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Old 01-10-2022, 08:08 AM   #1
TGT
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Update on our new to us 2005 3280RL Montana

Here is an update on the recent purchase of our 2005 3280RL Montana from early December. Even though we have had a few issues, I don't think I could have found a better unit (any brand) for $10k. Our Jayco Designer series sold immediately, so the Montana only cost me $5k out of pocket.

The 1000 mile trip south to Louisiana went without a hitch, it towed fantastic, no tire, brakes or bearing issues.



It will serve as our secondary residence when we are at our property in Louisiana, and we will be in it full time when I retire and start building in about 4 years. It is now setup on the new packed gravel pad and tied into the service pole on the property. We spent about 6 weeks on the property last year and will be there a similar amount this year. This years goal is to get the septic system and possibly the well installed on the property. This past year we used a portable dump tank (tractor has forks to load it in the truck) and dump at the sani dump up the road a bit.

I have it setup with an AT&T Nighthawk wireless router that provides the access point for the Blink security system installed in and around it so we can keep an eye on it anytime day or night, two cameras inside and four outside. I also bought a Media Air Smart Cube dehumidifier that is also controlled via WIFI, and it runs continuous and simply drains into the sink and out. Humidity level stays between 45 and 50% throughout the camper.

The bad side, when buying a used camper, don't trust what the owner says, verify with your own eyes.

"Everything works as it should" When I went to charge the water system (set at 50 psi on the regulator), the hot water tank blew out the bottom and dumped a bunch of water and rust scale into the furnace mounted right below it (dumb design gripe #1). Now the furnace makes a lot of racket if you turn it on, and I had to replace the water heater.

Turn the AC on and can hear the compressor start up but no fan. $85 service call later (was fed up with the hot water tank by then), and problem turned out to be a dinner plate size wasp nest built around the fan blades. AC works great now (was obviously in storage far longer than the owner indicated).

ALL of the roof vent covers and the round attic vent covers were completely deteriorated and had to be replaced. Ventastic unit tries to open but it won't and fan doesn't come on (no clue, next years project).

None of the exterior lights work, no biggie, just burned out bulbs.

The water tank was the big issue, the plug was out, and i could see it was corroded and no anode rod, I could have easily inspected the inside of the tank with my borescope and adjusted the price and/or replaced it before it flooded the furnace out. Not too worried about it, weather is so mild, that even in December, two 1500 watt electric heaters kept the whole place warm at night and far cheaper than running propane to heat anyway.

We love the camper, and the extra room and amenities over the Jayco are well worth the extra $5k and aggravation of fixing a bunch of little stuff on a different unit.

Now, lets mention some "dumb" design decisions. First, as mentioned, putting an expensive piece of critical equipment (the furnace) right below a potential source of water leakage makes one scratch their head. I understand space considerations, but one could at least protect it with some type of cover.

Mounting the Pump and Hot Water heater switches on the wall at elbow height where one steps up into the upper area makes it prone to being bumped and turned off or on by accident. Looking for a cover.

Mounting the low point drains right in the middle of the trailer between the axles. It certainly would not have cost much to route them out to the edge of the exterior so one doesn't have to crawl under the trailer to reach them (relocation coming soon).

Galley tank and valve. I had not heard of a galley tank before getting the Montana. Can see the idea of having a separate tank just for the kitchen sink, but why wouldn't you spend a few buck more and route the plumbing to place the dump valve near the other two or at least out near the outer edge. Fortunately, mine is open, I still haven't found the valve (reach rod/handle missing).

All in all, very satisfied with the new camper and the overall quality of the Montana line. Here a few pics setup on our property.




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Old 01-10-2022, 10:38 AM   #2
Montana Man
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Nice lot. We had a similar Montana and like it a lot. They were built pretty good back then.
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Old 01-10-2022, 10:59 AM   #3
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TGT, glad you got the rig and even though it's got some issues, you're able to get those resolved and have a pretty solid rig for minimal dollars. Hope you get a lot of use out of it.
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Old 01-10-2022, 11:36 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Montana Man View Post
Nice lot. We had a similar Montana and like it a lot. They were built pretty good back then.
Thanks, wife really enjoys the extra room. We are working on the front two acres of an 8.5 acre lot. We have yet to step foot on the back 6.5 acres as it is simply too dense!
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Old 01-10-2022, 11:43 AM   #5
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TGT, glad you got the rig and even though it's got some issues, you're able to get those resolved and have a pretty solid rig for minimal dollars. Hope you get a lot of use out of it.
Thanks, it will get quite a bit of use, even more as I get nearer to retirement!
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Old 01-10-2022, 12:56 PM   #6
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Pretty normal problems for a 15 year old rig that has been sitting. The problem with the Fantastic Fan where it "...tries to open but it won't and fan doesn't come on..." is likely due to stiction between the lid and the gasket. A common problem with the era fan. You can lift the lid up by hand and then lube the gasket with silicon or such and that should correct the problem.
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Old 01-19-2022, 05:02 PM   #7
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We bought a used 2006 Montana 2930RL and we haven't regretted buying a used one and love the Montana. We haven't had any mechanical problems so feel lucky with that. We did rip out and replaced all the flooring and bought new furniture. Many other little repairs and maintenance issues. Our water heater is on the opposite side of the furnace so they obviously made a critical design change between 05 and 06. We have to replace all of the vent covers and replace the crank arms on the roof opening vents. The auto vent fan in ours had a blown fuse on the unit. Once replaced it worked fine. Good luck with everything.
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Old 01-19-2022, 05:07 PM   #8
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Nice, we bought a 2002 3280RL in July 2020. We love our camper. I believe they were built better back then than they are now. I’m sure a couple of things changed between then and now, but its probably mostly the same. Ours came with and upgraded leather recliner couch and hide-a-bed love seat, upgraded TV antenna, satellite dish. Yours is a little different than ours. Looking at your pictures, your kitchen is on the drivers side, while ours is on the passenger side. So they flip flopped the main living area.

We found our pre-wired 2nd AC wasn’t pre wired at all. Also found that the service panel was only 45amps so it wasn’t big enough for a second AC. Needless to say, service panel was upgraded to 75amp to accommodate the second 15k AC. And allow for an outlet in the storage bay.

Ours had a broken and several damaged (ovaled) spring hangers, so I upgraded the suspension to Road Armor Equalizer and Mor-Ride heavy duty hangers with wet bolts. Got the Gen-Y Executive torsion flex 5th wheel pin box, new Sailun G rated tires and she tows like a dream now.

It way easier for me to justify the 11k we paid for it than the 70k plus they want for a new one. All the money we saved funded the upgrades with no additional debt hanging over our head.

I’ve had to do several repairs to the trailer, fix the front gray tank leak, it had a 2 cracks and the 2 tank sensors needed to be tightened. replace all interior lights with LED bulbs, and replace the bulbs in the outside area lights., install new flat screen TV’s in the living room and bedroom.

I still have several upgrades planned like getting a one piece paint on rubber roof from RV-Armor, back up camera, micro air easy starts on the AC units, I want to modify the dinning room table so I can get to the fridge with the slide closed without having to act like a mountain goat and climb over.

I have to agree with you about putting the water heater over the furnace. I had to use a tap on our anode rod opening to clean the threads up as it was caked with calcium, and wouldn’t go in far enough for my liking.

I also don’t like the 50amp plug location or the straight connection head. Ours is dead center in the back. I’ve tried 90 degree pieces to take the pressure off the plug because the cord is heavy, but they are at a worse angle because of the angle they connect together, so what I do is run the power cord by the ladder and put a velcro one-zee strap on it to reduce the leverage and weight on the plug.

Its a work in progress to get it 100% where we want, but were happy with it. I hope yours give you the same happiness! Safe travels
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Old 01-19-2022, 05:58 PM   #9
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We purchased our 2002 3280RL in Sept 2016. Had it cross country twice, Yellowstone, and all over Calif. Love the rig, couldn't replace it for what we have invested. Luckily I have the ability, so all of the labor has been me. DW and I were discussing it the other day. Maintenance and upgrades are my hobby.

Here's most of the upgrades and repairs:

Roof Reseal 2016
Reese 5th Airborn pinbox
Four 6 volt golf cart batteries
1200 watt inverter with inside timer
Onan Microquiet 4,000 watt gas generator (installed by previous owner)
200 watt solar on roof with additional 100 watt portable panel
Interior remote charge controller panel
Sealy Reflections Foam queen size mattress
Custom led night light in bedroom
Most inside lighting upgraded to led's
Fan-Tastic Wireless Remote Fan
Heng's Exhaust Fan In Shower Vent Opening
Winegard Trave'ler automatic satellite dish for Dish NetworkI
Winegard Pathways X2 portable satellite dish for Dish Network
Dish Network Walley receiver
24 inch flat screen in bedroom
42 inch flat screen in living room
HDMI cable runs from entertainment center to bedroom
HDMI Signal Splitter for above
Dometic 310 porcelain toilet
Grey tank replaced in 2017
Black tank replaced in 2019
Carefree motorized awning installed in 2021
Suburban oven replaced in 2020
New refrigerator unit in 2016 with interior temperature control, remote thermometer, interior fan
All slide topper material replaced since 2018
Dexter EZ Flex Equalizers
Wet bolt suspension
Upgraded 3,500 pound leaf springs (came with 3,000 pound)
Front axle replaced in 2021
4 wheel alignment in 2021
TransEagle all steel G rated tires in 2020
New decals in 2017
Mor/Ryde Solid Steps
Lend-A-Hand extended assist handrail
Stainless Steel sink with pull down spray faucet in kitchen
New lazy susan pantry in 2020
Kenwood AM, FM, Aux input radio
Two new 30 gallon propane tanks 2020
accumulator air tank
New front decal Oct 2021
Roof Reseal Oct 2021
Rebuilt hydraulic pump Nov 2021
Rebuilt main slide hydraulic cylinder Dec 2021
Rebuilt opposing slide hydraulic cylinder Jan 2022
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Old 01-19-2022, 09:07 PM   #10
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^^^ Wow, you did all that and keep that 6.0 going? You're the man!
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Old 01-20-2022, 04:49 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ttman View Post
Nice, we bought a 2002 3280RL in July 2020.

Its a work in progress to get it 100% where we want, but were happy with it. I hope yours give you the same happiness! Safe travels
Thanks much, would love to see some pics of what you have done to it, and what LED bulbs you used. I see some type of future modification coming for the table, love the new expandable tables in the newer RV's. We have fallen in love with the floorplan of a 2018 Montana 3810MS (master suite), but can't justify the $67k price tag!

Am thinking of getting rid of the main carpet in the living space, possibly some cove lighting, update of the TV space, modifying the L shaped sink peninsula for better access to everything underneath, and not a big fan of the mauve colored shades. But, have to wait till end of May before can get back down to our property and start working on it.
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Old 01-20-2022, 05:08 AM   #12
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^^^ Wow, you did all that and keep that 6.0 going? You're the man!
Personally, I think the 6.0 gets a bum rap. Having the heads and block decked, new head gaskets and ARP studs will bullet proof it (along with a few other cooler items). The stock configuration will last with proper maintenance as long as you don't start playing with a tuner to increase HP. My 2004 is all stock, was basically a one owner before I got it, and has never had a tuner on it. Original owner sold it when the HPOP went out, that was repaired, and it now has 237,000 miles on it. I put over 10k on it last year running back and forth from Ohio to Louisiana towing up to 14k on some trips. It has been very reliable, and other than a failed front hub, no issues at all.
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Old 01-20-2022, 05:09 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Hblick48 View Post
We purchased our 2002 3280RL in Sept 2016. Had it cross country twice, Yellowstone, and all over Calif. Love the rig, couldn't replace it for what we have invested. Luckily I have the ability, so all of the labor has been me. DW and I were discussing it the other day. Maintenance and upgrades are my hobby.
Would love to see some pictures of your modifications!
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Old 01-20-2022, 09:09 AM   #14
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Here are the LED Lights I used. I can't complain, they are way better than the regular bulbs, but be prepared, they are definitely whiter and brighter



https://www.montanaowners.com/forums...pictureid=2518
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Old 01-20-2022, 09:10 AM   #15
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Here are the other types of LED bulbs I used for my upgraded lights

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Old 01-20-2022, 09:18 AM   #16
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I don't have all of my upgrade pics, but here is my custom double battery box, and TV upgrades and my extra insulation in the vents to prevent some attic heat. I'll look for some more pics and post them later when I have a min.
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Old 01-20-2022, 10:01 AM   #17
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[QUOTE=Ttman;1242986]Here are the LED Lights I used. I can't complain, they are way better than the regular bulbs, but be prepared, they are definitely whiter and brighter/QUOTE]

The led's I used:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...0?ie=UTF8&th=1

They are the same design, but are "warm white."

The 6.0 has 160,000 miles and runs GREAT. I purchased it with the Montana from the original owner. He kept a log book with every oil change and repairs since new. It had 105,000 on it when we purchased. I've kept up the log. 3 years ago was looking to replace, but newer used trucks were (and still are) ridiculous. Made the decision to "bulletproof" replacing all components that were problematic (head studs, BPD water pump and EGR cooler, new OEM oil cooler, bypass coolant filter, dummy plugs, stand pipes, etc). Also new tires, brake pads, rotors, calipers, shocks, and rebuilt automatic transmission. Found a Certified Powerstroke mechanic who does this work on the side. Expensive, but much less than a new truck.

Attached are a few pictures.
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Old 01-20-2022, 10:14 AM   #18
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More pictures. Note that velcro locks TV's in "travel" mode.
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Old 01-20-2022, 10:29 AM   #19
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I tow mine with my 2009 F250 6.4 SRW crew cab 4x4, currently it is at 69k original miles. So it hopefully has a long life ahead because Iím not paying 100k for a new one and the DEF requirement! I traded my 06 with the 6.0 for it new back in 09. Wish I still had my 06 and hadnít traded. The 08-10 have the 6.4 with the lovely addition of the regeneration exhaust BS, but no DEF additive. 6.4 isnít the best motor, it had a hit or miss legacy from everything I read, hopefully mine is a hit! I lost 2 to 4 MPG going from the 6.0 to the 6.4, and it will start a ďcleaning exhaust filterĒ cycle right when Iím ready to pull in the driveway at home, so I have to go drive around wasting diesel fuel for 30 min until its done with the cleaning cycle.

I have a lot of Modifications/improvements/personalization ideas in mind for our camper. The bones are more solid than the new ones, and Iím lighter than comparable models so I am starting with a good foundation. Having to do work on a 60+k camper would really be ticking me off, but buying an older camper and tinkering and saving thousands of dollars makes me happy as it gives me something to do and it saved me money, so its a win win.
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Old 01-20-2022, 05:53 PM   #20
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More pictures. Note that velcro locks TV's in "travel" mode.
Here are some of my other upgrades
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