Tag Archives: T@B

Little Guy Continues Upward Trend

Massillon, Ohio based Little Guy Worldwide continues to see sales of their teardrop trailers increase by leaps & bounds. As crude oil and gasoline prices continue to climb, consumers are obviously looking for alternatives to keep their camping budgets tolerable.  According to Little Guy Director of New Business Development, Dylan DeHoff, these are the main factors fueling Little Guy’s growth. “Camping for the most part is an inexpensive activity and even in some cases can be free depending on how you do it, so it is an activity that people are going to continue to do. But now they are trying to find cost and fuel efficient trailers, which leads them right to us.”

And lead them to Little Guy it has. Their 2011 production numbers were up a whopping 50% compared to 2010, and January 2012 numbers were better than any January in the company’s history. Part of that increase can also be attributed to an aggressive marketing campaign, which includes Little Guy being featured twice a month on TV game shows “The Price is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal”.

Another coup for Little Guy was adding the nation’s largest single site RV dealer, Lazydays RV in Seffner, Florida. “The things that make the Little Guy great for Lazydays are that it’s light enough to tow with just about anything, it fits in a standard garage to eliminate storage issues, and it is affordable for anyone looking for a hard-sided RV option in which to camp,” said Marc Taylor, Lazydays new inventory sales manager. Lazydays currently has eight various Little Guys in their inventory.

Probably the most interesting news Dylan had to share was in regards to a possible new T@B floor plan coming online later in 2012. Actually it’s not a new floor plan to long time T@B enthusiasts: The Clamshell. Dutchmen offered the Clamshell as well as a handful of other T@B floor plans. However, the Clam was unique from the other standard T@Bs. It was more of a traditional teardrop trailer with the kitchen area in the rear that was accessible via a rear hatch. But unlike a traditional teardrop, it had the same interior height inside as a regular T@B. It gave teardrop and T@B fans the best of both worlds.

DeHoff tells us that they’re working on a way to put a bathroom in the Clam as well. “We have had a great response to the return of the T@B and the most popular question is “where is the bathroom”. We hope that with a bathroom added to our Clamshell we will reach out to even more customers.” Another upgrade from the Dutchmen version is in regards to the trim. The first generation Clamshell had no distinctive T@B trim around the edges, where the roof and sidewalls meet. Dylan says that too will change. “The regular T@B’s had trim on the top and all around the trailer but the clamshells only had trim around the fenders. Both of our T@B’s will have trim on the whole trailer and the only difference should be one has a back hatch and the other does not. The overall look should stay the same, that is our goal.”

Even though Dylan tells us the Clamshell talk is just a rumor, I’m confident it’s past the rumor stage and planning is likely well underway. Once…errr….”if” the Clamshell comes to fruition, we’ll pass on the details as they develop.

 

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An Airstream with a Sweet Smile

Back in October 2009, a couple of rookie campers had just bought a new T@B and were ready for their first weekend of camping in it. They had joined a T@B online forum to get more info on their new trailer and learn from other experienced T@B owners. Two of those owners were Tom & Ella Brown of Van Wert, Ohio. The Browns had been camping for decades and were definitely two of the more experienced T@B owners, as their 2004 model was the 91st of nearly 5,000 total built in a seven year span, buying it new in 2003.

From the time Tom & Ella met in 1978, their  list of campers included a Coleman pop-up, an 18′ Scotty, and a 22′ Wilderness. Once their boys had grown and gone off to college, Tom & Ella decided to go smaller and  bought their T@B in 2003. Into the 2011 camping season, the Browns decided it was time for a change, and they would set their sights on their next trailer: an Airstream.

They had narrowed their choice down to either a 16′ or 19′ unit, and came across a dealer in Tennessee that carried both for them to compare. After deciding the extra length of the 19′ was mainly in the bathroom, they decided on a 16′ Bambi.

However this wasn’t just any Bambi, they found out. This one has a “sweet” story to it. This particular Airstream was a grand prize in a 2011 contest snack maker Little Debbie had called the “Million Smiles Mission”. The Bambi was dressed up with graphics and hauled all over the U.S. in 2011 while making appearances and being used to pass out sweet treats along the way. And one lucky winner of the contest from northeast Ohio got to claim her.

(image courtesy vindy.com)

Ella hasn’t completely pieced together how it ended up on a dealer’s lot in Tennessee. “Somehow, (we haven’t pieced together all of her ramblings  yet!) she ended up on Chilhowee RV lot in Alcoa, TN – just a few months old and looking for a forever home”, she says.  I would venture to say the grand prize winner probably sold it for cash and the dealer ended up with it in that fashion.

Despite the hoopla surrounding the first few months of excitement their Bambi encountered in its life, it’s now settling into its new life as a weekend warrior in campgrounds around the midwest. But if you do see Tom & Ella and their Bambi (affectionately named “The Silvermine…and His”) at a campground, Ella may just have a nutty bar waiting for you…as well as a smile.

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Little Guy Launches New T@B Web Site

Little Guy Worldwide has launched the new web site for T@B, http://tab-rv.com.  The URL for the site is the same one Dutchmen used when they were manufacturing T@Bs from 2003-2009. As we discussed with Little Guy’s Scott Hubble in October, rights to the URL were part of the deal negotiated with Dutchmen to acquire all properties relating to T@B. It was a smart move on Little Guy’s part to use the same URL, as Dutchmen put that web site on over 4,000 T@Bs they manufactured over a seven year span. Easy advertising.

While the new website offers a good amount of specs and photos, they state it’s still under construction and will be expanding in the near future. It was good of them to include photos of the assembly line as well as construction photos of a model in the early stages, which show the aluminum frame.

   

Although there is currently just one floor plan, there are several interior shots, highlighting the various fabrics available as well as the layout of the interior.

Exterior photos highlight some of the various color schemes available, as well as the T@B awning manufactured by Paha Que.

Overall, a lot of good info and pics for prospective T@B buyers. I’ve seen a lot less put into other manufacturers’ websites, so if this their “under construction” website, the real deal should be something to see.

(Photos courtesy tab-rv.com)

 

 

 

 

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Updated 2012 Little Guy T@B Video

Little Guy Worldwide has recently uploaded a video overview of the 2012 T@B. It’s similar to their initial T@B video from last summer, but this one features a few new options that video didn’t, such as the outside shower option, 3-way refrigerator, and the screen door.

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The Impetus of The Small Trailer Enthusiast

As The Small Trailer Enthusiast approaches the completion of four months of existence, the idea came to mind to write about how this blog came to be, and with that the inspiration for it. It wasn’t until the last three years or so that I’ve become interested in small travel trailers. My wife & I had wanted a teardrop trailer for many years, but it had always been one of the many “maybe some day” dreams we all have. When we did finally pull the trigger and purchase a T@B in 2009, it seemed to instantly fuel an interest in all travel trailers small. I’m not alone in this interest, as many of the small trailer brotherhood I know also will take interest in a diminutive towable they might see at a campground.

So what gave me the idea to start The Small Trailer Enthusiast? You need go no further than a 2400 mile ribbon of asphalt and concrete known as Route 66. My interest in this fabled highway goes back some three decades. 66 has been a big part of my adult life. Before I was married, it wasn’t anything for me to hit the road on a whim and take a 3 or 4 day weekend out west on the Mother Road for either a steak dinner 1,000 miles away in Amarillo, Texas, or 4 hours away for frozen custard in St. Louis, Missouri. It was because of 66 that I met my bride of nine years. We both had an interest in 66 and eventually met through a mutual friend who also had the same love of Route 66. Would it be a surprise to anyone that we had a Route 66 themed wedding or that we took our honeymoon on Route 66? How many of you didn’t see that coming?

 

With this interest in 66, I have always stayed on top of news from my favorite two-lane. Most of my news came from various publications and online message forums, but in 2005 Route 66 News changed the face of how information from 66 got to the general public. Started by Route 66 enthusiast Ron Warnick, Route 66 News has received nearly 3,000,000 visits over the past six years. Not only is it an excellent source of up to the minute news from the road, but is also an equally good database of Route 66 business information ranging from restauarants, motels, events, and yes, even campgrounds along its 2400 mile shoulders.

This leads up to this summer when the idea came to me to come up with a news blog relating to small travel trailers, loosely modeled after Route 66 News. Being a member of a few online forums dedicated to smaller trailers of various makes, I thought putting together a news blog for this niche just might work. So far, I’ve been pleased with the gradual growth since its inception on September 3. Daily hits to the site have gone from 9 per day in September to 77 per day as of December 15. I fully expect that number to increase as content on the site increases.

The things I look for to put on the site will focus on new models as well as news relating to existing models. I also hope to continue with the “spotlight” features, where I discuss a particular company and what they have to offer. As I mentioned in the “About” section, you won’t see anything about pop-up trailers here. Nothing personal against the owners of these trailers, but I’m just not a fan of pop-ups. The closest thing to a pop-up I might ever discuss would be an A-frame, hard-sided pop-up such as an A-Liner or a Chalet. I figured I’d need a cut-off size-wise. I picked 20′ simply because it was a nice round number, but that’s not to say I might not mention something  a little larger if it fits what I’m writing about.

Hopefully as time rolls on, I’ll develop some relationships with manufacturers so I can bring some content to you on a more frequent basis. I’m making some progress in that area with some smaller, up & coming manufacturers who’ve given me a lot of good info that have generated a lot of hits on the site. And if you’re a manufacturer or representative of a manufacturer who’d like me to talk about your company or trailer, feel free to contact me at roadmaven@yahoo.com. As always, thanks for reading…

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A Tribute to the Campfire & Bak-Pak Camper

In 2008 when Sierra Custom Interiors of Bristol, Indiana became the manufacturer of Serro Scotty Worldwide trailers, it wasn’t long before they too came out with their own line of small campers for the 2009 model year called the Campfire…

and the entry level Bak-Pak:

Designed by Sierra owners Mike & Greg Greene, the 12’9″ trailers were a throwback to the old canned ham trailers from the 1940’s-60’s. They featured air conditioning, furnace, and optional microwave, toilet, and range. Serro Scotty also got in on the act with their 2009 line-up featuring the Serro Scotty Pup…

and the Silver Series Pup:

 

Both Serro Scotty models were identical to the Sierra versions with respect to shape, floor plan and everything else except the badging and, in the case of the Silver Pup, the silver aluminum. Also, the regular Pup featured the signature Scotty turquoise and white.

For the 2010 models, Sierra came out with the Campfire 15, a longer version of its 13 model, that featured a toilet and optional wet bath.

The final entry in the Campfire lineup was the Campfire XL, a 16′ unit with a similar floor plan to that of the Serro Scotty HiLander.

You may notice that I’ve been speaking of the Sierra Campfire and Bak-Pak in the past tense. Unfortunately, that’s the case. Early in 2011, the Greenes decided to pull the plug on their travel trailer ventures and stick with building custom interiors for horse trailers. As we wrote in September 2011, this decision not only included their own line of trailers, but also meant all Serro Scotty models as well, leaving Bill Kerola to find a new manufacturer for the entire Scotty line.

Neither the Bak-Pak nor the Campfire were mass produced, but those who own them are loyal to their camper and get many inquiries from the curious at the campgrounds. There aren’t many other campers on the market (with the possible exception of the T@B ) that offer a compact, lightweight package like the Campfire and Bak-Pak do. And while a rebirth of the Sierra camper division is unlikely, current owners cling to the hope that one day they can remove their orphan label. Afterall, it wouldn’t be the first time a brand came back to life.

The Campfire website, once a fine site with plenty of pictures, specs, and floor plans, now reads more like an obituary. But all is not lost. There are still Campfires, Bak-Paks, and even a few brand new Scotty Pups (at present time) still available for purchase on ebay, Craigslist, or rvtraderonline.com. There is also a Yahoo Group where owners of the Sierra-built Scottys and Campfires/Bak-Paks can congregate for discussion. And so we say so long to yet another line of campers that didn’t make it…for now.


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Little Guy Expecting Big Things from T@B

When Dutchmen ceased production of its T@B teardrop trailer in the summer of 2009, it left the existing owners of the unique lightweight trailer concerned. After all, many of its parts weren’t your typical RV parts that could be found on just about every make & model. Many of the parts came from various parts of Europe and came with a hefty price tag. We got a quote on a replacement door when we were T@B owners at the tune of over $1,000. Just one example of the cost of owning a Dutchmen T@B. It’s not publicly known why Dutchmen put the T@B on the chopping block, but speculation had been it just wasn’t a profitable line, mainly due to the cost of putting them together.

However, T@B owners are a resilient group. With over 3,000 members on a Yahoo Group dedicated to the T@B, and its big brother the T@DA, owners forged on and found ways of keeping their extinct trailers together by sharing ideas and finding resources for replacement parts. Rallies were still formed that drew a good number of T@Bs and T@DAs, with the campfire talk often times centering around whether Dutchmen would start building the T@B again. That question was answered in 2010 when Dutchmen answered with a simple “No”. So that would be the end of that, right? Well….no. Enter a teardrop trailer manufacturer from Ohio.

Little Guy Worldwide was formed in 2002 and has quickly become the big guy on the teardrop manufacturing scene, fueled by their popular 5-wide and Silver Shadow line. When Dutchmen discontinued the T@B line, Little Guy seized the opportunity to negotiate with Dutchmen to acquire the rights to build T@Bs, which added a new dimension to their lineup. Little Guy has their trailers built by Pleasant Valley Teardrop Trailers, but both companies are essentially joined at the hip. Recently I was in touch with Little Guy Senior Vice President and CEO of Pleasant Valley Teardrop Trailers, Scott Hubble. When asked when Little guy first decided to pursue the T@B, he tells us, “Following Little Guy moving the production of its trailers from Elkhart, Indiana to Sugarcreek, Ohio, the focus turned to developing a stand-up teardrop model.  Expanding the product lines distributed by Little Guy has always been a goal of ours.  A stand-up teardrop was the most logical fit.  The manufacturing side of our operation – Pleasant Valley Trailers – was poised to begin development and offer something in the same vein as the T@B; however, when it was discovered that Dutchmen’s new executive group decided to drop production of the T@B, Pleasant Valley Trailers seized the opportunity to acquire an established product with a large following and have Little Guy sell it to the masses. Once we knew that T@B was available, we knew it was a perfect fit and an absolute no-brainer, from a sales and marketing standpoint.”  The deal with Dutchmen, completed last winter, included drawings, schematics, marketing material, web site…essentially all the rights Dutchmen previously held relating to the T@B.

2012 Little Guy T@B (photo courtesy Alan McDowell)

Following the building of the initial prototypes in the first half of 2011, production models are currently in full swing with another 100 to be produced by the end of the year. Hubble is projecting production numbers up to 600 units in 2012. “Since this isn’t a new product and sweeping changes haven’t been made to it, the barrier to sales is pretty low and we can be choosey about what dealers we bring on board.  By the same token, the public has been deprived for the past 2 years and are eagerly anticipating the revival of the T@B.” However, their goals don’t stop there. “In our current facility, we could probably produce about 1200 units annually.  This would be where we project being in approximately 18-24 months.” Combined, Dutchmen produced over 4500 T@Bs and T@DAs over a 7 year period.

During their development of the T@B, Little Guy has made strides to correct weaknesses that plagued the Dutchmen version, as well as making standard what were optional features with the Dutchmen T@B:

  • The door handle, door thickness, wheel wells and black trim pieces on the original T@Bs all had failings to one degree or the other.  To address that issue, they moved to a new handle, more substantially weighted door, solid aluminum vs. mesh wheel wells and have employed automotive adhesive to keep the trim adhering to the roof of the camper.
  • In addition to the sink/stove and spare tire, they have made several other features standard, that were formerly optional.  Those items include:  Norcold Fridge, CoolCat 110 AC/Heater, LP Furnace, TV/DVD player, Screen Door, Alloy Rims, Port-a-potty and a 3-Way/Dual Directional Fantastic Fan.
  • In addition, there were a couple of other things that were overhauled – there is a new E-coated, U-channel frame with hydraulic coupler, a diamond plated gravel guard, Amish built interior cabinetry and extra 110 and 12v outlets. Axle weight was also increased to 3500 lbs, creating nearly 2000 lbs of hauling capacity compared to Dutchmen’s axle, which barely gave you 300 lbs. The weight of the trailer tops off just under 1500 lbs.
  • Most of the expensive European parts on the Dutchmen T@Bs will be produced locally, which in turn keeps the cost of the trailer down.

Once the initial wave of production takes hold, there may be additional models of the T@Bs coming back that Dutchmen produced, most notably the T@B Clamshell model. Chris Baum, Little Guy Chief Operating Officer, believes they can overcome the notorious leak problems that plagued the Dutchmen T@B Clamshell, due to Little Guy’s experience in building reliable hatches in their regular line of teardrops over the years.

The return of the T@B to the lightweight travel trailer market should be interesting to watch. Little Guy has been known in recent years as a company that is continually making improvements in their trailers and not sitting still. With that kind of company behind it, the T@B is definitely in good…if not better….hands since being sent out to pasture by Dutchmen.

T@B Website: http://tab-rv.com

Little Guy Website: http://golittleguy.com

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