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Old 09-03-2021, 10:31 PM   #1
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Considering buying a National RV

National RVs seem nice, you guys seem to like them. I want to setup a little office in my RV and some of the National floor plans I've seen (early 2000s Tradewinds) seem to fit that well (right behind passenger seat). My price range is up to $50K but I've seen nice rigs in the $30s and $40s. Plan to live in it a couple of months a year, regularly tow a trailer full of toys up to about 5000 pounds in an 8x14 enclosed trailer. Work out of it for days at a time not connected to power. Southwest in the winter, Northwest in the summer. Plan to do a lot of camping out in the dirt, at race tracks and along the beaches of Mexico, etc. Decent fuel mileage is more important than being able to haul ass up hills. Good ride and handling are important to me.

How big a deal are parts now that National no longer exists? Are things breaking on these rigs that parts are no longer available for? What about body panels if need be?

How much should I budget for a thorough inspection to know what I am getting into?

This 2002 Tradewinds looks pretty nice to me. Any comments on that model besides the usual general RV inspection report stuff? Little concerned about corrosion issues in the engine with only 33K miles in 20 years.

Thanks.
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Old 09-04-2021, 09:21 AM   #2
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Livability and utility are the most important factor of owning an RV, and it sounds like you narrowed your search to something that will make you comfortable. Renovating the area behind the passenger seat, to accommodate a micro office, is pretty standard when there is enough room in the cabin. Just make sure there is enough room for all of your needs, including printing, filing and storage for maintenance and upkeep of your equipment. Otherwise, you might want to find a unit with a "bunk room" and convert that to a micro office.

Living "off grid" for a while will be a lot easier with solar installed... Running a generator for a couple of days is all very well, but after a few hours, my head would start to buzz from the motor's hum...
Solar is nearly silent and can fill your needs nicely.

Pretty much any descent Diesel Pusher (and most gas units) unit will have a tow capacity of nine thousand pounds or more (some are good to twelve thousand...) so, it would be up to you to decide what enclosed trailer you're going to haul... But you have to remember, the more weight you're pulling, the more fuel you'll burn, pulling it.

Finally, regarding your inspection... and this can't be stressed enough...
Instead of focusing on the "cost" of your inspection... Concentrate on the qualifications of your inspector...
From personal experience I can tell you that inspection cost does not guarantee a qualified inspector... Do your research!

Good luck with your travels, it sounds like you are going to be off on a great adventure...

Cheers
Bob
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Old 09-04-2021, 10:43 AM   #3
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Bob gave a good overview and I agree completely with everything he posted.


Regarding the coach in the link and other similar ones from National.


National built a quality product and being an orphan coach is really not an issue. My first DP was a National TropiCal, and my current coach is an Alpine. Nearly every component of the chassis and house, as well as appliances and devices, were supplied by outside manufacturers and most are still available. Your chassis is by Freightliner, obviously still a thriving business. Proprietary items like body panels can be fabricated by a body shop if necessary, repaired, found at salvage yards, or even remanufactured as I remember someone buying the molds for National RVs after the bankruptcy. Yes, no warranty, but typical repair of the house or chassis is not beyond the scope of a competent repair facility and replacement parts for most items can be found on line.


The engine should not be an issue either, even though it has low mileage. Thorough inspection of all degradable items like hoses and belts should be done, and all fluids changed as well. Not sure which Cummins engine is in your linked example, ISB or ISC, but I'm leaning toward the ISC. It will have the CAPS fuel injection system with the weak link lift pump. Be sure that it is not leaking anywhere around it's location. If you're unsure of it's age, plan on replacing it or installing an alternative lift pump like FASS or AirDog. 2002 was a good year for diesel engines. It will not have any emissions system to cause problems in performance.


One caution for National coaches. Look closely for bulges on the outside. These may be delaminations, but my warning is for bulges that are hard and not able to be pushed back in. National had a steel framing and sometimes it was not properly protected from rust. Water can enter around the belt line or from the screw holes for the compartment door hinges. That may cause rust to form on the steel frame with the subsequent bulging of the outer skin. I had it on my TropiCal, knew about it when I bought it, but it wasn't a concern for me. The cause was remedied and there was never an increase in the size of a bulge or an appearance of a new bulge.


BTW, don't expect great fuel mileage with a DP. You're pushing around a heavy brick. If you get around 8+ mpg, you should be satisfied.
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Old 09-04-2021, 08:59 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info that is very helpful.

I went to a local dealer today to look at what they had. Shocked to see dirty, overpriced, motorhomes, some with sold signs on them. It was good to see up close what a 20 year old motorhome can look like cosmetically. Some were really quite nice, one had definitely been rode hard and put away out in the sun. But I imagine maybe $5-$10k at an upholstery shop and a fresh wrap and it would be pretty good too. I think I will likely be going the private party route.

Thanks.
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Old 09-05-2021, 04:06 PM   #5
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Somewhere in this forum is a section for MH offered for sale. Maybe Nationals ?
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Old 09-05-2021, 07:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by youngwerth View Post

This 2002 Tradewinds looks pretty nice to me. Any comments on that model besides the usual general RV inspection report stuff? Little concerned about corrosion issues in the engine with only 33K miles in 20 years.

Thanks.

Looks Like a nice rig! Basically the same floor plan as my 2003 except one is right handed and the other is left. The one in the link must be 40ft? has more room in bedroom.
We love our National. 7.5 MPG average for the last 20,000 mile pulling Toad!
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Old 09-05-2021, 07:46 PM   #7
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I bought a 2004 Dolphin (gas) with only13k miles two years ago. Engine ran great and continues to do so. Up to 22k miles now and we leave tomorrow for another $3k mile trip.

That rig looks like a lot of coach for the money.
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Old 09-06-2021, 07:32 PM   #8
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I purchased this coach's sister last November


Added all the solar I could'nt afford, and just finished installing 4 cam DVR.


Engine strong at 89k



Enjoy!
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Old 09-06-2021, 07:45 PM   #9
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I purchased this coach's sister last November


Added all the solar I could'nt afford, and just finished installing 4 cam DVR.


Engine strong at 89k



Enjoy!
Curious, what is your fuel mileage?
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Old 09-07-2021, 06:21 AM   #10
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7-9 mpg depending on load/toad and generator usage
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Old 09-14-2021, 02:47 PM   #11
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I have a very nice dolphin lx for sale.
I just did 6000 miles on it miami to vegas
No problems at all.
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Old 09-14-2021, 02:48 PM   #12
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I have a 2003 Tradeswinds 7375 LTC

We are the second owners and couldn't be happier. Purchased it 9/14 and not have 63,000 miles on a Cummins 350. My RV Mechanic has commented many times how well built it is. We replaced the window coverings with roller shades from Shade Man RV Roller Shades and are very pleased. Had my first engine repair which totaled $349.00. Had to put a new cooling unit in the refrigerator.

We have the Dynomax Chassis from Country Coach. If you can find one I highly recommened it. Full independent suspension a dream to drive. Following is our coach.

Model Year: 2003
Manufacturer: National RV
Model: Tradewinds 7375 LTC
Chassis: Country Coach Dynomax 8TD with full airbrakes
Engine: Cummins 8.3L ISC, 350 HP
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Old 09-14-2021, 03:18 PM   #13
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2001 National Tradewinds

We bought our 2001 Tradewinds model 7390 with CAT 300 in Nov 2004. I found she likes to give us around 10 MPG at 63 mph. We have had no real problems with her except right now as we are getting her ready for a trip after sitting for little over a year. Dumb me kept her plugged into 50amp all the time and didn't check the water in my batteries all that time. They took a lot of water and they are good, no need to replace. Everything else is good. We have friends who have newer MHs but they usually are having problems. Our's does need the driver and passenger chairs redone but they are still comfy going down the road. We've had her 17 years and will never get anything to replace her. My wife loves her huge closet along with bench and flip up mirror in the bedroom along with 3 drawers on each side. My closet is a double sliding doors across from the shower and sink with two drawers under each mirrored sliding door. I replaced the original fridge (propane/electric) with a residential fridge and run our Generac genny for it going down the road. Thinking of getting some bids on solar power for.

I don't think you could go wrong on an older National if you can find one. You hardly ever see a National, Diesel or Gas sitting on a RV Lot. That's how much the owners love them.
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Old 09-14-2021, 04:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Curious, what is your fuel mileage?
I have a 2001 Tradewinds stored mostly inside with: Cat. 360, Allison 6 Speed, Auto. actuated Exhaust Brake, 92,000 miles, spare tire, 4 solar panels (25 amp. charge rate), macerator dump system, 1,200 AH AGM Batts, 4 stage solar charge Controller, 2.5 KW Inverter-Charger, Trailer electric brake Controller, Mounted Auto. Direct TV Dish, Local TV amplified ant., 7 KW Generac Diesel Generator with "00" + wire from batts, Samsung 39" TV. Electric & gas hot water, Custom installed corner desk ("office") behind passenger side chair, with printer & computer accommodation & file drawers. Elec. front window shade. TPMS, Emergency 50 Amp. custom wire from generator to house elec. system to run house electrically when emergency off-grid. $45,000, Selling due to age & health considerations! 928-685-3558
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