Known for 30 plus years as an A-frame fold down trailer company, Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania based Aliner is set to bring to the small trailer market an unconventional (for Aliner) travel trailer called the Ascape in 2017.
The Ascape is fairly unique for a trailer in its micro-trailer class, of which that class is rapidly expanding among manufacturers. It has a seldom seen rear entry door, with a drop floor which allows just over 6 feet of headroom yet keeping the total exterior height at under 7 1/2 feet. The walls are constructed with an .030 exterior aluminum skin and high-tech Azdel composites.
“The Ascape is a progressive product that we are sure will not disappoint. For such a small trailer, the space inside is very welcoming,” said Brett Randall, President of Aliner. “Working together with the team members at Aliner, we feel this will truly please that market that has been waiting for a lighter concept.”
The Ascape measures in at 13 feet long and 1350 lbs. It will come in a basic and plus model. The plus model will include a potty, A/C, audio/visual package and exterior awning. As of this writing, the MSRP is to be determined, and other specs, such as tank sizes, are not yet available.
The Ascape will debut next week at the national RVIA trade show in Louisville, which I’ll be attending. I’ll be sure to give it a look and let you know my thoughts.
Some ten plus years ago before I ever became an RVer, my wife and I pondered how cool it’d be to get a teardrop trailer one day. I remember many nights scoping out the various teardrop websites and thinking of how cool it’d be to own the Airstream of teardrops, a Camp-Inn.
But reality always set in and that dream kept getting put off until it was virtually forgotten. However, things changed in September of 2009 when over the span of a weekend in Missouri we saw a great looking Route 66 inspired Pleasant Valley teardrop and a Dutchmen T@B.
After having the luxury of comparing both a traditional teardrop to a T@B over the same weekend, we discussed the pros and cons of both on our drive back home to Indiana. We decided if we were going to do this, it’d be a T@B, and the following weekend sure enough we had our own T@B sitting in our driveway after a purchase from a dealer in Elkhart, Indiana.
As newbies to the RV lifestyle, we soon realized that despite the coolness of the T@B, we needed a little more space…and a toilet. Seven months later, enter a 2010 Serro Scotty HiLander, just about the same size, but with a wet bath and a smidge more space.
But as some of you have followed our story over the years, you’ll know that once grandson 2.0 came along, even the Scotty became too small, as we wanted to make sure both of the boys had a chance to have childhood memories of camping with us. So now we call our 2016 Shasta Oasis 18BH our RV of choice.
The Shasta has given us a good family camper with a couple of bunks, bathroom, queen bed…and a vanilla, generic look compared to the T@B and Scotty we had before it. Gone were the days when it’d take me 45 minutes setting up our campsite, as 35 of those minutes were spent talking to a passerby about the T@B or Scotty. No one’s given a second look at the Shasta. I’ve realized that socialization at campgrounds over the trailer I had was a big part of my camping experience, and one I missed. And after my birthday this past June, one which is taking me closer to 50 and farther away from 40, I realized mid-life crisis was in full effect. I had to do something to tame it. And so with my wife’s blessing, we did.
We put an order in on a 2017 Riverside RV Retro, Jr 509 back in late June. I know a few teardrop builders in the industry, and as you can see on our Manufacturers Page, there are a lot of them throughout the country. And make no bones about it, they build some excellent products. However, I’ve had a previous working relationship with Braun’s Fun Time Campers in Indianapolis, a Riverside dealer. After inspecting some at their dealership, we soon realized the Retro, Jr gave us what we wanted at an excellent price point.
Riverside offers a few color schemes to choose from, but after going back and forth on what we wanted, we realized we needed to go with the white with aqua trim with baby moon hubcaps to pay homage to our former Scotty. But on our first camping trip a couple of days after we took possession, it was like old times. At a busy Starve Hollow campground, it got its share of looks and even some pictures. And once we start taking it out more next year, I’m sure I’ll be speaking of its virtues to any fellow camper interested.
Now for the nuts and bolts of the Retro, Jr. Total length is 13’9″ and dry weight fully optioned is 1,023 lbs. Those options we ordered are air conditioning, sink/stove combo, spare tire package, electric brakes, and a few other minor ones, including a USB/12 volt charging port and solar prep. One thing I did get on my own was a mountable jockey wheel at Menards for about $25 that swings up or down, depending on whether you’re hauling or ready to move it by hand.
The interior bed dimensions are a nice 60″ wide and 76″ long, more than ample enough for two average sized adults. We added a 2″ memory foam mattress topper from Walmart for some extra comfort. There are also storage cabinets on the front and rear interior walls, with the rear cabinets a little bit longer than the front, but both sides large enough to handle your typical bags for clothes you’d bring on a weekend camping trip.
The Retro, Jr is now decked out with all LED lighting, inside and out with the exception of the over the door exterior light. There are two main overhead lights as well as two reading lights underneath the front cabinet that are on either side of the USB/12 volt charging station.
The air conditioning unit is more than adequate for anyone in just about any climate. It was about the time we ordered ours in June when we were informed that Riverside had done away with the interior window-unit style air conditioner in favor of an 11,000 BTU roof mounted Dometic unit. It should be interesting next summer to see how it does in really hot weather.
Moving to the rear kitchen area. With going with the sink/stove combo option, that also meant we’d have to have a 5 gallon propane tank on the front, and in the rear hatch, we’d need the 17 gallon fresh water tank as well as water pump. But should you decide not to get the sink/stove combo, the entire rear storage area is yours, as the fresh water tank and water pump wouldn’t be included.
The rear kitchen area offers ample counter space, an electrical outlet for a microwave, coffee maker, or any other electric kitchen device, as well as a decent sized cabinet for utensils and other small cookware. Also included is an LED light for those late night cooking ventures.
Now one important upgrade that we went with makes our Retro, Jr…as far as I can tell…a one of a kind (for now). And that is the interior Retro package that we asked for. And that is the wood grain interior and kitchen area finish as well as the black & white checkered flooring. This is typically something that does not come on a Retro, Jr and isn’t listed as an option. I’ve scoured every photo and ad for these for the past 5 months and I’ve not seen one with this option. So a typical Retro, Jr interior would look like this:
Kind of a no brainer to go with the wood grain/checker board look for about $300, don’t you think?
Now back to some specs, the Retro, Jr sits on a 1500 lbs axle, supported by two 13″ wheels. The underside is enclosed by the usual black Darco material to keep out moisture. The 30 amp power cord could be a little longer to suit me, so be prepared to purchase an extension for it as it’s probably about 15′ long.
Construction-wise it appears to be built pretty well. It’s got an aluminum cage with a steel frame, aluminum sidewalls and a fiberglass roof. It tows extremely well and at just 1,023 lbs, can be towed by a lot of vehicles. As you can tell, this is a teardrop with doors on each side, which isn’t always the case with some manufacturers. Each door has a deep tented, vertical sliding window for some good cross ventilation and are draped with color coordinated shades for privacy. The one drawback with going with the rooftop air conditioner is that it eliminates the possibility to have an A/C as well as a roof top vent fan. However, a Fantastic Fan is standard if you don’t order the A/C. And one other request I wish I would’ve made is to have an exterior porch light over each door, as they only put the one over the curbside door.
But overall, it appears to be a solid trailer with a good build quality. And coming from me, that says something, as I was rather critical of Riverside’s sloppiness on their Retros when I first saw them at the RVIA trade show in Louisville in 2011. However, in subsequent years, I commented on how they seemed to have got their act together on fit & finish for this price point, and the fact that I’m buying from them should show how much I believe in how they’ve improved.
Depending on where you are in the U.S., you can likely expect to see a Retro, Jr fetch an MSRP starting in the $9,000’s, but your results may vary. I’ll keep you all posted on how things are going on it in the near future. And if you’re wondering, yes, we are a two-trailer family. We’ll be keeping our Shasta for when we take family trips with the grandboys. But the Retro, Jr is for me, or me and my wife to play with. I kind of liken it to this: The Shasta is kind of like a minivan that a guy has to drive throughout the week. And the Retro, Jr is that guy’s sportscar that he drives on the weekends. Hope you follow that analogy!
I’ve put together a walk around video of it that you can find below. Feel free to shoot me any comments or questions either below this post or on the YouTube video. As always, thanks for reading.
A long time ago, many jobs ago, the CFO of the company I worked for once told me, “Pat, just because someone has an idea, doesn’t mean it’s a good one”. Fortunately he wasn’t referring to me, just giving me advice that’s stuck with me all these years. When the Winnebago Winnie Drop was introduced a couple of years ago, that advice came to the surface of my thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the Winnebago Industries. Not only has Winnebago been synonymous with RVing for decades, but their products are synonymous with quality. And it could be I’ve had an affection for Winnebago for some 40 years when my mom and dad bought me the famous Tonka Winnebago Indian that came out in the early 1970’s that I got for a Christmas present when I was a young lad. I really wish I still had that thing!
But when the Winnie Drop first came out, I was initially excited about Winnebago introducing a small trailer that was eye catching, but the more I looked at one, the less excited I got. I just could not get past the graphics and the interior color. Let’s face it, the graphics were nothing short of a cluttered mess that left the word “garish” embarrassed.
Instead of enhancing the Winnie Drop, these graphics did nothing more than distract from it. With the size and shape, as well as the exterior colors offered by Winnebago, the graphic package never did this trailer any favors. Up until now.
This late 2017 graphics update for the Winnie Drop is exactly what this trailer needed. Now what do we have? A trailer that is accented by an excellent balance of size, shape, sidewall color and a much less vocal graphics package. Even the new Winnie Drop logo on the side is very nicely done with a simple arch incorporating the Winnebago “W” as a wheel.
Aside from the new graphics on the Winnie Drop, Winnebago has also increased the number of available colors it comes in. As Josh Winters of Haylett RV in Coldwater, Michigan tells me, “If yellow isn’t your color, then remember it only comes in six other amazing colors!” Up until now, the only colors it came in were cherry, blue, white, and platinum. In addition to those, you can also get it in orange, champagne, and the lemon color shown above.
Now hopefully Winnebago will look into going with a lighter interior instead of the, as I call it, “brownish-gray” that they’ve had since its inception.
For those of you new to Winnie Drops, Josh put together another one of his stellar walk through videos of the Winnie Drop with the new exterior graphics. Be sure to visit the Haylett RV site for more info on their line of Winnebagos in stock.
The Comet Mini offers four different floor plans ranging from 19’11” to 20’8″ lengths. With dry weights from 2708 lbs to 3055 pounds, it makes it towable by most mid size SUVs at a minimum. To keep it lightweight, the Comet Mini offers an aluminum cage and laminated sidewalls.
The floorplans offered aren’t any different than any what r-pod, the Winnie Drop, or the Jayco Hummingbird offer, so all else being equal, this gives buyers an apples to apples comparison where they can narrow their choice down to options, color schemes, and prices. Standards include a convection microwave oven and upgraded pleated night shades, as well as optional 13.5k air conditioning, electric awning, electric tongue jack and bumper mount grill. Interior-wise, I really like the tone of the sugar maple cabinetry when compared to some of its competitors. It’s a color you don’t see in many trailers and brightens things up while separating itself from the others.
With Starcraft being a member of the Jayco family, it also offers a 2 year manufacturers warranty on the Comet Mini, which is something r-pod and the Winnie Drop do not. All in all, the Comet Mini appears to be a sound option for those of you in the market for the so-called European styled exterior design.
The history of Serro Scotty trailers dates back to the 1950’s when a retired John Serro built his first trailer. The history of the beloved white and turquoise “everyman’s camper” is long and storied in the annals of the recreational vehicle industry. Podcaster and blogger Janine Pettit had the pleasure of interviewing the grandson of John Serro, Gary Pirschl, in her latest podcast for Girl Camper, her blog and podcast dedicated to the camping lifestyle for the ladies.
After months of anticipation, nuCamp RV has unveiled the T@B 400 prototype at the Elkhart RV Open House. Thanks to this pic from Rusty Eckstein of Mount Comfort RV in Indiana, this is what the exterior of the 400 will look like. And before you ask, this was the only picture that I got from it, so currently no interior shots, but I suspect other media outlets who attended the Elkhart Open House will be following up in the days to come.
Now if you’ll excuse me, back to my regularly scheduled northern Minnesota vacation. 😀
Beginning Wednesday, September 14 through Sunday, September 18, the annual Hershey Pennsylvania RV Show will feature the first look of the resurrected Serro Scotty family of travel trailers from Little Guy Worldwide. Today I got the lowdown and first pictures from Little Guy VP of Operations Dylan DeHoff. As well as the introduction at Hershey, Little Guy is also updating the Serro Scotty website to reflect the new models as well as introducing the new Little Guy logo.
To some, the first wave of Serro Scotties may be a surprise, as their shape and floorplans are similar to other brands on the market. However, their plan to me makes sense. Their goal with the initial wave of Scotties will be focused on an affordable trailer that just about anyone can get into. As Dylan tells me, “We do get many calls and complaints about the teardrops being too expensive for the size offered. These first Scotty’s are built with price in mind. They are wood construction and can be built stripped of features or loaded up depending on what the dealer wants to stock. We will still be coming out with other Scotty’s that have the HiLander and Sportsman shape but we wanted to create this line of Scottys for the entry level buyer who is looking for an inexpensive camper.”
There are some five floorplans available ranging in lengths from 17’2 up to 22’7″, including basic couples floorplans as well as bunkhouse floorplans for smaller families. The interiors mix in the modern with the classic Scotty turquoise. Dry weights will run from 2230 lbs to 3927 lbs. Additional specs can be found on the Serro Scotty Trailers website here.
But Dylan wanted to make it clear that this first wave of Serro Scotty is just the beginning. “We are also featuring a graphic on the home page of the website which shows a cropped version of our first model with two silhouette images of what models are to come. I wanted to put that on there to give the customers an idea of what is to come. But we are really excited to offer this first Scotty as an entry level camper. We want to get the Scotty into as many people’s hands as we can so they can enjoy camping with their family. It was referred to back in the day as the “every man’s camper” and that is our goal with this first model line. Every man’s camper in terms of affordability but unique enough that you stand out from the crowd”. You can expect the 2nd wave of Scotties to be like those of the traditional HiLander (My old 2010 pictured) as well as the Sportsman. Note, these are models from previous Scotty manufacturers. I’m only offering these for reference sake.
The entry level Scotties will be available sometime this year, and you can look for the more retro HiLander and Sportsman styles sometime by mid-2017. As for MSRP, the five initial floorplans will have a respectable MSRP ranging from $15,000 up to around $20,000. When comparing to other brands with similar floorplans, the prices for the Scotties will be right in line with some of the name brands out there. And considering the throwback color scheme the Scotties will wear, in this era of everything “retro”, I can easily see the Scotty as the choice for many.
I’ll continue to keep tabs on the Scotty through the rest of the year and into 2017 as the new models come out. Stay tuned…this is a fun time for this segment of the RV industry.
As the news of last month bombshell announcement of Little Guy Worldwide and Pleasant Valley Teardrops’ split set the small trailer segment of the RV industry on its ear, we’re now hearing from the Pleasant Valley side of things. After Little Guy Worldwide told of their future in July , we’re now hearing from Pleasant Valley Teardrops, who up until now were manufacturers.
In a press release today, Pleasant Valley CEO Scott Hubble stated, “Frankly, I never envisioned a future without Little Guy— personally or professionally. However, given the situation, we wish our friends at Little Guy Worldwide nothing but the greatest success both now, as partners, and in the future, as they embark on an exciting new path. We believe that this segment of the market will continue to grow, thereby offering both companies an opportunity to collaborate and create synergies with other niche OEMs.”
To rehash why the split occurred, discussions began to consolidate Pleasant Valley Teardrops and Little Guy Worldwide into one company. However, due to differing objectives of each company, it was decided to part ways when their contract expires in April 2017. Enter nüCamp RV.
With Pleasant Valley now moving on without the marketing and distributi0n savvy of Little Guy by their side, they are starting anew in name as well. Pleasant Valley Trailers has recently adopted the nüCamp RV brand name for use in day-to-day operations. The company will use this new name alongside the Pleasant Valley Teardrop Trailers brand through the end of 2017 in an effort to ease the transition to the new brand. Hubble reiterated that nüCamp RV is Pleasant Valley Teardrop Trailers—just operating under a new name. The nüCamp RV website is located at http://www.nucamprv.com and will continue to be developed over the upcoming months as the company incorporates all of its product lines under the umbrella of this single site.
nüCamp RV is the owner of the T@B teardrop travel trailer, which was acquired from Dutchmen RV in 2011, as well as the T@G: a teardrop trailer Pleasant Teardrop Trailers Valley developed in 2013. nüCamp RV will continue manufacturing these extremely popular lines of recreational vehicles and will continue supporting their very loyal base of T@B and T@G customers.
Pleasant Valley expects to produce more than 3,500 campers in 2016, representing substantial year-over-year growth for the past five years. “Our company has responded to the explosive growth in the small trailer segment of the recreational vehicle industry by expanding our manufacturing facility in Sugarcreek, Ohio—the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country – by an additional 91,000 square feet,” reports Hubble. “We employ some of the most highly skilled craftsmenand craftswomen in the world, and their continued dedication to quality is renowned in the industry. This is our second plant expansion in three years, and we continue to manage this growth through a dedication to the core principles upon which our company was founded.”
As 2017 rolls around and the separation of nüCamp and Little Guy is complete, I’ll be watching to see how well nüCamp manages the marketing aspect of the business, previously handled by Little Guy. There’ll be a few growing pains, as I’m sure Little Guy will also find out as it ventures into manufacturing. But the real hope of those who’ve been fans of the Little Guy/Pleasant Valley marriage is that both will find success along their respective paths. But with a loyal legion of owners spreading goodwill on nüCamp’s behalf, I’m pretty sure they’ll be just fine. If you’d like to find out firsthand, Hubble states, “nüCamp is delighted to host current and prospective customers as well as dealers and prospective dealers at their facility in Sugarcreek, Ohio to see firsthand how they are reinventingthe recreational vehicle industry one camper at a time.”
In a press release from Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania based Aliner, they will be launching two new designs for their Scout-Lite and Ranger 10 trailers, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit breast cancer research. With October being breast cancer awareness month, the announcement was no coincidence.
The two color options will be pink on white, or white on pink. The designs were the inspiration of Aliner president and CEO Brett Randall, who has had personal experiences with breast cancer.
“We are very honored to introduce these two special units. We feel a strong connection to all of those who have been impacted by breast cancer,” said Randall. “We are proud of the opportunity to provide our loyal followers a product that may touch them as well.”
According to the press release, as the project proceeded, it became evident that breast cancer touched the lives of many Aliner employees. Several concepts were considered over a period of months before these two designs were chosen, as they believed they represented the Aliner brand and breast cancer awareness. One touch I noticed is how they incorporated a ribbon as the “A” in Aliner on the sides. Nicely done.
A couple of weeks ago I was able to get a tour set up of the Riverside RV factory in LaGrange, Indiana, thanks to a one of Riverside’s dealers, Austin Braun of Braun’s Fun Time Campers in Indianapolis.
I was interested in checking out their facilities for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been following Riverside’s steady growth since I first found out about them at the RVIA trade show in 2011. The second reason has to do with an order I made for one of their teardrop trailers. I was hoping to see it in production, but it wasn’t slated to hit the assembly line until August 29. I’ll cover that in a future post, but here’s a sneak peek at what it’ll look like, as there was one on their lot awaiting a trip to a dealer in Sacramento.
My tour was led by Riverside sales manager Bob Taulbee. On the Friday I was up there, they had finished production for the week, so it was just about empty except for a handful of office personnel. Bob told me Riverside consists of about 50 employees, and about 45 of those are local Amish.
Despite the production having been wrapped up for the week, Bob told me that they’re producing about 40 units a week. That’s some pretty impressive output for a smaller independent RV manufacturer. Right now there are just under 600 Riverside Retros listed on rvtrader.com, so that’s pretty good coverage for anyone looking to buy one from any part of the country.
Ever since 2011 when I first laid eyes on a Retro 155, the quality has vastly improved. One aspect of that better quality is in some of the little things they do. One such example is in leak testing. Each unit that is produced spends about 5 minutes in the shower, where water soaks each trailer from various angles while one person inspects from inside.
When I brought up the topic about Little Guy soon reviving the Serro Scotty line, Bob made no bones about it. “We know they’ll be coming after us”. Despite their market share of retro style trailers facing this pending threat from the coming of Serro Scotty, Bob feels good about where they stand in the market and the continually growing base of Retro owners who seem to be quite satisfied camping in their Retros, according to some of the Riverside Facebook pages out there.
The back lot at the Riverside factory is a nice array of just about every model they have available. These are completed models awaiting shipment to dealers all across the country.
That includes even some of the newer models, such as the new Retro toy hauler that’s just coming out.
One last thing I was intrigued with during my visit there was a new project Riverside is coming out with that will debut in September. And that is a Retro fifth wheel. Granted, it doesn’t fit the criteria of a small trailer, but once I saw it, I was more than wowed by it. It’s the first prototype and was still a work in process when I saw it. They didn’t even know yet what it’ll weigh or the MSRP on it. However, it’ll have the same retro interior and graphics as their other models…plus baby moon hubcaps.
If you’d like to check out more of the Riverside Retro models, you can visit their website at http://riversidervs.net.
The Small Trailer Enthusiast is a home for news on small travel trailers, typically 20' or less. Here you will find info on new models, industry news relating to small trailers, and any other stories I think you might find interesting. Have some small trailer news you'd like to pass along?