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Originally Posted by enomrah
We are looking into buying a 1973 Overlander. We are going to be seeing it this Saturday March 26th and would like any advice you can give me on what to look for, any problems we need to look for an be aware of. Any help you can give me would be appriciated
The Overlander is one of the more popular, larger coaches. For many, including me, it is a nice compromise between physical size and towability. My first suggestion would be to check out the Price vs. Condition page linked below as it will give you some good outlines to follow during your inspection:
One of the critical areas with all Vintage coaches of the Henschen axle era (post-1961 to present) is axle condition. The Henschen DuraTorque axle is noted for taking a "set" if the coach sat for an extended period of time without towing, and the rubber rods within the axle can also wear out. The page linked below will provide information regarding assessment of the axle condition:
Basically, a thorough inspection should include:
1.) Inspecting visible portions of the frame (A-Frame Hitch/Rear Bumper and supports) for excessive rust or spalling - - some surface rust can be anticipacted and shouldn't be overly alarming.
2.) Checking for indiciations of hidden frame rust - - this isn't a precise method, but can be helpful - - utilizing a light-weight rubber mallet, tap along the bellypan along the frame rails listening for rattling that could be indicative of hidden rust spalling on frame rails.
3.) Check for evidence of frame separation or frame droop. Separation is probably a higher probability issue than droop. Separation can be identified by placing firm downward pressure on the rear bumper - - if the bumper moves independently of the coach's body, there is frame separation present - - this condition is repairable, but can be expensive (the cost on my Overlander for separation repair was around $1,000). Droop is less likely, but could possibly be present - - droop can be identified by unexplained ripples in the body of the coach near the wheel wells - - this can be accompanied by visible cracking of the frame near the axles - - there is a factory fix for this problem that involves installing steel plates on the frame where the axles attach - - again, it can be expensive (costs have been quoted in other threads of between $1,500 and $2,000).
4.) Examine the exterior for damage, or other issues. You will likely find that the Plasticoat is in need of attention if the coach hasn't been restored/refurbished recently. You can find numerous threads on the pros and cons of polishing elsewhere on the site - - professional polishing and Plasticoating runs in the range of $125 to $175 per linear foot (measured coupler to rear bumper). Dents, scratches, or rips in the skin typically are not easily repaired - - the two methods most often required are either replacement of the part or an overlay.
5.) Check the LP tanks. There is added value for the coach if they are aluminum (can be identified with magnet test); and the tanks should have modern OPD valves if the coach has seen much use in the last 24-months.
6.) Examine windows to verify that they are glass - - the wing windows, if broken in the past, may have been replaced with acrylic as the glass replacements are quite expensive. While the acrylic replacements aren't necessarily a reason to pass on a coach they can have a negative impact on the value of a coach.
7.) Inspecting the floor. There are several potential areas for floor rot - - near the entry door, in the one-stop service compartment at the rear of the coach, in the front of the coach under the front window, in the vicinity of the fresh water tank, in the bath area in the vicinity of the tub and/or toilet. A small awl used as a probe in any suspicious areas can provide evidence of soft places in the plywood.
8.) Basic interior check. Condition of cabinetry, floor coverings, upholstery, and window treatments. The more important issues are typically those which you do not plan on replacing - - tambour doors (the material similar to what was used in roll-top desks) need to be checked for operation as well as condition - - depending upon condition repair may be possible or replacement tambour material is readily available from at least two suppliers.
9.) Appliances. Are the appliances in reasonable condition and operational. If original, many of the appliances will be nearing the end of their service life. Those most frequently impacted by age would include the furnace, water heater, Univolt (power converter) and water pump - - the refrigerator and air conditioner are probably a little less prone to purely age related failures.
10.) Without confirmation via receipts, the following are typically considered normal expenses when acquiring a Vintage coach - - wheel bearing service and brake check-up (if can't be documented as having been done within the last year) - - new tires and valve stems (if it cannot be documented that the tires are less than five years old).
Good luck with your investigation!