Thinking about a Bus/RV

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Ted DuPuis, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    In another thread I made reference to the idea for a future bus project, to which Spike said:

    Some background. I've been thinking about a bus/RV for a long time, but the right time has not happened yet. I've never gone camping (when has never done something stopped me before?) but the appeal of a large RV has been there for traveling the country. Laurie and I have thought that, at some point in the future, we'd want an RV to enable some of the traveling we want to do with our kids and see some of the places we want to see.

    We're thinking that now may be a good time to get our feet wet with the idea as circumstances over the next year may be positive for travel with the kids. Long term, I'd really like to redecorate our own (or maybe we do that now, at least to some extent). But short term, buying something usable with minimal work required to get operational for our specs.

    We specifically want an RV if we do this, Class A. Not a camper. Big reason for that is that although I have a perfect tow vehicle, with the 5 of us, being crammed in the truck going down the road simply won't be fun. Also, part of the motivation for this is that we may opt to home school our kids this year due to what's going on with our local school district (they are trying and we like them, but we are not convinced they will make a good program for the year given the circumstances). So we would need a platform that would allow for rolling (literally) education.

    We have 3 kids (twin girls are 5, boy is 7).

    I never go small on much of anything. 40' seems to be the way to go, bigger potentially. It seems like none of the Class As out there actually have setups from the factory for a place for the kids to sleep, which is a bit of an issue given that we have 3 of them. How do people who've done this handle it?

    Bus conversions are really appealing to me, specifically coach conversions because of the large luggage area underneath. Of course some of that is taken up by a generator, water storage, etc., but it seems like the RVs have less storage in this regard. Maybe I'm wrong.

    To me a diesel pusher is a must, but I'm open to the idea of a gasser for the initial purchase.

    Prevost and MCI conversions have the most appeal to me, especially the Prevosts. They seem to be the highest quality. However, realistic budget for this would be let's say $50k or less, and I think that there's not much you can buy in that range. Yes, older is fine, but it can't be a junker since we'd be looking for something that would be usable as-is.

    This is a short and fairly vague first post, but I'm curious for input.
     
  2. Tampico Trauma

    Tampico Trauma Line Up and Wait

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    .... A is the only way to go. There are a few bunkhouse models at the top of your budget. Typically, the ACE models have a bunkhouse plan, but they’re all V-10 gassers. Build quality comes into play as well.... a lot of the newer models have very poor build quality.

    We really wanted a bunkhouse for our girls (almost 9 and almost 3) but settled on a standard setup. It works well. But we went older for a variety of reasons, and ended up with an embarrassingly ugly, yet functional Winnebago Itasca Suncruiser.

    MCI’s are nice, but a lot of conversions were done on chassis that were retired for valid reasons, same with 180% of all schoolies.

    If I were looking at any of them, I’d suggest looking at the Newmar’s based on build quality.

    Also, fly to AZ and hit the end of summer deals before the snowturds return.


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  3. Tampico Trauma

    Tampico Trauma Line Up and Wait

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    [mention]sferguson524 [/mention] just bought him a really nice THOR in Havasu.


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  4. gkainz

    gkainz Final Approach

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    My wife’s uncle bought a Prevost (45’, I believe) maybe 10 years ago, 1 year used then. I think he paid well over $1MM then.

    Most class A we’ve looked at over the years are configured for no kids or maybe 1 kid.

    When we camped with our kids, We had a truck camper, HiLo pop up, and a 27’ class C. After the last kid moved out, we now have a 27’ 5th wheel trailer. I was shopping for another truck camper when my wife fell in love with the 5th wheel, so here we are. We’ve had this one for 10 years and are considering upgrading to something maybe a couple of feet longer.

    I’ve continued to look at toy haulers, in order to make it easier to bring ATVs but nothing in the shorter rigs have enough living space that’s not a garage to fit our wants. 40’ separate garage units accomplish that, but a lot of camping/RVing places we go won’t handle a 40’.
     
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  5. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    We’re looking used no matter what. If we went with a Prevost we’d be looking 80s or early 90s, one that still has the 2-stroke Detroit diesel rather than the Series 60.

    The thing to note is that for the mission we’re looking at, it’s less about camping and more about having a house during the transit, if that makes sense. Yes we’d end up doing some camping too, but a camper means that we’re all still stuck in the truck during the drive, kids annoying us, and there’s no good way for them to do any activities on the way. All depends on your wants of course, for us we think the RV fits that better.

    But the lack of a good sleeper setup for the kids is an issue they seem to all have. I’ve not seen any that carved out bunks for the kids, even though they all seem to have a master bedroom and it seems like plenty of campers have bunks.
     
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  6. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Id really pay attention to the places you want to actually travel to. Many places can't fit a 40-45' class A, so you end up hanging out in Walmart parking lots or big RV lots that are a good bit away from the national parks and such that you actually want to see. Sometimes that 35' might be a better choice just to be parked at the destination rather than 30 minutes away.

    I would recommend renting a couple and getting out different sizes to see what you really need.
     
  7. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    We are really glad we bought a quality top of the line motorhome. (NEWMAR) Mountain aire

    You can't do a bus conversion as well as a ready made.
     
  8. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    2000- Newmar
     

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  9. FORANE

    FORANE Pattern Altitude

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  10. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    You’re missing the point! This is Ted, driving an unruly or difficult to drive ( for most people) diesel vehicle is what Ted is after.(1) Driving the bus is his jam, the family having spread out room for education and relaxation while traveling is their jam.

    (1) If he found an old manual transmission bus all the better.
     
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  11. gkainz

    gkainz Final Approach

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    Hey Ted, I do get your point about RVing FS camping. When our 3 kids were home, our class C was the best fit for us for traveling, with plenty of room for them to stay entertained and not feel confined. It also had adequate sleeping options.
     
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  12. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    You hit the nail on the head Bill. In a perfect world I’d swap in a 12V71 or 3406B with a 13-speed out of a semi. The even better part about that swap is the shift pattern would be inverted. So right to left instead of left to right, making it even harder to drive. ;)
     
  13. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I’ve not been able to find any good RV rentals around here. One of my friends rented a 32’ gasser class A locally. I do agree with the premise just not sure if it’s practical, like renting larger twins or turboprops.
     
  14. rtk11

    rtk11 Pattern Altitude

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    I've been lookin on and off at RVs (my wife keeps saying "no.") The problem with large RVs is that you're not going to be able to go to some of the national parks as they may have length limits (like the parks out west such as Yosemite.) And in a bus-like RV, that will be your only transportation unless you're towing a vehicle to drive around in.

    I started thinking travel trailer, but then the idea of a Class B or "Class B+" van really resonated. Some are quite nice and can sleep 4 or 5 with bunks. But are either 19 or 24 feet long and can be used as a daily driver (especially the 19' ones if desired) and can easily go into most parks. With the newer ones on lithium batteries and second alternator (2021 Winnebago Revel for instance) you don't need a generator and can run everything off the coach batteries. Coachman has lithium and a 12v air conditioner that will run the AC for 10 hours off the coach batteries, and 3 hours of driving will fully recharge the batteries (or the solar panels will do it, but at a much slower rate.)

    I like the Revel, but am toying with the idea of a used Roadtrek Adventurous (24') or Agile SS (19') and retrofitting the Xantex lithium battery system, switching to a 12v ProAir air conditioning system and compressor driven refrigerator, adding solar to the roof, and removing the propane system. My wife rolls her eyes and still says "no." She'll break down eventually. She did with the airplane purchase... :p
     
  15. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    1. Super C Bunkhouse

    2. Band touring bus
     
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  16. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A bus is a tight squeeze in many places. If it were me, I'd go for a Mercedes Sprinter conversion, and those can be had in up to seven place configurations. I think Ted just wants a bus so he can hear two stroke diesel noise.
     
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  17. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I think @Ted DuPuis needs a bus from Colorado Springs, CO. ;)
     
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  18. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    5th wheel and motorhome,, doesn't come close to a comparison. my coach drives easier than my jeep, and no truck.
    set up in heavy rain is a matter of push a button. auto level, extension of the slide is another button. the only thing I'd like is comfort drive.
     
  19. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    We never hear my diesel. and we never know the jeep is there.
     
  20. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    See, now Ted is probably throwing his arms up in frustration and screaming 'fuggetaboutit then!'
     
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  21. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    Ours is a 40' and I parallel park it. ( when the jeep is not here) then we put it on the trailer, that's the only draw back - no back up with the jeep on. I have only had to drop the jeep once.
     
  22. Hman442

    Hman442 Filing Flight Plan

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    I've heard that a lot of RV parks now have a limit on the age of the RV that can stay there, as in, if your RV is over 10 years old, you can't stay. I'm not certain how widespread this rule is, but it'd be worth checking into before a fellow buys an older RV.

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  23. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    most camps have pull thrus
     

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  24. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    nope, they want your money. insurance is another story.

    they have a hard time telling how old we are.
     
  25. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    older M/H have trouble finding parts just like aircraft. I suggest that one stay with the better known manufactures the best of the bunch will be 2000 thru 2008, after that they Emission and they require DEF


    Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is an emissions control liquid required by modern diesel engines. It is injected into the exhaust stream. DEF is never added to diesel fuel. It is a non-hazardous solution of 32.5% urea in 67.5% de-ionized water. DEF is clear and colorless, and looks exactly like water.
     
  26. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    like any major purchase, what is your budget?
     
  27. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    I have to see a camp ground that would not take us..

    That said, many national forest were develops during the 1930s and reflect the era. This why have the jeep, scouting :)
     
  28. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I’ve heard that age rule but I’ve also heard that so long as you tell them it’s under 10 and it looks good, nobody cares. I’m sure that’s a “Your mileage may vary” thing.
     
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  29. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I should look up those photos and specs again and maybe shoot her an offer.
     
  30. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    we are coming up 20 years 70,000 miles with the m/h, never regret buying the 40'

    in my opinion a bunkhouse would be perfect.
    with our M/H it is 6 for drinks, 4 for dinner, 2 over night. but the couch does fold out for 2 more.
    with all the kids, I would looks for a 45' trans axel, finding a bunkhouse might a problem.
    Best to have, spartan chassis, Cummins 8.3 L or larger,
     
  31. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    I'm sure that is the case. no campground wants the junk hanging around.

    we have passed camp grounds because they don't look good.

    There is no problem with staying at Wally-world we do that often, but choose wisely :)

    and alway ask, the manager.
     
  32. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    conversions are really appealing to me, specifically coach conversions because of the large luggage area underneath. Of course some of that is taken up by a generator, water storage, etc., but it seems like the RVs have less storage in this regard. Maybe I'm wrong.[/QUOTE]
    just saying :)

    our generator is up front (7.5KW) we only have 50 hours on it, overnight we have enough batteries to carry the power.

    our basement is 8' wide, 12' long, 36" tall. in 3 compartments
     
  33. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Nice ride, Tom!
     
  34. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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  35. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    We think so. :)
     
  36. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    When the kids were young and we lived 4hrs from anywhere, I was looking into getting one of the Sprinter based RVs just for travel. Not so much to stay, more to have a bathroom and a changing table.
     
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  37. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    Yosemite has been up dated with a huge parking lot, we had no problem.

    we have done all the national parks and the one we would not go to is the Grand Canyon.
    It is better to take the train ride. (fun day)
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2020
  38. rtk11

    rtk11 Pattern Altitude

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    North rim might be able to accommodate a longer RV. The problem with the South Rim is the 40 mile slog to the Grand Canyon following all sorts of other vehicles doing 40mph... so it takes at least an hour of seeing nothing but mesa and brush just to get to the park entrance.

    Agreed on the train out of Williams - more relaxing and more to see. Or fly in to the airport the Grand Canyon.
     
  39. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    The day we done it was beautiful, 75 degrees sunny. but it was crowded they were allowing 1 car in as 1 left. 3 hour wait..
    the campgrounds were beautiful, and right at the train station. they even have a doggy motel.:)
     
  40. GaryM

    GaryM Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Does anyone know of an RV driving school that provides the RV? Specifically a 5th wheel and truck?

    My wife's dream is to spend a good chunk of a year when we retire touring the US in an RV. We agree a 5th wheel makes the most sense for us. She would like the biggest one possible, but is willing to limit to 34' since that is the max size allowed at many national parks. That's still a fair sized rig.

    Problem is, she gets carsick if anyone but her is driving, so she'd be the principle operator. And she's never driven anything bigger than a small SUV. I grew up on a farm, so I've some familiarity with what a pain in the butt driving a tractor trailer combination can be, especially when you're learning.

    We agree an RV driving school makes sense, and there are a fair number of them around the country, but every one that I've found requires that you bring your RV, whereas I really want her to take the class BEFORE we decide on what size we're buying. And I've not found anything for rent around here bigger than a 26' Class C.
     
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