"Two Foot-itis"? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 05-06-2007, 05:48 AM   #1
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Trailer: 1990 Bigfoot 5th Wheel
Posts: 604
"Two foot-itis" comes from the boating world, a disease whereupon you lust after a boat two feet longer than your current one. There is also a maxim where the larger the boat, the less it is used.
My only absolute was a bed large enough to sleep two in utter comfort. My Surfside has, I believe, the largest bed (57") in the smallest trailer (14), and it has served wonderfully over a summers camping and a 8000 Km trip. I can pull it with my Subaru Forester, which gets 30 mpg when it is not a tug. Hook up and go.
It all started when I discovered the huge leap in convenience that adding a porta potti offered. Image having a bathroom and shower! An oven, a four person dinette and a bed! Now I have two foot-itis. As I perused the fiberglassrv albums and trailers for sale, however, reality raised it's ugly head. Hmm, need a 3500 lb capacity tow vehicle. Sway bars. Load levelers. Tight site problems. And the beds aren't that large unless the trailer is really big.
Qualifier - I realize that who you are and how you use a trailer is a big variable. I am impressed with the experience of this forum, so my question is this. What are the opinions of those that have been there and done that? Any regrets from moving to a larger trailer? What size has ended up as just right for you?
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Old 05-06-2007, 06:49 AM   #2
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Trailer: Y2K6 Bigfoot 25 ft (25B25RQ) & Y2K3 Scamp 16 ft Side Dinette
Posts: 5,040
Cam, what a great question; and one I've been playing around with for several years! The quest for the "perfect" boat or fiberglass trailer is Quixotic. "Perfect" depends heavily on where you are in life, what your finances will allow, and how much time and energy you're willing to spend searching.

I've been fortunate in that I've found a number of trailers of different flavors for sale reasonably close, and I've done pretty well financially with them as I bought and sold them, so it's really been kind of fun. I've met lots of great folks along the way of buying and selling, many of whom I stay in touch with and who I am now pleased to call friends.

As you probably know I've had a parade of trailers from a 13' Scamp and UHaul to a 34' Airstream tri-axle. I've also had an Airstream 325 moho. I also come from the boating world having had a Neptune 24' trailer sailer for several years in the 1990s, and I always thought a Newport 28 would be "nice". We also had an E150 van conversion in the mid-90s that I absolutely loved and towed the Neptune with.

We enjoyed the on-the-road move-around room, down the road TV/VCR, and access to the fridge of the moho, but it was too big and you had to completely disconnect and reconnect if you wanted to go sight-seeing or shopping and didn't tow a car. The E150 was great for travelling, but didn't have any amenities.

I enjoyed all of the fiberglass trailers I've had, but none of them had an 80" queen (except the Burro wide-body). Living in Iowa, I really like the quality and four-seasons ability of the 17' Bigfoot, and it's floorplan is OK, but I liked the floorplan of the Burro better. At 6'5" tall, the 80" queen has become the gold standard for beds I look for, and few of the smaller trailers offer it. Our 1970 Airstream Safari 23' was almost perfect for towing, but just a bit short on living space with a side rear double bed.

For us, I've decided that the best compromise between towability and liveability is the 25' Bigfoot with the rear queen and front couch option (rather than the dinette) and that's what we have now. If you look in the "for sale" section, you'll see I have the 17' Bigfoot up for sale and we're selling the Excursion I use for a tow vehicle and are replacing it with a 23' Born Free moho on the E450 chassis to tow the 25' Bigfoot. The 25' Bigfoot is really no more difficult to tow or take around than the 17', yet offers a LOT more room and amenities. It seems (and is) huge compared to a 13' though. At 5300 lbs dry, while lightweight for it's size, is significantly heavier than the average 13-17' trailers. By comparison, my 17' Bigfoot is about 2800 lbs, as was my 16' Scamp Custom Deluxe side dinette all decked out. My Burro 17' wide body was probably about 500-600 lbs lighter at around 2200 or 2300 lbs.

After assessing what we really liked and didn't like about each of the trailers, moho, and van, we decided that having a short class "B+" or "C" moho to use as a tow vehicle for the trailer makes a lot of sense for us. The floorplan of the moho has a side couch and captains chairs and seats seven (including the cab) for traveling in comfort with family or friends. The fridge and bath are a bonus convenience along with the on-board genset that can power the trailer if we're boondocking. The trailer can stay on-site (where-ever that is) and we can take the short moho with us and still have our comforts for travel and sight-seeing in a vehicle that can (theoretically) be parked in a standard parking space. We've decided that the short moho and 25' Bigfoot will carry us nicely into retirement in a few years.

Something that I've found interesting is that regardless of what your gas mileage is when not towing, when towing near the max rating for your vehicle, gas mileage seems to hover from 12-15 mpg regardless of the tow vehicle or trailer. Some will obviously get a little better, and some a little worse, and mileage is affected by weather and terrain, but I'd guess that 90% of all rigs fall in that range towing. So, we decided that it's much better to be larger and more comfortable at 12 mpg towing than smaller and less comfortable at 12 mpg towing. BTW, I average 12mpg both with the 6 cyl Tundra towing the 17' Bigfoot and the 10 cyl Excursion towing the 25' Bigfoot. I got about 13 mpg average towing the Scamp 16' with the Tundra. Amazing, isn't it? And that's also been my experience towing a 13' UHaul with a Toyota pickup with a 22RE 4 Cyl, and the Burro and Scamp with a Toyota pickup with a 3.0l 6 cyl is that I averaged 12-13 mpg on trips across Iowa with all of them. We averaged 14 mpg towing our Scamp 19 ft fifth wheel from Spokane to Iowa with our Chevy S10 6cyl 4dr pickup.

Although by 1985 Scamp current pricing standards we have a lot invested, by Class A diesel pusher standards, we've spent about what the down payment on a new one would be. Ten years ago I'd never have been able to do this. It's where we are in life right now that has made it possible. I'll tell you that I've thoroughly enjoyed every trailer, moho, boat, and RV that we've owned over the years, and each one has made special memories regardless of how much we spent for it. Some of my best memories were from 1980-81 in our 1978 Scamp 13 and '79 Jeep CJ-7 in Anza-Borrego and at the Colorado River.

Having some cash available, shopping carefully, knowing what you're looking for and, as importantly, looking AT makes it possible for you to make a quick decision when you see a good buy. The "best" trailer is the one that suits your needs at the moment.

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Old 05-06-2007, 07:02 AM   #3
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Trailer: 1989 Casita Spirit Deluxe
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Cam, if you want a bigger bed without going too big, then look at the Casita Liberty or the Egg Camper. I haven't seen an Egg Camper in person, but they are very intriging. You get the bigger bed AND a wider aisle without much additional weight. More than yours for sure, but no more than most eggs.
The Liberty doesn't give you a dinette if you keep it made up like a king sized bed all the time, but it's workable. The Egg is a little wider plus it has a side dinette as well. The additional aisle space would be great.
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Old 05-06-2007, 07:14 AM   #4
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Trailer: 1989 Casita Spirit Deluxe
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FWIW, many of those that have thought that bigger was better actually came back to a molded fiberglass in the 16 - 17 foot range. I do not believe that the 17' would work with your current tow vehicle.

I always thought that the Surfside was a good size. That extra foot of space really allows a lot of options if you decided to redesign the inside. Much more than the 13'. Plus, they don't come up too often, so if you do decide to "trade up" I'd hang onto it until you know for sure that's what you want. Unless you are Roger, of course. He always finds the good deals.
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Old 05-06-2007, 07:42 AM   #5
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Trailer: 1990 Bigfoot 5th Wheel
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Roger - thanks so much. The depth of your experience is tremendously valuable.
Suz - thanks as well; plan B is going through the Surfside; building a 2 person dinette and doing the value upgrades.
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Old 05-06-2007, 10:51 AM   #6
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Trailer: 1975 13 ft Trillium
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Cam, I started my 'camping' experience as a teen in a tent spending rowdy weekends out at Falcon Lake (remember The Nest?) and went from that to a soft top tent trailer, (which I still own today) camping in exactly the same camp spot!!

In later years with the purchase of an import pickup we opted to get a slide in camper for it. This move resulted in owning 2 or 3 over the years. We then moved up to a 30ft motor coach (for ten years) with all its luxuries, but ended up selling it too. Being 'car people' we discovered that many other rodder types have small fiberglass trailers (and some tear drops) that they use to attend longer distance or overnight get togethers. We stumbled on our glass egg and scooped it up and haven't looked back yet. We like the cozyness of the smaller compartment but also realize also that a couple needs to have a 'special relationship' to be confined in such small quarters for any lenght of time. I guess MAYBE thats why we like to cook an eat outside instead of inside the trailer....
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Old 05-06-2007, 11:21 AM   #7
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Trailer: 17 ft Burro Widebody / 2007 Ford Ranger
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Hey Cam,
I'm new around here but will chip in with my experience, fwiw. Although currently trailerless, we are looking to remedy that after downsizing from a 26-foot 5th wheel trailer, and an F-250 propane powered tug. We found the 5th just too big, as was the truck and while the unit performed well, we seemed isolated from the camping experience that started with a rented Boler, then our own hard-top tent trailer. Now, as we look toward retirement and more extended travel, we have our eye on an Escape 17 - which I realize doesn't have the bed size you need. We have a new Ford Ranger as a tow vehicle, which makes us more comfrotable with both the tow and the trailer. But I think, as others have said, that what's best is what suits you now. Perhaps in the future we'll decide we need larger, but the eggs seem to hold their value so that won't be a problem down the road either. But I sure hope you find what you're looking for and that, most of all, you're happy with it.
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Old 05-06-2007, 11:23 AM   #8
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Trailer: 1986 U-Haul CT13 ft
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We have:

No desire for a bigger rig (and the bigger tow vehicle and the bigger license and insurance and maintenance costs and the lower gas mileage).

No desire to haul blackwater and greywater tanks (and empty them, and maintain them - we'd rather not travel with our human waste).

No desire for a permanent bed setup (Barb and I actually sleep better in the egg than we do in our queen-size at home!).

No desire for a TV or stereo; we camp to get away from that stuff (and make our own music around the campfire).

Being old backpackers and canoe campers, we experience the 13-foot UHaul as a sybaritic luxury. And as the cover on our spare tire proclaims, it is "Just 'Un Ouef' for two."
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Old 05-07-2007, 08:12 AM   #9
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To add to what Jack said... and what I said earlier... a lot of what makes an RV combo "perfect" for you is what you use it for. I know that Jack and Barb travel extensively with the UHaul and it fits their travel style perfectly.

We don't travel as much currently with ours as we use it for our "vacation condo" while we continue to work daily. My wife commutes 40 miles each way every day, so during the warm season, we take the trailer to nice parks near where she works, and I commute for a week at a time. It gives her a break from the commute, gives me some time away from our town, and just generally breaks up our routine. We're not interested in "roughing it" when we do that tho. I want all of the amenities of home while we're doing that.

After I retire, I expect to use our combination as a rolling vacation condo to visit our kids and have a comfortable place to stay while we do it, since they're all young and don't have accommodations for us.

I have done the "camping thing" since I was about four years old in every style imaginable, from backpacking miles and miles into the boonies for days and sleeping under the stars, to motorcycle camping with a two-man tent, tent trailers, and up to the high-end mohos.

I miss the solitude available in forest service primitive camps to a degree, but in the mid-90s I also began to find them becoming more populated with folks who I really wasn't interested being around. I'm a pretty big guy, and am more than competent to take care of my own safety concerns when necessary, but being in the middle of nowhere with folks of questionable intents and doing so by choice stopped being a fun outing for me.

Children, their numbers, and their ages can change your camping style and quickly. Physical needs as you age can change your camping style. The amount of time you have available versus your investment in your camping equipment can change your style. Your financial fortunes can change your camping style. There are lots of non-camping related issues that have major impacts on the way you perceive "camping" and how you set about doing it.

So, your "camping style" and how you use your trailer should dictate what you want and how much of it you think you need. Those "needs" change as your lifestyle does.

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Old 05-07-2007, 09:38 AM   #10
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I have found I have to ask myself if I'm a "camper" or an "RV'er." I think I fall into the latter category. The reason I'm thinking a little bigger. Interesting topic. Dwain
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Old 05-07-2007, 10:41 AM   #11
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I've looked at larger trailers, some huge things, some 16' Casitas or Scamps. I come back to the same question, why do I bother to connect to trailer and head out. Why would I get in a moho and head out. The main answer seems always be the same. I do it to get away from the riggers of everyday life. I do it to get away from the fix this or fix that or mow the lawn, etc., etc., etc. Also to enjoy the sound of a rushing stream, the sound of the breeze in the trees, slow down and marvel at the wonders of nature. To be able to sit and do nothing. To take a walk on a trail. All this and more.

The larger and more complex the trailer or RV the more time has to be spent taking care of systems, stuck slide outs, leaking hot water tanks, cleaning black water tanks, etc. So it appears to me with a larger trailer I'd add system maintenance of the trailer along with systme maintenance of house, car, lawn mower, etc. When what I want is to get away for bit from the need to maintain those things.

I always remember my early days of tent camping and the amount of stuff I packed to take with us. Then we discovered backpacking and what a relief to not have all that stuff to deal with. We now enjoy both a bit of backpacking and trailering with a minimum of stuff and systems.
Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
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Old 05-07-2007, 12:04 PM   #12
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Trailer: 2002 17 ft Casita Spirit Deluxe
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I learned long ago that bigger is not better ! We used to have a 23 ft. trailer which had to be pulled with a 3/4 ton truck - what a pain in the patookie that was !! It was so awkward to pull around and place into some tight spots, that it stayed stored in our townhouse compound most of the time.

Then - - TA DA ! We espied the Casita on the internet. The 17 footer looked like something we could be more comfortable with. So, after having viewed one locally, ordered one. The Spirit Deluxe caught our attention so that is what we now have. Downside to this model is having to crawl over the Mrs. in the middle of the night. Getting back in bed is no more convenient either. lol ! Once, trying gingerly to step over her, I lost my balance and fell full weight on her. That tended to awaken her.

The Liberty would be much easier for two people for nocturnal navigation. As for the comfort of either bed? Well, ours is extremely comfortable. No regrets. As for towing? Piece of cake. Even a cave man could do it. Don
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Old 05-07-2007, 01:18 PM   #13
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I'm with Roger on the 80" queen thing.

When I gutted and refit the PlayPac we had, the entire interior was designed around that. I basically worked it so I could place in a standard residential queen mattress. It was big, clunky and heavy - but very very comfortable. If there's a place in the trailer where I'm planning on spending 8 hours a day - I'm going to put some attention there.

If I was going to redo the PlayPac today - I don't think I'd do exactly what I did, but I'd still stick with the residential queen. Just change some of the other stuff.

My mentality with the trailers has been more one of listing out my wants/needs and then trying to figure out the minimum trailer that satisfies those wants, keeping the benefits of "small" in mind at all times. I tend to equate "large" with "ungainly", "awkward" and just general "pain in the rear"ness. I don't MIND going bigger - but I want to get a whole darn lot for the extra hassles I know I'll have to deal with.

Case in point: With the arrival of the girls - the family now stands (well, 1/3 of it just crawls...) at six. That's too tight of a squeeze into a fiberglass trailer (yeah, I know, the Casita Spirit Standard with bunks...). I just plain don't want to go with a fabric sided pop-up (although they easily satisfy my size and sleeping capacity needs) and I REALLY don't want to head into mega-trailer land. Although the larger trailers will give us the space, I really don't like pulling monsters around. Especially given our driveway (I pull in straight, then unhitch and manually move the trailer into it's parking space.) I don't need the hassles of a big trailer. The Esterel (French hard-sided pop-up) is right at my limits of what I'm willing to tolerate size-wise. For just 2 people - I think the case for the 13-footers is pretty good! Although, if it were me, I'd look into cutting out part of the kitchen/closet and widening out the bed.

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Old 05-07-2007, 02:13 PM   #14
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Every time I think it would be nice to have a little more aisle room I remind myself of how much nicer it is to have a trailer the same width as my truck. And since I never manage to use up all the storage space I have, I hardly need more. Of course, as a lone traveler my needs are different from those of a couple or a family. But for me the 17SD was, is, and probably shall remain just about perfect.
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Old 05-07-2007, 09:18 PM   #15
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Trailer: Former Burro owner and fan!
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I still own a tent It gets used once a year or so to sleep in, and most other times as a storage area or place holder for camping spots :-P For health reasons, I can no longer be on the cold ground, and am not able to hike, especially in higher elevations where all the best spots are. The tent only gets used in the best of weaher, and even then, I am skeptical.

I do very much miss the simplicity of the 13 Burro I sold recently. BUT.. I don't find the 17 to be much more unmanageable. It does not take any longer to place in a spot, and only a couple minutes more in set up to hook up the water etc. I actually have incorporated all the boondocking and shortcut ideas I had with the 13 in the 17, while leaving the major systems intact so I could use them when I have luxurious hook ups.

So, "camping" with it is no different to me than it was with the 13. I will go to all the places I did with the little guy with absolutely no extra consideration because of the "larger" size.

I was scared of the dump station at first, but that too, only takes a couple minutes longer at leaving time. Certainly not anymore than interrupting camping time to trek to the shower or bathroom, which I now do in the comfort and warmth and privacy of my own space. (I did so in the 13 too, but it took a bit of set up and rigging)

Like Roger, I use mine several times a year as he and his wife do. It goes to a nice RV Park (Which.. panic.. has been evacuated today due to a fire!) and I shorten my commute for a week or so for a break, while enjoying early evenings in a wetlands area.. with all amenities. It's almost like having a vacation while working!

It also is an escape pod for wildfires, the biggest natural threat near my home, and often gets used in leu of a hotel for long term work projects located farther away than my normal 45 mile one way commute. I know if I get shooed out of my house due to fire, that I will be much more comfortable in my own space with familiar things and systems than I would be on someones couch, or in a hotel room trying to hide two dogs, and worrying about my home. I am IN my second home.

Speaking of dogs, if you are a pet person, they LOVE the extra space, and I love not feeling like I am living in a kennel. Mine play in the aisle, and sleep in their own space that does not intrude on my living area.. a luxury I did not have in the 13.

SO... it's a vacation house, a camper, a home away from home, and I am quite comfortable IN and WITH it in any setting.
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Old 05-07-2007, 09:20 PM   #16
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Trailer: 1975 13 ft Trillium
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Ian, IF you read this, it might be worth your while to get 'off your island' and come to our egg meet in two weeks at Harrison, B.C.

Reace from Escape R.V. will be there for the weekend 'modeling' his '07 Escape 5.0 (fifth) which is directly designed to be towed by down sized pickups. Check them out on his website!!!!
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Old 05-07-2007, 10:45 PM   #17
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Trailer: Bigfoot 17 ft Gaucho
Posts: 161
We gained 6 whole inches in length moving from a 17' Casita SD to a 17' 6" bigfoot. Reasons for the change:
1. I want a place to lie down when I come back in the afternoon from outdoor activities. We had both tables in the casita made up for dining and the usual guests.
2. I want a more comfortable bed instead of the side dinette -- we use 2 beds.

We spent a bundle for a tow vehicle and very little on the upgrade for the trailer.

We've taken 3 trips with the BF and I haven't regretted a thing. I think I made the right choice for our family (2 adults and 2 golden retrievers). We also have lots more floor space at night and don't have to walk quite so gingerly to get to the bathroom.

we have loads of storage compared to casita. But the tow is a hog and gets the horrible gas mileage roger discussed in his post -- it's a tradeoff.
We also now have a 3 burner stove and a conventional oven.
I love both trailers. I would recommend almost any fiberglass maker to a prospective buyer.

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Old 05-07-2007, 11:14 PM   #18
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Trailer: Fiber Stream 1978 / Honda Odyssey LX 2003
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so my question is this. What are the opinions of those that have been there and done that? Any regrets from moving to a larger trailer? What size has ended up as just right for you?
We have no regrets. The Fiber Stream 16' seems to be just right.

The Compact Junior had a 66" x 75" bed which was immensly comfortable for 2, (persons less than 6' tall) as long as you didn't mind entering and leaving from the foot of the bed. The lights were mounted on the front wall, so we slept with our heads toward the front wall. It was a narrow trailer, so sleeping sideways was not an option, and we did not have the crawling over one another issues that sideways sleeping generates.

However, that much bed in that small of a trailer leaves precious little space for anything else. There was only room for one person to stand when the bed was made up, and every movement that was not in a prone or sitting position had to be negotiated for.

The Fiber Stream's king bed has the longer dimension from side-to-side. Before we added a shelf to the front wall, we slept fore-and-aft, like we did in the CJ, but with our heads toward the back of the trailer, due to the lights being mounted on the wall separating the bedwomb from the kitchen. The shelf encroached upon leg/foot room, and was inconvenient at night, so we switched to sideways sleeping. The shelf has become Robert's bedside table, and he gets the crawl-over chore for the privelege. Once I am asleep, nothing disturbs me, so I get crawled over. In the relationship dance, the little details make a big difference, especially in a small trailer.

The bonus is the bathroom! We had a portapotty in the CJ, but even though I created space to use it (sacrificing the closet/ice box space) it was still too "Public". The bulkhead (wall; for you civilians) between the bathroom and kitchen in the Fiber Stream is quite a water and air tight boundary. Odor control is worth putting up with the temperature differential. I much prefer having a shower within the trailer.
Frederick - The Scaleman
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Old 05-07-2007, 11:18 PM   #19
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Trailer: 2005 19 ft Scamp 19 ft 5th Wheel
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Lynne and I are fairly new to RVing and to FiberglassRVs. Our first and current trailer is our Scamp Fifth Wheel. Who knows? Given that I'm busy making modifications that may make this trailer into an almost ideal home-away-from-home this may be our first and last trailer, too.

There are, however, somethings that catch our eye. A larger, wider "U" shaped dinette with room to stretch out in, sofa style, on a rainy day or while we drink our morning coffee and read the paper would be a real win. I'm going to try out a few ideas and modifications that may or may not make dinette into a happy, comfortable sitting space, so we may be able to fix that.

I do not, however, think I can fix the low ceiling of the bathroom. It would be nice to have a shower that one can actually stand up in instead of perching on the toilet while bathing. On the other hand, since our main concern was having a private toilet, perhaps the shower thing won't be such a big deal. Or perhaps we'll develop Escape 5er or Bigfoot 5er lust. Only time will tell.

Which brings us to the things we really wanted and get from our RV: a small-ish home-away-from-home that has seperate sleeping and dining spaces, heat, a comfortable bed for two that's separate from the dinette, a private toilet room and kitchen facilities in an economical, comfortable-to-live-in-on-the-road package that's easy to tow and allows us to use a (at least somewhat) fuel efficient tow vehicle that we can disconnect while we explore each of our destinations. Our Scamp is all those things, and the more we work on it and spend time in it, the happier we are we bought the trailer we have now.

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Old 05-08-2007, 06:50 AM   #20
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Trailer: 1990 Bigfoot 5th Wheel
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Thanks a lot to everyone who has contributed their experience and well-stated analysis. If some of you aren't professional writers, you should be. While I was initially seeking info from people on their trailer experience, the discussion of the type of camping experience and why people prefer their style has been enlightening as well. Once you clarify the type of experience you desire, the type of trailer required seems to flow from it. The problems arise (again) when you identify distinctly different experiences. As a Metis, I pretty much grew up in the bush - I was lucky enough to have my Grandfather around for a while - and he passed along his love of and experience with nature. When I am camping to experience nature, ie hang out in the bush, I think a 13 footer would be ideal. A simple economical place to sleep off the ground, maybe with some heat, as a nod to my disabilities. However, I also want to do some serious travelling. Expense is less of a concern, as I need enough of the civilities provided by a larger trailer to spend a month or three in healthy comfort. But I still want to camp, not RV, and I may have to occasionally single-hand it, so I think a 17 seems to be around the upper limit. I think I have, however, resolved my "guilt" for considering a larger trailer. Oh well, I guess what I really need is two trailers. Thanks again to all for your well-considered opinions.
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