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Old 09-26-2012, 11:19 AM   #1
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Used 5th wheel buying.. what to look/check for?

We are looking for a used 5th wheel that will be used for full time living. Husband's current job is ending and next job is still undecided, so we maybe traveling for job (staying put for weeks to months at a time), or moving to new location and staying put. Our budget puts us looking at not only used, but older models as well.

What do we need to look for or be sure to check on an older model, especially if it's been parked. We are scheduled to see a 1997 Avion 5th wheel that has been used this last year as a residence (seller lived in it after losing house to a fire). Not sure what it's history was before that, sounded like it had also been used as a residence before. Bottom line is it current owner never towed it and we are completely new to RVs and 5th wheels in particular. I'm working through a STEEP learning curve while trying to make a buying decision and many uncertainties about where we will land.

Thank you for any advice or input.

Lee
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Old 09-26-2012, 11:51 AM   #2
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1997 Avion was a redesign from the previous model. The 1995 Avion was a great 5er, the 1997 was not neafly as well built and had some frmae issue ...cracked welds in the pinbox and over-hang area.

We had a 1995 36.5M Avion and it was built like a tank. Knew of several with 1997 up through 2002 and they were not well built trailers. Personally, I'd not get an Avion built after 1995.

Fleetwood bought Avion and left them alone for a long time and then around 1995, decided tthey had to become more Fleetwood...ie. cheaper.

On any older RV be especially watchful for any signs of water leaks and delamination on the body (bubbles). Check for soft flors around slide outs, toilets, showers, door and under windows. Soft floors = water leaks and rotted floor. Also walk the roof looking for soft spots at end caps and around penetrations.

Ans welcome to iRV2

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Old 09-26-2012, 01:30 PM   #3
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Ken has same great recommendations.

I would not go that far back in years. Technolgy has changed so much that any problems could leave you with an unaffordable fix. Simple example. If the furnace goes out and there is no replacement. You will need to install a new one that could require some depth of fabrication.
Just my thoughts.

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Old 09-27-2012, 06:17 AM   #4
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I own a workers campground and am a 5th wheel fulltimer. If your going to have to borrow money it's probably cheaper in the long run to buy new. Lower interest and down payment.

Right now I have

Nuke workers,till the end of the year possibly back till spring
A preacher, another month or two
Fruit buyers, oct sometime
College students till end of the year
HVAC guy Forever. Works good here homes 2 hours away 4 days a week leaves his unit
High end drywall guy 3-4 days a week but leaves his unit
Tree service guys another monthe maybe 2
several snowbirds
fishermen

So your not alone on the road.
Storage is king
If you buy used make sure it wasn't fulltimed in so everything worn out or close to it
Good insulation package is nice but not manditory. A couple of days work can insulate on the spot
If your going to cold areas buy 100lb propane tanks and hoses to take along or make sure you can rent them

Add more later
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Old 09-27-2012, 07:36 AM   #5
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Good insulation package is nice but not manditory. A couple of days work can insulate on the spot
If your going to cold areas buy 100lb propane tanks and hoses to take along or make sure you can rent them
Thanks for all the information. Can you explain what you mean by "a couple of days work can insulate on the spot?" I had been under the impression that if we were going to be north in the winter we needed an artic or 4 seasons pkg. Learned today that this company even has jobs in Canada (although not sure how likely it is that we would be sent there.)

We are not planning to finance, which is why our budget is fairly low for the type of unit we are looking for.

Lee
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Old 09-27-2012, 07:57 AM   #6
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Insulation wise newer is better and a heat pump system only comes in a newer unit. Depending on how cold you will want to insulate aroound the bottom to keep the wind out. Heat tape and insulation on the water and maybe sewer line. take the cash you have and use it for a down payment on a new 1-2 year old unit sitting on a dealers lot that they want to get rid of. 10$k down might bring a 80k$ down to even 30k$ dealers are like that. Everything would be new and still under factory warranty interest and payment would be low. The interest and low payments on a 2 year old unit changed my mind. There is plenty of 2011 new units out there.

If your going to a cold area avoid rear kitchen it's just too far to keep the water lines warm

Put a radiator type heater in the basement and take one of the wall panels off to the crawl space to keep the floors warm. Small fan to move the hear around.

Climb in th basement and crawl space area in the daytime with the doors shut to plug all the holes you will find
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikell View Post
Put a radiator type heater in the basement and take one of the wall panels off to the crawl space to keep the floors warm. Small fan to move the hear around.
Climb in th basement and crawl space area in the daytime with the doors shut to plug all the holes you will find
WOW, great ideas for anyone that wants to stay warm

Also check the lower slide areas - the bottom usually has some openings!

on your heater idea - get a heater that has a thermostat and cycles on and off so it's not running continuosly...
(We did this for the big boy - a 16 year old shepherd outside dog - wanted his last years to be comfortable with central heat inside his dog house !!!!)

Also, leave enough air space around that basement heater to not start a fire !

Lee, what type truck do you have so we can help you fit it into the towing abilities of your truck ?
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:09 AM   #8
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The oil filled radiator type heaters don't get too hot, they stay warm a long time and are QUIET. We had one that was OK but the furnace kept it warm enough it didn't come on long enought to keep the place warm. 600 watt setting all the time now. Small fan to circulate in the crawl space. My heaters next to the water works because i have an extension cord there from the pedstal that runs my water line heat tape and that heater. Warm winter last year but the year before only 1 problem and thats when I removed part of the wall. Thought insulating everything would work but managed to keep out the heat

Headed into our 4th year and second 5th wheel full timing in Michigan
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:57 PM   #9
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97 trailer is 15 years old. Roof would be shot, All appliance ready to fail. If parked in a Florida campground its wortless after 20 years old. I was glad to get rid of my 15 year old trailer, and was at the limit to travel with it though the maintenance was done well. For every unit more then 5 years old would be a possible lost of investment, due to newer units are made with much better axles and aerodinamics. Older units mostly had 5K axles and now they come with 7K axles.
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:24 AM   #10
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If it were me, I'd get a trailer that's a few years old for full time living. I just don't have a lot of confidence in a trailer that is as old as the one you're looking at.
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:35 AM   #11
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Folks, do not put down a trailer based soley on age. A quality trailer will last a lot longer than 10, 15 or even 20 years if properly cared for. We had a 1979 Silver Streak and a 1989 Avion that were in great shape and better than most 5 year old trailers.

An "entry level" plastic box will not be in good condition in 10 years. An RV needs maintenance and replacement, just like a sticks and brick.

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Old 10-04-2012, 07:42 AM   #12
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If all I could afford was an older trailer, I wouldn't hesitate to buy one that was properly maintained. The problem is determining how well it was maintained. So, in addition to thoroughly inspecting every system, bring a mechanic's creeper and flashlight and look at every weld and crevice under the unit for problems. Ensure the axles, springs, and hangars are in good shape, etc. Fridges, furnaces, AC units and HW heaters can all be replaced if they fail.

For full-time living you want to have a unit that is made for the winter. I would recommend looking at NuWa, Teton, older Avions, Heartlands, etc. All the other advice about thoroughly checking the roof, windows, for leaks, is absolutely necessary.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:31 PM   #13
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It would be worth it to me to find a mobile rv technician and have him go through the unit for a couple of hours. At $90 an hour I would gladly pay the $180. If you are new to rv'ing don't count on yourself to see problems, pay a professional. We had a 2000 Avion that we bought in 2005, it was a really good unit. It's likely it would need some roof repairs and new tires.
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:12 AM   #14
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We put down a deposit on a 5th Wheel...

First off, thank you for all the responses!! After much research online and looking around, we put a deposit on a 2004 Holiday Rambler Presidential 5th wheel. It had all the features we had been told to look for in a full-time, 4-season unit. It also had the floor plan that I think is the most workable for us. I know it is an older unit, but it is in our price range for cash sale, and we just are not in a position to finance anything newer (I know that was a suggestion that would get us in a newer unit w/warranty and more features.)

I'll be back in the next several weeks with a squillion questions. But for now, thanks for all the support.

Lee
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