Greetings All. I'm new, and want to buy a motor home. Please help.

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I know nothing

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Not sure if this is where I "introduce myself", but here it goes anyway.  I'm George from Las Vegas, the closest place to hell I ever want to be.
I own a 5th wheel but am looking at purchasing a motorhome for my wife to drive and stay in while she visits her son, daughter in law, and their 1st baby due in september 2018.  I could sure use some help making the decision on which one to buy and what motor or motors to seek out as well as which I should stay away from.  Currently I'm focused on a 1999 HR vacationer sitting on a lot. They want 10k for it but it needs work.  My biggest questions are, is the 1999 v-10 a good motor to push this 33ft motorhome down the road reliably and are there any inherent problems with this unit that I should know about?  Your help would be much appreciated.  Thanks, in advance.  George
 

SargeW

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Well, welcome. You have picked a very descriptive screen name! To start, give us an idea of your budget and you will get better ideas of what is reasonable. 

A added a bit to the title of your post to draw more focused answers.
 

viceprice

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My son and his wife just did something similar to this to facilitate their relocation from the east coast to the west coast. They bought a 1999 Class C MH on the Ford E350 Super Duty Chassis (66,000 miles when purchased). They traveled 4800 miles  through 11 National Parks.  The biggest expense after the purchase to prep for the trip was replacement of all 6 tires, followed by some front end work (ball joints and alignment - it may still need a steering box but they made it!). Had a trans fluid flush done, Had the chassis A/C charged. We changed the hoses and coolant, oil (went with full synthetic) and filter. I was very impressed with the V-10. He added about a pint of oil for the entire trip. The engine temp never got higher than the lower part of the "normal" range of the gauge (about 1/3 of the full gauge range - there are no actual temp marks).  I am a little bias toward GM vehicles but the Triton V-10 definitely won me over.

The next big expense was the fuel consumed - I have not heard the final average but it was somewhere in the 8-9 mpg range.  Use 10 mpg for easy math but I would go conservative with 7 mpg for true budget planning and if you get better than that - bonus! I can not get 10 when pulling with my GM 7.4L!  It is more like 8 on average.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Nothing wrong with the V10 per se, but any $10,000 coach is going to have the potential to be a money pit as well as a risk to your wife's travel safety.  Frankly, the V10 itself is a relatively modest concern among the many things that could be wrong or go wrong with a near-20 year old motorhome.  Alternator, starter, brakes, tranny, radiator, and tires, to name a few things.  Plus all the "house" stuff, a/c, water system, appliances, generator, etc.) and structural stuff (roof leaks, slideout mechanism, etc.). Since you own an RV already, surely you are aware of the complexity of the thing and the sorts of problems that can arise.

I would think that if its just your wife traveling for a visit,  smaller Class C or even a Class B would be the most suitable, especially if she doesn't plan to tow a car for her use.
 

Isaac-1

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Without opening the whole Ford vs Chevy debate, let me say that the Ford 6.8L V10 from that time period was overall and ok engine though you should be aware of their tendency to blow spark plugs out (google it).  In general in this era there was a back and forth trend between which was better the the Ford  / Chevy (later Workhorse) platform.  In 1999 I would say they work out about even giving Ford a slight edge on the heavier GVWR chassis, though by 2001/2002 the advantage moved to Workhorse with the 8.1L Vortec engine and the W series chassis, then Ford caught up by about 2006/2007.

Generally HR made a good middle to upper middle range coach in those years, though like others will tell you condition is everything, water leaks being the number one killer of RV's as it leads to very expensive to repair wood rot.

Having said all that, my gut feeling is to RUN AWAY, while it may be possible to find a $10,000 coach that is not a money pit, the odds are not good, and just get worse when you are looking at one being sold by a dealer.  When you start adding up the cost to fix the things that need to be fixed for safe operation you will likely be at over $10,000, this is before addressing functional stuff, and cosmetic stuff.

In addition to structural, engine, and suspension problems these sorts of coaches often have major systems not functioning, like the $1,000 roof top air conditioner, the $1,500 Absorption Refrigerator, the $4,000 Onan Generator, ...and while some of these may just need a small part to be repaired,  many will need replacement.

In the end my general rule of thumb is that for every dollar you spend over $10,000 on an older appropriately priced motorhome, it will pay you back double in money saved on repairs.    This of course excludes those unicorns out there where little old widow just wants the thing gone because it reminds her of her husband that dropped dead last week from a sudden heart attack.    Of course some seemingly unicorn coaches may also be money pits, when that same widows husband had been in declining health for years and that pristine looking coach sat and rotted waiting for him to get better so they could use it.
 

ArdraF

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George, you say you want to buy the old motorhome for YOUR WIFE to visit family.  I assume this means you will not be with her on this excursion.  If I'm interpreting this correctly, then I have to say it's a bad idea.  Is she mechanically inclined and able to fix things if she's stuck in the middle of nowhere with a breakdown?  I ask because an almost-20 year old motorhome could be a disaster, not just in terms of too many dollars spent to get it roadworthy, but your wife's inability to handle such a unit.  You have a fifth wheel but has she ever been in a motorhome?  It's a whole different ballgame!  We've been motorhoming for about 40 years and I've been actively engaged in helping my husband keep up the maintenance on our various motorhomes, but I would NOT appreciate being stuck with something that old, the condition of which is unknown.  That's especially true if I weren't familiar with motorhomes.

There's also a huge question about her safety in case of said breakdown.  Please don't tell me she can use her cell phone to call for help because there are still many places in this country that have no cell towers and therefore no cell service (such as the middle of Nevada).  Gary provided good advice.  If she needs to go alone, get something smaller and newer that is easier to handle and less likely to cause problems.  If I was alone and wanted to something like this, I'd definitely find something less problematic.

Sorry, I know this probably isn't what you want to hear, but my philosophy is to be better safe than sorry, and especially if your wife will be on her own.

ArdraF
 

SpencerPJ

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Not sure how long she plans to stay, but considering everything, including a lack of vehicle once there, If it were me, I'd pack my wife, have prearranged Extended Stay hotel  (Candlesuites aren't that bad, roughly $60/night), and not worry about everything else that can go wrong).  By the time you find, purchase, maintain, park, etc etc etc, depreciation, etc etc etc) ya just might reconsider  (OR, drive your 5th wheel there, park it, and Fly back to Vegas)
 

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