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Open Roads Forum  >  Class C Motorhomes

 > Repair Costs on Older, Used Class C for long Road Trip

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wklose99

arlington

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Posted: 03/08/12 07:41am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So I posted a thread a few months back about taking an 8,000 mile cross country roadtrip:

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/25788758/srt/pa/pging/1/page/1.cfm

I have been fighting with dropping $20k-$25k into a used class C, or going with something cheaper and fixing it up some myself. I came across this on craigslist the other day:

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/mld/rvs/2887803626.html

And am seriously considering buying it. I could probably get it for $3,000, and that leaves much less of a risk than buying a $20,000 motorhome.

I was wondering how much typical repair costs are for motorhomes. For example, an earlier thread discussed replacing the roof for about $1,000 yourself. Is this something I could do on a 1990 motorhome, or would they not sell those roofs anymore?

I would also like to get this checked out by a mechanic and see what all needs to be replaced. How much do hydrostatic tests cost (for roof leaks)?

Also, how difficult is it to replace things like water lines and pumps, etc? I completely gutted my ford escape last summer to install an audio system, vibration damper, and other customized parts. It was the first time I had ever done car work but it was kind of surprising to see how simple everything is on the inside of a car. I can’t imagine it’s that much more complicated on an small class C RV, but I may be wrong. Any insight?

Ideally I would look to put between $5,000-$7,000 into it, bringing the total motorhome cost to somewhere near $10,000 total. I figure I can recoup much of this cost when I resell in a year or so as there seems to be a high demand for small, class C rvs on craigslist.

Thanks!

mowermech

Billings, MT

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Posted: 03/08/12 07:57am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

IMO, that's like asking "How long is a rope?" There are simply too many variables to give any good answer!
As for recouping your investment in a year or two, I really doubt it. It will be a nearly antique 20 foot motorhome, on a Chevy chassis (did Chevy make a 360 CID engine?). I think finding a buyer willing to pay $10K would be difficult.
You should be able to find a very nice rear bedroom Class C for under $20K (I did). But, before you buy, spend some time in it, thinking about how the floor plan will work for you. 8000 miles will take a while, will you learn to love or hate the layout of your RV? If, 1000 miles into the trip, you suddenly develop a strong dislike of sleeping in the over-cab bunk, with little or no head room, it will be too late (the bed in the rear was a major point in buying our Tioga!)
Good luck.


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Handbasket

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Posted: 03/08/12 08:05am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Random thoughts: If those are 16.5 inch rims, that'll limit your tire choices a bunch. Research this online before you go.

Get in it, do a sniff test for mold & mustiness. Take a bright flashlight and look and poke & push along the inside of all exterior walls, including inside all cabinets. Look under the overcab mattress, especially the outer edges. Get into the bunk and shift your weight around, looking for any give or spongy feeling. If it's got leaks, damage probably goes further down than just the roof.

Do a function test on all appliances, including the generator if so equipped.
Test drive on 4-lane among big trucks to find out how it handles. Check tire pressures first, against door sticker pressures.

'Asking' isn't 'selling'; offer $2k for starters. Older will yield worse gas mileage, so take that into account.

I'll bet it's a 350 CI engine, which is a 5.7 l, not the '5.9' in the ad.

Jim, "Two's company. Three's the result."


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tonyandkaren

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Posted: 03/08/12 08:15am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This really is an impossible to answer question. Something expensive could fail such as the transmission or engine or you might get really lucky and just have to fix some cosmetic things. The biggest problem with a used class C is water intrusion which may not be readily apparent and can cause major damage so check any motorhome that you're considering very carefully for any signs of water damage -budges in the outside walls ,ripples on the inside walls,discoloration and soft spots.

A RV roof is just like a house roof - studs ,wood sheathing and water proof covering which in a RV is rubber ,fiberglass or aluminum ,most commonly rubber. It's not difficult to repair just time consummating.
Here's a good step by step guide - http://memoryroads.blogspot.com/search/l.........%20%20Projects...An%20Introduction%20to

There's nothing complicated about working on any of the components. It's all similar to what you'd find in a house so if you know anything about carpentry,plumbing and wiring that's a good start.


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winnietrey

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Posted: 03/08/12 08:22am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I tend to be cheap, so I think I know your thinking. There are times to be cheap, but planning a 8k trip and buying a beat up MH is not one of tham.

Breaking down in the middle of nowhere, is going to ruin your trip. From your post it appears you are not a mechanic, That makes it really pricey to repair.

3k for the MH plus 5K in repairs, plus the giant hassel of fixing it and at the end of the day it's still worth 3k.

This MH could run forever, who knows? but the odds are against it,

My humble opinion, bite the bullet, buy a decent reliable rig, enjoy your trip without worry. Even then you have no guarentess, but you do put the odds in your favor. And say you spend 25k, you have a great time, and deciede to sell it when you get back. If you buy it right you can probably get very close to that, with no hassel and worry

skipnchar

Topeka or somewhere else

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Posted: 03/08/12 08:58am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There is usually a REASON for a motohome being priced very low but there is no way anyone on the forum can possibly give you prices for an unknown amount of work being done to unknown systems on an unseen RV. RV work, just like boats, motorcycles, air planes etc. are all specialty items and repair prices are usually quite high for trained techs. Parts are still not low cost for those who have the ability to do the repairs themselves.

About the only specific question I can answer is the roofing one. RV roofs are usually made from marine grade plywood covered by an EPDM Rubber or TPO vinyl membrane. All of those materials are in use today and readily available.

Good luck / Skip


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tatest

Oklahoma Green Country

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Posted: 03/08/12 09:00am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My issues would be:

1. Does the house leak?
2. Is there a clear title?
3. Has the house ever leaked?
4. Condition of chassis and running gear.
5. Have the leaks caused significant damage?

Water lines and pumps and wiring are not so likely to be a problem, and are not that hard to fix because connections are where the problems will be, and those are usually accessible inside cabinets.

This C appears to be of wood-framed construction. The good side of that is there are no wall panels to delaminate, and the skin can be removed if necessary. The bad part is that the wooden framing can rot, with major labor to reconstruct. But at least that can be done, when a laminated wall panel comes apart all you can do is inject glue and hope.

The asking price is really low, typical of 1970's and early '80s C motorhomes still in usable condition. That's why I have all the questions about leaks and potential for water damage. Late '80s to early '90s Cs in good condition have been trading at $6000 to $15,000, so that asking price is a real bargain if the shell of the motorhome is still structurally sound.

The roof will be a synthetic rubber fabric laid over very light plywood. You can readily buy the fabric and plywood. But on a 1990,it is unlikely that the roof fabric needs replaced on age alone. Roof leaks are not usually from fabric, leaks are at usually at joints and openings, whether roof or wall. The usual reason for rebuilding a roof is a leak at an opening has let the plywood, and sometimes the underlying structure, get rotten.

* This post was edited 03/08/12 09:10am by tatest *


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mikeleblanc413

Texas

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Posted: 03/08/12 09:30am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

wklose99...is Arlington in Texas? We recently purchased our Class C in Arizona. The day that our choices multiplied was when we began to look outside Texas. There were many excellent possibilities in Arizona, California and the Oregon area. When I went to Phoenix to look at the one we ultimately purchased, I had planned that if that didn't work out I had a half dozen others in the area to view. The original asking price was mid 20's...we agreed on substantially under 20,000. This is definitely a buyers market. I'd look for the cream puff that someone has babied for some time and is ready to move on. That was the impetus for our purchase. And much of the information I used to make decisions...came from this forum. The wealth of knowledge that is available amazes me every day!


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rehoppe

Denver & Nathrop Colo or somewhere else

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Posted: 03/08/12 09:53am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The worse news is, that generation of driveline tended to need Some form of overhaul, between 70K and 80K miles. In cars and regular PUs they were mostly good till 100K, but the MH is always running 'loaded'.

As previously mentioned, it probably will not appreciate, so don't plan on getting $10K out of it after the trip is over.

Now if it checks out mechanically. You can probably get 10K miles out of it and recoup your purchase price. Just don't spend a bunch 'rebuilding' it if you plan on reselling it. Tires have to be good. No water damage!!!!! Brakes good. All systems YOU need must be operable Without repair. etc....

If you are a handyman, and can do plumbing, carpentry, upholstery. You could spend a few hundred on interior finishes. But if you have to PAY someone to do it..Not so much.

You've seen rebuild threads on this forum. But remember, they don't plan on getting paid for their work. They want a MH that is their's, and not a resale item.


Hoppe
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garyhaupt

Back living in Kitimat..northern BC.

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Posted: 03/08/12 09:54am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you can buy it for the $3,000 you mentioned, buy it, put some okay tires on..safety is number one..and then drive the******out of it. Don`t fix anything, unless it falls off. Go on your 8,000 mile drive and then sell it for what you can get out of it. Don`t spend a freakin penny you don`t have to on it. If it burns oil, carry some. If it has a mould smell in it, spray the whole interior with a clear sealant....you get idea..


Gary Haupt


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