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Old 11-20-2016, 03:43 PM   #1
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Brand: Still Looking
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THOR #2121
Transit Compass/Gemini Feedback?

At a local RV Show yesterday, there was very little that stood out as a new design. The one motorhome that appeared "different" was an Ultra-Light Weight Ford Transit-based Class C.

I didn't spend much time looking at it because of the floorplan's odd layout, but was impressed with overall size given the very light weight. It was long for a Transit MH, low, and narrow.

I'm curious how Transit-based Compass and Gemini owners like their Transit motorhomes, and if the light-weight construction to keep weight below the 10,360-pound chassis has created any issues? Any feedback on fuel economy, maneuverability, etc. is also appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-20-2016, 11:12 PM   #2
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Chateau 24FS
State: Georgia
Posts: 54
THOR #5981
Thor Gemini owner

Have only put 3500 miles on the Gemini (purchased in July 16).

Here are my pluses and minuses to date:

Pluses:
+I'm getting 16.7 Miles Per Gallon - 5 cyl diesel. That is better than my
Tundra Double Cab!
+Very easy to drive.
+Great for 2 people.
+Small enough that you can take it almost any place.
+Great Bed.
+Camping World RV Tech Helpline is GREAT.
+All lighting is LED. Shouldn't need to worry about changing lights.

Minuses:
-More than two people?...unit too small. Just know that before you buy.
-Rear slide out. When slide out is in and RV driving down the road, during a hard stop the bed frame will fly forward and bang into the wall. Thor Support said "what do you want me to do about it". Geesh.
-Had startup problems with on demand hot water heater. Kitchen and shower heads did not have enough flow to keep hot water heater running. Camping World fixed with replacement fixtures.
-Didn't include manuals for hot water heater, thermostat, HDMI switch.
-No spare tire.
-Minor: Lighting over head of bed way too bright.
-Camping World walk through at Purchase- guy did NOT know the unit. If he had, might have saved a lot of startup pain. But CW RV HelpLine helped mitigate.
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Old 11-20-2016, 11:39 PM   #3
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THOR #2121
Thanks.

Do you tow a toad, or ever feel the need thus far? Also, how do you rate getting in and out of front seats from coach? That's one area of Transit I've found a little more difficult than what I'm used to. Does it get easier with time?
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Old 11-21-2016, 11:34 PM   #4
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Reply to question

Have not towed anything yet. We plan to take some long trips next spring and plan to rent a car when we are at a location multiple days.

Getting in and out of the front seats from/to the coach rear:
- Getting into the drivers seat from rear: NP at all.
- Getting out of the drivers seat and into the back of the coach: a bit troublesome, but I've found that getting out by "playing the how to get in the seats from the coach" video backwards....seems to work fine. IE. get up out of the seat and back into the coach. Anyway not an issue for me (200 lbs) nor my wife (100 lbs).
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Old 11-22-2016, 06:35 PM   #5
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Thanks again. Getting in and out of tight cockpit is one of the main concerns we had when we first saw a Transit motorhome. It's good to know that it's not a problem, although I'd guess that depends greatly on a person's age, size and fitness level. One of the first motorhomes we rode in decades ago was based on a tiny Toyota pickup, and getting to front seats required climbing over stick shift -- not easy.

The Forest River Sunseeker at RV show was a great size (had narrow European width), but the floorplan is so incredibly limited. I liked that FR used the longest Transit chassis to make a 25'-6" Class B+ out of it, but normal seating for just two people can't possibly work for most couples. While it has sleeping for three, and could travel with four, there are only two bench seats for dining or lounging. Most pure Class Bs have better layout than that. I guess that's what happens when designers commit nearly half of the RV space to a walk-around full-size bed in such a small unit. That MH is strictly limited to two people. There is not even a place for a guess to sit.

One area where designers excelled was in keeping weight down to give the motorhome over 2,000 pounds of cargo carrying capacity. Much of that was probably due to using a simple design (gasoline engine and no slide probably saved about 1,000 pounds over diesel with slide) and using smaller and lighter components (smaller generator, fridge, stove, etc.), but it still makes me wonder if an 8,050-pound UVW motorhome can be sturdy enough to hold up over time.
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Old 11-25-2016, 04:12 AM   #6
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Model: 2017 Gemini 23TR
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Compass/Gemini engine

Any Gemini/Compass owner with comments on the diesel Ford Transit engine/chassis and its servicing requirements? I think I saw someone mention in the forum some problems early on that were covered under the 1 yr warranty. I'm not familiar with diesel engines in general but imagine costs "in general" are more expensive than gas engines ...counter balanced with diesel engine longevity.
Doesn't seem like there is much North American history with this particular Ford engine and the annual servicing required.
Just working the numbers into my budget as I consider this B+ RV, Nancy
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Old 11-25-2016, 10:05 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by nmcmilla View Post
Any Gemini/Compass owner with comments on the diesel Ford Transit engine/chassis and its servicing requirements? I think I saw someone mention in the forum some problems early on that were covered under the 1 yr warranty. I'm not familiar with diesel engines in general but imagine costs "in general" are more expensive than gas engines ...counter balanced with diesel engine longevity.
Doesn't seem like there is much North American history with this particular Ford engine and the annual servicing required.
Just working the numbers into my budget as I consider this B+ RV, Nancy
I'm obviously not a Ford Transit owner, but recommend you check into warranty because the engine should fall under Ford powertrain warranty which is much longer than a year. I'm not suggesting diesel is a better choice; just that warranty coverage should be much longer than 12 months.

Another consideration to keep in mind is that the generator on these Transit-chassis diesel motorhomes runs on LP. I'm sure some owners like that, while others who run generator a lot may not like the inconvenience of refilling their propane tank more often.
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Old 11-26-2016, 06:08 AM   #8
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Thanks for the reply...

...hmmm, I hadn't even started to think about the Lp generator. As I am coming from a truck camper with no generator I thought I'd like having one on board to keep the battery maintained.
I did see that it is not using 20lb tanks (which I am familiar with;-) but I imagined filling Lp up at the same interval. I guess I will need to prioritize... given the number of things that run off the battery (and therefore the generator) -slide, awning, skylight shade, and then the essentials: fridge, stove, furnace and hot water heater.
Power management is going require a bit of trial and error before I try multi day camping without a shore power connection. Any advice welcomed...
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Old 11-26-2016, 02:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by nmcmilla View Post

....cut....
Power management is going require a bit of trial and error before I try multi day camping without a shore power connection. Any advice welcomed...
Nancy, my 2 cents ....

Gemini motorhome specifications show a large 68-pound LPG tank, yet a rather small 25-gallon vehicle fuel tank, so I would think having the generator run on LPG is not necessarily a bad feature.

We normally stay in campgrounds with full hookups, and have never driven down the road with generator on to power air conditioner as some report doing, so generator fuel consumption in the past wouldn't have been much of an issue anyway. For us though, the generators' fuel supply has been replenished every time we refilled the motorhome with gasoline.

By comparison, we spent a weekend last year with family in new 5th wheel running a 5500-watt LPG generator to power two air conditioners and went through two 40-pound LPG tanks much quicker than the owners expected. They were disappointed which is why I mentioned it.

However, if starting out with full LPG tank, a smaller 3600-watt generator in Gemini should run for many hours, so running generator to charge batteries occasionally for a few hours a day shouldn't deplete LPG too quickly. My personal concern for us is that in future we will want to run air conditioner during football weekends or at night while boon-docking, so ease and convenience of generator usage (to include refueling) will be more important than in the past.
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Old 11-26-2016, 06:25 PM   #10
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Thanks again for your comments! Good to know a 2-3 hr generator run a day would work with the 68lb Lp tank. I didn't list air conditioner under essentials mostly because I have not had that luxury before...I will likely use it too once I get familiar with the more general power requirements.
This unit will have the upgrade 13,500 BTU AC with heat pump. I will have to learn how to make the heat pump work for (vs against) creating optimum temperature. Nancy
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Old 11-27-2016, 08:10 PM   #11
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THOR #5821
Have a 2017 Gemini, but its the one on the sprinter chassis. Looked at all 4 Gemini's, the Ford was just too light a chassis, I felt. The diesel in the Sprinter is a V6 3.0L and does ok towing, not great. I have towed my toad, a Chevy HHR, about 3100 pounds. Not sure I would want to tow it over the Rockies, but its ok for shorter trips with no major mountain ranges to cross. The Gemini on the Sprinter Chassis appealed to is as its the only one with two slides, makes the front area a bit less congested. Since this is a considerable downsize for us, we are still adjusting to the lack of storage, both inside and out. I added or forced the dealer to add, things, like a satellite system, an inverter, outside LP connector, track privacy shades for the cockpit area. Will be doing more as we use it and decide what else we need to add to make it work better for us. Our does have the AC Heat pump option and the third TV, as well as the tank heaters, not real useful in Southern California.
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Old 11-27-2016, 09:57 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by nmcmilla View Post
Thanks again for your comments! Good to know a 2-3 hr generator run a day would work with the 68lb Lp tank. I didn't list air conditioner under essentials mostly because I have not had that luxury before...I will likely use it too once I get familiar with the more general power requirements.
This unit will have the upgrade 13,500 BTU AC with heat pump. I will have to learn how to make the heat pump work for (vs against) creating optimum temperature. Nancy

Regarding the heat pump, I'm not sure just how many owners will actually benefit significantly from a heat pump from an energy or cost perspective. This becomes even more of a question if the motorhome's or trailer's generator runs off LPG.

A heat pump does deliver more heat than electrical energy it consumes (a major RV heat pump manufacturer stating about 2-1/2 times as much), but the problem is that a generator converts very little of fuel energy into electricity.

Based on manufacturers' data, I ran the numbers again (had done it before for my family member with trailer mentioned above), and you can get more overall efficiency by using the LPG directly in furnace. To me it makes little sense to run a generator on propane solely to power a heat pump rather than use the propane directly in furnace -- assuming you were not going to run generator anyway to power battery charger (converter), or TVs, etc.

Similarly, if at a campground where electricity is paid for already, using electric heat strip (granted it's less efficient than heat pump) will cost the campground more, but not the owner of the RV.

The only scenario I can think of to save with a heat pump is if a full timer paid for metered electricity separately, and that would depend on rates. We'd also have to consider that below 40 to 45 F the heat pump will shut off -- according to major manufacturer.


For what it's worth, my family member who is not a full timer, had their heat pump fail twice under warranty and asked dealer to replace it with standard air conditioner.


P.S. -- A 3600-watt Onan running at 50% is rated to burn 2.4 pounds per hour. With a full 68-pound tank it should run at 50% for almost 30 hours. However, under less than ideal conditions and while using LPG for cooking and water heater etc., trying to run an air conditioner or heat pump may use it up faster than many owners would expect.
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Old 11-27-2016, 10:34 PM   #13
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Yeah heat pumps aren't very effective if there is no heat to pump thus the 40-45 F shutdown temps (this is a common issue in EVs as heat pumps are much more efficient than resistive heating but since they don't work below about 40F the cars usually switch off the heat pump and turn on the heating elements).
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Old 11-27-2016, 10:44 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JamieGeek View Post
Yeah heat pumps aren't very effective if there is no heat to pump thus the 40-45 F shutdown temps (this is a common issue in EVs as heat pumps are much more efficient than resistive heating but since they don't work below about 40F the cars usually switch off the heat pump and turn on the heating elements).
We had heat pumps for 11 years in our last coach, used them a lot. They work great down to about 36 or 37 degrees, then don't generate much heat. In 11 years we never had a failure. Since we are rarely in temps under 30 degrees, sometimes we need a little furnace heat, but heat pumps work for us most of the time. I would not want to be without it, and again since we are plugged into shore power most of the time we are out it works very well for us. Just depends on how you use them, and what your expectations are.
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Old 11-27-2016, 11:14 PM   #15
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Chance, I agree with you that if you are running a heat pump off the generator, its probably a losing situation. As I pointed out we are usually plugged into shore power, so under those circumstances for us its a win win. As far as failures, I can only tell what my experience with the previous coach was, it had two of them, we used them a lot and in 11 years never had a failure. I can only hope this one is as reliable. If you have a chance, you might look at the Gemini 24TX on the Mercedes Sprinter. You get a little more space inside with the two slides, and a heaver chassis, if that is a concern for you. For me it was, since I wanted the option of towing my toad if I wanted to, though I still have to watch weight to some extent if I do tow. This is very different that what we have been used to, as we had a big DP, and weight was something I rarely thought about, at least in much detail. We just got tired of constantly having to deal with the size of it, so now we are sort of on the other extreme. Time will tell, but there is a lot of adjusting for us, having done such a major downsize. The appeal is the ease of doing things spontaneously with the Gemini, where before there was always a lot of planning that had to go into any trip.
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Old 11-27-2016, 11:40 PM   #16
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Chance, I agree with you that if you are running a heat pump off the generator, its probably a losing situation. As I pointed out we are usually plugged into shore power, so under those circumstances for us its a win win. As far as failures, I can only tell what my experience with the previous coach was, it had two of them, we used them a lot and in 11 years never had a failure. I can only hope this one is as reliable. ...cut....
Laco, I know I'm being selfish when suggesting that I could run an electric heater instead of a heat pump when plugged into shore power at campground because I'm not paying for electricity directly. From an environmental standpoint it's obviously better to run a heat pump than an electric resistance heater, even if it doesn't save the RV owner money.

The only reason I mentioned the heat pump failure was because my sister and brother-in-law decided it would not really add much value to them and thus decided to go with standard AC even though they could have gotten another heat pump at no cost to them. When boondocking they use the furnace for heat, and at campgrounds with shore power they use electric heater in mild weather and the furnace when it gets much colder.

I would certainly consider a heat pump if custom ordering an all-electric gasoline-powered motorhome without propane. But if you have propane or diesel fuel for heat, like you say, why run a generator just for heat? There are more efficient ways to stay warm.
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Old 11-28-2016, 12:02 AM   #17
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Yep, I agree, I also use an electric heater when plugged in. What I like about using the heat pump, its ducted throughout the coach, so its output is better distributed, but for the front of the coach we always use an electric heater too. I think for those of us that have been RV'ing for years, our experiences tell us what works best for our own personal brand of RV'ing! Different options are available, no one is right or wrong, we all win.


To your question of ease in getting into the front seats, I found it easier in the Sprinter chassis then in the transit. Can't remember for sure, but I believe in the transit, the drivers seat does not rotate, so is not usable from the coach side, where in the Sprinter both front seats rotate. Not absolutely positive about my memory there, we looked at so many during the search process. Does give you a bit more seating when they both rotate.
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Old 11-28-2016, 07:42 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance View Post

A 3600-watt Onan running at 50% is rated to burn 2.4 pounds per hour. With a full 68-pound tank it should run at 50% for almost 30 hours. However, under less than ideal conditions and while using LPG for cooking and water heater etc., trying to run an air conditioner or heat pump may use it up faster than many owners would expect.
Thanks for the 3600-watt Onan generator research.
I also found the discussion regarding heat pump pros and cons very interesting.
Going to take a look at the Gemini 23TR again tomorrow so will I check out getting from the driver's seat to the coach side. I found getting into the driver's seat not so hard but since I exited using the driver's door I'm not sure of how hard the return trip is. I do know the driver's seat does not swivel. Nancy
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