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Old 08-25-2003, 03:56 PM   #1
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Greetings!
I'm new to this forum but have been researching a truck conversion RV for about 18 months. What a wealth of information is in this forum and "in" the Internet.

The topic I'd like to get more feedback on is the pros/cons of fiberglass reinforced plywood (FRP) versus aluminum skin. Some items to start the discussion include:
<UL TYPE=SQUARE>
<LI>Durability
<LI>Repairability
<LI>Strength
<LI>Puncture resistance[/list]
Most of the discussion in this forum seems to be about Show Haulers (aluminum skin) but I'm sure there are plenty of opinions about FRP as found on Kibbi/Renegade models.

Regards,
Alan
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Old 08-25-2003, 04:49 PM   #2
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I rank the different choices in this order:

1. .063 aluminum, bonded.

2. FRP

3. .030 rivited aluminum

Aluminum bonded looks the best, is dent resistant and lasts forever.

FRP looks way better than rivits and wavy .030. It has the potential for water damage or delamination but is easy to repair small areas.

Thin aluminum looks terrible, the holes with rivets are asking for corrosion and a bird strike, golf ball or kids toys will dent the hell out of it. Each hole and rivit causes drafts, leaks and is hell to wash/wax.
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Old 08-25-2003, 05:38 PM   #3
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I've got a Showhauler truck and a Renegade trailer. They both have some positives and negatives, aluminum is easier to dent/scrape etc.. but it's also much easier to replace. In my case if I want to sell my trailer I can't just resking the side where I put in windows. But the FRP does look good and is much more resistant to the normal dings that the aluminum gets (altough the thicker alum used on the RV doesn't ding easily at all, ours is blemish free so far). The FRP also requires that you seal the plywood anytime you put a hole in the fiberglass or is will soak up water and that would be very, very bad. It's not hard to seal up though so no biggie, I am a bit more paranoid about putting holes in it than I ever was with aluminum. I like the extra room in the trailer it gives and as I said I really like the finish on it.

Basically flip a coin, you'll be ahppy with either.


Sean P. Clarke
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Old 08-25-2003, 09:18 PM   #4
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I understand that if one backs up the aluminun with spray polyurethane insulation or even plywood that the ripples and dents are grately reduced.....I'm trying to locate the SPF guy here locally it find out what he knows about this process....the ripples have to do with heating/cooling of the skin while still and flexing of the frame and wind load while moving....I will find out more and report this to you all asap.....geof-Near Cincinnati
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Old 08-26-2003, 08:26 AM   #5
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Thanks for the insight and information!

The one item I'd like to follow up on is the discussion about insulation... I expect to do some extended cold-weather use of the RV. I don't know that either the SH or Renegade wall/ceiling construction offers sufficient insulation. The "bubble" insulation shown in the SH web pages and photos doesn't look adequate. I don't know what the wall construction of the Renegade is (steel framing similar to SH but skinned with FRP??).

The spray-in polyfoam insulation looks promising so I'm anxious to hear what Geof has to share.

Regards,
Alan
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Old 08-26-2003, 10:19 AM   #6
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I paid an extra $900 or so for high density foam to be added in my SH in addition to the bubble stuff. I got double pane glass as well.
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Old 08-26-2003, 11:27 AM   #7
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>I don't know what the wall construction of the Renegade is (steel framing similar to SH but skinned with FRP??). Regards,
Alan<


Alan,

With most FRP truck boxes, trailers and such, there is no frame, just top, bottom, and corner aluminum extrusions. The FRP is bolted or rivited to these. One site that I looked at (can't remember which one at the moment) said thet they glued furring strips to the inside of the box, to allow for insulation, wiring, plumbing, ect. then finished the inside off like you would any other RV, with paneling, or whatever.

They also make a special FRP panel for the roof, that has a slight bow in it, so that water doesn't lay on it.

Another advantage to FRP is that it can be made in just about any size or color you want.

Jeff in South Dakota
1995 Ford F-250 4X4 PSD
1992 Skamper Slide in camper
1984 Holiday Rambler 5er
1979 Mercedes Benz Unimog
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Old 08-26-2003, 12:55 PM   #8
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The downside issues I have heard and spoken to people about that are not listed:
Weight - 5/8" panels are heavy.
Wall & Ceiling joints loosening up over time & miles.
Cabinets not having enough support on walls.

You are going to find +/- with either type of construction, it all comes down to how well the materials are used to get more +'s.

As for insulation, you can insulate the box area like a refrigerator, but if you do not do the same to the cab then you are going to loose all of your effiecency. You cannot imagine how much heat or cold is lost through the cab, it's huge. If I shut the leight weight curtain I have now it makes a world of difference, but it is not like the R rating your going to get from heavily insulated walls. Some of you guys that are talking major insulation, may want to look at ways to block off the cab with either a insulated curtain or some sort sliding wall.

BTW I have the standard insulation and have yet to encounter a problem with heating or cooling.

2003 28' Show Hauler Motorhome on a 1995 FL 120 www.showhauler.com

[This message was edited by warpath on August 26, 2003 at 04:15 PM.]
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Old 08-26-2003, 09:21 PM   #9
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....I looked at Inovator Trailers in ELkhart that makes a type of FRP trailer...it had a noticable belly in the roof-thanks to my tape measure-I convinced the salesman also....had it rained while I was there-it would't have taken anything besides a ladder to prove my point. I truly believe that unless there are roof trusses/bows or tubing frame of aluminum or steel-a box will have a belly sooner or later-snow and ice will be a concern as the added weight will increase the belly with time....The insulation issue is still nagging on me-an installer in Hamilton is supposed to call Wednesday...Our local OTR Trailer repair shop uses spray can foam for small repairs and has access to larger quanities at about $2.00 a board foot retail. Material cost of the foam is about $0.30 a board foot approx. as per the manufacture. I'm waiting for local installers to contact me-so far there is only one in the tri-state area.....geof-Near Cincinnati
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Old 08-26-2003, 09:36 PM   #10
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A sample wall section that I saw for a Renegade motorhome/toterhome had an aluminum frome inside the FRP. I believe the tubing was 2 inch. Polystyrene beadboard insulation is between the studs and I believe the inside is luan plywood. I don't think they use the studs in the race trailers.

Does anyone know of another manufacturer besides Renegade who uses FRP? An aluminum skin with metal studs would not be the most desirable in a cold climate.

The one thing for cold weather use that the truck conversion manufacturers are weak in designing is enclosed holding tanks with insulation and heating. I even had one rep who was displaying a motorhome with open holding tanks ask why would you need to enclose them. I explained that the build up of ice under the chassis would coat the tanks and the dump valves. He said we can put pad heaters on the bottom of the tanks. When I asked about insulation and how would you dump the tanks in the winter if there was ice buildup and he just gave me a blank stare. He did not understand what I was talking about.

That is one drawback I have seen with the truck conversion mfr's. They come from building rigs for the racing market and auto racing is a warm or moderate weather sport.
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