Rachel and I had been talking about getting a camper for several months, but had some tight requirements to fill. As our neighborhood has an HOA, we cannot store any recreational vehicles outside. This means we either need to pay $40-$50 a month for storage, or find something that will fit in the garage. Well I’m far too cheap to accept a monthly storage bill for a leisure item, so our only real option was to find something that would fit in our garage. Luckily, I had the garage expanded quite nicely when I had the house built.
We looked at some campers a little last fall, even went to the annual Boat, Sport, & Travel show at the state fairgrounds to get some ideas. With the limitation of a 7′ garage door height, it was looking like our only option was a pop-up camper. We weren’t too thrilled with this idea, mainly because of the high prices of newer units, and the poor condition of older ones. Pop-ups just don’t seem to weather well. The vinyl fabric sides are difficult to maintain, and most used units had a lot of patches, stretches, and mold stains from being put away wet. Not to mention the poor insulation and sound proofing of such thin material. After months of deliberation, and heavy searching we were starting to convince ourselves that perhaps one of the nicer pop-ups with the slide-out kitchenette would have to do.
Then I did some deep Google scouring of the internet and found a couple companies that produced ‘hard-wall’ popup trailers. These companies were called Hi-Lo and Trailmanor. Both seemed to be very small operations, with only a couple dealers in each region of the country. The Hi-Lo I found to be just a couple inches too tall when equipped with a top-mounted air conditioning unit. But the Trailmanor had several inches to spare. Not only that, but the Trailmanor was much more efficiently designed to expand not only upwards, but outwards as well. This allowed for a real nice and roomy floorplan when opened up, but a small footprint capable of slipping effortlessly into the garage when closed.
I had been searching for good deals on Trailmanors, but it has been a difficult search. New units are very price (the 2720SL ranging from $29,000 to $35,000), and used units are few and far between, especially to find one in nice shape. The only used Trailmanor I found locally previously was a smaller model (2619), and it was in pretty rough shape. It was a Camping World in Greenwood Indiana, and they were asking $10,000 for it.
A couple weeks back on a Tuesday night, I stumbled upon a listing for a 2006 Trailmanor 2720SL travel trailer online. This was the ideal model that Rachel and I had agreed would fit our needs most perfectly. It had a queen sized bed, full bathroom with shower, kitchen galley with a large sink, fridge, and stove/oven. Plus a propane furnace and an electric air conditioner/heater mounted in the roof. The living area has a lounge chair and a sofa that converts into a double bed. The size was just right for 2 to live comfortably. The pictures online indicated that the unit was in very nice condition, but the price was curiously low. A couple other dealers across the country had the exact same year and model listed for $16,000-$17,000, but this one was listed at $12,500.
In the few months I’ve been watching these trailers listed online, the good deals had sold extremely fast. It seems there are plenty other people who have similar conditions like Rachel and I that are quick on the draw. That next day at work we were especially slow in the shop, and it was especially nice outside. Rachel was at home enjoying a day off from work. For the first 2 hours at work all I could think about was this Trailmanor. It seemed so coincidental that the exact model Rachel and I were looking for happened to pop up in Dayton, Ohio. The price was right in our ballpark, and the pictures looked so compelling that this was a nice unit. I felt that it was just a little too coincidental, so shot an email off to the boss to explain my predicament. Lucky for me, the boss is also an RV owner, and surely understood exactly what I was feeling. So I took the rest of the day off, swept down to Franklin and scooped Rachel up before heading east on I70 towards Dayton, Ohio.
We arrived at Midwest RV in Dayton, walked inside and were greeted by a nice lady named Amy. We inquired about the Trailmanor, and they took us outside to look at it. We were amazed at how nice the interior looked. For being 5 years old, you could barely tell anyone set foot inside the thing! I swear the stove had never been used! The original Goodyear Marathon tires were still on it, and showed very little wear in tread depth. Rachel and I were trying to hide our excitement, but it was pretty difficult as this camper was almost definitely going home with us. But, the deal had yet to be worked out inside. Since most resellers list their items for nearly twice what they have in it, I figured we’d have no problems getting this price down to $10,000. We went inside and started talking numbers. I asked them how far they could come down on the price, and they acted hesitant because it had only been on the market for 3 days. They came back with a price of $11,200. This seemed to be a pretty good start. I told them our budget was $10,000, and we’d need to get a lot closer to that since we are paying cash. Amy went back to talk to her manager, and came back and said they couldn’t negotiate any more on the price. So, I did the standard drill of thanking them and headed out to the car. This is the true test of whether they will budge on the price any more. If they stop you before you get to your car, you’ve got more dealing to do. However, in my case we made it all the way to the car. I was a bit surprised, and took a little extra time letting the car warm up and slowly creeping out of the parking lot. Nobody came after us.
We went up the road a bit and stopped for lunch. We had a great amount of deliberation on whether we should consider the asking price, or just let it go and wait for the next one. We needed more time, so we went north on I75 to Dave Arboghast RV, which is an ‘official’ Trailmanor dealer. They only had 2 units on the lot, but one of them was the 2720SL model that we wanted. The price of the new unit was $35,000, obviously way out of our operating budget. Just for good measure though, I went through the haggling process and we had them down to $24,999. Feeling a little more confident in my negotiating skills, we decided to head back to Midwest RV for another go at it. We played our cards, and eventually sealed the deal at $11,000 with free delivery to their newly opened dealership in Indy (20 minutes from my house), plus a 40% discount on a weight distribution hitch with sway control.
We were happy and considered the extra $1,000 over our budget to be a small price to pay since the trailer was in nearly new condition and that it was just the beginning of camping season and we’d get to enjoy it camping and not searching for the next deal.
Last Wednesday, we went to Colerain RV in Indy for a full demo of our Trailmanor and to bring it home. The staff there was very helpful, professional, and knowledgeable. They had us trained on all the workings of our appliances and such, and were then on our way home!
This weekend was our maiden voyage, which we decided to stay close to home in case we had any incidents that would require a quick trip to the house. It worked out perfectly, because Camp Atterbury has a very nice campground for military personnel and is only 25 minutes from home. The campsites have full 50amp electric service, city water hookup, sewer drain, plus free firewood – all for only $15 / night!
We had a nice time camping this weekend. Getting to know our new Trailmanor, and cooking hot dogs & s’mores on the fire. We even broke in that stove with a Totino’s pizza and made coffee on the top burner. Only a couple hiccups occurred when trying to level the trailer we found that the rear leveling jacks were removed for some reason. (Certainly an embarrassing rookie’s mistake to not take note of this prior) But, we avoided disaster by using the heavy-duty scissor jack for Rachel’s Mountaineer to secure the back end of the trailer. Got a couple new jacks on order that will be going on this week! Another lesson learned was that it takes 6-12 hours for the fridge to get to operating temperature, but luckily none of our food went bad.
Now that its getting close to bed time, as we have to get back to work tomorrow, I’ll end this with a slideshow of our camping trip and new Trailmanor!