Researching for first purchase

Discussion in 'Beginning RVing' started by bob1553, Feb 17, 2010.

  1. bob1553

    bob1553 Junior Member

    My wife and I are looking seriously at purchasing a used Class C or A in the next few months. We would use it during football season for tailgating at our local college football games and for relatively short trips on other warm weather weekends. Most trips would be with just us but may occasionally include other family members, including my elderly parents. If we really get into the RV culture, we might eventually go on more extended trips. With that background in mind, I have begun looking mostly through ads from private sellers. I have roughly divided what I am finding into two categories - those that are less than 10 years old, in pristine condition and are way out of my current price range; and those that are older, with relatively low miles but in need of various types of work ranging from cosmetic to major repairs. I have found a few bargains that are mechanically sound, but have other problems like water damage and faded paint. My main question is how to determine whether or not it is worthwhile to purchase what amounts to a "fixer-upper" and be able to get something that is basically functional now. Or should I continue to save my money and look for something that is in better shape already? I know I may be throwing a lot at everyone who contibutes to this forum, but from what I have read so far, there are a lot of you with way more experience than me at this, and I need all the help I can get. Thank you for any advice.
  2. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Re: Researching for first purchase

    Welcome to the forum Bob. Lot depends on how much of the work you can do. If you see water damage it's probably a lot worse than you think. This can be one of the most expensive to repair. If you have the time and can do it go for it but buy with care. Remember if the tires are 5 to 7 yr old they will need replacing regardlees of tread. If you dont think you will enjoy doing the work or have to send it to repair shops may be best to save and look for one that is in good condition. There are still some vry good used units out there if you take your time and shop around. Good luck and keep us posted.
  3. cougarkid

    cougarkid Senior Member

    Re: Researching for first purchase

    Well, there are a lot of things to consider when purchasing your 1st motor home.

    You are planning for some small trips and maybe more if you decide you really like it.
    That is a good start. Think ahead.

    Things to consider:

    1. In general....

    How will I use it
    How often will I use it
    How far an I going to travel
    How long am I going to stay
    How many in my party
    Campground stays
    Boondocking (overnight in a parking lot or rest area)

    2. What kind do I want/need....

    Big, meduium, small
    Hook up when I park
    Fully self contained
    Summer use
    Year round use

    3. Newer or Older....

    Ask yourself, "What can "I" do for repairs/maintanance?"

    Mechanical repairs (brakes, belts, shocks, tune-ups, etc.)
    Engine repairs (from a belt to a re-build)
    Appliance repairs
    Heating and A/C work
    Body work (including fiberglass)
    General carpentry

    4. What are you willing to spend....

    High price and fancy
    Medium price and "nice"
    Low price and needing work

    Set a limit and do your best to stick to it!

    There are a lot of RV's and a lot of different prices.
    There are some nice ones out there with low prices.
    But then there are some bad ones out there with high prices.

    Watch out for water damage.

    In conclusion....

    You have to be "comfortable" with the RV you buy.



    What ever you cannot do on your own will cost you to have done.
    And RV services cost a LOT! Go price an oil change.

    In 2007 we bought a 1989 Georgie Boy 32' Class A fully self contained.
    Didn't want to be tied to campgrounds. 2 adults and 2 teen-age boys.

    Bought if off of Ebay for $4925.00. It needed a bit of work.
    Ran like crap when we drove it home (300 miles).
    Needed fuel filters and complete tune-up with carburator rebuild.
    Brakes all around, idler arm, exhaust work, generator re-ringed.
    Wiring straightened out, climate control fixed.
    Only thing we paid to have done was a muffler - did the rest ourselves.

    As we were driving it home, a gentleman stopped help me get a tranny hose leak stopped.

    He told me, "Unless you are rich, you can't own an RV unless you are willing to climb under it and fix it, where ever it breaks!"

    He was right!

    We are living in it now.

    Happy hunting and good luck!
  4. rubbachicken

    rubbachicken Member

    RE: Researching for first purchase

    research is key, my wife and i are in a similar situation, i'm also thinking that a decent looking RV we can do camper swaps with people from different places across the world, it'll make for some interesting vacations :laugh: figure your budget, go and try out a few different styles {we are going to look at some in the next few days} when you know what you are looking for you can start to search ebay or the classifieds, not knowing what you like and what you like less might end up with you owning the wrong RV {wrong for you} and paying too much for it good luck with your search
  5. bob1553

    bob1553 Junior Member

    Re: Researching for first purchase

    Thanks for all the advice. I am now looking at a 1986 Itasca Windcruiser with 68000 miles. It has been unused and pretty much idle for a couple of years. The current owner inherited it from his father and has only started it about once a month to keep the batteries charged. There are a few issues that would need to be addresed immediately - the switchover valve is broken between the two gas tanks; there is a spring broken on one of the hydraulic levelers; the tires all need to be replaced. On the positive side, the engine and transmission seem to be in good shape, there are no leaks and the interior is in pretty good shape, especially the upholstery on all seating. The headliner has come loose in several places, from age not leaks. I have checked with a local rv dealer service department about the switchover valve and the leveler, and was told those are relatively inexpensive repairs. I would also expect to have a complete tuneup including new hoses and belts. The asking price is $4500, but I am planning on a lower offer, if I decide to make an offer. My question is, of course, how does this sound? I don't mind the age of the vehicle or having to do some work to clean it up. Over time I'm sure we would upgrade a few things. I'm a little concerned about how many things could go wrong after we would start using it again after setting idle for so long. I don't want it to become a money pit. So, any thoughts from the experts? BTW I found this one on Craigslist. I have found several there and weeded through a bunch that had major problems like water and/or body damage.
  6. wolfgirl

    wolfgirl New Member

    Re: Researching for first purchase

    that is a FEW problems?
  7. H2H1

    H2H1 Senior Member

    Re: Researching for first purchase

    I would offer 3000.00 he had nothing in it so that is all profit. Just tell him with all the expense would have to be done it would be way over what it is worth, Besides the money you save could be used for for you tires. I don't know what size they are, but mine cost over 2000.00 for six tires, so there your leverage on the deal.. Good luck :laugh:
  8. bob1553

    bob1553 Junior Member

    Re: Researching for first purchase

    Hollis & Maria,
    Thanks for your comments. $3000 is exactly the offer my wife and I came up with when we discussed the pros and cons. I am waiting to hear from the owner about a couple of things, and my brother-in-law has a buddy in the tire business who owes him a favor. If I get the right answers I may have a new to me RV.
  9. topdownman

    topdownman New Member

    Re: Researching for first purchase

    I know that money is a big deal, but I would think you'd be better off finding a nice newer motorhome in the $10-15000 range. Believe me, you're going to spend that much getting that one in shape for the road. If an RV shop tells you something is "inexpensive", run as fast as you can. Nothing is cheap. Tires are going to set you back a minimum of $150 each, probably more. If you need brakes and can do ALL the work yourself you're still looking at several hundred bucks in parts. That doesn't even take into account aged appliances like furnaces, water heaters and fridges that can start to fail at those ages. And, an RV that sits is more likely to have problems than one that's had the pants driven off of it. Also, look for high-end older motorhomes (i.e. Foretravel, Holiday Rambler, Blue Bird, etc.). Those tend to be better built from the start, so they hold up better over the long-haul.

    Remember, it's just an opinion. :bleh:
  10. bob1553

    bob1553 Junior Member

    RE: Researching for first purchase

    Well we took the plunge. We bought a 1988 Allegro with 28,000 miles and very few hours on the generator. The interior is in surprisingly good shape. So far all I have had to purchase is two new house batteries. I have also had the oil changed and radiator flushed and refilled. Next will be the rear differential and lubricating all the bearings. The service manager at the garage that is doing the mechanical work said the engine and transmission are in good shape including all belts and hoses. After I got the new batteries, the generator started up fine and runs well. Before, it had to be jumped to start. I'm still evaluating the house electrical system, figuring out the breakers and fuses. So far all the electrical outlets, the built in microwave and the air conditioning units work, but the inside light fixtures and refrigerator aren't working. I'm thinking the lights must be a fuse somewhere that I am not finding. The refrigerator may be a different matter altogether (ouch!). I still have to get the propane tank filled and check out the stove and furnace. Yes, I know there could be some expensive repairs ahead, but my wife and I are looking at it as a long term project that we will work on as we can afford it. Considering the initial investment, $5300, we can afford to spend some money gradually to bring things up to date. For now, it will be fine for tailgating and maybe some weekend "shakedown" trips. The suggestions made by all of you were very helpful in making the decision to purchase. Wish me luck!
  11. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Re: Researching for first purchase

    Sounds like you got a pretty good deal Bob. Good luck and have fun just be sure to ck tire date before going on a trip. The Allegro is a good rv IMO. Keep us posted on the repairs.
  12. musikfans

    musikfans New Member

    Re: Researching for first purchase

    Yep, good luck on your "new" rig! Two years ago we bought a 1996 30' Fleetwood Southwind motorhome for $12k. Everything works and we've had to do some fixer-upper stuff to it and some upgrading over time, but we're really happy with it. In fact we just took it in this morning to get an estimate on day/night shades. We put a new Dicor roof on it ourselves last summer and are pleased with the results. Also just installed a new china Dometic toilet to replace that yucky old plastic one, and I am very happy with that.

    It's pretty fun to get on the road and test it out and find out all the little ways you can make your RV your own. Enjoy it! :cool:

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