Monday, November 12, 2012

Hard-Sided Folding Trailers

I received a comment yesterday asking about my opinion on hard-sided folding trailers.  We have owned a 1999 Trailmanor 2720SL.   We loved it so much that we upgraded to a Trailmanor 3326 which was the largest the company ever made.  Once it was setup we had a standard TT.
What we loved about our Trailmanors:
1) excellent gas mileage 16 to 17 mpg
2) the amenities of a standard rv including full bath
3) lots of room to spare
4) easy towing
5) great for boondocking, we could get in anywhere with no height issues
What we didn't like about our Trailmanors:
1) the price
2) the recirculating toilet
3) the interior velcro side covers
4) not having the know how to adjust the lift system
The pros outweighed the cons.   Sitting here at this moment talking about it, we still prefer a Trailmanor.   Would we go back, in an instant.  Towing was a dream and the gas mileage incredible.   They are sturdy and warm in the winter and cool in the summer. 
The cons listed above could have been overcome, except for price.  Buying used is the only option and we did that with our 3326.  It was 26ft closed and 33ft open.  We pulled it with a 98 Nissan Pathfinder V6 and it was great.  One thing people don't understand is, pulling an rv of any size with any size vehicle renders the same mpg.  Why?  Wind resistence.  In almost all cases, all towed rvs have the same mpg; 9 to 12 maximum with 10 being the average. 
I don't understand why folding rvs have never gone beyond a niche market.  With all the engineering technology of today, anything is possible.   In fact, more than 15 years ago, Hi-Lo built a fifth wheel that folded down automatically.  Here is a pic.

Looks like a pretty standard fifth wheel, doesn't it?   I guess convenience is the name of the game.   However, we were always on display.  People would gather at our site and watch  us open our TM.   There was absolutely no difference in setup time between a TM and a standard TT.   In fact, we follow pretty much the same procedure today, one outside and one inside each doing our chores.
So to the person who was interested in our take on the TM, we would go back tomorrow if it weren't for the price.   A TT that is very hard to break into, would stop the checkpoints from wanting to take a tour, or at least deter them, we could boondock just about anywhere.   Our current rv has a wonderful layout, but being 24 ft long and 10ft high makes it hard to get around.   The TM was even 1000 lbs lighter than our current rv.  As for the recirculating toilet, well, it oculd easily be replaced with a casette toilet although we were good about limiting use to #1 and it was never an issue.   We sure miss it and wish we could go back.


  1. Chris -- Thank you for your folding camper blog. I note that some who own TrailManors do a mod in the bathroom by putting in a vent which assists in the odor problem with the toilet. I like the TrailManors, too. Right now we have a 25-foot Hi-Lo with a tipout. Using a large dinette and/or sofa for beds in the Hi-Lo is not very comfortable. We get 14 mpg towing it with an F-250 diesel. Hi-Los are heavy, but just want a lot of power when towing 10% grades in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Let us all know how the solar panels are working out for you. I wonder how easy it would be to install such panels on a TrailManor.

    in South Carolina

  2. I have always liked the popups / folding RVs. Price has been the catch point as we never found a used one that had not been loved to death. Still would purchase a popup camper for the pickup for use on shorter trip pulling toy trailer if I could find a good one. I keep an eye on Craigslist locally. Have seen a few pulled but mostly had Canadian plates and a couple with EU plates. Rarely with USA plates.

    rocmoc n AZ/Mexico

  3. We have owned two TrailManors , but recently switched to a conventional travel trailer. We are very happy with our choice, as we get a much larger refrigerator, and the ability to pull over and use our our RV right away, as opposed to having to spend a few minutes setting up and tearing it down. We also find the insulation is much better on our new unit. Also, when driving on a dirt road our TrailManor would always fill with dust. We don't have this problem now. Not to mention the fact that our current travel trailer cost about a third of what our TrailManor cost.

    I definitely miss the easier towing, but I just keep it to 55 miles an hour now and the travel trailer tows just fine.

  4. Aerodynamics play the greatest role im mpg. Our Cardinal has the frontend design of a speed brake and we lost one or more mpg with it over the previous 5W. We usually travel at 55-60mph or less. A headwind just kills us.