My Biggar experiences with water and winter - Fiberglass RV
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Old 03-12-2021, 08:18 AM   #1
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Name: Fred
Trailer: Biggar
Alberta
Posts: 6
My Biggar experiences with water and winter

As noted elsewhere in forum, I purchased a 79 Biggar sight unseen and used it for work summer and winter.

The floor was lumpy when I bought it. Which I attribute to lack of caulking maintenance. The belly was holding water draining in from around the windows! I could park on a slope and watch water drip out the frame openings after each rainfall. So I resealed the windows and belly band hoping for the best. After a year, the floor stayed lumpy. I assume the long term absorption of water from underneath caused the plywood to swell and distort. It wasn’t soft, just full of undulating ripples.

I saw increasing evidence of movement at the cabinets each time I moved camp. I thought it may have been due to the old torsion axles being firm. Reducing the tire pressure helped keep the drawers from bouncing out, but the panel edge trims kept shifting and kitchen counter still showed signs movement at the edges.

Eventually, I checked out the frame by using a 5” hole saw under the benches. The frame was rusty, but sound. However, the gussets (standoffs) extending from the frame to the exterior were rusted out – I could put my finger through them! I’m sure that everything along the perimeter of the floor was depending on 3/4” plywood to support its weight. My assessment was that without repairs, my Biggar would be unsafe on the road.

Without frame repairs, it would only be viable as a park model. The only way I could see to access the frame would be to gut the trailer. Not having the resources of time, money and space, I parked the Biggar.

Eventually took a lowball offer from a guy who thought he could fix the frame. His plan was to cut off the belly and work from underneath; but whatever he did, its his trailer now. I sold it with full disclosure about all its issues.

That was my Biggar experience. The double walled trailers are comfortable in a wide range of temperatures. The double walls also made it very hard to assess the frame. The frame might have been alright if the belly had drain holes and/or caulking maintenance. If someone says they fixed it, ask for pictures. Caveat emptor.

Beyond the sour grapes of buying a rotten trailer for a steep price andselling low. I appreciated my time working out of the unit.

The wet bath was nice to have, it was compact and functional. Only skinny folk can enter the bathroom when the bed is set up. Possibly because I was using a twin size mattress.
The toilet is impossible to replace with one of the same height, and spare parts are unavailable.
The shower does not drain to a tank, it drains into the dump pipes. I used a catch bucket rather than drain onto the ground.

Ventilation was great! It cooled quickly whenever I opened windows for a cross draft in summer. I put in a maxxair fan to have more airflow options.

I really admired the amount of fiberglass interior. The dining benches and cabinet bulkheads were all molded fiberglass. So were all the cabinetry faces and bathroom door. There was abundant storage for one guy, and it didn't feel crowded the occasional time I had a helper for a week.

In the winter, I ran dry tanks and kept a bucket under the kitchen sink for washing and cleaning. I kept a porta-potty in the wet bath. And I splurged on a rotary dehumidifier. It was a good investment. The rotary style works well in cooler temperatures. I think the added air circulation helped with winter comfort. And between cooking and sleeping, I was pulling a litre of water from the air each day.

I covered all the windows with a layer of light foam (laminate flooring pad) and a rigid insulation panel on the window by my bed. It would have been nice if the windows were double glazed. Any frosted glass had window coverings pulled back during the day and were defrosted with the dehumidifier.

The double walls of the Biggar had fiberglass insulation batts between them, and its little furnace kept the trailer comfortable. I kept a tin deflector in front of half the vent to prevent air blowing in my face while I slept. I have since discovered that -20 Celcius in a stick and tin unit feels like -35 Celsius felt in the Biggar.
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Old 03-12-2021, 11:30 AM   #2
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Name: David
Trailer: Scamp 13 ft
California
Posts: 399
Greetings, Fred D, A nice story, too bad it didn't turn out better. I bet the next one will ! And Alberta is a great place , from the heritage Museum to the Jasper Ice Fields. Our Scamp loved every bit of it . Good luck if you get another fiberglas trailer, better wait til after the Pandemic when hopefully the sky high prices may return to more normal levels. David in Fresno and Sonora, CA.
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Old 03-16-2021, 08:47 AM   #3
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Name: Henry
Trailer: BigFoot
Tennessee
Posts: 1,239
Thanks for Posting Fred. At first I though you had misspelled something, having never heard of a "Biggar" Travel trailer. I Googled it. Very impressive unit. Hang in there, hopefully you will find a fiberglass trailer that suits your needs.
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Old 03-16-2021, 09:03 AM   #4
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 3,584
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Many of us have made mistakes on purchases, campers and others. Nothing substitutes for a thorough inspection. I inspected two vintage Trilliums, both had severe floor rot. Sellers had no problems finding other buyers to pay for these gems. One seller told me there were "no leaks" even though I found standing water in one bench. OK. Sure.

Most of what I know is from mistakes I have made, some really costly. Any trailer can be a gem or a dud. Learning from others is so much cheaper!

I did try to buy a Biggar once, loved the layout. But I think I dodged a bullet as I did not know about their unique frame. Hidden = wow, look out.

With molded FG trailers so hard to find, sometimes our rush to buy overcomes our desire to inspect.
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Old 03-25-2021, 12:48 PM   #5
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Name: Fred
Trailer: Biggar
Alberta
Posts: 6
I looked online a lot to see if the enclosed frame could be repaired in place, and found no information. So I thought my experience would be worth the writeup. I'm pretty sure that Bigfoot travel trailers also have a belly enclosing the frame.


It's amazing to me the potential for longevity that fiberglass trailers have. But in this case, trailer lifespan was limited by lack of maintenance and lack of serviceability.
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Old 03-25-2021, 03:01 PM   #6
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Name: Henry
Trailer: BigFoot
Tennessee
Posts: 1,239
Actually many trailers can withstand age if they are properly maintained, including stick and tin trailers.
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Old 04-02-2021, 02:49 PM   #7
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Name: Fred
Trailer: Biggar
Alberta
Posts: 6
Sure. My point was the enclosed belly doesn't allow for inspection access-which is a prerequisite thorough maintenance.
And the belly design also doesn't allow seperation of frame and body the way a Boler does.
If someone wants longevity from a trailer, they need to start with something not already compromised by design, faulty assembly, or the previous owners neglect.


Knowing what I do now, I should have re-registered the trailer as 'salvage' prior to sale. I'd hate to be part of someone being injured in the future with that trailer. Even though it's no longer my liability.
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Old 04-04-2021, 05:06 PM   #8
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Name: Chantelle
Trailer: Biggar
Alberta
Posts: 4
Registry
There must be a few Biggars kicking around Alberta. That sucks about the frame. I bought mine a few years ago and have been slowing picking at updating it. The previous owners didn’t winterized and burst the hot water tank which leaked like you mentioned into the body. Their answer was to cut holes in the floor pull all the insulation, spray foam, then put laminate flooring on top...it didn’t work great.

My father and I cut out the flooring everywhere except under the benches and couch, I was lucky my frame was rusted but not to the same degree yours was. Brushed off the light rust with a metal brush, then used rust exhibitor paint on the exposed frame and where I could fit my arms under the rest.



The front windows are leaking and I’m sure waters getting back in there, hopefully I can get the windows replaced this year. I only bought the trailer for $3k so I figured there would be some fairly pricey repairs. But I really wanted those extra few feet and a bathroom with a tow capacity that would work for my Cherokee.

I replaced the toilet last year with a short one I found on Amazon 35” and it works great (Aqua-Magic V RV Toilet Pedal Flush /High Profile / White, by Thetford - 31650) solved my issue with the black tank filling up fast and pump going off constantly if left on.
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