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Author Topic: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?  (Read 722 times)

_Rusty_

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First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« on: September 20, 2017, 09:10:43 AM »
Never had one but always wanted to.  Looking at a '94 Pace Arrow for under $10k, thought it might be a good start and if I don't like it I'm not out too much.

That being said, I'm a bit concerned about the operating costs I don't see with an older 3rd vehicle on the road.  Insurance, storage, road maintenance, what else should I be thinking about?  Assuming everything is "perfect" (don't look at those cracked tires with factory tread) I really don't know what to expect with a second "home" but don't want to spend retirement in my "first" home.

Soon to retire  ;D

SeilerBird

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2017, 09:28:10 AM »
When buying an old used RV under $10k you can count of spending at least the purchase price to make it safe and roadworthy. Any RV that cheap always needs tires, a resealing of the roof and many other items. If it did not need these things it would be worth a whole lot more. That is the reason it is so cheap. You are buying both a house and a vehicle and no one gives one away cheaply if there is still a lot of miles left on it. Tires more than 7 years must be replaced. Tread wear does not matter. RV tires rot from the inside out. The roof endures the most damage in an RV since it sways back and forth the longest distance when driving and the seams all crack and start to leak. An RV should have the roof inspected and patched once a year and completely resealed every five. Most all RVs of that age have not had anything done to the roof in a long time. There are other problems and it really pays to have an RV mechanic make a complete inspection of the unit before buying it so you don't buy a complete money black hole.
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ConductorX

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2017, 09:46:46 AM »
I am hardly one to provide advice.  I just bought my third RV this past labor day.  My first "RV" was a 1981 Volkswagen Vanagon with the pop top roof.   I camped in it one time at a "campground" in New Jersey that was an RV parking lot with hook ups behind the Statue of Liberty.  My second RV was a fifth wheel TT and I lived in it for 2 years. Never camped and never took it anywhere.

This past labor day, my wife and I bought a Class A Motor home in Florida.  It came fully equipped and ready to travel and included a tow dolly to tow my car back home to Louisiana.  I towed our car with it as we evacuated from Florida.  In the first 20 miles we blew out a tire on the tow dolly.  I felt like I was on an episode of Road Kill.  I installed the spare and continued on.  My first campground was in Fort Meyers.  They were very friendly and helpful and gave us a discount for a one night stay.  My goal was to get towing lights for the car, a safety chain in the event one of the straps broke and a spare tire.  No spare tires available except tiny boat trailer tires.  We trudged on and made to another campground and spent the night.  Both campgrounds were very helpful especially when I told them I am very new and have limited experience. 

Upon arriving home I found this forum.  Since then I discovered that while my camper is very complete I need a bunch of stuff to make camping easier and towing my car less nerve racking and legal. 

Here is how the money is going so far:
If I need 6 new tires -  $600 each   
Spare for camper - $900.00
Spare for the tow dolly - $110.00
Extra lights for the tow dolly - $50
New tie down straps and ratchets - $300
Remote braking system - $1000
Tire pressure sensors and system - $500
Truck A/C and heater repairs - $400 (new heater core and control valve)

Can I go camping without of all this stuff.  Yes of course.  I can stay local buy things as I need them.  My wife and I want to travel all over the country and even go to Alaska by the ALCAN highway.  This is just like any of my other hobbies.   I want to do it well, I want to do it safely and I want to have the correct equipment.  I restore old Volkswagens, I have a full shop, two welding machines, lathe, milling machine and every wood working tool you can imagine. It all costs money. 

I did not go out yesterday and buy all of that stuff.  It accumulates.  I seem to be better at accumulating stuff than getting rid of it.

I wish you all the best and welcome to the RV world.
"CX"
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 09:49:07 AM by ConductorX »
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Isaac-1

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2017, 10:55:56 AM »
This is a hard one to answer, and while I tend to agree about all $10,000 motorhomes needing work, the truth is there may be the occasional gem out there, but by occasional I mean closer to 1 in 100, not 1 in 10 and even these gems may still need some freshening, and are always private party sales.

As to the cost of ownership, there are a lot of variables, the big ones are going to be can you do some / most of your own repairs, and do you have a place to store the coach?  The $100 per hour that most RV shops charge for labor can make even simple jobs expensive very quick.  On the storage side a lot depends on where you live, if it is open storage, covered storage, etc.  Insurance also varies from state to state, but on an older coach you should expect somewhere in the $700 per year ballpark, though it is a big ballpark.

As to my personal experience, last year after 5 or 6 months of shopping I bought a 15 year old small class A last year for $20,000 (total actual out of pocket was a little more as it was a thousand miles away in Florida from a private seller, call it $21,500 with retrieval expenses).  Overall I would describe its condition as very good, the previous owner had put over $10,000 worth of parts into it not counting labor since 2014 when they unexpectedly found themselves needing to sell.  So not exactly a $10,000 special, still in the first year I spent somewhere around $6,000 on maintenance and upgrades, I have also put about 6,000 miles on the odometer.  Out of the $6,000, $1,800 went to professional repair service which included repair of the brakes, the dash air conditioner, and a number of fluids changed.  Much of the remainder were small items, like replacing failed marker lights (sockets corroded), ranging up to installing new shock absorbers, and a lot of stuff in between.  Of the $6,000 I would say that about $1,000 was needed to be spent for safe operation (fixing the brakes, and replacing a leaking propane regulator, new CO detector ...), $2,500 to make operation much more pleasant (dash air conditioner, shocks, ...) and the rest were upgrades that fell more in the nice but not necessary side, such as adding a SeeLevel 709 tank monitor system, and LED headlights.
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SeilerBird

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2017, 11:09:25 AM »
This is a hard one to answer, and while I tend to agree about all $10,000 motorhomes needing work, the truth is there may be the occasional gem out there, but by occasional I mean closer to 1 in 100, not 1 in 10 and even these gems may still need some freshening, and are always private party sales.
I agree with this statement but there is one problem. A newby does not know what to look for when shopping the odds he will find that 1 in 100 are very slim indeed. It takes a lot of shopping and a lot of experience in RVs to pick out a gem.
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_Rusty_

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2017, 12:25:20 PM »
Thanks for all the Input!!

I haven't seen this unit yet, and hope to visit this weekend.  The story behind is she is a widow who will not drive it.  Sounds like it was well maintained but been sitting for 2 years.  NADA book average is 10,400.  I've worked in plant maintenance for over 40 years and only buy inspection stickers for my vehicles (always DIY). I've printed the checklist from the library and plan to spend a day or two going over things.  I don't know if there is a shop up there that will help me evaluate it, and being the weekend will make it harder still.

As far as 10k to buy / 10k to fix, maybe I should be looking for newer.  I doubt 20 k will find me much better for a first time purchase, and if I fail it will be more loss. (pessimist that I am).

Best wishes to all!

SeilerBird

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2017, 12:44:00 PM »
As far as 10k to buy / 10k to fix, maybe I should be looking for newer.  I doubt 20 k will find me much better for a first time purchase, and if I fail it will be more loss. (pessimist that I am).
If you buy a $10k RV and invest $10k into it you are out just as much as if you had bought a $20k unit to begin with. A $20k RV for a beginner is a much better place to start. And if you fail you will lose much less money selling it. Money that is put into an RV for repairs is never regained when selling it. For example here is a $20k Pace Arrow that is 6 years newer and probably much better equipped:

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/classa/2000-Pace-Arrow-By-Fleetwood-36057.htm
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sadixon49

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2017, 01:03:32 PM »
My thoughts on getting into RVing on the cheap follow many of these posts. Think of a $10,000 RV as a down payment on a $25,000 college level course in RV maintenance. By the time you're finished getting that $10,000 RV into shape, you will have spent $15,000, plus the cost of the RV, and you'll have an RV worth $10,000.
steve
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kdbgoat

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2017, 01:43:37 PM »
Unfortunately, the same can be said if one buys a $20,000 to $25,000 RV.
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_Rusty_

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2017, 02:00:42 PM »
.... For example here is a $20k Pace Arrow that is 6 years newer and probably much better equipped:

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/classa/2000-Pace-Arrow-By-Fleetwood-36057.htm

Is there any sites like this in the northeast?  I figured if I flew to FL I would find something, and TX is kinda out of my way also.  The ability to check out and shop from a thousand miles is probably not the best idea..

 8)

sadixon49

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2017, 02:01:41 PM »
Unfortunately, the same can be said if one buys a $20,000 to $25,000 RV.

Yea, but if you start with a $20,000 RV, it will cost less to get it into shape, lets say $5,000, so you've spent $25,000 on either RV but the second one is worth $20,000, while the first is worth $ 10,000. If you choose to sell and get out of RVing, you've lost substantially less money on the second RV.
steve
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Isaac-1

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2017, 02:02:24 PM »
My take is slightly different, though the end point is much the same

1, all RV's loose value and have a certain cost of ownership (storage, wear items, insurance, etc.)

2, after a certain age (12 years or so), condition becomes much more important than age.  This is not to say a 20 year old coach in the same condition as a 15 year old coach will sell for the same amount of money, as there are other factors that fall in between the numeric age and the mechanical condition, such as styling and equipment.  Generally from a drivetrain design point of view there have been certain landmark advancements over the years, engines have became more powerful, more efficient and more reliable, over the last 25 years or so transmissions have went from 3 speed, to 4, then 5 and now 6 speeds, then regardless how well maintained, stored indoors, etc. a cream colored coach with teal and purple accents is going to scream 1990's

When I went through my personal decision tree, I decided I wanted a gasoline powered coach built on the Chevy / Workhorse chassis, must haves were an OBD-II diagnostic interface, which meant 1996 or newer, and I strongly preferred the 340 HP 8.1 Vortec engine which was introduced in mid 01 over the 290 HP 454/7.4 Vortec that was built from '97 - '01, or the older 230 HP TBI 454 built from '86-'96.   Sure there were other improvements after 01, however the price premium to buy one of these I felt was too much.

Looking at Ford F53 chassis models I come up with  about the same year with the 6.8L V10 with PI heads, early versions had problems with the spark plugs ripping the threads out of the heads.

3, You are almost always ahead paying more for a well maintained and updated coach than you are buying a fixer upper.   

4, There are lots of parts in a motorhome that age out, anything made out of rubber should be suspect if still original after 12-15 years (tires after 6-7).     This includes not only the fan belts and radiator hoses, but lots of bushings  in the steering components, suspension even brake hoses that are prone to collapse internally as they get old, then of course there are the RV appliances, like the refrigerator, air conditioner, and water heater to think about.

5, higher end coaches age better than entry level models, full body paint lasts longer than vinyl graphics, fiberglass or aluminum roofs outlast EPDM Rubber roofs, solid wood cabinets outlast particle board, ...

p.s. 6. Inspect the roof in detail, roof failures due to lack of maintenance may be the number one killer of RV's, once they start to leak the coach quickly turns into a write off as the wood panels in the walls rot. 
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 02:08:11 PM by Isaac-1 »
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SeilerBird

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2017, 02:19:07 PM »
Issac summed it up pretty well. If you attempt to save money by buying a cheaper RV it will bite you in the butt. There are too many hidden problems with old RVs, especially with regards to rubber deteriorating.
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mrschwarz

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2017, 08:43:00 PM »
I also have a story to contribute. Our first motor home was a 1981 Foretravel for $9,999. Fancy name, but back then it was on a Dodge chassis with a 440 V8 with a giant Holley Carburetor. In two years, we spent more than we paid for it. For about a year, we had a great time with it.

The second year, was a little different. Thankfully, we had Good Sam towing service since we had to tow it twice that summer. It felt like we stored it at the repair shop since every time we used it, it went back to fix something else. When I was driving, my wife's job was to tell me the color of the smoke coming out the exhaust since it was on the passenger side. You know, black for gas, bluish for oil, white for coolant.

On the last trip we took, she looked out the window. She said, 'Are flames bad? I see flames'. When we towed it back to the repair shop, we went shopping for a new unit. We settled on a 4 year old Itasca Gas. With the financing, the payments were less than the repair bills.

Naturally, with a fancy Foretravel, we negotiated a very attractive trade. When I told the salesman what we had, he offered us $5000 for the trade. I asked if he needed to inspect it to verify the trade in price, he said, naw. I image it is sitting on a deer lease somewhere today.

My advise...spend a couple of bucks more. You'll spend more time camping and less time on the side of the road.
Michael

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ArdraF

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2017, 05:23:13 PM »
Quote
The story behind is she is a widow who will not drive it.  Sounds like it was well maintained but been sitting for 2 years.

As much as I would like to see the widow helped by purchasing her motorhome, the fact that it sat for two years is very important.  Motorhomes don't like to sit - they're better off being driven frequently.  You need to find out where it has been stored.  If it's in a desert environment the rubber components probably have dried out.  Wood cabinets also may be dry and perhaps even cracking.  Also, learn how to read date codes on tires before you go to see it.  Sometimes tires sit in a shop for a year before they're bought so the "new" tire isn't really new because we don't judge RV tires by their tread but by their age (the aforementioned rotting from the inside out).

If you like what you see on your visit, then try everything to make sure it works.  Having working parts would be a plus, not working would be a negative and maybe $$.

ArdraF
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_Rusty_

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2017, 08:08:21 AM »
There is a wealth of good information here!  Thank you all for contributing!  :)

I am shifting gears a bit, now looking at a 2001 Tiffen Allegro that is closer to home (Central PA). (34 ft. 2 slides)

I cannot find a floorplan Brochure for this year's model (Tiffen website goes back to 05),  Does anyone have a source for this?

SeilerBird

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Alfa38User

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2017, 08:25:19 AM »
Do a Google search for the make and model. Several sites that may show up with those details are PPL, NADA, RVTrader.

On edit, Seilerbird hit the jackpot!!!
Stu
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RV newbe 1

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2017, 01:22:28 AM »
My wife and I retired last year and would like to do more camping.  I've been looking on Craigs List at 30-year-old RVs for around $5K.  After reading all these posts, it sounds like a pretty stupid thing to do.  I am very handy and have done a lot of car/home repair, but at 67 I sure can't do physically what I used to.  We can't afford to spend anything even close to $20K, and we don't want to take on any payments.  I guess we better just rent an RV a few times a year.
Signed, "Burst Bubble"

Isaac-1

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2017, 02:28:39 AM »
A $5,000 motorhome will almost always be a "hunters special" it may have some life left in it, but is not economical to repair.  May work fine to drive 50-75 miles to the lake a few times per year, assuming the tires are not too old and dry rotted, that the brakes have been maintained, etc.  Usually there will be rot, which is not economic to fix, but bandaid patches to minimize further deterioration may be possible.  However in no case should one expect to hit the open road with one and expect to get to ones destination without some type of failure.  Usually at least one major appliance system will not work (generator, air conditioner, water, fridge,...), they will almost always have peeling and faded vinyl graphics and paint, along with various squeaks and rattles.
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Kevin Means

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2017, 01:14:15 PM »
My wife and I retired last year and would like to do more camping.  I've been looking on Craigs List at 30-year-old RVs for around $5K.  After reading all these posts, it sounds like a pretty stupid thing to do.  I am very handy and have done a lot of car/home repair, but at 67 I sure can't do physically what I used to.  We can't afford to spend anything even close to $20K, and we don't want to take on any payments.  I guess we better just rent an RV a few times a year.
Signed, "Burst Bubble"
We just got home last night from a nearly week-long RV trip to the Colorado River (275 miles each way). My nephew and his family (who live 1/4 mile away) went in their motorhome - a 1992 Elite, which he bought two years ago for $5000. After buying it, he had to replace the tires (it's a 34 footer with a tag) the converter, the batteries, the brakes and a handfull of other items, so he did have to sink a few thousand additional dollars into it. He did the work himself, so he saved a lot of money on labor. A month ago they drove it from San Diego, CA to Salem, OR in 100 degree temps, towing a Jeep on a trailer to watch the eclipse, and had no problems at all.

It sat outside most of its life, so it's nothing to look at, but we have found no signs of leaks (lots of additional Dicor, so it was maintained) and the drive-train and cooling system seem to have been well maintained too. It's an old 454, so it's not going to win any mileage competitions. Both AC units work as do all the appliances.

My point is, if you look around, pay close attention to the expensive-to-repair stuff, and you don't mind not having a shiny new-looking RV, you might find one that works well for you, especially if you can do a lot of the maintenance yourself, and you're realistic about what you've bought. The real troubles start when you don't know what you're buying, you don't know what to look for, you're not capable of fixing things yourself and you're out of money.

Kev
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RV newbe 1

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2017, 06:27:09 PM »
Issac-1 / Kevin, thank you for your input.  I think we'll keep looking and reading a lot more in the forum to educate ourselves about RVing.  I certainly am glad to have found this site.  I did not have any grand illusions about a $5K RV, but I realize now I need a lot better understanding of all the systems involved.  Thank you again for your invites and moral support.

garyb1st

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Re: First Ever Post - First Ever Camper/RV... Should I?
« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2017, 11:18:29 AM »
Never had one but always wanted to.  Looking at a '94 Pace Arrow for under $10k, thought it might be a good start and if I don't like it I'm not out too much.

Your comment tells me you're not strapped for cash.  When I bought our first motorhome, a 1999 Rexhall with 72,000 miles on it, my thinking was pretty much the same.  If it's a total bust, I'm only out $12,000.   Something that would give me pause, but wouldn't begin to break the bank.  At the end of the day, we drove it just under 30,000 miles and the Ford F53 with the early V10 ran like a charm.  Aside from tires, batteries and typical maintenance, it cost us maybe $3-4,000 for the 3 years we owned it.  Most of that was to replace the black tank, $2,500.


Quote
That being said, I'm a bit concerned about the operating costs I don't see with an older 3rd vehicle on the road.  Insurance, storage, road maintenance, what else should I be thinking about?  Assuming everything is "perfect" (don't look at those cracked tires with factory tread) I really don't know what to expect with a second "home" but don't want to spend retirement in my "first" home.

Soon to retire  ;D

Don't think many spend $600 a tire on an old gasser.  We paid half of that and never had a problem.  Liability Insurance and storage dependent on your location and if a concern, you can get real life numbers from an insurance agent and calling a few storage facilities.  Any number you get here pretty much meaningless based on the limited information in your post. 
Gary B1st

2005 Pace Arrow 35G
2016 Jeep Wrangler

 

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