Sunday, November 6, 2011

What I like about my View & What I wish it had

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One of this blog’s readers, Lady Vagabond, asked a while back what I liked most about my RV.  The last post answered why I chose a Class C motorhome, so this post dives a bit deeper into the specific things I like about my View (as well as some things I wish it had).

First off, it bears repeating whenever considering an RV purchase: “There is no perfect RV!”   Every RV is a complex set of compromises—each vehicle excels at some things and misses the boat entirely for others.   That’s why we usually buy and sell them so often Smile

Right now, I like most things about my Winnebago View and can live with most of the things I don’t like.  But that’s not to say that in a few years, I might decide a Class A would make a better full-time home…and that will come with a whole new set of compromises.  Again, no perfect RV!

Overall Size:
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I really like the View’s overall width, height, and short wheelbase.  It’s a foot less wide that most other RVs, and that comes in very handy when parking in a normal parking space, driving through construction zones or on curvy, narrow mountain roads. On the inside, though, it’s pretty cramped for me and the dog to move around if I don’t extend the slide-out. 

The View’s short 170” wheelbase makes it very nimble to maneuver through small campground loops, crowded gas stations or do u-turns on most 2 lane roads (even when towing a car!).  If I were driving a longer RV, I’d have less turning radius and would be more limited in which gas stations, restaurants, strip malls, or campgrounds I could get into.

On the flipside though, if my View were even just 5-8 feet longer, it could have a real bedroom in the back, more living room space, and more storage—all things I dearly miss at times in a short 24’ RV.

Engine/Chassis:
Ever wonder why there are so many Sprinter-type vans on the road?  You see them everywhere!  FedEx, DHL, and numerous small businesses use them for their fleets because they get good gas mileage, and have a very reliable, long-running Mercedes-Benz turbo diesel engine.  FedEx Sprinters regularly go into the 500,000 mile range, so I’d never shy away from a used View with, say, 70,000 miles on it—it’s just getting started!

My View gets about 13 mpg in most conditions when towing the Tracker going highway speeds (i.e. doing 70 mph out West).  While that’s not the 15-17 mpg advertised, it’s better than what Class C gas engine units get, and much better than any Class A.

The diesel engine has sufficient torque and power for most conditions except when pulling a tow car up a steep mountain, and in that situation, it still manages to do the job, just at a bit slower speed than if it weren’t towing.   Overall, I’m much more comfortable with my View’s engine and transmission than I used to be with my Subaru towing a small T@B trailer.

Many Class C’s use the Ford E-series chassis and F450 V10 engine.  That too is a very solid combination, and highly serviceable by thousands of dealers.  It’s also a very easy unit to drive, but for me, I’ve liked the Sprinter’s larger windows, the various storage areas in the front dash and above each visor, and the more open cab area.  I like the additional leg room and not having to squeeze around the center “doghouse” engine compartment (like in the Ford) if trying to move between the cab and the coach. 

The downside of my particular model year (and earlier Views) is the 3500 lb towing capacity.  Newer Views and most Fords can pull 5000 lbs giving you more “toad” options.

Additionally, my View (and most Class Cs) have limited CCC (Cargo Carrying Capacity) of 1000 lbs or less.  They’re designed for short vacations, and not for bringing all your worldly (and heavier) possessions.

Exterior:
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My View’s external cargo capacity is at the minimum limit of what I’d consider usable.  My rear storage contains my BBQ grill, a 9 x 12 patio mat, awning lights, an LP campfire unit, a 10g LP tank, a small folding table, and various odds and ends.  My pull-out slide compartment contains 2 large ramps and (4) 2 x 10 wood planks (used for leveling the RV), a telescopic squeegee, and jug of windshield washer fluid.   A smaller side compartment holds extra quarts of special motor oil that the View’s diesel engine takes, a small air compressor for inflating tires, and a spare battery charger.  On the driver’s side, there’s a large utility compartment that carries (2) 25’ water hoses, a 15’ sewer hose and various fittings, 25’ of TV coax cable, and 50’ of 30amp electric cable plus my Surge Protector box. I don’t know where I ‘d put this stuff if that compartment were as small as some of the View Profiles or Via/Reyo units I’ve seen!

I’ve got sufficient room for all important items that I need to keep outside, but could still benefit from additional external storage.  Right now, I must carry my folding lawn chairs inside the RV, and prior to getting a toad, I also had to carry my inflatable boat inside the RV, and carry bikes on a bike rack.

If I had a taller/wider Class A motorhome, I’d have more external space to carry these items.  It’d also provide larger fresh water and holding tanks than what I have now allowing for longer boondocking time between dumps.

Living Area:
My View’s 70” long sofa is nice for stretching out on to watch TV—I’d not want a sofa any shorter than that!  It’d be even nicer, though, if it were a few inches deeper and a bit less firm.  To overcome this, I use a few rectangles of 2” memory foam that fit inside of pillowcases.  These easily store in the overhead bunk area when not in use and make the sofa much more comfortable.

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One unique thing about Views, up until around model year 2010, is their large skylight hatches in the living area.  I absolutely love being able to let the sun shine in on a cold winter day when snowbirding, or being able to open the hatch (along with opening the bathroom fan) to let lots of fresh air flow through the coach while leaving the windows/doors locked.  Really sad that newer models did away with this feature!

The dinette is functional and has a good-sized table.  It’s fine for 2 people or 2 adults and 2 small kids to each meals at.  It becomes a bit more challenging when trying to sit at it all day as a home office desk.  

When at home, I plug my laptop into a large 24” computer monitor for detailed project work.  I also have an ergonomic full-sized keyboard and a rocking/swiveling office chair.  I’ve tried a variety of solutions in the RV to mimic this environment, but haven’t quite found anything ideal yet. 

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One option has been using my 22” TV in the RV as a computer monitor.  Another has been to sit on a folding rocking lawn chair or on the swivel/reclining cab passenger seat rather than at the dinette.  Neither are as ideal as my home office, though.   I’d dearly kill for a comfy, rocking/swivel Euro recliner, or at least a dinette with free-standing chairs that could be swapped out for my office chair.  Just not enough room in the View for either of those options.

Kitchen:
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The View’s kitchen is one area that I’m most pleased with.  I love the large round sink that easily fits plates and large pots/pans for washing.  I also like that all the cabinets and drawers are just the right size—there’s a large drawer beneath the stove that holds all my nested pots/pan set and some baking pans, and the bottom drawer of the drawer stack is tall enough to fit all my small appliances—a toaster, coffee maker, and crock pot.  The drawers are also wide enough to fit most Rubbermaid silverware divider inserts and other organizers, and the top overhead cabinets are roomy enough for all my dishes, cups, and food storage containers.

I bought a stove cover which adds more countertop space and provides a backsplash when cooking.  I’ve also really enjoy the convection oven feature of the microwave.  It cooks a pizza absolutely perfectly, and does fine with small baking and roasting as well.

Perhaps the most-beloved feature of my kitchen, though, is the pantry closet.  I’m often amazed that many RVs don’t have these and force you to stuff food into any overhead storage compartments you can find in other rooms of the rig. It’s so convenient to be able to quickly turn around and grab something out of the pantry when cooking.  The shelves are deep and hold a lot!

Now that I’m used to the View’s 2-door Fridge/Freezer, I’d not want to go back to anything smaller. It provides plenty of room for a week’s worth of food.

Bath:
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I really enjoy the open feel of my model’s full-width bath with it’s large rear window.  When sitting in the swiveled passenger seat and looking to the rear, I have nice views out all directions.   The bath also has a good sized closet so you can get dressed in the bathroom if traveling with others.  I also appreciate the generous storage space in the medicine cabinet and sink vanity.

The shower is good-sized. Cozy, but not cramped.  I also really love the shower’s frosted skylight—why aren’t home showers as nicely illuminated?  When traveling, I put a towel down on the shower floor and store large items such as dog food bags, spare water containers, or excess shopping bags.  I’ve heard of others keeping their kitty litter boxes there too.

Bed:
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It’s nice to be able to sleep up to 5 people in the View when needed.  Many folks with my model sleep on the pullout sofa, on the overhead bed, or both.  But I typically use my overhead bunk area purely for storing lightweight bedding items and duffle bags of clothes or other gear.  Since the View’s jackknife sofa is not that comfortable on it’s own, I use 2 camping mattresses velcroed together along with a double-wide Travelsak sleeping bag and pillows.  I keep all of that stored in the bunk area during the day so it can easily be moved to the sofa at night.  If guests come along, I bring extra Travelsak bags and pillows and keep those up there as well.

While the camp mattress and bedding solution for the sofa is fine for a few months, I’d dearly love a real bedroom with real bed mattress if living in the RV any longer than that.  RV bedrooms also usually have larger closets and drawers for additional clothes (I currently need to use hanging organizers in the closet for my non-hanging clothes).

Other comforts of home:
When returning home after a few months of travel in the View, there are a few things I dearly look forward to.  If I were full-time RVing, I’d want to try and get solutions for these inside my rig:

  • Besides the recliner and real bed mentioned above, I’d love to have an onboard washer/dryer.  I hate having to lug piles of clothes to Laundromats!
  • While I enjoy my outdoor LP campfire when camping (as I’m a complete klutz at trying to make a real campfire), it’d be nice to also have a small electric fireplace/heater on colder days.  Having a real table lamp is also something nice to come home to.
  • A piano!  I don’t play it as often as I used to, but do enjoy it.  I’d love to have enough storage to bring an electronic keyboard with me when traveling.

UPDATE – May, 2014:
If you’re a new reader to WinnieViews, check out this update to the above post comparing my new J-model View to the one above.  I’ve now got an even more comfortable home!

9 comments:

  1. Right now the only thing that is driving me crazy in my rig is the access to the closet. I have the same bathroom/closet as you except the door to my closet is not in the bathroom. I have to stand near the back stairs and reach far back into the closet. I'm tempted to see if Lazy Days can put a door into the closet in the bathroom.

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  2. Thanks so much for this information. I'm about 4 years away from buying an RV, so I'm still in information gathering mode. Your candid comments are very helpful!

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  3. Cool blog. New follower here. We have basicalkly the same RV. Ours is an 08 24H but it has the 254 hp V6 GAS engine instead of the diesel. We get about 13mpg city/hwy average.

    I hope you dont ming but I used a couple of your pics on my blog? Let me know if this is OK.

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  4. A couple things that come to mind about our 08 24H...

    The upper bunk is great when covered with a 2.5 inch memory foam mattress. That's when I sleep. The sofa is too short for me (I'm only 5' 11" tall) and I don't like the crevass in the center.

    I think the Jensen TV is only 19 inch. You mentioned that it's 22 inch.

    The TV can't really be viewed from sitting on the couch or the dinette because of the radical viewing angle. All I see is really dark silouettes from any seated position. Standing is fine and viewing from the upper bunk is OK but kind of far away in my opinion.

    I am going to put another TV above the coach door. It'll be on a fully articulating mount so it can be tilted far enough down that it can be viewed from the couch.

    Have you installed a solar system yet?

    I find the foam in the dinette cushions to be pretty weak. Sitting for any amount of time soon finds your butt basically on the hard wood below.

    The sink in the bathroom is too small to be useable. It's too easy to step a few feet to the kitchen and use that larger sink for hand washing and tooth brushing.

    You can't comfortably read a magazine on the "hopper" with the sliding bathroom door closed.

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  5. I think my next RV will be a used class A Safari trek 24 foot. It has a queen size bed that comes down from the ceiling so the RV can still be only 24 feet long. If the bed were hanging off the back like most RVs, the safari would be 32 feet long. I like a short RV for easy handling and access to places that larger RVs can go.

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  6. http://www.motorhomeclassifieds.com/192709.html


    safari trek 24

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  7. Teri-- Cute rig you've got! Hope you are enjoying your first days of full-timing freedom. I'm sure you can find someone handy to make that mod for you.

    Lady V-- thanks for suggesting the blog post idea! Keep dreamin'!

    Don-- I like the upper bunk as well, but my dog gets very angry that she can't climb up there too, so I stay down with her on the sofa out of guilt (yes, she's spoiled rotten!). I tore the old crappy Jensen out last year and replaced it with a 22" Vizio on an articulating arm. I posted a pic to the V/N Forum, but forgot to post pics here, so I'll get that done soon. The arm is basically mounted upside down so TV is below the shelf and I keep my Sat Receiver on the shelf above it. This not only allows the TV to be at a more comfortable viewing angle, but the arm can swivel the TV out the Dinette window if I want to watch it from outside (rare, but possible).

    The Safari Treks were very interesting rigs with the dropdown bed. Never tried sleeping on one, so not sure how comfy or saggy the bed might become, but they were an interesting use of space for sure.

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  8. i also loved the views of all 4 directions 'and' thru' your roof! judi r.

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  9. Awesome information. Thanks.

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