Help Me Decide.......Please!!!

HoBoHoBo Member Posts: 25
edited August 23 in Modifications & Upgrades
Seeking pros and cons, any and all input.......I have a 2005 DM [email protected] T16. I LOVE IT! However.....the floor is soft. I have made an appointment at nucamp for replacement but.....is it really what I want to do? Austin estimates $5k to $7k for floor replacement with cost varying based on axle and walls ( crooked, rotted, warped).  So with that being said I need your help deciding IS IT WORTH IT TO REPLACE THE FLOOR or PUT MY MONEY INTO A NEWER MODEL? 

Some things to consider....

I am not upgrading my towing vehicle (2015 Honda Odyssey). 

I don’t care to half way cover up the problem UNLESS there is a tried and true method that has worked for a few years. I’ve read about flooring over, angle iron, pieced together fixes, etc. Trust me, I’ve read it all.  What I haven’t read about are people commenting on same repairs years later. 

Austin at nucamp advised they only have a 3 month warranty for water damage on replacement due to age of [email protected] Should I take this as a ‘sign’? 

I love this little camper for its simplicity and aside from the floor all the original equipment is rock solid and it seems everything I read of the newer models the more gadgets, the more problems. However due to its age I’m sure parts will be harder to come by as time goes on.  What say you OG [email protected] owners?

Help me out [email protected]! I’m so stressed over this decision. Looking forward to your insight!!!  Many thanks!
HB 2005 [email protected] T16 being towed by 2015 Honda Odyssey Asheville, NC
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Comments

  • JP2558JP2558 Member Posts: 152
    edited August 23
    Perhaps instead of going with new, how about looking for a more recent but gently used (twice) [email protected]? We got our 2018 320-CS used exactly one year ago today. I had to replace the water pump but it's been solid ever since. Buying used vs new saved us approximately the cost of your floor repair estimate.

    Thanks, Jerry 
     
    2019 Honda Pilot AWD and 2018 [email protected] 320-CS hanging out on the left edge of Lake Erie.
  • CrabTabCrabTab Member Posts: 228
    If you get the work done, could you recoup the cost should you decide to trade or sell in the future (just trying to be objective and non emotional)?
    2019 320 Boondock Edge
    36.8,-76.0

  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 903
    CrabTab said:
    If you get the work done, could you recoup the cost should you decide to trade or sell in the future (just trying to be objective and non emotional)?
    I’d say maybe. It’s probably worth about $2-3k now if he could find a buyer, $5-8k when fixed Depending on condition of the rest . 

    The Odyssey can tow 3500 pounds, so that’s not an issue in going newer.

    The real issue to me is the availability of Dutchman era parts, and yes, that’s going down. Already, replacing windows requires alteration, trim only comes in white and must be painted to match, bearings have to be order from limited retailers. Keeping a Tab of that era going is getting to be a labor of love now. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, people do it all the time, but it something you want to continue?

    All that said, I’d probably replace the floor. You know the trailer’s quirks and you’re happy with it otherwise.
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (NOT recommended)
    2020 Subaru Outback XT
    Pacific NW—stuck at home this season
  • AirBossAirBoss Member Posts: 512
    Good point, @CrabTab
    It's not easy but in situations like this is often (and should) boil down to a cost/benefit analysis. What's the value of the rig, as is; what the cost of the repairs; based on historical data, what could you reasonably expect to get in one/two/three years if you trade or sell the repaired unit versus the non-repaired unit (you have an '05 rig...what are they selling for now and how have they depreciated annually during your ownership); what you willing to spend on the "new" (used?) rig; how do you plan on using the rig over this course of time?

    Several variables that only you can evalute based on your experience to date, your expected use in the future and how sharp your pencil is.

    Taking the emotion out of the equation isn't easy, but it is revealing and best practice. 

    2020 [email protected] 400 "OTTO" (build date 08/19)
    Factory Victron Solar; Norcold 3-way fridge
    '04 Chevy Tahoe Z71 5.3L Dino-killer
    Third Rock from the Sun
    San Diego, CA
    www.vividimagex.com
    www.airbossone.com

  • ChrisFixChrisFix Member Posts: 419
    I'd be hard pressed to spend $7K on a 2005 camper repair.
    To me, this repair only makes sense if you're willing and able to put in the sweat equity and do the repair yourself.
    After two years of looking and considering...finally the proud owner of a 2021 [email protected] 400 Boondock!
    2020 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E with Redarc Trailer Brake Controller
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 2,017
    edited August 23
    If current value is $2-4K, and repair is only $5-7K, and you end up with a useable trailer.  If the rest is in good kit, this is less $ than trading up to new, or even newer used trailer (used one might still need some work), which is going to cost $14-20K.  If you are otherwise happy with the Dutchman Tab, go for the repair.  You could also just get and stock the wheel bearings and a spares for the brakes.  Everything else is easily repaired or replaced.  Your TaB has a great galvanized frame, which will,last longer than painted steel frames, so the bones are good.  

    If you want some of the newer systems like Alde heat, than trade up,to a newer TaB.
    cheers
    2018 TaB400 Boondock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • VernaVerna Administrator Posts: 6,281
    While we hate to think of our beloved “play toys” as being an investment, sometimes you need to think of the investment. Already the  bearings for the Dutchman [email protected]’s are more expensive than the Pleasant Valley/nüCamp [email protected]’s, for instance. Can they still be acquired in 5 years? They were plentiful and not as hard to find 5 years ago. $5K to $7K for a replacement floor and realistic estimates here say you won’t get your investment back. I saw the other day that after the floor, ceiling replacement was next in expensive things going wrong with DM [email protected]’s. Is your investment saving your money or will it become a money pit in a few years?

    If you were to purchase a 2017 or newer [email protected], the floor will never rot, the windows are still being used, and you do not have to use, nor add, the newer gadgets. You really just need to watch the gray tank and fresh water levels and the battery voltage. That is assuming you don’t use the bathroom and in using it, you might actually like it. The bearings are readily available at Dexter or an RV shop or a utility trailer shop. Though the basic shape and “bones” of the [email protected] 320 have not changed, simple cosmetic changes are changing, but it’s still the same design. 

    So, right now one estimate above is $2K to $3K resale value now, only $5K to $8K resale after the floor replacement....your “play toy” is going to be costing more than it will cost for a newer [email protected] very soon. 

    Check out the For Sale category for the prices of newer used ones. They look just like yours with a few changes. If you don’t want to use the bathroom, change it into a closet. You, too, can customize to fit your needs. But remember, the Azdel (composite layer in the floor construction) was not in the floor until the 2017 models and that is what keeps the floor from rotting.
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost
    [email protected] Administrator
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 6,141
    The DM [email protected] have some issues with everything being straight that I have heard. Sometimes things were great, sometimes they were not. The 3 months guarantee is probably due to that. 

    IMHO, Take that $5-7k towards  new [email protected] where everything will be built better and have updated appliances.

    2021 [email protected] 320 Boondock "Mattie Ross" | 2021 [email protected] Nights: 64 | Total nights in a [email protected] 274 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk | [email protected] owner since 2014

  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 903
    Verna said:

    Check out the For Sale category for the prices of newer used ones. They look just like yours with a few changes. If you don’t want to use the bathroom, change it into a closet. You, too, can customize to fit your needs. But remember, the Azdel (composite layer in the floor construction) was not in the floor until the 2017 models and that is what keeps the floor from rotting.
    Or keep an eye out for the U floor plan. No bathroom to worry about with those, and they were made up until 2019, so at least some have the Azdel flooring.
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (NOT recommended)
    2020 Subaru Outback XT
    Pacific NW—stuck at home this season
  • MarkAlMarkAl Member Posts: 221
    You said you love the simplicity of the current trailer and it's working well other than the floor. You won't get the light weight and simplicity by trading up. Even if the frame cracks, it can be welded. What other high cost item will need replacement? If you had a desire for the newer features, I would trade up and figure the current trailer as minimal trade in. But for 5-7K + 3K for trade in you won't find anything with better known history, it will also require unknown repairs.  Why spend more for features you don't want? Plus the early trailers have more "character" - though I've been told old houses have "character" - and are costly...

    Good Luck do what feels good and don't look back!
    Snohomish WA, 2001 Cherokee
    [email protected] World: +Homemade Awning
     2021 320S Boondock: fact. 105 + optional 2->100 Watt
     2-6V, VE.SmartNetwork: shunt+2controllers
  • MarkitectMarkitect Member Posts: 15
    It is always less expensive to repair than to replace. (granted you still like your rig).
  • rfuss928rfuss928 Member Posts: 640
    edited August 23
    HoBo
    We love the simplicity of our DM [email protected] and we have optimized many details for our travel style.  The new [email protected] are really a completely different style camper.   In 2016 we faced a similar decision and for us, floor replacement was our choice regardless of cost or future value.  NuCamps repair shop (Austin & staff) did a wonderful job for us and we think our trailer came out better than original.  Their experience repairing many DM [email protected] has taught them reliable methods for repairing many of the problems encountered.  I'm a very capable DIY guy and we have no regrets with our choice.  Your current satisfaction and future plans should guide your decision.
    Have fun,
    Bob


  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 2,017
    If you are up to it, you could do some of the interior cabinet removal, strip,out all cushions, and easy to remove stuff before hauling the trailer to the shop at nüCamp.   This will save you some labor costs, and after the floor job is done, you can replace the bits you removed.  Whilst you have the cabinets out, you could spruce them up with a good cleaning and wax job or lightly sand and redo the clear coat.
    cheers
    2018 TaB400 Boondock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 6,516
    @Hobo

    1.  I understand the advantages to keeping your Dutchman TaB - simplicity, familiarity, lighter than the more contemporary units.  Maybe you need to shop for an old TaB that has had the floor already replaced!  But, you would not have the complete history of the purchased TaB.  Of course, right now, there is low inventory, but in a year - you watch.  I anticipate there will be a lot of TaBs and trailers in general on the market following this year’s surge in purchasing.  Do you need to make a decision this year?

    2.  Is it worth it to put a lot of money in an old model?  It’s a risk you take that something else expensive or difficult goes wrong.  Have you considered how much money you would receive from insurance relative to a new model if it were some how totaled? 
    The floor replacement is only value added for you.  I don’t think you will recoup the money spent if you ever decide to sell.

    3.  What about hanging onto the trailer, buying new or used and see how you like the newer version?   

    4.  There is a learning curve with the Alde, but, once you learn how it operates, it is fairly simple to use and maintain.  The units that have the window style AC cool quickly.  The new Air8 AC seems to be fine for the 320s, but there is limited history.  If you don’t want a bathroom, there are still pre-owned contemporary “U” models out there.  I personally think the latest 320 model has the best features yet, but, there is that learning curve.

    5.  You have not said how or where you camp (full/partial hook ups, private vs public campgrounds) This may not be a factor at all, but many private campgrounds require trailers to be within 10 years of age.


     We tow our 2017 CSS with a Toyota Sienna and I think you would be fine continuing to tow with the Odyssey.

    Good luck in your decision
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • HoBoHoBo Member Posts: 25
    OMGOSH YOU ARE ALL AMAZING! You have pointed out many aspects/scenarios for me to ponder. Continue to ponder I should say! 

    Thank you for taking time out of your day to throw out your two cents. It’s always nice to hear others thoughts/opinions. 

    I’ll be traveling from Asheville, NC to the Leadville/Crested Butte area next month. I will have about a month of camping in ‘Buttercup’ to determine its future! (Primitive camping is my preferred method)

    I will keep you posted and resurrect this post when I make a decision! I may also reach out to some of you individually. Thank you again!! HB
    HB 2005 [email protected] T16 being towed by 2015 Honda Odyssey Asheville, NC
  • VernaVerna Administrator Posts: 6,281
    @HoBo, with a [email protected] named “Buttercup”, please be aware the yellow trim color is no longer made for the [email protected]’s—new or older. 
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost
    [email protected] Administrator
  • MouseketabMouseketab Member Posts: 1,003
    I am in the camp of repair. Folks spend thousands rebuilding 50s and 60s trailers from the frame up. Austin and his team will build it better than new.
    Carol
    [email protected]
    #2741
    2007 Dutchmen [email protected] Clamshell, 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac
    Harvest, AL
  • N7SHG_HamN7SHG_Ham Member Posts: 987
    It is an expensive repair, but likely way less than even a newer used unit. If everything else is still solid and in decent condition, I would repair, you already know what you have vs something you don't know.

    I have a 20 year old pickup I tow my 400 with, 312k miles and counting. Once in awhile I need to spend some money (probably less than $2k per year average). This truck would be $60k or more to replace AND absolutely no guarantees a new one would be more reliable. As long as those repairs are way less than payments AND the basic structure is OK, then I will keep up maintenance and enjoy, the truck has long ago been paid for. I know everything that has been fixed, some things better than new, what it needs next, no frame or body rust because it hasn't been in salt, costmeticly it is a 9+ out of 10, never wrecked or repainted.

    If all your camper needs is a floor then like my truck it will probably give you many years of service, always a gamble, but almost never money ahead on anything that moves if you are selling, trading and buying frequently.
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 2,017
    edited August 24
    Like I said beforw, the frame is the heart of a travel trailer.  DM used excellent UK galvanized frames, which will enjoy a longer life than the current TaB frames being used.  The DM is surge brakes, pros and cons with this, but they are as effective with a small trailers as any electric braking without needed any TV brake controllers.  Buy a set of bearings whilst they are readily available, and that is taken care of.  Everything can be fixed or replaced.  One advantage with DM TaB, you can add the shock kit to the axle for as smoother ride.

    So I vote for repair...  It will add 10 more years of life to this trailer. B)
    cheers
    2018 TaB400 Boondock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • tabiphiletabiphile Member Posts: 251
    Thinking outside of the box, has anyone ever considered (or done) a a floor over the floor? It seems like that would be both easy and inexpensive to do. The added layer over the top would stiffen things up. This seems like an alternative way to deal with an older trailer where the idea is to eke out some more life w/o major expense. Yes, it does not address softness in places where the floor is not accessible but what is then harm in that? 
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 2,017
    That only postpones the issue.  The plywood floor fails by getting we, than delaminating and eventually rotting away ( soft mushy feel).  The rot is a result of mold eat Cheetos away at the wood, which once it gets soft it holds moisture which encourages more mold growth.  Not a healthy thing to have in or under the trailer, as the spores will eventually invade into the trailer.

    The old plywood floor needs to come out.  There was a thread here showing a member removing the floor on his older TaB, showing the damage it caused elsewhere.  Then a new floor, either a DIY plywood floor again, or get the factory Azdel floor, which will last for the rest of the trailer’s life.  
    Cheers
    2018 TaB400 Boondock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 6,516
    The old, rotting floor actually has lifted away from the sides of at least one DM TaB here on the forum.  It left large gaps.
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 2,017
    Exactly, the old floor starts to fail at the edges and continuous in.  You loose the weather resistant envelope of the trailer, and the damage will just get worse very quickly, if not corrected.
    cheers
    2018 TaB400 Boondock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • TabberJohnTabberJohn Member Posts: 588
    HoBo said:
    1. I love this little camper for its simplicity and aside from the floor all the original equipment is rock solid.
    2. Primitive camping is my preferred method.
    3. Fix the floor. :)
    The new units are practically glamping in comparison. ;)
    2015 [email protected] Max S (White/Silver) -> 2014 Ford Escape 2.0L (turbo, AWD, factory tow)
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 2,017
    Yes, I was think of that when waking up this morning, how the TaB400 and even the new 320s are more of a Glamping trailer than the original teardrop or Adam a Tabs.  The only new travel trailers made today, that are more of a basic back to nature camping experience are rigs like the Taxa campers (Cricket, etc) or the TaG type trailers.
    cheers
    2018 TaB400 Boondock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • rfuss928rfuss928 Member Posts: 640
    tabiphile
    The floor assembly is the structure that holds up the rest of the trailer.  Not just the aluminum frame inside the plywood or Azdel sandwich.  The structural strength comes from all these pieces being bonded together.  When the skins or bonds fail, the structure looses all its strength.  Just like corrugated cardboard is just three sheets of paper without the glue holding it together.  A failing floor is a much bigger problem than soft spots underfoot.


  • Sunny2WSSunny2WS Member Posts: 10
    I have been reading this thread because I am in a similar dilemma. Own a 2006 DM [email protected] CS for 10 years. Have had no issues with the unit until 2 years ago, and several things have malfunctioned. The most serious event, my emergency hand brake went out on the hitch while I was in a remote location by myself.  And the brakes need the bearings changed. I have not been able to find anyone willing to work on the brakes or hitch, after extensive research, calls, emails to MANY shops, and taking my trailer to one shop (they stated they could do the work, had my trailer for a week, then called to say they could do nothing for me).  I love the simplicity of the unit, but feel like there is diminished returns.  I am having more and more trouble finding anyone able to work on the unit, and finding parts (for the Alko chassis) I have to pre order on eBay before I even have a mechanic. 

    I ended up fixing most of the other problems myself, but now I am worried that as the unit gets older there may be structural or safety issue problems. The time/worry factor is big for me. I realized that I am not taking some trips due to the fact that the trailer is old and I’m worried about traveling long distances with it. I am now spending more and more time fixing things than enjoying trips. 

    I see the side of not wanting a new unit. I’m not 100% sold yet.  Maybe I’ll change my mind. 

    So, I think I am leaning more towards trading mine in and going with a new one. Mostly because I feel like I will be sinking more time and money into the unit. 
    2006 Dutchmen [email protected] clamshell "Pika"
    2011 Honda Pilot
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 903
    Sunny2WS said:


    I ended up fixing most of the other problems myself, but now I am worried that as the unit gets older there may be structural or safety issue problems. The time/worry factor is big for me. I realized that I am not taking some trips due to the fact that the trailer is old and I’m worried about traveling long distances with it. I am now spending more and more time fixing things than enjoying trips. 

    The Tab is my fifth RV. (I started in my early 20’s with a rig as old as I was.) Three of those were vintage, and my experience with them was as yours. There was always something that needed fixing, always some project, always some concern that kept them at home rather than on the road. We spent more time scrounging in RV salvage yards looking for parts than out in the woods. In fact, I never even got to camp with the third of those vintage rigs!

    Which is why when the opportunity came to buy a solo RV for the first time, I went new. Knowing about the flooring issue, I did not look at anything older than a 2017. Those old campers taught me plenty, but the biggest lesson was that for me, I wanted my hobby to be more about the outdoors and less about the labor of love that keeps an old camper on the road.
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (NOT recommended)
    2020 Subaru Outback XT
    Pacific NW—stuck at home this season
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 2,017
    In my experience, any trailer (or boat) needs a certain amount of maintenance, some just require a different kind.  Wood exposed to the elements needs refinishing, fiberglass needs cleaning and waxing, all need brakes and tires checked, water systems need cleaning and seals tightened, etc.

    I also started out in my mid 20s with a late 1950s Kenskill 30-foot vacation mobile home, as I was going to be full time living in it whilst going back to school.  I had the trailer repainted on the outside, running gear checked and lubed, new tires, and it was ready to go.  Since this rig was designed to be hooked up to shore systems, I only had a small water holding tank with a hand boat style pump.  The only change I made after moving into it was to replace the gas wall type heater with a sealed boat type wood stove, using the propane burner in the wood stove.

    So as different trailers (and boats)  came and went, I learned the more bits they have, the more maintenance there is to maintain also added nice to have systems, like the Alde, AC, electric water pump systems, etc.  

    You can buy a new trailer like the TaB, and hopefully go camping for two years without having to do anything except enjoy the trailer.  But then maintenance is going to be needed.  You can also buy a used rig, do the required maintenance, and then go camping for two years.  But every year or two, some maintenance is going to be required by them all. Just like a car, but more so.
    Cheers
    2018 TaB400 Boondock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 903
    @Denny16

    No one said there wouldn’t be maintenance. There’s a pretty sizable difference between maintenance, repair, and “partial to total rebuild” though. Maintaining a newer RV is a whole lot easier than dealing with repairs, which in turn is easier than dealing with repairing or restoring a vehicle where key parts are no longer available except via salvage, and even that, rarely. Last year, on the Facebook group, we had a Dutchman owner call literally dozens of RV salvage yards in both the US and Canada trying to find a replacement window before she ended up doing the modified install necessary for the new ones to fit. It’s a lot more work when something goes wrong on an older trailer with specialized parts like the Tab has, and just due to age, more things are apt to go wrong more frequently.

    I’m not saying “never keep (or buy) a vintage rig”. But I fully acknowledge that not everyone has the kind of time and energy it takes to  restore an old RV, or wants to prioritize that over, say, actually taking a trip. It’s a very personal decision, and people are going to come down on both sides of that fence. Again, I’ve done both myself, and for me, newer is a whole lot easier to use for its intended purpose of actually camping. I no longer have the time and energy to make working on a vintage trailer a hobby in itself, or I would have bought a [email protected] instead of my 320. 😁
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (NOT recommended)
    2020 Subaru Outback XT
    Pacific NW—stuck at home this season
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