Giving it the Once Over - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-10-2007, 03:12 PM   #1
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I am hoping to make an offer on a private sale unit and want to make sure Iím not getting a bad deal. Being a handy, but non-mechanical, woman I am challenged. I can look over trailer bodies, interior finishes, windows, etc. very confidently, but when it comes to appliances, plumbing, and road worthiness I'm a dud.

I have only dry camped in my Boler and I donít even know how to check any of the services or appliances in the prospective purchase, plus mechanically with the axles, brakes, etc. I am at a loss.

Anyway, I plan to go out to take another look before making the deal. I will ask them to fire up all the appliances, so I should be able to at least make sure they operate but...

Roadworthiness Ė what should I look for? Can I check brakes, axles, bearings somehow myself?

What about the bathroom and kitchen plumbing? What should I be looking for there?

Anyone in the area that could lend a hand?

I did check out the Buyers Checklist on the site, but I need some quick pointers for a non-mechanical girl please. Sorry for being so full of questions, but I know you are the best people to be asking. Thanks again everyone!
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:56 PM   #2
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Quote:


Anyone in the area that could lend a hand?

I did check out the Buyers Checklist on the site, but I need some quick pointers for a non-mechanical girl please. Sorry for being so full of questions, but I know you are the best people to be asking. Thanks again everyone!
Hi Lainey,

I spoke with a dealer a few days ago in British Columbia who said that any dealership will be happy to do a pre-purchase inspection on private sales because they do them all the time anyway when they buy used units and it's a way for them to bring in some side business, so you may want to contact any dealers in the immediate vicinity to see what they would charge to do a once-over. Let us know what you end up doing and how it works out!

Very excited for you!

Val
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Old 07-10-2007, 04:07 PM   #3
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Hi Lainey,

I spoke with a dealer a few days ago in British Columbia who said that any dealership will be happy to do a pre-purchase inspection on private sales because they do them all the time anyway when they buy used units and it's a way for them to bring in some side business, so you may want to contact any dealers in the immediate vicinity to see what they would charge to do a once-over. Let us know what you end up doing and how it works out!

Very excited for you!

Val
Thanks for the reply Val. I phoned around and it seems that the big dealers won't do it, and the local repair shop doesn't offer a pre-purchase inspection package, but they would look at it for $99/hour (plus any repairs) though!
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Old 07-10-2007, 04:53 PM   #4
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Without pulling things apart, brakes are hard to check. Axles should have some clearance above the tire (about a 'fist' worth seems standard), and bearings should be checked with the wheel in the air. There should be no 'clunking' when you try to wiggle the wheel, and no grinding when you rotate it. You may hear a noise when you rotate it, but it may just be the brakes.

If it was me (and I am slightly mechanically inclined), I would follow the checlist, then based on overall condition, try to make a reasonable guess. I'd lilft the tires, and wiggle them. If there was no 'clunk', I'd stick on a bearing buddy, give it a few cranks of grease, and haul 'er home. Hell, if there was a little clunk, I'd haggle price, and haul it home anyways.

The big thing seems to be the suspension, because brakes can be fixed, but if the axle is sagging, it will need to be replaced which can be pricey.
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Old 07-10-2007, 09:37 PM   #5
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I don't want to minimize the importance of mechanical fitness, but if the trailer is otherwise relatively valuable (desirable body, interior, and appliances) I would just not worry about the axle/suspension/brakes. Sure, a whole new axle with brakes is hundreds of dollars (installed), but it definitely manageable without a lot of effort, and it can't be more than that few hundred dollars. If in doubt, you could assume it needs an axle and see if you're willing to pay the required price on that basis. I did that with my Boler.

For perspective, a new 3-way RV refrigerator (just that one appliance, not installed) costs as much as a complete axle with brakes and installation.
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Old 07-10-2007, 09:48 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone.

Brian makes some good points. As long as the unit is solid, and the appliances work, esp. the fridge, I probably can't go wrong.

What about plumbing operation, should I be that concerned about checking it out at this time?

I might end up doing a bunk mod, but hey, those are the type of projects I thrive on, so what the heck. We'll try it out 'as is' this year, and possibly make mods next spring if they are truly needed. (yay, mods!)

If it is still available and we come to an agreeable price, then hopefully it's a done deal.

Thanks!
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Old 07-10-2007, 09:56 PM   #7
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I would put plumbing in a quite different category than the axle. That's an area which could suck up lots of time, while causing lots of grey hair, in the worst case. In my case, the only plumbing systems which had problems were the freshwater, the greywater, and the black water.... hmm, that's all of them. The fixes cost very little, but did take some time to sort out, and if different components had problems it could have been much worse.

Ease of checking out the plumbing is going to depend on the specific design. Everything is pretty easy to see in a B1700 like mine (except the black tank), and even then I didn't realize any of the problems before we bought it. The previous owner didn't make any claim that any of it worked, saying they just didn't use it, and thus didn't have water in the tank to try anything with.
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:57 AM   #8
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Old 07-11-2007, 10:11 AM   #9
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Do not sell yourself short! (I have no choice, I am 5 ft 1")

The only limiting factor I have in working on my trailer is brute force, and lack of a garage full of high powered tools.. (I have a situation right now where I have to hire out a simple job because I can't turn some large screws.. if I had an impact wrench, it would be done by now).. but.. that can happen to anyone, regardless of gender.

I limit myself to what I WON'T work on based on that, and safety.. stuff that most lay people shouldn't mess with unless extremely knowledgeable, like... propane...welding.. stuff that if done wrong can kill you, someone else, or at least.. ruin the day and your checking account.

It's all the same as working on things in your house, just on a smaller scale.

I have rebuilt furniture, fixed plumbing, modified cabinetry, replaced flooring, swapped heaters, added electrical, repaired electrical, patched leaks ON THE ROAD and painted an entire outside of a trailer (With the help of some friends with lots of sandpaper, and a beer or two)

I have had my appliances out, crawled under a properly supported rig, I hitch up, back up and tug on my own...all the things the guyz do.. so does Suz and Joy and.. the list goes on and on...

Liz is the handiest and most creative woman on here, far surpassing most of the guyz in taking a hovel a couple of the guyz turned their back on and turned it into a show piece.

If you own a home .. this stuff is a piece o pie!
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Old 07-11-2007, 11:21 AM   #10
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I missed out on this unit, called last night, but the owner called this morning that it already sold

I'm going to keep looking... the right one will find me if I keep my eyes open.

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I limit myself to what I WON'T work on based on that, and safety.. stuff that most lay people shouldn't mess with unless extremely knowledgeable, like... propane...welding.. stuff that if done wrong can kill you, someone else, or at least.. ruin the day and your checking account.
I agree Gina, unless it's a safety issue I just need to learn more about the systems and then I'll be up and at it. Like the other capable women here I do take a lot of pride in being able to do what I can, I know most women wouldn't even be able to tackle what we do (downside: I scare men off because it's a real ego deflater when a girl is more handy than a guy I guess )
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Old 07-11-2007, 11:56 AM   #11
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I missed out on this unit, called last night, but the owner called this morning that it already sold

I'm going to keep looking... the right one will find me if I keep my eyes open.
I agree Gina, unless it's a safety issue I just need to learn more about the systems and then I'll be up and at it. Like the other capable women here I do take a lot of pride in being able to do what I can, I know most women wouldn't even be able to tackle what we do (downside: I scare men off because it's a real ego deflater when a girl is more handy than a guy I guess )
Nope not in my case.I really appreciate a women who can do things and not afraid to try repairs and building.
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Old 07-11-2007, 12:07 PM   #12
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something good will come along, something even better.

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I missed out on this unit, called last night, but the owner called this morning that it already sold

I'm going to keep looking... the right one will find me if I keep my eyes open.
I agree Gina, unless it's a safety issue I just need to learn more about the systems and then I'll be up and at it. Like the other capable women here I do take a lot of pride in being able to do what I can, I know most women wouldn't even be able to tackle what we do (downside: I scare men off because it's a real ego deflater when a girl is more handy than a guy I guess )
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Old 07-11-2007, 02:58 PM   #13
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(downside: I scare men off because it's a real ego deflater when a girl is more handy than a guy I guess )
Oh for heaven's sake no! Lainey... as long as you can do all that and still drop a can of beer off to me in my favorite easy chair on your way past the fridge from the toolbox to the repair, I'm all for it! Right, Ches?

JUST KIDDING!!!!

Yes, Gina... I'm on my way to my room now...

Roger
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Old 07-11-2007, 03:04 PM   #14
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Lainey:

Something that is visible is tire wear. If the tires are worn unevenly, such as worn on the inside, this could indicate a bent axle. I had to get the axle in my 17G aligned, as the tires were wearing slightly unevenly. I caught mine in time and did not have to replace the tires, but would have installed a heavier axle in my case..
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