2018 Aliner Ascape: Firsthand Report

Aliner has been building hard sided pop up campers since 1984, and they’ve been generally accepted in the industry as the standard which other manufacturers follow in that category. In the late 2000’s, Aliner experimented with conventional small travel trailers with the Marco and the Amelia, which were short lived with minimal success. This year, Aliner has made a comeback in the small travel trailer segment with the introduction of the 13 foot Ascape.

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The Ascape is produced in Aliner’s Mt Pleasant, Pennsylvania’s plant. In these times where every manufacturer is copy-catting what everyone else is doing, it’s refreshing to see someone come out with something that no one else has. And despite its diminutive size, the Ascape is loaded with a lot of amenities.

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One of the unique features of the Ascape is the rear entry door, which includes a drop floor creating a generous 6’4″ of interior head room. When the dinette is converted into a bed formation, it creates a very roomy 64″ x 77″ sleeping area.

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The Ascape packs a lot of standard options, including outside shower, 40 watt front roof mounted solar panel, electric brakes, 13″ aluminum wheels, 3.0 cubic foot refrigerator with freezer, 6 gallon water heater, range hood with fan, Fantastic Fan, screen door, LED lighting throughout, 2 burner range top stove, deep stainless steel sink with pull out faucet, microwave oven, dual 20 lbs propane tanks,  and 16K BTU furnace.

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When it comes to options the Ascape offers, there are just a few and they come in one package: 9200 BTU roof mounted A/C, a 5 foot Carefree awning that mounts over the rear door, Thetford cassette toilet, and a 23′ flat screen TV with a Bluetooth sound bar.

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I did mention above that the optional air conditioner is a roof mount. However, for a period this year, Aliner was installing wall mounted units, which is how these units I looked over at Mount Comfort RV were equipped. I’ve been told that newer Ascapes being produced will have the roof mounted unit. If you go with option package that includes A/C, this will negate the standard Fantastic Fan. However, if you want both the wall mounted A/C and the Fantastic Fan, as you can see from these pics, there are some out there.

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As for the exterior, the Ascape is a smooth aluminum siding with a one piece of aluminum on the roof. Four stabilizer jacks are standard as is the front mounted spare tire. The graphics packages offers four different color options. The green pictured above is standard, but you can also pick from black, red, and blue.

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As for overall specs, the Ascape is 13 feet from hitch to tail, and fully optioned will weigh right around 1700 lbs. Exterior height is 7’5″ without A/C and 8’4″ with the roof top A/C. The box width is 66″ and the total width is 73″. The hitch weight is 170 lbs and the GVWR is 2500 lbs, giving you somewhere around 700-800 lbs of cargo capacity.

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So you might ask who is the Ascape made for? Several! It’s great if you have a tow vehicle with minimal tow capacity. It’s also a perfect fit for a growing segment of buyers, and that would be single females looking for something easy to tow with minimal effort to camp in. I also see this set up well for the adventure outdoors buyers looking for something they can use off the grid, as the standard solar panel and dual propane tanks can offer some extended boondocking. Or it’s also good for those of you who like unique, cool looking small trailers with good features. Overall, my opinion is positive on the Ascape. It would be nice if there was a wet bath feature, but given the small footprint of the Ascape, a wet bath would take away much of its storage, so it would take some creativity. However, Aliner has been pretty creative over the last 30 plus years they’ve been in business, so if it can be done, they’ll be able to.

While at Mount Comfort RV looking over the Ascape, I also did a little 10 minute walk thru video for you to get a little more up close look. A fully loaded Ascape has an MSRP of just over $20,000, so you should be able to fetch one somewhere in the mid teens range.

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Airstream expands Tommy Bahama line

After the launch of the Tommy Bahama special edition 28′ travel trailer and touring coach, Jackson Center, Ohio based Airstream is expanding the Tommy Bahama line with the addition of a 19′ travel trailer.

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According to Airstream CEO Bob Wheeler, “The Tommy Bahama brand embodies the same adventure-loving spirit and freedom as Airstream and we’re thrilled to expand on our partnership. We created the 19-foot Tommy Bahama trailer to allow travelers to enjoy many of the outstanding features of the 28-foot special edition trailer, just in a smaller unit.”

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The 19′ floorplan sleeps four and has a rear corner bed and rear corner bathroom with a 40″ x 91″ front dinette, 4 cubic foot refrigerator,  entertainment center with Polk audio, and custom plantation wood shutters and blinds. Not to mention most of the upscale accoutrements one would expect from an Airstream with an MSRP of $75,900.

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“The launch of the first two Tommy Bahama Airstream models have been a tremendous success and are driving brand awareness for our guests who seek luxury, fun and relaxation,” said Doug Wood, CEO of Tommy Bahama. “We’re really excited about the addition of this smaller 19’ Special Edition Travel Trailer. It offers another great option for those who have clearly shown a desire for the Tommy Bahama Airstream product.”

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For more info on the Tommy Bahama Airstream 19′, visit the Airstream website at https://www.airstream.com/travel-trailers/tommy-bahama-special-edition-travel-trailer/

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Little Guy transformation kicks off with the Max

 

The report of my death was an exaggeration. – Mark Twain

That famed quote by Mark Twain in a letter he wrote in 1897 is something that popped into my head on the drive back home to Indiana recently after visiting Liberty Outdoors’ facility in Somerset, Pennsylvania. For after the split of Little Guy Worldwide (now Liberty Outdoors) with longtime manufacturer Pleasant Valley Teardrops (now nuCamp RV), a lot of people left the Little Guy team for dead.

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Destined to become more than just a teardrop marketer, Little Guy entered the arena of manufacturing, something quite new to them. With the recently acquired rights to the Serro Scotty brand, Little Guy formed an alliance with Gulf Stream to manufacture an “everyman’s camper” in the Serro Scotty. The Scotty took a beating on the internet, and especially in the vintage Serro Scotty community, due to its perceived lack of styling with its standard travel trailer boxiness prevalent in the industry today. Little Guy assured everyone that this was just the first wave, and more products were yet to come that would be more in line with their roots that they would manufacture themselves.

That day has come.

Fresh from their own plant in Somerset, Pennsylvania, comes the Little Guy Max.

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The Max is just the first of many new lines you’ll be seeing coming out of the plant in Somerset over the next two years. And based on my first hand observations of the Max last month, the product offerings from Little Guy will undoubtedly set the small trailer community on its ear. But until then, let’s first take a look at the Max.

I met Little Guy Director of Operations, Dylan DeHoff, at the Liberty Outdoors Somerset plant one Wednesday morning last month. Along with Dylan to meet me was a celebrity in the world of camping podcasts, Janine Pettit of the Girl Camper podcast. Janine was lucky enough to be taking the 3rd Max built back to her home in New Jersey, as she was going to do some hands on critiquing of the Max for Little Guy on a 4 week trip out west starting this month.

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Janine and Dylan took me on a tour of hers before she took it back to New Jersey. The first thing you notice when you first step into the 21′ Max is the incredibly open feel, due in part to the seven dual paned windows throughout, including a window in the door that opens up for additional airflow. IMG_6686[1]

There are also two windows in the rear of the Max that also open, including the vertical window above the spacious 60″ x 80″ queen bed, with a mattress locally made exclusively for Little Guy.

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If there’s one word that really defines the Max it would have to be space. You really feel the space in the actual physical size of the Max, including an impressive 6’7″ ceiling height. In addition,  the light tones of the real maple hardwood cabinetry open it up to create such a refreshing environment that’ll rival the great outdoors for your time spent camping.

lg max4Space is also highlighted in the form of storage space. And for a trailer of this size, I don’t recall anything have the storage, and it’s smart storage, as the Max. A total of two pantries, a deep drawer below the fridge, storage below both the queen bed and the front dinette, as well as three kitchen drawers, and overhead cabinets and cubby holes at every turn.

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This doesn’t even cover the storage under and around the front dinette either, which there is plenty there as well. You’ll notice in the photo above the 24″ Furrion TV at the foot of the bed. There’s also another Furrion TV concealed at the front dinette that opens up with the press of a button. That front dinette also folds down to make a single bed, as typical in most RVs.

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As for construction, the Max is built quite a bit sturdier than your typical trailer in this class. First, it sits on a tubular steel frame that is powder coated to automotive standards. As is the case with most of the components Little Guy uses in production, the frames are locally built. The cage is aluminum and insulated with block foam insulation and covered by Azdel paneling. The one piece fiberglass roof and sidewalls can come in either a white or silver base, with exterior trim in your choice of black, silver, or red.

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The floor is made of a 3/4″ thick product called PerforMAX 500, which is a wood product engineered to better withstand moisture and be more stronger and stable than plywood.

performax500The construction really shines especially in the cabinetry. The dovetail construction used throughout is something you just don’t see much in the industry. I learned during my visit there that they’re building trailers to last you a long, long time. They have the confidence in their trailers that they’ve put a standard 2 year warranty on them, which in the industry is still the exception.

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As for bathroom facilities, the Max has a wet bath with a height of a generous 6’2″, giving ample headroom for most. It also includes a full size multi-speed fan, which is a rarity when it comes to trailer bathroom vents. lg max10

The standards on the Max are plenty, and things you wouldn’t even see as options on other trailers in this class. As for some of the exterior features, they include a 6’3″ Thule awning with LED light strip, 2″ rear receiver for the optional bike rack, 15″ aluminum wheels, sliding screen door, exterior speakers and TV mount, pass through storage with slam latch doors, illuminated aluminum entry step and illuminated grab handle.

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On the inside of the Max, you’ll find (aside from those features already mentioned), an 8″ deep stainless steel kitchen sink with residential style high rise faucet with sprayer, a flush mounted 2 burner gas stove with glass top, a stainless steel microwave, stainless steel 4 cubic foot stainless steel refrigerator, 13,500 BTU roof mount air conditioner, traditional 6 gallon Dometic hot water heater, LED touch screen and switch panel for monitoring tanks and lighting controls, LED lighting throughout including various accent lighting above cabinets, and Furrion Stereo, Bluetooth, MP3, MP4, DVD.

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As for standard specifications, the Max checks in with a dry weight of 2,900 lbs, tongue weight of 281 lbs, and is an even 21 feet long. The holding tanks are 20 gallon fresh water, 14 gallon gray water, and 9 gallon black water. Overall width is 7 feet and height comes in at 9’1″. There’s also an optional Rough Rider package you can buy that gives you a 3.5″ axle lift, black diamond plate, and 15″ matte black off road wheels and tires.

The options on the Max are four: solar panel, bike rack, power tongue jack, and stained cabinetry, if you want your interior a little darker.

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Even though I’ve given you a lot of information here, chances are I’m probably forgetting a few things, which is testament to how loaded this “little guy” really is. It packs a feature punch that honestly I’ve not seen in a trailer this size in the years I’ve been doing this. While some will balk at the $29,999 MSRP, once you see one for yourself, you’ll soon realize that you’re not going to really find much on the level of the Max’s build quality and features. And that MSRP isn’t as high as other similar high end trailers within its size range. And from my visit to their factory, I would consider the Max a high end trailer that will last you many, many good camping years…and look pretty cool rolling into the campground to boot.

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I asked Janine a week after she took to the Max what her impressions were of it and she told me, “Liberty Outdoors just raised the bar in the light weight towable market with their Little Guy Max. It’s built to an exacting standard, thoughtfully designed and affordable. It’s a win, win, win for all RV enthusiasts.”

Based on what I saw of the Max and the other projects set to come online in the next year, that bar will be raised even higher.  Their story is just beginning.

To find out more of the Little Guy Max, visit their website at http://golittleguy.com/lg-max/

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A few updates…

Greetings! Yes, it’s been a while since I posted, but there’s not been a whole lot of small trailer news to report on. However, that’s fixin’ to change! Fingers crossed, but I’ll be heading to a couple of factories over the next couple of months, and one hopefully next week. That one should be big, as this is a trailer that’s not been seen by the public yet, but one that the small trailer community has been waiting for months to get their eyes on. How’s that for a teaser?

Keystone RV has entered the micro trailer market with the introduction of the Passport ROV and the Bullet Colt.

colt_exterior_apr17 rov_exterior_mar17Currently both have just two floorplans which are both the same for each model. But the similarities don’t end there. Every aspect of each trailer is identical, except for the names on the outside and their interior colors and upholstery. Take your pick!

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Indianapolis, Indiana based Greenlight Collectibles continues to provide small trailer lovers with a bevvy of vintage and now current small trailer diecasts. They initially started with their Hitch & Tow series and continue it with various combinations of trailers and tow vehicles.

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But now Greenlight has introduced a new line of strictly trailer diecasts called the Hitched Homes series. Currently there have been two installments of the Hitched Homes series released, totaling twelve trailers ranging from a 1958 Siesta to a 2017 Winnebago Winnie Drop. I picked up a Winnie Drop and a Siesta at my local Meijer store, and I have to say kudos to Greenlight for continuing to honor small trailers the way they have AND building an excellent product at a good price, as I paid less than $10 each.

greenlight1 greenlight2I’ve learned that Greenlight actually measures the real trailers to get specs for production. Jim Gratner, sales pro at Braun’s Fun Time Campers in Indianapolis, told me that Greenlight paid a visit to their lot in 2016 to look over a Winnie Drop they had in their inventory. They took pics and did some measuring for their production of the Hitched Homes 1:64 scale Winnie Drop. So these are detailed about as close to the real thing as you can get.

I’ve yet to see this one, but they’re also coming out with a bigger 1:24 scale teardrop trailer that you’ll also want to put on your shelf.

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So there are a few updates for you all. I’m really excited about these factory visits I’ll be making soon, as there are some trailers you’ve been waiting to finally see, and I’ve been told there are some we’re going to be introduced to that aren’t known yet.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

 

 

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Forest River Drops Lawsuit Against Winnebago

It started a little over a year ago when Forest River filed a lawsuit against Winnebago Industries, citing  “trademark and trade dress infringement and unfair competition” in regards to Winnebago’s introduction of the Winnie Drop. Forest River contended the Winnie Drop was “confusingly similar” to their R-pod, citing consumers who couldn’t differentiate the two trailers.

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According to INiplaw.org, Winnebago’s legal representative “Overhauser Law Offices, LLC, filed a partial motion to dismiss with the court, arguing that Forest River had neither sufficiently identified the features that constituted the claimed trade dress nor provided any factual support for its assertion that such features were non-functional.” Furthermore, “The court agreed with Winnebago, concluding that Plaintiff had relied on “conclusory and meaningless” assertions in its pleadings. Consequently, it granted Winnebago’s motion and dismissed without prejudice Forest River’s claims concerning trade dress infringement under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1125(a) as well as similar claims made under common law.”

As a result of this, Forest River withdrew its suit against Winnebago. According to an article in RV Pro today, “Overall, more specific details needed to be provided for the lawsuit to constitute trade dress infringement. For this reason, Winnebago asked to dismiss Forest River’s claims, which the company and judge then agreed to on Feb. 14”.

What does this mean? Simply, expect more R-pod type trailers to hit the market by other manufacturers. The R-pod is the top selling trailer under 20′ and expect even more manufacturers to now aim for a piece of that pie without fear of Forest River’s legal team. We’re already seeing new units hit the market since the Winnie Drop came out, including offerings from KZ, Keystone, Jayco, and Starcraft.

I know this has been a hot button topic for many of you, especially you loyal R-pod devotees. If there’s a good thing to come out of this, expect the added competition in this class to improve the quality and options among all the manufacturers in an effort to rise to that number one spot where the R-pod currently sits. I’ve always been a firm believer that competition makes you up your game, and this alone will benefit the consumer. And in the end, isn’t that what really matters?

 

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A Look at the KZ Escape Mini

Shipshewana, Indiana based KZ RV in joining the arena of micro campers that sport the wheel wells outside the sidewalls that weigh around 2800 pounds and are around 20 feet long. You all know what style I mean. While the industry tends to call the style “teardrop” (well, it’s not a teardrop), it’s that design that looks like an R-pod, Winnie Drop, Hummingbird, and Comet. OK, now that you have that mental picture, it’s time to add to that list with the KZ Escape Mini.

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There’s a lot to be learned about the Escape Mini, but there’s quite a bit out there on the KZ website. However, as of this writing, they’ve yet to show up on dealer lots. What we do know is that it’s starting out with four floor plans, all listed at 20’11” total length. Two of them don’t have the weights listed, but these should be in the 2800-3000 lbs range. All come with a slide out, GRWR of 3750 lbs, and have a spacious 6’10” interior height. Now one thing I’d like to get clarification from on KZ is the width. Specs list the width at 8′. If true, that’s a good foot and a half wider than competitors, which are usually at 6 1/2′ wide. However, that 8′ listed “may” be from tire to tire and not wall to wall. If it’s tire to tire, then chances are the body width is probably the usual width of a model of this type.

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There are some interesting aspects of the Escape Mini when compared to the other competitors in this class. First you’ll notice the shape. It has more of an angled front and rear walls instead of the arch style of its competitors. That’s a nice touch that sets it apart. Another interesting observation from the four floorplans are the bathrooms. Three have a full bathroom and the fourth has just a toilet and shower, but is NOT a wet bath, based on the schematics on the KZ website. As for the four floorplans, they look like this:

 

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As for some of the interior features, the Escape Mini gives you a standard 2 burner stove, 4.2 cubic foot refrigerator, convection microwave, MaxxAir fan, 20K BTU furnace, and optional 13.5K BTU air conditioner, optional wireless backup system. The optional Off-Road Package includes 15″ mud tires, additional ground clearance, heated holding tanks, and double entry step.

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As for some construction aspects, it has your standard R-7 insulation, 5/8″ tongue and groove plywood decking, and a one piece seamless fiberglass roof with aluminum rafters. Also there’s full front pass through storage on all four models.

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So that’s about all we know on the Escape Mini so far. But as they start rolling off the line and making it to dealer lots, we’ll learn some more on them. Hopefully the local dealer here will carry these and I’ll be able to bring you a first hand report. But if you’d like to check out more on them, visit KZ’s website at https://www.kz-rv.com/products/escape-travel-trailers/floorplans.html

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And the Best Selling Small Trailer of 2016 Is….

Back in November at the RVIA show in Louisville, I came across a manufacturer who had a listing of sales of the top 20 travel trailers that were under 20′ in length for 2015 and 2016. Obviously since those lengths are what I cover here, I was quite interested in the results. Before I tell you about the #1 trailer in sales for 2016 (and it garnered that honor in 2015 as well), I grabbed a few numbers that shows that our beloved small trailer segment is on the rise, and rising at a faster rate than the RV industry as a whole.

Let’s take a look. In 2015, the small trailer segment saw sales of 33,207 units. Those numbers jumped to 39,713 in 2016, an impressive increase of 19.59%. When looking at the entire RV industry, total sales for 2016 jumped some 15.1% to 430,961 compared to 2015 (Source: RVIA.org). This includes all forms of RVs, including motorhomes, fifth wheels, etc. So this shows the small trailer segment is outpacing the entire RV industry as a whole by some 4.5%. This might explain why manufacturers are coming out with new and unique offerings in 2017.

Now for the news you’ve been waiting for. I want to first preface this by saying that the previously mentioned list was compiled by the company that held the number 1 spot, so take that for what it is. So without further adieu, the trailer 20′ and under with the most number of sales at a whopping 4,366 is……

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the Forest River R-pod. The R-pod has been around since the 2009 model year and is the “granddaddy” of the vintage canned ham shaped campers. Since it’s come out, there have been others come on the scene in recent years with a similar design, but so far no one has come close numbers-wise. Actually, the R-pod is the leader with a nearly 11% market share, while the #2 trailer on that list, the Coachmen Viking, is back in a distant 7.89%. The R-pod’s sales rose over 21% in 2016 when compared to the year prior. So while the competition continues to come after the R-pod with clones of their own, not only has the R-pod fought them off with ease, but have also held the top position of all trailers less than 20′ long, regardless of style. It continues to increase in popularity, as it’s 21% increase over 2015 sales would indicate.

The R-pod comes in 9 different floorplans to choose from, and one that will likely fit most small trailer enthusiasts needs. To learn more, check out their website at: Forest River R-pod

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Goodyear Announces American Made Trailer Tire

A while back when I had my Serro Scotty Hilander, vintage 2010, I decided the fall after it was built that I’d pull off the Chinese made bias play tires that were on it. I had read online so many issues with “China Bombs” as most Chinese built trailer tires were called, that I felt for peace of mind that I’d invest money into the best tire I could find. The tire that came on it from the factory was an H188ST bias ply by Tredit Tire…made in China.

tire 1Most RV manufacturers like to put as little money into components as they can to help keep production costs down, which I think we all understand, albeit a hard pill to swallow as consumers. Once I started reading several RV forums about tires and blowouts, I soon found that I was educating myself pretty well. I decided one night to inspect the tires on my Scotty and noticed on one side wall there was a nick. That was enough of a red flag for me to get more serious about getting a new set of tires for my 3 month old trailer. That is, GOOD tires. After a good week scouring the internet, the consensus was two choices: Goodyear Marathons (the ones made in America – not China), and Maxxis. Although Maxxis is made in Thailand, they had an excellent reputation in the industry and did their job: they didn’t blow out. This was about the time that Goodyear sent production of their Marathons over to China, and reports were already online of Chinese Marathon failures (blowouts) in some cases with just a couple thousand miles logged on the tires. I went with the Maxxis, and it was an excellent (and only) choice I could’ve made. The Scotty tracked much better behind my truck than it ever did with the bias ply tires. I had those Maxxis on it some 4+ years with no signs of wear when I sold it in 2015. I was sold on Maxxis and highly recommended anyone searching for a replacement trailer tire to make Maxxis their choice with confidence. And I still feel that way today.

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(courtesy maxxis.com)

However, I might need to make room for another tire that fits that confidence level. Recently Goodyear Tire has introduced a second trailer tire to go alongside their Marathon called the Endurance. The Endurance is a much more stout tire in comparison to the Marathon, as its load range are only D and E to handle heavier loads. Some of the features of the Endurance include:

  • An optimized tread depth and decoupling groove, which help it remain cool while towing heavy loads;
  • Rugged fabric-steel construction, which offers improved durability and carrying capacity while remaining compatible with tire pressure monitoring systems and typical tire inflation stations;
  • A specialized inner liner, which minimizes air loss in trailer applications; and
  • A scuff guard, which helps protect sidewalls.

One big reason for the confidence that consumers should look forward to is that the Endurance is built right here in the United States. For years, RV owners have chastised…and rightly so…tire manufacturers for sending production overseas where it is felt quality control is lacking, thus causing the many tire failures that foreign made tires are noted for. But the Endurance will be made in the U.S., which should bring some comfort to the majority of RV owners who are savvy about their tires. Jayco has already announced that all of its products will leave the factory on Goodyear Endurance tires, so the industry is starting to listen to what consumers have been wanting for quite some time: an American made tire on their RV instead of something that they’ll need to replace in a couple of thousand miles. tire 3

(courtesy tirerack.com)

For those reading who think a tire is just a tire, look at it this way. Most of your small trailers that I cover on this page are going to be single axle trailers. It’s even more critical for owners of single axle trailers to have the most reliable tire on their trailer that money can buy. Why? In the even of a blowout, a single axle trailer can put you in a compromising position especially if on the highway at highway speeds. However if your trailer is on a twin axle and have a blowout, you still have three tires on the ground, and instability will be less of a factor than a blowout on a single axle trailer, leaving you with just one tire on the highway at highway speeds. That’s why tire safety is one of my biggest “causes” I like to preach. It’s worth spending an extra $200 or so to have an excellent set of radial trailer tires on your trailer. After all, the trailer that’s sitting on top of your tires is in the thousands of dollars, so isn’t a cheap investment in a quality tire that you can reduce the risk of catastrophic failure worth it? It’s a cheap insurance policy and smart money spent. So when looking at new tires, do your research, ask questions, and make a good educated decision. Hopefully after reading this you know what my choice would be, but with the Endurance now on the market, you know what my choiceS would be.

To read up on sizes and specs of the Goodyear Endurance, visit the Tire Rack website at: https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=Goodyear&tireModel=Endurance

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After a Year of Ownership: 2016 Shasta Oasis 18BH

At most jobs, we get that dreaded yearly review from our boss where we beg for mercy to keep our jobs another year. OK, maybe not that bad, but they can be a little on the stressful side. Today I turned the tables and I was the boss and my 2016 Shasta Oasis 18BH was the employee I was reviewing. It didn’t need to beg for mercy, as I was pretty sure I was happy enough with it to keep it for another year of camping.

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The 18BH is our second Shasta Oasis in as many years. We traded our Oasis 25BH for it on January 21, 2016. It was a trade down of some 7 feet of trailer due mainly to some tow vehicle issues hauling the 29′ 25BH. Had Shasta had the 18BH floorplan when we bought the 25BH in 2015, it never would’ve been an issue, as we would’ve bought the 18BH back then. But despite going through multiple tow vehicles and trailers over the past two years, we finally are set for hopefully several years to come with the 18BH and our GMC Yukon XL.

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Now for the meat of the post. Overall, I don’t have any complaints after our year of camping in the 18BH. I did take it in for some minor fixes, like an air conditioner adjustment and tank sensors, but nothing structural – and no leaks! As mentioned, we tow it with a Yukon XL and I’ve found no need for a weight distribution hitch and sway control. The 350 lbs tongue weight is light when compared to identical floorplans from other manufacturers, which generally are checking in at 450lbs and more in some cases. Our 18BH weighs in at 3329 lbs and offers an impressive 1420 lbs of cargo carrying capacity, which leads this floorplan among manufacturers by several hundred pounds.

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The tanks on the 18BH blow away the competition as well: 42 gallon fresh water, 36 gallon black, ad 36 gallon gray. Many…and I emphasize MANY…with this floorplan give you fresh water tanks half the size as the 18BH. The benefit is the extra tank capacities give you the luxury of camping off the grid for an extended period of time when compared to the competition.

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Shasta put a nicely sized 12 foot awning on the 18BH, which gives excellent coverage of most of its 21’9″ hitch to tail length. I’ve done a few upgrades to it and have more in store. One of the first things I did was swap out the tail light assemblies for LED. etrailer.com had the same LED assembly that the 18BH had with its incandescent. You can change out just the bulb and save some time and money, but I’ve never been a fan of the barrel style LED bulb. The flat board type LED distributes the light better, in my opinion. The license plate lights also give the added benefit of acting as almost a backup light, which comes in handy when backing into a campsite at night.

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Another upgrade I recently completed was replacing all the incandescent interior light fixtures with identical Optronics LED fixtures. There are 5 double lights and 4 single lights in the 18BH Oasis. This was a simple upgrade that cost less than $100 shipped. The result is more than 75% energy saved, a brighter and whiter light, and better ability to camp off the grid. This was by far the biggest upgrade I’ve done and the results far exceeded my expectations. The 2017 18BH models now come with LED lighting, so unless you have a 2016 or older, this wouldn’t be a necessary upgrade.

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The last thing I did wasn’t much, but a little “dressing” up the wheels by adding plastic chrome hub centers. Sure it’s not much, but when I add some stainless steel beauty rings this year, it’ll add some additional flair to it.

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As for the 2017 18BH models, Shasta has given them a makeover, as well as added a few extras. Gone is the combo white/gold paint scheme in favor of a tan/cream look. They’ve also made the entry door as well as baggage door the same color as well. It’s been out a few months now, but I’m still on the fence which I like better. I guess they both look nice…just different from each other. Aside from the exterior colors, they’ve also added a back-up camera prep as well as solar prep.

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If you’re looking for this bunkhouse floorplan, there are A LOT of manufacturers that carry it. I would venture to say that this is one of the most common floorplans among all RV manufacturers. I looked at a lot of them just over a year ago. I traveled a lot of miles to look at brands that dealers didn’t carry in central Indiana. While I liked some features of others, we kept coming back to the Shasta. The storage in it exceeds any floorplan by any other manufacturer without debate. I completed a nearly 30 minutes walk thru video of ours earlier today where I talk more in depth of how the Oasis blows away the competition in terms of interior storage.

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The price is right for what you get too. Sure another manufacturer may put in a stereo system and throw in a TV, but I’ve got my own radio and my own TV I can bring to the party. I look for bang for my buck when buying a trailer and the Shasta Oasis 18BH delivers. The dealer where we bought ours, Mount Comfort RV, currently has 2017 models for under $13,000. So if you’ve been searching for this floor plan and you were to ask my opinion, this blog post should give you my answer. You can feel confident in its structure and functionality, all while not needing a pot of gold to buy one.

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If all this writing wasn’t enough, here’s the video walk thru I did on it this afternoon. It’s almost 30 minutes long, so grab some popcorn and the kids and enjoy! For more info on the Shasta Oasis 18BH, visit the Shasta website at http://shastarving.com

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ParkLiner and Little Guy Form Distribution Partnership

Liberty, North Carolina based GFM Industries, parent company of fiberglass trailer manufacturer ParkLiner, issued a release today regarding a new partnership with Uniontown, Ohio based Little Guy Worldwide. According to the release, ParkLiner, always a factory direct manufacturer, will team up with Little Guy to market and distribute their fiberglass trailers in a traditional dealer network, something not often…if ever…seen with this type of trailer.

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I first told you about ParkLiner way back in 2012, when the then 2 year old company was trying to find its legs. Since then, they’ve changed ownership in GFM Industries and have really started to make some progress. Now with today’s announcement of teaming up with Little Guy, the future looks pretty bright. According to the press release, “This partnership ensures customers are able to receive the highest quality products, outstanding service, simplified parts ordering, and a comprehensive store of accessories to meet your needs as a result of the companies’ combined 20 years of experience serving the RV industry.”

parklinerKnown for years for their marketing and distribution expertise, Little Guy will undoubtedly give the same energy to the ParkLiner as they have distributing their teardrops, as well as the current Serro Scotty.  I hope to be speaking with representatives of both ParkLiner and Little Guy in the near future to get some more insight on this partnership. Stay tuned…

 

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