Saturday, November 5, 2016

Buying a partial RV

When I started looking into RVs I was set on starting from scratch. I am a fairly picky person and I could not imagine dealing with someone else's work and potential mistakes. That said, having found a partially complete project from a builder who had a similar mindset as mine I started searching the community for "what to look for" when purchasing a project off of someone else. Vans themselves have a document on their website for some key points. I wanted to make a post that I will come back to update whenever I think of something else that I would have looked for when purchasing a used project.


  1. Logs/paperwork. Did the previous builder log the work. This is not only nice to have for picking up a technical project, it says a lot about the builder. What level of detail, what level of organization was followed? Do they still have the build log? The inventory sheets? Call Vans with the builder number to make sure everything is okay.
  2. Photos. In addition to the logs, does the builder have photos of his/her work? How detailed are they? 
  3. Fuel tank dies. If the fuel tank is already dimpled, what dies did they use? Tank Dies? Standard dies. This is up to you to determine what you want, but it is a good question to ask.
  4. Primer. Are the interior surfaces primered? Again, up to you if you care, but again, its a question to ask.
  5. Mistakes. I was pretty straight forward when I purchased my project on asking what mistakes were made. I made it clear that I wasn't trying to get money taken off of the price, everyone makes mistakes, and I wanted to find out what the previous builder messed up and what their corrective action was.
  6. One builder? It's a pretty good first question to ask. The first 3 or 4 projects I looked into had multiple builders. I was uncomfortable with having more than one builder on a project that only had the tail complete.
  7. Exterior Rivets. Exterior inspection of rivets is pretty easy to do. Go look at the countless websites of what over driven rivets, under dimpled skins, crooked rivets look like.
  8. Trailing edges. Are they straight? Sight down them and see if they wave. Also, how did they seal them if its a surface that has a wedge. Tape? Sealant?
  9. Shop head side of rivets. If you have a bore camera all the better. Get into tight spaces at a minimum and look at what the shop heads look like. How many drilled out rivets can you find? The edges of things like the flap, look at the rivets and look inside the first bay. I know when I am riveting I do my best on everything, but when I get to something that is one bay away from open air I slow down to half speed just because someone may be looking in there at some point.
  10. Tank sealant. Did they drive the rivets on the tank ribs when they were wet, or did they fay seal and let them cure with clecos. Again, this is up to you what you think is right/wrong, but it is a question worth asking.