Eastern Massachusetts: A Fiberglass Desert? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-12-2016, 09:29 PM   #1
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Question Eastern Massachusetts: A Fiberglass Desert?

Howdy‚

We're getting to the age where tent camping is more trouble than we want, so we're thinking of a small camper. I'm enamored of the molded fiberglass ones I see on line, everything from Scamps to the double-hulled (and too expensive) Olivers. But looking on the Web, I see practically nothing new or used here in Eastern Massachusetts, or even within a couple of hundred miles. No RV dealers carry them, not even used.

We'll probably be looking next month, and if we can't find a fiberglass trailer, we'll have to settle for some random standard type. Any suggestions welcome. And, of course, if you know of a not-too-old Scamp or Casita or Escape or something in this area, please let me know. We'd like a bathroom, and maybe 16+ in length, but beyond that, we're just dipping our toes in the water. I'll read more on this forum, and see what I can learn.

/Mr Lynn
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Old 04-12-2016, 09:45 PM   #2
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Welcome, Mr. Lynn!

Even in fiberglass-friendly regions, two hundred miles is a pretty small search radius for a molded fiberglass trailer. They constitute a tiny fraction of the market, likely less than 1% of all the used trailers for sale at any given time.

Still, I understand that not everyone can be available to travel hundreds of miles on a moment's notice. I was in that place when I was RV shopping four years ago. I wish you success in finding the right trailer for you!
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Old 04-12-2016, 10:25 PM   #3
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Thanks Jon. If I knew exactly what I wanted, and found it somewhere, I might make a fair trip to pick it up. But it's hard to commit to a vehicle when you haven't even seen it.

I think we're going to have to do some generic trailer shopping just to decide what configuration (floorplan, etc.) we like, and meanwhile keep an eye on the used fiberglass market. I think if there were an Escape or something like it close by, I'd run to see it, but that's not the case. It's odd that if molded fiberglass is really better, why it's such a small part of the market; there seem to be hundreds of standard travel-trailer brands.

You know, I think there's an annual RV show in Boston. Do the fiberglass companies exhibit at such shows? If so, we'll have to make a point of going. UPDATE: Just checked; we missed it. The next one is January 2017: http://www.bostonrvexpo.com But looks like there were just big RV dealers at the last one, not manufacturers, so maybe we didn't miss anything.

/Mr Lynn
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Old 04-12-2016, 10:40 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Mr Lynn View Post
Thanks Jon. If I knew exactly what I wanted, and found it somewhere, I might make a fair trip to pick it up. But it's hard to commit to a vehicle when you haven't even seen it.
I think we're going to have to do some generic trailer shopping just to decide what configuration (floorplan, etc.) we like, and meanwhile keep an eye on the used fiberglass market. I think if there were an Escape or something like it close by, I'd run to see it, but that's not the case. It's odd that if molded fiberglass is really better, why it's such a small part of the market; there seem to be hundreds of standard travel-trailer brands.
You know, I think there's an annual RV show in Boston. Do the fiberglass companies exhibit at such shows? If so, we'll have to make a point of going. UPDATE: Just checked; we missed it. The next one is January 2017: Boston RV & Camping Expo | But looks like there were just big RV dealers at the last one, not manufacturers, so maybe we didn't miss anything.

/Mr Lynn
Welcome to the forum Mr. Lynn. I doubt you will ever see a FG TT at any RV show as most are only sold through the builder. You can get a hold of the builders to get some names of folks that bought one from them that might be close to you. The best thing you could do to see many different units is to check out the "Rally Map" here on the site to find one close to you. Most owners are more than happy to show and answer questions.
Good luck on your search.
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Old 04-12-2016, 10:43 PM   #5
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Check Craig's List . Fiberglass trailers come up for sale on occasion. We found our first Scamp on Craig's list. Be prepare to move if you find one , there are usually sold rather quickly.
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Old 04-13-2016, 07:05 AM   #6
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The "Rallye Map" :

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer...c.k-Kz7_9r9FlE
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Old 04-13-2016, 08:17 AM   #7
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Yes, they are hard to come by in New England! You have to check Craigslist every day religiously and be ready to buy immediately. We put down a deposit on a new Scamp but kept looking in the meantime, and eventually found one on Craigslist quite close to home. (After missing out on some a bit further afield). We got it by dropping everything to look at it immediately and then buying it on the spot. We probably paid too much considering it has a few issues, but nothing major and if we hadn't paid that price, someone else would have!
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Old 04-13-2016, 08:54 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Mr Lynn View Post
...It's odd that if molded fiberglass is really better, why it's such a small part of the market; there seem to be hundreds of standard travel-trailer brands...
That's a fair question, and I'm not sure I have a definitive answer, but I have some thoughts…

The manufacturing process for molded fiberglass is more complex, requires specialized equipment and workers, uses hazardous chemicals, and involves the creation of a mold for each fiberglass part, so...
  • It is not so easy to scale up production to the output expectations of conventional manufacturers.
  • They are more expensive than similarly sized and equipped conventional trailers.
  • They offer fewer models and choices.
  • High initial set-up costs make it harder (and riskier) for new companies to enter the molded fiberglass segment.
All the above limit their appeal in the larger market, which generally expects right-now availability and maximum space/amenities for the dollar spent.

There really aren't hundreds of conventional brands, by the way. Most of the nameplates you see are divisions of just a handful of large corporations. While the brands retain some degree of independence in terms of design, the reality is they are answerable to the corporation for their bottom line. They market through dealers, so mark-ups are high, steep discounts the norm, and a lot of money goes into advertising. Dealer-sponsored RV shows are a significant component of that advertising budget.

Molded fiberglass manufacturers, for the most part, remain small, independent, family-run businesses. The manufacturing process is inherently more expensive, and they lack the economies of scale enjoyed by the big corporations when it comes to purchasing components. To keep the price down, they do not sell through dealers, advertising is limited, and they do not exhibit at RV shows. Mark-ups are modest and discounts rare. Production is very limited by conventional RV standards, but it is sustainable through RV boom-bust cycles. Limited production, along with the superior durability of the product itself, ensures well-above-average resale values for molded fiberglass trailers.

In lieu of dealers and RV shows, most use a referral system. If you contact the manufacturer they will try to set you up with a nearby owner willing to demo their trailer. They receive a small stipend if you buy a new trailer.

In short, different product, different business model. I admit I was shopping for a conventional RV four years ago when I stumbled onto my Scamp, by accident as it seemed. But the more I have learned, the more I appreciate the small business model of Scamp & kin, as well as the design and function of the product itself. I would absolutely buy another.

But it's not for everyone. Whatever you end up with, I wish you happy camping this season and for years to come!
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Old 04-13-2016, 09:09 AM   #9
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Have you visited this website? Scamp Trailers - US | Fiberglass RV's For Sale

Here are a few that are currently close (ish) to you...
Scamps in New Jersey, one in Maine, one in Virginia
A Casita also in Virginia

Good luck with your search!
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Old 04-13-2016, 09:13 AM   #10
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Thanks, everyone, for the advice.

Looks like the rallies are just as scarce as the trailers in this neck o' the woods. But I'll keep an eye on Craig's and here and see what turns up. My wife is retiring next month, so we'll have more time after that to do some looking.

It's possible we may just pick up a small used Jayco or something comparable, just for the experience, and then keep an eye out for a cool fiberglass 'egg' over the next year or two. Hybrids are cheap, but I'm really not interested in canvas! Recommendations for better non-fiberglass trailers welcome.

It's surprising that if demand for molded fiberglass is so high, that some company doesn't ramp up production and meet that demand. Looks like an opportunity for someone.

/Mr Lynn
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Old 04-13-2016, 09:50 AM   #11
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One more factor in limiting the market share of molded fiberglass trailers is that the molding technique does not lend itself to the behemoths that are so popular, and slideouts would pretty well eliminate the FG advantage of no leaks. That eliminates a large part of the RV market from the get go.

Walt
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Old 04-13-2016, 09:51 AM   #12
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Keep your eyes on CL but be very careful - lots of scammers out there.
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Old 04-13-2016, 10:49 AM   #13
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Mr Lynn, it seems you have discovered what I have encountered since joining this website for information on travel trailers...fiberglass units because of the manufacturer's marketing plan are very hard to find used because of limited market penetration. Their buy direct method of retail is inconvenient to say the least.

Without a dealer network viewing the product is all but impossible if you live in the lower 48. Without a dealer to guide and assist you you will also be placing yourself in harms way when it comes time to set up your tow vehicle.
For first time RVers the dealer performs a valuable service setting up towing hardware, weight distribution, sway control and guiding you as to the proper tow vehicle. It is far more complicated and dangerous when you do it alone.
That is the main reason I have yet to even set foot into a molded fiberglass trailer.

A few facts I have discovered...this class of trailer is available in limited quantities...available only thru direct sales from just about all manufactures in Canada.....two or 3 U.S. Manufacturers but also only direct marketing...I am still,waiting for their brochures to come in the mail...no local dealer support.
The folks that own this type of trailer are more than willing to help new buyers view their trailers but that means you get to see one and must drive considerable distance to see it. ......I have checked craigslist in my area for over two years and never seen one for sale used...I found and bought my current trailer via craigslist (conventional type...not FGRV type) in one day.....excellent price (about 30% the cost of similar in fiberglass) and it had options often not found in a fiberglass units.

Summary: if you buy a conventional travel trailer you will be camping this season.....if you insist on camping in a fiberglass unit you may be,looking and waiting a long time while paying more in the end.

I will now brace for the coming attack for my appraisal of the FGRV marketplace.

Happy Camping !
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Old 04-13-2016, 01:25 PM   #14
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Hi Mr. Lynn,

We bought a used Casita Liberty that we found at the Casita Travel Trailer Forum classifieds. It took awhile but we found what we wanted in Mississippi. I called an RV dealer near the buyer and had him go over the Casita before I made a deal. Then we went to MS to get it. Worth it. Good luck!
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