Musing from a new Scamp owner:
An essay dedicated to all the fine folks who have provided so much helpful information in this forum.
Hopefully this information will be helpful and it will pay it forward to future owners and people shopping for a new fiberglass camper.
Fair warning: this is a long post.
On September 25th, 2015, I arrived in Backus. MN, to pick up a new Scamp
16 standard, layout 4. I tow with a 2015 Toyota Sienna LE van (rated at 3500 lbs towing and 350 tongue weight
as currently equipped). My Scamp
has the larger refrigerator
(RM2410), roof air conditioner, vinyl floor, extra set of tail lights
and a few other items. I passed on the furnace
. I also had them leave the sewer hose holder and curtain rod holders un-mounted so I could work on some alternatives. I have owned the Scamp for a little over two months now.
Musings on a few problems
There are a few quality control issues with my new Scamp. Most are relatively minor and/or easily correctable. Although I am going to describe a number of issues, I don’t think that the number should scare you away from buying a Scamp. Still, the fact is that Scamps are the budget option in the world of fiberglass trailers and you should be prepared to deal with a few problems, even on a new camper. If you are not at all handy on repairs it would be good if you lived close enough to Backus to get work done at the Scamp factory. I wrote a letter to Kent Eveland, the president of the company, about these issues and received a prompt and detailed written reply. It was nice to see such attention from the top guy in the company. In this post I include some of his response.
Biggest problem, a leak somewhere in the starboard rear.
On my trip home we had a few days of pretty steady rain so I checked every nick and cranny I could reach, and found some moisture on the floor behind the fresh water tank along the wires and piping (which all run together). It was hard to reach and, while I could feel the water, I could not see it. It was not a lot of water, but it was enough to eventually cause a problem and it took a week to dry out. After it was dry we had some rain so I checked again but did not detect any water so I thought the first occurrence was caused by condensation. However, a month after I bought the trailer we had another day-long rain after which I found enough water in the same spot to soak a few paper towels.
The insulation and rat fur (marine carpet) installed in Scamp trailers offer a number of advantages but there is a downside. Water leaks
can go undiscovered for some time because the water can run underneath and behind the wall coverings, and then travel quite a ways. I did a thorough visual inspection of the roof area and vents, and it all appeared to be good. I added sealant to the outside of the rivets in that corner of the roof area. I also sealed up the starboard side marker light
. I noted that two of the holes for the wires for the four tail lights
on my camper had sealant coming out through the fiberglass but the other two did not have any that came out far enough to be visible and therefore might not have been a good seal (including the upper starboard one), so I also added some sealant to those. After doing that work we had quite a bit or rain on two occasions and it appears that the leak has stopped. I’ll be checking this area as best that I can (along with the entire camper) on a periodic basis for water or evidence of leaking. Mr. Eveland also suggested the water filler as a possible spot for a leak in that area.
Another leak was in the VanAir roof vent
for the bathroom (a powered vent that Scamp started using this summer). It took a while to figure out, but to make a long story short; there was a small gap in the sealant on the roof facing the trailer’s center line, where it was hard to see. Once it was filled in, the leak stopped. One should also take note that the manufacturer of the vent says that the VanAir vent has not been evaluated for use over a shower, but Mr. Eveland stated that, “it has tended to work really well in the shower area for us. Much, much better than the window which we used before which had a tendency to develop leaks
.” So as you can see, although the camper is largely unchanged over the years, Scamp does make changes to improve their product from time to time.
Another water related issue is the trim on the door. A small amount of water gets in the trim and sits in it at the bottom of the door. It might be coming in at the very bottom center on the outside where there is a single rivet securing the trim. The trim is separated a very slight distance from the door at this spot. I don’t know if the water will reach the wood reinforcement and rot it out but I think that some sealant along the trim on the outside of the door, along the bottom and up six inches or so on the sides, will take care of this. I also noted that the trim on the sides of the door (near the latch) is a loose, especially when in the hot sun. In fact, with almost no effort, it came off the door almost the entire length of the left side. Mr. Eveland said that the trim has a steel interior and it friction-fits on the door edge, but it can be glued on also (if the friction is not sufficient alone). He also said that gluing it on should solve the problem of water pooling in the bottom. I used “Loctite Repair Extreme All Temperature” adhesive to attach the trim to the door edge. It seems very secure now however rain water is still getting in the trim bottom so I will be running a bead of clear ProFlexRV sealant to the outside of the trim. It just seems like good insurance.
There was a small bubble (about ½ inch) in the counter top finish that broke open shortly after I got the trailer. If you have seen yeast bubbles in pizza crust - it looked like that. Mr. Eveland said, “To repair it requires that all the loose gelcoat (white paint) be removed, it needs to be filled, sanded, painted, buffed. That is how we would do it anyway.”
Mr. Eveland wanted me to bring the trailer to them for the repair but I am over 1,300 miles away so that is not happening. I think that Eveland’s would have covered the cost of doing this repair locally if I pursue it, but frankly, in an exchange of emails, I felt like I was getting a bit of a run-around so I decided I would try a simply DIY fix and see it if it good enough. First I sanded off the loose material and then was left with a spot about the size of my thumb. I applied multiple coats of some white epoxy designed to repair chips in porcelain that I got from Lowes for $5 and it might actually produce an acceptable repair. The color match is not perfect and time will tell if it stays adhered. I am going to have to ask if the original gel coat can be applied on top of this epoxy to get a good color match.
Tip for new buyers: Look for any bubbling in the gelcoat finish (inside and out). While wearing leather gloves for protection, push on any bubbles with your fingers and see if they collapse.
Plissé Retractable Screen
Scamp changed to a different screen door this summer. The brand name is Plissé
In the first two days, I found six “U” shaped plastic pieces on the floor on the camper and determined they came from the screen door. I emailed Plissé and got a very quick response that stated these are “fabric retainers” and that some of the units sent to Scamp had undersized ones sent in error. Plissé sent me a service bulletin suggesting additional retainers should be used, and shipped the larger sized retainers at no cost to me. They are only about one millimeter wider but they should solve the problem. It’s a very easy fix.
Refrigerator vent leak
There is a thread on Scamp Owners International that describes water coming into the fridge
intake vent. I noticed this also on two occasions, but to be honest, the first time might have been caused by me when I washed the camper. Any of these RV fridge
vents are subject to leaking if you direct water from a hose into it. Here is Mr. Evelands entire statement in this issue:
I have talked to one or maybe two other people with that weird problem with the fridge vent bringing in water. It seems to run along the edge and then sneak in at the corner sometimes. It is ironic and strange as it only occurs rarely and is never consistent, at least on the one or two I have seen so far. The old vents were kind of notorious for leaking in certain windy or driving conditions, so we have gone to these and they have worked very well for the most part.
Probably you might want to try some seal in the corners of the vent where water can run along the edge and somehow seep in. Otherwise we can replace the vent if that doesn't work. We are not really sure what causes this issue to occur. When examining the vents it looks almost impossible to leak.
So I am still watching this issue and pulling the vent after any rain. I did try a few things to block the water. Except for the time I washed the camper there was only water inside on the one occasion, and I just wiped it off the plywood platform.
I am exactly six feet tall and yes, I can stand up in the Scamp, but I hit my head on the Air Conditioner, which is in the middle of the roof, almost every time I walk under it.
One inch of memory foam is not enough for the bed and I was left sore after four nights of sleeping on it. That’s not to say that the cushions should be softer. I still prefer the firmer dinette cushions. I owned a pop up camper that had softer cushions and they were good for sleeping on, but they offered almost no cushioning when sitting. It was almost like they were not even there and you were sitting on bare wood. So I do prefer the Scamp cushions which are good for sitting on, but I when I saw a great deal on some three-inch memory foam, I grabbed it. I would have preferred a good natural latex like I have at home, but that would have cost 3-4 times as much and I cannot justify that cost since I am not living in my camper.
Sooner or later, the dinky little sewer hose they supply will not be long enough, and you will want a longer, better hose such as this RhinoFlex
but because of the longer fitting on the RhinoFlex, you cannot get it to go on the black water drain on a Scamp 16. The black water drain is higher than the gray water drain and the Scamp body is in the way when you try to connect the larger fitting on the RhinoFlex. So, add a 45 degree elbow to your shopping list. I mounted a nice 64 inch long hose holder under the trailer just behind the gray water tank. It holds both the original hose that came with the Scamp and the RhinoFlex hose. I think it will be good mounted there but time will tell.
I was pleased to find the weight
on the right and left sides, measured on the frame near the axle
, was very close to the same on each side when the trailer was unloaded. It was about 1,000 lbs. Tongue weight was 180-200 (measured with a larger margin of error). On a CAT scales, while loaded for only a few days of camping, the total axle
weight was 2120 lbs (for a total of about 2320). Even fully loaded (except for water) I should be under 2500, and it should be easy enough to load gear equally on both sides to keep things balanced. Since I have the larger group 27 battery
, I was surprised to find that keeping the tongue weight at or a little above 10% will actually take some effort.
I find that towing is steady up to 65 and usually OK to 70, but above 65 I have seen a little sway, usually in windy conditions. It’s easy to control just by slowing down. Passing trucks poses no problem. I think I could get by without sway control but it would be more reassuring to have sway bars so I am shopping them now, but it’s not my top priority. My hitch needs an eight inch rise on the drawbar so that’s part of the requirement.
I did buy a nice pair of extended mirrors for the tug, and they do help with visibility, mostly on the right side. They are not a big help however, and I get along fine without them. My tug does have integrated blind spot mirrors so that also helps. If I did not have them, then I would be more inclined to use the extended mirrors.
Upper Tail lights
I got the second set of tail lights
and noticed that the bottom taillights point down but the upper ones point up with the port side one pointing up more because the wall is not even on both sides. Visibility is still good and it might even be better to have them pointing in a little different directions. The upper ones are more visible and I highly recommend getting the second set of lights
, which currently cost $95. The light
fixtures themselves are not the best but in my opinion it is worth the money to have the wires run when the trailer is built since it would be more difficult to add tail lights
Door latch and strike plate
I have not had any problem with the door opening in travel as some have reported. The new seal made it an effort to close the door at first but after only two months, the seal has broken in and the door closes with less force required. Perhaps that means it will not stay closed in travel but so far its good. Also I found that It hurts when your hip and the door striker plate try to occupy the same space at the same time.
Lastly, as you may have seen on older Scamps, anywhere rain water runs off the window edges, as well as many other areas, you get vertical black streaks. They will require frequent attention. Keeping the trailer well waxed should help.
So that’s my experience so far. I would buy the same Scamp again, largely because of the light
weight. If my tug was rated to tow 5000 lbs, then I would have considered other makes with weights up to 3500 to 4000 lbs.