Bermuda Trillium - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-12-2003, 07:56 AM   #1
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Bermuda Trillium

Where to begin.... I just picked up my trailer on Sunday in Tennesee. Boy have I learned a lot this week! FiberglassRV has saved my life, literally, and a whole lot of aggravation. Wasn't sure where to post this saga, but here goes....

I picked the trailer up late in the day. The sellers were very kind, but there was a lot to absorb and I wanted to get to the campground before dark. The campground was only about 20 miles away, so I figured I could ignore a few of my doubts about the setup and figure it all out later.

Lesson #1: Do NOT move until you are sure everything is right.

We hitched up and all looked good, then they asked if I wanted the custom made plywood cover for the tongue. I didn't think I'd use it, but wanted more time to think about it. They offered me a rack for the back of the trailer. I knew it could cause problems, but figured I'd be ok until I got to the campground and could rearrange things.

Their home was out in the country so there were no parking lots to practice towing. We were only going a short way, so I went ahead and got on the freeway.

I accelerated slowly and things were going smoothly until I hit 55 MPH. Suddenly the rear rack started to sway wildly as the plywood cover caught the wind like a sail. I took my foot off the gas, but we didn't slow down much. It started swaying the trailer and one of the bungee cords broke.

This started a rapid whip like action through the rig as the rack flailed and the trailer began to fishtail. I couldn't hold the wheel steady and the car became like the end of the whip, cracking back and forth. I tapped the brakes lightly a few times to try to slow down some, but of course, that made the fishtailing worse because the trailer brakes were not adjusted properly. I was starting to envision my new trailer splattered all over the highway and who knew what would become of us? Camping World had installed the controller very low, and I couldn't steer and use the manual brakes at the same time.

Suddenly the right hand trailer tire blew. We turned 180 degrees. I was sure the trailer would tip and we would be t-boned by a passing car. Miraculously we came to a complete stop on the left shoulder facing oncoming traffic. I had just enough presence of mind to see to it that the trailer was straight and out of traffic. I turned to see one of the trailer hubcaps rolling across the median and coming to rest at the edge of the opposite lanes.

The trailer door had popped open and a few things were scattered over the median, but otherwise, all appeared to be fine.

Lesson #2: Make sure your trailer is covered by your roadside assistance plan.

I had not yet joined an RV club, so I had to pay for the tow truck to come out and change the tire. Fortunately, there was a good spare on the back. The driver also kindly turned the vehicle around for me.

While I waited for the tow truck I unhooked the rack from the back. I deposited the plywood carrier in the middle of the median strip (I am not one to litter, but there was no way on God's green earth that thing was going back on the trailer!). I gave the rack to the towtruck driver.

My nerves eventually calmed enough to get back in and tow the trailer to the campground. We asked for a 30 amp site and discovered to our horror that it was not a pull-through. By now my nerves were in no mood to learn to back a trailer into a downhill sloped campsite. But, I also REALLY wanted to settle down for the night.

Backing was NOT fun, no matter which direction I turned the trailer kept pivoting in the same direction. Eventually my traveling companion decided she could do a better job since I wasn't following her directions well enough to suit her. She got it in far enough to get the car off the road and we decided we liked the jaunty angle it was at.

I started to set up. I plugged in the trailer cord with adapter attached. The a/c unit (which was turned on) kicked on for 2 seconds and then there was a pop. The circuit on the power pole tripped and I was unable to get it to work again. Clearly there is a short in the trailer. The obvious fuse is fine and the 110v fuse is fine. DC power works great though so at least we have had lights.

The biggest problem has been getting it to pull well. It has been bucking and swaying and my nerves are pretty shot. The first problem turned out to be that the spare was at 28 psi and the other tire was at 45 psi. I didn't have a compressor and I had to deflate both to equalize until I could find a Walmart. Setting both at 35 helped, but still it was very hard to control. I flipped the hitch bar and lowered it 2 1/2 inches. Again, much better (except that the hitch bottoms out from time to time) but still hard to control. I didn't feel like I could pull it through the Appalachians with any confidence.

After much ado I finally located a place in Nashville that installed a sway bar for $170. AND they took me the same day. Camping World wanted $350 JUST FOR THE PART and they couldn't get to it until they had a cancellation. It tows beautifully now!

I took the plywood cover off the a/c unit and found a nest of tiny ants. Inside, after a little exploration, I discovered that they were living on the mold growing under the dinette seats. I used my new cordless wet/dry vac to suck up over a quart of water from under the seats and around the water tank in the middle. There is floorboard rot where the water has collected. Don't think it is structural.

I decided to forego using the water system until I can locate the leak. I was upset because the sink did not drain, but eventually figured out that there seems to be no gray water holding tank. I quickly bought a grey water tank and a hose and all seems to be well there.

I found out after driving in the rain most of the day that there is water coming in around the a/c unit (it is in the window supposed to be an escape hatch). I tightened the cover, which helped, but my bed is soaked as is most of the bedding. I truly hope that this is the source of the water under the seats, because it is the easiest to fix. The seller did give me the window in case I pull the a/c out.

The stove works. Haven't tried the fridge yet. However, the propane tank is old, so when it empties, I'll need to buy a new one with the new valve. Grr.

The door pops open if we go over a bump. I have to bungee cord it closed even if it is locked.

I eventually noticed that the tongue has a small dent and the battery case is cracked slightly. I quickly matched up those dents with the wide part of the hitch. Seems the tongue hit the hitch when we spun. Probably prevented much more severe damage.

So, not quite in the condition I was told it was, but thanks to this site, I think I can fix most or all of the problems. It seems to be in good overall condition. It has been a LONG week and I am still 300 miles from home, but I am slowly figuring things out. Overall it is pretty clean and in good shape.

Thanks to FiberglassRV I knew to adjust the tire pressure, hitch height, how to fix the drain situation, and many other things. I truly would be a mess right now without all of the wisdom I have gained here. Thanks all!!!
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:23 AM   #2
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Hi JR
Hang in there and all will turn out well.:wave
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:25 AM   #3
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:omy Oh, my, JR. What a saga! So glad you and traveling companion are okay! And I must say, I love your attitude! That tells me that you're going to be great at this!

First, the easy one: Propane tank. For less than $20 (as low as $13 in some areas), you can take your old propane tank in and exchange it for a full and current one. Later, if you choose, you can buy a new one, have it purged, then have it filled. Personally, I like the exchange method. No hassle, no maintenance. Many prefer to have and fill their own. That's fine, too. Just a personal choice.

The leak. First thing I would tackle is the A/C. If you need to replace it, you can get a new one for about $100. Check the weights on them as they will range from about 50 lbs upward to around 80 lbs. I haven't replaced mine yet, but have looked into it quite a bit. Lighter would be better.

My guess is that the water is coming from the A/C. Probably not sealed around the window very well. Plus, it may be at the wrong angle or the drain line stopped up so that it is over flowing.

Just start with one project at a time and ask a lot of questions. As you know, we have a lot of experience here and will help as much as we can.

So....what's next? :wink
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:43 AM   #4
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Hi JR
Sorry about all your troubles but as Ches says things will work out.

As for your sway problems, I'm wondering how much you had loaded in the trailer or was it empty? If empty, your air conditioner could be the problem. You mentioned it is located in the escape hatch. Now I am assuming your escape hatch is one half of the rear window? If so that means that not only is that airconditioner adding 50+ lbs to the back of the trailer but it is also all on one side. This will cause both sway and bounce at the tongue which certainly would cause your problems.

Having evenly distributed weight side to side will stop the sway and adequate tongue weight will stop the bounce.
Nancy
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:44 AM   #5
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Wow!

You have just had about a decade of close calls, mishaps, and just plain bad luck in a week. Hang in there, it does get better, a lot better. - John -
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:56 AM   #6
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could the ac be the cause

just happen to think about my trillium 1300
unloaded its tounge weitht is about 150 pounds.
now if yo hang a 50 pound ac off the back and another bunch of pounds for a rack you have one very light tounge.
the trailer not being level , maybe one tire pressure low and exceess weight in the back behind the trailer wheels. really sound like the main culprit.
My heart goes out to you doing a 180 degree screaming turn around. it adds lots of gray hairs. Its happened twice to me.
once when hail poured out of the sky heading down a mountain to Taho. an once when dolly towing a jeep wagoner. fist on was ice . second was uknown.
You will learn how to tow with confidence . try and relax
:cheers
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:57 AM   #7
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I have some weight in here, but I agree that the a/c could be a problem. It is pretty good sized and yes it occupies half the back window.

It rained all day Thursday and when I came into the traielr the dinette bed was SOAKED. When I stripped the cushiosn they were moldy. Off to buy new foam, hope I can find it easily here.

I have three weeks to get it all put right before my 18 year old sister joins me for the cross country trek.

Thanks to all of you, I am still optimistic that all will work out. Structurally it seems sound and it is reasonably clean except for the mold.
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Old 07-12-2003, 10:50 AM   #8
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Sorry to hear about the troubles JR. Here are a few of my thoughts on the problems you have.

Check your door hinges, mine were sagging enough for the door to not stay closed at times (at least pop open now and then). Al V posted a picture in a thread about them and I responded, search for that thread, it might be helpfull.

Turn off the AC and try the power then turn on the AC. The surge may have been more than the power pole could take (or was not a true 30 amp). Maybe the AC is tired also creating a really high draw of power. A six pack will usually get an elec. worker to check your trailer for proper power but you could also buy a tester from Home Depot for under $10 so either way its a wash. The GFCI testers will tell you if a wire is backwards ect., they are worth having.

If you dont have a good tire pressure gauge, you should get one and keep it in the glove box-dont trust the ones at the gas stations ($10 or under purchace).

When backing, there is a point when the trailer is turned enough that no mater how much or what direction you turn the wheels the trailer goes the same way (you of course know this now). When that happens, go forward till the trailer is straighter and try again. Stop in at a Wal-Mart and pull a few carts to the back 40 and practicse parking between them. I think this is the reason Wal-Mart has such large lots.

Take the trailer to a scale and have it weighed and then check the tounge weight. I know you have a smaller tow vehicle but something still sounds fishie with the radical swaying. Shoot for a sway free towing without the bar (find and fix problems) then attach the bar as a safety measure. You should not be bottoming out unless the tow vehicle is really going up and down.

Keep us updated and post any questions you have.

Rich
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Old 07-12-2003, 12:12 PM   #9
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Jeeesh... the 180 thing on the highway woulda done me in for good... Good to know you got someone up there looking out for you!

That is one the problems buying private (although there have been a few stories banded about dealing with dealers too) that many problems are "forgotten" about... ahem...

The same holds true for all of us who have bought our first new used rigs I think. This forum has been a Godsend. The hints and ideas from those that have gone there before us really helps.

I had to snicker at you anti-sway bar comment. When I wanted to get the hitch put on the S-10 after I bought my trailer almost everywhere I called it was a 2-4 week wait. Reason being is that my vehicle was so "old" (89 S-10 Blazer). I finally found a place that had not one, but two hitches in stock and 1 1/2 hour later I was on the way to get the trailer. Thatnk goodness for Muffler shops!

Camping World was one of the ones that told me 4 weeks. They are also the ones that told me I couldn't get a new hitch jack because they didn't make them small enough to fit my trailer anymore... (1 7/8" diameter instead of 2') WRONG... found them on the internet.

Just look at the work your doing as a lobor of love... I still get a big stupid grin on my face everytime I look in my backyard and see mine, torn apart as she is:)
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Old 07-12-2003, 04:14 PM   #10
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JR that is a tough story. I relate because I drive a Subaru Legacy with a Trillium 4500 behind it. It tows like a dream. No sway ever!

Don't give up on the rig. When you get it trimmed out you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

<img src=http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/uploads/3f107a4f6dde4abc - Tril and mountains.JPG/>
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Old 07-12-2003, 05:45 PM   #11
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Yikes! What a story. Things will definitely improve. Perhaps these hard lessons will save you trouble down the line. Hope so.
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Old 07-13-2003, 10:35 AM   #12
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Towing Problems

I wont go over what has already been said but one thing stood out I think that nobody has covered.
You said the hitch hits the ground when you hit A bump. If you add more weight to the front of the trailer that is only going to make it bottom out more. It sounds like your trailer weights too much for your tow vehicle. I think you need to look at A way to add more springs or air bags or A WDH. Or find A way to lighten the whole trailer. I am sure you will find the solution to your problem .
Don,t give up on it. I have been towing trailers for 30+ years and ever time this has happened to me it,s always been too heavy in the rear of the trailer.
This don,t only happen to fiberglass trailers. I am A retired Truck driver and even pulling A 45ft. trailer if it,s too heavy in the rear it will do the same thing.:E John D. AG4WI
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Old 07-13-2003, 05:38 PM   #13
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Thanks!

Thanks all for the advice and encouragement.

I ripped into the back area today. Ugh. and double yuck! There is an electric hot water heater. I pulled that out and found more ants and more floor rot. I pulled out the drawers and there was a piece of plywood under them. Under that was, I kid you not, nearly a foot square area covered in ant eggs. Thousands of adult ants as well. Lots of mold. I am not putting any of that back in. I am toying with converting the sink to a sinple hook-up for campgrounds with a pressure regulator and tossing the water system. It is gross and I don't want to replumb the whole thing and I won't trust bleach to get out all that slime. It was never properly drained and it is very slimy in the tubing.

The combined weight of the a/c and the hot water heater must be substantial, all of it on the same corner of the trailer. I do think that had a lot to do with the bobbing and swaying. Both are coming out and I am going to try to put the a/c in somewhere closer to the floor and over or in front of the hitch.

The hitch only hit bottom when I was pulling in or out of a place where there was a bump or something. Other than that it never hit.

I found foam at JoAnn's Fabrics for HALF price! I got enough high quality 4" foam to do the dinette for $90.
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Old 07-13-2003, 05:56 PM   #14
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Hi JR
Think hard before you trash something that you think you may not use. We took our furnace out when we first got our Trill and have regretted it ever since. That plastic water tubing is cheap and easy to replace. We took our water tank out as there is no way I would use water out of a 20 year old tank. Gross!

If you've got mold those are probably carpenter ants. Get some heavy duty chemicals and make sure you kill them all. Then tackle the mold and rot problems.

There has obviously been a leak for a long time so check and replace all your window caulk before doing your repairs.

We bottom out going over some curbs when loaded.

Just remember that all this will be worth it in the end.
Nancy
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