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Author Topic: $500 to good to be true?  (Read 4690 times)

lucky#7

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$500 to good to be true?
« on: April 08, 2008, 03:54:40 PM »
Ok, please help us out.  There is a Mobile Traveler Chevy Van 30 here in town for $500.  I am going to see it today after work but the seller says that "everything works" and that they just don't have time to camp.  He says that he started to "gut it" to replace the shag carpeting with linoleum and just never had the time to complete the project. 
After reading through several older motorhome posts, I think I have an idea of what to look for.  We have never owned a MH before, we have always had pop-ups.  DH and I are relatively handy and could probably do a lot of the non-plumbing and non-electrical work ourselves.  We know that this is a true fixer upper but what do you all think.  Even if we are just buying a skeleton (I think it is in better shape than that) is it worth it?

Ron from Big D

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Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2008, 07:36:01 PM »
Be sure to set aside at least two to three times that value to spend before you even go out on a trip.  I'm betting the tires are too old to trust, all the fluids will have to change such as oil, transmission fluid, coolant, etc.. It will have to be lubed,  How long has it set?  Look for signs of water leaks in the shell.  It might have dry rot.  Make sure you look it over real good.  When a price is too good to be true, it usually is.

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scottydl

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Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2008, 08:41:03 PM »
You didn't say what year the van is, or what the mileage is.  Get any details you can on maintenance history (if there is any), and check out the big ticket items like tires, fridge, roof A/C and generator (if it has those).  Have the owner test all that stuff in your presence that is supposed to work, that way you know the truth and you also know how it works.  If you can, go look at it and take some digital photos.  Post them here and I bet you'll get some more feedback.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

Karl

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Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2008, 08:44:22 PM »
Also, don't believe that "Everything works". Try before you buy. You'll probably have to replace the propane tank, if equipped; all belts, hoses, battery, brakes, etc. If you're looking for a hobby restoration project, fine; just don't plan on any vacation trips anytime soon.
Karl (Cheesehead) Kolbus   Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "...holy cow ...what a ride!"

lucky#7

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Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2008, 10:06:00 PM »
Thank you for the advice so far.  I have a a little more info.  It''s a '76 with 70K miles.  No generator or A/C.  I had a mechanic friend of mine take a look at the engine and it checked out ok.  Said it could use a good tune up and there was a belt that needed replacing.
As for the rest of the thing - floor, walls, and ceiling are bare.  They ripped out the shag carpet that covered all.  The cabinet that housed the sink and stove is wrecked but the stove worked.  They say the fridge worked although we didn't test it (next time).  There is some evidence of a leak under it so we'll have to check it out. 
The tires are about 10 years old so we know that we'll have to replace them.  The toilet works but the shower head was taken off and all the spare parks including the broken kitchen drawers were stored in it so no testing that.  I didn't see any leaks in the systems but there was a roof leak at some time in the past.  Didn't leak with the small amount of water that we sprayed on it-- could possibly leak more in a heavy rain.
It hasn't sat longer than a few months at a time.  This was the second owner and he said that both he and the previous owners took it out several times each year. 
They had another bigger, newer MH in the back so I really think that they bought this to fix up and sell and realized is was too big a project to take on and wanted to get rid of it.  The wife told me she was tired of looking at it and gave DH an ultimatum....

scottydl

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Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2008, 07:55:07 AM »
Like Karl said, it depends on your objective.  That sounds like an awful lot of work, and it'll be awhile before you're camping unless you have nothing else to do and you work on this van full time.  If restoration is a hobby/interest of yours, then $500 isn't a horrible deal for a vehicle in decent mechanical condition.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

Lou Schneider

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Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2008, 01:33:34 PM »
Been there, done that.   Only in my case it was a 1976 Itasca Class C on a Chevy chassis with a cracked head for $400.

First, I fixed the head (a couple of cans of Fix-A-Head in the radiator, idle until the engine stops spitting water out the spark plug hole, then drain and let it set overnight)  ;)

Then I stripped the interior of all fabrics (including carpeting) and scrubbed down the rest with ammonia to cut the fried fish grease/smoking tar residue covering everything.

Following some repairs to leaking waste tanks, plumbing, etc.   I threw an inflatable mattress in and headed to Quartzsite.

Oh, yeah ... I didn't have any curtains so made do with black trash can liners.

I had great fun with the Trashcan for about a year and a half, until the engine finally gave out.   No, it wasn't the head, the radiator exploded climbing out of the Sacramento Valley on a 100 degree day.

Bottom line - have fun playing around with it, but don't invest more than it's worth and be prepared to walk away from it if/when major mechanical maintenance comes due.

« Last Edit: April 09, 2008, 01:35:43 PM by Lou Schneider »

Karl

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Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2008, 07:27:56 PM »
Quote
Bottom line - have fun playing around with it, but don't invest more than it's worth and be prepared to walk away from it if/when major mechanical maintenance comes due.
Sage advice, Lou.
Karl (Cheesehead) Kolbus   Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "...holy cow ...what a ride!"

lucky#7

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Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2008, 08:33:58 PM »

Bottom line - have fun playing around with it, but don't invest more than it's worth and be prepared to walk away from it if/when major mechanical maintenance comes due.

That is the attitude we are going into it with.  We'll do as much as we can afford for as long as we can.  Then hopefully we'll have the $$ to afford an RV that is not a fixer-upper.

Thanks again!

Frank & Vicki

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Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2008, 09:13:10 PM »
We owned a 78 Mobile Traveler on a Chev Chassis with a 350. As second owners we had it from 1980 to 2001. It was a 20 1/2 with bunk beds. We made numerous cross country trips, lots of Yellowstone camping, trips around Colorado. We loved the MH as did our son as he saw the country from the dinette as we traveled down the road. The MH was well built and had very few problems. No major water leaks, need to keep up with caulking the seams and the top vent. We added a Coleman roof air, comfortable front captain's chairs and a nice refridge over the years. The only engine issue I had was it liked to through fan belts. Just need to keep the belt real tight. Did loose the Engine Air Conditioner Compressor near Atlanta. On one of our trips we had some wet carpeting behind driver's seat. Found that there was a floor seam between front cab and MH that had separated and needed some caulking.
We had orange carpeting through out including the front ceiling over the cab over bed. I replaced the floor carpet with a light tan and it brightened up the interior.
Overall I think Mobile Traveler made a very good product for it's time. You didn't say which floor plan yours is.
Good Luck with your decision - Frank O.
2006 Itasca Sunrise 35A

lucky#7

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Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2008, 09:21:50 PM »
Hey Frank.
I don't know what our floor plan is but it doesn't have bunk beds.  It has an L shaped dinette across from the couch.  Do you have any good websites for more info on these MHs?  Also, what did you do with the fiberglass above the bunk when you removed the carpet?  What did you cover it with?


Thanks!

Frank & Vicki

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Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2008, 08:21:36 AM »
I did not replace the carpet over the front bed, only the floor. As you can imagine, that orange carpet was a real eye sore. In the 70's that was the in color but quickly faded in popularity. If I was redoing the area above the bed I would use a lighter colored fabric glued to some heavy cardboard and then cut to fit and glue to the ceiling. This is not a small job but if done right should look good.
Don't know of any single web site that has info on the MT. They were a popular MH in the 70's and early 80's but slowly got into financial trouble if my memory serves me correctly. They were in Junction City, Kansas (I think).
Frank O.
2006 Itasca Sunrise 35A

Gottasmilealot

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    • 1995 Sunline T-2053; 1998 Dodge Dakota 4WD
Re: $500 to good to be true?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2008, 10:52:50 AM »
The problem with some old RV's is not just the cosmetic needs, but many old non-fuel injected vehicles can't pass the required state emissions testing for inspection. You can fix them up, but if they don't pass emissions, you can't drive them, and you can spend a lot of money on just the emissions issues. Obviously, your state laws will apply, but it's something worth checking out.
Keith

 

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