After a coast to coast search for a used Class B / Camper Van we succeeded! Meet Sally - our 1995 Pleasure Way SRL.
Fifth Wheel to Class B
For those of you who haven’t been following along with our story, we recently decided to change up our travel mode and downsize from our 34’ Fifth Wheel to a Class B motorhome (aka “camper van”).
We had people telling us to give up because you know, Class Bs aren’t big enough to live in. Or they told us we should hunker down in Texas for a while to work and increase our budget.
In the 4th grade I had a teacher tell me I was “pig-headed.”
He was right.
Once I get the idea to do something there’s no talking me out of it. The more you try, the harder I’ll work to prove you wrong.
I saw Class Bs selling in our price range. I could find people who full-time in them.
MsBoyink and I want to try it. Better to have tried and fail than letting naysayers talk you out of ever trying.
So I kept searching. I’ll admit - it became an obsession. I’ll have a blog post later on how to shop for a used Class B for under $10K.
We got a line on one for sale through a reader of our newsletter. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for - lacking a 2nd bed for Miranda and not tall enough for me to stand up straight in.
Ditching Suburbia Manifesto Shirt
Suburbia-ditchers have different values than most people - tell the world what they are:
Simpler Living. Closer Family. Richer Education. Uncommon Adventures.
Styles available: t-Shirts, tank tops, and hoodies.
Colors available: black, navy, gray.
The rig was in Florida. I found 3-4 more Class Bs for sale in Florida that were in our budget. MsBoyink found $45 one-way flights from Austin to St. Petersburg. We booked them, assuming we’d buy something and drive it home.
We landed, rented a car, and found a hotel. The next day we looked at the Pleasure-Way. Going in our assumption was that it wouldn’t be “the one”.
We ended up spending a couple hours there, looking at the RV and connecting with Linda (the seller). I wasn’t immediately put off by the height issue. There was a lot of storage. The cabinetry work felt really nice. We could see this working well for the 2 of us.
We realized Miranda was only with us for a few weeks. We could stay in AirBnBs - the van would be small enough to park in a driveway.
From there we went to rig #2 - a Coachmen with 2 beds and tall enough for me to stand up in.
I really thought this would be the one. It wasn’t.
The floorplan looked great in photos, but in reality the upper bunk would be a pain to sleep in fulltime. It’s tight, and too much hassle for those of us who don’t stay in bed all night.
We got back in the rental car and looked at our list of other rigs to look at. One had sold. The others were both Coachmen units with the had the same floorplan as the one we just looked at.
Back to Rig 1
We called Linda back and committed to the Pleasure-Way. She was happy - but surprised we’d buy something not tall enough.
At this point it was Saturday night, and she had family plans. We scheduled a time for Monday to complete the deal and pick up the rig.
After all the train riding, air travel, and driving we’d been doing we wanted some outdoor time. Sunday morning we booked out to a local park for a couple hours of hiking.
The rest of the day was showers and naps back at a hotel.
Monday morning we set out to go pick up the new RV. We had traveled to Florida assuming we’d have to pay cash. Trying to get several thousand dollars cash from a bank when you are out of town is a laughable exercise. We were hitting up ATMs like Bonnie and Clyde in a Toyota.
We spent a few hours again at Linda’s lingering over the transaction. We got the story of how she met her husband John, and the trips they took with the RV. Her son was there helping and it was fun watching them interact as she told the old stories.
On the Road
Eventually it was time to go, though, so we hugged and drove off. I wanted to toot the horn…but missed where the horn button was.
We first went to an auto service facility where I had the coolant, oil, transmission fluid, and rear differential oil all flushed and changed. I wanted a baseline for future maintenance.
Some Beach, Somewhere
We had the rental car to return. We started heading back that way.
A sign for a beach came up. I wanted to try out our new-found nimbleness. I just drove in and parked. No worries about overhead clearance. No worries about backing up. No taking up 6 spaces.
We talked with a man watching the water. We took a short walk. We started to imagine what our travels could be like in this mode.
Back on the road again I started looking for a car wash. The rig was dirty from sitting outside in Florida. I finally found one and power-washed what I could reach. 30 minutes and $10 and the van was looking 100% better already.
We bought supper at a local grocery store and had our first meal in the back of the van.
From there it was back to the rental car drop off. Again I just drove into the rental lot, with no worries about tight corners.
Walmart for the first night in the new rig?
We intend to do more moochdocking, blacktop boondocking, and legit boondocking. Might as well get started.
We went in to buy a basic sheet set, cheap pillows and some instant coffee for the morning.
Sleeping is still a puzzle. It’s a double bed for the two of us. We’re making it work but have some ideas for how to eke out a bit more sleeping space.
The rig needed tires. We’ve always used Discount Tire in our travels. They are in the most states, and offer free rotation and balancing.
The nearest Discount Tire was an hour away, and somehow Google found us the 2 hour route. It wasn’t a comfortable drive knowing how weather-checked the existing tires were.
I had BFGoodrich All Terrains put on. The price was about the same as street tires. I liked the idea of having a bit more tire for gravel and dirt roads.
New fluids and new rubber? Let’s go. We headed north.
We bought the rig knowing the fridge wasn’t working. Turned out nothing was working on 12V. The engine battery was fresh, but the house battery wasn’t. A dead battery was the simplest answer, so we stopped at a Sam’s Club to buy a fresh house battery.
Sams offers battery installation service. I had no tools, so great.
Now - try to describe a Class B RV to someone who doesn’t know RVs. You can’t say the word “motorhome”. I did, and they were sure I wouldn’t fit in the bay. They won’t work on anything they can’t fit in their bay.
After I convinced the manager it was more of a “conversion van” he agreed they would do the battery installation. I pulled the van over and backed it in.
Consider Another Career?
I could tell the mechanic wasn’t happy with the manager right then. You know. Something new. Something different.
I pulled the cover off the battery tray and he looked in. He motioned the manager over…“take a look at this”. Yes, there are more than 2 wires.
I just wanted to get back on the road…“Lend me a wrench and I’ll do it.”
He was suddenly motivated.
Then it was “that battery won’t fit.” Yes, I had purchased a larger battery than what was in the van. The existing battery had a bunch of wood spacers around it so I measured and confirmed that the larger battery would work. I showed him the tape measure.
We got to work.
I held wires out of the way while he exchanged batteries. He reattached the wires and asked if things were working ok. The 12V lights still didn’t work. Bummer.
The generator wouldn’t start. It had before. I peeked over the couch and saw a loose red wire.
With a big white label reading “Generator”.
“I think this may be why.”
“Oh, I thought I had them all.”
With that wire re-attached we hit the road again. Still no 12V or fridge but at least we knew it wasn’t the battery.