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Old 09-11-2012, 08:29 AM   #1
piechj
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Default What to look for when buying a used TM

What should one look for when buying a ten year old TM?
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Old 09-11-2012, 10:02 AM   #2
rvcycleguy
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Poor maintenance, water leaks, level roofs, interior and exterior damage, appliances in working order, tires, axles, wheel bearings, all electrical components, fabrics, bed coverings, overall appearance, etc, etc.

I purchased a 9 year old unit less than 12 months ago. It was a one owner and kept under a carport. Since I had owned a TM previously, I knew what to look for during inspection. The electrical components and appliances are generally a standard RV item, so you can feel some comfort that they can be replaced in your local area. The TM specific components like roofs, lifting arms, lower living compartment, aluminum features, are more difficult to locate and can be expensive to replace. Ask lots of question of the seller, no question is a dumb one unless not asked. Ask the seller to demonstrate all features to the exterior and interior. All components can be demo'd using the 12v or 110v connections. Refridgerator can be chilled overnight and demo'd. Same for hot water heater, furnace, etc. The AC requires more set up than most can do at their home. Take note of the bath facilities, commode, sewer connections, etc.
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Old 09-12-2012, 06:57 AM   #3
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Here is the bookmark I have from when I was looking. Good luck!

http://trailmanorowners.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8878
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Old 10-25-2013, 12:05 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by piechj View Post
What should one look for when buying a ten year old TM?
I picked up a 1996 2720 with the slide-out front. I fully expected a number of 'quirks' with one this old, but it gives me a good heads-up for the kind of things to look for. I'd suggest strongly to try to get a look at it when you get to see everything in action. I usually do my trailer shopping in the fall as you get the best prices. (I even bookmark listings in spring and wait to see which one's haven't been sold then start shopping just before Christmas in November or so when people's budgets and the reduced demand tends to make them more motivated to accept deals)
But late season shopping also helps in that you can get a much better sense of all the appliances and the function of the unit itself. (especially the furnace)

I'll go a bit overkill here as I picked up an older one fully expecting to find a lot of little things wrong. So I'll give you some idea of the many things I have found to be symptomatic of age.

When I say, see things working, one of the things I hadn't witnessed was the furnace starting up. (my fan whines when first starting up until it is fully warm - it would have been a nice thing to know up front as the motors for those things run from $50-150)
Older units will tend to have more wear and might not open and close as easily as a newer one. Check to see if any of the framework is showing signs of 'warp' or 'lean', especially if the jacks aren't out balancing the unit. One thing I've learned through experience is a good indicator of this, check -- of all things -- the curtains! Especially on the side windows of the front pop-up section. A trail manor that is ornery opening and closing will grab those curtain slides if it's not balanced popping them loose and popping out pieces of the slide rails in the process.
Plastics also tend to age, be sure to check both the slides and things like the roof vent garnish to see just how 'brittle' they are. Light covers too. I replaced most of mine and still need to pick up a new garnish. In my unit, the wiring has been redone somewhat. Had I thrown a tester on the 12v fuse panel, I might have seen this as two of the circuits have been 'joined' somewhere. (I still haven't found where)

Again, on older units, some items may have been replaced. Check to see if it's the original AC and how well it is working, how well it is secured, how well it is insulated around the inside of the opening. The tri-fuel fridge is also a likely candidate for replacement. Check if it is the original fridge and how well it works on all three power sources if it is. (those aren't cheap - mine had been replaced with a basic walmart AC-only unit that fits the gap rather well, but I don't have the option of running on propane and the AC start-up even strains my 2200W inverter. But once it starts up, it's fine)

For basic wear-and-tear, check the latches on the cupboards and around the bathroom. A trailer that has been well taken care-of will not have had the cupboards slammed or the pieces of the bathroom put together hap-hazardly.

A big issue I see with the older ones like mine are 'screws' in general. Look at all the screws - around the doors, around the windows, around the cupboards, anywhere anything is screwed together. Over time, especially when hauling, all the moving pieces of these things tends to put stress on just about every screw in there and many times they are just screwed into the plywood behind the aluminum. I am constantly pulling out screws, and either re-locating them or putting something like gorilla glue in the holes before screwing them back in. A big spot to look for on this is where the vinyl flaps come down as those flaps can sometimes have a slight tension on them so they'll be the most likely to pull out. Also along the awning since that also has the stress of the weight of the awning pulling on it.

Check all the velcro on the flaps. Velcro will wear down over time and the glue will wear out. Replacing them isn't a big deal unless it is the side sewn to the vinyl. (it just involves cleaning off the old glue and gluing a new piece on - staples help also, but it might not be something you want to deal with)

Check the crank handle on the roof vent. The handle itself is plastic, the cogged hub it goes over aluminum. The screw can strip inside as well as the teeth stripping on the plastic outside it. Turn it all the way up and all the way down and try pulling down slightly on the crank handle to make sure the screw holding it in isn't stripped. The switches around the garnish are also prone to corrosion so make sure they turn freely and aren't shorted. Inspect screens if you don't want to hassle with replacing those.

Look around in the cupboards below both sinks and if possible below the tub. Smell for mildew smell. I recommend also having the water hooked up to both a pressurized hose and fill the tank and try the built-in pump. Look around the side (opposite the door) for drips around the inlets, the tank for the pump (below the sink), the hot water heater (should be obvious by the door on that side) the greywater/toilet tanks (below the bathroom area) and the two release valves for the pressure system just behind them. (mine had a slight leak in the portable water tank, but it was an easy fix so I wasn't too worried about it - the portable water tank is under the sink as well near the floor)
Check the release valve on the hot water heater to make sure it not only turns to open/drain the system but also closes tight. Check all the faucets as well to make sure they have been well maintained (don't drip, turn on readily - usually a drip is just a rubber washer replacement though and another very easy fix). When draining the hot water heater, check to see if there are any 'salts' running out which might be a sign of needing a good cleaning. It will look like a whitish sand coming out.
Make sure the igniters work properly in the hot water heater and the furnace. The hot water heater has a manual piezo button type igniter. Mine is old enough it's less than idea so I just use a small pen-torch to light my pilot as it's less of a pain (ebay purchase for about $3). The furnace has an automatic igniter and should trigger just by turning on the thermostat.

The switches in the power panel will get dirty over time. Make sure at a minimum you can see the status indicators for the tank levels and power with the 'test' switch and that the pump switch is working. The fridge fan switch will depend on how you intend to use the fridge and if it's the tri-fuel version. There is also a fan switch in the bathroom that vents under the tub.

The battery is around back. In the one I bought, it had probably sat stored for some time but I had a deep cycle in my Jeep I could use to test the 12v circuits. There are generally two slots for batteries, plastic containers with hoses for venting any gases. (I always use AGM or Li-po packs that don't give off sulfides) Check the wiring around the battery and see if you can get as good of a look as you can as far into the main power box also. Everything but the couple of AC plugs is on 12v so the 12v wiring matters. (i.e. check all the lights, they are all 12v as is the water pump and furnace pump) Make sure you hear the converter box and it's fan when plugged into the AC. (this also charges the battery if you have one installed) If you want to use the 7-pin to help charge the battery you might also want to test the power with it just plugged into your vehicle. Mine is only hooked up to the running lights/brake/backup at present which is fine with me as when I eventually tie it into the charge circuit, I picked up a battery isolator to do it with.

A few other things that showed age in my older one, the slide rails wear out on bed slide-outs as do the nylon washers/spacers. The rubber stops on the bathroom side wall will dry out over time, crack and fall off from the moisture in there. Check around the vinyl hanging off the roof for signs of mildew. (all these sorts of things are noticeable on a careful visual once-over inspection anyway - but it gives you some things to look for) Check for rust on the sliders around the shower curtain - another cheap/easy fix though. Check the pull-out valve for the shower hose, you'll want it for filling the toilet. See if the toilet fluid indicator is clear enough to see through (a poorly maintained toilet will be all crudded up on that window) Check the valve below the toilet to see if it moves freely and if there is any unnecessary scraping/friction pulling it in and out. Smell in the toilet itself to see how 'ripe' it might happen to be (an indicator of not using treatments enough - and those smells can really permeate the plastics and be hard to knock down over time)

The side walls of the pop-up top portions can also accumulate moisture from underneath when towing. Check around the bottom of them, especially the back one, to see if there are any signs of wood rot in the plywood around the bottom edge or if the vinyl padding around the beds is pulling loose anywhere or showing signs of excessive mildew.

Then of course the typical stuff - inspect the bearings, tires, basic external wiring, signs of excessive rust, etc. Make sure the latches and the four levers that hold down the top close well and aren't going to come loose while towing. You might want to inspect the hinge-bars and side bars for the two sections and look underneath at the rod/tube between the hinges themselves - their condition has a good deal to do with how easily the front and back sections go up and down as they contribute to the 'balance' of those portions when raising/lowering.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:32 PM   #5
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treii28, that's an awesome list. It makes me want to go and check all these things on the TM I already own!
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Old 10-25-2013, 05:36 PM   #6
rvcycleguy
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Originally Posted by wbmiller3 View Post
treii28, that's an awesome list. It makes me want to go and check all these things on the TM I already own!
Or I'm afraid to look...
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