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Old 04-06-2017, 09:23 AM   #1
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To buy or not to buy

I know many of you have found yourself in this dilemma and all of you have been that first time buyer.

My husband and I recently purchased a small travel trailer that could be safely towed by our 2008 Toyota Highlander. We did the tent camping, with the sleeping bags on the ground thing many years ago when our son was in the scouting program. We've been there and done that. Those days were over a long time ago! Not the camping part but dealing with wet gear from the inevitable rain, the hard lumpy ground that no matter how many layers there was there was that one something that kept poking you, trekking through the dark with young children because they didn't have to go then....

Years, heck decades, passed. Retirement is upon us and the urge hits. Why is that? Time for a change? Early stage of dimentia?

We were happy with our 23' travel trailer. Ok, I was more enthused than hubby but after two camping trips he was coming around. We also were working as a team, playing nice, hitching and unhitching and setting up and breaking down camp. It was that second trip, we were at the site surrounded by the "big boys!" You know, the 30 plus foot rigs, like the behemoth WanderLodge next to us and the triple axel 5th wheel rigs being pulled by monster pickup trucks as big as our little pull behind.

I like our little camper, with the walk around queen bed, a decent sized kitchen with surprising amount of counter space, lots of storage, and the bathroom with toilet and a shower larger than I have seen in some of the newer Class A models. But it is small and more room would be nice. We started talking. That's how it starts, you know. Daydreaming and comparing the different rigs. Next thing you know you are slowly cruising around the RV parks checking out the setups and comparing.

And now, here we are in the process of buying a Class A Winnebago. I googled and read blogs, reviews, watched videos and anything else I could find on buying and owning a "Big Boy" or "Big Gal."

I decided we should purchase a used one, try it out and see if that is really what we want to do. Come the time hubby is ready to retire then we can decide at that time whether to hang up the keys or upgrade to a newer model. We are pretty certain we will be moving away from the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains once he retires and relocate to somewhere near our son and his family down in Florida.

I set a maximum I was willing to invest and knew we would be limited to older used models. I searched online, and widened the area we were willing to travel.

The $40,000 cap really limits your options but I finally came across a new listing with a dealership down in Florida. It is a 2007 Winnebago Sightseer 26P with 27,044 actual miles with the Workhorse chassis 8.1L engine, and under 30'. We don't want anything over 30' for our first RV. And, it was listed for under $39K.

I immediately contacted the dealership and they sent me pictures of the rig as soon as the owners finished transferring their possessions to their new rig. The photographs showed an extremely well-maintained
home. In fact, they never used the stove top. They kept it housed in a garage and it shows on the outside. What pictures don't show is the mechanical state of the rig. I have read about the Workhorse and have even had several RV techs tell me that it was one of the best.

Hubby and I have always purchased new vehicles through the years except for one. I don't want to pay $90,000 or more for a new RV. I also don't want to end up with an expensive nightmare either.

We have hired a RV inspector for a pre-purchase inspection that is in process as I write this and his report will be the major determining factor if we proceed with the purchase.

I would love to hear from those of you who purchased a used Winnebago. How was your experience from start to finish? Did you get extended warranty insurance? There are too many pros and cons on extended warranties. We have never paid the expensive premiums on our vehicles. Many consumer groups recommend not spending the money. Some recommend self insuring by setting aside about 10% of the purchase amount and adding to it. Things that the dealership should do? For example, I had someone to tell me that the tires should be replaced every 7 years even if they have low mileage. If the tires are original to this 10 year old coach then should they be replaced?

There you have it. We're not quite there but we are keeping fingers crossed that the RV gets a good report and we can proceed with the purchase. If it doesn't work out then we will be back to searching for that perfect one for us.
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Old 04-06-2017, 09:36 AM   #2
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Good luck with your new purchase. You will enjoy travel more with a coach than a TT.
Gordon and Janet
Tour 42QD/inTech Stacker
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Old 04-06-2017, 09:53 AM   #3
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we bought a 'behemoth' 40' motorhome after years in other campers. Its a 2005 model, not a Winn product. We also bought an extended warranty and have used it twice so far. Nothing real major, but the warranty covers engine and all things mechanical so I feel good about it. Warranty cost was about 4% of the purchase price and 4 years of coverage. Ours, like the one you are looking at is a one-owner, garaged, low miles and we have all the service records.

I would make the deal contingent on new tires, of the brand of YOUR choosing; make sure the tires are not more than a few months old (there is a code stamped on each tire, the 'born on' date, if you will).

One other issue is starting and coach batteries. If they are new, ok, otherwise it would be good to ask for new batteries with the deal. Again, batteries of YOUR choice.

It looks like you and the hubby are well on your way to a very happy retirement, congratulations. I only hope he is as good a mechanic/driver/companion as you are a writer!

Retirement is the way life should be....
Bill, Kathi and Zorro; '05 Beaver Patriot Thunder
2012 Sunnybrook Harmony 21FBS (SQEZINN)
2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
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Old 04-06-2017, 10:04 AM   #4
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Your price is contingent as far as I am concerned on newer if not new tires and new or newer house and chassis batteries. Plus everything should work correctly. HAVE the MH inspected by an independent, he she will give a write up on all systems, house and chassis on condition and shortcoming. Good luck and have fun.

2004 Clss C 31' Winnebgo
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Old 04-06-2017, 12:33 PM   #5
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OP has stated that they have hired an inspector to over the MH. I hope they don't find anything and you have found your "baby".

Post pics when/if you buy it.

Happy Trails!!!
Tony & Ruth........... FMCA#F416727
Newmar Dutch Star 4320, Spartan MM Chassis, Cat C9, Jeep Grand Cherokee Hemi, Blue Ox Aventa LX, and Brake Buddy. TST 507 TPMS
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Old 04-06-2017, 01:54 PM   #6
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You might wish after a short while that you had bought one a little bigger.
2000 coachmen santara 370 5.9 cummins300 hp isb
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Old 04-06-2017, 03:22 PM   #7
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You'll love it. The Workhorse chassis is a great chassis & drivetrain, Winnebago makes a good product, and the size is a great compromise between your little trailer and the behemoths. After 12 years in a 23' class C, followed by 14 years in a 26' class C, my wife & I just recently purchased a 2004 Itasca (winnebago) 30' class A with 2 slides. We could not be happier. Congrats, but always remember where you came from; no looking down on smaller rigs or tents!
You don't stop playing because you grow old...You grow old because you stop playing!
2004 Itasca M30W
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Old 04-06-2017, 04:26 PM   #8
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Location: Dayton, NV
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We were in your exact same shoes three years ago.

Completely done with sleeping on the ground, but still very active outside in the vast desert wastelands of northern Nevada, out on our four-wheelers, and, getting real close to being retired...

We started looking at Fleetwood Scorpion S3's (Pop-up with a huge deck), Burning Man beater RV's, toy haulers, and all the way up to new $500K 40 ft DP's. Two years of looking.

In the end, we decided on a new Itasca Sunstar 26HE. Short, nimble, one slide. Not very expensive. Very simple RV, and small and light enough to get us in anywhere boondocking we wanted to go, and comfortable enough for the two of us to spend time on bigger trips when we wanted.

Three years. 36,000 fairly trouble-free miles. A year of a retirement work schedule of 'two weeks on-three weeks off' up on the NV/ID border, living in it on a lake in a little reservation campground. It has been fun, and worth every penny.

That said... Now that I know what I didn't know three years ago...

You need to sit in what you're going to get. Really sit in it. Are you comfortable after a few hours. Where do you sit? Where does your spouse sit? How's the angle for watching the TV? Will it kill your neck? How noisy is the generator? Do you need an inverter? Will it fit in storage? Can I keep it warm in winter without winterizing? On and on.

Pictures don't cut it. You need to find a similar unit you can look at in person, and see how it works for you.

As much as we enjoy ours, it's time to make an upgrade. We're looking hard, and climbing up lots of steps to see what we like. Slightly bigger, more comfortable, and we anticipate using it a whole lot more.
2014 Itasca 26HE
2010 Jeep Wrangler Toad
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Old 04-06-2017, 04:37 PM   #9
Winnebago Camper
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Location: Scottsdale, Az
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We went from an Airstream TT to a 25' LTV Unity to a 37'Tiffin AB to a 23' Thor class B and are now looking at a 31' Winnebago Brave. I really think the sweet spot, especially for Florida is 30-35 foot. Love the convenience of a class A over a TT and would never go back. As mentioned make sure good and less than 3 year old rubber is part of the deal or plan on replacing it ASAP. A TPMS is also a good idea. Enjoy
Dave and Cinyi
2016 Brave 31C, Jeep Rubicon.
Prvs:2008 Tiffin AB, 2013 LTV Unity, Airstream 27FB
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Old 04-06-2017, 04:57 PM   #10
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Our 1st motorhome was a used 30 ft winnebago sightseer 30b. I bought it from an RV rental company. This was in 2007, the unit was a 2006 model with 45000 miles on it. Got it for $42000. I could not believe the low price. Salesman told me they already made their money on it and needed to make room for the new ones. I gave em the money and ran with it... Was one of the best decisions I have made. We camped with it for 3 years and fell in love with the "RV" lifestyle. Sold it for $50000 and upgraded to another winnebago that fit our needs a little better. I say go for it if the inspector gives a good report. You only live once. Have fun and enjoy.
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Old 04-06-2017, 05:39 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by BTekin View Post
...I decided we should purchase a used one, try it out and see if that is really what we want to do. Come the time hubby is ready to retire then we can decide at that time whether to hang up the keys or upgrade to a newer model. We are pretty certain we will be moving away from the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains once he retires and relocate to somewhere near our son and his family down in Florida...
We did the same thing. Pop-up then travel trailer. Bought a cottage and stopped camping for a few years. Had to sell the cottage due to transfer at work. Decided to try a motorhome and see how we liked it. 31' Bounder, no slides. We liked it but it was too small for extended stays snow birding in Florida. So we found our current motorhome. 2003 35' Winnebago Adventurer. Workhorse W22 chassis, 2 slides. You've done the camping thing, you know what it's all about so I think you'll enjoy a motorhome and a little bigger would be better. Wish we have gone bigger to start but like you we weren't sure. If the inspector gives it a thumbs up and you still want to start with a smaller, less expensive unit, I say go for it. I think you'll like it and be looking for a bigger unit not too many years later.
Hank & Lynda
2003 Winnebago Adventurer 35U
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Old 04-06-2017, 06:19 PM   #12
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Update on used Winnebago purchase

The inspection report was sent to us this afternoon and the inspector phoned to discuss. A few issues were noted that need to be addressed but nothing major. The LR slide worked part way and had to be pushed out the rest of the way. The insulation in the generator compartment was deteriorated and there was some oil. The generator is an Onan 4000 with 309 hours. It started right up and ran without any problems but insulation and the dripped oil needs further inspection. Both of the slide canopies need to be replaced and a few spots need to be resealed.

Tires are newer - Goodyears with stamped date code 7/2013 with tread wear 12/32nds. Inspector states there was no sign of uneven wear or cracking. Should we still request new tires?

The inspector was pleasantly surprised with the overall condition of this RV and noted the dealership underpriced this unit. The dealership early on admitted they made a mistake with the initial inspection to determine a price. They had just posted the listing to their available inventory at the time and didn't discover their error until after Inhad made contact with them. They agreed to honor the initial price.

The inspector also noted an aftermarket front steering damper and a heavy duty rear sway bar had been recently installed. According to his, this was a major upgrade.

The dealership has agreed to take care of the listed items. And anything else that may come up during their inspection (PDL). Should we still ask for new tires?
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Old 04-06-2017, 06:23 PM   #13
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Why not? Ask for the new tires. The worst-case is...they say no. Glad to hear that overall, sounds like a good unit
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Old 04-06-2017, 07:32 PM   #14
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We have been motorhoming in class As since 1985, so we have had quite a few coaches, all different sizes and qualities. The one you describe sounds like a great start, which you need in order to decide what features are must have and which you can pass on. By now we have had 10 coaches, but our first one was roughly similar to the one you are discussing.
I don't think that it is possible for newbies to spec out what they want and get it right the first time, and probably not even in two or three tries.
We concluded that we needed a living area which was completely separate from the sleeping area, since we don't go to be at the same time. We found other musts: A permanent dining table with benches or chairs, a washer and dryer, an inverter with at least 2,500 watts. A decent shower. Plenty of undercoach storage, and a fair amount cargo carrying capacity.
But those are our must haves, yours might be completely different.
Good luck, and remember that this is supposed to be fun.
Duncan, 2012 Itasca Ellipse 42QD
2014 Honda CRV, wife and cat
Florida and South Carolina
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Old 04-07-2017, 12:21 PM   #15
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We were newbies to motorhome with a 20 year old unit. We asked and got new tires as it was a "safety" item being over ten years old by the date on the tires. I think you should get new tires because who knows how long it has been sitting in one place. The dealer assured everything works and we knew how to operate everything before we left the lot. No extended warranty as the motorhome is 20 years old. We have spent a few thousand on mechanical repair and preventive maintenance items. Just like your house and car stuff is going to break and wear out. Except for rainy days we spend most of the time outdoors so size is not an issue. There is more storage space than carrying capacity. Glad my wife made me by the 29' class a over the 22' class c for space and tank size. Good amount of hours on the gen set shows they used the motorhome. We use ours over a dozen weekends a year and that helps keep things working rather than sitting for months on end then going out twice a year to find nothing works right and the batteries are dead. Ours only sits for December to January then get serious use. We take it easy June and July when things are busy. We got a class a over a trailer for storage and because once we are on location, at dog shows, we don't leave to sightsee.

Find a good truck repair shop for the mechanical things and a good mobile rv repair shop for the coach things. Communications with them is key so your rig does not sit at the shop for weeks waiting on repair. Find out the lead time and schedule your preventive maintenance with them. I do the same for the coach by telling the guy what I need and then he tells me he is X weeks out or I get on his call list if he gets a cancellation. Less stress in repairs does make rv'ing easier.

Here is a quick lesson on coach repair guys. I asked the guy when he had time to do the preventive maintenance on my fridge and he said if it working done mess with it... few months latter I had issues running on propane while on limited power at the dog show. We got by. Turns out it was the spark sensor that I could change myself. I don't call that repair guy again because I wanted to avoid problems not wait then repair them. So I would recommend that as a test for when you look for a mobile repair shop and make sure your fridge is ready, and safe, to go camping.
1996 Itasca Suncruiser 29RQ
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