Newbie with purchase questions. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-04-2018, 10:02 PM   #1
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Name: John
Trailer: Currently shopping
Alaska
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Newbie with purchase questions.

Hello all, we're new to this amazingly informative forum. My wife and I are also completely new to trailer camping, having previously only camped in tents or motels, but we are now seriously hoping to buy a 17' Casita Freedom Deluxe. But here's a question for all you old-time trailer camper types that I haven't seen addressed: We live in Alaska, where very few Casitas or Scamps seem to come up on the market. The closest we have seen for sale have been in the Northwest and Midwest, but even those are a very long drive for us to go check out, should we find out that the one we had our eye on was for some reason unsuitable to purchase. The corollary to this question is, since we live at least a 5 or 6 day drive from most locations in the lower 48 states, the only way to hold the trailer would be to send a down payment on it sight unseen. Even folks living in the lower 48 must sometimes need to drive across several states to look at a potential purchase. I want to trust everyone, and want to believe everyone is honest, but we have already been almost scammed on a phony eBay posting (luckily I checked with Ebay before sending money and found out no such posting existed). So how does one go about buying a trailer when you live far away? Any help on this question will be much appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 09-05-2018, 12:38 AM   #2
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Name: Dave
Trailer: Casita SD17 2006 "Missing Link"
California
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Welcome to FGRV John. I found out the hard way with a car purchase but....there are disinterested 3rd parties in most towns/cities that can do a written inspection for a reasonable fee. The only problem with using one would be finding one that is familiar with FG TTs. It's still a trailer but some of the problems with FG can be unique to them. There have been a few times that one our members are close and volunteer to do a check also. Good luck with the search.
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Old 09-05-2018, 01:06 AM   #3
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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Finding a trailer inspector might be difficult in some areas. However hiring a boat inspector would no doubt also work just fine . They are fairly easy to come across in communities with a lot of water craft. Boat inspectors know the wiring for 12 volt systems. They know how to inspect fiberglass for its condition. They can do propane inspection, holding tanks, toilets, and of course fit and finish on cabinets, doors, windows, vents, AC, heaters. While you don't find propane refrigerators on most boats I am sure they can manage to run a check for proper function on that and on water heaters. You will get a written report including photos. That report will state any flaws they find.
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Old 09-05-2018, 03:45 AM   #4
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Name: Tom
Trailer: Sprinter 'til I buy
Denver, CO
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I like the boat inspector idea, if the trailer is near water. Boat inspectors are scarce in Kansas. Some friends or relatives might be suited, but many lack expertise, and it is easy to imagine how a bad outcome could strain a relationship. Is your son, dad or a friend's son or daughter an engineer? Any friends who already own fiberglass eggs or boats? Any retirees you could dispatch? You could do a little rehearsal on trailers & boats locally.

There are inspection sheets & buyer's checklists under the More tab above. No doubt there are others on-line.

Makes me wonder whether the right person using video on a phone might be able to transmit it to you live (recorded?). They'd need to be pretty methodical, and it would be nice if you had a larger screen. Does Windows still offer Net Meeting conferencing software?

Inspection is an important step. Good luck.
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Old 09-05-2018, 04:37 AM   #5
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Name: Jack L
Trailer: Sold the Bigfoot 17-Looking for a new one
Washington
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A boat inspector usually is called a "Marine Surveyor". I've owned several large motor yachts in the past and I can honestly say some of the surveyors I have known are excellent, and some are not very competent. A survey is done to satisfy the purchaser, and also the lender and insurance company. One thing that most surveyors are really good at is finding dry rot. Most fiberglass boats have wooden stringers and structural wood in the transom as well as other areas. These wooden components are totally encapsulated in fiberglass and can be very expensive to repair. A surveyor usually uses a small hammer with plastic caps on the hammer head and listens to sound variations when tapping areas of the boat. If you decide to go this route, do your homework.

I know someone who bought a boat for 35K that looked beautiful but a month after he bought it, he discovered rot in the stringers. The engines had to be pulled and the boat was in dry dock for months. The repair was more than the original purchase price of 35K. A good survey should have detected this, but it was missed. Why do they call it pleasure boating?
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Old 09-05-2018, 06:50 AM   #6
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Name: Carl
Trailer: Scamp 16
Pennsylvania
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I bought new because I do not know a thing about campers. There were none that I could find close. I was not willing to drive across states only to find out that it was junk. So I bought new from scamp. I made a vacation out of trip across states to pick it up at scamp ln Backus. It was an adventure . I never towed a trailer ever. I learned quick. We love our scamp,just the right size for the two of us and Sir Charles the dog.
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Old 09-05-2018, 08:56 AM   #7
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Name: Walter
Trailer: 2017 Escape 17B
SW Virginia
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If you haven't already, I recommend calling Casita. it's very possible they can put you in touch with an owner, even in Alaska, willing to show you their rig.
Welcome and good luck.

Walt
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Old 09-05-2018, 09:35 AM   #8
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Name: mark
Trailer: ,Retro by Riverside RV
California
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John, welcome to the forum. My initial thought on your post is, Scamp and Casita trailers are not 4 season trailers. You may want to look at Escape or Bigfoot, designed for colder climates, or so I have read. Second, trailer manufacturers will deliver to your door, expensive, yes, but buying new eliminates dealing with the rare unscrupulous 2nd hand seller. Third, most used Scamps and Casitas are sold BEFORE you can see them. While waiting for our Casita, six months, I tried the used market, every deal was gone before I could drive even 8 hrs to see it.

In your situation, sounds like NEW may be the way to go. I suggest going to see as many trailers as you can at a rally and or a trip to the factory. Place an order and when ready either go pick up or have delivered. Expensive, to be sure , but all relative to your peace of mind and enjoyment level.

Good luck on your hunt, make the journey fun!!!

Mark
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Old 09-05-2018, 09:58 AM   #9
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Name: John
Trailer: Black Series HQ19
Smith Valley, Nevada
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If you post on here a specific trailer that you are looking at, I bet a local member would be willing to pop over and look at it for you. They could at least verify that it exists, give an idea of it's general appearance and take a few pix of it.

I would certainly do it within a certain radius of my home.

There would still be a lot of unknowns and limited chance for negotiating, but you'd be in a better situation than now.
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Old 09-05-2018, 10:10 AM   #10
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Name: John
Trailer: Escape 21, behind an '02 F250 7.3 diesel tug
Mid Left Coast
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i second the emotion re 4 season.... casitas and scamps have minimal insulation and get quite chilly inside even on only moderately cool nights, requiring the heater to run nearly continuously. our escape with the optional insulation package is vastly better, and Olivers take it to a whole new level where you could comfortably full time travel in the midst of a northern tier winter. another serious concern is your water tank and lines freezing, the Olivers especially have all that enclosed in the hull, and insulated, so they are within the heated space.
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Old 09-05-2018, 10:23 AM   #11
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Name: Walter
Trailer: 2017 Escape 17B
SW Virginia
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To elaborate on John a bit: While the plumbing, tanks etc on the Escape are exterior, unlike the Oliver, with the insulation package they are sprayed with insulating foam and so do have some cold weather capability, although how well they would do in Alaska I don't know. My impression is that the newer (since about 2006) Bigfoots are more like the Olivers. My Bigfoot was a 2002 and so not nearly as well insulated.

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Old 09-05-2018, 12:04 PM   #12
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Name: John
Trailer: Currently shopping
Alaska
Posts: 10
Many thanks to all of you for your well-considered opinions and advice. I'll think about them all. I had not considered a marine surveyor; that's a good one. I also hadn't thought about the insulation values of Casitas or Scamps. While we probably wouldn't be doing much winter camping, even in the summer, here in Alaska, up in the mountains it can sometimes get pretty chilly at night, down to the high 30s, low 40s, but that's where warm clothing would come in, as well as the heater. Based on your suggestions, I'll check out the Escape and Oliver trailers as well. I much appreciate the offer of the possibility of members going to check out a trailer that we might be interested in, and would hope to not take too much advantage of any of you. Of course, as MK Evenson said, most of these trailers are sold before I'd even be able to get to the Alaska/Canada border. Buying new might also be a possibility and would avoid most of the problems you've discussed, except for the probability of depleting my funds more than buying used, but certainly a solution that avoid a lot of headaches. One thing that I have found out during this search, which I found interesting and which other members might find helpful, is that my local bank, anyway, and probably others, can set up a short-term trust account that, upon the agreement of the seller, would hold our funds until the trailer could be inspected and accepted, and would disburse the funds once the title from the seller was received by the bank (the suggestion was to send it by overnight or 2nd day mail). This might avoid the problem of sending a cash down payment to an unscrupulous seller for a non-existent or trashed trailer. This sounds good in theory, but if there are closer, local buyers, I doubt if many sellers might agree to it if there is a quicker, easier sale possible. Again, thank you all for your help and kind suggestions. John
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Old 09-05-2018, 02:03 PM   #13
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Name: Kathy
Trailer: Scamp '19
Maine
Posts: 10
Isolated too from most fiberglass campers

We're in northern Maine, and FGs are few and far between.
Our camping season is short, unless you wear long underwear and use hand warmers.

We opted to buy a new Scamp and it will be delivered in a couple of weeks.

No hassle, no scams.
Just a year-long wait and a higher price tag.

We're in our 40/50's, so over the long haul, it's a wash.
Wish you the best and hope to see Alaska before too long.
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Old 09-06-2018, 11:33 AM   #14
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Name: John
Trailer: Currently shopping
Alaska
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathy Camper View Post
We're in northern Maine, and FGs are few and far between.
Our camping season is short, unless you wear long underwear and use hand warmers.

We opted to buy a new Scamp and it will be delivered in a couple of weeks.

No hassle, no scams.
Just a year-long wait and a higher price tag.

We're in our 40/50's, so over the long haul, it's a wash.
Wish you the best and hope to see Alaska before too long.
Thanks, Cathy, for your response. From all the previous responses to my questions, and because of the difficulty of finding or getting a used camper from this distance, we are leaning, as you did, towards buying new. Financially it will be a stretch, but in so many ways it makes sense.

We visited Maine last fall, and we'd like to tell you that it is one of the most beautiful and interesting places we've seen, in many ways reminding us of Alaska, with all your forests and beautiful coastline. We hope you enjoy your visit here when you come. Generally, May and June are the best months, weather-wise, though, like in Maine, they can also be the buggiest (mostly mosquitos, less so with black flies--called white socks here.). Mid July on through August can be very rainy, and right now it has been clear and sunny for a couple of weeks, but we've also seen the August rains continue right up to snow fall.

Thanks again,
John
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:48 PM   #15
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Name: John
Trailer: Currently shopping
Alaska
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Originally Posted by WaltP View Post
To elaborate on John a bit: While the plumbing, tanks etc on the Escape are exterior, unlike the Oliver, with the insulation package they are sprayed with insulating foam and so do have some cold weather capability, although how well they would do in Alaska I don't know. My impression is that the newer (since about 2006) Bigfoots are more like the Olivers. My Bigfoot was a 2002 and so not nearly as well insulated.

Walt
Hi Walt, thanks for your explanation of plumbing, etc. on the Escape and Oliver trailers. They sound beautiful (!), and also far out of our league, financially. I couldn't easily find weights for the Oliver, but the Escape's weight was borderline too much for our 4-cyl Toyota Tacoma, in addition to both of them being a bit too expensive for our pocketbook. The Tacoma did, however, pull a 17' Scamp that we were lucky enough to try, with the greatest of ease, uphill and down.

Chances of our using anything we might buy in the winter is remote; I don't relish rounding a corner on an icy road and doing doughnuts while pulling a trailer! That happened to us years ago in our old VW bus on a November trip south through BC, on a bridge approach. Luckily, the bus completed its 360-degree loop heading in the right direction.

Thanks for your drawing my attention to these two different camper models.

John
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Old 09-06-2018, 04:02 PM   #16
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Name: Carl
Trailer: 2014 16 scamp side dinette/Rav4 V6 Tow pkg.
Pennsylvania
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I camp in the shoulder seasons in campgrounds mostly. Our Scamp stays warm to temps down to the 30s at night. We use a electric space heater at times and also at times our camper propane heater. It has always been comfy. I never tried to camp in real cold, say the low 20s or teens, brrrr. but others have, not for me. Good Luck. Carl
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Old 09-06-2018, 09:29 PM   #17
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Name: John
Trailer: Currently shopping
Alaska
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Thanks for the tip, Carl. In the past, we've camped in our old VW bus down to well below freezing and had a catalytic gas heater, which put out copious amounts of condensation (and maybe CO, too). Not for us any longer, either, thanks. We've gotten soft in our old age. John
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Old 09-07-2018, 05:05 AM   #18
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Name: Walter
Trailer: 2017 Escape 17B
SW Virginia
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Like Carl I use a small electric space heater and the built in propane heater. I've camped comfortably down to about 6 dg overnight and that was in an earlier Casita, not my newer, insulated Escape.

Walt
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:16 PM   #19
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Name: Peter
Trailer: Bonair Oxygen 2002
British Columbia
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Did you forget Alberta and B.C?

Your dollar is worth 25% more in Canada, and you wouldn't have to travel so far. Also, many used trailers have been winter hardened for Canadian weather.
Good luck on your search!
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Old 09-12-2018, 07:27 PM   #20
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Name: Jay
Trailer: Scamp 16
Idaho
Posts: 14
I have a 16 ft Scamp with a furnace. Nights in the 30's and 40's are no problemo-and the heater does not run all the time. Insulation is R-15. I would not have a problem camping lower than the 30's.
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