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Old 01-10-2012, 05:08 AM   #1
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Buying Used Alpine Coach

We've been looking at early 2000s DPs to replace our mid-90s Class C. Looking at a nice 2002 Alpine that we like, but -- like many, I'm sure -- are hesitant to purchase an "orphan" brand. Particularly one built on a proprietary chassis.

For those of you who own them, what's parts availability like?

For those of you who know the market, what's a good buying price (assuming everything is in very good shape, etc.)? NADA Low Retail? Lower?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 01-10-2012, 05:38 AM   #2
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I bought my 2005 used in 2008-- after the Wester RV bankruptcy and knowing it was an orphan. That has never been a problem. In fact, between the Alpine Coach Association technical library and this forum, my experience is that you will get a much better support experience than with any dealer network or manufacturer. The folks here are passionate about their Alpines and most helpful. Don't always get that level of support from people out to take your money. Parts have never been a problem -- you would get lots of help tracking down parts. Of course, 95% of parts are supplied by some other manufacturer, not made by Wester RV, so availability is no worse than other motorhomes. If you like the value and quality, don't worry about the orphan status. It does create some good purchase opportunities (you can negotiate that the "orphan" is less valuable). The peak chassis is superb and even though proprietary, short of collision, not much to worry about there.

As to prices, keep in mind that many private sellers who borrowed on their coaches are upside down and will ask what they owe -- which for any brand is almost always more than the fair market value in today's economy. Condition and service record DO matter when negotiating price, of course, so it is hard to say what is a "good" price with those variables. That said, I have tracked a number of ebay sales (closed auctions) and these are some of the deals that are out there:

Ebay sales:
2002 36FDDS sold for $50,001 on Aug 29
2003 36MDTS sold for $57,900 on Jul 28
2003 40FDTS sold for $72,101 on Aug 14
2005 40FDTS sold for $79,300 on Aug 29

By comparison, the "low retail" on the NADA website for the above was:

NADA Low retail:
2002 36FDDS $51,520
2003 36MDTS $65,880
2003 40FDTS $79,170
2005 40FDTS $95,180

In these cases, all the coaches sold between 2% and 18% below NADA low retail. 10% below NADA low retail seems like a very nice price if you are a buyer. But again, a super nice Alpine, with new tires and strong maintenance would be worth a lot more.

Jaime & Dave (and our 3 cocker spaniels)
2005 Alpine Coach 36FDTS w/ 2009 Honda CR-V, Doran TPMS, Roadmaster Towbar, US Gear Braking
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:36 AM   #3
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Thanks for the info! My concern would be around "wear" items -- brake pads, calipers, rotors, seals, etc. I'm sure all of those parts were sourced from outside suppliers and are probably used on other vehicles, but if you don't have that info, tracking down simple maintenance items can be pretty daunting, particularly if you have a problem on the road.

For illustrative purposes, here's a coach on eBay that would be a great fit for our needs:

2002 Class A Diesel Motorhome - Apline Western RV 37ft. 2002 Class A Diesel Motorhome - Apline Western RV 37ft. - eBay (item 290653578928 end time Jan-10-12 07:27:31 PST)

His asking price is higher than NADA Retail ($61,930), which isn't unusual for private sellers. I sent him an offer just below NADA Low ($51,400) that was turned down. The coach is nice, but it's been for sale for a while. We'll see if he gets more realistic on his price as time goes on.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:56 AM   #4
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From the appearance of his coach and his list of options, and relatively low miles for that year, It looks to me like his price should be closer to NADA Retail. Can't tell from this about the maintenance, tires, batteries, etc., but appearance looks very good on eBay.
Former Owner, 2006 36MDDS
2010 Arctic Fox 22GK Travel Trailer
2007 Toyota Tundra
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:29 AM   #5
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I agree with the previous posters, being an orphan is not a problem. Even the proprietary chassis is made up with many "off the shelf" items, such as brakes and axles. It is simply a matter of finding out who made them, and this forum is great for that.

I can't help on the price issue. I'm happy with mine and not looking at anything else. I don't really care what the going rate is for an Alpine Coach.
Jim A
'04 Alpine Coach 36' MDDS
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:45 AM   #6
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I just bought a 2001 yesterday for just under low retail. I've only been touching the thing for about 24 hours now, but it was very clean and everything appears to work, with some very nice upgrades.

Tires were about six years old. A new set is going on as I type which brings me to just over low retail.
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Old 01-10-2012, 04:44 PM   #7
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I"m wondering who posted the description on the Ebay ad. Says it has a 4 door refrigerator when it certainly looks like a 2 door Dometic refrigerator to me. This may be a sign to proceed with caution if you are seriously considering this particular coach.
Roger & Diana
'03 Alpine 36MDDS
Leeds, UT
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:40 PM   #8
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I just re-worked my brakes at 65K. Calipers, pads and seals were all standard items. I could get rotors easily too if needed. All the running gear(axles) is Meritor on our coach. IMHO the only thing you might not find parts for would be body parts. Those could be made. I think the frame could be replaced if it were damaged in an accident, but the insurance company would likely total the coach. It is bolted together, no welding required:-)
Tom, Patty, Hannah "The Big Dog" and Abby Kat, Indianapolis, Indiana 2000 36' FDS 72232 Our Photos
We live out in our old van. Travel all across this land. Drive until the city lights dissolve into a country sky, me and you - hand in hand.
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:09 AM   #9
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Hartman - read this forum about brakes on the 2001-2-3-4 models, as there are some differences in the brand WRV used on the earlier units versus the later ones if I understand it correctly. If you really want an education, just go to the first page of the forum and read all the posts.

That being said, I was parked next to a fellow who just had to have all his pads replaced as he cooked his going down long grade (he did not know his engine brake was off-don't ask me how) regardless, the mechanic said the pads they took off looked almost new and he had 50K miles on them. So the brakes last a long time if proper maintenance is done on the systems, flush brake fluid every two years, grease the brake sliders something or other, it's explained herein on the forum.

WRV used better than average sub components on the coaches they built, and 90% of those parts are readily available now even though the unit might be 10 years old.

Note – you should once you find a model/year you like, have someone qualified do an inspection on it if you don’t know what to look for. There is a PDI form on the ACA website or in a post here to give you an idea of what should be checked. The deal killers for me are as follows:
*Tires which are 5 years old or longer – unless the seller would purchase new ones or split the replacement costs with you
*RV Refrigerator which does not cool the freezer to “zero degrees” and the refer to 37-39 degrees F. If residential unit, at its normal setting, again the fridge and freezer should be in the range above.
*Not having service records to show when the oil, filter, and transmission service were performed. This again should be at least an annual thing on the big diesel and generator for the oil-filter and at least one transmission service every 36K miles or 5 years if filled with transynd fluid, regular fluid would be every 36K miles period.
*Any accident which involved the main chassis frame.
*If equipped the inverter being inoperative or the batteries being over 24 months (lead/acid) if they are dry or fluid level below plate level.
*Water heater not flushed annually or if drained lots of scale come out – this is not the most expensive part to replace (around 500+ dollars) but unless you are handy, the whole job could cost you 750 including the labor if you have to pay for it.
*Check type of shocks installed, are they factory ones? If not, and been changed to what brand, Koni’s are good on these coaches - does the air system hold the coach and not bleed down within 1 day? Does the coach lean to one side or the other? Does it pull right or left when driving? If any, have qualified “big rig” shop check front and rear suspension system for abnormal wear on air ride, shocks, tires, and steering parts, etc.

This list is not complete, it’s things I would check first, and if some of them did not pan out, I would stop and keep looking, that is just me. And again, you are buying a used MH, stuff get used, wears out, etc, so you need to evaluate what is a issue for you. This forum is by far the most extensive information place with the ACA website being the second most informative place for information on an alpine bar none.
Monty & Janet - 2007 Alpine APEX 40 MDTS
S/N - 75715 - Retired - Master Certified RV Tech
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:43 AM   #10
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. I'm not locked into an Alpine coach, but there are definitely a lot of things to like about them. I'm a gearhead, race motorcycles, have done all my own work on my Class C and intend to continue that with a new DP. Alpine strikes me as being built by the same sort of gearheads -- from the accessibility of the filters, etc., to the chassis specs, to the wiring, and down the line. It seems like most other manufacturers spend the money on the stuff you can touch and feel (cabinets, countertops, etc.) but maybe cut a few corners on the other areas to keep prices low/increase profitability. I guess it wasn't a sustainable business model, but it sure makes for a nice coach for those that own them.

By the way, the coach I linked to earlier is re-listed at a lower Buy It Now price of $62,500. We're moving in the right direction.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Family Man View Post
I just bought a 2001 yesterday for just under low retail. I've only been touching the thing for about 24 hours now, but it was very clean and everything appears to work, with some very nice upgrades.

Tires were about six years old. A new set is going on as I type which brings me to just over low retail.

Nice! How about some pics?
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:00 PM   #12
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I saw Family Man's new-to-him rig as he passed thru Sacramento. I did an undercarriage inspection on a creeper, front & rear, and toured the coach. Nice rig. Has 3 mini-bunk beds behind the washer/dryer closet, apparently custom work ordered from the factory, and a nice job; great for small kids of which Family Man is developing a collection. Also has two dinettes back to back on the PS wall, with usual main slide on driver's side.
Coupla leaks, one HWH, one coolant, air dryer cartridge needs replacing, and some cable & hose chaffing issues need attention, but overall a real nice rig for the money. Eric got 6 new Michelin shoes and full brake inspection before hitting the road. Hopefully we'll get a full download here when he gets a moment free back in Yuma. Anyone who wants to meet Eric, come see his new 01-40feeter in Quartzite over the weekend.
Baja-tested '08 2-slide 36'
Alpine: The Ultimate DIY'er Project
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Old 01-12-2012, 02:58 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Hatman View Post
Nice! How about some pics?

Hi Hatman, In Dec 09 We purchased a 1999 SDS 36ft Alpine with a 8.3, 330 hp Cummins, with 52,000 miles and very clean and well kept. No smoke, kids, or pets. We purchased from an individual to settle an estate. We paid $33,000. We found it to be of very hi qualiry. Other RV's come inside, and look and say ".wow'. Parts and service is not a problem.It is a pleasure to drive. After a class C, you will think you have died and gone to heaven. Best wishes, old trucker.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:11 PM   #14
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Oh boy, now I guess I'm REALLY going to have to go to Quartzite...

More to follow after I address some of the issues that EM was so helpful in identifying. But, I will say this - I left Pasco, WA at about noon on Tuesday and arrived in Yuma, AZ at about 5 pm on Thursday (Portland, down I-5, and over). Except going over the mountain passes, I set the cruise at about 61-62 mph for the entire trip. I found the coach very easy to drive (never driven a MH before) and less tiring than nearly any vehicle I have driven a long distance in a short period of time. Although I've never driven any other MH's, my understanding is this cannot be said of other MH's of this size.

OBTW, that's an in-motion receiver on top which I have no intention of using. It and the DirecTV receiver that goes with it will be available at Quartzite. PM if interested.

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