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Old 09-03-2020, 04:09 PM   #1
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Older DP Economics

We have been seasonally traveling and staying in a 2004 Holiday Rambler gaser now for two years. Up to a couple months a year. We wanted to try the lifestyle out before sinking bigger bucks. We are considering upgrading to a DP for more space, comfort, systems, a better ride and power on steep grades, and all the other benefits of the bigger rigs.

We have bought few new cars, boats or RV's. I have always avoided the steep depreciation curves leading to rapid loss of value the first couple years when buying new units. For RV's and boats there are so many horror stories these days about initial quality that you wind up chasing the dealer for too many warranty visits such that you might as well buy a used unit, take some maintenance risk and write some checks for maintenance. That's just my point of view generally.

That points me to older DP's. The first question is how old? Let's say the budget is $150K. I don't necessarily want to spend that much, but I can. So my initial research shows used top of the line DP's from high end manufacturers cost let's say $90-150K for a 2007-2010 unit and $50-90K for a 2000 to 2006 unit.

My research also seems to show that it is recommended to get the top of the line units from high end manufacturers (Monaco, Holiday Rambler, Tiffin, Newmar, to name a few. So Monaco Executives, or Signatures, Holiday Rambler Navigators, etc.) They are higher quality overall, better systems, fabrics, fit and finish and more features.

Further I have learned that the newer DP's have lots of complex emissions goodies that are subject to failure and expensive repairs. That is sure true with marine diesels. The older simpler units are much more reliable and can be serviced about anywhere. Plus, the newer units, boats and RV's have ever more complex features with digital display panels, and automated controls that are complex, and prone to fail being expensive to fix. You have to have a degree in systems engineering to diagnose them. The older units have less of these features to go wrong.

So to get back in time before all this equipment got added seems to bring you to about 2006 or older. My first conclusion then is I am looking for a 2000-2006 high end model from a high end manufacturer. So to the first question, am I on track so far? Is this logical? Any contrary opinions or support for my conclusions thus far are welcomed.

So let's say I am looking at a 2004 Holiday Rambler that is "primo" and it is $90K.
1. Assuming I am not looking to upgrade fabrics, flooring, move cabinets around etc. in other words, no cosmetic upgrades, how much should I budget for what we call in the used boat world - the necessary refit of systems required to bring the unit back to top condition? What range would you spend here? Of course I'd get a chassis and coach systems survey.
2. Assuming you service the unit and take care of it, how much annual depreciation/decline in value would expect for this theoretical unit?
3. What would you budget for annual maintenance?

Any other comments about whether I am headed down a sound path here would be appreciated. these are preliminary conclusions, no final decisions are made. I realize there are those who will only buy new or want the latest fancy dancy features. That's just not me. I am looking for value, reliability and least hassle.

Thank you.
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Old 09-03-2020, 05:19 PM   #2
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I think you are on the right track. The older DP's (like 2004) normally didn't have 4 slides. So, if you look at a 2007-2010, they will normally have four slides.

The price seems high for a 2004. $90K will buy you a nice 2006-2008 Tiffin Allegro Bus.

There are a lot of good "older" DP out there. Wait for the one that is right for you. Don't get too anxious and just at the first one.

My 2008 has all of the features that we wanted. It doesn't have heated floors or a fireplace, but it has aqua hot, tag axle, four slides and lots of storage.
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Old 09-03-2020, 05:40 PM   #3
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I think you are on the right track. True you don't need the latest technological doodads but you also don't want an antique. I'd go with something that Already has a Flatscreen TV. I wish you would have listed you favorite length and motor size. Do you want a Tag axle?
There are some Beeeeeautiful 2008s and 2009s out there like a Newmar Mountain Air or a Monaco Camelot, or American Coach or 2009 TIFFIN ALLEGRO BUS (120K). If you're not looking for a tax axle or you want something 40 ft or shorter you can even search a for a 2010 to 2013.
We usually have $5000 in our contingency fund for unforeseen MoHo events.
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Old 09-03-2020, 05:48 PM   #4
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Well, you won't get a high end unit in good condition from Country Coach for $150,000, although there are some real buys out there every once in a while.
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Old 09-03-2020, 06:03 PM   #5
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We paid about $60k for our 2006 Holiday Rambler 40' DP with the larger 9L Cummins engine and 3000 series Allison transmission and only 36.000 miles on it. It's also pre-emission so there's no DEF fluid to worry about. I've swapped out the older TV's. That was EZ and cheap to do. I also swapped a nice stainless steel residential refridgerator in there too. That wasn't too expensive either. That leaves you a lot of room in your $150k budget to change out the carpet or tile if you like. Good luck!
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Old 09-03-2020, 06:03 PM   #6
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You are on the right track, determine what make/model year does not have the emission controls. In most cases this is ~2007/8 years but there are some newer ones that had none emission engines installed.


1. Assuming I am not looking to upgrade fabrics, flooring, move cabinets around etc. in other words, no cosmetic upgrades, how much should I budget for what we call in the used boat world - the necessary refit of systems required to bring the unit back to top condition? What range would you spend here? Of course I'd get a chassis and coach systems survey.

Most of the older high end DP's had all the amenities and if the coach was taken care they should be good to go. Other items to look at on older units might be tires, batteries. AC units, depending on use, might need to be changed.

2. Assuming you service the unit and take care of it, how much annual depreciation/decline in value would expect for this theoretical unit?

I would suggest looking at a series of years on a coach you were interested in an try and determine a depreciation rate. Right off had I'd allow 15% per year

3. What would you budget for annual maintenance?

I can do my annual maintenance, ( oil, filters, lube)for ~$4-500 but if you have it done triple that amount. This doesn't include some of the nonannual type stuff like transmission service, other lube changes (differential for instance). Coolant services. Brakes are a big item but in most cases don't have to be touched for years. Generator service at 1000 hours can cost +$1000 if you have it done and depending on generator access.

Be prepared for things happening, we had our radiator damaged by road debris, cost was $7000 but insurance took care of all but $1000. Others had the same thing happen and insurance didn't cover.
Having a slush fund to take care or "stuff" is wise.
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Old 09-03-2020, 06:07 PM   #7
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6k a year is what I'm spending on a 2004 dynasty. That is with about nothing in labor. I shop around, get decent buys, have had no real emergency repairs where I just had to pay through the nose. I don't think a thousand in 2 years has been for labor but maybe close to it counting a few washes.
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Old 09-03-2020, 06:14 PM   #8
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Obviously you are on the right track... it’s what I did. If you are going to worry about depreciation, you might want to stay on the porch...this is NOT a cheap sport but it’s the nicest way to see the USA.

I had not planned on selling my 04 Dynasty... my son figured out it was more MH than a new gasser and at less than half the price. In the 14 years I owned it the only things I replaced (other than tires and batteries) were the TVs ($400 for LED), Sat dish, and the NoCold ($1000 for a residential with its own battery system). My annual maintenance costs were less than $2000/year. When I sold it nothing needed repaired or replaced. He recently replace the 12 year old AGM house batteries. No loose cabinets, no rattles, and the woodwork and paint still looked better than many of the new rigs I looked at.

Yes, I looked at the new junk being thrown together and decided on a 10 year old 45’ Navigator for $45K less than low NADA and $70K less than what some were asking fo the same rig. Other than needing 2 new front tires, I upgraded the LCD TVs with LED smart TVs ($500) and replacing the oven/stove cooktop with a dual induction (all still working). I added 1000W of solar and a Silverleaf monitor ($900) ...$5K total. Granted I’ve only put 20 K miles over 2.5 years without fixing anything major so less than $2K/year.

I made sure the 08 had a 06 engine... Monaco bought up a bunch of extra 06 engines. Unfortunately the Cummins ISX engines have a expensive valve problem that I was not aware of. I now know of 2 ISX 525 (like mine) that have broken #6 valve and even more 600 HP... it’s not just 650s. The greater the HP, the more engines with the problem.
The best guess of what’s doing it is the acid in the EGR gasses. Would I buy a big Monaco with a ISX, probably not and especially if a 600 or 650 HP.

My perfect coach would be a 06-07 Monaco Executive with a DD60 engine.
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Old 09-03-2020, 06:41 PM   #9
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Here's my story and it's much like yours.

2 years ago we found an amazingly well maintained 2001 Alpine Coach that met our needs (37' 2 slides) from the original owner who is a retired mechanical engineer who did much of his own maintenance and had VERY detailed records of everything. THis was a VERY high end coach in it's day and this unit had a sticker of $285K in 2001!!

I knew it needed to be updated on the interior and electronically.

The PO had already redone the floors with a very nice composition tile from front to back

We removed and made a completely new cabinet for the front to accommodate not only a new flat screen 43" LED TV (that we didn't hit our heads on) but also went straight across so we could add an MCD full length Day/Night shade, where we added a fulltime internet router/cell modem and updated Dish Hopper.

We then reworked the cabinets in the kitchen removing the outdated oven, added more drawers for storage, made the drawers 50% deeper for more storage, new cooktop, Staineless farm sink, built-in wine cooler and Quartz counters with splitface stone backsplash.

The old Dometic absorption gave way to new 18CF residential fridge.

We also added 1600W of solar, dual 3000W inverter chargers and 800Ah of Lithium batteries.

At the end of the day we have about as up to date a coach as we would want and an amazing off and on grid coach much more sophisticated than most new coaches and we're in the whole thing $65K.......I can't imagine not having all the goodies we have now and looking forward to our pending Mini-split installation

If I bought a 10 year newer coach I would lose more in dpereciation in the first 5 years than we spent making this pre-emission coach an up to date extremely personalized traveling machine that is EXACTLY the way we want it.

I think it would be very easy to find a 2000-2006 high end coach and spend 30K to make it all but new and have a whole bunch of the $150K left in the bank for any repairs and lot of travel
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Old 09-03-2020, 06:53 PM   #10
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My 2000 Monaco Signature is more than I'll ever need. New units may be fancier and have more whistles and bells but it's the quality that counts. At the price I paid if everything came crashing down, I could walk away and not feel the financial loss.
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Old 09-03-2020, 07:30 PM   #11
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Hi Doug-

You're doing what I'm hoping to do so I'll be watching the advice.

I was planning on $10k - $20k for upgrades, updates, and initial deep servicing of chassis and drive train. I can live with a semi-ugly interior but not with deteriorating upholstery, bad coach systems, or mechanical problems. I estimate that I'd spend between $1k and $1k5 a year on routine service and minor maintenance. The "OH CRAP! Fund" at $5k is a good start. Any problem that causes a more severe invective than 'crap' means $10k is the starting cost...

The Cummins ISX #6 valve problem is expensive - IIRC it's $20k - $30k depending on what it takes out with it, and Cummins had wrist pin failures on limited production of another model. Those are year, specific model, and production run issues that can be sussed out. If you're interested in a unit that has a potentially problem engine deduct $25k from your offer price.

The old, pre-emissions engines are out there: Cummins, CAT C9/11/13, the venerable Detroit 60. A maintained coach engine with over 100,000 miles is just getting broke in.

Due diligence and patience. The right coach will find you.
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Old 09-03-2020, 07:41 PM   #12
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I recommend you search from 2004 to 2008. New diesel emissions were added in 2007 but many smart RV manufactures used 2006 engines through 2008.

If you search high end Holiday Rambler Navigators, Beaver Patriot or Marquis, or Monaco Dynasty/Executive or Signature most of the models will have four slides and be well equipped. They will need some updating and regular TLC, but you will have a solid coach that will not depreciate anything like a 2020 diesel coach.
It really helps the budget if you are willing to do some labor yourself.
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Old 09-03-2020, 08:28 PM   #13
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You’re making a wise decision and seem to have given it a good amount of thought.

If you find a unit that is “primo” and don’t need to make any cosmetic changes, you shouldn’t have to spend anything to get it into “top condition”.

A 12-15 year old $90K rig will depreciate. How much? Maybe 10% each year. It may be with $50-60K in 5 years.

When these discussions come up I often mention that a 12 year old coach may have many newer components than a 3-5 year old coach. TV’s, inverter, tires, batteries, maybe AGM or lithium, shocks, etc.
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Old 09-03-2020, 10:24 PM   #14
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My 2000 Monaco Signature is more than I'll ever need. New units may be fancier and have more whistles and bells but it's the quality that counts. At the price I paid if everything came crashing down, I could walk away and not feel the financial loss.
I feel the same way about my 2000 Beaver Patriot Thunder. We've remodeled an awful lot over the 10 years we've owned her, but even with our initial purchase cost and all the remodeling we're still below the cost of an "entry level" new DP. And to try to replicate anywhere close to our CAT C-12 and Allison 4000 would cost >$500k in today's world. And we have real wood cabinets!

Last month we replaced our 20-year old A/C's with new top-of-the-line Coleman heat pumps. Now we have more than enough cooling power to go through the hottest of south TX summers and they should be able to cost effectively keep us warm this winter.
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