"solo woman" question re general maintenance required for trailer vs class B - Fiberglass RV



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Old 04-13-2019, 11:38 AM   #1
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"solo woman" question re general maintenance required for trailer vs class B

Hi all. I am cross-posting this on the iRV2.com forum as well.

I'm a recent widow, 61 and fit, who loved RVing with my husband in our 31" Class A, mostly at our local beach campgrounds. I'm selling that for 2 main reasons: no way can I, or probably anyone else, back it into our side yard with literally 2 inches clearance on the roof eaves, and the level of routine maintenance required is just too much for me. He used to get up on the rubber roof at least twice a year to check seals, and often had to touch them up, especially the front cap seal (1995 Seabreeze).

I want to keep camping, and I've been going back and forth between wondering if I can manage a very small travel trailer, esp the hitching part (starting to feel better about that), or a class B type, but with approx a $20K RV budget would be looking at early to mid-90's Dodge or Fords with easily 100K miles on them. (I have a separate budget for a new vehicle, needed regardless, so I'm not worried about that for this purpose)

I'm beginning to realize that everything needs maintenance. Overall I think I would prefer a newer trailer over an older class B, but I'm not sure. In thinking about it, I guess the thing I'm most concerned about is leak prevention in general and the roof in particular. Apparently trailers also need bearings packed at intervals, but that doesn't sound too scary. I know I can seal windows occasionally; I guess it's visualizing and dealing with the roof that worries me. But both types of units have roofs. Is a fiberglass roof, like Scamp/Casita/etc easier to maintain? Do they require the same frequency of inspection around the A/C, vents, etc?

So here is my question: what sort of maintenance does either unit require on a regular basis in terms of roofs, windows, etc (apart from class B engine), is there really any major difference in what is required? For you men, if your wife were comfortable with driving, backing and hitching a trailer, , which would you recommend (very small trailer or older class b) if she were in my situation?

Thanks so much for any help you can give here.
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Old 04-13-2019, 02:20 PM   #2
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Not sure why you think because your husband did that work himself you must also do the work yourself. You can have "people" for that stuff.

Lets say the fibrglass trailer you buy is fairly recent, which should be no problem given your budget.

The windows were installed with lifetime butyl tape. As you are older you will most likely never need to take them out and replace the seal in your lifetime. But if you do you can have an RV service company replace the sealant.

If the windows have a rubber seal, some fixed windows do have that then even if it did need to be replaced, which is unlikely on a fairly recent mode,l then you cold take it to an automotive window replacement company and have them do the work. It is not that expensive of a job and it does not take very long.

Keeping up the exterior. Don't do it yourself if you don't want to and you can afford to hire out the job. You can take it to an automotive detail shop and have them wax it once a year. Request that the manager of the detail shop inspect the vent and air conditioner seals at the same time as they do the wax job. Most likely you won't get charged extra for the inspection. But once again Butyl rubber mounting tape is a lifetime product so on a recent model of trailer there will likely be no issue with roof leaks in your lifetime.

But if you yourself are going to wax it once a year then that is when you can inspect the seals as you will be up on the roof to wash the trailer or class B and put a new coat of wax on.

As to what you should buy, older class B versus newer travel trailer. I would opt for a nice tow vehicle that also functions as your daily driver and a newer travel trailer. Unless of course you are positive you can't handle the hitching and unhitching chore. Having to maintain and insure more than one vehicle that have engines and transmissions will rapidly increase your yearly cost. So the cost savings are an advantage for travel trailers that can be towed by your daily driver car versus having a daily driver car plus a class B van.
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Old 04-13-2019, 02:26 PM   #3
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++ to what previous post said . We went from a Scamp to a class B mh. What a mistake, now back with a Scamp. Life is much BETTER with a fiberglass egg!
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Old 04-13-2019, 02:48 PM   #4
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Yes any 24 year old motorhome (like the one you currently own) will require significant routine maintenance. As long as you find someone you trust, that is not a deal breaker.

On the other hand, with tight parking at home, a narrower and shorter rig can be a blessing. A Class B or a pull behind trailer can provide this benefit. Most molded FG trailers are signicantly narrower than the traditional built trailers out there, that makes them smaller on the inside but also a lot easier to park. Plenty of camper owners are not mechanically inclined, male and female, but they do just fine having others do the maintenance. Having the routine stuff done is the important part. Who does it is not so important. In fact most of my friends with campers do NONE of the maintenance themselves. That’s not surprising. How many people do their own car maintenance?

It is better to keep any RV stored under cover when not in use: garage, carport or whatever. Exposure to the elements can accelerate maintenance needs.

Molded FG trailers are lower maintenance than most other choices.

I have two molded FG trailers. One is a 2013 that requires almost no maintenance. The other is a 1977 project that needs a really long list of maintenance. It’s a tribute to the 1977 trailer that it was ignored maintenance wise for 42 years yet still survived!
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Old 04-13-2019, 03:26 PM   #5
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With your budget you can get a lot more trailer for your money. You may have to spend more on a vehicle capable of towing it, though, compared to a vehicle thatís just for running errands. I like the reliability of a newer tow vehicle pulling an aging trailer rather than driving an aging van.

Maintenance needs are similar, but Class Bís tend to be harder to work on- they pack so much into a small space.

I have both at the moment- a Scamp and a Roadtrek (hand-me-down from Mom)- and I prefer the trailer. Itís nice to set up camp and have a ďnormalĒ vehicle to explore the area.

Mom choose the Class B because she didnít want to hitch and back a trailer by herself. Itís not that hard, but that was her choice. Dad passed away when she was 60 and she RVed solo until giving it up recently at 92. She made her last long cross-country trip at 89.

Best wishes, whatever you decide!
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Old 04-13-2019, 03:28 PM   #6
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This is very helpful so far. I'm sure I wouldn't do most of the maintenance myself.

I think what I'm looking for also is to know, what is the recommended yearly / however often maintenance, in general, for fiberglass trailers? What are some of the trouble points to watch out for? (Like on our particular motorhome, that front end cap seam) And is it true, as I suspect, that fiberglass TTs are easier to maintain than the other kind?

I agree that I should get a newer TT. In fact, for once in my life, I am thinking that I will buy new everything, unless I can find a very new fiberglass one near me. I'm hoping that I can find a dealer near me for a brand that it good. And by near me, I'm saying, in California.

Little Guy, Coachmen Cadet, and Bigfoot have California dealers. Obviously, Scamp, Casita, and Escape do not. Serro Scotty are also in So Cal, and then for the "other kind" there is always Lance.
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Old 04-13-2019, 03:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
With your budget you can get a lot more trailer for your money. You may have to spend more on a vehicle capable of towing it, though, compared to a vehicle thatís just for running errands. I like the reliability of a newer tow vehicle pulling an aging trailer rather than driving an aging van.

Maintenance needs are similar, but Class Bís tend to be harder to work on- they pack so much into a small space.

I have both at the moment- a Scamp and a Roadtrek (hand-me-down from Mom)- and I prefer the trailer. Itís nice to set up camp and have a ďnormalĒ vehicle to explore the area.

Mom choose the Class B because she didnít want to hitch and back a trailer by herself. Itís not that hard, but that was her choice. Dad passed away when she was 60 and she RVed solo until giving it up recently at 92. She made her last long cross-country trip at 89.

Best wishes, whatever you decide!
Oh my gosh, Jon, I think I want to be your mom! (smiling sadly but ironically, since as of a short while ago I certainly got drafted into the same club) She sounds like an inspiration. Did she go across the country by herself? That is one of the things I've been sad about, that we had always talked about doing that once we retired. It certainly wouldn't be the same by myself, but I guess I wonder how what that would be like, if it would get too lonely, etc. Hmmm.
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Old 04-13-2019, 04:02 PM   #8
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I don't have full plumbing in my Scamp, so the only regular maintenance I do is a semi-annual wash and wax and a biannual bearing service and brake check. You could add a check-up and pressure test of the LP system every 2-3 years.

Add full plumbing and you may have to winterize in the fall and unwinterize in the spring, depending on where in CA you live.

There are no seams to maintain, but eventually you may have to reseal windows and vents, anyplace there is a hole in the fiberglass shell.

Pretty simple really. A once-a-year general service at an RV shop would cover most of the bases, and an auto or RV detail shop could take care of the wash and wax.

I think you're limiting your choices too much by insisting on a new unit made in or near California. A late model used unit could save you some money, and a thorough going over by an RV tech would make it as good (or better) than new.

Yes, Mom is a strong person. Like you they had plans to RV together, but she lost Dad a few years before their intended retirement. Her best friend retired to Florida, so she always went there for a month or two every winter. Some years she came all the way to Arizona to visit our family. The rest of the year she took shorter trips around the East Coast. Over the 30+ years of RVing she sometimes traveled alone and sometimes with a companion. Something to think about... a camper with separate beds for two adults would allow you to invite a friend.
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Old 04-13-2019, 04:28 PM   #9
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Thanks for this. More to think about in terms of sleeping arrangements for a friend.

I guess the next thing to digest is how to go about buying a not new unit. When you are looking for something that doesn't seem to be easy to find used, then do you travel to where it is? But then how would you find a reliable RV tech to inspect it there? This is what bogs me down.
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Old 04-13-2019, 05:26 PM   #10
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A modest sized option

Hi Deborah. I'm not a solo woman, but I am the woman who is the primary vehicle caregiver in our family. We've spent the past year shopping for a travel trailer. I share a lot of the same concerns as you do, as I'm the one who will be performing most of the maintenance on it.

We recently decided on an Escape 19, but we came very, very close to getting a nuCamp T@B 320s. It's only about 15 feet, single axle, and can be had with a 2 burner stovetop and bathroom in it. Obviously it's much smaller than you're used to. There is also a larger size (the 400), if you feel like you want more room or 2 beds (main bed and dinette bed). But they are adorable, maneuverable and not monstrously tall.

They are made in Pennsylvania, but are available through dealers and the components that they use to make it are all nice quality. Finally, they have a very active forum and the people there are friendly and incredibly helpful. In addition to the size being more manageable, it's lightweight, so you also don't need a huge tow vehicle to pull it. (The 320 even has handles on it because it's so light that you can actually move it a bit to position it). You could easily tow the T@B 320s with one of the SUVs out there that can pull 3500-5000 lbs, such as a Toyota Highlander. I thought it was an approachable, nimble option for a person to handle solo.

Of course, a modestly sized class B is another great way to go if you decide that you just want an all-in-one approach. Good luck!
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Old 04-13-2019, 08:59 PM   #11
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Hi Deborah,

Interesting thread. My quick answer based on your $20,000 RV budget is that I would opt for the small 16’ or 17’ fiberglass camper rather than the Class B, particularly given that you stated that you had a separate budget for a vehicle.

On the other hand, Laura, my wife, loves to camp as much as me and we have talked about buying a used Class B or B+ (small Class C) in year or two in addition to keeping our Casita. Laura is also interested in doing some “Girl Camping” with friends. Despite her love of our Casita, she would rather not do the hitching/towing, etc. However, I would worry that a $20K used Class B could have some maintenance and repair issues. Would it be possible for you to combine your RV budget with your tow vehicle budget in order to afford a newer Class B?

Wishing you the best!

Take care,

Dean
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Old 04-13-2019, 10:11 PM   #12
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Debit, first let me say I'm a maintenance junkie, by that I mean I do it when it's needed, I'm also one particular person about everything I own and I keep my stuff in top shape. Let me say about the fiberglass trailers, were talking about the brands mentioned here the one main thing that needs attention and in most cases once a year is the axle bearings and keeping them greased and replaced at a given mileage. For the Casita its every 12,000 miles per Larry at LHC, I sure other trailers are around the same time frame. Normally the A/C, Furnace, Fridge, Water Pump, Electrical components, LP Stove, and the LP in general are only serviced when something goes wrong, that also means you might give then a look/see from time to time. The Water Heater will need the Anode Rod changed once a year, depending on usage, there cheap, $10,00 and they just unscrew in from the water heater outside. As far as taking it to someone and having them check for problems, they will probably find some, as that's how they make a living, You will be best learning as you go and talking with other seasoned campers, I'm sure some can give you a general look/see and advise you on what may need some attention. I personally would learn as I go, most appliances either work correctly or the don't, then they get repaired, or replaced. Don't get eaten up with this maintenance thing, there not a faulty as you may think. Buy a trailer on the newer side and there should be no problems, plus you will know it's history and start your own log book.

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Old 04-13-2019, 10:38 PM   #13
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I think I'm figuring out that a trailer is going to be the way to go, and like anything else, I'll learn the "rules" of what needs paying attention to.

My budget is about $20K for the trailer, and regardless of whether I bought a trailer or not, I need a new vehicle, so I can't combine the vehicle budget and trailer budget to buy a class B. I think I'm ready to rule those out.

I want to stay at 17 feet or under to fit in my favorite beachfront campsites at my favorite place, and my must-haves include a toilet, but I guess I can live with a wet bath shower if I have to. This thread has been really helpful so far, so thank you.
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Old 04-13-2019, 10:39 PM   #14
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How often the anode needs replacing depends on the water in the water heater tank. We have soft water in Vancouver, so I finally replaced my anode at around 8 years. If you have really hard water, you might have to replace it after six months. It's checked every year when winterizing my trailer. First picture is my anode after 8 years. As you can see, it's good for a while longer, but I replaced it because it is cheap. Second picture shows what an anode looks like when it needs replacement.
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Anode 09 2016.jpg   Good anode bad anode.png  

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