Thursday, February 17, 2011

Buying an Older Model


Buying a Lazy Daze that is close to two decades old should be done with extreme care. The apparent sweetness of a low purchase price can turn into a money pit.

Be less concerned about the mileage than by the potential of expensive-to-fix "surprises" in a older motorhome. The purchase price is just the start; I suggest having motorhome's engine, chassis, systems, appliances, tires, and all elements of the "box", particularly for evidence of leaks, thoroughly checked out by an experienced and very savvy mechanic and an RV tech before considering such a purchase.

Comments on the Chevy 350 engine: it's generally durable, but not powerful. It'll move the coach if you're not in a hurry (stay around 55 mph), but is too weak, in my humble opinion, to safely tow an auto. Fuel economy averages 8 mpg.

Weak points: the multiple belts are prone to failure (especially the hydro boost pump belt); the exhaust manifold can overheat/burn though; the starter can be "cooked" by high heat in the tightly packed engine compartment. Insulating covers for the starter are available, and probably a good idea.

Leaks and dry rot are possible, even probable, especially in the overcab area. That front overcab window was a chronic source of leaks, which is why they eliminated it in 1990. Most leaks enter at the roof seams, roof appliances, end caps, or window frame seals. Where the water travels after that before settling and causing damage is less obvious, but gravity is the key. Inspect carefully the walls below all windows, especially at floor level. In general, move stuff to see the floor-wall seam everywhere you can, even inside cupboards, around the bunk mattress. For outside compartments above floor level, inspect inside carefully. Check compartments below floor level from underneath. And, from the outside, look carefully at all walls for signs of vertical compression due to wood rot - visible by horizontal ripples in the aluminum skin.

In any case, set aside a couple thousand bucks in addition to the purchase price to pay for the inevitable unexpected costs. For example, a set of new tires will run you over a thousand, and if the tires on the coach are more than five to seven years old--regardless of tread wear--they should be replaced.

Andy Baird's Lazy Daze Pocket Guide (http://www.andybaird.com/travels/LD-guide-web/changes.htm) includes a year-by-year listing of changes that can be very useful when shopping for a used Lazy Daze.

These older coaches do require a lot of care and feeding, so you'd better be handy with tools, or prepared to pay someone who is.

Ford V-10 LDs have been produced for almost 15 years so decent, lower priced models are available. Larry Wade has worked on more LDs than probably any other member of this forum and, in his opinion, spending a lot of money on an G30 is not the smart approach. No matter what you do to a G30 chassis, it will be inferior to the E450. Beside the major improvements in the chassis, there have been dozens of improvements in the coach, including better sealing of the walls and windows. Every G30 Larry has worked on has had window leaks at some time, a problem that is much rarer in the newer models. The elimination of the front window and better sealing materials helped a lot.

The bottom line for those considering purchasing an elderly LD is to have both the coach and chassis fully inspected by qualified mechanics to lower the possibility of buying a piece of junk. A few hundred dollars of upfront inspection costs can save you many thousands of dollar and tons of aggravation in the long run.

See the Lazy Daze Yahoo website's Files - Buying & Selling section for a guide to inspecting used rigs.

Contributors: Joan Taylor, Andy Baird, Larry Wade

Revised 21 Jul 11

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