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Old 03-20-2016, 09:34 PM   #1
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Default Preventative repairs/things to check?

Iím new to the forum and new to RVs. My wife and I are looking at buying a new 2015/16 214-WSD Fun Finder. Iíve been through the forums here (which are great!), and have a few concerns before buying one.

Alarmingly, Iíve discovered that RVs are generally not covered by any state lemon laws, but rather by the federal Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, which basically makes it very difficult, and some might say practically impossible, to force a manufacturer to buy back a lemon. Iíve read countless horror stories on this site and elsewhere of folk spending tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars on new RVs only for them to be plagued by a litany of defects and failures, countless months wasted waiting for repairs, botched repairs etc etc. However, Iím a pragmatist and appreciate that there are likely issues with every brand of RV, many of which I can either fix or anticipate and prepare for.

While Iíve never owned an RV myself Iíve bought many other vehicles and have a pretty good understanding of the different systems to test when doing a walkthrough of a travel trailer. Iíll also pay for an independent inspection before I buy the thing. Iím also fairly handy and can fix most things (Iíve worked on cars/trucks my whole life and recently finished a house remodel where I did all the plumbing, electrical, framing, finishing etc) so I reckon if thereís something that needs fixing on the Fun Finder Iíll be able to work out how to do it. So, my question:

When I buy the FF and get it home what should I check/repair as a matter of preventative action? For example, Iíve read that itís not uncommon for pex to be cut too long/short creating excessive side pressure on joints. I would want to replace that pex and the joints to avoid leaks down the line, but where do I need to look? Rain leaks seem fairly common, so should I get up on the roof with some silicone and go to town on the seams/joints? I can check the welds on the frame during my walkthrough, but are there any areas that could do with some extra welding/gusseting? Itís this kind of thing that Iím hoping to get some ideas about.

Having read around the subject extensively, Iím of the view that there will inevitably be some issues with even a new FF, but Iím just looking for some ideas as to how I might be able to pre-empt, prevent and fix any known issues before they actually become problematic down the line.

All suggestions greatly appreciated!

Cheers
Simon
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Old 03-20-2016, 10:13 PM   #2
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Simon --

Those problems you mentioned do exist, but I think they are fairly rare. The most important issues are whether your dealer has a good reputation, and whether you are reasonably close to the dealer. There will probably be minor warranty issues soon after purchase, and you do not want to have to drive for hours to get to the dealer, only to discover that the dealer is difficult to deal with.

You are right that Fun Finders are no worse and no better than other brands. Airstream is an exception -- if you want to pay double for a trailer, you will get somewhat better quality, I think. Just like a Mercedes. To me, it is not worth the expense, but that is a matter of personal preference.

If you are handy, you will have a lot of fun with your trailer -- not only fixing it, but planning and executing modifications. I have thoroughly enjoyed that process on both of my trailers -- the first was used, and the second was new.

When we bought our first trailer (used), we had no idea what we were doing -- had never camped a day in our lives. But we were tired of staying in motels in order to hike in the national parks. That was more than ten years ago now, and RVing has unexpectedly transformed our lives -- we take many more trips than we used to, and longer trips, and I have semi-retired in order to maximize our travel. I only wish we had started earlier -- we did not discover this thing till we were in our 50s.

Have you decided on a tow vehicle? They say the bigger, the better. I have a small Tacoma, which I use for commuting most of the time. It gets great mileage in town and is a good tow vehicle. But a bigger truck would be nice.

My advice, by the way, is to take a few short trips soon after getting the trailer, as a "shakedown" cruise, to spot any problems that may emerge. Don't get too ambitious too soon -- there is a learning curve. Start with RV parks with hookups, and then later move to "dry camping" with no hookups. There is a lot of good advice (and some bad advice) over on RV.net -- many forums. Don't hesitate to ask questions, both here and on that site.

Good luck, and let us know how it's going!

Dan

PS -- what part of the country are you in, and where are you planning to travel?
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Old 03-21-2016, 04:57 AM   #3
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Sounds like you have done your homework and are being realistic. If you aren't going full time have you considered the used vs. new question? There are discussions about this subject on YouTube.
One other thing; you said "Rain leaks seem fairly common, so should I get up on the roof with some silicone and go to town on the seams/joints?". Skip the silicone use on your unit. There are better products. Dicor self-leveling lap seal is most commonly recommended for your roof. And Pro Flex for Windows, etc. But I think "silicone" has become a generic name for sealants no matter what is being used. I'm thinking you should not need to do any sealing until the end of the season, unless, of course, you discover a problem.
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:12 AM   #4
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Simon,
First of all, welcome ! Second, I would suggest if you want to pursue the dream of using a RV, don't try to overthink it too much. Will you have some issues to deal with ? Yes, probably. I think Professor Dan in his reply, said it best:

"If you are handy, you will have a lot of fun with your trailer -- not only fixing it, but planning and executing modifications. I have thoroughly enjoyed that process on both of my trailers..."

As I always suggest, these are best looked at as "some assembly required".

I would suggest not using any kind of silicone caulk on a trailer. Caulks such as dicor, or proflex are formulated for RV use, and are more appropriate.

To your point, yes, when you get your trailer home, go over it, under it and all through it with a fine tooth comb, and have fun fixing little stuff you find. Some of what you find may leave you chuckling and shaking your head, but just remember these things are massed produced as quickly as possible.

Best of luck, and check back in with us once you've decided on a trailer.
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:18 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by profdant139 View Post
Simon --

Those problems you mentioned do exist, but I think they are fairly rare. The most important issues are whether your dealer has a good reputation, and whether you are reasonably close to the dealer. There will probably be minor warranty issues soon after purchase, and you do not want to have to drive for hours to get to the dealer, only to discover that the dealer is difficult to deal with.

You are right that Fun Finders are no worse and no better than other brands. Airstream is an exception -- if you want to pay double for a trailer, you will get somewhat better quality, I think. Just like a Mercedes. To me, it is not worth the expense, but that is a matter of personal preference.

If you are handy, you will have a lot of fun with your trailer -- not only fixing it, but planning and executing modifications. I have thoroughly enjoyed that process on both of my trailers -- the first was used, and the second was new.

When we bought our first trailer (used), we had no idea what we were doing -- had never camped a day in our lives. But we were tired of staying in motels in order to hike in the national parks. That was more than ten years ago now, and RVing has unexpectedly transformed our lives -- we take many more trips than we used to, and longer trips, and I have semi-retired in order to maximize our travel. I only wish we had started earlier -- we did not discover this thing till we were in our 50s.

Have you decided on a tow vehicle? They say the bigger, the better. I have a small Tacoma, which I use for commuting most of the time. It gets great mileage in town and is a good tow vehicle. But a bigger truck would be nice.

My advice, by the way, is to take a few short trips soon after getting the trailer, as a "shakedown" cruise, to spot any problems that may emerge. Don't get too ambitious too soon -- there is a learning curve. Start with RV parks with hookups, and then later move to "dry camping" with no hookups. There is a lot of good advice (and some bad advice) over on RV.net -- many forums. Don't hesitate to ask questions, both here and on that site.

Good luck, and let us know how it's going!

Dan

PS -- what part of the country are you in, and where are you planning to travel?
Thanks Dan. I live in Breckenridge, CO so the nearest dealers are in Denver (about 2 hrs away) but they seem to have rather limited choice so Iím probably going to buy it out of state. Is it like cars where you can get manufacturer warranty repairs done at any authorized dealer e.g. I could buy it out of state but have any warranty work done in Denver?

I plan to use it for two things. I race motocross so Iíll be taking it to the races to camp in overnight Ė mostly within 2-3 hours drive with the occasional longer trip. But Iíll mainly be using it to family camping with wife, dog and child. We both work from home so as long as we can find some cell data service or wi-fi then we can work from anywhere, so the idea will be to re-locate for a week or two at a time to different parts of the country so we can see more national parks and cities weíd like to visit.

The tow vehicle will be my 2009 Silverado 1500 extended cab, 8ft bed with tow package. It has a 13,000 GCWR and weighs 5,500 which theoretically gives me a max trailer weight I can tow of 7,500 with a max tongue weight of 500 without a WD hitch (and 1,000 with a WD hitch). The FF Iím looking at has a GVWR of 6,075 and a dry weight of 4,795 so I think I should be fine as that will give me 2,705 max water, options, luggage, bike, family etc capacity. Iím also looking at the F-233RBS (basically the same length as the 214WSD but with two slideouts, but that one is a little heavier at 4,805 dry weight and 7,560 GVWR. The GVWR of that one would be over my truckís max tow limit, but Iíd still have 2,695 of water, options, luggage etc etc before I hit my 7,500 max tow capacity for my truck. I would like to think that 2 people, 1 baby, 1 25lb dog, 1 230lb motorcycle, trailer options, water etc etc would still be quite a bit under that 2,695. If Iíd have even thought Iíd want to town anything with my truck when I bought it Iíd have bought a diesel or a 2500, but Iím pretty sure my 1500 as specíd can handle these trailers. We also have a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee V6 - I haven't looked at its towing capacities yet but I imagine it would struggle with these trailers.

Funny you mentioned modifying it, I was just now looking at how I can add a wireless reversing camera Ė pretty sure I can do it for less than $100

Cheers
Simon
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:21 AM   #6
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Simon,
First of all, welcome ! Second, I would suggest if you want to pursue the dream of using a RV, don't try to overthink it too much. Will you have some issues to deal with ? Yes, probably. I think Professor Dan in his reply, said it best:

"If you are handy, you will have a lot of fun with your trailer -- not only fixing it, but planning and executing modifications. I have thoroughly enjoyed that process on both of my trailers..."

As I always suggest, these are best looked at as "some assembly required".

I would suggest not using any kind of silicone caulk on a trailer. Caulks such as dicor, or proflex are formulated for RV use, and are more appropriate.

To your point, yes, when you get your trailer home, go over it, under it and all through it with a fine tooth comb, and have fun fixing little stuff you find. Some of what you find may leave you chuckling and shaking your head, but just remember these things are massed produced as quickly as possible.

Best of luck, and check back in with us once you've decided on a trailer.
Thanks for the sealant pointers. Yeah I meant silicone generically as I am sure there are much better products.

So would you say it's not really worth it to strip it down immediately after purchase? Rather that I should just keep and eye on it and fix things as and when they appear, and then at the end of the season giving a better looking at?

Cheers
Simon
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:51 AM   #7
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Thanks for the sealant pointers. Yeah I meant silicone generically as I am sure there are much better products.

So would you say it's not really worth it to strip it down immediately after purchase? Rather that I should just keep and eye on it and fix things as and when they appear, and then at the end of the season giving a better looking at?

Cheers
Simon
Simon, what I did with my trailer ( I bought new ) was, as I said, went over it with a fine tooth comb. For instance, I had some loose cabinet doors. The hinges are made so that each hinge could have two screws in them. But they cheaped out and only put one in each hinge, and at that, I found a couple they had stripped out. So I fixed the stripped out hole with a bit of toothpick and some elmers glue, and I made sure all the hinges got a second screw added.

Another example was the steps already had some surface rust. No big deal really.....four bolts/nuts and off the assembly came. Wire brush and a spray can of rustoleum, and they looked great. Four years later, they still look great.

Laying under the trailer, I found various wiring routed through holes in the frame. The way is was done, it was going eventually chafe through the insulation in the wiring. So I fixed them in ways to protect them from that wear through ( I used short lengths of fuel line hose over the wiring, held on with cable ties ).

The exit drain pipe from the gray tank was installed so closely to the spring shackle that it was lightly rubbing on it. Again, that was going to be an eventual failure/leak. I bent a piece of flat aluminum sheet to fit the curve of the plastic pipe, and hold it in place with a couple of stainless steel radiator hose clamps as protection between the two.

Do you see my points here ? These are all things that many people get really upset over and cry "foul". I look at it as an opportunity to tinker with the trailer and fix and mod things so it will be better and more reliable for me.

"some assembly required". "best owned by someone who likes to tinker".

But it's all worthwhile to me. Like right now, I am just finishing up almost 5 months away from home in this trailer. Sitting in sunny Arizona right now.
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Old 03-21-2016, 10:19 AM   #8
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Simon, your tow vehicle is more than adequate -- no worries there. And yes, I would not strip the sealant. When you inspect the trailer prior to sale, maybe run a hose on the roof to see if there are any leaks? The chances are good that there will be nothing.

I think that the warranty can be serviced by any dealer, but I would make sure before buying.

If you are going to work via the internet while traveling, maybe look into satellite? Not right away -- you will have your hands full to begin with. But later, it might make sense. A lot of my work involves the internet, and we do not have satellite, and it is a pain to have to find a decent cell signal so that I can use the phone as a hotspot for my laptop. We boondock in some very remote places, a long way from cell coverage. But so far, I can't justify the expense of satellite.
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Old 03-21-2016, 11:06 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by gmw photographics View Post
Simon, what I did with my trailer ( I bought new ) was, as I said, went over it with a fine tooth comb. For instance, I had some loose cabinet doors. The hinges are made so that each hinge could have two screws in them. But they cheaped out and only put one in each hinge, and at that, I found a couple they had stripped out. So I fixed the stripped out hole with a bit of toothpick and some elmers glue, and I made sure all the hinges got a second screw added.

Another example was the steps already had some surface rust. No big deal really.....four bolts/nuts and off the assembly came. Wire brush and a spray can of rustoleum, and they looked great. Four years later, they still look great.

Laying under the trailer, I found various wiring routed through holes in the frame. The way is was done, it was going eventually chafe through the insulation in the wiring. So I fixed them in ways to protect them from that wear through ( I used short lengths of fuel line hose over the wiring, held on with cable ties ).

The exit drain pipe from the gray tank was installed so closely to the spring shackle that it was lightly rubbing on it. Again, that was going to be an eventual failure/leak. I bent a piece of flat aluminum sheet to fit the curve of the plastic pipe, and hold it in place with a couple of stainless steel radiator hose clamps as protection between the two.

Do you see my points here ? These are all things that many people get really upset over and cry "foul". I look at it as an opportunity to tinker with the trailer and fix and mod things so it will be better and more reliable for me.

"some assembly required". "best owned by someone who likes to tinker".

But it's all worthwhile to me. Like right now, I am just finishing up almost 5 months away from home in this trailer. Sitting in sunny Arizona right now.
Yes! These are exactly the type of things I'm expecting to have to do, all of which are individually pretty straightforward with a few tools and some patience. I agree that when you spend $20k plus on a new TT you *shouldn't* have to do all this stuff, but that's life, and, like you, I actually quite enjoy knowing that I've worked it over and it's as solid as I can make it. Thanks again!

Cheers
Simon
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Old 03-21-2016, 11:11 AM   #10
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Simon, your tow vehicle is more than adequate -- no worries there. And yes, I would not strip the sealant. When you inspect the trailer prior to sale, maybe run a hose on the roof to see if there are any leaks? The chances are good that there will be nothing.

I think that the warranty can be serviced by any dealer, but I would make sure before buying.

If you are going to work via the internet while traveling, maybe look into satellite? Not right away -- you will have your hands full to begin with. But later, it might make sense. A lot of my work involves the internet, and we do not have satellite, and it is a pain to have to find a decent cell signal so that I can use the phone as a hotspot for my laptop. We boondock in some very remote places, a long way from cell coverage. But so far, I can't justify the expense of satellite.
I won't mess with the roof at first then. I looked into satellite internet about a year ago and I think it worked out to about $50 a month plus taxes, plus data overages and other associated gouging and, like you, I couldn't justify the cost. It would be a business expense so I could write it off, but we'd still have to pay for it in the first place! If we find ourselves using the FF more in the week then it'd probably be worth it though.

Cheers
Simon
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Old 03-21-2016, 01:19 PM   #11
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Simon,
First of all, welcome ! Second, I would suggest if you want to pursue the dream of using a RV, don't try to overthink it too much. Will you have some issues to deal with ? Yes, probably. I think Professor Dan in his reply, said it best:

"If you are handy, you will have a lot of fun with your trailer -- not only fixing it, but planning and executing modifications. I have thoroughly enjoyed that process on both of my trailers..."

As I always suggest, these are best looked at as "some assembly required".

I would suggest not using any kind of silicone caulk on a trailer. Caulks such as dicor, or proflex are formulated for RV use, and are more appropriate.

To your point, yes, when you get your trailer home, go over it, under it and all through it with a fine tooth comb, and have fun fixing little stuff you find. Some of what you find may leave you chuckling and shaking your head, but just remember these things are massed produced as quickly as possible.

Best of luck, and check back in with us once you've decided on a trailer.
Interesting that you repeated what I said about sealants. But my suggestion fell on deaf ears.
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Old 03-22-2016, 08:13 AM   #12
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The problem with silicone is that nothing will stick to it, including itself. So you can't add new silicone over the top of old silicone. You need to completely remove it before you can reseal which is nearly impossible.
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Old 03-23-2016, 09:29 AM   #13
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Interesting that you repeated what I said about sealants. But my suggestion fell on deaf ears.
Good morning Michigantraveler. I don't know whether your comment fell on deaf ears or not regarding sealants, but my opinion is, "it bears repeating"
This subject of sealants comes up often on this and other RV forums. Often people mention the use of "silicone" either as a specific caulk, or just mentioning it in a generic way.
But as you and I both said, there are better products available for these RV's.
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Old 03-23-2016, 10:37 AM   #14
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No deaf ears here - I'm taking it all in! Thanks again for the pointers - you don't know how helpful it is for a TT virgin to be able to ask questions about these things.

Cheers
Simon
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Old 03-23-2016, 12:11 PM   #15
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This guy restores vintage trailers. Here he laments having to remove silicone from around a trailer's Windows. And he talks about what to use remove if someone used it on your trailer previously

http://youtu.be/Brf7Hcx4nr0
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