Brand recomendations for Full timing? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-14-2009, 06:38 AM   #1
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I am about to be medically retired from the military, and plan on parking a travel trailer in a park in the Ozarks while I go back to school.

Due to the Medical retirement, money, and healthcare will not be an issue for my modest needs.
(Single, no dependents)

Also, due to the nearly a decade in the military... Actually a Travel Trailer will be a step UP! In living space/quality of life.

I was considering a 25-30 foot airstream. (My Grandparents were snowbirds with an Airstream, and I had taken month+ long trips with them while in High School) And I know their rep for durability, ease of maintenance, and value retention.

But my Tow vehicle has a 5,000 pound recommended tow limit. I know I can exceed it, but prefer not to.

If necessary, towing it will not be an issue due to the fact that it will be stationary for the next 2-2.5 years, (I have a way of getting it on site and the rare move if necessary) but if possible It would be nice to be able to 'hook up and drive'

Also cost is an issue. I had planned on spending ~ $8,000 on the airstream, but it is my understanding that I can get a Fiberglass one much cheaper. (I am VERY good at finding deals once I know what I am searching for... and have months to look) This would not be a bad thing.

I was told that Fiberglass Trailers were durable and low maintenance... So I am beginning my research.

Any input as to brands to consider or avoid would be appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old 03-14-2009, 11:20 AM   #2
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Quote:
I was considering a [b]25-30 foot airstream.

But my Tow vehicle has a [b]5,000 pound recommended tow limit.

Also cost is an issue. I had planned on spending [b]~ $8,000 on the airstream,
but it is my understanding that I can get a Fiberglass one much cheaper.

Any input as to [b]brands to consider or avoid would be appreciated.
Welcome to FiberglassRV.com!
As a Navy Reserve Retiree, I can understand to your situation.

Let me address your last concern first. I would council considering all brands that are within your reach; as a genre Molded Fiberglass Travel Trailers are more alike than different. A Scamp is to a Casita like a Chevrolet is to a Pontiac. These are the most commonly found brands in the used market.

Having said that, you should think about who you are, and what situations you wish to consider or avoid.
  • How tall are you?
  • How long do you plan to remain single?
  • How much manual effort are you willing to put into to processes that may be automatic otherwise?
  • What kinds of units are available close to you, and how far are you willing to travel to pick one up?

I initially wanted a Scamp 16' Side Dinette. I chose my Fiber Stream mainly because it was available close to me. What I discovered after the fact is that it's gray water drain system is totally gravity fed, while in some of the Scamps, the shower drain has to be pumped UP to the gray holding tank. A drawback to this difference is that the shower stall in the Fiber Stream is not as tall due to the raised floor in the bathroom, while the Scamp's shower is as tall as the rest of the trailer. I'm only 5'6" tall, so I don't have to duck in the shower, and I don't have to remember to turn on a drain pump.
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Old 03-14-2009, 04:03 PM   #3
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Welcome to the FGRV, josho

I know this sounds vague, but I would say that all of the brands have their plusses and minuses, and it really depends on what you like/want/can afford. Also, if you are buying used, a lot of it depends on the condition of that particular trailer.

As an example of what I mean, take inside walls: There are some trailers that come with carpeted walls, some that have low-pile marine fuzzy fabric, some that have a vinyl-closed cell foam interior ("Ensolite"), and some that have gelcoated fiberglass inside walls. I'm sure there are probably others I haven't mentioned, too. For myself, I know I wanted either Ensolite or fiberglass, so that narrowed my search. I imagine you'll have similar filters once you get to know the trailers and what you like. You can go to the home page to view albums showing different trailers. And of course ask the membership here if you have specific questions

One thing you mentioned caught my eye and I feel I need to respond:

Quote:
But my Tow vehicle has a 5,000 pound recommended tow limit. I know I can exceed it, but prefer not to.
I would say the opposite; that you cannot safely exceed your tow rating. If anything, you need to "downsize" the trailer a bit to account for the extra weight of water, gear, and etc. (plus the fact that many manufacturer's "dry weights" are rather lower than the real-world trailers -- they often don't include things like the refrigerator, propane tanks, or batteries). Please keep the rig safe (or buy a tow vehicle with a higher capacity if you find yourself wanting a trailer that weighs more).

Again, welcome!

Raya
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Old 03-14-2009, 05:03 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum.
I agree with the others here that you should really spend a little time learning the subtle differences between the different brands and models before making any commitment to a particular unit.

If you want to see a few Fiberglass models you are welcome to see mine if in the St.Louis area,just send me a message or email.

Every ones needs are different and the tolerance for luxury or lack thereof are qualities only you can decide.
I know after spending almost three weeks straight in my Scamp a few weeks ago that a lot of my notions of what I want and need have changed a little so it does really deserve some careful consideration.
If you will be in the trailer year round that will also mandate certain things you may need.

Above all though,try to have fun with it I certainly am.

Ed
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:04 PM   #5
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Thank you for the replies.

I am 6 feet tall, am willing to travel quite a ways, (Enjoy road trips)and am willing to do a lot as far as what is needed. (Easier is better, but creature comforts are not something I'm used to.)

I'm not so concerned with seriously undercutting the weight limit, because I also ride a Motorcycle (Although due to my injuries I am limited to only a few hours per day) and will be transporting it on a open trailer, and can carry many of my 'trailer contents' on this trailer.

I do not intend to be quite the 'nomad' at this point, more one spot with a couple close (Within couple hours) spots to go to during the summer.
As I said, a Trailer would be a step up in living conditions from a Squad bay, 3 man room, tent in Iraq, or hole in the sand... etc.

(I'd like to find a piece of land and start working on it during my summers/live on site with the trailer and a solar setup/outdoor shower, and the School is close the the area I am interested in.)

I'll likely be single for 'several years' I don't think anymore than 'visitors' need to be accounted for.

My other option is getting a heavier trailer (Or airstream) (As I said, for a couple times a year move I can get a heavier tow vehicle) and by the time I am out of school I'll be able to pay cash for a different tow vehicle.
(I don't do debt)

Thank you for the information on the inside walls. Things like that and brands to consider/avoid are the information I am looking for so that I know where to begin my research.

I'll go check out those pix.
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Thank you for the information on the inside walls. Things like that and brands to consider/avoid are the information I am looking for so that I know where to begin my research.
I think you're in the wrong place if you think any of us are going to tell you what brand of molded lightweight fiberglass trailer to avoid As has been stated above, it depends totally on your needs/wants/budget and tow vehicle. We have members who full-time in a 13 foot Scamp and still others in trailers nearly twice that length. I would think they're all happy with their choice or they'd probably be towing something else.

Good luck!
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:06 PM   #7
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I see, you meant that you can exceed your tow limit if you borrow someone else's vehicle with a higher rating. Gotcha.

Just to reiterate, I really can't think of any "bad" brands of molded trailers. I can think of some that have features I don't like, want, or need, etc. And I can think of some I want but can't afford or find or tow with my car. Also, there are some with problems that you might not want, but not by brand - more by unfortunate circumstance, such as neglect or "remuddling."

Happy shopping,

Raya
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:41 PM   #8
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You don't mention or I missed it what your tow vehicle is. If it is a pickup truck then looking at your proposed situation, I would think a Scamp 5th wheel would be a very comfortable longer term fiberglass trailer for one.
You would have a very large bed that stays permanently as a bed, full bath and a dinette/study area since you will be in school. Plus they can be had at very good prices lately. There is an 04 just posted for $7100 that looks clean as a whistle.
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:58 PM   #9
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Josho,
...you came to a site where there is plenty of advice
If at all possible, attend a rally (or two or three) so you can actually take a tour of a variety of brands and sizes. Folks are very willing to help a "newby" get acquainted with their brand trailer. Then make a list of your needs and desires and take another tour to hone the list.
Check the Calendar under the "FiberglassRV.com" logo (upper left corner) for times and locations.
I'd suggest recording first, second and third choices then keep a close watch on this forum to see "for sale" listings. Be ready to respond quickly if you see a TT (travel trailer) which is appealing. It happens more often than not, that you'll miss out on a few before striking "pay dirt".
We all enjoy sharing in the details of a search, so please post your experiences as they unfold

Kurt & Ann K.

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Old 03-14-2009, 11:37 PM   #10
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I might be able to make the April Arkansas gathering... But my tow vehicle is not a truck.

I was looking for 25 Ft and longer, but I just looked at a 23 foot Max Sport.... It would work.

I like the Bigfoot layout with that bed in the back on a level with the windows....

I'm glad to hear there's no 'bad brands', so I guess I'll be looking.

Guess I need to decide if all things being equal... Airstream or Fiberglass....

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Old 03-15-2009, 06:13 AM   #11
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Quote:
Guess I need to decide if all things being equal... Airstream or Fiberglass....
They are not equal. Not in weight, initial cost or maintenance. Will you be traveling in a hail-prone area? That alone should tell you what to avoid. Depending on your desire to fix something and your abilities, there isn't ANYTHING on a fiberglass trailer [b]you can't fix. I'm sure there are Airstream owners that can repair the aluminum skins on their own trailers... but those are probably few and far between. At least with fiberglass, I know I'm capable of making a repair so there's no big gaping hole and if I screw it up the first time, I can do it again until I get it right. Can the same be said about an Airstream without spending big $$ ??
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Old 03-15-2009, 11:30 AM   #12
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I was looking for 25 Ft and longer...

Guess I need to decide if [b]all things being equal... Airstream or Fiberglass....
I guess we don't consider them equal. We tend to go for Quality over Quantity.
  • The biggest Bigfoot [b]Molded Fiberglass is [b]25'.
    They made a few conventionally framed models with fiberglass sheeting skins slightly larger.**
  • The biggest Oliver is [b]21', which is new for 2009. Before 2009 it was [b]17'
  • The biggest Escape is [b]19' also new for 2009. (excluding their 5th Wheel model) Before 2009 it was [b]17'
  • The biggest Casita is [b]17'
  • The biggest Burro is [b]17' (no longer in business, but available used)
  • The biggest Scamp is [b]16' (excluding their 5th Wheel, which is actually a gooseneck)
**Our focus here is MOLDED fiberglass bodies; where the structure is in the shell, not in any framework.
In fact, our walls and roof are frameless, which accounts for the lighter weight.

Also, you stated wanting to stay under a [b]5,000 pound limit of your tow vehicle.
That would translate to a maximum between [b]17' and 19'.

The 25' Bigfoot is significantly heavier.
I am in the Weights & Measures business, and I volunteer to weigh trailers on my portable scales at West Coast rallys.
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Old 03-16-2009, 09:28 PM   #13
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Over the last 10 years I have 3 new travel trailers. In order:

A 19' Bambi Airstream that was rolled and totaled after I had it for 4 months. Insurance paid of 95% of the new price ($27k). I pulled it with a 5.7 L Dodge Durango (also totaled).

I replaced Bambi with a 17' Aljo Sticky ($13k). Pulled with a 3.7 Jeep Grand Cherokee. After 6 years sold it to a friend to be used as living quarters for a lady going to nursing school. A minimum of remodeling turned it into a very comfortable studio apartment. Now she is summer camping in it. I'm sure the Bambi would have a longer life (Baring rollovers) but the curved shape really eats into the space. The Aljo was more livable in the short term, easier to pull, and easier to modify than the Bambi.

In 2005 I bought a 13' Scamp Delux ($13k). Pulled with a 3.7 L Jeep Liberty. Great, and comfortable, camping trailer and easy to pull. I don't think I'd try to full-time in it.

Were I trying to do what you are, I think I'd start looking at a 17' to 21' sticky, or a Scamp/Casita 5th wheel. Used but fairly new, would be cost effective. You are paying a whole lot for long life when you buy an Airstream.

I can send pictures of all three if you e-mail me directly.
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Old 03-17-2009, 02:03 PM   #14
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Ron, please tell us the story of your rollover -- The more we know about the experiences of others, the better...
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