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Buying a Wanderlodge, a Bluebird or any RV Ready to take the plunge or looking to upgrade and you have questions? Folks are standing by ready to help.

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  #1  
Old 08-17-2011
rickf rickf is offline
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Default Comparing the cost of bird ownership vs other older RV's

Hi all.. I've been a long time watcher of the Birds from back in the older Yahoo groups days but have been away for about the past 4-5 years now. Anyway, my wife & I would like to, at some point, get an RV that will accommodate our family of 5 (3 kids -- 14, 10, 5) for the ~4-5 times per year adventures around California, Oregon and elsewhere. We currently have a 2001 fifth wheel trailer that is parked in a storage lot because we're not allowed to park trailers in front of our house due to local laws (not even for a few hours without a permit -- $). Anyway, we've looked at some older Argosy (Airstream) motorhomes from the late 70's that are built on top of Chevy P-30 chassis (IIRC) and also at Revcon's (built on Old's Toronado chassis) from the early 70's. The nice thing about both of these is there are models that are nice-n-short and could actually park in our driveway like a car -- both offer ~24'-26' models. However, many of them are not in the greatest condition mechanically or otherwise. So, I was thinking about the birds again (I've only been in one up in Oregon back about 5 years -- it completely turned me off as it had a number of problems, had been painted completely WHITE and wasn't the greatest example unit to 'tour' for a first time). In our case length is a huge factor as we can not afford storage in our area (>$100/mo) as we've already had vandalism occur with our trailer (ripping open roof vents) so we want to park it at home which means in the 25' driveway (sideways or otherwise).

So, that really boils things down to an FC31 of some vintage or another. I gather that's about the shortest I'm going to find that was originally a wanderlodge (not a converted shorty school bus). I've not yet measured but I might be able to park it diagonally in our driveway. If that's the case then I can add an FC31 to the list of things to look into.

With that in mind then comes other questions. In reading elsewhere here in the forums last night I saw a few comments about gas milage on some of these FC's out there -- I believe most were pointing to the diesel varieties (3208's, etc) and most were coming in with anywhere between 5mpg to 8 at the top end -- some due to towing toads, trailers,etc. I've read that both the Argosy or Revcon's can expect (without towing) to get anywhere between 10 to perhaps 14mpg on average which means lower usage expenses when going long distances -- this is also an issue since it would not be uncommon to visit my mother in Oregon which is about a 3000 mile trek roundtrip for us.. One of the threads I read indicated that their FC (I think it was an FC) cost on average (when using the genset for AC,etc) about $1/mi to drive it when combining the fuel the rig uses with the genset. If that's the case then a 3000 mile trip would be prohibitive for us (don't have that kind of $$) -- I'm used to driving up and back in a van pulling a trailer and spending perhaps about ~$300-$400 on fuel -- not $3000. Am I off-base with this?

There was also a comment in that same fuel thread I was perusing indicating that fuel expenses are the tip of the iceberg with bird ownership (I'm paraphrasing here). I realize that some of these older rigs can and will breakdown from time to time depending on the level of care provided in the past (or not), wear-n-tear, etc. Are the birds going to be that much more costly to maintain (diesel or gas powered models) over something like a '72 Revcon built on a GM gas chassis? I've seen pictures of an engine being replaced on the Revcon and it's not a pretty picture and nothing I'd want to do certainly (you've got to unbolt the frame from the chassis -- not childs play here!).

Sorry for the long winded post -- I realize that perhaps I'm looking for the perfect blend of cheap RV ownership and use and perhaps getting that with an older rig is not possible unless I buy one that was meticulously maintained and completely rebuilt internally.. What I want to ensure regardless of what we buy is that we do NOT go out on our first adventure and it breaks down on the side of the road leaving us stranded and with a sour-taste in our mouth for our "new" purchase -- hence my interest in reading up on all angles. I'm certainly no RV expert but know how to maintain my cars & truck, do general maintenance & diagnosis and have no fear of doing that in whatever we buy. But I will fess up that I'm looking for something that is in very good condition (not a fixer) both mechanically and internally (furnisihings) and also isn't going to cost my $20k since money is tight (wife was laid off earlier this year after 26 years of employment) and won't need us to fork up $10k shortly after the purchase to replace the engine or some other required item..

Hope you all don't get mad at me for my odd comparison here -- I know that the BB's are much higher-end rigs than any Argosy/Airstream/Revcon's but those are some of the higher-end rigs once you get out of things like Winnebago's and those other not assembly-line RV's currently being built.
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  #2  
Old 08-17-2011
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Rick, To meet your requirements of a 20,000$ Wanderlodge that requires no additional money and is a 31 foot FC will be hard to find. The MPG on my FC is around 7. If your fuel cost were 4$ per gallon your 3000 mile trip would be around 1700 not 3000. Good luck with your search and welcome to the WOG.
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  #3  
Old 08-17-2011
oldmansax oldmansax is offline
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The reason there are no replies is......


WE ARE ALL THINKING!!!!!! :e ek:

TOM
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  #4  
Old 08-17-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickf View Post
Hi all.. I've been a long time watcher of the Birds from back in the older Yahoo groups days but have been away for about the past 4-5 years now. Anyway, my wife & I would like to, at some point, get an RV that will accommodate our family of 5 (3 kids -- 14, 10, 5) for the ~4-5 times per year adventures around California, Oregon and elsewhere. We currently have a 2001 fifth wheel trailer that is parked in a storage lot because we're not allowed to park trailers in front of our house due to local laws (not even for a few hours without a permit -- $). Anyway, we've looked at some older Argosy (Airstream) motorhomes from the late 70's that are built on top of Chevy P-30 chassis (IIRC) and also at Revcon's (built on Old's Toronado chassis) from the early 70's. The nice thing about both of these is there are models that are nice-n-short and could actually park in our driveway like a car -- both offer ~24'-26' models. However, many of them are not in the greatest condition mechanically or otherwise. So, I was thinking about the birds again (I've only been in one up in Oregon back about 5 years -- it completely turned me off as it had a number of problems, had been painted completely WHITE and wasn't the greatest example unit to 'tour' for a first time). In our case length is a huge factor as we can not afford storage in our area (>$100/mo) as we've already had vandalism occur with our trailer (ripping open roof vents) so we want to park it at home which means in the 25' driveway (sideways or otherwise).

So, that really boils things down to an FC31 of some vintage or another. I gather that's about the shortest I'm going to find that was originally a wanderlodge (not a converted shorty school bus). I've not yet measured but I might be able to park it diagonally in our driveway. If that's the case then I can add an FC31 to the list of things to look into.

With that in mind then comes other questions. In reading elsewhere here in the forums last night I saw a few comments about gas milage on some of these FC's out there -- I believe most were pointing to the diesel varieties (3208's, etc) and most were coming in with anywhere between 5mpg to 8 at the top end -- some due to towing toads, trailers,etc. I've read that both the Argosy or Revcon's can expect (without towing) to get anywhere between 10 to perhaps 14mpg on average which means lower usage expenses when going long distances -- this is also an issue since it would not be uncommon to visit my mother in Oregon which is about a 3000 mile trek roundtrip for us.. One of the threads I read indicated that their FC (I think it was an FC) cost on average (when using the genset for AC,etc) about $1/mi to drive it when combining the fuel the rig uses with the genset. If that's the case then a 3000 mile trip would be prohibitive for us (don't have that kind of $$) -- I'm used to driving up and back in a van pulling a trailer and spending perhaps about ~$300-$400 on fuel -- not $3000. Am I off-base with this?

There was also a comment in that same fuel thread I was perusing indicating that fuel expenses are the tip of the iceberg with bird ownership (I'm paraphrasing here). I realize that some of these older rigs can and will breakdown from time to time depending on the level of care provided in the past (or not), wear-n-tear, etc. Are the birds going to be that much more costly to maintain (diesel or gas powered models) over something like a '72 Revcon built on a GM gas chassis? I've seen pictures of an engine being replaced on the Revcon and it's not a pretty picture and nothing I'd want to do certainly (you've got to unbolt the frame from the chassis -- not childs play here!).

Sorry for the long winded post -- I realize that perhaps I'm looking for the perfect blend of cheap RV ownership and use and perhaps getting that with an older rig is not possible unless I buy one that was meticulously maintained and completely rebuilt internally.. What I want to ensure regardless of what we buy is that we do NOT go out on our first adventure and it breaks down on the side of the road leaving us stranded and with a sour-taste in our mouth for our "new" purchase -- hence my interest in reading up on all angles. I'm certainly no RV expert but know how to maintain my cars & truck, do general maintenance & diagnosis and have no fear of doing that in whatever we buy. But I will fess up that I'm looking for something that is in very good condition (not a fixer) both mechanically and internally (furnisihings) and also isn't going to cost my $20k since money is tight (wife was laid off earlier this year after 26 years of employment) and won't need us to fork up $10k shortly after the purchase to replace the engine or some other required item..

Hope you all don't get mad at me for my odd comparison here -- I know that the BB's are much higher-end rigs than any Argosy/Airstream/Revcon's but those are some of the higher-end rigs once you get out of things like Winnebago's and those other not assembly-line RV's currently being built.
I own a Wanderlodge, but I also have a tent. Sometimes it just makes more sense to use the tent....I'm just saying....
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  #5  
Old 08-17-2011
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Bill Pape Bill Pape is offline
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with all the detail you have listed, such as young family , wife laid off, budget, expectations etc,
I suspect a Motorhome is not a good decision at this time.
The age and motorhome models noted in your post may not bring family happiness & harmony.
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  #6  
Old 08-17-2011
markusfmeyer markusfmeyer is offline
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If you are only going to use one a few times a year, you might seriously want to consider just renting. Pluses are - no maintenance, no repairs, no insurance, nothing sitting in your driveway taking up space. Minuses - you have to plan a little ahead and can't just jump in on the spur of the moment. And I don't know where you can rent a WL, although I hear Rick is considering opening up a rental lot on his property if the units sitting there don't sell soon... !
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  #7  
Old 08-17-2011
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I'am becoming more and more attached to all these Blue Birds in the yard. Mike, Connie and Mugs left today so a little room opened up.
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  #8  
Old 08-17-2011
rickf rickf is offline
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Thanks for the replies all! I suspect I may not have worded everything just the best way possible but what I was trying to get across is that I didn't want to buy a rig for a particular price to only get it home and on the first couple of trips to find that I need to fork up the same amount of $$ paid initially to fix some major mechanical issue. To that end, I suspect if I just do my homework and read up on what you all are saying and learn to look out for the typical issues then perhaps 1/2 of my work is done prior to buying anything -- at least I'll know what to avoid. Of course that doesn't cover those rigs that come up like the one I apparently missed a bit over a month ago for $5k that was bank-owned and apparently not that bad a rig afterall..

I realize that anything that is mechanical (yeah, I realize a BB is a bit on the higher-end of mechanical needs) can and will breakdown and may need some stuff done that will cost more $$. However, if I am handy with tools and can get verbal (or written) assistance from you all pointing me in the right direction then that should help to avoid some costs by doing it myself.

As for renting, I've considered that with the wife and we just don't like the idea of forking up $1500/wk (last I checked) excluding fuel costs for something we don't even own. I know it works for a large amount of people but we'll probably pass on that.. We have been tenting though as that is certainly cheap -- but we can't do that much in the winter for obvious reasons!

I'll keep lurking though and asking stupid questions! Hope you all don't mind!
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  #9  
Old 08-17-2011
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Rick, I have an 83 FC 33 ft. Too long. You said you wanted a 31 foot. One of our members has a 35 foot for less than 8 thousand that needs paint. Too long. Randy has several FCs on his site all too long. There are a few 31s out there but they are few and far between and I know of none for sale at this time.

Randy has a 31 that is gas powered.
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Last edited by Rick; 08-17-2011 at 11:32 PM. Reason: added info
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  #10  
Old 08-17-2011
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I wonder how long an ├╝ber-rare "Bluebird Inn" is ???

I have not seen this coach, but I have talked with the owner at length and looked longingly at the pictures.
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