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Old 03-10-2008, 04:38 AM   #1
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Hello everyone,

New member here. I have been searching for an older model motorhome. I currently have a pop up, but I recently rented a 2006 31' Maverick by Georgie-Boy, which we took to Myrtle Beach from Boston a few weeks ago. I love the motorhome travel and have decided to buy one.

With $10,000 to spend, I have been traveling all around New England viewing older model motorhomes(1987,1988,1989)from Minnie Winnies to Honeys to Shastas. Each one looks to me as if they are in great condition for their age, I am told they are in mint condition by the owners and they are within my budget.

Does anyone have any advice for someone looking to get an older RV. My concerns are the repairs, unforeseen problems with older models, wear and tear on things that are not visible, etc. I can live with the price of gas but have no means of working on the vehicles myself as I am a single working Mom with a young child. I am also concerned with safety such as brake systems, seatbelts, and whether or not I can take it on long trips from home.

99% of my time has been spent looking at privately owned Rvs because the dealers I have spoken with claim it's not worth their time to pay for the repairs that an older RV would need in order to be ready for resale. Quite frankly I am beginning to get spooked about buying an older RV, based on conversations I am having with the dealers.

Can anyone give me some advise on whether or not it is worth it to buy an older model, or should I consider financing a model that is newer and over my budget?

Any experienced advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks you!

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Old 03-10-2008, 06:54 AM   #2
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Unless you can get a knowledgeable person or persons who can go over the MH's mechanical, structure and rv systems and give you a clear idea what you are getting into I think I would pass. While most older MH's can be good buys you have to be prepared for extra expenses. I recently bought a 99 MH in good repair, and have put in over 3,000 in repairs, including tires, starter etc. Unfortunately, sometimes the cheapest thing you did was buying the MH. Even when they are in good shape they cost a lot to run and maintain.

Best of Luck

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Old 03-10-2008, 07:05 AM   #3
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A tough question. Remember with a MH you have all the things that can go wrong in a house together with all the things that can go wrong with a motor vehicle. I have purchased both new and quite old MHs over the years. Even with a new one you are going to have problems from time to time, although those may be covered by warranty for a while. That said I'm not sure you will probably not have any more problems with a 10 yr. old unit that a 3-4 yr. old one. Problem is you say you cannot work on unit when problems develop. Having to have all problems fixed at an RV repair shop at anywhere from $60 to $110 per hr. plus parts can get real expensive real fast. If you are detrmined to have a MH, my best advise would be to buy one you can afford while saving an amount as a cushion for inevitable repairs.
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Old 03-10-2008, 07:36 AM   #4
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Good advice above. Are you mechanicaly natured or do some of your own home repairs? Steer away fro many water leaks, roof, walls floors, front window ect. Has the unit been taking care of. I have owned and sold older units I owned myself. Have the owner show you that the fridge, water heater , plumbing, converter, A/C and heater are all in working order. Stay away from a company who is out of busniess... could be a parts problem. Winnebago is very good for getting parts The even have a reference online.
Take the unit for a test ride!

Let me know if you if you have any other questions. I have been RVIng for over 25 years and have owned a many of older units. Check a dealer out my buddy just bought a 1996 Advernture 34' w/ slide(thise option is nice.)
for $25 @ $ 208 a month from a dealer with a extended warranty.

Happy Rving!!! hope to see ya on the road.
CC..... Happy Rving!!
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Old 03-10-2008, 08:24 AM   #5
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One other thing to be aware of is that tire manufacturers recommend periodic inspection of tires older than 5 years and say you should consider replacement after 7 years with 10 years being an absolute limit and replacement at that time.
It doesn't matter how much tread the tires have remaining - it's an issue of the plasticizers leaching out of the tires over time and UV damage.
Many of us replace our tires at five years rather than take a chance.
Clay WA5NMR - Ex Snowbird - 1 year, Ex Full timer for 11 years - 2004 Winnebago Sightseer 35N Workhorse chassis. Honda Accord toad.
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Old 03-10-2008, 03:18 PM   #6
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You have to know what you are looking at...I thought I did and my poor judgement (and trust of the private seller) has cost me the following (based on my memory):
$2,000 to pass inspection
$600 on two new tires for the front plus pulling all others to put the 4 best on the rear
$800 to repair leaks
$2,000 to replace the fridge and service the hot water heater/generator (couldn't get to work)/furnace
$100 to install battery disconnect, hot water heater bypass, etc.

So, I bought my 1992 27' class C for less than $10,000 but have put another $5,000 plus in to it.

It is safe and we enjoy it, but I would have been better off if I had kept looking for something a little longer and built up my bank roll in the meantime!
2007 Gulfstream Innsbruck 36FRS
2006 Palomino Puma 27FQ
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Old 03-10-2008, 03:34 PM   #7
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Not being mechanically proficient, it would pay to take the MH to an RV repair shop to have it checked out. It will probally cost a couple of hundred dollars for a good checkout, but it would be worth it as doing anything short of regular maintaince can get expensive. If the seller will not agree to this, walk away as there is probally something major wrong with the unit. Avoid extra low mileage units because they usually have been sitting around a whole lot and run down faster.
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Old 03-10-2008, 05:03 PM   #8
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A motorhome of that vintage, late eighties, can be very deceptive. Underneath it will have the same frame rot and rust seized components of any other vehicle of that age driven over salted roads. They will at times look beautiful with well polished and maintained interiors and exteriors but the supporting structure can be at the verge of collapse. Have the undercarriage inspected with a critical eye before making any purchase.
Neil V
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Old 03-11-2008, 04:13 AM   #9
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You've gotten great advice from other folks ahead of me. With you living in the New England area, I'd be extra careful looking at rigs that have been "on the salt". You won't find many late model 80's automobiles running around your part of the country-- they are all in the junk yard because nothing is left of them.

Have a "pre-buy" inspection completed by a competent RV repair man/service. I paid $175 in early '06 because I didn't want to drive 900 miles (one way) only to return home without the rig. I found mine on the internet and the old boy selling it was a confusing, story telling , fool. The "pre-buy" inspection showed several things he "forgot" to tell me about, ie- the slide out topper awnings were shot and he had broken the satellite antenna dome while on the roof washing it and repaired it with clear tape. We finally got together on price, over the phone, and I went to south Texas for the purchase. When I got there, the rig was filthy inside and I was walking away- getting in my car, when he came a runnin' and reduced the price some more. His internet AD was confusing, claiming many things the rig did not have ie- a Jake brake ( on a gas rig?), aluminum wheels and stainless steel wheel covers, an inverter (it didn't have), and on and on. The pre-buy inspection sorted out all these items. His son had placed the AD for him and just copied some other ads that he saw on the internet. The ole' fool didn't even have a computer and couldn't use one anyway.

I bought the rig at below the wholesale price, and did some work of my own, and now we have a great running/looking rig. You can't hardly own one without fixin'/repairing one on your own, it is just cost prohibitive. I would suggest you rent one occassionally (as you have done before), build up your bank account and look at fairly new "Class C's", in the 26 ft range. You'll find one eventually to fit your budget, in good shape and it will serve you and your child well.

I wish you the best of luck in you travels, and please keep us posted on your progress-- We care!
Max H,
2002 Newmar Mountain Aire, 37', 3778, W-22, 8.1 Vortac, Ultra Power upgrade, CAI (cold air intake), Taylor wires, colder plugs, Koni shocks.
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Old 03-11-2008, 06:02 AM   #10
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The info given so far is excellent. Our first MH was purchased by my DW without my knowledge two years ago (she does that sort of thing). It was a 1993 model. She travelled to southern MI to pick it up and drive the 250 miles home. By the time she got home, the entire exhaust system had broken free from all its hangers and dropped melting the lines to the airbags in the process. I crawled under to see what the problem was, and found corrosion, big time. $1000 later, it was a useable unit. BTW, it was purchased from a dealer, and was mint inside. From my experience, I would say, wait and buy someting newer.
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Old 03-11-2008, 07:04 AM   #11
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Definitely do not buy one from the rust belt!
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Old 03-17-2008, 05:24 AM   #12
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You folks have certainly opened my eyes.

I assumed new tires and a tune up would be in order once I bought but you have given me much more information to consider than anyone I've spoken with so far.

I'll use your replies as a base for questions to the owner. The rust issue is not one I considered. Taking it to a reputable RV mechanic was something I thought would never be acceptable prior to purchase unless buying from a dealer, but I think I will insist on that from a private seller as well.

Thank you all for your time and info. I'm glad I asked for help.

Jody S
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:18 AM   #13
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Best of luck, and as I said before, please keep us posted-- We really do care
Max H,
2002 Newmar Mountain Aire, 37', 3778, W-22, 8.1 Vortac, Ultra Power upgrade, CAI (cold air intake), Taylor wires, colder plugs, Koni shocks.
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Old 03-17-2008, 04:47 PM   #14
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Ever considered a bus conversion? Waaay better built, will run forever and often cheaper (although older). A bus with 100K on the engine is just getting broke in. I would seriously look into a bus conversion. But I'm slightly biased.

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