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dmevis

Buying Older Class A Diesel Pusher

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I am a long-time RV owner, and pretty mechanically inclined.  But I have never owned a diesel vehicle.  We are in the market for a used 34" MAXIMUM LENGTH diesel pusher.  We want ample torque to be able to get the rig and our 5K toad up any hills; so the Tiffin Allegro Breeze is not an option.  Due to the economy, the options for the 2008-2016 years are pretty slim.  Due to environmental regulations, the options for 2008+ seem to have severely reduced torque.  So, we have been looking at 2002-2007 RV's.  A 12+ year old gas RV with 80K+ miles is not something I would consider.  So my questions are these:

  • Is a 12+ year old RV with a Cummins/Cat diesel on a Freighliner Chassis, and lets say, <100K miles, something that would be mechanically problematic? 
  • What is the expected lifespan of a diesel pusher engine/trans/chassis?
  • How can I test or determine if the engine and trans are in good condition?
  • Anything I should be looking for, or to avoid?

If you have any thoughts on my situation or reasoning, please let me know.

Thank you for your time.

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Welcome to the forum. And a diesel cummings/cat engine the age that you are asking about in most cases is a good choice. 100,000 miles is miniscule IF the previous owners were good tenders of their equipment, meaning oil changes, proper coolant care was taken and several other things come to mind. An oil and coolant analysis would be my recommend to determine how well the engine was maintained, and driving the rig to check the shifting of the transmission. While test driving be sure to test from a stopped position, a nice drive down an interstate at normal speeds, and be sure to find some hills to climb. Pretty much a standard routine drive test. Also almost forgot to include a transmission fluid analysis, this will help a potential for a tranny problem. Good luck hunting.:rolleyes:

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dmevis.  Welcome to the Forum! :)

Pre 2007 DP is perfect, no Particulate Filter, no DEF...my Fiance has a 40 foot, 2006 Tiffin Phaeton, 350 CAT, 85,000 miles...would have about 20,000 miles more on it, but she prefers to be in my 45 footer.  I have 94,000 miles and we are putting another 15,000 on it this Summer in Canada.  The coach will die, long before the Cummings/Allison!  Engine/Trans = 700,000 to 1 million + miles!

I save all my annual Service Receipts.  You can take a oil sample & get a full readout on the health of the Engine.

How long has it been since coach was taken out and run for 50+ miles?

For a 34' DP, look to Fleetwood, pre 2007 or Winnebago/Itasca.  Why 34 MAX ?

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3 years ago I bought a 98 Discovery 36 with a Cummins ISB 275 6 speed Allison trans.  99,895 miles on it and was is very good condition with the original interior.  I've worked on RVs at our shop for some 38 years.  I knew that the engine injector pump should be changed and the lift pump replaced. I did modifications to some of the systems, doubled the fuel capacity, installed rack and electric winch to hold a spare tire, upgraded from 30 to 50 amp service, installed 800 watts solar and 4 100 amp lithium batteries.  Full body paint with 4 coats of clear all baked on.  I tow a Silverado 4x4 with M&G brake system, its a little slow going up hills but I've out grown the need to be the first to the top and I enjoy getting around 10 mpg.

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Herman, yep.  It's going to PPL, after we get back in August. OP wants a 34 not a 40! We are currently, moving my stuff out of Galveston Island house & it's being listed tomorrow.  Time is running short. We leave in my rig, the 1st.  I'm picking up mine at TCC Wednesday! 🤗 

Loved the pictures from Lone Star Rally!  

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16 hours ago, dmevis said:
  • What is the expected lifespan of a diesel pusher engine/trans/chassis?
  • How can I test or determine if the engine and trans are in good condition?
  • Anything I should be looking for, or to avoid?

Age and mileage are not the most important factors in my book - proper maintenance is. I'd be looking for a coach which has complete service and maintenance records. The records will tell you lots about what's going on inside the engine & transmission. Anyone can have an engine bay detailed to make it look great, but records are harder to fake.

Testing the engine/transmission? You can pull a fluid sample from the engine oil, coolant, and transmission fluid. Send them to a local shop that does analysis - that will give you a pretty good look at potential problems. The test can tell you if there is any contamination (fuel or water in oil, etc.), and can let you know if there are any metal particles in the fluids. They can usually even identify where the metal particles come from. Might cost a few dollars to do the testing but it can save thousands if you can avoid buying an engine that's been overheated, for example.

Next on the list for keeping an older coach in good shape is getting the coach out on the road from time to time. There's nothing worse for a drive train than not being used. Our coach is 45 years old with only 47,000 actual miles on the odometer. The majority of problems we've encountered has been related to lack of use, usually resulting in seals drying out and shrinking or rubber components not receiving proper lubrication from sitting for too long. I would avoid an older coach if it has spent most of it's life sitting at a campground, especially if never moved from the spot.

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Dmevis, welcome to to the FMCA Forums!

As already mentioned pre emissions Year’s would certainly be the most dependable. Pulling oil samples will show if there is anything to be concerned with as long as the fluid being sampled has at least 5000 miles on it on a smaller to mid size diesel (up to 9liters). Said another way, if the seller was trying to hide something and recently changed it, it will come back perfect. 

Life span of a coach powertrain in that size range would be somewhere around 300,000 miles. That size coach wouldn’t have a large bore wet sleeved Diesel engine commonly found in an road tractor, in the old days the large bore diesel would achieve a million miles. 

 

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Gonna be difficult to find a diesel pusher that short. The only one I know of is a 1996/97 era Beaver Monterey. I know a man who owns one, they are a quality-built motorhome IMO, and the 300HP CAT engine really moves it up the hills.

EDIT: there are newer diesel pullers that size on the market if that is an option.

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