Category Archives: Events

We did it!

After months and months of research, countless hours of looking at RVs, planning out our budget, and lowering our expectations to fit our budget

We made the purchase!

On the 29th of September, we went to our local Camping World to look at a 1996 Itasca Suncruiser 37RW that was less than $9000. We had (very) low expectations, since that’s about 1/2 what similar coaches cost. When we arrived and asked to see it, the salesman warned us away from it, saying that they’d been told that it needed a new roof, and that there was water damage, and that it was headed to the auction within a couple of days. It was dirty. It was neglected. It had (small) water stains in a half-dozen places in the corners of the ceiling. It didn’t smell like mold – which was good – but the engine also made that “chuff chuff chuff chuff” sound that old Ford 460 V-8s make when they’ve been neglected for years, which was not good. They couldn’t get the slide to run, and the coach batteries were completely shot; but it was the 3’x 4′ soft spot on the roof that turned the deal from “Serious, but Doable Fixer Upper” to “No Sale”. That’s something I’d have been willing to tackle if this were April.

Replacing a roof isn’t difficult if you can haz YouTube, it is somewhat time-consuming if you’ve never done it before, but,

  1. I haven’t done it before.
  2. It’s October, not April.
  3. That soft spot indicates that I’d likely be replacing joists in addition to plywood and roof material.
  4. The roof on the ’96 Suncruiser is fiberglass, not EPDM or TPO. This complicates the repair based on YouTube Research.

We were overly frank with our Sales Guy Extraordinaire, Chris Donovan, and told him that we could afford to buy the Itasca for cash, but if that fell through we didn’t have too many other options, since the inventory at the various local Camping Worlds usually has a few ‘beaters’ in the 8k-14k range, then they jump up to 40k and up.

Chris suggested we go up the hill to the back lot (where they keep the clunkers) to look at a 2005 Four Winds Hurricane that they had ‘out back’ that he thought there was a decent chance we could get into if we loved it.

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Chris told us that a customer had brought it in as a trade-in, and while that deal was happening, a different customer managed to sideswipe it in the parking lot, sort of sealing the deal, and sticking Camping World with a unit that was a good coach, but wasn’t up to snuff for the front lot anymore. They were kind of sour on it. All fixed up, with all the options tallied (Optional Dual ducted A/C, 50A hookup, 19″ LCD vs. CRT, Bedroom window awning, fog lamps, 40k miles, etc.) it books at $34,172 – $41,169, but with the damage down the curbside they had it listed at $29,999, lowered to $26,999. We spent 20 minutes in a light drizzle going briefly over our checklist. The damage down the side was almost entirely cosmetic – two small pieces of trim missing around the wheel wells, one bent storage latch that still functioned, some light paint scrapes at the rear of the coach, and one storage area door that had two ugly gouges in it.

Oh, and they couldn’t get the slide to go in.

We offered $25,000.

Being that it was the end of the month (The Wisdom of the Internet says *always* shop at the end of the month, right? Apparently, the Sales Manager agrees…) They accepted. We put down $1000 ‘earnest money’ with the proviso that we hadn’t driven it yet, or been able to perform a thorough inspection on level ground, and if it failed either, the deposit was refundable. We arranged to pick the coach up on Saturday, October 4. That week was the second longest week I’ve ever had at work.

We got a call from Chris on Thursday the 3rd. The slide was going to require parts, and they wouldn’t be in until the following week. We rescheduled pick-up tentatively for late Friday the 10th or early Saturday the 11th. THAT week was the longest week I’ve ever had at work.

Friday afternoon, I did the walkthrough with Wally, our service guy and learned about all the systems. I’m really happy with the attention to detail that Wally brought to getting the coach ready for us. The bathroom faucet is new, since the existing faucet was leaking onto the countertop. He put new parts in the Hydraulic system as part of the Slide repair, and did a complete fluid flush. New 50A shorepower cord. Documented for us that all 6 tires had been replaced in 2012.
10 two-sided pages of my checklist later, there were only 4 things that still needed addressing, which I was pretty amazed with, considering the exceptional complexity of something that is both an automobile and a house at the same time.

Once those were documented on the Owed to Customer sheet, we paid the rest of our down payment, and signed the rest of the paperwork to make it ours. We drove it away Friday night, and Saturday morning, our plans to go to Saint Vrain State Park overnight fell through (but that’s a story for another post…)

The coach is currently at Camping World of Denver having the 4 outstanding issues addressed.

  1. One chip in each windshield. At something like $1200 each to replace them, the chips need to be addressed before they become cracks.
  2. The power driver’s seat moves up and down, but not forward and backward.
  3. The passenger’s seat will unlock and swivel, but will not re-lock once unlocked, and the plastic tab to unlock the swivel is *extremely* stiff and tight – to the point of having to use the secondary rod to unlock the swivel action.
  4. I’ve saved The Big Deal for last… The oven will not light at all, and one of the burners (right rear) will not light consistently. Wally and I managed to fill the coach pretty good with unburned propane at one point trying to get them to go. Part of the cause for this seems to be linked to the fact that the stove/oven control panel has an obvious hole “DIY” drilled by the Prior Owner next to the gas knobs. There’s apparently a small grub screw inside that hole, and nobody knows what it does. Obviously, I’d like the stove and oven (and all of the included safety features) to work exactly as described in the Gas Range user’s manual and that, generally speaking, means that the range should not have ragged holes of an unknown purpose drilled in it by a former owner.We’ll see how that goes.

That said…here, have some pictures!

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We’ll have more pictures once we get the coach back, for sure.

2014 Colorado RV Super Sale

Audrey and I went to the 11th Annual Colorado RV Super Sale at Mile High Stadium yesterday. We were supposed to get an early start and meet up with our internet friends Matt and his lovely wife, but they were there and gone before we managed to get on the road. It was in the mid 90’s, and probably hotter in the parking lot. Sadly, we didn’t get any of the afternoon clouds and thunderstorms that we’ve had for weeks, so it stayed hot and miserable – but there were some pretty awesome RV’s to inspect, and we did manage to find 4 or 5 things we want to follow up on.

Transwest Trucks in Frederick, CO

A 2009 Fleetwood Discovery 40X.

Their salesman said they’re looking to get it out the door for $128,000. Audrey and I both agree that it really, truly feels like a home to us.
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The black leather Euro-Chairs would go out the door on Craigslist, and would be replaced by at least one computer workstation. The dinette may or may not stay. Depends on how useful it turns out to be for working and eating both. We currently eat on the couch – that’s all the time we spend watching TV (and sitting on the couch) on any given day, so the dinette might become desk space, and a TV/computer workstation where the Euro-chairs are.

A 2014 Fleetwood Excursion 33A 

This is a new model, and it’s the last of them. They’re trying to get it out the door for (basically) what they have invested in it – $139,700. They didn’t have it on-site, but we’re going to look at it on Saturday.

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Although we haven’t seen the inside of this one in person yet, we did see a very similar Excursion 33D at the show (and Jason and Nikki Wynn have covered extensively) that we did like a lot.

One of the things that Transwest gets right – besides having sales people that are content to let you be to browse at your own speed – every time we’ve been to their location, and again at the stadium, they’ve got almost all of the units plugged in to shore power, and the air going. Even with the air going, it was hot in most of the coaches we looked at, and everything that was buttoned up went from being tolerable to being miserable quickly.

SO MANY AIRSTREAMS! 

OK, just 2 Airstreams…

…that were large enough for us to consider, both from Windish RV in Lakewood, CO

We noticed a couple of things about them – first, and this bit we really did like, is that new Airstreams are using materials, colors, and finishes inside that make them perfect for the person who wants to purchase decorating and living materials from IKEA. Second, if you’re buying brand new, IKEA is where you’ll be buying all your decorating and living materials to kit out your new travel trailer, because Airstreams are incredibly expensive. The Airstream 27FB that we were looking at was pushing $90,000. I found one tonight in California for $59,000 (pictured below). Hard to believe that it’s depreciated 1/3 of the new value in 2 model years.

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Ugh. This is why we’re skittish about buying new. A warranty is nice, but not as nice as saving $30,000 lost to depreciation!
We would seriously consider a used one if we hadn’t already made up our minds that we don’t want to tour the country in a pickup truck or SUV – If we show up at midnight, (or pull into a Bass Pro Shop or WalMart for the night) and it’s raining buckets, we want to be able to just go in back, get under the covers, and worry about jacks, and leveling, and plugging in, and all that jazz in the morning.

Camping World

2015 Winnebago 42QD

Camping World had a number of coaches that we really liked – that naturally were way out of our price range. Isn’t that the way these things go? Of course everyone LOVES the ‘stick and brick’ home that, if you optioned all the options they have on the model, then bought all the same furniture, would run $600k, right? Same with the coaches. The $300,000 Winnebago Tour that Camping World had set up as the first coach you’d see is a masterpiece of beauty. It’s really, really lovely. We both really like the materials and floorplan choices that Winnebago makes. How could you not love this?

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The thing that cannot be adequately captured with a camera is how wonderful the rear bath is on the 2015 Tour 42QD. It’s spacious, well laid out, and…just fantastic. (There I am, going on again about the room I spend the least amount of time in!)

Jayco Seneca (3 on display)

I really, really want to like the Jayco Seneca. Having an honest Freightliner truck cab up front is really, really cool.

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Unfortunately, the interior layouts of the ones they had on display are all pretty much terrible.

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What this view doesn’t show is the pinch points where the steps enter the coach, and again where you walk around the bed in the back. Both spots are very, very narrow. Even the older used Senecas we’ve looked at have had some fatal flaw in the floorplan. It’s a shame – as I said, I really want to like them.

Thor Palazzo 33.2

The Thor Palazzo 33.2 is one of my favorite coaches under 35′. (The other two being the Winnebago Forza/Itasca Solei 34T and the Fleetwood Excursion 33A/D). It’s got a great open floorplan, and room for a washer/dryer, which is a must have for us. They’re still new, so buying one used is out of reach for us, however.

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Looking Aft in the Thor Palazzo 33.2Looking Forward in the Thor Palazzo 33.2

Winnebago Vista 35Y

This is a New For 2015 floorplan, and Audrey and I both like it a lot. It’s the first floorplan that I’ve seen in a Class A where the kitchen doesn’t feel like a ‘tucked against the wall’ afterthought. The more I look at this coach, the more I like it. So, you’re going to get extra pictures of it.

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A REAL KITCHEN, and a bedroom with a Not Terrible window! I REALLY, REALLY like the Vista 36Y, but it’s BRAND NEW for 2015, so it’s prudent to let someone else take the bath on depreciation.

At this point, we’d made our way from the very southern end of the show, where Transwest was, to the very northern end. It was blazing hot, and the only water available was a small stand in the center, selling 16 oz bottles for $3, and only accepted cash. We passed it on the way down the lane, since we don’t carry cash anymore. Fortunately, there wasn’t a lot left that looked interesting to us. We did find one gem among all the travel trailers and enormous 5th wheels at the north end of the show.

2015 Dutchmen Denali 2445RL

What an adorable little ‘babby’ 5th wheel – GVWR is 10,860 pounds, which means that if you don’t load it down with 3939 pounds of crap, you could pull it with an (appropriately optioned) F-150.

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It’s also very similar to the Cougar 5er that Reddit user SiberianSF remodeled. Again, if we were considering driving a truck and not a single unit, I think we’d be all over this.

After this, we made our way back to the car, and headed out to…

CruiseAmerica

Four Winds Majestic 28a

…CruiseAmerica to look at their $20,000 Four Winds Majestic 28A Class C specials.

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It was very…basic. The sales guy had worked for the company for a long time, and had pretty good information on these coaches – little touches that are “renter friendly” (renters break shit) that you can see in the pictures, like the basic trim strips along the top and side of the dinette. They’re made that way because renters cut them, or burn them. Three screws and you can replace the damaged piece with a new one, without having to pull the whole dinette seat apart. Unfortunately, this also means that the Majestic 28A comes without things that a lot of other coaches do have, like an awning, slideouts, leveling jacks, etc. Some of that you can add, some would be cost-prohibitive (jacks, primarily), so you’ll have to kick it old school. The price is very, very, very hard to beat, especially after looking at coaches costing 4-15 times as much. We were sorely tempted to see if we could put $2200 down on the spot and pick the coach up in 3-5 weeks (standard delivery time).

The research I did on Friday turned up two camps of people.

  • People who do not, and would not own one, and hate them with a fiery passion.
  • People who did some due diligence, bought one, and love them (and the SCREAMING DEAL they got) with a fiery passion.

However, a $22,000 impulse buy is not something I’d ever recommend.

The Salesman said that they’ll be out of 2008’s this week, and then they’ll start selling 2009s for about $25,000. I don’t know that those will be the 28′ coaches, though. RVTrader shows the 2009 28a’s being about 32k. If the 2009s are indeed going to be 32k, then I think we’ll look out of state at a former El Monte RV rental that’s being pulled out of service, since the prices will be more or less comparable, but the El Monte coaches, from what I’ve seen, do have things like slides and levelers.

We’ll see what the folks at Transwest have to say on Saturday.