Rust

Submitted: Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 17:58
ThreadID: 97314 Views:2186 Replies:6 FollowUps:16
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We are looking at a caravan, 1978 Viscount.
Looks pretty good, has a great awning, smells all good, feels solid, has rust that mainly seems to be surface.

Except for on the coupling (? not sure if right name - the bit that goes over the tow ball)
There is some rust on the horizontal plate where it sits on the A frame bit....
There doesn't seem to be any near the bolts but in between there is a gap that water has pooled in and created rust.... we cant really tell how deep.

I guess what I want to know if, that if this seems to be a definite reason to walk away. It is only 5,000 and the others in this range have been both stinky from damp, rotty, and either full of rust or painted over so we can't tell how deep it goes.

Is this something we could fix if needed without it costing too much?

Also is there any big things we should check that would only cause great financial concern later?

Cheers
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Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 19:00

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 19:00
Hi Angie,

The coupling would need replacing I would, think from your description, and perhaps the plate under it if it is deeply scored with rust.

Changing the coupling, the bit that drops onto the towball, would be a good idea anyway given its age and your lack of knowledge as to the vans history. This more or less dictates this especially in light of your description. This is a small task which your husband should be able to accomplish without much effort.

If that is the only thing that is detering you from purchase then I would suggest that the van is in reasonable condition, from your description. Not having pictures handicaps us from helping in a more precise way.

The big issue as advised previously is water leaks from the roof and around the windows. If the inside is still in original finish, namely the original plywood and coating then any discrepancies should be visible to some extent.

The next thing to check is the underside of the van to see if the chassis is still in good order and any rust is only surface rust. TLC and elbow grease can repair surface rust but deep rust on the chassis renders the whole a nightmare where it occurs under the van. If deep rust is found under the van then walk away as fast as you can.

Any rust of consequence on the point of the A frame can easily be repaired provided that it is not deep on the chassis itself under the coupling. The mounting plate that the coupling sits on can easily be replaced by a local engineering firm for about $100.

With caravans of that age the springs and wheels and axle have seen far better days unless they have already been replaced. So given your planned use for the van then I recommend a new axle and springs on whatever van you get from that era.

Hope this helps and is not too long winded.

Good hunting
Cheers, Bruce.




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restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Angie M - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 19:08

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 19:08
Bruce, Thank you for your help!
I can offer a link for the ad if that might help anyone, but it doesn't go far to show the specific rust issue.

http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/brighton/caravan-campervan/16ft-viscount-caravan/1005273046

Can I ask how do you check whether the under van rust if surface or deep? we have scraped a bit, but it is hard to get all the way under.
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 20:23

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 20:23
Angie I had a look at the photos but I cannot tell much from them, as you suggested.

If the inside is OK and there is no major rust you could be on a winner. What does your offsider think of it. Did he climb underneath it for a good look. Be prepared to get dirty looking. Overalls are the go.

I also note that it has an aluminium frame so that is a positive as well.

I would not worry about the van being an older van provided that it is in good condition. There is plenty of life left in the old buggars provided they start with a sporting chance.

The main problems with taking older caravans around Aus. provided the van itself is in good order is the axles and bearings and coupling.

My last caravan was a reasonably modern van in that it was a 2000 model.

After traveling on some rough edged roads near Gloucester NSW I had a spring snap on me. Luckily I was traveling with a mate and we were able to get a repair done 80Ks away so it was a round trip of 160Ks. No problem but the point is that these things can happen on newer vans also. This is why I recommend an upgrade when you get a van as age is against those sorts of things.

My first van purchased in 1974 was about a 1971 unit and we had that up till 6 years ago when we updated to the one before the current unit. So I know the type of van you are looking at and some of its pitfalls. People have dragged them all over the country without many problems.

It will all work out in the end Angie so try and keep positive. I know it is a trial looking sometimes but try and make it fun. Pack a lunch and turn it into a picinic when you go looking.

You have plenty of time on your side and we are all here with you and your husband for advice and remember that you are not commited till you hand over that hard earned cash.

Cheers, Bruce.

At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 20:31

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 20:31
I should have added "Take a camera with you" so you can review your inspections when you get home. Just in case you need to.

If you join up you can post your photos direct to ExplorOz pages so we can give clearer advice.

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Angie M - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 20:45

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 20:45
You certainly help to put the mind at ease!

My man, Dom, did get under and have a look, but we are pretty new to it so don't quite know or trust ourselves enough.
It has been good to just get out there and look at vans as it give you something to gauge the next one on, and of the ones we have seen this is definitely standing out above the rest.

Dom plans to have another look again in a couple of days, he will take his father along to give another opinion as I'm not the best help, plus I am usually too busy rounding up the kids.
But generally we do feel happy with it.

Great idea about taking some photo's, I will definitely do that!

We are having a good time looking at the moment, the first caravan we looked at was a 10 hour round trip away, and I think it was the road trip that excited us more! :)
But also we are worriers, I mean, we still worry about our tow vehicle we purchased several months back. haha!

Thanks again Bruce!
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Reply By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 19:01

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 19:01
hi guys, it is hard looking at old vans eh, you have good instinct i would say as the "smell" factor is actually a big thing and what you are looking at on the "coupling" is nothing at all, 1978 is a really old van and it is going to have rust on the chassis and coupling, some of the metal parts are really easy and cheap to replace so dont worry about them, the shell and inside must be dry and water stain free and you have a winner .....
I have just got a 1974 van so i know what you mean ....
Cheers and good luck
Joe
AnswerID: 492482

Follow Up By: Angie M - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 19:42

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 19:42
It is hard Joe, especially when it is old and has suffered wear a tear and you are relying on it to take your family around Aus.

In regards to the Smell factor, the van was all closed up and the awning was all closed up as well, and when we arrived there before the seller, he opened the awning and van and not a single smell, which we thought was really good for a van that was heavily shut up.

What is your plan for the van? long term travel? holidays? I have seen your working around Aus, seeing amazing places. Seems like the dream!

Thanks for you advice :)
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Follow Up By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:20

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:20
we are living the dream i guess but we also "live" in each place and as we have kids we do it in real houses, the van is so we can try out going away on holidays in comfort, we have done the camping thing and are simply over it, we would love to buy a really good off road van but not sure if it suits us or if we are ready for it yet so why buy an expensive van when a perfect van that is as old as me comes up, yep we will "test drive" the van idea first and if we like it we will go all out ............................. if you have "facebook" check us out ..
Cheers
Joe
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Follow Up By: Angie M - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:29

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:29
Sounds like you have a good plan! Hope the van works out for you :)

ps. How might I find you on FB?
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Follow Up By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:35

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:35
sorry ..... try "Joe Grace Doomadgee" and see how you go..
You will find some of our travel pics and more...
Cheers
Joe
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Follow Up By: Angie M - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:41

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:41
hmm tried Joe Grace Doomadgee - nil?
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FollowupID: 768180

Follow Up By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:59

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:59
hey message me your FB name and i will try to find it ... fb can be hard to crack at times
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FollowupID: 768182

Follow Up By: Angie M - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 22:02

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 22:02
Can't message because I am not a club member but just 'ajmcphie'. It seems privacy settings might actually be working for once :P
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Follow Up By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 22:12

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 22:12
Angie Mcp....... ????
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FollowupID: 768184

Reply By: get outmore - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:30

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:30
sounds like a good on site van rather than a tourer
AnswerID: 492497

Follow Up By: Angie M - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:35

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012 at 21:35
What makes you say that? It has been used as accommodation for 2 years for a little family while they built on land.
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Wednesday, Aug 08, 2012 at 07:12

Wednesday, Aug 08, 2012 at 07:12
so its been used as an onsite van for the last 2 years
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FollowupID: 768189

Reply By: dindy - Wednesday, Aug 08, 2012 at 09:31

Wednesday, Aug 08, 2012 at 09:31
Angie M

I work on the principal of 'If in doubt don't'. I suspect that you may be keen on this van because it appears to be a good deal. If you don't have the experience in assessing the rust issue have someone who does look at the van. If that's not possible and you are still not comfortable with the situation then don't proceed. Rust is an insidious beast and can destroy the best laid trip plans. Bolts, nuts cables springs bearings and chassis are all susceptible to its effect. It may be better to pay a bit more and get a van that you are confident and comfortable with. Keep looking you will find your dream and have a great time. Remember you DON'T need all the bells and whistles to enjoy each others company in this great country in fact, less is more!
AnswerID: 492522

Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 12:56

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 12:56
Hi Angie, take a wire brush & a sharp pointed tool to check rust . What is the weight
of the van ? Some old viscounts were fairly heavy, & you dont want to be anywhere
near the weight limit of your Jack..2500 kG...loaded...cheers....oldbaz.
AnswerID: 492583

Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 13:06

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 13:06
I didnt see the link to the pics before...looks a possibility..weight should be ok..annex
a bonus, but takes a bit of room to store. If the Jack is ready to tow I would ask for
a trial run. Check the Reg rules in Tas, for gas compliance etc etc...dont rush it..:)))
...oldbaz.
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FollowupID: 768277

Follow Up By: Angie M - Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 16:03

Thursday, Aug 09, 2012 at 16:03
Thanks OldBaz, good to hear from you too!
We have just ordered a Prodigy brake controller so we are waiting for that to arrive before we will be ready to tow, unfortunately. But we had someone come and take a look at it with us, they seemed to think it was looking good and was actually fairly impressed so that was a positive, they also reassured us that the rust was superficial and even on the coupling, so again we were glad to hear another opinion.

We are still feeling pretty positive about it.... will keep you up dated!
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FollowupID: 768281

Reply By: jacent - Friday, Aug 10, 2012 at 00:49

Friday, Aug 10, 2012 at 00:49
Hi, I recently took a 1986 jayco caravan off site which had been static for at least ten to twenty years. I welded the new plate on the draw bar which I bolted a new coupling to as mine was a little rusty too! cost me around $100 for the coupling and $10 for the plate from a trailer place already cut to size. I replaced the tyres, bearings and greased all the suspension underneath. Towed it from melbourne to western australia, then a further 3000 km on a holiday without a single drama. Dont be scared by a van that has been sitting for a long time providing you replace all of the perishable items. That was the second caravan that I had taken from the caravan site and towed back to western aus and not a drama with either due to the preventative maintenance. Unles there is major rust or rot It sounds like a good thing!
AnswerID: 492620

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