About to buy - what to buy?


New Member

Glad to find this website - you all seem to be very helpful and passionate about your RV's. A few important questions to ask. Our background:

My wife and I have decided to take a year off from the careers, focus on our family and travel the country with our two young children (Alex age 3 1/2, Avery age 2). Our dream has evolved and in addition to our plans for living in Northern California this summer/fall and Telluride, Co this winter - we are planning to spend about 60-70 days on the road seeing this great country. This is where the RV comes in. Specific questions:

1.) Considering buying a Class A about 35' with bunks - looking at Winnebago Sightseer 35J and Damon Daybreak 3276 - open to new or used 2005 -2007. Thoughts on these particular models - and other ideas? Given the economy - hoping to spend less that $85K - see question three below.

2.) Any strong convictions on dealers to buy from or avoid in Washington DC, Maryland area?

3.) Began by thinking about towing a car behind for short trips, site seeing etc - but discovered our cars aren't towable (one is all wheel drive and the other is a Suburban and too heavy). Should I buy a flat bead trailer and make it work? Or just learn how to drive the RV well and have the car shipped to California/Colorado/then home. What do you all do trying to drive down narrow streets in small towns, the drive-through at McDonald's or trying to get to "Main Street USA" somewhere? After going to this effort - I don't want to be stuck seeing only the most convenient attractions or staying in Walmart parking lots. HOW EASY ARE THESE THINGS TO DRIVE? Unfortunately with young children we are limited in ability to do lot's of walking or bicycling - so even though we are active - it is not practical to hike two miles into town or an attraction.

4.) Given the economy and gas prices - worried about reselling the RV in a year if this does not turn out to be our thing. IF we can buy a new Class A as I described above and pay around $75-85K - what kind of depreciation if we sell it in a year with say 10,000 miles, but well kept and all services done?

Hey, if you have read this far - my sincere thanks - hope the questions are not too ridiculous. Any help and insights are much appreciated!


Paul Volkman - Laura, Avery and Alex

Annapolis, Maryland

DL Rupper

Senior Member
Re: About to buy - what to buy?

Hey pvskiis, welcome to the forum. Your best bet would be to start looking at used RV's to see what YOU really need/want. In the meantime get a good book on Full-timing and start reading. You can usually get a starter book in the RV section at Wal-Mart. Subscribe to MotorHome and Trailerlife. The books and magazines will give you a good idea what it's all about.


Senior Member
Re: About to buy - what to buy?

The big motorhomes should be really easy to drive - on the freeways and main side streets. They can be exciting on small, twisty and/or hilly roads. They will not go through most drivethroughs, and many parking lots. Also, once you get it set up to stay in, you really don't want to undo everything to go somewhere. So towing a car is fairly important. A trailer may tow a car, but the trailer has weight too, and they are a hassle to deal with when you are not towing them.

First year depreciation can be pretty vicious, depending on how good a deal you swing when you buy it. Plus, you may spend a considerable amount of time in that first year getting any manufacturing defects fixed. Many RVs have only minor problems, but every so often you get one (even from the best manufacturers) which has many, major and sometimes even unfixable problems.

Used, someone else has eaten the depreciation, and hopefully dealt with any manufacturing defects. The down side is you don't know how they have maintained it, or if they made any 'dangerous' or unexpected modifications to it. For instance, I was fixing my windshield washer tank, and noticed that someone had added a tap off the main 12v line with little tiny wire and a 30 amp fuse... No idea where it goes, but I aim to find out before I turn the 12v back on, cause that little wire won't handle 30 amps.

Have you considered a trailer? They aren't as nice to travel in, but once they are set up they are at least as good, if not better, than a motorhome. Plus you have the tow vehicle for local travel. And I suspect the depreciation might be less, since there is no 'drive train'. Of course, that presumes you plan to keep the tow vehicle.


Senior Member
Re: About to buy - what to buy?

Winnebago has one of the best reputations in the industry for both quality and support. Some others are Allegro and Newmar. Damon is not in that group.

While a 35' motorhome is not that difficult to learn to drive, there is nothing that will make one that large easy to park or to maneuver in heavy traffic. It would be very foolish to think that you will like driving it everywhere if you do much sight seeing. In addition, there are many attractions which you just won't be ablt to get to in one. Many scenic drives have length restrictions. Then there is the head-ache that comes with hooking up each evening and then unhooking again just to run up to the store or to attend a movie or something. Add to that the fun of locating a place that you can park a 35' RV and it can get very old very quickly. To be happy with doing all of your travel in the motorhome, you need to plan to go places that you do not need to drive much when you get there.

A much better plan than having your car shipped would be to rent one when you get to your destination. A trailer can be a major problem to park when in an RV park and there is a very great likelihood that the RV which you eventually buy will not have the tow ratings required to tow a heavy vehicle on one. Most have hitch limits of 5000#. You may want to consider using a tow dolly.

You will not have many new, 35' motorhomes to choose from at a limit of $85K. That will keep you in the lower price range of what is available today. And if you buy new and then plan to sell after one year, expect to loose at least 20% if you get it for a really good price. I think that you would be well served to join the RV Consumer Group at aaa.rv.org .

Bob K.

New Member
Re: About to buy - what to buy?

Hi Everyone,

I had the good fortune to find this site and I have found it to be very interesting. I'm new to the world of rv'ing, don't know anything about motor homes, and was hoping that someone could give me some information as everyone on this site seems to be very knowledgeable. I found three different motor homes that might be worth looking into purchasing. The first one is a 2003 Dutchman Express, 21 foot, Class C Motorhome with 12,000 miles, price is $28,000.
The second one is a 1991 33 foot Southwind, a 454 Chevy engine, 33,000 miles, excellent condition, loaded, price is $17,000. The third option is a 1996 Eldorado, 29 1/2 feet, 47,000 miles, sleeps six, self contained, very good condition, price is $15,000. I plan on buying a motor home for use in local parks, all within 100-200 miles, and perhaps driving to Arizona once a year. Could someone please advise me as to their opinions on these three motor homes? Which one would be the better buy? And, in your experiences, have you encountered any problems with these motor homes?

A friend of mine says the 2003 Dutchman Express is an excellent buy for that price due to the low mileage. Since he was saying this after having a few drinks, I'm not sure if he knows what he is talking about and he's not the one buying it! I would appreciate anyone replying to my questions since everyone seems to know alot about motor homes and we know zero!! Thanks, Bob


New Member
Re: About to buy - what to buy?

My first thought is if you don't know if RVing is your thing, why consider a new rig ?? The first year depreciation alone is significant, and with fuel prices as they are now and getting worse, it will probably depreciate even more. Not trying to discourage you, but you're taking off a 'year'?? That in itself is expensive. If you are really serious, buy a 'used' rig . There are a lot of them on the market, and if you're patient, you probably can get one much more reasonable. Try looking at PPL motorhomes.com, that sells consignment units only. Good luck


Bob K.

New Member
Re: About to buy - what to buy?

Hi Hamdave,

Thanks for replying to my question...you made some great points as the gas prices keep going up and up....We're just tossing around the idea of buying one at this point and thought that the above mentioned rigs were a good deal but we didn't know for sure. Again, thanks for replying. Bob