Friday, December 2, 2016

Class A RV Summary

Odin the Winnebago

As we sit at anchor on our sailboat in Puerto Rico, here is a look back at the purchase of our Winnebago:

When we started shopping for RV's many friends recommended a fifth-wheel.  I was enamored with Class C's.  However, The Colonel's research indicated that a Class A would be the best bang for the buck and he was RIGHT!  We were able to buy a 36 foot diesel for a fraction of the price of a Class C (and the same price as JUST the pickup needed to tow a fifth wheel).  How do we feel about our purchase 5 months later?

1). Is it difficult to drive?  It's not that difficult to drive or maneuver.  The Colonel was comfortable pretty quickly (YouTube Lazy Days Confidence Course).  We have a good turning radius for our size.  We haven't gotten "stuck" in parking lot yet.  We haven't had to back up (because of my excellent planning).  Despite our concerns, we haven't been the largest rv at any campground we've visited!  Good torque for towing.

2). It's so BIG!  Yes, it seemed a little big inside for two people who were used to a 36 ft boat, but it's nice to stretch out.

3). Towing a car:  If you have a fifth wheel, the truck is your dinghy.  If you have a Class C, you probably drive the motor home as your dinghy.  Buying a Class A meant we'd probably be towing a car.  We tried to avoid it, but ended up purchasing a car in St. Louis.  After installing an elaborate tow system, it tows fine.  We have plenty of torque, and YES you must be even more aware of tight spaces, but the car still turns inside the RV so we're basically dealing with more length (and not increased turn radius).

4). Diesel advantage:  Because of the limited budget, we started our search looking at gasoline powered.   However, we've learned turn radius, less emphasis on total mileage on an engine that lasts longer, less engine noise because the engine is in the back, good engine access because it's in the back, and the First Mate/Navigator's favorite feature--air ride (means I have to worry less about dishes rattling or things falling because of the better ride).

5). Yes, we were worried about the cat.  Technically, the cat would have to ride in the pickup of a fifth wheel.  We love that she often sleeps through our departure and only discovered we're moving when she wakes up long enough to head for a snack (The living room is smaller!  Are we moving?  {Yawn}).  Her litter pan is right where she left it.

6). Make a sandwich while we're moving":  OK, I never did this, but I have used the bathroom or grabbed a soda/snack when we're a ways from our next stop.  However, "stopping for lunch" is The Colonel's favorite feature.  On a hot day, we start the generator 30 min before our stop & turn the a/c on in the back.  I plan our fuel stops/rest stops around lunch.  We pull over, slide the curtains closed.  He plops on the couch & plays with Amelia while I make lunch.  Then a little nap or sometimes some tv--sometimes without stepping outside.  Then we're back on the road.  We plan 400 miles/day, so if we depart by 9:00 am, we can drive 3 hours, stop for lunch and be at our stop for the evening by 4!  Just in time to make dinner.

7). Don't even have to get dressed!  OK, technically, The Colonel needs to go out to unhook the electric before departing a campground/rv park.  However, it's not socially inappropriate to do that in your pajamas at an RV park.  If we prepped the night before, which we frequently do:  awnings in, chairs stowed, tanks dumped, car hooked up--technically, we don't have to get dressed to get underway.  Slide in.  Engine warmed up.  Drive away. (No packing.  No going out for breakfast.  No loading the car.)

8). We've been very happy with OUR 2001 Winnebago Journey.  We are going to replace the carpet with tile.  We may replace a few pieces of furniture and maybe the stovetop.  After discussing "If we won the lottery, what RV would you buy?", The Colonel said, best power-to-weight ratio.  Well, my half-ass research shows our RV way up there--Yes, you can buy an rv with 400-600 HP engine, but they weigh 40,000-60,000 lbs!  Here's my unscientific, non-mechanic summary (because a search of RV websites are CRAZY with HP vs torque discussions.  Torque & engine manufacturer should be taken into consideration but that's above my head):

Our 2001 Winnebago Journey has a 330HP engine & weighs (GVWR) 26,350 lbs = 1:80 (each 1 HP is pulling 80 lbs)

2017 Winnebago Journey:  360 HP, weighs 32,350 lbs = 1:90 (each 1 HP is pulling 90 lbs--worse than our used Journey)

2017 Prevost X3-45:  500HP & weighs 30,850 (WOW, this seems light compared to other luxury motor homes): = 1:62 (each HP is only pulling 62 lbs!  Better performance than our Journey)

2017 Tiffin Zephyr:  600 HP & weighs
2017 Lewmar Essex:  600 HP weighs 64,000 lbs!  (Each 1 HP is pulling 107 lbs.  That's poorer performance in a brand-new luxury motor home than our Journey!)

My takeaway:  Our 2001 Journey is second to a Prevost!  However, calculate in price vs performance:  

2001 Journey blue book $39,000
2017 Journey retail $290,000 & up
2017 Prevost:  2000ish X3-45 $200,00 up to 2017 cost over $1 million?!
2017 Allegro Zephyr $640,000
2017 Lewmar Essex:

Less maintenance (so far) than a boat!

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