Checklist before purchase suggestions

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Palvetty
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Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2022 8:52 pm
B190 Year: 1991

Checklist before purchase suggestions

Post by Palvetty »

Hello everyone! We are planning to purchase a 1991 B190 by the end of Nov. We are making travel arrangements this week as it is about 28 hours away from our home. We have owned various campers throughout the years, but never a van and never an Airstream! We are excited, but also sort of holding our breath until we make sure this van is what the seller claims it is. We have done all the due diligence we know to do, including emailing Skater here with questions! Thanks again, Skater! If anyone else has any suggestions of uncommon yet important checklist items before purchasing, would you please comment and let us know! This site has already been very helpful. We will post pictures if this sale goes through. Hoping for the best and thanks again!
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Millennial Falcon
Seasoned Traveler
Posts: 111
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:14 pm
B190 Year: 1994

Re: Checklist before purchase suggestions

Post by Millennial Falcon »

Awesome! Good luck with your trip! I also purchased mine long distance after flying in and then drove it cross-country to get home!

Things I would check (or have the seller demonstrate) before purchasing:
  • Schedule an RV mechanic to give it an inspection. Failing this, at least have a mechanic give the drivetrain an inspection. ((When I purchased mine, I pre-arranged with an RV mechanic to have an appointment and had the seller met me there with the vehicle. Inspection cost me $175))
  • Check the tires. Even if they have good tread, replace immediately if they are old. You don't want to buy a van, and then blow out a tire on the drive home. These are HEAVY rigs, and run at higher than normal PSI (55 front, 80 rear). A blow out can be catastrophic on these rigs and tires are only really good for 6 to 7 years before the rubber rot will be too risky to drive these 10k pound rigs on. You can check the age of a tire by looking at the code number as demonstrated here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_VYhD49fjk. When I bought mine, I had a local tire place put 5 new tires on it before I drove it home.
  • Have the seller demonstrate ALL SYSTEMS. The Generator, the rooftop AC, the heater, the fridge (propane AND electric), the water pump, the rooftop fan, the water heater, the attached canopy the Stovetop, the sinks, the toilet flush. Make sure seller shows you how to turn on and use all these systems. It's really easier to have someone show you things in person than trying to figure it out just by reading these forums. ALSO, if something doesn't work... gives you an issue to haggle price over.
  • Make sure seller demonstrates the coach can operate using Generator power AND off Shore Power. Test the rooftop AC on shorepower. Does it run without popping circuit breakers? Your rooftop AC should be able to run even with the van just plugged in to a standard 20amp house outlet on the outside of a home. (a 15amp circuit will blow, and if you are on a very long extension cord a 20amp might blow the circuit but should be able to operate the AC.). If you cant run off a standard 110volt outlet from shore power without the AC blowing fuses in the house, it's not a dealbreaker... these are old AC units. but at least then make sure it can run on a 30amp plug (may need to drive to a nearby campground to find one).
  • Let the generator run under a load for at least a half hour. Start the generator, and have it operate the rooftop AC unit. You want to make sure both the rooftop AC and Generator operate, and stay operating. Generators especially can be finicky and cut off after a few minutes, or need a tune-up and can't power the heavy loads of an AC. ((FYI: if the generator is missing or does not work, a replacement Onan is about $3000 plus installation. Rooftop AC is about $1500 plus installation. These are major components that can go bad and cost a pretty penny))
  • Leave the water pump running for a few minutes. Does it run continuously? that's a bad sign. Look for leaks near the Shower knobs, and under the sink. The water pump should turn on, make a noise for a few seconds while it pressurizes the system... and then go silent. It will make noise while you open a faucet, but if no faucets are on the system should hold pressure and the pump should turn itself off. If it doesn't stay pressurized, or if it keeps running and you can hear the pump continuously it's a good sign theres a water leak somewhere inside a wall or in a place you cant see.
  • Crawl underneath and look for rust. If the floorboards are rotting out, there's really not much you can do to cost-effectively salvage one of these vans if the things is a rustbucket...
  • Use a hose to fill the grey/black tanks (grey fills through shower drain, black just put the hose in the toilet). Make sure they do not have any slow leaks, or campgrounds will turn you away. Also, can be helpful to have the seller demonstrate how to dump these.
  • Get an oil change as soon as you buy it, before driving it a long distance. These rigs get parked sometimes for years before sale... best to have good oil in it
  • Do a walk around and make sure all headlights, brakelamps, turn signals work.
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skater
Site Admin
Posts: 2492
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:00 am
B190 Year: 1991
WBCCI: 13270
Location: Annapolis, MD

Re: Checklist before purchase suggestions

Post by skater »

Falcon has an excellent list. I'd add watch for signs of leaks (dark spots on the ceiling or walls) - it's often even visible in the ad pictures because people don't know what to look for. In particular the fan over the bunk bed is a popular spot for leaks, watch for signs that the ceiling appears to be hanging down a bit there.

Hmmm I feel like I wrote up a checklist one time but now I can't find it.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit
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Oldbagpipe
Seasoned Traveler
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:05 pm
B190 Year: 1989
WBCCI: 0
Location: PNW

Re: Checklist before purchase suggestions

Post by Oldbagpipe »

Yes, check the tires. We had one unwrap taking it home.
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Palvetty
New User
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2022 8:52 pm
B190 Year: 1991

Re: Checklist before purchase suggestions

Post by Palvetty »

Wanted to thank you all for your replies. We printed this out and are currently giving the seller a time frame in which to respond as he seems to be slow getting info to us...not a good sign but some people are less organized than others, I guess. I'll keep you posted!! Hoping it works out that we have a good van but if not, you have helped save us some heartache!! :)
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