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Motor Home Review: Four Winds Fun Mover

With a rear cargo bay large enough to function as a mini garage, this type C motorhome enables RVers to take additional vehicles with them on the road.

By Jim Brightly, Technical Editor
November 2002

Whether you enjoy following the NASCAR circuit, tailgating with your favorite football team, or carrying along a pair of all-terrain vehicles in your travels, the Fun Mover motorhome from Four Winds International could be a worthy companion. Even a pair of personal watercraft, with the proper "trolleys," can be transported inside the Fun Mover, kept safe from curious eyes and fingers.

In addition to living space, this type C motorhome contains a rear "garage" area. The storage area is made to accommodate a litany of items or a variety of functions. Perhaps you'd rather not tow your adult toys, because you don't want to leave them on a trailer, exposed to the elements. Simply open the rear door of your Fun Mover and put them inside. In some cases, Fun Mover owners can avoid the lower speed limits imposed on vehicles towing trailers. In California, for example, the speed of a vehicle towing a trailer is limited to 55 miles per hour. This might factor into a long-distance trip. For example, a 250-mile journey (about average for a weekend outing) at 55 mph would take slightly less than five hours. The same trip at 70 mph would save approximately one hour. This may be significant to you, especially if your only free time is on the weekends. Each of the Fun Mover's three floor plans -- 27C, 31C, and 35C -- has a rear cargo bay.

Recently I had the opportunity to test a 2002 35C, which involved spending five days in the Fun Mover along the shores of Lake Havasu, Arizona. During that time, the coach housed four adults and four children (ages 5 through 13) comfortably. We also used the galley to feed a group of seven adults and five children. The motorhome handled all of these tasks admirably.

Let's begin by discussing the front portion of the Fun Mover. Since this type C is built on a Ford F-650 chassis from Ford's truck lineup, the dashboard is virtually the same as the one you'd find on a Ford F-Super Duty pickup. That was the first thing we noticed when we climbed into the coach. To enter the cab, you step up over the dual side-mounted fuel tanks (50 gallons each), which also serve as steps and running boards for ingress and egress.

The second thing we noticed upon settling into the air-suspension captains chairs, which are very much like the seats in long-haul tractors, was the lack of cup holders. The air-suspension seats were equipped with a multitude of adjustments -- so many, in fact, that we're still not sure whether we used all of them. But the seats were comfortable, and absorbed the vagaries of the California highway system with aplomb.

Because this motorhome is built on a truck chassis, the cab is approximately 3 inches lower than the main floor of the coach. The truck chassis also affects the size of the opening between the cab and the rest of the coach. An average-sized adult may find it difficult to squeeze through this region -- it's 45 inches wide and 36 inches high. The opening is fine when you're engaged in conversation with folks in back, and it's large enough to pass drinks or snacks back and forth, but adults may want to jump down from the cab and trot around to the side door to enter the rear of the coach.

If you are a motor sports fan, you'll love the Fun Mover's optional Sports Package interior, which was offered in our test unit. Everything is black and white, including the vinyl floor tiles (they look just like a checkered flag). The cabinets are white, and the furniture is covered with black Naugasoft upholstery material. The dash is made from black carbon fiber. We truly liked the d├ęcor; it may make you start thinking about stocking the closet (aft of the streetside slideout) with Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon, or Mark Martin shirts and hats. If this is not your style, the Fun Mover is also available in three regular interior schemes -- Botticelli blue, Botticelli green, and Botticelli taupe.

Inside the slideout is a 5-foot-long sofa bed (with seat belts for three), which folds out into a 74-inch-wide bed. The mattress is adequate. We did note that when the bed is folded out, very little room remains for walking between it and the dinette.

The bathroom is located on the street side of the coach, aft of the closet. Equipped with a toilet, a shower, and a sink, the Fun Mover's bath area is large enough for a pit stop, but you wouldn't want to make it a rest area.

The Fun Mover's cab-over bed measures 57 inches by 94 inches. The bed's mattress consists of foam rubber covered in vinyl. If you plan on full-timing or enjoying long-term camping in the Fun Mover, we suggest that you replace this mattress with a queen-size innerspring RV mattress -- your back will thank you for it. Foam rubber mattresses are great for three or four nights but, in my opinion, not indefinitely.

The coach's main entry door is situated aft of the passenger's seat. For traveling and camping, a hinged trap door is provided to cover the three-step stairwell. As you enter the main entry stairwell, you'll notice two switches just above floor height. One controls the automatic folding entry step; the other is the house battery cutoff switch. For some reason, in our test unit this switch also killed the electronic speedometer. According to Four Winds, this is not a common occurrence.

Just aft of the main entry door on the curb side is the rearward-facing seat of the dinette. Two sets of seat belts are available on the forward-facing dinette seat. The table drops down and the cushions may be rearranged into a 38-inch-by-64-inch bed -- a size suitable for wee folk.

To the rear of the dinette is the curbside galley. It is equipped with a three-burner stove top, a double sink, a microwave-convection oven, and an 8-cubic-foot Norcold two-way (LP gas and electric) refrigerator. The galley does not offer a large amount of storage space, but the cabinets in the rear cargo bay more than make up for this. We had plenty of room to store supplies for our five-day journey.

Now for the Fun Mover's piece de resistance: its cargo area (we called it a garage). This large storage facility straddles the Fun Mover's rear axle. In the 35C, the floor measures 96 inches by 125 inches. That's 12,000 square inches or 83.3 square feet, unless my sixth-grade math is out of kilter. It can accommodate two motorcycles, up to three dirt bikes or dual-sport bikes (maybe more depending on their sizes), a pair of ATVs or personal watercraft, or a whole raft of bicycles.

For safety's sake, the door between the rear cargo area and the living area has been constructed to prevent any possible fuel spills or fumes from entering the front of the coach. The door has a raised threshold like the doors found on boats and contains a glazed-glass window. It seals tightly when closed.

The garage floor is covered with industrial-strength, heavy-duty aluminum diamond plate, which makes for easy cleanups. Runners that accept sliding tie-down brackets are mounted on the floor, to help secure any rolling cargo.

White laminate cabinets that can store a variety of items are located along either side of the garage. The space between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling proved valuable for stowing water skis, personal flotation devices, and drink boxes while we were camped. However, it wouldn't be useful to place them there while the coach was in motion, because the cabinets do not have a raised lip across the top.

Optional roll-over sofas were situated on either side of the cargo area in our test unit. For safety's sake, these sofas should not be used as beds while a vehicle or two is being stowed for transport, because of their proximity to possible fuel and combustion vapors. However, they proved to be comfortable resting spots when they were folded down; each makes a 42-inch-by-66-inch flat surface. When not needed, the sofas can be secured flat against the walls of the cargo area.

If the weather had been more cooperative during our road test (it was more than 100 degrees during the day, and only down to the 80s and 90s at night), I'm sure the sofas would have been a favorite spot for "bench racing" with our group. The sofas enable the garage to be turned into an excellent conversation pit.

To help move vehicles in and out of the garage, Four Winds has equipped the Fun Mover 35C with an excellent liftgate. It runs off of 12-volt DC power and is strong enough to accommodate a large motorcycle or two ATVs at the same time. Its weight limits are plainly posted next to the remote-control plug; it has a capacity of 1,600 pounds. The liftgate folds up flat against the pull-down/roll-up garage door. The liftgate is heavy, but it can be raised and lowered by the average adult. It also locks securely into its upright position for traveling.

What's the term for a second piece de resistance? We don't know, but if there is such a term, it applies to the Fun Mover 35C's optional observation deck -- or, as we called it, the patio. The roof deck is mounted on the roof over the garage and is accessible via a wide ladder that leads upward from the cargo bay. The patio is surrounded by fold-up locking rails for safety. Climb on up, and you'll glean a better view of sporting events, especially if you are camped in the infield at a NASCAR or CART event. Add your own portable awning, a comfortable swivel chair, a cool drink, a camera, and a good set of binoculars, and you've got it made in the shade.

Driving this massive type C was simplicity itself, although I did miss not having the optional backup camera. The big 225-horsepower Cummins diesel engine pulled the Fun Mover and the trailer we attached to it, which was carrying two personal watercraft, easily through the mountain passes and desert flats. Over the 850-mile test route, the coach's fuel economy figure averaged 9.7 miles per gallon.

Filling the dual tanks was somewhat of a chore, because we couldn't just pull up to one pump. At narrower service stations, we could take a middle-of-the-road course and fill both tanks simultaneously. At stations where the islands were farther apart, we were forced to fill one side and then move back and forth until the other tank was within reach of the pump's hose.

Parking the Fun Mover with its five-speed Allison transmission was a bit different from other type C motorhomes I've operated. This transmission has no "Park" gear, and, as such, requires a different set of maneuvers. To park it, you shift to neutral with one foot on the service brake, and then pull up the parking brake handle. Slowly remove your foot from the brake pedal while making sure that the coach doesn't roll. If it does, the driver must tighten the parking brake with the provided adjuster. To disengage the brake, just the opposite is involved. With your foot on the brake pedal, squeeze the parking brake handle release lever, and push the handle forward to the down position. Once I became used to the procedure, it was simple, but it created some concern initially.

The Fun Mover made camping simple and enjoyable. When we needed it, the diesel-powered Onan 7.5-kw Quiet Diesel generator was exactly that -- quiet. Even when you're standing outside while it's running, it produces a very low noise level.

We did encounter a problem in the alignment of the septic dump valve and the compartment's sewer hose access hole. The hole was much closer to the centerline of the chassis than to the dump valve; this cramped the sewer hose so much that we were afraid of the consequences of using the access hole. So, we just left the hose hanging over the lip of the compartment door.

We can't speak to the fit and finish of this coach, for it had been used as a rental unit before our review, and already had 15,000 miles on its odometer. Readers who have rented an apartment or condominium understand what sometimes happens to rentals. However, with a few minor drawer adjustments, tightening of the day-night shades, and general TLC, we think the coach would be a fine home on the road for families with an active weekend lifestyle.

The base suggested retail price of the 2002 Fun Mover 35C is $117,950. Our test coach had the following options, which brought its price to $126,000: cargo area roll-over sofas; rooftop observation deck/patio; outside entertainment center with CD player; deluxe AM-FM CD player; two wheel chocks; sports package; rear deck spotlights.

For 2003, Four Winds has upgraded the Fun Mover in many ways. The 2003 coaches are built on the Ford F-750 chassis with a six-speed Allison transmission; this increases their gross combination weight rating (GCWR) to 60,000 pounds and their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) to 33,000 pounds. The 2003s offer a choice of either a 245-horsepower Cummins diesel engine or a 300-horsepower Caterpillar power plant; the Caterpillar upgrade adds $13,300 to the price of the coach. The 2003 coaches offer air brakes, a higher propane capacity, and the AM-FM CD player is standard. New options available on the 2003 35-foot models include an electric awning and an entertainment center with a 25-inch TV situated in the cab-over area. The 2003 color schemes are Rockport Amethyst, Stoneham Blue, and Montgomery Taupe. The 35-foot 2003s carry a base price of $136,500 for a coach with the Cummins engine.

Editor's note: Because the author tested a 2002 Fun Mover, the specifications below are for that model year. A number of specifications have changed for 2003.


SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer ... Four Winds International Inc., A Division of Thor Industries, P.O. Box 1486, Elkhart, IN 46515-1486; (574) 266-1111; fax: (574) 294-8971; www.fourwinds-rv.com
Model ... 2002 Fun Mover
Floor plan ... Model 35C
Chassis ... Ford F-650
Engine ... Cummins ISB, 225-horsepower; 500 pound-feet torque @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission ... Allison 5-speed automatic
Axle ratio ... 4.88 to 1
Tires ... Goodyear 10R 22.5
Wheels ... Alcoa 22.5 aluminum
Wheelbase ... 260 inches
Brakes ... hydraulic four-wheel disc with antilock
Suspension ... leaf spring
Alternator ... 130 amps
Batteries ... house -- Interstate 2,630 cca
Steering ... power
Electrical service ... 50 amps
Convertor ... Magnetek 110/12-volt convertor with trickle charge at .5 amps
Auxiliary generator ... 7.5-kilowatt Onan Quiet Diesel
Exterior length ... 36 feet 9 inches
Exterior width ... 99 inches
Interior height ... 6 feet 7-3/4 inches
Exterior height ... 12 feet 5-1/2 inches
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 40,000 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 26,000 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front -- 8,500 pounds; rear -- 17,500 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... (weighed with full fuel, water, and LP-gas tanks) front axle -- 7,460 pounds; rear axle -- 13,910 pounds; total -- 21,370 pounds
Payload ... 4,630 pounds
Frame construction ... steel-framed floor and aluminum-framed walls and roof
Insulation ... high-density block foam
Fresh water capacity ... 86 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... gray water -- 48 gallons; black water -- 48 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 100 gallons (dual 50-gallon tanks)
Fuel requirements ... diesel
Propane capacity ... 84 pounds
Water heater ... 6-gallon Atwood LP-gas/electric
Water system ... Shurflo on-demand water pump
Furnace ... Atwood, 30,000 Btus; forced air
Air conditioner ... 13,500-Btu with solar panel (front); 11,000-Btu rear unit optional
Refrigerator ... Norcold, 8-cubic-foot, two-way (LP-gas, electric)
Toilet ... Aqua Magic
Warranty ... coach -- 2 years/24,000 miles, bumper to bumper
Base suggested retail price ... $117,950
Price as tested ... $126,000

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