Fiberglass or Aframe? I need advice! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-08-2021, 11:50 AM   #1
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Name: Ryan
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Fiberglass or Aframe? I need advice!

They say inherited money is some of the hardest to spend. I feel the need to "do right" by my dad, the man who taught me about finances and whose inheritance we'll be spending on a camper.

Here's the essentials: we live in a historic house in Fort Worth, TX, and the port cochere has a rather short archway that has proven to be a major obstacle in our quest to join the travel trailer club.

My preference would be an Escape 19 or a Casita spirit deluxe. But paying $100 a month for storage seems unwise/ wasteful to me, and although I have a very long driveway, I can't use it for storage due to the port cochere. The solution might be my neighbor's unused backyard. She is amenable to let us store it there for $50 a month, and is even open to putting a gate in the fence that we're about to put in (and pay for together).

The other option is an Aliner Classic, which I could store on my own property.

We are a family of three. My wife and I are educators, and thus free to roam in the summers. Our son is 11 and is a great, adaptable traveller.

Due to the pandemic, we have had a hard time being able to see TTs in person. One secondhand Casita sold out from under us as we were viewing it. Another sold sight unseen (via the classifieds here) before I could see it, even though it was listed the previous day.

Main question: my gut instinct tells me that Aframe campers are bound to fail due to basic engineering. Too many parts moving and places where leaks are bound to happen or things are bound to break. My gut says, whatever you would have to pay in storage for a fiberglass egg is worth it, because in 5-10 years you would have spent that money on repairs for the Aliner anyways.

Do you all share my gut instincts here?

Lastly, since we're in TX, and therefore close to Casita's manufacturing plant, I am leaning that way, even though the Escape calls to me more (seems like you get more for your money, love that you can put bikes on the back, love that it's a bit bigger @19, etc.). KISS seems to apply (Keep it Simple, Stupid), and having to pick up in BC is a darn long haul (though I used to live up that way... so might be fun to return).
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Old 04-08-2021, 12:15 PM   #2
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No idea if it would fit through your port cochere, but there is a Hymer Touring GT for sale right now. The top lifts for full headroom, making it shorter than a Casita or Escape. Size-wise it's in between the Casita and the Escape in length. It has a roomy full-time bed at the back, convertible dinette in front, and small galley and wet bath midship. I think the toilet may be a cassette instead of a traditional black tank, and I don't know if the undermount A/C would be up to a Ft. Worth summer. They were only made for one year before Hymer NA folded (due to other reasons; the Touring GT was collateral damage). This one appears nicely upgraded by the first owner.

Just adding another option to the mix...

Former high school math teacher here. I appreciate what people like you and your wife have had to do to keep learning going through this pandemic. You have certainly earned your summer vacation this year!
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Old 04-08-2021, 12:24 PM   #3
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Before I bought my Trillium, I had a Chalet A frame. Both were bought new. The interior of the Chalet was superior. High roof made it appear spacious. Bigger bed, bigger table. Lots of windows. But after 6 years I decided to buy a fiberglass trailer. Three reasons. First, every time you want to enter, the A frame has to be set up. And that draws a crowd. A 10 minute pee break turns into a 45 minute tour. Of course fiberglass can draw a crowd as well. Second, while there were lots of windows they were all sliders that can't be left open in the rain. My Trillium has jalousie windows. And third, yes all those moving parts. While I never had a problem... I'm on season 11 on the Trillium and I have no interest in buying something else. And it's probably worth what I paid for it.
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Old 04-08-2021, 12:28 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
No idea if it would fit through your port cochere, but there is a Hymer Touring GT for sale right now.
...
Just adding another option to the mix...
Thanks for your post. I saw that last night, got excited, went out and measured AGAIN, and was disappointed to discover that it wouldn't fit ... not even close. My port cochere is the bane of my existence right now.
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Old 04-08-2021, 12:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Raz View Post
Before I bought my Trillium, I had a Chalet A frame. Both were bought new. The interior of the Chalet was superior. High roof made it appear spacious. Bigger bed, bigger table. Lots of windows. But after 6 years I decided to buy a fiberglass trailer. Three reasons. First, every time you want to enter, the A frame has to be set up. And that draws a crowd. A 10 minute pee break turns into a 45 minute tour. Of course fiberglass can draw a crowd as well. Second, while there were lots of windows they were all sliders that can't be left open in the rain. My Trillium has jalousie windows. And third, yes all those moving parts. While I never had a problem... I'm on season 11 on the Trillium and I have no interest in buying something else. And it's probably worth what I paid for it.
Great to hear from someone with firsthand experience of both and aframe and a fiberglass trailer. Very interesting to hear your input. Thanks. In my situation, do you think you could be content with the chalet? Or would you just eat the storage expense, knowing it was more likely to preserve its value?
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Old 04-08-2021, 12:39 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post

Former high school math teacher here. I appreciate what people like you and your wife have had to do to keep learning going through this pandemic. You have certainly earned your summer vacation this year!
Thanks for the kind words! It's been a bear of a year, for sure.
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Old 04-08-2021, 12:54 PM   #7
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I have owned an Aliner and pleased with it. Now have a Scamp and also pleased. If you have the time, find Slim Potatoehead on YouTube. MANY vids on his original Aliner experiences; he is now in an Outback.
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Old 04-08-2021, 01:00 PM   #8
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The elephant in the room is availability. As far as I know, new molded fiberglass trailers are being ordered for delivery in late 2021 or 2022. If you want to travel this season, you have to shop used, and in the current overheated RV market, flexibility is required.

If I found an A-frame in decent condition at a fair price, I'd be inclined to take it. Store it under cover (garage, carport, or fabric) to minimize the biggest causes of wear and tear, update it a bit, keep up with maintenance, and I'll bet you won't take too big a hit if you sell it to get the molded trailer you really want later.

I was actually shopping for a small used tent trailer back in 2012 when I stumbled on a Scamp for sale locally. It was in our driveway in less than 24 hours. Sometimes flexibility works to your advantage, but you have to strike fast.

The only regret I have is not starting sooner. Our older is graduating and heading off to college this year. Time is precious!
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Old 04-08-2021, 01:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Casitaconruedas View Post
Great to hear from someone with firsthand experience of both and aframe and a fiberglass trailer. Very interesting to hear your input. Thanks. In my situation, do you think you could be content with the chalet? Or would you just eat the storage expense, knowing it was more likely to preserve its value?
Despite what I said, I really liked the Chalet. It was easy to tow and far better built than my Trillium. I had one warranty issue on the Chalet, the door needed work. Dealer took care of it. My Trillium was one thing after another all on my dime. Of course that would not be the case for an Escape or a Casita. While resale was not a consideration in either purchase, longevity was. That said. In your case you might outgrow the trailer sooner than wear it out.
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Old 04-08-2021, 01:35 PM   #10
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Thanks for the replies, all.

J.D.: I've watched at least 10 of Slim's videos, possibly more. He's a resourceful guy, so much so that it makes the Aliner seem to need lots of that.

Jon: You're spot on. I can get the Aliner I want, new, from at least 2 (maybe) three different dealers w/in a few hours drive right now. The (new) Casita order time right now is 10 months. Used ones have been popping up in DFW / Austin / other TX urban area with regularity the past few months. But they are purchased within hours/ a day of listing, it seems. Your statement about your only regret rings very loudly! I have some paralysis via analysis going on with this decision--time to just make a choice and jump in.

Raz: I appreciate your input on your Chalet. My wife prefers the Aliner to the Casita, because it felt less cramped, and with better light. Maybe that is the way to go for us, for now.
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Old 04-08-2021, 01:58 PM   #11
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Iím in the process of ordering a Scamp 19í starting this week. I was floored to hear that there was a 20 month wait for these now, when it was only 6 month when I first discovered Scamp trailers. Of course, the pandemic RV bubble could burst and a lot of these orders could be canceled. How long is the wait for a new Escape?

It seems that the agreement with your neighbor could work out, and 3 people in an A-frame seems a little too cozy, but thatís just me.

Enjoy the decision making process. Thereís a lot to figure out before you hit the road!
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Old 04-08-2021, 02:08 PM   #12
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I have owned an A-Frame and a Casita also. A-frame was a great one person trailer. Used a porta potti. Could see over it while towing. Got it into casino parking garages. The rubber seals lost flexibility, drafty in cold weather. Great for boondocking in remote areas. One time I had to swat a thousand mosquitoes that got in during setup. The force from the big spring will eventually cause the roof hinges to start breaking, look for that if buying used. Also saw a Forest River Aliner, I wouldn't recommend it.

I have been spoiled by the Casita. Has a real bathroom (small). More privacy if companion is sensitive to an audience. I had one girlfriend who was not. No drafts or water leaks. Tows almost as good as the Aliner, but I can tell the difference in the wind resistance, lost 2 mpg w/Casita. Awning isn't a Rube Goldberg contraption. Can get into the Casita in a hurry while on the road, good if you have a bladder that requires immediate attention. Bears and burglars would have a more difficult time getting in.
When I eventually may have to quit camping in 10 or 15 years I might be able to sell it for what I paid for it. No way that would happen with an A-frame.
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Old 04-08-2021, 02:27 PM   #13
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For low overall height limitations, hard to beat the Hunter Compact design. There are multiple similar trailers. They haven’t been made in 40 years so supply is very limited. And functionally no comparison with a Casita or an Escape.

On the used market you have found one of the keys: how has the trailer been stored when not in use. My last two used trailers were stored in garages. The first one sat outside. No comparison condition wise.

Now in our case, storing at home is a must. We did quite a lot of grading to make it feasible. Right now, the largest trailer I can get into the backyard is a 19 footer. Once in back I have two dedicated carports. Wife has nicknamed the area the barnyard. But it works.

On the A liner, the set up and take down would wear me out. No thanks!
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Old 04-08-2021, 02:28 PM   #14
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Thanks for chiming in, Ceceoh and Friz. Someone in my neighborhood (who owns an airstream, and a boat/RV storage lot) gave me this advice: try to buy your third travel trailer the first time.

I guess that's what is leading to my paralysis/ analysis now; been chewing on this for months.

Casita's showroom is open and they have the model we are interested in, so we'll go see a new one. My wife wasn't impressed by the used one we saw, but the owner hadn't kept it up too well, so maybe a new one will leave a better impression on her. I wish I could see an Escape 19, but it seems more likely to spot the chupacabras than that down here in TX.

It might help to add: we camp a fair bit during the academic year and take long road trips looking for outdoor recreation in the summer. I think we'd camp a lot more if it were easier to hit the road (set up and take down of a tent is so time consuming). Also, there's a (60 lb) dog in the mix, forgot to mention that!
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Old 04-08-2021, 02:51 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Casitaconruedas View Post
I think we'd camp a lot more if it were easier to hit the road (set up and take down of a tent is so time consuming).
Loading, hitching and unhitching takes time too. When we overnight, we just leave the trailer on the hitch. Otherwise, it's a bit of a sequence to get the wheels chocked, get off the hitch, level, deploy the stabilizers, etc.

On the other hand, there's no wet fabric to stow or unpack, which is really nice.

Having a trailer in remote storage away from the house also adds to the tasks you have to perform before you get rolling. We didn't keep much gear in the trailer when we had it stored for several months, so that added some additional effort to packing and unpacking.

Our trailer's rather difficult to park as we have a convoluted access to a narrow space beside the house. It's bad enough that I somewhat dread coming home, knowing I will have to stow the trailer when I get there.

However, writing this is a good reminder that I am going to replace and widen the gate this spring.

One day I'm going to find a Compact Junior locally and tell my wife that it followed me home.
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Old 04-08-2021, 03:20 PM   #16
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The rubber seals lost flexibility, drafty in cold weather. Great for boondocking in remote areas. One time I had to swat a thousand mosquitoes that got in during setup. The force from the big spring will eventually cause the roof hinges to start breaking, look for that if buying used. Also saw a Forest River Aliner, I wouldn't recommend it.

I have been spoiled by the Casita. Has a real bathroom (small). More privacy if companion is sensitive to an audience. I had one girlfriend who was not. No drafts or water leaks. Tows almost as good as the Aliner, but I can tell the difference in the wind resistance, lost 2 mpg w/Casita. Awning isn't a Rube Goldberg contraption. Can get into the Casita in a hurry while on the road, good if you have a bladder that requires immediate attention. Bears and burglars would have a more difficult time getting in.
When I eventually may have to quit camping in 10 or 15 years I might be able to sell it for what I paid for it. No way that would happen with an A-frame.

Excellent observations from Friz. All those leaky A-frame joints are open doors for wind, skitters, flies, etc., even rain on windy days We have also been spoiled by the Casita, for the same reasons Friz does. If my boy was still 11 year old, I would add the screen room under the awning and sleep there, next to him, on 2 cots (good introduction to tent camping for him).
This late in the game I would order a new Casita and keep on tent camping until the trailer is ready. Price of used ones $$ are not worth it. Since there is also a 60lb dog camping; 'Cabo' could sleep in the screen room next to sonny.
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Old 04-08-2021, 04:47 PM   #17
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I wish I could see an Escape 19, but it seems more likely to spot the chupacabras than that down here in TX.

Join the Escape forum: https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/
Quite a few members are in Texas. You may be surprised by the response if you ask to see a 19'.
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Old 04-08-2021, 05:01 PM   #18
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Join the Escape forum: https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/
Quite a few members are in Texas. You may be surprised by the response if you ask to see a 19'.
+10 just contact Escape and they will put you in touch with a local owner.
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Old 04-08-2021, 06:07 PM   #19
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https://www.fiberglass-rv-4sale.com/...020-e19-escape
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Old 04-09-2021, 06:58 AM   #20
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What great advice I'm getting here! Thanks to all. It really helps to hear from experienced vets and just to get out of my own head.

I'm delighted to discover that there are more Escapes around TX than I'd imagined, and one for sale in OK! We still need to square away our towing vehicle situation (Tacoma, 4Runner, or Highlander) before we can make the leap of faith, and we need to actually spend some time inside of an Escape 19 and a (new) Casita Spirit 17 to feel confident in our choice.

We've got reservations for camping (interspersed w/ airbnbs) in the Rockies this summer, so although it would be exciting to have a TT for this summer, it is not essential and would not impede our plans. I'm looking longer range here and want to make the right choice. Even so, Jon's caveat ("time is precious") rings in my head.

Sounds like if we do go the fiberglass route, covered parking makes a big difference.
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