Trillium 4500 in Altadena - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-29-2018, 08:51 PM   #1
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Name: Mikael
Trailer: Trillium
California
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Trillium 4500 in Altadena

Hello all,

My dearest Cindy and I recently picked up a Trillium 4500. We are very new to trailers and have a lot to learn. Very happy to have found this place.

The previous owner mentioned it's a 1979, but the title says "1980". Whatever it is, it's cute as can be and nicely outfitted.

The main issues seem to be the same as everyone else has (as I have looked around the forums a bit): The door hinges, the lock, and the silicone all around the windows and the bellyband.

I have been cleaning her up and taking inventory and thought I would share some photos with you all.
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Old 09-29-2018, 09:00 PM   #2
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Trillium 4500 in Altadena - Interior

and here's a few of the inside ...
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Old 09-30-2018, 08:01 AM   #3
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Mikael, congratulations and welcome to the forum. Nice mostly original, unaltered Trillium
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Old 09-30-2018, 08:03 AM   #4
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Mikael, where is your power converter? My still original but revamped converter is located below the heater.
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Old 09-30-2018, 11:03 AM   #5
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Trillium 4500 in Altadena - Electrical/solar system

Hi John ~ Thanks for the welcome. I'm still figuring out the power system, but the AC wire that comes into the trailer goes under the left rear bench into a 15 amp box.

Then there is the old "Central Power Pack" (left side of the kitchen counter, facing rear). I'm not positive what this actually does, but the DC power in the trailer doesn't work when it's set to OFF. It has to be switched on.

Under the front left bench is an Atwood APC-32 Converter / Charger. It provides a handy "cigarette lighter" plug so you can pop in a little USB charging port.

Everything is wired to the Napa Marine battery (part 8240) and ZAMP ZS-30AP Solar panel. I use the interior LED lights all the time, use the Fantastic Fan, and the battery just keeps on recharging here in sunny California.
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Old 09-30-2018, 12:17 PM   #6
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oh right my mistake: Trillium 1300 has the power converter in the kitchenette cabinet, while the Trillium 4500 has the power converter in the space below the closet, below the heater, adjacent to the wheel well (tight spot)

EDIT: wait a minute, you DO have a 4500, but power converter is NOT below the closet
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Old 09-30-2018, 02:52 PM   #7
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Trillium 4500 in Altadena - Central Power Pack

Hi John ~ These photos better show the location of the original Central Power Pack.

When the white clickswitch is set to "OFF", there is no power to the whole trailer. The switch can be in "BATT" or "CONV" and the DC power works.

I plugged in the AC cable and found the 120v plug on the Central Power Pack doesn't work.

There is one 120v outlet in the middle of the Trillium's rear wall that is hot when the AC cable is plugged into house power.
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Old 09-30-2018, 06:16 PM   #8
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Congratulations! What a very nice 4500! Looks in wonderful condition! Welcome to the group!
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Old 09-30-2018, 08:43 PM   #9
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Mikael, yep mine is a 1978 model and somewhat different setup. My power converter (below heater which is below closet) has the batt/off/conv toggle switch as well as 12vdc breaker and 110vac breaker.

In your camper, apparently previous owner installed a new converter (Atwood APC-32 Converter / Charger) for providing 12vdc power and battery charging capability when shore power is available?

The 12vdc power supply (a simple transformer) in my converter failed, then I replaced with an electronic power supply.
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Old 10-01-2018, 09:12 AM   #10
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Nice front dinette conversion Trillium! Not a factory front dinette, as that would have the table hanging from a fibreglass back splash that would hang from the bottom of the front window frame.

The converter in the side of the kitchen is original. John, your converter being below the furnace allowed the drawers in your kitchen to be lined up. The new converter location required the drawers to be staggered, like Mikael's. I suspect that Trillium could no longer get the smaller converter that installed below the furnace, and had to switch to the one installed in the side of the kitchen. The second converter in the dinette seat does not make sense to me. Also the gas line running right beside it makes me nervous. It probably is used to charge the battery, and the one in the kitchen powers the lights. You probably could eliminate the one in the kitchen, since it can't charge a battery.

It looks like there was also a gravity furnace that was replaced with a catalytic heater. Were I you, I would look into going back to the original Duo-Therm furnace. They are no longer allowed as original equipment because the surface temperature can theoretically get high enough to start a fire, if something like a sleeping bag is laying against it. But that seems unlikely to me.

The catalytic heater has no exhaust vent, so they can cause a condensation problem, not to mention the fact that they use oxygen and if the trailer is sealed up tightly, (also not likely) then they will start to generate carbon monoxide as the O2 level falls. Just my prejudice.
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Old 10-10-2018, 01:06 AM   #11
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Trillium 4500 in Altadena - Dinette, power converter, catalytic heater

Hey there, David ~ Thanks for your observations! Yes, the front dinette conversion seems like an afterthought. It is secured to the front wall with a wooden rail ... held on by a couple bolts going straight through the fiberglass! One bolt shows some cracks around the head in the exterior fiberglass. While there is no sign of a bunk bed, there is a red sticker near the gas stovetop that says "Caution: Do not use stove when bunk bed is in up position".

I agree with Dave that the second power converter seems mighty close to the propane lines! In fact, they are connected by some sort of wire (see photos). It may have something to do with grounding -- I don't know -- but I can't fathom why having them so close is a good idea. There is plenty of room in the compartment, so I wonder why the electrical installer (who surely came after the propane installer) would put them so on top of each other.

I also share David's concerns about the safety of the catalytic heater. So I went out every morning for a couple weeks to fire up the heater, have my coffee, and get used to operating it. I follow the lighting instructions, and still it routinely sends one or two "flashes" of fire across the pad while it's firing up -- unsettling at first, but you get used to it. (It may be dust-related, I have no dust cover). I took a look around at a gravity furnace option, as David mentioned, and all I find are old vintage ones that would require salvaging, restoring, and installing. That sounds like a challenge, so for now anyway, I suppose I'll hang on to the unit I have. We took our first trip to the ocean this past weekend and the catalytic heater came in handy in the mornings for a bit of warmth!

... and taking our first trip exposed what needs to be the top priority now -- those door hinges !!
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:29 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikael_the_Trill View Post
I took a look around at a gravity furnace option, as David mentioned, and all I find are old vintage ones that would require salvaging, restoring, and installing. That sounds like a challenge, so for now anyway, I suppose I'll hang on to the unit I have.

You are correct. No one makes gravity furnaces anymore. They exceed maximum surface temperature limits. If flammable material were up against the furnace, it could catch on fire. So if you want one, you will have to find an old one, (or two, for parts) then rebuild it. Not a small job.
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Old 10-16-2018, 08:51 AM   #13
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Name: Mike & Gail
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Loveland, CO
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Mikael and Cindy, Welcome to fiberglass trailers from former Altadena residents (Harding Ave. near Eaton Cyn). Your Trillium looks great. Especially like your ROOF Mounted solar panel. It's always ready for the sun. No hassles of setting up a suitcase solar panel. It avoids lots of battery headaches. We have been in Casitas since 1999. Put in a carbon monoxide detector for good measure.
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Old 10-17-2018, 07:43 PM   #14
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Looks like the previous owners loved that little trailer. Enjoy it, they can be allot of fun. Think about the lake Casitas rally in a week and a half.
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Old 10-17-2018, 07:47 PM   #15
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Is that a ground wire hose clamped to your copper propane lines? If it is might want to rethink that.
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Old 10-21-2018, 08:30 AM   #16
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Trillium 4500 in Altadena - Converter/Propane, Window leaks

Thanks for the welcome, Diane, Steve, and Mike & Gail !

I agree, Steve, the proximity of the propane and the electrical converter is a concern. (photo posting previously in thread). If any of the more experienced folks know what's going on here, I'd love to hear about it.

And yes, Steve, the previous owner LOVED her Trillium. She's a friendly acquaintance, and I just mentioned how adorable her trailer is and she brought me inside, radiating warmth & enthusiasm, and told me it's for immediate sale (... the new rig she's getting is a little larger). Just the night before, my dearest Cindy and I had talked about getting to a few National Parks this year. The ideas converged and suddenly I was figuring out what a 7-way plug is, what a brake controller does, and where do I get a hitch ball! Turns out my 2000 Ford F-150 is great, you can order a pre-made wiring harness online, the brake controller plugs right in under the dash, and the V8 engine has plenty of pull.

Some high wind recently knocked out our home's power for a day. Trillium fridge & freezer to the rescue! We had NO food spoilage -- the ice cream didn't even melt! Having a self-contained survival pod in the driveway sure comes in handy.

We recently got a little rain too, revealing 3 places where water is getting in. I suspected the rear window, cleaned away the silicone and removed the snap-on plastic edging. I found each of the rusty-looing screws on top comes with it's own fiberglass crack or two! This seems like a job for some super-strong marine sealant in the cracks. Then I plan to re-caulk with window using Sikaflex 221 or Pro Flex RV to make it through this winter. The larger project of removing and reinstalling the windows with fresh butyl tape will have to come later.

Next weekend's rally at Lake Casitas sounds like a hoot, but we have plans already for Friday night. Were still considering driving the 100 miles up there on Saturday with no reservations and taking our chances!

Thanks again, folks, for the advice and encouragement,
-- Mikael, the Trill
(from 20 years ago in just one episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where I played the brother of Ezri Dax, who is also a Trill :-)
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Old 10-21-2018, 11:04 AM   #17
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Sweeeet!

Love the new rig, it looks a lot like mine did when I got it 13 years and many thousands of miles ago. I'm planning some major projects/repairs this winter since as the cowboys say it's been rode hard and put away wet- I've always been too busy USING it to actually work on it.
My opinions for what they're worth:
-The location of the new converter near the gas lines is no cause for concern, as David points out many converters mine included were installed right next to the gas line that feeds the heater. That said, I'm mystified by the use of it as a ground connection for the converter. Better to just swap that to the trailer ground or better yet ground it directly to the frame as is likely the case with the original converter. Which in my opinion should just be removed, it likely only serves as a junction box now and may in fact interfere with the efficient operation of the NEw converter.
- Per the catalytic heater: replacing the original gravity fed heater with a catalytic was one of my first mods and I love it for its far more efficient use of fuel and better heat production. But the condensation produced is a real drag. . The main difficulty is that in colder weather the water condenses on the walls and gets the bedding wet, if you're not a cold weather boondocker this wouldn't be a problem for you. This problem is limited to trailers like the Trillium with smooth, washable walls, those finished with fabric wallcoverings don't seem to have it. My heater's installed in the same location as yours but in a recess created by a steel box. It's also hard plumbed directly to the trailer gas line, the hinges shown in your pic seem to indicate to me that yours may be on a flexible line of some kind, probably rubber- is that right? If so that's definitely a safety hazard, not "code" so far as any such things exists for trailers and should be changed to hard plumbing.
Per the door hinges:
DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!!!!! DO NOT ENTER THE DEATH SPIRAL OF TRYING TO MATE THE MOLDING LINES TO THOSE ON THE TRAILER!!!! lol, just kidding, a little. There's a defect in the trailer mold that prevents this from being possible so don't be distracted by it. Your hingebolts definitely need tightening but maybe little more. If it closes/latches/clears the lower lip of the frame just leave it as is. I wish I had!
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Old 10-21-2018, 02:34 PM   #18
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Window removal, reseal and reinstallation should take four hours or less, depending on the condition of the wood framing underneath. I did an easy window, no serious problems, in about two hours. For the worst (front window) which also required removing the rock guard/awning, it was more like four hours (two wood frame pieces rotted out).

Cracks look superficial, just in the gelcoat. Pull some of the screws, if some of the threads are rotted away, then the wood is wet and leaking.
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Old 11-29-2018, 08:35 AM   #19
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Trillium 4500 in Altadena - caulking, propane hose, door hinge

Thanks so much for the comments, Francesca and Bill!

Frankly, Bill, I'm chicken to pull out the windows because of the whole "can of worms" factor. Since I'm brand new here, I'm afraid of starting a job that I may not be able to finish neatly. I'm sure I'll get to them one day.

Since I had only found a few drips in the trailer, I opted to apply Sikaflex 221 in Colonial White around the windows and belly band to make it through this winter. We just had our second rain of the year and I'm happy to say it's bone dry in the Trillium! Attached are a couple photos of my caulking job. Have plenty of paper towels and paint thinner around when working with this stuff. Once applied, you have a limited time to smooth it out with your paint-thinner-soaked finger. Touch it maybe 2 or 3 times to smooth it ... if you continue to mess with it, I found it can start catching on your finger and getting bumpy.

Once you open the Sikaflex 221 tube, you have just use it and throw away the remainder, no saving it for later. I did the caulking on two separate days, and had an easier time working with the material when it was 75 degrees (Fahrenheit) than when it was 60 degrees out. I'm so happy I read in the forums to use painters tape -- this really helped me keep it neat.

About 18" of the belly band had a sizable gap where it had pulled away from the shell. Another tip from the forum suggested some super strong 2-sided tape (or mounting squares) in between, then pressing the belly band back in contact with the shell. I did my best and it worked, but I don't know how long it's going to hold.

Francesca, you guessed right! Behind my heater is a bit of hose in the propane line. Having the heater on a hinge allows it to be used pointing at the kitchen sink, or with the heater swung open pointing at the dinette. The previous owner mentioned this feature, and how nice it is to sit at the front dinette and have the heat radiating right on your legs. The hose seems to flex in a reasonable spiral without stressing the attachment points to much. Any chance this could be safe to use? Or is hose in the propane line always a bad idea?

One major concern remains and that's the door. It's about to fall off the hinges. Top hinge has one screw holding in the door and one screw holding in the shell. The other screws are stripped out and loose and wobbly. Many have been replaced with fatter screws already. Bottom hinge just as bad. No worries, Francesca, I won't be concerned about matching up the molding lines in the door, I just don't want the thing falling off. I like to have a backup plan in mind, and I don't really know how I might re-attach the door temporarily should it get pulled off during a trip.

I have seen several detailed forum posts about the Trillium door, and some kits available. I have plenty of reading and more learning ahead from you more knowledgable folks as I figure out what steps to take next.
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Old 11-29-2018, 08:46 AM   #20
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Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
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I'm debating door repair options myself. Do I go all out, cut through the fiberglass on the inside, replace the surely rotted out plywood with something not affected by water, or do I do something less involved.

In the end, I'll probably do the involved solution.

With these old Trilliums the choice is either do it yourself or pay someone you trust to do it for you. There is no one in my area that I would trust so it’s on me.

The third choice is to find one of those really rare ones where a former owner did all the work for you. I had a chance 3 years ago or so to buy one from Randy Bishop. My mistake.
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