Advice re - potential purchase of 1990 Beaver Contessa

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Lili2204

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Joined
Mar 20, 2019
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3
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Goolwa, South Australia, Australia
Greetings all, my name is Liane from down under Australia  :)

This is my first post to this wonderful site and I have a few questions regarding the potential purchase of a 1990 Beaver Contessa Motorhome.

We are looking to purchase this motorhome for AUD $69,000.  It has been in Australia for quite a few years so has had the RHD change over and passed all the compliance requirements.  My question is related to the condition of the motorhome.  The seller lives about 2,000km from us and we are considering flying up to Queensland to take a closer look.  In the meantime the owner has sent through the 'ugly' photos upon our request.  They have informed us that the front window needs to be resealed, as you will see from the photos.  They have also told us that the clear coating is peeling off in some places.  Is this a bad thing?  My concern is if it has de-lamination going on.  It's hard to tell from the photos because I don't really know what I'm looking for.

I would really appreciate if some of you can take a look at the attached photos and give me some advice regarding these rigs.  I have also read that they have a 'throwaway' 3208 cat diesel with a 4 speed alison automatic - is this a bad thing?  It has done 150,000km to date. Apparently in good condition...just needs a little TLC in some places. I look forward to your feedback!

Many thanks

Liane
 

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SeilerBird

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Feb 25, 2012
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St Cloud Florida USA
You lucky devil. I have lusted over a Beaver for years. I love the cabinetry. I would not worry about the delamination. Just about every old RV has some. I had a twenty year old with severe delam and I drove it for years that way. Never did get worse. All old RVs have problems and if you are getting a decent price I would not worry too much. The engine sounds fine to me. 150k is nothing for a diesel, it's just getting broken in. 8)
 

Isaac-1

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Dec 3, 2016
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Location
SW Louisiana
When looking at an older coach condition is everything, the fact that the roof looks to have been fairly well maintained is a good sign (rot from water penetration is a prime killer or all RV's), though no substitute for a detailed inspection.  As to that throw away 3208 Cat engine, that just means they were not designed to be rebuilt every 400,000-500,000 miles in commercial truck and other industrial uses (generators, etc.) as it did was not a sleeved engine design, so at 150,000 km it should just now be getting broken in, though of course again condition and maintenance history is important here too.  Another important thing to remember when looking at any coach over 8-10 years of age is that they have lots of rubber components that tend to age out (dry rot) every 12-15 years, this includes the obvious belts, and radiator hoses, but also includes more obscure stuff, various suspension bushings, rubber air and brake lines, the propane regulator diaphragm, fuel lines, hydraulic lines, etc.  Then of course there are tires, which most experts suggest should be changed about every 7 years regardless of the amount of tread left.
 

Gizmo100

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Sep 28, 2018
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Welcome to the RV Forum Liane

I guess the only things I could add would be....You will need a source for parts and maybe service. Depending on what's available to you locally this could effect cost to maintain the RV.

Also check the tires for age. (Not wear). I believe 5 to 7 years is the max life for tires.

Good luck
 

SpencerPJ

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Nov 1, 2017
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Midwest
In the USA, according to NADA, a decent price estimator, a 1990 Beaver Contessa Motorhome is worth $10,000 USD, that's roughly $15,000 AUD.  To me, that seems awfully high of a price they are asking for that old of a unit with the rust it has around windshield. If water has been leaking in the windshield, hard telling what the damage is going to be. 
 

Willandgiselarv

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Jul 20, 2015
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Location
Fairfield, Ca
Looks like they tried to take care of it...
The price seems high for the unit..
If you are willing to spend this kind of money
For this RV inspect for water damage, the engine
At 150k miles I would want maintenance records..
I would look around to see what else is available.
 

Lili2204

New member
Joined
Mar 20, 2019
Posts
3
Location
Goolwa, South Australia, Australia
Thanks for all your replies and advice so far.  Unfortunately we pay a lot more over here for RV?s and caravans.  There?s no way you would pick up a retro fitted bus or RV for AUD $15,000, you wouldn?t even come close.  Most of them start at around $40,000 for older, good condition units.  We saw a retro fitted 1990 bus for $52,000 as well but preferred the fitout if the Beaver.

We also considered buying from the States and shipping over here but then we have to go through the whole compliance thing. 

I guess as long as it?s mechanically sound and no water getting in or hidden dampness, it?s worth considering?

Cheers

Liane

 

docj

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Oct 16, 2010
Posts
1,807
If you do go through with the purchase, there is a place in Oregon that specializes in supplying parts for old Beavers.  I realize that isn't as good as a local source, but it's at least one option.  The place is Beaver Coach Sales and Service.  https://www.beavercoachsales.com/
 

Lili2204

New member
Joined
Mar 20, 2019
Posts
3
Location
Goolwa, South Australia, Australia
UPDATE:

We decided not to go ahead with the purchase.  The RV was in good condition, just needed some TLC.  Motor was fine, the interior needed a tidy up, the front window needed resealing but overall not too bad.  It was the first American RV we had looked at so had nothing to compare it with re condition and price so we decided not to purchase.

We still prefer an American Class A so have been looking on the Internet.  We have a lot of homework to do, for example, in Australia motorhomes cannot be more than 2.5 metres in width (a lot of American RVs are more than this), rear overhang not to exceed 3.5 metres or 60% of wheelbase.  We are thinking of purchasing from the US and having it converted to RHD before shipping it out.  I think there is a place in LA that does this, including the compliance requirements. 

If anyone has any suggestions regarding which RVs are the best made, equipped etc for fully independent camping we would be most appreciative.  We are intending living in it indefinitely as we do the big lap around Australia.  Or if you know any places that have a good reputation for carrying out the RHD conversions etc.

Cheers

Liane
 

Chet18013

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Mar 5, 2005
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Full time in RV. Home is where we are parked
That Beaver is from their golden years. We had a 1991 Beaver for 19 years and absolutely loved the coach.  It is a very solidly built unit and looks good. Price is high, but probably OK for your location. Here in the US it would bring $25,000(US) max. If all the accessories work it will be a miracle.

Ask any questions and I'll try to answer them

 

Larry N.

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May 26, 2010
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9,131
Location
Westminster, Colorado
It occurs to me that almost any diesel class A in the US will not only need conversion to right hand drive, but will also need that front door moved to the left side as part of the conversion, a rather more extensive remodel than just changing the steering and instrument panel.
 

BusBrad

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Sep 2, 2020
Posts
1
Hello Liane,
I've only just come across your post.
Unfortunately I cannot see any of the photos you'd listed.
I live in northern NSW and purchased a (reportedly 1988, but possibly 1989 or 1990) Beaver Contessa Ambassador Edition motor-home from Grafton in April 2019, and it sounds very similar to the 1990 model you enquired about.
Would you please send email me with the pictures?
Thanks.
Kind regards,
Brad
 

SeilerBird

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Posts
16,701
Location
St Cloud Florida USA
BusBrad said:
Hello Liane,
I've only just come across your post.
Unfortunately I cannot see any of the photos you'd listed.
I live in northern NSW and purchased a (reportedly 1988, but possibly 1989 or 1990) Beaver Contessa Ambassador Edition motor-home from Grafton in April 2019, and it sounds very similar to the 1990 model you enquired about.
Would you please send email me with the pictures?
Thanks.
Kind regards,
Brad
Liana has not been here in a year and a half. I doubt she will see your message.
 

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