Need Advice on buying used RV

Hi there. I’ve been window shopping an RV for years. Getting more serious now, had several A fib incidents and don’t want to have to carry gear extended distances to set up camp.

I have a pretty good idea how big a unit, with what amenities. No worries about driving a 20-32 foot A-B-C unit. Size might be limited to what the better half is comfortable handling. Don’t like the idea of a 5th wheel, although I can see the advantages. I live in PA. so I know I have to winterize.

For those who have owned them, a couple questions:

Why do generators seem to need to be replaced after just a couple of years?

Do roofs leak due to normal use/flexing of body when subject to potholes, etc. or is it because people stand on the roof and it’s not designed for that?

If I use it infrequently, what storage advice do you have?

Anything I didn’t think to mention that’s important?

Fiberglass Egg Here

– Last Updated: Mar-18-13 10:13 PM EST –

You might consider a trailer/tow vehicle setup as a possible alternative. I have a 1974 Trillium 1300, an all-fiberglass 'egg', that I tow with a Ford Ranger. When I get to wherever I'm going, I just unhitch, set the trailer up, and can use the truck for running around.

The fiberglass eggs are great, leaks, and very little to cause much trouble, even in the older ones. Mine has a small fridge, a stove-top and a furnace, all of which run on propane, and a porta-pottie for rainy night use. After decades of camping, the Trillium is like a luxury You can also get larger ones that have toilets and showers, etc. Some other brand names are Boler, Casita, Escape, Burro and so on.

Here's a link to FiberglassRV, a great website that has more info about the FG Eggs than anyone will ever need. very, very knowledgeable and helpful folks...worth having an 'Egg just to enjoy the site...

Class C motorhome vs tow behind trailer
We’ve owned a small tow behind (we also use a 4 liter Ranger to haul it) for 2.5 years and like it a lot. It’s a standard trailer, 16’ long, not fiberglass (we looked at those and did not like the lack of a real flush toilet and shower – as paddlers we want to be able to wash off the stinky river water at the end of the day). Our trailer is only 1500 lbs – closer to 2000 loaded. Has 2 burner range, dual power fridge (runs on propane or electric), propane heat, electric AC, hot and cold running water, small shower enclosure with flush toilet, dinette that seats 4 and converts to a double bed, couch in the rear that converts to a 48" x 8’ bunk and two drop down overhead bunks for kids or gear storage. Nice headroom and lots of window – does not feel cramped at all with two people. The model is a Sun Valley Road Runner – no longer in production but used ones turn up. We got ours in 95% pristine condition for $4200. It needed some tweaking – clogged drain line, a couple of leaks in the siding. I think the torquing of the structure when you go over uneven ground or have to park it off level probably contributes to leaks. We’ve been able to find and seal the few it has had.

We have also rented Class C motorhomes (22’ to 25’) on out of town trips where we flew to the destination. I have to admit a bit of a preference for the Class C for comfort – it is great to be able to just pull in and park without having to mess with the hitch and leveling as with the trailer. And there is more room and comfort in those, with full shower and vanity in the bath and queen sized bed, plus the convenience of the passenger being able to slip back into the unit to make a snack, use the toilet or take a nap while your partner is driving (yeah, we know it’s not technically safe but we do it anyway.) Gas mileage is about the same for both set ups. The drawback to the Class C is that you have to haul the thing everywhere. With the trailer you can leave it in the campground and take just the truck whereever you are headed for the day. When we rented a Class C last month for a trip to Death Valley and the Sierras we also rented mountain bikes which enabled us to leave the camper in the campground and explore the surrounding areas and access trails with the bikes.

Another drawback to the Class C (besides initial cost) is that you have to maintain the vehicle. And if the engine or tranny smokes you have to replace them to keep your camper intact. With a trailer there are no automotive issues so you can keep upgrading what you tow it with – less obsolescense.

We never have used a generator with any of the units. The batteries and propane provide most of what we need for any overnight stop or we can get a 120 volt hookup at perked campgrounds. The only thing you miss going without the generator or a 120 volt hookup is the microwave, TV and air conditioning. We’ve managed to get by without these but you may want to consider whether you need them.

With generators, all I can say is get a brand name like Kohler or Onan rather than Chinese-made off brands from big box stores. And read the maintenance instructions properly and then follow the advice. Don’t leave fuel in the genset between uses without adding stabilizer and follow the routines of lubrication and tune ups for it and you should get many years from it. Same for the trailer. Don’t leave it sit with blackwater and grey water in the system and drain and flush and fill with antifreeze (special potable water type) when the camper is in storage. Get a cover for it if you have to store it outdoors.

Anyway, those have been our experiences (two early 60’s hikers and paddlers).

Outside shower

– Last Updated: Mar-18-13 3:57 PM EST –

We've had two different travel trailers as our family has grown. There are so many different models you just have to look and find something that fits your needs. The one thing you will want is an outside shower it is a must for an outdoor person. We wash everthing from paddling gear to dirty dogs and kids with it.
You might want to consider looking at something with a toy box in the back or a toy hauler. They are made for motorized vehicles like motorcycles and four wheelers but make a great area to store all your gear.
We did look at a Class C when we started looking but a wise salesman pointed out that our choice of hobbies meant we would still need to take our SUV. We saved money and had one less vehicle to maintain by buying a travel trailer.

My .02…

– Last Updated: Mar-18-13 10:52 PM EST –

We decided to go with a travel trailer and a SUV. Base camp stays behind while we kayak and explore with the truck. Getting kayaks on the roof of a truck is no big thing, while a motor home could be a challenge. A Chevy, Ford, or whatever can be serviced about anywhere if your tranny craps out, while an A class may need special attention.If you choose an A,B,or C you may wish to tow a car behind to enjoy the same level of freedom as a truck/trailer.
Towing the car involves it's own set of issues.
I've not yet needed a generator, but if I did, I'd go with a Honda for quiet operation.
For storage, I'm using a large tarp held in place with bungee cords. I have it rigged up to roll out on a framework so the wife and I can cover it without using ladders. Shoot me an e-mail if you want details. It works pretty well.
Roof leaks are a result of poor maintenance, or accident. Replace the caulk around your roof every couple of years and it will do it's job. There are many types of roofs on RV's and I won't go into that here and now.
Look at some RV forums, there is a wealth of information out there.
Hope this helps.

75% of my life in RV
I travel for extended periods of time for work and have a 42’ toy hauler fifth wheel (09) and maintanance has kept me breakdown free. (Think your house on wheels, similar upkeep). Generators are great for times you are in the middle of nowhere and want all of the comforts of home. You can outfit most fifth wheels to suit most any life style you want. In my opinion all parts break down when not used and maintained.

I love the ability to go anywhere and still have home close by, plus the mobility of my truck (pull vehicle). I can carry all sub 12’ kayaks and gear in the garage, longer than 12’ I have built a rack that mounts from the front of the truck to the front of the cab roof that has carried 17’ kayaks.

Now is a decent time to buy an RV as the economy has made most dealers ready to move units at pretty fair prices.

X’s 2 what Tom says
Jack L

Be sure to buy one named Predator or
Cheetah, or Gazelle. The name indicates whether it’s a Millenium Falcon or a slug.

Thanks to all for your help
With any luck, you’ll be able to see the decision this October or next at Rivendell, I mean Raystown.

Take care and have fun,