Monday, March 18, 2013

But does it run?

The S.O. and I have been Leviathan shopping lately, looking for a motor home similar in size and amenities to the one his brother owned but available for much, much less money. For some reason, shopping for an RV is starting to remind me of politics. We've been hearing a lot of promises from sellers -- it runs like a charm, never had any problems with the generator, etc. -- but with no evidence to back those promises up. Yesterday we looked at a vintage Georgie Boy that had me thinking of Paul Ryan's budget plan: Ryan swears it'll solve the country's deficit problems, get the economy back on track, and be a general boon to everyone, but there's no evidence to support his claims. He's promising the equivalent of a brand-new, fresh off the assembly line vehicle while you're busy looking around and seeing the 30+ years of grease in the kitchenette, sagging cabinet doors, holes punched in the paneling, threadbare shag carpeting, and cracked windshield. Then you ask, "but how does it run?" This is the point where the prospective buyer expects the seller to whip out a key and fire the beast up. Instead, the response is, "Trust me. It runs great."

I don't think so. If it ran great, it would be running when the buyer went to look at it. Just like with Ryan's proposed budget; if he really believed it would work, it would contain specifics instead of indulging in platitudes, vagaries, and direct contradictions. Ryan's current budget plan is the same one he's been trotting out for several years now. About all he does is change the title and maybe the color of the comb binding on the printouts.

As for our motor home search, this business with the beasts sitting there inert when the prospective buyer arrives to examine them has me baffled. We've looked at two used RVs this month. One was immaculate on the inside; it was a 1989 Winnebago but the carpeting and upholstery looked new. It was spotless. It was also basically exactly what we were looking for when it came to size and interior layout. The other one was an ancient Georgie Boy; it looked like something Randy Quaid would drive -- the interior layout wasn't bad, but was thoroughly obscured by years of having been used by a family with multiple teenage boys. It was, in a word, disgusting.

In both cases, though, the interior was irrelevant. What mattered was the engine. Did the beast run? Who knows. In both cases, the seller swore that there were no mechanical issues, the thing ran like a charm, it might need a minor tune up after sitting all winter, but no big deal. It would have been a lot easier to believe the sellers if the vehicles had actually been running while we were there.

Despite the squalor, I am still a little tempted by the Georgie Boy. It would require a lot of elbow grease, but it does have several things going for it, chief of which is an incredibly low price tag. Now if we could only be sure it actually runs. . .


  1. I can assure you that when it comes to older motor homes that if there is a single stain anywhere up near the roof line in the interior that there is wood rot in the framing.

    As for if it runs good or not that wouldn't be an issue to me, if it's a Dodge drive train. They sit for long periods and things get gunky on them but it's nothing I can't fix cheap by cleaning the carb, replacing the fuel filter and plug wires and valve cover gaskets and such. If it has under 70K on the speedo it's likely still a good engine.

    But if it has a Chev drive train in it, especially a 454, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

  2. Oh, and if you buy one with a Dodge system in it always carry an extra ignition resistor, if it quits making spark that's always the first thing you should replace, it'll likely fire right up again.

  3. I've been looking for water stains with every one we check out. I figure with the snow loads we get up here that a leaking roof is a real possibility in any RV that's sat outside through the winter.

  4. Hard to believe anyone would think they could sell a vehicle without running the engine for prospective buyers...and FYI, carpet cleaning companies will clean the interior of RV's with their truck mounted steam equipment - saves you some elbow grease and does an excellent job.

  5. Check your email for a real Class Eh motor home


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