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Old 03-21-2013, 08:53 AM   #1
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Whats your Expectations for vintage RV's

I realize as I ask this question that there are many variables to consider, However, I am going to ask anyway. What kind of service can you expect from a 20+ yr old RV? I mean, Is there any one out there that are taking these things on 3K or 6K adventures? Or do most of them get resigned to shorter more local duties? AGAIN. I know its relative to the condition of your RV. I ask because I recently purchased an 1985 26' Itasca which looked to be in good working order until the first trip out. I have had many diffaculties, but no big deal because im a fairly capable mechanic with a shop full of tools. I fully expected to have some problems during the initial "SHAKE DOWN" period after purchasing it, due to the number of years it sat without use. It was purchased to "hopefully" make the trip to Sturgis, South Dakato every summer from Atlanta Ga (about 3K mi round trip). My friends think im off my rocker when I explain what I want to do. Anyone here want to weigh in on this topic?
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:28 AM   #2
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Opinion: Once I replaced the wear items (tires/belts/hoses etc), my '87 with 50,000 miles is as reliable as a 2007 with 50,000 miles. Enjoy, I am.
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Old 03-21-2013, 12:32 PM   #3
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I've never understood the logic behind the "fear of a long trip" in an older anything. It shouldn't make a bit of difference what year the unit is, or how miles are on it, IF, it's been properly maintained and cared for. I compare it to boats, in a way. For instance, I've known tons of people who swear by the "2 happy days" rule in boating because they've had break-downs occur, etc. etc. However, I've been a "boater", in Florida, for the past 15 years and in owning 6 different boats, I've not had ONE SINGLE incident. And know, I'm not any "luckier" than the next guy. BUT, I spent a lot of time insuring that I didn't have a break down, and the same can be applied to your newly acquired RV.

Really, what's the difference between a 3000 mile trip and a 300 mile trip? The fundamentals are the same and the only difference, really, is one zero. Heck, the problems usually occur (outside of the overheating section) in starting and stopping, so all those in between miles should be a cakewalk. Now, if you're not willing to pull off the carb and go through it, pop off a valve cover or two and have a peak inside, and drain/smell/taste the transmission and//or differential fluid, then that's an entirely different conversation. But, for me, and the way I do things, I don't own a vehicle that won't get me anywhere I want to go (well.....outside of the Hawaii trip, that is). What's the use?
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Old 03-21-2013, 12:43 PM   #4
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You know, I've gotta agree with emoney. Once you've replaced belts, hoses, tires and properly checked all the fluids the chances of something happening are rather slim. I sold a 1995 Holiday Rambler Endeavor last year that had 107,000 miles on the clock. I would not have hesitated to take off for California. Sure, something "could" have happened, but that something is just as likely to occur on a 50 mile trip to the lake.

That said, on a unit as old as a 1985, I'd definitely replace hoses, belts, tires and probably go as far as replacing the water pump, radiator, brakes hoses and alternator. Sometimes those things will just fail because of age, not mileage.
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:13 PM   #5
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WE bought our '88 Winnie with just under 60K miles on the clock a couple of years ago. Put on new top grade tires, new shocks all around including the steering dampener - replaced the refrigerator cooling unit, minor engine (GM 454) tuning and new plugs and wires - had tranny serviced - and I'd drive the old girl anywhere!












YUP - no fancy hardwood/tile floor, no sterile, hospital stark white walls - and for more than the 2 of us, need to set up the larger dining table - but this 27 footer pulls and launches our 12 foot fishing boat just fine and dandy, has everything we need for long or short trips - and fits into most any older state or national parks and CG's we have wanted to stay in - while the bigger rigs were being turned away one after another! About $10K invested so far including purchase price - already got that much out in enjoyment!

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Old 03-21-2013, 03:07 PM   #6
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You know, I've gotta agree with emoney. Once you've replaced belts, hoses, tires and properly checked all the fluids the chances of something happening are rather slim. I sold a 1995 Holiday Rambler Endeavor last year that had 107,000 miles on the clock. I would not have hesitated to take off for California. Sure, something "could" have happened, but that something is just as likely to occur on a 50 mile trip to the lake.

That said, on a unit as old as a 1985, I'd definitely replace hoses, belts, tires and probably go as far as replacing the water pump, radiator, brakes hoses and alternator. Sometimes those things will just fail because of age, not mileage.
Topdownman I agree I think the older RV's could actually have an advantage over newer one being that they are missing alot of the newer electronics that are all over new RV's. I mean you cant judge when a crank angle sensor is going to go bad on Ya', or a MAF sensor or something like that .
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Old 03-22-2013, 12:04 AM   #7
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I am currently working on a 1966. The plans are to go anywhere. I don't find age to be the factor as much as maintaining a rig. My DD is a 1971 and I do roughly 500 a week on it and would drive it across country tomorrow without hesitation.
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Old 03-22-2013, 03:31 PM   #8
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I am currently working on a 1966. The plans are to go anywhere. I don't find age to be the factor as much as maintaining a rig. My DD is a 1971 and I do roughly 500 a week on it and would drive it across country tomorrow without hesitation.

Good to hear from you. I personally feel like "worn Out" is a very relative term. There are plenty of examples like yours out there. However, I think in my group of friends (non-RV'rs) I am seen as a bit of a nut to believe that something so old can be pulled back into regular service. My RV is constantly being described as "worn Out" I rebut that by saying it only has 55K mi. on it. Everything works like (for the most part) it should, so what exactly can be worn out? My group of friends and I are verry middle calss folks and the thought of spending 250K on anything seems outrageous. I ,however, believe just because you cant afford new doesnt mean you have to stay home. I usually find away to live life on my terms. Doesnt mean I dont get discouraged from time to time tho.
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Old 03-22-2013, 04:00 PM   #9
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Good to hear from you. I personally feel like "worn Out" is a very relative term. There are plenty of examples like yours out there. However, I think in my group of friends (non-RV'rs) I am seen as a bit of a nut to believe that something so old can be pulled back into regular service. My RV is constantly being described as "worn Out" I rebut that by saying it only has 55K mi. on it. Everything works like (for the most part) it should, so what exactly can be worn out? My group of friends and I are verry middle calss folks and the thought of spending 250K on anything seems outrageous. I ,however, believe just because you cant afford new doesnt mean you have to stay home. I usually find away to live life on my terms. Doesnt mean I dont get discouraged from time to time tho.
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:36 AM   #10
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my expectations are actually higher with an older rig as it is paid for so i can afford to use it more.
mechanical repair is easier and cheaper on the older units since there is less computerized components, and trouble shooting is simplified .
I'm getting mine ready for a 4000 mile trip later this year replaced belts,hoses, modified my fuel tank and put an external fuel pump on it, new water pump,trans cooler, resealed my a/c system and charged it and swapped in a set of seats from my class b project.
still have a few things to do before I'm done but getting close,none of this cost a fortune as i did the work my self.
so if you are a diy person an older rig is just as good as a new one, as they are all loveable money pits, how much depends on your skill level but there isn't much you can't learn to do.
good luck and happy travels
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:47 AM   #11
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My 0.02c...

I am not rich man, and if I could afford a $500k 45' mega, I would have one.

But the reality of the cost of owning that type of thing is very different... a stone chip, a scratch, the dogs jumping on the "Ultra Leather"..
Let alone the service costs... A buddy of mine has a 2007 38'r and he had a turbo go... cost him $15k to fix it..

Give me an older rig, let me service and replace anything, and where there is a proven weakness, I will fix and or upgrade it.
Let me know my rig, and know it like family.
If I have a problem on the road, I can buy parts for a 454 at any store, and once a mechanic is told its GM running gears, they relax..

Customisation comes as standard, and will add to the value in my view.
My guess is we have about $13,000 and a lot of elbow grease invested so far..

When we roll down the road, or into a campsite, we get jaw dropping stares, then smiles. then waves.
People talk to us, and want to know all about it.
Give me that anyday.
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:19 AM   #12
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When we roll down the road, or into a campsite, we get jaw dropping stares, then smiles. then waves.
People talk to us, and want to know all about it.
Give me that anyday.


We get that too, and it's very rewarding and often makes our trips a lot more fun. We meet a lot of interesting people and have a lot of fun traveling in a vehicle that's not a carbon copy of every other camper in the park.

Like any machine, things will wear out over time and need to be replaced - it's no different than something brand new, and while most people don't think about it, new vehicles break down unexpectedly too. With anything, old or new, you can often prevent a breakdown by simply being aware of your vehicle and how it works.

Our camper is 38 years old and I do a lot of the maintenance myself so I know the condition of most everything, know how the various systems work, and most importantly know what it should sound/feel/drive like, so when something is amiss I can tell early on and deal with it before it become a critical issue.

All that said, we've broken down on the road before and it's simply not the end of the world. My primary vehicle has broken down on road trips before too, and it's really not all that different. Sure, it's somewhat more complicated, but it's essentially the same process: something happens, you deal with it, and then life goes on. I can imagine if you were driving a 40+ foot long class A things will be a bit more challenging, but we have always been able to work around any problems that came up and have yet to fail to return from a trip

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Old 06-13-2013, 09:00 AM   #13
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Nothing wrong with what you are thinking. I bought an 87 Allegro for $3000 and over the next 2 years put about $2500 into it. Ran great and was an awesome MH. Sold it to my friends for what I had into it and he loves it. The longest trip I took was 500 miles each way and the only 2 reason I sold it were 1. it only got 5.5 mph and 2. the DW wouldn't drive it. Once the chassis is in decent running shape they are great MH>
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Old 06-14-2013, 05:48 PM   #14
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We have a 23' 1993 Itasca with 38,000 miles and have driven it to San Diego and back plus some local trips around the Four Corners area. Put some $$ into ihe mechanicals and brakes. Because of the E10 sitting in the carb of the Onan 4000, I got a big bill to get that right. We also have a 2006 Airstream 25' Sarfari and this year have used the Itasca exclusively. I plan on a few more tweeks on the Itasca and will use it even more!
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