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Old 03-30-2014, 05:37 AM   #1
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True or False

Good morning! My name is Jackalope and I'm delighted to be here. Hopefully I can get some good advice from you experts.

After many years of looking at RV's and wanting one, I've finally retired and we're looking for a rig. But I'm having problems and maybe you veterans can help.

I've always bought used cars and I've always gone by the rule, the year doesn't matter...look at the miles. For the most part, that works fine for cars...but for RV's?

Recently, I found what appeared to be a very nice 2005 Damon Challenger with only 19,000 miles on it. It appeared to be clean and well taken care of. Unfortunately, it's at a used car/used RV dealership. They don't have the facilities to hook up shore power (other than standard 110) or sewage lines.

I wanted to take the unit to the closest Damon dealer to be checked out but the dealer won't allow a unit to be gone overnight (and I'm unable to find anyone who says they can do a full survey in less than that). However the dealer is very cooperative about accommodating a mobile repair service to conduct the inspection, and I do know that there are a number of businesses that'll do that. So I don't want anyone to get the idea that the dealer won't allow me to check out the unit...just that it has to remain on site (other than test drives).

But in the meantime, I had to make a quick trip to Florida and went by to look at a few campgrounds near my son's home. One of them had a very nice, and it appeared to me, very knowledgable owner. He said that at the 10 year mark, almost all RV's started having major problems. Replacement of appliances, replacement of the roof, replacement of tires (because of age). And he also stated that there was no way in the world he'd buy an RV without being able to fully hook it up to see all systems function.

The last part makes a lot of sense. But what do you think about this "ten year curse"? Is that true? Do most need all those replacements at that point? If I buy this Damon, am I probably looking at spending thousands in a very short time?

Just FYI, this will not be used for Full-Timing. Monthly vacations will be the most we've got planned.

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Old 03-30-2014, 06:01 AM   #2
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I would have to agree on the part of pluging it in on the other had if you find the right unit the 10 year comment doesn't wash. There are plenty of us the take extreme care of our rigs and lots that don't so do your homework don't get in a hurry and check them out.

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Old 03-30-2014, 06:10 AM   #3
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Old 03-30-2014, 06:15 AM   #4
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Find someone from a "good' Rv repair shop to check it out. Between the shop 110 volt and the generator you should be able to check all the power. Then hook up to water for the plumbing.
Donnt worry about that 10 year rule, its just someones opinion.
Do they ahve all the paperwork information? What I mean is a box with owners info for each appliance. Is their a maintenance log for the coach?
Check the tire ODOT date, look for leaks, See everything work, then ask for some type of warranty.
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Old 03-30-2014, 06:20 AM   #5
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Welcome to the forum! Boy I haven't heard the name "Jackalope" for quite awhile, reminds me of my going to Wyoming days. I find your post interesting as am sure many others will chime in with good advice. Just last fall I purchased a used 98 Fleetwood Pace Arrow from a private individual with just over 25,000 miles on it. I don't think you ever be overly cautious on purchasing anything, one person may think that his MH is in excellent condition without any problems when it may be only in average condition. I found my MH on Craigslist and fortunately it was only about a hour away from my home. After reading the ad, the owner failed to mention anything about the tires so I inquired about them - well he thought they was a little weather checked and perhaps original since he was not the original owner. He ended up being right, so that put the tires at 15 years old (well past the tires life safe life span). So I figured that was a negotiable item. Yeah, I would want to try everything to make sure it worked, if they are hesitant about letting you try this I would be a little reluctant. If you could get a mobile service person, as you mentioned, this would be great. I'd have the dealer plug the unit into at least the 110 service to try everything inside the camper, etc. Check the furnace/frig. etc. on propane. As far as the 10 year curse, yeah things do happen over a period of time and you should probably expect it. I felt like the MH I bought was a good deal and we really enjoy it, since we purchased it I have re-sealed two leveler jacks ($260.00), new tires ($2400.00), and now I have to replace the leveler jack hoses (est. $400.00). As I mentioned I knew about the MH needing new tires, but the jacks and hoses were not leaking at all. As you start reading more topics on the forum you will see that there a lot of older units still running and in really good shape, 2005 probably would not be a bad place to start, certainly quite a bit cheaper than a newer one. Good luck and keep us posted on your search.
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Old 03-30-2014, 06:21 AM   #6
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Jackolope , well it might be truth in what he said I look at it this way, with a rv there is always something going on something needs fixing from time to time and if you are not able to do a lot of this yourself then yeah its going to dollar you to death, But if the running gear is low miles then the house problems are not that bad. if its a fridge or ac unit or maybe roof yes a little pricey but so is a note on a new one so I love the fact that mine is paid for and if I get by a few months with no problems then im ahead of the game. But that being said if its low miles Ill bet the rest of the coach is good unless someone lived in it full time but then it would show on the inside from wear. But things sometime happen from sitting too. so its a judgement call on you. With a Good drop cord #12 or #10 wire you should be able to turn on ac one at a time at his place and run heater if its gas and he dont have a water spicot to hook a hose to plumbing? and hes a car dealer where does he wash cars? But plumbing problems are not that hard to fix. Im a mechanic by trade so I enjoy going threw a coach and getting everything up and running but I know everyone cant , but look it over good check out what you can check the roof good inside and out for any possable water damage and go with the gut feeling which I feel is the best one to listen to. and get it going and have some fun. Good Luck My Friend.
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Old 03-30-2014, 06:23 AM   #7
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Tires would be a large expense. Check the tires manufacture date. If they are approaching 7 yrs old they will be needing replacement. Very low mileage is not good. It means the MH has sat around a lot. Ask to see any maintenance records. Age may not be as much of a factor as much as how the previous owner cared for it. So False.
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Old 03-30-2014, 06:45 AM   #8
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welcome to irv2 there are a lot of great 10year old rig out there just keep your eye on the prize.Just have it checked out if they will not let everything be hooked up for inspection then move on JMHO
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Old 03-30-2014, 06:59 AM   #9
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Parts are usually not expensive, labor is. If I was not a do it yourselfer, and didn't care to learn, I would not buy even a used RV, much less a 10 yr old one. JMO
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Old 03-30-2014, 07:01 AM   #10
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Welcome to the forum. I am going to touch on a few things here but not in order. First off, age is NOT a factor. Many folks take great care of their units. Going from covering them up, lifting the tires off the ground to a full size hard shell like a pole barn or camper port. So the biggest thing is weather. Weather is what kills any unit. If it was parked under a sappy tree, in the sun most of the day and never moved so the tires dry rot.

If the respectable dealer won't let an RV place take a look @ it I would be concerned. This goes both ways here. YOU are paying for the inspection so that means you are a serious buyer to the dealer. Plus if you decide NOT to buy, he has a copy of the inspection report for other potential buyers. Kind of a win win here.

I don't shy on the miles like other folks. Yes, less miles means less usage therefore things could easily go wrong with the unit. I bought a MH a 74 MH that had 30k miles on it. When I got it home I never took it anywhere until it was sold. BUT, I ran the motor and most of the appliances twice a month. It isn't much better, but I ran it until everything was warm and even drove it around the neighborhood.

I have to say though, a 2005 isn't really old in my book. There are many other units that are much older and doing just fine. Like posted before, the biggest thing is tires.

You will want to do a complete walk around from top to bottom with any unit you are looking @. I start @ the roof. If you can't see it, ask to use a ladder. Folks that have campers are always concerned with the roof so they have a way to inspect it. You are looking for tape, caulk, or anything that may look like a patch. If you see one go inside and see if you can see anything out of place. Feel the celieng. You are looking for soft spots or droopy areas.

Then don't stray off course here, go back outside and look @ the body. Any damage or tears that may have newer metal, tape or paint. If you see any damage expectually near the roof, go back inside and check that area. Again, feel for soft spots or replacement panels. Then go back outside.

Check all the outside compartments. Look for signs of water, bugs, or rodent damage. If you have a LP tank check the date codes on them. They have to be tested every so many years. Some tanks even need to be updated to fit the new fill plug. Not an issue for a 2005 but older units yes. I am not sure the cut off for new LP tank plug updates. Hope someone else see this post and advise. While you are outside, check the generator if it has one. Look for signs of overheating, check the oil and see if it's black or clean or milky. Fire it up @ this location. Most have a two point switch that can fire the generator up @ the source or inside the unit. You are looking for trouble starting and sparks. If you see sparks flying while it's running, the generator isn't grounded or has a bad winding and could be costly to repair or replace.

Now move on down to the ground level. Yes you will need to get dirty. You are checking the dates of the tires, frame of the unit, tank dump valves and shocks if they unit has them (many TT's do not). You will also be looking @ the tranny and motor for signs of oil. If it's dirty oil or fresh. Fresh oil is also a sign that they are covering something up because they changed it. Also look for coolant leaks. Ask if the tanks are empty. If not, that could be something to worry about. If so, pull the dump valves. They should move easily. If not, plan about 150 bucks to replace by the RV dealer (just had mine done).

Check the owning if it has one. Open it up and check the fabric. These can go up to about 2000 to replace depending on which one you have. I just spent 800 for ours.

Now check out the engine from outside. Check the oil, tranny fluid and radiator. When looking @ the radiator check the coolant color and any green looking crust on the fins itself. Radiator leaks is a major issue. Many are hard to replace if the unit is older. I had trouble replacing the one on my 74. Can't walk into NAPA and ask for RV parts and dealers don't keep info on them after a certain age.

Then go back inside. While you are in there check the floor for soft spots. If you have any, that is a major sign of a roof leak that has been repaired or patched. If you are ok with this then look on. If not, walk away. You should be able to run water and look around for water on the floor. Check the breaker panel for signs of wires cut into and moved around. This is a sign of electrical issues.

After all this and you are still interested, time to fire up the beast. Climb into the chair and turn the key. It should fire right up. Let it warm up. Look in your mirrors for grey or blue color smoke. If it's a diesel, black is not really ok. Could be an injector problem. Very expensive. After it is warmed up, put your foot on the brake and put the tranny in drive. It should do so smoothly. Then put it in reverse. Again, should shift smoothly. If it bangs, you have a tranny rebuilt in the very near future. If all is good, take it for a test drive. Again, should shift smooth in all gears. If the unit shivers down the road, could be bad tires, low air pressure or worn out front end.

So this was a lengthily post. Hope you get the idea. I would still insist on having a RV dealer check it out. Many respectable used car lots let you take a vehicle to a mechanic of your choice. If not, move on they are hiding something. Good luck and welcome...
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Old 03-30-2014, 07:05 AM   #11
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Lots of good info here. I'm sorry if I don't respond to each one individually. You guys just overwhelmed me with all the quick responses. Thanks so much.

I'll be the first to say that, like any other mechanical device, maintenance and upkeep can make a huge difference. What my friend in Florida was saying however was that (a) big ticket items like the roof and individual appliances seem to have a ten year life and (b) there are things like the annual roof preservative, that many owners neglect and that I should assume have not been done.

Of course, maintenance records would be ideal, but without them, I have to assume that it was bought, maybe a trip or two taken and not much else. I think anyone who has an 8 year old rig with only 19,000 miles decided at some point that RV'ing just wasn't for them, particularly when you're referring to a Damon, which I think is generally an entry-level class A rather than something that full-timers would have.

Thanks to all for the nice welcomes. Like a number of you from what I've read, I'm sort of a refugee from rv.net. As a rookie, I just haven't got the expertise (or the desire) to engage in the type of ..... discussions, they have over there. This seems to be a much friendlier place.
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Old 03-30-2014, 09:02 AM   #12
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Jackalope: Welcome and take your time in looking for a good MH that meets your needs/wants. I would not be too concerned about a 2005 MH having low mileage. If one is not full timing it, I would say 3-5k miles might be all it gets a year. There are some that move their MH's to a summer parking place and leave them there all summer. I would be concerned about low hours on a generator. Generators like/need to be ran.
One thing I would be asking the dealers about is being able to set the MH up and being able to run all of the systems for several hours, with both shore power and the generator. Also as has already been said, I would not be too concerned about a 10year old MH, as long as it is good condition. Remember our MH's are just like our SB, just that they can be moved to places we want to go. They will all need repairs at one time or another, plan for it! For us part of the fun of getting a MH as looking at what all is out there, take you time and have fun.
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Old 03-30-2014, 09:24 AM   #13
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Jackalope: Welcome to iRV2.

I've never owned a new-ish MH, mine is twenty years old (1994). I purchased her expecting a project and have not been disappointed. It seems that there are some folks that expect everything to work perfectly and be brand new. That's fine but I would guess a fairly new unit is necessary to meet this expectation. If you are a bit handy, get a good deal (low-ish purchase price), and enjoy some projects, an older MH will be just fine. When taken care of, they don't just roll over dead at year xx. One thing that does happen is technology marches on. Modern chargers, inverters, TV's, etc... are much, much smarter/better now than they were twenty years ago so even if the old is working, it is worth replacing (in most cases).
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Old 03-30-2014, 09:27 AM   #14
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Jackalope, when we bought our coach it was 8 years old and had only 15000mi on it. If your happy with the amount of wear and tear on the unit as a whole, then the same amount of problems will follow, if you get my drift. A beat up unit will have more problems than a clean one. The biggest thing to look for is water intrusion. Around windows, doors, vents etc. Our unit was previously owned by older people (2 PO,s) that sold due to health reasons so not much wear and tear and was really in showroom condition. Good aged units can be found. Don't get in a hurry. Our previous coach was 14 years old and bought from the original owner. A gas rig that was well cared for BUT we were always in the lookout for an up grade to a diesel pusher. Our DP was found while on a trip in the gasser 1200 miles from home. We must have looked at hundreds of units before jumping into this one. Don't get in a hurry.

Good luck and welcome!!

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