Starting the purchase process - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-05-2002, 05:59 PM   #1
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Starting the purchase process

I've just retired. We sold our house in June and moved to a co-op apartment which I gutted and remodeled earlier this year. I call it our northern base of operations. Now we want to be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Our current interest in RV'ing started last month. We were tent camping at a radio controled aircraft meet in Downsville, New York when my wife, Kathy, said "No more lying on the ground in a tent! I'm too old for this." Then she pointed out that cute little trailer nearby which turned out to be a Bigfoot that must have gotten lost and wandered east to New York's Catskill mountains. The owner is a Canadian and he was very gratious about showing us the features of his abode.

We want a small trailer to visit Canada during July and August, and to make some weekend trips the rest of the year.

Since then, we've researched the Casita and it seems like a fine RV, however I'm 6'2" and the Casita width of 6'8" vs the Bigfoot's 8'-0' seems important to us.

Our tow vehicle is a Dodge Carivan minivan with a 3.3 liter v6. It's tow rating is 3500 lbs with 350 lb hitch limit. Am I crazy thinking it'll be OK pulling a 17' Bigfoot?

Today we attended a RV show here in New Jersey. There were no fiberglas eggs in the show. An Airstream Bambi was the closest, and It's rediculously priced and out of our range.

I seem to be zeroing in on the 17 foot bigfoot. I think a 2000 or 2001 may be in our price range. Kathy is concerned about the small bath layout and is still advocating a lower priced and less well built but more spacious Keystone Cabana which has a separate shower. I conversely don't want to risk leaking roof and other structural problems and favor and all glas egg. We're going to have to work this out. Then we'll start searching for the actual trailer to purchase.

I'm glad I found this board. Your comment are welcome.
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Old 10-05-2002, 07:21 PM   #2
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Bigfoots

We own a Casita 17 foot Liberty Deluxe. It has a true King Sized bed - you might consider that option. The headroom will be tight; it is 6'3" BEFORE the insulating carpet on the ceiling, so your head may brush the ceiling. You can sleep heat at rear of trailer-feet toward the bathroom on the Liberty King sized bed and it is over 80 inches long - basically a California King which is about 78" wide and 84" long.

Charles Watts, who is also on this board, is 6'4" and has no problem in his trailer, but we'll let him speak for himself about heights of people vs. ceiling heights.

Checking the Bigfoot website (http://www.bigfootrv.com), the max vehicle weight for a Bigfoot is 3500 pounds. This is AT your towing limit. Further, the hitch weight is 350 DRY WEIGHT - that is no propane tanks increasing the weight of the tongue, no water, nothing.

You would probably do best to purchase a tow vehcile that has a better towing capacity. The "rule of thumb" for towing that we follow is: Find out what the max tow capacity of your vehcile. Tow a trailer that weighs no more than 80% of this number. Tow ratings are calculated for ideal conditions while travelling on a level surface. You need extra room for safety - and don't want to stress the engine in your car. A blown engine in the Canadian Rockies could really spoil your trip.

For more tips of trailering and RVing in general, an excellent source of knowledge is Phred Tinseth's "Poop Sheets." Phred has lived full time in a RV for many years. You can find his information at http://www.phrannie.org. Follow the links for 'poop sheets.'

You might also wnat to consider joining an organization such as Escapees (http://www.escapees.com) or Good Sam Club (http://www.goodsamclub.com) as they have many services for RVers.

For a fascinating sociological study of folks who are retired and live in RVs for extended trips or even full time, you might consider the book "Over the Next Hill : An Ethnography of Rving Seniors in North America" by Dorothy Ayers Counts, David Reese Counts, ISBN 1551114232. We got it on interlibrary loan.

You will not see FIberglass Eggs of the Casita or Scamp variety at an RV show as they are sold directly from the factory. Casita may be found at http://www.casitatraveltrailers.com and Scamp is at http://www.scamptrailers.com. Both manufacturers have "referral programs" where they will give you someone to contact to go and see their trailer.

We are about 4-5 hours north of you - but if you come to the Berkshire Mountains in western Mass, let us know; you can see ours. We have the Liberty!

Nathan and Daisy
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Old 10-06-2002, 05:10 AM   #3
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Bigfoots

#1 I would seriously look into whether a 3.3 V6 Dodge Caravan could pull a 17 foot Bigfoot at 2615 LBS dry. Once you load your goodies in you will aproach the 3100-3500 LB mark. You also want to have a Class IV hitch.

Bigfoot also made a 19 foot trailer for a few years. The great thing about this unit is that it is tandem axle.

For the record - the Bigfoots are getting heavier. My 1995 21.5 foot is 3410 LBS and the 2002 is 3819 LBS. I tow with a Dodge Durango 4x4 with a 318 5.2L V8. I wish I had the 360 for some of the bigger hills


#2. The interior headroom states 6'4" on both the 17 foot and the 21.5 foot, but I am sure that's a shy bit less than actual. I think they measure from the bottom of the trims on the ceiling accounting for anything interior-wise such as the roof vent, etc. For example - my brother is 6'5" and says he is quite comfortable in my 21.5 foot

Hope this helps you! :)
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Old 10-06-2002, 01:16 PM   #4
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Karl ...

Karl ... I'm emailing (due to a bug in the program, it will be delivered with webmaster's Michael's email address) you some thoughts on why you should not consider Keytone. Don't want Michael's board exposed to the liability.

I'll join the group saying that I don't think your mini-van is up to the job of hauling a 17 foot Bigfoot ... and while I know some folks do it, I'm not comfortable telling folks to pull a 17 foot Casita with a mini-van.

We've had three fiberglass trailers ... and pulled our first two 16 footers with mini-vans over the tallest peaks Colorado and Canada had to offer without a problem.

But I think you need a little more "umpph" to pull a 17 on up rig.

Like Rick say, all trailers listed "dry" weights are getting heavier. I'm not use exactly why ... I think they found building too filmsy didn't stand up to the rigors of being pulled down the road. I also think thanks to the internet, the first thing folks do when they get a new trailer is go have it weighed ... so manufacturers/dealers were catching flack for saying a trailer weighed x when it really weighed z.

As Nathan also said, I'm 6"4" tall ... and even was comfortable for years, 100s of nights and 1000s of miles in our 16 footers. Like Nathan, I've always had the king bed option of the Liberty Deluxe.

I've found that I spend little time actually standing up inside the trailer ... most of the time inside is spent sitting or laying down. So the height issue really wasn't a problem, as long as I remembered to duck going in/out the door (which I even have to do in most box trailers too!).
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Old 10-06-2002, 01:38 PM   #5
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which to buy

I don't know what Keytone is, BUT that is beside the point I'm making. :omy
When I started looking for the PERFECT trailer for me and my vehicle I was aslo drawn to the Bigfoot. it is too heavy for my V6 and 3500 towing pkg. TOO close to the max towing weight. :sad
I changed to the 17ft Casita. all on Casita forum (including you Charles) did a number on me because of the weight of my towing vehicle. TOO close to the weight of the trailer. :wak
So the search went to 16s and smaller. I ended up with a 14ft. Towing it empty from Canada I was glad I didn't get a larger one. :reye2 You don't notice it on the smooth roads, but when it got rough you think you are in a pickup with very bad shocks. (some of that problem was because it was empty) All in all DON"T over load your towing vehicle. You will be happier in the long haul. (pun intended)
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Old 10-07-2002, 06:52 PM   #6
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first RV

From almost ten years of reading RV posts to various groups on the internet, I can tell you that the Number One mistake of Newbie Retirees Seeking First RV is to buy any RV new unless you have a LOT of disposable income.

The BigFoot and the 17' Casita are fine trailers (altho not a good match for your tow vehicle), but after you have bought one and used it for a while you may find it just isn't what you wanted (mostly because you really didn't KNOW what you wanted), and you will prolly take the usual beating on that First Owner Value Depreciation.

In this case, I would be on the lookout for a good used rig to try out and use the price differential towards upgrading your tow vehicle to something more robust and suited to the task. Do some homework (www.casitaclub.com, usenet rec.outdoors.com, Trailer Life, etc.) to determine the characteristics beyond sheer power that go into a proper tow vehicle.

Pete and Rats
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Old 10-07-2002, 09:19 PM   #7
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first RV

I have agree with Pete. I have had a popup, a 28' Terry, and a 81' Burro ( which I think is the best of all) and none of them were purchased new.

I never have to worry about insurance ( except if I hit someone- and the auto rider takes care of that), cause I wouldn't be out that much.

Set your mind to what you want and start looking for it, but don't be surprised if something neater and cheaper comes along.
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