I just bought a mint Trillium 4500, BUT??? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-26-2013, 08:57 PM   #1
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I just bought a mint Trillium 4500, BUT???

Hi, First post for me.

I just bought a 1978 Trillium 4500. I had been looking for a year or so, so when this one came up I jumped. I gave it a deal thorough look over and was very impressed. The Fibreglass was in excellent shape, and the belly band was fixed. There were a few electrical mods done that I would have done in anyways. I towed her home, 3 hours, and was really happy.



After looking it over a little more at home, I had some questions. I noticed 2 cracks in the FG, one top right of the door, and one bottom right of the door and the gap is wider at the top left and bottom right. Is this common, could it be from snow load, could the frame be bent?





Also, I got looking at the frame, I started to wonder if it was the original frame. A photo from underneath shows paint mark from possibly a narrower frame under the body. Also I wonder if the tub is in the proper location as it sits back from the bends in the frame.





Just wondering what you guys think??
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:18 PM   #2
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Hi Doug to FiberglassRV. We're glad you're here!

Lots of kind and helpful people here and bunches of Trillium owners. I'm sure someone will be along shortly.

AND THANKS! For posting the pictures, we love pics!
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:42 PM   #3
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Welcome Doug. Congratulations on your find.

As Donna said, other Trillium owners will be along shortly.
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:51 PM   #4
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Exclamation Trillium looks pristine, but possible frame damages

Hi Doug,
It definitely looks as if the front end was fixed or replaced. It definitely does not look like mine which is original (4500 1977). It looks like it has been repaired, as if the frame bent, damaged the shell when touching the ground. This could explain the little cracks you found on the door frame too.

Original Trillium frames were notoriously weak at the front end, just at the point it does curve up , where we usually find an extra band of reinforcement added under the square tubing to prevent cracks and separation. The 1300 model has even been recalled for that reason in 1980 (- Recalls & alerts - Healthy Canadians Website ).
THE TRAILER FRAME MAY CRACK NEAR THE FRONT BODY-TO-FRAME MOUNTING POSITION. IF BOTH SIDES OF THE FRAME SHOULD CRACK, THERE IS A POSSIBILITY THAT THE TRAILER BODY AND ITS FRAME COULD SEPARATE FROM THE TOWING HITCH A-FRAME.

Obviously, your frame failed and got repaired, Only a qualified welder could tell if the job has been propely done and if corrosion justifies some further repairs. The Trillium frames are made of pretty thin tubes that require paint and periodic inspection for sign of corrosion.

Frame repairs may require to separate the shell from the frame. I suspect the damage on the last picture may have also been caused by heat damage on the fiberglass because of the welding process. I'm not impressed by what I see on the pictures (my son is at welding school and I am a hobbyist welder myself. Looks like the frame was cut off straight and crudely patched on sides with not reinforcement band under like mine, where it matter the most. Looks like a new crossmember has been added and the old one removed.

Note that other forum members found corrosion damages where the suspension components are welded to the frame. Original suspension is a tore flex type, not leaf springs.

So, before you hit the road again, I would suggest a complete frame inspection and proper repair. The fiberglass cosmetic damage is no bid deal, but fiberglass may have been structurally compromised by collision and heat damage. Any sign of cracks or burn marks from the inside may require to separate the frame and repair the fiberglass as well, otherwise, the frame to shell bolts bound may fail.

I would be curious to have a few pictures from the inside too ! It looks like your Trillium has great potential. Mine is structurally OK but far form the shiny look of yours !.
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:55 PM   #5
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First off, nice Trillium! Your trailer does not look like a 1978. Have you compared it's serial number to the serial number list on in this link?:
Serial numbers on a Trillium
I do not recognize the two knobs, (bolts?) sticking down just ahead of the repair on the frame.
I agree with Martin, it looks like they welded the frame with the cab on it. Bad practice. I would take the cab off the frame, and then tow the frame to a welder that you trust to evaluate it. I am sure that no welding was done on the top of the frame.
Also, I don't recognize the two items sticking out below the door.
Your door may need to be re-installed. It looks kinda like it is sagging, but the top looks like it may have been repaired already. Usually a saggy door touches on the side of the frame at the top, and on the bottom of the frame on the bottom. Yours touches on the bottom, but not the side.
I have said before, there are three major jobs on vintage Trillium trailers. The belly band, the door, and the plywood frames around the windows. On your trailer belly band is done, and nicely it looks like. Do you know if the window frames are rotten?
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Old 06-27-2013, 05:09 PM   #6
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Nice Trillium, congratulations. The items sticking out below the door look like the male portion of a snap fastener. Perhaps for an add a room type structure? Any way, more pictures would be in order, especially of the interior. Raz
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Old 06-27-2013, 06:31 PM   #7
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Trillium 1978

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
First off, nice Trillium! Your trailer does not look like a 1978. (...) I do not recognize the two knobs, (bolts?) sticking down just ahead of the repair on the frame. (...)
I'm pretty sure whoever repaired the frame first bolted the bottom and then welded plates on the sides, possibly nothing on the top. Welding structurally sound framing does not look like this by any means. It is obvious that bolts are badly rusted and contribute to rot the framing precisely where it matters the most: UNDER the frame. Whoever fixed this frame did not plan for a permanent solution. It smells very basic quick and dirty job that will fail again because of corrosion, and poor reinforcement. What concerns me most is what we DO NOT see: welding integrity. Poor knowledge and welding technique can lead to stress cracks and metal fatigue.

I entirely agree with you David: Frame and shell should be separated and troughly inspected and repaired for any weak spots. Sagging door frame won't get back straight with a crooked or failing frame.
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:14 PM   #8
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I am no expert of any kind but here is my own opinion: 1/ David Tilson owns several Trillium campers and have been working on them, he must know a lot ab Trillium more than an average F.G owner...2/ I, myself own a 1300 Trillium and have been working on it, too. Through your photos, may I have some personal opinions..1/ Your reinforcement steel plates at the curves of frame only have ...HALF OF A PIECE, I believe...2/ The mark on the shell's bottom tells the story, an original cross member had been replaced...3/ The burning mark of shell's bottom indicates that someone did a welding job on the frame with the shell attached to the frame( like others' inputs)...4/ The look of the trailer is beautiful. Personal conclusion: Keep the trailer with more focus on the frame and with thorough inspections. Complete repairs which are neccessary to ensure your own safety and long lasting of your camper...Thanks for reading.
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:48 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replys.

The frame repair.
Maybe you guys are right, when they repaired the frame, they didn't take the tub off, and thats why the fibreglass is damaged. The quality of the repair is pretty good, but i doubt the top of the patches are welded. One problem i did find is the hitch coupler has a little crack and will have to be replaced.

The frame is pretty straight forward, I was thinking about building a new frame, stretched a little longer to accomodate a box on the front, dual propane bottles the RV battery and a receiver on the back for a bike rack.

Are those nuts on the bottom of the frame from the factory, or were they added during a repair, maybe for straightening of the frame?

The door
As i said, the door doesn't fit right, the hinges are in their proper location, they are solid, the gap on the right side is perfect, its just the gap at the top and bottom that make me wonder if the right front corner is sagging.

The window frames
This is one issue i wasn't aware of, ill have to investigate that further.

I will post some more pics up of the interior, it's nice and original, probably tomorrow.
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Old 06-28-2013, 05:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug2000 View Post
Thanks for the replys.

The frame repair.
Maybe you guys are right, when they repaired the frame, they didn't take the tub off, and thats why the fibreglass is damaged. The quality of the repair is pretty good, but i doubt the top of the patches are welded. One problem i did find is the hitch coupler has a little crack and will have to be replaced.

The frame is pretty straight forward, I was thinking about building a new frame, stretched a little longer to accomodate a box on the front, dual propane bottles the RV battery and a receiver on the back for a bike rack.

Are those nuts on the bottom of the frame from the factory, or were they added during a repair, maybe for straightening of the frame?

The door
As i said, the door doesn't fit right, the hinges are in their proper location, they are solid, the gap on the right side is perfect, its just the gap at the top and bottom that make me wonder if the right front corner is sagging.

The window frames
This is one issue i wasn't aware of, ill have to investigate that further.

I will post some more pics up of the interior, it's nice and original, probably tomorrow.
Nuts are squirrel favorites, but are NUT factory original
Rt front corner is definitely out of alignment. If heat broke the fiberglass shell, the shell might start to be sagging even with the frame in good alignment.

If you are thinking about a new frame, it would be wise to replace the wheel hubs by new ones of the same tipe (tore-flex). Over time, the rubber components wear out and suspension starts to sag (unless they have been replaced). Leaf springs are NOT equivalent in terms of handling. Wheel hubs should include electric brake option that may also require replacement if not in top shape. You will quickly find out the problems you have are very common to Trilliums of that age. The advantage of a fiberglass shell is that it can practically always be repaired and restored to showroom condition.

The previous owners obviously worked hard on cosmetics. You will feel safe and very happy once the structural survey and repairs are complete. You've got a gem. Enjoy it !
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Old 06-28-2013, 12:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinh View Post
I am no expert of any kind but here is my own opinion: 1/ David Tilson owns several Trillium campers and have been working on them, he must know a lot ab Trillium more than an average F.G owner
Please note: I am no expert. The difference between an expert and a student is that one of them is still learning.
I have immersed myself in the whole fibreglass trailer thing for about a year and a half now. I have a history of being a fanatic for about three years at a time, give or take a year. The previous obsessions include console video games, (we have about 700 games and 8 consoles) and Star Wars toys, (that one ended early, when we ran out of places for space ships).
My point is that there are a number of people on this site that have many more years experience then me. I will learn as much as I can in the next two years or so. After that I will just be another F.G. owner, with an awesome collection of trailers. I do love the act of fibreglassing though. It feels so creative.
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Old 06-28-2013, 03:10 PM   #12
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I watched 3 reruns of "Overhaulin'" that we get on satellite.
They had a car that the 7-up delivery man owned that helped
out all the time in Jay Leno's restoration garage.

The reason I watched it was because the car was all fiberglass.
Overhaulin did not just repair the car, but cut it stretched it,
shrank it, and actually redesigned it. It was definitely not the
same car once they finished with it.

The reason I watched it 3 times and will watch it again if it comes
on is because for someone who knows nothing about fiberglass,
it was like being in school to see what and how they could modify
this wonderful medium. If I were younger I would enroll in a body
shop class somewhere. There is an item or two I want that I will
have to make from scratch on my own. And from this program I
can see it is doable even for someone like me.

One of the forum members has a type of fiberglass course thread.
I copied and printed it off for future reference. You guys that redo
your trailers have all my respect and amazement. Hopefully I can
do a project or two myself some day.
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Old 07-02-2013, 06:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P. Raz View Post
Nice Trillium, congratulations. The items sticking out below the door look like the male portion of a snap fastener. Perhaps for an add a room type structure? Any way, more pictures would be in order, especially of the interior. Raz
Some interior pics,









The cushions and curtains are in excellent shape, but somebody painted the stainless steel stove black.
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Old 07-02-2013, 06:32 PM   #14
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Frame Repair

I think the frame repair was done by Trillium as part of thier recall, the bad is I don't think it's the original frame. This frame appears to be wider with cross supports in different locations. The patches on the front of the frame are the same as my friends trailer, so must be the recall repair.
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