Ramblings of a Techno-Viking

Looking for an RV

My search for an RV to live in has evolved over the past 9 months. At first I thought a short (20-24 foot) Class C would be best for me.

The ads for the Toyota pickup-based ones looked good -- cheap and good fuel economy. That idea didn't survive actually stepping in one, however; it was small enough to give me claustrophobia. The problems with the actual unit (squishy floor, fridge door held by golf T, etc.) didn't help, but everything at that dealer had some problems. Later I found out they tend to be under-powered and can't carry much cargo weight, further reducing them from consideration.

I also looked at a number of other class C RVs, and test drove one from a rental place. It was by far the best of my initial search, but at $20k it significantly exceeded what I originally planned to spend. It was a 2005 Tioga Jamboree (newer than anything else in my initial look) with 134k miles missing some of the standard features (awning, power step, and TV) -- apparently ordered by the rental company without them.

My current plans are to get a 25-30 foot Class A. While they don't have the over-cab bed, they frequently have chairs in the front that can be turned around to make them usable when parked, unlike the pretty-much useless when parked cab portion of a Class C. Being based on a medium truck chassis rather than a cut-away van, they tend to have higher carrying capacity as well. Many have "basements" (outside accessible storage compartments) with much more space than Class C vehicles tend to have. Class C cabovers tend to be a source of leaks as well, especially if it has a forward-facing window.

Slides give you more interior room when parked, at the expense of actually reducing the amount of stuff you can carry. Not only do the use interior space when closed, the weight reduces your available cargo carrying capacity. Some RVs with slides are difficult or impossible to use without the slide opened, so Wal*Mart overnighting is impractical with them. Combined with the extra expense and potential problems, I am seeking an RV without slides.

As my research has continued, I've found my initial hope of getting something usable for $10k was unrealistic. Now I expect to spend at least $15k-$20k initially, with another $5k available for repairs in the first year, and I'll want to spend $2k or more customizing it. (Some customizations don't make economic sense to delay.) Tires are around $2k for a set, and many used RVs need them right away due to their age. Unfortunately, all these amounts may need to creep upwards again.

Fuel economy and horsepower has mostly improved over the years, with a jump between carburetor and fuel-injected engines. First generation ODB allowing engine monitoring may available in 1996 or newer RV chassis, with the improved ODB-II coming later. (Sometimes earlier on California models.) Ford introduced the V10 in the 1999 models, skipping the 1998 model year for cutaway vans and medium truck chassis, so a "1998" RV with a Ford chassis is either on a 1997 (or older) v8 chassis, or one of the early 1999 chassis produced in 1998. There seem to be more problems with the Chevy-based Class A chassis overheating than the Fords, but the Allison transmissions they are hooked to seem to be liked. The early V10s have a reputation for "spitting" spark plugs. Workhorse W20, W21, and W22 chassis have a brake recall going on. None of these potential problems bother me excessively, but they are something to be aware of. Chevy has discontinued their medium trucks, so some parts may become hard to find. Overall, I have a strong preference for ODB-II, and would like a V10 if I can afford it and it doesn't mean compromising too far on other things.