Monthly Archives: December 2013

And now for a little shameless plugging…

For those of you who’ve read the “About Me” section of this site, you’ll know the second paragraph starts out with this sentence: “I’m not someone employed by the RV industry.” Well, two weeks from today, that’ll all change….at least for nine days as I do my best to get as many people as I can to sign on the dotted line to buy a new travel trailer or fifth wheel from a local RV dealer at the Indy RV Expo at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

IndyRVExpologoTo give you a little background on how all this came about, we must first backtrack well over a year ago to October of 2012. After realizing I was stuck in a dead end job with no satisfaction other than a paycheck every two weeks, I thought I’d try to venture out and do something that I love for a living. The e-mails I got from some of you thanking me for starting and maintaining this site dedicated to small travel trailers are a big part of what helped me realize I needed to be working in a field that I loved, and that’s when I decided I’d see what the RV industry had to offer. I updated my resume and put together a cover letter that I sent to several RV dealers in and around the Indianapolis area, although that resume was void of any RV background. It was the cover letter and this website that had to sell on my behalf. All I mustered out of it was a two hour sit-down with one of those dealers for a position that they were mulling over that didn’t exist, although I was very intrigued by the possibilities of it and thought it’d be an excellent and fun way to get my foot in the door without having to go the sales route, which is something I wasn’t really interested in doing. But, for whatever reason, it didn’t materialize and I decided that I’d close the book on the idea of getting a job in the RV industry and just stick with this site as my RV “fix”. Then last month, that book opened up again.


I received a voice mail out of the blue from Matt Braun, owner of Braun’s Fun Time Campers on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Matt said in the voice mail one of his three salesmen was retiring, and he was impressed with the letter I sent to them over a year ago and wanted to know if I was interested. I called him back as a courtesy a few days later, even though I still wasn’t really interested in working commission for a living. When I called him back, we talked for 30 minutes or so. I had mentioned in our call that this site seemed to present a conflict of interest with that other RV dealer I dealt with in 2012, but Matt said he didn’t see it as a threat, which made me realize that I should keep a dialogue going with him. Understanding my apprehension, he offered me a chance to get a feel for selling RVs by helping out at the upcoming Indy RV Expo in January. It’d give me a taste of it to see if selling RVs for a living is something that I could do. I pretty much had nothing to lose by accepting the chance and a lot to gain. We met in person early this month for nearly 3 hours just talking the business of the RV industry. Even though I haven’t approached one customer yet, I feel like I’ve been welcomed into their family. And family owned business is what Braun’s is about. The dealership was started in the late 1970’s by Matt’s late father, Dick Braun, before he purchased it in the mid 1990’s. Matt’s brother Nick is a salesman as is Matt’s son Austin, who he hopes will some day take over the reigns of the business.


Matt Braun, owner, Braun’s Fun Time Campers

So this leads us up to the Indy RV Expo starting on January 11. I’m sure the burning question is, “Are you going to sell your soul and try to sell things over 20′ long?” I’m amazed that some of you might think that. Well, the answer is: Absolutely! However, Braun’s carries some units that I’ll be very comfortable talking up, although fifth wheels will be foreign to me. There will be nearly 40 travel trailers, fifth wheels, and hybrids at the Braun’s corral at the show, and something for just about every budget. They’ve been a loyal KZ RV dealer for many years, and a big part of their display will be heavy with KZ products. However, there’s a buzz at Fun Time Campers right now with the recent additions to their inventory of Riverside Retro, Gulf Stream Vista Cruiser, and the Winnebago Minnie, all of which will be on display at the show.


Riverside Retro 155


Gulf Stream Vista Cruiser 19RBS


Winnebago Minnie 1801FB

Leading up to the show, I’ve been at the dealership a couple of times to listen to the factory reps from KZ and Winnebago go over some of the features of their respective brands. Thus far it has been a really good learning experience for me not only as someone who’s going to try to sell you on a trailer, but as an RV owner myself and one who’ll one day be looking for that retirement trailer that my wife & I will cruise the USA with.

I’m really looking forward to this show and even more looking forward to talking to those who’ll come through who I hope to relate to better than most salesmen we all encounter at these shows. I think we all have been able to spot the guys who are RVers selling RVs and those guys who were selling spas two weeks earlier. My approach will be low pressure and just point out the various features for those of you who want to listen to me talk. If you don’t want to talk, you can expect nothing more from me than “Let me know if I can answer any questions & enjoy the show”. I’ll give the customers what I would want in a salesman. Just let me know what  features you need in a trailer and your budget and I’ll steer you in your direction and not mine! And if you do buy from Braun’s, be it through me or someone else there, you can rest assured you’ll be creating a relationship with a small, mom & pop dealer with integrity, which is one of the reasons I chose to join them for this nine day venture.

The Indy RV Expo runs from Saturday, January 11 through Sunday, January 19 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis:  I’ll be there on all the weekends and a few weeknights if my day job permits. So even if you’re not in the market to buy and you just want to head to the show to see what’s new, do stop by and hunt me (Pat) down and say hi. I’d love to meet you…or better yet, sell you!

You can check out the inventory at Braun’s Fun Time Campers at: You can also follow them on Facebook: and also on Twitter:


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51st Annual RVIA Trade Show recap

The 51st annual RVIA trade show has come & gone for another year. While yet again the majority of manufacturers showed up with little for us small trailer enthusiasts to view, all was made right by the quality of the small campers that were on display. I’ll just focus on some of the newer models that were at the show.

First off, Starcraft is venturing into the hardsided pop-up camper market with the new Comet Hardside. It comes in four different floorplans ranging from 16 to 22 feet, with the 22 footer having a 63″ X 84″ storage deck on the front end. Starcraft has a loyal following of pop-up owners, and with the addition of a hardsided pop-up model, they should see a migration over to the “hard side”. Aliner has the reputation as the standard bearer for hardsided campers, but the competition not only includes now Starcraft, but also Chalet, Rockwood, and Flagstaff.

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When the Palomino PaloMini was first introduced earlier this year, it made its debut with just a few floorplans and none of which had a toilet or wetbath. This drew the ire of some when I posted a link to this on our Facebook page. However, we were told then by Mount Comfort RV that wetbath floorplans were in the works, and that turned out to be more than true. The PaloMini now features an impressive eight floorplans, five of which indeed have a wetbath. The eight models range from 16’10” to 21’8″ in length and weights from 1813 lbs to 2945 lbs. I really liked this new addition to the small trailer market. I’d venture to guess the PaloMini will be competition for Forest River’s r-pod.


Little Guy Worldwide was in attendance with the usual arsenal of teardrop trailers, but they also brought the two new additions to the family: The T@G and the myPod. The T@G can best be described as an undersized T@B Clamshell. There are no specs yet on the Little Guy website, but the T@G weighs in just over 900 lbs. You can view some interior photos of the T@G at their website here.


The myPod is a single piece, fiberglass sleeper that weighs between 515-600 lbs, depending on options. The total length of the myPod is 11′ , cabin length is 100″, and interior cabin width is just under 5 feet.  In the interior, the floor, walls, and ceiling are covered in carpet, and includes a Fantastic Fan, and optional air conditioner and optional 19″ TV & entertainment center. You can get one in white, red, blue, silver, and black, with also the option of providing your own paint code for a custom color.  And if you were curious, no, the myPod does not have a cooking area. It’s strictly a sleeper.


Before I write on another trio of trailers I saw, I need to do a little more research on who actually builds them. That would be the Trillium fiberglass trailers. Now, there’s a Trillium built in the U.S. in Arizona, then there are two that are built in Canada. From what I understand, the three that were in Louisville were from Great West Vans from Canada. They were really nice units, regardless of where they were built. I’ll do some more research and may end up doing a separate blog post in the future about the Trillium.


And for my last review from the show, Riverside RV. When I first laid my eyes on a Riverside Retro model at the 2011 show, I was quite disappointed. that review can be found in the tail end of this post:  I can honestly say, I’ve now changed my tune with Riverside. Gone is the sloppy caulking and uneven walls. They had several units at the show and I checked several for the flaws I wrote about in 2011. I won’t say that someone there read my critique and made changes, but they made the necessary improvements in quality to get me on board. I talked with Riverside owner Bob Taulbee at length at the show. He admitted that increased production is what has helped the improvement of his trailers from two years ago when just a handful a month were produced. Now, that handful has grown to about 1,000 units a year. As he told me, the increased repetition has helped his workers build a better product. I would have to agree.


Riverside has some new floorplans of their popular Retro model now. Hot off the line is the Retro, Jr, which is an oversized teardrop trailer, similar in size to the T@G. The Retro, Jr. weighs in at just over 900 lbs and fits to its Retro name with the white and turquoise paint scheme and baby moon hubcaps. Other color options are available, but this particular paint scheme really has it all going.


The Retro model 155 is their first Retro model that was introduced in 2011. Like the Retro, Jr, the white & turquoise paint scheme is new in 2013, and is a big improvement over the silver & red combination. The 155 is 14’9″ and comes with a rear bed, front dinette, wet bath, microwave, air conditioner, and can come with either  a drop floor or flat floor, which raises the overall height of the trailer. However, as I mentioned in that 2011 post, that street side of the trailer still has the same “busy” look as I mentioned, but I could learn to live with it.


The model I really liked in the Riverside stable was the 177 floorplan. It’s similar to the 155, but it’s taller, longer, and has a really nice rear island bed. The 177 is 18’6″, just over 2500 lbs, and 9 1/2′ tall. The plumbing includes a 20 gallon fresh water tank, 32 gallon gray water tank, and a 10 gallon black water tank. If I was in the market for something right now, I’d give strong consideration to the 177. Of course I’m all for anything that’s retro and nostalgic, so this would be a pretty easy choice for me.



So there you have it, folks. Overall, I was happy with what I saw in terms of options available to those of us interested in the small stuff. If you’re going to be in the market for a new trailer in 2014, you’re going to have all sorts of options to choose from. And I hope you’ll remember to use the “Manufacturers” link at the top of every page on the site to browse and compare trailers. But like I stress, whenever you research trailers, do all your homework. Compare features, join online forums to get the opinions of current owners, and make a decision you’re comfortable with!

All photos except for the Comet were provided by Jennifer Bremer, who was along for this trip. For more pictures from Louisville, be sure to visit her Flickr page:

As always, thanks for reading and get ready for those winter RV shows!




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