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


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Old 09-11-2011, 07:43 PM   #1
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Trailer: 2001 Scamp 13'
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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, 08:41 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by dylanear View Post
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, 09:47 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!
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ps lucky you living in Sausalito
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Old 09-11-2011, 11:47 PM   #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, 09:39 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, 10:41 AM   #6
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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, 06:17 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, 12:32 PM   #8
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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, 12:51 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, 12:59 PM   #10
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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, 01:21 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, 01:28 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, 01:46 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, 02:54 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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Old 09-14-2011, 05:03 PM   #15
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You should go if you can, seeing trailers in person and talking to the friendly folk should give you lots of ideas.
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:50 PM   #16
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Well, if you're planning to have a mostly empty trailer, you'll still have problems regarding where to stow your clothing, food, towing equipment, etc. Your Mazda has minimum room.

How about tent camping?

You could get a small, light, flatbed trailer for your camping gear and clothing.

I have a friend who is a confirmed camper. She simply shuns the idea of using a travel trailer. Over an extended period of time, she has put together enough Cabelas gear for a complete African Safari: 2 walk in tents: one for sleeping (cots, lanterns, heater, porte-potty) the other for cooking, a complete "outdoor" kitchen (oven, stove, sink, pantry, cooler, etc) for the cooking tent, an outdoor shower system, and a generator. It takes her an afternoon to set up the "essential" equipment, another half day to complete the process. She hauls all this stuff in a flat bed trailer.

http://www.cabelas.com/catalog/brows...%3BBRprd715223

http://www.cabelas.com/catalog/brows...rid=8445360738

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/rvs/2594667046.html Probably too long, but you get the idea.

You could do the same thing. You could also keep your fresh water containers on the trailer and go into "town" every once in a while for more water. The sleeping tent may be a bit cold, but again, Casitas and Scamps are not designed for cold weather camping. And you don't have to worry about your pipes freezing.

My understanding is you are planning to experiment on an outdoor type life style. My experience is that the TTs is just one or two steps up from tent camping - particularly if your thinking about a bare bones 13" trailer.

If you go the tenting route, your Mazda will probably be able to easily haul all your clothing and "comfort items" along with your tent equipment. If you find kind of life enjoyable, you could eventually invest in a more suitable tow vehicle and a travel trailer.

In addition, camping sites charge less money for tent camping than RV hookups. So, you may be able afford campsites with amenities such as showers, etc. How's that for outside the box thinking?


Quote:
Originally Posted by dylanear View Post
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, 11:16 PM   #17
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Well, if you're planning to have a mostly empty trailer, you'll still have problems regarding where to stow your clothing, food, towing equipment, etc. Your Mazda has minimum room.

How about tent camping?
Funny you should mention it! I do lot's of it. I've done about 8 weeks of tent camping since the new year. I LOVE it! Granted there was plenty of motels, friend's houses, a few hot spring spas, etc. But I'd say 2/3rd of the nights I'd be in my trusty Sierra Designs tent on a comfy air mattress. And mostly regretting the nights in hotels and motels! Northern New Mexico this spring and the San Fran to BC and back just recently. Really lovely! I haven't always been able to do such relaxed exploring and chilling out in much of my adult life. So longer gaps between projects lately has had advantages!

I explored all over northern New Mexico, 5 awesome weeks, no schedule or itinerary other than to explore and enjoy. Including some seriously remote back roads at crazy altitude (at one point over 9000 feet). This was in my '91 Honda Civic Si. That thing is a mountain goat! The Civic is great for tent camping, you can haul all sorts of gear, big cooler, big sunshades, extra gas and water, extra battery, etc. Luxury tent camping!! I could even put more on the roof rack, but I've only used that for a mountain bike. Really, it'll carry a lot more gear than I want to deal with. It's a peppy nimble little car unloaded at sea level but at 9000 feet full of gear it barely wants to move. Which is a reason I don't think that car will work to tow a 13', just too gutless. It's just 20+ years old and while holding up great is not up to great stresses.

The Miata is tiny compared to the Civic in storage, but you can still fit plenty of gear for tent camping. Especially if you have light weight backpacking gear, then you can tent camp very nicely from it. A bunch of photo and computer gear and the camping gear? No problem, with no passenger anyway. Not so much room for a big cooler however. Having good bags for the rear storage area is key if you want to be able to raise and lower the top without 20 minutes of moving gear in and out of the car. I have one big duffle style bag that fits perfect and holds about as much stuff as the trunk does! Bungie it down when the tops down, under the top when it's up. Very under utilized space in most Miatas. I could add a trunk rack too, loved having one of those while exploring New Zealand in a Miata. But I may be getting close to the max weight of the vehicle with the trailer tongue weight added on, so I won't bother. Anyway I was very, very comfortable tent touring through the Pacific Northwest in the Miata. I really only came back to home base to get ready to go back to work in New Mexico. I could have gone a few more weeks easy, as long as the summer weather held out probably!
I've done lot's of recreational tent camping in various Miatas as that's been what I've driven almost exclusively for the past 18 years (Still have my old original Miata from 94 too). The civic was bought for a long commute I was doing just before my life became a lot more mobile 3 years ago.


Tenting is great when you can pick the location and time of year, tent camping in the high desert winter when you have to go work in downtown Albuquerque for 12 hour days, often 6 days a week is less ideal. I spent the last project down there in a small hotel room for 4 months, so I think I might be just as comfortable in a 13' trailer with a makeshift potty and shower than I was in that hotel! I can get a nice luxurious hotel room every few weeks for stretching out and taking long bath in a big tub. But mostly I just cooked, sat in a chair or in bed with the computer or watching TV, and slept. I can do all that in a 13'er! Days off I want to be out and about in town or out exploring and hiking. Maybe even some tent camping in the Jemez mountains if I get two whole days off in a row!

So I can put most of the things I'd need camping for many weeks at a time in the Miata. If I can put 200lbs or so more random gear in the trailer while towing it, that should be enough for months at a time. I would want a 3 way fridge, small furnace, hot water heater (maybe an instant with no tank), porta potty, makeshift shower (can't weight that much without water), maybe AC if I'm still using it next summer. So that may add up, but I don't need to fill all the storage areas and fill the trailer up with much while it's being towed. That's why starting with a somewhat bare 13 sounds good, get a feel for it before adding any more heft. Not sure how realistic, but I'm thinking 1300lbs for the trailer with it's equipment, 200lbs for my personal gear. 3000lb loaded car, 1500lb trailer with brakes. That's 50% tow to towed ratio, pretty conservative especially with the brakes. While on the road, once parked I can go with the Miata to get ice, water, firewood, heavy groceries, etc. But most this winter it'll be at some mobile home park or something like that.

Alternately, perhaps a small trailer to haul 200lbs with me to Albuquerque and waste rent yet again rather than spending that money on something I'd enjoy and would save me money potentially in my off time. Or use on vacations if I go and get a steady job again.

Blah, blah blah. Did anyone managed to read all that?! Well if you did, you surely now have a much better idea what I've been thinking about lately.
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Old 09-15-2011, 07:08 AM   #18
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You mentioned RV parks charging $30 or more per day but the monthly rate can be as low as $10 per day depending on the rates in any particular parks. We've paid as little as $300 per month to as high as $450. Some parks charge over $700 but the higher prices are usually in a resort area or someplace that's warm in the winter. Think Florida, southern Arizona, etc.
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Old 09-15-2011, 10:35 AM   #19
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Yeah I read it all. Personally I don't think you can have all that and a 1300lb trailer unless possibly you start with a Compact type brand of trailer. I'm not sure it's possible then.

The mythical 900 lb 13 fter really doesn't exist except as an older model stripped shell. All those things you want add up real fast, plus you have to have a good battery and propane tank to run them which adds a minimum of 100 more lbs.

I'm not trying to stomp on your dreams or enthusiasm but trying to think in the real world. I'm going to advise you as I advise everyone who comes here with the dream of finding a really light trailer to tow with a vehicle they shouldn't tow with.

Get a real tow vehicle. It sounds like you are very suited to the RV life style and would truely enjoy it so do it safely! It sounds like you have quite a few cars.. whats one more?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dylanear View Post
I would want a 3 way fridge, small furnace, hot water heater (maybe an instant with no tank), porta potty, makeshift shower (can't weight that much without water), maybe AC if I'm still using it next summer. So that may add up, but I don't need to fill all the storage areas and fill the trailer up with much while it's being towed. That's why starting with a somewhat bare 13 sounds good, get a feel for it before adding any more heft. Not sure how realistic, but I'm thinking 1300lbs for the trailer with it's equipment, 200lbs for my personal gear. 3000lb loaded car, 1500lb trailer with brakes. That's 50% tow to towed ratio, pretty conservative especially with the brakes. While on the road, once parked I can go with the Miata to get ice, water, firewood, heavy groceries, etc. But most this winter it'll be at some mobile home park or something like that.

Blah, blah blah. Did anyone managed to read all that?! Well if you did, you surely now have a much better idea what I've been thinking about lately.
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Old 09-15-2011, 02:08 PM   #20
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Name: Dylan
Trailer: 2001 Scamp 13'
British Columbia
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Originally Posted by rgrugg View Post
You mentioned RV parks charging $30 or more per day but the monthly rate can be as low as $10 per day depending on the rates in any particular parks. We've paid as little as $300 per month to as high as $450. Some parks charge over $700 but the higher prices are usually in a resort area or someplace that's warm in the winter. Think Florida, southern Arizona, etc.
Very good point, I should call and ask f they have a small lot they'd rent out cheap given that it will be the winter season.

The RV parks sound like a very good bet with a lightly equipped 13 since they have showers and a club house to lounge in.
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