Would you ever consider stick built for Full Time? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-04-2015, 08:14 AM   #1
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Would you ever consider stick built for Full Time?

As I go down this path of researching what would work for me as a full timer, part of that equation (hopefully) is accommodating my significant other for full timing as well. As a backpacker living in a 450 sq. ft. apartment, small spaces are nothing new to me and a 16ft FGRV would be fine for me. But this does not consider her wants/needs.

If the 17ft. Casita was not big enough to accommodate, and you thought the larger FGRVs were too expensive brand new, and you never could find a decent one used, would you go to say a ~20ft Travel Trailer or even a class C, even if it were stick built? I realize they are relatively cheap for a reason, and would tend to leak more, but if it meant getting on the road fulltime, would you still make a go of it? Afterall, the goal is to go full time here, everyone does it a different way.
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Old 08-04-2015, 08:26 AM   #2
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While I am still a wanna-be RVer who is convinced that I prefer a fiberglass model, PLENTY of folks do use and love their stick built coaches. Full time and otherwise.

I am considering buying a cheap stick built to try out before I take the plunge, and to fill in the gap until I can actually take delivery of a new fiberglass.

If buying a stick built is the way you can get into the full-time experience you want, and keeps the harmony you would need, go for it is my vote. Unfortunately you will probably have to pay the price of more maintenance, and less longevity, but remember, you can probably buy two of the stick builts for not much more than one of the larger fiberglass. You can replace the old stick built with a new one when maintenance headache gets too big.

Just my thoughts, backed up with zero actual experience. :-)

By the way, I'm also an avid backpacker whose most enjoyable year in his life was the year I spent backpacking across the country - carried everything I had, so trailer life will be a breeze!
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Old 08-04-2015, 08:49 AM   #3
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Short answer for me is no.

My Mother, on the other hand, full times in a 40 foot behemoth 5th wheel with slides, and all the comforts of a house. She even uses household furnishings. I chide her sometimes about the maintenance and repairs she's had to do from time to time, but it works for her. Wouldn't for me. I'm way more into efficiency, durability and ease of towing.
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Old 08-04-2015, 09:04 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bster13 View Post
As I go down this path of researching what would work for me as a full timer, part of that equation (hopefully) is accommodating my significant other for full timing as well. As a backpacker living in a 450 sq. ft. apartment, small spaces are nothing new to me and a 16ft FGRV would be fine for me. But this does not consider her wants/needs.

If the 17ft. Casita was not big enough to accommodate, and you thought the larger FGRVs were too expensive brand new, and you never could find a decent one used, would you go to say a ~20ft Travel Trailer or even a class C, even if it were stick built? I realize they are relatively cheap for a reason, and would tend to leak more, but if it meant getting on the road fulltime, would you still make a go of it? Afterall, the goal is to go full time here, everyone does it a different way.
We've been at it for 15 years and neither of us had ever camped before. The last 8 years have been in 16 foot trailers. We began with a stick built Sunline, absolutely the best layout of any trailer I have ever been in. Everything that was heavy was directly over the axle, including items with variable content, like all 3 water tanks. It was 25 years old when we bought it and it did leak but we only planned to own it for two months to go to Labrador. After that trip we were trailer people and never used the motorhome again.

Whether a small trailer works is related to your relationship and attitudes. The people we purchased our motorhome from traveled together once to CA. She told him he could keep it but she was never going in it again. it's not the size of the rig that matters. We actually know a few people who live separately, he or she travels and the other stays home. For me it would probably be 'trade up' time (maybe Ginny won't read this one).

Seriously you need to gauge your relationship.

If Sunline were still in business I would be very tempted to by a new one. I loved everything about it, particularly opening windows on four sides.

The most important equipment in any trailer is the people. If you love each other and have fun together, if you enjoy making each other happy, if you both have a little bit of kid in you, if the happiness of the other is most important, any trailer will do.

We have lived in our 16 foot trailers for 8 years, never once has the size come up. Our travel life is so great all of the hardware is secondary. It may be great that you can afford the biggest, the newest, the brightest but it's not important. This week our son was camping in the eastern Oregon in the high desert in his 1977 Scamp 13, no bathroom. He is a fair sized person and his wife is no pixie. All I got from him were pictures of his little rig parked in wonderful spots with two people just smiling away wishing they did not have to return to work.

Get this one morning it was 48 and ir reached 104 for two days. I said Son, was it too hot at night. No we had fans, no AC. The simple point is you can have a blast in anything. It's you and your choices.

In closing, it's no sin to by a stick built, pleasing your partner is always correct. The travel is more important than the rig. Even when our trailer leaked in a heavy rain, neither of us complained. Oh sure we eventually got a trailer that didn't leak but it did not dampen us.

People always suggest that Newbies go to a rally to see the various trailers, certainly a good idea. More important is to meet people who are successful, to see what they are like as humans, to see how they look at each other. Are they still feasting on each other, do they smile when they look at their partner?
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Old 08-04-2015, 09:39 AM   #5
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I have been hanging out, reading every post, and learning a whole lot for the last 2-3 months (thanks all!). I have been buying lots of stuff for my "new to me" Scamp based on all my new knowledge. But, the most important thing I have learned so far is what I learned just now:

"The most important equipment in any trailer is the people. If you love each other and have fun together, if you enjoy making each other happy, if you both have a little bit of kid in you, if the happiness of the other is most important, any trailer will do."

Well said Norm!!! VERY well said.
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Old 08-04-2015, 09:50 AM   #6
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Short answer for me is yes. There are probably thousands if not millions of people out there full timing in stick built rigs. If all of those rigs were so terrible people wouldn't be doing it. There are well built stickies and not so well built stickies. We had a 32 foot motorhome at one time and liked it for long extended trips. Eventually, the maintenance costs, but more importantly the fuel costs, made us sell it and look at fiberglass trailers.

The larger your rig, the fewer places you can get into to camp. We discovered that some of the coolest campgrounds didn't have sites big enough to accommodate our large rig. Shouldn't be a problem with anything under 20' though.

For full timing I would not recommend a Class C unless you want to also tow a car. And that will probably require something in the 24' or larger range. The downside for me to a Class C (unless you tow a car), or Class A for that matter, is that every time you want to go sight seeing or something like that, you have to break camp - get off your leveling blocks, unhook water and electric, etc. And then you're stuck driving around in something that can be hard to find a parking spot for, doesn't do well on rough roads and guzzles gas like crazy.
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Old 08-04-2015, 10:05 AM   #7
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WIth Kathy,

A motorhome can work well if you realize it's limitations. SOme of the best places can be closed to you making a Class C a better option. One of our best friends uses a Class C but tows a small car, allowing him to explore without breaking down the camp site. As well you drive as many miles exploring as you do traveling and the towed car is easier and more fun.

With our motorhome the towed car had little effect of motorhome mpg.
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Old 08-04-2015, 10:39 AM   #8
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Hmmmm... I was at the library the other day and the two thinnest books I could find were listings of: a) Italian War Heroes and, b) Quality stick built RV's. LOLOLOL


Not being interested in a blank book I went to b) and found that the list consisted of only one entry (but that was one more than the other book)


1. LAZY DAZE, INC. 4303 Mission Blvd. Montclair, CA 91763 Motorhome Dealer | Low Profile Motorhome | RV Manufacturer | Quality Motorhome


Lazy Daze has been in business almost for ever (58 years), has a substantial reputation for building a quality Class "C" coach, and is the only one that I would ever consider that wasn't molded fiberglass. They typically take one (pre-sold) coach to the big annual RV show at Pomona and sell 10-15 units. If you want a larger RV, that will still be with you when it is paid off, this is the only place to look.


Yes, there are a bazillion happy sticky owners out there and they have the repair bills to prove how much they must like their units.


For stick-builts, the sales methods, advertising, pricing, financing, and dealer networks eat up huge sums of their sales prices, indicating just how little is actually spent building them. In plain language, they look neat, but below all the pretty finishes and light,, cheesy comes to mind. You can buy a new one with a 20 year contract and, after 5 years, if you want to sell, you will find that you are still upside down on the price/balance picture.


FGRV's, on the other hand have little, if any of those added sales expenses and are still more expensive than stickys simply because they cost more to build. If they spent what, for example, Jayco, spends on sales costs a 13' Scamp prices would start at $20k, and no one would buy one..... As some of the newer FGRV builders are learning, it's expensive to build these little RV's, and impossible to maintain a dealer network. BigFoot is trying dealers, but their prices are now near the moon.


Anyway, to answer the original question, with but the one listed exception, would I consider a stickbuilt for fulltiming? NOPE.


As a side note, the other day I put up some tongue-in-cheek suggestions for finding an s.o. that would be FGRV full-timing compatible, I now acknowledge that a s.o. with a 5 digit REI membership number would be on that list. LOL
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Old 08-04-2015, 10:54 AM   #9
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One important consideration when looking at travel trailers is maintenance.Travel trailers are in many way like boats. Maintenance and repair can be a large part of the cost of ownership. So, as you consider which type of trailer to buy, keep maintenance and repair in mind.

Note: Of the 16 most recent posts listed at this time, 6 have to do with maintenance and repair.

I think that if you buy a new trailer, or a used one in good shape, your maintenance and repair costs will be less with a fiberglass trailer than stick built, particularly in reference to leaks.

My brother had a stick built that developed a leak in the membrane roof covering. It had a lot of years on it so he decided it was time to replace it. He did it himself, so he only had the cost of materials and time. However, once the membrane was off, he discovered many areas that had had small leaks for some time, with attendant rot, and had to do a fair amount of wood (read structural member) replacement. In a fiberglass trailer, wood is limited to floors and shelving for the most part.

Note: When looking at fiberglass trailers, go for the ones where the wood floor sheathed within the fiberglass shell; ie underneath. This won't guarantee against rot, but will limit water exposure to internal leaks and spills, as opposed exposure to the outside environment.

If you are willing and capable of doing maintenance and repairs yourself, so much the better. If not, you will have to pay someone to do it. If you are full timing and traveling, you won't have the benefit of a relationship with a known shop that knows your trailer, which may be expensive and less than satisfactory.
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Old 08-04-2015, 11:06 AM   #10
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Quote: "Note: When looking at fiberglass trailers, go for the ones where the wood floor sheathed within the fiberglass shell; ie underneath. This won't guarantee against rot, but will limit water exposure to internal leaks and spills, as opposed exposure to the outside environment."

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NOPE, I disagree. It's more about current condition, condition and condition. By eliminating those without bonded or covered floors you rule out abut 80% of the FGRV's out there, including all Scamps.


My 1973 Hunter has no such covering or bonding, the entire bottom surface of the still original flooring is exposed to the elements. In a complete tear down, I found nothing more than a few stains on the floor and no damage on the underside. Look at condition first and foremost. If you get one in good condition, your next job is to keep it that way.
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Old 08-04-2015, 11:10 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by The Minimalist View Post

Note: When looking at fiberglass trailers, go for the ones where the wood floor sheathed within the fiberglass shell; ie underneath. This won't guarantee against rot, but will limit water exposure to internal leaks and spills, as opposed exposure to the outside environment.
.
I have yet to see a wooden floor rot from anything but internal leaks. It's the top side you have to worry about.
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Old 08-04-2015, 11:27 AM   #12
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Well, Bob and Norm, I stand corrected, but then again, I live in a very moist environment down here on the Gulf.
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Old 08-04-2015, 11:33 AM   #13
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It's more about current condition, condition and condition. By eliminating those without bonded or covered floors you rule out abut 80% of the FGRV's out there, including all Scamps.
Absolutely true. I have learned this myself over the years when looking at a wide array of things. The first time I really thought of this concept was in buying an older tractor. Anything Red (IH, MF) or Green (JD) or Blue (Ford) drew a large premium, and they were still old tractors. I found a lightly used David Brown cheap that nobody else wanted because it was an "off brand" tractor. Long story short it has been a fantastic machine and served me well for a lot of years. At the time I bought the best machine I could find at a price I could afford. Now, I should mention that parts are readily available and I checked that before buying. But just about anything can be rebuilt or fixed on an old FGRV.
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Old 08-04-2015, 11:43 AM   #14
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I personally feel whatever works. As Norm understands, the bottom line is love.

In all honesty I don't get the desire for a big stick built trailer with all the toys, as the simplicity of things and having to creatively problem solve and work a bit for your meal is one of the many things I love about camping. Please know I still work full time and am years from considering fu timing, but everyone is unique and has their own set of priorities.

I love my Scamp, but it, too, is not without regular maintenance. I loved my pop up and took beautiful care of her just the same. Had never heard of FG eggs and knew no better.

As Robert Frost said, "We love the things we do for what they are."


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