Advice on purchasing used travel trailer.

Josh_M

Member
Hello everyone,

First, I want to say hello and this seems like an absolute awesome forum with gobs of info and I can't wait to dive in.

I am getting ready to go look at, for a second time, a 2015 north trail 33bkss. The camper seems to be in really good shape and has been sitting on a lake lot for the last couple years without traveling. I have just a couple questions for you guys and I'm sorry if these have been covered multiple times but I'm having trouble finding an answer to my question.

1) The main slide won't open but the camper isn't level at all, they moved it to bring a shed it. Is not being level more than likely the problem? The motor is working but slide doesn't move. I'm going to hook up to it and get it leveled today but wanted to know if I should look at other known issues.
2) She called yesterday and said the water pump wasn't working and the water heater might be leaking. I know the water pump is a cheap, easy fix but the water heater concerns me a little more. I'm fairly handy but would love if I could get pointed in the right direction.

We bought an old camper last year to see if we really enjoyed camping and the wife and boys love it as much as I do so we decided to upgrade. I've never owned a camper with slides and haven't ever had a chance to look how the systems work so I'm about as green as you can get on this.

Oh one last thing. They are asking about $10,000 less than blue book so I don't mind if I have to put a little back in, but I don't want to be fighting with major issues.
 

danemayer

Moderator
Staff member
The slide problem is unlikely to be resolved by leveling the trailer. If hydraulic, it could be a switch or valve failure, or perhaps a fluid leak. If electric motor, it could be a chain/cable problem.

The water heater and the pump replacement could be relatively easy, or more difficult depending on location. Access to those components is the key to repair difficulty. A leaking water heater tank would require complete replacement. So it's cost of a new water heater plus difficulty of installation. Also, leaks over time can cause significant water damage to surrounding wood. That may require additional repair and could complicate replacement of the water heater if the wood has swollen.

The $10,000 below blue book leaves room to hire someone to fix these problems, unless there's significant water damage.
 

Et1958

Member
Also look at the tires, I would probably think serious about replacing them if you are going to tow it over the road . Sitting for several years they most likeley
could be starting to dry rot . Just check them out very carefully.
 

centerline

Well-known member
if the trailer looks to be in great condition, the only real concern to me would be water damage or roof damage.... all else is easily repairable, but at some cost, of course....

the water heater slides out after removing the screws.... the water pump is the easiest of all that you mention..... and as for the slide out, check and see if someone may have secured the slide so that it doesnt slide out while traveling, which if it is a hydraulic system and the pump runs, and it still doesnt move could indicate a blown seal inside the cylinder, (which would account for it being secured in, if it is)....also check the hyd fluid in the reservoir... if the pump motor runs, and the pump isnt turning or building pressure, the pump drive between the motor and the pump has likely sheared or came loose on the shaft...

if the cylinder has blown a seal internally and repair is needed, its not to bad to do it yourself, if you have the ambition and the tools... or it could be the control valve for the cylinder, which the pump running does not mean the in-out valve is functioning properly. which consists of a small easily replaceable coil, and a hydraulic spool valve, which could be stuck with a smallest bit of debris.....

if its an electric slide, a gear could be stripped or came loose on the shaft, or the cables are broke.... hydraulic slide units are the easiest to work on and usually the cheapest to repair...
 

Josh_M

Member
I want to thank everyone for the response to my question. After looking at the camper we couldn't get the slide in and the hot water heater was leaking. After asking a few questions, come to find out they didn't winterize it and just drained everything last winter. We ended up calling a mobile repair service and he looked things over and determined that the cables were probably damaged when they put the slide in when it wasn't level, and I mean way out of level. He said he could get everything fixed and do a pressure test on the system to make sure there were no other leaks for $2-3k. After talking with the seller I agreed that if they had everything fixed I would be happy to still pay the original price we agreed on. They said that would work and already have the guy ordering parts. I talked to the tech and he said he saw no long term water damage and it looked like a really good camper other than the above issues. He told me he would check it out really well when he was working on it next week. Would you guys be comfortable moving forward with the purchase if all is fixed correctly? I saw no water damage inside and everything is in really good condition. The only exterior issue I saw was one spot where it looked like it was delaminating. I'm assuming that's what it was, since I've never heard of that term until I found this forum last night.😁. Is that a major issue or can it be fixed fairly easily? Again I really appreciate the help and look forward to learning more.
 

danemayer

Moderator
Staff member
The only exterior issue I saw was one spot where it looked like it was delaminating. I'm assuming that's what it was, since I've never heard of that term until I found this forum last night.😁. Is that a major issue or can it be fixed fairly easily?

Delamination of the exterior is a tough one. It signals water intrusion into the wall. The first thing is that to stop it, you have to figure out where the water is getting in. That usually means a close examination of the caulking and sealants on the roof, especially around vents and other fixtures. Lights and windows can be other sources. A few people have found rusted screws in the front or rear where water entered. Water can travel a long way from where it comes in to the point where the delamination shows up.

Beyond that, there's an unknown of whether it's just a little damage or a lot. In a corner, if a leak went on for an extended period, you could face removing the front cap or rear wall and replacing a lot of rotted wood. Or the repair could be minor. Until you get into it, it can be tough to know. You might ask the tech to evaluate that for you to get a better idea.
 

Josh_M

Member
I appreciate that and I was going to ask him to take a look at it. The only place it is doing it is on the large slide under the window so I assumed water got in through a screw or something. I checked the corners and didn't see anything indicating water damage on the inside or out.
 

Flick

Well-known member
I appreciate that and I was going to ask him to take a look at it. The only place it is doing it is on the large slide under the window so I assumed water got in through a screw or something. I checked the corners and didn't see anything indicating water damage on the inside or out.

What you’ve gotten here are opinions about what might have happened or will happen down the road. I think you’re on the right track when you hired a tech to take a look at it and then asked the seller to cover the obvious problems. The seller showed good faith by agreeing to the repairs.

No one knows what potential problems will surface but by keeping an eye on it and considering that you probably purchased the unit at a fair price, you’ll probably be ok even if you have to repair later. Main thing is to keep any future water leaks from entering and causing potential new damage.

Oh, and by the way, that’s my opinion.
 

wdk450

Well-known member
You say the trailer was parked way out of level. Big Question - Was the refrigerator left on? I am assuming this has an ammonia absorbsion refrigerator, and running the refrigerator decidedly off level can ruin the refrigerator cooling unit. If I was buying any used RV, I would test that the refrigerator works (Cools and freezes for more than 24 hours). New ammonia refrigerators can cost $1500- $2000.

If this is a 2015 Model, there is a good chance that the build date was in 2014, and those tires are about 7 years old. Rolling or not, RV tires should be replaced after about 5 years of aging. Note the tire markings (there is even a date code on tires) to price out new ones online.

BTW, is the registration current? Paying back overdue registration fees can add up to a healthy chunk of change, too.

On Edit: Can anybody out there direct this guy to a PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) checklist? I couldn't easily find one with a forum search, but I know they have been frequently discussed.
 

Josh_M

Member
Pre-Delivery Inspection Checklist is in this folder.

Awesome advise, thank you. I'll check the fridge for sure and when I say way out of level I would say probably 3-4" maybe a little more. I've already priced tires and plan on replacing them if I pull the trigger on it. I'm getting ready to go through the check list provided for other items to inspect.
 
Here is Tires less than 5 yrs old which I have always replaced like clockwork. 3 yrs ago we bought a lot on a lake and our trailer has gone 60 miles to the lake in the spring and 60 miles home in the fall for storage. With Covid and not being able to do anything for a year we decided we would go down to Daulphin Island for spring break, about a 1100 mile trip one way. This is what happens when tires don’t get heat cycles......


Well I will add the pic after I get privileges. Lol
 

TravelTiger

Founding Texas-West Chapter Leaders
Just a note, water heaters are nearly impossible to come by at this time. A shortage in manufacturing and high demand due to a longer winter and unprecedented freezing in Texas caused a lot of damage to Rv water systems this February.

Dometic is also changing the design, which I was warned “may not fit the same hole.”

So be aware the repairs may take a long time.


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