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Old 04-12-2021, 08:13 PM   #1
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Name: Benjamin
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Hello, I am Ben

Hello, my name is Benjamin

I am looking to get into RVing but brand new! For specific reasons I am looking for an RV with minimal amounts of metal.
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Old 04-13-2021, 06:27 AM   #2
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Welcome, Benjamin!

Curious about your aversion to metal. Lots of folks come here after a bad experience with a wood-framed RV, but you’re the first I’ve heard to mention metal.

All RVs sit on a metal chassis. Most are steel, but a few high-end makers use aluminun (still with steel axles, etc.). With molded fiberglass units, the frame is generally the end of the structural use of metal, but some use the occasional piece for reinforcement (my Scamp has a metal tube reinforcing the hinge side of the door opening, for example)..And of course there is metal hardware inside and outside of various grades and quality.

Many molded fiberglass manufacturers also use wood to reinforce the shell and/or provide attachment points for cabinets, which can themselves be fiberglass or wood.

In short, there’s no such thing as a 100% composite trailer, but Happier Camper and Oliver come closer than most, and they are pricey.

Let us know what your needs and goals are, as well as size and budget constraints, and you might get some more specific suggestions.
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Old 04-13-2021, 08:46 AM   #3
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Name: Benjamin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James in NJ View Post
Hello, my name is Benjamin

I am looking to get into RVing but brand new! For specific reasons I am looking for an RV with minimal amounts of metal.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Welcome, Benjamin!

Curious about your aversion to metal. Lots of folks come here after a bad experience with a wood-framed RV, but youíre the first Iíve heard to mention metal.

All RVs sit on a metal chassis. Most are steel, but a few high-end makers use aluminun (still with steel axles, etc.). With molded fiberglass units, the frame is generally the end of the structural use of metal, but some use the occasional piece for reinforcement (my Scamp has a metal tube reinforcing the hinge side of the door opening, for example)..And of course there is metal hardware inside and outside of various grades and quality.

Many molded fiberglass manufacturers also use wood to reinforce the shell and/or provide attachment points for cabinets, which can themselves be fiberglass or wood.

In short, thereís no such thing as a 100% composite trailer, but Happier Camper and Oliver come closer than most, and they are pricey.

Let us know what your needs and goals are, as well as size and budget constraints, and you might get some more specific suggestions.
Hey Jon, thanks very much for this information. I will look into Happier Camper and Oliver! Is it just a coincidence that these two that have the least metal also are pricey?

Also, for the metal chasis, is that just a few metal rods, or is it like a big metal rectangle that covers the entire square area of the floor?

I'm not exactly sure my budget! If I can get financing, I'd be willing to spend a decent amount to get something that I really feel comfortable in. I don't need something huge but having extra room would definitely be nice.
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Old 04-17-2021, 05:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by James in NJ View Post
I will look into Happier Camper and Oliver! Is it just a coincidence that these two that have the least metal also are pricey?
Not exactly. They have about as much metal as any molded trailer. Oliver has aluminum where others use steel, and that certainly adds to the cost of an Oliver. What they don't have is wood, which is used for structural reinforcement and/or cabinetry in most other molded trailers. The all-composite superstructure and interior, as well as better wiring, plumbing, hardware, and overall attention to detail, makes them more expensive.

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Originally Posted by James in NJ View Post
Also, for the metal chasis, is that just a few metal rods, or is it like a big metal rectangle that covers the entire square area of the floor?
Closer to the latter. The shell may cantilever out past the sides of the frame, but there are rails that run under the full length of the trailer and crossbars for rigidity.

One forum member designed a monocoque shell that didn't require a traditional frame. Airstream bought the design and sold it as the Nest, but they ditched the monocoque chassis in favor of a traditional steel platform frame. It did not catch on with Airstream's customer base, sold poorly, and was discontinued after a year or so. A sad end to a forward-thinking design.

There are engineering challenges in mounting an independent suspension and a tongue directly to a fiberglass shell with sufficient strength to withstand the rigors of real-world towing. Monocoque designs add cost, and it's uncertain whether they sell trailers. Most people are more interested in size, layout, features, and style.
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Old 04-17-2021, 07:31 PM   #5
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Aversion to metal

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Originally Posted by James in NJ View Post
Hey Jon, thanks very much for this information. I will look into Happier Camper and Oliver! Is it just a coincidence that these two that have the least metal also are pricey?

Also, for the metal chasis, is that just a few metal rods, or is it like a big metal rectangle that covers the entire square area of the floor?

I'm not exactly sure my budget! If I can get financing, I'd be willing to spend a decent amount to get something that I really feel comfortable in. I don't need something huge but having extra room would definitely be nice.
Hello James in NJ a/k/a Benjamin! *John in AZ" has addressed most of your questions. You mention your budget above... The Oliver is wonderful AND a true 4-season TT. I would love to have an Oliver. BUT! $80K - $90K is out of my reach. I have a Scamp and it does get pretty cold in the Winter. I have learned to cope.


RE: Your aversion to metal. May I ask why? Not many options for anything without the strength of steel. Maybe a wooden Conestoga Wagon! Pull it with a team of oxen! That would be so much fun and I would gladly join you Westward Ho!
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Old 04-17-2021, 09:11 PM   #6
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RE: Your aversion to metal. May I ask why? Not many options for anything without the strength of steel.

What you going to tow it with, that isn't a lot of steel?
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Old 04-18-2021, 09:08 AM   #7
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We love our boler even in winter the newer replacement furnace keeps it warm on the coldest days.

We are in lock down again so camping sites are canceled up to date of lockdown end but we still have 3 times booked after planned lockdown time.

Old means it needs tender loving care from time to time and has been a rebuild in progress for 11 years. It is very light empty just under 2000 lbs but when filled depends on our trip camping needs. Tongue weight is about 200 lbs Size means we need a class 2 hitch but they do not make one for our car so we have a class 3 frame hitch WD system. We try to tow as light as possible eg. no water in tank. Hope you find your dream machine.

Have fun and play safe
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Old 04-21-2021, 04:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Not exactly. They have about as much metal as any molded trailer. Oliver has aluminum where others use steel, and that certainly adds to the cost of an Oliver. What they don't have is wood, which is used for structural reinforcement and/or cabinetry in most other molded trailers. The all-composite superstructure and interior, as well as better wiring, plumbing, hardware, and overall attention to detail, makes them more expensive.


Closer to the latter. The shell may cantilever out past the sides of the frame, but there are rails that run under the full length of the trailer and crossbars for rigidity.

One forum member designed a monocoque shell that didn't require a traditional frame. Airstream bought the design and sold it as the Nest, but they ditched the monocoque chassis in favor of a traditional steel platform frame. It did not catch on with Airstream's customer base, sold poorly, and was discontinued after a year or so. A sad end to a forward-thinking design.

There are engineering challenges in mounting an independent suspension and a tongue directly to a fiberglass shell with sufficient strength to withstand the rigors of real-world towing. Monocoque designs add cost, and it's uncertain whether they sell trailers. Most people are more interested in size, layout, features, and style.
Okay thanks very much Jon this information is very useful.

I recently found some land that I am seriously considering buying. It already has a septic and well, and electricity at the street. By any chance do you know what else I need to do to park an RV on the land and make it livable?
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Old 04-21-2021, 04:49 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by J.D. View Post
Hello James in NJ a/k/a Benjamin! *John in AZ" has addressed most of your questions. You mention your budget above... The Oliver is wonderful AND a true 4-season TT. I would love to have an Oliver. BUT! $80K - $90K is out of my reach. I have a Scamp and it does get pretty cold in the Winter. I have learned to cope.


RE: Your aversion to metal. May I ask why? Not many options for anything without the strength of steel. Maybe a wooden Conestoga Wagon! Pull it with a team of oxen! That would be so much fun and I would gladly join you Westward Ho!
Hahah thank you, will look into Scamp too. I'd rather not say why about the metal unfortunately
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Old 04-21-2021, 04:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James in NJ View Post
Okay thanks very much Jon this information is very useful.

I recently found some land that I am seriously considering buying. It already has a septic and well, and electricity at the street. By any chance do you know what else I need to do to park an RV on the land and make it livable?
Depending on the area you may need a building permit. I know in my town it would not be allowed. Also need to know if there are any restrictions on hooking up power.

To make it livable, you should erect a carport over it. Leaving any trailer outside in the elements is never a good idea, even on molded FG.

Most are not four season rated, so you will need mild weather or a lot of provisions for cold weather.

Once it’s stationary, there are better choices like a used single wide mobile home.
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Old 04-21-2021, 05:47 PM   #11
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I would personally look for an older, well-built, non-molded trailer with ducted heat and thermal windows to park and live in semi-permanently. The whole advantage of molded fiberglass is its compact size and light weight for towing. If you're just going to park it, it's not worth the higher cost. You can get a much nicer trailer for a lot less if you go conventional. Look for aluminum wall framing, and avoid laminated construction (flat sheets of fiberglass bonded to wood, foam and interior paneling).

I lived in a 1968 Holiday Rambler for 4 years in the late 80's. It had a steel chassis with full covered underbelly, ducted heat with enclosed holding tanks, aluminum wall framing, and composite cabinets with a honeycomb core. It was a wonderful, comfortable trailer for one person, but heavy for towing. I hired someone to pick it up and drop it on my spot.

I did not have the option to put a roof over it, but the top was fairly heavy gauge aluminum, not the rubber commonly used today, and I treated it once a year with the white RV roof sealer. Never had a leak.

You will want to block it well with weight off the wheels and skirt the bottom. I took the wheels off altogether in order to lower the trailer a bit. You may want to set up a larger propane tank.

I agree about making sure codes allow this.
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Old 04-24-2021, 09:39 AM   #12
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Name: Benjamin
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
I would personally look for an older, well-built, non-molded trailer with ducted heat and thermal windows to park and live in semi-permanently. The whole advantage of molded fiberglass is its compact size and light weight for towing. If you're just going to park it, it's not worth the higher cost. You can get a much nicer trailer for a lot less if you go conventional. Look for aluminum wall framing, and avoid laminated construction (flat sheets of fiberglass bonded to wood, foam and interior paneling).

I lived in a 1968 Holiday Rambler for 4 years in the late 80's. It had a steel chassis with full covered underbelly, ducted heat with enclosed holding tanks, aluminum wall framing, and composite cabinets with a honeycomb core. It was a wonderful, comfortable trailer for one person, but heavy for towing. I hired someone to pick it up and drop it on my spot.

I did not have the option to put a roof over it, but the top was fairly heavy gauge aluminum, not the rubber commonly used today, and I treated it once a year with the white RV roof sealer. Never had a leak.

You will want to block it well with weight off the wheels and skirt the bottom. I took the wheels off altogether in order to lower the trailer a bit. You may want to set up a larger propane tank.

I agree about making sure codes allow this.
Ah I see, thanks very much for explaining that I had no idea about that being the reason fiberglass molded was advantageous. Does that mean a fiberglass molded trailer is light enough that I can tow it with an SUV or sedan? I was under the assumption any trailer I got would require me to either rent a pickup truck or pay to have it moved, but if I could just tow it with my car that would be a huge plus.
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Old 04-24-2021, 09:40 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
Depending on the area you may need a building permit. I know in my town it would not be allowed. Also need to know if there are any restrictions on hooking up power.

To make it livable, you should erect a carport over it. Leaving any trailer outside in the elements is never a good idea, even on molded FG.

Most are not four season rated, so you will need mild weather or a lot of provisions for cold weather.

Once itís stationary, there are better choices like a used single wide mobile home.
Thanks very much I will look into a carport, never heard of those before. I would like to be mobile however, so a trailer is still what I want
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Old 04-24-2021, 09:44 AM   #14
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I've just found a Craigslist listing for a 1982 Burro for a very reasonable price. I am thinking to go look at it in person. Any tips on what to look for to make sure it is in good condition?
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