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Old 12-04-2020, 07:21 PM   #1
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1989 To DO or Not to DO That is the Question!Holiday Rambler Aluma-Lite M33RB Remodel

Newbie. First post ever. Just found the community. Thanks for the welcome!
I'm buying a solid but neglected vintage RV. Trying to decide whether to totally remake in my own style or try to restore it to closer to original. Former owners used it to live in but not travel. Front chair/couch is gone. Kitchen cabinets need replacement, etc. etc.
Not clear if this is a long-time ownership for me, as it's my first time out in my own RV and I expect I'll learn a lot - including how much I love the lifestyle, which I expect to, but know that I don't know what I don't know yet.
Purchasing for $3,500. Have a budget of a little more than that to get it into livable-for-me condition. (I'm handy, but out of practice. Like nice things but appreciate character even more.)
Open to your observations.
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Old 12-05-2020, 08:41 AM   #2
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Until you decide if you like the lifestyle do as little as absolutely necessary to make it usable. If it was parked for quite a while you need to start with the chassis, it's probably going to need tires, bearings packed, brake work, all the fluids changed, belts, hoses, batteries, everything that was neglected because it wasn't going anywhere. Just making it mechanically reliable will take a big bite out of your repair budget. Then do the minimum inside to make it reliable and livable and go camping, see if you like it.
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Old 12-05-2020, 06:24 PM   #3
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It is a great RV, while I am no expert on RV's I do know my way around reconditioning boat's/cars. The design is aluminum and it was very well done if you can do this yourself it is quite affordable and you can end up with quite a nice RV.

We have two RV's one big luxury land yacht and now its little sister. While the Imperial does not have pullouts nor an air ride suspension it will be by far more modern and just a comfortable as the navigator..well kinda...

As to affordability, I can assure you just the cost for new tires on the Navigator is more than the cost of the complete rebuild of the Imperial..
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Old 12-19-2020, 05:04 AM   #4
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Hello and welcome. Does the roof have any leaks? I'd look it over really good for water damage. If it has leaks you might have a big project in just repairing the water damage. Hopefully the former (or still current?) Owners took care of the roof.

Guy
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Old 12-19-2020, 12:17 PM   #5
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Roof's good

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gloomis View Post
Hello and welcome. Does the roof have any leaks? I'd look it over really good for water damage. If it has leaks you might have a big project in just repairing the water damage. Hopefully the former (or still current?) Owners took care of the roof.

Guy

Thanks, Guy.
Good news is, while it's past due for maintenance, the roof and seams all seem solid. There doesn't seem to be water damage, even around the window that needs to be replaced nor the windshield, which needs a new external seal.

If we get that far, internally I'll probably want to replace the entire roof because the super thin plywood used has started separating in a major way in the bedroom section. That seems due to heat and age, though, not water.
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1989 Aluma-Lite XL M-33RB
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Old 12-21-2020, 03:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EyezOpen View Post
It is a great RV, while I am no expert on RV's I do know my way around reconditioning boat's/cars. The design is aluminum and it was very well done if you can do this yourself it is quite affordable and you can end up with quite a nice RV.

We have two RV's one big luxury land yacht and now its little sister. While the Imperial does not have pullouts nor an air ride suspension it will be by far more modern and just a comfortable as the navigator..well kinda...

As to affordability, I can assure you just the cost for new tires on the Navigator is more than the cost of the complete rebuild of the Imperial..
I can assure you that is FALSE. I completely rebuilt a 1990 holiday rambler imperial 37 foot with the Ford 460. Unless your tires are $2000 per tire.
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Old 12-21-2020, 03:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoupsOn View Post
Newbie. First post ever. Just found the community. Thanks for the welcome!
I'm buying a solid but neglected vintage RV. Trying to decide whether to totally remake in my own style or try to restore it to closer to original. Former owners used it to live in but not travel. Front chair/couch is gone. Kitchen cabinets need replacement, etc. etc.
Not clear if this is a long-time ownership for me, as it's my first time out in my own RV and I expect I'll learn a lot - including how much I love the lifestyle, which I expect to, but know that I don't know what I don't know yet.
Purchasing for $3,500. Have a budget of a little more than that to get it into livable-for-me condition. (I'm handy, but out of practice. Like nice things but appreciate character even more.)
Open to your observations.
I fully remodeled a 1990 holiday rambler imperial 37’. I’m in love with it. All cedar plank interior, custom double bunk bed that is the couch and storage, bed room dinette kitchen all of it. Brought in a 7 deep freezer. You can get exactly how you want for the same price as buying someone else’s, IF YOU DO THE WORK YOUR SELF. If ya have any questions, just message me.
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Old 12-21-2020, 04:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argosy View Post
Until you decide if you like the lifestyle do as little as absolutely necessary to make it usable. If it was parked for quite a while you need to start with the chassis, it's probably going to need tires, bearings packed, brake work, all the fluids changed, belts, hoses, batteries, everything that was neglected because it wasn't going anywhere. Just making it mechanically reliable will take a big bite out of your repair budget. Then do the minimum inside to make it reliable and livable and go camping, see if you like it.
I agree to an extent with this guy, however, anything major like leaks can be hard to find, I didn’t see a massive leak until I pulled the walls and flooring up. There are lots of layers water will run between before it is visible on the surface, so check each and every caulking line for cracks and lines, I found just a pencil line on the seam seal about an inch long that caused total replacement of floor and wall. If the truck runs, and isn’t going to be driven around a lot, just make the engine and engine cooling systems sound, worry about the air bag leveling later, you can use 2x6’s in the mean time, if your water lines have a leak, you can’t live in it, if there is mold in the walls, you can’t live in it, you’re looking at $350 for wAter lines and shark bites with pex if you decide to put in fresh clean water lines. Why do I know? I did it. In august. In Dallas texas. Make it habitable. My rig to make it simply so I have basic amenities to mooch dock in the drive way cost me $5k, I have 3 hot water heaters of various power sources, new floor in the living room (250 for life proof floor installed on a 45 degree angle) I could have built the couch bunk chest for around $200 but I went solid cedar and it was $700. Bought a macerator pump for my black tank. ****ing waste of money $250, I just use the big blue tank that has wheels and a trailer hit ball loop once a week now. Works better anyways. That was $150. Had to build a kitchen table but salvaged materials so built it for $20. But you’re going to want sandeply mulberry from home depot for walls, it won’t rot. So if you ever do leak, it won’t mold. It’s $22 a panel., make sure if you take walls off, take them down by the panel, trace them onto the new sheets of mulberry and cut out the new one before you tear it up for trash. My walls turned into $37.83 per foot in material alone. I did all of the work and do all of the work on my rig unless I physically can’t because of lack of equipment. Massive lift etc. but
My engine is sound, (I drove it from Colorado Springs to Dallas after it sat for 15 years and all I did was change the oil and check the fluids) don’t worry right now about the rest of the chassis, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, if it aint imperative, don’t worry about it, make sure the water lines don’t leak, roof and windows and split seams and joints aren’t leaking, then get your propane system %100. That can be $1500 on the kinda high side. Then your electrical system working. That can vary from $0-5,000. Mine, I’d rather not say. I wasn’t happy, remember these are cost of Materials, no labor is included because I do all my work. Also I bought the best toilet on the market because I am very strict on my toilet requirements. Won’t even use a house toilet if it doesn’t have an elongated bowl, that was &300-$400 depending where you get it from. Then the shower head and custom built shower and, that was $70. My alternator was $500 specifically built because they do not make them anymore. That was to upgrade my amps to 200 off the alternator because it had a history of burning 120amp alternators.but it won’t burn this one. But I have a back up for it anyways. Then I had to hit every seam because if I didn’t seal it, it’s not sealed. That’s my philosophy. That’s about $60 to do and 16 hours to make it look good and do it right. I’m still not finished with”everything” yet, but there are some finishing touches that until I can get exactly what I want, I’m mot gonna put something else in. Plus I like having “something to do around the house”. I also like that I can change my yard anytime I want. It’s different, yes, instead of mowing the yard, you drop the black tank. Ya gotta pay more attention to the elements, inspect your “house” regularly. Treat it like an old Spanish galleon, it just needs to be taken care of in different ways but she’ll show you worlds you never knew existed.
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Old 12-21-2020, 05:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoupsOn View Post
Newbie. First post ever. Just found the community. Thanks for the welcome!
I'm buying a solid but neglected vintage RV. Trying to decide whether to totally remake in my own style or try to restore it to closer to original. Former owners used it to live in but not travel. Front chair/couch is gone. Kitchen cabinets need replacement, etc. etc.
Not clear if this is a long-time ownership for me, as it's my first time out in my own RV and I expect I'll learn a lot - including how much I love the lifestyle, which I expect to, but know that I don't know what I don't know yet.
Purchasing for $3,500. Have a budget of a little more than that to get it into livable-for-me condition. (I'm handy, but out of practice. Like nice things but appreciate character even more.)
Open to your observations.
I have the 37’ version of your truck. I got you.
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Old 12-22-2020, 03:42 PM   #10
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My logic in starting with the chassis were a couple of statements made by the OP- "I'm buying a solid but neglected vintage RV" and "Former owners used it to live in but not travel".

Neglect of the chassis will be far more problematic on the road than anything in the house. Unless you can look down the side and see a wall is bulging so badly it's ready to blow out chassis and drive train problems are what will leave you stranded. With a finite budget for repairs and upgrades paying someone to tow you so you can pay someone else 10X what it would cost for you to do it yourself doesn't make sense.

The OP also said this was a trial to see how the RV lifestyle worked. If it doesn't it will be far easier to sell a reliable running motor home that the OP can show has some recent trips on it than one decorated to his/her taste that essentially hasn't moved for years.
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Old 12-22-2020, 07:34 PM   #11
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Right on

Quote:
Originally Posted by Argosy View Post
My logic in starting with the chassis were a couple of statements made by the OP- "I'm buying a solid but neglected vintage RV" and "Former owners used it to live in but not travel".

Neglect of the chassis will be far more problematic on the road than anything in the house. Unless you can look down the side and see a wall is bulging so badly it's ready to blow out chassis and drive train problems are what will leave you stranded. With a finite budget for repairs and upgrades paying someone to tow you so you can pay someone else 10X what it would cost for you to do it yourself doesn't make sense.

The OP also said this was a trial to see how the RV lifestyle worked. If it doesn't it will be far easier to sell a reliable running motor home that the OP can show has some recent trips on it than one decorated to his/her taste that essentially hasn't moved for years.
Yep.

I'm still focused on getting the engine/chassis evaluated. It's been tough because I really need the help of a professional friend to check it out first, evaluate and help me create a plan - and his time is at a premium. After all, it's nearly Christmas.

The good thing is I'm not in a hurry at the moment. I gave that up after I first parked it and realized I've got currently hidden electrical issues.

First to identify the cause of that and to determine whether the alternator and generator are functioning properly. Then to evaluate what kind of shape the engine itself is in, now knowing it has one chamber that isn't firing at all - because the spark plug wire is 'gone'! Then to deal with the brake fluid I introduced to the brake system before I was aware it uses power steering fluid. And to figure out why the system was leaking in the first place and fix that and anything else in the brake system. Naturally, the radiator could use a flush and rodding. At some point fairly early in the process, to try to replace the gauges - or get them functioning.

Some of this I can do. Given time and patience and decent weather. But I'm not going to start tearing anything apart until I get a better sense of the big picture.

THEN, if that looks manageable and like it covers most of the work needed, THEN I'll start to deal with the coach. And that will start with figuring out the panels, appliances and electrical, because right now NOTHING is functioning as far as I can tell. Then to start to address the deferred roof maintenance, a new window, a complete door or at least frame, ceiling at minimum throughout the back, kitchen cabinets...

But once I know that the mechanicals and electrical aspects work or are at least within reach, the other stuff doesn't bother me. It can take as much time as it needs and I already have most of the skills needed for the 'building' types of work.

Wouldn't be as far as I am without all you guys. Thank you!
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Old 12-23-2020, 10:15 AM   #12
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I can respect that aspect of logic. It really comes down to “once the trigger is pulled the bullet is flying, but in what direction, that’s up to the shooter”
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Old 12-23-2020, 10:16 AM   #13
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Aha!! See now the truth comes out, this is why it wasn’t being driven, it’s got some serious mechanical issues. Yeah that’s where your $3,500 budget is going
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Old 12-24-2020, 08:51 PM   #14
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I wouldn't consider a missing plug wire a serious mechanical problem. Or the other issues you've mentioned. As you stated, have your friend check out the rig and go from there. Good luck!

Guy
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