Tuesday, July 23, 2019

New-to-us RV

Well, the dealer wasn’t lying. It looked as good in-person as it did on their video. It checked off most of the boxes of what we were looking for plus a few more that I hadn’t thought of. It is a 2005 Mandalay 40E. Basically, a bus. 41.5’ long with a rear-engine Caterpillar turbo diesel. Allison six speed transmission, exhaust brake, air brakes, air suspension, 8 KW diesel generator (that’s in the drawer behind Bridget), almost three times the fresh water capacity of our 5th wheel for longer boondocking. Grey water capacity is about double. No solar but the batteries look new-ish and it does have a 2K inverter. Unfortunately, it’s a modified sine wave and not full sine wave.

Since this wasn’t one of the premium brands according to the Motorhome Comparison book, we were skeptical about how well it was constructed. It looks pretty good and the maple cabinets feel really solid. The slides and auto leveling system are hydraulic and are very smooth and quiet. All Corian counters, ceramic tile floors and brand new carpeting. 60k miles so it’s not been sitting unused and it looks like it was stored indoors based on the paint job. BTW, all those graphics are painted on not vinyl stickers like a lot of RVs. The 22.5” truck tires look to be in good shape with the front ones only two years old. The rear are 7 years old so will probably be changed sooner rather than later.  I forgot to take pictures when the slides were out but imagine about five more feet of open space. The rocker recliner Bridget is sitting on is leather and the couch is fabric. Opposing slides in both the living area and the rear bedroom.


Rear bedroom with the slides in. With the slides out, it’s about 3’ wider.  Most of the back wall is closet space plus a washer/dryer. There were two folding chairs under the bed for the dining table which extends another foot or so. Opposite the bed are more drawers, cabinets and another small TV. Speaking of TVs, there is yet another flat screen mounted on an arm in one of the storage compartments. Two of the basement storage compartments are the full 8’ width with one of them having a sliding tray that comes out of either side. Between the rear bedroom and the kitchen is the bathroom and a hallway along the drivers side.

The engine compartment. Maintenance items are pretty easy to get to and one of the features that I was looking for was the side radiator. Better cooling and no road debris blowing onto the towed car which, for now, will be our Prius V. Many diesel pushers have the radiator in the rear and the only way to get to the engine is through the bedroom floor. At least you can see the engine. My preference was for a Cummins but it was only a preference.


The instrument panel shows some differences from a car. The tach only goes to 3k rpm since “red line” is only 2400 rpm. Maximum torque (860 ft-lbs) is at 1440 rpm. There are two air systems labeled front and rear, one for the brakes and one for the suspension. It rides much, much smoother than the truck and you can barely hear the engine. The Hobbs meter (hour meter at the upper right) shows generator time at 545 hours which, I’m told, is about average for the mileage and low for the age. This suggests that this unit wasn’t “lived in” by a full-timer. In hot weather, you run the generator while traveling so you can run the two roof A/C units. The dash air just blows cool air on the driver and passenger but is too small to cool the interior.

The battery compartment looked a lot cleaner than expected. The four house batteries (6V golf cart) are on the left and the two engine batteries are on the right. The only immediate addition here will be a Victron battery monitor. Basically, the same function as the Trimetric monitor I installed in the 5th wheel except it has Bluetooth. The display does not “need” to be mounted inside as you can read it using a phone app.

According to the build sheet, with a full fuel tank (100 gallons), a full water tank (120 gallons), full propane (29 gallons), and two people, there is still 4400 lbs of load carrying capacity. We carry way less than that but it’s nice to have the headroom. Towing capacity drops to 8k if you are carrying max cargo. The Prius and tow dolly are much less than that.

The obvious question is why all this way to Georgia. The owner of the dealer, which is a small-ish family owned business, puts out a lot of YouTube videos showing their inventory. He mentioned that their sales staff does not work on commission and there is no dickering on the price. They are very selective on what rigs they purchase for sale.  I like the way that sounded. We’ll see how it works out...

10 comments:

david R said...

Freightliner chassis? Nice looking rig for 14 YO. Must have been cared for well? Hope you find it a joy to go on the road.

Scott Seidl said...

That is a fine looking rig you have there. I've never had a camper or rv but I'm guessing the experience on the road is much nicer this way when compared to sitting in a truck towing a camper.

redlegsrides said...

Congratulations to both of you! That's a great looking Class A RV. So what's next? Explore the east coast states?

Tim L said...

VERY nice! You guys are going to love it.

RichardM said...

According to the label, a custom Freightliner chassis. Raised chassis rails for more basement storage and independent front suspension.

RichardM said...

After traveling with just about every other type of RV, this will be a new experience. I think it’ll be more convenient to travel with this than a trailer though towing the 5th wheel has also been pretty easy. But the ride of the truck is much harsher. We’ll see how this goes.

RichardM said...

Not yet, the current plan is to pack up the Prius with e-bikes, kayak, cooking stuff, tools, etc. and I’ll head for GA to pick it up. I’ll then head to the PNW where Bridget will fly in with the pets. At least that’s the plan today...

RichardM said...

Hopefully.

SonjaM said...

What, no pool?

Is it legal to drive such a monster with a normal driver's license?
Keeping fingers crossed that the deal works out.

RichardM said...

Nope, no pool or jacuzzi. If you are a resident of some states, they require a recreational class A but not Alaska. And even those that do, it’s only a written test. The width is the same as the 5th wheel, the height is 6” less and it’s shorter. But towing a car will make it slightly longer.