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Old 01-05-2019, 03:54 AM   #1
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Is it ok to buy a 25 year old diesel pusher?

Hello All. Hope all is well with you and yours. I am brand new to this forum. I am Brand New, so brand new Iím just in the thinking phase. Iím planning on retiring in about two years and living full time on the road. I would like to buy a used RV project soon. I donít want any debt so Iím thinking Iíd like to purchase the coach for under $10k, which leaves money for remodeling and engine issues/maintenance. The coaches in that price range are about 25 years old. In general is buying an rv that old an ok thing to do? Should I up my budget? Thank you.

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Old 01-05-2019, 04:09 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by AlmostThere1 View Post
Hello All. Hope all is well with you and yours. I am brand new to this forum. I am Brand New, so brand new Iím just in the thinking phase. Iím planning on retiring in about two years and living full time on the road. I would like to buy a used RV project soon. I donít want any debt so Iím thinking Iíd like to purchase the coach for under $10k, which leaves money for remodeling and engine issues/maintenance. The coaches in that price range are about 25 years old. In general is buying an rv that old an ok thing to do? Should I up my budget? Thank you.
Hi....Eric here. My wife Jan and I considered the same thing for many months before buying a MH that was only 7 years old. Much more then 10k! We looked at rigs from 1990 to 2009, the rigs before the new emissions regulations. There are MANY out there with very low mileage diesel engines, which should be your key to success. As long as the Chassis and the motor are sound and reliable most of the rest is plumbing, electrical and cosmetic. Buy a clean, well documented maintenance coach and you will have a great experience. My last MH was a 1987 Airstream 270 with a 454 gas engine. I spent two years renovating and had the time of my life doing so. Good luck and Godspeed my friend....

Eric & Jan Towing a 1969 Fiat 500 Lusso
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Old 01-05-2019, 05:08 AM   #3
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We bought our '94 HR when it was 18 years old. This year it turns 25. I often dream of upgrading to something newer, but when I think about how much simpler this old rig is on the engine/drive train side of things, I realize that the best bet for us to be able to continue the dream is with this one.

If I was ready to retire (not even close... give me another 25 years) and still in good health, I would not hesitate to continue RVing with this one... but I would never full time in it... but then again, I would probably never full time in ANY motorhome. Mostly, this would be a financial decision... stuff is always needing repaired on any RV, no matter the age. On older RV's, stuff is always needing repaired... and also replaced. If I couldn't do the repairs on my own, I would not be able to afford even the old one that I have... and in order to be able to work on it myself, I need the garage and my tools.

Here's what I think... just be cautious. It seems most people who are on a budget and looking at older rigs are totally unprepared for the cost of ownership. TOTALLY. We spent about the same on ours when we bought it as you are looking to spend... I figured it was low cost getting in and it should be a low cost to fix it up and then maintain. I figured incorrectly. Set aside the costs we accrued when we dusted our engine and when we decided to pursue restoring the exterior... the thing just literally nickels and dimes you to the ends of the earth... if I had to pay someone to fix everything that had an issue, it wouldn't be nickels and dimes... it would be 50's and 100's.

If you're handy and have some mechanical and electrical aptitude, that will be a huge advantage. If you're not, then my thoughts would be to make sure you have a lot of extra 50's and 100's set aside for repairs. Remember that if you're living in the RV full time, you will need all of the systems to be in good working order pretty much all of the time.

All that said... we love RVing. Ours is used strictly for family vacations, and we've been on some fantastic trips together. The view has been worth the climb, both literally and figuratively speaking. I don't have any doubts that I could keep this rig on the road another 10 years. It will probably bleed my wallet dry to do that, and I'll spend a lot of time fixing, upgrading and repairing... but in most cases, it seems you find people doing that on newer more expensive units too. There's risk involved no matter what you do. Chart your best course, and good luck!

1994 Holiday Rambler Endeavor LE
6BT Cummins -Rebuild Thread Here-
-Exterior Renovation Thread Here-
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Old 01-05-2019, 06:56 AM   #4
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I can relate to Piker's post. We bought a older DP to get into the market. There is a lot of risk, but it can be managed. Repairs are going to be a given for a mobile multi system unit. One word of advice is preventative maintenance. It will help in experiencing unexpected major breakdowns. Our coach is now 21 years old and it probably go another 20. We were looking to upgrade, but we love our coach and cannot find something that gives us the same feeling.
Mike and Family
98 American Eagle EVS, Cummins C8.3 Mechanical
2013 Jeep Wrangler Sahara, Blue Ox System & Buddha (Bulldog)
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Old 01-05-2019, 07:29 AM   #5
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We paid just under $15,000 for Jane. We jumped on her because she was clean as a whistle from the second owner. He had done a lot more than most people do and was moving up. We were the first one to look at it and bought it that day.

Jane is a 93 Winnebago Vectra with the 230 horse 5.9 Cummins, 6 speed Allison.

I suggest you read three threads for sure here on Vintage forums. Piker has two that are the best. I have life with Jane.

Weíve been living in Jane full time for all but a couple of months for the last year. We sold our home and are building our dream on some land here in North Texas. A no slide coach has less problems but it is tight. And there are the little things that drive you crazy. Just this morning the microwave went to code fault mode which means it starts beeping and can drive you crazy. itís been doing this for over a year and until I can find a unit to replace it I have a temporary fix. I unplug it and it wonít go into fault mode for awhile. Awhile might be a day or it might be a month. Itís just part of routine.

Weíre pulling out to head to Yuma Monday. Jane is basically ready, I will check the tires etc and Iíve got a work around Iíve got to do on the passenger side wiper. A bolt snapped in two and the part to replace I havenít been able to locate. So I will drill and tap and do a fix that will hold us until we find that part.

Any coach you can get for less than ten grand is going to be a huge project. One of the problems with an older coach is delamination. Jane has some and I have a plan to fix it but will not try it at this time because it is not severe. I had a toy hauler that I bought that looked fine and it started coming apart within ten miles of purchase. It was a nightmare and eventually ended up mostly held together with 12Ē wide racing duct tape, it works. I sold it to some flippers and a couple of weeks later I saw it on Craigs list looking awesome and three times what I sold it for. Someone bought a project Iím sure.

We love Jane and weíre at the point where we know the fixes on the little things that will always pop up. And no matter how old or new the RV it is still a house made on the cheap made for the road. You can buy a new one and go through a couple of years of working out the bugs sometimes. And even the best maintained can have normal issues with the drive train and appliances that can cost you weeks off the road.

Handy is relative, Piker and Harley here on the forums define handy in my book.
If youíre that kind of handy, live the dream. If not that handy then I suggest doing a ton of research before you buy.
Life is Good
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Old 01-05-2019, 09:01 AM   #6
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I purchased my 93 gasser a few yrs ago . My main concerns were any water leaks and water damage , which there were no signs of. The interior was also in very nice condition and all the appliances worked. I probably spent about $5k and a couple of months work getting in tip top shape. I replaced things like all tires ,hoses , belts, fluids, front springs & air bags, universal joints, backup camera , etc. If you can do the work yourself , for the money an older coach is the way to go.
1993 Tiffin Allegro Bay 32'
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Old 01-05-2019, 12:07 PM   #7
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Full time use and old coach might conflict.

We lived in our 22 year old rig for several months while buying a replacement house.

With no land of our own on which to do repairs or cosmetic fixes, it was difficult to keep up with DIY maintenance.

RV parks tend to restrict onsite repairs and servicing of rigs.
1995 CC Magna #5280
C8.3L 300hp Cummins, 31,000lbs
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Old 01-05-2019, 12:26 PM   #8
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I bought a damn nice 98 Holiday Rambler DP. Had unending fuel leaks, bad vp44, lift pump, o rings on fuel lines etc... Now my Charge air Cooler has problems and will need replacing. Rear radiator is a problem for repairs. Water pump went out on moter too. I love this rig and will keep fixing issues because its cheaper than 60-80+ k for a newer one. Also, the house items are in great shape but had to replace furnace motor, convection/microwave, water pump, waste valve drains, 2 water leaks, water heater pressure relief valve, had a pipe in the slide out kitchen separate and had to tear into cabinets to get to it. Still havent fixed my cabinets yet.

Older rigs need to be fixed. Rubber seals give out on motor. Its expensive. But still cheaper than new. I have full timed in mine since may 2017. Some parks wont accept a rig over 10yrs old no matter how they look.

Be prepared for the cost, and if you are handy, that would be a plus. Maintenance is high cost too - yearly oil changes, fuel filters, air filters etc... on both motor and generator cost me about 1200.00 (i am not great at motor repair/maintenance and not able to crawl into tight spots like I used to) so have to pay others.

Still, only about 10k in repairs/maintenance in 2 years, not great but not terrible. Another 4-6k this year expected for Charge air Cooler, exhaust leak, and fuel injectors/seals.
Jim Aka RV-Writer
8 year US Navy Veteran - Lifetime VFW Member 1998 Holiday Rambler Endeavor 37CDS (38 footer) DP 2012 Honda CR-V AWD under 4000 lbs Blue ox Aventa / Baseplate / Air Force One
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Old 01-05-2019, 01:55 PM   #9
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Well Almost,

I have a coach that just turned 40, Sis and BIL have one a little older. I can tell you that if you proceed with your plan and you are not a very competent technician, then the coach will not nickel and dime you to death, it will Grant and Franklin you to death. At about 20 years, all the rubber stuff is going bad. There is no way around it. That is the life of those materials. The repairs are continues and the cost if you do them is seldom high, but if you miss replacing a hose or belt, it can be more than an inconvenience.

Now, we have managed to maintain our antique (now) coaches and they are a reliable as anything new. (Maybe better than some.) We have both replaced all the rubber we could find. This has not been easy, but it is worth doing as the new are so expensive and the quality of many is lacking. Both of us are now to the routine maintenance and several additional hours and dollars a month and it is just no longer a concern.

If you do look at something older, find out what support is available before you get to interested. There are some for which a lot is available and others where it is none at all. If you cannot locate the service documents, like maintenance manuals and parts list for the chassis, do not go there. The internal appliances are easy. Most of the manuals are online somewhere and used replacements are cheap.

Whatever you decide, I do hope you will come back here and tell us about it.

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Old 01-05-2019, 04:56 PM   #10
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Thank you everyone for your thoughts and input. I have the mindset that Anything I buy used needs extensive work. I am handy inside the coach but the mechanical I have to send out to be done. Thank you for mentioning that most parts have a life of 20 years. So I’m hoping if I give it a complete overhaul it should last another 20. Currently I am interested in a 1993 Newmar. I was told I didn’t have to worry about delanination because it’s built differently. There was some water damage that has now been corrected with only the cosmetic left to be done. I was hoping for under $5k for the beginning engine work. Hopefully all the rubber gaskets and seals were changed 5 years ago, and it doesn’t fall on me. I’m ready to begin this project. Thank you again.
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Old 01-05-2019, 05:22 PM   #11
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I have been fortunate to not have any problems with the engine or tranny on our 22 year old coach. When I bought it 2 years ago I changed all oils (all looked good already but did it anyway), did the 1000 hour service on the genny plus replaced anything that needed it.
I did have problems with the leveling system, cost about $800 and my labor to resolve but is good now. I've replaced a few things as they came up but have done most myself.
In a couple months we will take it on it's longest trip to date - FL to the Newmar factory near the Michigan/Indiana border. I think she'll do fine.
One thing you need to think about before you dive in, at the price you insure it for, one claim and they'll total the coach. I have the same problem and am very careful when driving it.
Rick and Larrie Dee
1997 40' Newmar London Aire DP CTA 8.3 (Mechanical) 325 Spartan MM
Bringing her back to her glory.
'08 Jeep GC Overland.
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Old 01-05-2019, 06:06 PM   #12
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The problem is that most 20 year old $10, 000 diesel pushers will need $20,000 worth of repairs vs a well maintained and updated version of the same coach may be priced at $22,000
2002 Safari Trek 2830 on P32 Chassis with 8.1L
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Old 01-05-2019, 09:03 PM   #13
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Not trying to talk you out of it, but crunch some numbers.

You buy a 10,000 dollar coach, now you need to get it road ready unless you just want to roll the dice and risk it.

Before you get on the road you will probably need new tires, say 2500 plus depending on the tires. If you have air bags they may well need to be replaced. Mine is a 8 air bag system so there goes another 2000. Interior prob ably needs updating, but you are handy so lets say 1500 to get it livable. New Shocks? Another grand. All that without ever touching the engine or transmission. Any other electrical or plumbing items will add to this as will new batteries and replacing old rubber items. So 10,000 to buy and maybe 7-10 more to get it into top shape.

Now you are 17 to 20 in. Can you buy something ready to go for 17 to 20? Maybe but unlikely. It will probably also need several of those same upgrades.

I paid more than you for my Beaver and factored in all the above deferred repairs. I started with a total remodel of the interior except for the cabinets and the Bathroom which received a new toilet. New walls new floors , new shades new valances, new bed new couch on and on.

I might have been able to find one that had been upgraded and properly maintained all its life and still come out for the same money, but I would have had to be very lucky. Those you you who have managed to find those mystical coaches, my hat is off to you. We looked for over a year to find this one. Many Beavers sell fast!

I think that if you find a solid well made coach that has had most of its service done on time you will probably be OK, but that 10,000 is only going to be the down payment. Figure in at least another 10K to get it safe and how you want it and then hope for the best understanding that more bills will be coming.
1998 Beaver Patriot Savannah
330 hp Cat 3126 DP
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Old 01-06-2019, 02:23 AM   #14
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I think the key to finding a well maintained older coach, is to not immediately discount the older coaches with higher asking prices. I bought my current coach in 2016 when it was 14 years old for $5,500 over NADA, and that was $4,500 below asking price. It was a well maintained, and well updated coach with over $10,000 worth of parts alone (not counting labor) put into it by the previous owner since 2014, including $3,000 worth of suspension upgrades, new carpet, seating, tires batteries, RV refrigerator, 400 watts of solar panels, 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter, ... Of course even then there were still things I needed to fix, though after spending another couple of thousand dollars I had all the important stuff that had fallen through the cracks fixed, marker lights, obscure fluid changes (power steering, transmission, diff, ...), sway bar bushings, ... Then I moved on to the optional stuff, TPMS, new shocks, sunscreen, ...

2002 Safari Trek 2830 on P32 Chassis with 8.1L
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