Fiberglass shell v bonded sandwich construction - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-08-2013, 08:03 AM   #1
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Fiberglass shell v bonded sandwich construction

I am hesitating between a Prolite 13 and a Scamp. The former is of conventional construction with wood/fibreglass sandwich walls and roof on a steel frame. The scamp seems to be a moulded fibreglass shell (like a boat I assume) but I know little about how it is generally fitted together. What are the advantages/disadvantages of each? I notice that the Prolite is far lighter for the same volume. Does that mean it is less robust? Prices are similar
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Old 03-08-2013, 08:26 AM   #2
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Non molded f/g trailers, like the Prolite are referred to as SOB here as "some other brand" and most of us have had them one time or another. They are more prone to leaks at each joint or section where the walls and roof and floor meet are caulked which will routinely fail. You will have delamination issues in the walls and floor as the wood inside absorbs the water.
Scamp's like other f/g trailers are not subject to delamination with very little wood in the walls you will not have the same problems and have a lot less areas for leaks, basically only around a window or vent. These are easily fixed with butyl tape and you are leak free for years vs months.
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Old 03-08-2013, 08:30 AM   #3
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The Scamp will still be used and enjoyed after the Prolite has long gone to the scrap yard. The difference is the long term integrity and water tightness. The seams on stick built trailers eventually leak, the wood rots and they start to fall apart. On a FG trailer you may get some leaks from improperly sealed vents or other pass-throughs, but only the floor is wood and that can be replaced without scrapping the whole trailer..
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Old 03-08-2013, 09:17 AM   #4
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There are a lot of early 70's molded fiberglass trailers still on the road and they are snapped up in minutes when put up for sale. Take a look at how many stick-built trailers and motorhomes from the 70's and even 80's are still on the road and compare.....

BTW: Check weight claims very carefully, molded fiberglas units are almost always lighter that stick builts, it's the nature of the construction.

Added Note: I looked at the Prolite web page and I will bet that you will find the prolite very lightweight in construction to get to the claimed 950 lbs. You will find the 13' Scamp to be of much sturdier construction and roomier inside.
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Old 03-08-2013, 12:03 PM   #5
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I'm sure no one intends to persuade you that molded fiberglass units don't leak at all- with time, many develop leaks around cutouts in the shell (windows, door, vents, seams), the same places where first leaks are likely in stick-built trailers.

And aside from a few brands whose interiors are also molded fiberglass, interior wood finishing is both common and subject to the same ills as that in conventionally made trailers.

The main practical advantage of molded shells is that there's no wood in that part of the trailer, rendering it virtually impervious to water damage.

Francesca
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Old 03-08-2013, 12:32 PM   #6
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To add to Francesca's comment: Water leaks in molded fiberglass RV's are almost never fatal to the integrity of the rig, in short, you can open the door, drain out the water, and fix almost anything damaged. Stick-builts (Stickeys) on the other hand, often suffer major water damage, usually at seams where the walls the roof meet (but can be anywhere ) that are well beyond any hope of practical repair.

Again, how many 70's trailers and motorhome are still out there in daily use?????
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Old 03-08-2013, 01:13 PM   #7
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Check weight claims very carefully, molded fiberglas units are almost always lighter that stick builts, it's the nature of the construction.
I'm not at all sure that's true. I can't even think of one case in which I recall seeing a combination of a moulded fiberglass trailer and an equivalent modern conventional trailer in which the moulded trailer was lighter, although I don't doubt it happens.

But yes, weight information is always suspect, regardless of construction.

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Originally Posted by Francesca Knowles View Post
The main practical advantage of molded shells is that there's no wood in that part of the trailer, rendering it virtually impervious to water damage.
Yes, that, plus:
  • The moulded body shell is typically comprised of only two pieces, so there is one seam, while a conventional shell has two sidewalls, a front, a back, a roof, and a floor... and thus all those joints.
  • The two moulded shell sections can be (and are usually) bonded together by more resin and fiberglass cloth, resulting in an essentially seamless shell; the various panels and parts of conventional construction are not so effectively joined.
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Old 03-08-2013, 01:23 PM   #8
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In my past experience with my PoP-ups sandwich construction was once the termites let go something usually fell off.
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Old 03-08-2013, 01:34 PM   #9
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Mold

My wife has COPD and mold really bothers here , Our friends both had fairly new stick built 5th wheels (2008 and 2011) Both trailers developed leaks along the roof seams that were not detected . The manufacturer fixed the leaks under warranty but could not or would not get the mold out of the walls and other concealed areas . That would involve tearing open the walls and ceiling to kill the mold or replace the trailer under warranty . The leaks were easy to repair just add more caulk . One of them sold their trailer (2008) at a loss after only 3 years because the mold got so bad .My Scamp has developed a few minor leaks but some butyl tape and Lexel fixed the problem and I have not experienced any mold
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Old 03-08-2013, 02:54 PM   #10
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I looked at the Prolite online and my first thought was that there was very little storage. We had another brand with similar build about 10 years ago. On the inside seams, condensation gathered and I had to wipe it down more often than I cared to with a bleach wipe and outside, the seams did the same thing. The reason we are looking at the molded fiberglass egg is because we have had 8 RVs at this point and am tired of "separating" everything. I could not find a stated GVWR on the Prolite and wondered if you were or were not considering the bath option on the 13's. With weight, always look hard at the options you might be adding because they add up quickly.
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Old 03-08-2013, 03:04 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by David Tighe View Post
I am hesitating between a Prolite 13 and a Scamp. The former is of conventional construction with wood/fibreglass sandwich walls and roof on a steel frame.
A Scamp has a steel chassis frame, too; the material difference is only in the body riding on that frame.
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Old 03-08-2013, 03:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
A Scamp has a steel chassis frame, too; the material difference is only in the body riding on that frame.
Isn't that the case with any trailer decision, the frames are almost generic, it is the body we are most interested in!!
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Old 03-08-2013, 03:56 PM   #13
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So far the discussion's been sort of general- it's worth noting that there are MANY different modes of "stick-type" construction out there, some better than others.

Speaking specifically now of the Prolite:

I note that the Prolite brochure describes the body as "Fiberglass"- does anyone know exactly what that means in terms of how it's made?

It's clearly not "molded" as ours are- what, then, does the body actually consist of? Is it the dreaded luan-fiberglass film sandwich or some other combination? Is it vacuum bonded or just glued? Anybody know the details?

Francesca
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Old 03-08-2013, 04:15 PM   #14
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Fiberglass vs. Sticky Weight

It's hard to find true comparables in trailers, but one does exist in Toyota mini-motorhomes.

In the mid 80's Monterey Leisure (a part of the Stewart Gardner companies that included AMERIGO molded fiberlass trailers) built both the molded fiberglass SUNRADER and the stick built RADER mini-motorhome side by side in Elkhart, IN.

Both were built in 18' & 21' lengths and were available with identical floorplans and interior components. Both were built on the same respective length chassis. They were so identical, except for coach shell construction that, in one case, they used the same literature for both.

All that said, the 18' & 21' RADERS were both heavier, by 100-150 lbs, than the comparable SUNRADERS.

The real story is that, while there are numerous example of the Sunrader still on the road (that BTW, bring a premium price) there are almost no Raders left. I believe in 5 years I may have heard of less than 6-8 still on the road.

Now, certainly there may be other variables the account for the weight difference, but these are about as close to fraternal twins as can occur in RV's.

The reason given for having two different lines was only "Customer preference".
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