Please Help FG Shopper with "FG Camper 101" - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-27-2007, 10:29 AM   #1
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  • Hello! My name is Jeff Dreibus and I live in North Carolina. My wife and I are debating whether we should sell our Coleman crank-up tent camper (hence the handle "Cranky Camper") and purchase one of the many FG campers which were built over the years.

    Obvously, I'm going to have some questions.

    First: I know that there were many brands of these campers sold throughout the years, but how many different variations in the basic design were there? How many manufacturers actually built 'em, and which were the best?

    Second: what is the typical weight range? We would probably be in the market for a larger one, but I still wish to keep the weight under one ton to avoid "pulling the guts out" of our ancient TVs. Is this do-able?

    Third: were any of these campers ever offered with a queen-size bed? If not, has anyone successfully converted one to accomodate a queen bed without otherwise destroying its utility? This is an absolute "must" for the wife and me.

    Fourth: please warn me about any "land mines" for which I should watch when shopping for such a camper.

    And fifth: please point me toward any resources on this site (or any other site) which will help to answer these questions (as well as the questions I don't yet know that I should ask). I certainly wish to make an informed decision.

    Thanks so much.

    Jeff Dreibus
  • TVs: 1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, 1971 Chrysler 300
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Old 12-27-2007, 11:26 AM   #2
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Hi Jeff,
If you must have an actual Queen size bed than I think a Burro Wide Body & the 17' BigFoot have them. The Fiberstream has a King size bed at 16' long. I own a 1978 Trillium 4500 Deluxe 15 footer which has a "RV Queen size" bed and Full size bunk bed that drops down over it and a second room that is divided by a by-fold door. When closed it creates a fully self-contained bathroom and second sink. When opened it has a pocketed love seat that drops down and converts to a card table. I have a 3 burner stove top and a 3.0 frig & frezer combo. My dry weight is 1295 lbs. The Bigfoot & Wide-Body Burro weigh I think around 1800 to 2200 lbs. There is a check list on this site that will help you walk thru each one you look at. The "Fiberglass" Gems are priceless and are 100,000 times better than a pop-up! If you have any questions just ask me.
Good Luck,
David in Michigan
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Old 12-27-2007, 11:27 AM   #3
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First: I know that there were many brands of these campers sold throughout the years, but how many different variations in the basic design were there? How many manufacturers actually built 'em, and which were the best?
It seems to me that there are two classic "egg" designs, and many variations of those, which account for the majority of our trailers. There are many other designs which are less common. The ongoing topic How Do You Like Your Eggs?, Taking a Poll by FGRV Brand provides some data.

One basic design is the [b]Boler. Boler itself is long gone (mine is 28 years old), but the two most common brands in this forum - Scamp and Casita - are descendants of the Boler. See Egg History- Boler descendants, Can you fill in the Blanks? for more.

The other classic design is the [b]Trillium. The Trillium name and design live on with two companies, and others (such as Escape) are clearly Trillium-inspired. For more, this might be a good time to try out the FiberglassRV Search function.


I don't think there is any reasonable way to declare which manufacturer is best, even within a single design pattern. Of course, people have their preferences, but those are often related to the floorplan or other design features, or due to the condition or some other quality of the individual trailer which they have found.
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Old 12-27-2007, 11:38 AM   #4
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The weight range is extreme. The very lightest are actually under 1000 lb equipped and ready to use, and the heaviest are almost 5000 lb... dry!

The classic "egg" size is 13 feet. Remember that the traditional travel trailer sizing method, still used in this forum, is the overall length from coupler to bumper, not just the body - this is different from pop-up or tent trailers. There are many trailers around 16' to 17', and a very few larger.

Almost any 13' trailer will be under 2000 lb, even when packed for camping. A bare-bones 16' or 17' trailer of some designs will be under 2000 lb, but it would be tough to keep it down there with cargo... they're usually 3000 lb (or more, with some models) by the time they're going down the road.

Most of the current members who are limited significantly by tow vehicle weight capacity are using relatively small cars (and wagons/SUVs/crossovers). Some of them are limited to 1500 lb, and that has proven manageable with selected 13' trailers.

Original factory specs for weight are often "optimistic", to be kind, but some brands in some eras (e.g. Boler circa 1979, most manufacturers more recently) provide reasonably accurate data... but remember to allow for optional equipment, water, propane, and cargo.

This is a popular topic for discussion, so I suggest using the forum Search tool with the brand and the word "weight" as keywords to investigate selected possibilities.
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Old 12-27-2007, 11:57 AM   #5
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A Queen-size bed is a tough one. I assume that the current 25-foot Bigfoot has a real Queen size, but it's the almost-5000 lb example I mentioned earlier. The Escape 5.0 has a big (I think Queen) bed, but it's a fifth-wheel trailer, and thus needs a (small) pickup truck to pull it.

Most references to "Queen sized" beds in RV literature are lying... they really just mean bigger than whatever they call "Double", which in turn is just bigger than the beds so small they have to call them "single". The real Queen size - the one which fits the standard Queen sheets available in any department store - is very rare, because it is really big for the small spaces which RVs have available. A common practice is to list "RV Queen", which I think means wider than Double but not Queen length.

Most moulded fiberglass trailers are 6'8" wide, and thus cannot possibly accommodate a Queen sized bed with the long dimension across their width. Lengthwise is tough to arrange in a workable floorplan; the 16' Fiber Stream and the "Liberty" floorplan from Casita (in 16' and 17' trailers) are examples of this.

Most adaptations by owners to enlarge beds, while clever and useful, don't produce a complete Queen size. I think the best plan is to decide which dimension is important (length or width), and focus on finding something to fit that.

As with weight, this is a frequent topic of conversation here; for example, Bed sizes, and Bigfoot 17.5CB & 17.5G, In these models, is the Dinette or Couch the best bed?
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Old 12-27-2007, 12:01 PM   #6
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Some of the good resources already here at FiberglassRV, in the left navigation column of the page:
  • the Buyer's Check List (under Tutorials); watch for those "land mines"
  • manufacturer web site links (for specs, etc) in Helpful-Links
  • searching existing forum topics, using the Search tool
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Old 12-27-2007, 03:36 PM   #7
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Dave and Brian,

Thanks for all of the info! I will indeed look around quite a bit more on this site.

I have already learned something new by scouting around on here: they still make these campers! I couldn't believe it -- I hadn't seen one in years!

Now, if I could just find someone with an older "egg" at which I could look closely here in Noth Carolina (or East TN, or upstate SC) . . .

Jeff Dreibus
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Old 12-27-2007, 09:02 PM   #8
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In your hunt for information in this forum, you'll find a upcoming Egg rally coming up in February in Myrtle Beach, SC. Follow this thread for more info.
If you can make it to the beach I'm sure you'll have plenty of chances to "stick your head in the door" and ask questions to your hearts content. I'll be there if I don't have a Marathon race to work that week-end.
ConwayBob
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Old 12-29-2007, 11:53 PM   #9
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Jeff, Lynne and I have had our fiberglass trailer for just over a year now. The week before Christmas would be the one-year anniversary of our first trip together in it. (The few-weeks earlier trip being my solo drive back with our new-to-us trailer.)

We didn't know what we wanted until we showed up at a fiberglass gathering and asked people if we could look inside their trailers. A few nice people even let us lie in their beds to see how well we fit! Once we did that we not only knew what we wanted to buy, but also how we wanted to modify our trailer to meet our needs. Now we have a Scamp 5th wheel that's been modified so we have an "RV Queen" (same width as a standard queen bed, but slightly shorter) in the loft as well as some hang space, a chest of drawers, and various other storage (including a kennel space for our dog) where the bunk-bed/sofa setup (which, for reasons unknown to us, is called a gaucho) used to be. (You can see a narrative of the conversion process, with pictures, here.)

If we hadn't gone to a fiberglass gathering our choices would have been different, and we would have been less happy with out rig. I'd highly suggest visiting a fiberglass gathering and knocking on a few doors. Explain that you and your wife had heard about fiberglass trailers and came in your pop-up to peek inside a few fiberglass rigs to see if they'd be a better choice for you. Fiberglass people are very friendly; before you know it you'll be touring trailers, roasting marshmallows with us and listening to camp stories. Just be warned: you'll never look at your pop-up the same way again.

--Peter
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Old 12-30-2007, 12:05 AM   #10
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Oh, sorry, and yes, some Bigfoot and Escape trailers come with Queen-sized beds, the Casita 17' Liberty floorplan has something that is kinda-queen/king-sized, and you can convert the Scamp 5er for a Queen bed if you're handy with tools. Several other trailers come with beds that are double-to-full-size height and width.

--Peter
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Old 12-30-2007, 01:17 PM   #11
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Oh, sorry, and yes, some Bigfoot and Escape trailers come with Queen-sized beds, the Casita 17' Liberty floorplan has something that is kinda-queen/king-sized, and you can convert the Scamp 5er for a Queen bed if you're handy with tools. Several other trailers come with beds that are double-to-full-size height and width.

--Peter
Peter,

Thanks for the reply.

I'm very handy with tools -- if I weren't, I could not keep my old/antique cars running as I do!

I'm not a bit afraid to tackle a queen bed conversion, but our "budget" (such as it is) will necessitate the purchase of an older camper in good shape; I don't want "camper payments" on top of all of other monthly bills, nor do I seek a "project" in poor condition.

So: at what age do these campers "bottom out" on depreciation? I am not afraid of a little maintenance -- I can keep almost any vehicle operating "as original" so long as it is not in rough shape when I get it.

I should probably explain here that the reason we own a camper is because my wife and I (okay: mostly "I") cannot sleep on most motel beds. Sometimes, antique car shows and tours take us out-of-town and I, achy as I am, wish to sleep upon my own comfy air mattress. Obviously, we don't want to drag around the heaviest camper we can find behind 20- and 35-year-old vehicles. And we need a queen-size bed because we are not exactly, uh, narrow people.

Through our ownership of two pop-up campers over the years, we have also discovered that we enjoy camping. Pop-up campers, however, are not practical to use on-premises as an impromptu "guest cottage" (or a "pout-house") . . . .

I wish that there were an upcoming "egg-roll" which might take place closer than Myrtle Beach, SC. If you hear that one has been planned within 200 miles of Asheville, NC, please let me know!

Jeff Dreibus

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Old 12-30-2007, 03:41 PM   #12
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So: at what age do these campers "bottom out" on depreciation? I am not afraid of a little maintenance -- I can keep almost any vehicle operating "as original" so long as it is not in rough shape when I get it.
I think you just gotta keep looking at [b]everything that pops up available to get a feel for what you may be comfortable with. There is no universal guide for this that is accepted by everyone in the marketplace. The NADA guide doesn't go back far enough for some of these trailers, and the values they quote are significantly lower than real world demand allows.
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Old 02-08-2008, 02:53 PM   #13
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hi Jeff

My nephew and i just / are doing this. Jaycos 12' and 10'

1) went with "Boler" design. He bought used last spring and i am getting mine in May

2) 12' Coleman pop-up about the same weight as these .. biggest difference is frontal area aka wind resistance . hard on gas and transmissions. Both will have trailer brakes.

3) queen bed is do-able by converting table/bed area into sleeping quarters. The 48" bed is actually smaller than pop-ups because of slight curve at back. we went with 15'/16' versions to do this.

4) John has 15' Boler and is rebuilding .. because on Cannuck buck i can buy new at about the same price he paid last year

5) resources .. used this site and bolerama .. also visited the egg gatherings

I bought a Scamp because they were the closest
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Old 02-08-2008, 04:58 PM   #14
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Scouterbill,

Thanks for the input. The 10' Coleman which we own has such a huge front profile (sticks out beyond each side of the car almost one foot and covers half-plus of the rear window) that I doubt an egg would be much worse.

I am planning to attend the egg gathering in Rutherfordton, NC, this summer; it is only 30-35 miles from my home.

Jeff Dreibus
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