We need more room! Casita Grande! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-21-2021, 11:23 AM   #1
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Name: John
Trailer: '71 Boler, '87 Play-Mor II
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We need more room! Casita Grande!

We have had our first fiberglass trailer, a 1971 Boler, for about 7 years now and have camped regularly in the southeast but not full time. We are planning to take an extended trip in the next year or so and possibly full time at some point. While the Boler is okay for a weekend trip giving us a place to sleep & shower with our custom interior, it gets crowed with the 3 of us and the dog. Even more so on a week long trip. I recently made our permanent bed back into a convertible dinette using a round table top and U shaped seating which is handy for those rainy days and buggy environments. While we could go on an extended trip in it we all agree it would be much more comfortable to have a roomier trailer. It is almost impossible to pull in for the night somewhere just to sleep as everything we carry (chairs, table, kitchen storage bins, etc) sits in the floor space until we setup camp, so Walmarts and the like are out for now.

So, I have this Casita 16 gutted shell that we have had for a few years now that I had plans to renovate. Since it needs a new frame anyway I have decided to expand the shell and frame to 21' tongue to bumper, taking it to 8' wide and adding 1' of interior height. I also plan to make the frame so that it has storage compartments underneath the body for our chairs, clam, folding table, grill, fishing poles & tackle box, etc. etc. Currently the shell is about 85 square feet of interior living space minus the curves of course. My plans will take it to about 144 square feet of living space giving us room for a permanent bed for all 3 of us, a dry bath, kitchenette, dinette, a tri-fold sleeper sofa. This will also give us plenty of interior storage under the beds, dinette benches and in cabinets as well as the exterior storage under the floor and frame. With the queen bunks, sofa sleeper and dinette bed it could potentially sleep 8.

I am debating on an aluminum frame vs steel frame in cost vs weight. My intent is to keep the dry weight under 3000 lbs. Not sure yet if that is obtainable. Other plans include using a 12v compressor chest type refrigerator-freezer, tankless water heater, solar and lithium batteries. My biggest dilema is water consumption and weight. I like to boondock and am thinking of using fresh water and gray tanks in the bed of the tow using connections to the trailer as opposed to permanent tanks in the trailer. This will allow me to easily fill fresh water tanks and seek a dump station without having to move the trailer. What I have discovered is on even short trips emptying our rolling portable gray tank is a pain as its heavy when full at 22 gallons. And fetching water in 7 gallons containers is a pain to fill the freshwater tank on the Boler without some type of manual or electric pump. My favorite USFS campground in NE Georgia has no dump station in the campground so I have to travel to find one.

Anyway, my inspiration for this was seeing the XL Super Scamp at our rally the year before. Here is a couple of preliminary drawings I did to get the ball rolling.
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CasitaGrande.jpg   CasitaGrande2.jpg  

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Old 07-21-2021, 12:15 PM   #2
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Name: Pat
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I'd go with the aluminum, but it would be very pricy!! Hopefully you can weld it.
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Old 07-22-2021, 11:04 AM   #3
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Name: Eric
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I would go with aluminum. You might look up Oliver Trailers to get some ideas on the frame. Hope to see more posted soon. I have a 17 Boler and the extra width makes a tremendous difference.
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Old 07-22-2021, 11:37 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Eric Frye View Post
I would go with aluminum. You might look up Oliver Trailers to get some ideas on the frame. Hope to see more posted soon. I have a 17 Boler and the extra width makes a tremendous difference.
I am actually friends with Phil from Oliver and have looked at their units at a rally, nice rigs too.
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Old 07-31-2021, 11:07 AM   #5
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Name: Stephen
Trailer: Casita
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Exclamation What frame?

You are absolutely right to consider the frame material. But you miss the key point of what use you plan for your rig? Stock frames et al are only strong enough to roll down an improved road. The problem is that campgrounds are filling up fast. Right now there are 20% more RVs than improved sites to accommodate them if you believe the blog postings and will only get worse. . Overcrowded campgrounds may not provide the quality camping experience you've enjoyed in the past. The only solution is unimproved sites accessible by unimproved forest service roads. There are roughly 150,000 miles of forest service roads in the USA only accessible via 4WD. Stock frames will not stand up to incessant pounding on such roads. They either fail or pass the loads onto the shell which is not designed for it either, pops rivets and self-destructs internally. Bill Hilman recognized the need for a stronger Casita frame built higher off the ground in his YouTube post: "The strongest Casita in the World". I suggest you take some tips from him.
https://youtu.be/zkfaMf4JCUg
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Old 09-12-2021, 09:40 AM   #6
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Name: John
Trailer: '71 Boler, '87 Play-Mor II
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frame cost

Okay so I have been planning out the modification of our Casita 16 shell. The frame is shot so since it needs a new frame anyway I have decided to lengthen the fiberglass trailer body from 13' to 17' or 18', widen it from 6'6" to 8' and add 1' of interior height. So the frame will extend to 21' tongue to bumper and widen to support the extra width. I was initially planning to do the frame myself due to possible modifications to the frame as the project moves forward but I have decided to let my friend Robert a professional welder build it for me. For 2 reasons one is I don't have full confidence in my welding/fabricating to pull it off without having to pull him into it for assistance anyway should I run into problems and two while he is building the frame I can be progressing simultaneously on the fiberglass body work to speed up the project.

So here are the numbers for the new frame (keep in mind this is larger than a standard Casita 16 or 17 frame):

Prices includes coupler, tongue jack, chains, axle with brakes, all materials and labor. Everything except the wheels and tires.

Metal frame $2975 with estimated weight of 700 lbs not including the axle weight. A36 structural steel tubing construction.

Aluminum frame $3897 with estimated weight of 350 lbs not including the axle weight. 6061 T6 Aluminum.

Prices are based on today's metal prices and could go up as inflation increase.

My goal is to keep the total dry weight to under 3500 lbs so I have 2800 lbs to play with going with steel vs 3150 with aluminum. My goal of 3500 lbs is not critical but a goal. It will be towed with a full size GMC truck or a heavy SUV most likely a Tahoe so if it goes over 3500 lbs is not a huge concern I am just looking at fuel economy with relation to the weight as well as tongue weight concerns.

Either way I decide to go I will be carefully looking at the weight of the interior build out as well as water weight in the freshwater tanks. Gray tank will be same size as freshwater, black will be a separate tank probably around 10-15 gallons. I will also be weighing the things we take now such as tables, chairs, cooler, bikes, yaks, etc etc to accomodate for a total estimated towing weight for specking out the torsion axle. If your wondering I am going about this as if we will be full timing in this unit, but as for now we are just planning some extended trips across the country.

The cost is quite a bit more than I was expecting but I trust my friend will do a great job on this frame so I will have piece of mind towing across the country.

I will let you all know which one I go with after I get some estimated total weight calculations of the build, water in tanks and our stuff.
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Old 09-12-2021, 10:01 AM   #7
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Looking forward to updates on your f'glass work.
I've contemplated a mod to our boler to increase size although no where near your ideas.
Fred
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I'd rather do it myself, done right or not. Isn't that what a hobby is all about?
https://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/...ler-55601.html
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