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Old 10-23-2011, 05:00 PM   #1
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Research stage of ownership...opinion wanted

Hello, I am new to this site and forum so thanks for having me. We are looking for our first motorhome. Here are some of our particulars:
- three boys (age:8,9,13)
- wife (lovely)
- dog
- camping/traveling enthusiasts
- out at least one month per year for vacation and every weekend from may to September.
- we live in a cold climate.....coach must be four season.
- we typically travel to southern California from Edmonton during the winter for a warm weather get away. (about 6,000 kms trip per year).

So we have been RVing most of our lives and love really being able to me mobile and move around. We currently have a lance camper and ford F350. We have enough room for everyone to sleep very comfortably but to be honest we are getting VERY tight for space.

We have decided on a motorhome for us. We have looked at everything. I beleive that a DIesel pusher is the best level for our needs.

We really like the 390BH and have shortlisted it. I am really hoping that anyone on here can help us with our decision? There is only so much talking a salesman can do and only so much specification web pages can offer. I would really like to get some real ownership feedback.

How is the fit and finish? Quality of flooring and furniture? On board systems (water, electrical) Underpowered or okay for those long mountain climbs?

This will be our largest purchase next to our house we will be making. We really want to make sure we get it right and choose the best option for our budget. We CANNOT afford to pay over $200k all in for our unit. BTW that is in Canadian funds etc. DP's seem to be higher priced here in Canada for whatever reason.

Sorry for the long book......but if you have read this far chances are you can provide us with some advice and information however minor it may be to you it will be very helpful to us in forming our decision.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-23-2011, 05:23 PM   #2
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Have you looked at the Tiffin Allegro Red 38QBA. It is a bunk model that lists for 204K. Im sure you could moderately equip it and pay about 200k. Tiffin has a reputation for quality that is lacking in Forest River. Just a thought.
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Old 10-23-2011, 05:36 PM   #3
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When we purchased our Berkshire from Lazydays, at the suggestion of the salesman, we parked it next to a Phaeton priced at $25,000.00 more than the Berkshire and compared the two. Same engine, same trans, same chassis, comparable appliances and furniture. Couldn't find the $ difference. We have owned a tiffin and it is a good product but we liked the Berkshire and its value better.

Take a look at this quote from Bamacorner under the Berkshire forum 'Now I know why I have seen a couple of Berkshires.......'. I think it sums it up pretty well! Also, we are enjoying our Berkshire very much.
Good luck making your choice but as Bamacorner stated, chassis, appliances, engine, transmission etc are all the same for less money!
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Old 10-23-2011, 08:06 PM   #4
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Have you looked at the Tiffin Allegro Red 38QBA. It is a bunk model that lists for 204K. Im sure you could moderately equip it and pay about 200k. Tiffin has a reputation for quality that is lacking in Forest River. Just a thought.
Wow, in all due respect, you should take a look at the Tiffin Forum. Among the many, many problems listed are cracked roofs, delaminating side walls, cracked front caps, rotting wet bay floors, and probably the most important a design that puts the diesel exhaust next to plywood resulting in fires. Note, that is plural for a reason.

We looked very very seriously at the Tiffin and I am so glad we didn't go that route. Tiffin owners like to brag that Tiffin takes care of them. All they have to do is to travel from their homes to Red Bay, Alabama, and spend weeks of their time waiting for one of the 90 service bays to open up. It's a long way from Buffalo, NY to Red Bay and it's even farther from Edmonton. Tiffin is a company that is having a lot of problems and I personally would not want to be part of those problems.

As for Forest River, well every single problem that we have had has been taken care of 100% by our dealer. I didn't have to trek off to the factory for anything. No problem has been major, mostly small annoyances more than anything. Forest River has been great and our quality would stand up to anyone, including rigs that are more expensive, like the Tiffins. We looked at Fleetwood, Tiffin, Newmar, and Berkshire. The quality of the Berkshire was by far the best bang for the buck. Would I stay with Berkshire? Absolutely! As long as Berkshire made a rig that I wanted, there would be no issue and it would be another Berkshire.
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Old 10-24-2011, 08:09 PM   #5
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Interesting comments.

I had my first real look inside the 390BH today finally. Initial thoughts are I liked it. Lots of floor space. It seemed to be a little on the tight side when the slides were in. I am just thinking of three boys traveling back there with slides in. The drivers seat and area was the best I have seen on any coach!!! Very well appointed. The finish on the wood looked funny to me at first I thought there were flaws......then I realized it was the look they are going for.

The salesman told me the 340 hp is a great combo for touring and towing a moderate toad or boat. It is a $10k upgrade for the Cummins 360.....same motor block but a different transmission with 360. Not sure it would be worth the extra money for our needs.

The slides seemed to come in a long ways to the coach. I was wondering how they are when you bring them in after it has been raining??? Does all the water from the slides run onto the floor and need wiped up??

Next thing is to make some time to get my wife and kids out there.
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Old 10-24-2011, 08:19 PM   #6
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We enjoy our 2011 390BH very much as it being our first motorhome. You should be able to buy this unit for under $200K, The ride is not as smooth as I thought it would be on bumpy roads, this may be normal as I have nothing else to compare with. The tub/shower is tight for me but manageable, I would have preferred just a shower stall, they seem to have a little more to turn around. We have had some issues, nothing I would consider major, but our dealer has taken care of them. It seems to take about a week for the dealer to get approval from Forest River to do the warranty work. My unit has the 340HP engine and it does well. I tow a Jeep Cherokee Classic without any loss of power, it will drop speed on a long up hill pull even without the tow. There is a 360HP option if you like. I have traveled with a total of 7 people (kids 12, 15, and 17 plus 4 adults) and it acommodated all OK, it was a little tight at times as grandchildren had to be reminded to keep things up out of the way, that's just camping with kids. Hope this helps, below is a web site that will give you an idea on pricing.

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Old 10-24-2011, 08:34 PM   #7
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Thanks for the comments Ron.

Another issue I am concerned with is the ability for cold weather camping. I am trying to figure out where the holding tanks are located and if they are truly heated sufficient enough for actual winter use or only for the three seasons? Also wondering how much cold air (or hot air) comes in from the slides and the seals?
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:35 PM   #8
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Thanks for the comments Ron.

Another issue I am concerned with is the ability for cold weather camping. I am trying to figure out where the holding tanks are located and if they are truly heated sufficient enough for actual winter use or only for the three seasons? Also wondering how much cold air (or hot air) comes in from the slides and the seals?

The holding tanks are located behind the water fill/dump panel. The tanks have heating blankets but I don't know how well they will do in your climate. I've not noticed any air coming in around the slides, they seem to seal pretty good. Lowest temp I've camped in thus far is mid to low 30's and used only the heatpump to not the chill off.

Ron
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Old 10-25-2011, 01:29 PM   #9
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Keith, I'm not sure if I would see the Berkshire as a cold weather rig. Most RV's are not really set up for winter camping, particularly in a very cold climate. We just put ours away for the winter after winterizing it. It won't come out of hibernation until April. Most rigs that would be set up for winter camping are very high end. The Berkshire should be fine down into the 30's (F) or 20's, but I don't think I would go below that just because of the potential for big, big problems with frozen water lines/tanks.
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Old 10-25-2011, 09:29 PM   #10
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Wyntaxman.......I would agree with your winter use comments. We have been avid RVers for many years and last year got caught in a nasty winter storm while on our way back from California overnthe Xmas holidays. With a blizzard blowing and the highway closed just north of Calgary, we were forced to spend the night on the side of the road. We managed in our "four season" camper by staying warm enough......but despite the heater not shutting off all night, the minus 45 plus windchill froze a line and ruined a water pump.

I think what I am looking for is a coach that once properly winterized, could get us comfortably from Edmonton during the winter down to California. Although we would not use the water, it would need to withstand some cold temps to keep the coach warm enough while we drove out of this nasty winter weather.
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Old 10-26-2011, 07:39 AM   #11
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Wyntaxman.......I would agree with your winter use comments. We have been avid RVers for many years and last year got caught in a nasty winter storm while on our way back from California overnthe Xmas holidays. With a blizzard blowing and the highway closed just north of Calgary, we were forced to spend the night on the side of the road. We managed in our "four season" camper by staying warm enough......but despite the heater not shutting off all night, the minus 45 plus windchill froze a line and ruined a water pump.

I think what I am looking for is a coach that once properly winterized, could get us comfortably from Edmonton during the winter down to California. Although we would not use the water, it would need to withstand some cold temps to keep the coach warm enough while we drove out of this nasty winter weather.
Keith, I would think the Berkshire could handle that scenario. Although we have never camped at anything below the upper 30's (F) the rig seemed to handle that type of temp without any issues. Also the Berk is pretty tight, as RV's go, and I would think the wind would not be an issue. Although I did spend a year in Great Falls, MT and I know what the winds can be like just East of the Rockies, so those winds may be an issue. Would I hesitate taking my Berkshire south in January or February? I wouldn't hesitate in the least other than road conditions being a factor.
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Old 10-26-2011, 10:32 AM   #12
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If you look in the compartment where the water pump is located (large compartment just ahead of the rear wheels on the passenger side), you will see a silver duct coming through the top aimed downward at the holding tanks. This is from the furnace and, along with the heating blankets on the tanks, should keep all the plumbing warm enough for your needs. When you run the furnace, the floor is warm from the ducts and should, as I said, keep the plumbing from freezing. I am not speaking from experience and this is just an observation.
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:48 PM   #13
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Well we have been a bit delayed getting out to look at the 390BH as we had family visiting.

So tomorrow, we will get out and take a look in person at the coach. We are excited to actual go and see it. Unfortunately, the weather man is calling for -10 weather. We should probably call ahead and get it warmed up but at this point I really don't want to tip off a salesman and then be blanketed as we go through the coach. Some guys are great......the ones that are typically older and have actually RVed in the past. I have an issue with spending 200k with a 25 year old kid telling me the features and benefits. Anyway, don't mean to start any kind of argument here. Just want to have a look through the coach with someone knowledgeable or no one at all.

Keep you posted.
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:54 PM   #14
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Well we had a great time looking through the Berkshire. I must say that this is one roomy and big beast!!!! It was huge. We really liked it a lot.

Now here is where I could use some advice......the dealer tells us that you can't test drive the unit until there is an accepted offer with the only remaining condition being subject to a test drive. To be honest I was a little bit put off. This is a motorhome that costs a bunch of money. I can't imagine going through this whole entire process before I even get a test drive.

Opinions? Am I asking too much? I even went out and obtained my air brake endorsement today by taking a full day course.
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Old 11-08-2011, 08:55 PM   #15
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Asking too much? Absolutely not! There is no way I'd even go to the bargining table until I was sure this was what I wanted to purchase. Would you accept the same terms on a automobile, which is far less money?
I see no problem with a salesman going with you on a test drive, but talk money before I knew what I was buying.....absolutely not.

Just my take on the situation.
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Old 11-08-2011, 09:56 PM   #16
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Just doing some research on the freight liner page and the camp freightliner.....can someone tell me what chassis the 390BH is built on??

Thanks.
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:44 PM   #17
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First off Keith, there is no way you should be expected to put any money down or sign anything to take a test drive. If the dealer insists, then I would just casually inform him that you will go elsewhere. When money changes hands you can end up creating a contract which is not what you want to do until you are sure this is what you want.

I think the chassis is listed on the Berkshire website under specs. I would look there first.

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Old 11-08-2011, 11:35 PM   #18
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I found some chassis info. Sorry, I should have done a better job searching on my own. The freightliner site is very good. I didn't realize how many motorhome chassis they mfr. the berk. Specs. On the chassis is vague but I figured it out based on the allowable GVWR and HP.

I feel the same way about the test drive deal!!!! I was really taken back with that. In addition to the test drive, I asked them why they are $30-40k higher than US distributors. They have some explaining to do for sure. Thanks for the reassurance, I didn't think a test drive was too crazy.

Have a nice evening.
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