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Old 09-02-2013, 01:06 PM   #1
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Looking to purchase a used 5th wheel as a 1st time RVer.

I am a complete newbie, with decent tent camping experience, I decided to look into travelling and camping in a travel trailer. Then read enough things that recommended upgrading to a 5th wheel, so I am looking on Craigslist and rvtrader for a decent working model for under $5000.

I found this one asking $3000, including the hitch. It's a 1995 Jayco 255. 2nd owner, has owned it for many years, and is 92 years old and decided to get rid of it since, well, he's 92 and can't do it anymore. He says he took it on a 2000 mile trip only a year ago and he says it's road worthy today. Seems like a nice old man. It looks like he has taken care of it over the years but it's quite dated and it's been sitting for almost a year in his backyard.

What do you recommend I do? Is this a good price for what he's offering? He says that anything under $3000, he would question it's road worthiness.


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Old 09-02-2013, 01:34 PM   #2
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The most important things to look for are signs of water leaks in the ceiling and side walls. Check the tires for sidewall cracking and for the four digit date code. The jury is mixed on how old they should be but around 7 years in my book should be near the upper limit. To be roadworthy, you need lights, good tires, wheel bearings recently packed and functioning brakes.
One of the most expensive appliances is the refrigerator. Check to determine if it is operational. If it smells of ammonia it's toast. Then check the other systems and appliances to determine if they are operational. Back in the late 90's when I was looking for my first RV it seemed like $5000 was the threshold for one that everything worked.
Good luck and yes, I think it could be a good deal.
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:13 PM   #3
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I would be very, very careful of any unit that is 18 years old and hasn't been recaulked or been in out of the sun for most of its life. If you are new to the game, I would pay someone in the business to inspect it for you. That much age could turn into quite a project if you don't know exactly what your looking for. It might be a good buy but assume right off that you are going to replace all the tires. Good luck, but be very careful!!!
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:39 PM   #4
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Thanks for the tips so far. I think I will get a mobile RV mechanic to inspect it for me. At this price, I think it'll be worth the investment and also I think I'll learn a lot.
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Old 09-03-2013, 04:38 AM   #5
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Agree with the above. As for the tires, having had a bad experience with a set of Goodyear Marathons 7 years old and looking great, I would put the upper limit at 5 years age. One of my 7 year old tires blew out the sidewall sitting in the driveway, and another had a large bulge, ready to blow. I would recommend Maxxis brand for replacement.
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:02 AM   #6
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Thanks for the tips so far. I think I will get a mobile RV mechanic to inspect it for me. At this price, I think it'll be worth the investment and also I think I'll learn a lot.
Sounds like a great idea.
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Old 09-03-2013, 09:27 AM   #7
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Agree with the above. As for the tires, having had a bad experience with a set of Goodyear Marathons 7 years old and looking great, I would put the upper limit at 5 years age. One of my 7 year old tires blew out the sidewall sitting in the driveway, and another had a large bulge, ready to blow. I would recommend Maxxis brand for replacement.
I 2nd Maxxis tires (any other Chinese brand is crap IMO and any 5 year old tire is a bomb), I currently have a set of Maxxis tires on my 1997 Jayco Eagle 285 that I purchased this year. The original tires were 1 year old Chinese-ers and showed no signs or dry rot or damage but one blew on the first trip. I crawled all over the RV before buying and told the seller I wanted to see everything work before I bought it for $6,000. It had a few issues that I needed to fix right away....BUT I will say this; these older model 1990ish Jaycos are built tougher than some of the newer ones are. I had a small 2006 Jayco TT before and fixed a roof leak and electrical issues on it. My current 1997 Jayco Eagle is somewhat dated on the inside (style and electronics) but it was very well kept and maintained. Like the others said, check it over well or have a RV mechanic do it. When I bought mine the seller had it all hooked up to water and power with the AC, fridge and water heater fired up. Those would be the biggest concerns to me: AC, Fridge, Water heater. Leaks are also a big deal but they are pretty easy to spot and smell on the inside. Open everything up and stick your head in as far as you can. Probably the most leak prone area to check is the front roof joint where the metal panels roll up and over the front hitch area to meet the rubber roof. I had issues there...used Eternabond tape to seal and now its been leak free for months. Extend and check the Awning at the edges and where the door swing likes to rip though it when not extended out all the way. Go up on the roof and look for repairs and damage. I would even take the TV and hook it up and make sure the lights and brakes work if you can.

In the 6 months we've had this 1997 model, I am still glad we bought it. I have begun to upgrade things like the radio, electrical outlets (put in GFCIs and USB), and changed all the light bulbs to LEDs. Changed out the older propane hoses to the hand tighten collar style. Changed the battery...there was a battery in it but the size was wrong...the tray would accept a Group 27 battery so thats what I got. Oh, and I just flipped the axles to get it level on the TV and to get proper bed clearance.
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Old 09-05-2013, 09:34 AM   #8
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Thanks for the tips so far. I think I will get a mobile RV mechanic to inspect it for me. At this price, I think it'll be worth the investment and also I think I'll learn a lot.
True enough! If you buy it you will definitely "learn a lot" . Does the seller have any service records? It would be nice for you to know a little history.
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:59 PM   #9
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One thing you didn't mention is what will you be pulling it with.Some of the 90's and almost all of the 80's trailers can weigh 2500lbs or more than the newer models of the same lenght'.I bought a 99 model fiver last year and it was to much for my truck.I just bought a 2010 model TT that is longer but 2800lbs lighter.
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Old 09-07-2013, 09:10 AM   #10
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I have a 2002 ford f150 v8 w/ 7700 lb rated towing package. Is it sufficient? Internet says that it weighs 4850 lbs.

Also they have 2 twin beds installed in the master bedroom. Is it easy to upgrade?
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