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FEMA trailers - 2006 Cavalier, and others

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#1 RomaniGypsy


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Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:55 PM

I see these 2006-model FEMA trailers for sale all the time. I imagine they're left over from post-Katrina temporary housing.

People seem to be screaming from the rooftops "DON'T BUY A FEMA TRAILER!" All the time, people will post on Craigslist looking for a travel trailer and the ad says "No FEMA trailers".

From what I can gather, the biggest problem with these FEMA trailers is formaldehyde. Well, to the best of my knowledge, formaldehyde is either used in, or produced by, the carpeting and other materials in the interior.

I've been inside new RVs and manufactured homes, and I know the effect that formaldehyde can have on me. After a while, my nose will start to burn. Therefore, I'm guessing that FEMA trailers aren't the only ones that had formaldehyde in them. Furthermore, as I understand, the manufacturers of the trailers used by FEMA were legitimate RV manufacturers.

What's the big deal with these things therefore? I'm guessing that the majority of the formaldehyde would have aired out by now after 7 years. Are there any other significant issues that affect every one of these things, whether they were well cared for or not?

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#2 DavidMc


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Posted 07 January 2013 - 07:53 PM

Perhaps the negatives include --

Construction quality if built "to cost" for limited purpose,

Construction lacking features more commonly expected in RVs ( built "to cost" again),

Some of them may not have had the "aging" of regular trailers (manufacturer's inventory yard, shipping time, dealer's inventory yard, ...) to purge the formaldehyde produced during construction.

Some (Many?) of those that were used were abused.

Poor handling and storage after being returned from use.

#3 Guest_Leadfoot_*

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 08:35 PM

There have been pics on various forums of hundreds of *never used* FEMA trailers sitting (stored) on an airstrip.
Folks who had seen them said they were junk. Not equipped with standard RV items such as holding tanks, etc.
"Thrown together' construction - weather damaged from sitting. Auctioned off in huge lots - - "cheap".

Would guess, the speculators that bought them at auction are trying to "turn them" to make a buck.

Formaldehyde would be the least of the problems.


#4 Guest_David & Lorna Schinske_*

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 08:48 PM

I would think that if you expect to get a "fixer-upper", can do the work required and pay accordingly (CHEAP), you could get a good deal. I've heard some (many) did not have holding tanks installed. I think the biggest thing is they used "weekend" RV's for folks who have never stepped foot in an RV to live in fulltime. These folks were thinking "trailer = mobile home" and that is not what they were put in. On top of that, they acted like renters, meaning they pretty much trashed the trailers. Not all but some. Again, if you can do repairs and buy cheaply, price the stuff you may need as they seemed to not have the converter/inverters and LP water heaters, etc. To me ALL manufactured RVs are junk. Sorry but that is my perspective. I think that if you did some research (look at a lot of actual FEMA trailers), do not buy sight unseen and do a very, very good inspection (use a checklist... pro home inspectors do, so why not you?) then you may be able to get a good buy. As for the "formadehyde" problems... some of that may have been brought on by stress. I'm not saying they didn't outgass and/or the folks didn't have bad reactions. I'm saying the stress they were under for so long may have caused their bodies to react more violently to a pollutant they normally didn't react to (like that "new car smell" which folks seem to love yet is only the formadehyde outgassing... also "permanent press" clothing is loaded with formaldehyde too yet folks wear that right next to their skin and never think twice about it). I would compare what a similar unit (a few years older maybe) would cost too. Just to get an idea. I've seen the ads too. Some seem to be very good deals. But if they are still sitting on a dealer lot, I would think a lower price could be negotiated (ie: "I have X dollars, cash in hand, to buy today") AFTER you have done a thorough inspection not just a walk thru.

#5 Guest_alaska315_*

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 08:56 PM

Also,Not built to RV specs:

No Holding tanks at all.

No 2 or 3 way appliances.All electrics are built for standard houshold electricity,not 12 Volt.

You won't find the cabinet space in them as an RV has.FEMA units are as writen in the previous post.

And for some reason,I have noticed that from what these sellers are asking for these units,they are way over priced compared to what the Govt sells them for.

They might make a nice Perm park type model IMO.

#6 Guest_David & Lorna Schinske_*

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 09:27 PM

No 2 or 3 way appliances.All electrics are built for standard houshold electricity,not 12 Volt.

We had a 2 way LP/AC water heater in our old Class C. When it pooped out we replaced with the same thing. When we were price shopping water heaters for the bus conversion, we thought about it and realized that we had NEVER used the LP side of the water heater. From Nov 2006 thru Nov 2010... never used it. When we bought the old Class C, it had an old 2 way dometic refrigerator. We jerked that out and replaced with regular under counter freezer (4.4 cf) & an small dorm type refrigerator (3.2 cf). Worked so well we put a standard house type 12 cf upright freezer and 8 cf refrigerator (stacked two 4 cf undercounters). I also have a 10 gallon electric house type water heater and a 30" wide house type LP gas range (I prefer to cook on gas) with a 120vAC thru the wall vent (mobile home supply company) that is on an inverter. Our lights are 120vAC florescent light on an inverter so that they can run off the battery bank. The only "RV" things we have are the 12vDC water pump (Shurflo 2088 Classic... we've had good experience with that model water pump) and the RV toilet (vintage china Mansfield Traveler). I am NOT a fan of "RV" stuff. In most cases, they are built every bit as well as RV's. If you are needing to power an AC unit, you are running a generator (AC power) or you are on shore power (AC power). An inverter or two (I prefer dedicated inverters) running off a few batteries hooked up the a smart charger will power most things needed (lights, TV) while wally docking. If you are into boondocking, a standard RV will need to be modified in order to do extended boondocking. Running a 12vDc wire to the water pump does not require an electrican. Pulling the wire for lights and wiring it into an inverter isn't rocket science. And all these things can be done in a "remodel". Then again, you might just want to build from scratch or find a "shell" to build an RV inside of. Could be cheaper. Our full timing/4 weather bus conversion is coming in at under $5K (actually around $4K... not including the $1400 40 ft Bluebird flat nosed schoolbus shell & an LP generator I have yet to decide on). Granted we are trying to see how cheap we can do it and we have the skills to design/build it. It's become a game.... how low can we go!

#7 Rif


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Posted 07 January 2013 - 11:32 PM

The ones I have looked at (there's a guy selling them in a park we stayed in last summer) could be better defined as cheap, mini-park models. Standard residential toilet and refrigerator, no holding tanks or fresh water tanks, and built as cheaply as possible. Most of the ones I saw were already rusting. The few people I know of who bought them hooked them up in an RV park and lived in them.
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Posted 08 January 2013 - 06:24 AM

Yeah, but on the plus side- the showers are brand new.

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#9 TheDuke


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Posted 08 January 2013 - 07:25 AM

Why does someone have to make snide remarks about people that are in a situation that they didn't ask for. I hope you are never where you have lost your home or RV and have to live in what is available.
I hope the Admin of this site takes your snide remark down.
PS: you might notice that it isn't funny.

#10 Cyberdave


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Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:09 AM


Person here at Rainbows End had to gut hers because there was mold everywhere.

I think she said it looked like the shower was used.

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#11 a5rinNM


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Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:35 AM

The ones they are selling around my town seem to be perfectly normal RV trailers.. They are smaller than we want and we prefer a 5r but we looked at them for parking on our lot in the northern hills.

If you are interested go look at some and ask questions and inspect closely. I believe, like crime, the bad gets publicized and the good is over looked.

#12 bobsallyh


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Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:46 PM

The FEMA trailers for sale on a lot here in Yuma, AZ. are being sold by an outfit named Legacy Homes. They are now starting on their third year on the lot. There is very rarely anyone at the lot and the gate is usually locked. Very few have sold and they have added several "real" travel trailers for sale. There has also been a sign on the fence of the lot for about two months that states "AUCTION" but no info or people working the lot. A couple of us looked at them two years ago. The FEMA trailers have very few windows, no holding tanks (a 3" threaded coupling for sewer connection), residential refer, residential potty, and RV water heater, two 30 lb propane tanks. We could never get a price on them. For quite a long time now, doors have been open on some of them just swinging. Maybe a hunting "cabin" on property that has septic, maybe a park trailer. Let your imagination be your guide. And to "the Dukes" post, very good words!

#13 RonMon


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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:34 PM

One problem I was told about was from a couple of RV techs who went to Louisiana as FEMA make-ready techs, was with construction staples in the trailers. Up to as many as 200 to 300 staples that either punctured water lines or shorted electric lines per trailer, in many cases. Quality of construction?????

#14 Newt


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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:46 PM

The FEMA trailers were made to FEMA specs by the low bidder. :rolleyes:

They are a POC. If you want one fine. Just be aware of what you are getting.

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#15 Jack Mayer

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:02 AM

Listen to what Newt says. The FEMA trailers really are pretty poorly done. I would never touch one, and many have been"condemned" and supposedly taken off the market. There are better - far better - choices in used trailers out there. For around the same money.

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#16 bobsallyh


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Posted 15 January 2013 - 04:37 PM

Well it looks like the FEMA trailers that are here in Yuma will finally be auctioned off. Previewing starts Jan.16. Offers until Feb.8, hammer falls Feb 16. http://yuma.craigsli...3547661179.html

#17 TXiceman


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Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:21 AM

Nealy all of the FEMA trailer were built to a cheap government spec. Cheap electric frig, , few windows, no slides, cheap furnishings, no holding tanks. If you are going to park it in one place and leave it, it might work, provided the formaldahyde has all gassed out...it make take several years.

Mold is often an issue as they set with no one maintaining the roof and fixing leaks. Some of these trailer have been setting since hurricane Katernis and that was how many years ago.....

I see a nimber of people living full time in them as that is all they can afford. Just be sure you go into this wide awake and know exactly whatt you are getting.


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#18 Alaska Pokernut

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 12:36 PM

I would stay with the cheaper smaller rv or popup you have in mind. main reasons is that the FEMA trailers as already mentioned are NOT rvs..but rather ..well trailers. Meaning a couple things like...your Tahoe or Suburban ( i cant remember what you said you have ) wont pull it wich would leave you in a fix needing anouther truck.

Also as already mentioned ... no holding tanks so If ann When you need to boondock in an area with no services someplace to save money, you wont have the options of a real RV.

If you were to set it up someplace permanent then it wouldnt be too bad as you can remodle it as you go along... but if its traveling you are doing then it would be a big hassle for you.

#19 Atchafalaya_man


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Posted 26 January 2013 - 09:23 PM

Here is a zoom of a satellite shot of FIFTY (50) Fema Trailers 'in storage'.
Posted Image

Here's the whole lot. The area of the 50 trailers in white. One can count at least 200 white grids containing 50 trailers within this square mile of FEMA trailers 'in storage'. (50x200=10,000 trailers)
Posted Image

The area has 4 such storage sites I have been aware of.

#20 Glenn West

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 12:45 PM

Junk, yes, but one good thing they have is residential fridge.

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