Does it get any better?

romno

Member
Mar 22, 2015
25
We've had our N2U 1995 Coleman Cedar for a year now, and have camped a total of 13 nights. Coming from tent camping, we love the added comfort and freedom the PUP gives us. We chose the unit we did because of its simplicity and supposed low maintenance. Unfortunately, the camper is proving anything but low-maintenance. It's spent more time in our garage with me cursing at it over the months than I like to think about. Here's a brief list of some of the repair and maintenance I've performed on it in the past year:

1. The aluminum skin on the front and rear edges of the roof were split open in several places, the worst of which were about an inch in length. Dealer recommended patching with silicon, so I did. Every couple of months, however, it seems that a new split shows up. I continue to patch with silicon, but am not sure why the splits keep appearing.

2. The PUP spare tire mounts to long bolts that protrude from the front ABS panel. The bolts should screw in to threaded sockets on a metal bracket behind the panel. Both sockets were completely sheared off of the bracket, so I had to rig an alternative spare tire system.

3. Front and rear ABS panels were cracked in several places. The front panel actually had several golf-ball sized holes. I fixed things up by cutting "patches" from a sheet of ABS and adhering them to the panel with ABS cement.

4. Canvas is ripping away from the rubbery top border around the door area. The stitching where the rubber attaches to the canvas is the weak point (similar to perforations in paper). We tried to remedy this with all sorts of adhesives -- super glue, hot glue, duct tape -- but nothing bonds well to the material.

5. Cushion covers are deteriorating. We've tried sew-on patches to fix some of the worst holes.

6. Bearings and races were replaced. The old ones were quite beat up. I'm not sure bearing repacking was ever done by PO.

7. On our last trip, running lights quick working. My suspicion is a broken wire inside the tongue frame.


Anyway, you get the idea. There seems to always be something come up on the PUP that needs fixing. We purposely bought a bare-bones unit (no AC, no furnace, no refreigerator) thinking that there was little that could go wrong. My question for you more-experienced PUP owners is this: Does the list of repairs ever end? My thought process up to this point was, "If I can just get issue x fixed, this will be a great trailer we can just enjoy with minimal maintenance for several years". I'm starting to become cynical, however. What additional issues, major or minor, do you all foresee us having in the near future? Are my issues typical for a 20-year-old PUP? At what point do I give up and trade it in for something newer (or at least better-maintained)?
 

Kettlebelle

Active Member
Jan 25, 2014
205
I would guess that those issues would be typical of a 20 year old pop-up, unless it was someone's "garage queen." I wouldn't have bought any trailer no matter what the age with siding splits and ABS holes.
 

bldmtnrider

Active Member
Aug 28, 2014
337
I think in general a PUP is kind of like owning a house. There is always something that needs to be fixed, but some of it can wait.

My concern with your list is you are doing a lot of patch jobs. Patch jobs will get you by for a while, but at some point you are going to have to deal with them again. Prime example there is your cushion covers. If you are thread bare, you need to replace the whole cover, not just put a patch on.

One thing I have noticed is there isn't much point in going bare bones if maintenance free is your goal. Of all the stuff that has broken or needed some maintenance on my camper, the AC, Cassette Toilet, Hot Water Heater, Furnace, Fridge and stove have all worked flawlessly since the day I bought it. That stuff is all built in other factories (Dometic, Attwood, Thetford, Suburban and Carrier in my case) where there is quality control. It doesn't seem like there is much quality control once it is time to slap the camper together and send it off to a dealer.

It sounds like your camper has gotten long in the tooth and is just about worn out. Not to say it can't be brought back, but there is going to be some cost and a lot of labor involved in getting it to the point where you can camp a season with no major repairs.
 

Jughed

Active Member
Aug 14, 2015
250
Boats and campers - both new and old will require something to be tinkered with just about every time you use them.

20 year old units will require more.

My last trip out in our 08' - faucet handle fell off, electrical cord somehow fell out of the plastic holder and it was all inside of the PUP, and we had what was supposed to be a new tire, fully inflated - blow out at 65MPH on the freeway.

I had a 1974 28' boat, paid 4k for it - it was a tank, built like a brick outhouse, and we were on the water and did plenty of weekend trips with boats that all cost well over 100-200k. We sat right next to them out on the water week after week - but during the week they all put the covers on and went home - while I was in the bilge tinkering with or replacing something.

With PUP's, especially older units - we are on the cheap side of what of can be an expensive game... some people spent a bunch more money to sit and drink beer in the next site over, fixing a few things during the week is just part of the game...
 

Ziggs76

Active Member
Apr 21, 2014
367
Ontario, Canada
To be honest, it doesn't get better. PUP's are high maintenance, no matter the age. How you fix things is the biggest factor. A patch will always be just a patch, and never a fix. In the case of your holes and cracks, the only way to completely eliminate the problem would be to remove that panel and replace the entire piece with a new one. I am not suggesting you do that. Products like eternabond can be used for a fairly long term repair, but they are expensive. The more time, effort, and unfortunately money you put into each repair, the longer and more trouble free it will be. At the end of the day you have to decide how far you want to go with each repair and if when all repairs are considered, a newer unit might be better. Keep in mind as lots of post on here show, newer (or new), still doesn't always mean trouble free. For me, I try to split the difference. Spending more hours working on it than camping in it isn't my thing, but I stay on top of things that can cause further damage or take away from my enjoyment. Stay positive! Jeff
 

MOGUY1967

Member
Sep 23, 2015
19
Understand your frustration. Compared to simple tent camping, moving up to a pop-up (or any RV for that matter) presents challenges with maintenance/repairs. It's just part of the process unfortunately. For the most part ALL rv's are manufactured cheaply and do require TLC. From my experience, much more TLC is required when they are left outside in the elements. Water, Heat/Cold, UV rays all take their tolls on the materials. Our first camper was a 98 Coleman Sante Fe which ended up having the dreaded ABS roof issues like you mentioned (cracking, delaminating, and sagging). We traded it in for a hybrid in 2005. We really enjoyed the hybrid but it had even more maintenance issues than the pop-up due to it having to be stored outside in the elements all year. Ended up with leaky bunk ends, etc so we traded it a month ago. Decided to go back to a pop-up so I could store it inside. Also decided to buy a brand new one to have the benefit of the warranty plus also didn't want to inherit someone else's issues. I'm already fixing things that are not up to par in my books so buying new doesn't guarantee you will have nothing to do but camp.

There are many 20 year old pop ups that people are out there enjoying to the max (just read this forum). If the repairs can be done for a reasonable price and you won't agonize that it's not perfect then make the repairs to the best of your ability and go camp and have fun!
 

tfischer

A bad day camping beats a good day at the office
If you bought a 20 year old car for bottom dollar you wouldn't expect it to be the most reliable thing in the world either. Complicate that with the fact that popups are built MUCH cheaper than cars, and you can see the problem.

Sounds like you have some significant age-related issues with your pup. You may be past the hard part, but unfortunately you may not and keep seeing more issues. The only way around it would be to trade it in and get something newer. Newer ones might have issues too, but hopefully not major failures like the weatherproof body panels.
 

MOGUY1967

Member
Sep 23, 2015
19
One more suggestion....you are in a great place to learn from a ton of folks that have dealt with the same kinds of issues you are having and some that are MUCH worse. My suggestion would be to really study some of the modifications and fixes people have documented on this site. Chances are someone has repaired the same problem. When it comes right down to it, pop-ups are really not all that complicated. Maybe put a little work into this one and replace it down the road if your still not satisfied.
 

xxxapache

Super Active Member
Jul 30, 2008
4,288
Anything in poor condition to begin with will require more attention. Not all things old are bad, though.

- My 1974 Apache had multiple ABS cracks and no upholstery when I bought it. I repaired the cracks and reuphosterd it. We used it 8 years after that with very little annual maintenance. I had about $1100 total in it.

- My 1995 Airstream set me back about as much as a new square travel trailer. This summer I replaced the toilet flush valve and holding tank valves, the tires, and resealed it. I expected to work on a 20 year old trailer.

Boats?.. I bought a very nice one owner. 1985 17.5 ft I/O runabout in 1996 from the original owner. I have used it many times each summer for the past 19 years. I have spent less than $1000 on it in repairs. I must be one of the lucky ones. I ran it about 50 miles yesterday without a hiccup...as usual.

My tow vehicle is a 1977. I would drive it coast to coast tomorrow.
 

3hooligans

Active Member
Jul 27, 2014
629
Boston
I am sorry to hear your frustrations.
My rig is only 2 seasons old, but I fully expect to have maintenance, but I hope it will all be preventative. But like our cars, homes and toys, they all need maintenance, repairs and modifications.

I hope the time spent camping out weighs the time repairing.
 




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