Purchasing soon? ...ok maybe not

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scottydl

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Wow, after all this research and online picture shopping I've done, I never considered how it would feel to *maybe* be close to actually purchasing a motorhome... I'm a little scared!  Found one for sale locally that sounds (from 2 phone conversations with the owner) quite attractive.  I'll be inspecting it personally in the next few days.  It's a 1984 Gulfstream Sunstream, 34' Class A.  All the more shocking to me because I was shopping exclusively for Class C's until just recently.  This is also a little older unit than I had hoped for, but the price is almost right and it sounds like it's been well cared for.  Owner says it hasn't been used much the last few years (the reason for selling), but it's been stored inside and he and his wife owned/used it for 10 years before that. 

Any comments or suggestions for my inspection, Gulfstream, or anything else?  I have the "Buying A Used Motorhome" guide printed out from the Library already.  Oh and the owner has already said it's overdue for new tires, so I know that going in.  That will be factored into my offer if one is made.  Just wondering about some other practical things/problems to check for, and want to make sure I ask the right questions.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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If you haven't yet learned how to read tire date codes, see the tire date entry in the RVForum Glossary. Checking the age of the tires is a top priority item, since a replacement set of tires is a big expense and very likley required on a older rig - especially one that has been sitting around unused.

Ask for maintenance records. Most people don't have them, but if they do that's a good sign that maintennace was performed on a regular basis and with attention to preventative measures (oil changes, etc).

Specifically ask the seller "Is there anything you know of that does not work or needs attention now to keep it running?" and carefully note the answer. Among other things, this gives you some legal rights if you do buy- anything known problem the buyer fails to disclose could be considered fraudulent.  But mostly it (usually) extracts a bit more disclosure than most sellers volunteer.

Try each and everyone of the appliances yourself.
 

Jeff

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In addition to what Gary suggested I would reccommend hiring someone to go with you to do an acceptance inspection to insure you know where you stand.
 

scottydl

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I already *know* the tires needs to be replaced (per the seller), although I am curious to read the codes and see how old they actually are.  I've watched the tire safety video a couple times and probably will again... reading the pre-2000 codes is still a little confusing to me.

Where can RV inspectors be found?  I assume if I call a local dealership (closest one is 15-20 miles away) that would be a place to start.
 
D

D2

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There have been some threads regarding the Gulfstream products.  You may want to do a search on Gulfstream/Gulf Stream (as I have seen it both ways) to see what others have said about this manufacturer.
 

Jeff

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scottydl said:
I already *know* the tires needs to be replaced (per the seller), although I am curious to read the codes and see how old they actually are.  I've watched the tire safety video a couple times and probably will again... reading the pre-2000 codes is still a little confusing to me.

Where can RV inspectors be found?  I assume if I call a local dealership (closest one is 15-20 miles away) that would be a place to start.

In addition to dealerships ask around local RV Supply stores or campgrounds for an independent certified RV repairman. Also some advertise themselves as "surveyors" for those purchasing RVs.

If you have friends nearby with years of experience in a similar RV you could use them to help you complete the Forum checklist for buying used RVs.
 

scottydl

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D2 said:
There have been some threads regarding the Gulfstream products.

I have read this one and it seems to be a mixed bag.  Some people won't touch a Gulfstream, some have had no problems.  I'd like to think that if a company's reputation/service/products are THAT bad, they wouldn't be in business for 20+ years.  And since I happen to be looking at a rig that is 20+ years old, I'm not concerned about warranties or customer service in general since any coverage is LONG since expired.  I also know from being an Admin at another automotive forum that sometimes they (the forums) are complaint generators... you may not hear from the thousands of satisfied owners, only the few that had terrible experiences.  Thanks for the warning though, it will be one of the many things I have in mind -


Jeff Cousins said:
If you have friends nearby with years of experience in a similar RV you could use them to help you complete the Forum checklist for buying used RVs.

Unfortunately this is not the case... my wife and I will be kinda like RV Pioneers among our friends and family.  :)  I got out of paying a home inspector when we bought our current house, because we know an experienced home-builder.  But this time I think I'll have to hire someone.
 

scottydl

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*Update on this unit*

Well the wife and I went and gave the '84 Sunstream a good, solid once-over last night.  Inspected every side and feature, talked with the owner for probably 40-50 minutes.  The Sunstream's highest asset by far is that it's been stored inside every winter (and the past three summers while not being used).  The lower body section (along where the storage compartments are) and middle trim stripe have been painted to match... it looks great for its age, really doesn't have that "groovy 80's" look inside or out.  The generator carb is being rebuilt, owner said it should be done by Monday or Tuesday and I can come back and run/test everything.  He says it all works but of course I know I need to double or triple check to be sure.  I declined a test drive last night, I figured I'd do that if I'm *really* interested and want to come back and see it again.

Some downsides I noticed:

It's got 19.5" wheels, only a downside because of tire replacement cost (vs. 16").  Anyone got a ballpark on that?  I've only seen figured here for 16" and 22.5" sets.  What would 6 decent 19'5" tires + mounting/balancing cost?

LOW mileage.  26k total, and the owner only put 3500 miles on it in 13 years of ownership.  Motorhome was started every so often while in storage, but not on regular intervals.  Obviously neither was the generator either, which is why the carb is being rebuilt.

No maintenance records on oil changes and such, just said he did them when needed.  He has a bunch of vintage cars so I believe he knows what he's doing with vehicle maintenance, just didn't keep the paperwork.

No specific maintenance on the water heater.

Fridge smells, I think it was ammonia (which I know means it's shot) but owner says it is very strong air freshener crystals kept inside.  They are there but I can't imagine the odor resembling ammonia.  ???


Owner seems fairly firm on asking price ($5250) although he seems like he wants to sell it too.  He BAD he wants a sale I don't know.  So is the answer to this purchase fairly obvious?  I guess if he would take $2500 or so, that would give me new tires, a new fridge, and new water heater if needed.  But I don't see him accepting that offer being very likely...
 

BernieD

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Scotty

Run, don't walk, away from this one. Actually the 19" tires are better than the 16s. Higher load rating and probably last a lot longer. Can't help on price estimate.

3,500 miles over 13 years is a disaster waiting to happen, specially since there are no maintenance records. Most motorhomes require at least an annual service regardless of mileage. Oil doesn't wear out but the additive packages in them to keep the engine and parts OK do. I bet the generator will need more than just a carb rebuild. Give it a pass unless you are willing to spend a lot of money bringing it back into shape.
 

Jeff

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Scotty;

As Bernie is telling you, every major system on that m/h is a potential replacement from not being used. Five grand is just a small part of what you could spend getting and keeping it in shape over the next year or two.
 

scottydl

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Yeah that's what I thought, just needed to see it in print from some of you.  ;)  Shame too, nice guy and a nice looking MH on the outside.  I think I got all primed up about this one a little prematurely.  :-\
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Figure around $300 or so each for 19.5 inch tires.  I think I would subtract at least a substantial portion of that $1800+ from the asking price, but as you say, the seller may not go along.  I would also plan on $100 for replacing all the belts and hoses (more if you don't do it yourself).

The online NADA guides go back as far as 1990 and show a value of about $13,000 for a 1990 34 foot Gulfstream. That suggests that $5000 is in the ball park for an 84 in good condition.  But an unused, older motorhome can be a risky proposition, for all th ereasons the others have stated.

Why do you think the water heater is suspect?  You didn't mention any problem other than "no maintenance".

IF the refrigerator checks out and IF the genset is running again, it might be worth considering, but only if you are a do-it-yourself type. If you have to pay a mechanic or RV tech for most repairs, the thing will bankrupt you in a hurry!
 

scottydl

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I'm a moderate do-it-yourselfer.  Belts & hoses, yes.  Oil changes, yes.  Bigger things too, but I stop way short of calling myself any kind of mechanic.  I posted this inquiry to the RV.net forums too (sorry, not trying to be a traitor ;)) and the water heater was mentioned to be an item that can easily go if it hasn't been winterized or properly maintained.  Any truth to that?

I think I forgot to mention that the dash A/C "needs recharging" according to the seller.. i.e. the system has a leak and probably won't ever work.  Overall I think I'd rather just wait for something that's been regularly used and maintained.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Of course any water heater could corrode or could freeze if left filled with water in mid-winter. But generally speaking, RV water heaters are pretty reliable and don't need much care. If I bought a used rig, concern for the water heater would be far down on my list once I had assured myself that it is in working order.

But you are probably wise to pass this one up, at least for now. Shop around some more and see if there are not other clean "oldie but goodie" rigs available.  You can always check back on this one in a few months and see if it is still around (odds are it will be).  If you can't find other rigs in decent shape body & interior wise, you can always reconsider this one.  And probably the price will be more negotiable too.
 
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