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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  General Q&A

 > 1977 Holiday Rambler a good buy?

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crittersitter

powhatan

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Posted: 08/22/13 07:46am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi, all. I recently posted about buying a decent used RV for 3-5k. Well I just ran across an ancient (1977) Holiday Rambler for 2k. I would run from something that old until I started looking at info on those trailers. Seems like they were built like a brick house. I may go see it over the weekend. The seller claims it has been very well maintained and that everything works. I've also seen some ads for late 80's early 90's terrys this week in the 3-4k range. My husband thinks I'm nuts to even want to look at a 1977 trailer but I keep telling him it all depends on how they are maintained. What do you all think?

workhardplayharder

Treasure Coast Florida

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Posted: 08/22/13 07:55am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Where is it located? Hot humid area or dry area. Look hard for evidence of water leaks.

jerem0621

Tennessee

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Posted: 08/22/13 11:31am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Check everything, run your hand over every square inch of the interior ceiling, floor, especially the corners. If it smells moldy, it probably is. Open every hatch and look for black mold and dry rot. If you find some can you fix it? If not then walk.

Physically stand in the shower and shuffle around. Pay particular attention to the places where holes are cut in the roof. Like the roof vents etc. look for leaks. Earnestly look for leaks.

The appliances will likely need some repair or replacement. PPL Motorhomes is a great resource for parts and they have some of the best prices on the net.

Expect to remove every window and compartment door frame and replace the butyl putty that seals the trailer. It probably hasn't been done in 25 years. It's not hard just look some videos up on YouTube. Do this yourself and it will cost you about 30-50$ in supplies and a few hrs of work.

The tires, brakes, and axle hanger hardware is likely at the end of its life cycle. Budget $1500 to refurbish the brakes, axles, and replace the tires. Do not judge the tires by the amount of tread they wear. Trailer tires age rapidly and should be replaced every 3-4 years.

The interior finishing is up to you. Some people update, others just use as is.

Good luck on this adventure

Jeremiah


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westend

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Posted: 08/22/13 11:37am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The HR line of TT's pops up here, frequently, with mention of '70's trailers just acquired or for sale. It leads me to believe they built a stout rig. I know they were one of the first to use aluminum frames. It's all about condition for the buyer. Inspect carefully and ask questions about usage from the previous owner.

One thing that most folks don't look at is the frame, itself. These older trailers mostly have full box frames, not a welded up mess of individual, perforated metal pieces. That is why a lot of them are still on the road.

Good luck with the hunt!


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Gdetrailer

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Posted: 08/22/13 02:52pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

westend wrote:

The HR line of TT's pops up here, frequently, with mention of '70's trailers just acquired or for sale. It leads me to believe they built a stout rig. I know they were one of the first to use aluminum frames. It's all about condition for the buyer. Inspect carefully and ask questions about usage from the previous owner.

One thing that most folks don't look at is the frame, itself. These older trailers mostly have full box frames, not a welded up mess of individual, perforated metal pieces. That is why a lot of them are still on the road.

Good luck with the hunt!


Acutally "box" frames CAN be a detriment, often times boxed frames will look "perfect" on the outside and yet be completely rusted out from the inside where you CAN'T see.

I beam or "C" channel overall IS overall better construction albeit heavier in the weight. With I beam or C channel you CAN inspect ALL aspects of the frame with the top being the exception to that.

I would take I beam or C channel frames anyday over a boxed frame (I HAD a trailer with a boxed frame and didn't like the fact that I couldn't see the condition of the inside).

Donnoh

TN

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Posted: 08/22/13 04:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

westend wrote:



I would take I beam or C channel frames anyday over a boxed frame (I HAD a trailer with a boxed frame and didn't like the fact that I couldn't see the condition of the inside).


He "had" a trailer with a boxed frame, but he couldn't see the inside of it so he "assumed" it was bad. My parents owned a Holiday Rambler of about the same vintage and I can tell you it was built like a brick house. In the 70's Holiday Rambler was one of the best TT's you could buy. I wouldn't hesitate to buy the one you're looking at.

Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 08/22/13 04:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

crittersitter wrote:

Hi, all. I recently posted about buying a decent used RV for 3-5k. Well I just ran across an ancient (1977) Holiday Rambler for 2k. I would run from something that old until I started looking at info on those trailers. Seems like they were built like a brick house. I may go see it over the weekend. The seller claims it has been very well maintained and that everything works. I've also seen some ads for late 80's early 90's terrys this week in the 3-4k range. My husband thinks I'm nuts to even want to look at a 1977 trailer but I keep telling him it all depends on how they are maintained. What do you all think?


My personal take is $2K for ANYTHING before 1990s is way too much.

HRs although neat looking suffer big time from the same issues as any other RV, water damage. No matter just how well someone may have taken care of it, there WILL be some sort of water damage that YOU ultimately WILL need to address. It WILL cost you a lot of money AND time to address water damage correctly.

Water damage often times happens far, far away from the actual leak and therefore often goes completely undetected until it is often too late.

My first TT I bought back around 2000 was a 1981 20' Terry Taurus, looked pretty good although I noticed that part of the ceiling had been replaced. Otherwise trailer was in good shape.

Owner was asking $2K, I bought it for $1800, towed home and when I opened the door I found a lot of rotted wood fall out onto the bed! I paid too much! Took $2K in materials, countless hrs during evenings and weekends all told it took 9 months to get it road and camping worthy.

Moral of the story.. if it looks too good to be true it most likely it IS too good to be true. Don't pay for the "looks" as the "looks" can be deceiving. By the way, I sold the 20ft Terry for $1800, took me 8 months to get it sold, many people loved the rehab I did but wasn't willing to pay anywhere near my asking price of $2000.

My current TT is a 1984 and I paid $700 for it, granted I could clearly see it was a total gut job but the price was acceptable since the trailer gave me a good starting point for my own custom build.

In your shoes, if TT has not been "rebuilt" and is original I would not pay more than $600-$700, after all it IS a 36 yr old trailer and WILL need considerable amount of rehab to make it road worthy.

Some of the things to consider.. Fridge, this is the biggest cost to replace ($1200-$1800 for new RV fridge), water heater $300-$500, A/C unit $800, furnace $500-$800, water lines may be old grey Quest which should be replaced due to problematic breakage.

Outside things to think about, tires, rims if all obsolete Star type are hard to find and when found are not cheap. Brakes need checked possible replaced, brake wiring needs to be checked (I would highly recommend REPLACING the existing brake wiring with heavier 10ga wire).

Lights, many old style outside lights (turn, brake and markers) are obsolete and may be hard to find if the lens is broken or missing this can be an issue if the light is recessed or part of the design.

Propane tanks, if they do not have OPD will need replacing.

If the owner has refurbed the trailer, then perhaps consider $1000 but not much more than $1200 depending on the quality of the workmanship.

Ultimately the value is basically what the buyer is WILLING to pay.

Tom Hansen

Carlsbad, NM

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Posted: 08/22/13 04:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I bought a '71 HR 20 footer 4 years ago for $2800.00, knowing full well I'd have to work on it. (My house is a 1903 model, so it follows that I am a sucker for work.

Jerem0621 really gives some sound advice. I didn't have his checklist so I didn't do anything he recommends. Just bought the thing and pulled it home. Our first Trailer!!

Mine had no roof leaks, no hail damage. The AC, kitchen stove, refrigerator and forced air heater worked. The hot water heater and freshwater tank were junk. New PEX plumbing, new water pump and all new plumbing fixtures were installed. New water heater, too. New tires were purchased. Work had to be done on exterior lights.

A lot of paint touch up was done on the exterior. New seat cushions were custom made.
We had a leak around one window. I replaced the inside panel with 1/4" oak plywood and stained to match.

This TT was a low-rider. I dragged the stabilizer jacks off a couple of times, so we had our RV shop "flip" the axles for more clearance (about 4 inches)

The brakes and wheel bearings were inspected and found to be in excellent shape.

The old refer lasted two years. We had to get a new one this spring.

I've got abut 8K invested and have EXACTLy what the Missus and I want for a lot less than buying a new one of similar size. It is rock solid and tows like a dream with an Equalizer hitch. Weight on the title says 3400 pounds.

Wifey will not even look at another trailer!

All real work was done by a local RV repair shop. We did the cosmetics, inside and out.

Caution tho, if you are not handy.

Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 08/22/13 05:05pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Donnoh wrote:

westend wrote:



I would take I beam or C channel frames anyday over a boxed frame (I HAD a trailer with a boxed frame and didn't like the fact that I couldn't see the condition of the inside).


He "had" a trailer with a boxed frame, but he couldn't see the inside of it so he "assumed" it was bad. My parents owned a Holiday Rambler of about the same vintage and I can tell you it was built like a brick house. In the 70's Holiday Rambler was one of the best TT's you could buy. I wouldn't hesitate to buy the one you're looking at.


You quoted me.

I DIDN'T assume that the frame was bad in fact it appeared to be in good shape when I sold it other than some surface rust.

The problem however with ANY "sealed" item like boxed beams, rectangular tubing and even pipe is the FACT that you can clean and repaint the OUTSIDE but you can NEVER check, clean nor repaint the inside.

Basically you are relying on the MANUFACTURERS "paint" or surface treatment to last. In the real world, rarely is the INSIDE of the beam treated or painted in any way. Not to mention that there are often screws and bolts going through the box beam which allows water to get in and SIT..

Boxed beams are used to SAVE weight AND costs, the advantage is they can use THINNER materials . Basically 1/8" wall 2x5 rectangle steal tubing can be used in place of 1/4" 2x4 C channel. The weight savings is nearly half of the weight of the C channel.

westend

all over

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Posted: 08/22/13 05:18pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My opinion on having a fully boxed frame rail is that they are stronger than the typical C-rail of today's frames. You make a case for an open frame rail, Gde, but what about the exposure of the entire rail instead of just the exterior?

Thanks for alerting me to a potential problem, though. At my first opportunity, the inside of my box frame will be treated.

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