2017 Berkshire XLT 43B-450
We wrote about our trip to Elkhart, IN to buy our Berkshire in this post.
Here are some of the features that drew us to this make and model:
- King-size bed
- Two front slides for more living area
- Washer and dryer
- Full size refrigerator
- Diesel motor with 450HP wth 1200lb of torque, which really helps with climbing hills (especially at high elevations) and will last hundreds of thousands of miles longer than our a gas motor. Having a diesel motor also allows us to use the truck stop fuel lines for big rigs! Also, MUCH quieter while driving…no more yelling over the engine noise.
- More stable steering control with less walking all over the road, and it doesn’t get blown around by other vehicles as easily.
- Two sofas that are a lot more comfortable than our last RV had
- Much more comfortable driver / passenger seats than our last RV
- Fireplace that actually heats up the RV! This saves on propane.
- 3 A/C units instead of just one
- 10k watt generator with dashboard starting switch
- More storage than our last RV
- Heated, ceramic tile floors
- Nice interior finishes
- Dimmable LED ceiling lights – great to have when driving at night. Allows passengers to see and move around without reflecting on windshield much.
- Electric sunshades and nightshades
- Sikkens exterior paint, loved the graphics
- Steerable rear tag axle
- Frameless tilt out windows
- Pocket doors on bother ends of bunk area, just like our last RV. This makes it easier to be on phone calls for work and avoid the noise of kids when needed. Also let’s me work earlier in the morning without waking the kids.
- Bigger closet in bedroom
- Better positioning of sofa in relation to TV location than our last RV
With about 3000 miles under our belt, we’ve identied some things we don’t like about this RV, none of which would ever make us second guess our decision to buy this make and model. Mostly a lot of little stuff that can be fixed with some minor modifications.
- The driver’s window has a horizontal divider that is in the way of the outside mirror.
- The Atwood OnDemand water heater ours came with is terrible. We will be replacing it with a Truma.
- Headlights are not very bright.
- Needs electrical outlets around sofa areas
- Bathroom cabinet sticks out over the sink too far. You almost have to duck your head under it when brushing teeth.
- There is a step up at the end / left side of the bed that you will trip on at some point when walking to the closet until you get used to it.
- When the washer is spinning, it shakes the whole RV pretty badly.
- The cabinets above the driver and passenger windows need a shelf so you can take advantage of the space more.
- The multifunction stereo / camera display is very slow to change screens. Frustrating when you need to show the camera view. Too many clicks to get from one screen to another.
- Bunkbeds are not wired into the signal distribution system. They just have coax cable and an HDMI port. I had to spend $300 on wireless HDMI transmitters / receivers in order to let them watch DVDs from the living room DVD player. If they had installed TVs with built-in DVD players that would have been better.
- No real pantry in the kitchen. Have to put food in overhead cabinets.
- More kitchen counter space would be nice, like an extendable L-shaped counter as seen in other RVs.
- Need an electrical outlet by the master bed right side nightstand. Had to run an extension cord under the bed from the left side.
- Bathroom shower needs to be about 3″ bigger around and use the wasted space where the towel rack is located. Move the towel rack above the toilet.
- Need to allow front overhead TV to be watched by passengers while driving (No, not because I will watch TV while I am driving!), since the large living room TV is covered by a slide while driving. Otherwise it is pointless to have and would be better used as storage cabinets. I will be “fixing” the TV so it can be powered on while driving, and I will also install a Bluetooth transmitter for wireless headphone use.
- Bunkbeds curtains were a joke. Very flimsy curtain rod and curtains got in the way when making the beds and didn’t block much light. We replaced with roller shades. Should have come that way from the factory.
- No keyless entry / exit as other comparable RVs have.
- Toilet paper holder in a bad location (easy fix)
Information about our last RV is below:
Itasca Sunstar 35B by Winnebago
As we cleaned out the RV from our tour of the Gulf, I figured I’d snap a few photos. We had a few people ask why we picked this make / model, so I thought I’d share that info here as well.
Why did we choose this one?
- Probably the most influencing reason we bought this one was the look and feel of the interior. It just has a warm, inviting feel that we really liked.
- Bunk beds for the kids!
- The full size shower is really nice! Other rigs we looked at had very small showers.
- Separate doors to close off the master bedroom, bunk bed area, and living / dining / kitchen area. Since V works remotely, being able to work / hop on conference calls and not wake everyone up meant we needed some doors. The doors are also great when V needs to escape noisy kids during calls also!
- Overall size was a factor also. Our 19′ KZ camper we had previously was just too small to spend much time in it, and our Honda couldn’t pull anything longer. Knowing we’d be in the RV for a month or more with 2 kids means we need enough room to not feel like sardines. There are much bigger RVs than this one, but for our budget this is about as big as they come and still getting the other features we want.
- Quality was a very important factor. Winnebago has a great reputation when it comes to quality. Winnebago has a steel structure that envelopes the interior. Supposedly, they’ve turned one of these models upside down and it does not collapse (That’s good, because we almost ended up that way while driving through Dallas construction zones). Also, every door / panel has a serial number on it so that you can easily have the exact part with correct color replaced in the future if it becomes damaged.
- V loved the dashboard layout…sleek, modern layout. It feels more like driving a car than an 18 wheeler!
- Last, but not least, was the price. The RV seemed to be the best bang for the buck in terms of quality and features. It was more than we planned on spending initially, but we’re glad we chose this one.
Those are the major reasons. There are tons of awesome features we loved, but the above items were the most influencing factors.
To help stay connected for remote work, we installed a WifiRanger Elite (http://wifiranger.com). This device pulls in weaker WiFi signals from up to 2 miles away, which can be a big help if the campground WiFi is weak toward the outer edges of the park. The kit consists of an external antenna (with its own router, which could be used by itself), and an internal router called a Go2 router. What makes this setup unique is that you can prioritize the hotspots you want it to connect to, or combine between multiple hotspots for more bandwidth. The router then broadcasts an internal/private hotspot that you connect to. You only have to connect to the internal hotspot, and it will maintain the connection to the hotspots you tell it to use, acting like a WiFi broker. The Go2 router allows you to connect a USB cell hotspot as well.
The Elite antenna comes in either a pole mount or a flat roof mount bracket. We opted for the roof mount bracket, and glued it to the fiberglass roof near the refrigerator vent. The vent cover comes off easily, but then it was a trick to route the Ethernet cable from the antenna to the internal router. It required some careful measuring and drilling through a couple of internal walls, but nothing major and spray foam was a big help to seal up any small gaps between the cable and the holes, all of which are out of sight.