Comparing the New and Old RVs

Many of our friends were very encouraging as we worked through the accident and made decisions of how to move forward with our trip.  For example, here’s what our good friend Tony Martin wrote:

Timm/Theresa: Sorry to see you have such trouble so early into your endeavor. But we’re very glad to hear you’re ok. Like you said, RVs are easy to replace, people and dogs, no so much. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you.

I guess, as for a silver lining, assuming you continue your journey (and you should), and assuming it is totaled, you will have the benefit of having spent a bit of time in your current RV. So when you purchase the next one, you will have the chance to improve on the little things that can make a big difference when living on the road. The little things, like more counter space here and more storage or some new widget functionality there. You know, the little things that get under your skin after 4000 miles that you could not have thought of prior to getting out on the open road. A do over, if you will.

Again, let us know if we can help out in anyway.

Tony and Becky Martin

“A do over…”  Timm and I used that phrase many times as we searched for a new RV.  We decided to try to get something that fit us better since we were forced to basically start from scratch.  We said to each other several times “Since we have to go through this, we might as well come out of this bad bump with something that fits us a little better.” 

With this in mind, here are our favorite improvements in our 2012 25 foot Coachman Freelander vs. our old 2006 31 foot Four Winds Hurricane, as well as a few things we don’t like as well.

Our new RV, the 2012 Coachman Freelander 23CB.

1. It’s a new 2012 RV.  We almost never buy new.  Being thrifty, we don’t like being the ones to pay the depreciation associated with driving a new vehicle off the lot.  So, we tend to buy used with very low miles.  In this case,we really like that it’s brand new.  It’s just all shiny and clean.

Timm plans our next hike while sitting on the couch under a comfy blanket.

2. It has Beauflor Cushioned Vinyl flooring throughout and NO carpeting. In the old RV, it was such a hassle wiping the dogs paws every time they came in with desert dust on their paws.  Or Timm and I taking our shoes on and off countless times as we’d go in and out of the RV.  The carpet in the old RV was a tan color so it didn’t show the dirt all that badly but after even just a month, it was starting to look lived in.  This new floor is holding up great and is easy to sweep, vacuum or mop.  I like it so much, I may put it in our new house some day.  And it really is cushioned, nice for walking on even in bare feet.  Can you tell I really love this floor?  Funny how a thing like a floor can make such a difference.

The Beauflor Cushioned Vinyl flooring is much easier to clean than carpeting!

3. It’s smaller and much easier to drive.  The old RV was 31 foot and a Class A, which means it was on a bus-like frame.  This RV is 25 feet long and a Class C, which means it’s on a small truck frame.  The shorter length and truck-like feel makes it much easier to maneuver and drive. It’s a lot like driving a U-Haul.  Plus, because it’s smaller, we have more freedom to go to campsites that only accommodate smaller RVs, like Ryan Campground in Joshua Tree where we just were or where we are now in Mohave National Preserve.

The cockpit of a class C is similar to the cab of a regular pick up truck.

4. It’s just simpler.  The old RV had a hydraulic slide room and hydraulic leveling jacks.  This new RV has no slide room and no jacks.  We just park it and we’re done.  Although the old RV with it’s slide room gave us more space (see #2 of things we don’t like as much, below), it was strangely stressful putting the room in and out and jacks up and down.  First, you have to be very careful that you don’t put the room out and hit something, like a tree or a power pole. The same with the jacks.  For example, one time we put the jacks down on top of a parking curb and nearly lodged one of the jacks under the curb.  D’oh!

The bedroom and door to the bathroom are in the rear of the RV.

5. The bathroom is bigger and better laid out.  The old RV had a tiny room for the toilet and sink with the shower in a separate area.  The bathroom was so small, I’d hit my head on the door nob when sitting on the commode.  This new bathroom is a nice size with the shower, sink and toilet together in one room.  We also like this shower door better.  To open, it slides around inside itself so water doesn’t drip on the floor.  The old RV had a shower door that swung out, which would drip water on the floor when you opened it because RVs are hardly ever 100% level. I guess RV designers learned a thing or two in the 6 years between 2006 to 2012.

The bathroom is roomier (relatively speaking) than the old RV. This shower door slides open behind itself so there is no dripping on the floor.

6. There is more counter space in the new RV, as Tony envisioned!  This makes it easier to make meals and do dishes.  It also has a single larger sink vs. 2 smaller sinks in the old RV.  I didn’t think I’d like the 1 large sink but I do, with the strainer on the countertop.

The kitchen has more counterspace but unfortunately, no oven. 

7. We like the above the cab bed.  Originally, we thought it was a waste of space but it turns out, we use it a lot as a sort of day-bed. After a long hike, we climb up there and take naps.  Today, for example, we had a rare desert rain storm so we climbed up and fell asleep listening to the rain. 

The over the cab bunk is nice for afternoon naps. It has a ceiling vent and window on the left so it gets nice ventilation.

8. We don’t have the calculation completed yet, but we expect better gas mileage with our new RV.  The old one got a dismal 8 miles per gallon.  This one should get better mileage because it’s the exact same engine, the Ford V-10 but 6 years newer.  We’re also pulling 6,000 fewer pounds.  This RV weighs 12,000 pounds whereas the old RV weighted 18,000 pounds.  We’re hoping that translates into better gas mileage.  The last time we got gas, it was $4.23 per gallon so every bit of increase in MPG helps.

There are a few things we don’t like as much about the new RV. 
1. The new RV has no oven but has a 3 burner stove top and microwave (see photo of kitchen above).  The old one had an oven and we miss that.  To install one would cost about $750 and would displace 2 drawers of valuable space. We’ve been doing fine with microwave French bread pizza and bakery made biscuits.  We looked at toaster ovens but they were pretty big and we don’t have a lot of space to spare.  I think we’ll live just fine without an oven.

2. The new RV is less roomy than the old one.  This RV has no slide out room whereas the old one did.  This makes the inside a little more crowded.  But, it’s just me, Timm and the 2 pups so it’s fine.  Plus, Timm and I have a rule that we have a kiss each time we bump into each other, which makes being cramped way more fun!

This versatile space can be used 3 different ways: as a couch (as Theresa demonstrates), a table or a single bed!

3. The bathroom in the new RV is always colder than the rest of the RV.  There’s a heat vent inside the bathroom but it’s further away from the furnace so maybe doesn’t get great air flow.  There is also a HUGE skylight above the entire shower, as well as a ceiling vent (see bathroom photo above).  These seem to let in more cold air from outside.

What we’ve learned over the past few months is that when it comes to RV’s, everything is a trade-off.  But, that’s how life is, we all do our best to research and think about the trade-offs, then try to maximize and optimize as best we can.  All in, we like our new RV much better than the old one.  It just fits our vision for the trip better.  Less hassle, more access to remote locations and more convenience.

Timm enjoys bacon and eggs for breakfast before a nice day of hiking in Mohave National Preserve.

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