Beware of whims, or getting tired of looking. That's how we bought our first old moneypot for $13K in 1990 and spent $8K more on it the first year and never did get water damage, old generator fixed properly ,etc. You can get trapped spending too much money on an old rig and feel stuck with it, trying to get some use out of it, not able to sell it for what you have invested in it. If your goal is to have a rig with the length and floor plan you want, and that you can drive across the US and back in comfort and safety, or if you will never drive more than 200 miles, these are important factors in choosing and maintaining an older rig.
House batteries and converter/chargers are a potential problem in older rigs. Make sure that these things are in good condition and working properly as they affect how appliances work.If you will be willing to learn an do basic battery maintenance procedures, etc., you will avoid battery failures and paying somebody $100 per hour to do these preventive things for you.
Old rigs in "average" condition, sell for $4000 to $5000. Average meaning weathered exterior, worn/lived-in interior, appliances that are ten years old, and engine/drive train that may need work, i.e. engine cooling system, brakes, tires etc., but no water leak damage. You will have a carbureted engine that may not do well in high altitudes pulling grades.
If you buy one and invest $5K to $10K more in repairs and replacements, use it for a few years, you can sell it for around $5000. You can't recover most of money spent on repairs upgrades in an old rig.
If you can find an old rig like this, with length, floor plan, and features you want/need, it may be a a bargain for you.
I had a problem with a sticking, but not broken, Trimark paddle-type door lock mechanism. Contacted Trimark, the tech e-mailed me adjustment directions. After some fiddling, I got it working again, haven't had a problem since. Needed a deep 7/16 socket to adjust it as I recall.
Seems that ego and enjoyment of slight risk are a part of this discussion. I have driven #1 in a 23 footer and encountered hairpin turns where your rear end overhangs to other lane. Some of the scenery on US 1 is nice but a lot is rather desolate looking. US 101 is easy to drive with many small seaside towns and some really beautiful and famous redwood forest with nice state and US forest camp sites. There are usually road repairs every so often on US101 and some twisty areas that will need your attention. If you are an aviation fan, the Evergreen air museum is worth an inland diversion to McMinnville OR, the Spruce Goose and lots of other aircraft are on exhibit there. Tillamook air museum is nice but old and limited in aircraft, was a Navy blimp facility during WWII. You might like to stay at the KOA ranch RV park in Petaluma, CA, has shuttle service to San Francisco tourist attractions. Call ahead.
If you insist or must buy a rig that is older than 10 years old, you can expect that it has major house box and drive train issues like engine, engine cooling system, suspension, brakes, RV generator, fridge, roof A/C, furnace, etc., that will need to be repaired or replaced in the near future or need it now. If you can find a nice looking rig that does not leak and has had these items replaced recently, and seller has receipts, you may have a good buy. Owning and maintaining an old or newish RV is not cheap, it is an expensive hobby and like marriage, should not be entered into lightly.
Don't overlook Fleetwood Class C's. Not the greatest or the worst. Used by rental companies, sold in great volume. Try to buy a 3-5 year old rig from a private party who needs to sell.Learn what to look for and get independant estimates for ANYTHING it needs. Learn as much as you can about lengths, floor plans, and features of various popular brands. We prefer lengths about 27 feet for rear bedroom/RV queen bed, adequate cabinet and cargo storage,and usability for days at local parks, airshows, hobby events, etc. Shorter is cramped with poor sleeping accomodations, etc., longer can have weight and balance issues and may not fit your driveway. All are expensive to buy and own over time.All will need new tires every 5 years and major items will need repairs/replacement probably when around ten years old based on our experience. Mechanical breakdown/warranty policies are full of loopholes and require you to have have everything inspected/serviced at maker's recommended schedules and keep complete records to make successful claims.Instead,save money in a "Pearl Harbor" bank account for inevitable repairs and replacements.
I would cut a piece of plywood to cover bottom of sheet metal compartment,( to distribute battery weight), put battery in a battery box , and secure battery box to the ply bottom with removable aluminum L shaped extrusions to keep it from sliding around in the compartment. Would be nice to have some sort of slide-out feature for checking fluid levels and cleaning connections if there is no access to top of battery.
When you find the pump, clean out filter, turn on a faucet and see if pump runs. If it's the original pump, it may need replacement. If you want to upgrade to a higher flow rate pump, your wiring might not be heavy enough. If your rig has a little Intellitec pump controller device (probably located near the pump), you should be OK installing a bigger, higher amp draw pump. I recently installed a 5.3 gpm rated Remco 55 ARV model pump. Cost around $170,great water pressure for shower, etc., but noisy.
We currently own a 2004 Tioga 26Q that we bought new in late 2003. In the last couple of years we replaced the roof AC and fridge, fresh water pump, and most recently the awning fabric, house batteries and converter/charger. We also had to replace six tires this last summer. Some may get better longevity with major items, some worse. I still think that most buyers with average skills are better off with around a 3-5 year old rig unless they can find an older "cream puff" that has had most major cost items replaced and has been stored indoors. Just my opinions based on 24 years experience owning one old "moneypot" and one new motorhome. Your experiences may be quite different.
Hank, I am recommending that the OP and others like them save money until they can buy a much newer rig taking their experience and fixit skills into account based on personal experience. Meanwhile learn as much as they can and make an informed buying decision. A 15 year old rig can have a number of expensive replacements and repairs in it's near future such as, house batteries and converter, fridge, generator, awning, furnace, and engine, dash AC, engine cooling system, brakes and tires. Buying mechanical breakdown repair insurance and collecting on claims for an old rig may not be a good solution.
Your kind of post and these kind of replies about buying a used rig are routine in this forum. If you get good at using the search engine you should find enough "what to look for" info to write a "best seller" For people like myself with only basic homeowner, mechanical and RV maintenance skills, I recommend saving your money and trying to buy a popular brand rig that is around three years old, has everything working properly and if it needs anything,get cost estimates from an independant RV repair and/or truck repair mechanic.
Your goal should be to buy a rig that is long enough and has sleeping accomodations and is ready to suit your forseeable needs and usage. Remember,you need about a 27 foot rig to have comfortable sleeping in a rear RV queen bed room and adequate storage. Kids and guests sleep in the overhead bed and/or on the convertible couch or dinette. This medium RV size also fits into parking at local public parks, theme parks, local events, etc. better than longer rigs. There are very few Federal or State camp spots where a 27 footer is too long.
You have immense bragging rights, congratulations.I'll bet that you fixed everything along the way and you have a better than new rig because you know every nook and cranny, electrical and plumbing connection intimately.
Make a check list for the cockpit with stuff like this
Arrival: Check for any obstructions overhead and on sides when backing into a site. Fold side mirrors against rig if doable. Place a fool- proof signal flag on steering wheel that reminds you that TV antenna is up.Put receipt on post.
When you get ready to leave: Lower TV antenna, disconnect TV cable, shore power cable, and water hose from utility post and RV and stow before leaving. If you have sewer hose connected,put on sanitary gloves, dump tanks, and shut black and gray valves, rinse sewer hose, let drain and stow it, wash hands. Look all around and under RV and at utility post for your tools, lawn chairs, etc. Check and make sure awning is stowed and locked securely. Pick up any trash or dog waste. Take receipt off post and return at gate if needed, tell gate man that you are leaving. Write down site number for future reference if you liked it.
Our original T-105's went 10 years, overcharged by the original WFCO converter and running low on electrolyte a number of times. I just replaced the batts with somewhat cheaper US batteries and installed a new PD 9245 converter/charger with boost, float, and desulphate modes. I'll try to check electrolyte levels more often. I'm pushing 75 now, hopefully I'll outlast the new batteries.
No codes, good genset to ground connection, all house battery connections just cleaned/good, house battery disconnect switch and relay seem good. Will try to get clues from Onan manual and contact Onan if needed. Wish there was an "all you need to know" resource about care, feeding and troubleshooting of typical inter-dependant Class C genset, converter/charger, house and chassis battery setups. I know that I'm not the only RV'er non-engineer that gets bewildered.
I did find somewhat informative You Tube videos about troubleshooting of genset starting problems. I tried starting the genset from the panel today after running for over an hour yesterday, it started, so maybe problem will be mostly alleviated by more frequent running with load.
The two new 6-volt house batteries were fully charged as indicated by the charge wizard pendant on the new PD9245 converter. After four unsuccessful attempts to start generator from the panel near the kitchen sink, the charge wizard indicated that house batteries were in boost mode (solid green LED) I used the emergency start switch on the dash and the generator reluctantly started. Maybe the generator starter is actually connected to the house batteries and the emergency switch on dash connects the chassis/engine starting battery momentarily in parallel. I have noticed that IF the generator does not start quickly from the panel, AND if I try two or three times more, the starter stops turning over. If the genset has been run recently, it may start quickly from the panel. Generator carb has been serviced and oil changed a few months ago. Generator starter turns over much more vigorously from the starter switch on the genset itself. Have been motorhoming since the late 50's but need better understanding of my Onan 4000 micro quiet generator.
I notice that our 2004 26Q Tioga's Onan 4000 genset turns over sluggishly lately from the remote panel switch near the sink but turns over much more vigorously from the start switch on the genset itself. I imagine that this is because of resistance in the length of wiring from the remote switch to the genset. I also noticed that the genset starter is connected to the chassis starting battery, not to the house battery. The emergency start switch on the dash must momentarily connect the house battery and starting battery in parallel.
Is it possible that the generator start switch on the panel near the sink has become defective?
Most likely that you blew a fuse when you cut through the two wires going to the fan. Fuse is likely to be located in the power panel or in the house battery compartment. You should have a cheap Harbor Freight multimeter or equivalent for checking battery voltage at the two cut wires or other connections and for monitoring your house batteries voltage levels. You can also use meter's Ohm settings to check for good/poor electrical connections. Any RV'er needs to learn to monitor and maintain batteries, connections and electrolyte levels.
Ask your sister to take you along on a camping trip. If possible participate in planning, preparation, travelling enroute, arrival and setup, preparation to leave, arrival at home, and unpacking. An RV is a lot more complex and expensive to own and keep ready for enjoyable and safe use than a car or an SUV.
An older Toyota motorhome conversion could be a real "moneypot" unless you can do repairs and maintenance yourself. Small/short motorhomes lack storage/cargo space and comfortable sleeping arrangements. You need a 26-27 foot motorhome to have a comfortable rear RV Queen sized bed and storage without clutter. Longer motorhomes have more room somewhat less easy to park and maneuver. Take your time and learn before buying and know what any used rig will need and how much it will cost you before you buy.
Follow Up: Picked up my new PD9245C converter from Broken Wheel RV Parts store in Santa Ana($165 +tax) Installed new converter, forgot to hook up the remote "pendant". Removed new converter, plugged in pendant and made a groove in dinette seat top for pendant wire and attached pendant to side of seat base,near power panel. The pendant monitors which mode converter is in, fast charge, float charge or maintenance/desulphation by LED signals, button also can be used to overide and set desired charge mode. New converter seems to be working properly and charging my two new 6-volts in series US brand golf cart batteries ($100 apiece at Powertron in Santa Ana. My Trik-L-Start device is keeping the starting battery up drawimg some charge current from the house batteries. Instructions with new converter emphasize the need for periodic checks of battery electrolyte levels
with any kind of charging device including the "smart" PD9425C.