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Old 06-13-2016, 11:54 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2012
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New to RV's, Help Wanted

Hey Guys, my wife and I have considered buying a motorhome for a few years now. We would use it for the vacationing and I would use it when I travel for fishing tournaments.

We are looking at mid 1990's models of Winnebagos, mainly the Brave and Minnie winnie. We have found a few for around the $8,000-$12,000 range. So the question is, will a motorhome of this age hold up? What do I look for specifically related to these models and what in general do you look out for in older motorhomes?

I'd love any and all advice being a first time RV owner. Thanks for your time!


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Old 06-13-2016, 01:04 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2014
Location: St Paul MN
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I would look at weather it has been stored indoors or not. The roof can be an issue, see if it has been resealed? Look at the history of maintance, did they change oil at least once a year. If real low miles, check to see if seals on the engine are not leaking. If low miles, make sure the tranny fluid has been changed? Sometimes the solids can collect in the torque converter and you will get a vibration. Sanitize the tanks when you get it. Some of the Chevy 454's back then had exhaust manifold problems.

Marianne & Jerry. 2016 Itasca Sunova 35G
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Old 06-13-2016, 01:54 PM   #3
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You can find some motor homes in that price range that might hold up but i wouldn't want to trust them too far from home. Most likely they are going to need some work to keep them on the road starting with new tires. Motor home tires usually age out at around 7 years. Be sure to check for water leaks and mold.

Check out Used RVs, Motorhomes for Sale, and Consigned sales - PPL Motor Homes they have a lot of units on consignment and some of the owners are in a hurry to get rid of them.

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Old 06-13-2016, 09:22 PM   #4
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Luke, you came to the right place to find the answers to all your questions. Buying a used RV is a lot like buying a used car and a house all in one! Finding one that does not need much will be a test, for sure! My advice is to find one that was loved by the PO! After looking at a few, you will understand what I meant! The mechanicals are very important, and the tires always age out before they wear out, so check the date codes! Water leaks on a older MH are a very good reason to walk away! You will have to look at a lot, before you find "the one" for you and your family! Good luck! Rail!
Retired, and "Always on Holiday!"
1996 Monaco Windsor 38PB, "Mona" 275 HP., 8.3 Cummins, 3060 Allison 6 speed, 2001 PT Cruiser, "Bailey"
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Old 06-20-2016, 07:57 PM   #5
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Well....I think it will, provided it has been used regularly. If you find one in mint condition with low miles I would say that is the worst one you could buy. Anything that has sat for years on end will have a huge build up of items that need to be taken care of. When we were looking it was very common to find one that had sat for 3 or 4 years before the owner decided to sell.

You need to find one that goes out on trips every year and preferably one that has already gone on trips this year. Find one from someone who has been using it and is selling to buy another.

We bought our 1994 Brave 6 years ago for $10K. Probably put at least 10K in it for tires, suspension components, AC conversion to the new coolant, upgrades, repairs etc over the last 6 years. Mind you we do almost nothing ourselves that isn't simple so we pay a ton. If you can do stuff yourself on the engine then you will not spend so much.

But if you read threads like this you will see many people with newer or more expensive RVs spend alot more.
Losing interest

Why are the 90s Winnebago's good deals? Because the Chevy 454 engine can be worked on by any mechanic. No fancy Mercedes or Diesel specialist needed. No slides to break down and need expensive repair. Simple technology (no auto awnings or other fancy electronic stuff). One advantage of not having alot of electronic gadgets is less parasitic drain and your batteries last a long time for boon docking. In addition for items you want to do yourself, Winnebago has parts list and diagrams so you can figure things out. Plus there is a huge advantage in terms of previous owners on boards like this who can tell you what you need to know to solve a problem. Winnebago built alot of units and those owners are often still RVing.

Depending on what work the previous owner has done you will need to look at the following items.
Roof air, original or second version? (Ours was second version so still going strong)
Rubber fuel lines replaced if not already done.
Dash air may need conversion in the near future to newer coolant if not already done. Our dash AC needed this a couple of years ago.
Check date code on tires and spare. Want something 7 yrs or less but probably won't get it in that price range. Prepare to buy new tires.
Inspect suspension components. We replaced all ours, shocks with Bilsteins, idler arms, sprayed the green tire goo fix it in the shock absorber air bags, bell cranks (I think)
We had to replace the LP leak detector, fire and CO detectors (easy to do ourselves)
Have brakes thoroughly checked out, bled etc. Have replaced master cylinder.

But none of this stuff is that bad because of what you are getting. Basically a motel room on wheels. I still pinch myself that the water pump, furnace, hot water heater, AC, etc all work and we got it for such a cheap price. Ours also drives like a dream compared to others we test drove. The first owner was a police office and I think it was used for stake outs and such. The second owner was a supervisor for a mechanics garage. The had taken it to Yellowstone the week before we bought it. Even so there was a laundry list of things that needed done when we bought it including generator service, change out of the sewer valve as it was leaking (easy to do yourself) plus some of the work I mentioned above. Some we did in the following years.

We haven't hesitated to take it all over and from what I read on the forum it has been pretty trouble free compared to many.

One thing we like is that it is narrow bodied compared to current RVs and that we can park it in two parking spaces across. This makes it easy to not tow a vehicle and take it sight seeing in the national parks.

If you want a real world look at one owner's experience we have tracked most of our trips in our blog. We also discuss our impressions and chronicle the repairs and improvements we've made.

The adventure started here:
Proud owner of 1994 Winnebago Brave 29RQ.
Chevy 454 on a P30 chassis.
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