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Old 03-28-2009, 07:54 AM   #1
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Small Travel Trailers

We have been traveling in our Sunline 15.5 SB for 10 months now and I am amazed by the number of people who stop us asking about the trailer, wanting a small rig for 'traveling'.

We tend to be around people who have regularly traveled in their RVs and want to continue to travel but recognize that the huge rigs they have moved up to are really not so suited for traveling but more for living a relatively stationary lifestyle in a trailer. Both of our neighbors in our present park have questioned me about our trailer and our Honda CRV tow vehicle.

This situation becomes more understandable when one throws in the cost of traveling in a big rig, the typically necessary diesel truck and it's associated per mile costs.

Actually both neighbors have asked about buying our Sunline, one twice now.

There is always a look of surprise about our four cylinder tow vehicle, but it does produce 140 hp. It wasn't that long ago that 140hp, no matter the number of cylinders was a respectful number.

One of the neighbors has tried to buy a small trailer but the local dealer tells him he needs a 28 footer, everyone wants to sell you more apparently, understandable from the salesman's perspective.

It's obvious from our little Sunline that it is possible to build a really light trailer that meets the needs of two travelers. The Que, at least in it's functional design almost meets our requirements though it's weight is to high for us.

We presently are torn between totally 'reconfiging' our present unit or buying a slightly bigger Sunline, possibly a T1661.

Norm Milliard
1982 Sunline 15.5 SB
2004 Honda CRV
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Old 03-28-2009, 01:25 PM   #2
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Our car has 130hp and it seems adequate. I'm always passing folks. I'm setting up my other car to tow it tho, it has a 200hp 3 liter six. It should be more fun.

My Sunline is the same as yours. It's a little small for the four of us, but I don't want anything bigger. It seems the smallest trailer one can get with a shower/throne.

The throne room is about the only thing I don't like. The bathroom in our old 1969 Winne was smaller, but better. It was a wet shower, like the Sunny, but the throne was right in the middle, so one would shower with it. The Sunny is exactly as high as me inside, and for some reason they decided to raise the shower floor about 4", so it's cramped inside. I plan to totally seal the inside of the bathroom so I can get rid of the silly shower curtain and just shower while sitting on the throne.

I'm surprised that, as old as my trailer is, and with as much use as it seems to have had (more than average, it seems), that it's in very nice condition and no one ever modified it in any way. The only modification seems to be Bearing Buddies (Why do folks like these? They only seem to fling grease about.).

Of course, I'm putting an end to that. I'm installing an air con, solar panel, mod the throne room a bit, install shocks, and probably a few more things before I'm done.
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Old 03-30-2009, 12:15 AM   #3
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I've seen small 13' to 18' older rigs like ours on Craig's list. Most are under $4,000. Tell them to check there. Some appear to be in excellent condition both inside and out. That's where we found our little SunLine. I'm hoping our 15.5SB proves big enough for the 2 of us. It should be as most of what we'll take with us will be in the van TV. We've yet to take our maiden flight with it. Our first time out will be a nearby CG next month. I can't imagine easily moving from place to place with some of the huge mobile home like rigs I see on the highways. Stopping at a restaurant or store to do some shopping must be a real hassle. 18' would be the largest I think we'd ever consider going. As for the small shower, with our long hair we'd fill the graywater tank quickly so will continue to shower in the CG facilities.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:03 AM   #4
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I've always liked the efficient design of the 1550, but the 1661 is a nice floorplan because of the bathroom. The shower is tiny, but at least it's a dry bath. You don't have a pantry in the 1661, but everything is a trade off, and I agree that having the shower is a big bonus. I never use the campground showers, while Steve always does, so it's a matter of personal preference. The 1661 is alot more closed in as far as windows go, so I'm not sure you'd get the air moving like you do now...again it's a trade off. This suggestion might be a little wierd for you but....How about removing the toilet and just turning the entire 1550 bathroom into a shower? and sitting a Thetford porta potti in there? That way you'd have a nice sized shower by just taking the porta potti out when someone wants to shower. We have a porta potti for when we're traveling home and don't want to have to use rest area bathrooms. They work great! I guess you can tell I am a huge fan of all the windows and the pantry in the 1550. Plus you've done so many cool mods to your current Sunny! Good luck with your decision
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:16 AM   #5
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Mom & I traveled many a mile in our little 1987 T-1661 tugged it around with a 1999 GMC Jimmy. Not sure I'd want to tow it with less vehicle though.

As for ventilation, there are plenty of windows on this little trailer, though they are arranged different that on the 1550, I believe you'll get the same ventilation.

Heres ours:
Exterior:
Interior looking forward:
Looking towards rear:
The kitchen area:

Exterior(before I had repainted stripes on door)
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:18 AM   #6
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That 1661 does look a lot better in layout than our 1550.

Our 1550 has clever pull out tables everywhere, but not necessarily where they would be most convenient. I use them all when doing dishes.
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Old 03-30-2009, 02:22 PM   #7
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Water Tank

Where is the water tank on the T1661?

We plan to look at a T1661. The layout looks nice though I'm sure we'd have a difficult time parting with our 15.5 SB.

We also have bearing buddies on our rig. They seem to work well. We haven't had any grease leakage. This summer I'll pull the wheels to see if there were any bearing issues.

We have pretty much decided not to get a Que, partially because it would require us to upgrade our tow vehicle, possibly the next time we trade our tow vehicle in we'll re-consider the Que.

If we keep the 15.5 SB we'll probably add a dry shower by removing the right side dinette and adding a 2x3 dry shower, knocking out the end wall of the present bathroom and angling the bathroom door.

We also plan to add a solar panel to the roof and an additional battery.

We presently have a trunk on our rear bumper. We have considered removing it and building a draw like storage box across the length of the rear bumper and extending the rear of the trailer over this rear box, allowing the gaucho bed to extend rearward instead of forward.

This modification would give us another 2-2.5 feet of internal space.

The gaucho bed modification would allow us to put a small chair between the bed and the end of the kitchen counter.

These mods would allow the extension of the overhead kitchen cabinet and building of an additional cabinetbelow the hanging closet/pantry.

Norm Milliard
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Old 03-31-2009, 08:22 AM   #8
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Hey Norm, I agree that we meet many RVers who claim they fulltime. But all they really do is move from their winter home, some place cold, drive for a day or two till they get some place warm and sit for the next 6 months.

To me this is NOT fulltime RVing, its more of having a mobile home to live some place different for a part of the year.

Fulltime RVing is more of the folks like you and I who tend to travel non-stop. This type of travel, I refer to it more as Overlanding, is way more suited for the smaller RV.

Now granted, our 2499 at it's 25' length is much larger than your little 15.5' model, but we chose to have a full bath, and a bed that was made up at all times without having to rearrange anything when we stop.

We keep looking for a model that is smaller, but none have the features of a fulltime bed, full bath (NOT a wet bath) and a eat in kitchen that can actually be used.

Moving fulltime, you rarely notice the size of the camper and when we're going non-stop, we always say we could probably move to a Slide-in Truck style camper as it would give us so much more access to remote locations.

I'd say that not having to find a campground is the one thing we like best about RVing. The solar panels allow us to pull over anywhere we want and have full power to spend 1 or 2 nights without ever having to worry about electricity.

Actually we've been on the road for 49 days as of today and have yet to plug in to shore power. Only camped one night at a campground and I talked them into a cheaper rate if I didnt have to plug in

So I agree, spending time in a smaller camper is the way to go, I only wish I had the know how to build one myself and I'd design it around our specs and keep the weight and length down to be more manuverable

Happy Camping
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Old 03-31-2009, 08:22 AM   #9
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Hey Norm, I agree that we meet many RVers who claim they fulltime. But all they really do is move from their winter home, some place cold, drive for a day or two till they get some place warm and sit for the next 6 months.

To me this is NOT fulltime RVing, its more of having a mobile home to live some place different for a part of the year.

Fulltime RVing is more of the folks like you and I who tend to travel non-stop. This type of travel, I refer to it more as Overlanding, is way more suited for the smaller RV.

Now granted, our 2499 at it's 25' length is much larger than your little 15.5' model, but we chose to have a full bath, and a bed that was made up at all times without having to rearrange anything when we stop.

We keep looking for a model that is smaller, but none have the features of a fulltime bed, full bath (NOT a wet bath) and a eat in kitchen that can actually be used.

Moving fulltime, you rarely notice the size of the camper and when we're going non-stop, we always say we could probably move to a Slide-in Truck style camper as it would give us so much more access to remote locations.

I'd say that not having to find a campground is the one thing we like best about RVing. The solar panels allow us to pull over anywhere we want and have full power to spend 1 or 2 nights without ever having to worry about electricity.

Actually we've been on the road for 49 days as of today and have yet to plug in to shore power. Only camped one night at a campground and I talked them into a cheaper rate if I didnt have to plug in

So I agree, spending time in a smaller camper is the way to go, I only wish I had the know how to build one myself and I'd design it around our specs and keep the weight and length down to be more manuverable

Happy Camping
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:46 PM   #10
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Building a trailer

If I were younger, I'd build my own trailer. I think about it all the time. I really like the 1950 but it just weighs too much though I think it could be made a lot lighter and just as 'stiff' beginning with an aluminum frame and wheels.

I agree with a dry bath and a made up bed. We leave the couch made as a bed in our Sunline, not ideal but truly functional, plus it gets us into bed earlier, every thing has its pluses and minuses.

Our Kitchen area works well, adding a well functioning stove cover and a slide out shelf at the door end of the kitchen counter added useful space.

The double dinette in the front is much bigger than we need. We have made a much smaller table. We hope to reconfig this area this summer.

As to full timers, one of the reasons we are Escapees is because so many of the members traveled fulltime for many years. Most are/were not as 'disconnected' from the grid as you are but most have that full time see it al feeling.

We're on our way home for a graduation and the summer, talking about how wonderful this year was, of all the things left to see, about a more convenient trailer, and all the memories made.

Life is great and RVing helps make it so.

Good RVing to all,

Norm and Ginny Milliard
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Old 04-03-2009, 04:22 PM   #11
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Tight quarters

I just received the following email from one of my daughter-in-laws after I told her we were on our way to NH and had reached the DelMar peninsula, enjoying sun and shorts weather.

She responded with the following:

"You guys are so cute with that little trailer! I think you must be in a
minority of couples than get along so well in such a tiny space, and for such a long time! That is actually one of the most interesting things to me about your travels. How do you do it? How have you changed as a result? Or was it always easy for you guys? It seems that you both must be doing prettymuch exactly what you want to."

This follows a conversation with my sister-in-law and her husband in Myrtle Beach yesterday "don't you guys ever want to get away from each other".

We've been in our Sunline for 10 out of the last 12 months with no problems. Interestingly my wife said yesterday, sometime after her sister's comments that she was going to feel funny at home with so much space and not being so physically close.

I'm feeling like one hell of a lucky guy.

Norm Milliard
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Old 04-03-2009, 05:29 PM   #12
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You go Norm! It sounds like you and your wife have a relationship like Leo and myself!
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:23 AM   #13
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Re: Tight quarters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Honda03842
I'm feeling like one hell of a lucky guy.

Norm Milliard
I'm right there with you Norm. One thing we tell everyone who asks us those same questions when they find out we live fulltime in our little to us camper is "When you're this close 24/7, you dont have anything to argue about."

When we are apart, we both tend to get a bit antsy without the other right there.

Then again, we've worked together in the same business sine we've met some 16 years ago, so we were pretty used to being together non-stop
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Old 04-11-2009, 08:23 PM   #14
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Hello Has a smaller rig myself .We own the t1700 and love it we have only had it for a year now and have only had it on one trip. But is it a lot better than staying in a hotel. And I pull it with my 1/2 chevy pickup with the 4.3 V6 and it does fine. And for 3 of us it is great. We go to the RV shows and go ga ga over the biger rigs and would love to get one some day, hmmmmmmmm thats right my 1990 T1700 is paid for and thats a plus as well
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Old 04-11-2009, 09:54 PM   #15
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[quote="kanyonkitty"][color=blue]Mom & I traveled many a mile in our little 1987 T-1661 tugged it around with a 1999 GMC Jimmy. Not sure I'd want to tow it with less vehicle though.

As for ventilation, there are plenty of windows on this little trailer, though they are arranged different that on the 1550, I believe you'll get the same ventilation.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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I love the layout Kitty! Very, very nice.
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Old 04-12-2009, 05:09 AM   #16
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1988 Sunline T -1661

We went to look at a 1988 Sunline T1661 in South Cairo, NY, near Albany. It's listed on Craig's List for $2000.

We went with the cash in our pocket but decided not to buy it after an hour of probing and thinking.

Actually we liked it better then our 1982 Sunline 15.5 SB but felt it wasn't enough of an upgrade to make the leap. I think it was the emotional attachment to our present rig, sort of like a honeymoon location, and the recognition that we'd have to do many of the same upgrades.

Interestingly since we've come home to NH, we've heard much wonder about the size of our trailer and our ability to be happy in such a small space. None of the family seems to understand even though they've known us for some 50 years... or may be they've never really known us.

Our Honda did real well towing, mileage now just over 100,000, something over 15,000 towing. Yesterday I checked the European tow rating of the Honda CRV and it's now 4400 pounds.

After all the looking, we've decided to up grade the 15.5 SB, looking to add a "dry shower", a full width bumper storage compartment, and pushing the bed out over this compartment.

Fortunately we intend to be home for a long time this summer.

Norm Milliard
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Old 04-12-2009, 05:42 AM   #17
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We'll all be looking forward to pictures of these mods!
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Old 04-12-2009, 06:39 AM   #18
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Projects

There are two had parts to these projects - starting, making the first cut, and finishing, all the rest is fun.

It's almost too cold to work in NH. Here it is Easter Sunday in April and hardly above freezing - the global warming is killing me.

It'll give me a little more thinking time before progressing.

I'll keep a photographic and written record of this one.

Norm Milliard
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Old 04-12-2009, 03:39 PM   #19
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Norm, that sounds like a really great idea, and I'll be very interested in following this thread.

Please take as many photos as possible

Maybe start a new build thread specifically for this and keep us all posted on its progress
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Old 04-12-2009, 05:21 PM   #20
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Re: Projects

Quote:
Originally Posted by Honda03842
There are two had parts to these projects - starting, making the first cut, and finishing, all the rest is fun.

It's almost too cold to work in NH. Here it is Easter Sunday in April and hardly above freezing - the global warming is killing me.

It'll give me a little more thinking time before progressing.

I'll keep a photographic and written record of this one.

Norm Milliard
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I would love to see the pics as you make progress. I know others will also.
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