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Old 07-02-2016, 03:33 PM   #1
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Today's DUMB question from a Newbie

I live in Mexico and wish to purchase an older RV - my '76 Dodge powered C class died due to being stripped while parked in our lot. It did not want to go over 55, hated ANY hill, absolutely refused mountains no matter how much money I spent on "engine work"!
My wife and I want to get a Class A - older, less expensive [have to watch the pension $$], but able to travel at 55, climb a mountain and get fair gas mileage for its size/age.... and virtually live in it full time until we find another spot in Mexico we wish to remain. I am 73... if that matters... the QUESTION IS:
How old of an RV can I buy that was not built to meet the Federal government 55 mph laws? Open to engine recommendations!!!
I can obtain a "Mexican vehicle permit" on an RV that allows it to REMAIN in Mexico for 10 years. IF I tow a car, it gets a maximum 6 month permit. Our idea is to pass our house on to one of our three kids - can't sell the @#$ place! Then using the motor-home explore Mexico going south until we find a small town we like and stay... buy a lot and build what we need... Make sense?
ANY HELP greatly appreciated!
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Old 07-02-2016, 03:49 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum! Wow, you have quite a request. Do you want a DP (diesel pusher or a gasser?). Try looking at a site called PPL Motorhomes. They tend to have a large variety of both types and a wide range of budgets.

How handy are you at fixing a used rig? Will you have to hire everything out? Biggest thing for us when looking was ABSOLUTELY no leaky roof. We found one at PPL and flew from MI to pick it up.

Tires are also very important. If they are over 5 years then you are looking at a big investment there too. Someone will come on and give some advice so keep checking.

Good luck!
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Old 07-02-2016, 10:32 PM   #3
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Thank you Beamisl... I discovered PPL and since I need to have a US license plate, and my son lives in Texas [career Army] I have a "fixed" address... The problem is my OLD, DEAD and GONE motor home had a big Dodge engine... but would not travel at "highway" speed - or even close, would not climb the mountains of Baja California - a mater of only a few thousand feet.. I figured since it was a product of the 55 mph time that this was the main issue... Is buying a late 80's or 90's RV going to move down the highway, climb a mountain??? While I would LOVE a nice diesel pusher, I figure I am in the bottom 25% of Class A gas.... The "PLAN" is to get a 10 vehicle import permission... and NEVER bring it back to the USA! . Having lived in Mexico a number of years, I figure they will lose the paper work way before the 10 years is up! Do I want a tag rear axle over 33 feet? Figure on 32-35 feet as they seem to have the best living for two... slide out or not ...
Alan - Mexicalialan
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Old 07-02-2016, 11:10 PM   #4
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I could be wrong, but I was unaware of any vehicles that were governed to 55 MPH. I suspect that your old RV was just old, any maybe underpowered even when it was new.

Mileage will be disappointing whatever you do.

Nine to 10 MPG is doable with careful driving on some RVs. A lot of gas RVs will be closer to 7-8 MPG. We have a diesel, almost 20 years old that I have (accidentally) had up to near 80 MPH. I will usually be not far from the speed limit on climbs, if it is safe to do so.

I have climbed some very steep roads in a friends gas 35-foot early 2000s vintage. Progress was slow but dependable - that is a lot of weight for a gas engine. Don't expect to run the speed limit up steep hills like you would in a car.

I don't know your budget, but the selection seems to get good around $20,000.

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Old 07-03-2016, 06:48 AM   #5
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I think a lot of your success with your plan will revolve around your ability to maintain the coach you buy - regardless of it's size or power. If your plan is to call somebody anytime there's a breakdown or something doesn't work, you may be frustrated pretty quickly - especially if those calls are delayed until they stack up so high you're in trouble.

However, if you're naturally attracted to do-it-yourself projects, with a long track record of successes, you may do very well with your plan.
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Old 07-03-2016, 05:17 PM   #6
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My older BlueBird wasn't governed for 55 but it was geared for it...55/60 was tops... Not because of engine but gearing. My new one will go faster than i dare...
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Old 07-03-2016, 10:20 PM   #7
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To: Dmurdock

I "think" that is what my problem was... in the 70's some time - and lasting until 1995 - the FEDERAL government mandated an interstate highway speed of 55 mph.... SOME states did not truly enforce it - like Nevada issued a $5.00 no points ticket for "wasting fuel"... I read some engines had a governor that prevented them from exceeding 55 mph... my Oregon state forest service truck was like that... just could not go over 55 mph except down a really steep hill! Ever have to get to a fire at 55 mph???
I wanted some reassurance/verification that those after 1995 [and some earlier] were capable of safe highway speed...
Thanks everyone for your input... NOW... anyone have make/model suggestions? Ford or Chevy?
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Old 07-04-2016, 03:49 AM   #8
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We committed to purchasing a 93 class A with the 5.9 Cummins. It has the Spartan Chassis with the 6 speed Allison. Everything I've read says they are slow to accelerate but once they are rolling they love 65 mph, sweet spot for the motor and gearing.

Diesel is good in Mexico as I understand it. So I would look at something in the nineties with the power train we are getting. A lot of manufacturers used that combination and a 35' didn't need the tag axle to carry the weight.

In my experience the one thing that can't be repaired effectively is delamination of the Fiberglas. If the coach has delamination I recommend running away if possible, unless of course there isn't any current water damage and you are going to keep the coach sheltered.
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Old 07-04-2016, 06:58 AM   #9
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I think what you're referring to as meeting the 55 mph laws is are just older RVs without an overdrive gear in the transmission, ie 3 speed tranny. I'm no expert, but I believe Ford went to fuel injection on the 460 engine in '88-89 on most chassis, and the E4OD transmission in '90-91. The E4OD is a 4 speed overdrive transmission that significantly lowers engine rpm at highway speeds. A Ford motorhome with this transmission will have a switch on the dashboard or on the end of the gear shifter that says OD off. The three speed transmission will not have that switch. Hopefully someone familiar with Chevy powertrains will chime in with transmission info if you prefer Chevy over Ford!
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Old 07-04-2016, 07:53 AM   #10
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Pre electronic control gassers get noisier the faster they go, it seems "pucker factor" determines top speed lol. Diesels you have to be careful with, re: top speed. Gearing, engine top speed and tire size will determine that. I worked for a guy once who had a 1989 F800 that he bought new but spec'd it wrong during the order process; consequently it had an absolute top speed of 57mph, not ideal for the Northeast Corridor where 75 is the norm...
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Old 07-05-2016, 08:15 PM   #11
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I doubt my coach would do over 55 without the overdrive. If you end looking at older diesels with 4 speed trannys, I'd make sure it also had an overdrive. I believe most were made by Gear Vendors.
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