Shopping advice - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-28-2021, 05:51 PM   #1
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Shopping advice

Hi. Thanks for reading and/or giving advice!
Iím shopping for a trailer to live in full time. For a long time- at least five years, probably longer. (Which is one reason Iím not interested in vans. Theyíll all be obsolete by then.)

For a while, I was looking at lighter FG models- scamp 13ís and Burros- because I was assuming I was stuck with my TV, a 2017 VW Tiguan with a 2200 capacity. (Stuck because I assumed I was underwater on my car loan, purchased when I was still married. Anyway!) Used car market being what it is right now, it turns out Iím *not* stuck, and can offload the VW for something capable of towing a bigger trailer. Which Iíd much prefer for long term living. So now, once I swap TVís and have a decent pickup, Iím interested in fifth wheels for their larger size and overall efficiency.

And so naturally Iím mostly looking at 5th wheel Scamps. But of course, theyíre very hard to find if I donít want to wait 2 years four a factory order. So, in the meantime, I keep noticing other 5th wheel trailers. Most I assume are aluminum, though that info can be tricky to track down based on internet ads from dealerships. And my rough understanding is that aluminum is inferior to fiberglass, but can someone explain to me why? Furthermore, there are (comparatively) a gazillion ads for the more mass market ones, vs Scamps, which have the long waiting list- indicating that Scamps are preferable in Iím sure many ways, but it would be very helpful if someone had the knowledge to explain what those ways are.

Explainer articles Iíve read arenít terribly helpful, since they mostly just discuss fiberglass trailers generally, rather than Scamps specifically.

Thank you!
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Old 08-28-2021, 06:44 PM   #2
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Most camping trailers, and Scamps for sure, are not well suited to living in 365. Perhaps if you can move frequently to follow the weather, or to avoid the weather as people in the gulf coast area are doing at present. And also if you can usually use "shore" facilities including power, water and sewer. Then maybe. But as a rule you will want a lot more RV - one which is capable of functioning well in four seasons. And Texas sure has four seasons.. in some areas, even five or six from what I hear.

But the question that comes to my mind is why do you want to live full time in a RV. Some people think its cheap housing, but 98% of the time it is more expensive than other housing options... and sometimes a lot more expensive. Not to mention a lot less comfortable and at times even miserable. There are good reasons for full timing it of course, but they seem to be uncommon.
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Old 08-28-2021, 07:45 PM   #3
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Iíd personally be looking at Bigfoots for full-time living, especially the newer 4-season units. For one person the 17.5í should be minimally adequate. Theyíre not common, but they do come up from time to time. In fact I just happened to see a center bath model listed for sale in Phoenix today. There are also larger 21í and 25í models.

Four season upgrades will make climate control easier and more energy efficient in both hot snd cold conditions.
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Old 08-28-2021, 07:58 PM   #4
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I think the idea is to avoid extreme temperatures in either direction, making climate control less of an issue. Moving home base every 2-4 weeks as needed.
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Old 08-28-2021, 08:26 PM   #5
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I think the idea is to avoid extreme temperatures in either direction, making climate control less of an issue. Moving home base every 2-4 weeks as needed.
I feel like the issues are different when full-timing. One, it’s not always convenient (or even possible) to move on short notice. Two, an entire region can get caught in an unseasonable hot or cold spell, and all regions are subject to ups and down requiring use of A/C or a furnace. Three, in moderate weather better insulation can sometime eliminate the need for mechanical climate control altogether.

I can’t help thinking of the Texas deep freeze, which caught more than a few RV-dwelling snowbirds. More recently there was the northern heat wave.

I full-timed in a travel trailer in my younger years, and the four season upgrades made a significant difference in comfort, as well as lower electric and propane consumption. We love our Scamp for vacation use, but for full timing I’d want something more substantial. We cancelled one planned Thanksgiving trip because the forecast was for three solid days of wind, rain, and below-normal temperatures due to an early winter storm in the Arizona desert, usually warm and pleasant that time of year. Full-timing you’d have to ride it out. I won’t say it can’t be done in a Scamp, but it will entail adjustments and sacrifices.

Bigfoot shares the most important attribute of the Scamp: the two-piece, all-molded shell, which eliminates panel, edge, and corner seams, a major source of leaks and structural damage in conventional trailers.
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Old 08-29-2021, 09:53 AM   #6
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1. Why do people buy molded FG instead of conventional trailers? Longevity/durability, and require less maintenance.

But they tend to be VERY hard to find, smaller than stick built trailers, no tip outs, and more expensive. 99% of the used RVs out there are not molded fiberglass. Molded FG is totally different than RVs you see with fiberglass siding. Those sided trailers have the fiberglass glued to wood. They eventually get leaks, the wood rots and the glue fails. Read up on RV delamination.

In the end, surf some of the various forums to see what problems people are having. Their is a Forest River forum for example.

On full time living, people are living in anything from a minivan on up. Could I do it? No.

Met a couple (2) living full time in a Trillium 1300! And they had been doing it for two years. Depending on the capability of the RV, you will have to go way south in the winter, like Yuma, AZ, or southern FL, like Sebring.

+10 it’s not as cheap living as some think, unless you boondock. Boondocking means no facilities: no water, no sewer, no electricity, no bathroom, no showers. But it is cheap!
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Old 08-29-2021, 10:16 AM   #7
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Before shopping for a trailer, you should secure a location ( locations ) to keep it. You might find it's too expensive if it has the amenities you need. Think of it as a boat, without moorage.
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Old 08-29-2021, 10:43 AM   #8
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Old 08-29-2021, 10:55 AM   #9
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Old 08-29-2021, 11:17 AM   #10
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I second the bigfoot

Bigfoot are made in Canada and tend to be more 4 season than most. Finding one may be a challenge.

I own a 19' Scamp, a '5th wheel' though the 'wheel' is actually a ball which gets all over a small subset of very anal folks who insist on trying to prevent them, with zero success, from being called a '5th wheel'.

Anyway... I love the 5th wheel because it has a large dedicated bed in front. However it does come with sacrifices, specifically your truck bed cannot be covered in a top etc. The other biggie is that they are harder to disconnect and reconnect. They have landing gear instead of a single hitch point to crank down. The upside is that they are harder to steal if you are off to town.

But it is what it is and I do like mine.

I would pay little attention to the naysayers regarding living in a travel trailer. Lots of folks have opinions, and opinions being what they are, are the most dear possession that many people have.

It is a fact that living in a TT is not for every one but you are not everyone, you are you and only you can decide if it does work for you.

Enjoy the chase and let us know how it goes.
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Old 08-29-2021, 11:31 AM   #11
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I would pay little attention to the naysayers regarding living in a travel trailer. Lots of folks have opinions, and opinions being what they are, are the most dear possession that many people have.
But, your opinion is pure gold?
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Old 08-29-2021, 05:05 PM   #12
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Old 08-29-2021, 06:26 PM   #13
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Anyway... I love the 5th wheel because it has a large dedicated bed in front. However it does come with sacrifices, specifically your truck bed cannot be covered in a top etc.
I have a hard folding tonneau cover on mine. I can make a 90 degree turn and not connect with the cover. When not towing, I close it right up to cover the bed. Everything is out of site when it is closed.
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Old 08-29-2021, 06:35 PM   #14
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I have a hard folding tonneau cover on mine. I can make a 90 degree turn and not connect with the cover. When not towing, I close it right up to cover the bed. Everything is out of site when it is closed.
Cool. I need that.
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Old 08-29-2021, 06:36 PM   #15
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But, your opinion is pure gold?
LOL nope. It's just mine.
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Old 08-30-2021, 01:11 AM   #16
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And so naturally Iím mostly looking at 5th wheel Scamps. But of course, theyíre very hard to find if I donít want to wait 2 years four a factory order. So, in the meantime, I keep noticing other 5th wheel trailers. Most I assume are aluminum, though that info can be tricky to track down based on internet ads from dealerships. And my rough understanding is that aluminum is inferior to fiberglass, but can someone explain to me why? Furthermore, there are (comparatively) a gazillion ads for the more mass market ones, vs Scamps, which have the long waiting list- indicating that Scamps are preferable in Iím sure many ways, but it would be very helpful if someone had the knowledge to explain what those ways are.
The only ones I know of that are entirely aluminum are Airstreams and ATC (well, and Bowlus). Most of the 5th wheels may be aluminum-frame, but the sides are laminated plywood and fiberglass. The roof is usually wood covered by a rubber membrane. Molded fiberglass are instead a pair of fiberglass shells connected together, which means there's a lot fewer seams to leak and less structural wood to get damaged if there is a leak.

The molded fiberglass shell is a lot more labor-intensive to build, so they tend not to be large production volume. Most aren't willing to pay the higher price for a fun toy. They also don't really work well with slides, or very large trailers.
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Old 08-30-2021, 05:21 AM   #17
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I own a 19' Scamp, a '5th wheel' though the 'wheel' is actually a ball which gets all over a small subset of very anal folks who insist on trying to prevent them, with zero success, from being called a '5th wheel'.
With all due respect you you can call a Scamp 19 whatever you wish. You can call it an outhouse rather than a trailer if you so desire. But I am not sure which group is “very anal,” those who supposedly insist on saying it is not a 5th wheel because the term applies to the method of connection, not the point of connection in the bed of a truck, or those who insist that a ball and a coupler is a “5th wheel connection.” Calling a Scamp 19 a 5th wheel has become accepted description because it is similar method of connection, just as outhouse would become acceptable if more trailer owners were to start referring to their trailer as their “outhouse.”

And with even more due respect, I take umbrage with you referring to a small subset as “very anal” because they may disagree with your definition/opinion of what constitutes a 5th wheel as they are expressing their (rightful) opinion just as you are about method of connection. And for the record, I am quite familiar with the Scamp 19; I owned one for three years.
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Old 08-30-2021, 07:23 AM   #18
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The way I see it, you have to put it in a category. The current classes of RVs include motorhomes (A, B, and C), slide-in campers, and towables, which include travel trailers, fifth wheels, folding trailers, and teardrops. The Scamp 19 fits in the fifth wheel class better than anywhere else.

It’s kind of like the platypus. It doesn’t exhibit all the characteristics of a mammal, but it fits there better than any other category. It’s bad taxonomy to create categories of one.

In a conversation about the hitch, of course you won’t call it a fifth wheel. But in a conversation about the RV type, it seems appropriate, even unavoidable. Taxonomy is not an exact science. Language is messy, and context matters.

I occasionally see Scamp 19s towing small boats in Arizona, which permits triple towing only with fifth wheels. I’ve not heard of anyone being cited, though it would end up being a judgment call by a law officer. I doubt it’s ever been tested in court. Interesting question, though. Is the triple towing rule about the security of the hitch connection or the towing dynamics of an over-axle coupler?
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Old 08-30-2021, 07:51 AM   #19
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The way I see it, you have to put it in a category. The current classes of RVs include motorhomes (A, B, and C), slide-in campers, and towables, which include travel trailers, fifth wheels, folding trailers, and teardrops. The Scamp 19 fits in the fifth wheel class better than anywhere else.

Itís kind of like the platypus. It doesnít exhibit all the characteristics of a mammal, but it fits there better than any other category. Itís bad taxonomy to create categories of one.

In a conversation about the hitch, of course you wonít call it a fifth wheel. But in a conversation about the RV type, it seems appropriate, even unavoidable. Taxonomy is not an exact science. Language is messy, and context matters.

I see Scamp 19s triple towing small boats in Arizona, which permits triple towing only with fifth wheels. Iíve not heard of anyone being cited, though it would end up being a judgment call by a law officer. I doubt itís ever been tested in court. Interesting question, though.
First, I agree with you Jon. The Scamp 19 does fit best in the 5th wheel category. I only responded the way I did because I found the ďanalĒ comment about rather snarky and uncalled for.
You bring up an interesting legal point, however. On the Escape forum there are a couple of Texans who have stated that in Texas, DMV regulations require 5th wheel trailers to have safety chains. According to Texas law enforcement sources (I queried them), this is not true, but trailers with coupler and ball hitches do. My 2012 Scamp 19 came with safety chains which, if I recall correctly, attached to holes in the converted 5th wheel A-frame Reese hitch Scamp (Evelandís) sold me. I wouldnít be triple towing with any small fiberglass trailer, legal or not. But the trucking industry does using traditional 5th wheel hitches. That is probably why Arizona only allows it with 5th wheel hitches. Obviously, when a LEO sees a Scamp 19 triple towing, the LEO likely assumes it is legal because he/she likely cannot see the connection method and either assumes that it is a 5th wheel since it is in the bed of the truck. And that is if the LEO would even know the difference if looking directly at it.
Again, interesting question. Iím not sure I would want to be in court if I were triple towing with a Scamp 19 and had been issued a violation. Nor would I want to be filing an insurance claim if I were involved in an accident under the same circumstances.
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Old 08-30-2021, 08:28 AM   #20
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If “anal” means someone who enjoys accuracy and precision, I’ll wear it proudly. But I don’t expect everyone to have the same taste for debates about words and details. My best bosses were the git-er-done types, and it takes both to make the world go ‘round, as they say.

Here’s hoping the OP can git-er-done, whatever that ends up looking like. We can make all kinds of recommendations, but in the current market it often comes down to what you can actually find and purchase before someone else does.
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