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Searching For a Travel Machine

April 23, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, we drove 225 miles to Nacogdoches, Texas to look at a 24 foot Class C motorhome. It wasn’t bad, but didn’t have the engine I want, and Nell wasn’t thrilled with the outside appearance. There was also some water damage in the overhead bunk area. The dealer said he had fixed it, but we’re always pretty shy about whether it’s really fixed, and just how much damage is there that we can’t see. We did crank the engine, and it sounded good. But neither I nor the dealer had confidence that the Chevy 350 engine would tow the Honda CR-V over mountain passes.

Yesterday, we drove 100 miles to Camping World in New Braunfels to look at a 27 foot Class C. These are long drives, but we’re finding that smaller Class C’s are few and far between, so when we stumble onto one, we have to take a look. Once again, we  proved that photos just simply don’t tell the story. This 1993 rig didn’t look bad at all in the photos, but the interior was pretty worn. The seats and sofa were fine, but the walls would need considerable work. Still, it looked like something we could deal with. Then we did a closer inspection of the exterior and found some serious caulking and fiberglass repair along the seams. It wasn’t done very cleanly, and our enthusiasm went away very quickly. We just don’t have the workspace, the tools, nor the expertise to handle that kind of renovation, and again, who knows what kind of water damage is under there?

We’re okay with a bit of a fixer-upper as far as cosmetic items are concerned. We can handle sandpaper and paint and replacing some things. But I’m not a mechanic and just have a simple collection of hand tools. I’m also not in the mood to crawl around under a truck anymore. The fact that this rig was way out on the back lot with others to be wholesaled out, and that they didn’t seem to have a key to start it with, pretty much ended the matter.

So the search continues. Armed with some good advice, we’re looking for something between 24 and 27 feet (preferable not over 26). We’re not excited about the corner  bed that comes in most of these, and would prefer to find one with twin beds, or a sofa and dinette that can be made into single beds. (At our age, the easier it is to get up in the middle of the night without climbing over each other, the better.) We’re also hoping to find one on a Ford Chassis, with a Ford 450 engine.

We won’t be carrying the same full-timer’s load as in the past, so that should give us a lighter rig to start with, but I do want peace of mind when towing the Honda through mountains.

Our hope is to find a reliable mechanic somewhere near here, and to have the mechanical parts of the rig looked at closely: engine, transmission, brakes, etc. Every rig we’ve bought has been used, but the older the rig, the more we want to have it checked out.

Finding a rig is easy, but we’re trying to keep it under $10k and within reasonable driving distance. And that makes the search more complicated.

It’s out there.  We just have to find it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2015 2:48 pm

    Ralph – check out PPL in Houston – A+ – class act consignment dealer.

    • April 23, 2015 5:39 pm

      Richard, we’re very familiar with PPL. We’ve sold 2 motorhomes an bought the fiver we’re living in with them. We check them almost daily. We’d love to buy the next one from them. Thanks!

  2. April 24, 2015 12:41 pm

    Thanks for the thumbs up on ppl richard (and ralph), I have been watching them too, hadnt read any reviews on the dealer itself yet.
    I have a very similar dilemma (and am also a painter). Smaller Class C’s are definitely hard to come buy (and judging by prices, the sellers know it). Funny though, I AM looking for a corner bed, and DON’T want to have to fold down a table to sleep on. My bad back likes crawling over a beautiful woman better than dropping down a table). 🙂 I want the bed over the cab to store paint stuff if there (or occasional children visitors)…
    I’ve been looking for something under 24′. I’m curious as to how you come up with the 24-27′ range (as it seems just a little too big to park, and a little too small to be “roomy”) I understand everyone has their needs, likes and preferences, but what made you focus in on this size?
    Maybe we should communicate more often: I’ll let you know when I find a good one that is too big, and you can let me know if you find a good one with a corner bed) 🙂
    I’m pretty picky in my old age, and in no rush, so I’ve passed a couple really nice rigs that would have fit your specs well. It seems most of the best deals, are on the side of the road somewhere, and NOT listed on the internet.

    • April 24, 2015 1:22 pm

      Scott, we intend to use the overhead bed for painting materials as well, and also for show/market equipment (assuming little or no basement storage). We’ve looked at Road Trek and other Class B rigs, but they aren’t going to carry our show stuff. We also want to tow a car, because we expect to be on the road occasionally for several weeks at a time, and anything smaller than 24′ would be cramped for the two of us, especially if we park for days at a time and travel for weeks at a time. It’s just a size range that keeps Nell happy for space and me happy because it’s still not like driving a bus.

      • April 24, 2015 1:48 pm

        Gotcha. Thanks. If momma aint happy, aint nobody happy.
        I spent some time in a couple vans and a class B in my past (by myself), which were cramped, but do-able (at one point I had a little 4×6 trailer for excess stuff). Now I got a momma too, and that aint gonna fly (women require a shower I guess, who knew?) 😉
        So all of the class C’s seem like a mansion to me, I have this constant paranoia about missing some cool place to camp because I couldn’t get there because of the size of my rig (I know that’s real, there’s been many places I camped “normal” people wouldn’t take a van to). I can definitely relate to the “bus” comment, I guess there is a reason there are 67,498 different models and floorplans of RV’s. Sometimes it feels like it might be easier to buy a rig and build one, but like you said, “it’s out there. We just have to find it”. Good luck, thanks for sharing, love reading your posts.

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