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Travel Trailer Question


GypsyQueen7

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In the next couple of weeks I'll be heading out to start looking for my first used travel trailer, and so am starting to research what things to look at, and look out for. I found a pretty good checklist, I think. I've removed all the things relating to a motorhome but wasn't sure about belts and hoses, does a travel trailer have those?

 

Here's a link to the checklist I'm using (minus motorhome items)...is it missing anything?

 

http://www.thecampingsource.com/item/used_rv_buying_guide_checklist/id/613/category.aspx

 

Thanks!

Kirsten

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In the next couple of weeks I'll be heading out to start looking for my first used travel trailer, and so am starting to research what things to look at, and look out for. I found a pretty good checklist, I think. I've removed all the things relating to a motorhome but wasn't sure about belts and hoses, does a travel trailer have those?

 

Here's a link to the checklist I'm using (minus motorhome items)...is it missing anything?

 

http://www.thecampingsource.com/item/used_rv_buying_guide_checklist/id/613/category.aspx

 

Thanks!

Kirsten

Well remove the engine, road test drive, belts/hoses, cruise control, steering, side mirrors, exhaust, and vehicle battery as all of these are geared towards a motorhome not a travel trailer.

This about cuts your list in half.

 

James

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Hi Gypsy, I would climb on the roof and look for areas that need patching. Look for hairline cracks and holes in the caulking. Look for cracks in vent covers. A roof that has not been maintained is one with leaks, for sure. Leaks may not be evident from the inside of the trailer. Also, if the trailer smells bad, look elsewhere.

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The check list that I recommend is this one from the RV Consumer Group and share it often.

 

With a travel trailer there is no engine so none of those associated items need to be considered. There are no belts or hoses, unless it happens to have hydraulic brakes, which are very rare in smaller travel trailers. On the RVCG list the entire section titled "Mechanical" can be ignored, with the exception of the brakes which should be checked. In most cases there will also be no generator so that section should also be ignored, but if the one you find happens to have a built-in generator that section would apply. Under "Appliances" you should also ignore the dash air. In the "Miscellaneous" section there will also be things which any given RV doesn't have, but the items are there just to remind you to verify that they work if they happen to be there. With a travel trailer, most people do not do a road test, but I'm one of those who does so and I really think it wise to do so. Obviously you won't have an engine, steering, or transmission but the other items there are important and should be considered.

 

This is the most comprehensive inspection check list that I have found and I have used it many times. When I use this check list, I expect the inspection to take at least 2 hours and can take much more. Even with our new travel trailer that is only 20' long, it took me more than an hour to go over it.

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Nice checklist, Kirk. One of the things often overlooked is to check the date codes on the tires (don't forget the spare too). TT tires aren't likely to appear worn when they are out of date and no longer able to support the weight they are rated for. This is a good negotiating tool for either a lower price (if purchased from an individual) or a new set of tires installed (if negotiating with a dealer). While the wheels are off insist that the wheel bearings be inspected and re-greased and the brakes inspected too, to give you peace of mind. Here's a good article explaining the date codes: http://www.allstays.com/Features/how-to-read-tire-age/

 

Chip

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Just understand your GVWR etc. On Sat while looking at 5th wheels with my brother and sister in law I encountered an older couple who were ready to sign on the dotted line for a TT

1 they had never owned one and obviously had done little research

2 they had to purchae a tow vehicle and their daughter was frantically checking on line for statistics about 1500 pickups

3 a short conversation revealed they didn't know about sway bars etc

4 after I quickly explained about TT and Tow vehicle weights,GVWR,tongue weights, CC ETC they may have gotten cold feet!!!

Kinda feel bad about the Salesman losing a deal but I was so afraid I'd encounter them wrecked on the road

I'm sure you have oit under control

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How many axels and what are their rating - compare with the trailer gross loaded weight rating?

Check and test trailer brakes.

Hitch up and check all the lights.

Be sure to take a flashlight and mirror along so you can look into dark corners.

If needed recruit someone with a really good nose to go along with you to sniff for mold, mildew, dampness, pet odors, burnt odors, especially under sinks, refrigerator, shower, toilet area and basement.

Look for stains around ceiling edges, corners, windows, slides, carpet, toilet, washer/dryer, basement.

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"How many axels and what are their rating - compare with the trailer gross loaded weight rating?" Remember that part of the trailer's weight will be on the hitch. The typical rule of thumb is that the hitch will have 10-15% of the coach's weight. That means that a coach with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds will have 1000-1500 pounds on the hitch or tongue jack, leaving 8500-9000 pounds to be supported by the axles. In this example, I'd want two axles rated at 4500 pounds each OR three rated at 3000 pounds each. Personally, I'd like to have the axles be rated to support the entire gross weight of the coach. In the example above, then, the axles should be two @ 5000 pounds each or three @ 3500 pounds. Yes, I like a safety margin.

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You are not intending to move it. Winter is brutal on a TT, excess moisture inside is a real problem. You have to remove the propane tanks and take them to a fill station and put them back. Holding tanks have to be dumped. Consider a Park Model or small Mobile Home. The price is not that different at the comparable age and condition. Consider the living conditions and needed tasks in your location.

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Well, I won't have to worry about dumping the black tank because I'm installing a composting toilet before I even move in. But I have a question about full-hookups...what does that mean with regards to water hookups. I assume there is a hose that will connect me to city water? But what about dumping the tank? I don't have a truck right now (it will be moved via tow truck or friend's truck), and will have fencing around the bottom of it to help keep the cold air out in the winter...so is there another way to empty my grey water tank?

 

I live in the Pacific NW, so we don't generally get below freezing, and I prefer cold over warm, but with respect to excess moisture, would a humidifier help with that? Or the heater, though I really don't like using heaters as they wreak havoc on my sinus'.

 

For context of what I can deal with, I've lived through Canadian East Coast winters, off-grid, with only wood as a heat source that would dwindle throughout the night, and my down comforter. I'd rather be cocooned within my comforter than have the heat on :P (P.S. my family think I'm nuts!)

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Well, I won't have to worry about dumping the black tank because I'm installing a composting toilet before I even move in.

Where do you plan to get this composting toilet, and once installed, what will you be doing with the material it produces? There is still effluent and the composting process takes a very long time, in terms of practical use. Those we had in a state natural area where we volunteered had a time of 3 months between material entering and it exiting the bottom. Even if it happens in a week, you still have to do something with the effluent.

 

I assume there is a hose that will connect me to city water? But what about dumping the tank? ..........................so is there another way to empty my grey water tank?

You will need to buy a special hose for potable water to connect to your friends water system and it will add to her water bill. It will also freeze if the temperatures fall below freezing so it will need to be insulated to prevent that. Portland isn't so cold that it will need to be heated, most winters. But you still have to do something with the waste water from washing dishes, taking showers and such. That needs to go into the sewer, so even if you find a way to make composting work, you still have most of the waste water to deal with. The way to do that is by providing some means to connect the dump valves to the city sewer, which means that you just was well use the toilet that comes with the RV.

4-poop.jpg

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Hi Kirk, the composting toilet I'm getting is the Airhead, which separates the liquids from the solids, and will be using either peat or core, I think it's called, for the solids. It's churned after every use and so decomposes into a dirt that can be sprinkled on a flower garden or just thrown in the trash as at that point it's not toxic or considered sewage. For the liquids, you can empty it with the grey water in a garden, though only if you use all natural, earth-friendly products, if not you have to dump it in a toilet.

 

I'll be living at an RV park, so I'll contact them about water hookup, but typically if it's full hookup, does that mean I'll be connected to their water? I know I'll have to pay for my usage. I did read that I should get a pressure regulator so I don't burst my hoses, and insulation so they don't freeze...thinking the heater is a good idea since it can get below freezing at night in the winter.

 

Thanks!!!

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A Full Hook up usually means it will have water, sewer and electric hook ups.

All included usually with over night or a week stay in the campground cost.

 

Long stays like a month or more that have Full Hook up, depends on the campground if electric is included or electric is metered and you pay that separate.

I have never seen one when water is a extra cost. Sometimes sewer hook up is extra cost on overnight. But not many that way anymore.

 

For a long winter stay. Getting/renting a 100# LP tank may be best.

Also a heated water hose may be best.

 

Water pressure regulator

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For the liquids, you can empty it with the grey water in a garden, though only if you use all natural, earth-friendly products, if not you have to dump it in a toilet.

 

Thanks!!!

Hi Gypsy

 

Disposing of "Grey Water" anywhere other than a sewer is prohibited or against the law in any place we have stayed in years.

 

I do not recommend that as a solution or plan.

 

Dave O

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I'll be living at an RV park, so I'll contact them about water hookup, but typically if it's full hookup, does that mean I'll be connected to their water? I know I'll have to pay for my usage. I did read that I should get a pressure regulator so I don't burst my hoses, and insulation so they don't freeze...thinking the heater is a good idea since it can get below freezing at night in the winter.

Dave is correct that you won't be allowed to dump your gray water under the laws. And you can't just dump human waste, even when composted under the health laws either. Why have a composting toilet if you live in an RV park that has full hookups? You are paying for water and sewer connections so why would you not want to use them?

 

Believe me that those who are trying to help you do know where of they speak. The laws require that you use the sewer system and to put in a composting toilet will ad about $1000 in cost, plus the installation of it.

 

Do you not understand that people here are trying to help you and that they do know about RV living?

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I'm sorry, yes I do understand that everyone is trying to help me, and now that I understand that the sewer hookup is part of full hookup, I won't bother with the composting toilet. It was the thought of emptying the black tank somehow that was making me think that I needed another way. I've been making notes of all the excellent advice I've been given because I am so new to this world. So I appreciate everyone taking the time to answer and give me really thoughtful, jam packed with information answers.

 

I didn't mean to offend anyone, or argue with anyone, I was just giving more detail about what I was doing. Unfortunately, not knowing the right things to ask sometimes makes me leave out important details.

 

Anyway, thanks everyone.

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OK, living in an RV in the PNW in winter. Moisture is your enemy. Cooking, breathing, moisture gets on everything and condensation forms on every surface in an RV. Now you have to ventilate to get the moisture out. That means heat loss. But raising the temperature inside is what keeps the humidity level inside a bit lower. Even so, you will get condensation on the windows and vent covers. So you look for double pane windows. You look for a small electric heater. You keep the propane full. But most RVs don't have good insulation, so heat loss is high thru the walls and roof. It is not about you staying warm, it is about rotting your trailer from the inside, and about mold.

 

Without pouring cold water on your dream, go find and talk to people that do it and their coping strategies. And look at a Park Model in a trailer park or a small mobile or modular, the space rent and purchase price are not much different but the living conditions will be a lot easier.

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There are other resources for you than this forum. There is good information about composting toilets at http://www.thegoodluckduck.com/2012/10/composting-toilets-for-rvs-and-simple.html On YouTube search for Gone With the Wynns and Follow the Hearts who have both done at least one video on composting toilets. You also may want to consider a dehumidifier. There are larger units, similar in size to a humidifier, and smaller units that are also available. Best wishes.

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The problem with using a composting toilet in an RV is that you need to be continually using it, meaning that the newest waste will not have time to decompose. You also will not have a legal place, such as your own personal garden, to dispose of stuff, even if that were legal in the town where you lived on your own property. If you live way out in the country on a farm or in some place like Alaska where there are no building or town codes, you can use a composting toilet much more easily. Somehow they have become a fad recently, but I don't think they are really practical for most uses.

 

RVs are set up to make dumping black and grey water tanks pretty easy, especially when you have a full hookup site.

 

Having fencing around the bottom of your trailer will help, but know that generally one big difference between trailers and motorhomes is that trailers are open underneath, while motorhomes like mine are somewhat enclosed. My motorhome has two furnaces--one in the front and one in the back for the bedroom. The front furnace is vented into the compartment where the fresh water tanks are located and the rear furnace is vented into the area where the grey and black water tanks are located. When I am someplace where the temps are dropping below maybe 28 degrees at night, I just make sure my furnaces are working. (Normally, I just use a small electric heater to take the chill off.)

 

Being enclosed means that I can use my motorhome in fairly cold weather. But also know that very few RVs are as well insulated as mobile homes or what are called "park models" which are pull-able trailers but are meant to be mostly stationary in a campground. What this means is that you will go through a LOT of propane and electricity heating if it gets too cold. That's why a lot of us migrate to warmer climates during the winter. Well, that and we really just like the nice sunshine and warmer weather!!

 

Everyone is really trying to be kind and make sure you do not get yourself into a serious financial and logistical situation in buying this trailer and using it the way you want to use it. They are giving you what might seem to be harsh advice to make sure you don't waste a lot of money and get into a bad living situation.

 

Good luck to you.

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Thanks Solo18, yes, I have learned a lot from everyone's responses and think an unintended, defensive tone came out in my replies - which was not how it 'sounded' in my head, lol. After Kirk's question asking me why I would use a composting toilet if I have sewer available, made me question my line of thinking - especially since, I was happy to realize that full-hookups means sewer included. In fact, I found several great youtube videos about hooking up to shore power, and sewer, so am feeling much better about it since I thought I was going to have to move my trailer every month to dump it - ah, the age of ignorance, which is not bliss :P

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You may want to look at Mark Polk's site http://rv101.tv/ Although it is somewhat commercial he does have a lot of information that is free also Some you can get on DVD's ($) so you have a permanent reference.

 

Good luck, you have a lot of good information going your way from the people here too.

Thanks Mike57! His site is in my favorites! :D

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OK, living in an RV in the PNW in winter. Moisture is your enemy. Cooking, breathing, moisture gets on everything and condensation forms on every surface in an RV. Now you have to ventilate to get the moisture out. That means heat loss. But raising the temperature inside is what keeps the humidity level inside a bit lower. Even so, you will get condensation on the windows and vent covers. So you look for double pane windows. You look for a small electric heater. You keep the propane full. But most RVs don't have good insulation, so heat loss is high thru the walls and roof. It is not about you staying warm, it is about rotting your trailer from the inside, and about mold.

 

Without pouring cold water on your dream, go find and talk to people that do it and their coping strategies. And look at a Park Model in a trailer park or a small mobile or modular, the space rent and purchase price are not much different but the living conditions will be a lot easier.

Thanks for explaining this Tee Jay! I hadn't thought about the moisture issue and needing the heat and a dehumidifier to combat that. I've been reading articles and watching youtube videos after I read your response, about best ways to insulate the windows, doors, and vents, using electric heaters vs propane, etc., even found a suggestion to squeegee the shower/tub of excess water after use so it doesn't evaporate, which totally never would have occurred to me. I'm sure this year will be a major learning experience for me, but I am so grateful for all of you and your help!! Each new thing I learn makes this whole journey a little less daunting. :D Also, thanks for the tip about Park Models, I just assumed (never a good thing) that they were all around $50,000 or more, so didn't even look at them as an option. I have found a few listed in my area around $20,000, which is a bit more than I want to spend. Though, thinking about it now, it's probably what I would spend on a travel trailer plus having to 'weatherize' it. Yikes, so many options to consider...

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There are other resources for you than this forum. There is good information about composting toilets at http://www.thegoodluckduck.com/2012/10/composting-toilets-for-rvs-and-simple.html On YouTube search for Gone With the Wynns and Follow the Hearts who have both done at least one video on composting toilets. You also may want to consider a dehumidifier. There are larger units, similar in size to a humidifier, and smaller units that are also available. Best wishes.

Thanks for the links LG! I've been following the Good Luck Duck and Gone with the Wynns...some great information!! I'll check out Follow the Hearts...I just heard about them today in something else I was reading.

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