Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New trailer

We went shopping for a camper trailer a few weeks ago, after our return from the most recent trip to see Aimee's folks in VA. The plan is, assuming we can figure out some remaining sticky details, to haul this thing down there for us to stay in while we're visiting. But we also hope to go camping with our kid here in Maine, to see the state a bit more, and to have some fun family adventures.

The first time I took Roo to see a trailer, she obviously loved it, running around inside and climbing all over everything. Now we have this one, a 1997 Prowler 24 footer, she loves to climb inside and run around and jump on the bed and open all the cupboards and drawers.

Finding the trailer was a bit of an adventure. This job fell primarily to me, and, to begin, I had no clue what I was looking for. It's been forty years since I last went trailer camping, with my own family, back home in Britain. I had to do a lot of research online.

We decided we wanted a relatively small camper, at least by American standards, so we could haul it with our existing truck. Actually, that's the remaining difficulty in getting down to VA with this beast. The truck, at 160,000 miles, probably won't make too many trips down to VA without its little V6 engine conking out. But we can safely haul the trailer around Maine, so for now that's what we plan to do, until we can get a haul vehicle with a bigger engine.

We found the Prowler in Veasie, Maine, where there's a guy who likes to camp with his family, but also likes to fix up trailers.

At least, that's what he said. I'm an expert handyman, and can see zero signs of this trailer having been worked on in at least five years, unless our trailer-fixing handyman is the one that did the somewhat amateurish paneling in the bedroom, which you can just see in the picture above, where obvious water damage has taken place and been covered by "T & G" boards.

That seems possible, since the paneling looks new. But when I asked him about the paneling, he said it had been done before he got it. The huge gobs of extra sealant that mar the outside of the trailer, undoubtedly done to stem the water leaks that caused the internal damage, were applied years ago. Otherwise, no-one has worked on this trailer. He just bought it low and sold high, is all. I didn't mind that so much because I thought the price was fair.

The other thing that might have inclined me to regret buying this trailer was that the battery was switched out between the day we put a deposit on the trailer, and the day we went by with the rest of the money to pay for it. Our supposed trailer-handyman told us the battery had failed and he had given us a new one. I took him at his word, and the battery certainly looked new, but on closer investigation, I found traces of typical lead corrosion around the bottom of the terminal posts, and the battery is not of the correct marine/RV deep-cycle kind. My guess is that the original battery, which was probably a better one and the correct one for the job, was switched back to his other trailer, which he'd only just bought to fix up, and that this battery was the dud that came with the new fixer-upper.

That could have left a bad taste in my mouth, but at this point I'm well aware of the "moral hazard" problem endemic to Craigslist selling, and I remain pretty happy with the trailer itself. The only other problem is a binding trailer brake, but I expected to have to strip down the wheel assemblies and service the bearings and brakes.

I just chalked the rest up to experience. If we decide we like trailer camping with our kid, this won't be our last trailer purchase.

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