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LesM 06-21-2013 11:00 PM

To upgrade or not?
I have a 1995 Pleasure Way STW on a Dodge 350 chassis, 318 CID engine. Current mileage is 190,000KM (say 120,000 miles). Everything is original except for the addition of wheel spacers, changeover to a new flat panel TV/DVD and a 90watt solar panel/controller (I don't have a generator).The van is well maintained (since I bought it 5 years ago at 120,000 Km). I like the layout (particularly the bed options), and the handling is wonderful. It meets all my needs. The van runs reliably and takes me on 6 to 8000 Km trips through the US Southwest each winter, plus numerous more local trips in Western Canada.
Occasionally (OK, regularly) I wonder if I should trade it in and get a newer model - perhaps a 2007 to 2011, and I'm not committed to a Pleasure Way.
The van really does meet my needs, but it's getting older. When I read the various posts on this forum, I get the sense that newer is not necessarily better, and that some newer models have more reliability problems than my older beast,
So... thought I would put the question out there to solicit the opinions of the "B" owners. What are the pros and cons (besides price) of continuing to accumulate miles on my current "B", versus changing to a newer model?


mlts22 06-21-2013 11:33 PM

Re: To upgrade or not?
With everything in life, you place your bets. I've not heard many horror stories about newer "B"s.

In fact, quality appears to be pretty good in the "B" market overall. I've yet to read about someone buying a new rig, and being stranded, wheels falling off, or the vehicle turning into a pumpkin. There are issues with all makes (T1N vehicle, you need to get the turbo resonator fixed ASAP), but none are overt lemons. The only non-drivetrain thing I'd look at is on gasoline rigs, I'd replace the generator carb because it almost certainly is plugged unless the PO ran the generator on a schedule for maintenance.

I'd start looking, perhaps take a mechanic with you to confirm 100% that the shape is good. Hard to go wrong with any of the brands out there.

markopolo 06-22-2013 01:11 AM

Re: To upgrade or not?
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If you're happy enough with your RV and it runs well then keep it a few more years. Another 15,000 miles on it probably won't affect the trade-in or resale value much at this point. We are probably going to see many new Class B models soon. Class B conversions based on the new Ford Transit and the new Ram ProMaster vans are coming.

Your STW has a nice layout:

Currently, to see much of a difference in interior space you'd probably have to get a Sprinter based B.

I looked at a 2008 Class B this week (just looking) - I was amazed at the amount of surface rust underneath and the overall poorly maintained look of the unit. By comparison there is no rust underneath on my 1997 RV so newer isn't always better.

Alternately, start getting trade-in quotes and price units you are interested in as it may take a while to find a well maintained low mileage unit. Looking won't cost you much and will give you a better idea if it is worth getting something newer.

mlts22 06-23-2013 03:53 AM

Re: To upgrade or not?
That is a very good point. I live in Texas so rust tends to be not a front/center issue. However, one rig I was going to look at was hauled in to the state from somewhere in/near the Rust Belt, and that would have been something to scrutinize the van thoroughly because it could render it inoperable.

Mike 07-02-2013 01:35 AM

Re: To upgrade or not?
I'm always looking at new(er) models with a view to update my RV, and like you, currently have no brand loyalty. I think it would have to be a fabulous deal to make me start the ball rolling on swapping the old rig for something new. I think?
My rig is newer than 1995, but it's as old as yours in mileage years, and like Mark says, a few thousand more miles on it aren't going to make much difference in it's trade in value. We could probably get a bit more for our respective vans if we were willing to price them higher, place ads in papers and online, and wait for a buyer. Then go without, while we start looking for a new ride.
Or, we just throw a few bucks into them whenever they need it, to keep them safe and functional.
They are "the devils we know", after all.
Sorry, not a great answer. Or was it? :)

mlts22 07-02-2013 03:31 PM

Re: To upgrade or not?
If you can hold a purchase for the next 1-2 years, the "B" industry will be going through one of the biggest shake-ups it has ever seen. The gasser Ducato will be out late August/early September, the diesel Ducato will be out next year, and the Ford Transit will be out the summer of next year. European RV makers have no foothold on the US market because they can't really upfit Econolines or Express chassis models. However, Fiat actually has engineered the Ducato to be extremely RV upfit friendly.

Correction: Dodge Promaster, not Fiat Ducato.

Davydd 07-02-2013 04:03 PM

Re: To upgrade or not?
Waiting is not an answer, especially 1-2 years. I can already tell you, IMO, the Dodge Promaster is a shell of the Sprinter in design potential, quality and functionality based on the 15 European models that have been posted here and Winnebago's first anemic effort. So you wait. For what? Maybe a 10-20% savings many think may be the case? That would be wiped out in waiting. I'd venture to guess they will certainly cost more than the current crop of Chevy and Ford Bs. Not to mention 1-2 years of Class B enjoyment when your health is highest.

Mike 07-02-2013 09:14 PM

Re: To upgrade or not?
Good points, both.
The price of the B may not be as important as the age of the owner, when it comes to expedience, if upgrading is in the cards.
Just hope I live long enough to see how it all plays out. 8)

mlts22 07-03-2013 10:15 PM

Re: To upgrade or not?
Looks like PW may be putting something out with a similar length to your 1995 rig. A local dealer is going to be stocking Ascents (which I thought were discontinued), and these are on the 144" chassis. Their CCC is probably anemic, but other than the power couch, the floor plan is very similar to yours.

Mike 07-03-2013 11:58 PM

Re: To upgrade or not?

Originally Posted by mlts22
Looks like PW may be putting something out with a similar length to your 1995 rig. A local dealer is going to be stocking Ascents (which I thought were discontinued), and these are on the 144" chassis. Their CCC is probably anemic, but other than the power couch, the floor plan is very similar to yours.

It might be OK for CCC, unless you meant interior physical volume for storage? Not a stump puller, but it looks like it's got legs. For me, CCC always means how much extra weight can it pull, not how much stuff can I cram into it.

From PW/Ascent website.

188 HP @ 3800 RPM
325 LB-FT TORQUE @ 1,400-2,400 RPM

booster 07-04-2013 12:16 AM

Re: To upgrade or not?
The age of the users point is very well taken. Why replace a serviceable unit if you only have a couple of years of travel left. Sad, but reality. By the same logic, you wouldn't want to keep a rig that is getting to be a lot of trouble, especially as you get older and less able to cope with the on-road problems.

I know many folks have had very good service out of older class b's, but from what I have seen, once you get past about 17-18 years, vehicles start to deteriorate at an accelerated rate. The suspension gets harsh due to rubber age, motors and trans start to leak, hoses fail, etc. Sure, you can fix all these things ahead of times, but how far do you go? I certainly am not afraid of old vehicles, I just bought a 1996 Buick Roadmaster wagon as my driver, but if I were 75 years old (I am 64) and on the road, I think I would go for a bit newer. Probably less the 10 years old and well maintained.

Our 07 would be 17 years old when I hit 75, so we will probably get to address that issue! Or, by then, we may be driving a 40' diesel pusher, or sitting in the nursing home. Nobody knows exactly how it will all turn out.

mlts22 07-04-2013 12:50 AM

Re: To upgrade or not?
Storage is decent, about the same as the RT version, except the pooper is behind the driver's seat, and RT has a slide-out sink which is nice for the bathroom. The reason I brought up CCC is that when I was looking at a SMB upfit, I'd have about 500 pounds CCC on the 2500 chassis.

Were it not for my curiosity about the Travato, I'd definitely be buying this rig (suits my needs perfectly), as the PW dealer is one I've worked with before, and would buy from him again. The biggest reason I'm waiting for the new van upfits is because I have the urge to do some serious modding to a van, and I feel less nervous about doing it to a generic domestic model gasser chassis which I can drag into Smitty's Beer Barn and Dodge Repair Shop, than a Mercedes where if I hose something (accidentally cutting a CANBUS line for example), I'm going to be out good chunks of cash.

Davydd 07-04-2013 01:54 AM

Re: To upgrade or not?
I had an excellent 2005 Pleasure-way Plateau but traded up mainly because after 5 years of Class B RVing there were a lot of things I desired and the Great West Van Legend answered them the best for me at the time I was shopping. We all have desires. Most of us get used to and accept what we have. Unless you have a compelling reason there is not a lot of reason to upgrade. Only you can answer that question. I knew from experience what I wanted. I didn't have to ask.

As for the Ascent and the Agile, I wasn't in the market for them when they originally came out but did look at both extensively. The Ascent to me was hands down better than the Agile. I was kind of disappointed when Pleasure-way dropped them. Glad they are back for no other reason than I would like to see more companies take a look at that model size. I have a little difficulty with the size for two people mainly because I have developed needs and expectations, but think it would be absolutely ideal for one person. On the other end, I don't think I am ready to consider the 24 ft. extended Sprinters.

Mike 07-04-2013 02:18 AM

Re: To upgrade or not?
It's a really tough call, but at this time in our traveling lives, I think it's still a better investment to throw a few thousand into the devil you know now and then, even if it's replacing the suspension, the engine, the transmission, and so on. We can still deal with the perils of unexpected mechanical failures pretty well. That's what ERS is for, isn't it? :wink: (I also carry a selection of must have emergency repair tools and parts, for simpler problems and fixes)
10 years into the future, and who knows how we'll feel then? I hope we're still traveling and seeing things we used to read about online and in books. We love it that much.

p.s. Our Roadtrek is obviously over a decade old, and is still in pretty good shape, but it is starting to show some small signs of the wear and tear of extensive usage over the last 5 years. We'll have to see what it needs over the next few years, if we keep it that long. We would be approaching booster's suggested maximum overall reliability age range. The other factor in our decision of fix or sell, would be that we're still looking for an inexpensive and larger motorhome solution for our "snowbird" aspirations. We can probably do it in the Roadtrek for shorter trips south, but long term, it won't work for us.

mlts22 07-04-2013 03:57 AM

Re: To upgrade or not?
One thing I'm curious, and not attempting to hijack this, but this is one reason I'm looking to buy new: How often do people get told to leave CGs because their rig is over 10 years old? Since people have older rigs, is this something that is a major party-pooper?

Here in my neck of the woods, the 10 year rule seems to be vigorously enforced everywhere except at state parks. I think it is because if they kick one person out, there is always someone there to take their space.

Mike 07-04-2013 01:11 PM

Re: To upgrade or not?
Never heard of a 10 year old rule.
So, my answer would be never.
I can see some people being asked to move along, if the camper looks like it might not be able to move along at some point, but if your motorhome/RV looks like it's been well cared for, I'd think it wouldn't be invoked, assuming the campground had a 10+ year old exclusion rule.

Davydd 07-04-2013 01:22 PM

Re: To upgrade or not?
I've never been to a campground with a 10 year rule. I understand there are some but they are generally expensive Class A big rig places and usually are rather expensive stays with full hookups and other "club" amenities. I can understand a premium campground desiring to protect an image of exclusivity like that. Some extended stay "snowbird" campgrounds might be like that too, but I avoid them. Just not my kind of places. I was all over Texas for two month this past spring. I guess I never saw any that way. The KOAs in South Padre Island and San Antonio were to me the best and most convenient places in those towns and they didn't have that policy. We stayed in what was a rather nice place in Houston near the medical center area, Lake View CG on Main St., and there were definitely older RVs including a vintage Airstream trailer. The private campgrounds around Big Bend were not that way. Texas has a lot of nice state parks for campers. I think I have now stayed in most of the best around the whole state and they were my preferred choices.

Rok 07-11-2013 05:18 AM

Re: To upgrade or not?
Mlts--I have test driven the new (2014) PW Ascent, and I have to say it is a pretty rig, and even without duallies, it holds the road well. Because of its shortness of length (19' 6"), it is a breeze to drive after driving our 22' 9" GW Legend SE.

PW (or perhaps the dealer) seems VERY proud of it, but it is missing a lot of amenities of the larger PW rigs and especially the amenities of the larger GW vans and there is not much reduction in price. It is much like the RT Agile. I think these units are a good fit for a lot of people, but because of their dimunitive size, they wouldn't be for us except as a 2nd "short trip" rig. Since we can't really afford to have 2 motorhomes, one is probably not in our future.


markopolo 07-24-2013 07:09 PM

Re: To upgrade or not?
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Like the OP, I look at other vans often. Mostly online but I will go to look at a van if there's a chance of getting something better.
We like the outside of our van, the diesel engine, low mileage, the GM chassis, and that there's no rust on or under it and has been garage kept all it's life. We don't like the cramped / overbuilt / low ceiling height interior.

Any money spent on a renovating 1997 van is very unlikely to be recovered if we sell it so I look :angel:

I saw a 2000 Leisure Travel Freedom recently and really liked the interior. It had a power sofa in the rear and what felt like lots of room to move around inside. The shower was too small to use imo. It had tons of rear storage. The exterior of it was beginning to start that accelerated deterioration that can overcome a van that is left sitting unused parked outside on grass or gravel in all weather. The constant moisture from the ground seems to feed any under-body rust. Paint was peeling and there was evidence of lots of owner applied caulk. I'm not interested in taking on a project like that.

The interior layout was similar to new Sprinters

So, time to grab some tools and head out to the van to widen a bulkhead and remove or trim back cupboards to see if I can make what I have more comfortable. I'm hoping Class B production continues to increase and the new ProMaster and Transit vans help expand the sales of new Class B vans so that there are more units available in the used market in a few years. I'd prefer to buy something nearly new in maybe 5 years time - hopefully they're easier to find then.

Mike 07-24-2013 09:06 PM

Re: To upgrade or not?
Like most big ticket items, it's all about supply and demand. Class B vans are relatively short in supply, and demand a higher price used. I agree about lets get more Winnebago sized companies into the game, producing more functional, but less expensive units, to increase the supply of older models. I'd like to think around 3-4 years old, will be the age of the next one we buy, if we last that long...... :roll:

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