we have a ’79 bigfoot travel trailer. we got it a few years ago for a decent price because i could see it had leaked a bit over the years. we figured we’d get a few years of use out of it before i had to do something about the damage.
here we are after a few years of use and guess what. now i’m doing something about the damage, and i’m annoyed as all hell.
the biggest appeal of fiberglass campers — so i used to think — was that they were less prone to leaks and water damage than other designs. but that’s bullshit. every window, vent, skylight, marker light, brake light, door frame, and screw is a hole in the fiberglass and a potential leak point. and when water gets inside, what does it find? super thin plywood walls, a plywood floor, and flimsy wooden cabinets. when those things get wet, they’re fucked. the floor can take a bit of moisture but if it’s covered with linoleum (like ours was), you can’t tell that it’s routinely getting soaked and rotten. that’s why there is a giant hole in the floor right by the door.
i’ve removed all of the linoleum and properly disposed of the asbestos-filled stuff, fixed the holes in the floor, and ripped off all of the rotten, delaminated plywood wall coverings. the next step is to reseal everything so it doesn’t leak again for a few years.
unfortunately, the windows are turning out to be a big pain in my ass. each window is not just the source of one potential leak, but THREE: where the window frame mates to the fiberglass camper shell; where the window frame mates to the pane of glass; and where the frame of the sliding window mates to the overall frame. there are seven windows in this fucking camper, and seven windows times three seals is 21 seals. that’s a lot of seals to replace, and i guarantee you that each one is going to be a real whore to install.
i am nonplussed about this project.
now that i’ve got that off my chest, i want to bitch about the bigger picture. using wood in things that are prone to leaking is such a dumb, ridiculous design but that’s what the majority of campers/RVs/travel trailers consist of. i think the manufacturers like them that way though since it means the product will look great for 5 years, only to need expensive repairs at that point that will only last another handful of years. before you know it, the thing is 15 or 20 years old, rotten, and outdated-looking, and no one is going to to pay big money to have a rotten 15+ year old camper fixed so the thing will likely get junked, which means someone out there is going to end up buying another new, overpriced, poorly designed camper that will require the same expensive repairs soon. hoo-ray, the cycle continues!
i’m aware that i’m quixotic but i sure do wish more companies would try to make shit that would last instead of making junk that breaks fast so you have to pay through the nose to have it fixed a bunch, and then ultimately buy another.
on top of that, all the fancy new travel trailers you see on the road are also junk. i went to a dealership a few years ago and looked at a bunch just out of curiosity, and every thing on it i touched was flimsy and on the verge of breaking already. typical shiny, cheaply-made garbage. i had the salesman show me a few models that were just a few years old and he pointed out where the seals had already failed on them and the water damage that was already done. he eagerly used this as a jumping off point to tell me how much better the seals are in the BRAND NEW models.
yeah right. i don’t believe i’ll ever see an RV that can last more than a few years without leaking, and if i do, you can bet it will not be in the price range of a lowly plebe like myself.