Any rot in FG trailers? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-18-2011, 03:09 PM   #1
Alm
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Any rot in FG trailers?

My first post, so pardon naive questions. I will (hopefully!) buy old FG trailer in a year or two, already know what I need:16-19ft (no 5th wheels or longer than 21 ft - it will be only me there). Something like Scamp 16 or Bigfoot 17.5, years 1976-1996, can't afford a newer one.

I don't discard old 17ft wood/aluminum trailers too, because they are plentiful and cheap - but rot in old wooden frames here in NorthWest is possible, and difficult to detect and pain to repair. Owners are caulking the roof, thinking they've resolved the problem, but they've just sealed the rot inside (and probably missed leaks around doors, windows and marker lights).

Finally, my question: Rot in FG trailers must be less a problem than in wooden/aluminum structure, but is it still a problem? There is no wood in the roof, but is there a wood in the walls around the windows and doors? (I don't mean decorative wooden trim - this is easy to notice and fix if it's rotten). And what about floors in FG trailers - if there is plywood over FG bottom, then it can become soft too, right?
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Old 01-18-2011, 03:36 PM   #2
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I do know that in my Trillium there is wood between the fiberglass and the ensolite around the windows...This is so there is something for the screws to hold into. If you have a leaking window there is the potential to rot the wood, but I'm not sure how you would check to see if the wood is rotten without taking out the window. A good way to see if the window is leaking is to check under the cushions directly below the window....if it leaking you will see water/wet or a dark, rusty brown residue left from a time when it was wet....Hope this helps a bit and good luck on your search!

Oh yeah....Welcome to the forum!!!
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Old 01-18-2011, 04:26 PM   #3
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I am pretty sure there is no wood at all in the sides and tops of most FG trailers, including Scamp and Casita. They do generally have wood floors, though.

The most common cause of floor rot in FG trailers is a water leak from inside plumbing or around a window or door, but not from water splashing up underneath.
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Old 01-18-2011, 05:54 PM   #4
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Alm,

This could get some discussion going.

Any time that you have holes, anywhere to the outside, water can and will get in.
Guess where it generally ends up - on the floor.

Wood rot, mold etc is also common in older fiberglass trailers. I've looked at a couple so far and walked away from them due to this. Fiberglass is both good and not so good and has its own set of problems and/or pecularities.

If you haven't already done so, check out You Tube try fiberglass travel trailers. There are a fair number of people who are ripping apart and rebuilding these trailers. Some are well documented and if you listen and watch you will be able to make more informed decisions when you look at a trailer. You will be able to check and decide for yourself how much work it will need and if you are capable of doing it.

Generally, the appliances, windows - will be good in older trailers, axles may be ?
holding tanks, water tanks, are ? Cushions are generally worn out.
Individually the parts don't add up to much but taken as a whole you can spend lots of $. If it's a labour of love - no biggie - labour is free, sort of. If it's for your use and resale down the road, you could lose your shirt.

There are jems out there, but they are hard to find and generally command top dollar.

Initially I was looking for a fixer upper, sort of, but have pretty well ruled that out now - unless I find a really really good "deal".

Floors and frames - all sorts of systems out there, some good, some not so good. Both require a knowledgeable person to inspect as they are both very labour intensive to either repair or have repaired (read expensive).

To put buying a trailer in perspective, you are looking at say a fiberglass trailer that was built in 1976 - 1986. Would you buy a boat this old? How about a car or truck? If you did, how carefully would you inspect it and how much would you be willing to spend on repairs to bring it up to your standards?

I forgot to add, check out Kijiji for British Columbia Search under Boler . BC seems to have the most of these listed that I've seen anywhere.

Still wet behind the ears - Wayne
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Old 01-18-2011, 06:13 PM   #5
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Yes, it can be

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alm View Post
...years 1976-1996, can't afford a newer one.

Finally, my question: Rot in FG trailers must be less a problem than in wooden/aluminum structure, but is it still a problem?
My Fiber Stream has wood interior partitions and furniture, much of it is dry-rotted, and areas of the floor are soft. Thus far I have chosen to live with it because there is no mold. When I bought it, one screw through the roof for the refrigerator/pantry cabinet was missing. The open hole allowed leakage that destroyed much of the top.

If the furniture and partitions are also fiberglass and assembled with rivets, there is a marked reduction in rot, but I cannot count all of the floor rot repair posts I have read here in the last 7 years.
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:08 PM   #6
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Well...it depends on the brand and the particular trailer. My 1979 Boler was a basket case, there was no rot, there was basically no wood to rot. The only place there is wood in the whole trailer is under the fiberglass floor and the cubby covers. The floor might be rotted, I don't have any idea. I added bamboo flooring.

The Bigfoot on the other hand has lotso wood. Wood "rafters", wood furniture, wood photo finish paneling, plywood in the floor and in the fridge compartment. It also is made by laminating the fiberglass to foam insulation and then to the interior paneling (in 1987 anyway, newer ones also have a layer of plywood at least in the ceiling). "Sandwich" construction. Some of them come delaminated. Ask me how I know all of this.

Having also owned vintage stick built trailers I can say almost all of them have rot. If you see ANY surfaced damage in one I can guarantee (ok, 99% of the time) the rot is in the walls/ceiling too. Are they fixable? Of course they are, there are hundreds of blogs and sites devoted to vintage trailer restorations.

Kind of depends on what you are looking for. All fiberglass trailer are cool. 1976-1996 stick built trailers are just old trailer, you have to go older than that to get cool.

Too bad you don't want a 22 ft stick built trailer...I have one for sale.
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:04 AM   #7
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Welcome to the forum. To recap many of the previous comments - Yes, rot can be a problem. Frederick mentioned soft spots in floors and dry rot in cabinetry. I had to replace over 1/3 of my sub floor and totally rebuild my cabinets and bulkheads. The culprit was a leaking water heater that the previous owners did not catch.

Many trailers sweat - condensation due to temperature differences inside and out. There could be holes in the hull which allow water to creep behind cabinets. Plumbing, both inflow and outflow can cause rot. Some trailers have double floors with wood between. Pierce either inside or outside and rot could be a real problem. Damp can cause wall covering or insulation to peel and mold can get a foothold. Cabinets and doors made of laminate can delaminate.

What to do - print the Buyers Check List from the bar on the right. Have an experienced RV mechanic look over your prospective rig. Money spent on a pre-buy inspection is never wasted.

Have fun looking and buy intelligently.
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:27 AM   #8
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I have a 13' Casita. The only wood that I can "see" are the particle board cabinet doors inside the trailer (I guess that would be a wood composite). Of course I can't see under my carpet on the walls or floor. I looked underneath my trailer and I don't see any wood there. Only metal braces running underneath the trailer and white fiberglass in between the braces.

I have very pleased with my Casita except for the cabinet doors. I immediately painted the particle board doors because I think they look cheap.

So hopefully no wood rot is in my future! Fingers crossed!

Patty
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:38 PM   #9
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Thanks for the tips, guys. Everything helps. I am familiar with renovation pains and have found that don't enjoy it. Can learn and do most of this including plumbing and electrical, but some things are better to have somebody fix it rather than suffering in DIY for months.

As to the trailers - my worst nightmare is dealing with rot in walls and roof. Those are difficult. It definitely looks that FG trailers have fewer such problems. OTH, very old FG material itself can degrade and simply start falling apart (newer FG have better resin), don't wont to start a another discussion on this.

Yeah, I know, Bifgfoot is all plastered with wood inside, but this is inside, easy to access, and mostly decorative.
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:47 PM   #10
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The wood on the walls is structural, it is part of the lamination that supports the fiberglass. The fiberglass in Bigfoots is not self supporting.
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:22 PM   #11
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New trailers can be costly, but one must try to factor in an estimate of some sort for repair/upkeep costs on older used trailers. Sometimes the used one can end up costing more than new, and sometimes it is hard to look at the unit and tell that it will turn out that way.

Alm, too bad you can't afford a loan payment for a new trailer. I bet you would like the concept of the Alto by Safari Condo. They say they use nothing that could rot in the construction; it's all aluminum framing and durable materials, no wood. I don't think even the cabinets are wood, if I understand correctly. I would like to see one of the FG mfrs go this direction... do away with wood use altogether in favor of materials that can't degrade. Well, there will always be seat cushions that can get ruined, but they are easy to replace!

Another thought: a person could make a pretty good (basic) travel trailer out of an all-steel cargo trailer. Just add a bed and a couple of chairs, build a bit of cabinet to hold some drawers and stuff, make a sink out of an aluminum mixing bowl, etc. Not fancy but camp-able.
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:41 PM   #12
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Our boler has no wood at all in the sides and top; we do have plywood layer on top of the fiberglass floor though. So far so good, original vinyl is till on the floor. We considered and new custom built Taylor Coach but we are happy with the boler. The rounded shape and super ultra light design makes it easy to pull. I moved it by hand from front yard to rear drive with out help! It was empty and the balance is great.
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:08 AM   #13
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Hijacking the topic - do I see "Toyota Corolla" in signature??

Quote:
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Our Boler ... I moved it by hand from front yard to rear drive with out help!
13 ft Boler/Scamp weighs under 1200 lbs, OK. My problem is that I want at least 16 ft. It didn't cross my mind that with some 16-footers I could avoid having a truck. 16 ft Boler/Scamp weighs 1800 lbs dry weight, and Toyota Corolla used to be rated at 2000 lbs. I'm not worried about GVW of a trailer - the only inhabitant is me, and I can tow it with empty water tanks. But... today Toyota Corolla in North America is rated at 1500 lbs - don't know since when, and U-haul website still has a video showing Corolla with 2000 lbs capacity. I doubt they changed something in the car build, because in countries like Australia it is still rated at 2000 lbs for trailers with brakes.

I wonder if here in Canada and US if the original car manual from a used car says "2000 lbs" - is it still legal to tow 2000 lbs? (It's not a safety question, I understand the risks and car wear issues).

PS: In the UK they allow Corollas to pull 3000 lbs!
http://www.uktow.com/towing%20capacity.asp#tab1
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:11 AM   #14
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My 77 scamp does have wood in it. There are wood edges fiberglassed into the walls around the benches this is so the benches can be screwed down. My door had "rot issues" I took the door apart and there was moistly coir? (forget the name but it s a rot resistant almond smelling product that someone said was made of coconut skins)..however wood pieces were around the window on the door and there were wood pieces glassed in....yes they rotted and yes I replaced them. The floor is a fiberglass infused plywood thus more rot resistant but not "rot proof"..I still check under the fridge frequently and around the edges to check for water leaks...about every other week just to make sure critters stay out and water is not standing..
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