Wondering about Bigfoot Construction - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-16-2008, 05:10 PM   #1
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I'm kind of wondering about the construction of Big Foot. Isn't it a fiberglass shell, with wood furring strips and wood paneling? Insulation between furring strips. If my assumption is correct at least one of the advantages of Scamp, Casita, Trillium construction is lost, that is moisture can accumulate behind the paneling and rot out the furring without you even knowing you have a leak.

I apologize if my assumption is all wrong.
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Old 01-17-2008, 12:35 PM   #2
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Byron,

ALL Fiberglass RVs have areas hidden behind stuff. My Casita had a leak between the shower and the outer wall. I didnít notice until I saw water dripping out the bottom. Scamps et al have benches, cabinets, showers, closets, all kinds of areas where water can leak in and not be seen.

On the forum here we have had discussions on replacing Scamp floors, moisture here and there. Hey, these are hand made at the factories and no two are exactly alike. The fit and finish is so much better on my Bigfoot, but I did have a leak when I picked it up three weeks ago and had to re-caulk an access door.
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Old 01-17-2008, 01:32 PM   #3
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I believe there has to be furrings to attach the paneling to, is this correct.
So the question is are the furrings glassed in (sealed) or or attached some other way to the shell?

Where I'm going it appears that there's three main types of travel trailer construction.

The oldest and most common is what we call a "sticky". A wooden frame and paneling on both inside and out side, with lots of seams and potential leak points. Lots possible leak caused damage areas inside.

Then there's the typical molded fiberglass trailer. Fiberglass shell with a wall treatment directly attached to shell on the inside or painted walls. Possible leak caused damage areas greatly reduced along with a big reduction in possible leak points.

I'll the Big Foot, Escape type as hybrid, where the leak points are greatly reduced as compared to a "sticky", but interior construction is the same. Still superior to sticky construction by a long shot, in my opinion.

Correct if I'm wrong about the construction of Big Foot and Escape.

If I'm correct, I still NOT saying which is better for any individual. Every trailer is a compromise in construction, cost, size, towability, type of rving, etc. and each person or family has to decide which items are more important for them. However the more information less surprises later.
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Old 01-17-2008, 03:11 PM   #4
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Interesting discussion. I'd like to add the Burro double-wall construction to the mix. Commonly available "pink" insulation with foil facing is in between the two shells, so that is what is going to "rot." Except it won't rot, but that still makes it vulnerable to moisture retention to some degree, meaning mold, mildew, etc. is possible. It is unclear to me how much the insulation prevents water from draining down to the floor area and how much gets retained in it.
I admit to being a bit anal about the subject, and I try to cultivate a vigilant eye for leaks plus a few ways to easily check for moisture penetration. Just fixed two: bathroom vent had a crack in the hinge area, demanded a replacement, and moisture came in through the front window area. This turned out to be the hinge bar for the front gravel shield. It was sealed and attached in the BBT era (Before Butyl Tape) and the moisture paths were clearly visible on disassembly. Maybe I'm done with it now.
It would seem to me that wooden framing is particularly vulnerable to the effects of leaks because by the time the leaks show up the framing has probably been saturated for some time, with nowhere for the water to go. Stickies, if they have been leaking, must require an inordinate amount of time and money to fix. I really would not want to go there.
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Old 01-17-2008, 03:24 PM   #5
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Interesting discussion. I'd like to add the Burro double-wall construction to the mix. Commonly available "pink" insulation with foil facing is in between the two shells, so that is what is going to "rot." Except it won't rot, but that still makes it vulnerable to moisture retention to some degree, meaning mold, mildew, etc. is possible. It is unclear to me how much the insulation prevents water from draining down to the floor area and how much gets retained in it.


I have wondered about this part of the burro construction, and whether or not a rebuilder/owner could remove the "pink" and then re-asemble without. Now with the placement of a few small holes, have the void filled with the expanding closed-cell insulation.

Would this eliminate the moisture trap created by the pink, and would it provide better insulation? Is it even do-able?

Here I am, not even completed with the first MFRV rebuild, and considering taking on another. Is this the first sign of an addiction?
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Old 01-17-2008, 04:08 PM   #6
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The Escape is like the Boler, it has a insulation with a vinyl front glued to the fiberglass shell.
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Old 01-17-2008, 04:31 PM   #7
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The Escape is like the Boler, it has a insulation with a vinyl front glued to the fiberglass shell.
Thanks for setting me straight.
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Old 01-17-2008, 06:53 PM   #8
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Dan: (while not really wishing to get off thread)

I would see no advantage in getting the pink out, the foam would create its own problems, such as unwanted expansion or voids. One of the main advantages of the "pink" to me is that it works just fine to insulate the unit and more importantly it allows one to snake wiring practically anywhere. I'm still curious whether the Oliver will allow that. At least the pink won't soak up water then start to deteriorate. Wood is like a moisture sponge.
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Old 01-17-2008, 08:02 PM   #9
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A couple of comments here... all of the trailers have wood in them to one degree or another. All of the manufacturers use wood to reinforce parts of the trailers where there will be a stress load (like the roof air) and glass the wood in. It's great until a seam develops a leak, or a screw hole leaks, fills up the void with water, and then the wood rots as the water has no way to dry out. Floors are particularly vulnerable to that (Burro, Casita) when they're glassed in.

Regarding structure, most all of these trailers depend on the interior for hull support. Casita and Scamp both rely on the closets and vertical panels to support the roofs. The fiberglass structure is seldom adequate to support it's own weight. I can't think of any of these trailers that don't depend on the interior for support. As Mike mentioned, a lot of those support things are hidden and vulnerable to leaks just like a stickie.

All trailers that have through-hulls are vulnerable to leaking at those locations; windows, power cord access ports, air conditioners and roof vents. Scamps have a few more vulnerabilities because they use through-hull rivets with a silicone seal and plastic cap. As the cap and silicone deteriorate, water can leak in.

So.. the bottom line is that none of these trailers are totally waterproof, it's just that some are more vulnerable than others. The various construction methods all have equal parts strong and weak points. What they all have in common that makes them superior to any other construction method is a lack of roof seams, both at the sides and at the panel joints... the most common failure points in stickies.

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Old 01-17-2008, 08:13 PM   #10
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Since this thread seems to be concerned with leaking, is there an ideal method for preventing leaks when having to drill through the shell. From what I see in the construction silicon sealant seems to be the method of choice, but I'm wondering if there is anything better.
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Old 01-17-2008, 08:47 PM   #11
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If I am reading this correct Byron you have an excellent point here which a design difference from the Boler, Casita, Burro and Scamp and the likes. Everywhere my Scamp has a water pipe and a puncture within my fiberglass shell I can get to it to see whats going on, but if a BF is able to pond moisture between walls....eek...bad news. That seems to be one of the major problems with stickies.

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Old 01-17-2008, 09:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
A couple of comments here... all of the trailers have wood in them to one degree or another. All of the manufacturers use wood to reinforce parts of the trailers where there will be a stress load (like the roof air) and glass the wood in. It's great until a seam develops a leak, or a screw hole leaks, fills up the void with water, and then the wood rots as the water has no way to dry out. Floors are particularly vulnerable to that (Burro, Casita) when they're glassed in.

Regarding structure, most all of these trailers depend on the interior for hull support. Casita and Scamp both rely on the closets and vertical panels to support the roofs. The fiberglass structure is seldom adequate to support it's own weight. I can't think of any of these trailers that don't depend on the interior for support. As Mike mentioned, a lot of those support things are hidden and vulnerable to leaks just like a stickie.

All trailers that have through-hulls are vulnerable to leaking at those locations; windows, power cord access ports, air conditioners and roof vents. Scamps have a few more vulnerabilities because they use through-hull rivets with a silicone seal and plastic cap. As the cap and silicone deteriorate, water can leak in.

So.. the bottom line is that none of these trailers are totally waterproof, it's just that some are more vulnerable than others. The various construction methods all have equal parts strong and weak points. What they all have in common that makes them superior to any other construction method is a lack of roof seams, both at the sides and at the panel joints... the most common failure points in stickies.

Roger

Yes, all the support mounting is vulnerable to leaks in all trailers, but some support is more vulnerable to rot than others. I contend that instead of two major construction types, there are 3.

1 Roof and side panels with an interior wood framing.
2 Molded fiberglass shell with an interior wood framing.
3. Molded fiberglass.

It appears to me that the only real difference between a Big Foot and a true sticky is Big Foot uses a molded fiberglass shell rather than panels. I agree that that is a big difference, but not as big as those with a lot less wood. Yes any wood is vulnerable to rot if moisture gets into it. But a moisture path is less likely when there's no direct path to exterior of the shell. Not all molded fiberglass trailers have a A/C so have even less wood. A window leak is not going to rot out part of the wall like one of our members experienced.

My whole point is when purchasing a trailer try to understand the whole ramifications of different styles, including construction. All molded fiberglass trailers are not the same.

It seems to me that you've got bit defensive on this issue. I by no means intended to insult either you or Mike's intelligence. You've owned enough trailers that you've made your choice abased the compromises that best suits your needs. I assume that Mike has also.
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Old 01-17-2008, 10:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
I contend that instead of two major construction types, there are 3.

1 Roof and side panels with an interior wood framing.
[b]2 Molded fiberglass shell with an interior wood framing.
3. Molded fiberglass.
#2 could describe my Fiber Stream. The single shell is molded fiberglass with the inside surface merely painted. The partition walls and cabinetry are wood framed with paneling surfaces.
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Old 01-17-2008, 10:25 PM   #14
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4. Molded glass shell, molded glass interior walls and furniture.

Burro, UHaul.

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