Class B owner question...? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:31 AM   #1
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Name: C
Trailer: Boler
British Columbia
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Class B owner question...?

We currently own a 13ft Boler, and have for a few years, but we are thinking about a change.

I owned a Class B before with a hightop roof (above sleeping quarters) and I hated it on the highways - passing trucks and windy days made for some white knuckle experiences. To be fair, the tires weren't stiff enough, but towing a Boler with an old Tahoe is MILES better.

My question - has anyone owned one of those Roadtrek style Class B's from the 1980s or 1990s with the low fiberglass tops (usually a few windows, but no upper level sleeping, and no headroom!)?

How are they on the highway? I'm assuming they drive/handle like a regular full-sized van, rather than a top heavy/wind-catching experience? Any input would be great!

Thanks,
Christopher
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Old 01-04-2018, 09:10 AM   #2
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I've driven my Mom's 2014 Chevy Roadtrek. It does have stand-up headroom, but no overhead sleeping and a fairly aerodynamic profile on the front upper shell.

Very stable and plenty of power from the 6.0L/8-speed drivetrain. The tow-haul mode is great in the mountains, strong brakes, and the long wheelbase Chevy Express chassis felt much more stable than the many Ford E-350 stretch vans I've driven in church use. I felt very comfortable driving it, but it does feel bigger than an ordinary large passenger van, partly because of the more limited visibility, raised roof, and weight. I would describe it as somewhat cumbersome around town (the turning radius is massive), but it shrinks nicely on the open highway. I never felt unsettled by passing trucks or cross-winds.

My biggest drivability issue with motorized RV's is the soundtrack. I hate all the creaks and rattles and odd sounds that come from the coach when rolling. I know my trailer does the same. I'm just not present to hear it.
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Old 01-04-2018, 10:24 AM   #3
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Name: Tom
Trailer: Sprinter 'til I buy
Denver, CO
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Lisa & I are among those towing with Sprinters. A decade ago, it checked the boxes for interior height, mileage, and sufficient power, which I attribute to the turbo. I once had a Westfalia. First, the Westfalia handled like a boat. The Sprinter feels more like an enclosed pickup truck. I don't think it feels top heavy
Mercedes was a developer of Stability Control which is in widespread use. I have intentionally tried to lose rear end traction, in a parking lot, and the van literally "snapped" back into line. Amazing.
I have the 144" mid wheelbase, and it handles and parks like a car. It has a good turning radius. My van has a welded unibody with no squeaks, and a quiet diesel engine. Cold weather is no big deal.
The longer 170" wheelbase makes a nice conversion van, but takes more space to park. FedEx uses Sprinters, UPS ceased. I heard UPS drivers were laying them on their sides on country roads. That's something I can imagine them doing, but never me. Great vans, & now there is competition. Wind, not an issue except really high sidewinds.
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Old 01-04-2018, 09:28 PM   #4
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Name: Bryan
Trailer: Casita "Cozy-Casa"
Central Virginia
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I sold my 2008 Roadtrek 170 Popular that I covered 48 states and 7 provinces in when I bought the Casita. In fact it is what I towed it home from Rice Tx with. It got about the same mileage pulling as it did not - about 15mpg average. It had lots of power, decent handling and sold in 24 hours with 130K plus miles on it with several people waiting in line to buy it. I did do Timbrens on all 4 corners, rear sway bar, slotted/dimpled rotors with high performance EBC yellow stuff pads on all 4 corners, LT Michelin tires, etc... This helped dramatically especially with the low ground clearance. I never bottomed out again once I did the Timbrens. All these changes made it handle a lot better in wind, curves, mountains, etc... I would still get bad brake fade taking it easy down semi long grades in low gear even with the upgrades but it did recover quickly. Not a good feeling. I have had zero issues with the F150 towing the Casita in all the same situations and actually feel much safer in it while pulling now and have more fun with this package. Please look at the CCC and make sure it is right for you - I travel light.
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Old 01-05-2018, 06:04 AM   #5
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Name: Cliff
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Connecticut
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy with a Boler View Post
We currently own a 13ft Boler, and have for a few years, but we are thinking about a change.

I owned a Class B before with a hightop roof (above sleeping quarters) and I hated it on the highways - passing trucks and windy days made for some white knuckle experiences. To be fair, the tires weren't stiff enough, but towing a Boler with an old Tahoe is MILES better.

My question - has anyone owned one of those Roadtrek style Class B's from the 1980s or 1990s with the low fiberglass tops (usually a few windows, but no upper level sleeping, and no headroom!)?

How are they on the highway? I'm assuming they drive/handle like a regular full-sized van, rather than a top heavy/wind-catching experience? Any input would be great!

Thanks,
Christopher
We owned a 2004 PleasureWay for a year, our introduction to camping. Camped in Maine to Florida. Plenty of head room, power (v10 in E350 chassis), and totally self contained including generator. Supposedly could tow 5000 lbs. never did try that. Only complaint in handling was a tendency to wander. Had front end checked alignment was good. Did some research and found that ambulances built on that chassis came with steering stabilizer. Got original equipment parts, easy install and rally helped. Brakes where ok, not close to my F150 but adequate. Really enjoyed it. From what Iíve seen the quality of the B class campers is very good. Didnít loose a penny when I sold it ( should have asked more). Guy who bought it was from California and he flew a driver in to pick it up.
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Old 01-05-2018, 12:38 PM   #6
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Name: C
Trailer: Boler
British Columbia
Posts: 9
Thanks for the replies - much appreciated.

We aren't quite well-heeled enough to even think of something newer than the early 1990s (welcome to Canada) and besides, if you get too new you no longer have plaid upholstery and shag carpeting options...

I was thinking more of an 80s or early 90s Ram Van, but not a high top as I'm done with those. If anyone has experience with that vintage vehicle (in a low roof roadtrek (see pic), I'd love to hear it.

We tend to be more road-trip types than campers, are rarely stay in one spot for more than a night or two.

We also do travel light, and stick to self sufficient dry camping.

So we were considering JUST a van (I know, wrong forum) which are great for parking, ferries, city, mobility, but are TIGHT on the inside.

I'm also thinking of a 17ft Bigfoot from the 1980s-1990s or a newer A-Frame style hand side tend trailer.

Our little Boler has been great, but it's tight for 4 and the bed is TIGHT (I'm 6'4" and the Mrs is 5'11") and uncomfortable.


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Old 01-06-2018, 05:48 PM   #7
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Name: Bryan
Trailer: Casita "Cozy-Casa"
Central Virginia
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If you are that tall you will find the Roadtrek of that vintage quite uncomfortable. I am 6'2" and the 2008 Chevy Roadtrek 170 Popular was very tight. The wife finally had enough and said get a trailer. After much looking the Casita 17' fit well. BUT with being 6'4" I would suggest a Parkliner - it has enough height inside and the bed will be big enough. It is quite spacious inside as well. Pricing will be 15K and up for a used one but well worth it as it will not depreciate much over the years. The older Roadtreks have issues in handling. The Dodge has known transmission issues, rear end width is about 2 inches off so it is odd feeling on the highway, etc... It did get 15MPG though. Prices are still high on older Roadtreks - probably able to get a late 80's for $6k. You need to remember that this is an OLD vehicle that will require quite a bit of repair and upkeep. Parts are getting hard to find now and may be an issue if travelling and a problem develops. I looked at several used older models before buying the Chevy based 2008 170 Popular. After covering 48 states and 7 provinces over several years I only lost about 10K due to the really good deal I got on it used. I had the comfort of knowing the vehicle was only 3 years old with lots of life left and easily serviced anywhere while crossing the country. Keep in mind the Dodge was used up through 2003 then the Chevy was used - that is now 16 years out of production.
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:06 AM   #8
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Name: C
Trailer: Boler
British Columbia
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Thanks again for the reply.


We can rough it a bit, but I too was thinking bed size might be an issue like you say. The Boler is tight, and so a van probably is not much better.


The old car thing isn't too much of an issue, though good point. My daily driver is a 27 year old Volvo, I'm working on getting a 37 y/o BMW on the road, and I have 57 year old Volvo as well. Needless to say, my wife drives something much newer (2014 Tiguan).


I think you are right though - the total cost of a car/vehicle really is how much you spend on it in total, not how much you buy it for - usually something nearly new is the best buy.


Up here, the 80s- early 90s Roadtreks seem to go in the $8k-$12k USD, late 1990s seem to be in the $20k+ USD range.


As far as fiberglass trailers go, the most common options up here seem to be:
a) Boler and related 70s trailers - 13 and 17'
b) Bigfoots 80s-90s - 17 and 23(?)'
c) new or nearly new 'Escapes' which I think is like your Parkliner. A good option.


Anyway, thanks!
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:38 AM   #9
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Class B owner question...?

One of the reasons a lot of Class B's end up so tight on space (and expensive) is they are attempting to be a scaled-down, fully equipped motorhome. They pack in a lot more features than those of us used to small eggs often want or need.

If you want something self-propelled with Boler-like simplicity, a bigger bed, and modest cost, you might consider buying a used cargo van and doing the conversion yourself. There are lots of ideas and how-to's online, and given you have the chops to keep all those vintage vehicles going, a van conversion should be no problem.

A number of manufacturers are now making high-top commercial vans, and there is also the option of an aftermarket pop-top for best drivability.
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