"Two Foot-itis"? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-06-2007, 06:48 AM   #1
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"Two foot-itis" comes from the boating world, a disease whereupon you lust after a boat two feet longer than your current one. There is also a maxim where the larger the boat, the less it is used.
My only absolute was a bed large enough to sleep two in utter comfort. My Surfside has, I believe, the largest bed (57") in the smallest trailer (14), and it has served wonderfully over a summers camping and a 8000 Km trip. I can pull it with my Subaru Forester, which gets 30 mpg when it is not a tug. Hook up and go.
It all started when I discovered the huge leap in convenience that adding a porta potti offered. Image having a bathroom and shower! An oven, a four person dinette and a bed! Now I have two foot-itis. As I perused the fiberglassrv albums and trailers for sale, however, reality raised it's ugly head. Hmm, need a 3500 lb capacity tow vehicle. Sway bars. Load levelers. Tight site problems. And the beds aren't that large unless the trailer is really big.
Qualifier - I realize that who you are and how you use a trailer is a big variable. I am impressed with the experience of this forum, so my question is this. What are the opinions of those that have been there and done that? Any regrets from moving to a larger trailer? What size has ended up as just right for you?
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Old 05-06-2007, 07:49 AM   #2
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Cam, what a great question; and one I've been playing around with for several years! The quest for the "perfect" boat or fiberglass trailer is Quixotic. "Perfect" depends heavily on where you are in life, what your finances will allow, and how much time and energy you're willing to spend searching.

I've been fortunate in that I've found a number of trailers of different flavors for sale reasonably close, and I've done pretty well financially with them as I bought and sold them, so it's really been kind of fun. I've met lots of great folks along the way of buying and selling, many of whom I stay in touch with and who I am now pleased to call friends.

As you probably know I've had a parade of trailers from a 13' Scamp and UHaul to a 34' Airstream tri-axle. I've also had an Airstream 325 moho. I also come from the boating world having had a Neptune 24' trailer sailer for several years in the 1990s, and I always thought a Newport 28 would be "nice". We also had an E150 van conversion in the mid-90s that I absolutely loved and towed the Neptune with.

We enjoyed the on-the-road move-around room, down the road TV/VCR, and access to the fridge of the moho, but it was too big and you had to completely disconnect and reconnect if you wanted to go sight-seeing or shopping and didn't tow a car. The E150 was great for travelling, but didn't have any amenities.

I enjoyed all of the fiberglass trailers I've had, but none of them had an 80" queen (except the Burro wide-body). Living in Iowa, I really like the quality and four-seasons ability of the 17' Bigfoot, and it's floorplan is OK, but I liked the floorplan of the Burro better. At 6'5" tall, the 80" queen has become the gold standard for beds I look for, and few of the smaller trailers offer it. Our 1970 Airstream Safari 23' was almost perfect for towing, but just a bit short on living space with a side rear double bed.

For us, I've decided that the best compromise between towability and liveability is the 25' Bigfoot with the rear queen and front couch option (rather than the dinette) and that's what we have now. If you look in the "for sale" section, you'll see I have the 17' Bigfoot up for sale and we're selling the Excursion I use for a tow vehicle and are replacing it with a 23' Born Free moho on the E450 chassis to tow the 25' Bigfoot. The 25' Bigfoot is really no more difficult to tow or take around than the 17', yet offers a LOT more room and amenities. It seems (and is) huge compared to a 13' though. At 5300 lbs dry, while lightweight for it's size, is significantly heavier than the average 13-17' trailers. By comparison, my 17' Bigfoot is about 2800 lbs, as was my 16' Scamp Custom Deluxe side dinette all decked out. My Burro 17' wide body was probably about 500-600 lbs lighter at around 2200 or 2300 lbs.

After assessing what we really liked and didn't like about each of the trailers, moho, and van, we decided that having a short class "B+" or "C" moho to use as a tow vehicle for the trailer makes a lot of sense for us. The floorplan of the moho has a side couch and captains chairs and seats seven (including the cab) for traveling in comfort with family or friends. The fridge and bath are a bonus convenience along with the on-board genset that can power the trailer if we're boondocking. The trailer can stay on-site (where-ever that is) and we can take the short moho with us and still have our comforts for travel and sight-seeing in a vehicle that can (theoretically) be parked in a standard parking space. We've decided that the short moho and 25' Bigfoot will carry us nicely into retirement in a few years.

Something that I've found interesting is that regardless of what your gas mileage is when not towing, when towing near the max rating for your vehicle, gas mileage seems to hover from 12-15 mpg regardless of the tow vehicle or trailer. Some will obviously get a little better, and some a little worse, and mileage is affected by weather and terrain, but I'd guess that 90% of all rigs fall in that range towing. So, we decided that it's much better to be larger and more comfortable at 12 mpg towing than smaller and less comfortable at 12 mpg towing. BTW, I average 12mpg both with the 6 cyl Tundra towing the 17' Bigfoot and the 10 cyl Excursion towing the 25' Bigfoot. I got about 13 mpg average towing the Scamp 16' with the Tundra. Amazing, isn't it? And that's also been my experience towing a 13' UHaul with a Toyota pickup with a 22RE 4 Cyl, and the Burro and Scamp with a Toyota pickup with a 3.0l 6 cyl is that I averaged 12-13 mpg on trips across Iowa with all of them. We averaged 14 mpg towing our Scamp 19 ft fifth wheel from Spokane to Iowa with our Chevy S10 6cyl 4dr pickup.

Although by 1985 Scamp current pricing standards we have a lot invested, by Class A diesel pusher standards, we've spent about what the down payment on a new one would be. Ten years ago I'd never have been able to do this. It's where we are in life right now that has made it possible. I'll tell you that I've thoroughly enjoyed every trailer, moho, boat, and RV that we've owned over the years, and each one has made special memories regardless of how much we spent for it. Some of my best memories were from 1980-81 in our 1978 Scamp 13 and '79 Jeep CJ-7 in Anza-Borrego and at the Colorado River.

Having some cash available, shopping carefully, knowing what you're looking for and, as importantly, looking AT makes it possible for you to make a quick decision when you see a good buy. The "best" trailer is the one that suits your needs at the moment.

Roger
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Old 05-06-2007, 08:02 AM   #3
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Cam, if you want a bigger bed without going too big, then look at the Casita Liberty or the Egg Camper. I haven't seen an Egg Camper in person, but they are very intriging. You get the bigger bed AND a wider aisle without much additional weight. More than yours for sure, but no more than most eggs.
The Liberty doesn't give you a dinette if you keep it made up like a king sized bed all the time, but it's workable. The Egg is a little wider plus it has a side dinette as well. The additional aisle space would be great.
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Old 05-06-2007, 08:14 AM   #4
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FWIW, many of those that have thought that bigger was better actually came back to a molded fiberglass in the 16 - 17 foot range. I do not believe that the 17' would work with your current tow vehicle.

I always thought that the Surfside was a good size. That extra foot of space really allows a lot of options if you decided to redesign the inside. Much more than the 13'. Plus, they don't come up too often, so if you do decide to "trade up" I'd hang onto it until you know for sure that's what you want. Unless you are Roger, of course. He always finds the good deals.
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Old 05-06-2007, 08:42 AM   #5
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Roger - thanks so much. The depth of your experience is tremendously valuable.
Suz - thanks as well; plan B is going through the Surfside; building a 2 person dinette and doing the value upgrades.
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Old 05-06-2007, 11:51 AM   #6
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Cam, I started my 'camping' experience as a teen in a tent spending rowdy weekends out at Falcon Lake (remember The Nest?) and went from that to a soft top tent trailer, (which I still own today) camping in exactly the same camp spot!!

In later years with the purchase of an import pickup we opted to get a slide in camper for it. This move resulted in owning 2 or 3 over the years. We then moved up to a 30ft motor coach (for ten years) with all its luxuries, but ended up selling it too. Being 'car people' we discovered that many other rodder types have small fiberglass trailers (and some tear drops) that they use to attend longer distance or overnight get togethers. We stumbled on our glass egg and scooped it up and haven't looked back yet. We like the cozyness of the smaller compartment but also realize also that a couple needs to have a 'special relationship' to be confined in such small quarters for any lenght of time. I guess MAYBE thats why we like to cook an eat outside instead of inside the trailer....
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Old 05-06-2007, 12:21 PM   #7
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Hey Cam,
I'm new around here but will chip in with my experience, fwiw. Although currently trailerless, we are looking to remedy that after downsizing from a 26-foot 5th wheel trailer, and an F-250 propane powered tug. We found the 5th just too big, as was the truck and while the unit performed well, we seemed isolated from the camping experience that started with a rented Boler, then our own hard-top tent trailer. Now, as we look toward retirement and more extended travel, we have our eye on an Escape 17 - which I realize doesn't have the bed size you need. We have a new Ford Ranger as a tow vehicle, which makes us more comfrotable with both the tow and the trailer. But I think, as others have said, that what's best is what suits you now. Perhaps in the future we'll decide we need larger, but the eggs seem to hold their value so that won't be a problem down the road either. But I sure hope you find what you're looking for and that, most of all, you're happy with it.
cheers
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Old 05-06-2007, 12:23 PM   #8
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We have:

No desire for a bigger rig (and the bigger tow vehicle and the bigger license and insurance and maintenance costs and the lower gas mileage).

No desire to haul blackwater and greywater tanks (and empty them, and maintain them - we'd rather not travel with our human waste).

No desire for a permanent bed setup (Barb and I actually sleep better in the egg than we do in our queen-size at home!).

No desire for a TV or stereo; we camp to get away from that stuff (and make our own music around the campfire).

Being old backpackers and canoe campers, we experience the 13-foot UHaul as a sybaritic luxury. And as the cover on our spare tire proclaims, it is "Just 'Un Ouef' for two."
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Old 05-07-2007, 09:12 AM   #9
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To add to what Jack said... and what I said earlier... a lot of what makes an RV combo "perfect" for you is what you use it for. I know that Jack and Barb travel extensively with the UHaul and it fits their travel style perfectly.

We don't travel as much currently with ours as we use it for our "vacation condo" while we continue to work daily. My wife commutes 40 miles each way every day, so during the warm season, we take the trailer to nice parks near where she works, and I commute for a week at a time. It gives her a break from the commute, gives me some time away from our town, and just generally breaks up our routine. We're not interested in "roughing it" when we do that tho. I want all of the amenities of home while we're doing that.

After I retire, I expect to use our combination as a rolling vacation condo to visit our kids and have a comfortable place to stay while we do it, since they're all young and don't have accommodations for us.

I have done the "camping thing" since I was about four years old in every style imaginable, from backpacking miles and miles into the boonies for days and sleeping under the stars, to motorcycle camping with a two-man tent, tent trailers, and up to the high-end mohos.

I miss the solitude available in forest service primitive camps to a degree, but in the mid-90s I also began to find them becoming more populated with folks who I really wasn't interested being around. I'm a pretty big guy, and am more than competent to take care of my own safety concerns when necessary, but being in the middle of nowhere with folks of questionable intents and doing so by choice stopped being a fun outing for me.

Children, their numbers, and their ages can change your camping style and quickly. Physical needs as you age can change your camping style. The amount of time you have available versus your investment in your camping equipment can change your style. Your financial fortunes can change your camping style. There are lots of non-camping related issues that have major impacts on the way you perceive "camping" and how you set about doing it.

So, your "camping style" and how you use your trailer should dictate what you want and how much of it you think you need. Those "needs" change as your lifestyle does.

Roger
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Old 05-07-2007, 10:38 AM   #10
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I have found I have to ask myself if I'm a "camper" or an "RV'er." I think I fall into the latter category. The reason I'm thinking a little bigger. Interesting topic. Dwain
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Old 05-07-2007, 11:41 AM   #11
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I've looked at larger trailers, some huge things, some 16' Casitas or Scamps. I come back to the same question, why do I bother to connect to trailer and head out. Why would I get in a moho and head out. The main answer seems always be the same. I do it to get away from the riggers of everyday life. I do it to get away from the fix this or fix that or mow the lawn, etc., etc., etc. Also to enjoy the sound of a rushing stream, the sound of the breeze in the trees, slow down and marvel at the wonders of nature. To be able to sit and do nothing. To take a walk on a trail. All this and more.

The larger and more complex the trailer or RV the more time has to be spent taking care of systems, stuck slide outs, leaking hot water tanks, cleaning black water tanks, etc. So it appears to me with a larger trailer I'd add system maintenance of the trailer along with systme maintenance of house, car, lawn mower, etc. When what I want is to get away for bit from the need to maintain those things.

I always remember my early days of tent camping and the amount of stuff I packed to take with us. Then we discovered backpacking and what a relief to not have all that stuff to deal with. We now enjoy both a bit of backpacking and trailering with a minimum of stuff and systems.
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Old 05-07-2007, 01:04 PM   #12
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Cam,
I learned long ago that bigger is not better ! We used to have a 23 ft. trailer which had to be pulled with a 3/4 ton truck - what a pain in the patookie that was !! It was so awkward to pull around and place into some tight spots, that it stayed stored in our townhouse compound most of the time.

Then - - TA DA ! We espied the Casita on the internet. The 17 footer looked like something we could be more comfortable with. So, after having viewed one locally, ordered one. The Spirit Deluxe caught our attention so that is what we now have. Downside to this model is having to crawl over the Mrs. in the middle of the night. Getting back in bed is no more convenient either. lol ! Once, trying gingerly to step over her, I lost my balance and fell full weight on her. That tended to awaken her.

The Liberty would be much easier for two people for nocturnal navigation. As for the comfort of either bed? Well, ours is extremely comfortable. No regrets. As for towing? Piece of cake. Even a cave man could do it. Don
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Old 05-07-2007, 02:18 PM   #13
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I'm with Roger on the 80" queen thing.

When I gutted and refit the PlayPac we had, the entire interior was designed around that. I basically worked it so I could place in a standard residential queen mattress. It was big, clunky and heavy - but very very comfortable. If there's a place in the trailer where I'm planning on spending 8 hours a day - I'm going to put some attention there.

If I was going to redo the PlayPac today - I don't think I'd do exactly what I did, but I'd still stick with the residential queen. Just change some of the other stuff.

My mentality with the trailers has been more one of listing out my wants/needs and then trying to figure out the minimum trailer that satisfies those wants, keeping the benefits of "small" in mind at all times. I tend to equate "large" with "ungainly", "awkward" and just general "pain in the rear"ness. I don't MIND going bigger - but I want to get a whole darn lot for the extra hassles I know I'll have to deal with.

Case in point: With the arrival of the girls - the family now stands (well, 1/3 of it just crawls...) at six. That's too tight of a squeeze into a fiberglass trailer (yeah, I know, the Casita Spirit Standard with bunks...). I just plain don't want to go with a fabric sided pop-up (although they easily satisfy my size and sleeping capacity needs) and I REALLY don't want to head into mega-trailer land. Although the larger trailers will give us the space, I really don't like pulling monsters around. Especially given our driveway (I pull in straight, then unhitch and manually move the trailer into it's parking space.) I don't need the hassles of a big trailer. The Esterel (French hard-sided pop-up) is right at my limits of what I'm willing to tolerate size-wise. For just 2 people - I think the case for the 13-footers is pretty good! Although, if it were me, I'd look into cutting out part of the kitchen/closet and widening out the bed.

mkw
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Old 05-07-2007, 03:13 PM   #14
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Every time I think it would be nice to have a little more aisle room I remind myself of how much nicer it is to have a trailer the same width as my truck. And since I never manage to use up all the storage space I have, I hardly need more. Of course, as a lone traveler my needs are different from those of a couple or a family. But for me the 17SD was, is, and probably shall remain just about perfect.
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