Seattle-area newbie - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-22-2009, 02:34 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1977 Boler (Orange Sunrise 'Clementine')
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Hello!

I have been reading this forum for a couple of weeks and have learned a lot, but feel that I have so much more to learn. A little background: My name is Amy, my family (including my spouse and 6-year-old son) live in Seattle. We have gotten increasingly active in hiking and taking trips to Northwest destinations, and I have been yearning for a way to go on our excursions and have a place to sleep and cook without having to find a cabin or sleep in a tent. We have a Subaru with a 2000-lb towing capacity and don't want to get a larger vehicle, so I started looking at lightweight pop-up tent trailers. And then I just happened upon mention of a Boler, which led to me discover that there is a whole lightweight fiberglass trailer world that I had never known about! Since then, I have been spending much of my free time reading these forums, looking at photo albums of restored eggs, and generally fantasizing about buying our own 13-foot Boler or Trillium sometime in the spring. My son drew a picture of a colorful Boler and we put a savings chart on the wall. He is as jazzed about this as I am, including donating some of his own money to the cause.

While we continue to do research and save money for the purchase, I would love to be able to tour a real live trailer like the ones we are considering. We have never traveled in any kind of RV and are clueless in the ways of propane, hook-ups, ac/dc appliances, and trailer hitches. Since these are vintage vehicles, I guess I can't call up a local dealer to look at one. Is the only way to crash a rally?

Also, I am wondering if anyone knows of repair/restoration businesses not too far from Seattle. We are not handy people, so we will be shopping either for a fully restored trailer, or an inexpensive one that we could take to someone to be restored. In any event, it would be great to have a local contact person who would be able to inspect a prospective trailer to make sure it's structurally sound. Even if we buy one that is restored, I will need to know where to take it for maintenance and repairs.

Those are my most pressing questions for right now. This forum is a wonderful resource, and I thank you in advance for any advice you can give me.

Amy
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Old 10-22-2009, 02:44 PM   #2
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Welcome Amy!

You can't go wrong with a Subaru / Trillium combination =).

There are quite a few forum members in Washington state and I am sure someone would welcome a tour of their trailer. We have had few tours on our 1976 Trillium.

For your first trailer I recommend you find something that requires minimal work on it so you can get camping without getting overwhelmed by the cost or work involved in a restore. Many of the trailers on the market are in great camping shape. You will probably want a mechanic to check the wheel bearings, check the frame for fractures and check the condition of the tires. Make sure the appliances work as the cost of fixing replacing a fridge is high.

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Old 10-22-2009, 02:46 PM   #3
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Welcome Amy. I am not anywhere near but there are there active members in you area. I am sure you would be wecome to attend a rally. That is the best place to see what is available.
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Old 10-22-2009, 04:24 PM   #4
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Hi, I'm a relatively new owner so I'll put in my own thought process in my trailer search. We've been tent camping and backpacking extensively for 20 years, I say that because from my perspective anything off the ground is already a luxury. I also considered tent trailers but quickly dismissed that because if I'm going with a trailer, I don't want to deal with tenting. My least favorite thing about tent camping is packing up in the rain. I also had no idea about how any of the propane, sewer, fresh/gray/black water tanks, hot water heater, furnace .... stuff works, but I've pretty much figured out everything after the fact. It really wasn't as complicated as it looks. Since you're also coming from tent camping, my advice would be to keep things basic, that would keep the weight low. I think a 13-14ft anything would serve you well. Lastly, I used craigslist as well as this sites classified, and there's another site called "Casita club", and ebay to search for fiberglass trailers. You should be able to see what's in your area and get a good idea of what you want... good luck!
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Old 10-22-2009, 06:39 PM   #5
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Name: Floyd
Trailer: 2004 13 ft Scamp Custom Deluxe
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Quote:
Hello!

I have been reading this forum for a couple of weeks and have learned a lot, but feel that I have so much more to learn. A little background: My name is Amy, my family (including my spouse and 6-year-old son) live in Seattle. We have gotten increasingly active in hiking and taking trips to Northwest destinations, and I have been yearning for a way to go on our excursions and have a place to sleep and cook without having to find a cabin or sleep in a tent. We have a Subaru with a 2000-lb towing capacity and don't want to get a larger vehicle, so I started looking at lightweight pop-up tent trailers. And then I just happened upon mention of a Boler, which led to me discover that there is a whole lightweight fiberglass trailer world that I had never known about! Since then, I have been spending much of my free time reading these forums, looking at photo albums of restored eggs, and generally fantasizing about buying our own 13-foot Boler or Trillium sometime in the spring. My son drew a picture of a colorful Boler and we put a savings chart on the wall. He is as jazzed about this as I am, including donating some of his own money to the cause.

While we continue to do research and save money for the purchase, I would love to be able to tour a real live trailer like the ones we are considering. We have never traveled in any kind of RV and are clueless in the ways of propane, hook-ups, ac/dc appliances, and trailer hitches. Since these are vintage vehicles, I guess I can't call up a local dealer to look at one. Is the only way to crash a rally?

Also, I am wondering if anyone knows of repair/restoration businesses not too far from Seattle. We are not handy people, so we will be shopping either for a fully restored trailer, or an inexpensive one that we could take to someone to be restored. In any event, it would be great to have a local contact person who would be able to inspect a prospective trailer to make sure it's structurally sound. Even if we buy one that is restored, I will need to know where to take it for maintenance and repairs.

Those are my most pressing questions for right now. This forum is a wonderful resource, and I thank you in advance for any advice you can give me.

Amy
Take it from me, it would be a lot cheaper to buy a finished trailer than to hire it done after purchase.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:08 PM   #6
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Name: Laura & Rick
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Amy, since you are in the Seattle area (maybe Ballard?), you might want to take a day trip up to British Columbia and check out the Escape trailers. They have 13, 15, 17 and 19-foot models plus a cab-over design. There are located in Chilliwack, BC, just over the boarder. Their web site is www.escapetrailer.com.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:17 PM   #7
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Trailer: 1977 Boler (Orange Sunrise 'Clementine')
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I am definitely predisposed to getting something in very good shape. Ideally, I would love to get one that has been restored to look cute and homey. After reading some of the threads on here (like the refrigerator one), I want to make sure that whoever has done restorations knows what they are doing with all the structural stuff. Thus, I would love to find a place that sort of specializes in these kinds of restorations. I worry that I will fall in love with something cute and homey, but not be able to spot that a do-it-yourselfer failed to vent the fridge.

There's a Boler on EBay right now that fits the bill, but it's located in New Mexico. Seattle or Vancouver would be far preferable!


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For your first trailer I recommend you find something that requires minimal work on it so you can get camping without getting overwhelmed by the cost or work involved in a restore. Many of the trailers on the market are in great camping shape. You will probably want a mechanic to check the wheel bearings, check the frame for fractures and check the condition of the tires. Make sure the appliances work as the cost of fixing replacing a fridge is high.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:20 PM   #8
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Um, are you psychic? I do live in Ballard.

I have definitely looked at the Escapes (and the new Trilliums) online. We are not prepared to pay the price for a new trailer. Do you think it would be worth looking at them even if we know we're in the market for a vintage one?



Quote:
Amy, since you are in the Seattle area (maybe Ballard?), you might want to take a day trip up to British Columbia and check out the Escape trailers. They have 13, 15, 17 and 19-foot models plus a cab-over design. There are located in Chilliwack, BC, just over the boarder. Their web site is www.escapetrailer.com.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:21 PM   #9
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Yes, I totally agree with Floyd on this one.

For example, we bought our Trillium trailer last year for $5k CDN. It was perfectly fine for camping, everything worked, no leaks.

There were a number of things I want to add or change on the trailer. Not counting some new tires (which had to be done) I have put about another $1200 in electrical upgrades, new awing and an extended propane setup. I don't think I will ever see that money on a resale. However, all the additons have made the trailer much better for our needs so it was worth every penny.

On a side note, we were also car camping for about 4 years with our 2 boys and the setup and tear down time made it tough to do long trips. Since we bought the trailer last year we have done 2 major road trips from Vancouver Island (one to Drummheller Alberta and one to Yellowstone park) another 3 or 4 off island BC interior trips. Next June we are off to the Oregon coast/North California for 2 weeks. It's pretty easy to do with kids and a small trailer.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:24 PM   #10
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Good to know that it isn't too much of a learning curve. I am from the Bay Area (Sunnyvale) and my family is all still there so we are down there at least once a year, so my shopping radius includes your area as well. It seems like the Canadian-made vintage trailers are easier to find up here, with the proximity to Canada. When you were hunting, do you remember seeing many Bolers or Trilliums?


Quote:
I also had no idea about how any of the propane, sewer, fresh/gray/black water tanks, hot water heater, furnace .... stuff works, but I've pretty much figured out everything after the fact. It really wasn't as complicated as it looks. Since you're also coming from tent camping, my advice would be to keep things basic, that would keep the weight low. I think a 13-14ft anything would serve you well. Lastly, I used craigslist as well as this sites classified, and there's another site called "Casita club", and ebay to search for fiberglass trailers. You should be able to see what's in your area and get a good idea of what you want... good luck!
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:27 PM   #11
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We are looking to spend $6K or less, and I realize that we will have to spend money on other things like trailer hitch, possibly transmission cooler (?), perhaps something to cover it, supplies.

Did you perform the upgrades yourself?


Quote:
There were a number of things I want to add or change on the trailer. Not counting some new tires (which had to be done) I have put about another $1200 in electrical upgrades, new awing and an extended propane setup. I don't think I will ever see that money on a resale. However, all the additons have made the trailer much better for our needs so it was worth every penny.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:28 PM   #12
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Amy, with a Subaru and looking at used trailers you will sticking with either a 13' Boler/Trillium/Scamp/Burro or Casita or a 15' Trillium 4500 or Surfisde.

Bathroom models in those sizes will not fit 3 people so don't worry about the holding tanks too much. In fact we have never used ours. Most of the time you are cooking outdoors. However, we did use our furnace in yellowstone this year and we always use our fridge if we are staying anywhere for more than a day.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:38 PM   #13
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Do you think a 15' Trillium is doable? I assumed they would be too heavy. Our Subaru is an Impreza wagon, if that makes any difference.


Quote:
Amy, with a Subaru and looking at used trailers you will sticking with either a 13' Boler/Trillium/Scamp/Burro or Casita or a 15' Trillium 4500 or Surfisde.

Bathroom models in those sizes will not fit 3 people so don't worry about the holding tanks too much. In fact we have never used ours. Most of the time you are cooking outdoors. However, we did use our furnace in yellowstone this year and we always use our fridge if we are staying anywhere for more than a day.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:54 PM   #14
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There a few members with the older engine subarus (your tow capacity should be 2000lbs) that were quite happy to tow the Trillium/Surfside 15's (they share the same mold, the surfside had plywood cabinets, shorter windows and more storage). However, fully loaded they would be near or at your car's capacity. The extra size 2' makes for a wider table/bed (which would be nice to have) and more counter space but doesn't really change the functionality that much.

And on that subject I will bring up trailer brakes. Few of the Subaru / FG owners I have spoken to have electric brakes on their trailers but it's something I would recommend you look for when trailer hunting. It is rarer to find them but it's a very nice feature to have if you do a trip through the Cascades or the Rockies. You can have themA added but it's about $600-$800 to replace the axle.

Edited: for spelling and grammatical errors
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