Flexible or rigid for offroad use. (78 Scamp trailer) - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-30-2006, 12:04 PM   #1
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I have noticed that the shell is a little flexable in some places if you push inward from the outside on the walls. (Mine is GUTTED). I will be adding interior structure inlcuding even a roll cage of sorts. BUT..... might the flexabilty be an advantage for times the shell gets punched by larger tree limbs, rockwalls etc. . Yeah this will be used as an extreme camper. As I build into it the roll cage, shelf units, cabinets etc. I could do it in ways to either retain the side wall flexability or make it more rigid. The roof I think I need to make more rigid no matter what.

Your thoughts?

(PS. the camper will be mounted on a 4x4 flatbed truck)
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Old 04-30-2006, 04:05 PM   #2
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Uh, George... these are fiberglass, not Kevlar. Your shell won't survive large tree limbs, rock walls or other battering, no matter how much you reinforce the interior. Fiberglass boats hole and sink when they hit rocks or large tree limbs. Mounting the shell on a truck frame shouldn't be a problem, but if you're serious about what you wrote, that shell won't stand up to bashing.

Roger
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Old 04-30-2006, 04:51 PM   #3
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I would secong Rog. These are about as durable as you can get for a small trailer, look how long they live, but they are NOT industrial strength and indestuctable like a tank!

(Tho sometimes I forget that... We won't talk about that now)
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Old 04-30-2006, 05:09 PM   #4
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I would secong Rog....they are NOT industrial strength and indestuctable like a tank!

(Tho sometimes I forget that... We won't talk about that now)
LOL.... awwwwww..... come one don't deny us a good tale.

Anyway..... I do want to camp in potentially extreme places but no I dont PLAN to run it purposfully into trees and rock walls. In fact I'll do my best to avoid them. Anyway boats get holes on rocks and trees at high speeds; you crawl off-road! Remember 404 Unimogs trudged thru lot of stuff with canvas toped cabs and troop beds and I have not yet heard that any of the militarys that used them were having to replace the canvas all the time.



Anyway....... flex or rigid which is best (or something in between)
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Old 04-30-2006, 05:35 PM   #5
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George... I sailed for a number of years. My Neptune 24 with a nearly 1/2 inch thick laid-up hull broke loose from it's mooring and hit a rock, was holed and sunk. It was not travelling at speed (hull speed, BTW was 8.5 kts or about 10mph for that boat).

These trailers are only sprayed glass and about 1/4 thick. They will withstand marble size hail just fine, maybe even quarter size. A tree limb thicker than your thumb will crack the glass. A rock will tear your Scamp open.

Roger
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Old 04-30-2006, 05:49 PM   #6
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...These trailers are only sprayed glass and about 1/4 thick. They will withstand marble size hail just fine, maybe even quarter size. A tree limb thicker than your thumb will crack the glass. A rock will tear your Scamp open. Roger
Thanx that is usable information! Sounds like keeping it flexable might be the best then. Better to bend than break right. (of course at some point both will happen)
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Old 04-30-2006, 06:53 PM   #7
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It's really best not to hit anything!

Despite their robust appearance and ability to shrug off weather, they really don't fare well in any kind of impact event. The gelcoat will spider crack quite easily, and the glass will tear without much deflection necessary at all.

Of course, the up side is that repairs are fairly simple and can be done by pretty much anyone with fiberglass repair or fabrication experience. That does NOT include me, BTW, other than incurring damage at various times and watching others (more versed in those repairs than I) do a professional job.

Roger
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Old 04-30-2006, 07:04 PM   #8
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I found that the fiberglass shell of my Boler B1700 is about 1/8" thick, and I think Frederick said his Fiber Stream is about the same; I suspect that's typical. It's somewhat flexible, but if the shell is twisted any significant amount cracks appear, which means the mounting to the truck needs some thought.

A typical flatbed truck has the deck rigidly mounted to the frame, so it twists with the frame. As with typical Unimog bodies, I think a camper on an off-road truck should be supported by a rigid frame which mounts to the truck at only three points, so truck frame flex doesn't put any stress on the camper. This recently came up in Rough Roads, Newbie Advice.

Having covered the frame issue, George was really asking about support on a smaller scale: should internal supports rigidly hold the shell or should they have some give. I'd vote for flexibility, but only allowing a couple of millimetres (much maybe 1/8") of flex in any supporting point. Certainly, riveting internal structure such as cabinets for reinforcing bars to the shell then flexing it risks shearing off rivets, so it would make sense to me to support with rubber pads, and not penetrate the shell with any kind of fastener. The nearly one piece construction with minimal seams and openings is one appealing feature of these trailers.

Fortunately, I have no personal experience with testing the impact resistance of my Boler.
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Old 04-30-2006, 07:21 PM   #9
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Maybe Scamp should shift gears to produce a ABS or PVC model.

Wasn't it the Pontiac Fiero and Saturn that were made from some sort of plastic that could sustain minor crashes and come out unscathed?

I don't know how well it worked out. Don't know anyone who had one and crashed it.
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Old 04-30-2006, 08:01 PM   #10
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...Wasn't it the Pontiac Fiero and Saturn that were made from some sort of plastic that could sustain minor crashes and come out unscathed?
...
These are steel cars with some or all of the external panels - particularly those which are normally removable anyway - done in composites (plastic, usually reinforced with glass fibers of filled with glass beads). The ones I can think of are
  • Pontiac Fiero (all years)
  • Chevrolet Corvette (early 1980's to current)
  • GM front-drive minivans - Pontiac TransSport, etc. (first generation only)
  • Saturn (first generation S-series, and to some extent later models)
Earlier Corvettes where fiberglass-bodied, but these later ones are structurally complete without the fiberglass.

I believe that the most severe "crash" which these cars are intended to tolerate with zero panel damage is the errant shopping cart coasting into the parked car, as shown in the Saturn commercial. The problem is that the plastic panels don't contribute structurally, so if the design goes all the way and makes the rear quarter panels (for instance) plastic, it is heavier than an all-steel version. In contrast, our trailers actually use the fiberglass for body structure.

The degree of abuse a panel can take depends on the compromise between weight, strength, and stiffness. An ABS trailer is an interesting idea (and I assume not seriously proposed), but like the plastic (not fiber-reinforced) canoes, I expect that it would be heavy and likely too flexible.
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Old 04-30-2006, 08:06 PM   #11
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I do recall a Pontiac Fiero on really sub zero day in Chicago who tapped the car on front of him at a stop light and shattered his entire front end .
All the pieces on the ground anf the owner crying. I was a pretty sad sight.

I don't think Saturns have that problem but I'm not sure.

I hope I never find out with my Burro.
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Old 04-30-2006, 08:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
... A typical flatbed truck has the deck rigidly mounted to the frame, so it twists with the frame. As with typical Unimog bodies,
A Unimogs bed is mounted on a hinge of sorts. The Radio box Mogs and the Hardbodied Mogs (mine is radiobox) has a very detailed hinge sytem that puts basically NO Torque on the box at all. The frame twist all it wants under the box and the box stays put. This is one reason the do so well on side slops.

Quote:
This recently came up in [b]Rough Roads, Newbie Advice
. GREAT LINK thanks.

Quote:
... should internal supports rigidly hold the shell or should they have some give. I'd vote for flexibility, but only allowing a couple of millimetres ..
Well maybe I should not extend the roll cage thru the roof FG. and form a roof rack. Was thinking of sandwhiching a steel plate 5"x5" or so on each side of the glass in the 4 areas it would go thru.
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Old 04-30-2006, 10:03 PM   #13
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...The Radio box Mogs and the Hardbodied Mogs (mine is radiobox)...
Not many 'Mogs in North America - is that what the Scamp is going on, in place of the radiobox?

Quote:
... Well maybe I should not extend the roll cage thru the roof FG. and form a roof rack. Was thinking of sandwhiching a steel plate 5"x5" or so on each side of the glass in the 4 areas it would go thru.
I think a roof rack can still be supported rigidly by the internal frame, if (for instance) each support were a bolt passing through a rubber grommet to seal and isolate the shell. If the structure really is rigid, so that it would not move and crack the fiberglass, then through-bolting through plates sounds good to me. They'll likely be curved...

A Boler apparently called the Skimp has an extensive external rack. Not for me, but an interesting structure, and relatively well known in this group. I don't know in detail how it is mounted, but I think the idea is that it is supported by the frame front and back, independent of the body.
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Old 04-30-2006, 10:24 PM   #14
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I found that the fiberglass shell of my Boler B1700 is about 1/8" thick, and I think Frederick said his Fiber Stream is about the same; I suspect that's typical. It's somewhat flexible, [b]but if the shell is twisted any significant amount cracks appear, which means the mounting to the truck needs some thought.
One of my major issues during my "Long, Long, Trailer Trip" last year... (San Diego, Ca to Syracuse, NY to Bandon, OR and back to San Diego, CA all in 16 days) ... was my battery box cracking the shell due to a design flaw.

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In the photograph, to the [b]left of the propane tanks, is the vented hatch for the recessed battery box. Note the approximate 3" long crack at the upper left corner. This is a clear-through break in the shell with a matching crack at the lower right corner that does not show in this photo.

The box is made of steel, designed like a square rural mail box. The rough opening is cut into the shell and the assembled box is inserted into this opening. The flange for the hatch and the flange for the front of the box are screwed into small wood backer blocks through the fiberglass. The back of the box is mounted to a block which is mounted to the trailer's floor (under the starboard bunk). The front of the box was initially supported only by being bolted thru the face of the shell.

I assume all of you know how much a group 27 battery weighs.

To this recipe add a 7000 mile trip, most of which was done at 75 miles per hour. Include Interstate 44 crossing Misouri which has the worst, most deteriorated pavement of the entire interstate system, and consider that a Fiber Stream has a leaf spring suspension without shocks.

By the time I got to Illinois, the screws had fallen out of the flange and I was holding the hatch on with Duct Tape. The crack appeared in Ohio. I was on my 2nd roll of Duct Tape for the westbound segment of the route somewhere in Nebraska.

After I got home I had to disassemble the battery box and remove it from the trailer, patch and reinforce the shell around the opening with new resin & cloth from the inside. Then reinstall the battery box with new wood supports both front and rear. I didn't want to make a mess of the trailer on the outside, so I only made my messy fiberglass repairs to the inside of the shell, and squirted Captain Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure into the crack on the outside.

Ask Gina. I only drive 55 mph now. 60 tops.
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