How common are rotten floors? - Fiberglass RV

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Old 09-12-2014, 10:29 PM   #1
Name: David
Trailer: 1973 Boler 1300
British Columbia
Posts: 32
How common are rotten floors?

We are going trailer shopping this weekend and have several 13' Bolers and one Lil Bigfoot to check out. I believe the Bolers are all 70s vintage and the Bigfoot is a late 80s. I am pretty handy but not looking for a project trailer. Just wondering if a fgrv that old is almost always suffering from rotten floors, especially here in the rainforest of coastal BC? What are the other downfalls on these older fgrv besides bad axles, rotten floors etc?


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Old 09-13-2014, 04:00 AM   #2
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Name: Raz
Trailer: Trillium 2010
Posts: 3,555
Hello David and welcome. To the best of my knowledge all the fiberglass trailers use a wood product in the floor, typically plywood but sometimes osb. Rot occurs from the top when a leaky window or rivet or whatever has been missed or ignored. Trailers with encapsulated wood, like my Trillium are just as likely to have a rotted floor as one with an exposed bottom so don't discount a Scamp or a Parkliner because you see the exposed wood. Exposed wood dries out. Look for the signs of leaks, water stain, damp rug. If the trailer has been sitting for a long time, especially outside, the floor is suspect. A well cared for 40 year old trailer is more likely to have a solid floor than a 10 year old trailer that has been sitting outside untouched for the last 5 years. Good hunting, Raz

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Old 09-13-2014, 07:42 AM   #3
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 Std
Posts: 3,558
Places to look are inside seats and cabinets around the perimeter, especially under windows and anywhere there is plumbing. Bring a small hammer to do some gentle tapping and a screwdriver to test any exposed wood that appears suspect. If the trailer has an exposed wood subfloor underneath, you can do some poking around from the bottom as well. Lots of silicone on exterior openings is a red flag - tells me there were likely leaks and they were not willing (or did not know how) to do a proper repair.
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Old 09-13-2014, 07:50 AM   #4
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Bob Miller's Avatar
Name: Bob
Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
Posts: 7,914
It's all about condition....

Make sure that all of the appliances and the water system work.

"We didn't use that, but it worked when we bought it", is usually sellers code for "It doesn't work", especially important with 2 & 3 way refrigerators. You can't just "recharge" a dead lp refrigerator, they don't work that way.

I always call ahead and ask that everything be set up and turned on hours before I get there.

Before going to look, ask if it has a working battery, can be connected to shore power & water, has water in the water supply tank and LP in the LP tank.

Good Luck.
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Old 09-15-2014, 08:40 AM   #5
Name: Rick
Trailer: Burro
Posts: 76
If you find a small Burro be sure to check around the wheel wells inside and out, especially outside behind the wheels. The factory did not tape and seal the bond between the wood floor and the shell in the wheel well areas, they just pushed resin into the crack and buttered it over. So these areas ALWAYS leak and produce a rotted floor in that area. But the PO may have fixed this early on in it's history so it don't rule Burros out till you check this.

13 footers never came with much of a water system. Typically a 10-12 gal or so fresh tank and a hand pump at the sink, and no gray tank, just a hose outlet on the street side. Most of these are unused if they have not been re-bulit, because they got moldy while being stored. This is legit as neglect cause many folks just use bottled water and don't care. It is also easy to restore to pristine condition (especially with a battery and a water pump and a "real" fawcett).

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Old 09-15-2014, 10:58 AM   #6
Name: RogerDat
Trailer: 77 Scamp 13
Posts: 2,866
+1 on lots of caulk being a good indicator of a leak.

Water always flows down and will eventually hit the edges where wall meet floor. In a small trailer most of those areas have a seat or cabinet covering them so a strong flashlight is very useful. Look for water tracks on the walls in those hidden areas.

While some people will paint floors inside bench seats or cabinets for aesthetic reasons they may also do this to "protect" the wood from a leak or improve the appearance after a leak. Paint won't prevent rot or repair it but it can hide it, you can hear rotted wood by tapping on it so tapping the floor in these areas with the handle of a screw driver the sound will be a duller thunk if you tap a rotted area with paint over it.

If the door hangs crooked pay attention to the floor/wall joint at the bottom of the door frame. Don't want to talk about how I know this.

If the door is no longer matching the trailer curve (large seal gap) with the door being "flatter" than it should be may indicate water has rotted the wood inside the door on some types of trailers. Or with age the walls FG walls can bulge a little bit so sort of a judgment call on which might be causing the door seal gap.

Pay attention to areas below where the trailer shell is pierced by any opening. Not just doors and windows but water fill hatches, electric cord port, vents etc.

Look at places the water could eventually get out through the floor such as openings for propane, wires or wood floor seams. Once any leak water reaches the floor it may find its way out those openings.

Look close at the trailer frame welds or any bends the frame makes to come toward the tongue. Looking for cracked welds or metal stress cracks. That strong flashlight can help.

The mention of a trailer being a used & maintained trailer vs. just sitting is definitely more important than age. People tend to fix leaks if they wake up in a wet bed, just sitting no one notices the small leak that does the damage.

You can fix small patch of rotted floor fairly easily if it is not at a stress point such as door frame or too large. Cut out the rotted wood, insert a wood patch and fiberglass in place. But even a section of floor rot should impact the price and could turn out to require more than a little inserted patch.
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Old 09-15-2014, 05:36 PM   #7
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Li'l Hauley
Posts: 4,516
I don't know that anyone has ever compiled statistics on what percent of units have floor problems. But it wouldn't matter anyway, because each trailer is an individual case that must be inspected. In other words, even if you only had a 1% chance of running into a rotted floor, the one you look at could be the 1%.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... --Ecclesiastes 3
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Old 09-15-2014, 05:45 PM   #8
Name: RogerDat
Trailer: 77 Scamp 13
Posts: 2,866
Originally Posted by Mike Magee View Post
I don't know that anyone has ever compiled statistics on what percent of units have floor problems. But it wouldn't matter anyway, because each trailer is an individual case that must be inspected. In other words, even if you only had a 1% chance of running into a rotted floor, the one you look at could be the 1%.
So true. When playing Russian Roulette even if there is only one bullet in that revolver.... let us just say floors are a PITA to replace and best avoided unless trailer is priced appropriate to the work involved.
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Old 09-18-2014, 02:09 PM   #9
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Name: Dave W
Trailer: Trillium 4500 - 1977, 1978 (2), 1300 - 1977, 1973, and a 1972
Posts: 5,281
I think the older Trilliums were better protected from leaks. I have a 1973 1300 that the roof was collapsed for five years:
I was sure I was done buying Trilliums for Now

Clearly there were leaks. But the hatches in the seats had a mote around the opening that diverted the water around the hatches and onto the floor. Because the interior furnishings were all one piece, once on the floor, the water had no place to go, but out the door. The plywood that is sandwiched between the inside layer, and the outside layer of fibreglass never got wet. I can't tell you how surprised I was by this.

In later years, Trillium eliminated the mote around the hatches in the seats, and they cut the floor of the inside layer of fibreglass to separate the various pieces of the interior into individual parts. There are now open seams in the floor that would let water seep into the plywood, in the floor.
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Old 10-19-2014, 08:34 PM   #10
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Name: Myron
Trailer: 19' Escape
Posts: 651
When I bought my '86 Scamp just a few years back the seller had put in a beautiful parquet wood floor that was so glossy it blinded me. It wasn't until I got it home and began to probe and personalize it's interior that I found the rot. When buying used never take anything for granted.
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Old 10-29-2014, 07:10 AM   #11
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Name: JD
Trailer: Scamp
Posts: 765
Rotten floors are only one area of concern. If you are looking at a '85 vintage trailer these are now 30 years old and some have had at leadt parts of floors replaced. On my 1985 16" the rear floor has bad spots aroung the back where the main stress from holding the shell is located and the front had been replaced.
I decided to pull the front first since I want to move the side bath to the front. The frame had repairs made to the tongue and this did not particulatly concern me when I bought the unit.
Upon removel of the front floor I found that the holes from the sheet metal screws and been the starting place for cracks that extended across the frame members and the area where the tube is bent to form the VEE had numerous cracks. Also the door entrance tubse that tie the front to the back on the right side were cracked and split.
These had been "patched" poorly.
Also the dead axle is a prime contributor to the cracking frame and it is estimated that by 20 years the rubber in the axle is dead and the main suspension is the tires at that point.
I plan to replace the frame in the damaged areas with the 11 gauge material used in the later scamps and reinforce the areas that have failed, extending the square part of the frame forward of the egg.
I am also going to add bracing made of either angle iron or sone square tubing to carry the loads along the side of the egg that are now barely supported by the floor from the frame to the wall. These can support very little since they are really only cabaple of supporting themselves and any weight added in these areas is really suspended between the wall and frame by the floor.
Actually the entire weight of the trailer is supported by the contact aref of the front and rear floor in the area where the frame passes under the shell.
This concentrates the stress in these areas and makes the floors more cirtical here. The sides just serve to close out the bottom and carry a very small part of the total load.
The above may not apply to the Casita with its fiberglass bottom, but I have not looked at one all apart yet. The loads still have to be carried from th egg to the frame.
My plan is to add as light weight supports for the shell around the bottom of the shell with the above mentioned angles and tubing so that the floor really only closes out the bottom. Then I can fabricate the floor from a sandwich of fiberglass sheeting like is used in bartroom remodeling and 1" foam board. This will be epoxy glassed to the walls to seal and insulate the bottom.
The reinforcements may add some weight to the trailer, but as I see it these eggs have had the weight more or less continually increase during their progress from their inception.
Before you buy a trailer look carefully at the area on the inside if the bends at the front ant at the area around the transition from the door beams to the rectangular tubing on the right.
Also look carefully at the age of the axle and get someone heavy to jump up and down in the trailer and look to see if the suspension movement is in the tires or the axle.
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Old 10-29-2014, 11:40 AM   #12
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Name: Tim
Trailer: '88 Scamp 16, layout 4
North Florida
Posts: 1,394
Originally Posted by redbarron55 View Post
The reinforcements may add some weight to the trailer, but as I see it these eggs have had the weight more or less continually increase during their progress from their inception.
I have considered the adding weight issue, and properly done it should not be much of a concern. For example, adding weight in the form of neat and tight reinforcements to the frame. These are neccessary and add little weight for the benefit. Some of the other mods you mention seem to be well distributed through out the trailer, this is good rather than concentrating new weight in one place. Also, many of us with the larger (16 & 19) foot trailers have replaced the axles with higher capacity 3500 pound axles, a considerable increase over the original capacity.
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Old 11-03-2014, 11:48 AM   #13
Name: Jeff
Trailer: 17' Big Foot
British Columbia
Posts: 65

In a big foot, place your foot inside the seat storage areas and put some weight on it. If there is a hot water tank, step in that area too. A hammer did not do much good for me at the time. I noticed the other day the floor in my bff is only 1/2 thick. That's why it feels spongy under my 200 lbs.

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