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Old 06-17-2005, 09:17 AM   #1
Verle and Sue
Montana Fan
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: LeRoy
Posts: 181
M.O.C. #3960
Confused Newbies

Hello, we're Sue and Verle from Central Illinois. We're starting to plan for full-time 5th wheeling retirement. We have a few years yet until the full-time part, but plan to get our TV and 5er and do destination camping until "our time comes" LOL. We sure are confused though. . . we've been researching the internet and visiting show lots/rooms. We have determined the things we HAVE to have and the things that are negotiable. We have decided on the floor plan we MOST prefer, and so far the Montana 3400 has won hands down. The only drawback the Montana has so far is we wish we could get a larger fridge. The confusion comes in when we talk to others. . . other dealers say Montana is a piece of c___, we've seen some negative feedback on other forums, but we look and look and look and keep coming back to the Montana. So, tell me, Montana owners. . . is the Montana a good solid Fifth Wheel for full-timing? We are planning (I know, the best laid plans . . . ) this to be our "final retirement home" as long as we can keep going. Should we trust our gut instincts (or is that wants?)? Any suggestions? Thanks for any input to clear up some of our confusion.

Sue & Verle
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Old 06-17-2005, 09:33 AM   #2
Montana Master
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Location: Statham
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M.O.C. #3215

First of all, welcome to MOC! Some of the full timers will be by shortly to tell you about their experiences with their units in full time paradise—Marsha and I have too many years of teaching left to even contemplate such —but I would suggest that anything can go wrong on any camper. I have heard horror stories about Montanas on other forums—as well as this one—but about other brands as well. As I am sure will be pointed out by others on the forum, the Montana is the top selling 5er, so when there are more on the road, well, there is a proportionally greater chance for something going awry.

Others will also mention that quality control is an issue in the RV industry as a whole, and I would agree. I know Steve Reigle will respond to this thread and he seems heartened by what he saw at the plant in Goshen that makes Montanas when he recently had his in there for service, so I take that as a positive sign. This is not a bash, but on another forum I heard wonderful comments about the AmeriCamp units and stopped to look at some at a Georgia dealer this week while camping. Looking at the basement construction, I have to say that I feel VERY good about my Montana.

Personally, I have owned three RVs, and had small problems with all. My parents had four and also expereinced small problems. I really believe it is the nature of the beast. Of one thing I can assure you, no matter what brand you purchase, it will demand upkeep. If not, you are inviting problems that might not have surfaced in the first place. I learned that lesson the hard way…
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Old 06-17-2005, 10:38 AM   #3
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M.O.C. #3113
Sue & Verle, we have the 3400RL and we love it. We got the largest frig. that they came with. Any more and it would cut out your cabinet space. About the dealers bashing Montana products, well I would say they just want to sell you their product. If they were dealing with the Keystone RV's they would bash other manufacturers. They need to make a buck. I have found out though that dealers don't have half the knowledge that this forum about the Montana. Probably because they just sell them, they don't use them. I would suggest that you go with your gut instincts, after all it is your money. We spent 5 years looking. We had settled on the Hitchiker but when we pulled in the lot the dealer next door had the Montanas on their lot. I told Paul, lets look one more time because we hadn't seen the Montanas yet. We did and the rest is history. GO WITH YOUR GUT!
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Old 06-17-2005, 01:20 PM   #4
Glenn and Lorraine
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Sue & Verle Welcome to the MOC family.

Tomorrow it will be exactly 21 months that Lorraine and I have been fulltiming in our Montana. We love this rig and if we were ever to upgrade it would be to another Montana and in all probability it would be the 3400RL. In our opinion you should go with your gut instinct. We did that 21 months ago and have not regretted it.

"other dealers say Montana is a piece of c___".....Could it be that those "other dealers" are a bit jealous??? Montana did not get to be the #1 selling fifth wheel for the past 4 years by selling c___! BTW-They are also the #1 selling USED fifth wheel. Just a week ago we stopped at a local Boat & RV dealer just to see what he handled. After the initial "hi ya, how ya doin" he asked if we owned an RV. Well his eyes really lite up when he assumed I was about to trade my Monty. He wasn't at all happy when I explained I was browsing and had no intention of trading.
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Old 06-17-2005, 03:09 PM   #5
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quote:Originally posted by Wordsmith


Personally, I have owned three RVs, and had small problems with all. My parents had four and also expereinced small problems. I really believe it is the nature of the beast. [...]

Think about what would happen to your house if you started draging it down the road all over the country. Things will break and fall off given enough time & bumps. There will almost always be SOMETHING no matter what brand. That said, with Montana you get:

1) A factory that appears to be trying very hard to be responsive to their customer base. There are things that are wrong on our 2002 that are right on the new 2005's.

2) Above average customer service when things do go wrong. Still doesn't help if you are one of the few who don't think that you are geting the service you think you should have.... but it accounts for some of the horror stories.

3) Very good bang-for-the-buck in the Montana line.

4) This forum which is VERY helpful to one & all. Many brands don't have this good a support group.

And as Wordsmith says, no matter who's RV you get you gotta keep them up or else...

Happy hunting.

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Old 06-17-2005, 03:54 PM   #6
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M.O.C. #1043
As everyone has said go with your gut feeling. Montana read this forum and try to chage the things that are mention here. If some one owns another rv then it's the best, if they own a Montana then it's the best. I have the 2980rl and it has it's own problems but are something being done about it YES. Are the problem being addressed YES am I happy with my unit YES.
Take your time and check things out and I will asure you it will be a MONTAMA.
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Old 06-17-2005, 04:17 PM   #7
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M.O.C. #122
We are on our second Montana. Our first (an '02 3255RL) was sold within half an hour of our bringing it in to the dealer, and there were several potential buyers waiting for it.

Will you get the "perfect Montana"? Probably not, but with time, patience and a good dealer, it can probably be made as near perfect as our imperfect world allows. As others have commented, the RV industry is not a shining example of the use of modern quality control techniques. Be prepared to go over any unit carefully on (or before) delivery, and document anything that is not quite right. Do a short shakedown camping trip (preferably in some rain) and make sure everything is working as it should before you start any extensive travelling.

Hope this does not sound too negative, but you should be prepared for something less than perfection, no matter what rig you buy; and who knows, you may just get lucky.

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Old 06-17-2005, 05:53 PM   #8
stiles watson
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Location: Leona
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M.O.C. #2059

You don't sound like you fell of the turnip truck. So think about it. Your are a salesman and you don't sell Montanas. What would you say about Montanas? Did you ever buy a car? The Chevy salesman says, "Did you hear about the recalls on the Fords?" "The Chrysler products don't have good resale value." Go to a competing dealer and you hear the same innuendoes. The same flimflam goes in the stick house market. " Oh, that builder has soooo many problems."

You are doing the right thing by asking the users. Admittedly, we are prejudicedly convinced that we made the right choice. Who every publicly admits they made a wrong one? I, for one, try to be honest with myself, first of all, and then with others. I like my Montana. We will be fulltiming in it as soon as we sell the stick house if not before.

Mine is a previously loved and enjoyed unit, well cared for by fastidious folks who had fulltimed in it for 18 months. We picked it up at a bargain price that included the pristine tow vehicle. We could not be more pleased, more like elated.

On this forum, we yell when we don't like something or something is not as it should be. That's the beauty of this group of folks. You get "the good, the bad and the ugly" uncensored. You also get a huge amount of creative problem solving synergy that helps answer questions before you even know what questions to ask. Happy hunting...
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Old 06-18-2005, 01:33 AM   #9
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M.O.C. #1105
Sue, welcome to the forum. You are fortunate to have found out about us because here you will get the straight scoop. We purchased our Montana over a year before we planned to retired and start using it on a regular basis. We knew there would be "bugs" in it and we've spent the year working them out and adding our own special touches and improvements to our rig. We are very happy with what we have now. We feel confident enough to start on our five month trip to Alaska and feel that we are in a very good rig for an extended trip. Search this forum and you will learn the true facts about America's favorite fifth wheel and meet some nice people along the way.
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Old 06-18-2005, 03:58 AM   #10
Bill and Ann
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Location: Napanee
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M.O.C. #1493
We full time for 5 mos. of the year (winter time of course). Wouldn't trade our unit for any other. You make your unit (inside) the way you want it. (or the way it should have been built originally) You get what you pay for. In our case (Monty owners), the best on the market.
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Old 06-18-2005, 04:46 AM   #11
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M.O.C. #2018
I can only echo what others have said - go with your gut feeling. We had an older 30' Prowler Regal that did us proud - no major problems, fixable minor ones, and just required careful maintenance. One of the reasons we traded it in was the lack of slides and we decided we wanted to try a 5th wheel. We looked for several years at shows and dealers, and always came back to the Montana. We were lucky when we got serious about trading and our dealer had just gotten this 3255RL on the lot - hadn't had time to inspect/detail the unit and we said YES with no hesitation. Haven't regretted it. We don't full time, but I'm sure you will get plenty of information from people on the forum who do. Nothing is perfect, and has been said, a dealer who doesn't sell Montanas is more than likely going to tell you they are c--- and try to sell you his brand. Bottom line - you have to go with what your needs are and what you think is the best bang for the buck. For us, and most of the folks on this forum, that was Montana/Mountaineer. Good luck and have fun looking.
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Old 06-18-2005, 08:38 AM   #12
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Welcome, Sue and Verle. I am a bit pressed for time this afternoon so have not yet read through all the replies. Please forgive if I end up duplicating those.

In a few days we will mark 27 months fulltiming in our Montana. This is our second Montana. We bought the first one new in January, 2001, then ordered a second one, taking delivery in July, 2002. If we someday decide to trade again it likely will be for another Montana. The way Keystone stands behind the product is icing on the cake but is very nice icing. The units are not perfect but we could not find a better bang for the buck.

Montana has been the number one seller of all recreational trailers in North America for the last four consecutive years. Any brand could catch the public eye and become a first year best seller but you don't retain that title if you don't produce a good product. Top seller for four years, you know there has to be a good reason for that.

You will find this forum is not controlled or in any way affiliated with the manufacturer. Those folks do monitor the forum and have responded with improvements in the product over the years. You'll find in this forum we are not afraid to talk about the problems that come up. But remember that those problems are in a small percentage of the units, as you would expect with any brand. The difference is we talk about them here. But we're not very good about getting on here and saying "Wow, my trailer is x years old and I've never had a tire wear problem." It's just not human nature to do that except in reply to a question. But it is human nature to post about a problem, seeking either help or commiseration, or maybe both.

There are other good brands out there, too. But from your post I think you've discovered what we discovered. It's really tough to beat the Montana and Mountaineer. Like you, we looked at numerous brands and kept coming back to the Montana. We're not a bit sorry we made the Montana decision.

By the way, the attractiveness and the floorplan are what kept drawing us back to the Montana when we were looking for a new FW. Then, looking at the construction details is what sold me on it. Things like attic vents to vent moisture and other little things you normally don't think to look into until the purchase is final.

As I said above, Keystone stands behind their product. Three weeks ago we had some work done at the factory service center. After contacting those folks they made an appt for us to come to the center. They not only took care of what we went there for but they went looking for other things needing repair related to the major components, like the slides, water tanks, etc. And they replaced seals on our slides even though most of them were fine. You know what? Our Montana is an early 2003. We took delivery in July, 2002. Most of this coach is out of warranty. They took care of us anyhow. And they've done the same for others with even older rigs. This is not to say you can just walk into the factory service center and get work done. They asked us if we could come there. We had the option of going somewhere else but we were able to go to Goshen, IN, so went to the service center.

Last, but definitely not least, we have made a number of good friends through this forum. We have met a number of MOC members while on the road. Today we had the pleasure of meeting Jan and Paul (userid jpkelpe). At our first annual international rally last September there were 67 Montanas and Mountaineers. We became friends with many of those folks.

OK, one more thing. Forgot about your fridge question. I know the 8 cu ft fridge is standard. 10 cu ft was an option when we ordered our 2003 model. I don't know if there are any larger ones as an option or not. Maybe someone with a new rig can answer that.

Good luck. Let us know your decision.
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Old 06-18-2005, 09:06 AM   #13
Verle and Sue
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: LeRoy
Posts: 181
M.O.C. #3960
Thank you all for such warm welcomes and encouragement. We went looking again today and took my sister so she could look for a unit too and we are still convinced we want the 3400RL. My sister liked another smaller floor plan better and it would be better for her as she is single but often travels with us. She, like us, just "felt" good about the Montana and after the research we have done are convinced this is the unit we want (at this time). When the time comes we are actually able to buy, hopefully this or a similar floor plan will still be available. Thanks again and I will continue to read all I can on this forum to better ready us for our plan.

Sue C
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Old 06-18-2005, 11:10 AM   #14
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Sue C
Hi this is Sue R talking. First let me tell you that I have lived in our 3400 for the past 9 months. It is really like a small apartment. We are not full timers but we have a stick house in Southern Calif and I was working in Northern Calif. The Monty is our 3rd FW. We have looked at every brand and always came back to the Montana. We have not had any problems so far but we have been parked so that may make a difference. Keystone has come though for us a couple of times when we needed something special. As far as the refrigerator, remember when you retire, you can go to the store every day!
Happy trails
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Old 06-19-2005, 04:45 AM   #15
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We began preperations to enter the full time mode with almost zero RV experience about 2 1/2 years ago. Had lots of misinformation, esp. at the beginning. Steep learning curve in the RV and "full timer" world.

We loved the openness of the 3655FL (Front Living Room) with full timing in mind. We bought in June of 03, and have been on the road ever since.

We, like many here, have had problems of various sorts. Any problem is a "big" one if you are full timing. So far, all have been solved fairly easily, and I give Keystone big pluses for their assistance and willingness to work with us. Doubler big pluses for the Forum members who have helped us with advice and insights when problems arose.

Visit the Full Timer topic area in the Forum. I would buy from Keystone again, and I think the Montana is the best for the $$, including all the competition we looked at. There are probably rigs better suited to "full time", but they are too heavy, way too expensive, and need a bigger tow vehicle than I want to drive or pay for. Two years for us now, and still doing fine.

Just my 2 cents worth

Welcome again, and best regards
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Old 06-27-2005, 06:38 AM   #16
Bear Hunter
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Welcome Sue

We have now had 3 5er's and learned alot along the way. First and foremost don't let the glitter of some RV's or salesman cloud what you are looking for. Our first 5er was a total head ache, nothing but trouble. Every thing the sales person pointed out as a good point was anything but. Our second was much better both in quality and set up. When we made up our minds to get the next one we spent over a year looking and reading. We had come down to 2 makes, and the dealer and service brought us to our 3255rl. We truly enjoy the unit. It tows very nicely and has everything we wanted. One benefit we didnot know about until after we bought our Montana was this MOC forum, which is great.

Good Luck
Roger and Lola
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Old 06-27-2005, 10:07 AM   #17
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Be aware of one thing..These are RECREATIONAL VEHICLES..they are designed for RECREATIONAL use not to live in and use full time.Having said that you will find many members here full timimg in their units so you can learn from them. We will not be full timing but WILL be snowbirding and spending 3 or 4 month at a time in the camper.We do not yet have a Montana but are drawing close to that time (very close) as you are doing we have looked at many brands..yes you can get better and pay more $ however Helen and I are convinced as most just about everyone on this forum that the Montana will give you the "best bang for your Buck" Go to the factory..tour 3 or four different plants, they are close together, and you will see for yourself.
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Old 06-27-2005, 02:04 PM   #18
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Sue C - I want to add my warm welcome to the forum and comment on the full-timing aspect of Montanas. I've just completed my 27th month full-timing in a Montana, after closing down a 3-story/5-bdrm house when my husband passed away. I started in a 2002 3295RK, then bought my new 3670RL last September, immediately prior to the first national MOC rally in Indiana.

I was first attracted to the Montana because of its floor plan and quality of trim and furnishings. Then I visited the factory and was further impressed because of the quality of construction. This MOC Forum and the national rally introduced me to some wonderful people who also own Montanas - some of the finest and friendliest people I've met in the RV world.

Although most manufacturers will include some disclaimer about not full-timing in their rigs, the fact is that it doesn't make much difference whether you spend a month, 3 months, 6 months or full time in them. Some things are bound to break or not be designed right from the start. Keystone has responded to problems in a way that is outstanding. They listen to us, as owners using their products, and are smart enough to know that it's a smart way to do market research. Many of our problems/concerns/suggestions have turned into improvements in the newer models. In fact, although my unit is a 2005, I've seen some a few months newer and noticed more improvements in them. (Maybe it's time to trade it in! )

Finally, I'd like to encourage your sister to buy a Montana, too. I've been RVing full-time as a solo and loving it. I feel safer in this world than living in a neighborhood, and have built a large network of both solo and coupled RVer friends from coast to coast. I can't imagine ever living in a home that shares walls again, so I think I'm going to continue this lifestyle until they 'pop me in a box.'

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Old 06-27-2005, 05:09 PM   #19
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M.O.C. #139
Sue C,

We have been fulltiming in our Montana for 2 years. We have had some problems but we are very happy with our 5er.
In my opinion any salesman that has to knock someone else to sell his product either has a bad product or doesn't know how to sell. He should be selling on the merits of his product.
We too find the refrigerator very small. We did not take the larger option. We have since purchased an additional chest type refrigerator/freezer. It is about 1.7 cu. ft. We just turn the dial to either use it as a refrigerator or a freezer. It works on 120 VAC or 12 VDC.

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Old 06-28-2005, 03:51 AM   #20
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As owners of one of the oldest Montanas around (1999) I can tell you that it has stood up well. We bought it used in 2003 and have towed it over 5000 miles without a problem. When we bought it it needed the Service advisory frame reinforcement which Montana provided for free after a simple phone call.

Last year at the 1st Montana Owner's Club Rally in Goshen I was surprised and very pleased that Jeff Rank (a Keystone VP responsible for Montana) and other Montana reps. were at the Rally asking and answering questions on a casual and informal basis. I was most impressed that they came on our 'show and tell' tour where Montana owners at the rally showed others what modifications and improvements they had made to their units.

Following our Montana factory tour we were introduced to a group of Montana representatives who gave up their Saturday to answer questions for us. My wife and I sat down with one rep (Rick) and got some answers that we needed. He gave me his card with even his cell phone number and told us to call if we needed anything. I keep that card in my wallet, not so much because I think I'll need it but because it is the most human contact I have had in years in a wilderness of other companies auomated attendant machines.

There may be other fifth wheels as good as Montana; Possibly some even better but I'll stick with the people I can put a face to at Montana.
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