Is it worth it?


Old 01-30-08, 12:02 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 5
Is it worth it?

We are looking at buying a 79 pacearrow for $700 that the owner was in the middle of remodeling. Right now it is a mess with visible insulation and wires hanging, the guy is suposedly a roofer and has completely redone the roof because it had a leak in the past.

They say the wiring is all redone (it looks newer) and it has all new paneling up on most of the walls, and a custom woodwork design floor that just needs to be sealed. All of the cabnets are still up, they say it has a good engine and that the fridge, stove, etc all works, and that they took it out once themselves and know the previous owners.

They say they need to sell it fast because of landlord issues and they need money.

The husband who is doing the remodel wasnt home when we looked at it and he should call us later today, but I would like to know what we should ask him and what to look for to make sure we are not getting into a bigger mess than we can handle.

The roof does look redone, but it looks like it might not be finished around the seams on the sides. It has been snowing here and it was dry inside so it is not leaking but it may be wet if the rain gets in the seam when it is moving.

The battery is dead and the fuel pump was not attached for some reason, (we will ask why when he calls) so we havent heard it run yet but will before we buy it.

We would replace anything cloth or foam, but I think I can make most of this stuff.

How can we check the plumbing, holding tanks and gas lines if it has been winterized without causing problems for the owners if we dont buy it?

How much do new tires for a class A motorhome usually cost?

I think we can handle finishing work on it but am unsure about gas and electrical. Our budget is around $2000 and we are not worried about it looking too fancy because it is going to get very dusty when we take it to the nevada desert for a week.

I apreciate any advice you can share. Thanks, Misti
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Old 01-30-08, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 759
Hear it run, And make sure you get to drive it, even a short distance. Probably a 454 engine, that were prone to warped manifolds. ( listen once it has run for a while, and is warmed up good ) & if you hear slight exhaust leak by front wheel well area, your probably looking at $500-$1000 to fix, or more, depending on which repair route you take. If it's been sitting for a while, probably have brake problems, another potential, big dollar problem. Can he show you the fridge running on hydro, propane, etc, and you check that fridge is cool as it should be? Hear furnace, and feel furnace. If you get any excuses why not, after him saying it all worked, then I'd be real suspicious. When you ask their opinion on what it needs to pass a safety, whatever they quote you, ( for example $500 should do it ! ) offer to give him $1200 certified, and see what his answer is. (ha-ha) Personally, if you only have a $2000 budget, my guess is you'll burn that up pretty fast, and probably before you hit the road on your maiden voyage. Mind you the 454 engine was a pretty reliable runner, but those manifolds warped all the time from heat when climbing hills etc with those things. Changing gaskets on manifolds was a temporary fix, even when manifold were planed at machine shop. Most people installed a "Banks" exhaust system to eliminate that problem, so maybe it already has that, which you can ask about too. What size is the motorhome, 36 feet or so?
Old 01-30-08, 02:10 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
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I think it is around 35', I know it is a lot bigger than the 25' one we we looked at before.

Those are all good ideas to look for, we will definitely check for that when we see it again.

would you tell me what you mean by offer to give him $1200 certified?
Old 01-30-08, 05:21 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 759
Sorry, I guess I should have explained. This is just an example. He's asking $700, and lets say he won't take any less for it. He also states that he figures ( or a mechanic told him ) it will only need $400 or $500 to safety it. Now let's say again, You haven't tried to get him to lower his price, or he has refused to lower it. Take the amount $700 he's asking, and the price he was quoted, or has quoted you, for a safety, ($400-$500) and add that to the asking price, for a total of $1100-$1200. So if you offer him $1100-$1200 certified, he should have no hesitation in accepting your offer, unless he's not too sure on his safety estimate, right? I guess what I'm saying in a round-about way is this, it's not uncommon for someone to say, "it should only cost a few hundred dollars to safety it", and when you take it in for a safety, it costs you a couple of thousand dollars. This way, if he's way-off, on his safety quote to you, he pays. It sort of keeps him honest, and saves you a big bill in the end, if you buy it as is, thinking the safety should only be a few hundred. If I was that sure of the cost of the safety, whether it's a motorhome, or a car or whatever, I would agree to the total offer, plain & simple. If I knew it was probably going to be a lot more than that to safety it, I would be very hesitant, or refuse, right? With a motorhome getting close to 30 yrs old, I find it hard to believe that the safety won't cost close to $2000 or more, unless it was a 1 owner, meticulously maintained unit, but always remember this part : A safety inspection does not tell you that the motor or transmission is on it's way out, it only tells you that it is safe to drive. Perhaps if it comes down to it, the owner & you can agree to split the cost of a safety & mechanical check over by a mutually agreed mechanic, or truck service garage, and they can include an engine & transmission condition check over for you. It might cost you $50 to save $5000 ? Hope that helps. Mike
Old 01-30-08, 06:47 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
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That makes sence, and I agree that if they are honest they would go for that.

Thank you for the help.
Old 01-30-08, 07:21 PM
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Fuel pump not attached???

Even if this motor home were in apparent good running order, don't think your budget would come close.
Good tires alone would cost around $250.00 each and a battery for $100 would leave you $200.00 for everything else.

My experience with projects like this would say that you would do well to go in expecting to spend at least $5K for a project like this not to mention the 6 miles/gal you would likely get.

I would personally suggest you stay way clear of this one.
Old 01-30-08, 09:44 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
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The guy called today and said that the fuel pump was off because he had to drop the gas tank to redo the floor or the brackets because of rust and didnt want anything to be pulled into the pump.

He said that it will be put together and in running condition for us to look at tomorrow to hear it run.

The propane is filled in a way that we cant bring some to fill it and test the fridge, furnace etc. without driving it to a propane station. Is there an adapter that would connect my BBQ tank to the RV tank to test everything?

I have read that propane tanks now must have the OPD valves, and will check for that, I will get the tire size and get an exact price, but the place I called gave me an estimate of $1106 - $1232 for 6 tires and mounting/balancing depending on tire size.

We were going for a budget of around $2000 to get an RV and have it run, we do have more that can be used for upgrades but dont want to spend over $2000 so we have more to do those other little upgrades.

We are going to check it over again and test everything, and have a chance to talk to the guy that knows about it in person.
Old 01-31-08, 07:30 AM
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 516
You say you're going to be in the Nevada desert for a week?
Why put yourself through this trouble with an obviously neglected POS. What do you need for a week in the desert? $2,000 with all these issues sounds like a money pit. If you're out west this month in both Yuma and Quartsite thousands of motorhomes will be for sale. Look for something in decent mechanical condition and then start repairing/improving systems as money permits. If you absolutely must have this thing run water through the holding tanks and make sure they do not leak.
Old 01-31-08, 09:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 13
The propane holding tank is not like your regular propane tanks.
Also, hook it up to electric and check fridge and other electric units on it.
I went thru this on a '83 model Southwind, 32' with the 454 engine in it.
Bought it in Pa. Was told it was good to go.
Rented a car here at home and drove up.
They met me at the airport in it.
It was running at the time, was in Dec., and it all looked good and furnace was on and running.
Took off to come home, used 45 quarts of oil before I got here and it blowed up 3 miles from home.
That was a 3500 dollar job right there.
Please check it out good.
Old 01-31-08, 12:52 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Ontario
Posts: 539
I would look for somthing elis this sounds like a project that may not end i have a customer that just purchesed a 30 footer ford powered for $3200 in Ontario brought it in to my shop and only needed around $300 for safety i went with him for a quick look before he bought it ask you mechanic if he would go take a look when you find something worth while that pass arrow sounds like it may leed to madness
good luck
Old 01-31-08, 05:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 759

I have to agree with the majority, it sounds like a real bad investment to me. If he had to remove gas tank to repair the floor, how many other spots have been overlooked or sprayed over to conceal them? As far as the propane goes, there is a way to run it off a 20lb or 30lb tank. The connection going in to the shut-off valve, should be the same as your portable tank, provided someone hasn't changed it around. They usually all take a P.O.L. fitting at the valve.(shut-off) We always used to do it, when we had to get units ready for a show, (working outside in the winter, getting the interior ready.) as they wouldn't allow any propane in the onboard tanks, at the shows, for obvious reasons. Anyway, $700 for any motorhome, regardless of year, would set off a red light in my head. I would be nervous of a $700 towable trailer ! Unless you or your husband is a heavy truck mechanic, electrician, carpenter, welder, and a gas fitter, all rolled in to one, I see a continuous flow of cash going out of your wallet, just to keep it on the road.
If your heart is really set on a motorhome, give it a little time, and look for an older, 1 owner, if you can find one in your price range. Check ads for motorhomes that are similar, and see what price comparisons you can do. Remember, the best time to buy a vehicle, is when you really don't need one. Don't let your extreme want of a motorhome cloud your logical thinking. Take a digital camera with you, & get some pictures for us to see, if nothing else, before you make your decision. Also, as one other post pointed out, get liquid in the tanks to make sure they don't leak. Any dealer I've ever worked for "Floods" (fills to the top) all the tanks to insure no leaks, because in my experience, I've had many that only leaked (sitting still) when it was full, and the tanks were cracked at the top of the tank, where you can't see it. Don't forget to fill water heater too, if possible. An easy way to check for any water lines leaking, is to pump water into the system, bleed out any air in lines, through all the taps, and shut off all taps etc. When the pump stops cycling (pressure sensitive) , shut it off. Wait 20 minutes or so, and turn pump switch on. If you hear the pump cycle (growl) , then there is water leaking somewhere, or the pump is defective, but most likely a leak in one of the lines, or pressure relief valve on water heater. Either way, something needs to be fixed and system re-tested to check for any other leaks.
Old 02-01-08, 11:54 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 5
Thank you for the advice, the guy didnt have it running when we talked to him and says he was sick, and he says he has someone else looking at it for parts. I dont think we will buy this one,because as you all said, theres too much to check for and it would be easy to miss something major.

We did find another one for sale, a 27-foot 1975 Vogue that the family is living in until their house is ready to move to, this sounds like it will be easier to test that everything is functional and it has probably been licenced reciently because they are in an RV park with it.

Its a bit of a drive, up the canyon and it is snowy, they cant send us pictures, costs more $1500 and wont leave us much left over for the little things, but it says it has new tires, which may make it worth it alone. If we go see this one, I will get some pictures.

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