Burro questions - Fiberglass RV

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Old 07-26-2006, 11:28 PM   #1
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Name: Linda
Trailer: Honey
Posts: 129
I finally got to see my first fiberglass trailer up close and personal tonight. It was just as cool as I thought from the pictures. But it left me with questions. I'd appreciate any answers you may be able to provide.
1. Does older gelcoat on burros have a sort of green cast? There appeared to be repair to the burro, but the decals were still on it. We couldn't tell if it was oxidized or painted.
2. In a burro with a side toilet, does the black water pipe cut through the frame underneath? This one cut a hole in the triangular shaped metal piece under the trailer, not through the square channel framework.
3. Did the front dinette model have bunk beds?
4. What does a 1"gap at the top of the door mean? The hinges didn't appear to sag, and the door could close, but the striker plate had obviously been moved to let it latch. Closed there was a gap.
5. The frame was obviously recently painted. It appeared to cover rust. Is that common? The surface was all bumpy as if there were rust "bubbles" all under the trailer.
6. Are cracks common? How do I tell the difference in "small hairline cracks usual to the age" and major problems.
7. Does fiberglass flake? There seemed to be flaking near the sink.
8. Were the doors under the stove original made with what appears to be a shim to allow it to open past the refrigerator? Or is this a modification?

This trailer was supposedly a 16' but it certainly looked longer than 16' from tongue to bumper.

It seemed like a nice trailer, but I couldn't quite afford the price. Especially not being sure of the above items.

Thanks in advance for any help anyone can give me!

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Old 07-27-2006, 07:58 AM   #2
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Maby you should look at a new one. You seem to be to pickey.

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Old 07-27-2006, 08:59 AM   #3
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Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Posts: 5,000
I thought that the longer Burro was a 17' (not 16'), but that's just from memory - the Burro owners and experts can supply details. Trailer sizes are usually rounded to a whole foot, rather than being quoted as the exact length (although Bigfoot has a 17.5' model).

I don't think any of the points indicate a buyer being too picky - just trying to understand what to expect. Again, the Burro owners should have the details in most cases, and one of the many fiberglass experts should be able to explain crack assessment. Maybe a visit could be arranged with a local Burro owner?

My 17' Boler (a 1979 model) has significant rust all over the frame, but I confirmed when drilling through the frame (to install shock absorbers) that there has been no meaningful loss of metal thickness (at least at that location) from the original 1/8". The Boler 17' and Burro have different frame designs - mine has box-section rails, not channel. Frame failures due to rust certainly have been reported by other owners, especially of the older models, particularly some of the 13' models (of various brands) which do not have continuous one-piece frame rails for the whole length of the trailer body.
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
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Old 07-27-2006, 09:00 AM   #4
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Name: Gina D.
Trailer: '77 Leocraft 17 & Former Burro owner and fan!
West Coast USA
Posts: 9,014
You seem to be to pickey.

Prime example of how our checklist can help those that are new to looking (And experienced as well!)

She took our checklist with her to look and obviously followed it to the letter. Quite valid questions.

1. Does older gelcoat on burros have a sort of green cast?

If it was thin, it would allow the fiberglass to show thru. The glass is green. Was the trailer insulated? It may have been casting a green hue if looked at from the outside with bright lights on INSIDE.

4. What does a 1"gap at the top of the door mean?

Burros are notorious for door problems. The hinges no doubt had come loose at one time. They are mounted in chunks of unprotected plywood behind the raised section of glass they mount on. Mine literally fell out on a trip once and the door only stayed on because it was locked and it jammed when it slid down. After repair, I have about 3/8 inch gap. I think thats normal. Just an opinion, an inch sounds like too much.

5. The frame was obviously recently painted.

Frames are commonly repainted for no other reason than cosmetics, BUT.. Burros also are prone to frame breaks at the A part of the tongue. Did you ask if the frame had been repaired at one time? Repaint after repair would be standard prcatice. Did it look like there were weld lines? A repaired frame is nothing to worry about (Unless it was a bad job) I would think if it was repaired tho, that there would be some sort of re-enforcment like boxing in or straps.

If it looked longer than 16, did it have blue and green logos? That would mean it was a wide body 17, Escondido make.

Cracks, chunks and other malformations and anomolies in the gelcaot are common on older units, inside and out. I would not worry about the sink chunks.

Per? Can you answer her other questions?
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Old 07-27-2006, 10:47 AM   #5
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Name: Linda
Trailer: Honey
Posts: 129
Thanks for the support!
Gina, you are right. I did take the checklist! A handy dandy checklist it is, too! A lot of what I asked about is stuff that didn't really concern me, but I wasn't sure if maybe I SHOULD have been concerned.

The hairline cracks and the sink stuff didn't appear serious. And it sounds from what you said that it isn't serious.

I asked about the paint, and they maintained it was all original including the frame. But the frame was obviously new paint. Bright, shiny, some spots on the fiberglass body. That also concerned me that I might not be able to trust everything the owner told me.

Brian, this did have box section rails. I misspoke calling it "square channel." In reading the burrotrailers website (I know the company is defunct, but their website is still there) the kit calls for a box and angle frame. What concerned me is that what appears to be the angle portion of the frame, a piece that is nearly a foot tall near the wheels, has been cut to allow the black water pipe to go from one side of the trailer to the other. I assumed the deeper section near the wheels was to carry load and stiffen the frame where the forces are the greatest. If that is a good assumption, cutting a hole about 8" square off the bottom seemed like a bad idea as it would weaken that piece of framework. I didn't see any repairs. All the plumbing underneath looked new. Made me wonder if the toilet was an add-on.

I didn't drill any holes in the frame to check how deep the rust went, but I might take a pocket knife with me next time. An inspection under the trailer told me that it had a lot more rust than my 1961 Aristocrat. (Denis, if you could see THAT trailer, you'd know Im not too pickey! )

Thanks for the door info. It sounds like the door wasn't a big concern.

Logos were brown and orange. I guess it was an older 16'. It looked a lot like the 87 Burro in the albums, including the burro head molded in the stripe. Way cool!

Any burro owners near northern CA that will let me see their burros?

It surely is a learning experience. Thanks for helping me keep the cost of that experience down!
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Old 07-27-2006, 12:57 PM   #6
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Name: Per
Trailer: 2000 Burro 17 ft Widebody towed by Touareg TDI
Posts: 865

I can't add very much to what Gina said, but here goes:
1) Yes the resin/fiberglass stuff can have have a green cast when the gelcoat does not cover well; perhaps the gelcoat was thin in spots, OR it has been polished or sanded down with some vigor. I will paint mine, because I'm reluctantly coming to the conclusion that gelcoat is quite inferior to paint.
2) The black water tank and the pipe from the toilet does not come close to any frame members in mine; different design.
3) Don't know about the bunk beds. Mine has these large molded members on the ends, which could easily be the main supports for bunk beds, even though my wife says there is not enough room above. (a few weeks on a troop transport with 3 inches to spare above my nose means I don't agree with that).
4) Mine has a standard-and-ugly but practical RV door so I don't know. What I would do if replacing wood supports and such is to use teak. Moisture can't affect it.
5) Rust bubbles may have been loose rust not removed before recoating. Better to scrape and wirebrush then use things like Rustoleum red primer which will change the chemical composition of the rust. You don't want it to continue.
6) Hairline cracks are tricky to evaluate. If deep they should be gouged out with a Dremel and refilled with resin. Shallow ones are not an emergency.
7) Yes, I have found tiny spots which seem to flake off. The manufacturing process was probably not rigorous enough to prevent the, A relatively minor matter. See 1)
8) Have no such thing or any idea about the doors.

I have not heard of a Burro 16 footer, most certainly a 17 foot model. Running changes range from new molds to casual modifications so it is difficult to generalize. Do you know the year of manufacture?
From my perspective none of what you are mentioning would deter me from considering it.
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Old 07-27-2006, 04:57 PM   #7
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Name: Gina D.
Trailer: '77 Leocraft 17 & Former Burro owner and fan!
West Coast USA
Posts: 9,014
I thought there was a 16 footer of the "MidWest" ilk. (either Iowa.. or.. the other midwest type state they made them in.. which one escapes me now)

Escondido went to 14 and 17s, a foot more than the previous lines.

But then again.. maybe not.
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Old 07-29-2006, 07:42 PM   #8
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Name: Linda
Trailer: Honey
Posts: 129
Thanks so much for the info. I was too slow to get the Burro, but had also decided it was a tad bigger than I really wanted to tow. I am glad I got to see it. Now I have a better idea of what I want, and what to look for.

Thanks so much, Gina and Per for taking the time to give me such detailed responses. Gina, I didn't realize burros were made in the Midwest as well. Now I have to go surfing for burro history!
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Old 08-19-2006, 05:30 AM   #9
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Name: Roger
Trailer: Y2K6 Born Free 32RQ on the Kodiak chassis, 2004 Airstream Interstate 22' B-van
Posts: 5,030
Linda, sorry I'm a little slow on the draw here, but I've been gone for a couple of weeks. Here's a little Burro 101:

There are no 16' Burros. There are 13' Burros made in Plymouth MN (the '70s and very early '80s models. There are 13' standard 6'8" width body and 17' widebody (7'6" wide) Burros made from '85 to '92 (or so) in Sac City, IA (the one you saw was built in Iowa) and then from '97 to '02 (or so) Burro was built in Escondido CA where they produced 14' and 17' updated shape widebody trailers. It's not too far of a leap to conjecture that the production of the original 1972 Plymouth MN Burros originated from the 1965 Cloud trailers with apparently the same molds. The Clouds were originally built in St. Cloud MN. If that's the case, then the Cloud would be the original production fiberglass RV predating the Boler production by about three years.

The differences between the Iowa built 17' and Escondido built 17' trailers are that the vertical seam is ground off on the Escondido trailers, and the body is more streamlined without the flares for the taillights or running lights that the Iowa trailers have. Additionally, they went to the flat door which eliminated the door gap issues (much more practical but not nearly as cool-looking IMHO), don't have the "Burro" logo molded into the sides, and changed from all-brown logos to brown and green.

The one you looked, and the one currently on Craisglist are both standard Iowa built widebody 17's. There was indeed a pipe running from the black water tank across the trailer at the axle to the street side dump valve. The triangle support was welded in to support the weight of the blackwater tank. It all sounds stock to me.

The other issues you noted are, in fact common, and were well addressed by Gina and Per.

Happy Hunting!


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