More Notes from the end of the road - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-12-2012, 03:26 PM   #1
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More Notes from the end of the road

My goodness, there's still snow on the passes in Colorado, and we almost lost it on Owl Creek Pass! The pass was clear, but 100 yards down the other side on the way to Cimarron there was 6" of snow and slush, with 3-4" of mud under that. We got partway in, finally managed to back out and turn around. Came back down 1000 feet since snow was forecast, opened a new bottle of wine and went to bed early.

We live in Colorado. It's difficult to find an excuse to travel out of state for our camping and fishing adventures, as there is so much to discover here. Accordingly, we regularly find ourselves with our Scamp at the end of a Forest Service road, or at least as close to the end as we are comfortable going with a big truck and the trailer. If it were just the Wrangler I would feel differently about it, and would mush further in.

Well, we learn more and more, sometimes good, sometimes bad. We often can get out 2-3 days a week (I'm self-employed, my wife is a nurse), more likely every couple of weeks. We have discovered that we don't like to repeat destinations, although there are a couple of places that we have been back to that are absolutely spectacular. There is a lot to see in Colorado, and only a finite amount of time in which to see it.

One of the things that I learned, when you put on 50 miles of dirt road in a trip, particularly Forest Service roads, is that everything comes loose. Some things fall off, some things just bounce off, a lot of things break. I am discovering some of the weaknesses in our trailer. Are any of the other FGRVs any more durable in this sort of situation? I doubt it, but I'm up for your thoughts. This is no criticism of the Scamp. These roads are abusive, even when you don't push on to the end. We live 6 miles from pavement, so just getting in and out of home is tough!

So, more lessons: The screws at the bottom of the galley all work their way out. Carry a supply of toothpicks in your tool kit, so you can tighten them down with your evening cocktail. I don't know how long that will work, I keep adding more wood to the same holes. The rings on the propane stove fly around the inside of the trailer, doing some damage to the gelcoat. We now travel with ours in the sink, with the wet washcloths on top. The piezzo-electric starter for the propane icebox gets all dusty. I now just use a long-tipped grill starter, which takes about 10 minutes off the process of getting it going. Windows can slide open on their own - better check every once in a while, or your bed will be awfully dusty.

Forget the gelcoat at the lower front of the trailer. I added some “clear bra” sort of stuff to put on, but the damage is done already. Even at low speeds, the jack stands at the back can get bunged up, and start to jam. I need to oil them more often, but it sometimes takes the fine adjusting tool, to get them loose. The screws holding the fiberglass to the frame are starting to break, so I have a supply of 3/4" and 1 1/2" machine screws, with lockwashers, nuts and flat washers in the tool kit.

You know, I worry about the tires on my Scamp. I know they were made for the road, not for the abuse I'm giving them. Does anyone else have ideas on tires that can take these rocky roads and still do 65 on the Interstate? We go very slowly on these back roads, and I still worry. Pete once suggested that 4WD is for getting out of trouble, but it can get you into a lot. I know that. Now, if I need 4WD, I look for an exit.

Here's another big lesson learned - don't believe the maps! The map maker may think a road is maintained, but it ain't necessarily so. We had one lovely road that ran through the forests around the Hayman fire lands. It certainly looked good on the map, but the reality was that it got rougher, tighter, and narrower the further we went, with no hope of turning around. We forded two streams where the water came in the Scamp. We made it through all right, in 4WD low, eventually, but have learned to err on the side of caution.

Here's another lesson learned - some sort of solar charger is great for peace of mind, as well as for a full battery. I now have one on the roof. It's bigger than I needed (50W) because I wanted quick recovery for winter camping, when the blower on the furnace runs a lot. Anyway, now when we are having frosty camping at night, I can still feel comfortable listening to the satellite radio, staying up late to read, running the furnace until we get into our sleeping bags, knowing that any charge lost will recover the next day, whether or not I move on. It's mounted on the roof, so I can't change how it's aimed, but it's big enough to do the job anyway.

So why do it? When you get to the Forest Service campsites, you can sometimes be the only camper there. When you get to the "gold medal" trout waters, you may see one or two other fishermen. Big RVs and generators are rare. The folks you do run into are people with similar interests - they are there to enjoy the out of doors, to fish, to hike. They are pleasant to talk to, and nobody's grumpy that I have found yet. Once you get into the backwoods in New Mexico, which is where more of our winter camping gets done, you get to practice a lot of Spanish too! There are still some lakes and streams you have to pack in to, but the Scamp really allows you to get further in than one of the larger campers would.

Always pack the fly rods! You're exploring, you don't know where you'll end up, if you didn't bring them you'll wish you had.

Anyway, the Scamp 13 seems to be the perfect trailer for getting to the end of the road. It can take some of the abuse, and you can live in a civilized fashion when you get there.
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Old 05-12-2012, 07:24 PM   #2
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Interesting post. Thanks for sharing. Raz
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Old 05-12-2012, 07:57 PM   #3
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You don't say how old your trailer is. I was wondering if it was old enough to want to replace the axle, you might get a smoother ride.
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Old 05-12-2012, 08:57 PM   #4
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It's only about 5-6 years old. I hope it's the roads and not the axle.
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:30 PM   #5
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Barring, Perhaps you need a rougher necked TT, such as one of these Caravans from Down Under: A True Off Road Caravan - YouTube

There are other links of other Caravans. All Tough as Nails, it seems.

Not Molded Fiberglass, however.

Here's a neat looking one:
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Old 05-12-2012, 11:05 PM   #6
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Thanks, Adrian. Great vids, neat trailers, and great TVs. Makes what we do in Colorado look pretty wimpy! My guess is that sometimes we push the Scamp more than it was designed for....but we love it. Several long road trips ahead, too, and it's fine for those.

Been away from the site for a while. Didn't you used to have a 13? How do you like the 16?
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Old 05-13-2012, 01:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barring View Post

One of the things that I learned, when you put on 50 miles of dirt road in a trip, particularly Forest Service roads, is that everything comes loose. Some things fall off, some things just bounce off, a lot of things break. I am discovering some of the weaknesses in our trailer.

So, more lessons: The screws at the bottom of the galley all work their way out.


Forget the gelcoat at the lower front of the trailer. I added some “clear bra” sort of stuff to put on, but the damage is done already.

Even at low speeds, the jack stands at the back can get bunged up, and start to jam. I need to oil them more often, but it sometimes takes the fine adjusting tool, to get them loose. The screws holding the fiberglass to the frame are starting to break, so I have a supply of 3/4" and 1 1/2" machine screws, with lockwashers, nuts and flat washers in the tool kit.
As with many things attempting to drive too fast will cause lots of problems and brake stuff.

The screws at the bottom of the cabinet can be secured with an adhesive. If keep adding wood something has to be displaced, potential future problem. Adhesive and slowing down on rough roads should fix the problem.

Kicking up rocks to damage the front of the trailer is another one of those speed vs damage things. There's another solution the will help. I use Rock Tamers. They've made a big difference.

I think the rear "stabilizers" get damaged hitting rocks. Again speed is probably contributor, but carefully choosing your route over the rocks will also help. That's hard to do unless you're going slow enough to make those corrections.

I think these trailers aren't designed for rough roads, but could handle many with speeds kept down. I've taken mine over a number of gravel roads here in Oregon and not experienced the troubles you're reporting as a result. I have had the bottom screws come loose while towing on paved roads. Some of those get pretty rough too.
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Old 05-13-2012, 02:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barring View Post
Been away from the site for a while. Didn't you used to have a 13? How do you like the 16?
No, never had a 13. We really like the 16, but the narrow bed in back is not the best (major problem with it). Like the shower & head. Enjoy the easy towing & not being to hard on mpg towing it. Would like to have more room in the wheel wells, to get large wheels/tires.

If you had larger wheels/tires, perhaps it would be better at going to the end of the road with less breakage.

Your title would make a neat blog title: "Notes from the End of the Road".

Can't beat these TT for Long Road Trips! That's mainly what we do. If wanting to do to the End of the Road camping, I believe I'd go with a Truck Camper. Even one of the pop up TCs seem like they would be neat. I see they have some pretty light weight ones with a shower/head. Traveling to & from, they have a very low profile.

We had a small camper shell on a half ton back in the '70s, really easy to get into places, then we had a old, heavy TC (a '60 something model later on), it was pretty good about going on the forest roads. One of these new models should be really good for that stuff. Not sure if one of the ones with showers would work on a F-150 or not. We tow with one of those as well. Really good with a Scamp.

My son has a much bigger (far from the largest) Lance TC for doing more off the beaten paths camping in Alaska. But it's on a ton dully. He has a Polaris Ranger sideXside for really going to the end of the roads, but not to camp there. But he has done some far off camping with his snowmachine. No, he has campout using the Ranger on some hunts as well, but not with the family.

Enjoyed your post. From your post, I'm betting you are not doing the damage due to going to fast, but the "roads" are more like trails & can get extremely rough. Even creeping on some of them can do a lot of damage to a Scamp or most trailers. But the advise about speed is good, speed has to be the cause of many troubles with breaking things.

For a Fiberglass TT better than a Scamp for taking on trails, I'd pick one without rivets (someone once wrote I was paranoid about rivets, but I say if it's not there, it can't be broken) (PS: I've never had one to break yet, but I don't do rough roads, or try not to; there was that time on I-40 between Santa Rosa & Tucumcari which didn't break a rivet, but I believe it broke a tire). After we got to North Dakota, one tire had a bulge under the tread. It can be hard to find a 13" tire, I found out. Had to order one from Fargo. Yep, speed was part of the blame as well, trying to keep up with traffic.

One with 15" tires & wheels & I'd paint the front with some kind of bed liner before it saw a dirt road & put (removable) skid plates under the rear "stabilizers" when going onto the rough. And to be extra safe, I'd put s skid plate under the grey water tank & one under the shower drain pump & filter (if it had a shower). These would not have to be metal, except the rear ones. If I ever take the Scamp to Alaska, I would do the covers for the shower drain/filter & the grey water tank.

With the larger 15" wheels, you could better ford streams as well. Maybe even keep it dry inside the TT. Reminds me of my brother-in-law fording the East Gila River in his station wagon towing a popup camp trailer back in the early '70s. They only had a wet floor in the popup. No 4WD low either.
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Old 05-13-2012, 09:44 AM   #9
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I think we got our 13 in 2006. We had always back packed or tent camped when traveling, and a on 5 day trip back from Boise late 2005 we learned that sleeping on the ground wasn’t a problem yet, but getting up was. Hence, after much research, the Scamp 13. It’s a compromise since we also do long road trips (end of June driving to Massachusetts via Houston, Mobile and northern Va), but it has so far been an excellent compromise. Additionally, we love being able to park our home at the campsite and leave it, which has always troubled us about the slide-ins. I’ve been thinking about the Alaskan or something like that, but we do love the Scamp. It allows us the bed of the truck for storage, and when we are moving to the boat in Massachusetts for the summer we need all the space we can get.

The Scamp isn’t perfect for the sort of things we do in Colorado. Ground clearance is wanting, and it wasn’t really designed for Forest Service roads, at any speed. We move very slowly, often in FWD low, and are pretty good about turning around or backing out before we get in trouble. I agree with you on the larger wheels, but there is not much room under there. I worry about the tires, but have blown only one in 6 years (hit a curb, not a rock!). The 3M clear bra works very well, but should have installed it when it was new. Haven't broken rivets, but have had a bolt to frame fall out. I now try to check them all whenever I am cleaning.

I grew up backpacking, was taught in the 50’s how to travel simply by a father who could afford to travel any way he wanted but who loved the out-of-doors. It didn’t occur to us to order our Scamp with head, shower or PP. As we approach 70, we discuss it occasionally. We certainly find ourselves in National Forest campgrounds more often now, as my wife acquires a greater taste for creature comforts. But we do enough winter camping and traveling that I am not sure we could have a head in the trailer working due to the danger of freezing, and winter, of course, is when one would want it most!

I had thought of blogging it, hence the title. I did the first one for FGRV under that title some years ago. But I don’t have time to do an appropriate blog for work, let alone for hobby, so I will continue to post here. I love the site, learn a lot from all of you, and want to contribute in my own way when I can.
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Old 05-13-2012, 11:11 AM   #10
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Your Scamp must be one of the first after the "Great Fire" models, therefore more head room than earlier 13s.

I know what you mean about the benefit of being able to unhitch & leave the 'camper' at the camp. It was why I wanted to go back to a TT after having a C-Class.

We saw an Alaskan when at Chaco Canyon a couple of weeks ago, nice rig.

You mentioned doing winter camping in the backwoods of New Mexico, what part of the state are you using for winter camping?

Not that you need to get one, but the Aliner hardsided folding Trailers might be good for going to the end of the road. We camped a week in Alaska in a rented one last summer:

My daughter & her hubby, rented one, two summers ago, for a two week trip to Yellowstone & places in between:

Aliner & our Scamp at Mesa Verde 2010

Chalet also makes one like the Aliner. A better made one perhaps. An Aliner owner told me so.

Both Aliners were well used (both rented from US Air Force), but were extremely comfortable. No showers in them. Not top of the line models. One from Alaska & one from Arizona. They seemed to be pretty tough (they had seen some action) had plenty of room for off road tires (15s OK). An Aliner owner from California told us he had to have his new Aliner's tongue supports beefed up. They were camping up by Flagstaff when we did an overnight. Those old rental units, didn't seem to have been mended (tongues at least). ???

Going to the End of the Road reminded me of our trip to Chaco a few weeks ago. We actually did wind up going to the end of one road, the road to the campground at Angel Peak, made a loop in the campground. It wasn't a hard road, dirt, but not rough at all. And there were dozens of off roads getting to the loop. My report on the trip in which we just used the pickup as or RV:
Chaco Canyon & Angel Peak BLM Area

Hope to see some reports on your camping & travel trips. With photos, hopefully.
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Old 05-14-2012, 01:24 PM   #11
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We did get our Scamp shortly after the plant came back on line. We have the extra headroom, although we certainly don’t need it! My brother and I drove to MN early that March to pick it up, and got our first taste of driving it in snow on the way back.

I can’t remember all the places we have gone to in NM, it’s been a bunch - mostly in the northern part of the state. We also have camped several times down outside of Las Cruces, as we have friends there. One trip we camped on a large beach at a reservoir, when the water was well out. Lots of company at that park. Many of our trips start with “Let’s take the Scamp X direction,” and then start looking for interesting places to stop once we get somewhere nice looking. That’s one of the great things about living out here - even a weekend can be an adventure. And the Scamp makes that so easy.

We are very interested in getting to Chaco, last two attempts were aborted due to weather. It’s still on the list. I had heard bad things about the road in, but your comment makes it sound much improved.

We sat around last night discussing alternatives to the Scamp, and concluded that, while it is fun to admire others’ toys, the Scamp 13 meets our needs better than anything else. An Airstream would be nice, but only once we sold the boat because we were too old to do anything else. Not yet. May feel different after the drive to Massachusetts next month via Houston, Mobile, etc.

Intend to start posting pictures once I have time to figure it out, write up some notes on the trips, etc. I love reading about the adventures others have had, so need to put mine up.
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Old 05-14-2012, 05:50 PM   #12
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I had thought of blogging it, hence the title. I did the first one for FGRV under that title some years ago. But I don’t have time to do an appropriate blog for work, let alone for hobby, so I will continue to post here.
I remember a book with that title. It was serialized a chapter at a time on Public Radio over 20 years ago and I always listened each week...
Tom Bodett | The End of the Road - Book and Audio
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