there is room for a larger tank.
In addition owners have not fell in love with the manual automatic transmission (i.e. rough shifts) on the diesel. The gas automatic appears to be very smooth and responsive.
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Old 09-14-2015, 10:14 PM   #39
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Travato's now have a diesel option and people on Facebook have reported 23 mpg but propane tank is considered too small to run generator for extended periods. Maybe WGO will address this issue with enough complaints. I've heard it said(Windchaser?) that there is room for a larger tank.
Would a diesel generator be a better option than a larger LP tank? Just wondering.
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Old 09-14-2015, 10:35 PM   #40
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I'm of the opinion that a slightly larger LP tank could be fitted.

A diesel generator is out of the question as the size of it precludes fitment under the van.

I found the shifting is fine when done manually. If you let it auto-shift, there are lags which most people would take issue with.
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