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Old 03-13-2014, 08:15 PM   #15
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2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
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Virginia Beach , Virginia
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"Completely renovated" - could be a good thing - or it could be "lipstick on a pig"

It's not hard to do all sorts of cosmetic things to a trailer without fixing underlying HIDDEN issues that are expensive and DANGEROUS. If the current owner can prove that he bought new axles, that would be an indication that he's looked at some of the basic issues. If he's got pictures of a "frame off" or even "frame on" renovation - that would be better.

Here is the big problem. Leaks - which go unnoticed or unrepaired for weeks, months or years. The subflooring gets "punky" and water eventually gets on the frame and rusts it. Subflooring is made of plywood in some years OSB (oriented strand board also known as "crap") in others. Either will delaminate and have the strength of wet newspaper. Plywood takes a year of leaks, OSB maybe 2-6 weeks.

If the owner has dropped the belly pan, inspected and repaired the frame and any rotten flooring, found and repaired all the leaks, upgraded or repaired the plumbing, electricity, and propane (well not in this one obviously), put in new axles, brakes, bearings and tires... and THEN renovated the furnishings... you've got a very good trailer. If he's just painted and put in new curtains, cushions and upholstery... then the frame could break tomorrow and you'd have to tear it all apart and start over.

ALL ELECTRIC. Hmmm not great but if you are planning on staying in a campground most of the year, you might like it. Get some kind of grill - charcoal or propane so that you can cook outside in nice weather, or when you're boondocking. Consider adding a small "marine fireplace" so you can have emergency heat if the power goes out. A kerosene space heater might work but I'd keep the shower vent open and running while using, make sure the CO detector was working and be prepared to have the trailer stink like kerosene for months! Learn how to winterize so you can do it yourself if you get stuck in freezing weather without electricity (you'll damage your pipes if they're not drained and repairs are costly.)

There was a thread a few weeks ago about a marine fireplace. Go to the SEARCH tab, select advanced search and type in "marine fireplace" - that should show you the thread. While you're at it, look for "full monte" to see what a major renovation looks like.

Lastly - campgrounds. KOA's are generally among the most expensive ones around. Many do not have monthly or annual rates. In any tourist destination the summer rates are higher - much higher. In quite a few areas there are ordinances that limit how long you can stay before you move on to another location. In Virginia Beach it's 60 days. In trailer parks as opposed to RV parks RV's are often welcome "engineered homes" have regular water heaters, furnaces, and toilets... RV's use far less water and electricity than a conventional mobile home. Some RV parks are wonderful, some Trailer Parks are wonderful... more often than not the ones that allow long term residents aren't wonderful. If you've ever watched "My Name is Earl" that trailer trash stereotype isn't completely undeserved.

I've always loved to wander off the beaten path and explore - but when I do that now I plan to stop by 2pm in a pre-planned campground and unhitch, then explore the area or a day or two... or three. When I first started I pulled into two where the phrase "keep paddling, I hear banjos" immediately made me do a turnaround and keep going. My sister actually found me a campground (now closed) near Akron that turned out to have sewer lines that backed up, and was raided by the police at 3 AM to snag a wanted violent felon. I slept right through that - thanks to a cosmo or three... but still. There was one even closer but it was listed as "clothing optional" and uh... no.

OK, one more "learn from my experience". You've got the romantic notion that living in an Airstream is loads cheaper than an apartment. It CAN be, but check first. Local conditions might make it cheaper to rent... especially when you consider a compact car vs. a tow vehicle. Also, if you're ever in a wreck, even with great insurance, you'll HAVE to replace your tow vehicle and "home" under the gun, or sign a lease for six months and start the search for a great used tow vehicle and great used Airstream all over again. The money I saved over 7 years fulltiming? Last July I spent a huge chunk of it. Got a brand new Ford F-150 Ecoboost and a gently used 2012 Eddie Bauer. YES, I could have found cheaper solutions but I'm 65 and while mechanically talented I just don't have the time, energy or "stick to it" mentality to take one on myself. One day Colin will probably get a call with me saying "I found this great ______________ that needs your touch, can we keep the work between 30K and 40K??"

I know I'm raining on your parade, but impulsiveness is great if you're talking about dying your hair pink. You can wake up a week later and with Clairol can get you past that! Worst case is a buzz cut and 3 months to grow a "pixie cut". A trailer that falls apart on you on the trip... dream over.

Paula
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Old 03-14-2014, 11:18 AM   #16
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Awesome post Paula!
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Old 03-14-2014, 11:31 AM   #17
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1981 31' Excella II
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Many owners don't know what the condition of their trailer is and how important certain things are. Many say there are no leaks but there are leaks that go unnoticed for decades and they undermine the structure of the trailer. I would spend some time on here and learn. The floor and frame forum here is a good place to learn about structure and what 40+ year old trailers look like underneath when the damage is discovered. There are also volunteer inspectors that will go look at a trailer with you and help you figure out what is wrong or right with a given trailer. Go to community and then members.

Perry
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Old 03-14-2014, 11:47 AM   #18
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All electric. Hoom. Most "all electric" trailers have had the propane system gutted and replaced with a dorm fridge, electric water heater, microwave oven, no heat, and no stove.

So be sure how much electric you're getting. Is there an oven? How are you going to cook? Is there heat?

It is extremely difficult to install enough electric heat in a 27' trailer to keep it warm in freezing weather.

Another fact to consider is that, when traveling, there are situations where you want to use the trailer during a brief stop or overnight stop where no electricity is available.

Can all-electric be done well? Perhaps, but not for much less than propane... With a Danfoss 12v fridge, a 50a shore power upgrade, a couple of permanently installed electric heaters, a convection oven, and a two-burner permanently installed stove. Sportsmobile among others make new all-electric or mostly-electric RVs like this. Thousands of dollars of upgrades..

Good luck whatever you decide
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Old 03-14-2014, 12:23 PM   #19
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I definitely wouldn't buy an all-electric trailer, unless its sole purpose in life was to stay in one campground. We usually stay in campgrounds with hookups, but we've been dry camping on several occasions, plus we use it as a lifeboat at home when the power goes out. Also, we have the flexibility to pull into a parking lot or rest area and have heat and a working refrigerator if we need to stay a night (we haven't done this, but it's not out of the realm of possibility). This is how we use our trailer; others might be happy with electric-only.

If you want to use propane, I think you're looking at an expensive, potentially difficult conversion job to run lines and buy those appliances (assuming it doesn't have them) and tanks.

I'd also worry about things like:
--What did they do for heat? If they put in a rooftop heat pump, fine, but keep in mind that won't do anything for the underbelly. Or, worse, they just put in an A/C with a heat strip: Some A/Cs with heat strips don't respond to the thermostat setting; they just run and run. Also, the manual for at least one of the A/Cs we had specifically said the heat strip was meant to be used to take the chill off, not to be a primary heat source. I assume the risk is burning out the element.
--How are they heating water? An electric water heater is going to be slower to recover than gas.
--An electric water heater, stove, furnace, etc. probably pushes the power demands for the trailer above the 30 amps most trailers require. Did they confirm the 30 amp connection is adequate, or did they increase the wiring and shore power cord to support 50 amp service? Or, are you going to be (hopefully) tripping breakers half the time when you try to cook and, say, run the A/C simultaneously? Did they add enough circuits and breakers to support all this, or are there too many things on some circuits?

Good luck with your search and whatever you decide to do!
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Old 03-14-2014, 12:38 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skater View Post
I'd also worry about things like:
--What did they do for heat? If they put in a rooftop heat pump, fine, but keep in mind that won't do anything for the underbelly. Or, worse, they just put in an A/C with a heat strip: Some A/Cs with heat strips don't respond to the thermostat setting; they just run and run. Also, the manual for at least one of the A/Cs we had specifically said the heat strip was meant to be used to take the chill off, not to be a primary heat source. I assume the risk is burning out the element.
--How are they heating water? An electric water heater is going to be slower to recover than gas.
--An electric water heater, stove, furnace, etc. probably pushes the power demands for the trailer above the 30 amps most trailers require. Did they confirm the 30 amp connection is adequate, or did they increase the wiring and shore power cord to support 50 amp service? Or, are you going to be (hopefully) tripping breakers half the time when you try to cook and, say, run the A/C simultaneously? Did they add enough circuits and breakers to support all this, or are there too many things on some circuits?
It's a pretty safe bet that whoever fitted out the trailer as all-electric did NOT comply with NFPA 70, Section 551, which is the standard adopted by RVIA for trailer and motorhome 120vAC, or ANSI/RVIA 12V, the standard for trailer and motorhome 12v electrical. And it's a pretty safe bet that when you convert it back over to propane, you won't know the requirements of NFPA 1192, which RVIA has adopted as the standard for trailer and motorhome propane system plumbing.

Why does this make a difference? Insurance. It won't keep you from buying insurance, but if you ever have a claim and an insurance adjustor finds out that the trailer wasn't in compliance, they'll be able to deny your claim.

Your library may have copies of these standards that you can check out for free, but more likely the only one they'll have is NFPA 70. You'd probably have to buy the others for reference if you want to be in compliance, whether you keep the trailer as all-electric and just bring it up to code or convert it back to its original configuration.
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Old 03-14-2014, 02:32 PM   #21
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I guess that line of reasoning would apply to most any electrical or gas system mod mooted on the Airforums. But it's not widely applied, and I'm not sure what's different here.

You can get free downloads of the NFPA regs. The greater barrier is understanding and applying them

As I noted upthread, most "conversions" to all-electric are mainly about removing nonworking gas appliances and putting in a dorm fridge and a microwave. I don't think that poses a safety problem. Trying to heat such a trailer in cold weather may well involve a safety problem, but I'm not one to try to second-guess lifestyle choices of people who want to live in unheated accommodations. Ah, youth.

Cost rather than skills is usually the greater barrier to "unconverting" these trailers - that is, reinstalling a propane system.
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Old 03-16-2014, 10:11 PM   #22
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I would run rather than walk away from this trailer and spend your money on something else in the future. Another deal always comes along. My guess is that this is a "cosmetic" restoration to make a quick buck. The reasons the propane system and appliances are gone is that you have to be both skilled and willing to spend a lot of money to restore them. Who knows, maybe the brakes are missing also .

Get someone who knows Airstreams , such as a Forum volunteer, to help you make an informed decision
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