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Old 01-12-2016, 10:57 AM   #1
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Looking at Two Different Coaches--How to Choose

So we're considering driving over to Houston (3 hours each way) to look at two different coaches, both at PPL. From the pictures, both appear to be in fairly good condition, but who knows until you actually step inside. We've been in a lot of coaches at PPL that had water leaks. The prices are close enough to each other that it doesn't make any difference.

1. 2003 HR Endeavor 36 PST with 60K and a 330 hp Cummins. Pros are RR8R suspension, 10K towing capacity and aluminum roof. Cons are shorter wheelbase and has no side radiator.

2. 2003 Dutch Star 3805 with 90K and 350 hp Cummins on a Spartan chassis. Pros are 10K towing capacity and side radiator, I think it only has 4 air bags. Cons are brite tek roof instead of fiberglass or aluminum and the infamous ball joint issue. It also is missing the couch.

From a purely mechanical and structural stand point, they appear to be similar, high quality coaches. The DS seems to be a little higher end than the HR, but it's also priced higher.

The HR has a 216" WB and the DS has a 252" WB. That seems like a big difference for a coaches that are 36' 7" and 38' 9" long respectively. From what I've read, the longer wheel base will ride better and probably turn almost as well because it has an independent front suspension. True?

Anyone have any thoughts?
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Old 01-12-2016, 11:28 AM   #2
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Front wheel cut determines any difference in turning radius in two coaches of the same length. I would look at chassis serviceability, if a custom chassis has limited support and another option is Freightliner (or spartan) I tend to prefer the main stream commercial chassis. Side radiator uses HP to run the hydros that run the fans, but it makes service much better. I have a rear radiator and it adds to the cost of belt and hose service in a big way. And DIY on the side of a road is next to impossible. We spent the night at a freightliner service center in Nashville to pick up a new part once, they had it in stock. What would you do with a custom chassis if you do not have intimate knowledge of the thing?

If I were buying or helping a friend buy I would tell him to strongly consider a commercial chassis over any custom chassis with all else being equal.
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Old 01-12-2016, 11:54 AM   #3
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CCC should also be a consideration, especially if you plan on snow birding or full time. Other things to consider: tire age, maintenance records, and if there have been any recalls or advisories have they been completed.
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Old 01-12-2016, 12:53 PM   #4
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I had bad experiences with two different consignment coaches. Both failed inspection miserably. Ended up buying from a private individual.
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Old 01-12-2016, 01:11 PM   #5
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One thing I did not consider when I purchased my Fleetwood Excursion was ground clearance. Flat ground is great, anything else is a challenge. JH
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Old 01-12-2016, 01:27 PM   #6
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Front wheel cut determines any difference in turning radius in two coaches of the same length. I would look at chassis serviceability, if a custom chassis has limited support and another option is Freightliner (or spartan) I tend to prefer the main stream commercial chassis. Side radiator uses HP to run the hydros that run the fans, but it makes service much better. I have a rear radiator and it adds to the cost of belt and hose service in a big way. And DIY on the side of a road is next to impossible. We spent the night at a freightliner service center in Nashville to pick up a new part once, they had it in stock. What would you do with a custom chassis if you do not have intimate knowledge of the thing?

If I were buying or helping a friend buy I would tell him to strongly consider a commercial chassis over any custom chassis with all else being equal.
Actually it's not the rigs length, it's the wheel cut AND wheelbase, not the length. The shorter wheelbase unit will turn in a shorter distance but may not be as stable on the road for the same reason.
Rear radiators also use HP to turn the fan, except it's not usually variable speed like the side radiator units so they run at full speed (and use more HP ALL the time).

And to the OP, the BriteTek roof would be a plus. That roofing is used on commercial buildings and they last 20 years or more with no care. Had one on our '02 DSDP and it was still in great condition when we traded it in. Very quiet in the rain too, much more so than our present fiberglass roof.
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Old 01-12-2016, 02:09 PM   #7
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I had bad experiences with two different consignment coaches. Both failed inspection miserably. Ended up buying from a private individual.
We've seen lots of bad coaches at PPL, but you have to keep going out to look at them.
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Old 01-12-2016, 02:10 PM   #8
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One thing I did not consider when I purchased my Fleetwood Excursion was ground clearance. Flat ground is great, anything else is a challenge. JH
Most coaches are pretty low.
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Old 01-12-2016, 05:18 PM   #9
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Go with the floor plan that your wife likes best if at all possible or keep looking for one she does like. Side radiator is a big plus IMO, I would not consider a rear radiator unless it was just so great of deal you couldn't pass on it. Any coach value is greatly depending on the condition and original quality. But again make sure the floor plan is 100% what you want or walk!
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Old 01-12-2016, 06:50 PM   #10
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We may be passing on these as we found another coach that meets all the items on our list.

Thanks for your input.
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Old 01-12-2016, 07:12 PM   #11
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Looking at Two Different Coaches--How to Choose

barmcd.... I'd go with the DS. Admittedly, I'm biased (see sig), but here are my reasons: more room, better box construction, common chassis, side rad, longer wheelbase. The short wheelbase on the HR may eat your lunch. The longer WB DS will likely ride more smoothly and feel better. The HR yields only a .49 wheelbase to length ratio (WB/L). Now, the heavy weight of the diesel engine and chassis will help, but you may still find yourself vulnerable to wind gusts, weaving in the wake of passing trucks, and shopping for aftermarket track bars and stabilizers. The DS has a WB/L ratio of .53, which is not stellar but is considered acceptable. The rubber roof doesn't have to be a problem. All roofs have to be maintained one way or another. The couch is only an issue if you really want it.

If the Spartan ball joint boots haven't been replaced, negotiate that into the price, along with the age of the tires and age of the batteries.


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Old 01-12-2016, 08:03 PM   #12
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We may be passing on these as we found another coach that meets all the items on our list.

Thanks for your input.

I looked at them online and wouldent even bother looking at them. They didn't do anything for me personally. What is the other one you found?
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Old 01-12-2016, 08:17 PM   #13
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I've been to PPL and can tell you that the website doesn't match the actual condition on the rigs that I saw. Nor does "non smoking / no smells" mean anything at all. And they are completely unable to spot or disclose any real damage. They will sell anything, at least as far as I know.

Texas is a TOUGH climate for coaches that are not garaged, especially in that year range.

Good news: SOME of them may have records, so not as bad as buying cold turkey.

Bad: Every DP that I looked at was discharged and dead. To really go through them, you had to put in an offer and could pay for an inspection service. Price after inspection could be negotiated.
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Old 01-12-2016, 08:19 PM   #14
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