79 13' - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-22-2016, 08:49 AM   #1
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Name: Pat
Trailer: Scamp
Florida
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79 13'

I've put a down payment on a 13' 1979; but now having second thoughts. How do I know it the axle and underside is in good condition? Should I take it to an RV service and have them check it out? How much does an axle replacement cost in central/ NE Fl.?
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Old 05-22-2016, 09:38 AM   #2
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
Arizona
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The two biggest issues are floor rot and frame cracks.

Do a careful visual inspection of the frame, paying special attention around the door and the tongue under the front of the cabin. Surface rust is normal, but deep rust and hairline cracks are not. You may have to brush away surface rust to see whether there are cracks.

Check for floor rot above and below. Look for staining and tap with a blunt object to identify soft spots. Pay special attention inside benches and cabinets around the outer perimeter of the floor, since windows are the biggest culprit when it comes to leaks.

Note the door alignment. Poor door fit is common on older trailers and can be as simple as worn-out hinges. A large gap at the bottom is especially troubling- it can mean a waterlogged inner core, a sagging shell, or a cracked frame.

If you have concerns, try to take some good pictures and post them here. If you have a smartphone, you might download the FiberglassRV app, allowing you to post pictures directly from your camera as you inspect this trailer.

For the axle, you can check several things.
  • Fist test: Make sure there is at least a fist-sized clearance between the top of the tire and the inner wheel well.
  • Bounce test: Have someone jump inside the trailer while another person watches for movement of the axle arms behind the wheels.
  • Drop test (best): Bring a jack (a scissors jack or, better, a small floor jack) and lift the trailer on each side (on the main frame rail just behind the axle, not on the axle itself). The wheel should drop a couple of inches as the trailer rises. You can check by measuring the distance between the center of the hub to the lip of the wheel arch when on the ground and after lifting.
The cost of an axle replacement seems to vary a lot, but I would expect $600-$900. It's a good time to add brakes if the trailer doesn't already have them. Places that sell and service utility trailers are your best bet, not an RV repair shop.

For other stuff, the Buyers Checklist is helpful if you haven't found it already.
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Old 05-23-2016, 08:24 AM   #3
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Name: Pat
Trailer: Scamp
Florida
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It will be just me & frankly I don't know what I'm looking for.
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Old 05-23-2016, 09:48 AM   #4
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Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
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Perhaps having an RV shop look it over might be best, then. One way or another, a thorough inspection of a trailer that old is absolutely necessary. Any chance of recruiting a friend with RV experience to go with you?

Don't know how much you might stand to lose if you back out, but if the trailer has major issues, the seller will probably balk at the idea of a professional inspection. And that might give you some ammunition to recover your deposit.

And if the seller welcomes the inspection and it comes out well, you have peace of mind to complete the transaction.

Best wishes, whatever you decide!
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Old 05-23-2016, 11:03 AM   #5
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1980 18' Sunrader Motorhome and 1971 Trailswest Campster
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Originally Posted by Patbwell View Post
It will be just me & frankly I don't know what I'm looking for.
If you can't find an RV repair shop then a place that repairs trailers of other types will do just fine for inspecting the trailer frame and axles. Rural areas do typically have trailer repair services somewhere reasonably close by since there is a lot of agricultural equipment repair work going on.
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Old 05-23-2016, 11:30 AM   #6
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Name: kootenai girl
Trailer: 2004 Casita Liberty 17
British Columbia
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Hi Pat
You can presume when you are buying an older trailer that there will be work to do unless previous owner has done stuff. If the axle has never been replaced it certainly in theory should be done but many people are still using their old axles. Most of them end up riding really low and therefore ground clearance is minimal. Also the ride is fairly rough so your belongings may be scattered around when you stop
On older trailers the windows usually all need pulled and resealed as they will be leaking around the edges plus roof vents etc. As John said this leads to rotten floors which often feel spongy and the floor is a major job to replace.
If you are not handy unless you find a perfect condition older trailer that has been well maintained a newer one may be a better option if your deposit can be returned or is not high.
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Old 05-23-2016, 11:31 AM   #7
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Trailer: 2004 13 ft Scamp Custom Deluxe
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The 1979 Scamp 13 had a 1200 pound axle which was placed in such a way as to get the trailer as low as practical. The purpose was to allow the camper to fit under a 7ft garage door.
Shaking your fist at it will really determine nothing.
Wear on a torsion axle shows itself by negative camber and tow-out, the result of which is excessive wear from the inside edge of the tire tread outward.
Here is a photo of a new trailer from that time frame on the covers of Scamp's brochures... note the position of the tire and the ride height. Click on each picture for a better view.
Even if some axle wear is present... with the current practice of "retiring" tires after only a few years,negative camber in its early stages is not as much a problem as it relates to tire wear.
A replacement axle, should one become desired or needed, is only a few hundred dollars and would likely add to the trailer's value more than its cost.
Also consider that if you get a fair deal, you will at any rate have the free use of the trailer over several years due to its robust resale.
Commitments are serious things and you probably should not back out without the enthusiastic permission of the seller or at least the willing forfeiture of your down payment.
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