Is A 20 Year old MH Too old to buy?

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

gc24

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 27, 2005
Posts
53
Are you just asking for trouble eeven if its been gone through by a tech?
 

joelmyer

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 5, 2005
Posts
1,058
Location
Georgia
gc24 (Is that really what your Mama named you?),

There are folks on the forum who have owned older motor homes and I'm sure they will jump in.

Meanwhile,

You're almost certainly going to be into repairs.  If you're into that in fine, if not and you plan to pay somebody to fix anything that goes wrong then you should probably not go that old.

What is it?  There are some known nightmares out there.  Can you still get engine and chassis parts?

If it has been sitting unused, plan on replacing everything rubber (tires, hoses, belts,...)
 

Ron

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Posts
18,082
Location
Home is where we park it
I have seen more older motorhomes that are not bluebirds that seem to be doing very well than I have Bluebirds and I have seen many older Bluebirds that seem to always need some repairs.  I think the bottom line is how the previous owner has taken care of it and if they kept the maintenace up to date.  I am aware of a old rear engine gas FMC in Houston that looks and runs better than a lot of Motorhomes half its age including Bluebirds.

 

DougJ

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 7, 2005
Posts
549
Well gc24, we have a 15 year old class A powered by a F-460 engine.

Fifteen years ago it was its manufacturer's top of the line model, so it has some comforts: fridge / freezer, microwave, genset, solar panel.

However, at 13 years old when we bought it, it had less than 70K km and in retrospect that meant that it had not been used sufficiently--meaning the problems we've had I think have been "the snags" that come with under-use.  I know when I had my aircraft, it seemed to me that the pilot-owners having problems with their aircraft were owners who were not putting many hours on their planes.

Anyway, our pocket book wasn't deep enough for a new (or relatively new) rig, but able to handle an older unit even with repairs.

Ciao,

Doug
 

Ron from Big D

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Jan 30, 2005
Posts
1,777
Location
Dallas, Texas
Ron said:
I have seen more older motorhomes that are not bluebirds that seem to be doing very well than I have Bluebirds and I have seen many older Bluebirds that seem to always need some repairs.? I think the bottom line is how the previous owner has taken care of it and if they kept the maintenace up to date.? ?I am aware of a old rear engine gas FMC in Houston that looks and runs better than a lot of Motorhomes half its age including Bluebirds.

      Probably right with an FMC, but how about all the other stuff out there.  Few of the 20 year olds have a shell that will still keep out the elements.  The FMC is a one piece shell.  I would say there are a lot of GMC's out there too but almost all have been restored and are not original.

 

gc24

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 27, 2005
Posts
53
gc24 (Is that really what your Mama named you?), 

Funny, but no, it just happens to be Jeff Gordon's car number. If your not into Nascar, you wouldn't understand it.
Its 86' Southwind 454 Chevy, that is owned by a RV tech. He has replaced alot on it already.
 

BernieD

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 1, 2005
Posts
5,876
Location
Goodyear, AZ
gc24 said:
gc24 (Is that really what your Mama named you?), 

Funny, but no, it just happens to be Jeff Gordon's car number. If your not into Nascar, you wouldn't understand it.
Its 86' Southwind 454 Chevy, that is owned by a RV tech. He has replaced alot on it already.

OK, I understand. Jeff Gordon named you gc24 ;D ;D ;D

We're all framily here and usually use our first names or both first and given. :)
 

Jeff

Site Team
Joined
Apr 8, 2005
Posts
8,965
Location
SD/AZ
gc24:

My golden rule of RVing:

If you don't like to putter, don't buy a motorhome.

For the owner of a 20 year old RV it will be the Ten Commandments! ;D
 

gc24

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 27, 2005
Posts
53
Meaning, I am going to be spending alot of time fixing the MH?
 

julieM

New member
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Posts
3
I can tell you we have had ours 14 and are now looking for new because repairs are coming faster and faster - and harder to get parts.

i think it mainly depends on who owned it - and how well they maintained it.

when you say buy - you mean like for nearly nothing? cuz before 1993 has almost no blue book value.....for finance purposes.
 

DanMoore

New member
Joined
Jul 28, 2005
Posts
1
Location
Heartland of America
I think it depends on several factors:
1. Type or Model of unit.
2. Price of unit (I assume anyone considering an older unit is not blessed with the financial means to afford new).
3. How well the unit has been maintained.
4. How willing and able you are to do minor repairs yourself, (or pay to have them done).
Further explaining the above list:
1. I'd stay away from most anything which the manufacturer is no longer in business, especially oddball models which you have never heard of, and never see anywhere. If it is a brand & model you still see rather frequently, that is a good sign.
2. If you get lucky & find decent one for very little money, you are not risking too much, and don't have too far to fall.
3. You don't want to have to change an engine in any MH. Make sure oil is not thick or black, no knocks or rattles, no smoke from tailpipe on startup (unless it's a diesel, of course).
4. If you perform your own car maintenance, and do some household repairs, (paint, replace water heater, etc), you are a good candidate for owning an older RV.
Many of the repairs you might face are minor and easier to do then one might think. And you may not need to do any, or at least not many, if an RV tech took care of your unit.
We have a 1988 Coachmen Classic 31' unit, which we bought at a great price a couple years ago. Had several trailers before it.
Had 32K miles, 454 Chevy (a SUPER engine), had obviously not been driven a whole lot, but needed some minor fixing, still needs a bit more. It has worked out superbly for our needs, and been rock-solid reliable on several long journeys. Based on a GM P-30 chassis, (same as most of the old brown UPS trucks, I believe).
The good news for you, is that most of the appliances, fixtures, powertrains, etc are made by independent companies, not the RV manufacturer, so you can still get parts or replacement units for your A/C, Water Heater, Fridge, Engine/Trans, Generator, Range, etc. And replacing some of this stuff is so inexpensive, quick & easy it's surpising. Water pump? About $30, and 10 minutes, using channel-lock pliers, wire crimping tool, & a screwdriver. Oil change on a gas V-8 unit is about the same as doing a pick-up truck. I think you said it was a Southwind unit, which I see several of in that age range, in our area. I think they are less susceptible to water leaks/rain damage than most of that era, due to shell design. Good looking, too (In my opinion).
I'd go for it, if the engine is in good shape. Probably a 454, which will last forever if you do 2 things: 1. Keep the oil clean, by changing it often & using a good quality oil (Valvoline is unsurpassed in my 41 years of driving & working on vehicles), & filter (AC Delco, Fram or Wix. Use the longer 1 qt filter, not the short one). 2. Do NOT run this engine hard until it warms up. Really, these same principles apply to most any engine. I cringe when folks fire up & jump right out onto a highway. Not good for anything, especially a large engine pulling a heavy load.  Best of luck, if you buy it and you do need to diagnose or repair/replace anything, I am sure the fine folks on this forum, as well as fellow RV'ers anywhere, will be glad to help you out. -Dan.
 

IwannaRV

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 5, 2007
Posts
114
I've heard that all motor homes eventually leak. Is that true? How do you find leaks before damage has begun? What are the maintenance tricks to avoid leaks? I am looking at a 93 Gulfstream Sun Voyager 32' with about 75k miles w Cummins 5.9 190 hp with a 4 spd Allison on a Spartan chassis. What is something like that worth? Seller wants $23k.The engine seems to run very well and it drives well also. Exterior appearance is a 7 out of 10, Interior also 7 out of 10. Everthing supposedly works and all maintenance is up to date.  I know these ratings I gave are subjective but is the best I can do to describe it without detailed photos.

DanMoore said:
I think it depends on several factors:
1. Type or Model of unit.
2. Price of unit (I assume anyone considering an older unit is not blessed with the financial means to afford new).
3. How well the unit has been maintained.
4. How willing and able you are to do minor repairs yourself, (or pay to have them done).
Further explaining the above list:
1. I'd stay away from most anything which the manufacturer is no longer in business, especially oddball models which you have never heard of, and never see anywhere. If it is a brand & model you still see rather frequently, that is a good sign.
2. If you get lucky & find decent one for very little money, you are not risking too much, and don't have too far to fall.
3. You don't want to have to change an engine in any MH. Make sure oil is not thick or black, no knocks or rattles, no smoke from tailpipe on startup (unless it's a diesel, of course).
4. If you perform your own car maintenance, and do some household repairs, (paint, replace water heater, etc), you are a good candidate for owning an older RV.
Many of the repairs you might face are minor and easier to do then one might think. And you may not need to do any, or at least not many, if an RV tech took care of your unit.
We have a 1988 Coachmen Classic 31' unit, which we bought at a great price a couple years ago. Had several trailers before it.
Had 32K miles, 454 Chevy (a SUPER engine), had obviously not been driven a whole lot, but needed some minor fixing, still needs a bit more. It has worked out superbly for our needs, and been rock-solid reliable on several long journeys. Based on a GM P-30 chassis, (same as most of the old brown UPS trucks, I believe).
The good news for you, is that most of the appliances, fixtures, powertrains, etc are made by independent companies, not the RV manufacturer, so you can still get parts or replacement units for your A/C, Water Heater, Fridge, Engine/Trans, Generator, Range, etc. And replacing some of this stuff is so inexpensive, quick & easy it's surpising. Water pump? About $30, and 10 minutes, using channel-lock pliers, wire crimping tool, & a screwdriver. Oil change on a gas V-8 unit is about the same as doing a pick-up truck. I think you said it was a Southwind unit, which I see several of in that age range, in our area. I think they are less susceptible to water leaks/rain damage than most of that era, due to shell design. Good looking, too (In my opinion).
I'd go for it, if the engine is in good shape. Probably a 454, which will last forever if you do 2 things: 1. Keep the oil clean, by changing it often & using a good quality oil (Valvoline is unsurpassed in my 41 years of driving & working on vehicles), & filter (AC Delco, Fram or Wix. Use the longer 1 qt filter, not the short one). 2. Do NOT run this engine hard until it warms up. Really, these same principles apply to most any engine. I cringe when folks fire up & jump right out onto a highway. Not good for anything, especially a large engine pulling a heavy load.  Best of luck, if you buy it and you do need to diagnose or repair/replace anything, I am sure the fine folks on this forum, as well as fellow RV'ers anywhere, will be glad to help you out. -Dan.
 

Shayne

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Posts
4,324
Sounds like a real good deal if the price was about 10 to 12 thousand dollars less.  Seriously that was NOT a good unit when it was new let alone used or abused.  Run.  JMO






 

Shayne

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Posts
4,324
Also Gulfstream RVs are of poor quality.  Check the NADA for this unit and see it/s value  It's about 12K
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
74,316
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Way too much money. See NADA Motorhome Guide - the low retail is about $13,500 and that's the max I would pay for that rig. Even in pristine condition, which your description suggests it is not.  The 190 HP & 4 speed was an anemic performer and the Sun Voyager was not a top of the line rig to start with.

I think you can do better for $25k. Heck, you can get a much newer and nicer gas chassis rig for that, probably something 10 years old and more amenities too. And if you want a diesel pusher, you should still be able to get something better.
 

IwannaRV

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 5, 2007
Posts
114
If the Gulfstream Sun Voyager is not a very good unit, what are better 32' class A DP's  I should be looking at? I want a diesel pusher for sure and prefer a Cummins 5.9 with the mechanical inline P7100 Inj pump for reliability.  I know mech friends who know that engine and they highly recommend it. What are other good diesel engine choices?

What are the differences between the bad, good, better, and best MH's?

I'm learning here and appreciate the replies!
 
Top Bottom