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Old 11-14-2012, 06:06 AM   #1
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Decisions, Decisions

I am a newbie and I have learned a lot on this forum. All of you are so smart! It's wonderful how willing you are to share that knowledge....I need some advice. I went yesterday to look at a National Dolphin. It was a 2002 had 24000 miles on it. Under 200 hours on the generator. It was a trade in and it appeared cosmetically that someone took care of it. Heres my questions..you knew they were coming...
It had a workhorse engine. In my limited experience I have only driven fleetwoods with fords. It seemed to run quieter. Handling seemed maybe a little easier. Its a 35 ft unit. Is there any issues I need to be aware of? How does workhorse stack up against ford v10?
The drivers side window had a horizontal crack out of my line of site. Salesman said if they "gave it to me" ( don't ya live the way they say that) for 30000 vs the 40000 they had it listed at they would not fix the window. Wouldn't this be hazardous? They quoted me a 1500 price....
Lastly he wouldn't consider a washer/ dryer combo. Too inefficient. Do the new units work better and are they worth it?
He tells me National is no more...do you have trouble getting parts for them?
The other RVs I have looked at are Fleetwood Southwind
Mostly because the floorplans fit and the price was under 30000. They all had mileage in the 50-60000 range and generator hors in the 700's. The dealers said that they would check out all the systems and make sure that they worked. My plans are to full-time while con't to work in AZ. See my other threads...
Should I ask about an extended warranty? Is it worth it?
Sorry about all the questions and if there are phrases to search I will if you will kindly direct me. Thanks in advance for all advice and replies.
Shar
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:51 AM   #2
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Hi. The Dolphin was the most popular coach sold by National. So by 2002 they knew what they were doing. Nationals in general are well made coaches and still have a very supportive owner base, me being one of them. Getting parts is usually not a issue. Most of the components weren't made by National and it's the age that makes them hard to get not the supplier. National used very common OEM suppliers and parts, at least for us, hasn't been a problem. You can still get the body parts from a company called Ortega in Cal. They were the supplier to National and bought the tooling in the auction.
I'm sure this coach is on a Workhorse Chassis but I don't believe Workhorse made any engines, so it's either a Chevy Vortec 8.1L or a Ford V10 6.8L engine. There was a recall on the brakes of Workhorse chassis, it's not a big deal now but you should get the VIN Number and go to this site to see if that coach was on the list and if so was the work done. http://www.workhorse.com/Default.aspx?tabid=560&List=0&txtSearch=glove+box& CategoryID=13&Level=a&SortField=6
If it needs done than the dealer should do it for no charge, same as the windshield because there safety issues.
As far as Washer/Dryers go it's really a matter of how you want to do your laundry. If you get a Splendide type installed in the coach than you will probably need to do a load almost every day to keep up. They take longer to complete the task and on top of that the dryer is the same box as the washer so you can't wash while drying. A lot of folks are fine with this arrangement. Others prefer to go to the parks laundry room and pay the money to get it all done in about 90 Mins. once a week. It's really a personal choice.
I will say we've never regretted owning a National. It's well made and reliable. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another.
BTW If the salesman’s mouth is moving, any info you may receive is subject to suspect to the point of being no information at all.
Good Luck
Dick
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:40 AM   #3
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Thanks Dick, Yes you are right it is a Chevy engine. The paint is in good shape and looks like the PO kept it waxed. There is one small ding in a rear bay door right driver's side near latch but bay closes tight and appears to be superficial. Also one small knick on right passenger bumper underneath just to right of center.Also looks superficial. Like it bumped a parking barrier. Engine was really clean. Being a female...I was impressed that the salesman showed me the engine. I also told him I wouldn't consider buying unless I took it out in the interstate. He said "let's go"...so we did setting sun, blinding in the eyes and traffic. I like the triple mirror configuration. Tires looked new with lots of tread..How do I check dates on them?
Also do you like the convection/ microwave? I'm a baker at Christmas and I don't know how well brownies etc will do in it..Thank you for making me feel like part of the group!
Shar
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:44 AM   #4
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The convection oven bakes fine, my wife bakes and it is all good. I'm an expert.

The washer dryer weighs a lot and does small loads, my wife likes ours but I would not have one. They work just fine however to put ours in we had to give up four really nice drawers and I would rather have the drawers and do the laundry outside.

$1,500 for that window sounds like a lot. If the cosmetics does not bother you and it does not leak then you could wait and shop for all the alternatives.
A used one, buy one and have it installed by someone else, buy one and install it your self, or just shop for a better price for the entire job.

I'm not sure about pricing however I know this is a buyers market if you are a ready buyer then they will not let you off the hook so do not be afraid to make a counter to whatever offer. They will never sell it at a loss and the only way to know there limit is to push back a bit.

Extended warranties. A mixed bag, but again I would not buy it from the dealer they will mark it up.

Our Dolphin LX has been a great vehicle for us, we made the right choice.

Good luck on your choice.
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:46 AM   #5
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opps, there is supposed to be their. Fast fingers.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:11 AM   #6
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I swapped out the original GE Profile Oven in ours for one that has a turntable. DW couldn't get two dinner plates in the original and the lack of a turn table made baking iffy at best. The new one does all she wants and bakes good stuff, that's all I know about it, but she likes it a lot. She says she doesn't miss having a gas oven at all. Here are some pictures of the swap out. http://sdrv.ms/QdEshL
You can check the dates on your tires by checking this site for the secret decoder ring. http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=11
You'll find many topics on this board about how often to replace them; it will make your head swim. In general look for cracks in the side walls, the tread is hardly ever an indicator for replacement. Usually people replace them after about seven years, but you'll soon find out there are many and strong opinions about that as well as the brand of tires you should buy. I replaced mine after seven years with Toyo brand and they are working out fine for me. I noticed I had to air up more often than I like with the old Michelin Brand and while pricing new tires the Toyos were about $1300 less costly. You'll just have to make that decision yourself by searching for the wide spectrum of info on tire replacement.
It's usually a good idea to pay a little money to a Pro to check out one of these rigs before buying. There are just so many varied things to check that the average person doesn't have the in depth knowledge to properly evaluate a unit.
Good luck and keep us posted.

I had the passengerís side windshield replaced in our unit for about $1200. That included the figure eight gasket and labor to remove and replace the driverís side windshield as well, so the $1500 for just one side sounds a bit high to me as well. Here is a copy of the quote I got. this is what the guy charged and he came to my house to do the work.
This was done in Albuquerque so I don't know how it compares to prices in Co.

The quote for your windshield

1999 National Trade Winds Motorhome

Right Windshield and Gasket

Glass : 429.00

Gasket : 225.00

Crate Charge : 75.00

Freight Charge : 95.00

Installation of right windshield 175.00

Removal and installation of left windshield and gasket 175.00

Total 1174.00

Tax 80.41

Grand Total : 1254.41

The glass takes about a week for delivery.

I can not be held responsible if the drivers side gets broken during removal and installation but rest assured we have not broken one in several years.

We offer a life time guaranty against leaks or defects in workmanship.

I would need 1/2 down to order the glass = 627.20.

We accept Master Card, Visa, and Discover.

A-1 GLASS DEPOT

BRIAN KELLY 505-299-5533

CELL 505-401-0132

Thank You

Dick
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:57 PM   #7
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Thx for all the good info. I will see if I can figure the tire stuff tomorrow. Its nice to know that a convection oven will work for baking...I don't suppose my 9x13 pyrex will fit.....sigh:-( Oh well...less to pack!!!:-)
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:00 PM   #8
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Thx to you for info on the windshield...hopefully I have some leverage...I'll keep ya posted!:-)
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:32 AM   #9
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WE have a 2006 Dolphin The best coach by far we have owned out of five
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:55 AM   #10
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9x13 pyrex fits in ours and we have a button to shut off the rotating table. We have baked cakes, muffins, casseroles, meat, etc with no problems on convection.
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:16 AM   #11
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We have the washer/dryer combo and the wife uses it for very small loads if needed. It takes a long time to complete a full cycle and it doesn't hold a lot. We usually hit the laundry once a week or so when traveling.
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:21 AM   #12
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The Splendide Washer/Dry Combo work quite well and you can set it and let in run through both wash & dry without coming back to it, But the comments about the time and size of loads are correct. I had one on my boat and now have a newer version in the motorhome. If we let our clothes stack up or there are large items like towels, jeans, etc. it is nice to drop them at a laundermat and come back later, swap them to dry and return again.
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:00 AM   #13
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Extended warranty: Very subjective. They can be worthwhile especially if you aren't an advanced DIY'er. They are also about the biggest source of complaints on consumer and action sites because of non-payment or hassles on claims.
Convection oven: Ours is GE Profile w/o turntable. Definitely wish for a turntable. Otherwise, bakes pretty well if you compensate with 10% temp reduction and adjust time. The combo and probe baking are kind of useful.
Windshield crack: I also have one out of sight line and am just living with it. The frame flexes so it could happen again. Also waiting for that inevitable big rock chip.
Engine: I like top quality synthetic oil changed at 1 year-7500 mi max. Make sure your spark plugs and wires are good (some have problems with wire failure).
Transmission: The Allison is great. Just stick to the maintenance schedule.
Like Dick says, all the other systems are standard RV stuff, so you do whatever you have to, to keep it all working. The water system is a bit tricky the way National designed it, what with the complicated plumbing behind the service panel and hiding the water pump behind it also. If you have the manuals, study them well. If not, there are links on this Forum to sites where you can download manuals and schematics. Good luck
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Old 11-16-2012, 12:52 PM   #14
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Thanks...could you wonderful people give me a ballpark on maintenance costs. I figure at first I probably won't take it out much once I get it to AZ but my mom was a manager in fleet management, so I know there are upkeep costs. How much should an oil change with synthetic oil cost? I have learned I need to get wheel covers. I would guess something on the windshield to cut the lovely AZ heat.
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