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Old 06-20-2015, 05:28 AM   #1
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Help with purchase decision

Hi everyone, another newbie here. My wife and I are about to purchase a used motorhome and need some advice on our decision.
We are trying to keep the budget to under 25k with taxes included (13% in Ontario Canada).
The one in mind is a 33ft 1998 Winnebago Chieftain with a Ford 460 69,000 km. Nice unit but showing its age.
We really like the layout with the dinning area on the passenger side and the overall colours and fabric of the interior. The exterior is not perfect, has some fading, long scratch down the side plus a crack in the rear bumper. The automatic step needs repair and I noticed the rear sway bar needs new bushings.
I've done a good overall inspection but never drove it. The original price was 23k, I offered 19K and I would fix the step and sway but they have to certify.

I spoke to the original owner from 1998 and he said he wouldn't buy. He thought the brakes were too small for the rv and that it was was actually dangerous and was afraid to drive it. Also said the wind and wake from trucks would blow it all over the place.

Should I consider a 1999 or 2000 because they came with a better chassis? I know the fords came with 19.5 inch tires compared with 16 inch in 1998.
Just thought the bigger tires would help with stability.

Any advice would be great. Sorry about the long winded post.
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Old 06-20-2015, 06:24 AM   #2
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Did you check the roof for sealant issues? If it's not sealed properly or is cracked from age, there could be hidden water damage on the inside which could cost thousands later to fix. I would also get it weighed and check the Cargo Carrying Capacity. If it's on 16 inch wheels, you may be close to overweight, which makes for dangerous conditions. The newer Motorhomes are built with HD Chassis, and Brakes, Steering, and Powertrains are matched to the Chassis. Definitely drive the unit if you are going to purchase it. If it's not going to handle well, it will make for a long trip while your wrestling it down the road.


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Old 06-20-2015, 06:53 AM   #3
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The original owner gave you sound advice. Also, he is referring to when it was in top condition. I would put a LOT of weight on his remarks.
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Old 06-20-2015, 07:39 AM   #4
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The newer the better, buy what you can afford. Dont let the previous owner scare you off by complaining about the driveability of the unit. You are not driving a car. Most A Class gas MHs are affected by wind and passing trucks, its not as bad as he said. And yes they will not stop on a dime, thats the nature of the beast. As I stated you are not driving a car or even a pickup. Dont let that stop you from getting into RVing, its a lot of fun and you get to see neat stuff an meet neat people. Good luck.
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Old 06-20-2015, 07:57 AM   #5
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Try to get a coach with the Workhorse chassis and 2205 tires that along with the Allison transmission is a good combination
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Old 06-20-2015, 06:40 PM   #6
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Well we decided against the 1998 Chieftain. Looked at 1999 Demon Challenger 33ft with the v10 ford. Nice condition inside, everything works but the outside seems to be a bit weather but that's to be expected for the year.
Engine ran perfect 60km on odometer. The tires looked ok but some cracking in between the tread and the date code was 2007 but it did some with 2 spare tires.
Overall not bad condition.
The price was 20k as is, he was advertising for 21,500.
NADA value is 15,800 so he overpriced and with me certifying and the possibility of new tires need I think I'll pass.
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Old 06-20-2015, 06:52 PM   #7
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Take your time and the right MH will come along. We spent over 2 years looking and ended up buying new for several reasons. Seeing as you are trying to keep the budget down, be persistent in your search and you will find a "gem' in the midst of all the questionable ones you look at. If for any reason any one of the scares you follow your instincts as there is a reason you are not trusting it or loving the MH. Patience will pay off down the road.
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Old 06-20-2015, 07:05 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Mike and Cha View Post
Take your time and the right MH will come along. We spent over 2 years looking and ended up buying new for several reasons. Seeing as you are trying to keep the budget down, be persistent in your search and you will find a "gem' in the midst of all the questionable ones you look at. If for any reason any one of the scares you follow your instincts as there is a reason you are not trusting it or loving the MH. Patience will pay off down the road.
Good advice . I looked long and hard before I found my Vectra. Even then it needed some work. But. Are you willing or able to do some of the work yourself. Big money saver if you can. My advice for what its worth. Cosmetics cost a lot less than mechanicals. And safety over rules all.
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Old 06-20-2015, 07:43 PM   #9
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for the amount of $$ you want to spend I think you should be looking for a 2006 or newer class c. it will have the v10 ford and 5sp tran. Dave
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Old 06-20-2015, 08:08 PM   #10
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First and foremost as mentioned above, the newer the better and my personal opinion, stay away from the Ford 460 as they are way outdated and late model Damon and/or Thor's prior to current models. We're on our fifth RV since 1987 if I don't count the Thor I had for only five months. We started with a micro Class C Toyota , followed by a full size C. Then to Class A's. Our first was a Workhorse with the big Chevy engine. Loved the coach, a Tiffin, hated the drive drain and the chassis. We are on our second F53 chassis, the current one has the Mor/Ryde suspension. Out side of the Ford 450 chassis on our 31 ft Coachmen Santora Class C with the V10, it's the best riding chassis and drive train I've had. I was absolutely amazed at the ride compared to the earlier F53 ride. If I have been informed correctly, pre-Mor/Ryde F-53 chassis can be upgraded.
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Old 06-20-2015, 08:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Mike and Cha View Post
Take your time and the right MH will come along. We spent over 2 years looking and ended up buying new for several reasons. Seeing as you are trying to keep the budget down, be persistent in your search and you will find a "gem' in the midst of all the questionable ones you look at. If for any reason any one of the scares you follow your instincts as there is a reason you are not trusting it or loving the MH. Patience will pay off down the road.
I think the budget went up today. We found another Winnebago Chieftain in better condition. Its a 1999 36L with a v10 engine and Banks power system. Comes with 6 new Michelins 19.5 inch.
Haven't look at it yet but the owner says it in excellent condition. Paint and decals are not faded and has new awnings all around. Plus it has the automatic winterization option.
The price is 26k, on the high side but its good to go, no work for me to do.
The only fly in ointment is my wife is not keen on the colours.

I want to thank everyone for their comments.
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Old 06-20-2015, 08:28 PM   #12
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Take the advice of the original owner!
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Old 06-21-2015, 09:43 AM   #13
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Our wives are in the same club! Just found the perfect MH, Holiday Rambler Vacationer, excellent condition, low miles, and great price. However, wife doesn't like the color of the couch! Ugh!
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Old 06-21-2015, 10:28 AM   #14
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Change the couch or colors............Easy and your done...............

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