Lightening a trailer... - Fiberglass RV


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 12-06-2012, 10:32 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
orangeboar's Avatar
 
Name: Barley
Trailer: In the market
California
Posts: 14
Lightening a trailer...

Hello all,

I am currently in the market for a small (13 foot?) fiberglass trailer - actually, I've been interested in getting one for years, ever since I saw the first one on the freeway (a Scamp trailer).

Anyway, it seems like one of the greatest advantages to this type of trailer is weight (or lack of) and efficiency - in theory you can pull it with a standard sized car.

I've searched around and I can't find any information on possible ways to actually lighten the trailer even more - what can be done?

For reference, I am a cyclist and weight is the name of the game - people regularly "trick" out their bikes to be as light weight as possible. Lighter means faster, and more efficient.

If anybody could point me in the right direction, it would be super helpful.

All the best...
__________________

orangeboar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2012, 10:44 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Denece's Avatar
 
Name: Denece
Trailer: Compact II
California
Posts: 318
Registry
Well, to start out with, you could select one of the lighter ones. We got a Compct II which weighs under a 1000 pounds. That's half what a Scamp will be. There are other light-weights out there. Mostly they are older ones
Decide what you need and make your best choice. Lots of info in the archives

Light is fun

Denece
__________________

Denece is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2012, 10:50 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
orangeboar's Avatar
 
Name: Barley
Trailer: In the market
California
Posts: 14
...maybe I should also clarify my "need" to lighten the trailer.

I noticed on another thread that actual weights for some of the trailers can be closer to 1500lbs, instead of the advertised 1000lbs weight (with the 13" scamp trailer). My wife and I currently have two cars, a. Scion xb and a matrix, so lighter weight would help reduce strain on the car (probably the matrix) and help with gas mileage - I'm kind of a mileage junkie too (I'm always trying to see what I can do to improve the gas mileage on my car.

So a few specific questions:
- what are the heaviest components in the trailer?
- what have other users done to reduce weight?
- what have other users done to improve gas mileage (wheels, drag/aero dynamics?)
- is it better to carry weight (water, gear, etc) in the car or the trailer?
- what is the smallest car you have pulled with?
- what's the lowest mpg that you have achieved?
- what toll does it put on the car when climbing hills (speed, strain, etc.)?

I hope this makes some sense?!

Thanks for the help!
orangeboar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2012, 10:57 PM   #4
Junior Member
 
orangeboar's Avatar
 
Name: Barley
Trailer: In the market
California
Posts: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denece
Well, to start out with, you could select one of the lighter ones. We got a Compct II which weighs under a 1000 pounds. That's half what a Scamp will be. There are other light-weights out there. Mostly they are older ones
Decide what you need and make your best choice. Lots of info in the archives

Light is fun

Denece
Thanks Denece!

Absolutely! I've been doing a bit of research on the weights of the trailers as well - I think somebody had put together a great spreadsheet on actual weights. It looks like the older Bolers (from the '70s and '80s?) looked to be some of the lightest - some near, or under 900lbs.

...but, after that... What can be done to make it lighter??

Any obsessive weight weenies out there?
orangeboar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2012, 11:17 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
David B.'s Avatar
 
Name: Dave & Paula Brown
Trailer: Lil Snoozy
Arizona
Posts: 2,179
Registry
Welcome to the FGRV. If you do find a light-weight trailer, you can lighten it up some, depending on how deep your pockets are. If the frame is in poor shape, an aluminum one could be made, wheels could be switched out to aluminum. Small or no battery is needed if you connect to the tow vehicle battery via the original 7 pin connector, or just use jumper cables. Propane tank can be replaced with a fiberglass one or just down-size the size of the tank. Remove furnace, water heater, awning, and refrigerator (use an ice box or cooler). If you follow the practices of a backpacker, you can get by with very little or lightweight creature comforts.
Happy Trails
Dave & Paula
David B. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2012, 11:22 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
Name: george
Trailer: FunFinder
Missouri
Posts: 455
If you are serious about trying to make one light, possibly the only practical method would be to essentially gut the interior, and end up with a "hard sided tent".
Just don't get your hopes up that making it lighter is going to help you get better gas mileage, because it's not going to happen. The aero drag is what hurts the fuel mileage.
"Good gas mileage" and "RV's" would be an oxymoron.....

( sorry to be the bearer of bad news ! )
gmw photos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2012, 11:38 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Denece's Avatar
 
Name: Denece
Trailer: Compact II
California
Posts: 318
Registry
Fiberglass itself is very heavy stuff. The newer ones have a much thicker layup than the old ones. And heavier internal framing . Nothing will change that. Much easier to lighten a light one. Depending on how far you want to go, you can strip out non-weight-bearing parts. My suggestion would be to decide what you want in a trailer and go from there. Some portion will have to be water , food, bedding and other supplies, you can carry a lot in your tug, but you have to take camp stuff with you one way or the other
Denece is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2012, 11:48 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Trailer: 1975 Boler
Posts: 106
Registry
Ah yes. This is exactly what brought me to fiberglass trailers's. My love of minimalist hiking and vintage things came together with a 'minimalist basecamp'. Before I got my Boler I realized, as with any weight saving measures in hiking (or biking probably as well), you have to make sacrifices (to the money in your wallet or features or performance). I owned a Scion xA at the time I got my Boler, and towed the Boler a number of times with it. I avoided hilly areas, and it performed underwhelmingly. I don't recall my gas mileage, but it actually wasn't that bad. It was more a weight/safety/stress thing. I got a Subaru Forester and am happy with it. I believe could have gotten by with the Scion xA had I stuck to my lightening regime .
I did a lot of obsessive 'lightening' in my head before I got the trailer. I decided I would just cook with my microlight campstove and didn't need to haul around a 20 lb propane tank and 5 lb stovetop. I also decided I didn't need the 12v battery on the tongue (another 50 ish lbs maybe). Fridge? Forget about it (another 50 lbs)! I wouldn't need water tanks or sinks either for that matter (another 15-20 lbs). I never needed a fridge, lights, sink or propane in my tent, so why now? So, maybe I could loose around 100 lbs pretty easily by eliminating that stuff, and a lot of it's off the tongue too which makes the biggest difference to a small car. Also, eliminating stuff is FREE! Shelves? Who needs em? Just stuff a backpack or two in the closet.
I think if I had gotten a trailer that was missing a lot of these things in the first place I would have stuck to lightening the load. I couldn't resist the charm of the two burner and my wife wanted a bit of luxury (lights, fridge and water!) so we kept all the weight and got a bigger car. We get around 17 mpg with our 2.5l 4cyl Subaru when towing (25 mpg not towing) - I have never weighed our trailer, but I'd guess it would be around 1500-1750lbs.

So, I would say that if you can live without the need for propane, refrigeration, 12v electricity and water systems you could lop off some significant weight. Also - be aware of modifications done by previous owners that add weight (thick plywood shelves, carpet over existing floor, etc). You could do crazier things like consider thinner foam for cushions if you need to replace old foam anyways (this could add up to another 20 lbs probably), or fabric over the cabinet doors instead of plywood. To make towing easier also be sure to regularly maintain your hubs and bearings (it's amazing how much of a difference this makes!). I've deduced from others' experiences that new suspensions (for older trailers) can make towing seem easier. Of course, the holy grail for lightness would probably have to be an aluminum frame ($$$).
Apologies for my lengthy and rambling response.
Evan Friesen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 12:01 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
Brian B-P's Avatar
 
Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Alberta
Posts: 5,000
Real Compact II and Scamp 13' weights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Denece View Post
We got a Compct II which weighs under a 1000 pounds.
A basic Compact II could certainly be under 1000 lb before any water, fuel, or contents are added - as could any very basic 13' trailer (such as a Boler 1300, or the Scamp clone of the Boler 1300). While some Scamp 13's are around 2000 lb, that's heavily equipped and loaded for camping. Comparing apples to apples, the difference is nowhere near 2-to-1.

Frederick's Trailer Weights in the Real World is by far the most exhaustive source of actual as-used trailer weights that I have seen, although even in that list of 112 weighings (some repeats of the same trailer) there are only a few examples of most models and none of some. In it, the three Compact II weights range from 1720 lb to 2020 lb, while the three Scamp 13' weights range from 1620 lb to 1950 lb. Yes, those Compact IIs are heavier on average than those Scamp 13's, and none are anywhere near 1000 lb.

The Compact Jr weights are lower, ranging from 1120 lb to 1750 lb (not counting the stripped 860 lb unit). The list is conveniently sorted from lightest to heaviest.

Of course these are all just some samples: other trailers of these models could be lighter or heavier, and an owner who packs more sparingly will be towing less weight.
__________________
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
STATUS: No longer active in forum.
Brian B-P is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 12:08 AM   #10
Moderator
 
Frederick L. Simson's Avatar
 
Name: Frederick
Trailer: Fiber Stream
California
Posts: 8,174
Registry
Send a message via AIM to Frederick L. Simson
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangeboar View Post
Any obsessive weight weenies out there?
I think I may have gone a bit too far?Click image for larger version

Name:	Fiberglass and steel.jpg
Views:	21
Size:	27.2 KB
ID:	53412 Click image for larger version

Name:	Fiberglass and steel 2.jpg
Views:	23
Size:	27.9 KB
ID:	53411

I am the guy who obsessively weighs trailers.

My plan for my Compact Jr. rebuild is to weigh each major assembly and figure out the percentage of the total they are.
Right now it weighs less than the 860 Lbs from last time... but I don't know how much yet.
__________________
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
Frederick L. Simson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 12:08 AM   #11
Senior Member
 
Brian B-P's Avatar
 
Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Alberta
Posts: 5,000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denece View Post
Fiberglass itself is very heavy stuff. The newer ones have a much thicker layup than the old ones. And heavier internal framing .
Internal framing? Other than some support from cabinetry, most moulded fiberglass travel trailer designs (notably excepting most Bigfoot models) have no framing above the floor level to support the shell at all. Certainly there's none in a Boler.

In Frederick's real-world weight topic, he reports the weight of his own Compact Jr with a completely gutted interior... and it still weighs 860 lb. A very large fraction of that must be the fiberglass shell, confirming that the weight of the fiberglass is significant. Personally, I suspect that our moulded fiberglass shells have little if any weight advantage over the lightest sandwich-construction conventional trailers.
__________________
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
STATUS: No longer active in forum.
Brian B-P is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 12:15 AM   #12
Senior Member
 
Brian B-P's Avatar
 
Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Alberta
Posts: 5,000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frederick L. Simson View Post
My plan for my Compact Jr. rebuild is to weigh each major assembly and figure out the percentage of the total they are.
Factual information!

I'm looking forward to seeing this - thanks, Frederick, for doing this work and sharing it.
__________________
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
STATUS: No longer active in forum.
Brian B-P is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 12:42 AM   #13
Moderator
 
Frederick L. Simson's Avatar
 
Name: Frederick
Trailer: Fiber Stream
California
Posts: 8,174
Registry
Send a message via AIM to Frederick L. Simson
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frederick L. Simson View Post
Right now it weighs less than the 860 Lbs from last time...
This is another thread where I talk about my frame off restoration.
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...r-49049-2.html
When I started, the complete trailer weighed 1420 Lbs.
After removing the interior furnishings and wall coverings is when it weighed 860 Lbs.

I need to rig a crane scale to weigh the fiberglass body as I lift it off the frame. Stay tuned...
__________________
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
Frederick L. Simson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 01:01 AM   #14
Junior Member
 
orangeboar's Avatar
 
Name: Barley
Trailer: In the market
California
Posts: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frederick L. Simson

I think I may have gone a bit too far?

I am the guy who obsessively weighs trailers

It seems as if there may be something similar in our DNA!?
Can't wait to see how this turns out.

Also, what is the story behind the first trailer on your list? The Burro that weighs just over 800lbs? Is this completely gutted?
orangeboar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 01:05 AM   #15
Junior Member
 
orangeboar's Avatar
 
Name: Barley
Trailer: In the market
California
Posts: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Friesen View Post
Apologies for my lengthy and rambling response.
No need to apologize! I appreciate the response - those are many of my same thoughts!

I also have a bunch of lightweight camping gear - it seems to be some weird obsession on mine...
I certainly don't have a heavy wallet, but this is part of the fun - how can I be efficient with what I have, and how much of the problem is simply omission...

Thanks!
orangeboar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 01:23 AM   #16
Moderator
 
Frederick L. Simson's Avatar
 
Name: Frederick
Trailer: Fiber Stream
California
Posts: 8,174
Registry
Send a message via AIM to Frederick L. Simson
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangeboar View Post
Also, what is the story behind the first trailer on your list? The Burro that weighs just over 800lbs? Is this completely gutted?
I used color coding to signify different variations.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frederick L. Simson View Post
Several trailers were weighed multiple times.
Items 61 & 98 are the same trailer, it was weighed 2 times

8 trailers were weighed by others and reported in this thread.

Sorted 1st by TOTAL, 2nd by TONGUE, and 3rd by Length

ITEM_LENGTH_MAKE_______MODEL________AXLE__TONGUE__ __TOTAL
01___13_____Burro______B13___________718______90______808
06___13_____Burro______B13__________1100_____200_____1300
10___13_____U-Haul_____CT13_________1400_____150_____1550
16___13_____U-Haul_____CT13_________1440_____240_____1680
24___15_____Trillium___T4500________1804_____170_____1974
36___17_____Boler______B1700RGH_____2365_____220_____2585
53___17_____Boler______B1700________2730_____240_____2970
61___19_____Escape_____Dual Axle____2670_____460_____3130
98___19_____Escape_____Dual Axle____3305_____450_____3755
Line items in Purple reflect the addition of all the weights data reported by various posters. Those trailers were not weighed by me.
All other line items were weighed by me personally. I found the post with the story about that 1st Burro:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy B View Post
I weighed my 1980 Burro 13 when I brought it home. There was no battery and the propane tank was half full. There was no camping gear in the trailer, all the cabinet doors, cubby covers, cushions, sink, ice box, and cook top were installed. There is no water tank, water pump. or furnace and no spare tire or leveling jacks.

I jacked up 1 side, put two bathroom scales with a short piece of 2x8 bridging the scales, under the tire, lowered the jack and added the weights from both scales together. I then measured the other side the same way and measured the tongue weight using only 1 scale.

The weights were:
Door side 398 lbs
Street side 320 lbs
Hitch 90 lbs

Total weight 808 lbs

When I removed the body to replace the floor, I weighed the frame including the axle, but no wheels and it weighed 235 lbs.
The way I just read this, he did not keep the trailer completely level during his procedure, which would cause errors in his result.
__________________
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
Frederick L. Simson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 04:33 AM   #17
Raz
Senior Member
 
Raz's Avatar
 
Name: Raz
Trailer: Trillium 2010
Vermont
Posts: 4,670
What are the manufacturers tow weight limits on the Scion and the Matrix? A tear drop might be closer to what you are looking for? Just a thought.....

Welcome to the forum. Raz




Little Guy Teardrop Trailers - Home
Raz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 07:01 AM   #18
Senior Member
 
Bob Miller's Avatar
 
Name: Bob
Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
California
Posts: 7,912
In years of watching owners trying to cut weight on mini-motorhomes with a max GVW of 6000 lbs, little, if any, differences in fuel consumption were seen unless at least 500 lbs was removed. One fanatic was even considering a lighter g.f. to save a few more lbs.

However, a bigger difference was noted when frontal area was compared. That is to say, the frontal area is more telling about fuel consumption than minor differences in weight. Thus a smaller trailer with a pop-up roof, such as a Compact-II should do better than a Scamp or a larger MFRV, and weighs less to boot, a win-win situation.

Of course something like a Coleman Colorado tent trailer will do even better.

My son has a Matrix and tells me that the towing limit is 1500 lbs. I believe that the Scion is rated "Do Not Tow".



Bob Miller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 07:27 AM   #19
Moderator
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Name: Jim
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Alberta
Posts: 5,745
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangeboar View Post
...but, after that... What can be done to make it lighter??
Trade it in for a tent?

There are likely tons of ways to lighten things up somewhat in any trailer. Evan alluded to a bunch. One of the biggest ways to lighten things is in what you bring with you. This is where we save. Like many, I come from a minimalist backcountry background, and still do some canoe and hiking trips. Some people want many of the luxuries of home, I consider being in a weather tight accommodation a nice luxury.


One thing I have always wondered about, is eliminating the frame like many vehicles have to save weight, and going with some moulded unibody type design. Or maybe some kind of composite frame. Lots of thoughts for possibilities there, but nothing one could really do with an existing trailer.
__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 07:43 AM   #20
Senior Member
 
Name: Dex
Trailer: Casita 17' 2000 Dodge Dakota 3.9L
Georgia
Posts: 107
As far as MPG goes - isn't the aerodynamics and/or wind resistance the limiting factor?
__________________

Dextersp1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Trailer cover Bigfoot 17 foot trailer Tony Nowak Classified Archives 2 07-21-2011 07:39 AM

» Upcoming Events
No events scheduled in
the next 465 days.
» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:09 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
×