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Before creating the Vanabode travel style I ran a motorcoach website. This page is one of many bus articles I wrote for coach buyers before closing that website.
Why I originally chose a Class A RV over all other types
After researching and educating myself on the advantages and disadvantages of each type of Motor Home class and type that would be compatible with the full time live aboard life, I chose a 34 foot 1993 Georgia Boy Encounter Class A diesel motorcoach. Below are the reasons why. For those interested in the kind of vacation you can have with a properly equipped VANABODE (what we use now) see the western states road trip on $20 a day - not possible with a big motorhome. Our extraordinary East Coast road trip covering some 5 months to places like New York City, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Cape Cod, would have been impossible on $20 a day. With the Vanabode it was easy. For the price of a burger get the book from Amazon and enjoy all the juicy details!
Budget - I wanted, but could not afford, the very best option, the bus conversion motor home. I could afford a "shell bus" and do the conversion myself. However, both my wife and I worked full time, and at age 38 my days of underestimating projects are over. So, I feared it would turn into the "dreaded project", and that the colossal job of conversion may take so long and be so difficult that I risked losing the joy of the RV lifestyle that I had come to love. My wife and I traveled over 45,000 miles, living full time in RV's over 3 years and counting, as of January 2004.
Quality - I insisted on getting as close to the "conversion coach" quality and durability as I could afford, thus the diesel engine mated to an Allison automatic transmission sitting on an OshKosh chassis, and full fiberglass exterior (except roof).
Fuel Economy - I wanted the absolute best fuel mileage I could get in a live aboard coach so I insisted on the a 6 cylinder Cummins diesel engine, one of the best ever made. At 190 HP many think it underpowered. Not so. It has been perfect, never overheating even in arduous mountain climbing and 110 degree Las Vegas desert heat. I wouldn't recommend the 4 cylinder version of this engine though for a coach this size. Our last big trip was 31 days, 7,980 miles, and we averaged 10.6 mpg.
NO on Fifth Wheels and Travel Trailers - they were not viable options for us since we travel quite extensively with our children, shared the driving, and liked to stay places where you don't have to pay and being inconspicuous is very valuable. For instance we would often simply pull into a nice neighborhood in a strange city and park curbside in front of the houses, immediately turn off the lights and go to sleep. Neighbor A thought we were visiting Neighbor B and neighbor B thought we were visiting Neighbor A, and since we leave first thing in the morning, we never had a problem.
NO on Class C and Class B - B's were too small for fulltiming in, and since we were selling our house we wanted to look a little less like we were "camping" so we ruled out the larger Class C's. The Class A has such a nice expansive windshield area enabling panoramic views - these other classes do not. I installed a wrap around couch that runs all the way to the dash and since we have a "slanted" front rather than a "flat nose" we can literally lay up there and stare straight UP at the big starry night sky, wild flashes of storm induced lightning, or trees dancing and clouds blowing to and fro.
Above: Image shows the original Class A Georgia Boy Diesel Motorhome we used to travel and live from all over the United States for years.
Safety - except for the conversion buses Class A's are the safest for driving of the RV platforms. They also offer the advantage over trailers and fifth wheels of being able to walk up to the drivers sear, turn the key and and drive away without going outside if danger presents itself when parked.
Resale - I don't like the overall negativity associated with living in a "trailer" which at times affects the resale value of fifth wheels and travel trailers. Class A's are simply more prestigious as liveaboards and since we were not keeping up a house we thought it worth the investment.
What would I do differently? I would MUCH prefer a fiberglass roof for structural issues and leak prevention. We have a rubber roof over substrate but with the weight of the air conditioners and our 2 roof mounted kayaks it sags in some areas and water ponds. I know, if water ponds then it isn't leaking in, but I still don't like water on the roof. I am told the 6 speed Allison is preferred over the 4 speed I have. Our coach is a "puller" not a diesel "pusher" and so it is heavier due to the exhaust and transmission running from the front to the back. I would prefer a pusher even though the front mounted engine setup has steering and weight balance advantages.
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