Retiring in Feb 2012 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 10-04-2011, 06:21 AM   #1
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Nytengale's Avatar
Name: Gayle
Trailer: Looking at a Trillium.
Posts: 11
Post Retiring in Feb 2012

Hi everyone!

My husband retired this year and I am retiring in Feb. We want to be full time campers. I think we can adapt very well. Here's our concern. We haven't bought a camper yet. We seem to like the Trillium best. Thinking of the 13' model, no bathroom.

We currently own a 2004 Toyota Solara SLE, (88k mi)and a 2002 Mercedes CLK320. (57k mi)

The Solara has a tow rating of 2000 # and the Mercedes has a rating of 3500#. However we think neither is well suited for towing. Any thoughts on that?

I would LOVE to use the Mercedes, but not if it isn't practical. I have heard that it's size isn't good for handling a camper, (in spite of it's tow rating)
It's a 2door convertible.

2nd choice would be to sell one or both of our cars and just purchase a proper vehicle. Most likely used. We want to spend under 20K for the vehicle.

So then, we would be wide open for suggestions of what to look for. Really don't want a pick up truck. I liked the Element, but it's tow rating is really disappointing at 1500.

Any ideas yet? Maybe our 401K will be really good to us
( oh, excuse me)
and we can buy a good used vehicle and a 13' camper for 35K? 20 for a vehicle and 15 for the camper? Am I dreaming or is this reasonable?

(The prices, not my 401k being really good to us )

As I said at the top, I have no doubt that camping and traveling small is right for us. I just need some advice so we are being practical.

Love your forum. Appreciate being here! We are in AZ, and have family in OR and New England to visit. ESP looking fwd to traveling and spending lots of time all the way up the west coast.

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Old 10-04-2011, 07:09 AM   #2
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Name: Bob Ruggles
Trailer: 2015 Escape
Posts: 1,398
We have an Egg Camper (similar to Casita & Scamp but slightly larger). weighs about 2000# with a 2500# GVWR. We can tow it really well with our Chrysler minivan but we prefer towing it with our Chevy Silverado because the Chevy seats are so much more comfortable. With either vehicle the gas mileage varies between 14 and 18 mpg depending on wind & hills.

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Old 10-04-2011, 07:25 AM   #3
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Name: james
Trailer: Boler 1984
Posts: 2,938
Welcome to the forum.
Retirement is a big change in your everyday life and full timing is an even bigger change. I would strongly suggest that you check out a Fiberglass Rally near you before purchasing a trailer for full time living. We use and enjoy a 13 foot trailer for holiday travel and for outdoor recreation. To live in it for an extended period of time would put a definate strain on any relationship. You live in each others face 24-7. In inclement weather you are virtually face to face and knee to knee.

Read the threads in the full timing section and check out the trailer/tow combinations that they use. Ideal for us would be a Bigfoot or Escape. in the 17-19 foot range with separate sleeping and dining areas. Big enough to move around in without constantly bumping into each other and places to keep those must have hobby things.

Personally, for full timing with a larger trailer, and be comfortable, I would move from our present 2006 Highlander to a newer model of the Highlander or the more streamlined Venza, while staying with Toyota. They are larger and have a stronger engine than the older version that we now have and towing does put an additional stress on the tow vehicle.
Last year we travelled over 10,000 km across the Canadian Prairies to Northern Alberta and into the Rocky Mountians and back to Ontario during a 7-8 week vacation. Washrooms at some parks have been very poor and with extremely bad conditions and we've been thankful that we carry a porta-poti with a small pop-up shelter.

Things like this and extra storage for your full timing needs are something that you will have to think long and hard about. I think that although some can do it, living full time for two in a 13 footer is like going back to pure basics.

Good luck in your quest.
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:08 AM   #4
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Name: Norm and Ginny
Trailer: Scamp 16
Posts: 7,374
Full Timing Tow Vehicle

Your Mercedes can easily tow any 16 foot Scamp or Casita. Both the Scamp 16 and the Casita 16 are very easy to tow though the Casita tends to be heavier. Either vehicle you own can tow a 13 footer, actually practically any vehicle can tow a 13, one member towed with a Toyota Scion and we have one member that tows a Boler 17 with a Corolla.

I personally prefer something like a small SUV. If you're concerned about USA tow ratings for towing a 16 footer your choice is pretty much limited to the Suburau Outback in small 4 cylinder SUVs. Many people tow with it and it is handy for side trips on dirt roads with its four wheel drive.

You mentioned the Honda Element. Our son has towed his Casita 16 with a Honda Element without issue. It is basically a Honda CRV with a different body. We tow with a CRV because we owned it when we bought a trailer and we based it's ability on European ratings. Many on this site are opposed to our towing choice however we've traveled more miles than most on this site without a single issue. We get 23 mpg and the Honda has been totally reliable.

Safe travels,
Norm and Ginny

2014 Honda Odyssey
1991 Scamp 16
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:23 AM   #5
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Nytengale's Avatar
Name: Gayle
Trailer: Looking at a Trillium.
Posts: 11
Thank you everyone so much for your quick replies! Great info. I have lots to discuss with my hubby! I'll be back on again soon. But wanted to thank you right away for your kind responses!

I welcome any and all of your advice!

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Old 10-04-2011, 02:48 PM   #6
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Doug Mager's Avatar
Trailer: 1975 13 ft Trillium
Posts: 2,535
What would be wrong with touring around the countryside in a set-up like this???
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Old 10-04-2011, 03:26 PM   #7
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Name: theresa
Trailer: Outback (by Trillium) 2004
New Brunswick
Posts: 1,446
welcome gayle! i envy you for being this close to retirement....

good luck with your search. i don't plan on making a comment on what you should tow with or what you should buy for a new home. it's a very personal decision and only you two will know what you will be most comfortable with. just don't get so stressed out that you forget to have fun with the planning!
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Old 10-04-2011, 05:07 PM   #8
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Name: Gayle
Trailer: Looking at a Trillium.
Posts: 11
Thx. Good info!
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:25 PM   #9
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Name: Kevin
Trailer: 28' Bigfoot Silver Cloud
Woodstock, IL
Posts: 1,150
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Even though you want to stay small, you might want to look into the 13' Scamp with a bathroom. You are going to find that public restrooms are not always available or unlocked when you need them. A small Porta-Potti is easy to maintain and empty and comes in really handy. The comments about personal space are accurate, too. We even find our 16' UHaul to be a bit confining at times, but that is partly due to our propensity for taking too much stuff on trips! Good luck with the search and find your perfect trailer!
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:16 PM   #10
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Name: Laura
Trailer: Winnebago
Posts: 127
I agree with kevin, a 13 footer doesn't have a lot of room to live in, and without a bathroom doesn't make life very comfortable. That was the biggest problem we had with our last TT. In the middle of the night, its no fun having to pull out a porta potty or go to an outhouse. Check out the Lil Snoozy. I think they are cool.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:06 AM   #11
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Name: Orlen
Trailer: Eggcamper 2007 ('Wolf's Lair')
Posts: 317

First, congratulations on your coming retirement. I've retired twice and am still working part time. Guess the retirement didn't "take."

You mentioned that you live in AZ. If you are close to Quartzsite I would recommend that you visit the Quartzsite gathering in February to see a variety of fiberglass in the flesh. It would also give you a chance to talk to many with years of experience in traveling with fiberglass campers. Some are fulltimers so you could get some ideas on what you need in the way of a tow vehicle.

I would recommend that you consider something bigger than a 13 if you want to fulltime or semi-fulltime in it. We have a 17ft EggCamper and have spent months living in it. I consider it a minimum size for our needs.

Regarding a tow vehicle - consider a small pickup or van and buy it with a tow package that includes a good transmission cooler and very sturdy hitch. This would give you much more storage than you have in your current vehicles. Neither the Solara or Mercedes would be ideal tow vehicles, especially if you want to semi-fulltime or fulltime. I will admit though that a fiberglass camper would look nice behind a CLK.
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Old 10-06-2011, 08:08 PM   #12
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Name: B & N
Trailer: View
Posts: 109
Originally Posted by Nytengale View Post
Hi everyone!

My husband retired this year and I am retiring in Feb. We want to be full time campers. I think we can adapt very well. Here's our concern. We haven't bought a camper yet. We seem to like the Trillium best. Thinking of the 13' model, no bathroom...

Any ideas yet? Maybe our 401K will be really good to us
and we can buy a good used vehicle and a 13' camper for 35K? 20 for a vehicle and 15 for the camper? Am I dreaming or is this reasonable?
Hi Gayle -

Congrats on upcoming retirement! My wife and I love it!

We may have a possible solution to your problem and save you a few bucks. We recently returned from about four weeks of travel out west - and decided to change to maybe a small motor home for a couple long trips to Alaska and parts of Canada we have wanted to make. So we are selling our EggCamper (even though we dearly love it) and also considering selling our tow vehicle at the same time. We have towed the egg with our 2005 TrailBlazer nearly 10,000 miles in two years - it is comfortable and gets 14-16 MPG towing fully loaded. I can give you more info only if you are interest, since I don't want to bore you in this post ;-) Here are a few picks of our rig. Send me a PM if you would like info.

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'Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.' - - Ralph W Emerson
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Old 10-06-2011, 09:55 PM   #13
Mary F's Avatar
Name: Mary
Trailer: Escape 21; (formerly Casita LD 17 & 16)
Posts: 10,009
Hi, Gayle. In my experience, a tow vehicle with a longer wheelbase gives a more comfortable ride. Also, consider that it's not just being able to pull the trailer that matters; it's even more important that your vehicle be able to STOP it. (Your trailer will probably have electric brakes, but still I would want to have a margin of error, in case the trailer's brakes fail or are just improperly adjusted one day...)

As for your price concerns, it seems like you should be able to get a nice trailer and tow vehicle for $35k.

And yes, if you're really set on a 13 footer, the Mercedes can probably handle it - at least temporarily, until you have a better idea of your needs.

I second the advice to go to one of the rallies and get a look at the different trailers. Good luck with your search!!
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Old 10-07-2011, 05:19 AM   #14
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Trailer: 84 16 ft Scamp
Posts: 725
Whew! Family in Oregon and New England and you in Arizona. We are not quite so spread out with family in MO and TX and us in WA.

Fortunately both our kids have places on an acre + and there are no restrictions against an RV parked on their properties. So, while we don't full-time, we do spend considerable time in our Scamp 16. Our normal routine is to leave about Halloween and return home around New Years. Then we like to make the circuit again starting early March and return early May.

I also believe a 13 ft would be overly cramped, even for our use. However my parents had a 13 ft Scamp for a number of years that they towed with first a Toyota pickup and later a new Mazda pickup. They would spend 3 - 4 months in the winter traveling and camping. They later had a Bigfoot, several smaller motor homes and a couple of 5th wheel trailers, but returned to a 16 ft Scamp as the best solution overall.

One thing about a 13 ft Trillium, or any small fiberglass rv, is that if it doesn't work out well for you, selling the unit is usually very easy and often without much loss. I paid $2500 for my 84 Scamp in 2000 and have added about that amount in upgrades and new appliances. Likely, even after all this time, I could still almost get my money back out. You'd never do this with any other type of RV, except for possibly an Airstream.

So I say, buy your Trillium, tow it with whichever auto you have and give it a try. Even though I might not think that is a perfect setup, it is obviously a workable setup and down the road, should you want to make a change, that is easily done!

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