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Thursday, January 28, 2016

TigerMoth: Is it a pop up, or a travel trailer?

Many RVers got started as tent campers, then "moved up" by jumping to a rolling tent, a "pop up" or what the industry likes to call "folding trailers." Pop-ups do have their "cute" aspect, but some folks are a little put-off by having to fiddle around setting the rig up, sometimes doing a bit of a contortionist act to get the thing popped up.

Enter another "cute" entry level, lightweight, that while technically a "pop up" because it doesn't fold, but sure does look a bit like – well – some kind of pop up. It's called a TigerMoth. Now, our experiences with "Tiger Moths" could either point you to an insect, or an ancient biplane. Maybe both of these were looked at when it came to the design phase, but we'll let you sort that out in your own mind.

With 'hitch to tail' length of just 12', giving an interior of eight feet, this is obviously not a rig you'd be looking at for extended travel. But for a light weekend, and a 900 pound dry weight, it's a rig that can be towed with even a small, four-cylinder tow rig. Got to hand it to the designers, despite the light weight of the rig itself, the cargo carrying capacity is huge in comparison – the maximum gross vehicle weight pumps up to 2,000 pounds. Believe it or not, we've seen 24' travel trailers with a cargo carrying capacity that's every close to this one.

OK, you have to go outside to do any cooking – a slide-out galley is great for fresh air, provided it isn't raining. But the hardside build of this rig will keep you a bit warmer on chilly nights than a comparable canvas soft-sider pop-up. The design team says they look at their brain-child in NASA-like terms, taking advantage of storage everywhere, and building in hatches and windows for plenty of daylight and ventilation. Optional solar panels power up the factory equipped LED lighting. No toilet, no holding tanks, but an optional hand-pump will spit a bit of water in the galley for dishwashing time.

Odd-looking, maybe. The designers beg that aerodynamics will please your wallet at the gas pump, and the build doesn't require a lot of time for set up, suggesting you can land and be set up, "in a couple of minutes." Check out the website for more information.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

An RV open to debate

Bumper stickers expressing feelings abound. Political persuasions are actively paraded. "My kid is smarter than your kid." From "whirled peas" to advice on cellular phone use (or not).

Leave it to RVers to take advantage of a larger "bumper" area to put their feelings out to air. This one, seen in Quartzsite, you may (or may not) agree with.

Photo: R&T De Maris

Monday, December 21, 2015

Jumpin' Jedi! Highway safety messages take on Star Wars overtones

As RVers shoot down the nation's Interstate system, they often encounter electronic reader boards. Some advise of traffic slowdowns, and when traffic ahead is clear, they often promote safer driving with catchy slogans like, "Drive hammered. Get nailed."

Missouri Dept. of Transportation

Last week, as the Star Wars franchise rolled out another blockbuster motion picture, drivers in many parts of the nation encountered Star Wars' themed traffic safety warnings. We ran across one on Interstate 10, just inside the Arizona border that suggested we, "Trust in the Force, but always Buckle Up." Perhaps you spotted one of these Imperial proverbs.

Iowa DOT

Monday, November 30, 2015

If you missed the auction for Charles Lindbergh's trailer, there's hope for you yet

Back in 2014 we invited readers with deep pockets and an interest in history to think about bidding on a travel trailer that was coming up at auction. In August, Bonhams offered a 1939 travel trailer once owned by aviator Charles Lindbergh for sale to the public, with an estimated sale price of $150,000 to $200,000. Not sure if any of our readers put in a bid, but in terms of price, my what a difference a year makes.

The custom-built trailer has just been donated to the RV/MH Hall of Fame – so if you couldn't afford to own this dandy piece of history yourself, at least now, you'll be able to go and visit it. Now given an estimated value of $300,000 you may be quite taken aback by the engineering used in Lindy's trailer: Twin axles support the rig, but at opposite ends of the trailer. The thinking, it's said, was to allow the trailer to be stable when unhitched. The whole apprearance is a bit of a classic Airstream, fitted out in an aluminum exterior with a fantastic wood interior – and none of it restored.

What makes for an interesting confluence in history is this: Lindbergh's world record setting plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, which Lindy flew non-stop from New York to Paris, was largely designed by one Hawley Bowlus. "Spirit" rolled off the production line in 1927. A few years later, Bowlus used the same principles of construction used on Lindbergh's plane to build his own travel trailer which he dubbed, "Road Chief."

Today Bowlus' "Road Chief" is also part of the collection on display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame. Fittingly, both Bowlus' rig and that of Lindbergh's are situated not far from each other at the facility.

photos: RV/MH Hall of Fame

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