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Old 02-12-2009, 01:12 PM   #1
4Kids2Dogs
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Talking Inspecting older TM

Hello to all out there! To begin with, THANK YOU! Your discussions and informational postings have helped us more than you will ever know and we are very grateful! You're a wild and crazy bunch! We have been considering buying a TM for a few years now, and have located a 2000 model 3023 that is right in our price range and is actually here in Colorado! Wow. Anyhow, it shows normal wear, but is still a nice unit for the age. We are heading up next week to set it up and test out the plumbing, electric, propane, etc., to make sure all is well. I have researched this on the forum and have found many useful hints. Do any of you have any suggestions for us in this respect?

OK, now the biggie: Since we have 4 kids - aged 10, 6, 4 and 2 - I am definitely into getting the unit as clean as I can (before they add their own dirt ) I looked to see how you all suggest inspecting and cleaning the Thetford, but haven't found how to inspect without taking it apart, which I can't do before I buy it. And probably don't want to do after purchase either, if we don't have to. eww. SO...do you have any ideas about inspecting it pre-sale and cleaning the tank post-sale?

Thank you all for your help, it's been fun 'listening' to your discussions. Hope you have some good ideas for us!
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Old 02-12-2009, 02:19 PM   #2
Leslie & Nick
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Originally Posted by 4Kids2Dogs View Post
OK, now the biggie: Since we have 4 kids - aged 10, 6, 4 and 2 - I am definitely into getting the unit as clean as I can (before they add their own dirt ) I looked to see how you all suggest inspecting and cleaning the Thetford, but haven't found how to inspect without taking it apart, which I can't do before I buy it. And probably don't want to do after purchase either, if we don't have to. eww. SO...do you have any ideas about inspecting it pre-sale and cleaning the tank post-sale?
I'd say you're best bet with the recirculating toilet is of course to try flushing it to see if it works. This might not be so easy to do in that for a complete test, the TM will need to be connected to a sewer drain, which not many homeowners have in their driveway, or a "Blue Tote". A "Blue Tote" is a generic name for a plastic container used to hold the contents of a "blackwater" tank, or in your case, the recirculating toilet. I've seen blue and gray colored totes. There is no blackwater tank per se in the Trailmanor - everything is held within the toilet itself - about six gallons worth as I recall.

If you can manage some sort of drain connection (sewer or Tote), charge the toilet with plain water. See if the fill gauge works - the needle should move into the 'green' area when toilet is fully charged (about 2 gallons). Press the flush button and you should see a fairly strong stream of water coming from the underside of the rim. Flush several times to ensure good operations. The 'T' valve must be in the closed position (pushed in towards the bowl).

Next, I'd continue filling the tank with another 2-3 gallons of plain water to simulate normal usage. Now the big test: With the outside slide valve in the closed position, pull the 'T' handle away from the bowl. As soon as you do this, you should hear a "swooshing noise". The noise indicates the toilet contents are being emptied into the large black drain line. If you don't hear the "swooshing noise" the EZ Valve Slide gasket might be deformed or otherwise damaged. This is not necessarily a deal breaker, as the gasket or even the entire valve can be replaced, but you'll have to remove the toilet to do so (I had to do exactly this).

Hope this explanation helps. Good luck with your acqusiition

Nick
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Old 02-12-2009, 02:37 PM   #3
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I certainly wouldn't let the toilet get in the way of a good deal. The owner may have it charged (full of flush water), and if so and it flushes fine, that's about 90% of it right there.

But there's not a whole lot that can go wrong with the toilet, compared to how Thetford intended it to work. It's basically a motor (the pump) in a bucket. If it's not visually damaged, it's probably fine. Absolute worst case scenario is that you throw the whole thing away -- a replacement is about $600, and if you've never done it before, you can probably do so in less than 1-2 hours if you're drinking beer simultaneously. But I can't think of anything that could go wrong that would require a replacement, so if something is broken, it's easily fixed.

It's a very simple device, and parts are available.

Perhaps others will comment, but I'd focus my attention on more potentially costly issues, like damaged frame, leaks, the fridge, and the A/C.

Dave
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:18 PM   #4
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Default Good advice!

Thanks for the prompt imput! I guess I overthink the toilet issue since it seems yucky to fix or clean. We will focus on the more vital issues you mentioned. The owners left the TM with a friend at a half-way point between our towns, and it will not be set up or charged. We will try to at least charge it to the point of flushing and make sure that works. As far as dumping, we may have to wait until we get her home to do that. I never knew about the tote, and will have to keep that in mind for future reference. If we can secure a sewer connection we will sure try to fill and dump. If we can buy this unit and if the need arises, I will be sure to stock the fridge with beer before I send the man to work on the Thetford .

Testing the AC seems fairly forthright, just see if it comes on and gets cool? In regard to testing the fridge, how could I do this in an inspection run through? It seems like it would need time to cool down, and I don't know that we will have time to wait. Or should I just get it lit (I read the propane systems tutorial) and make sure it stays lit?

You guys are great! Thanks again!
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:54 PM   #5
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The toilet can be dumped into a bucket and the bucket carried to the toilet in the house.

If it is a clean empty toilet, and you only put in enough water to verify that the pump can recirculate the water, then it is not too yucky to dispose of the waer that way. It only takes about 2 gallons of water to charge it. So a low profile one gallon bucket would mean two or three trips to dump it.

I do not recommend his for normal usage, but for a one time only test it would suffice.

When our gray water tank is getting close to full, and someone wants to take a shower, I tell them that they have to carry a bucket of gray water to dispose of. If they are unwilling to do that then they don't need a shower bad enough.
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Old 02-12-2009, 07:00 PM   #6
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Testing the AC seems fairly forthright, just see if it comes on and gets cool?
Yep, although now that I re-read your message, since you are looking at a 2000, it's not a big deal since the A/C is a side mount. Turn it on -- if it's cooling within 5 minutes, it's probably fine. A bit tricky this time of year though unless you are in a warm climate. If you need to replace it, it's $100-$150 and takes about 15 minutes. It's the roof-mounted ones on later models that are $1000+.

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In regard to testing the fridge, how could I do this in an inspection run through? It seems like it would need time to cool down, and I don't know that we will have time to wait. Or should I just get it lit (I read the propane systems tutorial) and make sure it stays lit?
Ideally, it would be nice to have it cooled before your arrival. But it sounds like that's not possible. Choice #2 would be to wait around till it gets fairly chilly. Make that the first thing you do as soon as you get it setup. Otherwise, getting it lit isn't a guarantee that it works. If the system has a leak, it will light, appear to work well, but won't get cold, or cold enough. Within about 15 minutes after starting it, the interior walls should start to feel cool to the touch. Go out for lunch after you're done with the walk through, and go back to check on the fridge and finish the deal.

The fridge cools through 3 different heaters, which operate on gas, 110 AC or DC. You use only one at a time, but in a perfect world, you want to test all 3 to guarantee that everything works. But that is very difficult to do if you don't have time, and I doubt most people do that. I didn't.....I took the guy at his word.

The fridge is pricey, and stuff does sometimes go wrong with them. $1,000 to replace with a new one, and you could easily spend a few hundred bucks getting something fixed.

If they say it works, it cools fine on AC after an hour, and the gas lights, I think I'd be fine with that.

Dave
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Old 02-12-2009, 07:09 PM   #7
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You can feel the fins on the fridge get cold after a short time.

Make sure the toilet doesn't leak. Often the valve at the base (t handle) leaks. You'd have to replace the seal. Sometimes it pops back in place too.

Big thing to check for is rotting in the walls from water damage since that model will have some wood in there. make sure things aren't soft or trim coming loose due to nothing to tie to.
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:27 PM   #8
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I'd definitely check the refrigerator, on the propane mode. I say this because if it works on propane, it will work anywhere. Ask them to top off the propane tanks for you. It's not that hot this time of the year (I guess in CO it's pretty cold, we're in amazingly-climate-changing CA where it's been 80 degrees in January and yet we have 29 degree nights now), and you should be able to feel it cooling down within 1/2 hour (or less). Bring along a thermometer so that you can measure the drop in temperature, that's more of a sure thing than just using your hand to test it. The refrigerator and the toilet are the most expensive things. Sometimes, if the gas lines are empty, it can take a while to get the refrigerator lit on propane. I always run some gas through the stove first (i.e. light it and the oven), and it also helps to light the water heater too...then there should be gas close to the refrigerator.

Ask them to fill the water tank with at least 5 gallons so you can check the plumbing and the grey water tank.

Check all the corners for weakness, top and bottom. Just look at them closely, inside and out. Separation there would indicate problems. I have a 1997 and I don't think mine has any wood in the roof corners, but you never know. I've never torn mine apart and I don't intend to.

Make sure it's easy to open and close, it should be parked on a level site for testing. Some tilting of the roof is normal (the center will be higher than the front and back). The door gets out of whack sometimes, I think they all do, especially if it's not parked on a level pad. If you can't get it latched, move it around a bit, trying with it open and closed (and in between). TM's are a different kind of RV, they have their quirks, and you get used to them. Do you have the brochure that shows you how to open it up and close it down? I could email it to you if you'd like. I got it from Hal (thanks again Hal!) and would be glad to pass it along.

Upon edit: check my photo albums for the brochure on opening and closing the TM, I just uploaded it.
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Old 02-13-2009, 07:38 AM   #9
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May want to test hot water heater to make sure you are getting hot water to the shower or at least ask if it is working?

I think one of the most important items not to miss is the condition of the tires. When were they last changed out?

Joe S.
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Old 02-13-2009, 08:05 AM   #10
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I think one of the most important items not to miss is the condition of the tires. When were they last changed out?

Joe S.
Yes, I will second that. The guy I bought mine from told me the tires were brand new, and they looked it. This was before I knew how to tell the age of them. After a year of pulling it around I found out that they were the age of the TM. (8 years old) guess I was lucky that I didn't have a blow out.
Do not trust everything they are telling you. Some people will lie, just to get rid of it.
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