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Old 05-02-2016, 12:38 PM   #1
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Aluminum frame and fiberglas vs wood framed and alum. siding

Looking for a new or used travel trailer that will last us many years. I am pretty new to all of this. I have have questions about which trailer construction type is the most durable over the long run, and which is easiest to maintain. We will stay in the 28' - 30' size. Weight is not a big factor, as I will tow with an F250 with the large V8 engine. The 2 major trailer construction types, as I understand, are:
1. Welded aluminum framing with a fiberglass outer shell.
2. Wood framed with aluminum siding outer shell.
Assuming I am correct about types of construction, which do most experienced RV'ers prefer. and Why.
Thanks,
Jeff
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Old 05-02-2016, 02:07 PM   #2
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Fiberglass is easy to clean and wax. Their aluminum frames are poorly welded.
Wood can rot, delamination is possible with fiberglass.
Wood framing is usually warmer.
Flip a coin, is the real answer.
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Old 05-02-2016, 03:12 PM   #3
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This is what I was afraid I might hear. Both seem to have advantages, and disadvantages from what I read.
Which construction method tends to be lighter in weight?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lynnmor View Post
Fiberglass is easy to clean and wax. Their aluminum frames are poorly welded.
Wood can rot, delamination is possible with fiberglass.
Wood framing is usually warmer.
Flip a coin, is the real answer.
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Old 05-02-2016, 03:26 PM   #4
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Haven't had anything but a metal framed RV since 2000. Last two MH's were aluminum framed and fiberglass skinned. The present one is steel framed with fiberglass. No trouble with any of them other than the bad batch of fiberglass that Newmar used for a while and the surface would crack under the darker paints.
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Old 05-02-2016, 04:26 PM   #5
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Which construction method tends to be lighter in weight?
That too, can vary. Weight can't be the determining factor in quality, but too light might mean materials that will be trouble prone. Ask me how I know.

Light weight often means small tires, brakes and axles. I have had my fill of the problems with these. Look for a high NCC (net carrying capacity). I too, have an F250 and am pulling a 7,100 lb loaded trailer with ease.

You need to first decide what size and floor plan meets your needs, then start to narrow it down from there. For example, here was my short list for trailers that I would consider:

1. under 30' total length.
2. two exterior doors.
3. bed and bath adjacent.
4. full use with slide in.
5. 40 gallon minimum fresh water.
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Old 05-02-2016, 06:57 PM   #6
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We just bought a wood framed and fiberglass sided Jayflight. Our old trailer was aluminum framed and fiberglass sided. I don't think there are many wood frame/fiberglass side units out there other than jayco and the high end units. The new wood frame trailer is more comfortable and holds the heat/ac in much better than the cold aluminum frame.

If I had a choice I probably would have chosen aluminum framing, but that does not neccesarily mean it would be a better rv. The high end manufacturers like artic fox, Excel and Teton used and still use wood frames in some of there product lines. With a wood frame it's absolutely critical that you keep it from leaking.

With that said I did not put wood vs aluminum construction high on my priority list. Fiberglass sides were relatively important. At the end of the day We chose the best trailer with the best options in our price point.
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Old 05-02-2016, 06:59 PM   #7
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I prefer the look of fiberglass and it's is easier to wax.
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Old 05-03-2016, 10:26 PM   #8
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I prefer the aluminum frames to wood and fiberglass to aluminum siding.

Aluminum frames are much lighter and do not rot or attract ants should they have gotten damp. Aluminum siding is dent prone whereas fiberglass can be patched or buffed as needed. Bottom line is what is the best deal at the time you are looking to buy? We all make concessions based on various factors. If it feels right, and smells right, it most likely is. I have learned to walk away from anything that wasn't making me feel 100% comfortable. There are a lot of options out there and a small wait until what you want comes along is a lot better choice than buying in a hurry just to get something and then regretting it for a long, long time.

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Old 05-04-2016, 06:32 AM   #9
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Having had several of both, will now always opt for 'glass over aluminum. Two with wood frames needed major framing repairs, one because the pressurized water tank had a pin hole, the other because it had a leak around a window. Then there was the slide in truck camper that needed the entire front overhang rebuilt, aluminum over wood. If you opt for wood framing, be aware that manufacturers use a very light, very soft pine that easily wicks water, usually 3/4x1-1/2 or 1-1/2 square ( designated as 1x2 or 2x2 dimensional lumber). As far as assembling framing, staples, thousands of them, are used and often to the point that the wood is weakened or split. Then there are the knots which also weaken an assembly. Aluminum - doesn't rot and yes, there are occasional poor welds, but much of the strength remains. 'Glass (or similar material) also contributes to sidewall strength while 24-28ga just can't plus will easily dent, i.e in a hail storm or even by road debris (blown tire trash, rocks, etc) while the fiberglass may lose some paint or even crack if hit hard enough, usually will stay together. An example - an over the road trailer blew a tire in front of us last summer - it was as if someone showered the 5er anf TV with 50 pounds of rubber from very small to a couple pounds. A few scuffs on the nose paint which polished out. Had it been out last TT, it would have needed significant repairs.

But, as others have noted, if the layout, size and price are right for you, then go for that one.
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Old 05-04-2016, 09:36 AM   #10
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Personally I would opt for the fiberglass siding!
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:07 AM   #11
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After owning both, actually currently owning both, I will never purchase a fiberglass sided rv again. Several years ago, the back of our metal sided 5'er got smashed. It looked bad and i could see an insurance adjuster totaling it. I got it home, and carefully figured out how to remove the siding. I was able to completely remove the entire back, straiten the metal pretty good, rebuild all the wood wall and put it all back together. The wife got home and she said she could hardly tell. The metal wasn't perfect but its fine. On ours, the bottom piece is screwed in place. Then the bottom of the next piece is stapled and the top is snapped to the bottom of the next piece. And so on. It's really very easy to remove and put back. I've even wondered if it were to be possible to order a replacement piece of metal siding. On our fiberglass sided TT, when it was new had a leak and the water got behind the siding and made a bubble. Just about impossible to fix. it hasn't grown but recently in a new area another one came up. As soon as the rain stops for some time here, I'm going to tackle this. I may have to open it up from the inside to fix it but I have seen a glue system that IF the bubble is close enough to the edge or a window or hatch that can be removed, you can insert a small tube and inject new glue and then you fabricate a large panel to apply pressure to hold it flat overnight.

If it came down to it, I can see someone taking their time and completely taking all the metal off and rebuilding the entire metal sided rv. I can't see that with a fiberglass sided rig, although I have seen one guy on youtube replace the entire side of his fiberglass sided TT at home.

Bubbles on the side of a fiberglass rig take all of the resale value right out of it and most buyers will walk away if they see a bubble.
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:20 AM   #12
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Not trying to hijack the thread, but it seems there is another option...mine is wood frame with the plastic (?) siding that looks like aluminum. Where does this rank vs. smooth fiberglass or aluminum? It is ten years old and from what I can tell, has held up very well. No cracking, no fading, very minimal streaking that cleans off easily, seams are weather tight, etc...
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Old 05-05-2016, 11:48 AM   #13
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Have you ever been into a wall in that rig? I wonder if the smooth siding is glued to just the studs, or is there a thin plywood skin over the studs, or is it styrofoam between the studs that its glued to. It has to be glue to something.
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:48 PM   #14
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No one makes an aluminum frame with aluminum siding ?
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