Hi! Got this crazy idea!!! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-11-2011, 08:43 PM   #1
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Name: Dylan
Trailer: 2001 Scamp 13'
British Columbia
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Hi! Got this crazy idea!!!

First let me say I'm very pleased to find such a great resource!!

I'm a 40 year old professional who is finding himself traveling for work a lot the past 3 years (New Zealand, Australia, New Mexico, considering Seattle/BC for next year). And when not working, traveling a lot for fun. Often I don't have an apartment, with most of my large things in storage. Thankfully I have so many friends and family happy to host me in the transitions, or I'd be spending a fortune on motels. So I passed a 16' Casita recently on a road trip and it started me thinking. Obsessing is more like it!! I've always wanted my own trailer since my Grandpa had his Airstream when I was a kid. But always driving small cars I never thought there were any practical options. But I think a 13' is towable with my car (2500lbs, 200+ hp, big brakes, but short wheelbase). Open minded as to brand, but the Scamps seem most likely given the number of 13' Scamps I'm seeing for sale in CA. I want to live in it full time for 4 to 6 months while working in another state (NM) as a trial and then evaluate if I want to keep it, or keep it but not attempt such long stays in it. If not I've built some equity rather than wasting on rent. Perhaps just keep it for burning man!

Things I'm not so sure about, seem very rare in used 13's and possibly heavy additions when I'm so weight concerned, not easy to retrofit....

A: Potty, some kind will be needed. I'm used to roughing it, living in tents while road tripping, but in the cold of a NM winter I'm not going to want to leave the trailer to go to some public bathroom (do most trailer parks even have public bathrooms?, or just KOAs). How long can you use a porta potty before you get completely disgusted?! I assume those need emptying and cleaning daily, or does some sort of blue water sanitizer/deoderizer make it less trouble. Never used one of those.

B: Shower, while I'll have no need to look sharp for clients, I can go to work pretty grubby to work behind a computer, but will need to get clean (at least not smell!). I figure as long as I have a hot water heater, some kind of hose, shower curtain and something to put on the floor to catch the water and drain it.

Any ideas for alternative options, or retro fitting the factory parts for those would be great!

I know there is a lot of questionable ideas here, but I'm rarely bound by normal conventions and I'm really good at engineering solutions, fabricating and fixin'.

I'd love to see any small trailers anyone might want to show off in the San Francisco region! Happy to chat to anyone from anywhere! Even if I don't end up with a trailer for this next adventure of mine, I'll likely stick around to keep learning, be social and look out for my next/first trailer.
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:41 PM   #2
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I want to live in it full time for 4 to 6 months while working in another state (NM) as a trial and then evaluate if I want to keep it, or keep it but not attempt such long stays in it. If not I've built some equity rather than wasting on rent. Perhaps just keep it for burning man!

Things I'm not so sure about, seem very rare in used 13's and possibly heavy additions when I'm so weight concerned, not easy to retrofit....

A: Potty, some kind will be needed. I'm used to roughing it, living in tents while road tripping, but in the cold of a NM winter I'm not going to want to leave the trailer to go to some public bathroom (do most trailer parks even have public bathrooms?, or just KOAs). How long can you use a porta potty before you get completely disgusted?! I assume those need emptying and cleaning daily, or does some sort of blue water sanitizer/deoderizer make it less trouble. Never used one of those.

B: Shower, while I'll have no need to look sharp for clients, I can go to work pretty grubby to work behind a computer, but will need to get clean (at least not smell!). I figure as long as I have a hot water heater, some kind of hose, shower curtain and something to put on the floor to catch the water and drain it.

Any ideas for alternative options, or retro fitting the factory parts for those would be great!

I know there is a lot of questionable ideas here, but I'm rarely bound by normal conventions and I'm really good at engineering solutions, fabricating and fixin'.

I'd love to see any small trailers anyone might want to show off in the San Francisco region! Happy to chat to anyone from anywhere! Even if I don't end up with a trailer for this next adventure of mine, I'll likely stick around to keep learning, be social and look out for my next/first trailer.
I also become interested in fiberglass trailers one day on the freeway when spotting a Casita 16 or 17 footer.

Casita and Scamp do make 13 foot trailers with marine baths. However, they are small and the bed and dinette are one. The baths reduce storage space.

If you plan to mostly camp in parks with full hook-ups and showers, then you really don't need a shower as you can use the RV parks facilities.

Because you live in California, I'd seriously consider a Casita 16 (with a marine bath) or Scamp 16 (with a side dinette and marine bath) over a 13 footer. If you are under 16 feet you will have a "permanent" tag and not have to register your trailer on a yearly basis, saving you $$$.

The 16 foot trailers are much more comfortable, plus you can get more storage. The marine bath will give you a ... shower. I have learned to love my marine bath. It is very easy to use and wipe up afterwards. Especially if you are hooked up to "street" water, it will provide a very nice shower.

The problem with hooking something up like an outside shower: you have to stow the gear. A 13' trailer - or even a 16 or 17 foot Casita/Scamp provides virtually zip storage. And if you're thinking of NM in the winter ... burr.

IF YOU HAVE A SIGNIFICANT OTHER, you have another reason to consider a larger trailer. The beds on those 16' get mighty small when 2 people are added.

Also, how tall are you? If you are big and tall .. or just really big, those marine baths get mighty small. If you're tall, you'll be hunched over in the cabin. So your physical structure is important.

I understand your concern regarding your car's towing capacity. My suggestion is to go to your auto's dealership and get as much info as possible regarding what it can handle. If you cannot tow anything larger than a 13 footer, I'd seriously consider getting into another tow vehicle that can handle a larger fiberglass trailer particularly since you are thinking of full timing. The 13 footers are meant for short term camping excursions. If you are camping somewhere in the dead of winter and can't enjoy your meals on a picnic table, a 13 foot trailer may be torturous.

Do you have a budget? The used Casitas and Scamps hold their value, so you won't be saving that much over a new model. An older fiberglass trailer, will entail increased maintenance costs: I've had to replace my refrigerator coolant system, the charger, and re-install the propane heater.

If you really want to stick with a 13 foot trailer, than consider a Burro or Boiler. I just got back from BC Canada, and I lost count of the number of 13' Boilers I saw. You can pick up a nice one for under $5000.

If you have enough $$ for a new trailer, take a close look at the Egg Camper.

If you really have $$$ for a new trailer, take a close look at an Escape.

Within the next 30 days, you can go to fiberglass ralleys in No. Cal, Oregon and Southern Cal. There you can meet knowledgeable people and take a look at their rigs. Check out the Upcoming Rallies section of this forum for dates and locations. The northern Ca. ralley is coming up next weekend. There is a rally just South of Portland, OR the beginning of October. So check it out!

Good luck with your quest.
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Old 09-11-2011, 10:47 PM   #3
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Hey Dylan,
You can do it! Check out "rvsue and her canine crew" blog. Don't have the link handy, but she's a member here and I think you can find her blog using Google. And Charlene Bird lives in a 13 footer, check out her picks--she's got it set up perfect for a computer person. With a little ingenuity you can solve the toilet and shower problem!
Best wishes and good luck!
Phil
ps lucky you living in Sausalito
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Old 09-12-2011, 12:47 AM   #4
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Welcome Dylan…As Phil said, I full-time in a 13’ Scamp…And dining is NOT torturous!!! Scamps are cozy and homey ...I removed the front bunk and put in a formica counter to allow for dining, crafts and computer…A rolling lime green desk chair fits right under the table top…I use a cassette port-a-potty which I “flush” after every use with a squirt bottle of water, Mr. Clean and citrus toilet chemical…I empty about once a week and odor has never been a problem…I stayed in the No Ca high desert last winter…-7 at many times…I have an elec mattress pad, elec blanket and a warm fleece cap for those one dog nights…It all works on solar when the elec goes off…I place a body pillow against the rear wall and a bed pillow between my head and the wall…I heat a lg pot of water for a shower and use my 5 gal solar bag in a tub…I also use Kirkland baby wipes for those areas that need more attention…I don’t use my onboard water system…I have water jugs that do the trick…Take time to access your needs and make your FGRV your own…Happy Trails, Charlene
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Old 09-12-2011, 10:39 AM   #5
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One more thing. If you like Airstreams check out this website. Hoffmann Architects - Interior Design Companies - Residential Architecture - Luxury Home Designs - Modern House Plans - Sustainable Architects - Developer Real Estate
A few months ago I read an article in the LA Times featuring this guy and it's what got me started on the whole trailering thing again. I love Airstreams but they are, of course, a lot bigger and heavier than their fiberglass cousins
Phil
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Old 09-12-2011, 11:41 AM   #6
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Name: Kim
Trailer: 2012 Casita 17' SD (on order)
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Originally Posted by charlene bird View Post
Welcome Dylan…As Phil said, I full-time in a 13’ Scamp…And dining is NOT torturous!!! Scamps are cozy and homey ...I removed the front bunk and put in a formica counter to allow for dining, crafts and computer…A rolling lime green desk chair fits right under the table top…I use a cassette port-a-potty which I “flush” after every use with a squirt bottle of water, Mr. Clean and citrus toilet chemical…I empty about once a week and odor has never been a problem…I stayed in the No Ca high desert last winter…-7 at many times…I have an elec mattress pad, elec blanket and a warm fleece cap for those one dog nights…It all works on solar when the elec goes off…I place a body pillow against the rear wall and a bed pillow between my head and the wall…I heat a lg pot of water for a shower and use my 5 gal solar bag in a tub…I also use Kirkland baby wipes for those areas that need more attention…I don’t use my onboard water system…I have water jugs that do the trick…Take time to access your needs and make your FGRV your own…Happy Trails, Charlene
Wow Charlene! I love how you've designed that small space. It looks cozy, comfortable, and not at all cluttered! Very inspiring!

Here's a discussion group for you to check out if you haven't already: womengosolo : Women Go Solo The membership is compsed of women who solo full-time. It'd be nice to have a fiberglass TT rep in the group if you are interested.
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Old 09-12-2011, 07:17 PM   #7
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Hey Dylan, doubtful any of this group would think you're crazy... some might even be jealous! I know in Oregon, the publically owned parks (state parks) you're restricted to 14 days, but there's plenty of privately owned parks that allow much longer stays.

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Old 09-14-2011, 01:32 PM   #8
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Name: Dylan
Trailer: 2001 Scamp 13'
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Thanks for all the welcomes and info!

Jane, I'm sure the larger trailers have comfort advantages, but given my lightweight, short wheelbase tow car I'm not even considering anything bigger than 13'. No lady in my life these days, so I think I can live with a 13, even if the front gets dedicated to a potty and shower setup. Another tow vehicle may be in the long run, but not now. My budget is somewhat flexible, not really sure what I can dedicate to this, but certainly no more than $6000 for the purchase, and that only if it doesn't need much expensive repair or additional gear. Definately no new trailers at this point. If I really get into it, who knows, but I'm much more inclined to do a restoration in customs colors and finishes, with a custom configuration rather than buying a generic new one. Not sure I have much time in the next month, but I'd love to get to a rally, I'll check those out!

Reeves, thanks for the encouragement. Actually I live in the Marin Headlands National Recreation Area, on the other side of the peninsula from Sausalito, and yes, I am lucky. Other than persistent cold fog, it's amazing out here and just minutes from the city. And yes I do love Airstreams, but as you say, that's a whole other level of towing. Maybe eventually. Those are some gorgeous restorations! But I think for travel, at least while I'm single an egg is going to work better. But an Airstream would be great to put on a plot of land while I build a house! Someday...

Charlene, great tips! You say you have a tub for "showering", is that in the trailer?! Sounds like your environment might be close to Northern New Mexico where I'll be wintering.

Donna, yep most public parks I'm come across do limit to 14 days. The RV oriented private parks around urban Albuquerque look well equipped (pool, spa, gym, showers, club house, etc.) and expensive, like $30 a day. I can get a very nicely furnished apartment for that kind of money. The one's I've seen for closer to $400 a month are oriented to mobile homes, big double wides. Not even sure they'd let me park a little 13'. So I'm still looking. Ideally a spot on some private land might be ideal, I found a fantastic sounding one for $375, but it's about 90 minutes to 2 hours from work, not a commute I can put up with.

OK, back to the classifieds and Craigslist......
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Old 09-14-2011, 01:51 PM   #9
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Thoughts

You did not mention what kind of potential tow vehicle you have.

Many campgrounds do charge $30 a day or more, but generally we're able to find campgrounds for half that price even in CA. Many towns in Northern CA have fairground campgrounds that are located in interesting areas.

As well there are a lot of lists of free or minimal fee camping. If you're a senior most national parks are very reasonable.

As well you can serve as a campground host and get free camping. In Chaco Canyon National Park I've seen people serve as host for as little as a week.

Oops! I didn't notice you were working and need to camp nearer your place of employment.
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Old 09-14-2011, 01:59 PM   #10
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Name: Dylan
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I'm am afraid of saying the exact type of TV. I think the image people have in their heads will cloud any judgement of it's abilities rather than looking at the specifications and physics involved....



OK, it's a very custom, very powerful Miata. :0
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Old 09-14-2011, 02:21 PM   #11
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I use to tow a 16 ft catamaran with a 240z sports car. Got real good at parallel parking!

But, have you discussed this with your auto dealer's service department or the people that customised your car?

Aside from the trailer wt when empty, you need to consider it's weight when filled.

Another possibility is a teardrop trailer. They are so light the can be hauled by motorcycles
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Old 09-14-2011, 02:28 PM   #12
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Hey, Dylan. Have you heard of these truly small, molded fiberglass Teardrops? I don't know anything about them, but here's a link to their website:

Litte Trailer Teardrops
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Old 09-14-2011, 02:46 PM   #13
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I wouldn't trust most mazda dealers to know anything about the cars they sell other than how to sell them.

I did all the custom work myself (well installed it all, didn't make it all), custom intake, exhaust, programmable ECU and boost controller, added gauges integrated in the dash, fully upgraded heavy duty suspension, stainless steel reinforcements on the frame rails. etc, etc.

Eventually I can see myself in one seriously customized egg!

I am definitely concerned with the total loaded weight. Will probably be hauling a very close to empty trailer, watching every ounce that get's put in it.

I am looking at teardrops for sure. Can't live in one, but my be an option to get my stuff to New Mexico with the Miata. A good way to get the towing feel of things with in a more manageable package. But some of these teardrops, while physically a lot smaller, weigh a good 1000lbs! Not much less than a 13', even if they would be much less susceptible to winds and I might not need to add extended side mirrors (not sure how I'll do that on the Miata!).
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:54 PM   #14
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I just may be able to make it to the Burney Falls meet up this weekend. We'll see...
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