Saturday, September 19, 2015

May I have more? (Also, why we chose a 36' Class 'A' diesel pusher)

I know the norm here is wind, fog, cold and not much sun, but I want what I want, right?  After 3+ months of mostly sunny, warm, windless weather in SLT I was ready for a little weather variation, but it didn't take me long to wish for no fog, no wind, no clouds and more sun.  Friday we awoke to just what I wanted, and if the weather guessers are remotely accurate in their predictions for the next few days we should have a little more of the same.

Order is restored......sunny, warmish, little wind

The view from my office for the 'middle shift' was nothing short of amazing all day long.  We had just over 170 visitors for the day making for many interesting conversations, which always seems to make time fly.  We had a lot of wild life sighting, including our first porcupine sighting.  There were 5, or 6 deer, numerous bald eagles, and rabbits as well as people of every shape, size and description.

We were off at 1530 hours and headed into Port Orford to do some small shopping, and once again TLE kept it small.....just one small basket.  We were home by 1645 and relaxing in advance of our dinner with Mike and Liz......they had purchased some hand made German hot dogs which they contributed, and I grilled, along with fresh peaches (also grilled) and other sides.  We sat outside for the first time in 10 days to eat, but by 2030 it was beginning to get cold (wish we could have had a fire, but I don't think that wish will be granted this time around....there is a still a state wide ban on campfires at all Oregon State Parks), so we retired to our individual homes for the evening.

Now, on to the topic I promised in yesterday's blog.......'Why did we choose our Class A diesel pusher?'

The first thing I will emphasize here is that there is no wrong answer to the question "What RV should I buy to full time in?".....seriously.  I have told TLE on occasions too numerous to count that there is an RV configuration and design for everyone.....all you have to do is walk through any RV park anywhere in America and you will know I am right.  It really comes down to what strikes your particular fancy, and meets your needs based on how you plan to live your life on the road.  For the sake of brevity I will not go into all the pros and cons of all the RV configurations available, and why we didn't choose them.  Why we chose our particular Class A 36' diesel pusher is only relevant to our situation, but I will take you through our thought processes that led to the decision we made, and why we have had zero regrets about that decision in the 7 years since we bought our Newell.

Our first motorized RV was a 1987 Fleetwood Tioga 26' Class C shown below.....

It came with this cool awning tent enclosure which added to our living space

We liked it a lot, but after a few multi week trips in it, and knowing our desire was to travel full time we decided we needed something bigger.  From the beginning we knew we liked the convenience, for us, of the motorhome platform.  We could stop anywhere for the night and not even get out of the RV.  While in route TLE could get up and go to the bathroom, or get a snack for us without the need to stop, and if we decided to stop we didn't even have to get out to go to the bathroom......very important to us if the weather was inclement.  We decided pretty early on that we wanted to move up to a Class A design that would allow us to make better use of the driving and passenger compartment.  In most Class C configurations that space is completely unusuable when camping, whereas in many Class A configurations the chairs could be turned around and the console, and dashboard space could be utilized giving us more usable space.

We spent time going through every conceivable Class A configuration at RV shows, as well as touring the Class A's owned by people we knew, and met along the way.  One accessory we decided against pretty early on was slides.  I wanted to be able to work on all the systems of our new RV, and trying to fix a slide when it malfunctioned (and they will) seemed way above my pay grade.  The next thing we decided on was we didn't want anything longer than 36' so our camping options would not be limited by our size.  Many National Parks have length limitations of around 35-36 feet.  So, over the months of searching we had narrowed our choices down to an RV no longer than 36' with no slides.

Next up for me was I wanted at least a queen sized pedestal bed we could walk around so neither of us would have to crawl over the other to get in, or out of bed, plus we wanted a configuration that would allow us to use the area under the pedestal bed for storage. Secondly we wanted a washer and dryer in our RV.  

Another issue is whether to buy a new, or used RV.....I hadn't purchased a new car in a couple of decades because I hated the immediate depreciation when you left the car lot, so why would I change my philosophy when it came to an RV?  Ultimately we decided we would not be buying a 'new' RV as we did not want to be making loan payments for the next 6 years, so we began focusing on Class A motorhomes around 8-10 years old that we could afford to buy and own outright. 

The final thing we decided we wanted was a diesel pusher......more power for pulling a large enclosed car trailer.....why we decided to pull an enclosed car trailer, instead of just pulling a car behind us like most people do is a whole other discussion that I will write about separately.

Now that we had narrowed our options down we began to look in earnest for our next RV, but within a few weeks became very discouraged as virtually all of the used Class A's we looked at did not stand up well to full time living, let alone part time, or weekend living.  They all had this 'threadbare' look to them after 8-10 years, and at $70-$90,000 dollars for a used one we would have to do a lot of interior renovation before we even began living in it.  Then one day while browsing the local Craigslist RV ads I came across this ad for a 1982 Newell......I had never heard of Newell, and there was a good reason.  They only build about 25-30 of them a year so there are not many on the road.

This was the only picture in the original Craigslist ad, but I was captivated!

This Newell was 36' long, had a pedestal bed, and a Splendide washer/dryer.  As I said, at the time I had no idea what a Newell was, but it looked beautiful.   The draw back for me was that in 2008 it was 26 years old.....about 16 years older than we wanted.  On top of that it had this weird Detroit Diesel 2 stroke engine (a 6V92 with turbo putting out 350 horsepower).......what is a 2 stroke diesel?  Initially I was a little put off by the age, but we happened to be attending a wedding down in the area where the Newell was stored, so we decided to make an appointment to see it while we were in the area.  I happened to be the first one to respond to the ad, but as it turned out I was not the last.

The wedding was Saturday evening so we met Fred (the second owner of this 1982 Newell) around noon time at the storage facility where he kept it.  He opened the door for TLE to enter, and before I was able to get to the top of the entry stairs TLE was sold, and I was playing catch up.  Fred spent 2 hours showing us all the basement storage areas, cranked up the Detroit, the generator, etc.  The interior on this 103,000 mile coach was immaculate, and everything worked.  By the end of the tour I was very intrigued.  I called my good friend, Claude Banker, to find out if he knew anything about Newells, and he did.  He immediately sent me a link that explained the differences between a traditional 4 stroke diesel, and a 2 stroke, then a link to a Newell users website.  I spent most of the afternoon reading about Newells, and by Sunday (after the wedding) we went back to look at it again.  At our second meeting Fred advised that he had already had offers above what he was asking, but since I was the first in the door we could have it for the original asking price of $39,900.  We had done some checking and found Newells of similar vintage and condition going for over $70,000.  This Newell was way below our original budget of $70-90,000 so we decided to pull the trigger and put a deposit on it giving us two weeks (March 1st) to come up with the balance.  Of course, the rest is history, and on March 1, 2008 we became the owners of not our 'next' RV, but the RV that we will call home for years to come.

To own this giant Newell coach I would be on a steep learning curve for the next few years.  I knew very little about electricity, or how to troubleshoot electrical problems, so I had to learn about 12 volt direct current and 110 alternating current, and how to solve electrical problems......that was a very steeeeep learning curve for me and my education still continues in that area to this day.  I would have to learn about diesel engines, their upkeep, and how to fix stuff when it breaks....fortunately I had this wonderful users group called (which no longer exists......a Newell friend of mine started a new one called and it is thriving to this day) and quickly became friends with several of the forum contributors who spent hours on the phone with me helping me troubleshot minor issues I was having.  Ultimately we met many of these folks in person, and have spent thousands of hours with them traveling, staying at their homes, on the phone,etc.  Without their help I would have drowned quickly, but today, with their backup and support I can pretty much fix anything that goes wrong, and have, indeed, done just that.

So, there you have it......our reasons for choosing the RV we travel and live our lives in every day 365 days year.  What you want, and need will probably be different.  There is really no wrong answer to the question 'What RV should I buy?', but you are the one who will have to answer that question.  Decide what things are important to you in a 'tiny house' and then go find it!

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. What great deal you got on that Newel looks amazing, sounds like a good choice.

  2. and darlene and i have been the benefactor of you looking at that craigslist ad.


  3. When you looked into the 6V92 2-stroke, what did you find out? I know there is an 8V as well. We are looking into the same vintage coach as your Newell and I probably have the same questions you did!

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    3. First of all, forgive me for not replying to your comment earlier....I guess I missed this one. Greg, I found out the difference between a 2 stroke and a 4 stroke diesel is that the 2 stroke goes through the entire compression, fire and exhaust in just two strokes of the piston, whereas the 4 stroke takes, of course, 4 strokes. 2 strokes have greater low end torque than 4 strokes.....more power at lower rpm's, and the red line is only 2100 rpms. They do not like high temps......anything above 220 degrees and you are risking a blown engine.


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