Getting back to the subject of what we did in choosing an RV, my last posting on that subject was the test drive of the Tiffin Phaeton model 40 QTH. During that period of time of mid to later 2008, we had looked at that model and the Phaeton 42-foot model 42 QRH. On our first test drive, we discovered that Jo would be comfortable with driving the motorhome.
Time went on and we then went on vacation to Colorado with our Ford F250 and Rockwood fifth wheel. Right at the moment, I think it was in 2009 when we went to the Pagosa Springs area for two weeks. Normally, on that long of a trip (over 700 miles one way), I would plan to stop for the night about midway home. As we were about Dalhart, Texas, I decided that I wasn’t suffering from any fatigue, so I asked Jo if she wanted to go on in that evening and perhaps test drive the 42-foot Phaeton on the next day. She felt she was up to it.
When we got into range of a cell phone tower, we made two calls. One to our salesman at McClain’s in Oklahoma City to arrange the test drive and the second to our youngest son in Oklahoma City. He had wanted to be with us on our first test drive, but timing wasn’t right for that one. He was eager to join us on Saturday. So, we drove on into home that evening and got home about 2:00 am.
Our first test drive with the 40-foot Phaeton was roughly 70 miles round trip. We had discussed it with the salesman when we called for the appointment that we wanted to drive to the Arbuckle Mountains in Oklahoma to get a good feel of a longer grade that was fairly steep. They had originally recommended we do that some time, so we chose to do so with the 42 QRH. That test drive ended up being just less than 200 miles round trip.
Our salesman first drove the 42-foot Phaeton through most of the heavier traffic before turning it over to Jo to drive for the first part. She drove it a number of miles south until we came to a roadside rest area. There we stopped to change drivers. I asked the salesman to show us how the Phaeton worked at leveling itself. The parking lot was sloping, so the front and right side of the motorhome was lower than the rear. After saying that he didn’t know how well it would level with that much of a slope, he pushed the button that automatically leveled the Phaeton.
To my great surprise (and I think to the salesman as well), it leveled just fine, although the front passenger side tire was off the ground in getting level. After a pit stop into the restrooms, I took over driving on down to the Arbuckle’s. We went up over the summit with ease and down the other side. At the next interchange, we turned around and headed back north to Oklahoma City.
I was impressed with both the handling of the motorhome and the feeling of stability. Jo had even mentioned that she thought the 42-footer with a tag axle felt more stable than the 40-footer with just the single rear axle. In driving the diesel pushers, I was both pleased with the quietness in the coach and displeased that I couldn’t actually hear the engine. As an old 18-wheeler operator, I really liked to be able to hear any oddities in the sounds of the engines, which can be an early warning of an impending problem with the engine. I think I even asked whether there was a way to put a microphone in the engine compartment at the rear and be able to hear the engine through speakers in the front.
We returned to the same point south of Oklahoma where we had first started testing ourselves and turned it back over to the salesman. Neither Jo nor I felt comfortable enough to drive it through the city traffic, even on the interstates. The salesman then drove back to the RV dealership and put that 42-foot beast through that gate again. (See the pictures below for a perspective of that parking lot and gate. These photos show an RV right inside the “yard” right at the entrance through that gate which prevented the salesman from having a little extra space for maneuvering.
Now, a little closer.
Overall, Jo and I were very impressed with the motorhomes, especially the 42-footer. If we had elected to go with a motorhome instead of a fifth wheel, the 42 QRH would have been our first choice. We were pleased with the amenities, the ease of driving, the storage inside the coach as well as in the basement, and with many other things like side cameras and the diesel generator.
While I was concerned with not being able to hear the engine, I was pleased with the engine braking system. I knew that with a unit as big as this on a mountain pass, I wanted every option of slowing down as I could get. That aspect of driving an RV was to prove to be somewhat frustrating as our researching of RV’s continued.