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.
Green, Ohio based Little Guy Worldwide has announced they will be adding the iconic Serro Scotty trailer brand to their lineup of small travel trailers and teardrops.
“Scotty trailers are a big part of the rich camping heritage of America,” said Joe Kicos, owner and president of Little Guy in a press release. “We are very excited to add the Scotty trailer brand and history to the Little Guy family.” Little Guy is one of the most well known teardrop trailers on the market since it first rolled out 20 units in 2002.
The Serro Scotty name dates back to 1957 when John Serro first built, coincidentally, a teardrop trailer. In a short time, Serro Scotty campers became one of the most affordable and mass produced family campers throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, and ultimately had manufacturing facilities in Irwin, PA, Ashburn, GA, and Bristow, OK. After the Ashburn and Bristow plants closed, the Irwin plant burned to the ground in 1997, ending Serro Scotty’s 40 year run of building trailers.
In 2006, Pennsylvania RV dealer Bill Kerola revived the Serro Scotty brand, having a series of manufacturers build a limited amount of HiLanders and other models of Scottys. Before news of the acquisition of the Serro Scotty brand by Little Guy broke this week, I had confirmed with Kerola that he in fact had not renewed his licensing agreement with the Serro family. Under the Kerola-era of Scotty production, the 16′ HiLander was by far the most popular of the models.
Having owned a 2010 HiLander for five years, I had a pretty close relationship with Kerola, as well as some other owners of the revived brand. While there was a small dealer network at first, it later moved to a factory direct concept. After going through several manufacturers, all production ceased by 2015.
(2010 Serro Scotty Silver Pup and 2013 Serro Scotty Sportsman)
Today I spoke with Little Guy Vice President of Operations, Dylan DeHoff. They’re very excited about acquiring the rights to Serro Scotty and the plans they have for it. “The first few models will strictly be retro designed. Our plan to keep the retro look on the outside with the white/turquoise colors, teardrop shaped fender cutout, etc. The outside would also feature some basic RV designs like white framed windows. On the inside a standard unit would not be retro at all, but rather a neutral interior: Neutral colored cabinets, counters and floors. It would feature your typical RV components such as a Dometic stove, fridge, Coleman AC, etc. We plan to make a line of retro models ranging from 13 to 23 feet. For the customers that want the entire retro experience there will be a retro package which will change the flooring, curtains and other cosmetic items to feature a retro design.
“Right now we are prototyping a 16 foot bunk floorplan and next is a 17 foot front queen floorplan, both modeled after the Highlander look with the “bump up” in the roof. Next would be the 13 foot floorplan and the 15 foot floorplan. The 13 foot floorplan would be modeled after the Sportsman Gaucho but we would also like to create an extended 16 foot box version of the Sportsmen.”
To kickstart the Serro Scotty brand, Little Guy has created a new website for the Scottys at http://serroscottytrailers.com, where for now you can add your name and email to receive Serro Scotty updates from Little Guy.
As big as the news is of Little Guy reviving Serro Scotty, probably bigger is news of their pending separation with long time manufacturer Pleasant Valley Teardrops. The agreement between Little Guy and Pleasant Valley ends on April 1, 2017. While details are a little murky on the separation, what is known is that Little Guy has secured a 169,000 square foot manufacturing facility (rumored to be in the Elkhart, Indiana region) that will handle current and new product lines, with another 200,000 square feet of space in reserve for anticipated future expansion. But what is not known is how this split will affect all the brands that have been built by Pleasant Valley and marketed and distributed by Little Guy: T@B, T@G, myPod, Little Guy Teardrops (5-wide, 6-wide, Silver Shadow, and Rough Rider), and Cirrus truck campers. Some are owned by Little Guy and some are owned by Pleasant Valley. Obviously this is a pretty big deal and I’ll be gathering more information and sort it out for you all in a separate post here on The Small Trailer Enthusiast. Look for much, much more on this in the months to come.
For the past couple of years, Riverside RVs has been pumping out its fair share of White Water Retro travel trailers from it’s LaGrange, Indiana factory. In that time, the end product has made great strides in quality from when they first showed up in 2011. When I talked to Riverside’s Bob Taulbee last year, he told me they were getting out about 1,000 Retros a year. When you do a search on RV Trader, there are (as of this posting) over 200 Retro travel trailers for sale in varying floor plans.
This week, RV Business posted a short story from RVtravel.com regarding the Whitewater Retro and how it was inspired by the classic Serro Scotty canned ham trailers from the 1960’s & 1970’s. A three minute video was included in the article and explains a little further the inspiration as well as highlights some of the features of the Retro that Riverside officials believe sets it apart from other retro trailers, as well as some history of Serro Scotty from RV historian Al Hesselbart.
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.
I tend to get quite a bit of web traffic for those of you searching for information on the Serro Scotty HiLander. Like clockwork, I can count on at least one person every day doing a search whose phrase either includes “hilander” or “highlander” .
What’s more, I also get the occasional e-mail from those of you who follow The Small Trailer Enthusiast and have for some time. A few of those e-mails have been on the topic of the HiLander and what the production status is of it. As some of you may recall, in March of 2012 I reported that Serro Scotty had lost its third manufacturer of the popular HiLander. The Serro Scotty web site has been going on with no updates of any kind. After talking with Bill Kerola back in August, the plan was for the guys building the redesigned Sportsman to also tackle building the HiLander once the Sportsman got out of the prototype stage.
This past week I decided to write Bill to see what the latest was. I was less than optimistic with his reply: “Unfortunately as of this moment, I do not have a projected date on when we will have the Hilanders back up in production. Hopefully I will know more in the near future.”. I’ve seen nothing to suggest the Sportsman is even moving along as well: No web site updates and no announcements about it at all.
I won’t go come out and say I think Serro Scotty is on life support, but I’m reasonably confident we won’t see a new HiLander available for purchase anytime in the foreseeable future. With that said, if you’re desperate to have a new generation HiLander, I’d suggest joining the Yahoo Group for the new generation Serro Scottys at: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/sierra_scotty_trailers There have been some that have become available by those members of the group who own them. If not there, then keep your eyes peeled for Craigslist and ebay, where you may just find your pot of gold.
Here’s a little walk-through video (without audio commentary) of the 2013 Serro Scotty Sportsman I had taken at the Big Little Rally earlier in August. I forgot I had taken this with my iPhone, so I put it up to give you an overall feel of the unit. Expect to see some changes with the next prototypes, as Bill Kerola had a lengthy punch list on this one.
Recently Serro Scotty Worldwide introduced the 2013 Serro Scotty Sportsman prototype at various rallies. I had a chance to see it recently at the Big Little Rally in Transfer, PA, and many of you will see it for the first time here.
Serro Scotty president Bill Kerola told me over the weekend there are a lot of things that will need to be tweaked with the next prototype. However, there’s no doubt the Sportsman has received an extreme makeover from the previous model that existed from the 2008-2010 model years.
Some savvy Scotty devotees might notice at first glance it’s similar in styling to that of the now defunct Serro Scotty Pup, which lasted from 2009-2011. While the Pup (pictured below in the foreground) was smaller than the ’13 Sportsman, the design resembles that of the Pup more than that of the previous Sportsman.
While the Serro Scotty website currently does not have any info on the ’13 Sportsman, one spec that I can share is it weighs in at an impressive 1700 lbs. Impressive in that it’s very lightweight for its size. The previous Sportsman checked in at a base weight of 2100 lbs. Kerola tells me there are many composites in the ’13 Sportsman. So many composites that it could probably pass as a “green” RV. Another attention-grabber is the skylight that stretches over the back of the trailer, above the gaucho sofa. Currently the prototype’s floorplan consist of a toilet and fridge in the front. However, another floorplan is being developed that will feature a dinette in the front and bed in the rear. I was impressed with the headroom as well. I’m a tick over 5’10”, and I’d guesstimate the headroom in the ’13 Sportsman to be around the 6’3″ range.
Kerola tells me he’ll be sending out a press release in the next couple of months, so we should know more about this as well as what the production of the popular HiLander is looking like. The Sportsman is being produced by a group of former Coleman pop-up trailer employees in Somerset, PA.
This weekend marks the annual American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life in the Town of Speedway, Indiana. This will mark the first time my wife and I will participate in this rapidly growing event.
As members of the Speedway Police Department‘s citizens academy, we’re joining the relay team consisting of officers of the department. Since the relay is a 24 hour walk at a local park, the various teams set up campsites on the grounds, meant to serve as a home base where they can sit, sleep, eat, and socialize with their fellow teammates. As residents of Speedway grateful to our teammates who put their lives on the line every day for us, we’re upgrading their campsite this year by offering up our Serro Scotty as home base for the department’s team. So instead of the pop-up tents and sleeping bags, they’ll have an air conditioned oasis to crash for what is expected to be a warm weekend in the mid 80’s.
This promises to be one of the best camping trips we’ve had, although our campsite is just a mile away from home. Cancer is a 400lbs gorilla that has likely affected all of us in one way or another. If you’d like to participate by a modest donation to our team, we’d really appreciate the gesture. Donations big or small can be made even after the event. Just follow the link here to our team’s page. I’ll have a full report later this weekend following the event.
Thanks for your support of this event and as always, your support of The Small Trailer Enthusiast.
It wasn’t long after we bought a 2010 T@B in September 2009 that we started to buy stuff to go along with it. At the suggestion of more than one fellow T@B owner, one of those things we purchased was the BAL Light Trailer Tire Leveler.
Designed for single axle trailers with either 13″, 14″ and most 15″ wheels, the BAL leveler eliminates the need for leveling blocks to achieve your side to side leveling. It’s a breeze to use and is probably my favorite accessory we’ve purchased. Just slide it under the tire on the side that needs lifting, place the end of the threaded adjusting rod in the slot on the bottom plate, and then just starting cranking it up with the ratchet that comes along with it until you get it level. There’s a nice tutorial here on YouTube:
When we sold our T@B in 2010, we let a few of our accessories we bought for it go with the trailer…but not our BAL leveler! It’s worked just as well with our much heavier Serro Scotty (2500 lbs compared to the T@B’s 1600 lbs).
One word of caution though. I’ve found the BAL doesn’t work well when parked on grass. I found some difficulty (if not just impossible) in sliding it under the tire when parked on grass, but there were no problems encountered on gravel or hard surface campsite pads.
I’ve read on a few RV forums where some folks don’t like the BAL because of its bulk and how it takes up space. In my opinion, it’s a small price to pay for a handy tool. As for storage, I’ve read where more than one owner has purchased a typical pizza delivery bag and used it to store the BAL in, since it does have some grease on the threaded rod which can get things a little messy if left in the bed of your truck, or other tow vehicle of choice.
We purchased our BAL from Amazon.com in late 2009. We paid about $55 for it then, but today they go for around $80. However, those prices tend to fluctuate, so you may pay less than the current $80 when you’re ready to get one. And get one you should!
The weekend of May 11-13 marks the debut of the newly redesigned Serro Scotty Sportsman. It is scheduled to be introduced in Hermitage, Pennsylvania at the Shenango Valley Mall RV Show. The look of the new Sportsman has been kept under wraps, so what it will look like is known by just a handful of folks.
The 2007 Sportsman was the first model reintroduced by Serro Scotty Worldwide when it was formed in 2006. It had a more rounded look to the bodies, similar to the Sportsmans of the original era Serro Scottys of the 1960’s.
That lasted about a year. When production moved from Yoder Toder to Sierra Motor Corporation in 2008, a new body style for the Sportsman came with it, which was a little taller and had more of a squared look to it when compared to the 2007.
When I talked to Serro Scotty Worldwide’s Bill Kerola in December, he told me the new Sportsman would go back to a rounded look, but I suspect it will look different from the 2007 version. He mentioned it will have hints to the former Serro Scotty Pup, but a little larger.
If all the stars align during my return trip from the east coast this coming week, I hope to be able to come through Hermitage and get a first hand look at the show.
The Shenango Valley Mall is located at 3303 East State Street, Hermitage, PA. The show will be held outside the mall. Admission is free and hours are Friday: 12 Noon – 8:00 PM; Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
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?