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.
Last month I gave you a brief post on the introduction of the White Water Retro 177 Special Edition by Riverside RV. It appeared the 177SE had the same floorplan and specs as the White Water Retro 177, and that is indeed the case.
The 177SE comes with a few extras that give it an eye-catching look that will surely draw the attention of everyone. I spoke with Riverside RV general manager Mervin Lehman recently to get the scoop on the 177SE. Mervin tells me, “This has been in the works for about 2 months and we used the 177 as it is our most popular model. The first run of these will go into production the week of May 18 so they should be arriving on or about June 1.”
The 177SE will come as a package with no options. But the upgrades from a typical 177 include birch interior, painted rims w/ whitewall tires, radiant insulation, LED lighting, Fantastic Fan w/rain sensor, 6 cubic foot refrigerator, and a deluxe memory foam mattress.
“There are no options with this unit as we are doing this as a special package so that every unit is built exactly the same except for color. This allows production to produce these very efficiently, hence the special price.” And that special price is a reasonably priced MSRP of $18,600.
Although the 177SE is an in “as is” package, customers will have a choice in exterior colors: white/aqua, white/red, or pewter/red.
I was curious about the announcement of the Retro 177SE on the heels of the successful venture by Shasta RV coming out with the reissue of the 1961 Airflyte. When I asked Mervin if this was their response to Shasta, he told me, “The Shasta reissue had very little to do with this unit. This a very different floor plan than the Shasta unit and has been holding its own in that market.”
Currently there is no set number of 177SE units that will be produced. “The number of units isn’t limited but we are limiting the time frame. The exact date hasn’t been set in stone but we are talking about a July 31 cut off date for orders.” And as far as orders are concerned, Mervin tells me the entire first run has already been sold.
And dealers seem to be excited. I spoke with Austin Braun of Braun’s Fun Time Campers in Indianapolis, a White Water Retro dealer. “We ordered one of these on Saturday as soon as we heard about it! I think it’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
The specs for the 177SE should be on par with a standard 177 model: 18’6″ length, dry weight of 2530 lbs, 20 gallon fresh water tank, 32 gallon gray water tank, and 10 gallon black water tank with an aluminum framed construction.
Currently the Riverside RVs website does not include the 177SE, but my suggestion would be to keep tabs on rvtrader.com sometime in early June to find out which dealers have the 177SE in stock.
As of February 14, 2015, the Scotty has been SOLD to a wonderful couple from Kentucky, where it’ll be cared for and enjoyed for years to come! Thanks for all of your interest!
And now for a little post I regret to have to make. No, it’s not that the site is shutting down or anything like that. It’s to notify you readers that my wife & I are selling our very own 2010 Serro Scotty HiLander that adorns the header of this page you’re reading.
Due to a growing family tree (one grandson now and his little brother is coming soon), we are selling our beloved Scotty and upgrading to a larger trailer with a bunkhouse, etc. Our future rig will be a 2015 Shasta Oasis 25BH that we are purchasing from the good folks at Mount Comfort RV in Greenfield, Indiana.
If I could keep and maintain two trailers, we’d keep it…but we’re working toward early retirement, so it makes more financial sense to sell. So, we are looking for a good home for our Scotty.
At the bottom of this post is the standard information from Serro Scotty’s website with regard to the HiLander. Even though this model is currently listed on their site, the Serro Scotty HiLander has not been manufactured since 2012.
When we ordered it, we requested a few changes to the interior materials to make it look as retro on the inside as the outside. We selected a neutral fabric for the seat cushions, because we swapped the standard beige curtains for ones we had custom made with a Route 66 theme (fabric called Historic Highway by Alexander Henry). We also had the curtains made with room darkening / blackout fabric to prevent fading from UVs, as well as to allow us to sleep in late if we want to!
We requested black & white checkered floor, as can be seen in the photo of the front dinette below.
Here is a closeup of the fabric, Historic Highway, used for the curtains and pillows.
We also requested aqua “boomerang” by Formica and aluminum trim for the sink and dinette countertops.
Our Serro Scotty is the floor plan on the right, which is the model that has a large U-shaped dinette in the back (rather than a bed). Of course, the dinette converts into a FULL bed, and we have actually primarily kept it in that configuration, rather than switching back and forth. for two of us, we have used the front dinette to eat. Depending upon your needs, you can switch it back and forth, however you want.
Here is the rear dinette configuration (which was taken with the original beige curtains).
And here in bed configuration.
The front dinette also converts into a single bed, and there is storage underneath the booth closest to the door (which is shown in the photo toward the beginning of this post).
There is also a shelf and storage behind the other side of the front dinette, as shown in the photo below, and behind the dinette cushion.
In addition to the custom interior materials, our HiLander differs from other new models, in that we had the factory add a 110 outlet underneath the front dinette – in the photo above, taken when ours was brand new, it’s not there, but we had it installed just to the right of the converter box. Much more convenient for charging devices, using a laptop, a fan, or small appliance – we have cooked using our Griddler (grill/griddle/panini) or a crock pot, or using our Keurig. Nice addition!!
The overhead cabinet (above the rear dinette) also coverts into a single bed, if that works for you. It wasn’t necessary for us, and I used the cabinet space instead. I currently keep my items in “Thirty-one” bags that fit very well inside the cabinets. We will have the mattresses back in the Scotty for its new owner.
Kitchen features a microwave, two burner cooktop and sink. There’s an overhead cabinet and one below the sink, as well as a bank of drawers, and a fold-up counter top on the side. There’s a GFCI outlet, spice rack, and range hood fan which vents to the outside. We also have a cover that fits over the stovetop to use that space better.
The thermostat, hot water heater switch, and tank / battery monitor panel is located here too.
There is also a drawer underneath the 3.0 cu ft fridge. Speaking of the fridge, I requested that the fridge be a 3-way model, so this one runs on battery, electric and propane. I have not used it in propane mode, only battery and electric. There is a freezer compartment inside. The air conditioner is located there, and below that is an access panel which has a small storage area (I put an RV broom and brush/dustpan there).
It is equipped with a boomerang antenna and cable TV hookup; however, we did not add a TV ourselves – but there is space for one, along with cable input on the inside and a 12 V outlet.
The HiLander features a wet bath (shower & toilet combo). See the specs below for the tank capacities. However, I see that the specs do not reference the hot water heater, which is a standard feature on the HiLander. It’s a standard 6 gallon, DSI gas water heater, and configured to be able to be bypassed during winterization (no antifreeze should ever go into the hot water heater!).
We ordered the deluxe package, which includes 5,000 BTU air conditioner (shown above), Fantastic Fan, and 12,000 BTU furnace. Other than testing it, we actually haven’t used the furnace. Instead, we use a small electric space heater when we winter camp.
In keeping with the aqua/turquoise color scheme, we coordinated our new Keurig Mini in turquoise to coordinate with the Scotty…someone even commented that we’re “glamping.” LOL I never thought of it that way, but if you think this retro cool Scotty is glamping, go for it!
Exterior features a diamond plate rock guard, front window cover, storage (accessible also from the rear dinette). Bumper storage for the sewer hoses.
We purchased the coordinating aqua striped 3-pole awning to go with the trailer as well.
Here is a video we made of the Serro Scotty HiLander:
Legendary style meets everyday life. Stand apart from the crowd with this timeless classic.
All the features of home are found in your HiLander. A shower/toilet combination saves those late night hikes. It is designed to comfortably sleep four with a single front and full sized rear bed with an overhead bunk.
Safety is always first with a full frame underneath, fire extinguisher, escape hatch and a deadbolt door lock.
Perfect for family adventures! Standards include; sink, stove, furnace, refrigerator, hot water heater and spare tire.
Add even more creature comforts with optional A/C, microwave, awning and TV/DVD.
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉
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.
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′.
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!
As posted on the Mount Comfort RVFacebook 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.
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.
As discussed a couple of weeks ago, Mount Comfort RV has made a trip up to northern Indiana to get a first hand look at the new 2015 Shasta Airflyte. Shasta president Mark Lucas gave Mount Comfort RV an exclusive walk through video tour to go over the ins and outs of the Airflyte. Instead of me rehashing in a post what he talks about, I’ll just leave all the talking to Mark. More detailed photos are up on the Mount Comfort RV website and can be seen by clicking here.
Mount Comfort RV vice president Rusty Eckstein tells me they’ve been taking pre-orders for the Airflyte from all over the country. And starting at $14,999, I think it’s safe to say the 1,941 that will be produced will be spoken for rather quickly. Feel free to leave comments with Mount Comfort RV on their YouTube page below the video so they can pass along your likes & dislikes to Shasta…they are listening.
Consider this post the first of several over the coming weeks and months to introduce you to the new Shasta Airflyte, produced by Shasta’s manufacturer, Forest River. Even though I use the word “new”, the new Airflyte will look anything but new. In fact, it will use a nearly exact blueprint from the 1961, although it will comply with RVIA specs. The Airflyte will have a limited production run of just under 2,000 units and should be available later in 2014. And this Airflyte will be a far cry from the Airflyte that Coachmen RV brought back in 2009, which happened to be featured in the very first post of this blog back in 2011: http://smalltrailerenthusiast.com/2011/09/07/a-tale-of-two-shastas/
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be privvy to some inside info on the Airflyte, courtesy of Rusty Eckstein, vice president of Mount Comfort RV, a dealer that will be carrying the Airflyte. We’ll have more info including a lot of photos, specs and even some video from the factory in Elkhart. But for now, here are two photos from the factory on the assembly line to whet your appetite. More to come!
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.
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?