Newbie in need of help~

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AngBa

New member
Joined
Jul 20, 2006
Posts
1
Hi all - I've been browsing and searching around...  I'm looking at purchasing a camper - living in Wichita, you need SOMETHING to do.  Being a newb, we've decided to start off cheap and old, just to see what we like.  We have looked at several different FSBO campers in the area, but are having a hard time finding out the 'blue book' on them.  Currently we just looked at a 1974 Ford Mobile Traveler - it seems to be in decent condition (some work needed, of course) for $1,700.  According to the owner, the plumbing, electrical and water works great - there's a window a/c unit in the back - I just don't want to get ripped off...  For a beginner, I was hoping that someone here could help me out.  I've searched all over the web and can't find any info on this type of MH....

(if this is the wrong place to post this, please feel free to move or delete the post - just wanting some help  :)  thanks!!!)
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,535
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
There is no book value on an RV  over 10 years old. Value is determined solely by condition after that.  There are many 10-20  year old RV's that are still in good shape and prices are low. You can probably find something newer for a similar price, but if this one works as advertised it's OK too. Test out all the appliances and systems before you buy - run them all yourslef.

Be prepared to buy new tires - any tire at or beyond 7 years old is at the end of its useful life regardless of tread and must be replaced immediately. It will fail without warning! Check the DOT tire date codes on the sidewalls (see the RVForum Glossary if yu don't know aout tire date codes). Also plan on replacing all belts and hoses, flush the radiator, and purge and refill brake fluid and transmission fluid.

If you are a handyman, there is little you cannot fix on an RV yourself. If you are not, I would stay away from an old one cause you can go broke paying an Rv shop to fix it up.
 

Dave M

Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2005
Posts
7
Well, I am by no means an expert, but a could be considered an expert newbie.  About 4 months ago, I bought a 1975 Nu Wa at an auction in Lawrence and have been rebuilding it.  So, I now have a pretty good idea of how RVs are put together.

I am also pretty familiar with Wichita and understand your situation.

Mirroring the previous post, before looking at anything, I would ask yourself 'what am I good at fixing?'  RVs are intersting obviously becuase they invovle auto mechanics, construction, remodeling, plumbing and so on.  One of the best things I did, based on a reccomendation off this baord was purchase a book by Bill Estes' called "The RV Handbook".  I think it would be helpful even during the purchase process becuase it really spells out how things are put together and how they work. 

Being in Wichita, you have several campgrounds within a pretty short distance.  I am thinking of Cheney, El Dorado, Lake Afton and I think there are several commercial sites on West Kellog. 

I would offer to buy this seller some gas and the associated fees and go out to one of these sites and give it a run through.  Not saying take an overnighter, just run it out and see if everything truly works.  Start with setting up the campsite then use everything as you would on a full trip.  Literally go bumper to bumper.  Check all electrical switches and outlets.  Drop the bed down.  Fire up the fridge.  Use the toilet.  Turn on the oven.  Try out the sinks and shower.  Start at one of the RV and go to the other, then do the outside.  If you can do it on a hot day, all the better for testing the AC. 

Most importantly, check for leaks.  Engine and drive train as well as the holding tank system.  Look inside for leaks under the sinks and around the toilet.  Make sure and go to the dumping station and see if that all works.

Try and have one person ride inside and the other follow.  Make sure the engine temperature is running in the right zone.  Look for burnt tailights etc.

The thing is that a $1700 RV *can* be a good deal.  But, one or two repairs can turn that into a $2500 Rv or more pretty easily, especially if you are not prepared to do the work yourself.  A new fridge or a new AC can make that happen pretty quick. 

I have found that cutting corners for cost can really take away from your fun.  It might be easy to say soemthing like 'oh, we dont need a fridge, we will just use a cooler' but when it comes down to it, those things end up taking away from your experience. 

It is easy to wrap up money quick, and you might be better just spending that money on something that is ready to go.  Given the proximity of sites in and around Wichita, I personally would be pretty sceptical if this owner was not willing to take a couple of hours and go out with you to try everything out.

Thats just my 2 cents.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,535
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
But, one or two repairs can turn that into a $2500 Rv or more pretty easily, especially if you are not prepared to do the work yourself.  A new fridge or a new AC can make that happen pretty quick. 

Good point.  A replacement fridge would equal the cost of the RV. Even a rebuilt cooling unit for the fridge would come close. A new a/c would probably be at least half the RV purchase price.
 
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