Buying FBTT and Water Damage/ Trailer Frame? - Fiberglass RV

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Old 10-15-2013, 05:58 PM   #1
Junior Member
Name: Anne
Trailer: In the market
Posts: 13
Buying FBTT and Water Damage/ Trailer Frame?


I've been looking for a 13' FiberGlass trailer for awhile and may have found my sweet dream. The price is a little higher than I'd hoped, but if it's in great condition I'll probably go for it. I'm just a little nervous about water damage and also the integrity of the trailer frame. My questions are:

If there is water damage --how hard is it to replace a rotten subfloor? Do I have to take everything out? How do I tell if the wooden flooring or the fabric/carpet walls have water damage? I didn't see any clear indicators, but I will look harder.

Also, how do you test the steel trailer frame to make sure it's structurally sound? Any tips on what to look for?

This trailer is 25 years old, so I know it's going to have some issues. I'm not looking for perfection. I'm actually looking forward to working on it, but I just don't have time for the next 6 months to work on more than minor repairs/updates. Also, if I buy it for the "it's great" price, I don't want to end up having to put in a ton of money into because it was really a fixer.

Anyway, I'm hoping this is it. I love this little trailer already! I know I'm going to really enjoy being a part of this community and going to campouts.


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Old 10-15-2013, 06:33 PM   #2
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Name: Bob
Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
Posts: 7,914
Any soft spots in the floor or any mildew like smell or water stains should be a big tip. Be sure to open all the cabinets and benches and look inside. Anything more than light surface rust on the frame is toooo much.

If it's spent the last 25 years in your slightly damp climate up that way it will need a good inspection, top to bottom.

If it's been on the coast and exposed to salt air it may be a goner already. Best bet is to always buy the very best you can afford, fixers almost always wind up costing more before you are done, especially if you can't do major repair work yourself.

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Old 10-15-2013, 07:10 PM   #3
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Trailer: 13 ft Compact II
Posts: 393
Bob's advice is right on, Anne. Rotten wood flooring can be replaced, but you would need to take out everything, unless the rot is confined to a small area.
My trailer came from western Washington but the frame was only lightly rusted. Use a strong flashlight to look underneath the trailer and inspect for excessive corrosion and/or cracks in the metal frame. Cracks can be welded, but you'd probably have to remove the body from the frame.
If you can do most of the work yourself, you're investing mostly time, though that is worth something, too.
Best wishes,
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Old 10-17-2013, 09:25 AM   #4
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Name: Dave W
Trailer: Trillium 4500 - 1977, 1978 (2), 1300 - 1977, 1973, and a 1972
Posts: 5,281
If it is a Trillium, I have yet to see a good fix for a rotten floor. I think cutting the bottom out of the trailer may be the best way to fix it, but I have not had to do this job yet.
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Old 10-17-2013, 11:48 AM   #5
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Name: Carol
Trailer: 22' Airstream Formerly 16' Scamp
British Columbia
Posts: 11,706
If its a Scamp look under the trailer - if you see black areas on the underside thats a good indicator that there has been water leak from inside/above - then go inside to the area you saw the black underside and see what you find in regards to possible leaks. check the floor in that area to see if its solid or not and ask the seller if they fixed a leak previously in that area. As Bob suggest open up all the cabinets and check carefully with a flash light. One of the most common areas to see serious floor damage on a Scamp is under the rear freshwater tank area.
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Old 10-17-2013, 12:17 PM   #6
Name: RogerDat
Trailer: 77 Scamp 13
Posts: 2,866
Water that leaks in tries to find a way down and out so around the edges are the prime locations. Or around the door. Look for the signs of darkened wood mention in prior post.

Another indication can be where the sides of trailer meet the floor the fiberglass is attached to the floor, water softened wood can allow that "tape" of fiberglass to pull off of the floor.

If the door looks crooked in the door opening check the wood on either side of the door with extra attention. In a scamp 13 that would be under the couch and in the closet.

Frames that are rusted through or deeply pitted by rust in an area are on the way to needing a repair. Surface rust that does not deeply pit the metal is no big deal. You may want to wire brush/ sand and paint it or not. If it has been painted look close, painting can hide pitted metal but it sure does not fix it.

Metal gets more brittle where it is welded look for where metal frame pieces are welded together and check for cracks right along the weld.

It's really not that hard to patch a small area of damaged wood say something you could cover with a paper back book. But is it still leaking water? That becomes another repair.

If the windows, vents, or belly band is covered with caulk on a 25 year old trailer I would guess it leaked at some point, that caulk is not stock on the old trailers so it was added for a reason if it is there.

Good luck with your trailer and happy camping.

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