Newbie blindly buying Scamp 5th - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-19-2009, 11:11 AM   #1
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I am newbie to the forum and would appreciate your wise opinion and suggestions on my decision to buy a Scamp for modification. I want to buy a trailer but I am a nervous!

This is my situation: I am deployed to Iraq and my wife is unemployed for next three months. Not only do I need to keep her busy with a project at home but we want to go on a road trip and possible fulltime for a couple of months at a time when I get back. I have never actually been in a fiberglass trailer let alone a Scamp 5th wheel. Yet, I fell in love with the 5th wheel by reading and looking at the pictures on this awesome forum. My wife and I are very confident this will be a good match.

My wife wants a trailer that she can design and modify the coloring, curtains/fabric, floor, and cabinets to her liking.

My dilemma: Buy a newer Scamp (2000-2005) which is more expensive and then pay to remodel it to my wife's desire. I assume, a newer trailer will come with better plumbing, air conditioner, stove, all around necessary gadgets, and most importantly the outer shell will look new and not dingy. My other option, which I think is the best for my situation, is to buy an older Scamp and remodel it...funner and save money!

The talent at our disposal: Father-in-law is a master carpenter and has been hired to refurbish Airstreams, etc and my brother Electrical Engineer and installed wiring in houses, etc. I am mechanically oriented and can change the axle, etc. if needed when I get home. I am confident in these areas and I am sure we will be OK with anything unexpected issues.

My questions cover issues I am not confident with:

1. Old Airstreams can be polished to look very beautiful and almost new. If I buy an older Scamp will it be possible make the shell look original and semi new again at a reasonable price? I read on the forum that the answer is yes but it was not direct and I want to make sure. I understand that decals, etc. can be purchased from Scamp which is nice. I have read the post about polishing and understand polishing, painting, etc. it makes the body look better but how much better on an old fiberglass shell? Old cars are very difficult and costly to restore.

2. Does the shell quality deteriorate significantly with age? If I buy a 20 year old, will it last another 20?

3. I have seen photos of old Scamps and the tail lights are different from newer models. I am sure there are other things that are different. Will I need to modify the body to make these upgrades or do you just have to replace and done?

4. On the older units is the old plumbing, gas pipes, shower, toilet an issue? How difficult and expensive are they to find and replace?

5. If the frame is bent how difficult is it to pull the shell off the frame for repair? I have pulled bodies off cars...I assume this is much easier.

6. AC, toilet, shower, shower, water pump, stove and other gadgets start giving out and need to be replaced on older units. Is this very expensive and how compatible are the new replacements? Is there a place where one can buy used?

7. My reading tells me that the shower is one of the only options that can't easily be add to a Scamp after the unit has been built. The shower is very important to my wife. Are there any other options that can't be added which I need to review when reading Scamp 5th wheel adds? Like the AC, is that easy to install if a unit is note already on the trailer?

8. Scamps 5th wheels seem to be hard to find close to my house in CA or AZ. How do you buy “a good deal” long distance...me in Iraq my wife (has brother and dad to help) in AZ or CA and unit in Texas? Everything seems to be states away.

9. I don’t really need each question answered. I am sure answers will keep coming up in the next couple of weeks as I read through old posts…what I need to know is if I am making a judgment mistake. Is it cost efficient to refurbish trailer? Or should I just buy newer units? Am I missing any important piece of the pie?

In short, I want to buy an old unit but I want to make sure I am not making a mistake and get nickel and dime'd at the end of the project or end up with an ugly trailer shell that is not worth what I put in to it. I have the man power and the skill to refurbish and I am confident in the difficult tasks...the unknown which I stated is bothering me! Thank you for taking the time to read!...and extra thanks if you respond with a short response giving me direction!

After heating these potatoes can be held an additional 30 minutes or more.
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:15 PM   #2
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Leland,

First thank you for your service, we appreciate it.

I can not answer all of your questions (because I don't have a scam nor a fifth wheel). That said I have a 27 year old Burro that was very sad and tired when I bought it. It was amazing what a powerwash did to bring it back to life. (its not new condition, and I have not spent more than a couple of days cleaning and waxing so I would not expect perfection. I did have to patch my floor and was lucky enough not to have to remove the shell. But that can be done as well. As far as exterior lights, if needed you can purchase new and replace, or with a little internet shopping find originals (I wanted to keep the original look.) Plumbing and gas lines can be replaced with brand new, and in my case I didn;t even check the old, I wanted to be sure and will be replacing both this winter. The big appliances are pricey new (fridge, AC, water heater), but new are basically available in many sizes, you may need to trim etc. but they will fit. I'm sure that others with chime in with their experiences, but we have found ours to be a great project, and something that is becoming truly ours. I would guess that adding a shower or bathroom many be challenging, but it can be done.

Best of luck on your tour of duty and your search for the right camper. Be safe.

Mike
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:18 PM   #3
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Any year of you buy , check for water leak and rotten floor!!!!
An original shell , never paint was the best, you can see if the shell was broken and repair and after repolish the gelcoat you can have a nice finish
If the shell was paint , and if the preparation was no good the paint leave by chips
Buy a newer model or buy an older and renove , may be the same amount of dollars

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Old 11-19-2009, 05:41 PM   #4
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I think #9 is the key.
The important piece of the pie is that these trailers are entirely usable no matter the age if they are in decent condition.
They also seem to be easier to keep in decent condition and more rugged and less prone to rotting away than more traditional rigs.

ALL of the internal mechanics,plumbing and electric are standard to the entire RV industry so replacements are not a big deal in general.
As long as there are no leaks the floor should be OK and that is the only part of a Scamp that really is vulnerable to time.
The door can be problematic too but is repairable.
As far as the exterior finish goes this is really subjective,one mans trash.....but fiberglass in any condition does not really look too bad at least none that I have seen.

My advice if I understand your plans is to let her capable relatives go looking with her both online and local and just ask questions here when you need help or validation.

I have bought 5 of these to date and not seen any of them before buying.
I always require that I speak to the seller a few times before buying and I need good detailed pictures and straight answers to questions and then I can develop a "gut feeling" about a deal.

It may be tough to find a nice one and then be the 1st caller which is often what it takes to get one but if it is meant to be it will be,trust me on this one.
Do not try to force a deal.

Anyway you sound like the rest of us to me,anxious to find a project and eyes wide open about it.

It is difficult to get across just how nice these fiberglass rigs are in almost any condition and they can almost always be restored too.

Ed

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Old 11-19-2009, 06:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
If I buy an older Scamp will it be possible make the shell look original and semi new again at a reasonable price?
How much time and sweat would you consider reasonable? How many dollars is reasonable? Do you have your heart set on Brand-New-Brilliant White? How do you feel about slightly-yellow (But still shiny) "Navajo" White? How good is good enough?

For a brand-new look on an older trailer, you cannot beat repainting. Unlike the metal skin of an Airstream, molded fiberglass has layers to it. The outside surface, known as Gel Coat, is quite thin. You cannot just buff it out like you can metal, or you'll risk stripping this layer completely off. A sprayed on paint layer is the easiest way to replace this surface.

My Fiber Stream is over 30 years old, and I want it to look like it's age; I call that having a patina. I have done the old-school thing of just waxing and re-waxing the original Gel Coat. After several applications over the 5 years I have owned it, each successive application of Gel Gloss Wax makes it look shinier than the last. However, this shine must be repeatedly maintained.
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Old 11-19-2009, 06:47 PM   #6
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I would just add that you can buff (or "compound") gel coat to regain the lost shine, but whether or not it will be successful depends on how much of the relatively thin gelcoat is left (i.e. has it worn off with time; were they having a bad day and spraying it in extra thin; has it been compounded before and if so, how aggressive were they).

That said, Frederick is right in that you can't beat a good, two-part LPU type paint job for shine. That will probably look better than an original gel-coat, and if properly applied, last as long.

Also like Frederick points out, these things are subjective, and so it's really not possible to answer for someone else as to whether it's a good idea to buy used and fix up, buy new, what's the "right" amount of money to spend, etc.

You'll find all kinds here, from people who get a trailer for a few hundred dollars and invest a minimum amount of cash and a lot of time and effort; to people who buy the "same" few hundred dollar trailer and put $8k or more into it; to people who buy new or nearly new. It seems like every trailer is right for someone

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Old 11-19-2009, 06:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
7. My reading tells me that the shower is one of the only options that can't easily be add to a Scamp after the unit has been built. The shower is very important to my wife. [b]Are there any other options that can't be added which I need to review when reading Scamp 5th wheel ads? Like the AC, is that easy to install if a unit is not already on the trailer?
If I remember correctly, a Scamp's roof has to have factory installed braces for a Roof-top Air Conditioner. If it never had a Roof-top Air Conditioner, the roof will be too weak to add one later. A "window" unit could be added after-the-fact.

Standard Scamps have molded fiberglass "furniture" and cabinetry. Factory Deluxe Scamps have Wood furniture and cabinetry. The optional extra cabinetry on the standard Scamps are made of wood, and look "tacked-on" to me, while the Deluxe wood interiors match and are continuous.
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:33 PM   #8
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Age of a trailer has nothing to do with the gel coat or appliances or leaks. Those are maintenance issues and some owners take very good care of their trailers. If a trailer hasn't been maintained, even one 5 years old can be in terrible shape.

You CAN spend as much money fixing and replacing on a poorly maintained trailer than if you had just purchased a new one. Or you can luck into one that has been well maintained and loved and all you'll need to do is pay the money, hookup and go. But, there's no way to know if or when that will happen.

Escape makes a beautiful 5th wheel and you get to pick the fabrics and countertops. There is "spec," but if you're determined to have olive green counter tops (for instance), it can be done at the manufacturing end. Several owners that are having their trailers made, shipped the fabrics they wanted for the cushions and curtains and relayed the info about the formica so Reace and Tammy could get it put in. Scamp isn't as accommodating.

My question for you is how tall are you? The biggest bath in the Scamp is the one across the front, but that means you sleep side-to-side in the loft (head in one window, feet in the other). The sidebath is phonebooth size, but some owners have modified the loft so the bed sleeps front to back. Unfortunately you can't have both in a Scamp... but you can in an Escape. However, I've only seen ONE used 5th wheel Escape come up for sale.

Thank you for your service to our country. I hope you find the trailer of your dreams!
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:44 PM   #9
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First, THANK YOU for your service (from a CSM (RET)). And shucks, if you find the "right" trailer, paint and shine is a moot point. Our 83 Scamp has most of the original gelcoat, and about 5 repaint spots... It shines in the Spring with about an hour's work using GelGloss cleaner/wax and looks like this right now.... (picture below) I repainted our Compact JR with Interlux paint (minor prep, then rolled it on) and in the second year still looks like a gelcoat finish. They're made to use....... Larry
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Old 11-19-2009, 09:58 PM   #10
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Old 11-20-2009, 10:35 AM   #11
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I appreciate every response and the kind words! I am much more confident in my decision and believe I will be a happy scamp owner soon! It is nice to know that there are options to get the gel coat finish look. Donna D, I am 6ft 3in so the big bath will not work. I need make sure an AC and a small shower are installed in the unit before I buy them!
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Old 11-20-2009, 11:53 AM   #12
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Leland

Thanks for serving.
My wife and I had a 13ft Casita until I retired and we got a scamp 5th . Just remember you will need a truck to pull a 5th wheel. Friends of ours bought one to rebuild and then they bought their first pickup.
RV trailers come in all sizes, length and height. At 6'3" you could not have stood up in our 13ft but neither my wife and I are vertically challenged so it worked for us 5 years. This site has a great list and pictures of fiberglass rvs and with a little research you can get the in side height. If you have not checked out other peoples mods here or on different forums like scampers[at]yahoogroups or casitaforum.com you can get ideas on rebuilding/repairing a RV. There is lots of help out there.
Good hunting for a rv.

Arlis (USA Ret)
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:59 PM   #13
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Leland

Thanks for serving.
My wife and I had a 13ft Casita untill I retired and we got a scamp 5th . Just remember you will need a truck to pull a 5th wheel. Freinds of ours bought one to rebuild and then they bought their first pickup.
RV trailers come in all sizes, length and height. At 6'3" you could not have stood up in our 13ft but neither my wife and I are vertically challenged so it worked for us 5 years. This site has a great list and pictures of fiberglass rvs and with a little research you can get the in side height. If you have not checked out other peoples mods here or on different fourms like scampers[at]yahoogroups or casitaforum.com you can get ideas on rebuilding/repairing a RV. There is lots of help out there.
Good hunting for a rv.

Arlis (USA Ret)
thankyou for my freedom
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Old 11-20-2009, 06:21 PM   #14
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Well put Jim!
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