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SteveIC 05-17-2014 02:38 PM

1987 Ford Ecoline 350 Chassis
Good Afternoon Everyone,

My wife and I are looking to buy our first RV because we can't afford to drop $50k + on a new SUV and have to take our family of 5 on a few road trips this year.

Her friend and coworker is willing to sell us his 1987 26' Class C Ford Econoline 350 chassis, V8 engine, with 63,000 miles on it for $4500. After doing a little research, that is desperately cheap. He is selling because he and his wife just don't want it anymore. The RV has a 2 year old AC, and it has brand new shocks and tires. The interior is in decent shape and needs only minor work. All appliances including hot water heater work like champions. It does not come with its own generator (I will purchase one though).

I know nothing of RVs. I planned on getting one when my wife and I retire from the military in 10 years, but had not done any real research yet. I instantly was against this because it is a 1987, but after a little research it seems like most RVs last much longer than that. 63k miles is really low, but at 27 years old I'm worried that something will go wrong in the drive train.

So here is my question. Has anyone had any experiences with this particular RV? Is it worth spending the $4500?

If we do get it, I definitely plan on upgrading as much of the electronics as possible (I am an electronics technician type) but I know absolutely NOTHING on the mechanical side other than how to change oil, spark plugs and wires, and air filters. We would only have it for a few years because I want a Class A RV in about 10 years.

Thanks for any advice given. I look forward to becoming an active member of this community as I dip my feet into the RV world!

Aguyfromcalg 05-18-2014 07:35 AM

My first class c was an 86 coachmen Leprechaun on a e450 chassis with about 58000 miles. It ran flawlessly and everything in the coach worked well. The only thing I didn't know at the time was the roof leaked and it was delaminating.
That being said I don't regret buying it since I learnt a lot about owning and maintaining a RV, which helped when I bought my new one.
If you want to do some reading check out the vintage RV forum on this site.
Would they be willing to let you take it for a weekend or even better a week to try before buy?
Best of luck in your decision.

SteveIC 05-19-2014 01:09 PM

I later found out that it needs a dash A/C converter, a motor for the wiper blades, and the seal around the fridge needs to be replaced. Small stuff really as long as I can find the parts.

I think that I will be getting it. I can't find this same model with equal miles for less than $10k so I'm thinking $4500 is a steal. I was just worried that my anxiousnous to get into the RV world is making me rush a decision. I haven't even made a decision to purchase yet and I already have a list of upgrades to do!

Anyways, I appreciate the feedback, and look forward to hearing what anyone else has to say on it!

isaias_1 05-19-2014 04:47 PM

SteveIC I just bought a 1975 Dodge Sportsmans Tioga with the dodge 360 in it and I love it. I am sure I will need to do more repairs but that is the life when you own an RV. I am also military and have 4 years left to retirement, I can't think of a better way of getting started than with that 87 E350 sounds like a real steal. Let me know if you pass, I'll take it. lol

czhoener 05-19-2014 07:04 PM

Hello , we are in desperate need of a new potable water hatch for our 1982 holiday rambler presidential! Ive been searching high and low! Any help on how to locate one would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

mvcastro66 05-20-2014 04:22 PM

Two years ago I purchased a 1988 RV with a Ford E350 chassis for $5000. The previous owner was honest about what was new and what was broken: Refrigerator not working and AC not working. I live in the Pacific NW, do not need AC and can camp using a cooler till I replace the fridge. I simply had it removed and they capped off the propane. I can also simply plug in a dorm fridge if I need to. I did have to get the power steering and parking break fixed. I was VERY pleased with my purchase and she performs well.

borderboardr 05-20-2014 09:19 PM

SteveIC- the asking price of the RV seems about right if it's in good condition, maybe a tad high. You might check the NADA sight they have an RV section. I found my 88 Class B (Ford chassis) on there and was relieved to find I paid about what they valued it at. Remember the asking price is not always the selling price....

Keeping in mind a drivable RV has two major systems: the chassis and the RV. For the most part a Ford part is a Ford part is a Ford part, whether or not the chassis ended up as an RV. You can search the VIN on the Ford website to find out some things about your vehicle. Recently had some work done on mine when my mechanic noticed I had my original (1988) radiator hoses. Had them replaced. Good idea to carefully check and/or replace all hoses and the belt. (I hate serpentine belts- you loose the belt you loose everything)

If you're not real up to speed on RV maintenance of course there's a wealth of information on here and also check out Youtube. There are tons of "how-to" videos on there.

czhoener- did you check ebay? lots of parts and suppliers there. Also or I've had pretty good luck with all of them finding parts.

ffspread 05-26-2014 10:49 AM

I just purchased a 26 foot 83 Ford Econoline (Country Squire) 460CI with 68000 miles on it for 5g's a couple months ago. I replaced the carpet with vinyl, and am in the process of replacing the hot water tank. Other than that everything is great, and I feel that 5g I spent was a very good investment. It has a generator in it as well, so that made the pricetag a little easier to accept.
I have not regretted my decision once. You just have to remember that no matter what you buy, you will need to put some money into it.

The only regret I have is not buying one with a rear bedroom, the climbing a ladder to get to bed is going to get annoying soon.

isaias_1 06-04-2014 06:02 PM

Did you wind up buying the RV SteveIC? I'm dying to know how it went.

SteveIC 06-06-2014 07:08 AM

Hey Everyone,

Sorry its been so long on the update. My wife and I went to go see it this past weekend and it was beautiful. It was definitely cleaner than either of us expected, and there were only some minor rust issues on the outside. Roof was in good condition too. The downside was the engine had a hard time starting up. We decided not to pick it up solely because of that. I felt my ineptitude with mechanical issues would end up costing me a lot more money in the long run. We decided we will use that money as a down payment and finance a newer model.

Thanks for all the help and advice everyone gave. I really appreciate it and it went a long way in helping me make a decision on this =)

I'll be sure to stay active on the site and will definitely post pictures when we find the RV we are looking for =)


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