looking to buy a travel trailer, any brands to avoid?

Discussion in 'General Recreation' started by GM Guy, Oct 2, 2011.

  1. GM Guy

    GM Guy Manual Trans. 2WD Enthusiast

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    hey guys, I am looking into getting a travel trailer, and was wondering if there were any brands to avoid? my budget will only allow up into the late 80s/early 90s.

    I want a quality unit, and would pay a little more to get quality. are trailers out of the 70s any better build quality than newer ones?

    also, a quick dumb rv question: how often does the roof need re-sealed, and is an Airstream or spartan aluminum skinned trailer exempt from this maintenance ritual?

    thanks guys!
     
  2. SfcJones

    SfcJones A(ACLU) SGT. SLAUGHTER

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    Stay away from Coachman....Mine was good overall but I could never really stop the roof from leaking at the seams. Airstream are really good if they have been taken good care of. I like them.
     
  3. THEFERMANATOR

    THEFERMANATOR FRANKENBURBAN Staff Member

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    JAYCO tends to be bottom of the barrel quality wise from what I found. Also I would avoid lite units as they cut corners to keep the weight down. I know I looked at a few lite units and the rubber roofs in them were simply laying on support bows, so if anything hit it it would go right through it. Also watch out for rubber roofs that have been recoated. Rubber roofs require certain types of sealers and many RV owners don't know and will go down to lowes or HD and buy elastomeric roof coating and put on it which ruins the roof. I would only use LIQUID RUBBER roof coating if it was me. And I'm not sure what your budget is, but I would look for a mid 80's to early 90's HOLIDAY RAMBLER. My next one will be one. Also I would HIGHLY reccomend finding one with ducted air and a seperate bedroom. My current trailer is not that way and I really wished it was.
     
  4. great white

    great white Active Member

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    Best stuff for roof sealant on an RV:

    http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/product/dicor-self-leveling-lap-sealant/5737

    It's what the OE's use.

    Keep the joints sealed up and the roof will stay dry as long as the membrane is intact.

    Once it deteriorates, replacement is the only lasting sure cure.

    General stuf to look for:

    Soft spots on the roof (rot)

    Water staining on the walls, especially around corners and windows.

    Underneath for rotted flooring

    Other than that, it's make sure everything works as per (Fridge, stove, water heater, pumps, heater, etc)

    Check out the power converter and make sure it works on shore power and 12V.

    Lastly, make sure you stay within the limits of your tow rig.

    Equalizer/anti sway style hitches are a must on any heavy rig as far as I'm concerned.

    Your mileage may vary....
     
  5. GM Guy

    GM Guy Manual Trans. 2WD Enthusiast

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    well, the 99 is DRW, with overloads, and has an anti sway bar, so I am sure I will be fine there.

    my grandparents had a holiday rambler, grandma sold it after grandpa passed on. from what I remeber, grandpa never had to do too much to it, and it seemed like a solid unit, so HR is definitely on my list.

    as far as budget, we are talking about 2500 bucks, so the 22 rifle will be packed along to shoot rats. :D I know I wont get anything super awesome for that, but the hope is to get a trailer with a perfect frame, structure, and exterior, and maybe plan on plumbing, electrical, etc. It all about finding a worthy shell to dump money in, like trying to find a cherry diesel suburban with a pooched engine.

    I am planning on a bumper pull, as you can hook it behind anything (suburban! ) but if a fifth wheel came up nice and cheap, I wouldnt mind a fifth wheel either.

    the main reason for it right now is seasonal work, aka harvest. I can score some awesome pay working for some guys during harvest. apparently, if you can do a job without ever screwing anything up, you are sought after! :) I get about 3-4 guys a season (wheat harvest, corn harvest, etc) asking if I am available, so I was wanting to buy a camper so that I can park it on the guys farm, and bunk in it while I am there for a week or so. dry and out of the wind are concern number one, and everything from a/c to heat to fridge to kitchen is just a bonus.

    thanks for all the links guys, any more advice is welcome, old man is a workaholic, so recreation is something new to me, so no info is too newbie related to me, as I am an RV newbie without a doubt.
     
  6. GM Guy

    GM Guy Manual Trans. 2WD Enthusiast

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    well, thanks to the 15 minute edit time, I will eternally sound like a hot shot.

    it should say" apparently, if you can do a job without ever screwing anything up bigtime , you are sought after" I have burnt up a few friction discs in the slip clutch on the cart, but havent hit the truck or a combine yet running cart.
     
  7. jhornsby3

    jhornsby3 New Member

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    We went from a 95 Shadow Cruiser to an 88 Holiday Rambler. The SC was a heavy crappy trailer to say the least. I for one will never have a rubber roofed trailer again. The SC was a 24' fifth wheel and was 7300#. The HR is a 28' and is less than that. I have yet to weigh it. I know it's less as it sits higher and just feels lighter. I have heard bad things about alot of the newer stuff out there. From bad EPDM roofs to king pin boxes coming apart going down the road. Here in the Oregon area, I see alot of the Fire Ball trailers. Most are old hunting wagons that get used all year.

    But I love my Holiday Rambler Alumalite XL.

    John
     
  8. bfourman

    bfourman New Member

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    For your price range, brand isn't going to mean as much as condition. Check thoroughly for water damage, most trailers of that vintage have some. Scour craigslist, it seems to be the best source for TTs out there. This is getting close to the time of year for people to start unloading campers so they don't have to store them for the winter. Deals will be out there, but make sure you check it over top and bottom. Soft floors, stained ceilings are tell-tale signs of water damage. I have a winter project coming up on our Coachmen; the water heater leaked and ruined part of the floor. It was mostly hidden until I had to replace the water pump and found the soft spot.
     
  9. jhornsby3

    jhornsby3 New Member

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    And be sure to go up top and look at the roof. When looking for the gem we have now, we found alot that had no signs visible from the inside but found splits in the roofing. Those were mostly the EPDM roofs. EPDM will shrink some from years of neglect and leak around vents and whatnot and not be seen.

    John
     
  10. 88gmctruck

    88gmctruck 02GMCtruck

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    After buying my project Nomad, there are LOTS of things I've learned. I knew my floor was rotten when I bought it, but there was so much more hidden rot in the walls.

    Anyway, after this project, the only thing I can suggest: buy an aluminum framed RV. There are fewer out there in the 80s era, but they are there and with winter coming they will get cheaper. Stick built RVs like mine just have a tendency to rot out when any moisture is present, and are much heavier.

    But with any RV, stick built or aluminum, keeping it sealed up is of course key.
     
  11. jhornsby3

    jhornsby3 New Member

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    This had me looking at the local craigslist and I found a real nice Alumalite XL for 2k. But its a 37' fifth wheel and it' in Vancouver, Washington. There is alot of trailers out there for cheap. Just a matter of keeping ones eyes open.

    John
     
  12. GM Guy

    GM Guy Manual Trans. 2WD Enthusiast

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    can someone list a quick list of common aluminum frame trailers?
     
  13. RI Chevy Silveradoman

    RI Chevy Silveradoman At your service Staff Member

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    Keystone makes several aluminum framed trailers. I have a Cougar TT, and have had great luck with it.

    Only a few manufacturers make most all the trailers.

    Keystone
    Forest River
    Fleetwood
    Coachmen
    Thor

    http://www.gorvmanufacturers.com/directory.php
     
  14. great white

    great white Active Member

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    My forest river is aluminum framed, so are the rockwood models.

    Unfortunately, I can only speak for the newer models.

    I would suspect thier older trailers (70's/80's) are wood framed...
     
  15. L98TPI

    L98TPI New Member

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    There used to be a boat load of small RV makers but the gas shortages of the 70's (remember those) and then the economy of late did them all in, sad really. :sad:

    In my experience of 40 years of tinkering with RV's off and on since I was a kid, the quality is all over the place over all the brands with a few notable and noted examples; Airstream, Avon, Holiday Rambler, and a few others. If you want a airplane like trailer don't forget Avon. Also don't pass up the one piece molded fiberglass ones like Casita, Scamp, Park Liner and others.

    If I was hunting for a trailer right now I would look for a newer one with the smooth fiberglass skin, wood or AL framed, but would prefer the AL of course. I think the smooth glass skin seals better at the corners and has fewer if any screw holes and seams to leak. :thumbsup:

    Also pick one:
    Merry Christmas
    Happy Hanukkah
    Happy Festivus....
    Happy Quanza
    Winter Solstice
    What ever :)
     
  16. THEFERMANATOR

    THEFERMANATOR FRANKENBURBAN Staff Member

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    What about roof materials? Does anybody know of any manufacturers within the last 15 years or so that used fiberglass or aluminum roofs? I'm not a huge fan of the rubber roofing material that it seems all of the manufacturers have gone to now, and would prefer one with a metal or fibeglass roof. I plan on selling our current trailer this spring after we take our spring trips, and then start looking for a little bit bigger trailer that is easier to tow in the fall. Our current trailer is based off of a small park model design, and just doesn't tow that well down the road, and isn't the layout we wanted. SO I figure we'll use this one for a little while longer, then sell it when the market picks up. For our next one though, I'm dead set on finding one with the bedroom on one end, the kitchen on the other, center living room area, lower to the ground, and ducted A/C. If anything I can always buy one with a rubber roof but aluminum frame, and then redo teh roof with a sheet of aluminum since theres a semi trailer shop 25 miles away that has 8 1/2 foot wide aluminum by the roll and just cuts it off at whatever length you want for CHEAP$.
     
  17. DieselCash

    DieselCash Trust but, verify Staff Member

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    Most trailer have the rubber roof because of all the flexing it does going down the road.

    That being said, if you want a fiberglass roof it will be expensive, very.

    You want a metal, find an airstream, avon, silver streak.

    For aluminum frame and older go with a holiday rambler aluma-lite. They are built like tanks and the price tag for older ones shows this.
     
  18. THEFERMANATOR

    THEFERMANATOR FRANKENBURBAN Staff Member

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    That's what I have been looking for is a mid 90's HOLIDAY RAMBLER 29 footer. One came up for sale 4 days after I bought the one I now have. Didn't know if theer were any others out there like them or not. I know AWARD built all fiberglass units, but they are few and far between and all of them I have seen are pretty rusty underneath.
     
  19. L98TPI

    L98TPI New Member

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    Frames can be fixed or built from scratch with less trouble than rebuilding a roof. IMHO
     
  20. DieselCash

    DieselCash Trust but, verify Staff Member

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    The Award RV's remind me of what they had in Germany, only larger.

    http://www.awardrv.com/default.htm

    If they had zero water leaking issues I would be interested.

    The problem with the Texas heat is it destroys RV roofs. You see so many older RV's with bad roofs are leaking issues.
     

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