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Old 12-09-2011, 08:03 AM   #15
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Location: Lakebay, WA
Posts: 174
Been there, doing that.

My coach is an 89. It had 32,000 miles on it and I'm the third owner. There are two reasons we chose it. One is it has a large bathroom, the other is we got it cheap.

The PO had the fuse box replaced and the shade tree that did the install screwed it up. Most of the chassis electrical was intermittent or non-working.

First 3 months of ownership was all about repairs. New alternator, good plug wires and plugs. Ripped the carpet out and put down laminate. Replaced counters, table, sink, faucets, stove and refrigerator.

Made a few short camping trips to try things out. First trip out the water heater quit. Repair was simple, a $15 thermocouple kit.

First longer trip was to eastern Washington (500 mile RT). Coach was getting hot pulling the passes. After we stopped it left a puddle. Got it back home and pulled the radiator. Full of rust and plugged up. After a $600 radiator and adding big oil and tranny coolers that problem was fixed.

We headed out on our trip south. Our first stop was again eastern Washington. Pulling the passes it started running like crap. When we arrived in Wenatchee I pulled the carb and had it rebuilt ($150). I also did a recurve kit on the distributor. I suspected it was not advancing properly and was right. The mechanical weights had some rust around the pivot mounts. A $50 Mr. Gasket kit and a borrowed digital timing light got a proper timing curve.

There are times I think about having a DP. My coach weighs in at just under 20,000 lbs. We are pulling a Mazda P/U that weighs 3,500 lbs. A 7% grade pulls us down to 45 mph. The rest of the time we run 60 to 65 mph. Pretty much what the trucks run.

We have gone back and forth about slides. It would be nice sometimes but we are staying a lot at places where we are parked on the street. Can't put slides out if we had them. The only place a slide would make a difference for us would be the kitchen/dinette area. We are thinking about taking out the dinette and putting in a smaller table and 2 chairs.

So far we are very happy with our older coach. After the remodel it is nicer than many of the newer ones we looked at. Even with adding a couple of big flat screens and dish network we are still under $10,000. That includes the purchase price.

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Old 12-10-2011, 02:43 AM   #16
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Jersey Shore
Posts: 91
Interesting! My bus was soaked when I bought it so my priority was dry! I removed over 600 leak points on the roof, no ladder and no roof rack. The painted fiberglass is so slippery so you don't want to go up there anyway. I'm going for all new appliances, wiring, ac and propane tank eventually. I ripped out the dinette and made the kitchen twice as big. In the bath, I pulled that weird little tub and will put in a shower base and formica walls. I already have a new round glass sink, toilet and lexan skylight. I'm experimenting with dining table placement. One position is over the couch, the other off the front dash between the seats. Mounting will be wall brackets and a boat table leg. The pink carpet, pink velour velvet upholstery (with gold trim) and the etched glass cabinet doors have all been tossed. I'm remaking the cabinet doors in plain teak with stainless handles. I figure the interior will be my rainy day project (forever). The fuel fill hose was a PIA. Drop the holding tanks, cut the 20yr old nuts off (rust and sparks in the face), rip everything out while lying in the dirt. New hose and return are in, but I' waiting for a fill-up to check for more leaks before reinstalling the tanks (installing float gauges). Painting my undercarriage grey so I can see! Then I'll start driving to check for mechanical fixes. I know I have an exhaust gasket issue but I can't get to it. So far I've spent maybe $5000. Clean and dry, runs and not ugly. The nice thing about these older coaches is you can change things you wouldn't touch on a $250k bus.

1990/2014 30ft Gulf Stream Sun Clipper
and a couple of bikes
exit 100 NJ
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Old 12-10-2011, 05:29 AM   #17
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Posts: 3,207
There's vintage and then there's junk. I've seen some very nice older units where the owners have been meticulous about maintenance to both the house and mechanical parts. I've also seen the flip side. Some that have responded have the skills, time, and desire to rebuild an ailing unit. At one time I thought I did but for the first time in my life I was wrong.

Take your time and you can find a vintage unit that will provide you years of good times. You do need to be prepared to perform regular maintenance.
Tom Wilds
Blythewood SC
2016 Newmar Bay Star Sport 3004
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Old 12-11-2011, 07:10 AM   #18
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Location: Jersey Shore
Posts: 91
I Agree! These things have plummeted in value. You can now find a good condition MH for under $10k that doesn't need 1/10th of what mine needed. But at the time I thought I needed a place to live (at any cost). And when I'm done If I don't like the life style, I can always get my $5k back, or if I do, trade-up. It's all time, money and skill-set. And how warped your idea of fun is!
1990/2014 30ft Gulf Stream Sun Clipper
and a couple of bikes
exit 100 NJ
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:51 AM   #19
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Posts: 265
Vintage rigs are fine for fulltiming! But as others have said make sure it's in good condition & that the previous owners have already done all the hard maintenance & renovations!

Otherwise just make sure whatever you buy its sound underneath & bodywork is sound.

Wasn't around when the wife purchased ours and the friend who looked at it with her didn't look hard enough. Bodywork is doable underneath but is not worth the time or money to redo it, plus most of the appliances need replacing. So for less than repairs & new appliances we'd be better off buying a slightly newer yet still vintage rig.

Don't get me wrong they are fine for ftiming but the make sure you get a good'n!!
1987 Fleetwood Bounder 34'
*~*Stationary Fulltimers for now*~*
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:00 PM   #20
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Location: West Central MO
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Before you buy anything vintage, crawl under it and take a look at the bottom. You will find out a lot about it from that vantage point. Is the bottom of the transmission extremely wet? Oil dripping anywhere? Shocks look worn out? Muffler rusted out? I could go on and on but you get the picture. If it has a tag axle, there are things there that need looking at. Tag axles ride smoother, but if they need fixed, they are big and heavy. The rubber shear springs for them are $600 a set. Good luck with your hunt.
1984 Holiday Rambler Imperial
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Old 12-16-2011, 08:21 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Billieg View Post
The first thing to come to mind is you will have no slides. Living in a narrow box FT is hard. You will soon grow tired of it.

The second thing is the cost to maintain it. As an older unit it will have many issues that will need to be fixed and the time and money spent may not be worth it. I bought a 1990 HR that looked new thinking I got a good deal. $7,500 later it was ready for the road. Seemed like every trip something else broke and cost big $$ to fix it not to mention the 6 mpg it got.

The third thing is getting parts. I could not find a dash A\C controller for my 1990 HR anywhere in the USA. Searched for months. Could never get the dash air to work. Also the voltage regulator and alt. were no longer made. The cost of time and money to replace them with another brand was 3 times what it should have cost.

There is no way to go "cheap". You will get what you pay for and pay for what you have. Some of the coaches from the 90's were built well and are still in use. I'd go for one of them. "With at least 1 slide"...
If that was a 1990 Ford based HR the parts for everything mechanical as sold by Ford are VERY available. The voltage regulator for that year costs 7 bucks at any auto parts store. The alternator costs 81 bucks. JC Whitney has the parts for the entire dash AC unit.
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Old 12-16-2011, 09:30 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by EndeavorV10 View Post
If that was a 1990 Ford based HR the parts for everything mechanical as sold by Ford are VERY available. The voltage regulator for that year costs 7 bucks at any auto parts store. The alternator costs 81 bucks. JC Whitney has the parts for the entire dash AC unit.
Nope, it was on a P30 with a 454. The alt. and regulator were Listers which have been out of business for years and it's a dual charge set up. Had to rewire it and get an ambulance set up. ($1,187)

The heat/air control was digital made here in Deland FL. I called them and they didn't have one, neither did any of the salvage yards I called. It seems the 1990 HR Imperial was so well made that most of them were still on the road so it was hard to find parts for it. I'm glad I didn't need a front grill or windshield...
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Old 12-25-2011, 06:06 PM   #23
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Location: Richmond, Va
Posts: 240
Well, we have a vintage coach we bought in March, and we could easily live in it FT if we had too. In fact, we've talked about it. Like others have said, preventative maintenance goes a long way. Ours only has 29,000 miles, but since we bought it, I have changed some things to make it more reliable...just in case. I changed the alternator, battery isolator, fuel pump/ sending unit. I also had to do a lot of front suspension work (which wasn't planned), but I knew it would was going to probably need it in a couple of years, so not a big deal. Come spring, I'm going to replace the radiator, water pump, thermostat, radiator hoses, and shocks because they are original. We put almost 2500 miles on this thing this year, and it did great, but I do not want any problems with them when I pull out for a long trip in the summer. I'm doing all the work myself (except the suspension work), and even with all that, I still will have less than $10,000 in this thing, including the purchase price. We're new at this, but I still think we did ok.

'87 Coachmen Leprachuan 27' on Ford E 350 w/ 460 cid, Hedman Headers, dual flowmaster exhaust
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