How to Dismantle a Travel Trailer

by Amelia Allonsy
When a travel trailer is beyond repair, you can dismantle it and scrap the metal for cash.

When a travel trailer is beyond repair, you can dismantle it and scrap the metal for cash.

If you have an old rotting or leaking travel trailer, you can dismantle the trailer to remove the eyesore from your lawn. If mold or insects have taken over the trailer, it should be dismantled to prevent illness. You can dismantle and restore it, or simply scrap the aluminum siding for cash. Vintage travel trailers are often restored by hobbyists and can look like new with some hard work. If your trailer isn't worth restoring and you want it removed, you can take some parts to scrap yards and landfills or recycle parts for use in other projects.

1. Empty the black water and gray water tanks into drum barrels and take the barrels to an RV dump station for proper disposal. Gray water is usually okay to dump on the ground as long as it doesn't contain grease, but you don't want the septic black water, which may contain chemicals, to mix with your ground water.

2. Unhook all electrical appliances and remove the propane tanks before beginning the demolition.

3. Use an electric screwdriver or electric drill to remove the screws from the stripping that encases the windows, then carefully pull each window out in tact so you don't have to work around broken glass. You may need a Phillips, straight or square driver bit to remove the screws.

4. Remove the marker lights and tail lights by taking off the screws to release the plastic light casings.

5. Unscrew the hinges on all the doors, tap the pins out of each hinge, then take the doors off. Remove the pins by placing a flat screwdriver or chisel under the pin head and tapping the butt of the screwdriver or chisel upward with a hammer.

6. Unscrew all the screws on the sides and roof to release each sheet of metal. In many travel trailers, a single piece of metal stretches from end to end on each side, but several sheets are stacked on top of each other to cover the height of the trailer. After removing the sheet metal, there is a layer of thin plywood underneath.

7. Sort the dismantled siding into piles to be scrapped or reused. If you are restoring the trailer, you can use some of the old pieces that are in good condition, or you could use them for other projects, such as for a roof on a small outbuilding.

8. Insert the claws of a hammer underneath the ends of the plywood and pry the staples loose to remove the wood. The plywood might be so thin and rotted that it simply crumbles when you apply force. When you finish removing the plywood, all that should remain is the wooden skeleton and the trailer's interior.

9. Wedge a crow bar or pry bar behind the cabinets and benches and pull the bar toward you to pry the cabinets from the walls. You may need to insert the bar into several points until it breaks completely free.

10. Pull electrical appliances like the stove, refrigerator or microwave out by hand if they didn't come out with the cabinetry. Some appliances are built-in, while others are fitted between the cabinets.

11. Pry features like the sink cabinet, toilet and shower away from the walls with the crow bar, in the same way you removed the rest of the cabinets. If any other structures remain, dismantle them also.

12. Break the cabinets and benches down to smaller sizes with the crowbar and a hammer once you get them outside. You'll have much more room to tear them apart when you are outdoors.

13. Pull up the carpeting or other flooring by hand, starting at one corner and working your way to the other side of the trailer. If a corner is not already exposed after gutting the inside, use the claw of your hammer to pick up a corner.

14. Knock the small framing boards out with a hammer. A small hammer might do the trick but, depending on the condition of the frame boards, you may need a heavy mallet or sledgehammer.

15. Pry the wood loose from the floor to reveal the frame of the trailer. Determine if you can use the trailer for anything, such as a new travel trailer, or you can just dismantle it.

16. Undo the bolts of each piece of the trailer bed one at a time with a ratchet wrench to dismantle the metal frame. You can reuse the pieces of metal if they are in good condition or scrap them for cash.

Items you will need

  • Drum barrels
  • Electric screwdriver or electric drill
  • Screwdriver bits
  • Flat screwdriver or small chisel
  • Small hammer
  • Crow bar or pry bar
  • Heavy mallet or sledgehammer
  • Ratchet wrench

About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.

Photo Credits