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Old 02-22-2021, 09:24 AM   #1
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03 Alpine 36mdds

We are in the process of searching for a coach and came across an 03 36 mdds. After reading through a bunch of threads I have a question.

Is the radiator a custom item? What about the CAC and other coolers?

When I looked (although quickly and casually) they all looked aluminum and I read here about those being potentially problematic.

I understand that reading these forums can be somewhat misleading as a lot of the posts are only when a problem arises.


Thanks Mike
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Old 02-22-2021, 09:54 AM   #2
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Well..... some will argue that the 2003 was one of the best years ever.... the last pre-Vansco year with most of the modernizations that WRV developed.

Some of the issues that popped up later were not present on the 2003 models.

As far as radiators go the Alpine units are no worse of better than others and if properly maintained will last for a very long time. The side radiators make access to the engine compartment very easy and the 36' coaches with fore/aft beds allow magnificent access to the engine compartment from above as well.

A properly maintained coach is the key. Are all the records available? Are you buying from the owner (original?) or through a dealer? tell us more about the particular coach and we can give you more than just generalized statements to assist in your research
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:26 AM   #3
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What Paul said....after 18 years--most all parts are "custom" on an RV, save for the engine, tranny, suspension and appliances.....wide-spread radiator issues in the RV industry didn't occur until 2005.....and then again in 2010...I still appreciate the simplicity of my 2003 Alpine [190k miles], I am sure you will learn to appreciate yours too......good luck....
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:45 AM   #4
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Thanks for the reply.

There is some level of cold feet in this. I read through quite a few of the treads within the Alpine section. Yes. I read that the 2003 is a good year due to the things you mentioned. I realize also the a 2003 is before EGR valves. So there are positives

This unit has a north/south bed. How do you lift the engine cover? Is it screwed down or latched and I didn’t see the latches? I wanted to look at the exhaust manifold.

The unit is sitting at PPL right now. Although part of me didn’t want to reveal which one I was looking at right now. So far we only walked through and did not actually sit down with sales there.
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:54 AM   #5
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Thanks for the reply.

There is some level of cold feet in this. I read through quite a few of the treads within the Alpine section. Yes. I read that the 2003 is a good year due to the things you mentioned. I realize also the a 2003 is before EGR valves. So there are positives

This unit has a north/south bed. How do you lift the engine cover? Is it screwed down or latched and I didn’t see the latches? I wanted to look at the exhaust manifold.

The unit is sitting at PPL right now. Although part of me didn’t want to reveal which one I was looking at right now. So far we only walked through and did not actually sit down with sales there.
As you can see from my sig. line, I have a 2004 of the same coach. The bed lifts up to reveal the engine cover, and there are latches, at least on my coach, located in the "well" under the foot of the bed that is created by the end of the bed frame and the beginning of the raised area of the engine. I don't know if yours is the same, and I have never lifted the engine cover so I don't know if those latches are the only things holding it down, or if there are screws around the perimeter as well. Mine may also be a bit different that the 2003 you are inspecting.

It is a good idea to look at the exhaust manifold as that was a weakness in that vintage engine. Simple fix, but something to check out, definitely.

Which engine does the coach have, the 350 hp, or the 400 hp?
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:11 AM   #6
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Larry, If you are referring to those two wells under the mattress, I could not see in there completely as there were items basically full of items. I could see from the rear of the coach that the panel could be lifted and that panel was rather large. I do like that amount of access.

I will need to go back and see if I can lift it with the assistance of the sales staff.
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:17 AM   #7
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Oh and it is the 400hp ISL
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:35 AM   #8
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Yup, the ISL 400 HP with 2 stage engine compression brake was the desired choice and was made standard thereafter.


Agree, the 2003 was the best year-- prior to multiplex wiring but with the ISL engine.
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Old 02-22-2021, 12:22 PM   #9
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We had the same concerns when we purchased our one owner 2000 36 FDS two years ago. With the exception of new body panels, every component of your potential "new" coach are readily available. There also seems to be a few Alpine coaches available in the used parts market if you ever need a body panel. https://rvexteriorbodypanels.visoner...ternrvparts.pl
The north/south bed configuration is the easiest for engine access, as well as the side radiator. Don't know if our 2000 has the original radiator, but it is of steel and brass construction. I believe they went to the problematic aluminum radiators in 04.
We have no regrets purchasing an older pre emission top of the line coach. Our friends with newer other brand units are blown away with the quality of the Alpines....
These are probably some of the best driving/handling coaches of that era, even compared to a 2021 model.
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Old 02-22-2021, 12:38 PM   #10
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Lifting the hatch should involve just releasing the latches. If you slide the mattress toward the passenger side and flip it on its edge to the floor, lifting the hatch is an easy one person job and the support rods will hold it up.

The mid-door is also a desirable model, particularly on the 36’, as the front door model has a narrower opening, 26” v 30”.
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Old 02-22-2021, 12:47 PM   #11
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Oh yeah, the 2003 also does not have the steering gear bracket that can flex and break, something found on 2004 and later chassis with adjustable pedals.
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Old 02-22-2021, 01:02 PM   #12
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Oh yeah, the 2003 also does not have the steering gear bracket that can flex and break, something found on 2004 and later chassis with adjustable pedals.
Theoretically true. However, one can never be sure of exactly when, WRV began using different components. I also reading of an owner of a 2000 or 2001 who had cracks developing on the steering bracket.
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Old 02-22-2021, 01:05 PM   #13
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Theoretically true. However, one can never be sure of exactly when, WRV began using different components. I also reading of an owner of a 2000 or 2001 who had cracks developing on the steering bracket.
Good point, and well taken.

There are exceptions to every "rule". Still, the preponderance of failures are in the later chassis with adjustable pedals.
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Old 02-22-2021, 01:22 PM   #14
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Just took a look at that unit on-line and I'd say jump on it assuming it checks out mechanically.

Looks to be in good shape for the year and the things I would check are the dates on the tires, battery condition and state of the battery compartment, and of course the exhaust manifold and the lift pump both of which are potential issues....none of these are deal-breakers just something to consider and to take into consideration during negotiation.

Good luck!
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