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Old 03-21-2021, 10:14 AM   #1
Junior Member
 
Name: Jen
Trailer: Still Looking
Manitoba
Posts: 3
Boler purchase advice

Hi there,

I've been looking at this forum for quite some time as I have doing a lot of research as I contemplate getting my first trailer. I have just looked at a mostly original Boler 1700 and I am deciding whether I will take the plunge. I had a look at it the other day and tried to check everything as best I could. The floor seems solid. The frame has surface rust but there are no obvious cracks or apparent issues.

One thing that is concerning me a bit is that the previous owner(s) have stored the sewer pipe in the bumper, and it has completely rusted through in places. Is this completely cosmetic? Or could this cause any structural issues? The bumper seems to be welded to the frame so could it be repaired?

There are some other potential issues but none seem to be major red flags to me, but if others have other opinions, I would be interested to hear them:

- At least one of the windows obviously needs a new seal.
- There appears to be some water damage around the roof vents. The current owner said this was the case when he purchased it but he has since replaced the vents with MaxxAire fans and claims there are no leaks since.
- The belly band has been caulked (looks like latex caulk) but by some previous owner (not the current one). From what I've read this might have been done in an effort to stop a leak (from the windows or elsewhere?) and probably wasn't necessary?
-There is some apparent water damage to the wood under the front dinette seat in the back corner (inside the storage compartment).

I am quite nervous, but also excited at the idea. I would love to hear your thoughts on whether this sounds like something to walk away from?
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Old 03-21-2021, 11:15 AM   #2
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 3,497
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With leaks, make sure the floor doesn't have ANY soft spots! Soft spots = rot, which will have to be repaired. And a trailer with past history of leaks, good chance there could be rot. Most rot occurs from the INSIDE out! A leak in plumbing or window or whatever brings the water in. Then the water seeks a way out. Never trust the seller. Few will tell you of problems or leaks. Some may be naive, others could be untrustworthy. Regardless, it is up to YOU to carefully inspect.

Rotted out rear bumper is not unusual and means having a new one welded on. Not the end of the world.

IMHO, the pricing on vintage FG trailers has gotten ridiculous. I've seen 30 or 40 year old trailers with prices about the same as a brand new trailer. At some point, ordering a new one and waiting a while to get it can be a sound financial move! Realize old trailers typically require work, which you need to be ready to do. I'm replacing the propane lines on my 1977 Trillium. So far, lets see, I have rewired the outside lighting, replaced the old power control center and rewired the shore wire, replaced the connector to the tow vehicle, ground down the belly band and fiberglassed it, removed all windows and vents, replaced rotten wood, and reinstalled everything, replaced all interior lighting, added a battery, rebuilt all cushions, replaced and repaired cabinet doors, built shelves in closet, fixed door hinges and door mounting to address door sag, removed old carpet, cleaned off old glue and replaced flooring, repaired and rewired fridge, cleaned and polished exterior, repaired and rebuilt awning, wire brushed frame, treated all rust, and repainted, etc. I think you get the idea. And mine was in "good condition"....... Oh yeah, and I am not done.

If you buy an older trailer that needs work, have that family discussion. Who is going to do the work? Paying someone to do the work for you will get very expensive. Do you have the time/tools/aptitude/covered work area to handle it? Don't underestimate the time. I have about 300 hours into my Trillium so far, its not done, but it is OK for use. In my area, qualified trades people cost $75 to $100 per hour. Lets see, 300 hours times $75 = $22,500. Lets assume a professional would be more efficient, so maybe cut that in half. On the other hand, in my area, even at these prices, its nearly impossible to find trades people. Read some of the restoration threads. I marvel at the work people have done. Amazing! But then consider the time.
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Old 03-21-2021, 12:47 PM   #3
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Name: John
Trailer: 1978 Trillium 4500, 1979 Boler 1700
Michigan
Posts: 1,696
Registry
Unless this Boler 1700 has been extensively restored, there may be extensive repair and restoration needed.

The first priority is thoroughly testing for leaks and re-fitting/re-sealing all windows, the door, roof vents, and through hull fittings.

The rear bumper tube can be replaced so that's a minor concern.

Regarding wood rot, in my Boler 17 I found some, mostly BEFORE purchasing: 2 sizable areas under the rear bench, small amount under front right bench, small amount near the door. Also extensive rot inside the door core and in the door threshold.

Here's the work I've recorded in my register to date:

Exterior:

Replaced wheels/tires/brakes/brake drums
Replaced leaf springs
Replaced frame bolts on 4 corners with 3/8" ss bolts, nylock nuts
Replaced 50 through-hull bolts (originally rivets) with ss machine screws, nylock nuts and snap caps
Restored front window shield, replaced hinges and struts
Removed and re-sealed all windows; replaced window gaskets
Removed and resealed around door frame, rebuilt threshold, rebuilt door core
Replaced rear roof vent; re-sealed front fantastic vent
Replaced 7-blade connector and 7-wire cable, added junction box under dinette bench
Rewired and replaced running lights and tail lights with LED fixtures

Interior:

Replaced converter with Progressive Dynamics 4135; added 30 amp shore power inlet
Replacing countertop, faucet, drain and re-routing gray tank vent to side of camper. (in progress)
Removed stove / oven
Repainted all cabinets
Installed new curtain rods and curtains
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Old 03-21-2021, 12:57 PM   #4
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Name: Jen
Trailer: Still Looking
Manitoba
Posts: 3
Thank you so much for your considered reply. I agree with you that the prices are getting ridiculous!

There are a few reasons for me wanting to go the route of a vintage trailer not the least of which is I hoped it would be less expensive than new. I am reasonably handy and don’t mind fixes and repairs, but I’m definitely not looking for a major project like the complete bottom up rebuilds like the ones you refer to. I am hoping to find something reasonably solid that I can get in and go. Although I don’t mind (and in fact like the idea) of decorating the interior to my liking.

Your point on the rot is well taken. I tried to check for soft spots and didn’t notice anything but it’s very true that I didn’t check every inch. And this is one of the big points that makes me nervous. Is feeling for soft spots the only way to know (short of pulling up the flooring)? Is it even possible that after 40 years the floor is in good shape? Or is it more than likely than not to have issues?
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Old 03-21-2021, 01:08 PM   #5
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Name: John
Trailer: 1978 Trillium 4500, 1979 Boler 1700
Michigan
Posts: 1,696
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some good news...

Jen, on our 1979 Boler 17 we found the subfloor plywood to be in better condition than when we originally inspected it.

Prior to purchasing, we found rot under the rear bench and front right bench. We also suspected there was floor rot in front of the fridge (there was a dip) and in front of the shower. Upon peeling up the paper backed sheet vinyl floor, there was NO subfloor rot, however there was water trapped in the subfloor plywood and that eventually all dried out.
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Old 03-21-2021, 04:26 PM   #6
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
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I've done probing inside benches when the sellers told me no rot. And I found extensive dry rot. Open every cabinet, look underneath stuff. Go outside. Open every hatch, open the lower fridge vent. I also put a straight edge on the floor, from the kitchen on one side to the door. Look for a sudden drop. I've found that too. Take a good flashlight with you. The savings on an older trailer are not as big as you might think. Sure, you could luck into some great deal. Those are scarce, everybody wants one of those. Realize on a 40 year old trailer, often all the appliances, axle, plumbing, propane piping, wiring, are all 40 years old too. This stuff does not get better with age. So maybe a ten year old trailer is more expensive, but all of those parts I just mentioned are ten years old too.

Here's an example of two Scamps that sold in the last two weeks. I do not know actual sales price, but they do list asking prices. And they both sold quickly. Most of these FG trailers sell for close to asking:

This one is 18 years old, a 2003 with a bathroom:

https://www.fiberglass-rv-4sale.com/...-deer-river-mn


And this one is 45 years old, with a warped door, incomplete cabinets, no fridge, needs interior wiring, needs a new axle. Was priced higher than the 2003 model. Sold in adjacent states, locations were less than 3 hours apart. I have not seen either trailer, so in no way can I judge them fairly. This is just an example.

https://www.fiberglass-rv-4sale.com/...renovated-9300
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Old 03-23-2021, 01:47 PM   #7
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Name: Eric
Trailer: Boler
TN
Posts: 157
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If you buy a "Vintage" camper you have to expect repairs. You also need to plan on being a little creative when it comes to making some of the repairs. Some items, especially hardware are no longer available so you will have to plan on substitutions. You will as some point have the moment but it is never end of the world stuff.

Boler 1700's can leak in several places. Windows and door are the most obvious. You can get most of the gasket/seal material for the slide windows. I haven't been able to get the top outside rubber trim for the jalousie windows.(If anybody knows where to get it PM me) Roof vent and if the camper has live a really hard life the roof gelcoat can flake away creating a porous surface allowing water to get in the roof core. So check to see if the roof is in decent shape. Finally the belly band can leak so yeah it needs sealant to keep water out. At the factory they attached the upper and lower half together and secured with a single layer of fiberglass on the inside. So if water gets in under the aluminum band it can find a way in. The key to all these issues is maintenance. If it is left out in the open unused and neglected it will deteriorate.

From your post it sound like you found a well maintained unit that should serve you well.
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Old 03-23-2021, 06:34 PM   #8
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Name: Jen
Trailer: Still Looking
Manitoba
Posts: 3
Thanks all for your thoughts and feedback. I decided to let this one go... on further thought the interior water damage scared me too much and I wasn’t willing to risk that it was actually a bigger issue than it seemed. I will keep searching for “the one”.
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