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2006 Fleetwood Expedition 34 vs 1999 Alpine 36


Mr&Mrs Duet

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We are considering making an offer on one of these 2 coaches:

Fleetwood

http://clients.automanager.com/scripts/VehiclePhotos.aspx?VID=98cf05e11adfec4d9f36b9d124d468a2&PID=22

 

Alpine

http://clients.automanager.com/scripts/VehiclePhotos.aspx?VID=94f667c1ee4d604d8a8201abdcd83ae0&PID=4

 

Advantage Fleetwood:

Overbuilt hitch, 3 slides=more interior room(don't really like the passenger side slide interferes with awning space), greater gcwr 10,000lb tow, newer, comes with 2 year warranty, Taller interior room (I,m 6'5"), shorter coach for access to state parks etc

 

Advantage Alpine:

New tires less than 1 year (Fleetwoods are 2.5 yrs old), new coach batteries, more kitchen counter space, side cooled engine= easier maintenance, seems like better materials were used in construction, coach is less expensive

 

We intend to use this for the next few years until retirement as a weekend trip/ occasionally longer vacation style RV.

 

Yes I know they are not longer coaches, and I'm familiar with short wheelbase rides. My first vehicle was a 1968 Dodge A90 van. Traveled all over in that thing and love the van lifestyle. (kind of want to do that with our motor home, just more comfort)

 

So what say you all, what else should we consider in choosing one of these?

 

Thanks;

Keith

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Guest THE TRAILERKING

ALPINE for me.......

#1 Side radiator

#2 No basement compartments built into slide (don't like compartments hanging on slide)

#3 Table & Chairs (I don't like the booth set up)

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I would choose the Fleetwood, if we assume all else to be equal, which is a major assumption. Condition is everything with any used RV but Alpine is the product of the long failed Western RV who has a very checkered history. Fleetwood of that time may not have a perfect track record, but they have many happy customers that are still on the road and does survive today, after the sale in bankruptcy in 2009. I have never owned a product from either company and do not expect to. Here is a review of the Western RV who built the Alpine that you may want to consider.

 

WESTERN RV:
JD Gallant and his staff hit Western RV hard when it introduced its Alpine Coach back in 1998. According to JD's recorded evaluation at the time, "The Alpine house is sloppily put together. We found flaws throughout that should never have left the line. It's almost like they hired people off the street to put the Alpine together." Although JD praised the Peak chassis after visiting the factory, he was still appalled by the assembly process. He did later state that it got better after a time, but the improvement took far too long.

The Alpenlite fifth wheels were always rated "good" — sometimes even excellent. When the founder, Bill Doyle , was running the company, the profits were high and quality stayed pretty much in line. Some say the Alpine Coach was the brainchild of Ron Doyle, who assumed the presidency after his father retired.

The first sign of problems was in November of 2006 when an investment firm working with Bob Lee (founder of Country Coach) agreed to acquire and recapitalize Western RV. With an announced debt of $13 million, all that we could figure at the time was that Western overcapitalized by pushing its Alpine Coach to new limits. After intense negotiations, in February of 2007 Monomoy Capital Partners and co-investor Bob Lee paid $53 million, including debt assumption, for the company.

Less than six months after its purchase (and after Ron Doyle left Western), trailer manufacturer Pilgrim International pressed for a merger between the two companies. When they couldn't pull it off, we took a happy deep breath and hoped that Western would do some serious belt tightening until the economic downturn was over. Apparently that didn't happen.

In January of 2008 the board brought in a new president. Bob Wert immediately promised new and better things for Western. Then a month later the board brought in Barry Lown, a former executive from Fleetwood, and appointed him vice president of sales and marketing. For a few weeks it looked like Western had a future.

In March of 2008, Western started laying off workers. On April 1, the bill collections and lawsuits started. Then on April 16, Western shut its doors. People waiting for warranty service waited and waited. They never got the service.

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To me its close to a toss up. I'd likely choose based on the previous maintenance records & current mechanical condition. You or your mechanic need to get down on a creeper and spend some time under the coach.

This 99 Alpine model was built long before the companies quality & financial problems started. The Alpine probably started with slightly better components, the key is what kind of condition are they now and on a 7 yr older coach, how well was it maintained. I notice there is no bedroom slide on the Alpine, that's got to make it tight for guys our size getting around the bed.

The Fleetwood looks to be in excellent condition, but again I'd be more concerned with what it looks like under the hood. Being 7 yrs newer can be a big deal, depending on how each was used, abused, maintained or neglected. The current Fleetwood company, although under new ownership, has a good track record of customer service even on rigs built before they took over.

The expensive stuff to repair or replace is hidden, the engine, radiator, transmission, & chassis components. The stuff inside the living area is nickles & dimes compared to repairing an engine, replacing the brakes or an air dryer, etc.

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Guest THE TRAILERKING

Who's chassis did Alpine use? There appears to be a lot of "Tech" info on the 'net. Whatever coach you consider.....Get the side rad and NOT a rear rad. You'll thank yourself later.

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Alpine used the "Peak Chassis" which I believe was their own in house chassis mfg by Western Rec chassis group.

Although I agree there are advantages to a side radiator, its not a deal breaker to go with a rear rad. There are tens of thousands of DP running around with rear radiators and no problems. With the Freightliner XC chassis and rear rad on that Expedition, whats critical is to route the "slobber tune" so it exhausts the excess oil to the side or further rear than the radiator/charge air cooler surface. Freightliner shipped them all with very short slobber tubes that exit right in front of the radiator, causing it to gunk up and overheat, but its an easy fix.

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Guest THE TRAILERKING

The other biggie with a rear rad is trying to hurdle over and around it to do maintenance. Which is pretty much impossible.

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I did another walk through today, I drove the Expedition the other day, I'm driving the Alpine tomorrow. Both coaches have been well maintained.

The Alpine owners group has a lot of information available and I haven't found any major chassis problems.

 

The big discovery I found is the seat adjustment range on this coach. There are kick panels in front of the driver and passenger seats that severely limit foot and leg room. Don't know what's behind them.

 

The drawer sides and backs are thin plywood, installed on nice slides. so they are repairable as opposed to particle board or mdf construction. if/when the break.

 

I really like the side radiator, engine access and the rear maintenance bay on the Alpine. The generator is on a hydraulic slide and it has HWH levelers.

 

The foot and legroom may be a deal breaker after the drive tomorrow. Does any one know if the later models increased the drivers legroom? We can cure the passenger legroom by getting a front door entry unit. It is also 36' long. Was trying to stay 34' or below.

 

Jim2, thanks for the heads up on the slobber tube. Where does one look for it? Do you have to get under the vehicle to see it? I've heard good things about Fleetwood support. It is a consideration.

 

I like the seating position of the Expedition. It has a brand new Norcold 4 door refridgerator in it. Was replaced after the old one died. I've read about the "Not cold" fridge problems. Trying to research this one out.

 

The previous owner put a laminate floor in, but the slide is already scraping it, so a thinner material or better carpet needs to go back in.

 

And just to add a new wrinkle. At dinner tonight I received a phone call that the original coach I looked at that started this whole process is back on the market at a reduced price. It's a Winnebago 32t. In nice shape. Biggest drawback, no washer, or separate comfy chair.

 

Thanks for all the advice. I'll keep you all posted.

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Went to drive the Alpine today and had a couple of interesting problems:

 

The first was an intermittent growling sound when the steering wheel was turned, it happened occasionally during deliberate turns. Power steering pump going out or maybe just low on fluid?

 

The second was of much more concern:

With the coach fully stopped and the brake pedal depressed, the steering wheel could not be turned, and the "check brakes" caution light on the dash illuminated. The sales rep had driven it from the show lot to a parking lot. After I discovered the above, I terminated the test drive. I'm trying to figure out if the power steering and brake hydraulics are interconnected.

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If still hunting for Class A's, I believe the Alfa coaches had more headroom then most other Class A's. Do not know about he driving position. Some years of the Alfa coaches had delimitation problems (believe it was delimitation) - so checking in with an Alfa owner's group could steer you away from certain years.

 

And yes that while a Rear Engine Radiator DP would probably serve you well, if shopping, why not shop for a side radiator for he reasons you've already pointed out.

 

Happy hunting,

Smitty

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Smitty

 

I'm leaning toward that side radiator. Seems to make some of the DIY stuff easier.

 

Drove the 2006 32 foot Journey today. Beautifully maintained coach, in the end, didn't like the way it drove, and it was just a little to small, so we passed.

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I'm like you well over 6'. I had to find a coach with enough head room, especially in the shower, and a full sized queen bed. After much searching I found what we needed. There's a ton of quality used coach's available. Just keep looking, keeping in mind maint.records. Plenty of so called high end Rv's aren't worth a damn if they haven't been taken care of. It's a real sticking point with me...without those records...I walk away. Not sure what kind of traveling you do, but I would recommend at least 38' with a couple of slides for livability. The rest is just personal preferences.

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Now we have the to get an inspection completed and some minor work done.

Keep us posted! Since most of us only get to participate in RV shopping a few times in our lives, we really enjoy riding along with others who are doing so. Condition is everything in any used RV so listen carefully to the advice given by your inspection tech.

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As invited;

 

Situation #1, finding a place to do an inspection on the chassis, engine, brakes and transmission. Called the local Freightliner service department and was told, we don't do motor homes. I replied, I want the engine chassis etc done not the living area. Reply was we don't do motorhomes, we just don't have the room. What's up with that? I thought that was a benefit of having a Freightliner? Had to call Freightliner customer service for a couple of shops that did do them. This being 6 hours away is painful!

 

2nd, determining what to inspect. The Freightliner shop in Orlando asked what I wanted inspected. I figure Brakes (pull the wheels) Engine and transmission codes checked and fluids checked, radiator and CAC (intercooler), belts and hoses.

Anything else, power steering, leveler hydraulics, etc?

 

Coach is located near Winter Haven FL. Anybody know an independent RV inspector in the area?

 

I like the selling dealer and tend to believe he wants to do right, but like Ronald Reagan said about the Russians,...."we trust our friends the Russians, but we verify..."

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Thanks for the info.

It's Highway RV in Lake Alfred.

For some reason, I had a feeling it was Highway RV. Our son just bought a used fiver from them about 2 months ago. We were really impressed with the way they treated him. It seems like a quality place. I thought if we were in the market, I'd definitely want to do business with them.

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Update, finally got the coach to a shop for the mechanical inspection. Chassis, drive train, brakes etc given a clean bill of health so far. Oil and coolant samples were taken and sent to the lab. We are waiting for those results. Probably a couple more days.

 

It seems like many RV's are bought long distance. It's been a battle getting the inspections coordinated, getting the seller to take the coach to the shop, getting the oil sample bottles sent to the shop and mailed off to the lab, even finding a reliable place willing to do the inspection. Maybe I shouldn't be so picky on a relatively inexpensive coach, bit it still cost's twice what my first house did, and I don't think I'm that old! :D

 

So, any tips for making long range buying easier?

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You're doing it right, and patience at this point should pay off later.

Purchasing long distance just requires commitment & good communication among all parties. Everything you'd ask or look at in person can be done by emails & photos. If you have an owner/dealer who's not used to documenting everything in emails and digital photos it can take some prodding. You can lead the parade along, but if the others aren't willing to do their part, it can become frustrating.

I occasionally buy houses sight unseen, with the right mix of people most deals go down like clockwork; but some end up making the process more trouble than its worth.

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