The winter RV show season is kicking off in many cities this coming weekend, and the 120,000 square foot Indy RV Expo in Indianapolis is one of them. Some of you long time readers may recall I’ve filled in as a part time salesman over the past few years for local Indianapolis dealers Braun’s Fun Time Campers and Mount Comfort RV. I thought I was going to be an “unsigned free agent” for this year’s show and just be a spectator until an opportunity arose this week to join Braun’s again on both weekends of the show.
As most of you know, this website is not my full time job, and I don’t even make a regular living in the RV industry – I work full time in the retirement services division of a major insurance holding and financial services corporation. So any time I get to escape the daily routine and talk to folks about trailers in person, I’m all over it! I enjoy writing and having you all read my ramblings, but helping dealers at these shows is a no pressure, rewarding venture for me that allows me to get out and help the industry grow. Granted, I like to think this website does just that as well, but talking to people one on one about RVing is one of my more enjoyable things to do. So, for those of you in the Midwest looking to get out of the house, the show starts this coming Saturday, January 7 and runs through Sunday, January 15 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. I’ll be working at the Fun Time Campers corral both weekends of the show from open to close. Braun’s is a dealer mainly of Riverside Retro, Winnebago Towables, and KZ travel trailers. They’re the same dealer we recently bought our Riverside teardrop from, so as was the case with my time working the show for Mount Comfort RV last year, I’m taking the angle of a customer selling for them as well. Honestly, a lot of folks don’t like dealing with sales people, so I try to convey to them my position as a fellow RVer. In some cases, that can tend to enable them to drop their defense shield a bit knowing they’re dealing with “one of them”.
So aside from Riverside Retros, you can expect to see some Winnebagos there such as the Winnie Drop and plenty of KZ products, such as the Escape.
Even if you’re not in the market for a trailer and just want to see what Braun’s and the other dealers have brought out, I do hope you’ll hunt me down and say hello!
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.
As the winter months drag on, I’m sure a lot of you have hit an RV show in your region. I was fortunate to work at one in Indianapolis for a couple of Saturdays this month for Mount Comfort RV at the Indy RV Expo. Seven dealers packed over 200 RVs in the West Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the 9 day event. Here are some of the small trailer offerings that the dealers brought to the show. In case you didn’t see some of these at the show(s) you attended, here’s a little more for you to research. For ease of viewing, I’ve put the 5 of the 7 dealer’s photo above all the trailers that follow it. One dealer didn’t have anything small. There were a couple I would’ve taken at Camping World’s booth, but 3 of their sales people were standing in front of them, too busy watching a football game on an outside TV on a motorhome across the aisle. Their loss….they should’ve been working.
Back in May, I told you of a special edition version of the White Water Retro 177 that was scheduled to hit the dealer lots in June. Through the summer, production of the 177SE has been brisk, and as of October, they’re still being produced.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to get a firsthand tour of a 177SE, courtesy of the fine folks at Braun’s Fun Time Campers, an Indianapolis White Water Retro dealer. Since I first became aware of White Water back in 2011, I’ve paid close attention to the quality of the units, as I’ve gone on record in the past how disappointing some of the craftsmanship was early on.
However I began noticing great improvements in quality around 2013 and it’s been getting better ever since. The 177SE has some pop to it with the baby moon hubcaps and Coker whitewall tires. The paint schemes you can get on the 177SE are many, but I’m fond of both the red on white and the turquoise on white, both of which Fun Time Campers had on their lot that day.
From a construction standpoint, all indications show the Retro is a well built unit, starting with an aluminum frame sitting on a 3500 lbs axle. The dry weight is around 2600 lbs and length is 18’6″. There are two exterior storage hatches, one on the front street side that is accessible from inside, and one hatch in the rear.
The interior of the 177SE is well laid out. Up front there’s a dinette with sliding table that has storage underneath the booth. It also converts to a bed for increased sleeping capacity. As wet baths go, the size of the 177SE’s is larger than most that I’ve seen. Comparing it to the Scotty I used to have, it’s probably about 1/3 larger, and should be more than adequate, as long as you understand a wet bath isn’t going to give you the size as a regular RV bathroom. Next to the wet bath is a 6 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer that runs on electric or propane.
Across from the wet bath and refrigerator is the kitchenette, which includes a 2-burner stove, overhead microwave, sink, range, 3 drawers, 2 cabinets, and a wall mounted air conditioner. To aid with extra counter space, a flip-up counter top extension on the side next to the stove.
The rear walk around island bed measures 60″ x 74″. There is plenty of storage around the bed with two wardrobes and 5 overhead cabinet doors, as well as storage underneath the bed as well. Atop the wardrobes are shelves for smaller items. Both sides have 110 electrical outlets and one side also has a combination USB and 12 volt charging outlet. There are also two LED reading lights overhead with each having its own on/off switch.
What really sets off the interior is the birch wood that is along not only the walls, but up on the ceiling as well. That along with the black & white checkered floor and 1950’s era design on the dinette cushions completes what is a really well thought out interior that complements the exterior quite well.
Other key features of the 177SE include a 20 gallon fresh water tank, a 32 gallon gray water tank, a 10 gallon black water tank, and a 6 gallon DSI water heater. The floor is a stout 5/8″ thick plywood, and is supported by 4 stabilizer jacks. It’s also insulated with Radiant Barrier technology and includes a 16,000 BTU furnace.
There’s an active Facebook page for White Water Retro owners that I keep tabs on from time to time. I see very little in regards to any type of major problems with White Water products, and after spending quite a bit of time with this one this past weekend, I’d personally have no hesitation about having it for my next trailer. It’s really an ideal camper for two people. Coming from a Scotty where the bed was perpendicular to the length of the trailer, it left that unavoidable task of having to climb over my wife at night when I needed to use the bathroom. The island bed completely eliminates that and makes for a comfortable arrangement. Often times I get asked where a reproduction Serro Scotty HiLander can be found, but since they’re no longer in production, I often point those folks to the White Water Retro 177. Especially if you go with the turquoise on white, it gives you the same color scheme as the Scotty, with a similar floor plan, but with a bit more length and overall comfort.
Special thanks to Matt and Austin Braun at Braun’s Fun Time Campers for the chance to give the 177SE a look at their northeastside Indianapolis dealership. Matt’s been in the RV industry for nearly 40 years and he told me the White Water products are excellent, quality built products that haven’t come back for any type of serious issues since he first started carrying them in 2013.
For more info on the 177SE and other White Water products, check out the Riverside RVs website at http://riversidervs.net. To join other White Water Retro owners on Facebook, join the White Water Retro Trailer Owners page by clicking here.
One of the new trailers unveiled at last week’s dealer RV Open House in Elkhart, Indiana was the Winnebago Winnie Drop, as I first told you about on September 24 in this post. I received a batch of photos of the prototype from Winnebago towables dealer Austin Braun of Braun’s Fun Time Campers in Indianapolis.
The Winnie Drop will come in 5 exterior colors and eventually four floor plans. In an e-mail today, Austin told me, “They have just the one floorplan built, but have 3 others on paper for the December show in Louisville. From what my rep told me they got off to a great start at the open house and received praise and, more importantly, plenty of orders from the dealers.”
The initial floorplan, the 1780WD, will have an exterior length totaling 20’4″, a generous 6’5″ interior height, a rear 60″ x 74″ queen bed, a large front U-shaped dinette, a slide out for the kitchen, a wet bath, a dry weight of 2780 lbs, a GVWR of 3800 lbs, a 31 gallon fresh water tank, and a 25 gallon black water tank and gray water tank, as well as the usual 6 gallon water heater, all while sitting on a 3500 lbs single axle.
The Winnie Drop should be available sometime early in 2016 and although an MSRP is not officially been set, Austin tells me it should be somewhere in the upper teens. I’ll provide updates as new details become available.
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?