What to watch out for when buying used? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-25-2014, 04:00 PM   #1
KSM
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Trailer: 1980 Fiber Stream
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What to watch out for when buying used?

Hi there,
First post and sorry if this has been asked and answered a thousand times elsewhere...
I'm shopping for a first fiberglass trailer. I'm looking for advice on what to watch for when buying used, particularly trailers that are 20 and 30 years old?
I looked at an '87 Bigfoot (13') priced at $5000 a few days ago. It was squeezed into a corner at a storage lot up on wooden blocks such that I couldn't get a look underneath at the frame and axle etc. Inside appeared pretty much original - roof top AC, full kitchen etc. It did look like there was a little water damage on the floor at the rear. It was also just obviously a 27 year old trailer. My gut instinct was to walk away.
Yesterday I looked at an early 2000's Scamp (13') priced at $4500. Basic model, I think. Looked solid but I wasn't compelled to jump. It sold an hour later to someone else. Now I'm regretting not buying it.
I'm now understanding (if i'm right) that fiberglass trailers are sought after and sell pretty quickly if they are priced correctly.
Now I want to go back and look at the Bigfoot again. We'll move it so I can get a good look underneath. I'll also see if I can figure out the extent of the water damage if that's what I was seeing.
My intention with any trailer is likely to do over the interior to a more "cool" aesthetic. I'll replace/repair cabinets, flooring etc. I just want to avoid major structural problems.
Thanks for any suggestions.
K
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Old 09-25-2014, 05:36 PM   #2
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You are on the right track, it's all about condition, condition and condition.

In addition to the obvious, such as leaks and floor damage, also verify that all of the appliances and utility systems actually work. As I often repeat, sellers comments such as "We didn't use that, but it worked when we bought it", is actually code for "It doesn't work". Some, such as refrigerators, can be very expensive to replace (BTW: You don't "recharge" a dead LP refrigerator) others, like the water system can be very time and & $$$ consuming, especially if they have been through a winter (think Big Bear in SoCal) without proper winterization.

I suspect that you are in SoCal and saw the Lil Bigfoot in Craigslist a few weeks back. We sold our Lil Bigfoot a few years back and it took no time at all to find a buyer in the $10,000 range for a turnkey and updated rig.

We are entering the slow selling period and, while buyers may have a little more time to shop, there will be fewer FGRV's offered until springtime. Unfortunately for buyers in California, decent units, at reasonable prices, will always have a very short life expectancy when advertised. As a rule of thumb in CA, if it's still available in 3 days it's either over priced or has problems.

Cruise through the posts here and you will see lots of Q&A's about buying, what to look for and what to avoid, try to read them all.

Good Luck hunting.
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Old 09-25-2014, 06:25 PM   #3
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Welcome, Kyle. Only a great deal of looking will tell you what is out there in your price range and needs and, yes, you are correct that a reasonably priced trailer will likely go immediately. Some people are just waiting around for a certain one to come up. Others here can tell you about the Bigfoot structural considerations.
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Old 09-25-2014, 06:38 PM   #4
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Thanks Cathi!
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Old 09-25-2014, 06:52 PM   #5
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Bigfoots do go for a premium they always were a solid trailer.

Yes you do want to check the frame for cracks, pull the wheels off and check the condition of the hubs.
Check the Fridge & stove & furnace if it has one these are expensive to replace.
Air conditioning does it work and how old is it.
Does it use 134A freon the label will tell you.
If its the old R12 you can't get that anymore.

Check the window seals, the body for damage and roof.

How long has it been on blocks ?

Price wise it may in fact be a fair price plus if you upgrade the interior you stand to make your money back.
13 footers are very popular.
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Old 09-25-2014, 07:02 PM   #6
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Great info Daniel. Thank you!
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Old 09-25-2014, 07:54 PM   #7
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Buyer's Checklist

Check out the Buyer's Checklist. It's in our Document Center (listed under the "More" menu at the top of this screen).
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Old 09-25-2014, 08:02 PM   #8
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Yes, definitely watch out for a soft spongy floor caused by leaks. That can be a really big job!
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Old 09-25-2014, 08:26 PM   #9
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Bob Miller, somehow I missed your reply earlier. Thank you. Very helpful.
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Old 09-25-2014, 08:29 PM   #10
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Thanks Mary F. I'll check it out.
And thanks kootenaigirl. (I lived in BC for 15 years and spent lots of time in the Thompson Okanagan region).
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Old 09-25-2014, 08:31 PM   #11
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Mary F. absolutely has it right. Download and print out the Buyers Checklist every single time you check out a "used" all molded towable. Remember, condition is subjective!
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Old 09-25-2014, 10:56 PM   #12
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[QUOTE=Daniel A.;484528] clip...Air conditioning does it work and how old is it.
Does it use 134A freon the label will tell you.
If its the old R12 you can't get that anymore.


R12 and 134a are automotive refrigerants and I don't believe they were ever used in 120 VAC, sealed compressor, a/c units.
That said, R-12 is readily available on eBay in the U.S.
BUT
Most rooftop and other RV type a/c units were not designed to be recharged and, by the time they are taken down, fittings are installed, the leak found and the unit recharged and reinstalled, you will usually have more than 50% of the cost of a new unit tied up in an old unit that will fail again anyway.

In short, other than replacing fans and relays, repairing older RV a/c units is a death march unless you can do most of the labor yourself.
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:15 AM   #13
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As a follow up to this post... the first Scamp I looked at, priced at $4500, and which sold an hour after I looked at it, is back on the market. The guy who bought it is flipping it.
I recognized the license plate from both ads. The new guy is asking $5200. I found out from the original seller that he accepted $3400 for it. When I texted the new guy saying I had actually viewed the trailer a week earlier, before he bought it, he immediately cut off all communication with me.
I'm kicking myself for not buying it the first time I had a chance.
K

Also, apologies if I'm not acknowledging replies in this thread. I don't seem to be getting notifications.
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSM View Post
As a follow up to this post... the first Scamp I looked at, priced at $4500, and which sold an hour after I looked at it, is back on the market. The guy who bought it is flipping it.
I recognized the license plate from both ads. The new guy is asking $5200. I found out from the original seller that he accepted $3400 for it. When I texted the new guy saying I had actually viewed the trailer a week earlier, before he bought it, he immediately cut off all communication with me.
I'm kicking myself for not buying it the first time I had a chance.
K
.
Humm if this was the Scamp you where looking at don't be sorry - you were right to walk away. He has dropped his price to $4900 now. See the Thread Newbie Questions - any help for reasons why.
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