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Old 06-27-2012, 11:48 PM   #1
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Arrow Upgrading an older unit - what can you NOT retrofit?

Hi guys! Me again!

Here's one for the mechanics out there ... if I DO decide to get an older unit and update and customize it - what things can NOT be done?

I'm actually fairly knowledgeable on the remodeling (real estate fix and flip) and body work (love those fiberglass vettes!) but not on the mechanical logistics. And yes, I could take my list to the remodel shop and get answers, but I would probably sound like an idiot, and I would like to know some of this stuff while I'm doing my looking. So cut me some slack here, please, and be helpful. I'm sure there are others who have wondered about each of these and would enjoy the education!

I know almost anything can physically be changed, yet it not be practical. I used to watch my dad have his racing vettes pulled apart, and they could remove the entire body, switch engines, replace bent axles and just about anything ... but none of that is practical outside of that setting. So we'll consider things like the kind and size of the engine and transmission, location of the radiator, brand and characteristics of the chassis ... these are basic systems that are not changeable after the fact. But beyond basic interior cosmetics, what else can and can't be done?

Say I want to remodel the bathroom. Can I have the stool moved a few feet sideways? Or have it moved across the hall, but still not to far from original place? (say 8 -10 ft?) Or does it have to stay exactly where originally placed since tanks can't be moved?

What about adding a slide, or having the windows enlarged? What about ADDING a window (kitchen?)?

What about big systems - like air levelling. Is that something that is inherent with the chassis? I know you can add jacks to an RV that has air levelling, but can the air levelling be added?

What about IFS - can that be a retrofit?

What about air brakes? (I know almost NOTHING about brakes!) Do they all have air brakes to start, or is that something that can be added? If it has an "exhaust brake" can that be upgraded to an "engine brake"?

If you can only fill the fuel from one side, can another fill be added on the other side?

You get my drift. When I consider the used RV, what absolutely has to already be in/on the unit because it can't normally be added afterwards?

Kathryn
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Old 06-28-2012, 01:26 AM   #2
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Ok, a list indeed,
Bathroom not practical to re-locate, tanks drains, new throne, sink, counter, sure but floorplan needs to stay same.
Most coaches the exterior walls are bonded together, with window framing already in place, not practical to add/enlarge. Swap for better quality ,OK
Slide, I would not want to think what adding a slide would cost. Most times impossible.
Air, leveling,brakes,and IFS , are built into the chassis.
Some ; very few; Pushers have air suspension, and hydraboost brakes,
But they are rare.
Mose often , DP= air suspension & air brakes
Exhaust brake; some times called a Pac-Brake can be added, but not all engines can have , a true engine brake installed.
Dual fillers, depending on the unit could be added ; rare to find a new coach that doesn't already have it.
The floor plan is for the most part set in stone , cheeper to buy another coach than modify.
There are a ton of coaches out there , take your time , develop a must have list, set a price point, Pick a brand ; or 2 and start shopping.
Keep asking questions, it's out there, your perfect coach.
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Old 06-28-2012, 01:58 AM   #3
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Wow! I'm impressed - got all those answered in one breath! LOL!

Great info - thx so much.

Kathryn
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Old 06-28-2012, 07:50 AM   #4
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I think the simple answer is that nothing is impossible, if you have enough money. Consider that coach mfgrs. take what is essentially a bus chassis and add slides, kitchens and baths, etc., and sell them for $750k plus. I think there comes a point, just like a home in a $200k neighborhood where you would not want to make the home worth $300k because of improvements; same with an RV. It would be nice for you, but you'd never get the money back on resale.
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Old 06-28-2012, 04:14 PM   #5
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Decor is easy to change.
Layout is not.
Chassis is not.
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Old 06-28-2012, 05:12 PM   #6
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Re moving bath: The standard RV toilet relies in being directly over the waste tank - it just "drops the load" down the pipe into the tank. You can get a macerator toilet that grinds the stuff up and pumps it to the tank, but they are expensive to retrofit because of the plumbing difficulties. In general, it is hard (read expensive) to get inside floors and walls to do much with wiring or plumbing, and there isn't much room in either one to do anything.

Re changing lighting, power, and tv/sound wiring: usually difficult (same reasons as plumbing) but you can sometimes run wiring through the ceiling or in a/c ducts, or underneath the chassis and bring it up where you need it.

Air suspension: you can add air assist to a spring suspension but actually converting spring suspension to air is probably not practical because it is major change in suspension. Ditto for changing a solid axle to IFS - that's a whole new front end under the chassis.

Adding an engine brake is a major tear down & rebuild of the diesel engine. Add an exhaust brake instead - relatively straight-forward upgrade.

Slides: there are companies that do this, but it is very expensive. Best to buy the slides you think you need.

Adding/enlarging windows: Can be done, and sometimes adding smallish window is not real hard. The windows themselves are simple to install, but finding a place where there you can safely cut away the existing sidewall is kind of a gamble.
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:05 PM   #7
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On the way through Midland, Texas I stopped at a RV mobile service guys place to repair some plumbing. He was rebuilding an older RV for himself and had installed a manual slideout that worked pretty good.
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Old 06-29-2012, 11:34 PM   #8
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Kathryn, a few things to consider while your searching for your perfect "A".
Check your home state license requirements , on vehicle weight, and air brakes. You may need to take a course, on air brakes to be legal.
Any coach you consider; if service records are not available , knock $3000.00 off your offer, if the tire dates are over or less than 2years remaining , another$ 4>5000.00 depends on tag axle.
If your buying from a dealer, get everything the salesman tells you in writing. Look for a dealer with RV sites on their lots and stay in the unit on the lot to check everything before you hit the road.
Good Luck with your search.
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Old 06-29-2012, 11:42 PM   #9
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Thank you. Great advice. Will do.

Kathryn
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Old 06-30-2012, 05:39 AM   #10
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Money, time and patience anything can be done.
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Old 06-30-2012, 12:19 PM   #11
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Remodeling a MH is like building a custom car from a stock car. The money you spend will likely not be returned in increased value. You may extend your enjoyment of the improvements and the base coach, but that will be all of the benefit.

There are no market analysis summaries of MH sale transactions so the system to establish value on Kelly Blue Book and NADA is merely a mathematical computation starting at original MSRP of a MH.

Improvements and original optional equipment will most likely disregarded in the market value.
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