Boler shopping tips? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-03-2014, 09:50 PM   #1
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Name: Vicki
Trailer: Scamp 13, 2015 Nissan Frontier SE
Connecticut
Posts: 95
Boler shopping tips?

So I came across a '76 Boler for sale not too far away and am going to look at it this weekend. Current owner has had it five years and doesn't know anything about whether the axle was ever replaced. They appear to have done some cosmetic stuff like recover cushions and add new ones where they were missing, and put in new flooring (need to find out what they did there I know). It is mostly original from the looks of it, as far as kitchen and dinette, and the bunk beds. He said original fridge doesn't work, he was told propane systems work when he bought it but he has never used the propane stove or furnace (doesn't trust propane in a trailer for some reason) so can't attest to that. I would have that professionally tested. He said the electric system works, but I would guess that it would need rewiring if that has never been done. I am not sure what else to look for here, as I am not a mechanic or anything close to it. I did look at the checklist on this site, which is great, but I am wondering if the Boler owners out there might give me more specific things to look for.

It does not have brakes, so I am factoring in the cost of a new axle with brakes. So aside from that, electric, and the propane system, I guess the main remaining issue is the frame integrity, right? If I were to crawl around under this thing, what, specifically, should I look for regarding frame damage and the like? Any other pointers, especially regarding what might be under the flooring? Asking price is $4000. Any help much appreciate, as always!
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Old 02-04-2014, 06:04 AM   #2
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Vicki, be sure to download, print and take the Buyer's Check List with you when you go shopping for any used trailer.

Best of luck!
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Old 02-04-2014, 07:14 AM   #3
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Name: Vicki
Trailer: Scamp 13, 2015 Nissan Frontier SE
Connecticut
Posts: 95
Thanks Donna, I do have that downloaded. It is super helpful as a checklist, but does not help as far as identifying how to check out a frame.

After doing some more searching on frame issues for older trailers, I may reconsider looking at vintage trailers. It seems that a an old frame that looks fine upon visual inspection can still break apart while you are driving down the highway. I don't think I have it in me to be worrying about that. Plus, this particular trailer has been fitted with a hitch to carry a motorbike, so who knows what kind of strain that put on the frame, which I did not realize was so delicate in a Boler to begin with.

I am handy when it comes to simple things, like cosmetically fixing up the interior, but I am not going to be DIYing the bigger mechanical stuff. From a financial perspective, it seems like if I spend $4000 on this (or similar) trailer, then have an axle with brakes added ($750), have it rewired ($500-800), propane checked and fixed ($50-700), refrigerator fixed or replaced ($100-500), rusted tongue sandblasted (guessing $200-300), who knows about leaking windows ($500), and possible total frame replacement ($1700), I should probably just buy a new trailer for a thousand or two more that has everything I want and that I won't have to worry about so much. The costs above are estimates based on what I read here, but they seem about right, right?
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:24 AM   #4
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Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Ontario
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Nice to see someone is doing their homework on what to look for and the value of replacements. That should give you some wiggle room for negotiating. I laugh at the people that come up to my door and offer $1500 never asking about the axle or propane.
As for the frame, you can search FGRV for where the weak spots are. Typically where the frame bends under the front bunk and where the frame is cut for the door. Uneven tire wear may give you an indication of a bigger problem.

You can check the frame with a flashlight (visual) and a small hammer (percussion). Lightly tap the frame every few inches and listen for the sounds. Weak spots will sound differently, think of your doctor tapping your chest or back while listening.
The wiring is fairly basic in a boler, no reason you could not do most if not all of it yourself. Even if it is to only string the wires and have someone connect them for you.
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Old 02-04-2014, 11:06 AM   #5
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Name: Vicki
Trailer: Scamp 13, 2015 Nissan Frontier SE
Connecticut
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Thanks Roy. If the wiring is that basic, my dad could probably do it. I decide to go look at it, I will try that with the frame. I am not sure I trust myself to know what to look for, though. And in reality, if the frame has never been shored up or replaced, I would likely want to do that anyway, just for the peace of mind. So I would be factoring that into the price, and just making sure that the frame was good enough for me to tow it to wherever I would get the frame replaced.

Anyone know somewhere trustworthy in the Northeast with experience working on these trailers? I am not sure whether to call an auto mechanic, rv place, or what. I suspect I might need some of both - - auto mechanic for the frame, and rv place for propane, etc.
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Old 02-04-2014, 01:14 PM   #6
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Name: Gina
Trailer: 1975 Boler
Arizona
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Electric is pretty basic.Make sure to check tires as well. I've noticed a lot of people running 175/80/R13s for more clearance. Check for a spare too. I got lucky with my Boler I bought last month. Retired couple and garage kept for nearly 20 years. Hardly used slept in it only a handful of times. He used the Boler as a prop piece for his classic car. I paid in your "ballpark" but he let me test out the propane heater, fridge, propane stove. He was a very nice guy and wanted it to go to someone that would love the trailer as well. PM for any questions.
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Old 02-04-2014, 02:23 PM   #7
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I always prefer if it is the original gel coat as opposed to a poor paint job that you are going to spend a lot of time sorting out.
Also if you buy one where all the metal trim and windows has been painted poorly it is a major job to restore it back to original - I made that mistake once, never again!
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Old 02-04-2014, 04:46 PM   #8
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Name: Vicki
Trailer: Scamp 13, 2015 Nissan Frontier SE
Connecticut
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Aznative you did get lucky. The current owner of the one I am looking at has only had it a few years and never used the propane. I am not comfortable testing it myself. Kootenaigirl, it does have original gel coat. Not sure on condition. And window trim appears to be unpainted.

These are all helpful tips, thanks! Still not sure on the frame issue. I don't even know how to find someone who I could rely on to shore it up or replace it reliably. I doubt very much that it has ever been done, and it seems like it should be done proactively, even if everything looks ok. Some scary stories on this forum about boler owners' frames breaking on the road, despite recent inspection with no signs of trouble.
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Old 02-04-2014, 08:38 PM   #9
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Ya buy used, you take your chances! There are horror stories for certain, and there are stories of people who own trailers that are decades old with no problems. Reading Norm&Ginnys problems with their frame on the Scamp might scare off some want-to-be owners. ONLY YOU can decide what level of comfort you are willing to face. If you want NO PROBLEMS and a warranty... look to buy new (of any brand, any build).

Sorry, but that's reality....
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Old 02-04-2014, 08:57 PM   #10
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Name: bob
Trailer: 1984 u-haul ct13; 1996 Casita 17 Spirit Deluxe; 1946 Modernistic teardrop
New York
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I've seen a couple instances where people bought some old trailer, only to have it turn into a money pit because they couldn't do the work themselves. One ended up nice after thousands of dollars were spent on it, but resulting in more spent than it was worth. The other one had thousands spent and it's still not useable. Not mine, but looks like I'll be working on it just to help out the owner. She also had problems finding anyone that would work on it. I've also talked to some sellers that had no clue about what they had, or if it did have any problems because they don't know how to look for them. How about that one year old Scamp 13 near Albany NY. That's a couple hour ride from most points in CT and not old enough to have problems.
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:42 PM   #11
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Name: Vicki
Trailer: Scamp 13, 2015 Nissan Frontier SE
Connecticut
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I am going to call a few places and see if i can find someone to do frame work if necessary, or even replace the frame, before I go look at it. Bob, I did look at that trailer. I was hoping it would work out but it didn't, for reasons I can't get into here. Would you mind sharing what the major problems were that ended up costing thousands? I thought I had thought of everything, but maybe I haven't. What do you think a generally restored Boler 1300 should be worth?
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:36 PM   #12
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Name: bob
Trailer: 1984 u-haul ct13; 1996 Casita 17 Spirit Deluxe; 1946 Modernistic teardrop
New York
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Both trailers I'm referring to are Uhauls. One was sent out for fiberglass work, electrical work, and a professional paint job. Looks nice. The person using it is a friend of the owner and showed me some of the receipts. Said the owner would like to sell but figures he could never recover his investment. The other trailer I haven't seen yet, but the owner has taken it to a couple places for work that has not been satisfactory. I'm not sure of the details. I may get involved with some repairs on it. My point being; many sellers aren't aware of problems with what they are selling, and buyers find out too late that problems exist. Our Uhaul needed more work than I expected, but since we paid $2000, and I can do all the work myself, we still have a decent camper at an investment of around $3000 or so. If I had to pay someone to do all the repairs it would not have been worth it. Generally restored Boler, I'm not familiar with them, never seen one, so can't comment on value. But restored can be a debatable term, I would call restored to mean everything repaired or replaced and in like new condition. Others may call a trailer that's cleaned up, good tires, new upholstery, frame painted, in other words made to look nice, and call it restored. Boler owners can advise you better, I just don't want to see you jump into something and have it turn into a disaster. Or it may be a great deal. Would be great if someone with fiberglass trailer experience could go with you. At this time we are camping in the not so sunny south but at least avoiding the snow.
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Old 02-05-2014, 08:28 AM   #13
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Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Ontario
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Something to keep in mind while you are looking. Sometimes it is easier to fix up an original trailer than refix someones fixes. As for pricing, it varies by geographic zone and season. You can get an idea from both the archives here and Greg's site, links follow:
Classified Archives - Fiberglass RV
Molded Fiberglass Trailers | Fiberglass RV's For Sale
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Old 02-05-2014, 12:53 PM   #14
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Name: Vicki
Trailer: Scamp 13, 2015 Nissan Frontier SE
Connecticut
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I found a welder who is willing and able, works on and builds trailers. $75/hour, does that sound reasonable? So I am thinking I might be able to make this work, depending on condition when I get there. Will bring checklist and do my best to check things out, except propane, I will just assume that system needs fixing since it hasn't been used in five years. Don't want to test that myself!
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