I'm currently looking at a used travel trailer for sale, and went to see it in person today. I noticed that, while the ceiling looked intact and nothing was damp, there had clearly been some water ingress around the corners. The trailer is very inexpensive for what it is (the seller says they need it gone fast), and apart from this largely in good shape, so I'm still interested, but I want to get a sense for how bad this is.

The wallpaper had been peeled back near two of the corners and showed some wrinkles in another (see top front corners here, peeled paper in back here). Underneath, you can see the Luan plywood is wavy at its edges and partially delaminated (see here, showing the plywood on the front drivers side, and here, showing the plywood on the rear passenger side) - small pieces of the delaminating ply could be broken off by hand, though with how thin the individual plies are, that's perhaps not surprising. The corner seams outside appear to be in need of resealing.

My question is, how bad is this? I have shown these pictures to a few people and gotten conflicting answers about its seriousness. On the one hand, the plywood paneling itself was seemingly only ever thin, two-ply Luan plywood and, so long as the trailer was sealed properly, which I plan to do anyway, seems like it might be tolerable. On the other hand, if this degradation of the paneling also means that the framing underneath is unsafe (this is a wood-framed trailer), then that's certainly not acceptable.

My question is this: Is the condition of the Luan plywood paneling in this trailer indicative of wall framing rot that would render it dangerous to tow, or is it a problem that simply needs to be kept an eye on and prevented from worsening by ensuring the trailer is watertight? I understand that such a defect could affect resale value down the road, but at this price, my main concern is safety.

1 Answer 1


You definitely should be worried. The plywood attaches to structural members, so if the plywood has delaminated due to water then the structure has certainly been exposed, and could have rot. As for how bad the rot may be there's no way to tell from a couple of camera phone pictures, you'd need to get behind the ply and inspect the timber. If there's a part where there's a gap stick a butter knife or a flat bladed screwdriver into the wood behind, if it sinks in then it's rotten and I would run away from this project as fast as you lower extremities can take you.

As for safe to tow, if you test a few points and its solid then you are probably okay to tow it, I think it partly depends on how far you have to go. If you can drive slowly on back roads a few miles then it could be a pile of mush and you'll get there okay.

I would be looking at the underside very closely, keeping in mind that rot underneath is just as likely, and far more concerning. Check the axle attachment points and the joints, look for rot. Also, make sure it actually rolls and the wheels haven't seized up.

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