Hi - this is a great thread. I'm not new to RVs, but I'm looking at getting my first MH so I can putter around NPs, NFs, (the other!) BLM sites, SPs, SFs, etc., in the Southwest and Mountain West from my location in central AZ. I found a 1984 Monaco Duke 33 with under 40K miles for $12,750 on-line, about a 6-hour round-trip away, and have looked at the 183(!) photos posted. I wasn't familiar with Monaco and its model lines, but have rectified that after much searching and reading.
At first, I wasn't expecting to see much more than a used-up hulk at this price, but after ferreting through the photos, I realized that the Monacos of today are descendants of the legacy of quality in materials and construction that's apparent in this Duke (if I buy it, this Monaco Duke is going to wind up with the nickname of MarmaDuke, right?). It doesn't appear to have a single bare thread, tear, chink, gouge, or other cosmetic defect, other than probably water stains on the top edges of the cabinet doors below the sink (possibly from cleanser splashes).
I'm a field engineer with 45 years of weekends on my back under (sometimes) moving things, so I'm familiar with all of the stuff Down There that _will_ go wrong. I have a JD from Murphy University and am well-steeped in His Law and all of its Corollaries, starting with "If more than one thing can go wrong, that which will cost the most and destroy everything else will fail first."
I'm not an expert on the parts specific to the chassis on which MHs are typically based, but what I've seen looks very familiar, just bigger. I do know where to look for evidence of leaks (both down from the roof and up from road splash) and how to test appliances and house infrastructure. I already know that it's going to need six tires and a spare, as the tire date codes are at least as old as May 1993 (I know that three-digit codes roll over every 10 years). It would have been hazardous to drive by 2003 if they're '93s, and it seems impossible that they can hold air if they're original-equipment from 1983 manufacturing! I did see the mentions of FMCA's discount and SimpleTires.com.
I understand why a 37 year-old, low-mileage MH such as this one can actually have more problems than a higher-mileage vehicle that's even older. It was supposedly serviced in November 2020, but I haven't seen any paperwork as to what was done. However, the seller did say that new air bags were put in the front suspension, and I've driven a friend's MH briefly to help get it to have new airbags installed.
So, I know exactly what it means to drive with a rotted-out set ... and I didn't dare get on the Interstate in that thing! A career in the Navy enabled me to apply my ship and boat handling skills to keep from getting up on three wheels around curves
I'll be going to see it in person next Wednesday (3/3) and will have an inspector come do his thing if it passes my personal review that will follow the current photo reconnaissance. I haven't been able to find any manuals for this model posted on-line (not surprising at all), but if anyone here has any scanned docs and/or hands-on knowledge of the MarmaDuke model (or an equivalent in chassis/engine/box-structure/etc.), I'd greatly appreciate your sharing anything you might have, as well as opinions.
Thanks and All the Best (73 to those in the know!),