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Are there smaller campers built quality?


jkennell

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Been reading the posts about quality in modern RVs, and totally understand why the custom manufactured large Full timer rigs are built and cost the way they are.

But how about going toward the other end of the spectrum? What about quality in smaller RV units?

 

We purchased our 40' and HDT a while back when we had our 5th child, and its been great camping in "luxury" (my wife loves the space!) BUT...we only "Camp" occasionally and find we prefer smaller campgrounds like State Parks...which are often hard to get into. And, It'll only be a few more years before the older kids "vanish" (the eldest in 21). So, I've been thinking about the future...and where we go from here. 30' Class A? TT? (of course a nice HDT based 30' RV would be nice but out of my price range!)

 

One option is maybe downsizing to a 25-30' TT. (for some reason the smaller 5r don't appeal). But...I've gotten used to nice things like Inverters, big tanks, bigger appliances, a sleep comfort bed...more durable build, etc. (And of course the HDT and SPACE--but). I once had a 19' Jayco that had a inverter and a big exterior storage bin. Still had ripple siding. Interestingly it had as big a fridge as my 40' unit! When I sold it it still looked brand new-it was just too SMALL!

 

Is there any companies that build a nice solid TT with more of the usable amenities, not Full-timer level, but still not the cheap trash? I don't want anything that's gonna fall apart or delaminate in 2 years. But neither can I afford to get a custom unit built for the little I use it. Just something I can depend on that when I finally get a chance to take a couple days off--I don't have to spend it all working on the camper! Sorry for the rambling post.

 

Just thought I'd change it up a bit, and am interested in "picking" the knowledge base on here.

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First, let me suggest that you might get more responses if this were posted in the "General" forum since by no means does everyone read this forum.

 

That said, a lot depends upon the amount of use you plan and how many seasons. We left the fulltime world due to age & health issues and now only travel summers and so have downsized to a smaller travel trailer from our class A that we once lived in. We bought one of the "ultra lite" trailers which are really only designed for seasonal use. We chose a KZ Sportsman with is of reasonably good quality for a vacation level of RV. I could never suggest it as a fulltimer RV but so far it has served us for seasonal use quite well and at a far lower price than any of the higher rated RVs. The question is one of balancing cost against the amount of use you expect to give it.

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+1 on Nash/Arctic Fox.

 

And then, of course, there's the smaller Airstream models, but they are big money.

 

Riverside RV is a small Amish company that makes a variety of retro-themed and toyhauler models that are highly regarded.

 

There's a company in Canada called Taylor Coach that makes some very nice trailers that seem similar to Nash.

 

And don't forget the fiberglass makers, which are also highly regarded: Scamp, Casita, Escape (the latter also Canadian).

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First, let me suggest that you might get more responses if this were posted in the "General" forum since by no means does everyone read this forum.

 

That said, a lot depends upon the amount of use you plan and how many seasons. We left the fulltime world due to age & health issues and now only travel summers and so have downsized to a smaller travel trailer from our class A that we once lived in. We bought one of the "ultra lite" trailers which are really only designed for seasonal use. We chose a KZ Sportsman with is of reasonably good quality for a vacation level of RV. I could never suggest it as a fulltimer RV but so far it has served us for seasonal use quite well and at a far lower price than any of the higher rated RVs. The question is one of balancing cost against the amount of use you expect to give it.

The higher quality units are heavier that their lightweight siblings. While he might get "more" responses in the general forum, they would probably be similar to yours. If I have to pick what season I want to use my trailer and that really makes a difference as does how many times I plan to use it, it is not what I would consider an a quality unit. A trailer that can only be used x number of times before it turns back into a pumpkin isn't sort of rv I would want.

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The higher quality units are heavier that their lightweight siblings. While he might get "more" responses in the general forum, they would probably be similar to yours. If I have to pick what season I want to use my trailer and that really makes a difference as does how many times I plan to use it,

You might want to read his question?

 

 

But how about going toward the other end of the spectrum? What about quality in smaller RV units?

 

.............. BUT...we only "Camp" occasionally and find we prefer smaller campgrounds like State Parks...which are often hard to get into. ......

 

Is there any companies that build a nice solid TT with more of the usable amenities, not Full-timer level, but still not the cheap trash?

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Well, if you are willing to spend the money Forks RV will build you anything you want. They build a lot of smaller RVs for the overseas market. They had a TT on the lot when we were there to pick up our rig that looked like it was in the mid 30' range with the doors on the "wrong" side because it was going to Australia. Their rigs are expensive, heavy and entirely custom built. Best wishes, Jay

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You might want to read his question?

 

Kirk, I am not sure what your issue is with me and why you are wanting to start an argument, and before you go whine to the moderators again, maybe YOU need to re-read his post and your own. He asked about QUALITY units and (as you quoted) "not cheap trash". In my opinion, not yours but MINE, any unit that can only be used during a specific season and wears out based on the number of uses is CHEAP TRASH. I am sorry that you feel that my differing opinion is a personal affront but not everyone here agrees with your posts and I believe I am entitled to post my opinion without having you tell me that my opinion is wrong and doesn't address the original question.

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Another vote for Arctic Fox. It has been a few years since we last owned ours but at the time it was a very solid unit. Northwood even allowed a small degree of customization. The only issue we had was that the unit didn't have a strong dealer network as Northwood is a Northwest company. I've heard that the founder and President of Northwood is gravely ill so his loss may have an impact on the company.

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Awesome question Jeff. I'll be watching with much interest.

 

I dont have any hands on or first hand, as they say, experience, but so far, I have not been able to find any smaller "affordable" tts or any rig for that matter, with good size appliances and seemingly a durable build. I was just asking about the Keystone line. Then once I started googling for reviews,.........well........... I looked and am looking at the Northwood stuff which gets all the great reviews, but geez, for a vacationer, they are expensive. Even the used Bigfoots are bringing more than twice a new Jayco. (but I was ever so glad to see my jayco leave the driveway, and it was brand new).

 

You, or your wife may not like the idea, but I have been researching it a lot lately, of using a cargo trailer, and putting together a tt of sorts, with my own appliance sizing and types. Cabinetry is almost all a home depot thing now days. Might that work? Most of them come with an "RV" door on the right side and you can get either a ramp door or swing out cargo doors for the rear. Maybe the ramp can double as a deck? You can order the trailer with all the windows you want and where you want. Tow it with your HDT or any heavy rig you wish. You can order them insulated as well. For me the only thing I would have to hire really, is the AC wiring if I want any done beyond an extension cord.

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Kirk, I am not sure what your issue is with me and why you are wanting to start an argument, and before you go whine to the moderators again, maybe YOU need to re-read his post and your own. He asked about QUALITY units and (as you quoted) "not cheap trash". In my opinion, not yours but MINE, any unit that can only be used during a specific season and wears out based on the number of uses is CHEAP TRASH. I am sorry that you feel that my differing opinion is a personal affront but not everyone here agrees with your posts and I believe I am entitled to post my opinion without having you tell me that my opinion is wrong and doesn't address the original question.

 

Like++

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Jeff, don't be so quick to rule out a Truck Conversion. I bet they might not be out of your price range if you keep checking racingjunk.com. A new custom built one is priced WAY more than a used one. I used to spend a lot of time at the race track and admire the T/C's thinking I'd never be able to afford one. Then I started looking for one seriously and learned there are amazing deals out there. I've owned mine for almost 6 years, put 8k miles on it each summer (I live in MN so mine is stored away from about November-April), and just love it. I think you'd find building your HDT into a Truck Conversion wouldn't likely be cost effective.

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...What about quality in smaller RV units? ...BUT...we only "Camp" occasionally and find we prefer smaller campgrounds like State Parks...which are often hard to get into...I once had a 19' Jayco that had a inverter and a big exterior storage bin. Still had ripple siding. Interestingly it had as big a fridge as my 40' unit! When I sold it it still looked brand new-it was just too SMALL!...Is there any companies that build a nice solid TT with more of the usable amenities, not Full-timer level, but still not the cheap trash? I don't want anything that's gonna fall apart or delaminate in 2 years. But neither can I afford to get a custom unit built for the little I use it. Just something I can depend on that when I finally get a chance to take a couple days off--I don't have to spend it all working on the camper! ...

While many of the travel trailers are built to a lower price point and designed for occassional use, in my opinion, there are models that will last far more than 2 years. If you look around campgrounds, you will see a lot of them. If you travel much you will also discover that contrary to what is said by some on this forum and indicated by the membership profile of this forum and the Escapees RV Club; there are a lot of working folks that move from job to job living fulltime in travel trailers. Northwood MFG. has already been mentioned. KZ was also mentioned, but if you believe the posts about everything Thor Industry produces, you do not want to consider anything but used built before the Thor takeover in the KZ line. Jayco still has a pretty good reputation and the aluminum sided models won't delaminate. Winnebago has allways had a decent reputation and now produces towables in a Winnebago line and the Sunnybrook line. Outdoor RV started by the owners of Northwood claims to make luxury travel trailers.

 

North American RV will let you select your combination of options. Recreation by Design is another small manufacturer of travel trailers. The Excell travel trailers were mentioned, but they were not small (30'+) and were heavy at about 12,000#. A few years ago New Horizons said they would build a travel trailer. Minimum at that time for any build was $60k. However, they never responded to my requests for more information about travel trailers.

 

Your signature says that you have a Cardinal 5th wheel. Based on previous discussions on this forum about Forest River Products, I am not sure that some on this forum would consider it a fulltime quality trailer. However, I do believe that you can get a travel trailer of similar quality. but they won't be the least expensive models.

 

Just a thought on wear and tear. If you use the trailer every weekend that is less than a third of the use a fulltime unit gets. Another thing to consider is that the investment income on what you do not spend on a luxury custom made unit may go a long way towards replacing/upgrading that Oh so humble less expensive unit.

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. I am sorry that you feel that my differing opinion is a personal affront but not everyone here agrees with your posts and I believe I am entitled to post my opinion without having you tell me that my opinion is wrong and doesn't address the original question.

We happen to disagree on what makes an RV "cheap trash" but that is how opinions are sometimes. It doesn't make anyone wrong, just a difference of opinion and both are valid. Opinions are what makes forums work. I'm not offended, but thought that you were. :D

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Based on previous discussions on this forum about Forest River Products, I am not sure that some on this forum would consider it a fulltime quality trailer. However, I do believe that you can get a travel trailer of similar quality. but they won't be the least expensive models.

 

Granted, there are several different lines in the "Forest River Products" camp, but I have been full timing in a Surveyor Sport 220 since early 2012, and have enjoyed it immensely. 25'r with a dry weight around 4700. That was coming down from a 5'r and a MH prior to that. I can't say anything bad about an arctic fox.. I almost went that route myself. Of course, there seems be a great disparity in QC between products produced in their factories back East and the ones produced in the West, so it is good to do your due diligence when researching product lines.

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Your signature says that you have a Cardinal 5th wheel. Based on previous discussions on this forum about Forest River Products, I am not sure that some on this forum would consider it a fulltime quality trailer. However, I do believe that you can get a travel trailer of similar quality. but they won't be the least expensive models.

 

 

WOW! Thought I might get one or two responses! Thanks guys--I'll definitely check out some of your links. The Artic Fox units sound interesting. The reason I posted here is you guys tend to have a different view of quality...I figured the responses would be more...relevant :lol: ! Keep the suggestions coming, please!

 

The Cardinal I got is certainly NOT a "High End" unit, but because it was speced originally for full time use, its got some of the amenities. Bigger battery bank, hydraulic slides, tank heaters, big Inverter, A?C Water Heater, etc. What it doesn't have is decent Furnishings/cupboards...talk about plastic and chip board -- I wouldn't use that quality in my garage. The thing is, for just camping, you can live with the futon couches...but the ability to turn on the microwave at a rest area is very nice.

 

I'm just brain storming at this point. The comment about converting the HDT---funny thing, the guy I bought this unit from originally planned to stretch the truck and mount the 5R on it...

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I'm just brain storming at this point. The comment about converting the HDT---funny thing, the guy I bought this unit from originally planned to stretch the truck and mount the 5R on it...

If I had deep enough pockets, at this point what I would buy is one of the "super C" rigs on one of the big truck chassis. No reason at all that I need one, but just something that looks really neat and fun! Most of them are pretty high quality as well.

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There are "gems" out there among a sea of garbage. I spent about three months looking at everything in the mid 80s and we bought a Kropf 32 footer.

010a.jpg

It was a small family owned company, they built 100-150 fifths a year. Not only they screwed the wood frame but they also glued it everyplace the wood came together. I had a it 10 years, not one bit of problem (50,000 miles) sold it to friends who owned it for more than 10 years. They dealt with few leaks (eventually) and replaced black water tank, that was it in 20 years. There are other models of smaller trailers that you hear from time to time that seem to hold up and have good reputation according to owners, but it takes a lot of research and effort and careful shopping and "examination" to spot those. Look at places that the dealer or a salesman is "not happy" to show you, examples:

For instance, on a lightweight trailer the floor joist are likely to be aluminum tubing.

Are they welded to the perimeter frame?

Frame%2520welded_c.JPG

Or screwed together?

Frame%2520screwed_c.JPG

Which one would you rather take on your "Alaskan adventure", welds or sheet metal screws?

Look at the wiring under the floor or in compartments, is it neat or did they just threw it together?

Wiring%2520mess_c.JPG

As far as the frame you are probably screwed, they probably use a Lippert frame but ask, maybe they do something else. Front perimeter frame is the most important, here's some examples or garbage.

2829289840096176628uSTBKu_fs.jpg

 

2398923530096176628pZlVNO_fs.jpg

 

2267665890096176628gosZHw_ph.jpg

They fixed the frame above by replacing the front tube, look how much thicker wall tube they used vs. the "original".

2918419930096176628IOcYRO_ph.jpg

Unfortunately, if you want to buy a "value trailer" for $20-30,000, even $40,000, the manufacturer and the dealer don't want to give you a "bargain" and cut into their profit margin. First thing they look into to keep that margin is quality workmanship and quality materials.

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