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bikendan

Camano Island, Wash.

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Posted: 06/30/19 03:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

snap833 wrote:

My wife and I are very excited to buy our first travel trailer. It is just us two and we are looking for something small and with low maintenance. I have a few questions with regard to the research I have conducted. Maybe someone can confirm my findings.

Am I correct in assuming that an aluminum frame with a fiberglass side should last longer and have less potential for water damage?

Also is a fiberglass roof going to give me less of a chance of a potential leak?

Does a fiberglass roof have less maintenance than a rubber roof?

Any good recommendations if fiberglass is the way to go?

Thanks for any input. We are wanting to make an informed decision so any help is appreciated.


Only a handful of travel trailers have a fiberglass roof. Nearly all have rubber roofs.
Agree that there is no such thing as a low maintenance travel trailer.


Dan- Firefighter, Retired">, Shawn- Musician/Entrepreneur">, Zoe- Faithful Golden Retriever(RIP">), 2014 Ford F150 3.5 EcoboostMax Tow pkg, 2016 PrimeTime TracerAIR 255 w/4pt Equalizer and 5 Mtn. bikes and 2 Road bikes


theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 06/30/19 04:05pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

snap833 wrote:

Am I correct in assuming that an aluminum frame with a fiberglass side should last longer and have less potential for water damage?

Not necessarily ! The fiberglass "skin" is just the outer layer. (one common product is Filon) It requires some kind of a "backer" for structure. Luan plywood is a common backer, but if it gets wet, over time, it will mold and rot when it is exposed to moisture. One popular "non-organic" backer is Azdel. It will not rot, but if wet, it might mold.

snap833 wrote:

Also is a fiberglass roof going to give me less of a chance of a potential leak?

I would say yes, but like rubber roofs, it is up to the quality of the installation. Because the materials are more expensive I would hope the quality would be better.

snap833 wrote:

Does a fiberglass roof have less maintenance than a rubber roof?

In general, yes. You still need to caulk seems. There are two ways to apply a "finish" coating to fiberglass. Either gel coat or paint. Either is required because "raw" "fiber reinforced plastic" (the industry name for what we call fiberglass) uses epoxy resin or polyester resin which deteriorate when expose to UV (sun). In theory, gel coat is thick enough it should last forever. Good quality boat paint will last a long time also.

snap833 wrote:

Any good recommendations if fiberglass is the way to go?

Personally, I would stay away from "rubber", which leaves either fiberglass or aluminum. Neither are common except in high end RV.

I don't like rubber roofs because to get them to last a long time, they must be washed regularly and treated with some kind of UV protectant. Second, I have never seen a caulk/sealant that really works well long term.

There is a different type a "rubber" roof called TPO. Not very common in the RV industry (cost). If you have the "commercial" grade TPO installed it will last a very long time. Very little caulk/sealant is used because joint are "het welded" (melted) together.

* This post was edited 06/30/19 04:13pm by theoldwizard1 *

Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 06/30/19 10:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

To your exterior maintenance concerns, the best you can do is store it out of the weather when not using it. Presuming its a weekend, couple vacations a year typical usage, the other 9-10-11 months a year you're not using it is the most important consideration. Store it indoors, under roof or at least under tarp/cover will reduce your exterior maint and repairs to a minimum.
That said, there are a few other areas just as important, like bearings, brakes, water system. Not a huge deal as long as you don't neglect it. And not considerably different between brands IMO.


"Yes Sir, Oct 10 1888, Those poor school children froze to death in their tracks. They did not even find them until Spring. Especially hard hit were the ones who had to trek uphill to school both ways, with no shoes." -Bert A.

Davestomet

Tampa, Florida

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Posted: 07/02/19 09:08am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Definitely learning a lot from here. Thanks for the tips, fellas!

free radical

Canada

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Posted: 07/03/19 08:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Have you checked
Oliver fiberglass trailers?
Looks very well built
Wouldnt expect leaks anytime soon

https://youtu.be/gDJlwSubTyI

theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 07/04/19 03:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

free radical wrote:

Have you checked Oliver fiberglass trailers?

Generically, that type of a trailer is called an "eggshell" for obvious reasons. As the video says, it is constructed just like any fiberglass boat, with a top and bottom half. I would bet the would remain leak free for many years.

They are not cheap and they do not have many floor plans or choices of interior decor.

SoundGuy

S Ontario

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Posted: 07/04/19 09:00pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

theoldwizard1 wrote:

There is a different type a "rubber" roof called TPO. Not very common in the RV industry (cost).


TPO isn't rubber at all, it's vinyl, and although not used as frequently as EPDM rubber membrane TPO certainly isn't uncommon, had just such a roof on our own KZ Spree. IMO it's certainly preferable to a rubber membrane if for no other reason that TPO doesn't chalk and leave black streaks all over the sides of the trailer as does EPDM.


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ncrowley

Utah

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Posted: 07/05/19 05:50am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Egg shell trailers can leak. A friend purchased a 17 foot Casita last November. It leaked a LOT. And when they leak, the water sits at the bottom of the tub. They brought it to someone local and they tried to fix the leak but could not because of the way they are constructed. They drove it back to the manufacturer in Texas and came home and it still leaked a lot! The manufacturer came and got it and kept it for over a month. It came back home and the good part is it is not leaking anymore.

The point is you cannot assume these egg shell trailers do not leak and when they do leak, the water does not go anywhere. It sits at the bottom of the bottom half of the shell.


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GoinThisAway

middle TN

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Posted: 07/08/19 08:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have a fiberglass Bigfoot camper which is referred to as a clamshell as it is made in two halves, top and bottom, which are joined together with the upper half overlapping the lower half. This type of build eliminates all the edge seams of campers made by joining together various side, front, rear, roof, and bottom panels. So in that respect they do have less potential for leaks. BUT they still have plenty of holes cut into them for various lights, vents, skylights, air conditioner, windows, entry door, baggage compartments, furnace, hot water heater, ... you get the idea. Every camper will have these and they are all a source of potential leaks. Inspecting all caulking regularly and addressing any issues promptly
is your second best bet to keeping your rig going ... second only to keeping the rig under roof. But then what fun is that! While my Bigfoot is a slide-in camper which sits in the back of a truck, Bigfoot also makes travel trailers with the same clamshell fiberglass design.

We also have a travel trailer with a rubber roof. It is a "lite" version and one of the ways the manufacturer cut down on weight was to use thinner roofing material. It only took a few years before it started to get holes in it. And the only way to fix it was to replace it with better material at a cost of about 20% of what the unit originally cost. Thus, if you look at units that are "lite" or "ultra light" be sure to ask yourself what was sacrificed to save on weight.


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