Tag Archives: r-pod

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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Winnebago Debuts the Winnie Drop

This week at the RV Open House in Elkhart, Indiana, Winnebago Industries has debuted a new small, lightweight trailer called the Winnie Drop. Details are thin at this point, but I should be able to get some more info and pics soon. This photo was released by RV Business last week of the new trailer to the Winnebago towable lineup.

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However, what we do know about the Winnie Drop is that it’ll will be available in five exterior colors in four floorplans, including one with a rear hatch featuring an outside kitchen and an expandable hybrid tent model. If the look of the Minnie Drop and these  floorplan descriptions sound familiar, that’s no accident. The Winnie Drop is quite obviously built as a competitor to Forest River’s popular r-pod.

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I should be getting some additional info and pictures soon, so I’ll post an update as soon as that happens.

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A Day at the RVIA Show — Part 1

Tuesday morning saw an early departure from home for the 130 mile drive south on I-65 to the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, KY for the 49th Annual RV Trade Show. Despite a 30 minute delay north of the Ohio River due to the I-64 bridge west of Louisville being closed for the past 3 months, I managed to arrive just before 10am.

Since it was my first time at the event, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. After several attempts to register, I finally found the press room where us “media types” had to check in. After signing in, I was told that I had some info to get in my mailbox. “My what?” Apparently all the media types had their own mail slot filled with press releases, company info, and even a 1GB flash drive from the fine folks at Go RVing.

I grabbed my mail and off I went. I soon found an area where I could look at the map they provided so I could coordinate a plan of attack for the day. After looking at the map, I wondered if 7 hours there would be long enough. My first part of the plan would be to just walk the entire show to get a feel for where everyone was. Just when I thought I had seen everything on my first walk through, a new wing popped up with either a whole big section of RVs or a wing of suppliers hawking their goods.

After awhile, the stack of stuff from my mailbox was starting to become a hassle to carry along with my trusty Nikon D-40.  My mission soon turned from figuring out the layout of the show to finding a booth that was giving away free bags. I stopped by the booth of Denso Heavy Duty and they were kind enough to let me have not only one, but two of their bags for my growing stack of stuff. Now it was time to get serious!

Since I knew this would be my only day at the show and because I was there to find material for the blog, I focused on, obviously, small travel trailers. What I found from all the manufacturers in attendance is that there are a wide array of options across just about all income levels, whether it was the Airstream Sport 16′, which retails for nearly $40,000

to the lower end Jayco Swift SLX, which can be had for just over $9,000.

The majority of the trailers I went through had some nice, usable floor plans, along with various interior features that caught my eye. Then there were some trailers that I just liked because of their eye appeal. Here are some observations on trailers I liked for one reason or another:

–As mentioned a few weeks ago, the Gulf Stream Visa 17RWD didn’t disappoint when I saw it first hand. Good floor plan and that sleek exterior design:

The new Springdale Fireside: Not the most attractive trailer out there…

but the interior had this very nice looking rustic/log cabin look on the walls and cabinetry.

It was good to see Forest River has finally got a decent exterior package for the r-pod. What used to look like a circus trailer…

has now been upgraded to a nice cream base and a much more toned-down exterior scheme:

And since this post will likely be a little longer than usual and since it’s nearing 1:30am, I’m going to cut this post into two and continue over the weekend. I’ll return with some more that I liked, one that disappointed, and even my own personal “best of show”. Stay tuned!

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Forest River Forms Owners Group

Mega RV manufacturer Forest River recently announced the formation of an owners group. FROG (Forest River Owners Group) is a dues-free group for owners of any of the Forest River family of recreational vehicles, including their line-up of small travel trailers such as the Wolf Pup, r-Pod, EVO, and Rockwood Mini-Lite.

The website contains info on FROG rallies, tech tips, camping tips, and other useful info for Forest River RV owners. The first international FROG rally is scheduled for August 2012 in Goshen, Indiana.

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A Tale of Two Shastas

Shasta has been synonymous with small, lightweight travel trailers since the 1950’s. With their classic rear wings and distinctive paint designs, Shasta was the top selling small trailer throughout the 50’s & 60’s.

Fast-forward to 2009. Parent company of Shasta, Coachmen, reintroduced a retro designed Shasta Airflyte 12.

At 17′ from hitch to tail, the 2009 Airflyte offered a sleek interior with a flash of European flair.

However, the 2009 Shasta Airflyte would be short lived. With just over 100 produced, the plug was pulled on the Airflyte. Sales likely weren’t construed as “brisk”. One big reason was the Airflyte was all electric, no propane. That’s fine if you’re at a campground where there’s always electricity. But it would eliminate the possibility of camping off the grid, or boondocking as it’s often called.  However, the other big reason of its demise is that Coachmen had been absorbed by Forest River, who already had a lightweight, retro-styled trailer in the r-Pod.

And with that, the 2009 Shasta Airflyte was gone as quickly as it came back. Or was it? In the summer of 2011, two 2012 Coachmen Shasta Airflytes showed up on a few online RV classified websites. Both trailers were for sale at Clem’s RV & Trailer Sales in Ellwood City, PA.  When contacted through Facebook, Clem’s wrote back:

“We have the only 2 produced for the 2012 models. They were discontnued as we know after 2009 models. When Coachmen looked in the plant here this summer they realized they had enough product left to build TWO units only and they would be the last 2 ever produced!! We sold 40 of the 2009s and has the oldest Coachmen dealer in the nation we were offered the 2 models.”

So there you have it. Possibly the last two new Shasta Airflytes that you’ll ever see.

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