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Old 05-14-2012, 10:46 PM   #1
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1994 Winnebago Vectra 35' DP; Feedback Wanted

Here's hoping you can give some personal insights and experiences on this motorhome. The coach is a 1994 Winnebago Vectra 35' M-35RQ. That's a Cummins 5.9 12v behind a 6speed Allison on a Spartan chassis. It has 70k miles on the clock and has mostly been sitting the last several years. It does needs new tires all the way around but he's asking less than $17k. I know almost nothing about these coaches other than I've never been a fan of Winnebagos stemming from experiences that go back to when I was a kid. Of course a lot has changed since then so your input would be greatly appreciated. Plus, to look at it I'll need to travel 900 miles.

Thank you.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:09 PM   #2
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1994

While I can't talk about that specific coach I can give you my experiences when looking for a used RV 2 years ago. We were looking specifically for units built in mid-'90s. The only ones worth considering were those that had been used the previous season. Anything that had been sitting a couple of years was in really bad shape. I think when folks taper off using them they stop doing the yearly maintenance and defer other things that need to be done. Then they let them sit 3-4 yrs. And then they put them on the market.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:15 PM   #3
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^

Thank you, that does appear to be exactly what this owner has done. He said the last real trip he took was a couple years ago. He even said the tire tread is excellent, but they're dry-rotted so it sounds like it's been driven very little in the past five years or so. I do have a friend that lives in the area that's planning on looking at it, hopefully tomorrow.

Oh, I just read about the floor delamination problem in this era of Winnebago coaches so I do know about that.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:28 PM   #4
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Tire age and other interesting things folks tell you

One set of 'new' tires on a coach I looked at was 12 years old. :-) It was quite an adventure looking at used coaches. The most amazing thing was how few people had any idea how any of their systems worked. They would say everything worked great when they put it away (3 or 4 years before). If I asked them any questions about say the batteries or the generator or anything else generally they would say they never had to do a thing to them. They just always worked. This generally meant that nothing had been upgraded or maintained, they just drove the coach into the ground and when things started to go wrong they parked it. And you could tell when you test drove them. Generally the suspension was shot.

If you can try to find something where someone is currently using it and maybe wants to upgrade.
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Old 05-15-2012, 12:18 AM   #5
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What you say about getting a coach that's been used regularly would most definitely be the preferred route. I've seen a few in this general price range (several years older than this coach) advertised as having yearly maintenance done with all maintenance records available. One was even garage kept. I believe I was excited by the price and this guy at least knew who made his engine and chassis. I've found several people locally trying to sell their motorhomes that lack this knowledge -- I find that a bit scary.

I've been scouring the web looking specifically for people complaining about this particular motorhome, and I really haven't found much negative other than the floor de-lamination. Still I'm already at war with myself wondering just how much can go wrong with it sitting for so long. I suppose we both know the money that could be involved if it had problems with several components. If we bought problems like that and the house didn't sell? Well, that'd be a special kind of financial ugly.

This isn't the rig, but a video of the same model: 1994 Winnegabo Vectra
That's a different decor. Interior is at 1:00. Bathroom is at 1:35. The more I think about it, the more I find myself not wanting it just because of where they planted the toilet.

I think I'll sleep on it before I ask my friend to go look at it, but I already find myself leaning towards following your advice.
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:32 AM   #6
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I didn't sleep well thinking about all that could be wrong with that rig so I just called my friend and asked to abort the mission.

Thanks, micd for the input!
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Old 05-15-2012, 09:15 AM   #7
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Your on the right track

When we were looking we drove all over the place. Up to a couple of hours away. Mostly we used Craig's list after we had covered the local dealer's used inventory. I think we must have seen about 20 RVs, maybe more. We bought the RV.org package to educate ourselves on makes and models as well as what to look for.
RV Consumer Group - We Rate RVs

We learned to bring a creeper so we could slide under an RV. We opened every cabinet and every bin. We test drove every one. We tested generators, leveling jacks, water systems, ac systems, heaters and just about anything else the previous owner said worked.

After a couple of weeks of doing this we narrowed our search to a couple of brands, Winnebago, Itasca and National. When you open every bin and look under everything you start to see the build quality and I think these were the best of what we saw. We got to where we only drove to see these and only if they were used the previous season. Your search may include different brands because of the diesel engine. We only use our coach in the summers for couple of weeks at a time so gas with it's cheaper maintenance and flatter learning curve was better for us.

We saw cracked frames, units with holes blown into the bottom of them from a blown tire, wet areas where water had gotten in (I advise you not to buy one with any water intrusion past or present) and you could smell the mold.

The one we bought was owned by an ex garage supervisor who hired out the house work and did the engine work himself. It had never had a water leak. The interior was in good condition. He had upgraded the electrical and replaced the roof air unit. The levelers didn't work and he told us that (they still don't as he had tried to have them fixed and we did also - apparently no fix). The dash air did work - that was a big one for us as I believe it can be expensive to fix. It still works great today. I don't think he used the generator much. There wasn't many hours on it. It started when we looked at the coach but died as soon as we got it home. I had the fuel pump replaced and the whole thing serviced (filters, oil etc.) and it works like a champ now.

The engine has preformed great and it drove the best out of everything we test drove. When I had it inspected one of the shocks was leaking so I decided to replace all 4. Good thing I did since one of the mounting bolts was broken off a different shock. You just couldn't tell from the inspection. I also had problems with an idler arm (I think that was what it was). Probably caused by us driving it on dirt roads so had that replaced also. Because he did the work himself he put cheap spark plugs in when the engine really required high heat ones. They melted last year and I had them replaced with the high dollar stuff.

Once you find a unit you can pay a couple of hundred to get it inspected. Our inspection was a hundred something (maybe $112?). I then took it to a different shop to get the fixes done and had them do an inspection to. They both had good reports for the engine and other stuff. Belt and hoses OK. We did have one problem with a rubber drain piece from the air conditioner and had to have that replaced as when we braked it somehow sucked exhaust into the ac system. We replaced the tires with all season truck tires since we go off road alot and I didn't think highway tires would give us enough traction. The ones on there were old anyways.

I guess what I'm saying is that its good to do all you can to pick the one in the best condition possible but still have reserve funds to take care of the things that come up or weren't evident at first.

We have been consistently impressed with the build quality of our RV. For ordering parts it is nice to have the parts catalog from Winnebago for our make and model.
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Old 05-16-2012, 03:18 PM   #8
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Searching for a New Rig

micd, thank you very much for all the time you've spent educating me with your experiences, I greatly appreciate it!

Thank you for the referral to rv.org. The $140 would certainly be worth the having access to the reviews. Unfortunately, I don't have the required Mac or Windows operating system.

Thanks for all the buying tips. Funny about the mold -- just yesterday we looked at an '86 Monaco and -- I kid you not -- you could smell the mold from the outside of the rig. That's how bad it was. It was on a dealer lot too and my wife couldn't believe a dealer would try to sell something like that.

Thanks too for the insight on the Winnebago. When you're a kid, you remember things like your neighbor's Winnebago's under-hood fire and the ceiling falling down, but that was a long time ago. A lot has changed since then, and I couldn't tell you how well that neighbor maintained his vehicles either.

It's off-topic, but while we were on that dealer's lot my wife said she saw one particular motorhome and each time time she looked at it, she had the thought that we must look at it before we leave. It just looked liked one more motorhome in a row of motorhomes to me. When we did look at it, we both really liked it and it was nothing like what I've decided we would eventually get. It was a 2006 Fleetwood Tioga Jamboree 29V, class C, Ford chassis, 12,000 miles. It looked new, smelled new, and even the cabinets opened like they were new. Its sale is the product of a divorce, apparently.

I guess the point is, maybe I need to broaden my search parameters and not be so narrow minded about what I think we need to be happy and comfortable in. Even though that rig was only a 30', it had a more open feeling than that 40' Monaco had. It may very well be another rig that has been sitting and neglected, but it sure didn't look like it judging from first impressions.

I really haven't had much luck finding a well maintained diesel pusher in my price range so maybe a gas chassis is going to be more for us. We really don't plan on driving much anyway. We'd love to take a summer Alaska trip, but the truth is we probably won't migrate much more than 200 miles from our winter spot to our summer spot. And with a rig that small, we could drive it a lot of places where'd we'd otherwise have to take a toad if we had a larger MH. Oh, and smaller campgrounds would be more accessible too! I kind of like that idea. So here I go rethinking what I've already decided.
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Old 05-16-2012, 04:45 PM   #9
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Smaller motorhome

Hi Retmotor,

In terms of a 30 footer, what we like is that you can park it in two parking spaces across. This makes it really easy to stop at stores and things since we don't need to find a large number of empty spaces all in a row. We can also get in most gas stations which is nice if you visit small towns of venture off the main expressways.

For us two + 2 dogs 30 ft is a good length. If we were full timing I would probably stay at about 30 feet and go for one what had the full wall slide to open up the area next to the bed. Something like the Georgetown 300s.
I think there are 4 manufacturers that offer this floorplan. However we will never buy a new one since I can't stand the formaldehyde smell while they outgas. Also I don't want to give up a year of my life to working out the problems that come with a new one.

I also would think about a king size bed if we were to ever full time. The shortest I've seen with one is the 34 ft Georgetown XL 337ds. For us we have to get a Class A since I am tall with big feet and the gas class C's don't have enough foot room for me to sit straight in the passenger seat. You both might want to try it to see if you can be comfortable in that seat.

Cheers!
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Old 05-17-2012, 01:07 PM   #10
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Laughing... Oh, we don't have the,"tall" problem

A story to illustrate:

I had a partner at work, Joe, whom I'd known for 20 years at this point. Joe's about 5'18" as he liked to tell everyone. One day we had a group photo. A week later after the photos had been put in our mailboxes, I get to work and see Joe, with that big ol' trademark "Joe smile" on his face, holding the photo in one hand and pointing excitedly to it with the other.

"Look! Look! Look!" says Joe.

"What?" As I realize he's pointing to me in the picture.

"I never realized how short you are!"

"Thanks, Joe..."





I was just thinking about shying away from the gas class A's because climbing over dog house seems to aggravate my back and surprisingly, getting in and out of the driver's seat in the class C's was a lot easier than I remember. I'm not sure on that yet, but it's something else I'm thinking about now.

If we could be comfortable and happy in something around the 30' mark, it sure seems like it'd be a better way to go for all the reasons you've mentioned.

Those Georgetowns look nice.
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Old 05-17-2012, 08:03 PM   #11
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As others have said inspect everything, make sure everything works properly. However it's a house on wheels that is 18 years old, it's a crap shoot as to what pitfalls will are lurking in there. You might want to have a local RV inspection service take a look at it before you make a 900 mile trip.
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Old 05-18-2012, 12:13 AM   #12
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^ Thank you.
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Old 05-18-2012, 02:20 PM   #13
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I have owned 3 Winnebagos over the years wouldn't worry about the brand. Definately would have caution with the rig sitting for such a long time.
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Old 05-18-2012, 08:12 PM   #14
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^ Thanks for the feedback on the Winnebagos. Since posting this, everything I've been able to find on them gives me the impression they're one of the better manufacturers.
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