COAL: 2016 Winnebago – Room With a View

The View backed behind our house. The big power mirrors and rear view camera make it pretty easy to maneuver, given it’s size.

Shortly after buying the Audi A3 for my daughter, I woke up one morning to a text from my mom. “We’re going to have to sell the View, your Dad just doesn’t have the energy for it any longer. Just wanted to tell you in case you would be interested”.

Well, I hadn’t gone to bed thinking about buying an RV, no. But I was interested. I knew that after some recent health setbacks, my parents had rediscovered the joy of flying versus driving long distances. Well, I guess it is a relative “joy”. You arrive quicker, anyway. We had a “bunkhouse” travel trailer we used quite a bit when the kids were smaller, and really enjoyed it. We would still have it, but they outgrew the kid sized beds, about the same time being cooped up in a travel trailer with mom and dad wasn’t fun anymore.

Mom and Dad had one RV or another for going on the past 20 years. They started with an Airstream trailer,

then a gas A Class,

then a diesel pusher or two. In 2015, they decided to downsize to a more manageable RV from the 40+ foot thing they were driving.

Our View behind the house again. The rear slide is for the queen bed. The entry steps are power deployed, and put themselves away when you shift into “D”. Lower skirt doors left to right are storage, Onan generator, and outdoor TV.

They special ordered this Winnebago View from the factory, loaded up just the way they wanted it. Full body paint, check. Diesel Onan generator (though they never camp anywhere without full hookups), check. Chromed aluminum wheels, check. Heat pump on the roof, check. Extra bed over the cab, check. Convection oven/microwave, check. L-shaped sofa/dinette, check. Heated holding tanks, though they winterize it and don’t use it in the winter, check. DVD home theater system with three TV’s, yada yada yada.

The side slideout is the L-shaped sofa, which serves as a dinette with a removable table. No room is wasted; door under rear slide is large storage under the bed. Skirt door at the rear corner has all water and power connections. Door under the side slideout has wastewater connections and valves.

It was intended to be their last RV. They wanted something smaller, easier to drive, and cheaper to maintain. With a side slideout for the dinette/sofa, and a rear slide for the bedroom, it was quite roomy for a couple.

The front cab seats swivel all the way around for more seating when parked.

The bedroom slide is “deployed” here. The mattress flips up in half to close the “bedroom”, and then it’s a about a twin size. Still usable by one person, without the slide. TV swings on hinges towards the front for easier viewing, and to access cabinet behind it.

The kitchen has an LP gas stove (under the hinged metal cover in this picture). The fridge runs on LP gas, 120 volts when you are plugged in to “shore power”, or 12 volts when you are driving and want to conserve your LP gas.

With the Onan diesel generator, you can camp where there are no connections. Of course, you can camp without a generator, but by running it during allowed hours in, say, a national park, you can use the microwave, run the AC during daylight hours, use the TV, charge the house batteries, etc. It uses about 3/10 of a gallon per hour and is connected to the same 36 gallon tank as the drivetrain.

Middle part of bunk flips up for easier cab access….when flipped back into place, it has latches for the ladder to be in the middle of the bunk. This shows the “stowage” position for the ladder.

With the optional bunk bed over the cab, it would work for us and our youngest, who is almost 16.

Taking delivery in the Summer of 2015 at age 70, they planned to use it for 10 years or so and then call it quits.

In the Summer of 2016, my Dad had some sudden health issues involving surgery, from which he has somewhat recovered. But, he doesn’t have the stamina or ability to drive for hours he used to, and taking days or weeks to go somewhere (or nowhere in particular) doesn’t appeal to them any longer.

After an initial burst of usage, they logged 13,000 miles in it the first year and barely 6,000 miles the past two years. After three years and about 19,000 miles, they wanted to exit the highway, literally and figuratively.

The first question of course, was how much do you want for it? I had not paid it much attention and maybe stepped in it one time. I didn’t recall what model year it was, even.

It is titled as a 2016 Winnebago View, riding on a 2015 Mercedes Sprinter 3500 chassis with a 3.0 V6 turbodiesel. The MSRP was $138,000.00 and that’s about what they paid, ordering it as they did. They had taken it to a couple of dealers who told them they would buy it outright from them for $50,000.00. My Dad was guessing the dealers would then try to get $80,000.00 or more for it. He had no interest in trying to sell it himself, with all the scammers and criminals out there.

If I wanted it for the $50,000.00, it was mine, as he would much rather me get the “upside” than some dealer. And, he could still visit it at my house.

My wife and I went the next weekend to look at it. Knowing my parents as I do, I knew it would be in BETTER than new condition, I just wanted them to give me a walkaround. They have always kept it waxed and serviced (though hardly any service has been called for thus far).

They had carpet cut and bound into a custom fit “mat” for the cab area carpet. They added extensions to the dual rear wheel valves so you can check the air easier. They had the clear 3M “bra” applied to the front end. He added padded arm rests to the hard plastic Sprinter door panels, which I thought were factory. He replaced the drawer and cabinet catches with heavier duty ones after a drawer flew open in a curve. He added a trickle charger to the chassis battery under the driver’s floorboard, and to the house batteries under the entry stairs. He amassed a medium box of new spare parts, one of every item he read online might fail and leave you stranded. He kept a log book of every fillup and DEF fluid topoff. And so on, it’s a retired person’s paradise of little projects.

What little service had been required (front end alignment after you load it full, one bad ABS sensor, and one oil & filter) had been done a couple of hours away at a Freightliner Oasis garage. These are heavy duty truck shops that set aside space to cater to the RV crowd, and have “boot camps” for new RV owners. This usually means a dozen or so full hookup campsites on premises in case you need to hang around for a part, a dog park, a nicer lounge area for the RV folks, and special training and lifts so they don’t damage the RV parts while they wrench on the underside.

The service required by the Mercedes chassis is really minimal. Mobil 1 0w30 ESP oil and filter every 20,000 miles (or every 10,000 miles, if you use something easier to find like Rotella synthetic 5w40). Fuel filter every 40,000 miles, it’s up on top of the engine where it is easy to access. The tough old Mercedes 5 speed automatic needs fluid and filter at 40,000 miles, and then every 80,000 after that. I’ve got the filter and fluid in my garage from some other Mercedes, and you can get under the RV to do it without any kind of lifting. “Every 9th oil change” is the differential and coolant, which is an odd way to express it.

Like the Audi, the Sprinter uses diesel exhaust fluid. It holds 4.5 gallons and uses it at a much faster clip than the Audi, as you might imagine. Dad reports about 1,800 miles per gallon of DEF. The DEF tank and filler is under the hood of a Sprinter chassis/cab, so it doesn’t interfere with the upfitting.

It will tow about 4000 pounds. They flat-towed a Subaru with a stick, so you can leave it in neutral. I could buy a tow dolly and tow the ES350 since it is front wheel drive, but a final decision on that can wait. A local rental through Hertz or Enterprise is pretty cheap, so if you are going to stay put in one place for a week or more, rent a car if you want to. As Uber spreads, it’s a great way to get a ride to a nice dinner or local sights as well.

We are taking our maiden voyage close to the house next weekend, but we plan to drive the View about 1400 miles round trip to move our son into college this Fall. And, probably drive the 5200 miles round trip to California in 2019 to see our daughter, and visit some colleges along the way with our youngest son. We could fly, but I’ve always wanted to drive across the country. I’m going to start branching out further from home for my half marathons since I could pull up the night before and just sleep in the View (I’m one of those people who can’t sleep in hotels). Sounds like some potential CC material!