New to me 13 Ď TriFab Love Bug - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-03-2019, 07:52 PM   #1
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Name: Sherril
Trailer: 1973 TriFab Love Bug
North Carolina
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New to me 13 Ď TriFab Love Bug

Hi Iím Sherril. My husband and I just purchased a 1973 Love Bug in need of a complete overhaul. We are currently having the trailer redone and having the exterior repaired and repainted. It is not water tight so we will replace the faulty plexi windows as well. The inside is a blank canvas as everything was removed by the previous owner. This includes the Ensolite interior which is our biggest concern. This model seems quite rare and Iím having trouble finding anyone who knows much about them. Any advice would be appreciated!
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:13 PM   #2
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
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The Love Bugs I have seen looked a lot like a Scamp 13 or a Boler.

On most if not all fiberglass trailers, the interior cabinets were very important to provide structural strength to the trailer. So if those are removed, you will need to put some back in. Typical was a closet next to the door, it helps the egg keep its shape and support the roof too. Scamp sells a lot of cabinet pieces, perhaps some will fit?

Open the tab on manufacturers and you should find Love Bug listed. There are over 50 threads about Love Bugs there.

Most of the vintage fiberglass trailer manufacturers are long gone, for decades. Scamp is unusual as they are still around.

Insulating the inside of a Love Bug should be no different than insulating a Scamp or Boler. Easiest way to find threads on those topics is to search via google: replacing ensolite fiberglassrvforum. You will find hundreds of threads on this topic.
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Old 02-03-2019, 11:04 PM   #3
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Name: Rob
Trailer: '73 Love Bug
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Hey Sherril!

From a fellow '73 Love Bug owner, welcome to the forum. You will find a lot of great info and encouragement from others on this site. I am happy to offer my insights as well.

I embarked on a frame-off restoration of my Love Bug last year. Through the project, I maintained a log of the progress on the forum here and here. I have a few more pictures here.

I would love to see some photos of your Bug when you have time.

Best,
Rob
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Old 02-04-2019, 06:18 PM   #4
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Name: Sherril
Trailer: 1973 TriFab Love Bug
North Carolina
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Thanks Thrifty Bill for your info. I'll check out those threads when I get a chance. That should be really helpful. I'm finding that many of the Scamp parts will work but it's difficult to find replacement windows and a few other things that seem scarce due to the age and make. Hopefully those threads will help!
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Old 02-04-2019, 06:27 PM   #5
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Name: Sherril
Trailer: 1973 TriFab Love Bug
North Carolina
Posts: 10
Hi rkbn, I'm glad to hear from another Love Bug owner, there don't seem to be so many of them around... The fellow who is rebuilding our trailer right now said only 10,000 of them were made. I don't know if that is true or not... I'll try to upload some photos of ours soon.

Anyhow, I see in your photos you have the side windows that lever out from the bottom as do ours. Were you able to make the originals water tight again? I am concerned about ours because we see obvious water marks on the inside, but haven't found any replacement options. We must replace the front and back windows but think the sides may be salvageable. How are yours holding up?
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Old 02-04-2019, 07:35 PM   #6
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Name: Dave
Trailer: 2013Escape 21
Iowa
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Trifab

Those trifab trailers were built in Tripoli, Iowa. Roy in Toronto has done quite A bit of research on them. They were a boler clone. The factory burned down. Then a guy who worked there bought the remains and hand built a few a year till he was about 85 years old. After he died there was an auction of all the parts and a few completed units. The molds were purchased reportedly by a fellow who lived at Evansville Iowa. They were hauled away never to be seen again. Conjecture has been that a competing fiberglass outfit bought them to keep the competition down. If Roy chimes in he knows a lot more than I do. Itís not Tripoli like the Marine Hymn. Itís Trip o la. Theyíre sensitive about that up there. Nice town where you can get a big shot of Crown Royal (about 3 ounces) for $1.85 at the Legion. The beer chaser comes with. Donít ask me how I know.
Iowa Dave
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Old 02-05-2019, 02:09 PM   #7
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Name: Rob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jspelli View Post
I see in your photos you have the side windows that lever out from the bottom as do ours. Were you able to make the originals water tight again? I am concerned about ours because we see obvious water marks on the inside, but haven't found any replacement options. We must replace the front and back windows but think the sides may be salvageable. How are yours holding up?
Thankfully, I have not had any issues with leaking from the side windows. As they weren't leaking when I brought it home, I followed the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" maxim and did not mess with them. That said, a former Love Bug owner on this forum Cat F did remove the windows. She was able to clean up and reseat the originals without replacing them. I was pretty impressed with that effort. She kept an album of their project if you want to share with the fellow rebuilding yours (window album here & full album here, also her restoration thread). I am certain they could be replaced with new windows from a modern manufacturer though. If you opt for that route, I have someone locally that might be interested in your old windows ;-) There are many threads on this forum with instructions on setting windows.

As I store the unit under cover, I have yet to replace the seals on the front and rear windows. The dry rotted seals and years spent untouched outdoors in the elements were responsible for the floor rot I encountered. I replaced all of the flooring when I pulled the shell off the frame. Replacing the seals is on my short list of things to finish in the coming months. I have heard it is the most tedious part of a top to bottom restoration and a great exercise in patience--which is something I am short on, haha.

Where did you find someone to restore the trailer for you? That is a beautiful thing! I look forward to seeing photos.

Rob
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Old 02-05-2019, 04:10 PM   #8
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Name: Sherril
Trailer: 1973 TriFab Love Bug
North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iowa Dave View Post
Those trifab trailers were built in Tripoli, Iowa. Roy in Toronto has done quite A bit of research on them. They were a boler clone. The factory burned down. Then a guy who worked there bought the remains and hand built a few a year till he was about 85 years old. After he died there was an auction of all the parts and a few completed units. The molds were purchased reportedly by a fellow who lived at Evansville Iowa. They were hauled away never to be seen again. Conjecture has been that a competing fiberglass outfit bought them to keep the competition down. If Roy chimes in he knows a lot more than I do. Itís not Tripoli like the Marine Hymn. Itís Trip o la. Theyíre sensitive about that up there. Nice town where you can get a big shot of Crown Royal (about 3 ounces) for $1.85 at the Legion. The beer chaser comes with. Donít ask me how I know.
Iowa Dave
We knew absolutely nothing about these vintage fiberglass campers when we purchased our Love Bug. The guy who sold it to us told us it was a Scamp. I didn't know any better. Not until I researched it further when I saw the "Love Bug" sign on the side did I realize, we got something different than we expected. It's been an unfolding mystery since that day, full of exciting discoveries. Your history of the company is intriguing. It makes it feel all the more special to try and return it to some of its former glory. Now I feel like I need that shot of Crown Royal...
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Old 02-05-2019, 05:17 PM   #9
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Trailer: 2013Escape 21
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Full disclosure

I felt bad after I posted that I did not fully disclose my alcohol purchase technique.
I was at a wedding reception in Tripoli, with a cash liquor bar in the Legion. Typically leaving a good tip is rare in these places around here. So I Ordered a shot of Crown and the guy poured me a pretty good one. I gave him five dollars and he gave me three back. I put it in my wallet and then got out a 5 and put that in his tip jar as he watched. The rest of the night I was golden. A girl who worked for me lived in Tripoli in high school and attended the Love Bug auction. She was best friends with the grand daughter of Elmer Tonne, the guy who bought the factory fire remains. Did I mention that the molds happened to be out in the parking lot the night of the fire???? I drove up there a couple years ago and found Elmerís son who, once I mentioned my employee, became willing to talk to me. Thatís how I know what little I know. I made notes and gave them to Roy at the Wine Escape Rally in Niagara Falls. The factory site was cleaned off, regraded and an area tourism information building now occupies the site.
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Old 02-06-2019, 06:02 PM   #10
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Name: Sherril
Trailer: 1973 TriFab Love Bug
North Carolina
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Wow, we need to add that to a history of the company somewhere somehow. I'm sure other Love Bug owners would be interested in learning these details too.
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Old 02-06-2019, 06:28 PM   #11
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Name: Sherril
Trailer: 1973 TriFab Love Bug
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Old 02-06-2019, 06:40 PM   #12
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Name: Sherril
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North Carolina
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Old 02-06-2019, 06:43 PM   #13
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Name: Sherril
Trailer: 1973 TriFab Love Bug
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Love Bug Original Condition

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Old 02-06-2019, 07:34 PM   #14
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Iowa
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One step at a time. You can do it. Keep asking questions and owners will help you with your project.
Iowa Dave
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Old 02-08-2019, 06:00 PM   #15
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Name: Sherril
Trailer: 1973 TriFab Love Bug
North Carolina
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbn View Post
Thankfully, I have not had any issues with leaking from the side windows. As they weren't leaking when I brought it home, I followed the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" maxim and did not mess with them. That said, a former Love Bug owner on this forum Cat F did remove the windows. She was able to clean up and reseat the originals without replacing them. I was pretty impressed with that effort. She kept an album of their project if you want to share with the fellow rebuilding yours (window album here & full album here, also her restoration thread). I am certain they could be replaced with new windows from a modern manufacturer though. If you opt for that route, I have someone locally that might be interested in your old windows ;-) There are many threads on this forum with instructions on setting windows.

As I store the unit under cover, I have yet to replace the seals on the front and rear windows. The dry rotted seals and years spent untouched outdoors in the elements were responsible for the floor rot I encountered. I replaced all of the flooring when I pulled the shell off the frame. Replacing the seals is on my short list of things to finish in the coming months. I have heard it is the most tedious part of a top to bottom restoration and a great exercise in patience--which is something I am short on, haha.

Where did you find someone to restore the trailer for you? That is a beautiful thing! I look forward to seeing photos.

Rob
We have ordered a new front and rear window from Scamp but will try to refurbish the side windows. We have not seen any replacements that are close enough in size to ours to make them work. We will check out Cat F's threads on how to do that, thanks for the links!

When we first bought the Love Bug we knew the trailer needed some help so we took it to the only place we could think of nearby which was Camping World. They took one look at it and said flat out its too old, they wouldn't touch it. But they did recommend a local guy who does restoration and metal work out of his home. We were really lucky to find him. He is going to rebuild the trailer and undercoat the entire bottom of the camper and trailer to weatherize and protect it. He's also going to patch and paint the exterior because he has the ability to do that easily and we don't. We felt those were the most important jobs to keep it safe and weather tight. The rest of the project we are going to undergo ourselves!

Thanks for the info, the windows will be our first project when we get it back.
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:02 PM   #16
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Painting is the last thing to do. Make sure the frame is solid, replace that axle, at which time you can add spacers for addition height.
Replace the floor if rotten and or soft spots
Looks like the bottom of the door needs some work and needs to be reshaped.
Watch the local Craigís list, Facebook market place for used refrigerator, converter, water pump etc. great source for parts.
Congratulations, and have fun.
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:28 PM   #17
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Name: Sherril
Trailer: 1973 TriFab Love Bug
North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mszabo View Post
Painting is the last thing to do. Make sure the frame is solid, replace that axle, at which time you can add spacers for addition height.
Replace the floor if rotten and or soft spots
Looks like the bottom of the door needs some work and needs to be reshaped.
Watch the local Craigís list, Facebook market place for used refrigerator, converter, water pump etc. great source for parts.
Congratulations, and have fun.
Great tips thanks!
You're right about the door. I saw a thread where the door of a Love Bug had some vertical wooden supports on the inside made into what looks like a magazine rack. Those would support the curve of the door and maintain the shape. Not sure if it was original or not, but I think they could be fabricated to help with the flattening at the bottom. I'm curious if anyone has anymore detail on the original structure of these doors...
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Old 02-09-2019, 03:00 PM   #18
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I donít know about the love bug door. But some other models have taken on water though the window. That caused a mushy mess.
There are threads on how to repair., Iím sure someone will lead you to them.
You can make a template of the door opening and cut door to reshape.
Which you would want to do before paint.
Couldnít tell if the furnace was still in it. An old pop up camper would be a great donor for furnace, water tank, pump, fridge, etc.
Iíve brought them back from the dead. You have good bones, do it right or donít do it at all.
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