What to Look for in an Old Trailer?

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What to Look for in an Old Trailer?

Postby bdosborn » Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:58 pm

I'll be looking at an old trailer tomorrow and emailed Doug Hodder for his insights, which he of course shared with me. Seems like it would be nice to have a sticky with some tips from the experts on the forum for those of us out looking. Anyone have any info they'd like to share?
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Postby 48Rob » Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:56 am

Try here for general tips on what to look for in an old trailer, for those that want a trailer.

Page 1)
http://repairingyesterdaystrailers.yuku.com/topic/24
Page 2)
http://repairingyesterdaystrailers.yuku.com/topic/25
Page 3)
http://repairingyesterdaystrailers.yuku.com/topic/26

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Last edited by 48Rob on Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby dmb90260 » Tue Oct 02, 2007 9:53 am

48Rob wrote:Try here for general tips.

http://groups.msn.com/RepairingYesterdaysTrailers/faqs.msnw

Rob

One of the web sites I visit daily. Be sure to check out Rob's blog on his Mobile Sportsman. You will find what the worst things are and how to make lemonade out of them. :lol:

I was lucky and picked up a trailer that lived in the high desert mountain area of So CA. Water damage was minimal. You can see what was discovered when it was re-skinned at skin job. I was much luckier that Rob and whole lot less skilled. I hired out my work.
Look for water damage everywhere, especially around the front windows and the ceiling vent.
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Postby Rose4aname » Tue Oct 02, 2007 10:29 am

A title - I am having a hard time getting tags for mine without a title. I have a bill of sale. Get a title!
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Postby Cave Man » Tue Oct 02, 2007 11:37 am

The lower edge where the plywood is exposed can be an issue as well. The lower foot or so of the one I got is rotten beond repair. So I just need to replace the floor, sides, and the roof(Wife said the whole thing) but I got it in under the radar and can do most all the work myself with my sons help.

Best question is"Can I fix it and still not spend more than its worth, or that I can get back out of it?" Thats actualy from my Step Dad. Keeps me from gitting in too deep :roll: sometimes.

Good luck.
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Postby halfdome, Danny » Tue Oct 02, 2007 2:47 pm

Thanks Rob for that link :thumbsup: . A good friend is on the hunt for a standie now that he has a very nice 60's GMC pick up. :D Danny
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Postby bdosborn » Tue Oct 02, 2007 10:27 pm

Well I passed on the trailer but here's some of Doug's suggestions:

doug hodder wrote:look for...water staining on the ceiling....soft spots under the floor, especially near the toilet...walk all of the floor and see if you can feel if it is squishy...if so check out that spot from underneath. take a screwdriver and probe the ply under to see if it is rotten. I'd check the roof too....you know how bad those hail storms can be in Co....the roof might be hammered and seams might leak. take a ladder....check for water staining around windows, door fitup...has the body racked and the door sticks. If there is water staining especially near the floor...push on it with your thumb and see if it is dryrotted.


Seems like a great start for things to look for...
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Postby Elumia » Thu Oct 04, 2007 8:30 pm

"Best question is"Can I fix it and still not spend more than its worth, or that I can get back out of it?" "

There is that, but also:
1. can I fix it for less money than I can buy one that works, or needs less work?
2. Do I want to spend the time it will take to get it where I want it?
3. there is always more work than you see. figure 50% more work than you initially think.

Anything you restore/fix will likely cost you more than you can get out of it, even with "free" labor. The point is will you enjoy it when you are done. If you have more time than money and it is a hobby to you, then it is the way to go.

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Postby bdosborn » Mon Dec 31, 2007 10:09 am

Here's a link to approaching people about buying that backyard beauty you noticed while driving by...

http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?t=20946

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Postby Roly Nelson » Sat Jan 05, 2008 1:23 am

For a couple of years, I've been interested in obtaining a fixer-upper 10 foot (interior) Standy vintage trailer. We have a cheap advertising rag delivered in the mail every Thursday, and I always check it right away. Some months ago, low and behold there was the add I had been looking for. "1963 Kenskill trailer, good shape, etc." I called right away but found that 2 others had called before me and were planning to meet with the gal that owned it the next night after she returned from work. Bummer.

I told her of my need for a standy so my semi-invalid wife could go camping with me. Also, my plans were to remodel the interior to suit our individual liking. To my surprise she told me she would call me the minute she left work and to meet her at her house befor the others arrived. She did, and I did. The cute little Kenskill with it's 16" front "eyebrow" was all I had hoped for. It was rather narrow, 6ft 4in, and 9 ft 9 in inside and tall enough to stand in, great! The outside was in amazing condition but on the inside they had installed a 6ft square bed plus a full shower in the front corner along with a low cabinet across the balance of the front wall. That gave you about a 2 1/2 ft x 3ft area to change clothes or use a porta-potty.

I checked it out quickly before the other "buyers" arrived. No rust, and just a little dry rot around the fender wells. No roof leaks except around the vent, but the front window had been removed when the shower was built. I was just closing the deal when the other buyers showed up and they were visibly dissapointed when she told them I had bought it. With a new 2" ball on my little hitch reciever, my Camry squatted considerably during the 5 mile back-road haul home. I was able to push it, tongue first along side of my garage, where it is now blocked up level with the door just a few feet from my workshop. I removed and caulked the old roof vent, wire-brushed the roof moldings and caulked all moldings and windows. Then the work began.

So far, I've ripped out the shower, the beds & cabinets, removed 3 layers of old floor tile. I flipped the axle to lower the floor 8 1/2 inches, installed a new front window, laid new sheet vinyl throughout and covered all the walls with new paneling. 4 new upper and lower cabinets are now in place with 4 drawers and 15 cabinet doors. I ran new 12 volt and 110 volt power to new ceiling lights and switches and added 8 110 volt outlets.

The most chalenging revision was covering the old yellow ash water-stained ceiling paneling which had a 2ft radius curve at each end. To accomplish this, I ripped about 900 pieces of wall paneling, 2" wide ranging from 4 to 16 inches long. Night after night, I used panel adhesive to glue them to the old ceiling plywood, kind of like laying bricks, only upside down. Now with a permanent bed all across the rear, for the sweet wife and an up-front convertable dinette, (for me), a little varnish and entry ramp and we'll be ready to roll. See ya at a vintage trailer gathering. Oh yes, the eyebrow area doubles as a huge 6 ft wide storage cabinet and with the cabinet front folded down flat, makes into a 3ft wide bed for the great grand kids.

Roly, always remembering it's a hobby, not a job, but it sure was easier than building a new one. ;)
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Postby Ron Dickey » Mon Sep 01, 2008 1:05 pm

I live in California and drove it out to New Mexico. While there the weld on my axel broke. The spindle and shock were attached to a L bracket that was welded to the axel. It failed.

Check the welds and see how things are attached under it. Check large amounts of rust is it a simple fix or will you need to replace parts.

I was in a big city when mine broke it could have been in the middle of no where. I was luckey.

Got an old boat trailer for free. see my album
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Postby wridley » Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:30 pm

48Rob wrote:Try here for general tips.

http://groups.msn.com/RepairingYesterdaysTrailers/faqs.msnw

Rob


Any idea if this info is posted elsewhere. The link is now dead as msn groups have closed.
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Postby 48Rob » Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:52 am

oops!

Thanks for the reminder!

Here is the general link;
http://repairingyesterdaystrailers.yuku.com/forums/78

And here is the specific page;
http://repairingyesterdaystrailers.yuku.com/topic/24

Rob
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Postby bdosborn » Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:39 pm

I took this off of a thread posted somewhere on RV.net.

I apologise to the originator of this RV/PDI for not attributing this material to it's original owner. If I knew who that person was, I would credit this to that person.


RV/PDI

This should be done on any RV purchased, new or used. No matter what, if this PDI is done which takes a few hours to do it can save you days, or weeks later. Always do a thorough Pre-Delivery-Inspection. Had this been done the roof vent would have been caught before delivery and before any money had been given.

The vents are very easy to change out if you want to do it yourself, but I wouldn't worry about having the dealer do it under warranty either. All have mistakes made from the factory and have to be fixed. Is the roof vent the only problem?

New Trailer Owner Pre Delivery Inspection (PDI)

STARTING POINT - A flashlight with a strong beam is a useful tool to have. A screwdriver with a straight, Philips and square bits will come in handy as well. You should also have available the delivery invoice for the trailer. It will show all the standard equipment and ordered options and should be compared to what you thought you ordered and should be referred to during your inspection.
Finally, the assumption for this PDI is that both (if fitted) propane tanks are full, shore power is available, city water and a hose are located close by and sewer connections, a drain or a dump station is available. A fully charged battery must be connected as well.

OUTSIDE WALK AROUND - The outside walk around should take around one hour. At this point, you're generally searching for anything that does not look right.

1.
Roof Sealing & Fixtures- You will need to get up on the roof here, so round up a ladder or carefully inspect the one on the back of the unit. Check that all the mounting points are solidly attached to the body and the rungs are firmly fixed to the frame.
Climb on the roof and inspect all seams, gaskets and any other place that the roof material has been cut or holes drilled.
Check that all shrouds & covers are intact, unbroken and properly seated on the roof. Proper polyurethane caulking should have been used to seal all places where the roof has been penetrated.
Check closely around air conditioners, vents, antennas, sewer vents, and side seams.
Look for any signs of bubbles (large and small), delamination, foreign objects or protruding screw or nail heads under the membrane (if a rubber roof).

2.
Windows - check closely around each window to make sure it has been properly aligned and sealed.

3.
Entry Doors - check the gasket used on all doors for proper adhesive and coverage.
Look closely at the door from the inside and confirm that it sits flush against the inside of the doorjamb.
Confirm that each key works in the appropriate lock.
The main door should open & close smoothly and lock with out undue effort.
Check that the screen door opens smoothly alone and locks to the main door without any extra effort.

4.
Baggage Compartments - open and close each door checking for alignment and gasketing.
Confirm that each key works in the appropriate lock
All hinges should be tight and secure and the latches should hold the door tightly closed and still be easy to open.
Look for any signs of moisture that might indicate rain leakage.
Verify that compartment lighting (if fitted) works properly.
Any gas cylinders used for keeping to door open should be properly installed so as not to interfere with items stored in the compartment. If clamp-type door hold-opens are used, make sure they are present and hold the door correctly.

5.
Sewer & Fresh Water Connections - Inspect this area on the trailer to make sure that nothing is broken or deformed.
If appropriate at this time, make shure you understand how each valve or fitting works.
Understand the proper function of the black and gray water valves.
If tank flushing is installed, understand how it operates.
Understand where the low point drains are for the fresh water system.

6.
Telephone & Cable TV Connections- Find and understand the telephone and cable connections.
Make sure a weather cap is present for each connector and that connectors are properly identified & mounting plates are properly sealed.

7.
Propane -If the tank(s) are contained in a compartment, here should be no possible way for propane to enter into the RV or any other compartment.
Understand how the regulator works and how it switches between cylinders.
Confirm that a leak test has been performed on both pigtails between the tanks and regulator and the rest of the system.
Locate and understand the operation of the main shut off valve (if any).

8.
Battery - Check the battery box to verify that it is ventilated and that any compartment slide mechanisms work properly.
Verify that no battery cables are rubbing on any part of the frame because that will eventually end up with a short circuit and possible fire.
Understand the battery type provided and how to maintain them.

9.
Paint & Siding- Carefully check the paint finish on the RV. Any problems can be verified and corrected at this point with a lot less hassle.
Site down the side of the unit to check for bumps or depressions in the siding.
Divide each side of the unit into 2, 3 or 4 sections and inspect for siding issues: color variations, dents or irregularities.
Do the same for the ends of the unit
Look at places where vinyl film is used to make sure it is free of any air bubbles.
Check ends of any decals for uniformity or "mistakes" that may have gouged the siding.
Look closely where masking tape was used for paint graphics to make sure there is no over-spray.
Carefully check for surface smoothness and any place when paint coverage is marginal or where there are bubbles.

10.
Tires and Wheels - Closely inspect the tires and wheels and understand the proper inflation pressure.
Verify the torque of the lug nuts or have the PDI person do it while you watch.
Find out the proper jacking point for the trailer and what kind of jack to use.
Determine if your tow vehicle lug nut wrench will fit the lug nuts on the trailer or if another size is necessary.

11.
Spare Tire - Check the condition & pressure of the spare tire.
Understand how the carrier works if it is the fold-down type.

12.
Awnings - Extend and retract each awning paying particular attention to how the awning is locked in the retracted position.
Make sure all springs, locks and supports work well and are properly aligned.
Wiggle the mounting points for the support arms to get a feeling for how solidly they are mounted to the body.

13.
Chassis Inspection - Put on some old clothes or coveralls and get a good-sized piece of cardboard or carpet to make it easier to lie on you back while checking around under the trailer. If it's possible to do so without jacking up the rig, it's a lot easier, but do what makes sense to you.
You want to be able to Inspect all air and / or hydraulic lines, wiring, shock absorber attachments, and in general every place that a wire or pipe could rub against something that could cause a problem later.
All wiring and piping should be properly fastened.

14.
Slide Out Operation - If your RV includes a slide-out or slide-outs then spend the time it takes to understand its operation.
Start by checking the seals while the slide is retracted.
You should not be able to find any places where you can see light or detect airflow.
Use a flashlight to look into dark corners.
Understand the mechanism that extends and retracts the slide.
Operate it several times and understand any restrictions on operation.
Understand the manual retraction process and actually perform the retraction as if the automatic mechanism had failed.
Look for proper alignment of any wheels that may ride on carpet or other flooring, to insure proper clearance.
Understand any locking mechanisms that are used to hold the top of the slide out tight against the top of the RV.
Do your best to make sure the seals are properly installed and operational when the slide is retracted and also when it is extended.

INSIDE FIT AND FINISH - Now its time to go inside. In general you are looking for things that are not finished correctly since it is too late to inspect the design of anything.

15.
Cabinets - Inspect & open all of the cabinets to insure that all the hinges and latches work well.
Pull each drawer out to its stop, return it closed and then try to open it like road vibration might do.
Makes sure that there have been no water leaks and that all the wiring and pipes are well fastened.
Inspect the linings (if any), to insure they are fastened securely.
Run your hand along all edges, front & back to check for and delamination or loose edges on molding or vinyl wraps.

16.
Molding & trim - Go over all the trim on walls, doors & furniture.
Make sure that everything is fastened on well and not loose or ready to come off.

17.
Lighting - Operate every light switch and observe its function.
Use the monitor panel to check battery levels.
Understand and verify any battery disconnect switches.
at this point, only 12V lighting can be tested, as the unit is NOT connected to shore power yet)

18.
Closets -open and close all closet doors checking for free operation and proper alignment.
Hanger rods should be properly fastened and secure.
Check out the lighting that is provided and any switches that are used.

19.
Furniture - Examine every piece of furniture to check for construction, upholstery, pattern and cloth matching.
Check out the dinette by making it a bed with the appropriate cushions.
Do the same with the couch or sofa.

20.
Blinds - Operate each blind and check for alignment.
Look at all valances and trim to be sure they are secured.

21.
Counter Tops - Inspect all counter tops for alignment and fastening.
Make sure that any trim pieces that should be there are in fact tight.
Check for caulking quality everywhere there may be water, especially edges near a sink.
Check the installation of sinks and faucets.

22.
Windows - Open and close every window and operate the latches.
Pay particular attention to the two safety egress windows or emergency windows and make sure they operate smoothly & easily.

23.
Floor Coverings - Inspect carpet and other floor coverings in all corners to insure that they have been properly fastened down.
Check areas that slide outs may roll over for pulled threads, cuts or other problems.
Check closely for gouges or cuts in linoleum tile.

24.
Wall Coverings - Check to make sure that all the wall coverings actually cover and join properly.
Look for any discoloration or patch jobs that may cover hidden problems.
Try to find any places where it is not perfect since now is the time to get it fixed while matching patterns are in stock.
(Some folks suggest ordering extra fabric, carpet, and wallpaper now so that matching material is available to make small modifications or repairs at a later date.)

OPERATION TEST OF ALL HOUSE SYSTEMS - You should be about two hours into to the PDI by now and you are ready to test all of the house type systems.

25.
Shore Power System- Now is the time to connect up to shore power.
Pull out all of the AC cord, confirm the length and inspect the plug for proper attachment.
Inside the unit, check any 110V lighting and switches.
(If you have a 110V receptacle tester, check all outlets for proper wiring/polarity.)
Find the GFI-protected outlet and test using the push button.
Understand which receptacles "down stream" from the GFI are protected.
Any electrical problems here should be corrected immediately.

26.
Converter - Confirm the operation of the converter/charger that is installed.
Turn on several interior lights to create a load for the converter and confirm no excessive converter noise or vibration.
Have the PDI person explain the operation of the converter, the AC circuit breakers and the DC fuses.
Make sure that there is a written list of the loads connected to each.

27.
Water Pump - Your PDI person should have filled the fresh water tank, so now you can test the function of the water pump.
After turning it on, you should hear it pump for several seconds, even up to a minute to create enough pressure in the system.
If the pump does not shut off, then there is a problem.
Run water in the kitchen and bathroom sink and notice that the pump will come back on until proper water pressure is restored.
Now is the time to fix a noisy pump if it is vibrating or making any irritating sounds.

28.
City Water System - Turn off the pump, connect up to city water (use a regulator if overly high pressure is suspected) and confirm that the connection works correctly.
Look for leaks under sinks and confirm the operation of all fixtures.

29.
Tankage - Re-fill the fresh water tank if necessary and run water into the gray tank to verify the gauge reading and that there are no leaks.
Filling the gray tank until water comes up in the shower will make it easier to find leaks inside & out.
Do the same thing to the black water tank, including filling so that water comes up inside the toilet. Check for leaks (if the toilet is installed correctly, there will be no leaks!) You can fill the black water tank by using the tank flushing system (if fitted), by using a garden hose adapter for the sewer connection (through a backflow preventer) or by bringing the water hose inside and filling the tank through the toilet. This last method can be a little cumbersome, and I don't recommend unless you've done it before.
Check the gauges for accuracy while you are filling
Now is the time you want to find leaks if there are any.
Drain the gray and black water tanks using the sewer hose or the garden hose adapter.

30.
Water Heater - Try the water heater on propane first.
A few seconds after you turn it on, you should hear the click of the igniter and the small pop when the burner lights.
The red light should stay on until that process happens.
If it does not ignite, then there is a problem.
Turn the AC element in the water heater (if connected) and confirm operation.
Make sure you know the location of the electrical switch at the water heater and the correct operation of the interior switch.
If your unit is so equipped, understand the operation of the bypass valves for winterizing.
Confirm that hot (or warm water depending on how long the water heater has been on) comes out of the hot tap at the various sinks.

31.
Furnace - Now its time to understand the operation of the thermostat that controls heating and sometimes the air conditioning.
Turn the furnace on and set a temperature demand that is at least 10 degrees hotter than ambient temperature.
In about 30 seconds, you should hear the furnace fans come on.
Shortly thereafter you should hear the click of the igniter and the sound of the burner. If not then there is a problem. It could also be taking a while for propane to get to the heater, so don't dispair.
Let the furnace blow and you should get hot air at about 110 degrees coming out of all vents. Check each one.
Now turn the furnace down and the hot air will gradually turn cooler and the fans will eventually stop after the furnace has cooled sufficiently.
During this process have someone with a good nose checking for any smell of material getting too hot, or exhaust coming out.

32.
Air Conditioners - Some air conditioners also have a heat strip or heat pump feature so now is the time to verify these functions.
Turn on the air conditioner.
After a couple of minutes, cool air, 20 degrees cooler than ambient, should be coming out of the registers.
If you unit has ducting in the ceiling, make sure a good airflow comes out of each register.
Learn how to clean the filters at this time.

33.
Propane and Carbon Monoxide Alarms & Smoke Detector- now is a good time to check the function of these alarms.
The PDI person should have a small canister of gas that can be sprayed at the alarm to test its operation.
Have them perform this test while you watch and learn how the alarms work.
Confirm that there is a new battery in the Smoke Detector (write the date on it for reference)
Activate the test button to check operation of the smoke detector. Understand how to turn it off.

34.
Refrigerator - Most modern refrigerators work on propane or AC and have an automatic mode that gives preference to AC and then will switch to propane if AC power is not available.
Understand the controls and the status lights and set the unit on propane. The RV may need to be unplugged for this to happen.
Go outside to the refrigerator vent grill and make sure that the propane heating column is lit and heating.
While the refrigerator grill is open, check to make sure the drain line is positioned for proper drainage.
Set the temperature at the highest cooling setting, because setting it to lowest will typically cause the coils to collect moisture and ice up.
Come back in about 10 minutes to feel that the coil/fins is actually starting to cool.

35.
TV VCR Antenna and Switching -For the most through test, bring a small AC/DC TV with you for the initial test.
Review and understand the switching system that allows the selection of viewing channel on the front and rear TV.
Raise the TV UHF/VHF antenna and learn how to turn on the amplifier and the DC outlet.
Find out the power rating of the DC outlet and compare it to the load of the equipment you will connect to it.
Activate the control on the front TV that scans for local stations.
Learn how to rotate the antenna to maximize the quality of the picture.

36.
Air Vents - Test the operation of kitchen and bathroom air vents making sure they open and turn on properly (if powered). Verify that they retract and close tightly.
Check any other vents for proper operation.

37.
Microwave - Put a cup of cold water in the microwave and set the timer for 5 minutes.
The water in the cup should boil in less than 5 minutes.
Make sure there are no unusual sounds coming from the Microwave.

38.
Propane Stove - Turn on one burner of the stovetop while the AC's and Microwave are running and the automatic igniters should cause a strong spark to light the burner.
Turn on the other burners to verify that there is enough propane flow to operate the refrigerator, water heater and all the burners.
If everything is OK, turn off the burners on the stove.
If your unit has an oven, then understand how the pilot is lit and verify its operation now.
Note: Sometimes the burner igniters interfere with the operation of the thermostats for the roof AC. This is the time to find this problem.
GOOD LUCK
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Postby john warren » Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:22 am

money under the mattress! :R
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