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Old 05-07-2004, 04:55 PM   #1
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What to look out for in an '85 Excella

I just ran across an 32 foot 85 Excella for sale with an asking price of $7,500. It all appears to "be there" and working, but the trailer is filthy and will take a lot of sweat to make nice.

I'm a novice with Airstreams but am pretty good with my hands. I'm not intimidated by tearing into this thing. I'm thinking of making an offer tomorrow on this unit. What should I look out for? What systems should I test? What are some potential trouble areas I should check?

Any quick help and advice will be much appreciated. Also any opinions on a fair price to pay for a 32 foot 85 Excella. NADA says low retail of $7,230, high retail of $8,710.


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Old 05-07-2004, 05:13 PM   #2
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1984 31' Excella
Abernathy , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 845
Take an ice pick and check all the inside perimeter of the trailer's floor for any sign of softness which would indicate a chronic leak allowing the plywood to rot from water entering the coach. If carpet, pull back the carpet if you can and see if the floor shows evidence of leaks.
Check the waterheater for signs of rust.
Check the tires and inquire about the bearing's and brake's past maintenance.
Check the axles.
Check the propane system for leaks.
Check the refrigerator to see that it cools.
Check the batteries.
Check the electrical...both 12V and 120V.
Check the furnace and AC.
Check the range.
Hook it up to water and check the plumbing under pressure.
Check the water pump.
Check the lolding tanks to make sure they hold.
Check the dump valves to make sure they work.
That's a good start.....

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Old 05-07-2004, 07:11 PM   #3
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I just bought a 1988 Excella 25' and ran across several problems that I had not noticed:
1. The bedroom overhead 12V lights did not work, assumed it was a fuse or something simple to fix, wrong. It was a dead short, and it took me two days to fish the correct wire out of the ceiling.
2. The water heater had a bad circuit board ($155). Would work sometimes and sometimes not?
3. Batteries would not hold a charge, several cells bone dry.
4. Male plug (camper to tow vechile) had a loose (shorting) post.
5. Shore power plug also had a loose post, causing electrical problems.
6. At he time I checked the AC it worked. But after getting it home the unit would overheat over time. Bad compressor, replaced with a new AC ($855).

Because of a number of small problems, it took a fairly long time to resolve what the problems really were.
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Old 05-08-2004, 02:42 AM   #4
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Bbrackman, you are looking at a 20 year old unit that has not been well cared for. It is for sale at about one seventh of the cost of a new unit. You therefore can expect to pay perhaps $3000 to bring the trailer up to a high standard. Several of the appliances are likely to need replacing, there may be problems with the clearcoat. These issues are all to be expected. However, you need to focus on the small number of issues that should prevent you buying this trailer. I suggest these are:
1. After 20 years there can be serious frame corrosion, particularly at the rear, and particularly if the trailer has been kept near the sea, or used in the salt belt states. A small section of the Excella's frame protrudes below the belly pan at the rear on each side. Check this as an indicator of corrosion. By lifting the rear fender hatch you can see the last few inches of the side frame members. These have a 2 inch access hole in the side. By shining a torch in this hole you can get a clue as to the general corrosion of the frame. If this shows bad corrosion, the only way to check is to remove the rear fender, and be prepared to be shocked. If the frame is badly corroded, all other issues become irrelevant.
2. As stated above, rot in the floor can be very serious, and is often related to frame corrosion.
3. Dented skin panels, above the bananna wraps, are expensive to replace.
4. Worn axles are expensive to replace. A search will explain how to check for this.
5. Clean title.

In conclusion, I would say that the trailer is a viable proposition if the frame corrosion is acceptable, there is no rot in the floor, there are no dents which require panel replacement, the axles are OK and it has a clean title. All other defects can be used to negotiate the price, but would not prevent me buying the trailer. Have fun! Nick.
Nick Crowhurst, Excella 25 1988, Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel. England in summer, USA in winter.
"The price of freedom is eternal maintenance."
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