Wisdom and costs associated with older Newell ownership
I am interested in buying a motor coach to go to Burning Man next year, and probably subsequent years as well. It turns out that, due to extremely high demand, renting a coach is prohibitively expensive and comes with all kinds of hidden charges and the like, so it struck me that buying one in good condition might be a better idea than renting.
Since the intersection of Newell Coach owners and Burning Man attendees might not be all that large, I should mention that Burning Man is an arts event in the Nevada desert where you need to be completely self-sufficient for over a week. It is notorious for being a very difficult and challenging environment, where there are essentially no available services.
To make this very clear, the main document on Burning Man is called the "Survival Guide". If your equipment has problems, you are essentially on your own. You also need to have generous waste water tank capacity, because pumpouts are not readily available and are quite expensive when they are.
Technically, you can come to Burning Man with any vehicle, and even pop a tent. But even the most superficial viewing of the description of conditions at the event (high winds, dust storms, relentless sun, etc, etc) would indicate that an RV is almost a necessity for survival, at least in a halfway civilized manner. And of course you want a high-quality one that will not break down or give grief in extreme conditions.
Most people don't go to the extreme of buying a Newell Coach to go to Burning Man - lesser RVs are all over the place - but I noticed that a 1990 Newell is about $50k. Judging by Craigslist, a lot of people pay far more than that for what looks to me like a lot less – lower durability, gas instead of Diesel engine, etc.
I'm impressed by the cohesiveness of the Newell Coach community, and by the obviously high overall quality of the coaches. The availability of 24/7 customer support by a single point at the factory is also impressive, and something the supposedly more durable bus conversions can't match.
What I'm curious to know is the pros and cons of buying a relatively old coach. What are typical maintenance problems like, and what are approximate maintenance costs if I start with a well-maintained coach. This one, for example, really impressed me:
Now, that one is probably going to be sold by the time I actually get around to buying one, but it looks like a very high percentage of Newell owners love their coaches and as a result maintain them well.
My personal belief is that I would rather have an older but extremely high quality product maintained by enthusiasts than a newer one maintained by those who don't really care.
So, am I a complete nut to make my first coach ever a Newell, or am I simply a surprisingly discerning customer?
Your thoughts, pro and con, are warmly appreciated.
You would be wise to make a Newell your first RV - why not start at the top?
Older Newells are a great place to start, in terms of (relative) simplicity, cost, and size.
Having said that, one should be aware that ALL Newells are complex and sophisticated devices with lots of system interfaces. Diesel engine, big automatic transmission, generator, plumbing, heating/cooling, et al. can have even veteran owners scratching their heads as they search through a thick stack of manuals and instructions. And, the newer the coach, the thicker the stack.
The payoff to all this is that you end up with the highest quality motor home possible; that either speaks to you or it doesn't, and only you can be the judge of that.
Burning Man is in many ways a test: how much can you withstand, in a lot of diverse directions. Attending in a Newell is probably the most comfortable way possible, and beats sleeping in a tent by about a thousandfold. I've done both, so I know of what I speak...
I agree with Chester, Learn as much as you can and fix what you can yourself unless of course you have deep pockets and don't mind shelling out major cash. Newell's are designed for full time living but will also require routine maintenance same as your home.