Molded fiberglass full-time living - Fiberglass RV

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Old 05-01-2009, 05:24 AM   #1
Trailer: Former U-Haul and Casita owner (now Class C Motorhome)
Posts: 30
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In April of '06 I bought a 13ft uhaul, did some upgrades to it, in June of '06 I found a 16ft Casita 8 blocks from my home, so I bought it, started to make it my own.

In July of '06 I got the worse flu of my life. To make a long story short after 4 hospitals and near death, they told me I had Guillian-Barre Syndrome. It attacks your nervous system. I was paralized from the waist down. There is no cure, they can only stop the spread of it.

After coming home I had to learn how to walk again. Now after almost 3 years of fighting Social Security I was approved. I have mobility now, but have nerve damage. I plan on becoming a full time rv'er.

I would like to thank this forum for the wonderful posts, there were times U brighten up my world. Due to my disabilities I feel a molded fiberglass is not disabled friendly, would anyone like to convince me I could live in a molded fiberglass?

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Old 05-01-2009, 05:49 AM   #2
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
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Good morning Tom. Sorry to hear about your trials and tribulations. Frankly, I wouldn't classify ANY brand of towable RV as disability friendly. Some just more than most because of larger bathrooms, fewer stairs (or no stairs) wider doorways and maybe lower to the ground. That being said, only you know what your limitations may prevent you from doing and what future health holds for you.

Every day is a gift for each of us.

BTW: I changed the topic title and expanded upon it a bit... hope it gets you more views and replies.

Best of luck!

Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
Double Yolk - 1988 16' Scamp Deluxe
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Old 05-01-2009, 06:56 AM   #3
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Name: Alfred
Trailer: 2014 Escape 5.0TA/ 2016 Ram V6 Eco Diesel
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Hi: Tom...Sorry to hear of your life trials!!! "Tomorrow is promised to no one" so we just have to grab what we can and "Just DO IT'!!! My sister-in-law had a stroke a few years back...requires a walker, probably a wh. ch. later in life. They tried a 13' Boler then a 17'Boler but to no avail. They now have a Starcraft 25' with a walk-thru bath and queen rear bed. They seem to manage camping but then; my brother does all the grunt work and driving!!!
I hope you will be able to enjoy some of the simple things of life like camping...again.
Hang in there... I myself am living on God's auxilliary power and will require a replacement pace maker in a few years!!! Regards
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 05-01-2009, 10:45 AM   #4
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Tom, As a caregiver to my Dh, when I choose an egg, I did so for my comfort. Comfort in the ease of towing a smaller camping unit, comfort in the ease of maintaining the camping unit. But have to say, we won't be full timing in anything due to his illness. Before his diagnosis with Alzheimer's at the age of 53 we owned a rvpark/resort and saw many fulltimers with disabilities who travel full or extened time. And I feel many "stick built" rv's can easily be fitted to meet the needs of a disabled person but honestly I don't see most "eggs" being one of them. Unless you looked at maybe a Bigfoot. That being said, some may feel I am wrong. So I suppose I should say that for me, an egg would not be a choice. Sorry! As much as I love all the aspects of the "eggs" I don't think it would work for me even full timeing without disablities. For me, I would need more if I was a fulltimer. I think it's as Donna said, you have to figure out what works for you, which may be different than what would work for someone else. But want to encourge you to follow your dream of being on the road. As I grew up with my parents best friends being pioneers in fulltimeing despite the husbands disabilities. They remodeled their first Class A to meet his needs and after thousands of miles and many years of adventure they bought a 5th wheel and continued to live on the road until which time it became impossible due to age and his disability. They always amazed me, First cause as I said they were pioneers in the fulltime life style and then because he could do anything despite that fact that he had only one leg and due to his injury he couldn't wear a prosthesis. Go out and enjoy your journey! Life is way to short not to. Best Wishes on journey! Robin
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Old 05-01-2009, 06:25 PM   #5
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Name: Frederick
Trailer: Fiber Stream
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Due to my disabilities I feel a molded fiberglass is not disabled friendly, would anyone like to convince me I could live in a molded fiberglass?
I am friends with a couple, of whom one uses a wheelchair, and has for some time.
They sold their Motorhome and bought a 13' Burro.
While they don't live in the RV, I thought of them when I read this, and emailed them asking to add their insight here...
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
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Old 05-01-2009, 09:22 PM   #6
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Sorry you have been through so much and congratulations on becoming mobile again. I realize it took a lot of pain and determination!

I was recently visiting friends with a Bigfoot 21 rear bed camper. I was amazed at the open floor space with plenty of room to use a walker. I didn't look in the bathroom but you could probably install assist handles where needed.

We have a Scamp 5th wheel deluxe with the front bath, and I also have mobility issues. My husband made a wide and low wood step to place below the metal fold-up step and installed a handle just inside the door. Both make it easier and safer to enter and exit. The steps to the bed area are also beneficial. Unfortunately there wouldn't be room to use a walker but the model with countertops on both sides would give you something to use for balance.

Handicap designated camping sites will be easier to use. Only you know the limitations you have to work with. With a little creative thinking and ingenuity you will be able to find ways to adapt a camper to your needs.

Best of luck!


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Old 05-01-2009, 10:52 PM   #7
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 25 ft
Posts: 7,316
Tom, My dad always told me, "Mike, you can do anything you want to." I am now 67yrs and still believe it.

The guy that helped me start this website has Polio and is a solo semi-fulltimer in a Casita. His wife works as a teacher and can't go during the school year.

I was born with Spinabifida. I have Sleep Apnia. I wear a prostheses on my right leg which is 4.5" shorter then my left leg. I am 100% disabled and on SS. I use crutches to walk. I do NOT consider my self handicapped. Other people do and I do have some limitations.

I have had three Fiberglass RVs. Two were 17' Casitas and the Liberty was the easiest for me. I currently have a 25' Bigfoot and have had issues with the Shower. I had the shower modified so I can sit while I shower. I also, added hand rails along the walls so I can walk from the front to the back without my crutches. We have been RVing for about 9 years now. Before that I camped in a variety of tents. All that is to say, I can DO anything I want to.

Within the next couple of months we plan on becoming Fulltimers in our current Fiberglass RV. Our house is going on the market this month.

PS: YES, the cost to me is a bit more then the average RVer. You need to modify things to fit your situation. I have found it is NOT really major, just needs doing.

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Old 05-06-2009, 11:16 PM   #8
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Trailer: 2005 17 ft Escape ('Turtle')
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Hi Tom,

It is good to hear you regained your mobility and won your Social Security benefits, big steps toward rebuilding your life after all you have been through.

In '06 I also became ill, 24/7 retching nausea, lost 30% of my body weight, went to top clinics and after months of tests was told I had gastroparesis (a neuromuscular condition of the digestive system) and I should go home, try to stay alive on a liquid diet and if I couldn't, come back for a feeding tube. I lost my job, couldn't drive, was so sick all the time wondered how I could get through each day. You know the feeling! I was already living with other so-called chronic conditions.

At the time we had a 13' Burro, after sitting unused for 3 yrs. we sold it and bought a 17' Escape because I was determined to go camping again, but knew I needed more comfort and amenities. After 2 yrs. on a liquid diet I now eat a limited, very particular diet of a few simple foods, a trailer allows me to travel and cook my own food. Our first trip last weekend was challenging, I felt nauseous, pain and fatigue the whole weekend and went through the grief of realizing that camping may not be for me what it has been in the past. But it was worth it - my husband was happy we were camping again, and we both enjoyed having nothing to do but enjoy nature. I spent more time than I use to when camping just taking care of physical needs, but it was still relaxing. I have to redefine what travel and camping means in my life.

Not knowing what your needs are, I would agree with those who suggest you might look for a trailer you can adapt to your special needs, there is such diversity in FG RVs I think you'd find one adaptable. I don't sleep well so invested considerable money into making the trailer bed as comfortable as my home bed. Hot showers are critical, so we'll always carry extra water. We may have to stay where there are hook-ups more (something I have never liked to do). I have yet to fully figure out what adaptions will work for me, what adjustments are necessary. My second test run will be a 10 day trip. I don't want to give up something I love without trying, I believe in the adage - where there is a will there is a way.

Have faith you can find that way for you - I believe you have the will or you wouldn't be considering it. Why not take one step at a time? Can you live in a trailer for a short time? What does and doesn't work for you? What trailers are fairly easy to maintain? Only you know what you may or may not be able to do. Maybe if you share what some of your particular needs, concerns are on the forum others can help you figure out solutions. You have read here the stories of others for whom molded fiberglass trailers enable them.

My heart goes out to you and I wish you much success in creating a new life for yourself and finding that even within limits are great possibilities.

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Enjoy our travel photos at: Turtle Travels
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Old 05-09-2009, 08:38 PM   #9
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Hi Tom, Our friend Fred emailed and asked me to read your post. I am sorry to hear about your difficulties, but happy you've had some improvement in your mobility. I'm sure it was a lot of work getting there, and I'm very proud of you. My husband Bob uses a wheelchair. He can't stand or walk at all. But he has great upper body strength and good stamina. As Fred mentioned, we had a motorhome, but gave it up in favor of the Burro. Bob has bad osteoporosis, and falling is a huge worry. With the motorhome, it was down to the driver's seat, up onto the rear bed, and many other opportunities to fall. With the Burro, Bob transfers straight across from his chair to the floor at the entrance. There are lots of places to grab on to, so we don't worry about him falling. Once inside, he can reach everything! We made a sturdy toilet chair, since he can't balance on a portapotty. The bed is comfy, and easy for him to get in and out of, and to roll over easily. For our weekend camping, the small size of the trailer is a huge plus!

With that said, the adaptations we've had to make mean the already close quarters are REALLY close! I have to move his chair to get at the cabinets. I have to climb over his toilet chair to get in to bed. If we spent more than a few days in it, we'd go crazy. If Bob were able to stand and walk, and falling was not an issue, the motorhome would be a better choice for long-term trips or full-timing. But it isn't as much fun, and doesn't feel as much like "camping" to me.

We have found, as I sure you have, that the obstacles presented by the disability can be overcome with enough money or ingenuity. We are short on the first, but luckily we have lots of the second. Every camping trip we learn what works, what is difficult, and what can be improved. We've come up with some good solutions for our specific problems. I don't know what problems you face, but if there is any advice we can give, please get in touch with us.

The best advice I can give you: Do what makes you happy! Please keep us all posted on your adventures. Good luck! Laura (and Bob)
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:53 AM   #10
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Name: El Viejo
Trailer: 2002 Casita 17 ft Spirit Deluxe
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If you can manage it go to the RV show in Tampa. I believe it is in January. There you can see all kinds of rigs first hand. That is the real test. There will not be any Casitas there.
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Old 05-13-2009, 02:33 AM   #11
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Name: Jen
Trailer: 1972 Compact Jr
Posts: 322
Hi Tom -
I'm sorry to hear about your life-altering illness. I just wanted to ring in here on the trailer modification issue. I just saw Mike's & Lori's trailer complete with mods and wanted to add that I didn't even NOTICE them until Lori pointed them out.

The handrail is of matching (or close enough) wood that looks like a chair rail or some such decorative piece. In fact, it's quite functional.

The shower mod would have been logical regardless of disability. (Our home shower ALSO has the shower knobs set in the seat's backrest - THERE'S thinkin' for ya!)

The bed has also been cut down to make passage easier for Mike, but probably makes life easier for everyone involved. This was another mod I didn't notice it until it was pointed out to me. In fact, the smaller bed, still large enough for both of them they say, also makes the room feel larger.

Best wishes!
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:06 PM   #12
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Name: Liz
Trailer: 1979 13 ft Boler, 1987 & 1988 Bigfoot 5th Wheel
Posts: 2,025
Tom, I don't know to what extent your mobility issues limit you but there are ways to make RVing more user friendly as many have pointed out. There are many kinds of handle assists available for the RV market and many more for the home that can be modified for RV use. There are also several kinds of very stable stair options. We plan to install assist handles and new steps on our BF to make camping more pleasant for us.

Good luck in your quest!

1979 Boler B1300 | 1987 Bigfoot 5th Wheel | 1988 Bigfoot 5th Wheel | We officially have a collection!
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