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Old 06-03-2015, 03:41 PM   #1
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looking to buy first rv need advice

I know nothing about rvs. but, I need one to go across country. I saw a 1995 chevy 3500 catalina 20 feet advertised. looked real nice to me. but, would it be hard finding parts for a 1995 vehicle? what questions do I ask the owner about it. he says everything works fine. any advice about buying a used rv? thank you.

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Old 06-03-2015, 04:01 PM   #2
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First rule of thumb, never trust the seller to be truthful. If you search for PDI checklist on this site you should get allot of hits, they should be able to guide you as to what to check. If you don't feel comfortable with that idea, I would suggest you get it professionally inspected.
On the age of the unit, Chevy 3500 parts of that age are usually still widely available, but the other items like hot water heater, fridge and etc might take retrofits or upgrades to be usable.
The first step is a good inspection and any maintenance records the owner has.

2001 Itasca Horizon 36LD Cat
Retired Air Force, One lovely Angel, 2 Cats and three birds.
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Old 06-03-2015, 04:09 PM   #3
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Hmmm, you are asking the big question, but not providing much information. You say you are going "cross country"? Are you planning on doing this just once or are planning to do it more than once?

What you are looking at is a small Class C motorhome. They are great for weekend get-aways, but not something you would want to live in all the time. Will you be the main occupant or will there be a significant other? Kids? Pets?

I put my family in a Class C like this one for a summer when we were on home-leave from overseas. My son and daughter do not like each other to this day. Let's just say, it was a little too cozy.

This coach is built on a van frame with a 1995 van engine. It also has van brakes and other van-size parts. Putting the motorhome on the van frame adds a lot of extra strain on a vehicle not designed to handle that weight. Your gas mileage will be very low. And, if there is any kind of cross-winds you will be reminded that you have van sized shocks as you attempt to drive down the road listing 20 degrees to starboard.

The bathrooms in these mid-nineties Class C's were a lot like the bathroom in a standard passenger aircraft. You had a sink, toilet, and the whole room was your shower. Cozy doesn't begin to describe it.

If you just need to drive across the country once and you are up for the adventure, give it a shot. Otherwise, spend a few hours looking around this forum and locate people doing what you would like to do and read their stories. It may be time well spent.
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Old 06-03-2015, 04:25 PM   #4
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Just to cut some of the snobbery Class C's are built on frames and equipped for the weight of the house built on them. People have been known to live in them for years. Size does matter as it is difficult to fit a roomy anything in a smaller unit. Some people use bigger C's the way other people use mid size A's because they do not like sitting in the front of the bus. It's all what you like combined with what you can afford.

As others have said. Tell us more about what you are up to and we can help you better right up to telling you it's a bad idea if it is.

In general you need to worry about the age of the tires & batteries, milage over 100,000, leaks and functionality. If there is any sign of leakage run away. Whatever any part of the unit does, do it. Sit on sitting spots, stand in places like showers, think about where you will put what you need, run all appliances and the generator. Do a test drive.
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Old 06-03-2015, 05:15 PM   #5
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thank you so much for your reply. I thought it was a class b. sorry! but the rv is 1995 chevy 3500 catalina. it has 40,000 miles on it. he said he bought six new tires. he says everything works. of course, he would have to let me test drive and show me that everything works. he said nothing about leaks. it will be used to drive from fla to California where it will be a permanent home. it would be nice if it was worthy of that trip. the owner says he drove from fl to maine and back recently and had no issues. I can not afford a new rv! trying to get the most for the money I have, and thank you for reading this.
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Old 06-04-2015, 02:56 AM   #6
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The one I found looking was an A. Short definition good enough for this discussion. A is a bus, C is built on a cutaway chassis so it looks like a van cab. B is a C without the cabover bed.

Short answer is that it will probably work. I'd stay off the interstates, take my time. Use less fuel, see more, and easier to get help if something breaks. The rub is what do you do if something breaks on the way?

The other rub is that you are starting with a unit that is 20 years old so there is potential for a lot of problems due to things like anything rubber aging out. You can deal with it if you are handy. The cost of having things done will kill your budget fast. If you are using it to move stuff it's a reasonable gamble. If you are just moving you then old used motor homes are cheap and relatively easy to find. A bus ticket might be a better idea. You also need to worry about where to park it when you get there. If you have that covered then it's an adventure.

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