Hi, I am Jean... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-30-2016, 07:31 PM   #1
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Name: Jean
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Hi, I am Jean...

Hi, I'm Jean. My husband and I are in our late 50's and plan to retire in April 2018. We are birders, and a handful of times a year (based on how much vacation time we are allotted), we head out to National Wildlife Refuges and state/nation parks for 4-6 days of birding. Normally we stay in hotels within a 50 mile range of our hotspots, using hotel club "points" earned from business travel.

Those days will soon be over. YAY!!! And we'll be able to hit the road to bird much more often. We want a small, light trailer to live in for 5-10 days at a time. We have a 2017 Ford Escape Titanium with 3500 lb towing capacity. We have no dogs nor kids, we are not disabled in any way at present, and we will not be hauling bikes or kayaks, just camera and optical equipment.

We need separate beds, so one double or queen will not cut it. My husband is 6' tall and needs to be comfortable.

We value quietude, and are sure to find the mechanical noise of air conditioners, compressors or generators really, really annoying. That said, we're realists (we live in Texas and understand the word H-E-A-T.) We'll certainly end up using AC and heating, albeit sparingly.

We're not too worried about having a completely outfitted galley. Honestly, we're fine with plastic wash tubs, a single propane burner, and an ice chest. However, some sort of toilet setup would be nice. (I'm still learning about options for this.)

We're just starting our search for a small, fiberglass trailer. We're not on a tight budget, but we're prudent with our expenditures. I've fallen in love with the Happier Camper trailers, mostly because of the flexibility of configuring them to meet our needs over time as we work out our travel life.

Lastly, we want to buy new.

So, based on that, what are your thoughts and recommendations?

Thanks very much,
Jean
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Old 12-30-2016, 07:36 PM   #2
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Jean,

Welcome to the forum. Casita Independence 17' has twin beds and they are manufactured in Texas. Casita doesn't do any extensive customization to speak of. They just offer some options that you can add.

They tend to be heavy on the tongue weight, so that might be an issue of concern.

I think Lil Snoozy might help you develop a two-bed setup. They are a small outfit that has changed ownership. It appears from reports that the new owners are trying to do their best.

Others will chime in soon. We love spending other people's money! At least I do.
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Old 12-30-2016, 08:05 PM   #3
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Jean
Welcome. Since you are from Texas you should look at the Casita Independence. It has the features you described with twin beds 30"x 80" and they are built in Rice Tx. The issue you will have is the tongue weight with your current car. But it is worth taking a look at just to see what is available.
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Old 12-30-2016, 08:16 PM   #4
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I looked at the first Snoozy twin bed model. I am 6 ft. tall, due to the slanted nose I had to slide down in the bed for head room and my feet hung off the end of the bed. I made a 600 mi. trip to view the trailer and was real disappointed due to the head room in the bed.
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Old 12-30-2016, 09:06 PM   #5
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Well, that was quick. The only other molded fiberglass trailer I can think of that's available new with twin beds is the Oliver. They are very nice, but have a much higher price point, and perhaps more importantly they are much heavier than you can tow with the Escape.

Beyond that, I think we are looking at something which is not molded-fiberglass and we're not allowed to talk about those on this forum. (Just kidding!)

As regards stoves and dish pans, we also tend to cook and clean our dishes outside. I find it ironic at times that I am hauling a separate stove and dishpans and a folding table when we have a trailer with a full kitchen. However, all that indoor equipment does come in handy at times, such as during our wet, cold winters here.

We started with a teardrop trailer in 2015 so I am quite new to all this. I was initially avoiding any and all mechanical equipment; pump, water heater, fridge, stove, heater, AC. I figured they were things that would require too much maintenance and repair, and would therefor detract from the travel experience. But, we decided we wanted a trailer we could stand up inside and the rest sort of followed once the camel's nose was under the tent.

Every time we have gone out, we have learned more about what really suits us. Like you, we don't haul much "gear", though I am looking into potentially getting folding bikes. That would involve some reconfiguration that's probably not germane to discuss here.

I think the Casita will remain a good fit for us for some time as I don't want a large heavy tow, at least at present. Your needs and preferences will be unique and will evolve over time as you acknowledge.

I don't think a Casita would be a bad choice for you as they are a very established company and you can always sell one quickly, if not for every penny invested. I actually haven't paid much attention to the Happier Camper as I have slowly been drawn in by the swivel chairs and the various other equipment in our Freedom Deluxe.

Best of luck Jean!
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Old 12-30-2016, 09:13 PM   #6
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Either an Escape 17A (no bathroom) or Escape 19 (with a bath) has two big beds. (Bigger than twin).
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Old 12-30-2016, 09:16 PM   #7
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If I had to buy our Snoozy again. I would put twin beds just past the shower where the couch is on the left and where the cabinets are on the right. That would put the beds where the full headroom is and they could have backs to be used as couches during the day. I would fill the entire nose were the present bed is with cabinets. LIl Snoozy usually is open to customization. The Casita would work to.


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Old 12-30-2016, 09:49 PM   #8
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We need separate beds, so one double or queen will not cut it. My husband is 6' tall and needs to be comfortable.
Happier Camper trailers, mostly because of the flexibility of configuring them to meet our needs over time as we work out our travel life.

Lastly, we want to buy new.

So, based on that, what are your thoughts and recommendations?

Thanks very much,
Jean[/QUOTE]

Jean, I believe that the HC1 will be to small for someone 6' tall to be able to stand comfortably in. Take a look at the 15' Parkliner Travel Trailer made in North Carolina. It has a very large shower/toilet area, lots of storage, and the beds can be configured various ways (two singles if desired).
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Old 12-30-2016, 11:11 PM   #9
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The scamp 16' stlye 6 would work, you just would not have a permanent two bed set-up. You would have to set up or take down one bed, the side dinette would be the easiest. I am 6' tall and the side dinette bunk works out very well for me. I am up early and it is just a snap to put the bunk back up into the side dinette mode and i can sit and have my coffee, waiting for my wife to wake. The large dinette can stay as a permanent bed. It has a front bath/shower/toilet. The weight would be compatible with your Escape. Plenty of room for two as well. One of the lesser cost ones in the fiber glass trailer styles. Good Luck.. Carl
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Old 12-31-2016, 07:04 AM   #10
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I think you should just plan to treat yourselves to a new vehicle appropriate to tow the trailer you want. That's what we did. As retirement approached we bought our first ever truck. Our F150 supercrews have been comfortable and useful in a variety of situations beyond towing. Since you are in TX, look at Casitas first, I don't see how you could go wrong. I envy your proximity to birding hotspots. We used to enjoy the Spring migration fallout when we lived on the FL panhandle coast, and we have made the long hike at Big Bend to see the Colima warbler. Not a lot going on here in middle TN!
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Old 12-31-2016, 08:08 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone

Thanks everyone. Not have traveled with a trailer, it's hard to know what I should be thinking about in terms of features we'd use. You've given me a few things to consider differently than I had been.

ShelbyM... A drive from Dallas to the Big Bend will be one of our first trips! We were there once several years ago, and it left an indelible impression. We will definitely consider a vehicle change once we balance our needs.

Civilguy... You made some good points about the Casita (locale, resellability, etc.). We're planning to change one more vehicle before we retire, so we could think about getting a larger SUV.

Dave B... I hadn't heard of the Parkliner before, so I had a quick look at their website this morning. It looks like a very interesting option for us.

The Snoozy has a lot going for it, if the bed problem could be fixed...

We appreciate everyone's QUICK feedback! Happy New Year to you all. I'll be doing a bit of reading in the forums hear over the next month or so.
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Old 12-31-2016, 11:09 AM   #12
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Hymer, the German camper company has recently bought Road Trek and plan to offer their campers in North America this spring. While not fiberglass, they are light to tow, come with separate beds, have washrooms etc. Google them for a look.
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Old 12-31-2016, 11:10 AM   #13
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I don't see birding and electricity as compatible.
I would be looking for a trailer set up for boon-docking, not RV resorts. One with propane appliances ( furnace, stove, refrigeration ) and with large enough fresh, grey an black tanks that one could stay away from services as long as possible. It would also have solar rather than disturbing nature with a generator.
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Old 12-31-2016, 01:12 PM   #14
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Yes. Propane, large tanks and solar would all be on my list. Why limit yourself if you are picking just what you want? I have to say that in my experience, some of the more interesting birds aren't sociable enough to come visit our camp site and we have to go to them, requiring a hike!
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Old 12-31-2016, 01:36 PM   #15
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I'm recently retired and have been back country camping for 40 plus years. My suggestion is to carefully consider what your current and likely future needs will be. You don't want to find yourselves having to buy another unit because the one you originally purchased doesn't really meet you needs. There are a lot of units on the market that your vehicle can easily tow. Shop around. I have a generator, just in case but never use it. Solar is much better, quiet and cheap. You will need more than batteries for four to five day excursions. Propane works well for cooking and heating. Ice boxes can work but aren't convenient and you always need ice. A hot shower and inside facilities make the trip much more enjoyable which is the whole purpose of doing this.
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Old 12-31-2016, 05:54 PM   #16
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Jean,

There have been a couple of replies that you might not fully understand if you are new to recreational vehicles (RVs) and travel trailers.

Lil Snoozy does not offer built-in propane (LP) appliances with their trailers. This is somewhat unusual in that the vast majority of RVs and travel trailers currently manufactured include propane gas cylinders (commonly referred to as tanks) and propane appliances. I understand that Lil Snoozy will do some "preparation" such as running a gas line when constructing your trailer so another party can subsequently add the propane tanks and appliances. But in general, they are primarily built as "all electric" trailers.

Trailers and RVs generally have two to five appliances that require relatively large amounts of energy to operate. These include air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters, microwaves, and cooking appliances such as cook tops and/or range ovens. The most prevalent sources of power to meet these "high-energy" requirements are 1) propane gas and 2) "shore power" electric.

Operating a trailer or RV independent of "shore power", a connection to a 120 and/or 240 volt electric power source such as you have at home, is known as boon docking. In this case, you are not plugged in to a source of high-energy power. So, in order to run "high-energy" appliances you must bring along or generate your own source of "high-energy". Propane gas contains a tremendous amount of energy which you can carry in a relatively small container. This is also true of gasoline.

Lights, water pumps, some small fans, smart phone chargers, and other miscellaneous appliances and conveniences generally don't require much energy. They can typically be supplied from a trailer's battery for a period generally ranging from a couple days to perhaps a week or so. Some fans can drain a battery in less than a day.

A 20-pound cylinder of propane can generally run a refrigerator, water heater and stove for weeks. However, propane generally cannot directly run any commonly-available air conditioners, nor can it directly run a microwave.

An "all-electric" trailer such as a Lil Snoozy with no provisions for propane appliances will generally require some combination of "shore power", and/or operating a small electric generator to meet the high-energy demands. Electric generators are most commonly gasoline-fueled, but can also be purchased or converted to run on propane. (Yes, your suspicion is correct; this is in danger of getting downright circular!)

A "typical" RV refrigerator uses too much power to operate for very long on the 12 volt power which comes directly from most vehicle and RV batteries. There are specialized refrigerators available that run very efficiently on 12 volt power. Some folks have their Lil Snoozy built specifically with these refrigerators. The specialized refrigerators that run efficiently on 12 volt can be run off of 120 volt source through the voltage converter which is commonly part of any trailer with a battery, but they can not run directly on propane.

The refrigerators that will run directly on propane are commonly either two-way (will run on either propane or on 120 volt electric) or three-way (add limited 12 volt operation). When running on propane, most if not all of the commonly available refrigerators and water heaters require a smidgen of 12 volt power from the battery to operate their controls. Propane furnaces commonly require more than a smidgen of 12 volt power to operate their fan. The fan can draw a battery down in a single night.

I started this post thinking I would help clarify all this, but I'm not sure I have done a very good job here.

Stated another way, one of the things that I enjoy most about our trailer with all of its infernal complications and mechanical equipment is our three-way refrigerator, operating on propane. We find it very difficult to get spaces with electric power at State Parks on the weekends during the summer. However our refrigerator easily provides us with cold food, drinks and ice during hot weather.

As I wrote this, I was acutely conscious that every "rule" has one or often many more exceptions. So, I depended on a lot of very generalized statements. However, I hope that this is of some help in highlighting the consideration of whether it would be important to have an independent mobile source of "high-energy", most commonly either a supply of gasoline with an electric generator, or a propane cylinder.

Finally, I will acknowledge that another potential source of "high-energy" is solar, but that brings in much higher capital costs and some organic limitations that make it a relative rarity as an economical source for the amounts of energy that I am attempting to describe here.
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Old 12-31-2016, 05:55 PM   #17
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I think a Casita 17 would require a larger tug.

On average, a Casita 17 Deluxe weighs about 3200 pounds loaded (marginal) but carries 415 pounds on the tongue (over by quite a bit). If you want to keep the Escape , I wouldn't go larger than 16'. Ford also specs a frontal area limit of 40 sf, suggesting that the 3500 pound tow rating was tested with a low profile trailer.

Comments I've read about the Escape Ecoboost's towing performance seem to support going with a smaller, lighter trailer.
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Old 12-31-2016, 06:40 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Civilguy View Post
There have been a couple of replies that you might not fully understand if you are new to recreational vehicles (RVs) and travel trailers.
Thank you so much for this thoughtful reply. This is very, very, very helpful.
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Old 12-31-2016, 09:49 PM   #19
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Jean,


I started this post thinking I would help clarify all this, but I'm not sure I have done a very good job here.
As I wrote this, I was acutely conscious that every "rule" has one or often many more exceptions. So, I depended on a lot of very generalized statements. However, I hope that this is of some help in highlighting the consideration of whether it would be important to have an independent mobile source of "high-energy", most commonly either a supply of gasoline with an electric generator, or a propane cylinder.
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Old 12-31-2016, 10:50 PM   #20
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Jean,

There have been a couple of replies that you might not fully understand if you are new to recreational vehicles (RVs) and travel trailers.
......
Mike, That is a great summary and explanation of what to expect when getting into this RV stuff.
Happy New Year to All!
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