Tag Archives: dutchmen

In 6 Short Years…

It was this afternoon in 2009 when I hitched up our brand new red 2010 T@B, “Cherry Bomb”, and headed for our first camping trip, a weekend trip to Summit Lake State Park near New Castle, Indiana. We had the T@B for about a month, but when we bought it, I had to borrow my dad’s truck to haul it from Tiara RV in Elkhart, Indiana to Indianapolis. You see, we didn’t have a tow vehicle when we bought it. And the reason we didn’t? Prior to September 2009, we weren’t RVers, let alone campers.

3936811843_298bd1ce8c_z

Buying a teardrop trailer was something we always wanted to do, and I always had an interest in the “Airstream of teardrops”, the Camp-Inn. I spent many a night in the mid 2000’s browsing their website and thinking “one day” we’d be in a position to get one. In 2009 when we saw our first T@B while in Missouri one weekend, the following Wednesday we made a deal over the phone with Tiara RV on one of a few T@Bs they had left, as then manufacturer Dutchmen had ceased production of the T@B about a month prior. Sight unseen, other than the pictures on their website, we took the plunge and bought it without having anything to tow it with. 4023631479_90de42e073_zOur first priority was to get it and get it home. After that, I found a high mileage 1997 GMC Sierra that fit our budget, so we were set. And the fact the Sierra was red too was icing on the cake. By the time I replaced the rusting hitch on it, we were ready for our first camping trip. That happened on this day in 2009. We were on a T@B online forum on Yahoo Groups when we found out a small group of T@B owners were meeting for the weekend at Summit Lake State Park. We decided this would be a great way to meet other owners and for them to educate us on what we had. It was a rainy afternoon when we arrived, but we were met with open arms. We got a tutorial on how to set up our awning and we ourselves got an indoctrination into the “process” of camping, because when you’re new at camping, there are a lot of new processes to learn.

4023631603_1695692a97_o

4023631685_47dbbd7ce2_o

That weekend started a new way of life for us. We’ve made more new and close friends than I can count and that purchase has opened more doors than I ever imagined it would. I never thought that chilly weekend in October that 6 years later I’d be reminiscing about it on a website dedicated to small travel trailers I created that nearly 2,000 people visit a day either. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you already have a trailer, but if you don’t and need a life change, you won’t find a better way to change it.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Little Guy Brings Back Two T@B Floor Plans

Starting April 1, Little Guy Worldwide will be taking orders for two new floor plans for their highly popular T@B. The floor plans aren’t actually new, per se. They’re two floor plans previous T@B builder Dutchmen used. Both will utilize the “L” shaped front kitchen galley. The difference among the two will be the dinette. One will have vertical floor to ceiling cabinets on the back wall with a smaller dinette, which measures 70″ X 58″ when in bed format.

The queen bed “L” kitchen format will feature a “U” shaped dinette that converts to a 70″ X 73″ queen bed. As a former owner of a Dutchmen T@B with this floor plan, and having seen them all, I can honestly say this floor plan is the best one of them all. You get a nice sized kitchen counter and the comforts of a queen sized bed.

An option on the L and Q models will be the Stargazer front window, like those optional on Little Guy’s teardrop line. This is a slight difference from Dutchmen in that it’s a stationary window and a little more narrow, but should still give ample daylight to the front counter.

All three floor plans with descriptions can be found by clicking here: floor_plans[1]

For more info, contact Little Guy Worldwide at http://tab-rv.com.

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Crowded 14′ Floor Plan…

Two years ago after we decided to upgrade from our T@B to a slightly larger small trailer, we attended an annual RV show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds to see what was new for 2010. By this time, we were sure we’d end up with a Serro Scotty HiLander, but I still kept my eyes open for other options. What we found was something I was interested in looking a little more into, although my better half had no interest.

The trailer was a 2010 KZ Sportsmen Classic 14RB. It was roughly the same size as the Scotty, while weighing a couple hundred pounds less. It was a 14′ rig with a front dinette, side couch, opposite side kitchen, rear corner bath, and rear closet. It was decent on space, although the look was boxy, lacking the “wow” factor the Scotty had. However, what kept me thinking about it was the price, which was about $4,000 less than what we ultimately paid for the Scotty. I figured I’d try to convince my wife we could save some money, yet still have a small, roomy trailer. Well, needless to say, that conversation didn’t get far, and five months later we were in our Scotty after selling the T@B.

But being a fan of small trailers, I still kept tabs on the KZ Sportsmen Classic. These things were everywhere and massively produced.  They must’ve been popular based on the number of them on dealer lots throughout the country. The more I read about them, the more I learned about them, and the more I learned about them, the more I questioned my sanity for wanting one. After all, they were somewhat boring and they were entry level stick & tin trailers. Craftsmanship wasn’t the highest of quality, but hey, for $8-9K, you could get a brand new trailer with a warranty. A good option if you have a limited budget.

However, over the past two years the market has started to put the squeeze on the 14′ Sportsmen Classic. In that time, I’ve found (not to say there aren’t others) ten other trailers with the same floor plan as the KZ. Shall we start the slide show?

The Jayco Swift SLX 145RB…

Photo courtesy Harper Camperland

The KZ Spree Escape 14RB…

Photo courtesy k-zsportsmen.com

The Starcraft AR ONE 14RB…

The Coachmen Clipper 14R…

Photo courtesy Delmarva RV Center

Gulf Stream AmeriLite 14RBC…

Photo courtesy Stoltzfus RV's and Marine

The Skyline Bobcat 140B…

Photo courtesy Norm's RV

The Travel Lite Idea i-15 (note the molded front cap on this new model)…

The Coachmen Viking 14R…

Photo courtesy Leisure Time RV

The Dutchmen 814RB…

Photo courtesy RV Business

and the Skyline Layton Retro 140…

Photo courtesy Magic Touch RVs

So, I think that makes 10. But what do you know, in the midst of finding all these photos, I came across yet another  trailer with this floor plan. The Skyline Aljo Retro 140…

Photo courtesy Norm's RV

That’s a pretty impressive list of….sameness. For those who have difficulty making a decision (like me, so says my wife), I wish you well if this floor plan is one you like. Chances are by the time you’d decide on which manufacturer to go with, 10 more manufacturers will have introduced a 14 footer with this floor plan. Curses! I don’t mean to belittle these trailers. As I mentioned, they will allow buyers to get a new trailer with a warranty at a cheap price. Plus, they’re light enough (2300 lbs, give or take depending on options)  to where you can tow with with most SUVs and mini vans.

So, let’s take a look at a typical 14′ travel trailer with this floor plan, shall we? Here’s a walk-through of a 2010 KZ Sportsmen Classic from the fine folks at Veurinks RV in Michigan.

One thing I’ll never forget about that day at the RV show two years ago was that both times I looked at the Sportsmen while we were there, the door entry was just a hair too short for me and I banged my head on the top of the door entry not once, but twice. I think I still have the knot in my head to prove it. But I’m still glad I listened to my wife and sticking with the plan to get a Scotty instead, as I think I would’ve been banging my head in more ways than one had we gone with the “popular” 14′ floor plan.

17 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Little Guy Expecting Big Things from T@B

When Dutchmen ceased production of its T@B teardrop trailer in the summer of 2009, it left the existing owners of the unique lightweight trailer concerned. After all, many of its parts weren’t your typical RV parts that could be found on just about every make & model. Many of the parts came from various parts of Europe and came with a hefty price tag. We got a quote on a replacement door when we were T@B owners at the tune of over $1,000. Just one example of the cost of owning a Dutchmen T@B. It’s not publicly known why Dutchmen put the T@B on the chopping block, but speculation had been it just wasn’t a profitable line, mainly due to the cost of putting them together.

However, T@B owners are a resilient group. With over 3,000 members on a Yahoo Group dedicated to the T@B, and its big brother the T@DA, owners forged on and found ways of keeping their extinct trailers together by sharing ideas and finding resources for replacement parts. Rallies were still formed that drew a good number of T@Bs and T@DAs, with the campfire talk often times centering around whether Dutchmen would start building the T@B again. That question was answered in 2010 when Dutchmen answered with a simple “No”. So that would be the end of that, right? Well….no. Enter a teardrop trailer manufacturer from Ohio.

Little Guy Worldwide was formed in 2002 and has quickly become the big guy on the teardrop manufacturing scene, fueled by their popular 5-wide and Silver Shadow line. When Dutchmen discontinued the T@B line, Little Guy seized the opportunity to negotiate with Dutchmen to acquire the rights to build T@Bs, which added a new dimension to their lineup. Little Guy has their trailers built by Pleasant Valley Teardrop Trailers, but both companies are essentially joined at the hip. Recently I was in touch with Little Guy Senior Vice President and CEO of Pleasant Valley Teardrop Trailers, Scott Hubble. When asked when Little guy first decided to pursue the T@B, he tells us, “Following Little Guy moving the production of its trailers from Elkhart, Indiana to Sugarcreek, Ohio, the focus turned to developing a stand-up teardrop model.  Expanding the product lines distributed by Little Guy has always been a goal of ours.  A stand-up teardrop was the most logical fit.  The manufacturing side of our operation – Pleasant Valley Trailers – was poised to begin development and offer something in the same vein as the T@B; however, when it was discovered that Dutchmen’s new executive group decided to drop production of the T@B, Pleasant Valley Trailers seized the opportunity to acquire an established product with a large following and have Little Guy sell it to the masses. Once we knew that T@B was available, we knew it was a perfect fit and an absolute no-brainer, from a sales and marketing standpoint.”  The deal with Dutchmen, completed last winter, included drawings, schematics, marketing material, web site…essentially all the rights Dutchmen previously held relating to the T@B.

2012 Little Guy T@B (photo courtesy Alan McDowell)

Following the building of the initial prototypes in the first half of 2011, production models are currently in full swing with another 100 to be produced by the end of the year. Hubble is projecting production numbers up to 600 units in 2012. “Since this isn’t a new product and sweeping changes haven’t been made to it, the barrier to sales is pretty low and we can be choosey about what dealers we bring on board.  By the same token, the public has been deprived for the past 2 years and are eagerly anticipating the revival of the T@B.” However, their goals don’t stop there. “In our current facility, we could probably produce about 1200 units annually.  This would be where we project being in approximately 18-24 months.” Combined, Dutchmen produced over 4500 T@Bs and T@DAs over a 7 year period.

During their development of the T@B, Little Guy has made strides to correct weaknesses that plagued the Dutchmen version, as well as making standard what were optional features with the Dutchmen T@B:

  • The door handle, door thickness, wheel wells and black trim pieces on the original T@Bs all had failings to one degree or the other.  To address that issue, they moved to a new handle, more substantially weighted door, solid aluminum vs. mesh wheel wells and have employed automotive adhesive to keep the trim adhering to the roof of the camper.
  • In addition to the sink/stove and spare tire, they have made several other features standard, that were formerly optional.  Those items include:  Norcold Fridge, CoolCat 110 AC/Heater, LP Furnace, TV/DVD player, Screen Door, Alloy Rims, Port-a-potty and a 3-Way/Dual Directional Fantastic Fan.
  • In addition, there were a couple of other things that were overhauled – there is a new E-coated, U-channel frame with hydraulic coupler, a diamond plated gravel guard, Amish built interior cabinetry and extra 110 and 12v outlets. Axle weight was also increased to 3500 lbs, creating nearly 2000 lbs of hauling capacity compared to Dutchmen’s axle, which barely gave you 300 lbs. The weight of the trailer tops off just under 1500 lbs.
  • Most of the expensive European parts on the Dutchmen T@Bs will be produced locally, which in turn keeps the cost of the trailer down.

Once the initial wave of production takes hold, there may be additional models of the T@Bs coming back that Dutchmen produced, most notably the T@B Clamshell model. Chris Baum, Little Guy Chief Operating Officer, believes they can overcome the notorious leak problems that plagued the Dutchmen T@B Clamshell, due to Little Guy’s experience in building reliable hatches in their regular line of teardrops over the years.

The return of the T@B to the lightweight travel trailer market should be interesting to watch. Little Guy has been known in recent years as a company that is continually making improvements in their trailers and not sitting still. With that kind of company behind it, the T@B is definitely in good…if not better….hands since being sent out to pasture by Dutchmen.

T@B Website: http://tab-rv.com

Little Guy Website: http://golittleguy.com

13 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized