4 More Cool Trailers

In a day where many recreational vehicles can easily cost six-figures and measure 40-feet or more, some people are returning to basics resulting in the minimalist RV trend gaining momentum.

Numerous vintage trailers, Airstreams, and other cool campers have been featured in Vogel Talks RVing. From modular trailers to bizarre shaped campers here are four that’ll certainly turn heads.

Teal Feather Camper

The Teal Feather Camper
The Teal Feather Camper

There is no other camper on the market quite like the Teal Feather. A modular camper that fits on a utility trailer or pickup bed, the Teal Camper is 8.5 feet long, 6 feet wide, just over 6 feet tall, and weighs a mere 500 pounds, hence its name.

The camper can be put together by one person in 60 minutes by piecing together panels made of polyethylene plastic filled with insulation. Only a Phillips screwdriver is purportedly needed for the job. When taken apart, the camper’s parts occupy a space of 4 feet by 5 feet.

Inside, the camper features a sink with a drain and a bottle to pump water to the faucet. The cabinets look more like a duffel bag—they open with zippers—though they have shelves and panels to support storage of belongings.

Dub Box

Dub Box is a customizable camper manufactured in Oregon.
Dub Box is a customizable camper manufactured in Oregon.

The Dub Box is a fun and creative retro camper with a new twist. The initial design was born from the American vintage trailer, merged with retro styling, and infused with modern conveniences for style and comfort. While it may appear that the company buys up all the Volkswagen camper vans remaining on the planet, Dub Boxes are manufactured from new fiberglass shells.

The initial design was born from the American vintage trailer, merged with retro styling and modern conveniences for style and comfort. And the rest of the design is up to you.

Dub Boxes are light enough to be towed by most vehicles, compact enough to be stored in a garage, the exterior and interior decor is customizable, and the layout can be altered to suit its intended use.

Eggcamper

The Eggcamper: Lightweight molded composite travel trailers
The Eggcamper: Lightweight molded composite travel trailers

As the name suggests, the Eggcamper has a distinct eggshell look.

Distinctly different in design and function, Eggcampers are handmade from nine molded lightweight composites — the entire camper weighs less than 2,000 pounds — and thus is easy to tow.

The entire exterior is intentionally painted an eggshell white color, which obviously helps give the product its name, but also makes it simple to clean and easier to keep cool.

The company also offers a smaller Teardropp trailer that’s based on a shape that was popular in the 1930s and is manufactured using a similar process.

Mehrzeller

Mehrzeller, a multi-cellular caravan
Mehrzeller, a multi-cellular caravan

If you don’t like to follow current trends and prefer to stand out from the crowd then this bizarre shaped caravan trailer with sleek angular lines, the Mehrzeller, may be the recreational vehicle for you.

The multi-cellular caravan  design can be entirely personalized by each customer resulting in an attractive one-of-a-kind trailer. The configuration is generated by a computer using the customer’s inputs, and then the final design is done by parameters from the architects to yield an attractive and practicable result. The caravans are produced using the principles of “mass customization”: this allows both the individual wishes of the customer to be accommodated while producing the caravan with series methods.

Worth Pondering…

All things are possible until they are proved impossible—and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.

—Pearl S. Buck

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Heartland RV Introduces Torque Extreme Lite Travel Trailer Series

Building on strong sales and growing market share in the fifth-wheel toy hauler segment, Elkhart, Indiana-based Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC has broadened its product offerings with the introduction of the Torque Extreme Lite travel trailer series targeting a rapidly growing 1/2-ton pickup market.

Heartland RV Introduces Torque Extreme Lite Travel Trailer Series
Heartland RV Introduces Torque Extreme Lite Travel Trailer Series

“Heartland has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years in the fifth-wheel toy hauler segment,” stated General Manager A.J. Jones, in a company news release.

“However, because of production limitations in the past, we weren’t able to expand into other areas of the market, which continues to branch into new categories.”

As part of a companywide expansion initiative, Heartland moved its toy hauler operations into a dedicated facility, effectively doubling production capacity while significantly reducing turnaround times.

“Heartland has made a huge commitment to toy haulers, allowing us to compete in all-new price points and weights,” Jones stated.

Jones noted that Heartland owns a 22 percent market share in fifth-wheel toy haulers and a nearly 30 percent share of all triple-axle fifth-wheel toy haulers sold.

Heartland RV Introduces Torque Extreme Lite Travel Trailer Series
Heartland RV Introduces Torque Extreme Lite Travel Trailer Series

Combining lightweight construction with aggressive pricing, the Torque offers Heartland’s dealer partners a full-featured toy hauler that addresses the towing needs of 1/2-ton pickup owners.

“The key to the Torque Extreme Lite is to keep the same high-end look and features that our fifth-wheel toy haulers provide, but doing it on a 1/2-ton towable platform,” noted Coley Brady, vice president of sales and marketing.

“Our dealers have been begging for an affordable, 1/2-ton towable, and A.J. and his team delivered with the Torque Extreme Lite.”

Available in six floor plans, ranging in length from 31- to 38 1/2 feet, the new Torque Lite series features 102-inch wide-body construction, all-aluminum framing and Equa-flex suspension with gas shocks to ensure a stable, comfortable ride.

The onboard garage is equipped with 5,000-pound tie-downs, Happy-Jac powered bunks beds and can accommodate the largest side-by-sides. MSRP pricing starts at $39,450.

“The introduction of the Torque travel trailer extends Heartland’s laser focus on the toy hauler segment,” said Heartland President Chris Hermon.

“By entering into the 1/2-ton pickup market, we have positioned Heartland to capture even more market share in what we see as a segment that continues to evolve and gain traction. As always we listened to our dealers, bringing to market a product that not only meets a growing demand but also stands out on the sales lot with features traditionally not offered by the competition at this price point.”

Heartland RV Introduces Torque Extreme Lite Travel Trailer Series
Heartland RV Introduces Torque Extreme Lite Travel Trailer Series

Details

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC

Heartland Recreational Vehicles is a leading manufacturer of towable recreational vehicles in the US. The Company markets over 16 brands of fifth wheel trailers, travel trailers, and toy haulers including Landmark, Big Horn, Big Country, ElkRidge, Gateway, Sundance, Greystone, North Trail, Prowler, Cyclone, Road Warrior, Wilderness, Torque, and Trail Runner.

Heartland is number three in market share in fifth wheels and closing in on being among the top five towable manufacturers of fifth wheels and travel trailers combined.

Heartland’s towable RVs are sold through an independent network of dealers throughout the United States and Canada.

The Company has over 900 employees.

Heartland factory tours are conducted Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 3:00 p.m.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC is a division of Thor Industries Inc.

Address: 1001 All-Pro Drive, Elkhart, Indiana 46514

Phone: (574) 262-5992 or (888) 262-5992 (toll free)

Website: www.heartlandrvs.com

Worth Pondering…

I see travel as the one of the most important ways of expanding human beings’ understanding of each other. Through travel we discover humility, love, friendship, passion and ourselves.
—Kirsten Cargill

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More June 2015 RV Manufacturer Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently announced 5 recall notices involving 2 recreational vehicle/chassis manufacturers—Forest River and Tiffin Motorhomes.

Forest River, Inc.

forest-River-logoForest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain model year 2013-2015 Dynamax, 2014 Cardinal trailers, and 2015 Cedar Creek, Sierra and Sandpiper trailers. In the affected vehicles, a rivet for the quad entry steps may shear and fail, causing the steps to give when being used.

If the rivet shears causing the quad step to fail, the step user may fall, increasing the risk of personal injury.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will remove the rivets and the step sections will be bolted together, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin June 26, 2015. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-389-4600. Forest River’s number for this recall is 15-05062015-0034.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Forest River, Inc.

forest-River-logoForest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain model year 2014-2015 Glaval Universal, Titan II, Titan II Low Floor, Legacy, Concorde II, and Entourage transit buses manufactured April 9, 2014, to October 6, 2014. During the alignment process, a tie rod jam nut may have been left loose.

A loose tie rod jam nut may result in a loss of control, increasing the risk of a crash.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the tie rod end jam nut, tightening it as needed, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in July 2015. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-800-445-2825 extension 138. Forest River’s number for this recall is 35-05262015-0038.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Forest River, Inc.

forest-River-logoForest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain model year 2015-2016 Vengeance trailers, model numbers VGF377V, VGF378V, VGF394V13, and VGF396V, manufactured August 7, 2014, to May 12, 2015. The affected trailers may be equipped with incorrect certification labels that state the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 18,500 pounds when the actual GVWR is 18,000 pounds. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of the Code of Federal Regulations number 567, “Certification.”

The incorrect GVWR on the labels may result in the vehicle operator over loading the vehicle which could increase the risk of a crash.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will install a new corrected label, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in June 2015. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-260-593-4005. Forest River’s number for this recall is 17B-05132015-0036.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Forest River, Inc.

forest-River-logoForest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain model year 2013-2015 Coachmen Shasta SHT27RL travel trailers manufactured May 7, 2013, to May 7, 2015. The affected trailers may have an incorrect gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) information stated on the Federal Weight Tags. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards No. 567, “Certification.”

Incorrect GVWR information on the label may lead the operator to load the trailer to an incorrect weight, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will replace the incorrect label with a corrected label, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in June 2015. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-825-8717. Forest River’s number for this recall is 53-05132015-0035.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc.

TiffinLogo-UnitTiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain model year 2015 Allegro Red 36 QSA, Allegro Red 38 QBA, Phaeton 40 QBH, and Phaeton 40 QKH motorhomes manufactured April 22, 2014, to May 8, 2015. In the affected vehicles, moisture may enter the slide-out controller and cause the “switch out” connection to short, and cause the motorhome slide-out section to extend while the motorhome is moving.

If the slide-out opens during transit, there is an increased risk of a vehicle crash.

Tiffin will notify owners, and dealers will install a relay to disconnect the power source of the slide-out, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in June 2015. Owners may contact Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Please Note: This is the 59th in a series of articles relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.

—John Ruskin

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June 2015 RV Manufacturer Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently announced 5 recall notices involving 4 recreational vehicle/chassis manufacturers—Starcraft RV, Jayco, Thor Motor Coach, and MCI.

Starcraft RV

starcraftStarcraft RV (Starcraft) is recalling certain model year 2016 Launch and AR-One travel trailers manufactured March 31, 2015, to April 20, 2015. The affected vehicles may be equipped with Federal Certification Labels that incorrectly list the tire size as ST205/75R14C when the actual size is LT235/75R15C. As such, these labels fail to comply with Federal Regulation Part 567.

If the operator installs an incorrect tire due to the wrong label information, excessive tire wear may result and may cause instability during towing, increasing the risk of a crash.

Starcraft will notify owners, and dealers will install a new corrected label, free of charge. The recall began on May 28, 2015. Owners may contact Starcraft customer service at 1-800-945-4787. Starcraft’s number for this recall is 9902239.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Jayco

Jayco-Color-logo-birdJayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain model year 2016 Eagle FW WB trailers manufactured April 20, 2015, to April 21, 2015. In the affected trailers, the studs that are used to attach the wheels to the axle hubs may break.

If the wheel studs break, the wheel could detach from the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will replace any affected wheel hub, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on June 15, 2015. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901238.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Jayco

Jayco-Color-logo-birdJayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain model year 2013-2015 Seismic Pinnacle and Eagle Premier recreational trailers manufactured April 3, 2013, to February 27, 2015. In the affected vehicles, a rivet for the quad entry steps may shear and fail, causing the steps to give when being used.

If the rivet shears under occupant load, the occupant may fall, increasing the risk of personal injury.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will replace the defective rivets with bolts, free of charge. The recall began on June 4, 2015. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Thor Motor Coach

Motorhome - Class A, Class C, Class B+ RV, Motorhome Manufactrurer, Gas, Diesel, Luxury Rear Diesel Motorhomes, New RVs, Four Winds, Damon
Motorhome – Class A, Class C, Class B+ RV, Motorhome Manufactrurer, Gas, Diesel, Luxury Rear Diesel Motorhomes, New RVs, Four Winds, Damon

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain model year 2016 Hurricane and Windsport motorhomes manufactured March 10, 2015, to March 24, 2015. In the affected motorhomes, the co-pilot seats may be attached to the floor of the motorhome in an area that is not properly reinforced.

If the floor at the attachment point is not properly reinforced, the seat base mounting may loosen over time, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

TMC will notify owners, and dealers will install a reinforcement plate at the co-pilot seat mounting bolt location, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in June 2015. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-500-1020. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000101.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Motor Coach Industries (MCI)

logoMciMotor Coach Industries (MCI) is recalling certain model year 2011-2012 D4000 motorcoaches manufactured November 12, 2011, to July 11, 2012, and 2014-2015 D4500 motorcoaches manufactured July 4, 2014, to April 30, 2015. Excessive engine crankcase pressures may cause the 90-degree elbow of the vent tube assembly to detach from the crankcase ventilation breather, possibly allowing engine oil to come into contact with hot surfaces.

If the engine oil comes into contact with a hot surface, it can increase the risk of a vehicle fire.

MCI will notify owners, and Cummins service centers will administer the repairs which include securing the ends of the 90-degree elbow and reprogramming the electronic control module (ECM) with software that can adjust the engine output under misfire conditions to limit crankcase pressures. These repairs will be performed free of charge. The recall began on June 18, 2015. Owners may contact MCI customer service at 1-800-241-2947 or Cummins Inc. at 1-800-343-7357. MCI’s number for this recall is SB 423.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Please Note: This is the 58th in a series of articles relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake.

—Confucius

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4 Cool Trailers NOT Named Airstream

According to Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey, Airstream is one cool camper!

While we can relate to the nostalgia of this classic trailer, there are other adorably cool trailers worthy of consideration.

From caravans that float to cabins on wheels, and minimalist campers to modern-day covered wagons fit for the Oregon Trail, here are four of the coolest trailers on the road.

Cricket

The Out-Of-This-World Cool Cricket Trailer
The Out-Of-This-World Cool Cricket Trailer

Part tent, part RV, the NASA-inspired Cricket Trailer is the go-to camper for the modern road tripper. Combining small-space expertise and backpacking background, a former space architect with NASA designed the Cricket Trailer, a small, self-contained pop-up camper. It’s his response to bigger-is-better RV cul­ture.

The name Cricket was inspired by an early design sketch, in which the lifts on the pop-up looked like the legs of the insect. The Cricket is a kind of hybrid tent and trailer, made of aluminum, wood and steel, with a pop-up style roof. It takes just 20 seconds to set up once you’ve arrived at camp, which basically involves popping up the roof which is made extra easy with the assistance of automatic gas pistons.

Sealander

This 840-pound microcaravan comes with an outboard motor. (Credit: sealander.de)
This 840-pound microcaravan comes with an outboard motor. (Credit: sealander.de)

Saving you the trouble of deciding between a boat and a camper, the Sealander is an amphibious vehicle that quickly transforms between the two. It can be customized to include two stainless steel gas cookers, a sink and water pump, toilet, and sound system, among other perks. And with two huge windows and a roll-up tarpaulin roof, you can stare at the stars while falling asleep to the soothing sound of water slapping against the hull.

Its wide, bowl-shaped design not only provides stability while floating, but it can easily navigate shallow waters without running aground. It also means you don’t need a trailer or a boat ramp to launch it in the water—simply back it up to a sufficiently cleared shoreline and the Sealander is successfully launched.

Leaf House

Leaf House is a tiny portable home design that takes up a small amount of space, is big enough to live in comfortably, and accommodates a family of four. (Source: tinyhousing.ca)
Leaf House is a tiny portable home design that takes up a small amount of space, is big enough to live in comfortably, and accommodates a family of four. (Source: tinyhousing.ca)

Handmade by a Canadian college professor, each 97-square-foot Leaf House is built of spruce pine and is tested to withstand even the harshest Yukon winter. It also weighs less than 5,000 pounds, thanks to lightweight concrete kitchen counters, bamboo flooring, and birch-plywood ceilings. Designed for a family of four, this fully self-contained portable house includes a sleeping loft, Murphy bed, full bathroom with a compact bathtub, a kitchen complete with a small fridge, and an open dining area.

The Leaf House is mounted on wheels, allowing you to pick up and go whenever the urge arises.

The Pod

POD-1172
The Pod

This retro caravan might be small — it’s only 34 square feet — but it won’t leave you wanting. The fiberglass and steel trailer features a four-person table that transforms into a double bed, a birch and aluminum interior, and a tiny-but-functional kitchen. And at only 705 pounds, it’s light enough to be towed by even the smallest car.

A fun and stylish living unit for two, the pod has now been in production for over 13 years and prides itself on being the forerunner of modern-retro teardrop trailers and micro-caravans.

Features of the pod include a dining area to seat four people in comfort with full size dining table and integral fold-away table, large interior sleeping space—equivalent to a double bed, large rear hatch door with gas-spring opening providing convenient access to the kitchen, quality hand-built kitchen, weatherproof foot-well with a fold-up feature, 12 volt power socket, two interior lights, leisure battery and charger, built-in storage areas, two support legs, and roof and floor vents.

Worth Pondering…

All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.

—Phillip Johnson

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Dos & Don’ts of Towing a Travel Trailer

Don’t confuse towing a travel trailer with driving a car—they only look the same. If you’re preparing to tow a trailer, it’s time to brush up on the basics.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park: West Valley Icon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Small travel trailer camping at White Tank Mountain Regional Park Campground, Maricopa County, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Two of the most important things to have when you tow are basic common sense and the ability to adjust your driving. In other words, when towing, everything you do while driving needs to be done at a lesser speed when compared to driving without a trailer.

When you turn, go much slower. When you accelerate, do it much easier. When you brake, allow yourself considerably more space to stop. And when you change lanes, allow room for your vehicle and the trailer.

Towing a travel trailer requires regular inspection of the equipment, especially the hitch, brake lights, and signals.

Beginner drivers are advised to find an empty parking lot and get used to maneuvering the tow vehicle-trailer combination. Jackknifing happens to the best out there though, so don’t give up after your first try.

Regardless of the shape and size of your trailer, there are several dos and don’ts of towing a travel trailer.

Spare tire

Always travel with a fill-size spare tire for your trailer as well as your tow vehicle.

Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A flat trailer tire without a spare equates to a massive headache, especially in a remote area. Carry two spare tires: one for the tow vehicle and one for the trailer.

Check the tire pressure

Proper tire inflation is essential when towing a trailer. It optimizes handling, fuel economy, and safety. Check tire inflation and tread wear often. Inflate the tires to the trailer manufacturer’s maximum recommended cold pressure. Heat is the tires’ enemy, and a properly inflated tire will run cooler. Every morning, check the tow vehicle and trailer tire pressure, as well as the trailer lights and brakes.

Adjust the side mirrors

Available in a custom or universal fit, towing mirrors increase visibility. This makes backing up and passing other vehicles easier and safer. Adjust the side mirrors in a way that the rear of the trailer can be readily seen. That ensures a clear view of what’s behind and beside the trailer when changing lanes or turning a corner. The lower mirrors are there to help you with judging curbs.

Pictured below is the beauty of Valley of Fire at Atatl Rock Campground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Pictured below is the beauty of Valley of Fire at Atatl Rock Campground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Load adjustments

Do not overload the rear of the trailer as this will lead to excessive swaying and general instability. Distributing the weight so that at least 10 percent is on the hitch.

Reversing

Position your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. As you begin looking over your shoulder, move the hand to the right to make the trailer turn right and left to make it go left. If the trailer jackknifes, straighten the trailer by pulling forward and start over again, at a slower speed.

90-degree corners

The extra length can also cause problems on turns. Because the trailer does not follow the exact path as the vehicle on turns, remember to swing out wider when traveling around bends and corners.

Braking

The addition of a trailer adds weight and length to the tow vehicle. More weight means more time to speed up and more importantly, slow down and stop. Allow for extra time when changing lanes, stopping, and passing other vehicles.

Highway driving

To conserve fuel when towing, travel at moderate speeds. Faster speeds increase wind resistance, reduce fuel mileage, and place added strain on the tow vehicle and trailer.

Do not overload the rear of the trailer
Do not overload the rear of the trailer

DO – Good Towing Practice

  • Gradually reduce speed
  • Steady the steering wheel—sudden turns can cause more sway

DO NOT – NOT Good Towing Practice

  • Do Not slam on the brake—jackknifing can occur
  • Do Not tow a trailer that continues to sway

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

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RVs Rule the Road

Who is driving RV sales and why?

Canyon Vistas RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona
There’s an RV for every family’s budget and needs. Photo above: Canyon Vistas RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re one of the millions of Americans or Canadians planning to head out for a summer road trip, be prepared: RVs rule the road.

With prices ranging from $15,000 to just shy of $1 million, Americans and Canadian consumers have more options than ever when it comes to hitting the open road with a bed in tow.

For the big bucks your RV comes decked out with dual sinks in the master bathroom of a 46,000-pound diesel pusher built on a behemoth bus chassis. The Newmar King Aire also has Sleep Number beds, four flat-screen televisions, and a tablet to remotely manage the climate controls. Oh, and it also has a carbon-fiber steering wheel, and the driver sits in a captain’s chair with a built-in massager.

Canada’s number one Newmar dealer, Midtown RV in the southern Okanagan city of Penticton (British Columbia) sold 6 King Aires during the past 12 months.

“King Aire buyers are people looking for a modern contemporary design with the latest in residential amenities,” said Kalvin Stayberg, Midtown RV Vice-President and part owner.

Class A motorhome: 2015 Newmar King Aire
Class A motorhome: 2015 Newmar King Aire

“They also appreciate that the King Aire couples this modern design with the Newmar Heritage of quality, luxury, and power.”

While the King Aire may be over-the-top extravagant, buyers are demanding the same kinds of countertops and finishes they’re accustomed to having in their homes. Many RVs, for instance, have memory foam beds, tile floors, two bathrooms, and Corian countertops.

Those amenities are driving massive growth in what has been a sagging industry hit hard by a lousy economy and sky-high fuel prices. Last year RV dealers sold about 350,000 vehicles and expect even stronger growth this year. That’s a return to pre-recession levels not seen in nearly a decade.

Bottom-of-the-barrel fuel prices are also helping to drive interest in the RV lifestyle. Packing up the family for a summer vacation is less expensive than flying, especially when airlines with locked-in fuel costs haven’t yet passed along fuel savings to passengers. Camping is also more family-friendly and relaxing.

There’s been strong interest at both ends of the spectrum, from that $1 million King Aire to the 1930s-style teardrop trailers light enough to be towed behind a car and the always-popular Airstream.

Vistabule Introduces ‘Cab Forward’ Teardrop Trailer
Vistabule is a popular ‘Cab Forward’ teardrop trailer

Airstream celebrated a record year in 2014, with sales up 26 percent over 2013 numbers. The retro-glam travel trailer has found new life among an expanded clientele that includes baby boomers.

And smaller, cheaper, mini-trailers, like teardrop trailers, have also resurfaced as appealing options for road-trippers looking to go small.

Also receiving significant interest are “Tiny House” style RVs which some buyers remove from their wheels and use as a cozy home. The wood-sided Tumbleweed Tiny Homes were featured in an earlier post on Vogel Talks RVing.

Many consider small to be the new big. The small-house movement and a conscious move away from a consumptive lifestyle for many millennials.

But it’s not just the smaller and sleeker Airstream and teardrop trailers that are doing well. The whole industry has recently found a new stride. Behemoth motorhomes often with tag axles and travel and fifth wheel trailers—12, 28, 35 feet long—are hitting highways in the strongest numbers in years.

The design of the Cypress Tiny House RV  by Tumbleweed makes use of the most interior space, by incorporating a corner porch and utilizing the extra room as interior space.
The design of the Cypress Tiny House RV by Tumbleweed makes use of the most interior space, by incorporating a corner porch and utilizing the extra room as interior space.

Some 32,045 RVs were shipped from manufacturers to dealerships in February of this year. Compare that to 29,700 in February 2007 and 10,300 in February 2009 when the industry hit rock bottom. The industry projects it will hit its top sales in nearly a decade this year.

Plummeting fuel prices don’t hurt, either, and it’s also worth noting that Baby Boomers—folks between 51 and 69—are retiring in droves. At the same time, however, RV buyers are actually getting a little younger. According to recent report, in 2011, the average age of an RV buyer was 48 years old. The fastest-growing age bracket was 35-54.

Mainstream Class A motorhomes and fifth wheel and travel trailers run anywhere from $10,000 to $600,000 and more. After financial ability, family was the leading factor in the decision to buy an RV. People perceive these vehicles as a way to spend time with family and friends, without the hassle and expense of flights, lodging, and food.

But unless you’re living in your RV full-time, it’s about as discretionary a purchase as one can imagine. It’s a big upfront investment, and that’s before fuel costs, insurance, and license. Buying any RV indicates a high degree of consumer confidence.

The increase in sales of Airstreams and teardrops are merely part of a larger trend. Now that people perceive an improve economy, they’re buying RVs of all stripes.

The success of the RV industry is due in part to the diversity of product that offers something for every income level. You don’t have to be rich to buy a smaller trailer and go camping.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights
An RV will take you whever you wish to go including Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights

And for those families who want to spend time together while getting back to nature, RVs have an undeniable attraction and is a lifestyle that’s second to none.

Worth Pondering…

The American dream is no longer about home ownership. The American dream is that people want to travel and see America by RV.

—Andy Heck, co-owner Alpin Haus to Greg Gerber, RV Daily Report

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How To Buy The Right RV For YOU

There are but two ways to tour the country by vehicle: Convertible and take as few of your possessions as possible or an RV and take all the comforts of home with you.

Canyon Gateway RV Park, Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Pop-up camper and fifth wheel trailer camped at Canyon Gateway RV Park, Williams, Arizona, a full-service campground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here’s how to do the latter without breaking the bank or breaking your mind.

There is nothing particularly obvious about choosing an RV. It all comes down to personal choice.

And it’s not reasonable to expect that everyone will have a chance to drive every kind of RV before they rent or purchase one. I’ve driven a pop-up trailer, truck camper, fifth wheel trailers, a Class A gas motorhome, and a diesel pusher of varying lengths, but I’d never driven a Class B or Class C motorhome.

Purchasing an RV is a personal choice not unlike buying a new car or house, computer or smart phone, furniture or household appliances.

You cannot simply decide to buy an RV and buy it—at once. There are numerous things that should be kept in mind before you’re prepared to make that crucial decision.

When buying an RV that suits your requirements, you need to consider type of RV, new or preowned, size, ease of driving, type of camping, cost, manufacturer, dealer, and much more.

There is such an amazing variety of models and floor plans to choose from that it can leave the mind boggling.

North Llano River RV Park, Junction, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Class A gas motorhome camping at North Llano River RV Park, Junction, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Very often people buy the wrong RV, only to be disappointed and trade it in or resell it less than a year later only to lose thousands of dollars in the transaction.

Buying an RV can be a frustrating experience—it can be intimidating and confusing. Since there’s a myriad of new and preowned RVs available for purchase, it can be confusing trying to decide which one is best for you and your family and it’s not easy to know where to begin.

If you’re buying an RV for the first time, you can quickly get lost in the details—there are lots of them. There’s a considerable amount of information competing for your attention—along with some misinformation.

Buying an RV usually requires some trade-offs.

I’m not going to discuss all the different features and options on various types of RVs or tell you which models are best (something that is really quite personal and which changes over time); however, there are a few questions and factors to keep in mind when selecting the best RV for you and your family.

The right RV comes down to personal preference.

My purpose then, is to provide you with a basic framework to use in deciding which RV to buy.

Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are a few factors that I encourage you to keep in mind when buying your RV. I’ll provide my advice on purchasing an RV which comes from my personal experience of buying numerous types of RVs and various models.

Here are a few questions that’ll help you narrow down what to buy.

What type of camping or RV travel will I do? Weekends at the lake? Summer vacation? Months at a time? Snowbird? Full time RVing?

What type of RV should I get? Pop-up trailer? Truck camper? Travel trailer? Fifth wheel trailer? Motorhome? The classing system for motorhomes starts with Class B as the smallest, Class A as the largest, and Class C in between. Gas or diesel?

Towing? Whether you’ll be towing your trailer or towing another vehicle behind your motorhome, make sure you have the right vehicle and appropriate towing hitch. Be aware of and check GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) and CVWR (Combined Vehicle Weight Rating).

Where will I camp most of the time? Full service RV parks? Campgrounds with minimal services? National, state, or county parks? BLM? Off grid? Wilderness camping?

How much cooking will I do? Large kitchen with appliances, plenty of counter space, and food storage areas?

Class B motorhome at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona/Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Class C motorhome at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona/Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Related costs? Fuel? Maintenance and service? License fees? Insurance? Storage?

Financing? If you’re like most RVers, you’ll need to finance at least part of your purchase. Check with your bank or lending institution to determine your credit limit and interest rate prior to shopping for the RV of your dreams.

How much storage space will I require? How many people do you need to pack for? Consider the amount of food and clothes you will want to take—plus all the toys, games and sports equipment?

With any RV, there are bound to be some compromises. The important thing is to avoid surprises. As long as you keep your expectations in line with reality, you can still have a ton of fun and freedom in your new RV.

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Class A diesel pusher and toad camping at Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…
Safe travels and keep your wheels on the road.

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How To Test Drive an RV

When choosing an RV, there’s a lot to consider.

North Llano River RV Park, Junction, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Class A Diesel Pusher camping at North Llano River RV Park, Junction, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In an earlier post on Vogel Talks RVing, I discuss the steps involved in buying a new or preowned RV.

Where do you plan to camp? What are your travel plans? Are you a weekend warrior, snowbird, or full-timer RVer? What size RV fits your family? Do you prefer a motorized RV or a towable? What is your budget? Space and storage requirements? The list goes on.

A major difference between driving RVs and cars is that they don’t handle the same, especially when cornering. Test-driving will help to determine what kind of RV is manageable for you. The last thing you want to do is purchase an RV that you can’t drive safely.

But once you get to the test drive phase, there are six things you absolutely must do:

1. Try the bed

Is it comfortable? Large enough? If you plan on sharing it with another person, bring them along to ensure it’s comfortable for two. Mattresses can be too thin, too firm, or too soft. They can be made with uncomfortable seams, creases, or thin spots. Try making the bed with the type of bedding you prefer. Is there space for fitted sheets to tuck in.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park: West Valley Icon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Small travel trailer camping at White Tank Mountain Regional Park Campground, Maricopa County, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the bed is convertible, be sure to test the complete conversion process, both setup and stowage. How difficult and time consuming is the change-over process? How long and how many people does it take to convert the bed? Finally, test the noise levels for sleeping. Run the fan, air conditioning, heat pump, and furnace.

2. Evaluate the bathroom layout

To make sure you’ll fit, sit on the toilet and stand in the shower. Try the shower arm if there is one. How difficult will it be to clean up after using the shower and sink? Is the sink usable? Is there room to brush your teeth, wash, and shave? Flush the toilet. How much water does it use? Is there adequate space for soap, shampoo, and personal items? Check the lighting and the mirrors. Are they adequate?

3. Examine the storage space

Does the RV have adequate space for all essentials? Determine space availability for the toys you plan to tote along, such as bikes or golf clubs. Longer items like golf clubs or skis can present problems. Is there adequate space for clothes, towels, cleaning products, vacuum cleaner. Where will you store miscellaneous items? Will you have to move things around in order to make the bed and go to sleep, or can they stay in their place night and day?

Keystone Montana fifth wheel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Keystone Montana fifth wheel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Operate ALL appliances

Furnace, A/C, heat pump, microwave, refrigerator, stove top and oven, fan, lights, inverter, batteries, leveling jacks, water heater, and water pump.

Extend and retract the slides.

5. Check the water systems

Go through the process of filling the freshwater tank and dumping the grey and black water tanks. Are the hoses easy to access and store? Are valve actuators handy? Is there lighting that would enable you to complete the process at night?

6. Drive it

Test drive at highway speeds and on rough roads and up and down hills. Figure on a 20-30 minute test drive in as many traffic and road surface conditions as you can. 0-65mph on the test drive, cornering, braking, shifting.

How quiet is the drive? Any rattles? Do the cupboards stay latched? How is visibility? Does the back-up camera provide an adequate view?

Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Is the cockpit seating comfortable? Are controls conveniently located?

With any RV you test drive, there will be compromises. You may test all of these factors, find some that aren’t ideal, and decide to purchase anyway. The important thing is to avoid surprises after you sign on the dotted line.

As long as you keep your expectations in line with reality, you can still have a ton of fun and freedom in your new RV.

Worth Pondering…

Recently I ran across a few lines by Pierre de Ronsard, a 16th-century poet: “Live now, believe me, wait not till tomorrow. Gather the roses of life today.” Maybe it’s time to stop dreaming about buying the RV of your dreams—and just do it!

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Steps in Buying the RV of Your Dreams

It’s all about buying the RV of your dreams!

Live it well! Enjoy today! Do your dream! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Live it well!
Enjoy today!
Do your dream! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you are considering the interior accommodations, features, and technology or the amount of available interior and basement storage, it all matters, but the process of deciding what’s right for you doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

When contemplating the purchase of a motorhome or trailer, take your time, do your homework, talk to owners of similar types and brands of campers, attend RV shows, and locate a good reputable dealer who stands behind his products and provides quality service.

Visit the RV dealers in your area, and attend RV shows. Seeing a selection of models in one location allows you to do side-by-side comparisons on manufacturers, models, size, price and options.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and start fantasizing about the good times you’ll have cruising down a scenic highway in the RV of your dreams—your home-away-from-home. But do the research first.

The first thing to remember when RV shopping is to set goals and stick with them. Key goals include establishing an RV budget, deciding on the RV type and size, deciding on the RV floor plan, features, and amenities, and narrowing down the manufactures to several choices that meet your criteria.

2012 Newmar Dutch Star Class A Diesel motorhome camped at Leasburg Dam State Park, New Mexico. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
2012 Newmar Dutch Star Class A Diesel motorhome camped at Leasburg Dam State Park, New Mexico. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Towable or Motorized?

For many families, towable RVs offer great flexibility and if you already own a vehicle that can serve as your tow vehicle, you are already half-way there.

Motorized RVs on the other hand offer great passenger comfort while on the road and some people find them easier to maneuver into a camping site.

Are you a weekend warrior, or do you plan to do extended adventures? Or are you a snowbird or full-time RVer.

You’re obviously going to need a lot more gear if you plan to live in your RV for an extended stay, which means you will need more storage space and greater load capacity. Sport Utility RVs (or toy haulers) are a great option for people who want to bring along a lot of large gear.

Sleeping capacity?

What size or RV fits your family? How many people will your RV need to sleep? An RV built for two offers a different set of features than a bunkhouse built for a family.

rent an rv
Class C motorhome at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With so many new styles of RVs on the market it’s helpful to narrow down your desired floor plan before hitting the showroom floor.

Where do you plan to camp?

Depending on where you plan to camp, the size of your RV may be an issue you need to consider. Most RV parks and resorts can accommodate motorhomes and trailers up to 40 feet in length or longer. Some national parks, state parks, provincial parks, and county or regional parks campgrounds have length restrictions.

A Class B motorhome, Class C motorhome, truck camper, or small trailer are all goods options for people who desire to have the ability to camp most anywhere.

You’ll also want to consider options, such as a generator or solar panels, that simplify boondocking or dry camping.

When do you plan to camp?

Are you a summertime RVer? Or do you like to find your AWAY year round?

If winter camping is something you enjoy, then consider a four-season RV.

When purchasing an RV for use in cold weather, ensure sure it has cold weather features including heated holding tanks, dual pane windows, adequate LP capacity, an enclosed underbelly, and heated bays.

A camping trip to a ski area; football, basketball, or hockey game; hunting or snowmobiling; cross country skiing, snow tubing, tobogganing, or ice fishing are some of the ways you can continue to enjoy your RV during the winter months.

Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite. Note the solar panels. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite. Note the solar panels. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Or if you plan to spend considerable time camping in hot weather, you’ll need adequate air conditioning.

There are many choices of RVs on the market with something for everybody and every budget.

Worth Pondering…

Never forget your dreams.

—Corczak

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