If you could design your own trailer what would it have - Fiberglass RV

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Old 07-02-2010, 08:41 AM   #1
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Hi all, I'm new to the board and new to small trailers in general. I have a Toyota 4runner and a family of four; Myself and three girls. I grew up tent camping and still like that, the girls....not so much. I really like the idea of the scamps and casitas, super light easy to tow= low hassle and higher probability of actually getting used on a regular basis.
After investigating It looks like the majority of these trailers are really best suited for two to three people. It seems that even when claiming sleeping room for 4, the fourth would have to really be quite small. What I've started to compile is a wish list and would to love to hear from other more experienced members about their wish lists:

1) Sleep 4 ADULTS comfortably
2) have all conventional standards: frig, a/c, heat, bathroom (toilet could be a cassette)
3) Feel open with sufficient windows and natural light
4) bit bigger frig (maybe between small and std RV size (5-6 cubic ft?)
5) Nice built quality - those cheap chipboard cabinets really downgrade the look of an otherwise great build
6) Exterior storage
7) outdoor kitchen (2 burner, sink, small countertop?) I saw a build with a single pullout drawer that had this
8) Nice size sink - I hate doing dishes in some of those small ones
9) max 16-17 ft. - Don't want to step up into the full size ultralites
10) outdoor shower - for washing feet off etc.

I'm thinking about finding an older shell and gutting it and making a huge project for myself that after completion I will love but wish I had just went out and bought new. I know there are compromises that must be made when choosing a micro type trailer, I'm just trying to make sure I have as few of those as possible and I'll be happy if even half ultimately make my final list of requirements. I look forward to hearing your wisdom and experiences!

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Old 07-02-2010, 09:04 AM   #2
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Name: Jim
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 5,503
Troy, I started out with the same thought as you. Buying an older trailer, most likely a Bigfoot, gutting it and rebuilding it to suit my needs. After a quick slap up the backside of my head by my wife owning to the fact that my "honey do" list was already backed up with over a years worth of tasks, I decided to buy one. We have slightly different desires in a trailer than you.

After looking at all the options out there, I had pretty much either decided on a Scamp or Escape 17. Right about then, the Escape 19 was announced and I was all over that like mud on a pig. Have you considered going up to a 19' trailer? I know you spec'd out 16-17, but your 4Runner should pull it no problem. One thing to note with the Escape 19 is that there is one full queen bed, and a 44" dinette that turns into another bed. This dinette also will accommodate 4 people comfortably too.

Other than items 7 & 9, the Escape 17 and 19 could fit your bill.

With most fiberglass trailers you usually get 1 bed that will sleep 2 comfortably, and a smaller second bed that is usually a dinette transformed. There are also a few manufacturers that offer bunk options, I know Escape does and am sure others will chime in regarding other manufacturers too.

Good luck in your hunt. There are many great offerings from lots of different makers out there, just look them all over, take in what others have to say, then make you choice and enjoy.

I have not seen a fiberglass trailer that offered an outside sink and stove. We just take along a wash basin and a single burner stove (as well as a BBQ) for outside use.

2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:24 AM   #3
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Thanks for the input Jim, I'll check out the escape 19 for sure. I really wanted to keep this thing as small as possible and I've alrady went through what I call the 'size creep' phenomenon .
A few years ago I set out to buy a class c motorhome, really liked the Minnie Winnie 24-27 footers. Kept looking around and checked out some 29's and then the more popular 31's. Then some class A's, then looked at diesels, and finally made a good deal on a much bigger diesel pusher. I told myself, 'they're all big' might as well be comfortable. I'm going to keep the pusher but it really is only worth taking out for longer 1+ week excursions. That's why I was trying to keep this really on the Micro side. I now have a better understanding that every 2-3 feet in length likely lends itself to a different driving or towing experience.
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:30 AM   #4
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Trailer: 2005 17 ft Escape ('Turtle')
Posts: 388
Hi Troy,

Often what you think you want/need is different when you start camping and traveling with a trailer. You might want to go to a rally and see how other folks 'live' in their trailers, everyone's lifestyle is unique and how they set up and use their trailer reflects that.

We started with an older Burro, 13', knowing nothing about fiberglass trailers or any trailer for that matter, just wanting to get off the ground (there was no forum then to learn from). Mostly due to health needs of mine we decided to 'upgrade' to a 17' in order to have a shower. After much research we bought an Escape, which was a stretch for us money wise, but we saw it as a long term purchase and were fortunate to purchase a previously owned. My husband was clear that he didn't want a 'fixer up' or something to renovate, like Jim, the to-do list, and the old house, will keep him busy for life! The trailer was for........well, escaping from it all!

We wanted openness, light, a light interior (we loved the double walled Burro and considered a 17' Burro for that reason), beds a bit longer than most trailers, as we are both tall, and a shower. We cook outside most the time, a cover makes the inside stove top a very useful counter top. A small fold-up table just outside the door under the awning is our 'outside kitchen', our two-burner outside stove usually on a picnic table, or lacking that, the box it's stored in sits on two small stools and becomes a stove table. The Escape has an outside shower, which can double as an outside 'sink' when you put a wash basin on an outside table. We find the frig in the Escape more than adequate, and we eat a lot of veggies that need refrigeration!

For our needs we keep our trailer set up in the two-bed mode most the time, except when the weather is so bad we are 'confined' to the trailer, then we fold up one bed and use the table. You will be limited in your options when looking for a trailer to sleep four adults, Escape could accommodate that, the 19' better than the 17', when ordering you can tweak the interior to your needs. The Big Foots I have been in could easily sleep four, with some modifications. Big Foot owners can comment on that.

These trailers are small, you can only get so much in them! You learn to improvise, move things around, use what you have. There are always going to be compromises. If sleeping 4 adults is your #1 criteria you may have to improvise on some other items.

Good luck and welcome to the world of Eggs!

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Enjoy our travel photos at: Turtle Travels
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Old 07-03-2010, 10:33 PM   #5
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Name: Bruce
Trailer: Bigfoot 25 ft RQ
Posts: 590
Here is my dream trailer:

I am thinking about a trailer with an 18 to 24 foot long living space. The tongue and outside accessories would add to overall length. Most of these would work on a smaller trailer. I do not want any slide outs.

The trailer should be molded fiberglass with aerodynamic shaped front with absolutely no flat areas or sharp edges to catch wind. Use a curved car windshield for the front window. Have a minimum of sharp edges and attachments on the rest of the trailer exterior. Those create air turbulence at highway speed. It takes energy from your fuel tank to create that turbulence.

A roof access ladder that is removable and storable.

Living area insulated for sub zero use.

Clear heavy duty automotive protection film installed on the front to protect from gravel damage.

Galvanized frame and running gears. Otherwise no matter what it is painted with you will eventually have rust.

Single heavy Dexter torsion axle with oil bath hub which would almost never need serviced (yes they make one). Much better than two lightweight trailer axles that bind when you turn. Also typical trailer axles frequently require expensive bearing service and are likely to fail anyway.

Axle placed farther back on body for more stability. Tanks and heavy items placed accordingly. If you have to put rollers under the back of your camper you have too much overhang.

Extendable / retractable tongue. Extended gives more stability and take weight off the hitch when towing. Retracted takes up less parking space. An extended tongue and properly placed axle would eliminate the need for expensive cumbersome dangerous sway control equalizer hitches.

Place the L P gas tanks, batteries and a generator compartment at the back of the trailer separate from the living area. There they would be easily accessible and there would be no generator exhaust or battery fumes under or in the living space of the trailer. These compartments could be designed with an attractive shape to complement the body of the trailer. Remember the axle is closer to the rear for the extra weight.

Fully enclosed insulated and heated water and waste tanks centered over the axle long ways so trailer balance does not change when the water level changes. Baffles in the tanks to reduce trailer sway caused by sloshing water in half full tanks. Black tank rinse system

Easily accessible water lines in a conduit that would allow the use of a hair dryer to blow warm air in the conduit and thaw in the event of freezing. Also the valves for draining and winterizing should be easily accessible and understandable.

Space for four deep cycle 6 volt golf cart batteries.

Easily accessible color coded wiring with a good diagram by the panel.

Good quality volt and ammeter for the 12 volt system in the trailer.

Built in ground fault and low/high voltage warning lights for the 120 volt system.

Solar system with solar panels in a clear aerodynamic dome on the roof. The angle of the panels could be changeable inside the dome to track the sun. Also being inside the dome they would not catch tree branches and get damaged.

Air Conditioner.

Two thermostat controlled roof vents. One two way with inflow and exhaust.

Rain covers over roof vents. Forget the rain sensing type. Use Maxxair type and then you can leave them open.

Standard brackets on interior walls that allow the interior furniture to be rearranged, added or taken out by hooking it to different brackets. For instance a top bunk bracket for the grandkids or in case you don't want to sleep with your fishing buddy.

A convection microwave at eye level for ease of operation and cleaning.

A small broom closet.

A storage compartment long enough to store fishing rods.

I too am big on a good view of the outdoors. I don't like trailers that have a closed in feeling. There are good quality shades for when you want privacy.

Last and certainly not least for me is a nice large bathroom. Make the trailer a foot longer and give me the extra 8 square feet in the bathroom.
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Old 07-07-2010, 07:08 AM   #6
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Trailer: 1997 Scamp 13 ft
Posts: 24
Hey Troy, I am with the other pster who suggested buying a small trailer first, use it for a bit, then decide what you really need.

I was in your boat just a few months ago, thought I "knew" what I wanted, had done all the research, even went as far as to developing a custom camper design with a local company.

Fortunately I ran into time constraints and ended up buying a Scamp 13 to tie us over for the summer. It turned out to be a great learning opportunity! Not only did I learn what problems to look for in a new camper (water damage, electrical shorts, gas line blockages), I also learned that what I "need" is far different than what I thought I needed.

After a three week trip I learned the following:
1) A gas furnace is a huge space waster, get thicker sleeping bags and a small electric box heater
2) You can' cook inside with gas unless it's really cold outside, like freezing or cooler.
3) Interior AC units are space wasters, get a roof unit.
4) Bathrooms are optional and are huge space wasters, but it sure is nice to have a porta potty for night potties.
5) Sleeping four is tight unless you go really large, so it's just gonna be comfy until the kids grow up and move away. Make the kids sleep in a tent, they won't mind and you'll love the peace and quiet.
6) A big fridge cools slower, takes a lot more energy, and a lot more space. Space is a big issue, whereas going to the store is a daily thing anyhow. A 1.8 three way is sufficient, a 2.8 is really big for a small camper.
7) LP is a PITA, so consider all electric and a small generator ($1000).
8) Water systems are not necessary, consider using collapsible water jugs, this will free up a lot of storage space and you'll still have the sink for storage and as a drain.
9) Get a hitch box rack made for over the bottles/batteries, great place to store junk like tents, chocks, and chairs.

You get what you pay for, so Scamp is the bottom end of quality, Big Foot is the top, Casita is in the middle.

All campers have issues in terms of quality and design, so expect to work in it often.

Unless you have a lot of spare time, rehabing a trailer is a big project, more so than a house remodel.
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Old 07-07-2010, 07:43 AM   #7
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Trailer: Bigfoot 21 ft Rear Bed
Posts: 335
Ditto with a lot of Bruce H suggestions except I would like to see a couple of slideouts similar to those on the Coach House 272XL and a european style interior similar to what is in the Sprinter chassis motorhomes. All of this merged into the Bigfoot 21RB with the cooking area and refrigerator areas reversed. Lastly, paint the entire exterior instead of having bare gelcoat.
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Old 07-07-2010, 09:15 AM   #8
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Great input! Bruce H, I'm right there with you on your list, it seems the industry decided how to build the foundation for a camptrailer years ago and have not bothered re-engineering much of anything. Oilbath hubs, you bet... all trailers should run these and most industry leaders brag with the addition of 'bearing buddies' to their trailers in the past few years as if they were new technology. Ben, I like your ideas on keeping it clean and simple. I actually just picked up a little scamp 13' . I've bought some baltic birch plywood, new appliances, and I'm ready to go to town on it this weekend. I'm not going to put much money into it just spruce it up a bit and use it for a while so I can compile a bigger list of must haves. I've gotta say that tearing down this scamp has been an eye opener, man the build quality and level of unsophistication is really amazing. I suppose its both a good and bad thing, on the upside anyone with the wherewithal to go camping could trouble shoot one of these things.
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Old 07-08-2010, 06:18 AM   #9
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Trailer: 1997 Scamp 13 ft
Posts: 24
Hey Troy, my Scamp remodel was a real opener for me, never would have known how poor the build quality is until you see it first hand. I wouldn't buy another Scamp, nor would I recommend one to someone. Now I know what to look for in a camper. My first thought was a complete rebuild of a older Trillium, Bigfoot, Casita, or Boler, but now I'm looking at getting a new Trillium; if they ever return my calls!

I'd like to see the fiberglass eggs evolve to the next level, ie truly all fiberglass: No wood, so more like the Egg Camper.

Some aluminum trailer mfds have done this (Livinlite), no reason that egg makers can't do the same.

My dream trailer is all fiberglass:
-12' box
-Aluminum frame!
-double wall fiberglass (Bigfoot)
-removeable fiberglass floor with non wood stringers molded into the floor
-interior fiberglass furniture is attached to internally glassed ledgers, but still removeable
-side access to cargo areas under dinnette as well as exterior access
-dinette sleeper a true 54"
-end dinette with porta potty.
-overhead shelves on ends, closet with shelves and fold out work shelf (Casita)
-no carpet on the walls, vinyl with air cell insulation
-water system, 5-7 gallons contained beneath sink with overflow drain to minimize leaks into floor area. Taking up an entire storage compartment for a 10-12gallon tank, then running a water line for 8' is not necessary and is such a huge waste of space!
-all electric with generator shelf over hitch
-marine plug in with extension cord
-waterproofed external access ports for all electrical, water, and venting that perforate the hull
-74" ceilings!!
-windows on all four sides including over the sink area
-tilt out windows on all sides with bug proof screens
-flat door with screen (Casita 17)
-roof ac
-Fantastic fan with rain sensor
-rv styled awning
-15" rims (Casita)

The Trilium RV 1300 is durn close to what I want other than the wood floor, lacking a window over the sink, and I'm stil not sure if I can get all electric. The rest I can probably do on my own.
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Old 07-08-2010, 06:03 PM   #10
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Name: Ray
Trailer: 21' Escape - former owner of 17' "other brand."
Posts: 699
For four "larger" people, the 19' Escape seems like the smallest good solution. Since the bathroom is in the middle, each of the two "bedrooms" has some measure of privacy and access to the bathroom without disturbing the other two sleepers.

I wondered if a hybrid egg would be practical, preferably with solid sides instead of canvas. This could give true four person sleeping in a smaller footprint.

Oh, and the one thing any camper I buy must have is enough head room to stand up in without having to bend over. I know some people say it doesn't bother them to hunch over while standing or moving about in their campers, but it does me.

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