Hello, actively looking to buy after years of lurking and drooling - Fiberglass RV



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Old 04-20-2019, 12:02 PM   #1
K8S
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Hello, actively looking to buy after years of lurking and drooling

Hi, we're a family of 5 (two adults, three kids - 3, 5 and 9). We drive a minivan with tow pkg and aftermarket transmission cooler. I've wanted a 13' fiberglass trailer since those early tenting trips with kids, but given there are 3 kids, we made the mistake of buying a tent trailer last summer and gave it a good shot. Too much set up/take down, too much weight and too much campground noise through the canvas walls for our kids to sleep. Sold that right after the trip and this summer we're seriously shopping for a 13' fiberglass trailer (/clown car for all of us). I'm currently looking at an '87 bigfoot, 13'. It's appealing for two reasons: there's no step up/down to the dinette, so we could potentially have a kid on a sleeping pad below us with the other two on bunks, and also, it looks like the furniture is wood, not fiberglass, so maybe there's potential for taking out the bottom bunk and building in three bunks from floor up in the front (don't know - is this a pipe dream?) My question, and I've searched, but don't see an answer, is: how sturdy is the floor? Is it reasonable to assume we could actually have the weight of two adults, three growing kids and some camping gear in that small space without actually damaging the floor/frame/levelling jacks?

Thanks!
Kate
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Old 04-20-2019, 01:56 PM   #2
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Those kids will continue to grow.
I'd get them a tent, since they won't want to sleep in the same space anyway.
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:36 PM   #3
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In my opinion, 13 Footer...Pipe Dream.

Well, anything is possible, I suppose. You could strip out the interior of a 13 and do sleeping pads and/or aluminum cots. The suggestion of a tent for the kids is sort of a nonstarter I suppose since the tent trailer was already too noisy. Although I've never heard of any situation as being too noisy for kids but I'll take your word for it.

Is the the minivan "sleepable" for some or most?

As I understand it, Scamp makes a 16 with no bathroom and a double bunk bed. I believe it also has a side dinette which makes 3 bunks plus parents in the rear bed. I don't care for the idea of mats on the floor as being cold, uncomfortable and a recipe for somebody tripping or getting stepped on. Of course a 16 implies a certain tow vehicle capability.

Obscure cultural reference; Are you familiar with the Tardis? Alledgedly more room on the inside than the outside.
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Old 04-20-2019, 05:32 PM   #4
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Not a pipe dream, as long as all are average height/build or smaller. Armadillo makes a 13’ model with triple bunks in front. Google “Armadillo trailers” for a look-see. It’s even built from the old Bigfoot 13 molds. Here's a screen grab from their website. It looks to me like you could make the bottom bunk even lower.
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I’d do that rather than sleep one on the floor, as that makes it very difficult to move around in the trailer.

No reason it will stress the frame or suspension as you’ll be using stabilizers to carry part of the weight when parked. It wouldn’t hurt to add extra stabilizers at the front corners, though.

While larger Bigfoot trailers tend to run on the heavy side, the 13’ is different and no heavier than any other similar 13’ egg.

We are four in a 13’ Scamp, and two are teens.

On the other hand, the Scamp 16 layout 7 described by Steve would get you there with a lot less work and only a moderate increase in weight, since it does not have a bathroom a related components.
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Old 04-21-2019, 09:43 AM   #5
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Hi, I have a T4500 and still use a full size van for sleeping at some times. It just makes it easier in bad weather and gives the kids a place to play without annoying the parents. My parents took me tent camping for many years and I always slept well. We did not camp near noisy railways etc. I would advise staying away from removing the existing furniture and rebuilding the inside of the trailer you buy. The furniture is part of the frame! Most rebuilds that I have seen, ended up much heavier. Remember that weight is the enemy of your outfit, and that is limited by the capacity of your mini van. Good luck and have fun with whatever you end up with.
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Old 04-22-2019, 07:57 PM   #6
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Thanks for those thoughts. The armadillo looks amazing! I love the idea of having the three of them bunked on one end. I had read that the existing furniture is important to maintaining the integrity of the trailer, so wasn't sure whether removing that bottom bunk base would cause problems. Good to hear the idea of adding jacks in the front to help carry some weight when camping.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:18 AM   #7
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Hello, actively looking to buy after years of lurking and drooling

On single wall molded trailers, the interior cabinetry generally stiffens the shell. On some models with dropped floors, like my Scamp, the front bench in particular helps support the shell at the door. The Lil Bigfoot 13’ does not have that drop-floor design feature.

Permanent triple bunks in front would probably add strength, not reduce it, assuming it includes some floor-to-ceiling supports bonded to the fiberglass shell. You can see the vertical panels in Armadillo’s design.

I agree that modifications can significantly increase weight, leading to additional stress on the lightweight frame. If you decide to attempt this project, research materials and techniques to get strength without excessive weight. Be careful of overbuilding.
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Old 04-29-2019, 02:38 PM   #8
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I have an Armadillo with the front bunk (two beds) and the bottom bunk is really quite roomy. My 13 y/o girl is very happy on the top bunk. I suspect your youngest would be okay on the top of the triple but over time it might get tight. Contact Mike at Armadillo and he may be able to put you in contact with the family that purchased the triple bunk. They also have a model that is more square on the front that has an option for a bathroom but they might be willing to give you a bigger bunk instead....but don't tell them it was my idea

We got ours out for the first time this weekend
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