Fixing the beyond repair RV

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OregonSteve

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Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Posts
6
Hello RVers-

My Wife and I purchased a 1995 Terry 24 foot fifth-wheel from the Oregon Coast in January 2019. I knew it would need serious restoration. 
Upon towing it home to the Willamette Valley where I live I began assessing it.    We discovered soon that it was incredibly water damaged with standing water under the floors, under the overhand in front, soaked fiberglass in the walls and some completely rotted roofing. Much of the wooden frame was mush.  In a practical sense beyond any reasonable repair.  At, least 50% of the wood framing rotted to the point of crumbling in your hand.
So, my wife and I gutted the front 6 feet and the rear eight feet of the coach and began to reconstruct the wood.    It took five months of every weekend with the whole rig under a tarp in the Oregon winter and spring to renovate into a solid structure.  It had to be supported to keep its basic shape because so much framing had to be removed it would otherwise collapse on itself. 
  The thing with a trailer is that the construction has to be rabbitted and overlapped so the structure does not break apart as it travels down the road.  And the internal cabinets and other inside structures also reinforce the coach?s structure so it is strong enough to take the shaking and bumping of road travel.
I am mending the roof wood by cutting the EPDM and splicing new EPDM with acrylic adhesives and overlaying with Eternabond with Decor Lapping compound.  The roof has intermittent rot I am replacing.  Mending EPDM is tricky but I am doing it anyway.  I am amazed at Eternabond tape.  Soon I will clean the existing old EPDM and coat it with Dicor acrylic rubber roof.    In a couple of years I might go to the effort of completely reroofing?it is all too much to do at once.
I could have build a house with a similar amount of labor as this renovation.  The only reason I did not junk this trailer was I like to fix the ?unfixable?,  I have the tools, I have experience doing vehicle frame-up restorations and running gear/engine swaps on at least a dozen 4x4s.  I have built shops, and sheds and utility trailers and done a lot of home remodeling  And how do you get rid of 4500 pounds of junk sitting in your driveway??    I used a lot of 2x2s,  Epoxy, polyester resin, plywood, carpenter glue, staples, screws, fiberglass insulation and cussed a lot.    Normally a project like this is not practical nor worth the effort.  On a certain level it is fun however.  My tow vehicle is a 1997 Ford F250 4x4 with an EFI  460 CI engine.  Husky fifth-wheel single tooth hitch.
 

Rene T

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Farmington NH
:(
OregonSteve said:
Hello RVers-
Upon towing it home to the Willamette Valley where I live I began assessing it.    
Above is where you went wrong. Should have assessed it before towing it home. Did they pay you to take it off their hands? 
 

OregonSteve

Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Posts
6
Exactly right Rene T--    More on this later

I needed an RV that was a specific shorter size that was hard to find.  So I took the chance and got royally screwed. 
The seller had to have lied in a big way--- or been really igorant.    He said it was always stored in the covered facility where we viewed it.
I got it for 1000 dollars--figuring I would remodel it.  But was surprised by the extent of the damage inside the walls.

I looked at many in the 10-15K range (used) with obvious water and rot damage that appeared worst than this one.

Lots of damage was completely hidden and took invasive investigation to discover--- like sawing 1 inch hole in wall for the first peep.    Discovered one soft spot under the folding dinner table.    Seller said it never leaked-- Blah Blah.  Did not smell bad inside.

Coos bay Oregon is one a very moist place too.

Evidently, many owners are unaware that their RV is full of rot because it sometimes does not become obvious or poke through the inside Veneer walls until the framing is distroyed.  Used RVs are risky to buy with an expectation that no water damage is present.

A new RV can be wreaked to the point of being totaled by one small limb falling on it in a camp ground or someone lightly rear ending you anyway.  RVs are not like cars-- they are prone to weather damage, and minor events like hail can wreak an RV. 

RVs are easily damaged. And hard to fix.    The way they are put together makes them hard to repair.  Not eazy like a car and not like a framed home.

But now I have a useable RV.  The mending of the EPDM roof will take a watchful eye and constant  maintaining and resealing every few months  to keep from leaking.

So I have a total of 3-4K in the RV now and it will function as well as a 20K one. But again  the labor was too much to generally be worth it dollar wise.

But all this being said I have a co-worker that spent 235K for a Class A, toured the US for a year--- and now cannot even get 30K for it in "good shape"  It is just 5 years old.  I would rather buy a small home and rent it than spend 200+K for an RV and have all that $ gone due to depreciation.    I could tour the USA in my old RV and old Ford Truck -- with my two Honda 2000s just as well.    I think RVs are amazing on one hand-- but very spendy plus very vulnerable on the other hand.  RVs are a sort of perishable item---they depreciate faster than an automobile---but can be made to function if you know how to fix one and have the time and energy to do it.    But it is harder than I thought-- but I did it anyway.  I am over the hump on this RV project and will have it out camping this summer.      Btw---- when it comes to custom car rebuilds-- only 1 in 5 get finished by the person who initiates the rebuild.  They get sold over and over as progress is made. Typically the forth attempter gets them to run-- so four or five people loose time, labor and money in the attempted restoration project.      Later---


 

SpencerPJ

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Nov 1, 2017
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Midwest
thelazyl said:
It sounds like you'd be a handy friend to have around!
;D ;D ;D

Post some pictures of this gem.  I enjoy fix up projects as well, flipped many houses. 
 

OregonSteve

Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Posts
6
SoebcerPJ

It is not a gem really---It is a basic camper.    Safe Sleeping place, eating place, kitchen, Toilet,  place to stay warm or get cooled off.  Just 4500 pounds.
I am going to take it into rural rugged places
Does not look too bad.  I got kind of messy with the Dicor though.  Has some dents in the siding.    Previous owners used silicon to seal it up-- which did not seal it at all.
Dicor works way better--- but it is the stickest ickyist stuff to get on your hands--------sticks your nitrate gloves all up.

Still needs to fix the Atwood WHer and other details.

Redo inside furnishings too

A person could never make money from such a fix job--I fixed it to use instead of spending 70K on a pretty Truck and Camper.
My truck I got from a Farmer---badly beat up body that I pounded dents out of.  Low miles though.  Got The Truck for 2K-- Fixed it for 500 in parts. -- Just as functional as new truck now.( a bit ugly).  I Welded up custom brackets for the 5th wheel hitch, because the universal install kits from etrailer and other aftermarket venders seemed too weak and damaging to truck frames.  My old truck is  now a  true "Tote Hog"  high torque gas powered vehicle.    Gasoline hog though.  12 mpg (3.55 gears). Needs some mods to suit me -- Banks Headers for one modification will happen.    No debt--- if tranny goes--- I will pay cash and install myself--even though I am over 65 yr old.


I think buying a used RV is often buying something damaged even when it looks good on the outside.  YouTube has a number of stories about what buyers of used RV later discover in the walls of their RV.    But I believe anything one human being can build, another person can somehow fix--

Some take the old 'ham box' RVs from the 50s and restore them--- those are 'gems' in some cases.

My goal is to hang out on the Oregon coast-- then Cascades-- and Central Oregon searching for Fossils--- and to the Steen Mountains ---- Go some places people might be afraid to take 100K of RV into due to ruggedness of the terrain .

 

Roy M

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May 31, 2017
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1,400
Location
southern British Columbia
I rebuilt the rotted nose on a fiver in the yard as time and the weather permitted. If I ever try such a repair again it will be in a properly equipped shop, it was not fun.
 

donn

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Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Posts
5,378
Neighbor is doing something similar.  He is rebuilding the back half of an old TT he bought for 500 dollars.  So far he has about a thousand into it, so not too bad.  Good luck and please remember you will never get your money back, so plan to keep it till the wheels fall off.
 

OregonSteve

Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Posts
6
Yes Donn--
I will never get my money back.  Fixing it to use.  And for the Joy of fixing a lost cause. 
Most project vehicles are abandoned before finished too.
I have heard 1 in 5 make it to being functional by the person starting the restoration.
 
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