Off-gassing - Fiberglass RV
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Old 12-28-2020, 12:57 PM   #1
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Off-gassing

My wife and I am very sensitive to off-gassing. Chemical sensitivity is a real problem since so many products used in construction exacerbate that. Chemical fumes can potentially come off of many of the components of an RV. We went to a RV dealer in our area, just looking around at different models at this point. I was hard for us to even step into most of them.

I was wondering if any members have found particular manufacturers that build a low VOC camper?
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Old 12-28-2020, 01:10 PM   #2
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I know that with Escape a few new owners had trouble for a while, some a couple months. We noticed the 'new' smell for a bit, but it never bothered us.

Just about any any new trailer will have some off gassing with some new components. Circulating air via the exhaust fan on low and a few windows cracked has lessened the smell and whisked bad air away. Time will eventually take care of it.
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Old 12-28-2020, 01:11 PM   #3
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That is going to be very hard to find. Most campers have pressboard, particle board, vinyl and any number of adhesives in them which can outgas quite a bit. I suspect your best bet would be one of the double-hull all molded interior fiberglass trailers.
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Old 12-28-2020, 01:18 PM   #4
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Yes it does diminish with time. A used one would certainly be better than a new one in that regard. It would be nice to buy one ready made but I may have to make it myself. I actually prefer some of the designs people have done on their own but it is a big and time consuming project.
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Old 12-28-2020, 01:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
I know that with Escape a few new owners had trouble for a while, some a couple months. We noticed the 'new' smell for a bit, but it never bothered us.

Just about any any new trailer will have some off gassing with some new components. Circulating air via the exhaust fan on low and a few windows cracked has lessened the smell and whisked bad air away. Time will eventually take care of it.
I have trouble with off-gassing and that's one reason we purchased used, until we purchased our 2018 Escape 5.0. Upon purchase we opened the ceiling vent and ran the vent on low for about the first 150 or so nights (the first 6 months of ownership). Even when the temps were below 20F the ceiling vent was open and fan running. If you close your camper up the gas will stay in and be much more noticeable.

Over time the camper exhausted it's nasty fumes and 11 months later on our trip to the east coast we didn't need to have the ceiling vent open.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 12-28-2020, 02:06 PM   #6
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A used camper would not have to be very old to be no longer significantly outgassing, even a new one which was vented with a fan for a short time would work
An RV would not outgas any more than a new house or carpet or a new car.

Remove the curtains and cushions and air them or wash them out separately.
The fabric covering and the reflectix or even the lacquer in a Scamp (for instance) would not be a problem for long, The glue may take a bit longer.
If you buy used, avoid those which have been used to house animals.



All enclosed spaces should be vented when in storage or subjected to direct sunlight or high temps.
What about a portable air purifier?



Of course there are people who have serious allergic conditions far beyond normal and they must find extreme medical or environmental solutions.


Also...any mask which could filter out a virus ought to help?
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Old 12-28-2020, 07:21 PM   #7
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Thanks Floyd and Perry. Helpful suggestions although I'll skip the mask.
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Old 12-28-2020, 08:33 PM   #8
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Mark, I don't know that you'll find any RVs made today that are "low-VOC".

Our trailer was completed in December of 2017 and it still has odors. I normally store it with the roof fan running at a slow speed and with a window cracked. Even now, three years later, whenever I close up the trailer the propane detector goes into alarm mode.

I don't think it's propane causing this as it's exhibited this pattern for years. I typically keep the propane closed at the cylinders. I also periodically vacuum the face of the detector per the manual. Sometimes I "think" that helps; it's hard to say as the detector always seems to be on a hair trigger.

I can smell VOC's when I enter the trailer; I just don't know how much is from the vinyl face on the paneling, the fiberglass, adhesives, the vinyl liner fabric, etc.

Ventilation, heat and time will contribute to off-gassing. You could either ventilate to the exterior, or run a fan through a GAC cartridge to try and capture the fumes if you feel the weather's too cold to ventilate to the exterior.

I suggest looking into older trailers if you don't find something that strikes you as tolerable.
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Old 12-29-2020, 08:22 AM   #9
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A pop up tent camper?
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Old 12-29-2020, 08:49 AM   #10
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The RV market is sold out right now, with long backlogs. Low/no VOC products tend to be much more expensive, and often give up something in performance as well. To make a low VOC trailer, they are going to have to change design and products used. Not going to happen.

Having had a career in the polymer manufacturing business, we made and sold both families of products. Harder to use, higher cost, lower performance, that was it. Hopefully this has improved since then.

Best bet is to get something like an Oliver USED.

The difference between a traditional home and an RV is sie. Similar product issues, in a much smaller confined space.
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Old 12-29-2020, 09:37 AM   #11
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Air quality meters have come down in price considerably. Most will do carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and off-gassing stuff like formaldehyde. I've been having some problems with the heater in my shop, so I just purchased this one from Amazon for about $46. Might be a good investment for people who are sensitive.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...t_b_prod_image
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Old 01-03-2021, 07:22 AM   #12
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The Pink Stuff

My husband and I are also sensitive to off-gassing as well as fragrance. We bought a used Scamp, and don't have problems with off-gassing. However, the pink rv antifreeze we use in the winter is a smell that lingers well into the summer. I have read up on blowing out all of the lines with a compression tank, but have read posts about needing to supplement that with the pink stuff as well. Just wanted to give you a heads up, and if anyone knows of a fragrance free rv fluid, let me know!
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:45 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the great suggestions.

A lot of great suggestions. Really appreciated. Ninelimes thanks for sharing that. Maybe that could work for us. If I get the chance I will check out used ones.

As an alternative I am looking into building my own camper. I did see one on youtube that was zero VOC or an attempt at that. It's a lot of work though.
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Old 01-03-2021, 09:01 PM   #14
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Many of the materials used in new trailer construction are synthetic and contain solvent type substances that will evaporate from these materials over time. Initially the rate at which these substances evaporate can produce significant air concentrations if not ventilated. As these materials age, their rate of off gassing decreases as does the odor they produce. There are two things you can do facilitate off gassing and shorten the time the objectionable odors are present. The first is to increase the temperature inside the unit. Parking it in the sun will accomplish that. No other heat source necessary. The second thing is to increase ventilation to remove the gasses and vapors that have already off gassed. Open doors, windows, vents etc. while your unit is parked in the sun. The warmer air in the unit will rise and escape the unit to be replaced by cooler air, providing natural flow through ventilation. No other air mover required.
Air testing in this situation is likely not necessary, could be complicated and may cost half the price of your unit to conduct.
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Old 01-03-2021, 09:07 PM   #15
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my kid is building a camper on a f550 utility truck base thats so far all aluminum. he''s still at the welding the aluminum box frame stage, the outside skin is going to be 11 ga aluminum sheeting. no idea what he'll be using for the interior or insulation apparently he plans on using VHB to stick stuff to his frame, and sikaflex where he needs caulk.
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Old 01-04-2021, 04:51 PM   #16
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John in Santa Cruz. Sounds interesting. One direction I could go to be near zero off-gassing would also be to start with aluminum as in a cargo trailer. Then no synthetic insulation, no plywood, etc. Ooops. Wrong forum for that. An older used egg with most off-gassing finished is still a consideration.
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Old 01-05-2021, 10:47 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by chimpta View Post
John in Santa Cruz. Sounds interesting. One direction I could go to be near zero off-gassing would also be to start with aluminum as in a cargo trailer. Then no synthetic insulation, no plywood, etc. Ooops. Wrong forum for that. An older used egg with most off-gassing finished is still a consideration.
fyi, he finished the framing today, and sent me this pic...
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Old 01-05-2021, 11:51 PM   #18
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The Alto series of trailers and RVs might be on interest to you. https://safaricondo.com/en/caravanes-alto/ Personally, I love their teardrop as it has a roof that raises when parked giving you a large interior. The trailers are built to be aerodynamic, lightweight and durable.

Here is the description of the materials used from their website:
Roof and walls are made of a sandwich-type material with a plastic honeycomb core laminated with aluminium on one side and Alufiber or aluminium on the other. Alufiber combines the lightweight of aluminium with the durability of fiberglass. The only materials used in building the Alto are those on which water has little effect such as aluminium, Alufiber, plastic, Formica and glass. Inside, the furniture consists largely of aluminium and composite materials. Rigid and ultra-light sandwich panels are integrated into the bed cushions, while the entire bed structure is made of aluminium extrusions.

They can be pulled by a sedan. I had the joy of viewing the interior when one was parked next to us while camping. It has a very sleek, modern feel with lots of hard surfaces which can be a big plus for people with sensitivities. The trailers are made in Quebec, hence the preponderance of the French language on their website. French passages can be easily translated to English on the Internet. The Alto website provides a lot of information as well as videos. I noticed, in passing, that they won an award as an outstanding company weathering the pandemic.

I also noted that they are now sold in the USA from the factory. A number of years ago, when I was "drooling" over them they were only available to purchase in Canada and as a US citizen living in the US there were too many barriers to importing them.

I have a hunch that this trailer will have far fewer off-gassing issues than most other trailers. Good luck in your search.
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Old 01-06-2021, 11:06 AM   #19
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John in Santa Cruz. Great to have those skills. Looking great so far.

Gilda. I have seen the Alto on YouTube but didn't realize how sophisticated (and pricy it is). Thanks for sharing that. Your 2011 Scamp must have finished most of it's off-gassing by now. Do you know how much it weighs when loaded for a trip?
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Old 01-06-2021, 12:22 PM   #20
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Yes, my SCAMP has finished off-gassing. I do remember, when we picked it up that the new smell bothered me. I found that after I aired it and vacuumed, especially in the tire wheel section of the closet (that had a bunch of plastic flecks from drilling). I think the "rat fur" can be an attractant to smells.

I have never weighed my trailer as all our truck weigh-stations are closed (for whatever reason) near my home and have been for years. We were not aware of weigh-station opportunities at truck stops nor other places when traveling. We always considered camping in a SCAMP as tent-camping in a hard shell and as former backpackers we have always been minimalists when it comes to camping and, as such, are not worried about going over the weight limit. We did insist on having trailer brakes from the beginning even though they are not required and are happy to have that extra element of safety.
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