Scrap it or save it?
I enjoy watching John Daniel on YouTube. The guy is the epitome of the “jack of all trades”, but he’s pretty good at most everything he does.
One of his “hobbies” is getting cheap/free RVs and either scrapping them for parts (another hobby is RV repair) or fixing them up. Some he sells and some he keeps for various uses. Watching him as he does the repair work is interesting, but this video, shot before anything much has been done, is not only interesting, but valuable. If you’ve been considering an RV for whatever purpose, you need to watch this video. He doesn’t cover everything you want to do to check an RV, but he covers a lot of the structural vs. cosmetic things.
Let me toss out a few points that aren’t covered in his video. If anyone wants more depth, I’ve been doing the RV thing for almost 20 years now (we’re on RV #4), so I’ve been around the block a time or two and I’d be happy to go into as much depth as anyone wants to read. Fill up the comments with questions and I’ll have at it.
- An RV is a depreciating asset, and you don’t get rich buying depreciating assets. Buy used, negotiate hard and don’t overpay. Be willing to walk away-there is always another one for sale. As with all outdoor toys, buy at the end of the season.
- Water is the ultimate killer of RVs. I’ve never seen an RV that’s going bad where the damage didn’t start with water where water shouldn’t be.
- Let your nose be your guide. Everyone has smelled mildew, mold and rot. While a little mildew isn’t a deal killer, mold is, because it indicates long-term water damage. Rot indicates even longer-term damage. You will smell either one the second you open the door. Both are deal killers. Walk away.
- Fixing an RV can be painstaking work, but as a rule it isn’t hard. If you can work on your house, you can work on an RV. If you can get it for cheap enough or free, and it’s in decent shape, take a leap of faith and go for it.
- If it needs a new roof, walk away. While it can be done and done well, it isn’t simple and you need a large garage to work in. It will take 10 times longer than you expect, and it needs to be in a guaranteed dry environment when the roof is off. Besides, it probably already has enough water damage that you should have walked off on that basis.
That’s enough to get you started, and it’s a lot more than I knew when I bought my first one. Go for it.