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Old 03-09-2018, 07:26 AM   #1
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Fix or Scrap?

My Sunny T2153 is 31 years old now. I have had it since 2011 and have enjoyed it immensely. It has always driven straight and felt solid. I have put only about $1000 into it since I got it; new suspension parts and brakes, new tires,rebuilt the front end due to water leaks. Last year we went to Kentucky and encountered horrible roads and weather conditions, but managed to survive it.

So I was showing it to a friend when he stopped and looked down the side of the trailer and mentioned it looked bowed from front to back. Sure enough, it was, on both sides. He said that my wall support structure has severe degradation, most likely due to water seeping in over the years. He indicated that the bad road conditions is just contributing to the problem.

So, I'm taking and opinion poll: Should I attempt to fix it (that means gutting it and restructuring the walls), or should I just junk it and buy a new trailer. What would you guys do? Both options sound expensive to me.
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Old 03-09-2018, 12:16 PM   #2
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H'mm, well some thoughts to maybe help you think through.

I would do a little more investigating first to make sure I knew as much about the problem before attempting the fix or a sell/buy to a different camper.

I just completed fixing the frame on my T310SR. A real terrible 15 mile stretch of pot hole roads started a bend in the main camper frame. Then as time progressed, the frame kept bending more and more very slowly over normal towing from the flex in the camper on any road, good or bad. See here for more on this, A Winter Project - Slide Opening, Frame Repair (Picture heavy)

Point I am making is, I backed into finding out the frame was bent when I thought I had a side wall issue. It was not the side walls, it was the frame holding up the walls. Once I jacked the frame back to straight, the walls all came back where they needed to.

If you had major water damage to take out a wall on both sides of the camper, I would think you could see/smell something inside from wood rot. You can check the camper walls for rot with a moisture meter. And if you are even thinking about buying a used camper, a moisture meter can be the best $40 bucks you ever spent. See here, Moisture Meters For Inspecting a Camper

To confirm it is or is not a frame issue, get a string and pull a straight line along the frame from front to back. And also do it on the siding of the camper as this can tell a lot on where the bending starts. There will be some level of bow in the frame as they all have some. But in your case, I would think that starting from the axle area to the back of the camper would be bent down a good amount. Try that and see what you have. Do both sides. And if you put a bottle jack on the back of the frame and the line comes back to straight and the siding comes back to straight, then this helps tell the frame is part of the problem. If you jack up the back, use a jack on both back ends of the frame and lift slow going go back and forth on both sides and lift a little at a time. Do not take it all up on one side.

The walls, the moisture meter will tell if there is wet inside and the ceiling. If it is totally dry rot and all the moisture is gone, (odds are low it is this way but not impossible) the meter may or may not find all the dry rot. It all depends on how much moisture content is left. This would mean you had a leak, it was sealed up but the walls where left wet and over time the moisture evaporated but the dry rot fungus did not and turned the wall studs to soft dust. It takes years to evaporate out a real wet wall and the leak has to have been stopped to even allow this.

Once you can confirm you know the cause, now what?

If this is a wood rot situation and you are doing the actual repair, the materials are not that costly, however the time you spend will take a large amount of time for 2 walls of the camper. If you have to hire out that labor, there is no good way to not exceed the cost of the camper in a hurry. It all depends on the labor rate charged.

If it is the frame, and assuming you do not have access to metalworking, weld, cut etc. This could be a medium charge. It all depends on what is wrong. It could be 1 or 2 day fix or more. A quote would be your only way to sort this out. You have to find a shop that does trailer repair. This is normally way beyond a normal RV dealer although some do that kind of work. Truck and trailer repair places have done this kind of work before.

If you are buying a brand new camper to replace what you have now, money wise that is a much larger payout then getting a used camper. You get all new everything but this does not mean you get a quality built unit. And knowing enough good camper friends who bought brand new campers some of the warranty problems they have has been mind boggling. The good news is most of it was warranty covered but you have to deal with the issues of getting to and back from the dealer. The stories I have heard some have had one heck of a time, others it was no problem at all.

Buying a used camper can save you a lot of funds, but the risk is higher. Suggest you read up and try and learn about the moisture meter really good so you can inspect the camper before you buy it and price negotiate down or walk away from one that has more issues than yours now. It has been a common theme that good folks selling their camper have no idea the camper is water infected. If they cannot see the wet inside, they think all is well and the camper is in "mint" condition. So many folks never knew about they had to do roof maintenance all the time on a camper and it can show up on the day they sell it if an educated buyer comes along and knows where to look in the right places.

My camper is 14 years old now from the day it left Sunline. In my case I chose to repair the frame issues as there is no way I can buy a different camper with all the fixes and upgrades I have and know the camper is dry one then the one I have now. The inside is in immaculate shape and the roof is in very good condition. And new campers, the ones that are out there as of today, do not appeal to our liking for the amount of money they want for them. So I keep repairing. I enjoy doing this kind of work and I have the shop to do it in, so this works for me. But does not for everyone.

Your situation is different, as yours is older. Finding another used camper that is newer in years but may take a some work to fix up to your liking may not be a bad option. Ideally you can find a Sunline just because they were built better to start with then most. So you have a better chance of it lasting longer once you get it. How the prior owner took care of it is the risk. It may take a lot of searching to find the one you want. But well worth it when you do find one.

It sounds like you really like the camper you have short of the new problem you found. Point is, make sure you know the best you can what is wrong with the one you have now. Do some more investigating on the frame and the walls. Then try and figure out what it might take to correct it and is that something you want to do? Then comes the money part, do you want to invest that little or a lot into what you have now? Or into a new one or a different one?

There is no real simple right or wrong answer to this. The answer has to work for you and you enjoy what that answer brings.

Hope this helps

John

PS. I see what looks like a new truck since the last time we saw your tow vehicle pics. Great looking rig!!! Congrats
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Old 03-09-2018, 02:46 PM   #3
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For an otherwise pretty decent trailer, it isn't worthwhile to scrap- there's no money in that. As long as it'll still roll, you're better off trying to sell it as is. Someone may want an old trailer to park on some hunting property, use as a guest room, etc., where they can put it up on blocks and never move it.
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Old 03-10-2018, 05:46 AM   #4
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Wink

Thanks John for the info. I will definately check out that frame. Seems to me it would be a lot easier to do that than than rip the old girl apart. I hope that's the worst of it. I have already spent a lot of hours working in it and I really would not want to let it go now. I hear a lot of horror stories about new campers not being quality products these days. I have tools and welding material, and generally do my own work. There is a major RV facility just a half mile from me, but their labor rates are outrageous, so I do my own repairs. I think you have convinced me at this point to keep it, or if necessary, at least look for another Sunny. Not an easy task I think.

Ya, new truck. Dropped a dime on a new Ford F250 4x4 crewcab. Has the 6.2ltr gas motor. The wife was willing to go for the truck, but she is not a diesel fan, so you know, compromise.
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Old 03-10-2018, 05:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunline Fan View Post
For an otherwise pretty decent trailer, it isn't worthwhile to scrap- there's no money in that. As long as it'll still roll, you're better off trying to sell it as is. Someone may want an old trailer to park on some hunting property, use as a guest room, etc., where they can put it up on blocks and never move it.
Ya, I reckon I could do that, too. For now though I think JohnB has pretty much convinced me not to sink the old boat yet. My wife keeps asking me though, "When are we actually gonna go camping? Let me know when you're done working on it."
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Old 03-11-2018, 09:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockDodger View Post
My wife keeps asking me though, "When are we actually gonna go camping? Let me know when you're done working on it."
Your wife must of been talking to my wife. Just yesterday she asked me, "Well is the camper all put back together?" Well, not yet but it is getting closer...

Let us know how the frame check comes out.

Thanks

John
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Old 04-13-2018, 06:42 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by RockDodger View Post
Thanks John for the info. I will definately check out that frame. Seems to me it would be a lot easier to do that than than rip the old girl apart. I hope that's the worst of it. I have already spent a lot of hours working in it and I really would not want to let it go now. I hear a lot of horror stories about new campers not being quality products these days. I have tools and welding material, and generally do my own work. There is a major RV facility just a half mile from me, but their labor rates are outrageous, so I do my own repairs. I think you have convinced me at this point to keep it, or if necessary, at least look for another Sunny. Not an easy task I think.

Ya, new truck. Dropped a dime on a new Ford F250 4x4 crewcab. Has the 6.2ltr gas motor. The wife was willing to go for the truck, but she is not a diesel fan, so you know, compromise.
Ok, finally got under between raindrops and checked the frame. It is straight as far as I can tell to within 1/4" the whole length (20 ft) on driver side and 1/8" on passenger side. I think I will install shocks to cushion the load simply because of the age of the unit. I figure it couldn't hurt.
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Old 04-13-2018, 10:53 PM   #8
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The 1/4" total across the entire frame is not bad. I have found on about any floor plan the main frame rails have sag in them. Over the axles is rigid and straight. From the axle hangers to the tow ball can have a sag down starting at the hanger and then back up at the tow ball. The rear overhang of the camper, starts a down hill sag starting at the rear axle hanger and heads down until the end of the frame. The longer the rear overhang the more it can sometimes be sagging.

How much camping gear is in the camper compared to the max GVWR can also affect how much sag if the camper is towed. The heavier camper towed a lot usually will have more sag then one standing in place is a seasonal CG. The constant flexing of the frame when towing accumulates over time.

I 120% agree with having shocks on a camper. My big T310SR would do 6 full reversal flexes of the frame for about any size bump (mini bump to max pothole) until it smoothed out. The bigger the bump, the larger the flex but still 6 cycles it seemed. Once I added the shocks, the 6 full oscillations went down to 1. Yes one (1). It was that global of a change. That is a 5 cycle flex reduction for every bump you ever make towing.

I have heard other club members tell me the same effect when they added shocks. One of them was a T2499. And that is a 26 ft camper, not my big 32 foot camper. So the same effect seems to follow regardless of length.

If you can, watch in the rear view mirror the camper siding flex over a bump before the shocks as a baseline. Then add the shocks and look again. The results should be "shocking" (pun intended)

If you can, make sure when you mount the shocks they are at a slight angle from vertical. Try not and get too close to horizontal as they are not that effective then. This post may help. While this is a larger camper and you do not have the same space to work in, it may help give you some ideas on how to get them mounted. I had to make my own mounts as Monroe had stopped making the mounting kits at that time and the Dexter/ Lippert shocks now offered where not available back then. Adding Shock Absorbers - Sunline SR model

Good luck, let us know how you make out

John
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Old 04-14-2018, 05:38 AM   #9
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I did the axle flip on this trailer 2 years ago, and I should have done it then, but I was in a hurry and didn't bother. But since that Kentucky trip last year when the trailer bounced so much I thought I was gonna lose it, I decided I was going to install shocks for sure. A friend of mine has shocks installed on his 26 ft Jayco, and he says it rides as smooth as a baby's butt. That's my goal.
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