I thought I would recount my recent fiberglass trailer purchasing experience. I saw an ad on this forum that was a repost from Craigs List and was intrigued. I had my mind set on a fiberglass trailer, since they just made so much sense to me. After looking at 1-13' and 1-15' trailer, pricing the Oliver
, searching for an Escape
, I was getting confused and worried about the size available. I am 6'2" and 250 lbs. Most interior spaces and bed sizes just would not work for me. I also, occasionally, thrash about in my sleep. Protecting my wife would dictate separate bunks.
I called the gentleman in Florida regarding his homemade trailer. We rerouted our trip to stop and see it. I spent a couple of hours going over it, top to bottom. I was impressed and the size fit me perfectly. I asked for a day to make up my mind and he agreed to hold it. I knew when I woke up in the morning, that I was going to take it, provided we could agree on a price.
We were able to make a deal and I gave him a down payment, with the understanding that I would pick it up in about a month. I had been to his house, met his wife, his brother and a friend. He was, who he said he was and I was comfortable with it all.
When we picked up the trailer I spent a half day with the builder and his friend going over everything. He had every receipt, every owners manual. He was an old school craftsman, an educated engineer from Germany that immigrated to the US just after his schooling. He had made his living with his own transportation trucking company that moved loads too large or heavy for normal shippers. Often he designed the trailers himself. When he first built this trailer, it was just a flat bed for a home repair business he started in Florida, after retiring. Then he made the top, sides and nose, when he and his wife wanted to travel. He made his own vacuum press to form the panels. But he never updated his trailer license
, just kept renewing it's utility status, with the state. I used his license
plate to haul the trailer back to Ohio. What he should have done was had it inspected and a title
issued in Florida.
But, I was told that in Florida, all you needed was a Bill of Sale. That's true for a home built utility trailer under 2000 lbs. The trailer was now well over that, at 4000 lbs. I really think he was afraid they would go after him for the 8 years he had it listed as a utility trailer ? So....when we got back to Ohio, I learned that I would have to go through a complete inspection as a home built RV and the nearest center for that was an hour north of where we lived. It took 5 round trips (10 hours of hauling) to get all the inspections completed. All those receipts he saved were invaluable to this process. But it now has a VIN
. Ohio could only title
it as a new trailer with a date of 2016. They had originally wanted to issue a "Salvage Title" which I refused and had a lot to do with the 5 total visits.
The only hoop left for me to jump through now, is the insurance one. I know from what others have said, that a home built can be insured. But every insurance company I have talked to, has said no....they want a manufacturer in the chain. I asked why, when this trailer is constructed so much better than any stick trailer, I have ever seen ? Their answer left me....perplexed. It was so they have someone to sue, thereby limiting and or defraying their liability. I am so naive, I thought they just insured based on amounts, etc.
But don't think for a second, that I am unhappy with my purchase. I am thrilled with it. At every inspection, I learned more and more about the trailer. and it was all positive. And so many of the things he did, in it's design and construction were/are beautiful. Besides 1/2 King bunks, there is a full sized shower in the bath. There is a full ventilation system in the bathroom that vents through the nose. The generator
is hard wired so you can start it up prior to getting to the campground and have the trailer well chilled when you arrive. He used a standard window A/C unit and split the condenser and mounted that and the cooling fan in the outside wall, very quiet. And no holes in the roof, anywhere. It has 2 fresh water tanks-a 50 and 30 Gal. It has a 50 gal grey and 50 gal black tanks. It has the large Dometic refrigerator/freezer. It does lack storage for clothing. And there are no USB charging ports or tv or tv antenna (just as well to my thinking). The only thing lacking that I may consider adding, is an escape
hatch window in the back wall, and a wfi antenna and booster. To me, it's 22' of home, regardless of where we travel. And tows like a dream. We have our first shake down trip planned for the Adirondacks next month. Next week we camp and cook in the driveway to get our sea legs.
My apologies for the length.