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Old 09-08-2013, 08:25 PM   #1
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To buy used or new?

Hello all -
All words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated!
We recently decided to purchase a fifth wheel. Originally we considered buying used and were looking at a Cardinal. I liked many of the features and felt it was a well built unit. However, the more we thought about the possible lack of maintenence on a prior owners behalf, we became more leary of buying used.
So we are now looking at new units and have found to really like the Chaparral, 343RLTS (Signature series). A big plus for us with this unit is the living room and kitchen. The husband likes to be comfortable and I love to cook. The leather theatre seating, works for him. And the lots of counter/cabinet space w/ 18 cu. ft. frig makes me happy!!

We had a lot of questions, but our salesman was new to RV Sales and didn't have a thorough knowledge of any of the rv's. Which in a way was good, because being as green as we are, a seasoned salesman may have a field day with us!! LOL! (Our salesman, did write down our questions and consulted with an experienced sales person to get our questions answered.)
  • My main concern: do these RV's in fact have adequate insulation for year round use. I will live in this unit full time for a while through the winter. The literature reads as though they do, but an experienced opinion would be great!
  • Also, the salesman recommended installing a second AC unit in the bedroom. Has anyone not had a second AC unit from the gitgo, but found at a later date they needed it and had it installed after the fact?
  • Finally, the unit is not equipped with slide toppers. My gut instinct tells me that they are an almost most. Is it in anyones experience, to find they are not that beneficial?
THANKS for your time and any insight anyone may have!!!

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Old 09-08-2013, 08:33 PM   #2
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1) I see you're from Maryland (just a ways up the road from me). Winters can be pretty chilly here. I don't know the actual R-factor of the insulation on the Chaparrals- but I certainly wouldn't want to make a go at living in mine in the winter here. If you can keep the box warm enough, simply keeping your water lines + waste tanks from freezing up will be a challenge. I know people do it, but geez.

2) Yes, I've seen threads here where people installed a 2nd A/C. Truth be told, I dislike when we're on 30amp sites and can only run 1 A/C at a time. It gets warm in there in the summer at times.

3) Slide toppers- most of the people that I've read about them, I can only name a very small handful who have ever had them and said they wouldn't again. I have them and will have them again.

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Old 09-08-2013, 10:01 PM   #3
Join Date: Jun 2013
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Lizsuits, I wish you all the luck in the world on your RV journey and want you to remember that it takes on average 17 months for RV owners to find out that they want a different RV and buy their next RV.

New and Used RVs come in all states of disrepair - yes, this is true, I have seen 10 year old RVs that work right out of the box and I have owned brand new units that took two years to shake out the bugs. Most of the time the bang for the buck is in a high-end unit that is 2-5 years old. Some brands are designed to handle cold and hot weather - some brands are made to be one step stiffer than a good wall tent and will be more uncomfortable than the outside temperature. Take the time to read as much as you can about any model on the internet.

The more AC units you have, the more comfortable you will be - if you don't need both, run 1, but having cooling to spare is much better than being too hot. It is also nice to use extra cooling power to get your rig cool in a hurry when you need to.

Some people like slide toppers - some people don't. If you don't have a lot of wind, they do provide a layer of sun protection over your slides, and for the most part keep tree leaves and pine needles out of your rig. The downside is that they can flap in the wind and make some bothersome noises. If you roll them up wet, they can get moldy, just as an awning can. We decided against them because we do a lot of travel in short stints and may be forced to roll them up wet due to our schedule and the unpredictable weather.

As for full-timing, get double pain windows if possible - not only does it help with the temperature, but it cuts down on outside noise from your neighbors. Check the R value of walls, ceiling and floors - and don't forget that some rigs are light on insulation in the slides. Most of the well-insulated rigs will brag about the lowest temperature they can take without any issues - Cedar Creek is advertising 0 degrees F.

One trick I found was if they sell the rigs in Canada for full-timers, they are usually good for the USA full-timers.

IMHO Cardinals are one of the best rigs - we looked at a lot of them before we got our Cedar Creek. We needed a bunk-house and Cardinal stopped offering the 3804BH in 2010. Hope this helps and good luck.

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Old 09-12-2013, 07:15 PM   #4
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Coachmen RV Chaparral Signature Series Fifth Wheels | Chaparral Signature Series RV for Sale | New Hampshire (NH)

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Mandatory Packages
  • Polar Package
    • Manufactured for cold weather camping with:
      Roof insulation R -13
      Wall insulation R -11
      Floor insulation R -14
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"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." 2014 19 days camping 2015 17 days camping201620 days camping
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Old 09-19-2013, 11:01 AM   #5
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We have a Coachmen Chaparral 343RLTS and love it! We got it in April and have had no major issues. I am not sure about full timing but for vacationing, ours is perfect. Lots and lots of room. We have the theater seating and residential refrigerator. Again, love it! From what I have read, the R values appear sufficient for what your looking for. Good luck!
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Old 09-19-2013, 01:42 PM   #6
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We have a Cardinal and it is a 4 season rig with one A/C unit. That works for us as we head to the mountains to escape the heat usually but if I had to do it over again we would get a second air conditioner just to cool it down faster and keep the temp even. I would go with the slide toppers. It keeps most of the leaves out and we have not been bothered by the noise. If you have a 4 season rig with duel pane windows the noise they can make doesn't get it. We bought a new rig and a used diesel but within a year we traded the 3/4 ton for a 1 ton Dodge. Getting a truck with an engine break was essential, bigger 6.7 engine was nice and more gears in the transmission made our towing concern free. Going the speed limit up the mountains with more pedal is nice but not having to touch the breaks coming down the mountains is huge.

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