Musing from a new Scamp owner
Musing from a new Scamp owner:
An essay dedicated to all the fine folks who have provided so much helpful information in this forum.
Hopefully this information will be helpful and it will pay it forward to future owners and people shopping for a new fiberglass camper.
Fair warning: this is a long post.
On September 25th, 2015, I arrived in Backus. MN, to pick up a new Scamp 16 standard, layout 4. I tow with a 2015 Toyota Sienna LE van (rated at 3500 lbs towing and 350 tongue weight as currently equipped). My Scamp has the larger refrigerator (RM2410), roof air conditioner, vinyl floor, extra set of tail lights and a few other items. I passed on the furnace and awning. I also had them leave the sewer hose holder and curtain rod holders un-mounted so I could work on some alternatives. I have owned the Scamp for a little over two months now.
Musings on a few problems
There are a few quality control issues with my new Scamp. Most are relatively minor and/or easily correctable. Although I am going to describe a number of issues, I don’t think that the number should scare you away from buying a Scamp. Still, the fact is that Scamps are the budget option in the world of fiberglass trailers and you should be prepared to deal with a few problems, even on a new camper. If you are not at all handy on repairs it would be good if you lived close enough to Backus to get work done at the Scamp factory. I wrote a letter to Kent Eveland, the president of the company, about these issues and received a prompt and detailed written reply. It was nice to see such attention from the top guy in the company. In this post I include some of his response.
Biggest problem, a leak somewhere in the starboard rear.
On my trip home we had a few days of pretty steady rain so I checked every nick and cranny I could reach, and found some moisture on the floor behind the fresh water tank along the wires and piping (which all run together). It was hard to reach and, while I could feel the water, I could not see it. It was not a lot of water, but it was enough to eventually cause a problem and it took a week to dry out. After it was dry we had some rain so I checked again but did not detect any water so I thought the first occurrence was caused by condensation. However, a month after I bought the trailer we had another day-long rain after which I found enough water in the same spot to soak a few paper towels.
The insulation and rat fur (marine carpet) installed in Scamp trailers offer a number of advantages but there is a downside. Water leaks can go undiscovered for some time because the water can run underneath and behind the wall coverings, and then travel quite a ways. I did a thorough visual inspection of the roof area and vents, and it all appeared to be good. I added sealant to the outside of the rivets in that corner of the roof area. I also sealed up the starboard side marker light. I noted that two of the holes for the wires for the four tail lights on my camper had sealant coming out through the fiberglass but the other two did not have any that came out far enough to be visible and therefore might not have been a good seal (including the upper starboard one), so I also added some sealant to those. After doing that work we had quite a bit or rain on two occasions and it appears that the leak has stopped. I’ll be checking this area as best that I can (along with the entire camper) on a periodic basis for water or evidence of leaking. Mr. Eveland also suggested the water filler as a possible spot for a leak in that area.
Another leak was in the VanAir roof vent for the bathroom (a powered vent that Scamp started using this summer). It took a while to figure out, but to make a long story short; there was a small gap in the sealant on the roof facing the trailer’s center line, where it was hard to see. Once it was filled in, the leak stopped. One should also take note that the manufacturer of the vent says that the VanAir vent has not been evaluated for use over a shower, but Mr. Eveland stated that, “it has tended to work really well in the shower area for us. Much, much better than the window which we used before which had a tendency to develop leaks.” So as you can see, although the camper is largely unchanged over the years, Scamp does make changes to improve their product from time to time.
Another water related issue is the trim on the door. A small amount of water gets in the trim and sits in it at the bottom of the door. It might be coming in at the very bottom center on the outside where there is a single rivet securing the trim. The trim is separated a very slight distance from the door at this spot. I don’t know if the water will reach the wood reinforcement and rot it out but I think that some sealant along the trim on the outside of the door, along the bottom and up six inches or so on the sides, will take care of this. I also noted that the trim on the sides of the door (near the latch) is a loose, especially when in the hot sun. In fact, with almost no effort, it came off the door almost the entire length of the left side. Mr. Eveland said that the trim has a steel interior and it friction-fits on the door edge, but it can be glued on also (if the friction is not sufficient alone). He also said that gluing it on should solve the problem of water pooling in the bottom. I used “Loctite Repair Extreme All Temperature” adhesive to attach the trim to the door edge. It seems very secure now however rain water is still getting in the trim bottom so I will be running a bead of clear ProFlexRV sealant to the outside of the trim. It just seems like good insurance.
There was a small bubble (about Ĺ inch) in the counter top finish that broke open shortly after I got the trailer. If you have seen yeast bubbles in pizza crust - it looked like that. Mr. Eveland said, “To repair it requires that all the loose gelcoat (white paint) be removed, it needs to be filled, sanded, painted, buffed. That is how we would do it anyway.”
Mr. Eveland wanted me to bring the trailer to them for the repair but I am over 1,300 miles away so that is not happening. I think that Eveland’s would have covered the cost of doing this repair locally if I pursue it, but frankly, in an exchange of emails, I felt like I was getting a bit of a run-around so I decided I would try a simply DIY fix and see it if it good enough. First I sanded off the loose material and then was left with a spot about the size of my thumb. I applied multiple coats of some white epoxy designed to repair chips in porcelain that I got from Lowes for $5 and it might actually produce an acceptable repair. The color match is not perfect and time will tell if it stays adhered. I am going to have to ask if the original gel coat can be applied on top of this epoxy to get a good color match.
:excl Tip for new buyers: Look for any bubbling in the gelcoat finish (inside and out). While wearing leather gloves for protection, push on any bubbles with your fingers and see if they collapse.
Plissť Retractable Screen
Scamp changed to a different screen door this summer. The brand name is Plissť.
In the first two days, I found six “U” shaped plastic pieces on the floor on the camper and determined they came from the screen door. I emailed Plissť and got a very quick response that stated these are “fabric retainers” and that some of the units sent to Scamp had undersized ones sent in error. Plissť sent me a service bulletin suggesting additional retainers should be used, and shipped the larger sized retainers at no cost to me. They are only about one millimeter wider but they should solve the problem. It’s a very easy fix.
Refrigerator vent leak
There is a thread on Scamp Owners International that describes water coming into the fridge intake vent. I noticed this also on two occasions, but to be honest, the first time might have been caused by me when I washed the camper. Any of these RV fridge vents are subject to leaking if you direct water from a hose into it. Here is Mr. Evelands entire statement in this issue:
I have talked to one or maybe two other people with that weird problem with the fridge vent bringing in water. It seems to run along the edge and then sneak in at the corner sometimes. It is ironic and strange as it only occurs rarely and is never consistent, at least on the one or two I have seen so far. The old vents were kind of notorious for leaking in certain windy or driving conditions, so we have gone to these and they have worked very well for the most part.
So I am still watching this issue and pulling the vent after any rain. I did try a few things to block the water. Except for the time I washed the camper there was only water inside on the one occasion, and I just wiped it off the plywood platform.
I am exactly six feet tall and yes, I can stand up in the Scamp, but I hit my head on the Air Conditioner, which is in the middle of the roof, almost every time I walk under it.
One inch of memory foam is not enough for the bed and I was left sore after four nights of sleeping on it. That’s not to say that the cushions should be softer. I still prefer the firmer dinette cushions. I owned a pop up camper that had softer cushions and they were good for sleeping on, but they offered almost no cushioning when sitting. It was almost like they were not even there and you were sitting on bare wood. So I do prefer the Scamp cushions which are good for sitting on, but I when I saw a great deal on some three-inch memory foam, I grabbed it. I would have preferred a good natural latex like I have at home, but that would have cost 3-4 times as much and I cannot justify that cost since I am not living in my camper.
Sooner or later, the dinky little sewer hose they supply will not be long enough, and you will want a longer, better hose such as this RhinoFlex but because of the longer fitting on the RhinoFlex, you cannot get it to go on the black water drain on a Scamp 16. The black water drain is higher than the gray water drain and the Scamp body is in the way when you try to connect the larger fitting on the RhinoFlex. So, add a 45 degree elbow to your shopping list. I mounted a nice 64 inch long hose holder under the trailer just behind the gray water tank. It holds both the original hose that came with the Scamp and the RhinoFlex hose. I think it will be good mounted there but time will tell.
I was pleased to find the weight on the right and left sides, measured on the frame near the axle, was very close to the same on each side when the trailer was unloaded. It was about 1,000 lbs. Tongue weight was 180-200 (measured with a larger margin of error). On a CAT scales, while loaded for only a few days of camping, the total axle weight was 2120 lbs (for a total of about 2320). Even fully loaded (except for water) I should be under 2500, and it should be easy enough to load gear equally on both sides to keep things balanced. Since I have the larger group 27 battery, I was surprised to find that keeping the tongue weight at or a little above 10% will actually take some effort.
I find that towing is steady up to 65 and usually OK to 70, but above 65 I have seen a little sway, usually in windy conditions. It’s easy to control just by slowing down. Passing trucks poses no problem. I think I could get by without sway control but it would be more reassuring to have sway bars so I am shopping them now, but it’s not my top priority. My hitch needs an eight inch rise on the drawbar so that’s part of the requirement.
I did buy a nice pair of extended mirrors for the tug, and they do help with visibility, mostly on the right side. They are not a big help however, and I get along fine without them. My tug does have integrated blind spot mirrors so that also helps. If I did not have them, then I would be more inclined to use the extended mirrors.
Upper Tail lights
I got the second set of tail lights and noticed that the bottom taillights point down but the upper ones point up with the port side one pointing up more because the wall is not even on both sides. Visibility is still good and it might even be better to have them pointing in a little different directions. The upper ones are more visible and I highly recommend getting the second set of lights, which currently cost $95. The light fixtures themselves are not the best but in my opinion it is worth the money to have the wires run when the trailer is built since it would be more difficult to add tail lights later.
Door latch and strike plate
I have not had any problem with the door opening in travel as some have reported. The new seal made it an effort to close the door at first but after only two months, the seal has broken in and the door closes with less force required. Perhaps that means it will not stay closed in travel but so far its good. Also I found that It hurts when your hip and the door striker plate try to occupy the same space at the same time.
Lastly, as you may have seen on older Scamps, anywhere rain water runs off the window edges, as well as many other areas, you get vertical black streaks. They will require frequent attention. Keeping the trailer well waxed should help.
So that’s my experience so far. I would buy the same Scamp again, largely because of the light weight. If my tug was rated to tow 5000 lbs, then I would have considered other makes with weights up to 3500 to 4000 lbs.
And of course you are talking about sustained travel above 65.. its not like the tire is going to explode the moment I hit 66 mph.
I should have been more clear... 65 is the maximum speed, except maybe for momentary passing or avoidance maneuvers.
Musing from a new Scamp owner
Thanks for all the information, Gordon. Very thorough and objective. It made interesting reading, and should be helpful to someone considering a new Scamp.
The screen door change is a big one. Scamp has used an aluminum framed bi-fold design since forever. How do you like the new one? Have you seen or tried the old style for comparison? I'd love to see a picture or two. For some reason the pictures in the link wouldn't enlarge to see detail.
I'm picking my 13ft Scamp at the end of March.
I'm thinking of having wires run to the center top of the back window,(inside)
where I will put in a back-up camera and a brake light bar on the inside.
thanks for the help
Hi gordon2, Heads up on the air condition unit leaking when it rains. You may have to drop the filter cover and tighten the nuts. You can get to one nut by doing that but the 2nd nut i could not get to without doing more work. Just snug up the one nut and that stopped it from leaking. In the future i will get them both b/c they should be the same.
Attachment 90977See my postings regarding curtains by searching "Gilda curtains" on this website. This is my most recent posting (#15). https://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...tml#post561499 Personally, I would prefer to have a double cafe curtain rod so I could have the outer one for curtains and the one closest to the wall for my black out shade.
Decisions about curtains, rods and supports can be more complicated than it seems at first sight.
Amazon shows curtain rod possibilities Amazon.com: Window Rods: Home & Kitchen: Single Rods, Double Rods, Cafť Rods, Spring Tension Rods & More. Most cafe curtain rods are flimsy and bend easily (like the ones that are installed in the Scamp at the factory). It is preferable to get cafe curtain rods that are sturdy and non-adjustable. It is difficult to find such a set-up. It might be preferable to purchase the double rod brackets and cut your own rods to the proper length. Amazon.com: Double Wall Curtain Bracket Finish: Satin Nickel: Furniture & Decor I've read online that some people buy pipes at the hardware store and cut them to size.
Here are some double curtain rods that I have found online. You'll have to determine if they can be installed in the fiberglass RV. RńCKA / HUGAD Double curtain rod combination - IKEA
You do have to be careful that the curtain rod bracket not be too deep as the FGRVs are tiny and cannot accommodate curtain rods jutting into the living/sitting space.
These are just a few of my musings regarding curtains and rods. That said, I love to change the look of my decor by changing out the curtains in my Scamp. You are welcome to contact me via PM (private message) if you like.
A critical review without trashing the manufacturer. Obviously you like your Scamp but there are a few issues. This type of post is good for the prospective buyer and for Scamp. Good job. Raz
Be aware that most back ip cameras inside the rear window will NOT work after dark. They have infrared LEDs for "night" vision and if projected into glass, the reflection will render the image useless for backing up.
Sent from my iPhone using Fiberglass RV
I have already posted some photos of my screen door for the Facebook group and you can see them here.
I have never seen the bi-fold door in person so I cannot compare. I do have some concern about the bottom track on the Plissť. I think one will need to be careful not to damage it by repeatedly stepping on it, and also will need to keep it clean so it works smoothly.
I still think it's worth $95 to avoid having to fish wire under the ratfur (next to impossible to do) or having loose wire on top of the ratfur on the inside, or running under the spare on the outside, etc. Its just neater if Scamp does it during the build. Photo is below but it might not show much. In fact, it would not hurt to have a "third" (or 5th?) brake light even higher up.
Of course if your going to run wire for power to a camera then maybe its not too much more effort to do the lights. Although some people love their backup cameras (including Norm I think), IMHO you really don't need one.
I did this procedure on the AC unit in my prior camper. Sorry to hear that it is so hard to get to the bolts on the Scamp. It is not uncommon to need to re-tighten the bolts after the gasket has been in use for some time and one should tighten all the bolts evenly to the recommended torque. Also I am not sure what the life expectancy of these gaskets is but I do know that they need to be periodically replaced, maybe every 10-15 years?
BTW one thing I did not mention is that roof is lower on the bath side, and the AC unit therefore is tilted a bit. I guess this is normal for the Scamp #4.
Great post, and interesting. Your musings about your new Scamp triggered some musings about my older Scamp.
My first (interior) impression of my Scamp when I went to see it was how bone dry and non-musty smelling it was inside. And this from a trailer just sitting, not being used or really ventilated, under some trees in very humid N. Florida. I figured it had to be really tight not to smell, something pretty unusual around here for closed up non-conditioned areas. And I have a nose for this kind of thing (musty moldy smells).
After getting the trailer out and using it I did notice considerable moisture on the trim around the roof vent one time. It looked like condensation but seemed to be too much water to be just from condensation. A careful cleaning and re-sealing around the top of the vent solved the issue or at least I have not seen a recurrence.
As my Scamp is older, it does not have a few of the holes in the roof the newer ones have. No roof A/C (it is in the side closet), no roof vent over bathroom (side window), and no roof refrigerator vent. Concerning the bathroom window, after reading of leak problems with these I examined mine. There are signs on the exterior wall covering (mottled swelling you can’t really see well but can feel) that my window leaked at one time but it appears to have been addressed by a previous owner and I have not noticed any new evidence.
To sum, while I am not too concerned about rivets or their holes, less bigger holes in a Scamp roof is a GOOD THING.;)
I mean to have a good night’s sleep. I have roughed it enough for one lifetime and a primary requirement in me buying a travel trailer was having a good bed. There are some things I may never have in this life, but one thing I for sure and certain WILL HAVE is a comfortable place to lay these bones whenever I get ready to do so. I am up to around 4.5 inches of foam in addition to the Scamp’s cushions in the back dinette and it is about right. My 12 year old daughter never complained about sleeping on just the cushions in the bunk up front. And she is still not complaining about being on an additional piece of 3” foam we added to her bunk before our last trip.
I have noticed my Scamp likes it in the high 50s to low 60s MPH range. As I approach 65 I can really tell a difference in the “feel” of towing and do not like it at the higher speed. At 62-63 she just rolls right along without issue. Except, as I have posted before, when a dang behemoth motorhome blows past us. All kind of disconcerting wagging goes on then.:mad: To help solve that I have purchased a friction sway control device but have not installed it yet. I think the little bit of control it provides should help with the Class A rigs attempting to blow me off the road.
I should mention one further thing about Scamping, that is the use of an appropriate “Scamport”. Not my term, I stole it from another member but have advised them I would be doing so. At any rate, it is my belief stuff lasts A LOT longer covered. Especially down here in the scalding Florida sun and torrential rains. The $110 I spent on a cheap portable Carport (Scamport) at Harbor Freight is a cheap investment in protecting my Scamp and the investment I have in it.
Even with my leaks, I would take my Scamp over a stickie any day because they are more water tight. I don't like all the holes in my roof, but everything that is there is needed for me. Its a trade off. I did avoid a few holes in the sides from the sewer hose and curtain rod holders.
When I was a teenager I once slept in a walk in closet on a shelf for a night. No more of that! Now day I am even bothered by that little pea under a stack of mattresses (for those of you that recall that reference).
Funny that tractor trailers do not give me any problems, on the same road, or passing in the opposite direction on two lane roads. I was waiting to be blown off the road but it has not happened in near 2000 miles.
Without going into details, it would cost me near $2000 to get a shelter for my Scamp. $2000 buys a lot of maintenance for a trailer that sits outside, so I have been going back and forth on spending that money up front, or down the road.
No doubt i will be tarred and feathered, then run off this Forum...but, I believe that most, if not all, of the problems encountered and expressed by the OP could have been eliminated if there had a one hour quality control inspection at the factory. ALL factories, no matter how small, need a non-worker to check the work of the workers.
A Budget Trailer means to me one built with less expensive materials and fixtures. not a lack of good workmanship. Which in most cases is just a matter of just wanting to do good work.
A person doesn't have to wear blinders to like Scamp trailers.
Hark! i see the villagers coming with torch's, tar, and pitchforks! :eek:
A couple of musings of my own...
Eleven years ago, I picked up my Scamp13 at the factory, on a Saturday no less. It was pretty close to perfect and certainly exceeded any reasonable expectations.
I stopped on the way home and adjusted the brakes.
I did not like the door gasket and changed it to my liking.
Followed that up with a different design which was eventually offered aftermarket by Scamp.
They now have a custom designed OEM gasket which is a greatly improved design over what mine came with.
We did have one window gasket fail under warranty. the window was promptly replaced.
Other than that and normal care my trailer has served me well for 11 years and on balance is still at least as good as new.
Wiring, appliance installation, materials and workmanship have proven worry free all these years.
I have had the opportunity to host new buyers on several occasions on their way home from the factory, and also been allowed to make minor mods and repairs on many Scamps at gatherings all over the country.
Having seen and worked on just about every fiberglass trailer ever made, I can say without reservation that the quality control is as good as any.
Warranties are usually valued by buyers of new trailers for obvious reasons, the incidence of flaws is no greater than makes that are far more than "budget" or "entry level" in price.
When I bought my Scamp I paid "asking price" on a new vehicle for the first time in my life. The subsequent value derived has been amazing even without counting resale, which in and of itself is testimony to the value and quality.
I don't think I would argue with anything Floyd just said.. but Bill also has a point.
As one example, here are photos of the bath vent that leaked. All that was needed to find it was a visual inspection, yet it was delivered to me this way.
All the major parts of the camper were good however, and thats important. Everything worked right from the start and the relatively minor issues did not cost me a single day of use of the trailer.
Thanks so much for sharing this wealth of information. It seems the old scamp we just bought has almost the same needs and tweaks as your new one. I was feeling a little down about the things we need to focus on to make our old scamp "campable" but now I see the new ones need the same things it makes me feel better. I have so much to learn and so much camping to look forward to. I really appreciate this site and all that you share here!
The myth of the leak-proof fiberglass trailer
An update on my previous musings:
Just a few days past the six month mark of Scamp ownership I finally got to go on my first real camping trip. My first night and day was in an Army COE site in Georgia where it rained most of the time. We had about two inches of rain and were under a flood watch. The first night I woke up with damp feet due to leak number three. By the end of the same day, I was mopping up rain water from leak number four.
Leak number three was a slow drip coming off the front bottom rivet on the upper starboard side cabinet. The water ran down the side of the window frame and onto my bed. This was not condensation. None of the other rivets sweated and the leak stopped when the rain stopped.
Leak number four came from the small gap in the lockstrip at the bottom of the front window (where the lockstip starts/stops). The water infiltrated here and ran onto the area where the wood support for the sofa backrest is glassed in. No doubt it would rot the wood if left unrepaired. I wonder if the gap is supposed to be on the bottom or top. Seems to me it would be better on the top since any leak would then show up as water coming down the plexiglass. Please let me know if you have a recent vintage Scamp with the lockstrip gap at the top.
I do not expect either of these to be difficult to repair, but having to fix four different leaks in a six month old fiberglass trailer is discouraging. :( Mr. Kent Eveland will have my email with photo documentation in the next 24 hours or so and we will see how it goes.
I also have an intermittent problem with the starboard side brake locking up. I am thinking and hoping that they just need adjustment.
By the way, the rest of my 10 day trip had some of the best weather imaginable except for a couple of days of high winds. Except for the leaks, the Scamp made for a comfortable home away from home.
Sorry to hear of your troubles. My 1986 16 foot doesn't leak a drop, even through tornadoes and terrible down pours. I think Scamp will take care of you though, given the age of the trailer. As for fixing them yourself, get some Butyl rubber tape. No silicone.
Butyl will stick to ANYTHING, and it will not go anywhere unless you want it gone.
I found the best price at Menards. The roll was like $3 and it's lasted me a LONG time.
Geeeesh Gordon, you've certainly been through it with leaks. Sigh. Got to be tiresome dealing with them. I was jumpy everytime we got rain this past winter in our new 13'. I'd paw through everything possible checking and re-checking for leaks, This phobia came from our 2002 which had several. Yes, I got them fixed and the rather awful floor damaged caused by a belly band leak in the rear.
I guess those leaks in the 2002 kind of made me a bit paranoid, but I gotta say. Never did experience any leaks in the 2016.
We pick up our layout 4, 16' in October. I seriously doubt I'll take leaks for granted in the new one either. Anyhow, I know you'll get those leaks fixed. Hang in there and get it done.
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