WHO IS WRITING THIS BLOG
I am a 75 year old senior, former teacher, former social worker, former human resources manager former multimedia business company owner. AND most importantly I have lived full time in an RV for 18+ years. (I also lived on boats for another 10 years before RVs, but that is another story!)
It is important to note that we do not work for an RV dealership or represent anyone’s products. We promise you that you will never see a recommendation for a product or a link to an RV solution on these pages, that has not personally been used and tested by us as to its value and worthiness.
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Understanding just a bit of our history living in RVs full time may help you to understand why we are authoring this blog and lend some credibility to our discussions, advice and recommendations.
I have lived in a total of 8 different RVs over the past 18 years or so.
New Casita 17 foot Spirit Deluxe Travel Trailer
Our first RV. We lived in this only for a short time traveling out west. We bought it new and it was an excellent value. It towed like it wasn’t there and was incredibly cozy. Obviously it was not designed as a full time live aboard though, as the bathroom/toilet/shower/sink was tiny and it had next to no storage. Flawless in design, however, it was incredibly compact and reliable, It was our transition from living on boats for years. Sold it 5 years later for nearly what we paid for it.
New Arctic Fox 25 foot Travel Trailer
This was my first full time live aboard RV. It was around 2004. My mistake in its purchase was that being naive to the world of RV sales persons, I ended up paying way too much for it new. I also allowed the the sales person to convince me that my tow vehicle could handle pulling this rather heavy trailer. I had a new Jeep Cherokee at the time, but this was before trailers started being built with really light materials. I was convinced that i really didn’t want any slides as they were still kinda new technology and i didn’t want to have issues. Right away I had leaking problems in the rear window bedroom. Monitoring and resealing your RV is an ongoing task and is incredibly important. You can read my tips on this here.(link to come)
New 2003 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 37 Gas Class Motorhome
I lived in the Arctic Fox trailer for several month. I realized after only one little adventure, that hooking this heavy trailer up to my Jeep was really difficult for one person, and the jeep really strained to tow it especially up any grade. The trailer, as is the nature of nearly all “bumper pulls” had very little storage space . Even though i was embracing the “less stuff is better” mantra, I still needed a bit more space for a few mementos.
So off I went and bought my first gas motorhome. When I think back on it, i was so naive back then. I did hardly any research, and ended up being dazzled by the room on this two slide motorhome, and how easy it was to drive and handle. I had lots of windows which made it seem even bigger than the rather dark Arctic Fox and it had way more storage.
But once again, I soon realized that I had made another mistake. My first adventures in the Pace Arrow towing my Jeep Wrangler were disappointing. No power! Going up hills was embarrassing as even large loaded trucks were passing me by. It was also a bit scary going down hills also, as the down shifting was really noisy. As with a gas motorhome, the engine was right next to me.
Another aspect of the Pace Arrow also really turned me off. It was very poorly made and finished. I learned so many lessons from this purchase. One of the biggest is to thoroughly inspect, even a new RV. Look behind drawers, the back of cabinets, behind dashboards, and in the engine compartment. Open all the bay doors, and look above. If all these “out of sight” areas are a mess with sawdust, screws missing, trim poorly fastened, wires in rats nests etc, my opinion is that this is an indicator of poor quality standards. It is really important to remember that an RV is a small house constantly in an earth quake as it goes down the road. Things are going to shake loose, it is to be expected. But if build quality is poor and shoddy to begin with…
I will be talking much more about this and tips on how monitoring and maintaining your RV can be fun and very satisfying.
New 2005 Newmar DutchStar 40ft Diesel Class A Motorhome
At this point in my RV buying career, I finally started to do my homework! I had learned a whole lot of things to look ourt for. Researching experiences that others have had with certain brands helped me much more intelligently choose my next full time home. I had heard a lot of very good things about Newmar Motorhomes and when i discovered a dealer somewhat close to me in Northern California, I decided to pay a visit and really closely inspect this product. The bottom line is that I bought this Newmar Dutchstar and although it was a really stretch budget-wise, I rightly decided that it was my home and it was worth it. The motorhome wasn’t perfect, but it was generally very well built and incredibly comfortable and roomy. The diesel was flawless, quiet and loaded with power. I will talk more about this later.
New 2008 Carriage Cameo Fifth Wheel
The Dutchstar was a wonderful home and i had many adventures in it including driving all the way to Nappanee Indiana from San Diego to have all the sidewalls replaced. There was a defect in the paint and gelcoat used in manufacture, so Newmar agreed to replace both sides of the motorhome, a huge project. They even paid for the cost of my driving there and put me up in a guest house.
I was ready for a change after a couple of years and the very large payment, which was a challenge from the beginning, started to take its toll. I was in business for myself at the time and I decided to make a radical change and go back to a trailer again. I should add, and I elaborate more in the the Choosing Your RV Post, Fifth Wheels are very different from the typical bumper pull in many ways. My payment was less than half that of the motorhome even with the purchase of a new diesel truck to tow it with. The quality of this trailer was very good, i requested dual pane windows, an essential for Oregon, where I was living. It was very homey and the layout was great. Storage was amazing, and items were very easy to get to as the main storage was under the bedroom. I remember that my one major mistake with this RV was leaving the black water flush on and inadvertently closing the black water valve instead the gray water. I blew the sensor off the tank, soaking all the insulation under the trailer with sewage. Pretty awful!! A great local RV place in Tucson, Arizona repaired it more me no problem.
Used 1996 37ft Beaver Monterey Diesel Pusher Motorhome
The Cameo fifth wheel real served me well in the years that I adventured in it. I had very few if any issues and I grew to really love the layout. The bedroom was up a few stairs, with a fully contained bath to the right in the hallway on the way. The bedroom had this amazing window, with a little window seat where you could look out at your new world. The one thing I disliked, however. is inherent in trailering and that was the vehicle you were stuck with when you wanted to explore. In this case it was a large, 2500 Dodge Diesel truck.
As a result, i sold the fifth wheel on Craigs List, which i have had enormous luck with over the years. Once again the purchase of a motorhome appealed to me. Being stuck with a large, guzzling vehicle for exploring bothered me and I loved the idea once again of just putting away a couple of things, hitching up the car and turning the key to take off. There is also the convenience of being able to just pulling off into a rest area and using the bathroom with out going out side. I also dreamed of having no RV payment for the first time.
So I came across an older, 1996 Beaver Motorhomes with no slides. In case you might not be familiar with the Beaver line, it was known for its high end motorhomes which were built in Oregon from 1968 to 1994. Later it became Safari from 1994 to 2000. The company has since ceased to exist but there are still many of its beautiful coaches out there for sale. Some well taken care of models are still fetching a good price even after all these years. This particular motorhome was in pretty fair shape, had roughly 40K miles and had a reliable Caterpillar engine. I traded my Dodge Ram 2500 diesel truck even for it, at $25,000.
I really enjoyed this motorhome and extensively remodeled it. I had a carpenter put down genuine wood flooring throughout and lots of new furnishings. As a passing thought, it is my firm experience that you should avoid having carpet in any RV that you spend any time in. It is the worst type of flooring possible and will not last. An RV is in many respect a long hall way and wear on carpet will begin to show almost immediately. It was the bane of my existence in the Cameo Fifth wheel and was the one feature i hated.
When it was all done, the propane generator needed to be replaced and the final tab on “restoring” the “Beav” was roughly the same amount i bought it for. But i loved this RV and i generally thoroughly enjoyed puttering and fixing stuff on it. It is generally my philosophy on owning an RV that ,depending greatly on the age and condition of the RV, being somewhat “handy” and not being scared of learning how to fix things is essential.
96 Beaver Interior Before
96 Beaver Interior After
Used 2001 40 ft Beaver Patriot Diesel Pusher Motorhome
Our next RV was purchased based almost entirely on a need for a bigger space. I got married and both of us decided that a somewhat larger RV would be a great idea. The 1996 Beaver was only 35 ft and had no slides.
Our new purchase was another Beaver, somewhat newer, 40 ft and 2 slides, one living room and one bedroom. We were of course back to a payment at this time, but we felt it was worth it. We put new Pergo Flooring in this one. To the right are before and after pictures. I had no experience with flooring whatsoever but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This motorhome was really spacious and wonderful to live in but had several issues from the beginning. We were living outside Denver, Colorado at the time, and of course given winters can be very severe, the main issue was the furnace. This my first experience with the Aqua Hot system and I must say it was not a good one. The furnace failed during the coldest weather and at some points it became down right scary. Even a completely rebuilt furnace replacement ended up with problems.
There were several other things but the final one that pushed us over the edge towards the purchase of a much newer motorhome was the very large living room slide. I remember vividly ,to this day ,our journey over narrow, incredibly twisty roads from Novato, California, out to the coast to Olema Campgrounds, our home for the summer. This giant slide suddenly decided to creep out as we rounded corners. We stopped and pulled it in to no avail, it stayed out at least 6 inches or so. Later we learned the hydraulic line had sprung a leak, and $900 later we had it replaced with a new one.
Used 2015 Tiffin Phaeton QBH Diesel Pusher Motorhome
Well, here we are! This is our present home, our new to us 2015 Tiffin Phaeton. It has been a long journey and we have learned sooooooo much about RV living full time. We took on a rather large payment again which included a 5 year extended service plan/warranty, but we have not regretted a moment of owning this magnificent RV. We have named him “Black Bart” after the famous stage coach robber/scoundrel of the 1800s
The reason why we chose a Tiffin emerged after an incredible amount of research. I don’t want to make this a commercial, just needless to say we were really impressed with the quality and even more impressed with the reputation the company has for amazing customer service. i will be referring to “Bart” through out my postings on RVlivingfulltime.com.