What to beware of... - Fiberglass RV

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Old 09-17-2009, 01:10 PM   #1
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So I'm semi-shopping semi-casually for an egg.

I race a small sailboat, and my wife comes along as shore crew. She would like a home away from home where she can stay while I'm out sailing. She wants a pop-up trailer, but I think an egg would be better. Her thought is that a pop-up is easy to pull and set up. I think an egg weighs less, takes less maintenance, and is easier to set up. Just level it, hook up the propane, and move in.

I think it would do her well to see what is out there in these trailers. If there a meet or whatever anytime soon in our area I'd love to know (An hour north of Toronto).

I have locted a Surf-Side nearby that is for sale at a reasonable price at an RV dealer. Supposing I take SWMBO to look at it, what are common failures in these, or what are things to look for? I've read about doors and frames having issues, is there much else to beware of? On boats I know that FG blistering, delamination, and gel-coat crazing can bring value down, and be very difficult to repair - does this hold true with the trailers? Are the trailers usually wood-cored FG, or is it just solid FG?

Thanks for your help, sorry about all the questions. I may take a drive to Burlington and look at the damaged trailer for sale there just to get a feel for their construction...

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Old 09-17-2009, 01:37 PM   #2
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British Columbia
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All i can say is that I would buy a FG unit before buying a pop up. They are easy to pull and set up.
Look at this buyers check list.

Retired Underground Coal Miner.
Served in Canadian Army (1PPCLI)
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Old 09-17-2009, 01:51 PM   #3
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We also spent lots of time hashing over the merits of tenting, pop-ups and small trailers. Just recently bought a 13' Scamp and have had two short trips and LOVED IT. We are pulling with our Honda van and it tows great not to mention the wonderful gas milage. The past few years have traveled with a large 5th wheel & truck so this year our 4 month trip will be quite an experience. Can't wait and parking should be a dream..... I hope. Good luck.
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Old 09-17-2009, 02:02 PM   #4
Name: Patty
Trailer: Casita 13 ft
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There are a number of things to think about regarding a pop-up trailer. First of all if you are going that route there are tons of them on ebay and craigslist so you won't have any trouble finding one in the size and for the price you are looking for.

However, in these times and considering your wife will be in the trailer alone at times, there is no way I would go that route. Security is a big reason. I read on one of these forums that a man was sleeping in the pull out part one night and an arm came in through the screen....yep. Also, everytime you want to leave the trailer to go out to eat or shopping, you have to consider whether you should pull in the side beds to protect your stuff. Just too dang much trouble in my book. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there are a bunch of unsavory people out camping, but certainly you need to always be aware and thinking about security issues. Will you be using your camper in bear country? Yikes! Not saying that a fiberglass camper will protect you from a bear attack....just sayin' to think about a number of things before you decide which one to get.

These little fiberglass campers can last well into 40+ years if they are well taken care of. Pop-ups with canvas being a huge part of the construction, just not going to last as long.

Security, ease of set up, the fact that they are lightweight and last a long time, all make the fiberglass the perfect camper in my book. I may be a tad prejudice since we own two of them....LOL.

Good luck with your research and happy trails with whatever you get.

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Old 09-17-2009, 02:23 PM   #5
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Thanks for the thoughts guys!

Is there a spot where brand specific "things to watch for" can be found? I know that doors not closing right is more of an issue on some brands than others, and I know that floor pans rot out in some of the trailers but are better designed in others, etc...
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Old 09-17-2009, 04:56 PM   #6
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Thinking about pop-up vs fiberglass trailers:
  • Setup: Whether you buy up a fiberglass trailer or pop-up your first set-up steps are the same. You back it in, un-hitch, get your trailer level, turn on the propane and connect the water, electric, and waste lines (if both your trailer and the site you park in have those connections). Once these things are done you can go inside a fiberglass trailer, but with a pop-up there's lots of cranking, pulling, and pushing that still has to be done before you can come in from the rain. Don't enjoy camping in the rain? Well, remember there's even more cranking, pulling, and pushing to do when you decide to go home because it starts raining.
  • Towing: Before we bought our "big" Scamp 5th wheel we looked at pop-up trailers, and one thing that surprised me was that pop-up trailers with similar equipment weigh more. The biggest difference when you're towing is you can see through your rear-view mirror and over the top of a pop-up, but not so well that you can depend on seeing what's behind your trailer. You can see a truck, but lower-profile vehicles, like a sedans, can hide in your trailer's blind spot.
  • Something else to consider when you're towing: when you pull in to a rest stop with a fiberglass trailer you can hop out of the car and into the trailer, sit down at the dinette, have a bite to eat, take a nap, use the pot, and grab a cold soda out of the 'fridge when you get under way again. Not so with a pop-up.
  • One more advantage of an egg is there are lots of easily accessible places to put things. A pop-up trailer might have a little under-the-counter storage space and some harder to access storage areas under the dinette, but fiberglass trailers usually have easy-to-access, eye-level upper cabinets that ring the ceiling, small vertical closets with hang space and space under the counters and dinette benches, all of which is accessible without raising the lid and sliding out the beds.
As for maintainance, it sounds like you already have a pretty good idea of what's involved and what to look for. As with boats, some used trailers are ready to take out the first day you own them, others are neglected hulls that leak. Take a look at the Buyer's Checklist for some good ideas on what to look for.

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Old 09-17-2009, 05:09 PM   #7
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Name: Frederick
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Is there a spot where [b]brand specific "things to watch for" can be found?
Um, Every molded fiberglass trailer out there has potential for failures in one system or another. These trailers are more alike than different.
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
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Old 09-17-2009, 05:33 PM   #8
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Because they're difficult to heat and keep warm, a pop-up has a substantially shorter camping season than a FGRV or---heaven forbid---a conventional RV.
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Old 09-17-2009, 06:49 PM   #9
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Think of it this way maybe... if you buy a fiberglass trailer and don't like it or it doesn't suite your needs... you can sell it and pretty quickly because they're in demand. If you buy a popup and don't like it or it doesn't suite your needs... how long is it going to take to sell?

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Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
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Old 09-17-2009, 07:51 PM   #10
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Look to the left hand column at the side of the page, under "Document Center", and print off the "Buyers Check List". Take it with you when you look at a trailer.
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Old 09-18-2009, 08:03 AM   #11
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WOW! Thanks for all the info guys!

On the way to work today I checked the owners manual in my car and was pleasantly surprised to see that it has a tow rating of 3300 lbs, and a transmission cooler as standard equipment (Volvo C-70). Our other vehicles are an Astro van (which can pull 5500 lbs - and has! - Its my work truck) and a Chev Montanna. I think the montanna may be the weakest of the 3, but thats what SWMBO drives, so I'll have to look into its tow rating, and let her decide if she'd be comfortable towing with it.

The buyer's checklist looks pretty comprehensive. Thanks for that info!


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