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Old 03-11-2023, 05:32 PM   #1
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Considering a 97 Discovery have questions

Greetings all!
I am considering buying my first diesel pusher from a friend. It is a 97 Fleetwood Discovery (5.9 Cummins, Freightliner chassis) with 90,000 on the clock. I have checked the forums over pretty good, but I still have questions.
1) There is a fresh oil leak up in the belt area of the engine. I can tell from the lack of buildup that it is fresh, but there is plenty of it. The best that I can tell I am looking at a crank seal or timing cover gasket. I am not sure if the 97 has the external breather filter or not. Any insight is greatly appreciated.

2) The generator seems to run rough and be a little noisy. Not sure if that's normal. It starts normally enough and makes power, it just seems loud and rough. I have Honda and Subaru inverters for my pull-behind camper, so maybe I am comparing apples to oranges.

3) The leveler control is a little hinky. Can I buy a switch panel for this somewhere?

4) The owner says that it is wired/set up for 30A shore power instead of 50A, so the air conditioners run one at a time and alternate. It makes sense, but I've never heard of such a thing.

The guy that I am buying it from is a long time mechanic and an old friend. He just drove it from Texas to far northern Wisconsin pulling a Jeep, so I believe that he felt that it was sound enough for that run. He's asking 25K but I can get it cheaper if I fix the oil leak, leveler switch, and some other minor stuff myself.

You guys (& ladies) have a great little community here. I am looking forward to being part of it.
Thank you for your time and experience!
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Old 03-11-2023, 06:58 PM   #2
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Location: Full time RV'er
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I owned a '94 Fleetwood Bounder for 12 years, bought it in '04 so I got a lot of on the road experience with it as I sold all my property and went full timing. It also has the 5.9 Cummins. Sold it in 2016 and bought a '02 Winnebago Journey.

The Bounder line tends to be higher quality house and the chassis is probably a Freightliner. Given the right circumstances I would consider another Fleetwood Bounder.

I built up a RV repair blog based on the '94 Bounder so if you'd like to peruse it for a while it'll show you some of the typical and not so typical repairs that I needed to make. It's ad free: '94 Fleetwood Bounder

Note that I did have a blown engine but that may have been from the use of propane fuel injection that I tried for a few years as the engine was only a 190 HP. The propane brought it up ~50 HP in my estimation. Good on fuel though, got 10 MPG, but I tired of ending up topping small hills at 15 MPH, which is why I designed and installed the propane injection system.
'02 Winnebago Journey DL, DSDP, 36' of fun.

Visit my RV Travel & Repair Blog at :
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Old 03-11-2023, 07:25 PM   #3
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To be honest--the price you pay upfront may not be the largest concern here. First, you are buying a 26-year-old "daily-driver." The engine is small by modern standards and probably mechanical. Appliances will be dated and some will need replacement--eg, roof ACs. Finding generic chassis, tranny and engine parts will be a challenge--proprietary parts will be nearly impossible. The Discovery model was not the manufacturer's top of the line offering in 1997. Age of tires and batteries will be an immediate concern, all rubber hoses and gaskets will be next. Whether the roof is fiberglass or rubber--you need to check current condition and look for any evidence of previous leaks? Bottom-line: This could be an interesting project if you are mechanically incline, but dont expect to recoup any money you spend--you will just get an updated but older RV for your personal use.
Old Scout
2015 IH45 Foretravel
2003 Alpine 40' MDTS [Sold]
New Braunfels, Texas
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Old 03-14-2023, 05:57 AM   #4
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I picked up a 2000 Discovery a few years ago with 79K on a Cummins 5.9. My best friends father passed away, and he offered it to me for a price I could not refuse and well below the $25k your friend is asking.

Owning an older RV requires patience and determination. I really enjoy mine, but it requires a lot of maintenance and repair. I do almost all of the repair work myself and enjoy figuring out how to fix things.

You may want to consider having it inspected before you purchase. I used a local truck diesel repair shop. He was very knowledgeable about RV's. I wanted to make sure the major things like engine, suspension, tranny, brakes, etc... were solid.

Inspect the roof, both inside and exterior for leaks. All RVs leak at some point. The previous owner of my rig had the roof repaired and resealed with a lifetime warranty.

The maintenance and repair will cost you more than you think. Tires alone are $2K - $4K. I've had to repair the front furnace, Kwikee stairs, service rooftop a/c units, repair refrigerator, replace drinking water pump, replace shocks and airbags, repair VDC that controls dash gauges - that was a real pain in the a$$ and much more. I figure I'm in about $10K above what I paid over the last two years.
2000 Fleetwood Discovery 36T
Living Life in the Foothills of East TN
Go Dawgs!
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Old 03-21-2023, 02:27 PM   #5
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i had a 1997 Discovery for many years. Mine was a ISB Cummins one of the first to be installed. Yours could be a ISB or mechanical depending on when it was built in 1997.

The oil leak you see could be from the blow by crankcase tube (slobber tube). It is located on the passenger side rear of the engine. If too much oil is placed in the crankcase, it will blow excess oil out the tube, If you are driving it will blow it all over the vehicle you are towing. Those engines came with a incorrect calibrated dipstick, so only add the amount of oil as indicated in the manuals.Once you have the correct oil amount, the dirstick needs to be scratched at that level.

Best to my memory, the gen set was noisier then my current Onan diesel one. Your gen set probably runs on LIQUID propane.

The levelers are Power Gear, or Lipert now. THey have a great web site with all sorts of PDF files.

yes, the coach is a 30 amp coach. BUT I was able to run both roof air conditioners at the same time. It all depends on what else is running consuming power. If the computer sees it is getting close to the 30 amp limit, it will shed one air conditioner.
Good Luck, Be Safe and Above All, Don't Forget To Have Fun
Central Kentucky
2006 Fleetwood Discovery 35H, 2014 Honda CR-V, M&G Engineering Braking System
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Old 03-22-2023, 09:56 PM   #6
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Thank You!

Thank you all very much for your replies!! It is wonderful that you guys are so helpful.

For now I passed on the RV. His price is a little high so I'm going to let him hold onto it for now. There are similar units locally for 8-10G less.
The other item was that my Mrs was not sure if she wanted a 36 or 38 foot.
On the upside I know that the owner is a top mechanic so it is well maintained with a good roof, tires, and regular oil/fluid maintenance.
A couple of you brought up that the upkeep becomes a job and isn't cheap. I am a retired mechanic so I am not too worried about repairs.
I did tell the Mrs that this was like buying another boat... lots of upkeep and BOAT stands for Bust Out Another Thousand..
If I could knock him down enough in price I'd drive it home. For now I will keep looking. Thank you all again!!
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Old 03-23-2023, 05:41 AM   #7
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Speaking of roof, that year Discovery had a "rubber" roof that was self sacifrying. It shed white particles. If you see a lot of black up on the roof, the roofing material is at its end of life.

Food For Thought:
Our 1997 Discovery was a 37 foot with one large slide. Perfect for us. We camped mostly in state, and natural forest and parks. Never a problem. (I'll never forget one of the first times driving that coach back 23 years ago, we stopped along a rural county road and asked a group of college aged hikers if the entrance to a state forest campground was up ahead or did we miss it. One of the boys said " You can't get that big fat monstrosity carbon footprint thing in that campground!"and walked away. A woman with the group walked up and said " Don't mind Joe, he thinks his opinion is the only one that counts. The entrance is just up the road, and I hope you will enjoy the park ".

Our current 2006 Discovery is a 35 foot 3 slide coach. Again it is ideal for us.

The 1997 Discovery with the ISB Cummins gave us 9.7 mpg average towing a Chrysler minivan. Our current 2006 Discovery with the Caterpillar C7 gets only 7.2 mpg towing a Honda CRV.
Good Luck, Be Safe and Above All, Don't Forget To Have Fun
Central Kentucky
2006 Fleetwood Discovery 35H, 2014 Honda CR-V, M&G Engineering Braking System
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