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Old 10-12-2009, 07:12 PM   #1
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How much to spend on a donor RV?

I'm considering getting an older RV trailer to harvest for parts to build my conversion, and I'm wondering how much I should spend. I see them on craigslist typically for around $1,500. Will I get my money's worth out of that, or would I be better advised just to buy and build parts individually?

I'm thinking a $1,500 donor would provide me with at least these usable items: Roof A/C, full bath, full kitchen, fresh and waste water tanks, and a dinette. The beds probably won't help me since I'm going to build something very customized. The cabinetry might be modifiable to fit the bus, but in most cases probably not. If I could get a generator, that would be great, but I don't know how often these trailers come with generators.

After I gut the trailer, I figure I could sell the empty shell for a couple hundred dollars to someone who just wants a storage shed or to use the chassis to make a home-made trailer. I would do that myself, but I just don't have the space to store it, and don't really need a trailer that big. My wife is being very patient with the whole bus concept to begin with - a permanent addition of an RV trailer shell to the property would push her over the edge!
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:43 PM   #2
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Re: How much to spend on a donor RV?

I often find self-propelled RVs cheaper than the trailers, like this one: http://austin.craigslist.org/rvs/1418137302.html
No model year listed, but it looks pretty old. Like '70s. Which leads me to my next question: How old is too old? Which parts will become unserviceable just due to age? Seems like cabinets/furniture would be fine, a stove or sink might be fine, but an A/C or fridge maybe has a shorter lifespan? Even the plastic tanks underneath might get brittle with age?

Any thoughts?
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Old 10-13-2009, 12:03 AM   #3
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Re: How much to spend on a donor RV?

honestly i agree with smitty. i have an older rv and everything works in it. i was gonna gut its parts for the bus but in the end, i could get more money out of the rv on ebay/craigslist than what i would have taken out of it for my bus. especially if you smart in your purchases and shop around. you can get used stuff from craigslist/ebay or you can even pick up new stuff there at a really reasonable cost too. thats not to say if you come across a great deal on the rv/trailer....go for it.
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Old 10-13-2009, 12:24 PM   #4
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Re: How much to spend on a donor RV?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bikeforthelight
honestly i agree with smitty. i have an older rv and everything works in it. i was gonna gut its parts for the bus but in the end, i could get more money out of the rv on ebay/craigslist than what i would have taken out of it for my bus. especially if you smart in your purchases and shop around. you can get used stuff from craigslist/ebay or you can even pick up new stuff there at a really reasonable cost too. thats not to say if you come across a great deal on the rv/trailer....go for it.
I don't know where you are finding these deals. The Austin craigslist has lots of RVs for sale, but not much in the way of parts, and what few are there cost a lot. I looked on ebay and most appliances typically go for $300 plus shipping. If I can get a relatively recent model RV (1990's) with all working appliances for under $1,500 it seems like I'm doing pretty well.

Maybe I can find an RV scrap yard around here, but then I think I'd still be paying a premium for retail parts, and they're still used. I don't plan to be full-timing in this thing, so I need to make some compromises in terms of expense. I don't think new appliances are realistic within my budget.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:35 AM   #5
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Re: How much to spend on a donor RV?

There certainly is a hassle factor with using a donor RV, but I'm not entirely convinced about the financial disadvantage. Maybe $1,500 would be a risk, but for $1,000 I think I'd be getting my money's worth if it had all the parts I need. I'm going to keep my eye out for a deal on a late model trailer that's been in a wreck or something, and is going really cheap. I think there is an advantage to having all the parts I will need delivered in one package, and not have to spend my time hunting for each individual part, find the appropriate connectors and lines, etc. If the right deal doesn't come along soon enough, I guess I will try and find a place locally that sells used RV parts.
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