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Old 07-09-2015, 10:24 AM   #1
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Want to Travel 6000 miles per Year is Vintage Right for Me?

We plan to travel around 6000 miles per year. Am I crazy for considering a vintage motorhome? If it is possible what should I consider when shopping? I don't mind cosmetic work but I don't have much experience with engines, transmissions, etc. Thank You.

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Old 07-09-2015, 11:11 AM   #2
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We were in the same mindset as you, we travel 3-5k miles per year and I went with a 95 gasser- Winnebago with the 454. We are really enjoying it. I would just do what we did and look for a low mileage rig that has been cared for. You can tell just by walking through most of the time whether they care for their coach or not.

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Old 07-09-2015, 08:33 PM   #3
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YES. Just look at all of the posts of the "new" Rv's with many, many issues.
1992 Bounder 28T, Chevy 454, Yak Rak
2000 Trackatara
Scottsdale, AZ ROLL TIDE
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Old 07-10-2015, 08:31 AM   #4
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I would do it in a heart beat, but when looking at vintage MH's get one that is fuel injected and has an over-drive trans for the gas side, or a 300hp (or more) and 4 speed trans for the diesel side. Then enjoy the ride!
2008 National SurfSide 34E (Bunk Model) Ford V10
Sold- 1990 Hawkins Chevy P30 454
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Old 07-10-2015, 03:47 PM   #5
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Being the owner of a Vintage MH (88 Gulfstream Hi Rise) for the last 10 years, 7 of that fulltiming, with a lot of miles covered, I can say: It's a great source of pride to travel in a classic/vintage vehicle, But it's a labor of love. Something is always wearing out and needing attention (Drive train, electrical, plumbing, interior, exterior, Roof, ect.) You will either become a Jack of All Trades Or a whole lot poorer. My wife a I love our Vintage MH, the people we meet with like vehicles and the adventures we have had. Wouldn't change a thing.
Richard "PONY", Virginia & Cleo "Cleopatra" the Cat..Restored 1988 Gulfstream HiRise 32' HiPo 460, 1974 Harley 74. Fulltimers since 2005.
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Old 07-10-2015, 05:32 PM   #6
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Second the recommendation for an injected GM 454. These will have more power than a carburated version and likely better gas mileage. Given the difference between something like this, and a brand new motorhome, you should have plenty of money for upgrades or replacements.

Originally Posted by DDDonkey View Post
I would do it in a heart beat, but when looking at vintage MH's get one that is fuel injected and has an over-drive trans for the gas side, or a 300hp (or more) and 4 speed trans for the diesel side. Then enjoy the ride!
George Schweikle Lexington, KY
1999 Safari TREK 2830, FMCA 190830, Safari International chapter
1995 Safari TREK 2630, 1983 Winnebago Chieftain, 1976 Midas Mini
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Old 07-11-2015, 04:29 AM   #7
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Most of your gas powered engine and tranny combos will get tired before 100k miles. I'm sure some folks will debate that, but I think as a general rule of thumb it's probably on par. It is definitely something to at least consider before you make your purchase. The gas drivetrains however are considerably less expensive to repair than the diesels. Ask me how I know...

The best anyone can do is plan for the worst and hope for the best. If I were buying an older gas powered rv, I would try to set aside some cash to cover additional costs for rebuilding the motor and tranny before 100k miles. There will be plenty of other expenses youll come across with a vintage rv... you cant predict or prepare for all of them... but maybe if you plan for the big ones you'll be further ahead...

1994 Holiday Rambler Endeavor LE
6BT Cummins -Rebuild Thread Here-
-Exterior Renovation Thread Here-
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Old 07-11-2015, 07:50 AM   #8
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I would suggest you reread Jpony56's note above. The older stuff should be approached much as you would a new hobby. You need to be willing and able to do the majority of the work on it yourself. The heavy chassis work can be jobbed out for sure, but hopefully there won't be a lot of that. The rest though, if you can't see yourself doing it, an older coach may not be your best plan. The constant need for attention, even if it's mostly minor, will turn the coach into a money pit depending on a dealer to do it for you. If this maintenance is ignored, the coach will degrade incredibly fast.

I would look for injection as mentioned, but additionally, for a 4 speed trans (over the 3 speed). If you get into the later 90's stuff (starting '97 maybe?), you can find wide body coaches built on a wider chassis. Not only is there noticeably more room inside, there's a much better handling chassis underneath you.

Last, I've also found myself completely spoiled with a slide out. I wouldn't buy another coach without - which means there's not much chance of me getting one of the classic coaches I'd love to have otherwise (Travco, GMC, Revcon, Barth, Blue Bird, etc.).

Good hunting!
1997 37' HR Endeavor, 275hp Cat, Freightliner
03 CR-V Blue Ox, Ready Brake
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Old 07-11-2015, 08:41 AM   #9
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First thing you have to ask yourself is how much of the upkeep can you and will you do your self. Be honest with yourself. Vintage motor homes can be a lot cheaper to maintain then a new one because they are easier to work on yourself. If you know what you are doing a carbureted engine can be as good or better then fuel injected. No computer controls to mess up on the side of a highway. But if you going to have to pay someone to fix you will have a hard time finding someone who can diagnose an engine without a computer telling them what to do.
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Old 07-11-2015, 05:45 PM   #10
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A perfect example of that: Knowing that the ignition control box on 80's Fords was a problem, I had packed one away just in case. On our first trip down the west coast on Hwy 101 going thru the Redwoods where the road gets skinny and twisty, just out of the real twisty part, the engine backfired a couple time and shut off. Got lucky and coasted into a side road turn out, grabbed the spare box, three bolts and two connectors later and we're back on the road. You can see All the ways that could have gone bad, BAD, and BADDER, if not for a little knowledge of the beast and some precautions. It's exactly the kind of thing that you get with older vehicles, But the good thing is, That you can fix it yourself.
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Richard "PONY", Virginia & Cleo "Cleopatra" the Cat..Restored 1988 Gulfstream HiRise 32' HiPo 460, 1974 Harley 74. Fulltimers since 2005.
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Old 07-11-2015, 08:42 PM   #11
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Try barthmobile.com. Best coach ever made.
Mo Fred, U.S. Army Retired
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C12 CAT 455 HP, 40 FT, Towing 2012 Mazda III
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Old 07-12-2015, 12:06 PM   #12
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Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions. I will let you know how the search goes.
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Old 07-20-2015, 08:21 PM   #13
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This forum is immensely helpful. You will need some sort of mechanical knowledge but really a willingness to even TRY to fix something will get you a lot further than you think. I've been fixing things all over the coach after taking it apart and just seeing what was broken.

Hardest thing is finding replacement parts!
1997 40' Monaco Signature Series Cummins 325HP & MD3060
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:10 PM   #14
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I truly do not understand your problem...
How long have you owned this coach?
How much do you trust it?
Can you even attempt to make repairs on the run?

Last year, we put ~12K on our '73 GMC. Ended the year at over 150Kmi.
This year in the middle of a 3K excursion, we took a hit that required three days to repair, but we are at home now. It is all part of living with a vintage anything.


A lifelong waterman and his bride going dry places for as long as the fuel money lasts.
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