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Advice for buying our 1st rig


TheHughes731

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Hello,

 

My husband and I have made some of the 1st steps to going full time. We are stationary for now, however we plan to be on the road by late fall of 2016. We are working full time jobs to save and buy our 1st rig. We recently sold everything we had (luckily we hadn't bought a house yet) and moved from AZ to MI (family is letting us live out here for free while we work to save)

 

As of now we are thinking a lightweight 16' pull behind. The rig we are looking at is a 1969 Holiday Rumbler. I know its old, I also am aware that with an older rig we may not get into some of the campgrounds. However, our hopes are to fix the old camper up and make it full time ready. I figure if the rig looks nice and restored they should have a problem (please correct me if I'm wrong on that). The camper itself looks to be in good shape from what we've seen (we are going to see it in person next week). Needs paint, flooring, Murphy bed, energy efficient appliances, and a new wet bath. Basically, I want to modify it to be a tiny house.

 

As for a tow vehicle, we are not sure on what we should do. We will not be taking out any loans for a new truck. We are willing to sell our car, save money to get a nicer used truck.

 

We have never needed much just each other and our pups.

 

We will be workcamping and getting part time jobs if needed when we travel.

 

We're just looking for advice on any of the topics above. Thank you so much and hope to hear back

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! Helping folks is what we are all about so ask as much as you wish and we will do our best to help!

 

With an RV that is 46 years old you need to be very careful about structural soundness. It is probably an aluminum exterior and could well be corroded to the point of leaking or at least to needing some type of coating on it to prevent future leaks. The same could be true of the siding, but it is less likely to have problems. That age unit will have fiberglass insulation in the walls and it may well have compacted, leaving large voids. If you do a major renovation, new insulation will probably be in order.

 

Like the previous poster, I think that 16' for two people will be pretty cramped, but only you know if you can do this. We travel currently in a 19' RV and it is about the smallest that has a separate bed and dining table. Another issue will be the very limited amount of storage that small trailers have. If this is your only home, you will need to be able to carry your possessions with you. You also need to check to see what the gross weight limit of the trailer is because when you renovate you need to keep the problem of adding weight in mind, as well as that of weight distribution to keep the weigh equal on both sides and the proper weight on the trailer hitch without overloading the axles and tires. You will probably need new tires so plan to get the very best available.

 

The age of the RV could be a minor issue but rarely ever for short term stops. Some parks that cater to longer term guests do have RV age limits but they are seldom applied to one or two night visitors. When the age does apply, most parks will look at the RV and if it has been restored and looks good, they will wave that limit. It really isn't a major problem for most of us.

 

I suggest that if you are not familiar with RV travels and living on the road, you might be wise to spend some time reading a few books on the subject as there are many excellent choices and most public libraries have one or two. Amazon is another good place to find such books. You can also learn a lot by visiting the websites of those who post on these forums. Most of us have a link to our website or blog in our signature lines so look for those.

 

Let us know what we can assist you with as we love to share with our newer members. We will be waiting to hear more of the new adventure!

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One of the things we did to discover if we could live in a small space was tape the floor in our dining room to represent that space then moved a couch, card table, and 2 chairs into it. We spent our days restricted to that space except to cook and use the bathroom. Since we tend to "disappear" into our computers during the day, we discovered we could have enough personal space within those limitations but Dave had to use his headphones when he wanted to listen to music that I didn't want to hear. And we had to move the computers to have room to eat our meals.

 

That did not teach us how small the space would feel with a lowered ceiling and more solid walls. If I was to try that again I'd see if I could get one of those folding room dividers to help reduce the sense of spaciousness provided by having no 4th wall.

 

Linda Sand

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I won't even address the size. What you will probably need to take a long hard look at is the structure. You've already touched upon several areas that will need updating/replacing however there are a few that need inspection before even considering purchasing:

 

1) Frame - the "bones" of the trailer need to be sound, straight, and true. After 46 years that may not be the case and the cost in rectifying the condition could wind up being more than the cost of the trailer.

 

2) Running gear. Tied in with the frame is wheels, bearings, shocks, etc. Again, after 46 years they have taken a beating and may require major overhaul.

 

and the last one

 

3) Shell. Unless the trailer has been kept in a temperature controlled, rodent and insect shielded enclosure for all of its 46 years, you will have a problem. Whether it is leaks, rotting rubber gaskets, dry rot, infestation of one sort or another or even a bit of all of the problems, they will be there and some will not be apparent without a thorough, perhaps even semi-destructive inspection. Yes, you can fix but will the end result be worth it?

 

46 years is a long time - especially when you consider the trailer has been subjected to the equivalent of several many earthquakes every time it went down the road. In those intervening years there has been enormous advances in the materials, appliances and building techniques. The costs of the extra weight of your "classic" is a significant decision factor to consider all by itself and when you bring in all of the other downsides that have been mentioned - perhaps a rethink would be appropriate.

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Thank you guys so much for all the advice!

 

My husband and I have ALWAYS worked the same shift, same department at the same company. We haven't had an issue yet. We literally spend 24/7 together. We currently are living in a 6x7 room with two dogs, a bed and all our belongings, sharing a small bathroom with 7 other people and same situation with the kitchen. Even up grading to a 22' rig will be a huge improvement from where we are. We do not want to go any bigger than a 24'.

 

When we go to look at this 1969 holiday Rambler we will have my father who is a licences contractor and mechanic with us. I will keep in mind that the frame, running gear and shell need to be in great order.

 

If it looks questionable we will have to keep looking. I cant put my family in something that is unsafe.

 

Although I am now feeling a little defended. We don't have much time to get a new and ready to go rig. We need to be out of the families house by early spring. We planned on buying the rig and putting on my grandmothers land. She has full hook up from when her and my grandfather where in retirement RVing. We thought we would remodel while living out there (tents, travel trailer and pull barn living lol) and hope be on the road by fall or early winter of 2016.

 

I guess just one step at a time. We will go look at this older trailer and keep our eyes open for anything better. I think that even going and look at an older camper is a great way to get our feet wet. My husband and I can do anything we put our minds to. This is will be a challenge but I love it already.

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Ah, if we known all your history earlier we would not have been quite as concerned. Now we know you can do this. It's just a case of deciding which "this" to do it in. You will find it--perhaps you already have given the help you will have getting it ready to go.

 

Linda Sand

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If you are new to RV's I would recommend a couple of things, look at the size of the closet and then

sit on the toilet and stand up in the tub/shower....do you fit, what I mean is can you sit on the toilet

and also close the door. I had a 1985 Class C way back when that I could not do either.

 

As someone who has lived fulltime in a 27 ft. travel trailer (that's 24 ft. inside)I was divorced and on

my own. I was still working full time so it worked OK for me. The only negative item I can add is the lack

of storage space in a small travel trailer. I paid $14K and the TT was a year old.

 

Our next TT was 30 ft. and it was wonderful for trips, but again lacked enough storage space for clothes

for even a 2 week trip. We did have a 8 ft. truck bed with camper shell for safe storage of extra clothes,

chairs, generators.

 

As shown in my signature we now have a 35 ft. MM and it has enough storage for us. And we do not full time.

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Over our 16 years of full time we have seen people in a Casita-15 ft two adults two kids. A couple in a 15 ft Casita towed by a Datsun pick up(for real). You can do it. A family of 6 full timed in a tent. Lived in West Virgina in the summer and GA. in the winter. Good luck and hope we can help with your journey. Don't let any body bust your dream.

c u on the road

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Another caution is the roof. On any older less expensive RV/FIVER/TRAVEL TRAILER the roof is often a rubber type material. These have a finite life. Replacing the roof covering is an expensive job if the shop does it.

 

Also it is common to find serious rot under leaks in the roof. Look very hard at roof and wall water stains, they often lead to hidden horrers.

 

Stuff like this

post-4234-0-23864200-1451413825_thumb.jpg

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You guys really are so helpful! Thank you so much!

 

We took last night to carefully reread every thing you guys said and did some research. We have changed our plan of attack. We will be looking of at the 1969 TT just to get the experience of looking at a TT. We highly doubt we will be buying it. Neither of us have ever bought something so big or expensive before so it will be nice to see how the market and people who sell these are.

 

As of right now we are looking into buying something a lot newer, but still used. With either of us never driving across country with a TT we will still be looking at a 24' interior max. I'm very anxious in cars and driving, so I'm really trying to get over my fears.(I was in a very bad car accent when I was 16, I've had 5 hip surgeries and working on controlling my PTSD since then.) I do not want to tow around a 30" beast right now lol.

 

A little background on us:

 

We are 24 years old, I (Destiny) was born and raised in MI. Moved to AZ at the age of 21 and we both moved back in November. Robert (husband) is born and raised in Phoenix AZ. We have two dogs and no children. We sold everything we have to move in MI to start our full time nomad lifestyle. We have only a small amount of clothes/ bathroom stuff, laptops, records, acoustic guitar and our pups.

 

We have been married for a little over a year and have been together for about 3. I know thats not a long time by any means however I think our one advantage is the fact that in those short 3 years we have spend 24/7 together. Like I said we live in very close corners and have always been employed together. We are a very close knit couple.

 

Ill be on here daily checking back and looking at new topics. We cant wait to be a full timers! <3

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You are so far ahead of many new RVers in knowing you can live together in a small space. That turns out to be a problem for many. Now you just need to learn about the physical and mechanical aspects of RVing.

 

I heard that part about being scared riding in cars; do bigger vehicles make you feel safer? Would having a truck help? Or a van? You might want to look at used RoadTreks to see how you feel in that. Sometimes riding a bit higher helps provide a sense of safety since you can see further ahead.

 

Linda Sand

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We have changed our plan of attack. We will be looking of at the 1969 TT just to get the experience of looking at a TT. We highly doubt we will be buying it. Neither of us have ever bought something so big or expensive before so it will be nice to see how the market and people who sell these are.

 

 

As stated before, you are off to the right start in simply realizing that you need assistance and in being wise enough to recognize help when offered. There is a lot of experience here and we are anxious to help. A trailer such as you are considering, if in ideal condition would have a dealer's retail price of around $1000 and in poor condition it could be as low as no value at all. Holiday Rambler of that era was one of the better built RVs and probably have better lifespans than most, but you still need to be very careful. I found one 1984, 29' fifth wheel that is listed for $3000. If you spend some time just doing nationwide searches on sites like RV Trader just to learn more about what you can get for various prices and to have a feel for what is a fair price for any used RV. Another helpful website is that of NADA price guides.

 

We are 24 years old,......................................

We have been married for a little over a year and have been together for about 3................................

We are a very close knit couple.

While all of these things have some bearing upon the plans, the most important part is the last one. We often advise couple here that the most important thing they need is that they be best friends as well as lovers. Friendship is vital as you will be best off when your spouse is the person that you most enjoy spending time with. It is a key to a long and happy marriage, but is even more so when you live in a confined space and when traveling so that you are often making new friends, traveling with only the two of you, and exploring new places. Over time you will develop more friends who travel and live as you are choosing to do, but we are a pretty small share of the total population, so it will take a bit of time to connect with others who think as you do. Do not be afraid to make friends with those of you who are the age of your parents, or even much older because the basis of a long friendship is common interests and usually has very little to do with age, if all parties understand that. Most of us who live fulltime in an RV very quickly discover that, if we have not done so before we begin to travel.

 

At the same time, you will want at least some companionship of others who are closer to you in age, and you may find that X-scapers is a good place to start making those connections. That group is the younger arm of the Escapees RV Club and most of us retired folks are very happy to see this group growing and becoming an active and important part of the club. Since you will need some way to have a legal address and a place to register and insure vehicles, you might do well to consider the club's mail service as the place to call your home. Domicile is what the issue is called and I suggest that you take time to read this article about domicile, as a good way to begin the process. TX is a good place to call home since it has no state income tax and is very RV friendly, but Escapees also offers the option of using either FL or SD as domicile so consider all of your options.

 

There is much to consider so take your time and do not allow any sales person or anyone else to rush you into anything. Some major advantages that your age gives you is much more time to spend figuring things out as you begin and you are young enough to be more flexible than we are when we retire and you can more easily recover from mistakes and rebound to continue on your way. In many ways I envy the two of you, as you begin this new and exciting way of live! :D

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I do feel safer in bigger vehicles, and we do plan on getting a truck. I'm confident I will feel safe once I get used to hauling the truck and trailer around.

 

We looked into the domicile issue and we deiced we will have our address at my in-laws place in AZ. This insures we get our mail and our budget stays about the same for insurance and what not. Plus we will be in AZ anywhere from one to three months a year.

 

We are set to look at the TT on the third. If its ok with the seller, I'm thinking about recording our walk through and posting it online for some feed back. Is that strange to do?

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ok gang,

I didnt record anything.. there was no need to. The TT was not at all going to work. And thanks to your advice we seen somethings wrong with it that we may have missed before.

I stood in the bathroom and tried to shut the door, it wouldn't shut. That bathroom would never have worked out for us. I couldn't even lift my arms up to wash my hair. What a great learning experiences! the man who was going to sell it to us lied and told us it had no water damage. The whole front of the trailer was heavily water damaged and poorly repaired. He said it could sleep up to 6. I cant see how when there was only room for a twin mattress, which he told us was a queen.

I was really convinced that a small TT would have really been ideal for us but now I know that is not the case.

We have a family friend who has offered to sell us their RV bunk house. I dont have a year on it yet but we are set to look at it this next weekend.

 

Thank you guys so much for all your help. We really appreciate the warm and welcoming vibes we get from all the full timers out there.

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Destiny, I applaud you two for trying to do something that many people only dream about. You've gotten some good advice here, and you've now gotten some experience in looking at used coaches.

 

One thing you will need to consider is that, as full-timers, you will be carrying everything you need with you. Even if you use a family member's place as a home base, you may not be back there for several months, so you will have to take clothing for more than one season. Most of us full-timers have larger coaches because of that.

 

As you look at coaches, pretend to do the everyday tasks (shower, dishes, etc.). If you like to watch the television (over-the-air, satellite, dvd) make sure that the television is in a comfortable place. Some floor plans have the television on the back wall while the sofa and chairs are on the side walls. If you look at one like that, spend 30 minutes "watching" the television (if you can stand it that long).

 

Many Airstream owners are full-timers, and Airstreams are not noted for having a large amount of storage space. The solution is to use the truck, especially the bed. A bed cap (shell) and sliding tray in the bed can take care of a lot of stuff. Just remember that that space isn't completely weatherproof.

 

One suggestion is that you look at coaches that were at the top of the price heap in their day. Those will (usually) be better built initially, and because they were more expensive, their owners probably took better care of them. Look for a brand that has an active owners' forum. Join it and ask lots of questions about your proposed use. Find out what known problems there are so you know what to check out.

 

One last bit of advice (and you're already doing this): buy used. Many full-timers buy 2-4 coaches in rapid succession (<3 years from first to last) because they didn't quite get it right the first, second, even third time. No matter how much research you do, chances are that you won't have it quite right the first time. You won't spend as much overall by buying used. When you have a couple of years under your belt and you know what you need/want THEN you can think about buying new.

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We are totally new to this gig ourselves but we just bought a 2016 Silverado 3500HD LTZ and will pull the trigger on a Solitude 5th wheel soon. But being in construction I have lots of exprience with what is structually sound and what is not. Andd Most importantly I know what I do not know. RV construction vs. home or commercial construction is hugely different. But a 46 yr old vehicle is at best marginally road worthy. I appreciate the spirit but there needs to be some sensibility as well. In my 2 tours of combat in Vietnam I lived like you are considering in small quarters but there was a deadline to those close quarters. Can it be done--maybe but not by me now in this lifetime. Make careful adn good decisions.

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Good luck in your search. I would suggest visiting every RV dealer within a reasonable drive from you to get a look at different floor plans. There may be a smaller amount of TT that meet your size preference, but looking can help you determine your "must haves" and "don't wants". Also, you can find tons of people on You Tube who live full time in vans and small rvs. It is interesting to see how they choose what to bring and what to leave behind and how to store what they bring.

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Many great suggestions. To add to your decisions I suggest you consider things like availaability of health insurance when deciding between Michigan and Arizona. For now, I think you would be better off as Michigan residents. The issue is that since you are traveling in a number of states you want to make sure that you will be covered out of state. There are many long discussions of the health care issues for under 65 year olds fulltimers on this board. If money is a big issue, and given your young age, you may also want to consider something like Liberty Health Shares which although not technically health insurance will give you some protection and exempt you from the penalty for not having a policy under the Affordable Care Act. All of this presumes you would not have insurance through an employer or otherwise.

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