Fiberglass Durability With Age - Fiberglass RV


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 05-24-2008, 12:09 AM   #1
Member
 
MarieN's Avatar
 
Trailer: 79 Apache Roamer (Trying to Buy an 'Egg')
Posts: 35
I have been looking for a Fiberglass RV for a few months now, and because the prices are lower on the older ones have been looking for a well kept up older Scamp or Bigfoot instead of a newer (and more expensive) one.

I was wondering if any of you with older campers (Pre 1990's) have had any problems with the fiberglass getting brittle or breaking easily? Does it snap off or crack clear through due to sun damage or age? Would it be a better idea for me to look for a newer model, or do the older ones hold up pretty well (structurally speaking)?

Also, on an Airstream Forum there was a discussion about how the old Airstream Trailer axles get brittle with age and eventually snap. Has anyone here had that problem with any specific Fiberglass RVs?

I don't mind paying a little more if it will help me avoid headaches down the road!

Thanks for your help and advice!
__________________

__________________
MarieN is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2008, 12:13 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
Donna D.'s Avatar
 
Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Oregon
Posts: 24,433
I'd put my 1988 Scamp up against a lot of 199?? trailers any day. I have however replaced the axle. I've seen plenty of trashed trailers from the mid-1990s. Everything is a maintenance issue. Age is nearly meaningless when it comes to molded fiberglass trailers. Now, axles and appliances are something else. I'll be looking to replacing my 3-way refrigerator in the near future... or at least putting some money into it. But I could live just fine without it. Used a cooler before (when tenting) can do it again... it wouldn't stop me from camping in the trailer.

On edit: fiberglass is brittle right out of the mold, age isn't the problem. But fiberglass is fairly easily repairable (and cheaper) compared to the skin on an Airstream, or replacing entire fiberglass panels on sticky, slab sided trailers.
__________________

__________________
Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
Double Yolk - 1988 16' Scamp Deluxe
Donna D. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2008, 02:20 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
Harry Young's Avatar
 
Trailer: 1971 Astro (ie. Campster/Hunter I)
Posts: 437
Send a message via MSN to Harry Young Send a message via Yahoo to Harry Young
Howdy MarieN,

My 1971 trailer is as strong as it ever was...The fibers are glass anyway...They are timeless, the plastics used in older ones are different over today's epoxies, Back when the dinosaurs walked they had nothing added to them to handle UVA or UVB breakdown of plastic materials, so gel coats in the arid regions can be dusty or in need of attention...I re-did mine with additives one can buy now...I never met a fiberglass trailer I did not like someway...There are issues unique to them true...All in all I have owned them for 25 years...My buds are not so lucky...I will keep fiberglass...Ask Airstreamers about rivets... lol.

On the axles...The torsion axles have rubber in them often, these age like tires, aging at a set rate because the materials outgas steadily and breakdown getting more brittle like clockwork. Its because of the chemicals they are made of and the vulcanization process of synthetic rubbers. In the era of the 70s the rubbers used were completely different chemical chains...These deteriorated at reliable predictable rates...They are also inexpensive for their duty cycles the new ones are better now.

Predictable is good...No surprises, you know when to watch and when to replace.

A point I would like to make today is a simple one, these axles are on everything pretty much...Mine are leaf (steel) but the plastic bushings used in them needed to be replaced and of coarse it was a pain...but ah the fun I had in 20 years...From that point of view its cheap.

Fatigue fractures do occur in metals as well, I have had to address this from time to time in my trailers and in all trailers I have ever owned...In the old days arc welding was the standard welding technologies in practice, now its wire fed exotic gas envelope welding which produces a cleaner better weld...So much so some frames are becoming thinner and lighter as a consequence...I prefer the older heavier frames so I inspect my trailer at the beginning of the season as a good habit and would anyway.

My 95 16' Scamp had the same issues with the frame as did the 1971 Astro...I do not see any any disadvantages in the age of fiberglass trailers over younger ones or have I seen any in the various clubs in Arizona.

The cost of these trailers are mainly labor and insurances in their manufacture anyway...Not increases due to superior materials old gen vs new gen...A well maintained unit is a bargain and the money saved money best spent making memories in our trailers.

Go for it...Be a little picky,Talk to others, You will end up with one I think.


Harry
__________________
Harry Young is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2008, 05:33 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
james kent's Avatar
 
Name: james
Trailer: Boler 1984
Ontario
Posts: 2,938
We have owned our '84 Boler since '94 with no problems. Now it's 24 years old with a 14 year old paint job and we're in midst of a face lift. New axle, new curtians, permanent bed and front dinette and new fabric on the cushions and a repaint with a couple of outside access ports. I sometimes think we paint and paper our homes more often than we redo these little campers.
__________________
james kent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2008, 12:35 AM   #5
Moderator
 
Frederick L. Simson's Avatar
 
Name: Frederick
Trailer: Fiber Stream
California
Posts: 8,151
Registry
Send a message via AIM to Frederick L. Simson
Unhappy

Quote:
I was wondering if any of you with older campers (Pre 1990's) have had any problems with the fiberglass getting brittle or breaking easily? Does it snap off or crack clear through due to sun damage or age? Would it be a better idea for me to look for a newer model, or do the older ones hold up pretty well (structurally speaking)?
My [b]Fiber Stream has a few issues, that were defects in the molding process. I have a couple of "bubbles" in the gel coat, where the gel coat developed an air pocket between it and the main structure of the fiberglass. I am watching these, as some on the roof have cracked or pitted. I put some marine caulk into the cracks and pits... as I am not ready to have to repaint. If the bubbles ever crack open, they'll loose enough surface that a fiberglass patch and repaint will be necessary.

None of these defects go "clear through" the fiberglass.
__________________
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
Frederick L. Simson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2008, 12:48 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
Chester Taje's Avatar
 
Name: Ches
Trailer: 1992 Kustom Koach 17 FT
British Columbia
Posts: 4,897
I am on my 5th FG unit. The previous 4 were all old (up to 30 years old). These old units are a good starting point. Like the others have said all you have to do is regular maintinence. I fixed up 4 of them and the cost was very little. I was lucky and all 4 had appliances that worked.My fourth unit was fairly new so i really had nothing to fix. I now have a new unit which i bought for retirement and i also got my eye on a old Trillium down the street. If i can get that Trillium, i will redo it and then sell it. These old FG units are the best.
__________________
Retired Underground Coal Miner.
Served in Canadian Army (1PPCLI)
Chester Taje is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2008, 07:15 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
Alf S.'s Avatar
 
Name: Alfred
Trailer: 2014 Escape 5.0TA / 2010 Nissan Frontier
Ontario
Posts: 3,815
Registry
Send a message via Yahoo to Alf S.
Hi: Chester... I agree 100% and we're only on our 2nd. fiberglass unit.
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
__________________
Alf S. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2008, 12:09 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Chester Taje's Avatar
 
Name: Ches
Trailer: 1992 Kustom Koach 17 FT
British Columbia
Posts: 4,897
Quote:
Hi: Chester... I agree 100% and we're only on our 2nd. fiberglass unit.
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
__________________
Retired Underground Coal Miner.
Served in Canadian Army (1PPCLI)
Chester Taje is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2008, 05:26 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Pete Dumbleton's Avatar
 
Trailer: Scamp
Posts: 3,072
Send a message via Yahoo to Pete Dumbleton
Let me put it this way -- If you have a choice between buying a five-year old unit or a new one, and you plan to keep it 20 years, you will have a 25 yo or 20 yo egg and without looking at the VIN no one will know the difference ecept you and your bank account. Actually, same for Airstream I believe.

You will likely have had to change the axle once because the rubber will go soft (not brittle, IMHO) but even that can be extended by proper storage.
__________________
Pete Dumbleton is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2008, 09:02 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
james kent's Avatar
 
Name: james
Trailer: Boler 1984
Ontario
Posts: 2,938
Corvettes have been made of fiberglass since the mid 50's. So are a lot of boats and these often date well back into the 60,s, 70's and 80's with no structural problems. Why would our trailers be any different. For a given volume, fiberglass is more dense than steel and won't rust out like my 73 Grand Torino did in one year.
__________________

__________________
james kent is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Trailer Durability Legacy Posts Care and Feeding of Molded Fiberglass Trailers 9 10-09-2002 04:40 PM

» Upcoming Events
No events scheduled in
the next 465 days.
» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:37 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.