Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting Our First RV - The Purchase


The couple selling the truck and the fifth wheel are really nice folks.  They show us the truck – it's a 2008 Ford F250 Super Duty with the big 6.4 liter twin-turbo diesel engine.  This is a 4-door model with the King Ranch interior and a Reese fifth wheel hitch in the bed.  The wheels are 20-inch alloys, and this baby sits high off the ground.  With a powerful engine, heavy-duty transmission, built-in brake controller, and giant side view mirrors, this truck was made for towing a big rig.  And that's a good thing, because the fifth wheel, a 2006 Jayco Designer 34rlqs is indeed big – 37 feet from stem to stern.

We take a tour of the fifth wheel.  With four slideouts and 34 feet of living area from front to back, there is a surprising amount of room inside, on two floors no less!  It's like a condo on wheels.  Up front, and upstairs, is the bedroom, with a king-size bed, big closet, lots of drawers, a shower, and a separate, enclosed bathroom with a window and an exhaust fan that vents to the outside (thank goodness).  Downstairs is the kitchen, dining area, and living room area at the rear with a big bay window.  There are lots of windows, and lots of roomy storage compartments.  The kitchen has an island with two sinks and plenty of food prep space.  It has a gas stove and oven, microwave, and a refrigerator/freezer – just like a real house!  The ceiling is high, which gives a spacious feeling.  (There is even a ceiling fan.)  A large dining table seats four.  The living room area has a sleeper sofa and two very comfortable reclining leather chairs with matching foot rests.  There's an entertainment center for the TV and audio/video equipment, and a desk with space for a computer system.  This fifth wheel has about 300 square feet of living area.  (Nice and big for an RV, but coming from a house with over 2000 square feet of living area on 2/3 of an acre of land, it's going to take some getting used to!)  Janet and I can visualize living here.  The Jayco has been well-maintained, but with its age, it's going to need some work on the interior.

Next, we take the truck for a test drive (sans Jayco).  Make no mistake, this is a manly man's truck!  (Yet, who will be doing all the initial towing?  Janet!  She used to drive a school bus.  The longest thing I've ever driven was my old Ford Aerostar van.)  I get behind the wheel of the big Ford, and I feel like rustling cattle and smoking a pack of Marlboros.  The interior is HUGE, and it has the most comfortable leather seats that have ever caressed my bottom in a vehicle!  The truck's cab alone is almost bigger than my entire Honda Fit, and the back seat has tons of leg room.  The dog is sure going to enjoy riding in this monster.  The guy who is selling the rig shows me a great feature of the hitch: It has two positions – one for regular towing, and another for maneuvering to get in and out of spaces.  In the maneuvering position, the truck can make almost a 90-degree turn with the fifth wheel attached!  During the test drive, I notice that there's too much play in the steering wheel at the center position, but otherwise, the truck looks good and runs nicely.  It has been well-maintained, but it's going to need some mechanical work.  The owner tells us that while towing the Jayco on the highway, the truck gets about 12 miles per gallon.  While that's great for an RV, I still do the math.  Let's see, a 30 gallon tank, $4.00 per gallon for diesel fuel... YIKES, that's a $120 fill-up to go 360 miles.  I'm going to be some Arab Sheik's best friend!

The sellers are straightforward, and don't want to dicker on price, so they cut to the chase and come right out with the lowest price they're willing to accept for both the truck and the fifth wheel.  We've done our homework, so we know the price is right.  We agree to have the truck and the fifth wheel inspected (at our expense), and if there are no surprises, it's a deal.

The inspections are done the following week, and the only serious issues involved the truck.  One of the steering components will have to be replaced, followed by a wheel alignment.  The rear brake pads will have to be replaced, six lug nuts are bad and will have to be replaced, and I'll need to buy a new spare tire.  The service won't be cheap, but it's not a deal breaker.  (By the way, who knew that lug nuts for the spiffy Harley-Davidson alloy wheels were only available from Ford, in packs of eight, at a cost of $150?  Until I was informed by my mechanic, not me.  If you had told me I'd spend almost 19 bucks each for lug nuts, I'd have thought you were nuts!)

Inspections behind us, it's time to burn a hole in our savings account and make the purchase.  Cashiers checks in hand, we sign on the line and get the titles signed over to us.  Next, it's off to the DMV to register the stuff , get them titled in our names, and get tags so we can take 'em home.  And that's where the REALLY BIG surprise occurred: In Florida, every time any conveyance is sold (including used), the 6% state sales tax is due.  For used cars, motorcycles, trucks, fifth wheels, and motorhomes, the tax is collected by, you guessed it, the DMV!  OUCH!  I leave the DMV office feeling woozy, with wallet deflated.

Coming up next:  How we got the rig home, RTFM, and other surprises.

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