Portland Escape Trip Journal, October 30-31 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-01-2010, 03:42 AM   #1
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Portland Escape Trip Journal, October 30-31

This thread follows up on the subject of the recovery of a 19' Escape that was discussed in a prior thread. Here's a blurb on the Escape trailer saga to date. I plan to add some photos in over the next few days as time allows.

On Saturday, my wife, Kathy, and I arrived in Portland just after noon on an Alaska Air flight . I did not have much time to pull together everything I would have liked to have taken, so I had just a set of magnetic trailer lights, a hitch lock, phone, charger, sleeping bag and a change of clothes. I also had a rain slicker, which worked out great as it rained almost continually. My wife ran for some toiletries and essentials.

After arriving we had just about a half hour to wait for the seller, who met us at the airport and drove us to his shop which was an auto dismantler's place very close by. I didn't have any difficulty finding him, as he'd let me know he would be in a silver Jetta.

He'd had one of his workers go over the trailer and it had been washed and restored to some sense of order: the front hitch had been tweaked over to one side in an accident, so that had been set straight and even painted. The rear right bumper, which also had a slight bend had been straightened so it was even if not smooth. The dinette was up but the cushions were missing.

I glanced over the outside and pointed out some of the details to my wife. This was a 2009 19 foot model, and it had many of the options, including the air conditioning, outside shower, rear hitch/bike rack, LP Gas connection, over-sink window, counter extension, three burner stove, underbed outside access panel and so forth. It also appears to be set up for some kind of front bunk above the dinette. About the only available options I did not see were the winter package (with the double pane glass and extra insulation) and the TV mount and stereo

Missing were the seat cushions, the two undersink drawers and the front blinds.

I started out underneath looking for anything obvious: I sighted along the frame rails and crossbeams, and with the ground basically level I eyeballed the ride height and the apparent alignment of the two wheels. A walk around the outside was a little more revealing about the accident. The driver side trim band had some diagonal gouges along the first third, and the access panel on that side was crushed, and the heater outlet port on that side was smashed. The water heater cover had a bit of a bend. The texture of the scrapes along that side and edge suggest that the trailer slid on its side on asphalt, surfing on the belly band trim. The refrigerator cover on that side held up very well, and only the plastic inserts covering the rivets popped out on the bottom grill. The top grill had a couple of louvers crushed slightly. It's really amazing the damage to the top and sides were so well contained, although there could be cracks in the body that have not yet come to light.

The most extensive damage was along the front driver corner top had some tears and a longer rip that ran back a couple of feet. The rip in the front terminates at the corner of the gravel guard. However, None of the glazing was cracked. On the driver's side, the overhead cabinet had broken right where the impact had occurred There had been, and was, a fair amount of water on the interior that had entered through the large rip and run down into the two front storage compartments. The battery was still in place and the only loose wiring I could see was to the upper running light in the driver front corner cabinet.

Some minor interior damage was a small section of the paneling on the bathroom section.

All in all the condition was better than I had feared, and about as good as I had hoped. I passed over the check and the seller made out a bill of sale and also provided me with the original paperwork from the auction. We needed to pick up our U-haul reserved truck, so he offered to drive us after moving the trailer out front of the shop to a convenient spot in his driveway across the street. He gave me all the keys, which included what appeared to be the original Tow vehicle (some kind of Toyota) and a couple spares.

The seller dropped us off at the U-haul on Sandy Rd and we had lunch at a Vietnamese place called Pho An located about a mile away from the U-Haul depot while we waited for our trailer, which was a V-8 Powered 10' cargo truck. At the U-haul place I picked up about 3 kinds of tape, (the best of which turned out to be some poly stuff that was guaranteed to stick to anything, wet or dry - It was going to be plenty wet! We also picked up a 10x8' drop cloth, small snap-knife and some tow rope. I got a pack of automotive fuses because it appeared some were missing.

I learned that all the U-Haul trailers have 2" hitches, which is handy and this 10' model had a 7-pin trailer connector, which was great, but no connection for the electric brakes.

On the way back to the trailer we stopped at Safeway for some supplies and made it back to the office by 5PM. I bought a lot of paper towels, a gallon of water, TP and sunflower seeds, lemonade and some fruit. With just an hour of daylight left, we got back to the trailer and set about getting it ready to tow. Hitch height was really good, but the trailer chains did not have any securing links. The breakaway switch ended looked cut off. No frayed cable, but no loop.

After getting the hitch on the ball I plugged in the 7-pin connector and crossed my fingers. It was a success! Almost every light came on, except for two running lights. The turn signals and brake lamps worked perfectly. I removed the bulb from the running lamp that had no lens and I went inside and confirmed that all the interior lights worked, including a couple that had been replaced with LEDs. I snapped on the Monitor panel above the stove and it showed that grey and black water tanks were Empty, freshwater was low and the batter was at low charge. The stove fan worked, but the Max fan just kind of beeped (still sorting that one out)

Back outside, I used duct tape across every crack I could reach. I wanted to make sure that everything was secure. I taped sideways across each crack for some structure and then along the length of each to help keep out the water (it was already drizzling and it got progressively worse). I couldn't reach the full length of the crack on top, which runs about 2 feet.

I went around the trailer shaking and tapping things. The rear tire was loose but it wasn't clear why. We pulled off the maple leaf logo tire cover and I could see that it was the mounting bolts at its base. I got those hand tight and it was clear a Home Depot trip was our first stop. We took a slow drive along the rutted street outside the shop. The hitch was a little clunky but seemed to hold

We made Home Depot at Washington Ave just after it had just gotten dark. I bought a couple of magic links for the tow chains and a hitch pin for the trailer ball. It turns out that the clunking was because the bolt the worker had put through was not entirely captured at the hitch. The pin I bought was tapered and seated much better. It was cool out, but I felt the hubs, anyway and the tires and hubs were all cool.

My wife ran off to Panda Chinese restaurant while I worked over the trailer tightening everything I could. I snugged up the hitch jack and went back inside to buy some 3/8" rod to replace the tie down for the propane tanks.

It's not clear to me how the manifold on its sheet metal bracket is intended to mount: I slid it down over the rod and it's captive if not secure. My U-haul was retrofit by its previous owner with a very sturdy mount made of 1"boxed angle iron and a 1-1/4" square tube that terminates in a threaded 1/2" rod. It's extremely sturdy. In contrast, the Escape hardware is in my opinion too light duty for the intended purpose. Consider that each full tank is 20lbs, so the combination is about 50lbs of hoses, tanks, hardware and explosive gas. One of the tanks was badly dented, both the tank itself and the knob was cracked. So this had gotten loose. The way the apparatus works you need both tanks in place to secure one, so I replaced the threaded rod and used some nuts and lockwashers to get things in shape. The hose coming off the manifold was loose so I tightened that up.

Before we left the shopping center, I stopped in Target next door and got a couple pillows. The trailer was totally without upholstery so the pillows, sleeping bag and a large quilt from U-haul were all we had.

We drove surface streets with the trailer tracking well and no sign of any problems. I drove with the windows lowered to better hear the trailer. We went about 5 miles to the first bit of freeway. The hitch was much more solid and I didn't feel any bounce upon slowing or accelerating. Aside from the fact that the U-Haul was a much larger vehicle than I typically drive, it was only obvious I was towing when accelerating on the freeway or turning sharply on surface streets. It was 45MPH for at least half an hour before we made it to I-5 and I kept the speed at 55 for the first hour. After another hour we did 65 for much of the Oregon trip except where the grade limited us to 45 in the climbs. A storm was moving in and we were getting a ton of rain. It was probably inches over the next five hours. Visibility was so low that I couldn't do better than 45 safely.

We stopped at 7-feather Casino for gas - they have a TA Truckstop layout with a full service trucker convenience store inside, where I found replacement lenses for the two lights and bought some blackwater tank treatment, a triangle safety reflector, and a 30A-20A adapter plug. The hubs and tires were still cool. I wanted to buy some road flares, but theirs were scary 18" long ones with a nail hanging out so I bought some glow rods instead. (The chance of getting impaled on one of those nails weighs higher on my mind). I picked up a lug wrench and some doughnuts

We had hoped to make the California state line but it was still about 120 miles off and the Camps application on my iPhone showed that there was a Twin Pines RV Park nearby, so we overnighted there. It was a no frills RV service park with full hookups and shower. $25 per night per couple. Since we'd had such good luck with the DC side I decided to try the 110V. I fed thge power cord out of the box and plugged it in to the hookup, thenwent inside to check, but it wasn't immediately clear if I had anything. I didn't have any 110V appliances with me, until I thought of turning on the overhead air conditioning unit and its fan came right on. Shortly afterwards, the converter went into charge mode.

I decided to double down and test the LP. I wet down the connections I could reach to check for bubbles, cracked the gas valve open slightly and heard a bit of a hiss from under the manifold. I tightened that up with a wrench and everything seemed to be OK. Inside we lit the stove. I turned the thermostat up and the fan kicked on and started to blow lukewarm, then warm, air. Bliss!

I dialed up the refrigerator to Electric mode to test it, forgot about it and by morning it was frosty in the freezer section. The Fresh tank didn't have enough water in it to test further, but we were able to flush the toilet with the gallon of water we'd bought. We spread out the quilt, sleeping bag and pillows and it was reasonably cozy with the heater going in just half an hour or so. By then it was 4AM.

Kathy awoke first about 9:30 and we decided we needed to get back in order to be back in time to take my daughter out on her Trick-or-Treats. We had 500 miles to go and that put us arriving at about 6PM, which with some stops for gas stretched to 7PM.

After the prior night's drive, which had been a miserable experience with the wipers going full tilt and flumes of water everywhere, it was just cloudy with drizzle. Mt. Shasta looked beautiful when it appeared out of the clouds on the horizon.

The California Border agricultural agents were more interested in our U-Haul Truck than the trailer it towed. They had a quick look inside (empty except for a case or two of soda) and set us on our way. Next gas stop was the TA station at Red Bluff where we had overnighted in September on our trip out in the U-Haul to Burney Falls. Shortly afterward we had a near miss when an entire retread spun off a big flatbed trailer in front of us and danced in the road before heading off to the shoulder.

After 650 miles or so we found that the worst stretch of road was in our own back yard on 680 just short of San Ramon. Chipped, badly patched roadway and a 55MPH speed limit forced us into the slow lane where things got progressively worse. Folks complained about this on the Burney Falls trip. It wasn't such a big deal for us in the Explorer, but in an empty U-Haul truck, it was a bouncing nightmare; My hands and jaw ached but the trailer hung in there. We made it home around 7PM and I parked the U-Haul and opened all the doors, vents, windows, cupboards and panels. I plan to get a fan going in there tomorrow as the first order of business is to get this thing dried out to minimize future problems with dry rot, fungus and odors.

Here’s a rundown on the situation:

What's Missing?
1. Need a manual - anyone got one?
2. 4 Dinette cushions
3. Queen Bed
4. 2 undersink drawers
5. Front blind is missing, if that window actually has one?
6. 20 foot sewer hose and cap. (Maybe it's a good thing?)

What's been tested working?
1. Trailer marker and turn signal indicators are all functional except one running light
2. LPG distribution (manifold and plumbing) test OK. Should pressure test next. At least one tank will need replacement.
3. Refrigerator is fine on electrical. LPG is untested
4. Stove tested OK
5. Furnace and Thermostat are OK
6. Air conditioning seems fine. Need a hot day to fully test.
7. Smoke and LPG detectors light up
8. Fan Hood and light are OK
9. Convertor AC and DC are fine
10. Battery seems fine at this point
11. Frame seems to be great. Hubs didn't warm at all. I may buy a thermometer to check the tires or get a professional opinion on the alignment at some point, but 700 miles is a pretty good test. I also expect that an alignment issue if there is one, could eventually lead to uneven wear.
12. Hitch is straight but I'd like to clean it up some
13. Hitch Jack is fine
14. Tank holdown is repaired
15. Spare tire mount is secured
16. Freshwater system with pump appear OK in a quick test
17. All cabinetry works
18. Door, lock and screen are fine
19. Opening windows all function

What needs repair?
1. Several cracks including a long one along the front corner and top, smaller one at lower left, one particular spider crack,
2. Outdoor access panel is crushed and will need replacement.
3. Overhead cabinet will need to be rebuilt
4. Front dinette will need to be reset to square it up
5. Maxx Fan doesn't turn on - just beeps?
6. Frame for the gravel guard will need replacement. I have not had this open to see if the damage or structure includes the window frame itself.
7. Sewer hose housing needs secured
8. Belly band on the driver side is scraped up and should be replaced.
9. Headliner looks OK but the section right above the front window may need replacement.
10. Small tear in the large oak veneer panel that covers the bath

What's untested?
1. Water heater is untested
2. I haven't fully tested the brakes. They seem to engage on the breakway but that's all I know at this point
3. Dump valve gate is untested
4. Tank monitors look promising but not fully tested
5. Awning canopy

I'll concentrate over the next week on getting this trailer as dry as possible. I plan to undertake the structural repairs of the fiberglass myself, but will probably hire out the gelcoating. I plan to trim the frayed bits of the bodywork enough to align them then pop rivet some plates to the outside to keep them in alignment while I glass up the inside edge. Then I will drill out the rivets and take the plates off. We're in the midst of some house reconstruction so this may be a few weeks off.

Regards,

Matt
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:22 AM   #2
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Seems better than some might have expected. If our experience is any indication a good trailer purchase always involves towing it home through a good rain storm.
Now you need to decide if "replacing my 25-year-old Dometic Fridge" really is your next project.
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:28 AM   #3
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After all the backing and forthing it's great to hear that all went well!
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:14 AM   #4
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If you have not already done so I would *seriously* consider for the peace of mind taking it up to Reace to have him take a look at it. Reace and his wife Tammy are great people and the trailers are their baby’s so I don’t think you could go wrong in getting there thoughts and help with fixing damage that may not be obvious. You should also be able to purchase the parts missing from them as well - shipping via bus or truck in a big batch may be cheaper than shipping via parcel post. :-)

Post pictures please - I missed them when it originally came up for sale.
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:21 AM   #5
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Matt, congrats on being an Escape owner. It seems you have some work ahead of you, but nothing that can't be fixed.

I would get the frame checked out well, just to be sure. It is tough enough to handle the trailer, but the accident might have weakened it somewhere.

Pop in to the Escape forum if you have any specific questions.
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:12 PM   #6
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What a great adventure, great story and wonderful find! As I read the whole thing to my husband he kept saying "this guy must be young......5 hours of sleep after all that and he keeps going......". So many amazing 'good omens', the power working, even the propane. I'm sure you can get a manual from Reace. Good luck and have fun re-creating your new trailer!
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:17 PM   #7
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WoW! It's gonna be fun following THIS adventure! Sounds like you know quite a bit, Matt, so you should be able to get it back to camping!!

Like Mike, I was thinking "How old IS Matt???" I was tired just reading the story!
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Old 11-02-2010, 10:04 PM   #8
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Hi: Matt in SV... Although I don't have a 19'er if I can help with any FAQ's send me a pm or email and I'll try my best to help!!!
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 12-29-2010, 08:14 PM   #9
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Any update on this project?

Dave
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Old 12-30-2010, 08:13 AM   #10
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Nothing structural so far. Unfortunately I have not had two consecutive days without rain. To date I have:
  1. Driveway camped for nearly two months as we are doing some remodeling affecting the bedrooms.
  2. Tested everything except the water heater, which is in winter bypass mode due to a cracked piece of PEX tubing, the outside shower, and the quick release LPG fitting.
  3. Bought a tyvek trailer cover off E-bay.
  4. Found a light, queen mattress from a former Airstream owner who replaced hers with foam. Added flannel sheets and comforter from Costco.
  5. Flushed the waste tanks.
  6. Found 4 cushions with foam on eBay for the front dinette.
  7. Recovered the porch step and added some indoor/outdoor carpet.
  8. Added an undersink wastebasket slide and door rack.
  9. Installed a 19" LCD tv with a swing arm mount.
  10. Replaced the blown logic board in the MaxxAir fan and bought a remote.
  11. Paid about $1000 in registration fees (Oregon has no sales tax, but California is about bankrupt and needs every penny).
  12. Added a hitch wheel, which involved some grinding and sparks, but no welding.
  13. Bought and installed some BAL X-Chocks.
  14. Replaced the shower vent lever with a knob.

I think that's about it so far!

Regards,

Matt
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt in SV View Post
Nothing structural so far. Unfortunately I have not had two consecutive days without rain. To date I have:
  1. Driveway camped for nearly two months as we are doing some remodeling affecting the bedrooms.
  2. Tested everything except the water heater, which is in winter bypass mode due to a cracked piece of PEX tubing, the outside shower, and the quick release LPG fitting.
  3. Bought a tyvek trailer cover off E-bay.
  4. Found a light, queen mattress from a former Airstream owner who replaced hers with foam. Added flannel sheets and comforter from Costco.
  5. Flushed the waste tanks.
  6. Found 4 cushions with foam on eBay for the front dinette.
  7. Recovered the porch step and added some indoor/outdoor carpet.
  8. Added an undersink wastebasket slide and door rack.
  9. Installed a 19" LCD tv with a swing arm mount.
  10. Replaced the blown logic board in the MaxxAir fan and bought a remote.
  11. Paid about $1000 in registration fees (Oregon has no sales tax, but California is about bankrupt and needs every penny).
  12. Added a hitch wheel, which involved some grinding and sparks, but no welding.
  13. Bought and installed some BAL X-Chocks.
  14. Replaced the shower vent lever with a knob.

I think that's about it so far!

Regards,

Matt
Thanks Matt. It sounds like you've quite a lot considering the weather.
Dave
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:26 AM   #12
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Smile Got my Plate today

I completed the registration process today with a trip to the light adjusting station to get a lamp certificate, and then a California DMV vehicle ID number verification. I have the new plate, and the title is supposed to arrive from Sacramento in a couple of weeks!

Regards,

Matt
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Old 01-27-2011, 11:47 PM   #13
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Name: Matt
Trailer: U-Haul VT16, Escape 19
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Red face I'm official!

I finally received my California title in the mail today, and I have the dubious distinction of being the first Escape Trailer owner with a SALVAGE title on record! It took just three trips to the DMV and $1001 in sales tax and fines. I had to pay about $150 for being a week late on reporting the entry of my trailer into California. The bizarre part is that since it was junked in Washington State the month prior, what I brought into Califorina wasn't technically a vehicle at all, but who says laws should make sense?

Other than this, it was just a brake light inspection and a VIN verification, so I really shouldn't complain too much.

Regards,

Matt
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Old 03-25-2011, 03:38 PM   #14
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Trailer: 2007 Bigfoot 25b21FB
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I didn't find another thread on your body repairs. I'm hoping for an update on your progress on the Escape. I had commented in the original thread that I had looked at bidding on it at the original auction. I'm curious to hear your progress and perhaps some before (since the old links are gone) and current pictures of the progress. I'm sure several others would be interested.

I'm about to join you in the challenges of similar big time project on a Bigfoot 21 footer. I would love to talk if we can set up a time.

Regards from Texas, Curt
(I'm taking on what will be temporary named the "Tipsy Bigfoot")
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