Ok, I want to ask about Alpha MHs

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Neva

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I am guessing that Alpha MHs are not very popular with the experienced RV crowd.  The reason I say that is that I don't see any discussion threads on them.  Is this true?  If so, can you give me some reasons why?  IN other words, what is your opinion of the Alpha line of motorhomes?  Be gentle, I'm new.

Thanks, Neva
 

Tom

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Neva,

Lots of folks own Alpha's, although I don't personally know anyone who does. The folks who own them usually talk highly of them. The Alpha has high internal headroom and several models have tall windows, both of which are nice features. We looked at them during our search, but passed on them, although I can't really recall why.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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We see quite a few on the road but don't know any Alfa motorhome owners (but we do have at least one Alfa trailer owner in this group). I've heard whispers of quality issues, but everythng was second hand and I'm not sure there is anything credible there.

Personally, I think the exterior is ugly and my wife (who is short) says she objects to the high-mounted cabinets. That pretty much scratched them off our list. But I see some pretty good deals advertised on used ones, which could make them tempting.
 
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Neva

Guest
Ok, so, it sounds like it is still on the list of possibilities.  I've been eyeing the So Long.  I like the floorplan.  I guess I need to get into the stuff you guys talk about like the chassis and the engine.  The price looks pretty good on them.

Some have suggested looking at used because the new ones generally have to go back for alterations or repairs for a while until the bugs are worked out of them.  Your library has a lot of information on what to check when looking for a used MH, but I don't understand some of it.  I'm not mechanically inclined.  I sort of understand some of the basics, but when you start talking about "excessive wheel bearing play" or "excessive freeplay in u-joints" I'm lost.  How do you actually check for those things?  It's nice to have a list, but I need a little more detail.  I really am just a single female with limited knowledge in this area, but I'm willing to learn.
 

Ron

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I went to examine a couple Alfa motorhomes with a friendthat was looking for their next coach.  Frankly speaking I was impressed but NOT favorably and my friend had the same negative impressions.  First of all do you want to climb up on a stool to get things out of the cabinets?  I know Sam wouldn't.  The bays seemed small because of the door design, lots of wasted space INHO.  My friend did not buy an Alfa.  I did have a chance to talk to an Alfa owner he thought it was OK but she seemed to really dislike it.  I might mention that he also said if they ever by another it would not be an ALfa.

Now I have never driven an Alfa motorhome or had anything to do with them except as noted above.  Personally I would not have one.  There are better choices as far as I am concerned.  We have at least one member that has an Alfa 5er and I believe they like it.  IMHO Alfa should have stayed with trailers.
 
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Neva

Guest
Ron,

Thank you for your feedback on the Alpha HM.? However, for me (being 5'10" tall) the cabinet height is not an issue.? I like tall.? It works for me.? I don't know about the bays being small.? I'll check into that.? I know Alpha has the basement air conditioner in one and another one set up with an outdoor tv and stereo system and storage.? Another is set up for large items like ladders and such.? And I believe one is set up with smaller compartments (dividers really) for smaller items like tool boxes and drills, etc.? I didn't think the compartments were any smaller than any other motorhome of its size.

I'm curious, did your friend tell you why he would not choose an Alpha again?? I mean, is there something wrong with the Freightliner chassis with 56 degree wheelcut or the 400HP Cummins 8.9L Diesel engine?? Or is his wife not happy with the tall cabinets??

I know that a lot of people don't like them because the cabinets inside are not top quality, and you are limited on choices for seating, etc. but practicality for me makes more sense.  I can change those things out once they are old and worn out.  I just need to get the most bang for my $2 bucks and I'm thinking chassis and engine are of major importance.  It has an Allison 3000 MH 6 speed automatic transmission with push button shift control (whatever that means).  Is that a good transmission?  What is push button shift control?  It also has something called a Neway Air Ride Suspension with Manual Deflation Valve and Sachs Shock Package.  What is that?

I'm not trying to be rude, I'm trying to evaluate whether this is a good motorhome to consider purchasing.? Your opinion is valuable to me since you are experienced in these things.? I just need measurable reasons for comparison sake.? Any assistance you can offer is appreciated.

Thanks, Neva
 

Ron

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I think the engine chassis is the only thing that he really liked.  As far as the Alfa motorhome goes he wasn't really that fond of it.  He had a lot of complaints many of which may have been prompted by his wife's dissatisfaction.  The door on the bays restrict what you can put in the bay. I am 5'11" and the cabinets are too high for me.

IMHO there are many much finer motorhomes in the same price range,  IMHO any new or used Newmar, American Coach, Tiffin coach, Country Coach, or Monaco would be far superior to any Alfa motorhome I have seen.
 
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Neva

Guest
Thank you Ron,  I'll definitely look at the other coaches you mentioned. 

For Ron or anyone else who wishes to comment:

I'll probably be looking at used ones since my wallet is a little thin.  Is there a particular time span I should consider?  A neighbor told me to look at MHs that are no more than 3 years old.  I thought about that and thought there are many older than that that are gently used with low miles.  However, some features might not have been around before a certain year.  With those considerations in mind, what would be a good rule of thumb to follow as far as age of the MH?  Or does it depend on the particular MH?
 

Shayne

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I have 3 friends that own Alfas? 2 of them? are the Alfa gold. None of them will buy another.? Quality has been extremely poor and warranty and service even worse.? One of them in 5000 miles it spent 3 1/2 months in the garage and still doesn't run right and this is do the Alfa add ons.? ?Another the ceiling fan fell down on them while traveling. Also when the slides all come in, it's very difficult to walk inside and sit on the couch, for lack of leg space.? Interior looks great but poor quality.? ?On a ranking of 1 to 10? ? ?Give it a 2 minus.
 

BernieD

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Neva said:
I just need to get the most bang for my $2 bucks and I'm thinking chassis and engine are of major importance.  It has an Allison 3000 MH 6 speed automatic transmission with push button shift control (whatever that means).  Is that a good transmission?  What is push button shift control?  It also has something called a Neway Air Ride Suspension with Manual Deflation Valve and Sachs Shock Package.  What is that?

I'm not trying to be rude, I'm trying to evaluate whether this is a good motorhome to consider purchasing.  Your opinion is valuable to me since you are experienced in these things.  I just need measurable reasons for comparison sake.  Any assistance you can offer is appreciated.


Neva

The chassis and power train (engine and transmission) are probably as good as you can get, tho there are competive coaches out there on Spartan chassis which is is just as good. We have one friend with a See Ya Gold and he has had more than usual service issues. The coach has a lot of eye candy but just doesn't come together for us.
 

Shayne

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Bernie  I sure wish I could sugar coat it as you did, but I call a spade a spade.  All I know is I sure don't want one.  Of Course then I drive a Pace Arrow  so what do I know.  The Lady is right is right tho in My Opinion to buy a used unit.  But before I send the $ for an Alfa  I'd sure look into Monaco, American Tradision, Newell, or Allegra if going diesel before anything else.  JMHO
 

Ron

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If I were shopping for a used motorhome I think I would confine my search to 1998 or newer.  We have an American Eagle and have been very happy with it.  American dream or American Tradition are also excellent motorhomes.  The thing that has always impressed me since we got the Eagle and gained experience with American Coach is that they treat all owners very well, might say like potential customers, and their service and support has been outstanding.

Another coach that would be a good candidate is the Travel Supreme like Bernie has.  I think they have been very satisfied with theirs.
 
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Neva

Guest
Wow, great advice.  Thank you all very much.  I hope I can find just the right coach for me.  I haven't made a decision yet, but will after I do some factory tours.  I think I'll follow Ron's advice and look at ones that are from 1998 to present.  See what's s out there.  I printed out the check list on buying a used RV.  So, how do you check for excessive freeplay in u-joints?  And, how do you check for excessive wheel bearing play?  ???
 

BernieD

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Shayne said:
Bernie  I sure wish I could sugar coat it as you did, but I call a spade a spade.  All I know is I sure don't want one.  Of Course then I drive a Pace Arrow  so what do I know.  The Lady is right is right tho in My Opinion to buy a used unit.  But before I send the $ for an Alfa  I'd sure look into Monaco, American Tradision, Newell, or Allegra if going diesel before anything else.  JMHO

Shayne

I sure don't understand how I sugar coated the issue. I said we wouldn't buy one. Just because a coach has a lot of eye candy doesn't make it a purchase candidate. As far as the drive train/chassis is concerned, many Allegra Bus, the Tiffin Phaeton (as I have been corrected :D) and lower priced Newells are on the same plaform. A good platform doesn't make a good coach.
 

Shayne

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Yeah but you stated it so eloquently.  I was really wanting to say they are a piece of Do-Do.  I just have no tact.
 

Karl

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Neva,

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Motor Home Shopping! Here you'll find opinions that range from the sublime to the ridiculous; all well meaning, of course. ;D I'll let those more knowledgeable and experienced give you suggestions on brands and features, but will touch on the mechanical aspects a bit.

First, let's clear up a misconception. In spite of all the 'tech talk' you'll find here, it really isn't necessary for you to become a gearhead to buy or own a motorhome. Like a modern, computerized car, the days of backyard mechanics have pretty much gone by the wayside. While there are some pretty well-versed techies here, the best we can hope to do is help you diagnose a problem and point you in the right direction for a fix (no, not a needle in your arm ;)). There are many things you can check and repair yourself but, for the most part, engine and drivetrain components are best left to the MH chassis mechanics. Appliance, a/c, heating, electrical, and plumbing problems are nothing new to us, so let us be your first resource before you spend your hard-earned dollars when our advice is free. Yes, I know that some people would say you get what you pay for.....

I'll try to answer a few of your questions.

If your MH has a front engine (not a diesel pusher) the engine is connected to the differential by a (usually) multi-section drive shaft; the pieces of which are connected by u-joints. To check for excessive play, which means worn out u-joint bearings, you would grab one section of the driveshaft near the u-joint you want to check with one hand, and grab the following section of driveshaft connected to the same u-joint with the other hand, and twist in opposite directions. There should be no rotation of either section; it should act like the two sections are welded together. If any slop is felt or seen, the u-joint should be replaced. If it is a diesel pusher, they use CV (constant velocity) joints that are almost impossible for the owner/user to check.

Wheel bearings are a different story. To check them for wear or improper adjustment, you need to jack the right (or left) front wheel off of the ground, firmly grasp the outsides of the tire at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock position, and try to move the wheel back and forth along the horizontal axis. You should get no movement. If there is some, either the bearing needs adjustment or replacement; neither a particularly difficult job, but not something you can do yourself. Rear wheel bearings are quite different from those on the front wheels, so checking them is not something you can readily do.
The good news is that both of these problems are fairly easy to spot while driving. If you hear or feel 'clunks' or slight jerking when you shift from neutral into drive or reverse, that could very well be u-joints or CV joints. Wheel bearing wear may cause the steering to wander or give you a front-end vibration. You may hear a rumbling or screeching sound coming from them. Of course, those things could indicate a lot of other problems too, so it's not definitive by any means. That's where the front-end alignment shop comes in.

The 'push -button shift control' is an option on Allison transmissions. Instead of having a gear selector lever, it's replaced by a panel with soft-touch push buttons for Neutral, Drive, and Reverse. It also has an 'up' arrow button to allow you to manually shift up one gear at a time, and a 'down' arrow for manual downshifting. Also included on the panel is a display which indicates which gear you are in, the transmission fluid level (O.K., 1(2,3) quarts low, or 1(2,3) quarts overfilled. Being an electronically controlled transmission, it does its' own fault/error detection, and will display fault information so you can have it serviced before major damage is done. Pretty smart!

Neva, look at lots of different MH's, determine which floorplan, appliances, and options a right for you, and ask lots of questions here. And never trust what a dealer tells you; they lie  :p
 

motojavaphil

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I'd like to slip a small footnote in here.  Hire an RV mechanic to go over a used rig.  He will know exactly what to look for and give you an idea of condition and repair costs.  Might cost you $100 but it will be the best investment you can make in the pre-purchase phase.  I say this in light of that is what I am going to do if I jump out of 5r's 
 
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Neva

Guest
Karl, thank you for the answers to my questions.  I have a better understanding now.

Phil's answer to hire someone else to check it, someone more qualified, sounds good too. ;D
 

Kirk

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Let me offer an opinon that comes not from me, but from a good friend. For a little more than a year, he was in RV sales while he recovered from a financial loss after going fulltime. He sold a number of brands of RV and motorhome and he went to the job with a pretty good opinion of the Alpha line. Today he has changed his mind. He now says that they have major quality control problems and that the factory does not support the dealers when they do a lot of the warranty work. I have not dog in this fight, but if it were me, I would think a long time before I bought an Alpha product.

I would also suggest that you consider joining the RV Consumer Group. They not only rate RVs by make and model, but they will also do a lot to help to educate you about how to rate an RV for quality yourself as well as what to look at to make sure that it is in good condition. It will cost you some money, but it could save you a fortune.
 
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Neva

Guest
Thank you Kirk.  And thanks for the link to the consumer site.   

Thanks everyone for your comments and my education.  I have decided against getting an Alpha.  You had me at, "IMHO there are many much finer motorhomes in the same price range,  . . . "  ;D
 
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