Quality differences between brands? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-13-2019, 04:53 PM   #1
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Quality differences between brands?

Hi all. I am beginning to shop for a small (17 feet or less) fiberglass TT, for just me, either new or fairly new. Are there marked differences in quality between the various brands available? Seems like Casita, Scamp, BigFoot, Escape are the biggest names, with maybe also Little Guy, Liberty by Scott, and Cadet by Coachmen.

Any I should avoid?
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Old 04-13-2019, 05:04 PM   #2
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We’ve owned 3 of the 4 brands of fiberglass trailers you mentioned
Of the 3 our Casita had the best build quality and caused us the fewest problems and required the fewest repairs
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Old 04-13-2019, 07:33 PM   #3
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It’s like discussing the highest quality car, the best place to live, etc. There is a relative consensus that Oliver is built quite well and priced accordingly. Beyond that do a google search of Scamp quality problems then another of Casita quality problems and etc.

In the end floorplan matters a lot to me so it cancels several off my list.

Marked quality differences between the brands you mentioned? Personal opinion there and all of them are having no problems selling trailers.

Coachman Cadet is a stick built trailer so you are on the wrong forum for that.
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Old 04-14-2019, 05:21 AM   #4
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Not really an appropriate question. Go on to a molded fiberglass web fan site and ask which ones are poor quality? Different products at different price points. Some of your trailers aren't even molded fiberglass so are outside the target audience of this site.
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Old 04-14-2019, 06:43 AM   #5
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That is a very hard question to answer. Most people haven’t owned all the major brands and even those that have owned multiple units may not be comparing similar new units. Every brand has its proponents and detractors. There is no Consumer Reports-type group collecting data on problems with new RV’s.

Among molded fiberglass makers, build quality is generally correlated with price paid, so premium brands like Bigfoot and Oliver tend to have the fewest problems and best customer response.

In general, build quality of RV’s is lacking, and the recent boom in RV sales means manufacturers are cranking them out at top speed. Molded manufacturers are not immune to sloppy construction.

In my mind it’s a good reason to consider a 2-5 year-old used unit that’s already been de-bugged by someone else. Plenty of folks trade up, and others run into unexpected life issues, so there’s a slow but steady stream of used units on the market. They don’t last long, though. Price is often close to new but may include a number of valuable aftermarket upgrades, and you save shipping or a long drive to a factory for pick-up.
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Old 04-14-2019, 08:27 AM   #6
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Not really an appropriate question. Go on to a molded fiberglass web fan site and ask which ones are poor quality? Different products at different price points. Some of your trailers aren't even molded fiberglass so are outside the target audience of this site.
Hi Steve. That's exactly why I'm asking here, in case people knew to avoid a certain brand for some reason. As I'm trying to assemble info, another member pointed out that the Coachmen isn't fiberglass at all, don't know why I thought it was. Did I make the same mistake with any of the others on my list? I'm trying to build a list of makes and models to know exactly which ones to look for, new or used.
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:01 AM   #7
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Hi Steve. That's exactly why I'm asking here, in case people knew to avoid a certain brand for some reason. As I'm trying to assemble info, another member pointed out that the Coachmen isn't fiberglass at all, don't know why I thought it was. Did I make the same mistake with any of the others on my list? I'm trying to build a list of makes and models to know exactly which ones to look for, new or used.
Debi, this forum is specifically about all-molded fiberglass trailers. They are the so-called "egg" trailers that are made by spraying fiberglass into trailer-sized molds (two usually, a top and a bottom, sometimes a left and a right). When removed from the mold and joined with more fiberglass, it makes a solid, largely self-supporting shell without seams or a structural frame.

This promotional video from Scamp includes a segment showing how they are made. Factory tour starts at 6:30.


There are many other trailers that use pieces of fiberglass- some flat and some molded and shaped- to cover the exterior of the trailer over some kind of structural frame. That's a different animal. That's not to say they're all bad (though they do have those pesky seams), but they're not what we're about here.
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:06 AM   #8
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This is exactly what I mean by needing to learn. I know that I want a molded fiberglass unit, and did not realize that not all "fiberglass trailers" weren't that. So of the models mentioned in my original post, are there any that aren't molded? (disregard Coachmen, not sure how that got on there). Thank you so much!
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:35 AM   #9
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We've owned a Scamp, Casita, Bigfoot, and now Escape. Plus we looked carefully at a used Oliver.

My opinion (for what that's worth) is the Oliver and Bigfoot are at the top with the Escape close to the top. Down the list is Casita, but Scamp is dated, with easy to damage wheel wells and a welded-on axle (rather than easy to replace bolted on axle).

Do we regret any of these campers? Not one bit. However, I'll never get another camper that has a gazillion buttons on the outside holding the inside together.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:40 AM   #10
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In 2017 I had a wonderful experience traveling Utah with a terrific group of members of this forum. Oliver, Bigfoot, Escape, Casita, Scamp and other brands were in this group and we all had lots of fun. Top build quality is very nice, but it does not necessarily mean more fun. I could enjoy and have fun with any molded fiberglass trailer.
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:42 AM   #11
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We own an Escape 50 and going into 2nd year couldn't be happier with it. Since owning it we have not been to a single campsite that we haven't let someone tour our camper. There have been several Casita and Scamp owners and each was very impressed with the Escape. I've seen a couple of Oliver's now and have to say I'm impressed but at twice the price of my Escape not twice the quality.
Another thing to consider is that most of the trailers mentioned have certain things in common, like refrigerator, AC, hot water heater, stoves, vent fans. All of which can fail regardless of trailer they're installed in.
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:48 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Perryb67 View Post
We've owned a Scamp, Casita, Bigfoot, and now Escape. Plus we looked carefully at a used Oliver.



My opinion (for what that's worth) is the Oliver and Bigfoot are at the top with the Escape close to the top. Down the list is Casita, but Scamp is dated, with easy to damage wheel wells and a welded-on axle (rather than easy to replace bolted on axle).



Do we regret any of these campers? Not one bit. However, I'll never get another camper that has a gazillion buttons on the outside holding the inside together.



Enjoy,



Perry
Perry, so the Scamp has a welded on axle? I'm sure axle problems in newer trailers are rare, but if something did happen, that sounds bad. And could you explain more about easy to damage wheel wells, and dated in general? I'd really appreciate it
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Old 04-14-2019, 10:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perryb67 View Post
We've owned a Scamp, Casita, Bigfoot, and now Escape. Plus we looked carefully at a used Oliver.

My opinion (for what that's worth) is the Oliver and Bigfoot are at the top with the Escape close to the top. Down the list is Casita, but Scamp is dated, with easy to damage wheel wells and a welded-on axle (rather than easy to replace bolted on axle).

Do we regret any of these campers? Not one bit. However, I'll never get another camper that has a gazillion buttons on the outside holding the inside together.

Enjoy,

Perry
While I'd agree with most of what you said, I will point out that Scamp switched to bolted-on axles several years ago. They also just recently switched to a higher clearance axle, giving more room in those wheel wells.

Debi, I think the damage he means is what can happen to a fiberglass trailer if you sustain a high speed blowout. Not common if you maintain your tires properly, but it can happen. Actually any trailer can sustain serious damage in a blowout. When I was a kid we had a blowout in our family tent trailer, and it tore through the floor and damaged the cabinet above.

Personally I have had no issues with those "buttons," either, or with the rivets they hide. My trailer is ten years old and I haven't had a rivet failure yet. It is an acceptable and economical way to assemble a trailer from fiberglass components. There are other ways to do it, of course, but rivets do work.
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Old 04-14-2019, 10:03 AM   #14
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More good info. Do you by any chance know the years they switched axle types, and changed wheel wells? Lots of potholes and messy freeways in the great state of California.
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Old 04-14-2019, 10:42 AM   #15
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Wheel wells haven’t changed. Scamp has closed wheel wells, where part of the shell hangs across the tires. Casita and Escape have open wells, in which the entire well is open on the outside. Closed wells are somewhat more damage prone in a blowout, but either type can require fiberglass repair. That’s what insurance is for.

I just heard about the higher clearance axle, so 2019. The change to bolted- don’t know, 3-5 years ago, maybe? I wouldn’t make it a buying decision point. Axles last 20 years or so, and changing from welded to bolted won’t be a big deal when the time comes. It only matters if you want to change your own axle.

We take ours on your CA roads regularly!

To me all this about rivets and bolted axles is missing the point. The real differences in quality are in the hidden stuff: plumbing and wiring, mostly. Befitting its low-cost status, Scamp seems to take some shortcuts in both. All the problems I've had with mine have been in the 12V wiring.

So I fix it, make it better, and consider it a pay-as-you-go approach to quality.
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Old 04-14-2019, 10:45 AM   #16
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Thanks, very helpful
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Old 04-14-2019, 10:56 AM   #17
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The Little Guy is not molded FG except for their Mypod trailer, which won't meet any of your requirements. I don't think the Liberty is either. And of course, the Coachman isn't.

Tip: Look at molded trailers, and you won't see any sharp corners on the outside. Instead, there is a more gentle curve as it changes directions. Then look at the Little Guy. Every transition from vertical to horizontal is a sharp, immediate 90 degree turn. FG molds don't make these tight turns. Axles last around 25 years. So if you are buying new or nearly new, that shouldn't matter. Older vintage trailers which I would not recommend to you almost always have a welded on axle.
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:18 AM   #18
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Thanks, that also helps. Starting to get it
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:32 AM   #19
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More good info. Do you by any chance know the years they switched axle types, and changed wheel wells? Lots of potholes and messy freeways in the great state of California.

Don't know when they switched, my 2014 Scamp has bolt on axle.
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Old 04-14-2019, 12:56 PM   #20
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Perry, so the Scamp has a welded on axle? I'm sure axle problems in newer trailers are rare, but if something did happen, that sounds bad. And could you explain more about easy to damage wheel wells, and dated in general? I'd really appreciate it
My 1999 Scamp had a welded on axle . I had Scamp install a new axle and they did NOT weld the new axle to the trailer They removed the old axle and welded on a bracket and then bolted on the new axle . I beleve that all newer Scamps have the bolted on axle . Whether the axle is bolted on or welded is not a reason to skip over Scamp IMHO . You donít teplace the axle every year more like every 15 or 20 years plus most people donít change out there own axle so donít worry about it
GO CAMPING AND HAVE FUN !!
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