Tag Archives: forest river

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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Starcraft RV Releases the Comet Mini

Hooking on to the popularity of the r-Pod and Winnebago Winnie Drop, Starcraft RV has recently introduced its own offering to the teardrop inspired 18′ to 20′ travel trailer segment.

comet-miniThe 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. comet-interior1Interior-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.

comet-inteior2With 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.

comet2To find out more about the Comet Mini, including floorplans and specifications, visit the Starcraft web site at http://starcraftrv.com/products/travel-trailers/comet-mini

 

(photos courtesy lazydays.com)

 

 

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Forest River Issues Shasta Airflyte Recall

In a May 2, 2016 letter to Forest River, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledged Forest River’s notification to the NHTSA of a recall concerning certain 2015 and 2016 Shasta Airflyte 16 and 19 foot reissued travel trailers. The recall covers potentially 1,736 Airflytes manufactured from April 28, 2015 through May 14, 2015. According to the letter to Forest River Director of Corporate Compliance Keith Fisher, “The dinette table on the affected vehicles may not have adequate support when lowered on its supporting leg. Without adequate support, the dinette table may fall between the dinette benches without warning, possibly resulting in injury.”

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The recall will begin around June 9, 2016 and Forest River will notify affected owners.  Dealers will install two new support legs, free of charge to the owners. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-821-1314.  Forest River’s recall number for this campaign is 53-04112016-0170.

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Tear Drop Shop Offers r-pod and Alto Awnings

We get a lot of web traffic here at The Small Trailer Enthusiast for people searching for information on r-pods. It should come as no surprise as the Forest River built r-pod was the top selling small trailer in 2014. And although not as mass produced as the r-pod, I also see a lot of traffic Safari Alto trailers, which are built in Canada, which I’ve talked about back in 2013.

The Tear Drop Shop is now offering awning accessories for both the r-pod and the Alto from PahaQue. You can get either a regular awning or the small awning visor for either unit.

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The r-pod accessories can be found on The Tear Drop Shop here, or by clicking one of the ad boxes on the right column of this site. And the Safari Alto accessories can be found here and also in the ad box on the right column.

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R-pod vs. Winnie Drop: Let the lawsuits begin!

In our “who didn’t see this coming” category, Forest River has filed a lawsuit against Winnebago Industries. The suit stems from Winnebago’s recent introduction of the Winnie Drop, which strikes a resemblance to Forest River’s 7 year old R-pod. DSC_0570

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In a story published on January 16, 2016 in RV Business, Forest River filed suit in December “for trademark and trade dress infringement and unfair competition.” The term “trade dress” refers to the overall visual image.  “The use of our trademarks and trade dress by other manufacturers confuses and misleads consumers and cannot be tolerated. We do not initiate lawsuits without serious consideration”, Forest River General Manager Doug Gaeddert told RV Business. The article goes on to state that the R-pod “incorporates patent pending technology and copyright-protected floorplans.”

I’ll be watching this closely at it goes through the legal process. Forest River filed suit a few years ago for similar reasons against Heartland and their now defunct “mpg” trailer. Industry professionals I’ve talked to shake their heads when talking about trademarking an RV floorplan. If anyone has ever gone to an RV show, you all know everything is copied by everyone. I’ll make no bones about it, I’m no legal expert and I don’t have a clue where this lawsuit will go, but should Forest River be successful I’d be interested to know if a company like A-Liner has similar patents on their hard-sided A frame campers. They’ve been around the longest, but other companies have developed their own version….including Forest River’s Flagstaff.

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My final take on this or any similar lawsuits involving RV companies is that it really does nothing to serve the consumer. If anything it eliminates what makes a product better: Competition. When you eliminate your competition because you have a legal machine like Forest River does, it eliminates the competition that forces you to come up with ideas that make your product better than the other guy. If there is no “other guy”, then your product gets stagnant, and quality and innovation exit the building.

I’ll update this story with future posts as additional news develops.

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Forest River Recalls 1,736 Shasta Airflyte Reissues

In a report on the Consumer Affairs website on Tuesday, Forest River has issued a recall of 1,736 Shasta Airflyte 16 and Airflyte 19 reissued travel trailers built from September 26, 2014 through August 17, 2015. With 1,941 Airflyte reissues scheduled to be built when this venture started out, this essentially affects just about every one of them built.

According to the report, there are two issues fueling the recall.

“In the first, the rear exit window glass may come loose and fall out due to poor adhesion. If the rear window glass detaches, it could fall onto the road and be a road hazard, increasing the risk of a crash.”

Owners will be contacted by Forest River and can have their trailer inspected by a dealer to confirm if the window is secure in the trailer. Windows that fail inspection will be replaced free of charge. The window recall will begin on October 28, 2015. The recall notice for this is 53-08282015-0081.

2015 Shasta Airflyte 1961 Reissue

“In the second instance, the vehicles may have insufficient clearance between the tire and the wheel well at the top of the tire tread and also at the inner sidewall. If there is insufficient tire clearance, the tire may rub, resulting in sudden tire failure which could increase the risk of a crash.”

The report does not indicate on the 2nd instance that any inspection will be involved. It appears the axle will be replaced with one that provides the proper clearance. This recall will begin October 26, 2015. The recall notice for the axle replacement is 53-08282015-0082.

Owners of the affected Airflyte reissued travel trailers can contact Forest River at 1-574-825-8717 regarding both recalls.

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The recall is pretty significant and should please many owners who’ve been calling for a recall for months. I’ve received several emails this year from owners describing the problems these recalls cover, as well as a few other issues with the reissues. Some of the comments on some of the posts I’ve made about the reissues have been just as passionate about the problems in design of the Airflytes. While I’ve read from Shasta these were just isolated complaints, apparently it’s a bigger problem that ultimately had to be addressed. I’ll be looking forward to hearing from owners in the months ahead who have these two issues replaced.

 

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Forest River Recalls Shasta Airflyte Reissues

Shasta RV parent company Forest River is recalling 249 of the 1,941 (12.8% of production) Shasta Airflyte reissued trailers due to incorrect Federal Certification Labels, according to RV Pro magazine. The labels incorrectly state the trailer tire size, gross axle weight rating, gross vehicle weight rating and cargo carrying capacity. Incorrect labeling opens the door for the trailer to be overloaded and thus increasing the risk for tire failure. DSC_0291

Forest River will notify affected customers and dealers will install the correct label at no cost to them, with the recall starting sometime this month. To find out if your Shasta Airflyte is affected, owners can contact Forest River at (574)825-8717, and mention recall number 54-06052015-0047.

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2015 Shasta Airflyte Reissue: Firsthand Report

Recently my wife & I got the opportunity to view firsthand one of the 2015 reissued 1961 Shasta Airflytes, courtesy of Mount Comfort RV in Greenfield, Indiana. To say the Matador Red Airflyte we toured was was a work of art is an understatement. Shasta RV hit a home run with it and the fact that there are very few left of the 1,941 16′ and 19′ trailers speaks volumes for how this venture by the Forest River subsidiary has taken the RV industry by storm.

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Ken Eckstein is owner and chief operating officer of Mount Comfort RV and started in the industry in the 1970’s washing RVs for a local RV dealer. He’s been everything from a technician to a salesman to an owner. He told me, “In my 40 years in the RV industry I’ve never seen anything like this”, referring to the reissued Shasta and its overwhelming popularity among the RV public.

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Overall my impressions of the finished product are positive. The novice will be fooled into thinking it’s original, and even the seasoned vintage trailer enthusiast will have to take a few looks to figure out if it’s new or classic. Many of the details were replicated to that extent. Many features were meticulously modeled after the 1961 Shasta it is based on, including the lamp over the dinette, the famous Shasta wings, the “S” magazine rack, and the chrome exterior Shasta emblems. 15764649645_d4afedf953_z

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One positive for vintage Shasta owners is that some of the components of the reissue are the same as the original 1961 Airflyte. For instance, the windows, wings, and door are the same dimensions as the originals. More photos can be found on my staff photographer’s (my lovely wife) Flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadtripmemories/sets/72157648832498390/

As the 1,941 16′ and 19′ Shasta Airflyte reissued 1961 models are now making their way into the hands of their new owners and the buzz starts to die down, we can look back on these last 4 months and how this phenomenon was fueled almost entirely by social media. I first heard of the news in mid July from Rusty Eckstein at Mount Comfort RV. It was our goal to work together on being the first to bring the news to the public through this site and the Mount Comfort RV site, but alas we were trumped by Greg Gerber when he broke the news in his excellent RV news source, the RV Daily Report. It was Greg’s report that first hit just about every RV related Facebook page you could find. Then it got shared, Tweeted and then I came out with posts of my own here that were shared and retweeted. The next thing you know, just about all 1,941 units were spoken for. And the real kicker? There was NO MENTION of the 1961 reissue on the Shasta web site! This should prove to RV dealers every where what a powerful tool social media is and how important it is for dealers to have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as a YouTube channel with videos of current inventory. Oh, and an inhouse blog writer would help your cause too. 😉

Next up for me is the 2014 RVIA trade show in Louisville next week. I’ll be there seeing what 2015 has to offer for you fellow small trailerites. Be sure to follow along on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Small_Trailers, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Small-Trailer-Enthusiast/269125426471703, and right here on YOUR favorite source for all things trailer small. As always, thanks for taking time out of your day for visiting The Small Trailer Enthusiast.

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19′ 2015 Shasta Airflyte Video Walk-Through

As the 19′ Shasta Airflytes are in the process of being fine tuned for production, Shasta president Mark Lucas is featured in a new video from Mount Comfort RV showing the interior details of the 19′ Airflyte.

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He makes a point to demonstrate how the bathroom door opens while the gaucho bed is extended. There has been some internet chatter with the 16′ Airflyte and bathroom accessibility while the gaucho is extended in that model, but that appears not to be an issue with the 19′.

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Like the 16′ Airflyte, the 19 footer can be had in Matador Red, Butternut Yellow, or Seafoam Green.  Overall length is 20′ and dry weight is less than 3,000 lbs. Mount Comfort RV has additional specs on the 19′ Airflyte on their website by clicking here. As has been the case since the Shasta reissue was announced earlier this summer, a big tip of the cap to Rusty and Toney at Mount Comfort RV for all the pics and videos!

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2015 Shasta Airflyte Update

As posted on the Mount Comfort RV Facebook page, Shasta RV president Mark Lucas released additional photos of the 2015 Shasta Airflyte reissue. The new photos show the Butternut Yellow and Seafoam Green color schemes. With the Matador Red scheme that initially debuted in July, this completes the three colors available of the 1,941 Airflytes to be produced.

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According to Mount Comfort RV, most of the 1,941 units have been spoken for and it’s anticipated the last couple hundred will be reserved within the next week. Production of the 16′ and 19′ models will start September 22.

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