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Old 10-27-2004, 02:26 PM   #1
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Question What to look for in purchasing a motorhome?

I have been lurking here for quite some time now, but never posted. I am looking to purchase an Airstream Motorhome for a trip I would like to take around the country with my children. I really love the Argosy Motorhomes ever since I first saw one drive past me. I know someone sellling a beautiful 1976 Argosy 24 ft. I have been for a ride in it and I loved it. He wants $12,500. Slighlty out of my price range. But, now I am hooked! I am looking to find one that I can do some of the restoration on myself. If anyone has any advice for me as to what to look for I would be appreciative. I am currently looking at a 1977 Argosy 28ft. That needs a little love, but runs. I am planning a trip tp go look at it and I was wondering, what are some of the things that I should look for?

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Old 10-27-2004, 02:55 PM   #2
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You said that 12,500 is slightly out of your price range. Let's say you extend yourself and make the purchase. What's your ability to afford repairs? While there are a lot of things you can do with your labor, you have some bigtime expenses to handle if you have to deal with suspension issues, tires, engine or transmission. You also have a major expense if the refrigerator needs replacement.

The reality is if the engine suddenly goes south, will your unit end up sitting in the drive or the storage facility if you can't afford the repairs?

It would be good for some of you with motorhomes to chime in on what kind of $$$ 2Alaska is in for if repairs or replacement is necessary for some of these major components found only in the motorhomes.

I know everytime I look at one of those big motorhome tires I think of how cheap my 4 will be on the trailer.

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Old 10-27-2004, 03:06 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by 2Alaska
..... I am currently looking at a 1977 Argosy 28ft. That needs a little love, but runs. I am planning a trip tp go look at it and I was wondering, what are some of the things that I should look for?
Drivetrain and coach condition are the most important......a $15,000 coach with new tires, engine, transmission, and appliances is worth much more than a $5,000 "project" that is (just barely) running.

All of the "niceties" - finishes, upholstery, bedding, wood, seats, etc, can be replaced with time.....a major breakdown could wreck your entire vacation (if you do not have a contingency plan).

Please do not purchase a vehicle and immediately set out on a cross country tour.

Remember that tires (about $300 each for good ones) should be replaced every 7 years - that's about 2 grand right off the line - worn front end replacement is easily that much - tranny? at least a thousand - brakes? - fuel pump? - carburetor? - the list is endless. The above are items that should be considered for replacement if the maintenance of a unit can not be documented. Occasional users have a tendency to "make do" - leaving a growing list of items for the "next owner" to correct.

Just trying to give you a heads up on the possible/probable costs of older MoHo ownership. For immediate gratification (and worry free travel) you may want to consider renting a MotorHome for a couple of short trips to insure the "right" choice for your lifestyle.

I think Steven Webster referred to the cost of purchase as ( entry cost) "to start spending money......"

There is ALWAYS SOMETHING going wrong with an older unit - be it a trailer or a Motor Home - that's just the way it is.

Again, don't expect to get a "cheapie" and not anticipate repairs - not to say that a cheapie would not be the correct choice for you - even the owners of brand new Trailers and MoHos have a fair amount of problems on the road.

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 10-27-2004, 05:36 PM   #4
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I agree...if your budget is tight and you have not much extra to play with the unavoidable repairs and redo you will face.. I would say stay away from a vintage MH until you are able to deal with that or plan on parking it while you work out the kinks over a period of time. If you spend more and start off with a better maintained rig you will save some grief in the long haul.
Even a well maintained one will eventually have issues, its a reality we face and deal with as it happens. Then it feels so gooooood when all is well.
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Old 10-27-2004, 07:37 PM   #5
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I had to chime in on this thread. My situation reads like this. i thought I got a great deal on my first vintage MH, a 1976 Argosy, when I spent about $4,000. At that time, I certainly didn't know what to look for in all the different systems. In a nutshell, when I got her home after an eventful 4 hour trip, I have had to rebuild the entire front end, 3 new tires, 4 shocks, front air bags and an edelbrock carb. I then had to install a new water heater, water pump, univolt converter, and a total replumb job because of several burst pipes. With labor, I think I have about $9000 invested and I am still anticipating installing new carpet with wood floor repair, new cloth on seats and couches and updating the countertop, along with new exterior paint. After all this, I still am in love with her. She drives great and her engine, even after 28 years and 50,000 miles, still has power. Would I do it all over again.
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Old 10-27-2004, 08:06 PM   #6
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Thanks for all of your replies and advice. I am planning my trip in a year and a half. We have taken many trips in pop-ups and travel trailers. I just love the idea of restoring a motorhome for the trip. My husband is a mechanic, but is not as in love with the idea of restoring one of these as I am. That is the main reason for no having already purchased the 1976 Argosy I mentioned earlier. We do have access to parts, mechanics, electricians, plumbers, and a body shop. I do sew and have redone the interiors of motorhomes often enough. I thought it would be nice to restore something ourselves over the next year and a half. At least we still have a while to figure it out. Thanks again.
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Old 10-27-2004, 10:24 PM   #7
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1977 28ft-66k Miles

Here is one.
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