Author Topic: I was recently asked a question on my American Dream  (Read 4040 times)

Offline GlennLever

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I was recently asked a question on my American Dream
« on: June 30, 2016, 09:18:04 AM »
I was recently ask a question on what to look for look for on a used 1997 American Dream he was going to look at.

He also wanted to know how it owed.

This was my long winded answer.

I friend has sold his for a very low price of $36,000.

Someone got a great deal.

The America series was is a high end coach, and have complicated systems.

It took two years of poking and prodding, and not a single trip without a problem.

This season (and by saying this will jinx myself) I have had two flawless long trips.

We have no slides and with the two of us this works out great, if you read any of the forums people are constantly having problems with slides and I would say second to that the jacks. On my Dream they are not electric but hydraulic in both directions (does not use a spring to pick them back up).

One area that should be checked is the floor of the battery compartment. It is directly inback of the right rear wheels and you also have the problem of battery acid eating it. The frame work has been known to rot away, but can be fixed, but not a small task.

Also there are a lot of big batteries, check their age and condition. Another problem is tires, that year American coach had a recall because the tires on the front were not strong enough for the weight. This was particularly true for coaches with slides. The recall replaced tires and the weight tire chart in back of the drivers seat to recommend "H" rated tires for the front.

With that label they had different tires on the front and rear. The tires they wanted were a odd ball size. Look at the date code on the tires, five years of service is all you want any more and they need to be replace. not because of wear, but because of sitting, they will take a set that you will never get rid of, and the ozone will start to crack the side walls. You do not want a tire failure on a steer axle! I recently had a conversation with a gentleman that says Mr. Freels say you should get "regional" tires as they are used to sitting. I purchased big truck tires, because I did not know better.

I elected to replace all my tires with the same size tires all the way around. A popular tire used by truck so that should I need one (we have no spare) it would be easy to find. The chassis manufauturer said to get the biggest tire that would fit. I replace  with thew same size tire that was on the Motor Home 295 X 75 X 22.5. The heaver tires actually improved the ride in my opinion.

Shocks in the front are another thing to check. they do not leak oil, but the seals inside go bad giving a soft spongy ride (most noticeable in"dips" in the highway). There was only one manufacture of shocks for my chassis and were hard to find.

That year coach had several options that, in my mind, change the valve of the Motor Home a lot. The market place does not recognize it though, One was the chassis offered Most of the America coach come on a frightliner spartan. An option of a Gillig chassis was offered at a $20,000 price tag. Gillig is a commercial bus builder out of California and are still in business. The Gillig chassis is MUCH more robust (much bigger radiator, has a huge Hydraulic fan, axles and differential is much upgraded. This is not to say that the freightliner chassis is not good, but if you find it is a Gillig you are looking at it should add value (price you are willing to pay) (not that the seller will know the difference). Outward appearance they are identical. One way to tell is if you open the electronics compartment door there should be a label with the Gillig name on it (I can send a picture, the whole bay is laid out different between the manufactures.

The second option was the engine. Most of the America coach came with a 300 HP Cummins. There was a $5,000 option to upgrade to the 325 HP Cummings This engine is very desired and was/is used in fire trucks and Marine applications. The only way to tell is to look at the data plate on top of the timing chain cover. It is very difficult to see. I finally ended up using a camera and took many pictures until I got one that I could read.  I was using a true camera, but a phone camera would be a better choice because of the limited space.

If you take an hour to look at the bus you have not looked hard enough, drive it for at lest an hour, be willing to put fuel in it for the guy.

Mine tows great, only in winds above 25 MPH do I slow down from 65 MPH, It will easily tow faster, but I find it very comfortable at 65. I drove back from Bowling Green in one day (13 hours) and was not tired when I arrived home (no fighting the wheel). I'm 72 feet long with my trailer (no tag axle) and know when a truck is passing but that is it, I am not blow around (Motor Home weighs 32,000 pounds)

If you are going to go look at it give me a heads up, and when you get there call me with any questions. You should not pay any more that $40,000 for the unit, and can expect to pay less. I paid $42,000 for mine

I hope this has been helpful, one last thing the engine and chassis under these Motor Homes are know as million mile pieces.

Be sure to start and run the generator, salvage  units are available in good condition for $3,000 but make a good bargaining point. Generator like a lot of hours, so do not be afraid of a unit with 3,000 hours on it, but again you can use it as a bargaining point.  Although they are baried, I sawpped min out in a single day (you will need the use of a fork lift for 20 minutes (to remove the old one and slide the new one in)

Glenn R. Lever
Rochester, New York 14617-2012
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Offline Rusty Kramer

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Re: I was recently asked a question on my American Dream
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2016, 11:43:04 AM »
This is good info from Glenn,

I would appreciate anybody here that is towing with a Class A Diesel Pusher to let us know what you have for a unit, what you tow and what problems if any you had and what you did to overcome those.  I am not looking for all the legal stuff here. I am looking for real world experience with various coaches. 

From what i find unless you have a very late model VERY high end coach most of these are really rated for about 5K trailers or most don't even have a towing capacity they just rate the GVW GVRW.  A unit with a 10K hitch does not mean the coach is rated by the factory to haul a 10 K trailer in many cases. 

With that said there are pit areas at racetracks around the US that are full of these units that are similar to what Glenn is using.  Some of these coaches are built better than others I fully understand that.  But most of these rigs are technically overloaded if you base it on the GVWR numbers...  I remember the day when racers were trying to use the "light duty" gas rigs to pull and that was not working so well.
I would also like input on what type of brake controllers etc...
 Towing is a big expense and a very important part of the racing operation. I know there are a lot of theories and opinions.. I would just like to hear from Racers like Glenn who Tow with these rigs.
Thanks in advance for the information.