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Old 02-19-2012, 05:21 PM   #1
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2003 36fdds - any gotcha's?

Just sold our Safari Trek, this model Alpine looks like it might be a good fit, physically and financially.
Reading the forum, looks like the braking and steering issues were 2004 and later. Have no idea what Vansco or pre-Vansco means.
Have experience with Allisons, no issue there, have no idea how to evaluate the 400 Cummins and no experience with air suspension or air leveling.
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Old 02-19-2012, 06:47 PM   #2
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Good Morning Morninghill- 2003 is pre-Vansco, meaning prior to the "multiplexed" chassis wiring of 04 and later. An 03 will have analog wiring with relays for all switching. In some cases it is easier to diagnose a problem, in some cases harder (the multiplexing provides LED's for I/O information whereas wiring & relays require probing of every node). Both work most of the time.

Your Trek had (probably, our '96 did) front coil spring over air bag suspension. the Alpine has only the air bags for springs at both front and back. the engine has an air compressor that fills the bags, and the bags have ride-height-adjusters that raise or lower the amount of air going to each bag depending on road conditions. You will love the ride of the Alpine over the Trek, I guarantee that. We did and do. And you'll find a number of Trek converts here among Alpiners.

Most Alpines are hydraulic leveling like most Treks (an 'HWH' touch pad in the pull-out console between driver & passenger), so if this one is air leveling it was probably requested that way by the original owner. Our Trek had 3 hydraulic jacks, our Alpine has 4. Air leveling is similar, in that you push some buttons to level; air usually has restriction in amount of leveling adjustment vs. hydraulic, but w/hydraulic you haul around the heavy jacks all the time. Not really a big difference for most people.

Ask any other questions that occur. You'll find a wealth of info here, and friendly folks.
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Old 02-19-2012, 07:01 PM   #3
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I think you'll find the 2003 models are relatively "issue-free" other than normal maintenance items.

You have "wired" Xantrex components that typically work well or fail. The Xantrex Freedom 458 Inverter/Charger is a modified-sine wave as opposed to a pure sine wave but mine is still working well even with a residential refrigerator.

The front (and rear to some extent) air conditioning cover (shroud) is VERY prone to come loose.

The HWH leveling system works well BUT allow the system to automatically shut off when extracting (raising) the jacks or the DS rear jack will undoubtedly cause an alarm while driving because it will drop a little. It will take around 10 - minutes for the system to shu toff.

Enjoy your coach ... we do ours!
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Old 02-19-2012, 08:17 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses. Our Trek was an 05 on Workhorse W20 chassis so no airbags.
Nice to know there were no consistent significant problems on the 2003.
Hope we can work something out. One of the reasons for our interest in the Alpine is this forum. Seems similar to Trek Tracks with a lot of owners participating and helping one another. Invaluable for an orphan coach.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:02 AM   #5
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After 125K miles, our 03 is still running strong. Generally speaking, pre-Vansco is probably a plus but not a deal breaker one way or the other. A couple of things about these "vintage" coaches. HWH has some issues with leaky hydrualic hoses back then, yr slide toppers tend to leak a bit more water than the newer styles, the slide gaskets also tend to leak a bit more, and there are some issues with exhaust manifolds and gaskets [cracks/leaks.] The old Freedom Combi [green] inverter is a good product but it is mod-sine wave technology. Assuming things like tires and shocks have been replaced over the years--the 03 is a pretty good coach. Most of us 03 owners tend to think the 03 are still one of the better coaches WRV made. If you do buy an 03, their are plenty of us 03 owners around to help you get "acquainted" with it....
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Scout View Post
After 125K miles, our 03 is still running strong. Generally speaking, pre-Vansco is probably a plus but not a deal breaker one way or the other. A couple of things about these "vintage" coaches. HWH has some issues with leaky hydrualic hoses back then, yr slide toppers tend to leak a bit more water than the newer styles, the slide gaskets also tend to leak a bit more, and there are some issues with exhaust manifolds and gaskets [cracks/leaks.] The old Freedom Combi [green] inverter is a good product but it is mod-sine wave technology. Assuming things like tires and shocks have been replaced over the years--the 03 is a pretty good coach. Most of us 03 owners tend to think the 03 are still one of the better coaches WRV made. If you do buy an 03, their are plenty of us 03 owners around to help you get "acquainted" with it....
Leak is a dirty word. Have had no experience with slides. Slide toppers leak - what happens? Slide gaskets leak - what happens? Repair, replace, or ? Spendy problems? Problems with exhaust manifolds and gaskets on both 370 and 400? I know this would be spendy.
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Old 02-20-2012, 03:16 PM   #7
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Slide-outs are probably the single biggest improvement in RV's ever. They slide out to give you more interior room than the legal width limit running down the road. They add complication as well. Mechanical junque can have issues, the necessity that the exterior wall has this hole in it through which the slide assembly slides out/in makes leaks from rain possible. With a superfluity of effort, most slides can be made weather tight; occasionally poorly manufactured slide or slide opening in coach wall makes weather tight difficult or possibly impossible. You should check the slide(s) side wall & top fit to the coach wall to see how this particular coach is made (means getting on a ladder to check top fit). There may be adjustments, and old seals can be replaced w/new (usually w/some effort &/or cash). Old sun-damaged slide toppers (basically roll-in/out awnings) need replacing.

Bottom line is:
1) you will occasionally want to pull the slides in in torrential rain and/or wind to minimize worries (generally one or maybe two times a year for a few hours or overnight),
2) you will want to outdoor-store the rig w/slides in due to unknown weather during outdoor storage,
3) you will likely have some water intrusion issue to deal w/at some time, and you'll make it through the issue like we all have,
4) you will love the extra room every time you are in the coach with slides out. We've attended cocktails for 8 in a 34-40' Alpines, and not felt overly cramped.
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Old 02-20-2012, 03:30 PM   #8
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Didnt mean to scare you off--fact is that after 125k miles and 9 years on the road, these "issues" are about the only things that stand out on the 03. Think this track record will compare favorably with about any other coach of similar cost and design. If you get close on a deal, do a "search" on this forum to see how other owners have solved slide and topper leaks and the other issues mentioned.
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Old 02-20-2012, 03:53 PM   #9
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Ditto what others have said about the GREAT people on this forum who are ready, willing and able to help out with issues we encounter. Just a couple of other things you may want to be aware of that occur on '03s and some other earlier model Alpine Coaches. The fuel level gauge sending units seem notorious for failure - or at least not reading accurately once the fuel level drops down a ways. There have been fixes for this on this forum but I haven't yet tackled this one. Also, the fuel filler vent hoses have a propensity for cracking and leaking. Replacing the vent hoses isn't a fun job to do, but it is doable if you are a contortionist and have lots of patience. I did mine in a day. There have also been some issues with the dash a/c but not everybody with an '03 seems to have these issues. We have not experienced any issues with water intrusion or other leakage around the slide outs. There are specific threads on this forum relating to all of these issues as well as some others. Overall, I think the '03 was one of the best years for the Alpine Coaches and the driveability of the coach is absolutely superb. My '03 is my 3rd diesel pusher and 7th motorhome overall and it is hands down the best one I have ever owned (in spite of some irritating issues along the way!). I'm sure you would be happy with the '03 so long as it has been properly maintained by its previous owner(s).
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