Baby Steps: Buying an Older Class C RV

(In the next week all my websites are going to be undergoing major renovations. The chances are very good that the transition is going to bumpy and messy. I can only ask that you be patient and forgive me for the inconvenience.)

In this post I want to talk again about taking baby steps toward changing your life. The step I want to recommend to you is buying an older Class C RV to take trips in and to start making the transition to mobile living.

C-Brian-camp

This nice old Class C is very comfortable and while it gets terrible mpg, the Ford Festiva he tows gets 40 mpg!

Three of my best friends live in older Class Cs and they are all very happy with their choices. One is 1979 Dodge based (which cost less than $3000), the second is a 1982 Chevy based, which cost less than $4000. The last is a 1983 Ford (I don’t know how much it cost). Personally, a Class C is not a good fit for me, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for you like it is for my friends. In this post I’m going to try to fairly present their pros and cons for you to decide for yourself.

This is a mid-80s 18 foot Mobile Traveler Class C. It is one of the bet rigs I have ever seen in person! He gets 10 mpg and carries a Honda Trail 50 on the front bumper that gets 100 mpg. The shorty, Mobile Travelers are in high demand so it was not cheap.

This is a mid-80s 18 foot Mobile Traveler Class C. It is one of the best rigs I have ever seen in person! He gets 10 mpg and carries a Honda Trail 50 on the front bumper that gets 100 mpg. The shorty, Mobile Travelers are in high demand so it was not cheap.

Here are some reasons you should strongly consider an older Class C:

1) Older vehicles are easier to work on and parts are surprisingly available. Chances are good that you can find any parts you need and lots of people to work on it.

2) Because they have a regular van nose, you sit in a fairly normal position and adjusting to driving one is easier than a Class A. Class Bs are overpriced to begin with and hold their resale value very well. It’s much harder to find one if you are a very tight budget ($2000-$3000).

3) Most Class C comes with big engines that allow them to tow the car you already own. That way you can minimize driving it and once you set up camp, you park the RV and drive your car (that gets 30-40 mpg). If you don’t move camp very often, you never have to break camp and you won’t spend much on gas. I know you are probably thinking it must be too hard and you can’t do it–yes you can! Towing is much easier than you would think, anyone can learn to hitch and un-hitch the toad and it is not difficult at all. You can be unhitched in just a few minutes. The actual towing is amazingly easy—you can do it.

4) The hitch can be expensive, but there are lots of used ones commonly available. By getting your RV now, you can take your time and wait for a used one to be for sale in your area. Be aware that not all cars can be towed (for example, most automatic transmissions can’t be towed), that is something to research. If your car can’t be towed, this will give you time to sell or trade it for one that can be.

Here is a close-up of the Fesitva hitched up. You have to buy the part that attaches to the car for each car, so you probably won't find it used. Everything else is universal and very commonly available used.  Each of the arms has a pneumatic arm so all you have to do is get close and then pull the arm to the vehicle to hook it. That makes it easy!

Here is a close-up of the Fesitva hitched up. You have to buy the part that attaches to the car for each car, so you probably won’t find it used. Everything else is universal and commonly available used for half price. Each of the arms is pneumatic so all you have to do is get close and then pull the arm to the vehicle to hook it. That makes it easy!

5) You can buy a good used Class C for very little money. Since you are a few years away from going mobile, you can start right now to save money to buy an older used Class C. You need to start selling stuff anyway so sell everything you can for the most money you can and save it toward the Class C. You should be able to get one for $2000-$3000 (with luck, you can even get them for less!). So if you can save $200 a month, in a year you can afford one. Since you have so much time, you can keep looking until you find the very best deal on the very best RV.

6) Most of them get driven very little so they are easy to find with low miles. Because the engines from that era didn’t last very long, it’s also very easy to find one with a rebuilt engine and transmission. If you buy wisely, and drive it very little, you might be looking at many trouble-free years from the engine and transmission.

This is a friends 1979 Class C. I cae with 70,000 miles and rebuilt engine and transmission. He drove it for many years with little or no problems.

This is a friends 1979 Class C. It came with 70,000 miles and rebuilt engine and transmission. He drove it for many years with little or no problems.

7) You can start taking trips and vacations in it while you are getting ready to go mobile. That way you can learn the ins and outs of RVing and mobile living while still in the security of your home.

8) You can get a realistic idea of how little they hold so you can know how much of your “stuff” you have to get rid of. Because they are so much bigger than a van, you won’t have to get rid of as much stuff or make as many really hard decisions

9) Once you have it you can slowly work on repairing and upgrading it at your leisure and as you can afford it. So if you are handy, you can buy one that is basically sound but needs some easy repairs and get it much cheaper For example, if it needs a brake job, you can save for a month or two and then get brakes put on it. Or if it’s great but it needs new tires you can buy a new tire a month as you can afford it. After 6 months you will have all new tires.

This is the kitchen of a friends Class C. He wanted it to look like home so he painted all the cabinets in cheery colors he liked, making it very homey!

This is the kitchen of a friends Class C. He wanted it to look like home so he painted the roof and all the cabinets in cheery colors he liked, making it very homey!

10) The key thing is to find the problems when you are buying it and get a discount for them. If you aren’t a mechanic or RV tech, be sure to have it inspected thoroughly by one and get a full written report. Use that as your negotiating tool.

11) The transition to a Class C will be MUCH easier than to a van because they have lots of room and comforts. Moving into a van can be a terrible shock because they are so tiny and unfamiliar. Moving into a Class C is much easier because they have so much room and they look like a little home. For one thing, you can stand up in one!! It’s hard to underestimate how great that is! Instead of sitting on a 5 gallon bucket, you can step into a real bathroom, shut the door and sit on a real toilet—admittedly it will be tiny, but it will still obviously be a bathroom. It should have a real shower, and most of us really do want the comfort of a shower.

Here are some BIG disadvantages of a Class C:

1) There is a LOT more that can go wrong. The many living systems in the house part of the RV all get old and fail. The Fridge is especially fragile and likely to be a problem. But the plumbing can have leaks anywhere in it, the hot water heater can be rusted out, the furnace can be burned out. The holding tanks and lines can be a nightmare if not well taken care of. A van has NONE of those things so it will nickel and dime you much less for repairs!

2) It will be 30-40 years old. Not only are the mechanical elements very old, but just time and old-age will damage rubber seals, belts, hoses and many other parts of the vehicle. Rust and corrosion can be hidden many places where you can’t see it. Some parts might be obsolete. For example, many of the wheels on older RVs don’t have tires made for them anymore, so you may have to pay a fortune for tires or buy all new wheels and tires. For the same amount of money you can pretty easily buy a van that is less than 20 years old.

My friend Wayne (in the white shirt) and his Class C with the Mistubishi Montero he tows. It gets 20 mpg and has great 4x4 letting him go and ekplore wherever he wants.

My friend Wayne (in the white shirt) and his Class C with the Mistubishi Montero he tows. It gets 20 mpg and has great 4×4 letting him go and explore wherever he wants.

3) There is an extreme risk of hidden damage you might miss. For example, there could be dry rot in the walls and a leak in the roof that you can’t see. The tires might look great with good tread but be so old and sun damaged they are death traps. I’m not enough of a mechanic to even begin to tell you all that could be wrong—which is why you MUST get it inspected BEFORE you buy it by someone who is competent.

4) They get terrible gas mileage (5-8 mpg)! But to be fair, modern RVs really don’t do a whole lot better. The heavy weight and terrible aerodynamics of an RV requires a big engine working hard, and they all suck-up gas. But those big engines have a big advantage as well: they make it pretty easy to tow an economy car. All of my friends do. One has an older Ford Festiva that gets an honest 40 mpg and the other has an older Mitsubishi Montero 4×4 that gets and honest 20 mpg and has very good off-road abilities; finally the last one has a Toyota pickup that is ultra-reliable and gets 22 mpg. It gives them a lot of flexibility in where and how they live and travel and they are very comfortable at the same time. When you balance the terrible MPG of the RV with the much better MPG of the towed vehicle (commonly called a toad) the overall balance is actually pretty good.

5) They are big, cumbersome beasts and will not go many places a van will go.

What about a Toyota Class C?

Some people absolutely love the Toyota Class C. I think of them as under-powered and over-weight--a terrible combination.

Some people absolutely love the Toyota Class C. I think of them as under-powered and over-weight–a terrible combination.

I haven’t owned or spent much time in one, so bear that in mind as I comment. I do know several people who travel in them and who love them. My problem with them is they have a small engine working very, very hard all the time. Granted, it is one of the best engines ever made, but it still works very hard all the time. To be honest I think you would be better off with the big, mediocre engine like a 460 Ford or 454 Chevy and tow an economy car like a Geo Metro, Ford Festive or older Honda Civic. Getting 40 MPG with the car will much more than offset the 7 MPG of the RV if you park and sit in one place. At the end of the year you will spend less on gas than the Toyota and you will have a lot more room and comfort. The Toyota is much too underpowered and overloaded to tow anything. Those two words mean I will never own a Toyota Class C. The Toyota Chinook is another thing altogether and not really a Class C. I would strongly consider owning one of those, but they are very hard to find.

The Toyota Chinook is a great little rig I recommend. But they are difficult to find.

The Toyota Chinook is a great little rig I recommend. But they are difficult to find.

An older Class C is not the choice I have made, but for some people it is the very BEST possible choice!!

Bob
About

I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

123 comments on “Baby Steps: Buying an Older Class C RV
  1. Rick says:

    Bob you are correct about the Toyota class c with the 4cyl and an automatic tranny. I have owned this model and it can not get out of its own way. I have heard owners of the same rv with a standard tranny state that it has better take offs. If I were to consider buying again I would only buy the one with th v6 motor. I would love to find a chinook. However the chinooks do not normally come with shower and flush toilets

    • Bob Bob says:

      That’s what I have heard also Rick. The V6 is adequate but no more. It does not like hills and can’t tow anything.

      The Chinook is pretty bare-bones but an awesome rig!
      Bob

      • Beth says:

        I have concerns about a 1987 Chevy Sprinter 30. The back screws are rusted and loose, and there is a spot where you can see a little wood on the side body of the rv.

        • Patrick says:

          The heat and cold will take a toll plus the snow and worst the rain which will find its way inside the wall best to drape some plastic over the roof on those overcast days

    • nubwaxer says:

      i had the full shell, not popup, fiberglass 1984 model from pacific sales i vallejo, CA, 4 cyl, stick shift apparently with the better rear end. it was slow but it never stopped. it was my full time home for over a year and not an altogether unpleasant experience. the furnace didn’t work but 2 lighted stove burners would warm up the inside as well as the cabin heater off the running engine. no fridge was a drag. then i got sideswiped by a teenager on the freeway. i kept the wreck with a $3,000 settlement but i could have walked away with $4,600 (my slightly inflated value) if i let it go as a total loss.
      all that to ask why don’t they still build these? i think some company would make money building these new on 1 ton heavy duty suspension chassis, 4 or 6 cyl. standard or auto trans, 2 or 4 wheel drive.

  2. Bob, Back some 30 years ago I had one of those Toyota Chinook’s. I highly recommend them. Tough as nails,super economical,large enough to be more comfortable than a van, yet small enough to take most anywhere. They handle good on the highway too.
    If you’re lucky enough to find one grab it, you won’t be sorry.
    Curtis Carper recently posted…Seeing A Lot While Spending A Little!My Profile

  3. Oh.. almost forgot. I also used a Fiesta as a Toad. Excellent choice as well, we racked up 150,000 miles over 10 years with less than $200 in repairs. One front axle joint wore out.
    Curtis Carper recently posted…Seeing A Lot While Spending A Little!My Profile

    • I meant a Festiva… I owned a Fiesta too, but that was 15 years earlier.
      Curtis Carper recently posted…Seeing A Lot While Spending A Little!My Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      The Fetiva was one of the really great econo boxes. Great mpg and very simple and reliable. They were also amazingly comfortable for a tiny car. I had a friend who was 6’8″ tall and he fit inside it remarkably well (looked hilarious climbing out if though). They don’t have the cult status of some econo cars so they can be bought pretty cheap. Highly recommended!
      Bpob

  4. Joni says:

    Bob;

    Lots of good info! I was looking at a Toyota unit just before deciding to take my mini for this winter. I figured about the same as you…lotta’ rig for such a tiny engine. It was very spacious inside and in pretty decent shape for its age.

    I was surprised to hear how little MPG these units get? Heck there is a big rig 35′ Dutch Star, with a big slide, sitting in my yard…and I have keys, although at 7 MPG (last 2 winters in Mexico) my roomie and I are starting to think of it more as a cabin elect than a mobile unit. Okay, a cabin that can be seasonally moved *laugh*!

    Enjoy getting the new sites all up and running smooth Bob et al. It will be messy as you say although I am sure much more user friendly…and owner friendly, when done. Good luck with it!

    Joni
    Joni recently posted…I AM OUTTA’ HERE !!My Profile

  5. Chris Carrington says:

    I have a Toyota RV for 7 years now (5 of them as a wandering full timer), mine is a V6 and I get 12-14mpg. I love it. The way I look at it is…..it makes my life so much simpler to only have one set of keys, one vehicle to maintain and register, one vehicle to purchase. I just drive it like it is any other truck (as in essences that what it is, a one ton pickup truck) to do my errands and sight seeing, and then park it at night to sleep in. Similar to the van concept except with a full bathroom and kitchen and couch and dinette and bed. To me it is worth the lower gas mileage than I would get with a toad. All life’s choices are a trade off.

    • Bob Bob says:

      You are among many happy Toyota class C owners Chris! I guess I am a typical American who thinks bigger is better! I bought a 1 ton van to tow a 3000 lb trailer. I like a vehicle to laugh at the load and not strain under it. To be honest, most modern vans will get better mpg and be able to go many more places. But none of them will have the comfort you have!! And for many people that is a great trade-off.
      Bob

    • Marshie says:

      I agree with you. I have a 94 Toyota motorhome, six cylinder. I got 16 mpg on the last freeway trip. When I drive a lot around town, forgetting it isn’t a car, I get around 11 mpg. I have been living in it for three years, and I love it.

      • Bob Bob says:

        It’s hard to argue with you Marshie, you get better MPG than my van does and you have MUCH more comfort! Plus you get that legendary Toyota reliability!
        Bob

  6. Peggy says:

    I don’t know, to my mind it would kind of defeat the purpose to drive around in one of these ancient beasts! But as usual, I like the way you’ve laid out the options, Bob. Makes it so much easier to make an informed decision! Not that I’ve made a decision yet…I’m still mulling this transition over.
    Peggy recently posted…Mushroom HuntingMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Peggy, I agree, they aren’t for me either. I’m very happy with my van-cargo trailer combo and I can take them most places a van can go by itself and be much more comfortable.

      But when gas hits $6 a gallon I may wish I had a towed car that got 40 mpg!! But the beauty of buying too powerful a rig is I could easily tow an econon car with my van. So when gas gets outrageous I will move into the van and trade off the trailer and get an econo box.
      bob

  7. Lois says:

    Great info, Bob. I’ve often considered a small Class C (16′-20′) and I always come up with too many cons for me so I always come back to my vehicle and tiny trailer. So far, its worked for me but sometimes I’ve wished I didn’t have the towing thing.

    Good luck with the site updates. Wishing for you an easy transition and minimal headaches along the way. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

    — Lois
    Lois recently posted…Wordless Thursday – The Flowers of FallMy Profile

  8. Roadworthy says:

    One thing that wasn’t mentioned was how frequently you find old Class C’s with water damage on the front corners of the overcab bunk. When we were looking for an RV this summer, every single Class C we saw had major water damage or water leaks in the front corners. In fact,some of them were so bad that you could actually tell in the pictures. If you’re in a drier climate, you might not see the water damage, but that doesn’t mean it’s water-tight, and if you go into a damper climate, you might end up with water damage. So just be careful in your choice–always check the front corners, even under the mattress. You could decide to renovate the overcab area, but I think that’s a mistake–around here it’s common to find a C for sale that someone thought they’d overhaul it themselves, but gave up halfway because it was a pain. Not that it couldn’t be done, but for the hassle, I would just buy a better rig.

    • Bob Bob says:

      I totally agree Roadworthy! The possibility of hidden damage is extreme so you really have to get them looked at by an expert.

      Actually you bring up a great point I should have listed. They are so cheap that if you do have a major problem with one, you just walk away and start looking for another cheap one. Given the choice of spending $2000 to repair the hidden overhang water damage or selling it cheap and buying a new one it’s pretty easy to see it cheap and start looking for a new one.
      Bob

  9. Rich Chandler says:

    Bob, Your humility and objectivity is a welcome breath of fresh air to me. I read a ton of RV and similar blogs and yours is by far the best. Several of the “know it alls” make themselves feel better by talking down the less mobile tourists that they find disruptive to the mobile by daring to share public land. Your suggestions or sharing of your joy in the mobile life are well written and researched. Thanks from one on the corporate treadmill supporting a family. The 1977 Dodge class A is in the driveway and being restored, I hope to join the mobile in 5-6 years.

  10. Sam says:

    As usual, you are the most uninformed person on the web! Always talking about things you have no clue about. Why people read this miserable blog is beyond me.
    You have been inhaling again. I warned you clean air would fry what few brain cells you have left.
    Hug Homer for me. HE knows I am only fooling with you.
    Sam recently posted…Heading southMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Sam, I dare you to come to the RTR to say that to my face!!

      I double-dog-dare you!!!

      You know I have selfish motives, I need to you to bed-down a bunch more of the women-folk! That should raise a few of eyebrows!

      But, I really hope you can make it this year!
      Bob

  11. DougB says:

    I’m with Sam! Ha! Really, it’s an excellent article, and will help more than a few people out.
    DougB recently posted…Tyson’s Wash PetroglyphsMy Profile

  12. Meg says:

    I can add a couple of things to this based on extensive hunting I did a few years back. First, with the Toyotas – I did look at a few of those locally and the driver’s seat didn’t look very comfortable. I had a friend who’d full-timed in one for a while before he switched to a van so I asked him about it, and he confirmed that long trips were hard on his back. Since I already have a “bad back” that helped me decide Toyotas weren’t a good choice for me. With that said – there are people who just love them and there is (or at least was) an active Yahoo group for them. Some of the Toys have issues that could definitely affect safety so for anyone thinking about buying one, I’d suggest joining that group. They were really helpful to me.

    About towing another vehicle – the only issue I have with that is, then there are two engines/transmissions etc. to maintain, two insurance policies to pay for, and of course the hitching/unhitching. But they really are too big (even the small ones) for just driving around unless you have a lot of money to spend on gas or just don’t go places very often. I had a full-timing “neighbor” who was in the latter situation; he couldn’t really afford two vehicles but he drove the RV as little as possible, maybe once a week. As you’ve said before, each possibility has its advantages and disadvantages; what works best for one person won’t for another. But besides that, I’m not sure there’s a “perfect” choice for anyone; there are always compromises to be made, ie size vs maneuverability, space vs cost, etc. (Personally I’d like an RV that’s “dimensionally transcendental” like Doctor Who’s Tardis. 🙂 )

    Thanks for this post and I hope the transition goes smoothly.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Those are all good points Meg. Maintaining two engines and insurance is a big disadvantage. But when gas starts to get really high, there’s no doubt in my mind I will start towing an econo car. I won’t be able to afford not to.
      Bob

  13. Patrick says:

    Another good option is Rialta 22′ RV by Winnebago, Fuel efficient Volkswagen V-6 engine.Automatic. 18 to 21 mpg on regular. Your opinion on it.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Patrick, the design and layout on them is brilliant! I have some friends with them and they love them. However, I think the engine is very suspect and I don’t think I would own one. But that may just be a personal prejudice.
      Bob

  14. gary green says:

    hey now bob, there’s a lot of thought in the process of buy a rv. things to consider, like if you’re going to spend your time black toping in the city.you would need stealth rig,i.m.o. like a van class b you would be living larger!!. or your retire and want to get out of the city altogether and boondocks camp which again i.m.o. you can do in anything from a prius to a larger class a, and then again you might want to do both again i.m.o. you might want to get a small class c or b for this. if there are two of you traveling with pets get the bigger rig you will need the extra room!!!!. for me i travel solo, and i a have 1/2 ton gmc pickup with a 4.8 liter engine, that i get about 20 mpg, i have a fiberglass 16 ‘ travel trailer standard casita, that weights 2000 pound. which is really easy to tow, and great for boon docking. but not so good to drive around the city and find parking a bitch!!! so you going to have trade off what ever you do. so have decided to try and find me a small class c or b and i have been look here in l.a. for the last year. it really hard to find a good small class c or b . just my two cent good lucky in find the right rig for you.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Wow Gary, I thought you were very happy with your Cassita so I’m surprised to hear you are looking for something else. Those Casitas are so popular you won’t have any trouble getting you money back out of it.

      I wish you luck on the search.
      Bob

  15. Bob, Love the site makeover, much easier to read, more spacious. A local news story brought your recent skydiving to mind. Two Superior Skydiving Planes collide at 12,000′. Total of 11 aboard, one plane lands safely, the other spirals to earth in flames.

    All people landed safely, even the pilot of the burning plane was wearing a parachute. No injuries, no fatalities. Talk about a miracle. http://tiny.cc/452y5w

  16. Desert Rat says:

    Wow, Bob GREAT change on the website. Very nice.

  17. Myddy says:

    I’ve always liked the Class C builds. I just prefer stealth camping more than anything else, and you can’t stealth camp those puppies.

    They are fabulous for people starting out though!
    Myddy recently posted…Our stay in the smokeysMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      You’re right Myddy, they are poor for stealth and they are limited in how far beck they can go boondocking. But for a few people they are ideal.
      Bob

  18. Blars says:

    You did not mention Class A’s, like mine. I don’t think they are any harder to drive (the problem is the size, not the driving position) and they frequently have more storage and usable space than a class C of the same lenght. I have not had my toad long enought to make a fair comparison.
    Blars recently posted…toadMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Blars, I think it is a personal prejudice of mine. I prefer Class Cs. But, I do think there are many more good, cheap Class Cs from the 70s and 80s than As and that was the topic of the post.
      Bob

  19. gladys says:

    I am 66 and widow. how safe is it to get a small truck camper and just travel by myself? I get apx. o00. a month and don’t know if I can make it by myself. I would have to sell everything off first, my family are to hi-brow to have anything to do w/me. I need a lot of info. what are your suggestions. I can get a chevy 350, 24ft camper, but NOT mechanically minder. what about getting mail, bank account, fishing license, even license on the vehicle.. as you said, “fear is a big factor” i’ll have no one to depend on if something goes wrong..

    • Bob Bob says:

      Gladys, I know many single older women who live in vans and RVs and none of them have been in any real danger. It is remarkably safe! I wouldn’t let fear for your safety stop you.

      I’ve written many, many articles on the details of mobile living and nearly everythng you need is on my websites. Unfortunately, right now my websites are going through a re-structuring and they are hard to access. When they are available again I will send you links to answer all your questions.

      I do suggest you buy my book. It is available from Amazon.com for the Kindle for $2.99

      Can you email me at akrvbob@gmail.com and I will try to answer all your questions.
      Bob

    • Grace Bachemin says:

      Gladys, did you ever move on your dream? I want to do it also!

  20. Corky Deeds says:

    I’m rebuilding a 1982 El Dorado Trans Van, think Type C without the caboveror airport shuttle bus, whole house section is inch thick honeycomb fiberglass and chassis is Ford Econoline E350 van. I bought it dirt cheap because of water damage to the rear floor, $1500, with 56k mile on it. With no frame to mess with I’ve gutted it and am rebuilding in the form I want. Best upgrade to date is a flash water heater to replace the rusted out on that did the water damage, hot shower till the water runs out or you prune up, and it was cheap, $120. I can write reams on the mods I’m making, if people are interested I might post pictures and write ups. Just put in four florescent light running on a cheap inverter, all fuor less than $60.

    Corky

    • Bob Bob says:

      Corky, that sounds like a great project! I’d love to do a post on your build. Send me lots of pictures and write up and I will put it on the blog.

      I’m interested in the hot water heater you used. Do you have a link to the one you are using.
      Bob

  21. gladys says:

    hi bob. thank you for answering. I will get your book. I do have disability$$ but not much. I am just needing to find out more. I have lived in n.c., fla., colo., ohio,. I love to travel, but am worried as I said to go bymyself. (no, i’m not looking to pick up a man, or woman lol) I have my Chihuahuas. I just want to see the usa. thanks for your help.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Gladys, it’s perfectly reasonably to be afraid. Society teaches women to be afraid all the time and that they need a man to protect them. But you really will be okay if you travel in a van or RV, it’s very safe.

      I’d love to help you as your take steps toward your dream. Please feel free to email me and ask me any questions you have as they come up. My email is akrvbob@gmail.com.
      Bob

    • Marshie says:

      This is a very good example of what a woman can do on her own, with a van: Van dwelling woman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_X0o9cAtGo
      Very inspirational video.

    • Derrick ford says:

      Hey I have a 1977 dodge jamboree rv 22 footer me and my son just started in march 2015 any tip

    • Shelly says:

      Gladys – I am 63 (soon to be 64), a widow for almost two years, and have a 4×8 Runaway camping trailer (similar to a teardrop but different shape and no galley) that I bought new a year ago. What did you end up doing, and where are you located? I am in southern California and only partially retired.

      • Bob Bob says:

        Hi Shelly, thanks for being supportive to Gladys, but that was so long ago it’s unlikely she follows the blog anymore. I have a pretty transient readership and people come and go often.
        Bob

    • Ron R. says:

      Late post I know, sorry. One trick I used traveling solo in Mexico was to put a straw cowboy hat on top of a sleeping bag in the passenger seat. At a short distance it looked exactly like my traveling companion was kicked back and enjoying the ride.

  22. Corky Deeds says:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001J4AU2E/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ARY094Q/ref=oh_details_o03_s03_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002P33KVQ/ref=oh_details_o03_s01_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Bob,
    The heater is great, the shower head it comes with is junk, the Oxygenic head makes for a great shower even with low pressure and low flow. The Flowjet pump is easy to adapt to a seven gallon jug from WallyWorld and all you need beyond that is an enclosure to hang on you back door if people are around. Nothing like a hot shower to make a day better.

    I used a small propane tank http://www.amazon.com/Worthington-281149-1-Gallon-Cylinder-Prevention/dp/B000SKX63U/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1384131366&sr=8-4&keywords=propane+tank with this when I traveled in my van. Small tank was good for about an hour and one half run time, lots of showers.

    You can hang the water heater on the door or put it inside, exhaust isn’t nearly the problem people think it is, I now use the same heater in the motorhome with no venting and haven’t had problems with either heat or fumes. I also had an adapter that would take the small green propane bottles, the were good for about 20 minutes of run time. Heater does need a couple of “D” batteries or a 3volt power source to work, I just used the batteries as the drain was so low the got old before the power was exhausted, used one set for fairly regular use for 18 months and replaced them because I didn’t want them to leak, they were still good, voltage wise.

    Corky

    • Bob Bob says:

      Corky, thanks for that feedback. Would you be willing to do a write-up with pictures of your experience with it for the blog? I’d love to get your experience out to the readers.
      Bob

  23. Corky Deeds says:

    Bob,
    I see what I can get done in the next week or so.

    Corky

  24. Glen says:

    For my porposes a 1990 Roadtreck is just fine been rvin for 45 years and had them all, from a school bus to a country coach and everything in between the RT can go anywhere I want to go, can parallel park, not obvious when in sealth mode, decent MPG, 15, everything we, two of us need and plenty of storage, we have to make decisions as what we need but you know what we don’t do without anything. I choose the best older one I could get as few electronics as possible, parts are everywhere, It is just perfect for us, but not for everyone, I had a Toyota scary as hell, no power and the wind pushed us all around,hills were a down shift, and 60 was best down hill, I want to be able to get outta the way if I can, My fishin rig is a 1990 provan tiger love it, astrovan class c 16′ long with a pop top, it is still sleathy with the top down, but I never put it up if im alone it has plenty of head room and it has it all, even has a head and shower, micro, stove hot h2o, and will sleep 4 if your friends, just my 2 cents worth to keep the conversation going

    • Bob Bob says:

      Glen, I totally agree about Class Bs, I think they are a great choice for most people! The problem is the price, a good one at a good price can be hard to find. But if you are patient generally they will come around.

      The Toyotas are underpowered and overweight, that is a bad combination!
      Bob

  25. Zk says:

    Hey Bob,

    Some class c can get relatively good fuel mileage: we had a 1987 corsair supreme 21′ class c 3spd auto 5.7L (350) v8 that got avg 16mpg. It was the first year of fuel injection with its gmc engine here in Canada. It had the full arctic pkg. ( found it after 6mths of searching for a MH with that pkg) which allowed me to finish medic school in a “frontier town” on the Canadian Shield on weekends during a heavy snowfall winter, it would plow thru anything!

    However, learnt the hard way – make sure the exhaust pipe extends out from under the MH or else you’ll wonder where the smoke is coming from when the detector goes off as u drive down the hi way in a remote limited cell area! End result was the transCanada hwy was completely blocked & delayed Greyhound buses while FD & police dealt with the situation once they finally figured out where we were located. After it got fixed up we put ~ 25k miles on it over the next 2 yrs, took it all over including FLa, WI & Lake Superior circle tour. Til a delivery truck’s side bumper extension ripped the sidewall open in a parking lot :(.
    I did find it rather disconcerting at times when being passed at high speeds by big trucks, blame that on the front overhang design.

    Say hi to homer for me & enjoy quartzsite weather while I’m ” enjoying” wintry weather already here.

  26. TCI says:

    Even though they are not clearly modern comforts they still look great. These days, they make them all small and compact and they ask a small fortune for van conversions. Thanks for all these great tips. After checking the new van conversions I was think it will never happen as it is very expensive. When I see the figures you are suggesting I get excited again to see that the dream is alive.

    • Bob Bob says:

      TCI. it doesn’t take a lot of money to live this life. The more the better of course, but you can get started with very little.
      Bob

  27. Alain Chevalier says:

    Many questions:

    1- Is it exist class B with diesel ? Used vehicle, for sure.
    2- I saw Rialta and there’s a lot for sale, I don’t know if there a reason except that you can’t do maintenance at VW garage (but frankly I’m a good mechanic and nobody want to be ripped of by those stealership) because they don’t have the lift to fit the chassis so is it a good or bad buy ?
    3- There’s a lot more choice of old RV in USA (not rusted as they are here) and I saw a lot of Dodge class B and C are they any good or just gas burner (diesel is the way to go ????)
    4_ on the old RV they’res an old mechanic, easy to fix but broke oftenly how much old I can go ?

    Thanks in advance to everybody.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Alain, I’ll answer your questions in bold after the question

      1- Is it exist class B with diesel ? Used vehicle, for sure. The only one I know of us the Mercedes Sprinter based ones and the are VERY expensive even used.
      2- I saw Rialta and there’s a lot for sale, I don’t know if there a reason except that you can’t do maintenance at VW garage (but frankly I’m a good mechanic and nobody want to be ripped of by those stealership) because they don’t have the lift to fit the chassis so is it a good or bad buy? The Rialtas have a very bad reputation for reliability. I wouldn’t buy one.
      3- There’s a lot more choice of old RV in USA (not rusted as they are here) and I saw a lot of Dodge class B and C are they any good or just gas burner (diesel is the way to go ????) There are lots of good Class Bs in the USA and I would highly recommend them to you. For some reason we don’t have all the great diesels the rest of the worlds. A as engine is about your only choice unless you buy a used Mercedes and convert it yourself or have a LOT of money.
      4_ on the old RV they’res an old mechanic, easy to fix but broke oftenly how much old I can go ? I recommend buying a 1996 or newer They will be more reliable, run better and get better MPG.

      Hope that helps!
      Bob

  28. Danby says:

    Great blog post…it’s the reason we decided to get an older class C vs a class A. Suits what we were looking for 🙂 We ended up getting an ’82 Shasta on an E460 chassis. We call it The Beast! LOL! And the great thing is that we looked at it on a weekend of torrential downpours so we really got to see if it leaked first hand. Thankfully it didn’t and it’s perfect for us. Now there are some issues because of the age. Needed all new tires, a headlight, license plate light…none a deal breaker. It has a newer generator, newer fridge, new stove, new A/C roof unit (all run perfectly), new toilet and new interior. All for $4500. AND we had it delivered! 🙂 My husband was 17 in 1982 when it was built and he really enjoys working on it. He is familiar with the motor and is always commenting on how much he hates the “computerized” models of today. LOL! So far so good. I highly recommend and older model if you know how to work on it. We kissed a lot of frogs before we finally found this unit, but we knew she was out there somewhere. It just took a while to find her 🙂

    • Bob Bob says:

      Danby, that is a great story! Good for you for being so patient and waiting for just the right unit!! It sounds like you were rewarded for all your hard work with a great rig! $4500 is a tremendous price for one in that good a shape.

      Hopefully you are in for the time of your life as you follow your dreams in her!
      Bob

  29. Stu says:

    Bob this was a great read for me do you know of any decent B or C that used the Cummins 360 diesel.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Stu, I think Tiger may have built a few and are going to start now:
      http://www.tigervehicles.com/tiger-motorhomes-now-offered-on-the-dodge-ram-chassis-2-1-10/

      Here is a google search for tiger dodge diesel
      http://www.tigervehicles.com/tiger-motorhomes-now-offered-on-the-dodge-ram-chassis-2-1-10/
      Bob

      You can get step vans with both the 4bt and 6bt which is the 4 and 6 cyclinder version of the Cummins in the dodge. Your best bet is to get one of them and convert it for yourself.

      Or get a Dodge diesel truck and put a camper on it!
      Bob

      • Jackie says:

        Bob I have been wanting to get a RV for years but not sure what kind. I think I have narrowed it down to a Class C or B, nothing bigger than 29′. I have two little dogs and I love to kayak and want to travel the US. I don’t have a lot of money and hope to get a good used one that I don’t have to fix (I don’t know how to work on engines). I read that Lazy Days or Born Free are good because the roofs are one piece and won’t leak. PLEASE advised me as to what I should be looking for, what is a good year, the make or model, engine type, etc., for a used one and what a single senior woman should get to start seeing this wonderful country of ours!!!

        • Bob Bob says:

          Jackie, the whole answer to that would take pages to write and right now I have very limited internet. I strongly suggest you join my forum and post that question. You will get an abundance of truly helpful advice.

          My suggestion is a good used Class B. Enough comfort, great MPG, easy to drive. The kayak is a problem. All of RVs are so tall I don’t know how you are going to load it.

          Consider a regular van towing a small fiberglass trailer like a a Cassita. The kayak can go inside the van or on top. I strongly suggest you follow the blog of RVSue and crew. She’s doing what you want to do and doing it wonderfully well!!!!!!!!!
          http://rvsueandcrew.net/
          Bob

  30. Greg says:

    Hi,
    Stumbled in here,(never know where a search will lead) and thanks for a great blog.
    Had a Dodge 3/4 ton 5.9L Cummins, 2003 model.
    Driving the sweet spot,(1700rpm, 59mph) netted 26+mpg empty, and 16-20 mpg loaded with bed full, topper, and 16′ toy hauler trailer weighing about 5400 lbs., fully loaded. Mpg dropped to 10-14 range in steep mountains.
    Loved the setup and found great advantage to a big economy truck for running around. Unhooking trailer was easy. Ride was very nice.
    Spent close to a year in that 16′ trailer and never got tired of it. New was great; initial problems fixed under warranty, no problems thereafter. Nothing like hot water, bathroom, frig. and food, while camping at a desolate place. (For safety, unhook the trailer cord from truck, so when the trailer battery goes down, the truck still starts, and you can recharge all. Triple A, and phones don’t do remote)
    Also, when camping in civilization, the trailer could set, hooked to electric, water, and the truck was free for errands at economy car mpg.

    I am no longer with either truck or trailer.
    Ailments and associated budget restraints demand different, now.
    With budget first in mind, minimal is best. The less stuff to go wrong, with the most comfort balancing act prevails. New is not an option.
    Another bedroom is primary. Crazy as it may be, a solid old C class seems to fit the bill;Even if it never leaves home, the imagination of a child can take them 1000’s of places, while sitting behind the wheel of the mind stimulating adventure bedroom.
    Yea, lots to consider; pack rats like wiring, rv carports-1,400 at moment, all metal and cheaper than a roof leak, far superior to mold infestation. For me, it keeps the dream alive, and perhaps in a practical way?
    (“Without a vision the people perish” Living life is more than mundane existence in a box. Life is mundane, and also, challenges, failures, triumphs. Safety can be over rated. God challenges us to live outside our box, but do we step out or dismiss as foolish, the chance at our greatest triumphs … or failures. Do we live wishing we had tried, contented we tried because the goal was bigger than ourselves, or sorry we did try because it was selfish. Life is the unknown and doing our best therein)
    Carpenters, wiring, cement, all very expensive. A direct hallway to an RV, not so much. Emergency kitchen in a sustained power outage- nice benefit, even if I can cook over wood fire, doesn’t help in the rain.
    Sorry for the off topic ramble.
    To the Nice Lady, with the RV questions concerning feasibility and safety. Valid concerns they are. Statisticians say most accidents are within a few minutes of home. Well, the one way of looking at it is; you are always home in an RV-chances go up. The other way, you are homeless in an RV-chances decline.
    As a child, I was fearful of jumping a train with friends, although it looked like great fun, the slow moving wheels scared me. I consulted an older brother who said simply; if your confident do it, if not, don’t.
    I think it was wise advice in that situation.
    I did not attempt train hop and have no regret.
    Is the fear founded and in God given good sense measure? Did I need to go somewhere on that train?
    Is there a need? (An old story in the Bible: Guys with leprosy are starving, they say, if we go to the enemy for food they’ll kill us, but if we don’t try, we’ll starve. They go; camp was abandoned, reaped a windfall, then shared the find)
    They had a need justifying the risk.
    Is the adventure worth the risk? Or, is the need greater than the risk?
    Is the adventure the dream?
    Is it a fear of leaving the familiar?
    Or, a substantiated fear based upon ability or lack thereof.
    “Happy is where you make it” and “your as happy as you are, now”: Words once told to me. Still working on the right answer.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Greg, I’m a huge fan of the Dodge Cummins!! Truly legendary engine! Sounds like you had a sweet set-up! To me it all comes down to saying “YES” to life. Live life deeply and drink it in to it’s fullest. Anything less is an insult to the Universe.
      Bob

  31. Mike Brown says:

    Bob,

    Excellent place you have established here for the rv lover! Good info and positive attitudes all around! I am still in the “wantabe” stage. Daily ebay rv surfing, monthly issue of motorhome magazine an occasional peek inside a local motorhome for sale! Got to get the boys off into the world before old dad gets his shot (five-six years)! In the meantime, I am encouraged to hold onto my dream via websites such as yours! You Da Man!

    Mike

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks Mike! I understand, I had to wait for my oldest to get out of the house as well before II could retire. It’ll come soon enough!
      Bob

  32. bill ennis says:

    I would like to buy a 1979 or 1989 mobile traveler,18ft long,rear dinette floor plan, dodge 360.

    • bill ennis says:

      Bill Ennis cell 435-619-9950

    • Bob Bob says:

      Bill, I have a friend with that exact model and he loves it! I’ve been in it and it is one of the best RVs I’ve ever seen.

      They are very hard to find and they hold their value well. I wish you the best of luck in your search!
      Bob

  33. bill ennis says:

    Thank you for the reply bob. I did own a 1979 but 3 years ago while traveling through Oklahoma a semi rock truck rear ended me on I-40.Rolled over one time and off to the hospital with a broken ankle. I am now trying to replace what was take away from me. So I am looking for a 1979 or 1980,dodge 360,rear dinette,18.5ft long. Any help is appreciated.

  34. Bill says:

    I used to own a small Toyota rig, conventional construction, with channel and screws holding the panels together. Northern summers and winters ruined the coach. But loved the convenience of its size and everything I needed in one little cabin. The dogs loved travelling in the overhead !!! Am now having a Chinook rebuilt and placed on a newer Toyota truck. CANT WAIT My old unit was a 22r and it was underpowered on hills, cannot wait to have a Chinook which will fit in garage, look less obvious, and again, park on a dime. Will use a porta potty and obtain a ” solar shower” a black heavy plastic bag which is hung in sunshine for awhile and warms water for bathing. You have a wonderful, objective and informative site here !!! Thank you… going to book mark you !! What is the name and subject of your book ?? Thank you

    • Bob Bob says:

      Bill, is that the old, smaller camper with the pop-top or the newer one that was a Class c? I assume it was the older one and if so they are fantastic rigs! That body on a new truck would be the very best of all worlds!! When you get it done i would very much like to see some pics and get a report!

      My book is about vandwelling and there is a link to it on the right hand side of the blog. Here is a link to it on Amazon:
      http://smile.amazon.com/Live-RV—Debt-Travel-Freedom-ebook/dp/B008S129XY/

      Bob

      • Bill says:

        Hi Bob………. just realized you had replied to me a couple months ago……. how rapidly this time has gone !!! Did not complete deal with guy who was going to redo Chinook and mount on newer truck. Yes… was going to be a poptop. Was able to find a decent one semi locally…. has good bones but needs a lot of working over… a nice winter project….. already love the thing. Drove it home 3 hours with bad steering and timing and got 25 mpg on a 20r Toyota engine. Has been neglected and things patched rather than fixed right, but is a nice starting point. Found really nice portable stove/ oven combo which works with 1 lb propane cylinder or can use adaptor and hook up to full sized tank. Love the pop top and putting her away in garage.

  35. Kristen says:

    Thank you for this blog. Especially this one! My partner and I are adventure guides for many years. Tim has 19 yrs and I have over 15yrs. We works at a small ski resort in the winter. It is pretty difficult to find a class c that is prepared for the winter living.
    My question is what should we be looking for to make sure the Class C is prepared for the winters in the Southeast.
    Also we have found a couple great Class C for $10K, but have 400+hrs on the generator. Is this ok? Thanks for all your info.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Kristen, I’m afraid I’m not very knowledgeable about RVs so I can’t really help you. My suggestion is to join my forum and ask this question there because we have many expert RVers in it. At the top of the page at cheaprvliving.com click on the forum button ad join there.

      Some RVs offer an arctic package or winter package which makes them much better suited for winter. Your best best to is to keep your eye out for one of them.

      I’m sorry, I just don’t know anything about genertors except the ones in RVs are probelmatic at best. I’d give serious thought to buying the RV without a generator and then buying a portable Honda instead.

      If you can live without the comforts of an RV, I’d give serious thought to a box van or a step van. The reason being that with their straight walls it’s very easy to insulate them very heavily. I lived in a box van for 6 years in Anchorage, AK and I heavily insulated it so it was comfortable all winter.

      Hope that helps!
      Bob

  36. Karl says:

    Nice job Bob. it is better to go for RV than earning for landlord. i mean too much money gets wasted on something that’s not even yours.
    Karl recently posted…Speed & Science: Types of Aftermarket Car Spoilers for Extreme Car ModificationMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      I agree totally Karl! I like to say that if you move into a van or RV you become the LORD of your own life instead of paying another landLORD who is the LORD of your life!
      Bob

  37. Derek Johnson says:

    After 20 years in NJ.Moved to Florida.Reading,researching all about living in a mobile house.Growing up in Ireland,we had a big old mobile home for summer at the cold sea,the Atlantic.Seriously enjoying reading this. Loving the cheap gas prices with my 91 GMC Suburban 2500,rusted out northern beast.I can put on a hitch and tow a caravan like all the nackers do in Europe.Or get myself an older American RV. May it stay at $2 a gallon, for the not so rich rv’ers in the World.

  38. Dan says:

    Bob,
    Last month I got my first RV and am FT RVing and love it!
    I got a 1992 Tioga Class C with 48,000 miles for $4500.

    There are issues…water heater needs to be replaced, fridge only works on LP and the furnace will need to be replaced by fall.

    It’s not new…not perfect…but it’s mine and like you said it’s a great way to get into the lifestyle without spending a small fortune.

    I love your site and all the great people on the forums!

    Thanks,
    Dan

    • Bob Bob says:

      That sounds like a great deal Dan! I’m sure it will serve you really well! The water heater and furnace may be a blessing in disguise. Many people prefer an On-Demand hot water heater and the MR Buddy or Olympian catalytic heaters. And, not only are they better, they are much cheaper to buy and to run! You’ll probably save money in the long run.
      Bob

  39. Tamara says:

    Hi Bob, I’m very new in living in a RV, my question for you is, what’s your option on a 1982 Tioga class C 20ft rear bed edition?? The thing is they say the head gaskets needs repaired…. What’s your opinion???

    Sincerely,
    First time buyer,
    Tamara*

    • Bob Bob says:

      Tamara, I’m sorry, but I’m not enough of a mechanic to answer that. My first suggestion is to join my forum (click on the “Forums” button at the top of this websites page) and ask the question there. There are some outstanding mechanics who can give you in-depth answers to all your questions like that.

      But, to give you the only answer I can, don’t guess or hope, get a mechanic to check it out and tell you exactly what is going on. It could be a few hundred dollars or it could be thousands and you need to know before you put down your money.
      Bob

  40. joe says:

    Bob I maybe buying a 86 class b toyota coachman 4 speed 22 re fi for 2500 maybe less tell me what is smart do or don,t buy I have a scamp 83 model I may sell getting a little rough but still OK so stay with what Ihave or maybe the yYoda

    • Bob Bob says:

      Joe, let me make sure I understand you correctly. You currently have a Scamp, fiberglass travel trailer and you are thinking about selling it and buying a Toyota Class C for $2500. What are you towing this Scamp with? What is your lifestyle? Part time or full time? Do you travel much or stay in one place?

      I’ve got to be honest and say I have my prejudices like everybody else and my prejudice is against the Toyota RVs. The greatness and reliability of Toyotas is not in question, they are some of the best ever made. But the motorhomes are overweight and underpowered and that’s a bad combination that overcomes the greatness of the engine. They struggle with hills and get mediocre MPG.

      I suggest you post this question on my forum so you will get a variety of opinions and views. I think most people think differently than I do.
      Bob

      • joe says:

        hey bob I am just toying around with this idea to buy because the scamp is a 83 model and it is getting the sagging at the door area as they get older this happens so I just do not want to spend the money on it and I can not afford to have both right now I could get 4000 for it and the yoda is 2500 he says I,m getting a deal on it 4 speed mpfi 22 re I like that it has a manual tranny I do like what I drive it has some miles on it 4,3 astro van awd so it is a ok set up I also liked vans this one will need a fuel pump soon any way please give me your thoughts again I know what is better with the set up I have now, also you could do a cold air intake k n air filter use high grade oil in the motor(Toyota) to help it rap out better with these engines either way it just something I have been thinking over before he sells it to some one else

        • Bob Bob says:

          Joe, the best thing about the Toyota RVs is that they really hold their value. You have nothing to to lose by switching to it and giving it a try. It may be the perfect rig for you! And of it isn’t, you can always sell it and try something else.

          I’d get it checked out by a mechanic before I bought it though.
          Bob

          • joe says:

            i plan on doing it i am going down this weekend to see it and like you say i could get my money back i know i can get more in this ski town prices jump up on every thing in this town i have seen many things sell for more than they are worth any way i will check it i owned yoda ,s before the timing chain on them is a issue any way i do thank you for your time and good judgement you are right on your advise i will be careful looking it over

          • Bob Bob says:

            Good luck with it!
            Bob

  41. Alex says:

    Hey Bob, loved the post and the idea. I actually just had a buddy fly from the east coast to Vegas to pick up a Toyota Itasca. Seems they are getting harder and harder to find, but I believe too that they are one of the best motors ever made. Thanks for sharing!

  42. Courtney says:

    Hey there,

    My fiance and I are selling our 1977 Toyota Chinook, 22r. I was just wondering if you could give me any guidance as to how much we should look to get for it? It’s in good working order, it’s had new tires and some other upkeep over the years to ensure it’s in good condition. The only thing wrong is that the left blinker won’t stay on. You have to push it down repeatedly to make it blink.
    Also, do you have any recommendations of where to sell it? I will put it on Craigslist, but if you know of any other reputable sites that would be a good option, I’d appreciate any advice you can give.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Courtney, those are in such high demand it’s a sellers market, the only thing I can say is watch Craigslist for the going price and then start high and if you have to come down later. I’m not following them but it seems like it’s in the $5-$7000 range.

      I’m no expert on selling things so I’d go with craigslist.
      Bob

  43. Kimi says:

    Hey there! We have never owned an RV and I am frugal person by nature so I have been leaning more towards an older RV that I can DIY update cosmetically so it was nice to read your article that buying old is a good way to start. What do you recommend as the best resource to determine a fair value? Do you recommend I read any books/articles before buying? I initially focused my search on a class C but I have revised my search to include class A. As of recent I found a 1989 Gulf Stream class A with 26k miles on it listed at $5,900. Seems like a great deal but I am sure there is something wrong with it to be listed so low. Anyways – love your post – very helpful! 🙂

  44. ShortAttentionVan says:

    Hello, Im interested to hear your opinion on 1980 Dodge F-30 Trans Van Motor homes http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/hnp/rvs/5686665316.html

    • Bob Bob says:

      It looks good and the price seem very good. The big question is, can you do the repairs it will need yourself. Many people prefer older rigs because they are so easy to work on, which they are. But, they need to be worked on a lot and if you can do that, they are a great choice. But if you can’t do your own repairs, then I’m afraid they will nickle and dime you to death! Except t seems everything now costs $500 anymore!
      Bob

  45. Joe Sperry says:

    Can someone tell me where to find the propane tank for the stove in a 1979 Corsair Class C camper?

  46. Richard of Carrollton GA says:

    Hi everyone. I bought a 1900 Coachman Signature Class C last July 2016. It was very clean, new tires and everything works. 36K miles. It is 29 foot bumper to bumper. It has a 5.2 K watt Generac generator with about 125 hours on it. It runs great. Everything worked at the initial inspection. I paid $6500. I am an Industrial Engineering Tech with nearly 40 years of experience and nearing retirement. I am also a home inspector and landlord of a number of apartments and properties. I am very much a hands on type of guy and understand physics and science. Thank goodness for the internet and the access to info that would have been difficult to get 30 years ago. I expected problems and put aside $1500 for issues I would discover that needed fixed. I was willing to do the labor myself. 1st the roof was covered in a thick clauke. I researched and found it to be a EPDM roof. No leaks showing themselves however to be proactive I went to work on it. I used Simple Green and a hand brush and scrubbed the entire roof down. Then put a generic floor sealer down as per the instructions and the roof is doing great now. Clean, no chaulking and water beads up. Spent about 10 hours including cleaning the sides of the motorhome after cleaning the roof. I then took and put self leveling caulk at every point of intrusion of the EPDM membrane. I found a very small leak at the front window over the bunk bed. I then resealed every running marker light on the rig. No more leaking. I found the deep cycle battery was loosing water. I found the DC convert was a non switching single stage type. I replaced it with a retro kit 3 stage unit and issue resolve. The rear dually tire leak down even with newer tires. I found the value stems were not the correct type and dry rotted. Replacing them resolve the issue. The rig has a V8 460 cubic inch engine. I found I it running a bit too hot when on the interstate at 65mph or climbing in the mountains here in North Georgia. I replaced the thermostat and water pump with a high volume units. Then I figured out a air dam was needed to direct more air into the radiator and made one in my shop. It cost me about $50 to fabricate on for this old rig. Works like a champ. I did replace all the cooling hoses when I changed out the water pump. The unit is 26 year old and I have to travel to 4 different auto parts stores to get all the hoses that would fit. This unit has a engine oil cooler and the hose that would actually was very difficult to find. I have a grey water holding tank with faulty sensors. I have tried chemicals without any good results. I have added rear dual view cameras and that has made backing up much easier. I am in the process of installing side view camera. Routing wiring was been difficult, but is doable with some effort and research. I did go out on a 9 day excursion in the Florida pan handle and hand no problems. I wish the fuel tank was could hold more than the 28 gallons it can hold. At 6 1/2 to 8 miles MPG, a tank of fuel does not go too far. I also have replace doz of rusty screws on the exterior with stainless steel screws. I use white grease on the screws to prevent electrolytic corrosion. It still a work in progress as I update and improve thins. It has been worth the cost with the recreation time I have had to get out of the rig. It’s an old man and requires TLC but it has been worth it. I have painted the under carriage to slow down the rusting I see. About a 1/2 doz cans of spray paint. If you buy an older rig, do inspect the under belly of the beast. My rig is in very clean and in excellent condition and I look forward to many days of relaxation for my efforts.

  47. jon t says:

    I like your comment from this article – “If you buy wisely, and drive it very little, you might be looking at many trouble-free years from the engine and transmission.”
    I’ll bet the RV will last forever if you don’t use it! HAHAHAHA LOL!!!

  48. Bret says:

    You still around Bob? I just read your “Baby Steps” for the second time. I enjoyed in very much. Buying a Motorhome recently led me here. I bought a Running 1978 Chinook of craigslist for Under $1000. It has the Dodge chassis with the 360 engine. I am told it was rebuild -8000 miles. It has a small amount of wood rot under the widow on one the left side of driver side window by the kitchen and the right side of the same window above the water heater. I have already torn into at from the shower forward. Removed all the couches and table area, carpet and paneling. I’m going to put in plastic type paneling as it is all fiberglass motorhome behind the cab and this will eliminate any future rot. Of course I need to seal the window. Anyway, I cant wait to take mine out on my first camp adventure! Hope to see you commenting here again soon. Bret

  49. Tim says:

    I have a 1983 mini mobile traveler (Chevy 30 chassis) diesel that I am selling. It looks just like the one pictured that the writers friend owns. Very nice rig and runs like a champ (hard to start in winter especially is summer blend is still in tank. 70k miles which is just broke in with diesel. All water system works no leaks stove, oven, hot water, furnace, bathroom, shower, etc. new tires and shocks and radiator. Had injector manifold replaced when I bought it 10 years ago. $5k. Colorado. Email for more info. corrigidor at hughes dot net

  50. Suzi Benz says:

    Hey just wondering if anyone ever visits the boundry waters canoe state part in MN. I hear so much of everyone being out west. Just wondering. It is so beautiful up there.

  51. MALDICE RIOS says:

    VERY FINE SITE

  52. Matthew says:

    Can someone tell me where to find the propane tank for the stove in a 1979 Corsair Class C camper?

  53. Spydie says:

    When I owned a Winnebago (Toyota) micro motorhome in the 1980s they were called Class E, not Class C (because they apparently didn’t fit into the idea of what a much larger class C was which, for the most part, had a “van” front-end and not the “pickup” front-end like the Toyota) but I can’t find any reference online to the Class E anymore. Anyone else ever hear of the class E?

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