Not fiberglass, but why not wooden trailers? - Fiberglass RV

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Old 02-10-2014, 12:27 PM   #1
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Name: John Michael
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Not fiberglass, but why not wooden trailers?

This house designed by students at Green Mountain College offers 70 square feet of living space and can be towed behind a 4-cylinder car. Click here for more.
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John Michael Linck - Toymaker
Camping since 1960 - Scamp 13' Oak
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:54 PM   #2
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Ahhhh Design Students, Ya Gotta Love Em.....

There is no indication of weight, no insulation, untold places for leaks, potentially high maintenance costs with all that wood and very thin fiberglass(?) sheeting, no visable ventilation and best of all, 70 sq. ft. of. living space on an 8' long trailer. Even if it was 8' wide (and it's not) that's still only 64 sq.ft.

Back in the day, when Dr. Wayne Champion (real name) was my advisor in design classes @ SJSU, he made it clear that design was for designers, making it actually work was a problem for the engineers.....

I know, picky, picky, picky.... but it would be nice if they spent time learning about how projects were to used before trying to design them.....

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Old 02-10-2014, 03:55 PM   #3
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You got to remember we use that new fangled
"new math" these days. When 8X6 = 92.

Looks nice in a picture though..........LOL

And since it's a "green" project it doesn't
really have to function or anything.

How many d$llars were given for this by
us tax payers?............LOL
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:03 PM   #4
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The problem too is designers no nothing (and care nothing) about usability. It's form over function.
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:19 PM   #5
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When I was a kid my dad's friend made a camper shell for his pickup. It had a curved top like a covered wagon and built-in bunks. It lasted quite awhile and I doubt cost much to build. You could build a trailer in a similar fashion, and if it were garaged and only used outside in the rain occasionally, it might hold up quite well. Fiberglass is lighter, but more expensive to build.
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:26 PM   #6
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In defense of design students, projects like these are intended to explore design. If the intent was to design a trailer, they'd only have to re-create an existing trailer, and nothing new would ever be discovered.
Think ox-cart.
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:31 PM   #7
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I think it is great that they have them thinking and planning along this line. Whether or not the resultant is something that will be a success, it is good for them to go through the processes involved. A great learning tool.

I think I will be keeping my FG trailer though.
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:52 PM   #8
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They do a pretty poor job of explaining the details of this structure. There are certain things I like about this unit. It has rainwater collection, insulation and a wood stove. I would love to see wood stoves modernized into RV's. I may start tinkering.
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:55 PM   #9
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I would assume the wood stove problem would be too much heat.
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:00 PM   #10
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Name: John Michael
Trailer: Scamp 13
Madison, Wisconsin
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I am a fan of hands on learning at any age. This class sounds great. I sat thru a lot of sage on the stage classes. Most were good, but many were so inefficient. And some were less than useless, outright curiosity killing.

I too will be keeping my fiberglass rv.

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Old 02-10-2014, 09:57 PM   #11
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Speaking of that curved camper shell, back in the '80s I saw an article in Popular Science that outlined how to build a pickup topper by soaking thin wood so it was pliable, then coating the wood strips in fiberglass resin and placing them onto a curved frame. I believe some fiberglass mat was interspersed in there somewhere, too, but I don't recall now if it was between wood layers or what.

By this method the shell was gradually built up. The final result was a beautiful, shiny wood topper that appeared to have good strength and water resistance. I have sometimes thought that an egg-shaped trailer body could be made in the same way. It would certainly take long hours of messy labor, though.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... --Ecclesiastes 3
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Old 02-10-2014, 09:59 PM   #12
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A design class such as this is a mental exercise. It doesn't have to develop a product that can go to market. The value of the class is interaction amongst the students to define a common goal/vision. Fairly lightweight in my book.

The next level engineering class would be Design for Manufacturing - where you figure out how to build a trailer with enough appealing features at a cost that the market will buy and you can make a profit at the same time. Whole different ball game....

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Don't drill holes, try custom storage you design:
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Old 02-11-2014, 06:14 AM   #13
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Green Mountain College is a small private liberal arts college on the Vermont -New York border, about an hour from the Killington ski area. Like many of the small colleges in the state, they specialize in environmental studies and sustainable living. Beautiful campus. Large tree filled quad. Lots of old buildings. If you're one the 31% that graduates in 4 years it will only cost about $200k.

About the author. The very old author.....

Holly Richmond ( writes and edits things for fun and money. She worked for Grist in the 1890s. Please follow her on Twitter because that is the entire basis of her self-esteem.

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Old 02-15-2014, 10:07 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post
I would assume the wood stove problem would be too much heat.
Yes it is definitely all about the heat. Doing research right now on rocket stoves. Similar to the Volcano you have. Only with a chimney or exhaust. The size and weight limitations of retrofitting RVs is the biggest issue I am finding.

The rocket stove is fed small amounts of fuel that burn up in a relatively short time. This will limit heat somewhat if you are just cooking up a quick meal say. Using it as a heater is where things are likely to get much hotter.

Thinking about the old gravity propane heater in my boler. It is just a small drum with a burner inside that radiates heat that is reflected by metal sides of the furnace and convected out into the room by cool air entering the cabinet at the base and exiting as it is heated at the top. I wonder if I could not put a metal cylinder over a rocket stove in the same way and heat and cook at the same time.

Then there's the chimney. Thinking about some ceramic materials to insulate from the heat. Thats where weight starts to become an issue but light weight materials are available.

It looks like I will end up designing and experimenting with a simple stoves that I can use outdoors for cooking and then engineer the heater and chimney after that.

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