I wish I could tell you easy… bring it to me but I can’t, you have to start long before that and you have many levels of understand before you and realize you true potential….Grasshopper! Lets just say there are some things that will be different but adaptable when you live within 2″ thick walls. There are things you can do to focus on what’s important to you and your lifestyle, technology brings fabulous things to us today in this industry.. some more fabulously priced than others. There is room of all though….. in the over 20 years of doing this business I find it important after the usual pleasantries the owner has an irresistible urge to show me their coach, why they have it, what they’ve done to is and how well it fits their lifestyle…. and you know they are all correct.
One guy keeps the exterior of his coach looking terrible, that’s his 24/7 security system… I mean what could be in there of any value!!!!! Another watches the weather and brings adequate exterior maintenance supplies. One coach has no bathroom or windows like one of mine while another even has a dishwasher! They all love and use well what they have and that’s the tie that binds us all.
So Grasshopper, what do you seek? Make a list and write it down the reasons you are it this place in your life that you feel having some form of mobile lifestyle of any length of time should be in your future. Your first task is to decide whether you should consider this at all because once you drink the punch there’s no turning back. No one forced you to do this to yourself and the value of taking that step out into space is what you do with it.
My Mom I think was scared of the size of any motorhome, I was in scouts and a hiking and tenting lifestyle was in my genes. I remember distinctly tell my scouts that if they came upon a trailer or motorhome out in the wild to have potty because they were worthless and weak! Now look at me I feel now the best way to experience this world is to live in nature… not in a hermetically sealed enclosure. A weekend is great, a week is awesome and full time is what I want to do now and if you feel something like that congratulations, you have passed the first test. Each one of these levels is very important because when it’s raining, you are trying to hook up and water is in your shoes you need to remember why you are doing this and trust me you will have those questions…
Now that narrow group of you considering “vintage RVing is a special sort of lugnut, if the reason is to live for free forget it. Any RV that is designed to sustain you needs to any level other than a blue tarp and 20′ of rope like we gave our scouts doing survival merit badge and even it will need to be attended to!
Going rustic can be an interesting experience if you are prepared for it. It will not be cheap but that’s just an estimate as my esteemed colleague Andy F. drilled into my head but if you do it right will cost less than if you would have tried to do it with any other vehicle. You can’t get a bank loan to build one of there… the man sees no value in recycling, he would rather sell you new…. Don’t get me started….
You must be committed to see it to the end both mentally and with your pocketbook because while it will probably cost you less still it will cost and if some things occur the reason you are doing this cannot be only because of the cost. You must want to do this after much deliberation and consideration. In other works don’t drink the punch unless you truly believe.
If you have a reason to have one then do it and don’t look back because what’s in front of you will be more than enough to keep you busy!
OK guys, this will be your homework for today, if you are reading this just because read on but if you are really considering breaking into this stuff STOP. Sit with your copilot and write down why, what, how much and how you would use one of these things. After you have beaten that horse read on….
Alrighty then… now wasn’t THAT fun! If you lived through that struggle because BOTH of you must agree to have a pet like this. You need a purpose to hang on it to get the use out of it because if not your entire investment is a waste. NEVER purchase one of these things thinking you can “flip” it. These are not moneymakers in that as a member of your family you will shower your baby with all sorts of goodies. Hey, “it will make our experience better” and that’s true as long as you… here it comes again…. use it!
Alright, I haven’t talked you out of this so lets keep going. I want this to be very clear, the worse thing I can hear from a new owners lips is, “If I would have known that before….” so do your homework, study, don’t make a bad decision for your family. It’s not the cost it’s does it fit your need and will you use it… there I go again…
Thought I would mix things up a bit with different font colors, hey I know I can get long winded and boring if it’s not something you’re interested in. So lets go green for a bit…
Working with old and limited production vehicles of any kind you need to consider production numbers and spare parts. We know all of the paqrts will not be available by virtue of it being old but are there dealers who specialize in parts and what you need for the vehicle. If you can’t get parts it’s driveway art…
There were almost 13,000 GMC motorhomes produced and thousands of Olds Toronados and Cady Eldorados which use the same transmission which is the part that ultimately will put the GMC down. The good news there is those thousands of cars gives us spares and along with many other parts taken off shelf from other GM vehicles, getting parts to keep your GMC on the road is at least possible. Ask the Revcon group, they would love to have someone who catered to their needs… break a windshield on one of those and brother you are hooped….
There are 21 RV clubs affiliated with FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) devoted to the GMC motorhome, still the largest group in FMCA, with we imagine @ 8000 still around in various conditions this fact makes it possible to support the use of a GMC out on the road. Yes, this is what I’ve been doing for 22 years but in my mind the choice is clear unless you want to have parts hand made and carry a complete tool box and manual.
The GMC was designed by the auto industry, they didn’t know any better! It had been years since wood was used in the body of a vehicle built by the UAW! They had machines that could make things round and smart engineers who built the ultimate road rocket…. front wheel drive… low center of gravity, aerodynamically slick to 58mph, no steel exterior, aircraft construction…. made a bunch of them all pretty much the same. All that is a stark contrast the end of the pool design engineers from the RV industry came from…. there was too many salesmens hands in the pie. GM truly engineered a machine…. nuff of that… they were made in 2 lengths… 23′ and 26′. They ended up making only 15% of the 23′ configuration. A 23′ coach could be compared to an efficiency apartment.. the 26′ a 1 bedroom. That’s also the way you need to think about its use today. If you would like a dedicated sleeping quarters get a 26′ coach.
Your first decision is floorplan. The person who “guts” the interior will always spend the most amount of money to get what they want. The useable plumbing, electrical, bathroom bulkheads and cabinets represent a big part of your investment. Tear it all out and you will need to have it all put back the way you want it. If you can pick a basic floorplan that can be modified to meet your needs you can save a great deal of labor. Labor is the most important part of any custom project. So first look at the floorplans, here’s one look on line your will find them all. Pick one that the main walls can stay. You can change seating. Instead of building all new, you can “skin” the bulkhead walls with new materials, rebuild cabinets maybe even have the seating refinished. You may even find one that with a little cleaning you could drive it around before you have major interior and exterior work done. If not that’s OK, but still sit and get used to what you have before you decide to change things.
You can read on to understand what to expect but right here you should do some research on floorplans, call me if you want to and we can talk about what’s available. Most of the basic florplans will be only a slight seating deviation to the 1 floorplan above. Transmodes were built into unique floorplans but the basic GM interior was this one. Like I said do some research.
So after deciding on a basic floorplan stick to your plan. Look at other coach floorplans but remember this one you picked is your first blush. Now, I don’t care how well a coach was kept, what it looks like, mileage or anything … you need to have the mechanical condition of the machine surveyed.. period. That is unless you feel it’s such an awesome deal you are willing to give the mechanical evaluation and live with what you do yourself. No matter how perfect the machine is then you must spend “X” amount to have it completelt looked over.
We have a 5 page mechanical evaluation giving A–B–C condition of the components listed giving you a professional evaluation for you to better make a good decision. This takes our guys @ 2 hours worth of labor to perform… compression, bearings, brakes, fuel system, steering, etc. Our labor rate is $80 per hour so it usually costs @ $160 to have a good subjective mechanical view of the coach. If you are not close enough to us to do this, let me talk to a competant mechanic and I’ll tell him what to look for… I just want you to go into this project with your eyes open knowing the extent of what you have to work with.
OK, now you are a proud owner… what now!!!!! Get it to a safe place, if the tires are rotted have it towed… look at it as a part of the price. DO YOUR TITLE WORK AND GET A TAG AND INSURANCE! I didn’t hit cap lock by accident, before you sink a dime into the coach be sure the title is in your name, you have a tag and insurance preferably an “agreed value” policy. Jeff bought a nice coach… got “full coverage” on it just to drive it home. Yep, he totalled it and got $7000 for his troubles. A $30,000 coach was destroyed for $7000. Do not let this happen, you need an agreed value policy. Google “Miller Insurance” in Oregon, talk to Marlene and tell he I said hi. They only insure motorhomes and only carry agreed value coverage. Hard to find a company like that… shop for insurance but use these folks when you find no one has agreed value coverage…
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