Hi Everyone. It’s been a while, but I have something big to show you today! Kathy and I have been keeping this mostly under our hat, but as we’re getting ready to get back on the road the time has finally arrived.
Last year we bought a new, 2012 Winnebago Aspect 30c RV and over the past year we’ve been turning it into our new home!
I made a video tour of our home on wheels yesterday, and if you have the time I’d appreciate it if you’d watch it:
I’ll be making more videos going forward, both to cover tips and tricks that I’ve learned as well as to show you modifications I’ve made.
Don’t worry, this won’t turn into an RV-only site. Both Kathy and I see our RV as a way to better do what we set out to do in the first place – travel!
Why a Winnebago Aspect?
During our travels we stopped at the Winnebago plant in Forest City Iowa and took the tour. We were both very impressed with the Winnebago facility and with the manufacturing standards and processes. We both felt that Winnebago does a great job building their coaches, and that we’d get years of trouble-free service out of our RV.
In addition, Winnebago has a huge network of dealers around the country in the event we have issues or need repairs (a constant thing with RVs). It doesn’t hurt that Winnebagos have good resale value too.
We specifically chose the Aspect because of it’s size/shape, contents, and price. Our Aspect is relatively small at 31.5 feet and short at only about 10.5 feet tall. On the other hand, we have 3 slides – 2 in the living area and one in the bedroom, so even though our RV starts fairly small, it gets relatively large when setup.
In addition, our Aspect came equipped with a lot of things we thought would be useful:
- 3 Slides – Increases living space dramatically considering the small footprint of our RV
- Our AC unit also has a heat pump. That means we can run electric heat through the AC roof vents when on ‘shore power’ or when the generator is running. We also have a propane furnace that blows warm air out of floor vents.
- Automatic Leveling Jacks – I can literally press a button and the entire RV will level itself.
- Our Refrigerator runs on either propane or electric and switches between the two automatically. If no electricity is available it switches to propane.
- Our Water Heater can run on either propane or electricity as well.
- Factory installed inverter means we can run 110v appliances off of our batteries.
- Electric Sofa – runs on 12v (battery) power and easily converts to a bed.
- A garage – very handy if you like to do projects like I do.
- Lots of external storage for a small RV
There are too many things to list here, but I’ll touch upon more features and benefits – as well as negatives and detriments – in future posts.
New RV vs. Used RV
I’ve been asked why we purchased a new RV considering that RVs depreciate rapidly and a used RV is significantly less money. There are several reasons however the biggest reason in our case was financing.
Like most people we didn’t purchase our RV with cash. We had enough to make a solid down payment, but that would have only purchased a small, used travel trailer and then we would have needed to purchase a truck to pull it and so on.
As we’re both technically self employed, financing is much stricter than if you’re a W2 employee – at least at the time we made our purchase. It remains to be seen if the banks loosen their standards again going forward, but at this time making major purchases as a self employed couple is still challenging.
Long story short, the bank had requirements we needed to meet both in price as well as year of the RV. It was easier for us to purchase a new RV than it would have been to buy one that was a few years old, so that’s what we did.
There are many other advantages to buying new. RVs have all the features of a house and a car combined, and as such they have everything that can go wrong in both a house and a car. I’ve read many stories of people buying older RVs and getting so bogged down in repairs that they finally gave up and went back to living a ‘normal’ life. We didn’t want to be another cautionary tale, and buying a new or newer RV ensures that everything has a warranty and can be relatively easily fixed.
We also added an extended warranty that covers everything in the RV for the next 7 years so that we can be sure that major repair costs don’t derail our travels. I’d recommend that anyone considering living this lifestyle do the same as RV repairs can cost a bundle!
Both Kathy and I are very excited to get on the road. We’re aiming for this summer and I’ll begin posting travel blogs once that happens. In the meantime I’ll be adding posts and videos about gear and equipment that we’ve purchased to make our travels easier, and perhaps a few day trips thrown in.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll answer them as quickly as possible. Until next time, happy travels!
Hi Rich, thank you for your great comments and for sharing your experience with the RV community. I am transitioning from a Ford Chassis Class B I had used/customized for 20 years until she was vandalized/trashed while serving overseas. I am considering a used Winnebago Cambria or Aspect 2010~2013 (Disabled Veteran income). I will use the rig to visit my children scattered around the States (military) and save living accommodations.
1- Any differences between the Aspect and Cambria that would make you select one or the other?
2- If it was to redo again, considering your experience with yours (road and living), would you consider any other brands/make?
3- Any reasons or caution “not-to-buy” one (as objective you can be)?
Thank you for your advice, Ciao, L
Hi Guy – 1. There’s very little difference between Winnebago/Itasca other than colors and fabrics – both inside and out. Note that some of the units have a garage in teh back like ours, and some don’t. I’d recommend getting one with for sure, as the extra storage is far more valuable than a fixed ladder – at least for us.
2. Not really. I’ve looked at a lot of other models in the past few years and haven’t seen anything I’d prefer that’s anywhere close to the same price as what we paid. For the way we live and travel this RV has been perfect. Other than a little more headroom, there’s not much I’d change.
3. I wish I could give you objective caution. I really can’t. We’ve had this RV for almost 5 years, and it’s never once been in the shop except for when Michelin recalled our tires and gave us a free set. From what I’ve read that’s very impressive by RV standards, especially when you consider we live in it full time! I hope that’s helpful – good luck!
Considering buying a Winnebago Aspect 30. We live in Florida. Just wondering if the A/C is adequate in hot climates?
Hi Allen – It requires some effort to make most RV A/C units adequate for Florida in the summer. That means reflective insulation in the windows (this stuff → ), 14″ vent cushions – also for insulation (these→ ) in every vent, plus you need to run the A/C before it gets really hot in the AM. Once the RV gets hot it’s very difficult to cool it down.
Note that it’s much easier to keep it cool if you’re parked in the shade. If you’re going to be parked in full sun, I’d get a bigger RV with 50amp service and 2x A/C units on the roof minimum.
I read in a post that you are 6’4″ tall. How do you like the shower in your Aspect 30C? Is it at all useable for you? I have found a well priced 2016 Cambria 30J ( with shower & toilet similar to your 30C), but I am 6’2″ tall and 185 pounds and the shower is tight. I prefer my “own” shower to public showers. We like everything else about the Cambria 30J. We want a C class motorhome for the exterior dimensions. We presently have a travel trailer with a large bath & shower. Thanks for any insights.
Hi Ken – Yes, I’m 6’4″ and 235 pounds, and the shower in our 30C fits me great. Almost every other RV shower we tried in a smaller C was too small – either boxy so I couldn’t turn around, or short, etc.. Airstream showers are an impossibility! The quarter round shape allows for plenty of room. We agree – we use our own shower if we’re on full hookups – and sometimes even if we’re not.
Rich……….we enjoy your forum and we relate to it as we recently purchased our first RV, a 2009 Itasca Cambre 30 J with only 8,500 miles on it. During our second RV outing, our front TV quit on us. I would like to take it out for service, but we cannot find how to do that in the manuals. We plan to call the Winnebago folks for help, but, if you can help us, we would be very appreciative. Looking at your photos of the interior, it looks exactly like ours.
Thanks, Robert and Cecile…..we are 75 and 66 years old and with the RV, we feel 20 years younger!! 🙂
Hi Robert – it’s pretty easy, actually. There are two trim pieces on either side of the TV that are covering screws. You can remove the trim with a knife slipped under the edge and some careful prying. Once you remove them, there are 4 total screws to remove the surrounding wooden frame, and then you can access the bracket that supports the TV. In our RV, that was a metal bracket with 6 screws – 3 on each side. It’s a little heavy, so be careful. I hope that’s helpful – good luck!
We did end up ordering a 2014 Itasca Cambria 30J back on Feb. 1st….although I said i would never buy new again….we are happy with the decision…this will be our first Winnebago product after having two Tiffins previously..I sure hope we have good luck with it…..question for you..are you able to run the convection oven and the A/C at the same time..or a coffee pot and A/C at the same time?…I haven’t had 30 amp in a long time.
Hi Dave – Congrats on your new rig! We’ve been very happy with our Winnebago so far, although we’ve had a few issues here and there which I’ll share in future posts.
Good question about power. The answer is – it depends. If your refrigerator is running on electric and is currently running, and if your power converter (charges your house batteries) is running, then you’re pulling 5 – 6 amps or more if your house batteries need to be charged. The convection oven pulls more power if you choose a higher heat setting, but can pull as much as 15 amps all by itself. The A/C unit surges when it first kicks on, then settles down to around 10 – 12 amps depending on the temperature outside and how hard it’s working. Anything else you have plugged in and running is also pulling a little bit – TVs, computers, phone charging, etc.. Although you don’t have to think about lights as they’re all 12V.
We don’t use a coffee pot – I boil water and make coffee in a french press in the morning. The coffee tastes better that way in my opinion, and then I don’t have to think about the energy draw. Another good alternative is use a percolator – either is a must when boondocking.
I pulled the amp draw numbers from our Energy Management System. I installed the 30amp Progressive Industries EMS with monitor, and it tells me how many amps I’m pulling at any given time (plus it’s a surge protector and much more), and I’ve tested out different things to see what they use. I highly recommend installing one – I put it right in the compartment that holds the power cord so it’s hidden and protected. Click Here to View the Progressive Industries 30amp EMS on Amazon.com
I hope that’s helpful, and good luck Dave!
yes I had the 50A version in my last coach….I ended up opting for the portable one before i read your post…wasn’t sure there was enough room in bay for the hardwired version…now i kind of wish I would have went that way…
It was a little challenging to install the hardwired version, as there isn’t a lot of room in the electrical cord bay, but I made it work. The hardest part was bolting it to the side – I didn’t want it on the floor of the compartment. Either way it’s a great product!
Hi Rich and Kathy,
Hope the New Year finds you well……We thinking about getting a 2014 Itasca Cambria 30J….I am wondering about how the Ford E450 drives…we will be towing a small 2011 Ford Fiesta and sometimes a small enclosed trailer both weighing around 2500LBS….we are downsizing from a 40ft Diesel Pusher and love the storage that the 30J offers….when I had a previous class A motorhome with the Ford gas engine the Engine would downshift hard on the slightest hill or incline and sound like the motor was about to blow up…….Do you experience the same thing in your Aspect?…Our highs are not even getting above 0° so I will not be test driving one anytime soon…lol…we do have a dealer in town that has one in their indoor showroom so we have been able to check it out and sit in it for long periods and really think it is a perfect fit for us….just haven’t been able to drive it……I look forward to reading more about your travels….We wish we could be doing the same.
Hi Dave – the 30J does have great storage. It’s the one thing we wish we had more of, but then, we probably don’t need more stuff with us! 🙂 We also tow a 2500 pound car (Honda Fit), so have a similar setup to the one you’re describing. When we first got the Aspect, I’d say the engine was a little noisy and shifted on the hard side. Once it was broken in – at about 5,000 miles, I changed the oil and used Mobil 1 synthetic, and the engine runs much quieter now and shifts more smoothly. One thing that made a bit difference was getting a quality alignment. We brought it to a truck alignment professional and paid about $225 for the alignment and it was worth every penny. The aspect drives much more smoothly and handles much better. I think this translates to smoother shifts and better throttle control as well. That said, like any gas engine RV it does struggle going up steep inclines, but I never have it drop below 50mph and I don’t have to punish the engine to maintain that – even going up passes like El Cajon in California. Happy New Year and good luck to you both!
I have a 2013 Aspect 30C and I lose some of my fresh water out the gravity fill on the drivers side, especially when I turn hard right and have to give it a little gas to get out into traffic. Have you had this problem and if so how have you solved it? Seems to me the angle from the fill to the storage under the bed is not enough. They have since solved this in the 2014 model by moving the gravity fill higher thus causing a steeper angle. Not sure if this was an issue with the 2012 or not, hard to see exactly where your gravity fill is. Also did you install the hydraulic door holder on the outside TV section (mine has the simple rod) and finally, is the sound in the bedroom tv very low when you play a dvd from the living room dvd player to the bedroom tv? – Otherwise I LOVE my RV. – Thanks!
Hi Steve – the 2012 doesn’t have a gravity fill (unfortunately). There is a vent in the top of the tank above the frame rail, so that when you’re filling the tank air (and water) can escape, so if you’re driving with a full tank of water I could see some of the water escaping from there? More likely they added a gravity fill in 2013 which is what you’re referring to, but as I don’t have one I can’t be much help.
Yes I installed the hydraulic door shock for the external TV door. The doors are relatively thin, so I took the aluminum strip that was holding the manual holder and used silicone to glue it lengthwise to the inside of the door so that the screws had something to hold on to, and then drilled and mounted the hydraulic shock to that. It works well and I like it MUCH better than the original holder. I bought the hydraulic door shock at camping world.
I also swapped out the DVD player with the newer Samsung Blue Ray system. I never did get my bedroom TV to play movies from the DVD player – probably should have read the manual, but Kathy and I always watch TV/Movies in the living area anyway. I’m not a fan of the bedroom TV – the remote is horrible, the sound isn’t that great either. I may swap it for a newer, thinner, larger TV someday and make sure I have it working with the DVD system at that point. It’s also possible that a wire is loose in the back which is why it doesn’t work with the DVD now… It’s always something!
Hi again, we are curious as to whether you bought straight from the manufacturer or from a local dealer? Advantages/disadvantages? We won’t be able to put down 10% for financing, do you think this will be a problem? Your thoughts and suggestions are very welcome. S&J
Hi Guys – from what I understand, you can’t buy straight from the manufacturer. If you go to Forest City Iowa (home of Winnebago), there’s a dealer there that can help you buy a zero mile RV, but you still have to but from the dealer. As far as financing, ours was more challenging as we’re both self employed. We had to put down a pretty hefty chunk, and only found one bank that would work with us (it was 2011). I think if you are W2 employees it’s significantly easier – but loans aren’t as easy to get as they were before the recession, although I’ve heard it’s getting easier again. Good luck!
Enjoyed your website: I am almost ready to purchase 2014 cambria 30J, which is your unit with a bedroom change and more basement storage. I have researched all Class C units and the wennibago always comes to the top. How does it drive, will tow a Honda CRV. Are the front seats easy to swivel. do the slides work well and is it easy to back into camping pad. I notice in video you changed shower head, is that a good one.
Hi Jim – thanks! I’ve seen the 30J and like it. The extra storage is nice to have – and the side tables on both sides of the bed are good too. Ours drives well. It feels much smaller than it is due to the height and seating. I tow a Honda Fit, so smaller than your CRV, but have had no problems. The passenger side front seat is easier to swivel than the driver side. I usually only turn the passenger side as a result, but they both do turn. The slides work great. My favorite thing about this model is the 2 slides in the living area. I’ve had 6 people in the living area and it’s manageable. It’s very easy to park as it has the rear-view camera and because it drives like a van. The shower head we’re using is the Oxygenic Body Spa (<- click to see) and it's excellent. It feels like you're getting much higher water pressure even though you aren't, and more importantly doesn't clog up with lime and calcium deposits as it's treated. The factory shower head has small holes that get clogged very quickly if you live in a hard water area. You do need to change the mount to use the Oxygenic shower head as it doesn't fit into the factory mount very well. I found the correct mount here: http://www.rvupgradestore.com/Oxygenics-Wand-Holder-Chrome-p/86-8514.htm. Good luck!
I admire you and Kathy for your ingenuity. My husband retired and we are selling our home. We are seriously considering becoming full time RVers. However, we have 2 cats and are considering a bunk house RV with an outdoor kitchen. My question is how do you do your laundry on the road with no other additional transportation than your bikes? We like the idea of a class C but going to the store for “stuff” may be an issue. Also, we are older than you…ok, much older…and are not teckie. It probably isn’t an issue for you but do you find 60 yr olds catching on to the bells and whistles OK? Thank you
Hi Terry – thanks! We have a tow vehicle for laundry and groceries. I’ll have to discuss that in another video. We have a Honda Fit which can be towed with all 4 wheels on the ground. It weighs only around 2500 pounds, so is barely noticeable behind the RV when towing. That said, most RV parks have laundry facilities. In general you wouldn’t stay somewhere that doesn’t have hookups and facilities for very long (state and national parks or BLM/Forest Service land) – usually not more than a week at a time. Of course you can also do laundry by hand like they used to do back in the day. I bring laundry line with me that I can string between trees or off the RV to dry clothes.
As far as catching on to the bells and whistles, I’d say that a lot of people get into RVing when they’re older, so as long as you read your owner’s manual and follow the instructions you’ll be just fine. Most of the people we run into in parks are over 60, and they all seem to manage well. In fact, it’s usually younger people that don’t read the owners manual and make mistakes! Good luck, and let us know if you decide to get an RV!
Like the idea of adding water filters to our RV and your video led me to search for something similar. I found Flow Pur (2 stage filter) but have not stumbled across a 3 stage filter system. Where did you find it and do you know the flow rate? Also, care to share the thought process behind your system?
Thanks. Really enjoyed the video and am looking forward to future posts.
Hi Dave – I’m writing a post and making a video about water filtration right now. Stay tuned for a new post where I go over this in detail. The short version is that I bought my system from RVWaterFilterStore.com, the flow rate is around 3gpm and the thought process is that by removing sediment first with a cheap sediment filter the more expensive carbon filters will last longer. The 3rd slot is for a specialty filter depending on region. Some places have iron in the water or may need an extra carbon filter for taste.
I believe you said you and your wife are self-employed. Do you have any tips on full-timing, working out of your RV and taxes? Thanks.
Hi – I could, should, and will write a post on this. The short version is that yes we’re self employed – I’m a freelance web designer and marketer, and Kathy is a recruiter, artist, and writer. With the internet there are many ways to make a decent (or excellent) income from the road.
The key to working in the RV (to me) is having different zones so we don’t get in each others space – especially with the phone. I work at the dinette and outside and sometimes at coffee shops, and Kathy prefers to work sitting on the bed. We have a door and screen between us which helps with sound (from phone calls).
Regarding taxes, it helps to have a wife that knows her stuff! Kathy stays on top of taxes, and then we have a good CPA (worth every penny) and make sure to pay estimated taxes on time. Budgeting and savings are very important when self employed. I hope that’s helpful.