I promised more once we got back from our trip, so here goes.
We bought our new Crescendo 8356 on June 20th after deciding that our Holiday Rambler of almost 5 years was not up to the trip we were planning. We were going to travel from Beaufort, NC to British Columbia to ride CN's rails with our rail motorcar, and planned to incorporate a bunch of other stuff while we were out west. Our longtime trusted mechanic suggested that we might want something newer and more substantial, so we purchased the Gulf Stream.
Here are just a few observations:
1) - We left on July 2nd, and we should have allowed more time between the purchase date and our departure. Some things that could have been done simply weren't because of the lack of time.
2) - We ran into trouble in Illinois outbound. At a rest area, we were unable to start the engine on the chassis batteries. The dash was completely cold, and we needed to use the house juice to get going. We stopped in Peru, IL for the night and called Coach Net for help in the morning. They got us into a Workhorse dealer (Fagan Chevrolet, the nicest folks you would ever want to meet BTW) in Janesville, WI. The folks there went to work on the coach right away, and went on to spend most of two days trouble shooting the problem. They probed, checked, tested, spent what seemed like hours on the phone with Work Horse tech support, and got nowhere. Still no power to the dash or starter. Finally, someone suggested looking at grounds, and sure enough, the stud on the engine block had been broken (probably in manufacture). They replaced it, and we were on our way.
3) - As a result, we were two days behind schedule, so we put in a couple of 1000 mile days. Jenn and I switched off, and had little trouble handling the distance. The coach handles beautifully in almost every respect, and is extremely comfortable. It is night and day from the previous coach.
4) - I-94 across Minnesota is the worst single road in creation.
5) - We crossed BC-99 from Squamish to Lillooet. This is called the "Sea to Sky Highway," and they're not kidding! The grades in some places are in the 15% area, there are many hairpins and rough surfaces. There are also a number of single-lane wooden bridges, and there are no services for many, many miles. It's a truly challanging highway. The Crescendo took to it like a fish to water. I was never uncomfortable with where we were or how the coach was handling it. It ain't no sports car, but the handling characteristics are outstanding.
6) - We left the coach in non-electric storage in an RV park for three weeks while we were traveling by rail. Big mistake! The house batteries drained, and we spent our first hours back cleaning the warm freezer/refrigerator (YUK!) and shopping for groceries.
7) - We agree with comments that the Crescendo lacks storage space below. However, you get a lot of systems accessibility in those basement areas that you don't find in many other coaches. And good use of the compartments upstairs provides a lot of additional room. Since we had both cool and hot weather clothing, it took us a while to reorient our thinking about storage. From that point of view, we still are not sure that the coach would lend well to a full time lifestyle. We never did find a good spot to store our folding bikes.
- We also agree with comments that the 18 wheelers don't cause you to rock 'n' roll. The coach has very good highway stability. This goes for crosswinds, as well. We traveled with a nasty thunderstorm for 100 miles across Utah, and had little trouble handling the 50+ mph gusts.
9) - Although I-94 across Minn was THE worst single highway, California has the worst collection of roads in the country. I-5 north of Redding is pitiful!
10) - The Cummins is adequate power for most of the situations we encountered, although I'll admit that our railcar toad is rather light (about 1700 pounds). The coach even handled the high altitude (10,000 to 12,000 feet) Colorado passes with verve and aplomb.
11) - The Quiet Diesel gen set is quiet. When we stopped in Salinas, CA to have it serviced, one of the sales folks commented that the Crescendo gives the most bang for the buck. I don't know that I have reason to disagree.
12) - We have a "squawk list," but it's short and there's nothing major. I do wish that Gulf Stream would stop skimping on some of the little things. Stuff like the "satellite ready" radio that really isn't (we have to buy a module), and the cheap speakers it plays through. A few hundred more dollars at the factory could make a perceptual difference. That's little stuff, though. The quality is mostly good.
13) - This is the last time we'll buy a coach without a split bathroom.
14) - The trip was 9910 miles at 8.74 mpg. The cost of the fuel was $3504.02.
Jennifer and Pete Wenk