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Old 09-24-2017, 06:35 AM   #1
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Question New motorhomer

Hi, we are new to the motorhome world. We currently have a travel trailer that our young family has enjoyed using. After a couple long trips stuck in a truck like sardines, we decided we need to move into the motorhome world. It didn't take us long to find that we valued quality, and it made a big difference when looking at motorhomes. We are looking very seriously at a 2003 Alpine mid door, and we really love so much about it. We have a couple concerns however. It is being sold by a private seller, who have been the only owners and seem very trustworthy, however, not getting it from a dealership who has the expertise leaves us nervous, the husband who knows everything about it has had strokes and is unable to really explain a lot to us. The brakes, we understand are not air brakes, but know they are supposed to be great.....they are just very hard to make it stop. Do they need to be replaced? Also, the air conditioning in the front dash does not put out any cold air. Does anyone have experience with this? On a side note, we were really wanting to get a motorhome with a bunkhouse or loft over the cab, but haven't found one within our price range that was a diesel pusher. Because there isn't enough sleeping, do you think we could add a loft over the cab without ruining the integrity of the coach? Thank you so much for any help you can offer.

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Old 09-24-2017, 06:42 AM   #2
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Slow it down and do more research. Hit some selling websites like rvt.com and get comparisons. If you are really that in love with the coach, tell them you would like to have a service center check it...or even a mobile RV inspector that can come to you. If you are already looking to modify the coach, it's probably not for you unless the price is fantastic and you are incredibly handy.

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Old 09-24-2017, 09:49 AM   #3
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Hi ! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined the gang!

I too would advise you to take your time and don't jump on the first deal that comes along. Do a lot of research and tire-kicking. Find a floor plan that satisfies your needs, without extensive modification! Keep her between the ditches!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
Joe & Annette

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Old 09-24-2017, 10:52 AM   #4
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The brake system on the Alpine is indeed NOT the usual diesel air brakes (air over hydraulic instead), but it works fine and ought to stop the coach easily. If it doesn't, it needs check-up and repair.

Dash a/c problems are common in older motorhomes but any automotive a/c shop ought to be able to fix it.

Adding a loft bed would probably be challenging, but anything can be done if you throw enough money at it. As a DIY project for a skilled person, it may be feasible but I gather you would need to hire an RV remodeler to do this. I think that would make the cost prohibitive.

The chances of finding an older DP with bunks or loft are really, really, slim. They weren't making those back in the day when nearly all higher end buyers were older couples.

The others have already given good advice on the other aspects.
Gary Brinck
Former owner of 2004 American Tradition
Home is in the Ocala Nat'l Forest near Ocala, FL
Summers in Black Mountain, NC
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Old 09-24-2017, 02:53 PM   #5
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And, don't automatically assume a dealership has the expertise and is necessarily the way to go. Beware as there are some hideous ones out there...not all, mind you...just beware...
Gene, Gayle, & Oliver
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Old 09-24-2017, 06:12 PM   #6
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Go slow. Take your time and look,

As others have said, go slow and take your time. Plenty of web sites out there to check them out. RV Trader.com for example. Make a list of questions to be asked.

Performed Maintenance: Records available? May I see them?

Upgraded items/repairs:

Date of tires?

When I inspect a coach, I start from the bottom up. If possible get the coach high enough up off the ground on a firm clean flat surface. Airbags inflated, extend stabs, have your work clothes on and a good flashlight. I look for condition of hoses, belts, cables, brackets, wires, connections, grease zerks (like if they have been greased), leaks, bags, rubber, joints & knuckles, any play in the arms, RUST. I just hate rust. I crawled under a nice Phaeton once and the entire underside was just full of rust everywhere. It was really bad IMO. That ended everything for me. No need to look further. There are plenty of things I can repair or replace, but Rust is not one of them. Funny thing a guy came to look at it seconds after me and did a look outside and in and made the deal, never once looking underneith it. Point being. Inspect every aspect of your coach!

Have the seller show and explain all of your components with demonstration.
If you find items that need replacement or repair, are you able to do the work yourself or will hire it done.

But doing your homework, getting educated on the process and taking your time is well worth it. Good luck James
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Old 09-24-2017, 07:15 PM   #7
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Sometimes things done in haste are regretted at leisure.

Take your time and search out an RV with the floor plan that fits your needs. It's out there. Trying to modify an RV to fit your needs is not the way to do it. Just be patient.
Tony & Ruth........... FMCA#F416727
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Old 09-24-2017, 07:21 PM   #8
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Thank you so much! In doing research, I have been doing a lot of reading and test-driving. With a young and active family, traveling hours to look at coaches in our price range is not easy, so online help and support is vital for us, and that is why I am turning to you all who have experience, so we are taking your advice to heart.
GaryRVRoamer, you hit the nail on the head with the older DP having a family friendly floorplan, as a young family wouldn't have been able to afford one when it was new. I appreciate your advice on the specific details as well.
Kro1957, thank you. We looked at everything, opened everything up and looked underneath, there was a slight bit of rust behind the driver side door and the folks never drove in inclement weather, and stored it indoors. However, climbing underneath is a wise thing to do, so, thank you! We will have to check it out.
Again, thank you. Happy Camping!
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:11 AM   #9
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You can swivel the driver and passengers seats and set a cot using them as a support if you need a extra bed
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Old 09-25-2017, 07:03 AM   #10
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however, not getting it from a dealership who has the expertise leaves us nervous,
I don't think buying at a dealership is much advantage, and sometimes is no advantage at all. The expertise you expect too often simply isn't there, or is even misguided. Salesmen may make glib promises, the shop is too frequently poorly run and inadequately skilled, and once they get your money they quickly shuffle you out the door with only the briefest "walk through" of the coach. There are some good dealers out there, but the professional standards are well below what you might expect as compared to new car dealers.

However, private sellers are a crap shoot too, anywhere from ignorant or deceitful to knowledgeable and helpful.

Gary Brinck
Former owner of 2004 American Tradition
Home is in the Ocala Nat'l Forest near Ocala, FL
Summers in Black Mountain, NC
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