1997 Fleetwood Discovery - What do you guys think?

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ronhix

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Chicagoland
Hi guys,

I need to know if there are any known issues with this make and model RV.  Of course, the seller is singing praises about the unit but I need an objective opinion.  I need an opinion from the experts!  Is the pricing right?  Is there any issues that I should be aware of with this unit?

A little background:

As some of you may know from my other post, I am looking for a Class A diesel to facilitate my motorcycle track day habit and haul my 32' trailer.  I came across a guy in my area who is already doing exactly what I plan to do and this motorhome that he is selling is already setup (upgraded hitch and trailer brakes) to tow his 34' trailer and he has been racing events for the last two years.

I plan to go and do a visual inspection of the unit this weekend and I will be using the "buying a used motorhome" checklist guide to help me evaluate the unit (this site rocks!)

Here's the details on the unit:

$45,000
1997 Fleetwood Discovery
70,000 miles
37 feet long
24 valve 5.9 cummings 275HP diesel pusher w/6 speed Allision auto transmission
No slide outs
Real hardwood
Corian counters
New 8000 watt diesel generate
Never smoked in
No pets
Recently serviced (new water pump, exhast man., adjusted up end, changed filters on trans & air box).

Unit has two known issues
1.  Awning fabric is ripped and needs replacing
2.  May need new rear tires (not sure)
 

Jeff

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The 5.9 liter Cummins is a pretty light engine to pull the weights you are talking about. IIRC it has 610 ft/lb of torque and works pretty hard just pulling the Discovery over a hill.

Unless the tires have been swapped out they will all be ready for replacement also.
 

rhmahoney

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37' RV+ 32' trailer= 69 ft.

65 ft is legal maximum on highways.
 

Karl

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Besides the overall length that Russ mentioned, we need to know the various weight and towing ratings of the coach as well as the weight of the trailer and its' load. All should be available on the stickers/plates on the vehicles. Definitely check the dates on the tires; that could easily add another  $1500+ to your cost. Look in our library about tire dates and recommended replacement times. 
 

ronhix

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Chicagoland
Thanks for the input so far guys.  I'll check the Library for the tire info.  I've already built a spreadsheet using the Library article about calculating tow capacity so I will definitely be running those numbers.

Any known issues with the Discovery or the Fleetwood line in general?  Or possibly this year in particular.  Looks like the Discovery came on the market in 1996, so this would be the second year that Fleetwood built this model.

Freightliner chassis, so that seems to be a highly rated component.  24 Valve 5.9L Cummins and Allison 6 speed also seem to be good products.  Any weakness to the other components in the Discovery model that you guys are aware of?
 

BernieD

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Goodyear, AZ
Ron

The chassis and transmission are top of the line. The engine leaves a lot to be desired; in the area of hp and torque. You will have problems driving uphill even if you are not towing.
 

blueblood

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Good vehicle but way over priced. For same money could get at least 2 yrs newer with slides and ISB engine.
 

motojavaphil

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Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Ron, I think you would be paying too much for that puppy.  I went to rvtrader.com and put in your numbers and came up with some very nice, newer, used rigs in your price range with a slide or two.  I think you could do better.  The rv you are looking at is rated to pull 5000lbs and despite the upgraded brakes I'd be suspect.  I think it would be a handful to drive as well.  Maybe there is someone on this sight that has one and could comment.
Hope this helps, Phil   
 

ronhix

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Chicagoland
blueblood said:
Good vehicle but way over priced. For same money could get at least 2 yrs newer with slides and ISB engine.

motojavaphil said:
Ron, I think you would be paying too much for that puppy.  I went to rvtrader.com and put in your numbers and came up with some very nice, newer, used rigs in your price range with a slide or two.  I think you could do better.  The rv you are looking at is rated to pull 5000lbs and despite the upgraded brakes I'd be suspect.  I think it would be a handful to drive as well.  Maybe there is someone on this sight that has one and could comment.
Hope this helps, Phil

Thanks for the input fellas!  What would you guys consider a fair price for this unit?  The owner says that he owes $49K on it, but says he is willing to lose money on it to sell it.

Karl said:
Ron,
A little off the subject, but nice shot of you with the knee-puck to the ground! Have I maybe seen you ride at Road America, possibly with AMA? Almost looks like the Carousel (turns 8-10).

:-D 

Thanks for the compliment but I am not good enough to be an AMA pro.  I have raced Road America many times and you are correct, that pics does look like the carousel at Road America...however it is the carousel (turn 2) at Barber Motorsports in Birmingham AL.


 

Mblaster

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Since the guy selling is already using the rig for the same purpose I'd wonder why he is selling. Maybe not enough power?
I'd do some investigating. That being said if you can buy the rig right the motor can be modified to make more power. You have the 6 speed working in your favor. Crunch some weight numbers. Maybe it would work. Used Discoverys are popular entry DP's. You should be able to drive it for a year or so and not loose much value. Go over to PPL and check their sold prices. That will give you a idea of market value. IIRC the only negative would be the rubber roof. Maybe someone else can verify the rubber roof deal. Good luck.
 

ronhix

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Chicagoland
blueblood said:
Good vehicle but way over priced. For same money could get at least 2 yrs newer with slides and ISB engine.

What is the ISB engine?  Could you throw a couple of links at me showing a unit in this price range with the ISB engine that is a couple of years newer with slides?  Thanks!
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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ISB refers to the Cummins ISB engine, a fully electronic controlled 5.9L diesel which usually is configured to produce 300 HP. It's the more recent/advanced version of the same 5.9L block as is used in the 275 HP version you are looking at.
 

ronhix

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Mblaster said:
Since the guy selling is already using the rig for the same purpose I'd wonder why he is selling. Maybe not enough power?

The reason the seller is selling is that he bought a double stacker Renegade trailer so that he could haul 2 cars instead of one, he is also looking to upgrade to the Renegade hauler.  The Discovery is at the Renegade dealer (about 3 1/2 hours from me) and if I do not purchase it then it will be sold on consignment from this dealer...so I think the seller is being honest with me as far as his reasons for selling.

Mblaster said:
That being said if you can buy the rig right the motor can be modified to make more power.

How expensive is it to push this motor into the 300, 325, 350 range?  Is it advisable?  Does it adversely effect fuel economy and/or engine life?

Mblaster said:
Go over to PPL and check their sold prices. That will give you a idea of market value.

Year Model Sold Data
1997 36' 1997 Discovery By Fleetwood 230hp Cummins $41,000.00 Nov-06
1997 37' 1997 Discovery By Fleetwood 230hp Cummins $42,995.00 Oct-05
1997 37' 1997 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/Slide $45,950.00 May-06
1998 36' 1998 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp CUMMINS $45,950.00 Oct-05
1998 37' 1998 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins $46,475.00 Jun-05
1998 37' 1998 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins $49,000.00 Mar-05
1997 37' 1997 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins $49,500.00 Aug-05
1998 34' 1998 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/Slide $49,950.00 Nov-06
1999 36' 1999 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/Slide $53,950.00 Jul-06
1999 36' 1999 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/Slide $55,000.00 May-06
1998 38' 1998 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/Slide $56,950.00 Apr-05
1998 37' 1998 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/Slide $60,250.00 Feb-05
2000 36' 2000 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/2 Slides $61,500.00 Jun-06
2000 37' 2000 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/Slide $62,105.00 Jan-07
2000 37' 2000 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/2 Slides $64,995.00 Jan-07
1999 37' 1999 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/2 Slides $65,000.00 May-05
2000 37' 2000 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/2 Slides $68,950.00 Sep-06
2000 37' 2000 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/2 Slides $71,450.00 Nov-06
2000 36' 2000 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/2 Slides $71,500.00 Jun-06
2000 38' 2000 Discovery By Fleetwood 275hp Cummins w/Slide $76,950.00 Mar-05
2000 36' 2000 Discovery By Fleetwood 325hp Cummins w/2 Slides $77,995.00 Dec-05
2001 38' 2001 Discovery By Fleetwood 300hp Cummins w/2 Slides $78,950.00 May-06
2002 39' 2002 Discovery By Fleetwood 330hp Cat w/2 Slides $92,500.00 May-06
2002 38' 2002 Discovery By Fleetwood 330hp Cat w/2 Slides $104,950.00 Aug-05
2001 38' 2001 Discovery By Fleetwood 330hp Cat w/2 Slides $112,000.00 May-05
2006 39' 2006 Discovery By Fleetwood 330hp Cat w/3 Slides $140,000.00 Sep-06

The $45K he is asking looks to be pretty much in line with similar units sold, maybe a little high but not much.

Mblaster said:
IIRC the only negative would be the rubber roof. Maybe someone else can verify the rubber roof deal.

This rubber roof thing is completely new to me.  What is the deal with that?

THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL THE HELP!!!
 

Tom

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ronhix said:
How expensive is it to push this motor into the 300, 325, 350 range?

The cooling system will be a limiting factor when you try to increase HP on a given engine.
 

Ned

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Also, be sure the transmission will accept the higher horsepower and torque.  The chassis manufacturers make sure that all the components are properly matched and changing any one component will have effects on the rest of the drive train. 
 

Mblaster

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Tom said:
The cooling system will be a limiting factor when you try to increase HP on a given engine.
True. He should be able to push it to 300 with simple mods. I don't think I'd push it beyond that without radiatior work. A pyrometer and tranny temp guage is a requirement. Is the Disco a rear mount or side radiatior?
 

Jeff

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While he could get the HP up to 300HP I believe the torque will remain inchanged at 610ft/llb which will be a big limiting factor in towing and climbing grades.

IMHO he really does need more engine for what the use he has planned.
 

ronhix

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Chicagoland
UPDATE:

Since this unit was relatively close to me, my wife and I drove through dangerous snowy conditions today just to look at the unit. 

The unit looked just great in the pics and the owner had glowing praises of the unit. 

We got there and immediately noticed a huge "repair job" on the leather couch that was conveniently left out of all the pics and never mentioned on previous phone conversations.  The other couch also needed repairs. 

Further inspection revealed water marks around the edges of the ceiling all around one side of the back bedroom.

A crack in the shower unit wall, also was not mentioned during previous discussions.

In spite of these disappointments, we test drove the vehicle anyway since we had traveled 4 hours one way to see it.  As soon as we got it on the road it began to rattle and squeak all over and sounded like it was gonna come apart around us. 

The coach was priced $10K above NADA AVG Retail and the owner said he had done all kinds of upgrades to warrant the extra asking price.  After talking him down to $2K under NADA AVG Retail, we agreed to come and look at the coach.

We were sorely disappointed and a bit discouraged...but glad we learned a valuable lesson.
 
A PICTURE MAY BE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS, BUT A DETAILED VISUAL INSPECTION IS WORTH MUCH MORE!
 
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