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Old 11-25-2015, 11:06 AM   #1
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1998 Alpine Pre purchase inspection

What can be determined about the condition of the engine, transmission, and generator at this kind of inspection.

If oils are clean, no leaks, and each starts, runs, shifts, and produces power properly what can a mechanic say except "Checks ok today, no prediction for tomorrow."

Seems that the function and condition of other items like brakes, compressors, suspension, steering, ac, slides, refrigerators are easier to determine and correct.

What can I expect?
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Old 11-25-2015, 11:45 AM   #2
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Much of "what can be determined" depends on the knowledge of the inspector.

Things like checking the coolant (SCA concentration, freeze point and pH), visually inspecting from under the coach, eye balls on brakes, checking condition of brake fluid, etc, etc.

A good inspection takes a couple of hours and starts on the roof and ends up with 1+ hour under the coach.

A review of service records is also helpful in helping you understand when/what Preventive Maintenance needs to be done.

What area of the country are you in-- perhaps someone can recommend an inspector in that area.

Brett
2003 Alpine 38FDDS
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Old 11-26-2015, 08:26 AM   #3
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Brett,
Thanks for the reply. The Coach is in Southern California. I have gotten referrals to Redlands Truck and RV and Acacia RV from this forum and will go to one of them for the inspection.

From this forum I've gathered that there have been issues with master cylinders and brake calipers, drag links, leaks at roof and end cap seams.

Are there other items to pay special attention to on the 1998 model?

The coach has 70,000 miles on the Cummins 8.3. Are there issues with this particular engine to be aware of?

The coach has been serviced by the same shop for many years and I will contact them after Thanksgiving. Hoping they have good records and a positive report.
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:44 PM   #4
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The brake cylinder issue, I've not seen or heard of with the early Alpine's. Same goes for the drag links. The pin slides on the breaks need to be inspected/lubed every few years and (as with all Alpine's) the brake fluid flushed every two to three years.
The exhaust manifold on the mechanical 8.3's has been a weak spot. Several of us have had to replace, this is not an Alpine problem but a Cummins issue.
The steering stiffener on the older Alpine's are the most robust of the three designs used. However, the plates used within the steering box, the welds can start to crack. This is an easy fix. any good welding shop can re-weld.
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Old 11-27-2015, 08:27 AM   #5
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However, the plates used within the steering box, the welds can start to crack. This is an easy fix. any good welding shop can re-weld.[/QUOTE]


Never having seen the steering box on an Alpine I can't visualize "plates within the box."

Is this condition easy to discover if it exists? Does it result in fluid leak?

Thanks for info.
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Old 11-27-2015, 08:54 AM   #6
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See the sticky topic above "WRV Alpine steering bracket upgrade kit" above. It will tell you all you want to know, IIRC there are no endemic problems with the 1998 model steering assemblies, but read the topic and make yourself comfortable.


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Old 11-27-2015, 03:31 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=DrDaveMA;2840739]See the sticky topic above "WRV Alpine steering bracket upgrade kit" above.

Dr. Dave,

Thanks for the tip. Read all 98 posts on the thread. Seems that worst case on the 98 coach would be to re-weld cracks,if present, and add an additional "stiffener" inside the OEM bracket adjacent to the frame rail.

That is good news. Glad all you other owners have "gone before" and have documented issues and are sharing the knowledge. A great benefit for new and prospective owners.
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Old 11-27-2015, 07:04 PM   #8
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Hello. I purchased a 1999 Alpine Coach with 63K miles in February of 2014. From my experience here are a few things I recommend prior to negotiating a deal:

1. Have a reputable RV mechanic inspect the house systems. When I bought my coach I had no clue who to hire and ended up hiring a guy in SoCal that advertised on Craigslist. I don't remember his name. Recently I had Santa Clarita RV repair do propane leak test on my coach. He is good.
2. Carefully check the ceiling for water damage. Also, get on the roof yourself and carefully inspect where the end caps attach to the roof. My coach's rear cap leaked last summer on a trip to Virginia Lakes, so this is something you need to be careful of. Unfortunately, the inspector I hired forgot to bring his ladder.
3. Check the exhaust manifold for an exhaust leak. My coach had a leak that was pretty bad. You should lift the bed, start the engine, and put your hand underneath and around the exhaust manifold to see if you can feel leaking exhaust. It was a $300.00 repair.
4. Check the fan mount for cracks. The one on my coach had three out of four corners cracked and was on it's last leg. I welded the mount cracks myself.
5. Take a good look at the service records and repair invoices. If there aren't any then carefully weigh the risk of buying a coach with no repair history.
6. Hire a good Cummins mechanic to pull the codes of the ecu. It will tell you the history of the engine.
7. Take samples of all the oils and send them in to be analyzed.
8. Make sure the water pump, toilet, sinks, etc. are tested with the fresh water tank filled. My water pump switch went out and had to hot wire it on a camping trip whenever we needed
9. Plan to buy tires and house batteries. Wearable items on a 1998 coach probably need to be replaced.
10. Check to see where the fresh water pick-up is. I moved mine to the main drain due to the poor factory design. It was a pain dry camping and running out of water after a day or two even though there was still 30+ gallons in the tank.
11. Figure out the book value of the coach. An easy way to do this is call a loan company to find out how much the coach can be financed for.
12. Make sure you test the hydraulic jack systems...the 1998 will probably have a HWH 610. Mine broke twice since I've had the coach. What a pain...but a fairly easy fix after waiting for the HWH technical support to call me back and sending in the broke part to HWH for repair. Between troubleshooting and sending in HWH parts in for repairs it's taken my 2-4 weeks to complete repairs.

Lastly, I hope that you like to repair things. There hasn't been one trip I've gone on without something going wrong. However, those things were always an inconvenience and not a safety issue. PM me if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them.

BTW: I've really enjoyed owning the coach. I have two young girls that love to go skiing, beach camping, fishing, and hunting with my wife and I.
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Old 11-27-2015, 07:46 PM   #9
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Yuppie Redneck,
Thanks for the info. That gives me more items to be sure to have checked out.

Regarding "book value": I have tried to value the coach on Nada- value comes out in low $20,000's while coaches of this age have asking prices in high $30,000 to mid $40,000. Am I doing something wrong or is this disparity normal?

I never considered financing as an option because of the coaches age. And because of my age I don't want to take on any debt.

Hopefully others will chime in as to values of late 20th century Alpine motorhomes.
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Old 11-27-2015, 08:21 PM   #10
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I do not recommend financing. My recommendation is to determine what value a loan company would place on the coach. My coach's value at time of purchase was $33K, which is the replacement value. I paid right around that amount. Also, I spent a few months looking at coaches online from the Midwest to the West Coast. All of coaches being sold at retail were $15K+ above replacement value. Also, it seems that coaches sold by private party go closer to the replacement value.
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Old 11-28-2015, 10:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff and Cheryl View Post
However, the plates used within the steering box, the welds can start to crack.
Sorry, this is a new one no me. Are you talking about internal to the Sheppard steering box? Standard box on Peterbuilt, etc.

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Old 11-28-2015, 01:30 PM   #12
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Brett,

I think posts #42 and #76 in the Sticky steering box upgrade thread are what is being referred to. Early steering box bracket with welded in concave stiffener. Plates referred to are in the bracket not steering gear.
Picture- worth 1000 words.
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:26 PM   #13
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Brett,
gmcgene has put the proper words to what I was intending. In addition to the two posts he cites look at post 81, it links to another thread, "Caution Late Alpine owners !!! Steering box mount issue". In that thread post #84 addresses the early coach steering box/stiffener.
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:39 PM   #14
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Thanks for the clarification-- that makes sense.

Have worked on a number of rigs with Sheppard boxes and this caught me by surprise.
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