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Old 07-02-2020, 07:53 AM   #1
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How old is too old?

Hi! I'm a newbie (this is my very first post here).

My family is thinking about buying our first RV, and for budget reasons, we're only looking at used RVs (we are doing research to learn how to tell a good used RV from a lemon, of course). We're looking at ads for RVs direct from the seller rather than dealerships.

We stumbled on a ad for a 1998 Georgie Boy Swinger that looks to be in good condition and is in our price range, and we have an opportunity to go look at it this weekend. But I'm a little nervous to purchase something that old since this will be our first RV and we don't have a ton of experience yet. I'm envisioning things breaking, etc.

Is it a bad idea for newbies to purchase an older RV, or can that still work if the RV is in really really good condition? How old is too old, in your opinion?

Thanks!
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Old 07-02-2020, 08:08 AM   #2
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How many appliances in your home would you be concerned might quit at a moment's notice if they were 22 years old?. I would worry about the air conditioner, the refrigerator, the water heater, the microwave and the big, bulky tube TV to name a few. Now think about how much worse it has to be to have bounced those items down the road for those 22 years. Would you be comfortable taking a trip across the country in a car that was that old? IF (big if on purpose) the rig has been meticulously maintained, a few of those items replaced and the price is right, maybe it's worth taking a risk. If you are talking about investing a substantial portion of your free cash and repairs and replacements will cause true financial pain, no way. Recreational vehicles are like boats, they are often a money pit. Owners of both RVs and boats LOVE the lifestyle and recreational opportunities they provide. But they both have to have the resources and temperament to allow the problems and repairs that inevitably arrive to bounce off them. That is an issue only you can answer.
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Old 07-02-2020, 08:37 AM   #3
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Most everything built in 1998 was built 10 times better than anything built today.
My previous 1995 Beaver, yea 25 years old my son has now. Everything in it is original except a water heater that froze one year. Everything on it works except the tachometer. I have taken it across country from Oregon to Key West. It was built well and will last another 25 years.
Now my current coach, you guessed it 22 years old and built like a tank. 1998 Country Coach, only been able to put about 4 thousand on it with no problems but a loose electrical connection at one of the air conditioners. All mechanical s are now up to par, all fluids, filters and belts changed and all original items working.


I would take my older coaches any day over most all coaches built after 2003. Both have cost me very little. I do all maintenance and have many trips planned. Old equals quality but you have to look for motor homes that have been taken care of and not neglected. Some owners never change any fluids during ownership. Just drive them.
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Old 07-02-2020, 08:50 AM   #4
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With older, and newer, motorhomes sometimes things can go wrong. It's good to have some mechanical skills if nothing else just to recognize when there might be a problem. There are several good manuals covering basic motorhome mechanical and appliance topics; look on amazon and consider getting one. For the Georgie Boy, ask the seller to demonstrate that everything works and, if you are serious, consider paying for an inspection.

BTW, ours is a 1999 with 117,000 miles. I do have mechanical skills, tools, and a RV towing service and we go everywhere without undue fear of something breaking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HDPartyof3 View Post
Hi! I'm a newbie (this is my very first post here).

My family is thinking about buying our first RV, and for budget reasons, we're only looking at used RVs (we are doing research to learn how to tell a good used RV from a lemon, of course). We're looking at ads for RVs direct from the seller rather than dealerships.

We stumbled on a ad for a 1998 Georgie Boy Swinger that looks to be in good condition and is in our price range, and we have an opportunity to go look at it this weekend. But I'm a little nervous to purchase something that old since this will be our first RV and we don't have a ton of experience yet. I'm envisioning things breaking, etc.

Is it a bad idea for newbies to purchase an older RV, or can that still work if the RV is in really really good condition? How old is too old, in your opinion?

Thanks!
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Old 07-02-2020, 08:56 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDPartyof3 View Post
Hi! I'm a newbie (this is my very first post here).

My family is thinking about buying our first RV, and for budget reasons, we're only looking at used RVs (we are doing research to learn how to tell a good used RV from a lemon, of course). We're looking at ads for RVs direct from the seller rather than dealerships.

We stumbled on a ad for a 1998 Georgie Boy Swinger that looks to be in good condition and is in our price range, and we have an opportunity to go look at it this weekend. But I'm a little nervous to purchase something that old since this will be our first RV and we don't have a ton of experience yet. I'm envisioning things breaking, etc.

Is it a bad idea for newbies to purchase an older RV, or can that still work if the RV is in really really good condition? How old is too old, in your opinion?

Thanks!
How handy are you ? If you're mechanically inclined, it could be a good deal. But, if you're not, this coach would probably be a PITA.
Most likely it's been sitting idle a lot and will need a good going over to test everything and make the necessary repairs. We were next door to a 2000 Tiffin awhile back and I was amazed at the condition it was in. One owner and well maintained.
Just be sure to factor in the cost of tired, batteries, full service, etc. Most likely the suspension will need a tweaking also.
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Old 07-02-2020, 09:03 AM   #6
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Hi ! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined us!

It's certainly taking a chance to buy one that old, but as someone said, they built them a lot better back then. It depends on how well it has been maintained. Does the seller have maintenance records, and if so, what has been done to it? Check the code dates on the tires as that could be a significant expense if they are old. Check the operation of ALL the systems, don't just take the sellers word that they work! I would try to find a certified RV inspector in that area to check it out thoroughly if possible.

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old 07-02-2020, 09:06 AM   #7
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They ALL break! Can your mechanical skills or checkbook effect the repairs?

On the (very) upside, it's a fabulous way to travel!!
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Old 07-02-2020, 04:46 PM   #8
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Condition is everything, when I was shopping for my current coach in 2016, I decided the oldest I would consider would be a 1996 model if on the then Chevy P series Chassis (later bought out by Workhorse in 1998) as that was the year the OBD-II diagnostic interface was introduced, or 1999 if on a Ford chassis as that was the year the 6.8L V10 was introduced. In my experience most mechanics these days don't have a clue of where to start if they can't plug a computer into an OBD-II, and completely forget it if the engine has a carburetor, not to mention the 3 speed transmissions of the 80's and early 1990's don't play well with the modern 75+mph highway speed limits. In the end I decided on a coach built on the later wide track P32 chassis with 8.1L Vortec V8 (introduced in 2001). Sure it still has the 4 speed 4L80E transmission and may not be as good as the W series chassis that came out the next year, with the 5 speed Allison transmission (later with 6 speed), but the price was right.


In the case of my coach it was generally well maintained, with the previous owner putting over $10,000 worth of parts alone into it in the preceding 2 years, including new tires, batteries, refrigerator, carpet, 400 watts of solar, pure sine wave inverter, carpet, seating, and $3,000 worth of suspension upgrades (track bar, safe-T plus, etc.).



This is not to say that I have not went on to spend even more money maintaining and upgrading it, in the 4 years and roughly 20,000 miles of use, with major expenses so far being such things as upper and lower ball joints, alternator, fan clutch, as well as about $700 spent on fixing the dash air conditioner, which is in need or repair again. Along with numerous smaller items, that have needed replacement or upgrade along the way such as propane regulator, CO/LPG detector, the starter and carburetor for the Onan generator, replacing various lights (interior and exterior) with LED's, new sway bar bushings to replace the dry rotted ones, fresh fluids, filters, ...


As a general rule any coach over 15-17 years of age will need most all rubber parts replaced, if they have not already been replaced. This includes not only the obvious radiator hoses, serpentine belt, but also the generator fuel line, propane regulator (it has a rubber diaphragm, sway bar bushings, various steering and suspension bushings, bump stops, etc. A few of these may last longer, but by 22 years chances are even those are dry rotted and crumbling. RV appliances also tend to last around 15 years depending on how they have been maintained, on my coach the air conditioner and water heater are still original, and still going. With refrigerators it is much more likely that they will fail in the first 15 years, though again some last longer, you should be aware a failing RV refrigerator is a fire hazard as they can overheat and leak flammable gases when they fail. Otherwise the big killers are water penetration and wood rot, RV roofs require maintenance to keep them from leaking. Roof construction matters also, the common EPDM rubber roofs require the most maintenance, and tend to have the shortest life, often failing even with good maintenance in the 15-20 year age range. Fiberglass and Aluminum roofs more commonly found on upper end products last longer and require less maintenance, though the caulking (lap sealant) around all the vents and roof penetrations, end caps, etc. still needs routine maintenance to prevent water penetration and subsequent wood rot.



So a 20 year old coach can be good, finding one that has been maintained without wood rot, etc. is sort of like finding a needle in a haystack.
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Old 07-02-2020, 05:51 PM   #9
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As mentioned above, set aside money for a level II RVIA inspector plus a fluid analysis (oil, transmission, coolant), as well as a thorough mechanical inspection by a qualified mechanic who knows the chassis and engine.
If the seller wont agree, walk away.
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Old 07-02-2020, 08:31 PM   #10
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Got my first RV in 2006 a 1980 Blue Bird Wanderlodge In 2015 I upgraded to a 1989 Wanderlodge Its still going fine
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Old 07-02-2020, 09:40 PM   #11
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Your complete lack of Rv experience and knowledge makes you susceptible to purchasing an RV on emotion for what you think you see. That is the very worst way to buy something with as many systems and components as a motorhome, especially one that is 27 years old. The advice Sonic gave you is the best so far. The money spent for a certified RV inspector and a qualified mechanic is the very best way to know what you are buying. A 27 year old coach can be a GEM or a LEMON. They can tell you which it is. Good Luck
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Old 07-03-2020, 12:17 AM   #12
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If you like the unit have an independent inspection. We bought our 1999 Georgie Boy on the Ford chassis. It has been a reliable coach! Remember that RV tires age out in 10 years, not mileage. Check the date code on the tires on any coach you are considering buying. If the date is close negotiate with the need of new tires in mind. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 07-03-2020, 05:22 AM   #13
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I think Isaac-1 and Sonic are giving good advice. A 1998 Swinger will not have a lot of bells and whistles compared to newer coaches, slides, big screens, etc. Of course some of these could have been added after market.


My guess for the RV inspection and fluid analysis is about $1 K.



I am curious about mileage, where it has been stored, and how many previous owners.



If the coach looks good cosmetically inside and out, I would start my offer calculation at $10k. Add $ for things that are new, like tires, AC's, refrigerator, etc. Most I would go would be $15K.



$15 k sale price + $1k inspections + $5k reserve for repairs. $21k total cash on hand needed.
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Old 07-04-2020, 11:33 AM   #14
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Buy the newest you can find for your budget

Old coaches wind up in the salvage yards every day of the week. Having had RV's for over 50 years I can tell you they weren't made to perfection as many would mislead you

Are there happy owners of vintage coaches, of course, same goes for vintage cars and wine

The only way to buy old is if you are very handy and extremely fast learner

There are a lot of new manufacturing techniques that are much better resulting in many people moving on up

Read the forums and see how many things go wrong and what many of them cost, don't be another buyer with a coach sitting in the yard because you lack the funds or knowledge to get it going

I am not talking about entry level coaches that is a different matter all together
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