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Old 10-05-2006, 08:29 PM   #1
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My wife and I want to start doing some get aways from our ranch in the fall to do some day hiking and camping in typical Forest Service campgrounds in the West. We would be off grid for 3-5 days. We have a F350 4x4 diesel P/U that does the heavy lifting ( pulling a gooseneck stock trailer) on the ranch that we will use to tow a trailer with. We would like to get a Scamp 5th Wheel but the truck maybe too much for that trailer. (We're still waiting to hear from Scamp about that.)

With just the two of us, our next choice is the 17' Casita Freedom Deluxe. Not having any experience with camping trailers, I thought I would tap into the collective wisdom of you more experienced trailer users with regard of our choice of the Casita. Is the Casita a quality product that represents real value? How is the workmanship? Is it durable enough for what we want to do with it? What about customer support from the factory? What weaknesses in the design have you found (e.g. cracked frames, stress cracks, leaky windows, poor plumbing, poor system operation, (waste and eletrical as well as potable water), shower operation, weak components, etc.) What options would you recommend? How do they handle under tow? Is a sway bar necessary? If you could make it different, what would you change?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
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Old 10-05-2006, 10:38 PM   #2
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Jerry,
My wife and I have owned a 17' Freedom Deluxe for several years. The only drawback which we have experienced, and it is more a reflection on our ages, is having to crawl over the bed partner to use the "facilities" in the middle of the night. This is a design which many manufacturers use, so we "groan & bear it".
Since you refer to camping in Forest Service campgrounds, and not all of them have paved access, I'd order the high lift option. We have done extensive summer camping where having a generator to power the air conditioner has been a real blessing. We have the Fantastic Fan option and this also has proven to be a very useful option. The original equipment such as refrigerator, stove, water pump, water heater, A/C unit with heat strip, etc., have all performed flawlessly. We have had a problem breaking the shelves in the refer door, but this seems to be because we persist in trying to stuff them full of cold drinks when on the road and the weight is too much.
The Casita is hard to even "nit-pick". They are solidly built with quality materials and have a history of longevity and better than average resale value.
Ours is equipt with a weight distribution hitch and sway bar and also has of course electric brakes. It tows like a dream and feels one with the tow vehicle. We've had no surprises when encountering a blow out or emergency maneuvers in traffic. Ours was purchased used, and I also was unsure whether it was useful to have the WDH and sway control, but since they came with it they were put to use. Once experiencing towing with them, they would be part of any tow package in the future. IMHO, experiencing security sure beats ignorance
I believe the majority of those who make use of this forum have had prior experience with other RV's (or felt insecure in tents) and have gravitated to FGRV's as a result.
Your Ford may be a "bit much", but I'd try it first before purchasing another tug. You might be pleasantly surprised that mileage may not change much and in fact be an improvement over towing the stock trailer.
I hope our observations have helped,
Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 10-05-2006, 10:50 PM   #3
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Our first FiberglassRV was 17 Freedom Deluxe. I replaced the axle with the high lift axle. We used the trailer to to go off road with our 4 x 4. We found it to be very well built, but like Kurt said, iot was a bit of an issue with crawling over each other. Also, the seating and the kitchen seem to place us both in the same space making it ackward at times.

We replaced it with a New 17 Casita, Liberty Deluxe. We love this model, but have found it to be not quite as strong a trailer.

I would say get ALL the options. We have found that our trailer tows very well without a WDH. We tow with a 350-V8 4X4 Chevy Tahoe.

I hope this helps,
Mike
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Old 10-05-2006, 10:55 PM   #4
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Hi Jerry, and welcome! It sounds like you are just getting started in your search. Your tow rig is more than enough for this size of camp trailers. Plus don't stop with just Casita and Scamp there are more out there Escape just started making a fifth wheel And Bigfoot I think also make one someone correct me if I'm wrong. As for the quality of the trailers I think compared to conventional stick builts 20 yearsa down the road is when you will reallysee the difference. Any way finding the RV that catches your fancy is half the fun of getting one so enjoy the trip.
Jerry Elven
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:23 PM   #5
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Jerry,
My wife and I have owned a 17' Freedom Deluxe for several years. The only drawback which we have experienced, and it is more a reflection on our ages, is having to crawl over the bed partner to use the "facilities" in the middle of the night. This is a design which many manufacturers use, so we "groan & bear it".
Since you refer to camping in Forest Service campgrounds, and not all of them have paved access, I'd order the high lift option. We have done extensive summer camping where having a generator to power the air conditioner has been a real blessing. We have the Fantastic Fan option and this also has proven to be a very useful option. The original equipment such as refrigerator, stove, water pump, water heater, A/C unit with heat strip, etc., have all performed flawlessly. We have had a problem breaking the shelves in the refer door, but this seems to be because we persist in trying to stuff them full of cold drinks when on the road and the weight is too much.
The Casita is hard to even "nit-pick". They are solidly built with quality materials and have a history of longevity and better than average resale value.
Ours is equipt with a weight distribution hitch and sway bar and also has of course electric brakes. It tows like a dream and feels one with the tow vehicle. We've had no surprises when encountering a blow out or emergency maneuvers in traffic. Ours was purchased used, and I also was unsure whether it was useful to have the WDH and sway control, but since they came with it they were put to use. Once experiencing towing with them, they would be part of any tow package in the future. IMHO, experiencing security sure beats ignorance
I believe the majority of those who make use of this forum have had prior experience with other RV's (or felt insecure in tents) and have gravitated to FGRV's as a result.
Your Ford may be a "bit much", but I'd try it first before purchasing another tug. You might be pleasantly surprised that mileage may not change much and in fact be an improvement over towing the stock trailer.
I hope our observations have helped,
Kurt & Ann K.
Thank you so much for your thorough and candid reply.
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:26 PM   #6
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Hi Jerry
I own a 5th wheeland tow with a 97 f150 and found that I need to put a lift in my 5er to tow level. I do not know if you can tow a Scamp 5er with the new Fords, The bed rails are so high. We love our Scamp, we camp off grid for a week at a time. We are installing another battery this winter and have a Honda to recharge Batteries. It all depends on what you want. We have the Deluxe and found when it is cool <below 20> it is hard to get warm air into the Bed area because of the front bath. We only have 12 Gal fresh water capacity but I do not find this to be a problem. All of the Fiberglass trailers are nice, I find towing with the small V8 I do not even feel the trailer behind me. My fuel costs have improved a lot over the old sticky as well.
Good Luck
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:26 PM   #7
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Our first FiberglassRV was 17 Freedom Deluxe. I replaced the axle with the high lift axle. We used the trailer to to go off road with our 4 x 4. We found it to be very well built, but like Kurt said, iot was a bit of an issue with crawling over each other. Also, the seating and the kitchen seem to place us both in the same space making it ackward at times.

We replaced it with a New 17 Casita, Liberty Deluxe. We love this model, but have found it to be not quite as strong a trailer.

I would say get ALL the options. We have found that our trailer tows very well without a WDH. We tow with a 350-V8 4X4 Chevy Tahoe.

I hope this helps,
Mike
Thanks for your candid reply, Mike. I'm curious. Why would you say that your new trailer is "...not quite as strong..."? Is it something in the Liberty Deluxe model or a change in the way the trailer was built?
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:34 PM   #8
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Thanks for your candid reply, Mike. I'm curious. Why would you say that your new trailer is "...not quite as strong..."? Is it something in the Liberty Deluxe model or a change in the was the trailer was built?
It seems to need more pop rivets replaced. [b]Not a big deal. I think it has to do with the fact that there is no wood support on each side in the middle of the trailer. I have made a little mod that fixed that issue.

I would definately buy the Liberty again. It is just a lot roomier and works for us.



PS: I have made a lot of modifications on this trailer. It is totally self contained with a built in generator, etc.
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:36 PM   #9
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Hi Jerry
I own a 5th wheeland tow with a 97 f150 and found that I need to put a lift in my 5er to tow level. I do not know if you can tow a Scamp 5er with the new Fords, The bed rails are so high. We love our Scamp, we camp off grid for a week at a time. We are installing another battery this winter and have a Honda to recharge Batteries. It all depends on what you want. We have the Deluxe and found when it is cool <below 20> it is hard to get warm air into the Bed area because of the front bath. We only have 12 Gal fresh water capacity but I do not find this to be a problem. All of the Fiberglass trailers are nice, I find towing with the small V8 I do not even feel the trailer behind me. My fuel costs have improved a lot over the old sticky as well.
Good Luck
Thank you for your reply. We really hope we can get the 5th Wheel Scamp but I'm kinda' discouraged becaused I called and talked to the folks at Scamp last week and have heard nothing back from them. (They're in the process of restarting the factory after the fire in January so their attention is elsewhere.) My F350 stands 57 inches at the top of the tailgate and I'm not sure they can put enough lift on the trailer to clear. I also need 67 inches of swing clearance( do know if that's the correct term) to keep frm hitting the bumper edge on either side from the centerline of the hitch when turning. I'd really like to do a 5th wheel but we're on a budget and the Scamp is about at our limit for first timers in trailering. thanks again for your response.
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:44 PM   #10
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Hi Jerry, and welcome! It sounds like you are just getting started in your search. Your tow rig is more than enough for this size of camp trailers. Plus don't stop with just Casita and Scamp there are more out there Escape just started making a fifth wheel And Bigfoot I think also make one someone correct me if I'm wrong. As for the quality of the trailers I think compared to conventional stick builts 20 yearsa down the road is when you will reallysee the difference. Any way finding the RV that catches your fancy is half the fun of getting one so enjoy the trip.
Jerry Elven
From one Jerry to another, thanks for the reply! I heard that Escape was makinga fifth wheel and they are strting to take orders. They are priced beyond our budget for first time trailerers like us. Even with the exchange rate it's about $22K US and with a new model they'll be plenty of bugs to work out. I don't want to be the guy working them out! I sent them a note about my tow vehicle and it apparently went to the busimess manager instead of the engineering department because I got a pretty rediculous reply of towing at an angle(?). Bigfoot apparently used to make 5th wheels but do not anymore because I checked their website and could not find anyin the product lineup.

Thanks again for the response.
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Old 10-06-2006, 06:28 AM   #11
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Jerry, while I haven't had a Casita (one of the few I HAVEN'T had in the past couple of years...) I briefly had a Scamp 19' fifth wheel, and a Scamp 16', both Custom Deluxes with the honey oak interiors. I now have two Bigfoots, a 17' and a 25'. I have towed the three trailers with an Excursion, roughly the same physical size as your F350. It handles them with ease.

Other than the large bed (which is more difficult to get into and out of because of the lower ceiling), more floor space inherent in the 5th wheel because of the bed location, and the inherent differences in towing a 5th wheel over a trailer, there really aren't any benefits in towing a 5th wheel for you anyway. You won't be able to tow a Scamp fiver because of your high bed rails. Even if you could get it to clear the bed rails, it would still be at a pretty severe nose-high attitude; not a good thing. They're really built to tow behind Rangers, S10s & Colorados, Tacomas, Frontiers and Dakotas. Some of the two-wheel-drive full size half tons have bed rail heights that will work also (something around 36-38"?); your Superduty is way too tall.

Your truck can tow any of the FG trailers. Your suspension may be a tad heavy for them, and tend to beat them. You may want to look into an Air-Ride type hitch draw bar to insulate and cushion the trailer tongue from the truck. Don't use weight distribution, and with your long wheelbase heavy truck and such a light trailer, sway control is truly optional, but if you want it, it certainly can't hurt. You'd want to install just a friction sway control bar with that combination. I use a friction sway control bar between my Bigfoot 17' and the Excursion. I have a Reese Dual-Cam WD/sway control hitch that I use with the 25' Bigfoot, but it has a 650 lb tongue weight. Attaching weight distribution between a 7,000 lb truck and a 2500 lb trailer would end up transferring some of the trucks weight back to the trailer axle instead of just the tongue weight. That's not a good thing for the trailer, and really isn't necessary on a truck like yours until the tongue weight begins to approach the dead weight limit on the truck's hitch receiver. I suspect on yours that's somewhere around 600 lbs and you'll only hit half of that even with a Bigfoot 175, the heaviest 17' out there.

The Casitas I've seen are all well built and well finished. Actually all of the fiberglass trailers currently in production in the 16 & 17' range are well built and nicely finished. I don't think you'd go far wrong with any of them.

Good luck in your hunt!

Roger
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Old 10-06-2006, 09:05 AM   #12
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I would say your rails are way to high to tow a 5er. If you are ready to buy we are going into the buyers season for used trailers. Decide what you want and be ready to jump . Over the next few months there will lots of good used trailers posted here and on the Casita forum. Good luck
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Old 10-06-2006, 11:46 AM   #13
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... I heard that Escape was makinga fifth wheel and they are strting to take orders...
...and with a new model they'll be plenty of bugs to work out. I don't want to be the guy working them out!
I would not want to be the one working out problems, either; however, in this case I don't see why there would be any to work out. Almost all of the complication in travel trailers is in the body structure and "house" systems (appliances, plumbing, etc), not in the actual trailer frame and running gear (axles, etc). In this case, even the running gear, most of the frame, almost all of the interior, and much of the body are just a continuation of the existing 17' conventional trailer design; extending the tongue up into a gooseneck and putting a plate-and-pin for coupling on the end should be uneventful.
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Old 10-06-2006, 11:55 AM   #14
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...I also need 67 inches of swing clearance( do know if that's the correct term) to keep frm hitting the bumper edge on either side from the centerline of the hitch when turning. I'd really like to do a 5th wheel ...
I think this really belongs in Scamp 5th Whl + F350 4X4 P/U?, so I'll put my reply there.
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