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Author Topic: RV (as an industry) Quality Re: Introduce Yourself!  (Read 740 times)
ron.dittmer
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« on: July 01, 2012, 11:22:29 pm »

Hi Dave (and Peg),

Main question gas or diesel?

Boy this topic has seen many miles on many forums, this because it is a very good question.  I can only offer a personal opinion.

When it comes to economics, I feel chassis selection depends on how many miles a motor home gets driven annually.  We own a 2007 PC-2350, built on a 2007 E350-V10.  With 17,000 miles today, we average 3500 miles per year.  Doing the math, we spend roughly $400 more on fuel per year than if we owned a Sprinter.  Considering elevated annual maintenance costs of a Sprinter, the extra expense of $400 is reduced to at least $300, likely more.  So people like us dont drive enough to justify the added cost to purchase and own a Sprinter.

Regarding trade-in and resale, it seems linear.  You spent $12,000 more and get back that difference when reselling the rig.  Nothing gained, nothing lost.  There is the love & comfort factor with the Mercedes motor home, of which some people simply feel better about.  But that does not sell a used Phoenix Cruiser 2350 on a Sprinter any easier given the higher price tag to go with it.

Dave, you already know much of this.  I am simply confirming your thoughts.  The only thing I question is your fuel economy figures.  My E350 (not towing) averages just over 10 mpg, and just over 9 mpg when towing our 4300 pound Jeep Liberty.  This with top speeds near 70 mph.  We dont travel 55 mph given our limited vacation time.  People who track their Sprinter-V6 diesel 2350s have noted averaging around 14 mpg when not towing.  That is a 40% improvement.  I think people who say they get 18 mpg are taking snap shots of a days journey across the Great Plains.  Not trip averaging.  If I am incorrect, then I appologize, someone please correct me.  My E350 not towing will get 13 mpg doing 55 mph on the flats with no head wind, but that does not represent reality.

There are many debates on which chassis (E350 or Sprinter) is better suited for the task of motor-homing, and I wont go there in this post.  I will say that its all about trade-offs.  Each has pros & cons.

We tow the Jeep Liberty on all our vacations, usually 3 weeks at a time.  This is another reason why the motor home has fewer driven miles.  The places we go, mainly to national parks & monuments, the motor home would be difficult or impossible to park at some scenic pull-offs and trail heads.  Also, the 4x4 of the Liberty is used on day trips where a motor could never go.  Its really nice to leave home at the campsite, all setup waiting for our return.  We just keep a cooler in the Jeep and enjoy our extreme mobility.  If we find a day excursion better to have the RV with us, then we leave the Jeep at the campsite.  Places like Disney World is real nice to have the motor home waiting in the lot, a place to rest mid-day.

As far as PC quality is concerned, you won't find anyone here with a bad thing to say about that.  With that said there is no such thing as a "perfect" motor home made by anyone, and I think anyone who has owned any type of RV would agree.  PCs are designed & engineered quite well to take the punishment of the road, and workmanship is ranked high.  There is also something to say about general size.  The smaller, the stronger.  A small cardboard box is stronger than a big cardboard box made of the same cardboard.  It's the law of nature.  PC's are made lower and narrower than most other brands which helps in it's strength and integrity.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2012, 11:32:00 pm by ron.dittmer » Logged

Ron Dittmer (wife Irene) 2007 Model 2350 Without A Slideout
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davec1000
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2012, 11:31:39 pm »

Thanks Kevin,

I didn't inspect the PC as thoroughly as you did.  I have watched the construction videos of both the CH and the PC and was impressed with both.  However, they only show you what they want you to see.  I'm glad you thought the PC was the equal of, if not better than the CH.

Yes, diesel is more than gas, but it's 30-40% more efficient, so I read.  The price gap seems to be narrowing.  Psychologically I think it's easier to fill a tank with diesel, knowing that you are getting better mileage and that the engine will last a lot longer.  Whether it makes financial sense is another question.  And how often do we make decisions with our hearts rather than our heads?

You had a good idea about towing, which we had talked about but forgotten:  Take some trial runs with and without a toad, and see what feels right.

Dave
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davec1000
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2012, 03:37:33 pm »

Ron,
Thanks for the info.  I like your cardboard box analogy.  I'd never thought of it that way, but it makes sense.  My wife and I had commented to a salesman on the overall lack of quality we were seeing in a particular manufacturers RV we were looking at.  He made a comment to the effect that these were homes on wheels, subject to a lot of motion and we could expect some problems.  Peg and I just looked at each other in disbelief.  This was a brand new motor home we were in, and a cabinet door had already fallen off it's hinges.  We were assured that they would "make it right" if we bought the unit.  Right.

I've pretty much decided on the Ford chassis, as much as I love the MB.  Expense, carrying capacity, extra cost, maintenance cost, service availability all factor into the decision.  We probably won't order until after the New Year, we need to get a few more ducks in a row first.  I'll continue to follow your posts, as well as those from the others here.  There is a lot of good information in this forum and people seem genuinely satisfied with their PCs. 

And since this is the Fourth of July, I'll wish everyone a safe and happy holiday.

Dave
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2012, 09:29:23 pm »

My wife and I had commented to a salesman on the overall lack of quality we were seeing in a particular manufacturers RV we were looking at.  He made a comment to the effect that these were homes on wheels, subject to a lot of motion and we could expect some problems.
Actually that salesman's is speaking "truth" by me.  Just imagine a regular house with aluminum siding being shaken as much as a motor home does over the years, a not so rediculous comparison, especially when the entry level motor homes are constructed nearly the same way.  Some manufactures have gotten better over the years, even a few lower end models have replaced RV aluminum siding with single sheets of flat-stock fiberglass, and the 2x2 lumbered walls & roofs made with steel and/or aluminum joists & rafters.  Kitchen cabinets are kitchen cabinets, made no different from what I can tell.  Low grade cabinets in an entry level motor home compare to the same low grade house cabinets.

With that said, our PC is holding up extremely well including cabinets & their doors and all the rest, most importantly outdoor related.  And I think most other PC owners here will have similar stories with higher mileage rigs.  I don't recall needng to tighten up anything yet in the 17,000 miles we've driven.  Oh wait, I did have to replace some screws that hold the entry door frame to the wall.  I even shared my experience HERE.  This is why RVers always carry a tool box, usually over-stuffed with tools and repair supplies combined.
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2012, 11:02:50 pm »

Ron,
Knowing that an RV is going to Rock 'N Roll down the road it would be nice if the engineers would spend a little more time and money on design and construction rather than giving it over to the marketers who only seem to care about the flash and the bling.  I know, I know, flash and bling sell.

If the cabinetry is subject to the stress of vibration and torque why not design it to be able to tolerate those forces.  I would think boat builders have had to deal with the same problems, and the consequences of failure in a boat can be much more deadly.  Maybe construction with some kind of dampening or isolation from the frame, with some built in flexion to allow for motion.  I don't know, I'm not an engineer, not even a decent carpenter, but the problem doesn't seem insurmountable.  I would happily live with one-piece molded fiberglass cabinetry if that would solve the problem.  Might not be the prettiest.  I think the manufacturers are still stuck in the "grandma" mindset, where the RV has to look like my grandmother's living room or it won't sell.  That is slowly changing.  Anything more modern is now called "Euro", but it doesn't mean the quality has improved, just the skin.  The possibilities for some radical thinking are evident in some of the one-off designs you can see, but hardly any of them ever make it to a real product.  I think there is far too much timidity in the industry and I can hardly blame them, coming off a recession that killed off a great many of them. But the generation coming up behind me, you might call them the iPod generation, expect innovation and quality.  If you want to sell them an RV you'd better not show them shoddy workmanship and insipid design and expect them to buy it.

End of rant, signing off now.

Dave

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bigbadjc
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2012, 08:33:01 am »

I think we all know why RVs are built the way they are and ride the way they do.  Largely because they're already pricy, and would be unattainable for most of us if they really built them to the standards you're suggesting.  First of all, because of their size they are built on some form of truck chassis.  There's a good reason for the old saying "it rides like a truck."  As Ron and others have written, you can greatly improve the ride with sway bars, steering stabilizers, heavy duty shocks, and other improvements that would add many bucks to the price.  I suspect that some of the best RVs ever made were either full size bus conversions or the all metal AirStreams.  Fiberglass has a lot of things going for it, but high strength and the ability to withstand inpact and flexing aren't high on the list.  Also, when you make products for the masses, you cater to what the masses want.  The innovative products are out there, but in smaller volumes and higher prices.  RVs are not a market that has high profit potential.  Ford, Dodge, and GMC used to all make motorhomes.  They don't anymore.  Quality sells, but only if it's cheap.  I frequently drive past the Foretravel factory in Nacogdoches Texas and am sure I could get a wonderful RV there if I had the money.

As for the iPod generation, the users want quality sound and a little bling in the appearance, but don't worry as much about things like the ability to change batteries by the owner.  There is a huge market in refurbished iPods which are some testimony to their durability.

We've had everything from a VW camper van to a popup trailer to a small Class A to a Leisure Travel van camper and a couple of other B/C units before the PC.  They all had good points and bad points, but none of them were perfect.

Jerry
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2012, 10:43:40 am »

You summed it up very well Jerry.
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aimee
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2012, 01:31:15 pm »

Nobody's in trouble here and it wasn't really "off topic" but it did seem like an interesting discussion that the rest of the group might like to get in on so I split it.

I will say that as my dad has been selling RV's since 1984 when I was 10, and since I have a couple other RV manufacturer/dealer clients, I have seen my fair share of RV quality issues.  Included in these are some of the newer "concept RV's" that are unibody, some that are newer ones made with no wood anywhere in them, and some of them are just in general "new ideas" introduced by younger engineers and CEO's.  I won't give you the brand, but I will say that I had to help a dealer format photos of damage a couple of units received just in being driven to dealership.  There was considerable rain damage when they arrived, counters that had pulled from the wall but also pulled the wall with it, causing bulges, beds whose hinges ripped out so they couldn't be lifted, and a refrigerator door that was only being held on by one hinge.

Obviously there's a lot of room for improvement in the RV industry, but let's not discount the decades of trial and error technology that has gone into giving us the units we have today.
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2012, 04:55:13 pm »

To those of you that have lived  through an earthquake and have seen the damage that they inflict on a stationary building, then you can visualize what is happening to your RV while traveling on the road.  I look at it as being subjected to a continual earthquake and the roadbed we are traveling over can be graded on the Richter scale.  Some highways are fairly smooth being a one and with others being catastrophic to our RV's like a 7 or 8. The better the construction the more they are able to survive the "earthquake".  I find the PC construction to be more survivable then a lot of units on the road.
    Bob  
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2012, 09:50:17 pm »

well....as i was reading the above - or below - my enfeebled heat soaked brain thingy thought it remembered some squished hockey puckish widgets twixt frame & body Grin Grin Grin no, not those rolling on the floor  rolling on the floor  rolling on the floor  that are placed for our comfort Wink Wink Wink - again not those.....guess i'll just have to find & shrink a pic (proof that I really have been below the water line.  Oh Wink Wink Wink our son - grad school, Pensacola etc - has learned, well no experienced, what really big puddles can do to a car,.  Being from northern Michigan, yes Frank I know we are trolls, he is used to snow, ice, mud, slush & normal sandy soil drainage puddles.  As in a big one is an inch.  Well, sad Pensacola ate his car & stuffed his engine full of water....oh, the pic, shrunk as per boss lady
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Frank
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2012, 01:33:17 pm »

Sorry to hear the bad news Kev, Tell your son to apply for transfer to the
U.P. where the weather is always wonderful!
Well, the truth is, the weather is unusual, as usual.
Frank
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