Among motorhome enthusiasts, the descriptive word I hear the most is “convenience”. “You still have access to all of your stuff when traveling.” “You can walk back to the bath room.” “You can get a drink from the fridge.” “You don’t have to go outside when it’s raining to get to the RV”. I remember once when we were traveling in the early days after getting our RV, Jo was chopping vegetables and gathering ingredients to go in the crock pot while we were driving through Memphis. After finishing her task and plugging in the crock pot, she commented. “You know, it’s great that I could do that, but driving through Memphis traffic was probably not the best time for me to be using sharp objects.” We later came to realize that just because you can move around doesn’t mean that you should. It’s better to remain in your seats with seat belts buckled.
That was a great dinner that evening though. Especially after enjoying the aromas of the meal cooking all afternoon. (Crock pot dining is another subject … more here,) but now we start it before we pull out and try not move about the coach when it’s moving, especially with sharp knives in our hands. You just have to excuse novices sometimes.
The New Modern Motorhome
Most modern coaches also have lots of storage. Full basements are common. Many have large roll out trays that can be accessed from both sides of the coach making it easier to find things you have stowed on board. Ours’ came with one tray. We added another in the adjacent compartment. It’s especially convenient to keep all of your outside items in a tray so that you can have quick access to lawn chairs, grills, campfire tools, and even a screen tent for when its “buggy”.
Class A motorhomes are the largest, heaviest RV type and look more like a bus. Frames are often made by Freightliner, Spartan, International Navistar, or Prevost etc, and are built to withstand heavier loads. Rear engine diesel pushers like Cummins, Caterpillar or Detroit are common and preferred by many. Allison automatic transmissions are the norm, are reliable, and make driving easy .
How much Power Do You Need?
Newer diesel engines operate in the range of 350 HP to 500 HP and even more on some. You would think that the larger the engine, the worse the fuel economy, but that is not necessarily true. A larger engine works less hard, and can actually provide better fuel economy. Also be aware that some (not all) diesel engines can be “turned up” to produce more horsepower. There seems to be a give and take when doing this, sometimes resulting in hotter running temperatures, changes in fuel economy, as well as increased torque and hill pulling ability. More horsepower also is more taxing to the transmission, so this should also be taken into consideration. A good diesel truck repair facility can check out the engine/transmission combination you have, make a phone call to the manufacturer, and recommend how much increase in horsepower your unit can be safely turned up. There are also some computer assisted upgrades you can check out and add on if it works for you.
Some Class A’s offer a gas engine that is front mounted. Both Ford and GM make chassis and engines for these units. Others offer a front engine diesel (FRED)
The largest Class A’s, (above 42 feet in length) also come with a tag (extra) axle behind the main rear axle. Aside from carrying extra weight the extra axle also makes for a somewhat smoother ride across bumps and dips. These large coaches are some of the best riding coaches available. Often the extra few feet allows for another bath behind the master bedroom. Part of the smooth ride also is attributed to the air ride suspension, common to the diesel type chassis.
Take a Walk through Dealer Lots
Need an Extra Bath ??
Do you need a larger closet, or would you prefer less closet storage in order to have bunk beds or an extra half bath instead? There is a lot of flexibility in design for these massive coaches. There is probably one that is “just right for you”. Spend plenty of time looking over these fantastic coaches. Your reward will be a great home…. or a great home away from home.
Class B Motorhomes are typically conversion vans, or camping units built on a standard or long passenger van. They ride and drive just like a van. They are as easy to park as a van because they are a van. They are often equipped with pop up tops and slide outs to expand their room.
When conversion vans first came on the scene you had a choice of color, length, and little else. There was usually a fold down bed in the back with four captain’s chairs. If you wanted a toilet you had to drag along a porta-potty. There were no hook ups for water, electric, and certainly not sewer.
While popular in the eighty’s and ninety’s, they were a nice mode of travel but few extended beyond that.
Toilet and Showers Have Been Added
Today’s conversion vans are now considered Class B motorhomes and are complete with sewer connections for toilet and shower, small holding tanks for fresh water and waste, air conditioning, and loads of electronics powered by generators and shore power cables. Some have propane for cooking and heating. Newer units have their own category (Class B+) and are equipped with slide outs, clever folding beds, and kitchens. We saw a lovely unit at a rally that had a queen size bed for night that covered a sofa and end table for day. The conversion from day to night was a simple push button. You don’t even have to put away your decorator items to turn to bedtime.These units, like truck campers, are very small and compact. Some seem surprisingly spacious for their size and offer considerable amenities. Not for everyone, class B’s are very nice for traveling where you want to move frequently and cover a lot of territory on an extended trip. Some friends took one of these on a trans-Canada vacation and really loved it.
Class C Motorhomes typically have a van-like cab portion with the living area expanded. They also often have a cab-over extention that is usually a sleeping compartment or sometimes storage or entertainment centers. This type of RV is usually smaller and more economical than it’s larger Class A counterpart, but retains many, if not all of the comforts of it’s bigger cousins. One of the advantages of the Class C over the Class A is the ability to enter and exit on either side of the motorhome. The van driving compartment has typical van doors so the driver can get in and out with ease. You can still move from the driver’s compartment into the coach area, and of course you have the main RV door to go in and out while parked.
There are a lot of full time campers out there that make these units their homes. You will find that a Class C with several slides and longer length can be very spacious and roomy. Most are equipped with gas engines, although diesel versions are available. As a general rule, the Class C, even the longer ones, have a sharper turning radius so they can turn easier and are more maneuverable.
Take your time in choosing your Motorhome. Make it an adventure. After all, this will be where you will spend a lot of your time.