Jeff From NE Arkansas - Fiberglass RV
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Old 01-14-2021, 07:15 AM   #1
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Name: Jeff
Trailer: Shopping
Arkansas
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Jeff From NE Arkansas

Hey folks.

I stumbled across this forum as I was researching travel trailers.

I have to admit I am completely overwhelmed by the choices and why one chooses one thing over the other.

My wife and I want to start traveling and we thing a travel trailer is the best option. We are in out early 60s.


I spent a lot of time looking at Class B, C and Super C RVs. I just could not get over the level of depreciation motorhomes have. Correct me of I am wrong but they seem to go to zero value in 15 years or so. Plus, the limited mobility of a motorhome necessitates pulling a vehicle. To get quality and power, you get north of $300K pretty quick. That all became too big and too much.

Now here I am.

My search has taken me to a preference for Oliver, Escape and Bigfoot.

I love most everything about the FG build and design over stick built (I am just picking up the lingo).

The two things I am struggling with are a wet bath, and the fact two of my choices are built, sold and serviced so far from my home. Oliver is pretty close, or at least not too far.

I have two potential tow vehicles. a 2019 4Runner and a 2015 2500 Duramax. We hope to stay light enough for the 4Runner which has a tow capacity of 5,000. Me being a conservative guy, I say 4,000.

Full disclosure, I am comparing the Oliver to a Lance 1985. You seem to get so much more for almost half the price. Am I wrong to say the Lance has a limited life span? The FGers seem to last forever, and hold their value.
https://www.lancecamper.com/travel-trailers/1985/

I love the build quality of the Oliver. I am drawn to the Oliver Elite II
https://olivertraveltrailers.com/tra...egacy-elite-2/

I will get into more of this as I stumble and fumble my way around to learn the ins and outs of RV Life!

Thanks, and be tought on me. I can take it. I just want to make the right call.
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Old 01-15-2021, 10:55 AM   #2
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Name: Ruth
Trailer: Casita
Texas
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Registry
Smart man!
Call Oliver and ask if there is an owner near you who would let you check theirs out. I know Casita has a registry for just that. In fact, looking at another FG like Casita would let you get an idea of size and features they all share.
As far as maintenance and repair, I THINK Oliver is like the rest, using stock equipment and features that any RV place can service.
Welcome to the family!
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Old 01-15-2021, 11:56 AM   #3
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Name: Ray
Trailer: 2017 Scamp 16 Deluxe
Missouri
Posts: 674
Many FGRV brands (and models) will be compatible with your current tow vehicles.

As you have suggested, unless you have interior height requirements or need to sleep bunches of kids/people, I think that ANY good FGRV would likely be a better choice than a stick-built trailer.

My strong suggestion, if you can manage it safely during the pandemic, would be to try to attend a nearby FGRV rally (many listed on another link in this forum) where you can see many different RV brands/models, talk to owners, and see their modifications, decorations, and tow vehicles. (You could perhaps stay at a nearby motel, rent a pop-up trailer, stay in a tent, or rent a campground primitive cabin.

Beware of any ego-driven strongly-stated opinions of "My brand/model is best and all others are a P.O.S." Much may depend on a floor plan and features that appeal to you and your wants/needs/situation.

If you have many specific wants/needs, ordering a NEW FGRV is the way to get EXACTLY what you want. Sadly, the lead time for many NEW FGRV trailers varies from months to years.

Used FGRVs (probably all/many brands) are in high demand and often command very high resale values (i.e. nearly new prices). If you don't move almost immediately on any new ad you see, there's a strong chance that it may be sold before you can inspect it (there's a checklist on inspecting used FGRVs elsewhere on this forum).

Because resale values are so high, there generally shouldn't be much "financial penalty" for an initial "sub-optimal decision" ... you'll likely get most of your money back at the resale of any good, solid, well-maintained FGRV trailer.

People sell/upgrade FGRVs for all sorts of reasons ... growing family, need/want an in-trailer bathroom, want/need to end a "crawl-over" sleeping situation, want a larger refrigerator with a freezer compartment, etc.

Our first rig was 4-cyl Honda CRV pulling a minimalist, lightweight Scamp13 with no bathroom. When we upgraded to a more capable tow vehicle, I thought our next trailer might be an Escape 17B. Instead, we lucked into a 2 month delivery of a Scamp 16 Deluxe Layout A with a no-charge swap of front-sofa/bunk-beds instead of the usual front dinette. (We wanted to be able to sleep a couple of grandkids in the bunk beds.) The side bathroom in a Scamp is smaller than a front bathroom but, my wife and I are just average-size people and don't spend a lot of time in the bathroom. The "wet bath" option is just fine ... we usually use campground showers ... (let the campground people clean 'em up! ) If we were larger people, .... ???

From what I've seen, Oliver builds a nice trailer (as does Bigfoot and others). Sadly, Oliver and Bigfoot may be a little out of our price range and a little heavier than I really want to tow with our 2.7L Ecoboost F-150. Escape, Scamp, Casita, (etc.) provide all that we really probably need ... but that's just us.

There are many helpful forum members but, in order to get the best help, you may need to provide even more details on your intended camping trip durations, seasons, bathroom requirements, sleeping requirements, towing terrain, etc.

Best of luck on your search and decisions!

Ray
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Old 01-15-2021, 12:13 PM   #4
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Name: Jeff
Trailer: Shopping
Arkansas
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Originally Posted by rdickens View Post
more details on your intended camping trip durations, seasons, sleeping requirements, towing terrain, etc.

Best of luck on your search and decisions!

Ray
I would expect we would be gone from one week to 4 weeks each trip. I would expect no less than 6 trips per year.

I would go to warm places when it is cold here, and cooler places when it is hot here.

It is just my wife and I.

I want to visit rough country, State and national parks, and I want to visit cities. I want to visit everywhere we can drive to.
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Old 01-15-2021, 12:14 PM   #5
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I do want to understand why I should go FG when stick built appears to be so much less expensive.
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Old 01-15-2021, 01:04 PM   #6
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Trailer: 2017 Scamp 16 Deluxe
Missouri
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FWIW - This is us ....

We are in the KC Metro area.

https://drive.google.com/folderview?...EVhNVo1VHQ0WFU

Let me know if you can't open the Google Drive link ... you shouldn't need a password.

Ray
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Old 01-15-2021, 01:31 PM   #7
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Trailer: 2016 Escape 19
Tennessee
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I do want to understand why I should go FG when stick built appears to be so much less expensive.
My feeling is that, properly maintained, a fiberglass camper could be the last camper you ever have to buy.

You can't say that about many/any stick built.
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Old 01-15-2021, 01:34 PM   #8
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Trailer: 2017 Scamp 16 Deluxe
Missouri
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We have a friend who is at/over 6' 5" and husky/large-boned. He wouldn't fit in many/most FGRVs and so he quite understandably bought a "stickie". On their first trip to Colorado, sections of their aluminum siding were blowing off of the trailer.

As I understand it, his quality (or lack of quaility) experience is sadly not unique. He also knows what to expect in reduced resale value. The weight and towing aerodynamics of his "stickie" require a larger truck and he gets roughly half the gas mileage of our rig.

We have other friends who recently bought a used Airstream Nest (fiberglass) that weighs over 1,000 pounds more than our Scamp16D-A. They'd planned to it pull with their Honda Ridgeline. They've now decided that they need a bigger truck.

We have still other friends who bought a "stickie" using the rationale that replacing it might be cheaper than buying an FGRV to begin with.

The brands that you mentioned are probably almost litterally twice as expensive as our Scamp 16 Deluxe. (Call Wayne Pitlick up at Scamp. [800-346-4962] ... Good guy - no high pressure - just kick ideas around.)

It's your money and your choice. You should get whatever you want.

Ray
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Old 01-15-2021, 01:56 PM   #9
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Name: Jeff
Trailer: Shopping
Arkansas
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Originally Posted by rdickens View Post

The brands that you mentioned are probably almost litterally twice as expensive as our Scamp 16 Deluxe. (Call Wayne Pitlick up at Scamp. [800-346-4962] ... Good guy - no high pressure - just kick ideas around.)

It's your money and your choice. You should get whatever you want.

Ray
I want the best value.

How can I compare Scamp to Oliver? Head to head, is the build quality and features equal?

Is it the Scamp 19 or the 16 that compares best with the Oliver Elite II?

I am not at all married to Oliver.
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Old 01-15-2021, 02:11 PM   #10
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If you really want to tow with your existing 4-runner, the Oliver is "probably" going to be too heavy.
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Old 01-15-2021, 02:15 PM   #11
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Name: Shirley
Trailer: Escape 21, formerly Casita SD
Missouri
Posts: 54
You are correct about longevity and resale of fiberglass vs stick built. We have had just about every kind of camping equipment over the years-tent, pop up, 24’ bumper pull, and finally a Casita and Escape. Once we bought the Casita, we knew we would never go back to a stick built. Solid, nothing in the frame to shake loose on the road, lightweight, only roof maintenance is checking around vents. We kept it for 5 years, sold it for what we had paid for it, and then purchased a lightly used Escape 21 so grandkids could join us and so we didn’t have to crawl over each other at night. It is likely our forever camper. Plenty of room, solid build, low maintenance exterior, more storage than we need, 3800 lb unloaded with our options. We travel light, never have been over 4200 even with bikes on the back. The wet bath has never been an issue with us even after a dry bath in our sticky. Most of the time we camp in state or national parks or boondock. We use facilities provided if possible, if not, the bath is easy to dry with a squeegee and microfiber towel after showering. Some folks we know put up a shower tent accessible by the exterior shower when boondocking.
Appliances for the companies you mention are pretty standard across the industry, and generally the company will have you do any warranty work necessary on them at your local rv place. I wouldn’t be worried about that. Be aware all campers have a few recurring issues to keep an eye out for, be prepared, and just go. With our Casita we carried extra rivets; for the Escape a sail switch, extra fuses for any camper, basic tools. We have camped in all but the dead of winter in our Escape and been very happy. Consider some solar if you will boondock. We have a 150w panel that is plenty for our needs, others have more and enjoy what that provides.
Escape allows some customization of the interior-not sure about the others but folks that own them can advise you. Also if a dry bath is crucial, check out the new 23’ Escape-it has one, but is heavier. For us, the 21’ has been the best bang for our buck. Excellent quality, easy tow, and very affordable for what you get. The exterior is easy to wash and wax, and will look great for years. We camp about 4-5 months total each year. There is a 19’ that is very nice as well, depending on your needs. Also evaluate how you camp-will you be in the camper much or outside? Will you need space for grandkids? Pets? Do look at any Fiberglass you can, I think you will be impressed with the differences. Maybe not as full of gadgets as a sticky, but the build quality is where the money difference comes in.
Happy hunting!
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Old 01-15-2021, 02:33 PM   #12
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Trailer: 2017 Scamp 16 Deluxe
Missouri
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I absolutely refuse to either recommend or bash any brand of FGRV.

We camp with some friends who are very happy with their older Casita 17.

My sister, perhaps knowing that I liked both the Escape 17B and Escape 19, waited a little longer and drove a little farther to get her Escape 17B. I think both of us are relatively happy with our choices.

I'll again recommend attending a multi-brand FGRV rally and look for yourself at every possible brand and model. There are advantages and disadvantages to absolutely every trailer that I have ever seen and/or stepped inside.

I'm not even sure there is a "best value" answer. If there is, you will have to figure it out for yourself.

RD-out
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Old 01-15-2021, 02:33 PM   #13
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If you're serious about using the 4Runner, be sure to check the thread “Trailer Weights in the Real World” in the General Chat section (post #297 links to a handy-dandy spreadsheet). These are realistic fully loaded weights. It also gives tongue weight, which can often be the limiting factor, since few people travel with an empty tow vehicle. Several models you mentioned are probably too heavy for the 4Runner (the larger Oliver definitely is), Don’t overlook Escape, which makes some suitable “in-between” models in terms of size, weight, and price. The Escape 19 should be towable with your 4Runner.

When comparing molded and conventional trailers, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Molded trailers designate models by total length, coupler to bumper, while conventional trailers designate models by cabin-only length. Check specs for actual sizes when comparing. Also note width and height, which affect towing more than length. I know of no reliable database of real world weights for non-molded trailers. most run closer to the GVWR than the dry weight.

I wouldn’t fixate too much on where they’re made. Molded manufacturers that sell factory-direct without a dealer network will support local repair of most warranty issues. Appliances have their own warranties and networks of authorized service locations.

I agree the choices can be overwhelming. Size is a very personal call, as are things like a wet bath. Don’t forget bed size and orientation- very important. Most RV beds are smaller than standard residential sizes, and not everyone wants to climb over their bedmate to use the potty at 3am. Have you considered renting an RV? Some actual experience might help you narrow down the possibilities. You’re ahead of the game with two capable tow vehicles.

Depreciation of conventional RVs is steep as you've observed, but it can work to your advantage if you buy used. Most RV shops can do a pre-purchase inspection to minimize unpleasant surprises. With a motorized RV you might also want to do a mechanical inspection of the chassis. Even new RVs often carry their own surprises in the form of assembly defects. I’m for letting someone else handle the initial debugging.

Depreciation is less with fiberglass, which is a disadvantage when you buy but an advantage when you sell. Currently used supply is very low and wait time for new is very long. Prices for both are high due to pandemic-induced demand for RVs.

Value in the real world is not just about dollars and cents but about how much use and enjoyment you get from it. We had to stretch our budget to buy it, but that small pain is long forgotten. It worked for us, and the family memories are priceless!

Best wishes, whatever you decide!
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Old 01-15-2021, 02:47 PM   #14
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If you really want to tow with your existing 4-runner, the Oliver is "probably" going to be too heavy.
I agree
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Old 01-15-2021, 05:52 PM   #15
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One of the difference I just found between Oliver and Scamp is that Scamp uses a wood floor and Oliver uses "carbon core"

https://www.carbon-core.com/
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:47 PM   #16
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Welcome Jeff.

Lots of considerations to be made here but you've come to the right place for advice.

I started out with stick built. While the price is lower so is the quality and longevity and the resale value. Maintenance on stick built is higher and they often leak. My last stick built was about a year old when it was completely demolished by hail, totaled! I decided to try a FG unit. That was 15 years ago. I've been through 3 similar hail storms and replaced the tail lights 3 times, no other damage!
I have a 1/2 ton and a 3/4 diesel. Both easily tow my unit but the 3/4 does it so much better and I never have to be concerned about over loading. And the 3/4 gets a little better fuel mileage as the engine doesn't work as hard.
Decide what features you need and what features you would like to have. Get the features you need and, especially if you will be spending considerable time in your unit, some of the things you like. More room is a good thing as these units tend to get cramped when used a lot. Enjoy!
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Old 01-16-2021, 09:18 AM   #17
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One of the difference I just found between Oliver and Scamp is that Scamp uses a wood floor and Oliver uses "carbon core"

https://www.carbon-core.com/
That’s just one of many. Others include:: (1) full molded inner shell (double hull) with insulation between vs. single outer shell with thin insulation glued inside, (2) aluminum frame vs. steel, (3) double pane windows , (4) stainless hardware, (5) enclosed heated holding tanks...

Both are good values, but at opposite ends of the price spectrum. Oliver is designed for cold weather use; Scamp is not. The smaller Oliver is pretty much the exact same interior size and layout as the Casita 17’ Spirit Deluxe, which leads to...

Casita is fairly close to you also, and it’s one of the most widely available molded trailers out there. Like Scamp it’s a 3-season unit built to a lower price point. The largest 17’ model is still light enough for your 4Runner, and clean late model used units are available under $20K (some are higher now due to the pandemic, so you might have to do some patient searching). It has several layouts, and would make a great starter trailer, easily sold a few years down the line if it’s not exactly what you need. The sweet spot for price and condition is around 5-10 years. Within that range you typically won’t see major structural problems unless it’s been badly abused or neglected. It does have a wood floor encased in fiberglass, so inspect it for soundness.

If you decide that’s too small, your choices get fewer, prices significantly higher, and most will have to be towed by your truck. Escape 19 is the next step up and about the limit of what your 4Runner can do.
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Old 01-16-2021, 11:18 AM   #18
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Am I correct in saying Casita uses rivets where Oliver does not?
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Old 01-16-2021, 11:34 AM   #19
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Am I correct in saying Casita uses rivets where Oliver does not?
Yes. Oliver's double hull design eliminates the need for structural rivets. There may be some used to attach fittings in blind locations, don't know.

My own opinion is the problems with rivets are overstated. Leaks and failures are relatively rare. They're aluminum so they don't rust, and they allow for easy disassembly of individual interior components as needed for repair or modification.

Escape does not use rivets, either, but because theirs is a single hull build, they attach pieces of wood to the inside of the shell as attachment points for cabinets. Bigfoot is similar, but the entire interior is furred out with rigid insulation and paneling. Again, there may be some use of rivets to attach hardware and hatches.

Oliver's approach eliminates wood, but it cannot be disassembled or modified except by cutting fiberglass. The shiny, all-gelcoat interior is a love-it-or-hate-it thing.
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Old 01-16-2021, 01:15 PM   #20
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Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
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I do want to understand why I should go FG when stick built appears to be so much less expensive.
Well, first you mentioned deprecation. Stick built depreciate quickly, faster than the motorhomes you mentioned.

At between the 10 and 20 year point, stick builts are often scrap. Meanwhile, people are able to sell their 10 to 20 year old molded FG trailers, if well maintained, for at or above what they originally paid.

But as far as bang for the buck, you get a lot more space and features with a stick built. Just look at it as throw away $$.

In the end, its up to you. No RV is an 'investment". Molded FG are much more durable, so they depreciate much slower. In addition, they enjoy limited competition. Very easy to get into the stick built business. FG takes a significant investment in molds and FG specific tools.


+100 The way around steep depreciation is to buy used. Some of the Super C motorhomes are very nice, and they depreciate quickly. A ten year old unit may cost you 25% of a brand new one. Sure, it will continue to depreciate, but the original owner took most of the loss. Friends of mine bought a used Tiffin Allegro motorhome that was four years old. They paid 25% of what original owner paid for it, and it only had 30,000 miles on it. This was before the pandemic. Prices have firmed up some since then. But in this case, the original owner lost $200,000 for the pleasure of owning that coach for four years. Most of us cannot afford such a hit.
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