Buying Used: What to look for? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-01-2014, 11:12 AM   #1
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Buying Used: What to look for?

Ok I have found a couple fiberglass RVs for sale that I am interested in. One is 7 hrs away, and I don't want to put myself under pressure to buy it once I see it just because it is 7 hrs away.

I am admittedly not a mechanical person at all. Aside from the cosmetics and interior layout, I have no idea what I should be looking for. The used Casita for sale is a 1998 model and that alone suggests to me that some mechanical parts my be at their life limit. I am thinking about things like axles, wheel bearings, plumbing, gas lines, things that I know nothing about and would take someone with some knowledge to know what to look for. Again, I am not talking about do I like the dinette or not, I am talking about issues with the working parts of the trailer.

I know it is a buyer beware purchase when talking used, especially a 1998 model. I just don't want to buy something that is going to fall off it's wheels on the way home or I have to end up sticking thousands into, and I'm definitely at a handicap when it comes to mechanical issues.

I've been extremely fortunate in my life buying used cars - but I can start them and take them on a short test drive.

Any thoughts on obvious signs that the unit may be a lemon that someone of limited mechanical knowledge would miss?
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:23 AM   #2
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A soft sponge floor. Brown water stains anywhere inside, rusted frame - you have to get underneath to inspect, setting to low and tire rubs up in the wheel wells, all electrical items work.
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:27 AM   #3
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In the Documents Centre found on the homepage of this site there is a Document called Buyers Check List that you can download that will help you know what to look for.
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:35 AM   #4
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A rusty frame and a trailer with a bad smell is a turn off for me.
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:38 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
Brown water stains anywhere inside, .
Or on the underside!!!
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:46 AM   #6
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HA... With many FGRV's now over 40 years old, a 1998 is considered "Late Model".

Key items to keep the wheels from "falling off n the way home" are tires, check the dates, they MUST be less than 6 years old, regardless of appearance. And also ask when the wheel bearing were last packed. If they don't know or it's been more than 3 years or 3000 towing miles, plan on getting that done before a 7 hours tow home.

And almost all trailers that are in snow country can have some surface rust on the frame, not a biggie, but look for rust damage, where rust stains are coming out from under original paint or if any parts look like they have just been spray painted over with a spray can, look for overspray next to the frame etc. .... take a long screwdriver with you and poke at anything suspicious.

Also be sure that the seller demonstrates that ALL of the appliances actually work, esp the refrigerator. Accept no excuses on these like "We never used it" That's sellers code for "It doesn't work"

But seriously, I suggest that you find someone that has more mechanical savvy to go with you for your inspection.
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Old 04-01-2014, 12:00 PM   #7
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HA... With many FGRV's now over 40 years old, a 1998 is considered "Late Model".

Key items to keep the wheels from "falling off n the way home" are tires, check the dates, they MUST be less than 6 years old, regardless of appearance.
I bring a spare set of two with me.
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And also ask when the wheel bearing were last packed. If they don't know or it's been more than 3 years or 3000 towing miles, plan on getting that done before a 7 hours tow home.
Bring one of those laser thermometers. Check the temp of the hubs after 10 min, an hour, and every gas fill, till you get home
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Also be sure that the seller demonstrates that ALL of the appliances actually work, esp the refrigerator. Accept no excuses on these like "We never used it" That's sellers code for "It doesn't work"
If you get it really cheep, the condition of the appliances is secondary. If they are original, then you can purchase replacements. Typically a working RM211, or RM36 fridge can be found online for ~$100. The furnace might be more complicated. If the converter, (120VAC to 12VDC) is broken, that might be better replaced by a small solar system, cheaper too.
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Old 04-01-2014, 12:28 PM   #8
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As this appears to be the op's first adventure into RV's, I don't think that he is into replacing appliances that don't work with used appliances (that may not work much longer) or converting to a solar power system. (a whole discussion of it's own).

For starters, at an RV dealership a new refrigerator will cost something north of $1200 installed and a new converter, about $500 installed.

Best bet is to just be sure everything works and, if not reduce price accordingly (parts and labor) by at least 50% of full retail expense
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Old 04-01-2014, 12:36 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
If you get it really cheep, the condition of the appliances is secondary. If they are original, then you can purchase replacements. Typically a working RM211, or RM36 fridge can be found online for ~$100. The furnace might be more complicated. If the converter, (120VAC to 12VDC) is broken, that might be better replaced by a small solar system, cheaper too.
BTW: Please DO NOT EDIT OR OTHERWISE MODIFY QUOTES. The OP of the quote may not want to accidently be associated with the changes..... All Quotes should stay original and unmolested..... otherwise they aren't quotes.....

AND BTW: Most non-mechanical newbies just won't have a set of spare tires (much less 4 or more spare FGRV's) at home or a IR thermometer with which to check bearing temp, much less know what it should be.

The op asked for help and advise as a beginner.
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Old 04-01-2014, 12:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
BTW: Please DO NOT EDIT OR OTHERWISE MODIFY QUOTES. The OP of the quote may not want to accidently be associated with the changes..... All Quotes should stay original and unmolested..... otherwise they aren't quotes.....

AND BTW: Most non-mechanical newbies just won't have a set of spare tires (much less 4 or more spare FGRV's) at home or a IR thermometer with which to check bearing temp, much less know what it should be.

The op asked for help and advise as a beginner.
I think that was why I put my comments in red. Sorry, I did not mean to cause offense.

Fixed now.
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:13 PM   #11
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Name: John + Linda
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Buying Used

As a looker for a 5th wheel, is there a point in its age where you would reconsider not buying it. I have seen a lot of 20+ year old trailers
Thanks
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:29 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Missouri Mark View Post

Any thoughts on obvious signs that the unit may be a lemon that someone of limited mechanical knowledge would miss?
Even someone with unlimited mechanical knowledge might find himself with an irreparable condition unless the trailer is being sold with a...wait for it...

->->->->->->-> Clear Title <-<-<-<-<-<-<

If there are any doubts/missing paper whatever, a reputable seller will be willing to go with you to their local DMV/other Authority to complete the transaction/assist with necessary paperwork. Especially critical if you're buying long distance.

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Old 04-01-2014, 02:36 PM   #13
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There is nothing wrong with buying an old trailer. My oldest is 42 years old. The biggest problem with it is the modifications made by a previous owner.

Fibreglass ages well.
A new axle is less then $1000
A new frame, with axle, is less then $2000
New cushions are ~$500
Some parts are sometimes hard to find, but there are always options.

This compared to the cost of a new trailer is insignificant.
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Old 04-02-2014, 06:23 AM   #14
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Name: Mark
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All sound advice. I will print off the check list and this thread for future reference.

And you are correct - I have NO interest in buying cheap and then stick money into it. The price of the 1998 Casita is $4,600 and something tells me BEWARE. That is cheap compared to anything else I have found online.
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