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Old 12-17-2009, 07:58 PM   #1
2009 GTA350 TSSE Diesel
 
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New 2009 GTA 350 TSSE diesel -- Initial Impressions (Part 1)

Hi Gang,

New to the group, new to Georgetown, not new to RVs. This is a long post so get comfortable if you are going to read it.

I just bought a new 2009 GTA 350 TSSE front-engine diesel. I picked it up in North Carolina last week and drove it home to Boise, Idaho. I have previously operated a 2002 28' Dutchmen Express Class C on the Ford E450/Triton chassis, a 1994 34’ Itasca Suncruiser diesel pusher on the Oshkosh chassis, and a 1979 23' Dreamer on a 440 Dodge chassis. We are a family of four and use our motorhome for two 7-10 day trips each summer plus a few long weekends water skiing, and almost every weekend in the winter for skiing and snowmobiling, plus at least one week-long trip during the Christmas break to a ski resort in Idaho, Wyoming, or Utah.

I appreciated this and other RV forums during my pre-purchase phase so I thought I would return the favor and share my initial comments as a fairly experienced RVer to help other make or justify their decisions one way or the other regarding a Georgetown RV.

Our old Itasca had a slide and the Dutchmen we were using up until a few weeks ago did not. Some friends bought a Tioga C with a slide this summer and my wife had instant slide envy. While the Triton V10 was reliable (79K miles when we sold it), I was tired of going up grades at 25 mph, or less towing the boat. So, we decided to upgrade to a coach with a slide, a diesel, bunkbeds (which we had in our Dutchmen and loved), and a ceiling of $100K. I put the Dutchmen on Craigslist and sold it within one week at my asking price, which was only $1,500 less than I paid for it three years ago. That meant I had to go out and buy something as my wife was not intending to go through the ski season without our “cabin.”

I searched online exhaustively until I narrowed my choices down to two: a used, local, 2007 Four Winds Chateau Super C on the Workhorse/Duramax chassis, which I negotiated down to $75K from an asking price of $89K, and the new 2009 Georgetown, located in North Carolina, which I ended up buying for $90K, off a list price of $141K. Having run both As and Cs in the past, they both have strengths and weaknesses but, in the end, only $15K separated a new unit with warranty and a used one without. I also had concerns about the cargo carrying capacity of the Super Cs like the Chateau and Seneca where I now have 4,085 lbs. CCC with the Georgetown compared to 1,182 lbs. with the Super C. I suspect most Super Cs you see driving down the road are over gross weight. Another major benefit of the Class A for us is that the driver and passenger seat swivel to become part of the living area, unlike the Class Cs. The downside is that my wife is a bit intimidated by the size, even though it is only one foot longer than the Super C. It drively easily, however, and she won't have any problem.

Curiously, in all my searching, I was only able to find this one 350 diesel; all the others were gas. I was so worried that I would get to NC and discover that it was a gas chassis that I called Forest River and had them check the VIN to confirm the configuration. I even had Forest River dealers tell me the 350 was not available in diesel. Forest River did not agree.

I did all my negotiation via e-mail as I was traveling in Africa and S. America and I bought the unit sight unseen.

A friend and I flew down to pick it up and drove from Raliegh, NC, to Lexington, KY, the first day; Lexington to North Platt, NE, the second day, and from there to Boise the third day. Our trip was right after an enormous cold front swept across the US and left a nationwide high-pressure system in its wake, along with clear skies and record low temperatures. We drove 2,513 miles and the trip computer showed 40.6 hours on arrival for an average speed of 62.8 mph. We drove into head- and crosswinds of up to 30 mph sustained and peak gusts to 60. Temperatures ranged from a high of 23°F to a low of -7°F. We averaged 9.8 mpg driving 65 to 75 mph (my Triton-powered Class C got 7.5-8 mpg at 55 mph). We paid between $2.65 and $2.89 per gallon for diesel along the way.

I was immediatly impressed with the smooth power of the Cummins ISB 6.7L straight-6 turbo diesel, rated at 300 hp with 630 lb-ft. torque, and Allison 2000 series transmission, and grew to appreciate it even more as our trip wore on. I had not driven a FRED prior to picking this one up and was concerned about the cab noise level but it was easily as quiet inside as the Itasca DP we had before. We met no grade on the trip from beginning to end that we could not sustain at least 60 mph on, including the passes in Wyoming that top 8,600 ft., and this was with a constant headwind.

The 55° wheel cut on the Freightliner chassis gives this 35’ motorhome a tighter turning radius than our 28’ Class C. I didn’t appreciate this little feature until I had to make a few U-turns and navigate a few grocery store and gas station parking lots.

Engine temps never budged from 190°F and the transmission temp ranged from 125-150°F.

Coming across Wyoming, the crosswinds were so high that they closed the Interstate to anyone towing any kind of trailer (except the truckers). The forecast was for 40-60 mph and I don’t doubt that these were achieved. The awning over the main slide on the driver’s side was buffeting so badly with its 4” of play that allows the safety lock to disengage that I had to stop and duct tape the leading edge to lock it in place. I also removed the TV antenna because it seemed to be taking a beating from the crosswind buffeting. I had the awning torn off the side of our DP a dozen years ago driving across Kansas. With the awning and antenna secured, the coach handled the extreme wind with aplomb but the gusts certainly keep us awake at the wheel with constant corrections. It was so windy the entire trip that when the wind died down as we turned north at Salt Lake, we were amazed at how quite and stable the vehicle really was.

Continued in next thread...
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:13 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum and thanks for the information. I was curious about the new FRED chassis but am a bit disappointed not to see more floor plan choices from the manufacturers.

One thing I am curious about is that you stated you didn't want another V10 because of the power, yet the V10 in our 2009 GT 378ts is rated at 362HP vs the 300HP you said you have with your chassis. Seems like a large disparity there.

Fully loaded and pullling a rather heavy Jeep (somewhere around 4700lbs) we go up our local passes at 55mph with no problems and cruise the flats at 65 all day long but usually choose to back down to save on the fuel and cruise at around 60.

However it sounds like you got a great price on the rig, we paid 102K for ours new from the factory and that was with a $3300 delivery charge. Took delivery on ours in September of 2008 and couldn't be happier with our purchase. The rig has been great with very little problems and no complaints on the power or systems.
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:48 AM   #3
2009 GTA350 TSSE Diesel
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boise, ID
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Hi NWJeeper,

I love the full body paint on your rig; looks great.

Without wanting to start the whole gas vs. diesel debate, which I have seen go off the rails on other forums, my personal preference is for diesel, after having had both in the past. I in no way mean to disparage the Triton V10 currently used in Georgetown and other Class As; they are different from the Triton I had in my last C (30 valves vs. 20, for example) and they have much more torque and horsepower (about 20% more, if memory serves) and are running through a different transmission. However, it is torque that you feel when accelerating, climbing a hill, or pulling a load; horsepower is only calculated with a formula, starting with torque, which is what is measured (the details are very esoteric).

What I personally like about the diesels is that peak torque is made at low RPM (the ISB is 630 lb-ft @ 1700 RPM) and diesels are designed to operate at or near peak torque for their entire lives. This is why diesel engines are so heavy, but the power comes on like a giant electric motor. Gas engines make peak torque at higher RPM (the Triton is 457 lb-ft @ 3250 RPM) and they are only designed to run at peak torque for a small percentage of their lives.

Diesels get better mileage (30% better in the case of my GTA vs. my last Class C) though the fuel costs a bit more (about 20 cents a gallon here in Boise). That being said, the operating cost difference is negligible when we only drive it a few thousand miles per year.

Gas engines are quieter, smoother, and less expensive.

My friend is the sales manager for a large RV dealership here in town; he started at the dealership delivering new coaches. He says the V10 Class As drive great and are not underpowered. He also says the diesels are unmatched in their pulling and climbing power, which is why semi trucks and all the high-end Class As are diesel powered.

I suspect you would only notice the differences if you drove them one after the other.

At the end of the day, would I have given up the diesel and bought a new gas GTA 350 over the used Duramax diesel Super C I was looking at? Probably, because I think Georgetown offers a lot for the money. But, I found a good deal on the diesel so I'm glad I didn't have to make that choice.

Gordon
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:04 AM   #4
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thank you for the excellent write up. I was not aware they were doing a fred now. I wish it was available when I purchased mine.
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:12 AM   #5
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Does it look like this one?
http://www.motorhomeclassifieds.com/159089.html



It's interesting that it doesn't have the full basement doors like the gas models.
The bathroom sink, window over the bed, bedroom decor, and water heater location are different as well.
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:43 AM   #6
2009 GTA350 TSSE Diesel
 
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Yep, that's the very one I bought.

Sharp eyes, Ron. These are indeed differences. I looked at a 2010 gas model and the storage was about the same underneath but the bus-style doors were much more desirable (more robust, better latch mechanism, better looking). At least the ones on mine open sideways rather than up; this is a big improvement over previous motorhomes I have had.

I didn't care for the vessel sink; my kids would have that looking like a Phillips 66 in no time (what is cool about them is that they get a larger sink on the same size counter).

For me personally, the biggest difference between the one I got and the 2010 gas model I looked at was the configuration of the driver's controls. The 2010 has a nice "wrap-around" configuration that placed the contols more ergonomically.

Gordon
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Old 12-18-2009, 12:05 PM   #7
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Do you know the chassis capacities? Forest River has nothing on their website about these or any literature.

I don't see how they can sell many when even their dealers know nothing on them. That one was 11K more than I paid for my gasser but it would've made the choice harder if I knew it existed.
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Old 12-18-2009, 12:37 PM   #8
2009 GTA350 TSSE Diesel
 
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GVWR is 24,000 lbs.
CCC is 4,085 lbs.
CGVW is 26,000 lbs. (This means I can't carry everything I own AND tow the boat at the same time but we haven't loaded any more into it than we took out of our Class C.)
Fresh water is 71 gal.
Hot water is 6 gal. (website said 10)
Tanks are 41 gal. each.
Propane is 19 gal.
Fuel is 75 gal.

I had a hard time finding out anything about this coach prior to purchase. I even called Forest River to confirm that it actually was what the dealer claimed it was.

I bought it sight unseen because it was tens of thousands less than the next lowest priced diesel bunkhouse and I figure the $500 deposit was a worthwhile gamble if it didn't pan out for some reason.

Gordon
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Old 12-18-2009, 12:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interacsol View Post
Hi NWJeeper,


Diesels get better mileage (30% better in the case of my GTA vs. my last Class C) though the fuel costs a bit more (about 20 cents a gallon here in Boise). That being said, the operating cost difference is negligible when we only drive it a few thousand miles per year.

Gordon
Thanks Gordon, we love the full body paint too. I understand the whole torque and horse power thing but in my book horse power is still horse power. As for the 30% better mileage this just doesn't prove out to be statistically true over time but is a misconception that has floated around for years.

There was a long thread on one of the other forum groups about gas mileage and ALL the diesel owners were saying that they "had heard" that a diesel gets 30% more mileage and they ALL said they weren't. In fact the all said they were really doing no better.

Now that isn't the fault of the engine but rather that if you look at the majority of DPs out there they are much larger rigs, loaded down with heavier construction (real tile, heavier cabinets and components) and carrying more water, fuel, gear etc. then you have a rig that is much much heavier than a gas rig (for good reason) but again HP is HP and a 350HP 40' DP Vs a 38' gasser with 350HP get the same mileage.

Of course this isn't true of pickups or other diesel vehicles but sorry I cannot find any data by the vast majority of long time diesel owners that proves the 30% better mileage claim.

With the FRED though they are basically building a gas rig and putting a diesel engine in it so I would assume the mileage would be a bit better.

A friend of ours just bought a used 38' Country Coach this last year with the 300hp diesel. He made the same 30% claim (why is it always 30%?) of mileage to me but the previous owner had kept meticulous records on the rig, including the mileage at every fill up. Low and behold it was getting the SAME mileage as my V10 and to boot he can't pull his Jeep up the passes as it bogs down then overheats and he has to pull over an disconnect the Jeep and have his wife drive it over the passes. To say the least he is a bit disappointed with the engine although he loves the rig.

Don't get me wrong I am not a huge V10 fan either, I was hesitant when I ordered it as I haven't heard glaring good about it in the past but so far it has performed well. I just hope it continues to do so.

I do think the FRED is a concept that is long overdue. I had been wondering for many years why they didn't do this. Like I said before though I really hope that manufacturers expand the floor plan choices for them as ours (378ts) is the only one of it's kind with the floor plan I want by any manufacturer. Although I would like a DP in the future it will never happen unless the manufacturers don't get off their lazy butts and start making something different than the same old boring floor plans they have always made.

The only one I have found that I half way like is the Tuscany that I think it's Powerboater has here on the group.

Wow really long post, sorry.
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Nights camped in 2009: 53 | Nights camped in 2010: 55
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Old 12-18-2009, 12:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWJeeper View Post
I do think the FRED is a concept that is long overdue. I had been wondering for many years why they didn't do this. Like I said before though I really hope that manufacturers expand the floor plan choices for them as ours (378ts) is the only one of it's kind with the floor plan I want by any manufacturer. Although I would like a DP in the future it will never happen unless the manufacturers don't get off their lazy butts and start making something different than the same old boring floor plans they have always made.

The only one I have found that I half way like is the Tuscany that I think it's Powerboater has here on the group.

Wow really long post, sorry.
Have to agree with you there. We've looked at the Damon Tuscany 4072 & 4076 which we really like. The dual recliners add a nice homey touch that I haven't seen anyone else offer. I don't know what the big deal is substituting 2 recliners for a love seat but we're steering towards the 4072. This is still a few years down the road unless the Mega-Millions numbers hit then it might be next week. Yeah!!that's gonna happen.!
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