Oliver Factory Tour - Fiberglass RV
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Old 10-14-2007, 07:32 PM   #1
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It started out as a standard hard hat and safety glasses factory type tour. But that is where all similarity ended ! Although the tour guide was very knowlegeable and helpful, he did not "do all of the talking", while dominating and controling the flow of information. I was able to ask any question that came to mind and even interact with workers at each station if I wanted to ! As we arrived at each station it was obvious that there was a fierce pride in craftsmanship present. I was allowed to ask questions and recieved quality, to the point answers. The first station was the aluminum frame layout and frame jig. I was intrested in particular about how the dis similar metals of the suspension and the frame were mated. My concerns about the possibility of electrolytic type reactions between dissimilar metals was put to rest after a couple of questions and a good look at a naked, fully assembled frame and suspension. One my questions pertained to how other items such as the three electric jacks were installed to prevent dissimilar metals reactions.

The responses were more than sastisfactory, they were exemplary ! At each following work station I continued to monitor the dissimilar metals items and they were consistently handled well and in accordance with the established procedures.

When I asked about strength, weight bearing capability and ballance factors, and in particular about the extensible tounge, the lead man at the work station was informative and cordial. When I asked a question about the possibillity of a small modification to facilitate boondocking in rough and remote areas, they listened and tendered suggestions about how that could be accomplished and how it might effect the coach in the long term boondocking enviroment.
To say the least, I was impressed ! That a manufacturer that was listening and intrested in helping a customer reach their goal, was phenomenal, absolutely, phenomenal !

My access was not limited to the "high lights", and I am afraid that I became so engrossed in the
tour that I lost track of time.

The areas of plumbing and wiring were of particular intrest to me and I dawdled a bit, yet I was never prompted to pick up the pace.

It was a great tour and I was really impressed with Oliver.
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Old 10-16-2007, 09:45 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing. What was their answer to possibility of electrolytic type reactions between dissimilar metals? Did you happen to hear of a black colored model was coming out? Did the classic model look good to you or was it missing too many goodies for your liking? I have not had the opportunity to see one yet. Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-16-2007, 11:23 AM   #3
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Thanks for sharing. What was their answer to possibility of electrolytic type reactions between dissimilar metals? Did you happen to hear of a black colored model was coming out? Did the classic model look good to you or was it missing too many goodies for your liking? I have not had the opportunity to see one yet. Thanks in advance.
Why not give Jim and Evon Oliver a call. They may be passing nearby on their way back from Northern California to Tennessee. They're very accommodating and just plain nice folks. Let us know what you think of the Oliver if you get a chance to see it.
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Old 10-17-2007, 06:45 AM   #4
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Do you have any contact information such as a web site or phone numbers.

Thanks, Dave
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Old 10-17-2007, 06:49 AM   #5
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Oliver Travel Trailers

BTW, this and All Current Trailer Brands are listed on our Helpful-Links page.

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Old 10-17-2007, 04:41 PM   #6
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its great to hear such a good review on a new company
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Old 10-18-2007, 05:59 PM   #7
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When the bottom outter shell is on the frame, they start adding the plumbing. The fresh water is color coded for hot and cold. The three tanks go in the very bottom, between the frame rails. Those larger tanks are important to those of us that don't stay where there are "hookups" very often. Nothing is outside of the coach, and nothing exposed below the frame. There is a layer of thinsulate ( R 9 value ) between the fiberglass and the tanks. The tour guide mentioned something else that they had put in that increases the R value to 11, I can't remember what it is though. The Black and gray tanks dump valves are also inside the insulated fiberglass shell and discharge to the rear, a clear plus when boondocking clearance comes into play. The dump valves are operated by a handle inside of the battery/shower compartment that has a rubber gasket seal, and a light. I asked in particular about how the tanks might be accessed to repair or replace one of them. The answer was quite simple, yet was not readily apparent to me. The access is by sliding them out of the back of the coach at the rear bumper after disconnecting the tank from inside the coach.
The ground lighting around the perimeter of the coach gives ample light for early or late starts and setups where light might be an issue if bondocking. For any after dark roadside emergency those ground lights would be invaluable and if they keep me from getting sprayed by a polecat that I didn't see in time, they paid out for sure !
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:05 PM   #8
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I must admit that I am truly interested in the Oliver! But I do have a reservation: why are they using aluminum frames rather than steel? I understand the desire to save weight, but I really do wonder if the aluminum girders are can withstand the stresses that steel can---???

Did anyone at the Oliver factory discuss this issue with you?

Art
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
I must admit that I am truly interested in the Oliver! But I do have a reservation: why are they using aluminum frames rather than steel? I understand the desire to save weight, but I really do wonder if the aluminum girders are can withstand the stresses that steel can---???

Did anyone at the Oliver factory discuss this issue with you?

Art
I asked, the fully boxed frame rails are a certain alloy ( some aircraft type ) and was engineered with full sized gussets at certain places. When I examined the gussets closely I was impressed with the length, size and welding of those gussets. There is another weight bearing, full size aluminum tubing beam that is inside the frame rails running from front to rear, in between the holding tanks. This beam is added after the bottom outside shell is put on the frame and isn't visible in the photos of the frame in the brochure. This weight bearing beam is a third frame rail down the middle of the frame assembly.
One of the modifications that I asked about was a way to put a reciever hitch at the rear. The rear bumper folds down and cannot be used for a reciever mounting location. Strength and weight bearing capability was the main part of that particular conversation. Their answers to my questions and my own personal observations, reasured me that the frame was more than sufficient for the job.
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:25 PM   #10
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There is another weight bearing, full size aluminum tubing beam that is inside the frame rails running from front to rear, in between the holding tanks. This beam is added after the bottom outside shell is put on the frame and isn't visible in the photos of the frame in the brochure. This weight bearing beam is a third frame rail down the middle of the frame assembly.
I see the center rail in a few of the manufacturer's website photos but don't see how it's tied into anything. The photos show it just sitting between two of the tanks. Did you see any of the detail on this?
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:30 PM   #11
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I asked in particular about how the tanks might be accessed to repair or replace one of them. The answer was quite simple, yet was not readily apparent to me. The access is by sliding them out of the back of the coach at the rear bumper after disconnecting the tank from inside the coach.
Not readily apparent to me either but I see now how it can be done. Not an easy task but possible if necessary. How often do tanks go bad anyway especially if they're sandwiched between the fiberglass shells protecting them somewhat from road debris. Thanks for giving us some feedback on the factory tour.
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:32 PM   #12
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I asked, the fully boxed frame rails are a certain alloy ( some aircraft type ) and was engineered with full sized gussets at certain places. When I examined the gussets closely I was impressed with the length, size and welding of those gussets.
By gussets are you referring to the cross braces hung below the lower fiberglass shell?
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:44 PM   #13
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I must admit that I am truly interested in the Oliver! But I do have a reservation: why are they using aluminum frames rather than steel? I understand the desire to save weight, but I really do wonder if the aluminum girders are can withstand the stresses that steel can---???

Did anyone at the Oliver factory discuss this issue with you?

Art
I don't have an answer to your question but the larger rail cross section makes me more comfortable. Also the load from the shell seems to be distributed evenly over the entire length of the rails instead of point loads. I see now why maybe the leaf spring setup was in part chosen over the conventional torsion axle. Again, the load looks more evenly distributed over the axle.
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:46 PM   #14
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Anders - Did you happen to notice if the mounts attaching the body to the frame rails were through bolted?
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Old 10-19-2007, 08:22 AM   #15
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I'm interested in the body mount too. How about the sub-floor, what material is it made out of plywood, pressboard? Is it encapsulated in fiberlgass like casita, or bolt on top of the frame like most stick built trailers?

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Anders - Did you happen to notice if the mounts attaching the body to the frame rails were through bolted?
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Old 10-19-2007, 08:41 AM   #16
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I'm interested in the body mount too. How about the sub-floor, what material is it made out of plywood, pressboard? Is it encapsulated in fiberlgass like casita, or bolt on top of the frame like most stick built trailers?
I can probably answer this one, at least in part. Jim Oliver said the floor and underbelly is a fiberglass encapsulated material. I don't recall the name of it but it's not plywood or any other wood product, some kind of honeycomb glass material that won't rot. Maybe someone can expand on this. Also, does anyone know if there are any openings to allow water to drain between the shells?
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:19 AM   #17
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Interesting thanks for the reply. That seems to be a negative with casita. Dry-rot inside the encapsulated chipboard, you can’t see. I’m sure you have seen photos of the huge job it is to replace the floor. My understanding is that escape trailer flooring is encapsulated too, but has drain holes for any water intrusion. A non wood synthetic material sounds like an interesting Oliver design. I'm still curious how the body mounts tho.
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:28 AM   #18
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That seems to be a negative with casita. Dry-rot inside the encapsulated chipboard, you can’t see.
This is a maintenance issue only. It doesn't matter if the floor is encapsulated or completely open, if an owner doesn't take care to be on the look out for leaks ANY floor, whether open or bottom sealed is going to rot. If not wood, then metal rusts, etc. A honeycomb-plastic-type floor may "cure" the floor rot problem, but then does it cause a false sense of security for the owner that it's acceptable to NOT be cognizant of leakage??
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Old 10-19-2007, 12:36 PM   #19
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I see now why maybe the leaf spring setup was in part chosen over the conventional torsion axle...
The leaf spring suspension mounts at two points per side; the rubber torsion axles mount with one bracket per side. If the bracket is long enough, the stress concentration with the rubber torsion axle brackets would be lower... and since they can't be welded on anyway, the obvious design would be to bolt the axle's brackets to long (load-distributing) flanges on the frame rails.

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with the Oliver design, only that the aluminum frame does not - to me - lead to a leaf spring suspension. They seem to have chosen it for other reasons.
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Old 10-19-2007, 12:43 PM   #20
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...I understand the desire to save weight, but I really do wonder if the aluminum girders are can withstand the stresses that steel can---???
Just about any structural material will work if appropriately sized and configured; you could build a steel-reinforced concrete trailer frame if you could stand the weight.

Building in aluminum with the same outside dimensions would require very thick box section walls, partially (or entirely, depending on alloy) offsetting the weight advantage of the less dense aluminum. Proper aluminum stock selection - size, shape, alloy, and heat treatment - can allow comparable strength at less weight... but higher cost for both material and fabrication. For examples, see almost any aircraft - they do the same things in aluminum that are normally done in steel on road vehicles (beams, structural skins, brackets, etc), because aircraft are more sensitive to weight and less sensitive to cost than cars or trucks.
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