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Old 11-23-2011, 08:11 AM   #1
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Vintage coach for FT?

Two of the motorhome brands that frequently appear at the top of the lists are Foretravel and Wanderlodge. In each case, whatever is within our budget will be 20-25 years old. Is something that old really practical for FT use? Newmar and Tiffin coaches of the same price range seem to be a few years newer.
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Old 11-23-2011, 10:43 AM   #2
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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"...
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:19 PM   #3
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A motorhome would be a giant size upgrade for me, I've been full-timing since 2008 in a Truck Camper .

My neighbors have been full-timing in a 1990 Southwind for almost a decade now, no slides there either .
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Old 11-23-2011, 08:13 PM   #4
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One way about it, The coach will bring you together or make it hell for you. Deb and i are closer as a result of living in our 25 foot motorhome. We started this bit in early 97.We have been all over this country. Just having issues here the last four or so. Can't catch a break. Good luck with your journey, Dan
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Old 11-24-2011, 07:18 AM   #5
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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"...
The parts you couldn't find are the same as installed on trucks of the same make. I've replaced the heater/AC controls plus rheostat on our 92' HR on a F53 chassis, also the starter and water pump, all were off the self parts.
Yes I would like a slide but we find our 34' has plenty of room for the two of us and our two cats. We paid $10,000 for it five years ago and besides the parts listed have only done regular maintenance on it.
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Old 11-24-2011, 09:58 AM   #6
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I do just fine in my 1967 X Greyhound bus, thanks. I think I've spent less than two hundred dollars since the turn of the century on parts. Does not include consumables of course.

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Old 11-24-2011, 10:40 AM   #7
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My wife and I are close to moving into our 28.6 ft Pace Arrow full time. We bought a new fiver back in 96 that we full timed in for several yrs with 3 kids part time. It was crowded but we managed quite well. Now that kids are grown and living on their own this MH will be more then enough room for us. I removed the concho sofa/bed and I'm currently building a computer desk for us. Since we normally eat in front of our computers the dinette will rarely be used. With the overhead bunk and double bunks in the back plus the dinette laid down we have plenty sleeping room. We both like to sit outside when its nice out so other then in-climate weather or late evenings we will have all the space we need.
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:39 PM   #8
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My wife and I (and our 2 cats) have been fulltiming in our '77 23 ft Class C for 4 months now, and are managing just fine. It is interesting at first, adjusting to the difference in space, but we adjusted quickly. While more is nice, this is all we need.
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:18 PM   #9
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The coaches we're looking at are 36-40' widebody ones, so the space for what we need is there. We're already working on getting rid of "stuff" and as we look at coaches we think about where certain items will go. We will get along just fine in a small space.

My concern was more about aging mechanical parts of the coach, such as an air bag that faithfully works day after day until it suddenly breaks. Some of the guys on the Wanderlodge forum seem to spend as much time and money working on their coaches as traveling in them, but I wonder if that isn't just part of their hobby. Preventive maintenance and upgrades I can understand, but when each trip seems to require as much time and money fixing what broke as the trip took, I wonder about that for a FT coach.

I'm capable of doing some of my own work, and I know my limits. I understand that the diesel engines in these coaches are well able to run 1,000,000 miles, and that no RV will ever come anywhere close to that. Time, though, also takes a toll on equipment, and I'm concerned that buying an old coach might turn me into a full-time mechanic.
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:47 AM   #10
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kbOzk, read some of the stories people post of all the problems with brand new coaches.
Just because it's new(er) doesn't mean fewer problems just a higher purchase price.
I don't think we have spent an unreasonable amount on our 92' HR that cost us $11,000 to buy and maybe $2,000 in repairs plus maintenance in the five years we've owned it.
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:50 AM   #11
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The coaches we're looking at are 36-40' widebody ones, so the space for what we need is there. We're already working on getting rid of "stuff" and as we look at coaches we think about where certain items will go. We will get along just fine in a small space.

My concern was more about aging mechanical parts of the coach, such as an air bag that faithfully works day after day until it suddenly breaks. Some of the guys on the Wanderlodge forum seem to spend as much time and money working on their coaches as traveling in them, but I wonder if that isn't just part of their hobby. Preventive maintenance and upgrades I can understand, but when each trip seems to require as much time and money fixing what broke as the trip took, I wonder about that for a FT coach.

I'm capable of doing some of my own work, and I know my limits. I understand that the diesel engines in these coaches are well able to run 1,000,000 miles, and that no RV will ever come anywhere close to that. Time, though, also takes a toll on equipment, and I'm concerned that buying an old coach might turn me into a full-time mechanic.
You have every right to be concerned. As I said in my earlier post I got tired of fix and repair it with every trip. Of course I had a 1990 and some people are lucky that they got one someone else took care of like the last poster but that is not the rule.

I think the 1998 - 2004 models are built fairly well and if you can find one that was taken care of you should be ok. You should be able to find parts for them and if you find a good one it should last for awhile. I'd look at the different forums and see which ones seem most reliable. The words "cheap" and "reliable" don't go together.

Just remember, the choice you make now you will have to live with for a long time because you will never get your money back in this economy. If you do buy a 20 - 25 year old coach just be prepared to spend some time and $$ to keep it up and running.
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Old 12-08-2011, 12:07 PM   #12
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There is such a thing as replacing a part before you are on the side of the road. You can go ahead and replace some aging mechanical parts just as regular maintenance. Even if you have to replace every appliance in your unit, it is still less than a few months worth of payments. It all depends on your mind set.
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Old 12-08-2011, 01:24 PM   #13
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As a former boater, all the topics are familiar and encouraging! I've got a low mileage 1990 GS, Sun Clipper 30'. I've rebuilt the roof (fiberglass), rebedded the windows and am starting on the elec, water and propane systems. I hope to be full timing it by next winter. It's a 454 Chevy, p-20 Chassis and most of the parts I've needed so far are available from NAPA. I do all my own work and like boating, working on it's half the fun. Most of the little stuff and appliances don't work, but I'm redoing (changing) them one by one, A lot of the engineering is what I call "cheap-auto" and I'm changing things over to a simpler system. I'll probably put in a boat panel for all the AC and DC systems, where everything has its own circuit, breaker and ground wire. Unless you're loaded, (I mean rich), having to pay some yard-monkey to do the work ain't worth it! See you out there!

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Old 12-08-2011, 07:36 PM   #14
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One thing to consider is maintenance on any motorhome. Look at the cost of brake jobs, transmission service and such. The diesel pushers are not cheap to work on, so be sure you have money set aside for mechanical issues.

As for slides, they are nice for the room, but they are a source for leaks and more mechanical issues.

Ken
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