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Old 04-27-2012, 11:37 AM   #1
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Location: Evanston, Wyoming
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durability of newer light weight trailers

I am one of those guys who always buys used to save on the initial depreciation. The downside to that is you rarely get a warranty. As I have watched the RV industry it seems the trailers are getting longer and longer and lighter and lighter so that they are "1/2 ton towable".

I have a 3/4 ton diesel so the weight is not as big a deal to me. My concern is the durability of the lightweight materials used. If I am buying a 5 or 6 year old light weight trailer will there be more issues versus one that is not "lite"?

What if any issues are you guys seeing out there?

1999 25' Sierra
2003 Dodge CTD 6 Speed manual
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:59 AM   #2
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We've had our Rockwood for two years with no issues...longer term?

I'll volunteer my opinion on lightweight verses regular.

The main difference that I see is the cargo carrying capacity and the tank capacities between the two. With lightweights the CCC is usually under 2000 lbs, others 3000 + lbs. The holding tank on the lightweights are smaller also due low the camper's GVWR. Because of that, the lightweights can have a smaller, lighter frame and axles. The walls and roof construction of the two I believe to be the same.

I'm certainly doing some generalization. Some manufacturer's use the lightweight adjective like the food industry with lite, lo cal, other words, as a Marketing ploy.

Having said that, you needs dictate whether you need lightweight or something more substantial. Do you load 1000 lbs or 3000 lbs? Do you dry camp and need 65 gal of fresh water?

I believe that either design will hold up given that you respect their load capacities.



Nights camped in 2013 - 55, 2014 - 105, 2015 - 63
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:10 PM   #3
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I believe (based on ONE data point) that buying a "used" camper is false economy. Too easy to inherit someone else's headache.

While this is also true of used cars; it is far easier to check out a used car than a used camper IMO. So much of camper's show stopper damage can be hidden.

Additionally, a camper's frame is light weight on purpose. The more it is used and flexed, the more likely a destructive frame crack will happen.

There are many who routinely run their campers and tow vehicles over their max gross weights happily using up service life with no regard for the follow on owner.

Yes, you can get a great deal on a lightly used, well kept camper, but they are a diamond in a world of sand. Everyone I know personally, who bought a used camper got screwed bigtime. Most paid way too much and are now saddled with BIG repair bills for damage they did not cause.

Everyone one of them "sprung" their purchase on me, saying "Look at the great deal I got." Rather than ask me to come take a look at it.

Of course, this IS my fault. As one of my camping bud's told me, "You always have something bad to say about used campers WE love and are in our price range."

Yep, guilty. Same guy is now crying in his beer when he found out what that "slight skylight leak" with the black mold on it is going to cost to get fixed. No camping with him THIS year either. He still had to finance the "used" camper. Had he gotten a new one he could have financed it for a longer period and had the exact same payment.

Lou and Laura with Bella - German Short Hair Pointer
2008 GMC Sierra 2500HD Crewcab SB Allison Duramax
2010 Flagstaff 8526RLWS - Superglide 3300
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:29 PM   #4
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Location: Langley, BC
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I'd be interested on hearing comments on aluminum framing versus wood.

From what I have heard over the years, you have to be oh so careful if buying an older wood framed unit. Moisture often gets into the structure and rot occurs. And you can't see it because it's hidden. Huge potential problem... I might be wrong, but I think some rot in the structure is from the inside as well from too high humidity, particulary from cold weather use.

I would have thought aluminum framing would be the best thing but I had not thought about stress cracks from a lot of travelling. Seems like you can't win?

When we decided to buy a trailer last year, we initially looked into a used one but quickly found that most people were asking top dollar and that they weren't much less that new units. Seems like a lot of people paid a lot when the economy was good and have been trying to recoup their purchase price. With the way the economy still is today, it looks like there are some real bargains on new RVs out there if you look for them.

It seems to me that one of the best things you can do is keep your RV under cover when it's not being used. While an RV cover might be better than nothing, I think being inside a building or in a carport is the way to go. If you can find an older used one for sale that was kept inside, maybe there is little to worry about?

I've been reading up on vintage trailers lately. "Canned ham" trailers are immensely popular. But I have read a lot stories about owners gutting them for upgrading only to find a lot of hidden rot in the framing/structure. And then they end up spending more $$ than the trailer is worth in the end. There is a 22' 50s Silver Streak for sale near us that I was tempted to look at it. Alloy exterior like an Airstream. Overall, it looks super, super cool. But I can well imagine all the hidden corrosion from electrolysis between steel & aluminum. And although the interior is in great condition, you would have to be completely gut it all for restoration. I can well imagine all the problems buried in the walls. There would go all my spare time and more, probably for years... Nope, I think a brand new unit is great!
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:36 PM   #5
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I do some structures design work... I bought my new TT because I was somewhat impressed with the structure. I like foam sandwich construction. Like bones, the hard exterior, bonded to a softer, lighter core, is flexible but very strong. The outer surfaces take all of the tensile and compressive loads and the core takes the shear loads between the outer shells. My camper has 2" wall thiclness and lots more aluminum framing than some I looked at. The roof is crowned with aluminum joists every 16" and is a sandwich type construction, like the sides. My only concerns are how the sides and roof are joined. My instruction manual says I need to check the seals every 90 days... but doesn't give me much info as to how to check or what to look for... We had T-storms last night with dime to quarter-sized hail. Thankfully the hail was mushy. I looked inside at everything and found no leaks. Not sure what else to look for...
J & D in Lovely Weatherford, TX
2016 Jayco White Hawk 28DSBH TT
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:36 PM   #6
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Love those instructions.."lube seals" - with what? How often? Which ones and where are they?
Check seams...same thing.

For 12 years now we get water in our house from between the house and porch (original to the house). We've had the roof replaced, windows, caulking, painting, new gutters, flashing, soffit/facia in some areas and have every 'expert' that comes look and so far there's been nothing that's stopped it. It's a mystery.

We looked a few used trailers - if going used we weren't going to spend over $6 or 7k for the reasons stated here - you don't know what you're getting into and there's no easy way to tell. Turned out to be about the same (monthly) cost to go new. We'll likely keep it for 10-15 years (kids out of school ) and hopefully get $5k out of it, buy a motorhome. Figure "our" old camper is better than an unknown one.

Garage kept is great - but rare I would think, and if on a dealer lot hard to tell as they detail them and then leave them outside anyway.

Is one that has been sitting (in park say) better than one that has been pulled 5,000 miles? Sitting is never good for a motor vehicle and can't be good for trailer either I wouldn't think.

Hearing the stories here about new trailers leaking is concern enough, but with a lot of casual owners and if they let it sit more than use it (hence the reason they're selling) they may not even know it's leaking here or there.

Would a musty smell inside a closed up trailer indicate moisture getting in? Condensation on windows?

Jill & Chris, Wills (14) Evie (11) & Toby our collie (5)
2011 Grey Wolf 28BH
2013 Chevy K1500 Crew w/ Reese StraitLine Dual Cam

Nights camped 2011: 11 2012: 18 2013: 12 2014: 12 2015: 13 2016: 3
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