Where Are the Fiberglass RVs for Families? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-17-2017, 06:27 AM   #1
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Where Are the Fiberglass RVs for Families?

My wife Jane and I are like the majority, I think, of the folks on this forum: older, empty-nesters, comfortable traveling and camping with just the two of us. For us the MFG (Molded FiberGlass) trailers seem well-suited, which is why we ended up with a Casita last year (see my essay on "The Molded Fiberglass Obsession," linked in my signature).

But there are times when even we might like something larger. When we started looking last spring, I heard from a fellow in New Hampshire who had just sold his Casita and was buying a Lance (a well-regarded stick-built trailer), because, he said, "We can take our grandkids with us."

Members of this Forum often lament how few MFG 'eggs' they see in on their travels. In point of fact, most of the folks you see at campgrounds are families, with kids. And when you think about it, few of the MFGs are large enough for them. The therapist at the Physical Therapy place I was going to recently (for an as-yet-unresolved plantar fasciitis) has three young children, and they like to camp at a state park in Central Massachusetts. They have a pop-out trailer, with canvas-covered wings that open into bedrooms, probably a Jayco. There is no way they could have as much space in the MFGs, even the substantial BigFoots or Escapes, both of which would cost a lot more, too.

Now I know that the mechanics of molding fiberglass-trailer shells militate against larger sizes. But surely the technique is more scalable, at modest cost, than has been attempted so far. And the 'stickies' are so notorious for leaking, disintegration, and poor resale value that you would think there would be a natural market for a line of MFGs aimed at families.

Our daughter and husband have a vintage 1963 Avion, an aluminum-clad imitator of the Airstream, overall length c. 24', which when they bought it needed a lot of work. They took out the bathroom and installed bunks for their three boys. This trailer is not huge, but it's 8' wide. We had our whole family at three campsites in Mass. recently, and during an afternoon of violent thunderstorms, all of us piled into the Avion (five adults and seven kids). It was crowded, but possible; we could not have gotten that mob into our Casita.

This led me to wonder whether, down the road, if we wanted to take any of our grandkids on a camping trip, a Lance or some other stickie might be in our future, too. Or is there a boat manufacturer just itchin' to get into the MFG trailer business with something for families?

/Mr Lynn
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Old 07-17-2017, 06:45 AM   #2
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Just take a tent, younger kids love sleeping in tents....
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Old 07-17-2017, 07:13 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Just take a tent, younger kids love sleeping in tents....
Yes, that's pretty much what we decided last year, as I have described in my blog essay. But I'm thinking more broadly, about the huge family market for RVs, and the lack of any MFGs for them, especially modestly-priced.

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Old 07-17-2017, 07:13 AM   #4
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25 ft Bigfoot, lots of room for a family. Redefines modestly priced....

With the pricing of 16 and 17 foot molded trailers, jumping to 25 foot is not going to be cheap. When you make that jump, manufacturers will have to add a second axle, stronger frame, etc. Its not just more fiberglass.

FWIW, when I was growing up, our family of five camped in a 15 foot Shasta........ Basic requirements and expectations have really changed. That Shasta had an ice box, no AC, no toilet, no TV, etc.

Given the long life span of a molded trailer, and the outstanding resale values, the pricing is really not that bad. But the initial outlay is stunning....
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Old 07-17-2017, 07:30 AM   #5
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Couple off track comments for you Mr Lynn; 1) a friend just finished repairing a Lance truck camper in my back yard. Leaks and wood rot was the major part of the work. 2) I just got over plantar facilitis in one foot. Did 4 visits at the doctor where she would wrap it, one a week. A few times a day I would roll a frozen water bottle under my foot, then write the alphabet a few times with my big toe by rotating my foot around in the air. Also had to wear a foot splint at night to keep my foot at right angle to my leg. After a couple months it's pretty much cured. I suffered all winter while we were away from home traveling, not knowing about this simple cure. Bob. (met you at Schodack last year)
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Old 07-17-2017, 07:51 AM   #6
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I understand the desire for more space, and I'm sorry to use your thread for my rant, because I get it, but as I drive around on US roads and see the massive size of current RVs, I think it's time to step back and think about what we "need".

When my Mom and brother and I made our yearly trip from upstate NY to Virginia Beach in the summer, we'd load into her VW Rabbit and start driving. One night sleeping in the car in a fast food parking lot near DC, then a long weekend in a tent at a KOA.

We'd stay at campgrounds in the Adirondacks, along with families of 5+, and rarely saw an RV.

Now I have friends who have one child and so have come to the conclusion that "we need a camper" to camp. And when they have their second child, then "need" a 22' camper instead of a 20'.

I go to southern Utah and rarely see a tent anymore. Everyone has an RV, sometimes one guy in a 20+' camper. Not sure what's going on..

If someone needs space for all humans to sleep and hang out comfortably inside...they need a hotel room. That's not camping. Why tow all that space behind you? Larger truck, more money more gas more everything. If everyone needs inside space, VRBO or hotel.

Having said all that...I get it. And yeah, 25' Bigfoot or a non-molded fiberglass trailer is the way to go.
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Old 07-17-2017, 08:35 AM   #7
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Part of it is a North American thing. In my travels, particularly in europe and asia, I'm often surprised at how small the homes, cars, etc. really are. They seem quite happy with them. Here it's often "we need a bigger (fill in the blank)".

I see signs that it's changing, particularly with the tiny house movement and the interest in downsizing for efficiency and conservation. But I'm not sure it will ever become mainstream as it is in some countries.

That's ok, I don't mind standing out because my trailer is "so small".
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Old 07-17-2017, 09:19 AM   #8
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I think the young families often can't afford the nice large fiberglass trailers. A tent trailer can be had used for a much less. I still see a lot of tent camping families, or mixed camping- tent or two on site with the RV or trailer. Or kids with grandparents.
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Old 07-17-2017, 09:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Just take a tent, younger kids love sleeping in tents....
After 30 years or so of tent camping, the wife and I bought the Little Joe, just big enough for the two of us. When folks asked the inevitable question,
"What about the grand kids?", my stock answer was and is, "I don't want to deprive them of sleeping under canvas."
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Old 07-17-2017, 09:48 AM   #10
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From my perspective, you already have a large MFG trailer.
Get a van or a truck with a topper for a tow vehicle. Add an air mattress for those times when you want to take the grandkids. Even my tiny TC/TV will sleep two in comfort.
Another solution is an "add-a-room" for your awning, or a tent.

For the vast majority of grand parents, the time for taking the grandkids is both rare and brief, and so it is hard to justify spending tens of thousands of dollars just to accommodate it.
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:01 AM   #11
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Floyd, I was't really thinking of us, but rather the market for families who might be tired of tenting but don't need a gigantic 'toy hauler' with three TVs and two bathrooms, either. Seems to me the MFG companies are missing a bet. The average family with two or three kids perusing trailers at a dealer's lot are not going to hear about, much less see, a MFG trailer. And even if they did, there aren't really sizeable options at reasonable prices.

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Old 07-17-2017, 10:03 AM   #12
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Seems like most kids would have fun with the novelty of sleeping...pretty much anywhere. So yeah the back of the truck or a tent ought to be fun. Just like with the pop-up campers, they're for getting out of the bugs or unexpected downpour. Everyone piles in around the table to play cards and eat. But otherwise, camping is about being outside, and kids sure ought to be sleeping on the ground and getting a feel for what it's like to actually camp, not what it's like to tow a full-size home behind you wherever you go.

I used to take a yearly trip to Mexico with my grandparents. They had a large motorhome, and they traveled the country with it. We'd fly out to California, where they lived, then all load in the motorhome and drive down south. The grandparents stayed in the motorhome at camp. We all slept in tents, including my Mom.

Yeah like everything lately, there seem to be two extremes (of course with plenty of people in the middle, quietly going about their business). As some in the US go with semi-sized campers and 3,000 sq/ft homes, others are going with 13' Scamps and tiny houses. I saw a blog from a couple with two kids traveling Mexico/Central America in a VW Vanagon.
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Lynn View Post
Floyd, I was't really thinking of us, but rather the market for families who might be tired of tenting but don't need a gigantic 'toy hauler' with three TVs and two bathrooms, either. Seems to me the MFG companies are missing a bet. The average family with two or three kids perusing trailers at a dealer's lot are not going to hear about, much less see, a MFG trailer. And even if they did, there aren't really sizeable options at reasonable prices.

/Mr Lynn
I do agree. Seems like Bigfoot is the only one putting out an average size RV. And not at a "reasonable" price. Space is why I love mine. 8' wide, plenty of headroom and storage, but still a pretty small package. The majority of my friends with kids would not buy a fiberglass camper, because they want more space. But a 20' stick built is plenty for them. They aren't going crazy, they just want more space than the egg shape really allows. And they can get a 20-22' trailer just 3-5 years old for about what I paid for my 25 year old Bigfoot.
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:06 AM   #14
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Our 'grown' kids camp with us a lot. We have the camper, they pitch a 2 room tent! My son-in-law is quite a cook, and his outdoor kitchen setup is awesome! I know they will get a small camper some day but right now they're pretty happy with their set up!
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:51 AM   #15
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Our kids have been "camper shopping" for a while. Their main issue is all the bears! They would like to have room for them and their two boys to sleep. SIL is quite tall. That pretty much limits them to a Wide Body which are few and far between and command a premium. It will be a long hunt.
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:16 AM   #16
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I'm not sure I agree with that most people camping are families, maybe on summer week-ends, but certainly not among the snow bird set and where we camp.
I wonder if it's advisable for families to spend the kind of money to get a large RV and have it sit most of time with maybe one week-end every other year. (I believe that closer to typical). It might be a good idea to rent for kind of usage.

Molder Fiberglass trailers are not necessarily designed for large families. There's lots of tents and mammoth RV out there.
As for wild animals there's very few places where you might see a large predator, and most molded fiberglass trailers would be nothing for a bear to enter. Bears have been known to pop off the read door of a minivan. You trailer door will pop off much easier.
If you're afraid of predators you might be better off in a motel.
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:19 AM   #17
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the wild animals in motels are the bed bugs....
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:21 AM   #18
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the wild animals in motels are the bed bugs....
agreed
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:32 AM   #19
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I've seen some pictures of trailers in the 16'-17' range (overall length), mostly decades-old trailers, that could sleep 6 or 8 people. They did it by having fold-out bunks above the lower dinette, bed, or whatever. When I was growing up, our folks had a 22' Winnebago motor home with this feature. The upper bunks were double-bed size; the bed platform consisted of 2 pieces hinged in the middle that folded up against the end of the trailer with the (admittedly thin) mattress folded up behind it. The platform was then supported by some wooden rails or ridges on either end (the sides of the trailer).

Looking at the Escape 17 plan A layout, for example, such bunks would enable the trailer to sleep 8 people. Or 6 in the plan B. The downside is the loss of cupboard space for storage. The other factor is, maybe the shell would have to be somewhat higher in order to accommodate the vertical space requirements. But what I'm saying is, such a design should be possible... if a mfr saw enough of a market for it.
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:49 AM   #20
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Mr. Lynn I am right with you on this. I have been looking for something just a bit larger, with no slides. The only thing I can come up with is the Bigfoot 25 and the Airstream 25 (between the two much prefer the Airstream floor plan) or the Airstream 27. The Oliver and Escape just do not have the floor plan I want.

Lance has a slide, so that is a no go. Big Foot seems to have problems with support from the Mfg. So that just leaves Airstream.
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