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Compact T@B offers easy-to-tow RV fun

November 05, 2004|by JEFF JOHNSTON/Motor Matters

Editor's Note: "T@B" is the manufacturer's spelling.

Break into RVing with the easy-to-tow T@B trailer

RVs are a lot of fun and can provide plenty of recreation, travel and camping enjoyment for the investment, but some people aren't quite ready to make that big leap into a full-on RV.

That's where the new T@B trailer comes in. It's a terrific little trailer from the Dutchmen Manufacturing division of Thor Industries that makes it easy to get a taste of RVing without making a huge investment in extra equipment.

In truth, the T@B isn't the least-expensive RV on the lot, as it retails in excess of $11,000, depending on the model and options, and that will vary widely by location. However, it's a bit like buying a Lexus instead of an economy car. Its build quality and design are first rate, just as a younger baby-boomer buyer might expect.

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The T@B doesn't look like any other RV, and that's part of its appeal. The smooth silver exterior contrasts with the brightly-colored edge trim, and even the new T@B2 is brilliant white fiberglass with reduced argent-tone edge trim. It's visually fun.

The trailer's egg shape echoes the classic teardrop trailers that date back to the 1940s or thereabouts. That feature has made the T@B popular with classic car buffs. Many users look at the T@B as a vehicle that's a good step up from a tent to a full RV, sort of a halfway house for campers.

Compact size is a big claim to fame for the T@B. At just 15'6" long and 7'9" tall, the T@B can be stored in many garages or unobtrusively tucked away next to a house, which is important since many neighborhoods are enacting tough RV parking laws.

Best of all, the T@B weighs less than 1,400 pounds unloaded and has an approximately 128-pound dry hitch weight. Those figures mean many small cars, small pickups or minivans and compact SUVs can safely and reliably tow the T@B without expensive equipment modifications. And if the trailer's position needs to be adjusted, it's easy for one or two people to move it using the built-in handholds on each corner of the body. The dolly wheel on the tongue jack also helps a lot with manual maneuvering.

No add-on brake control is required because a hydraulic surge brake is standard. That makes it even easier to prep a tow vehicle for T@B hauling. There's also a manual parking brake lever near the hitch to help keep the trailer stable when parked. A standard set of four crank-down corner jacks further helps the trailer body stability situation in camp.

Aluminum skin is laminated with aluminum framing and polystyrene insulation to create a strong, durable structure. The Al-Ko galvanized steel frame with independent-suspension rubber-torsion axles will probably outlast the tow vehicle.

Due to its small size, the T@B, with a 5'9" interior ceiling height,

offers snug amenities for two people. The U-shaped dinette seats several adults for light meals, and the table and cushions fold down to create a comfortable 70x80-inch bed that can handle even tall campers.

The dinette table is freestanding, and can be hauled outdoors for use in camp. Most tent campers are accustomed to stowing all of their cargo in the car or truck, and somewhat carrying that philosophy through when camping with the T@B will serve the users well. The trailer's interior storage spaces, including underseat compartments and the cabinets up front, will hold a lot of camping hardware. However, it fills fast, and keeping a "travel light" philosophy in mind will help keep a T@B outing from becoming a clutter-fest.

The galley is compact but functional. It includes a two-burner LP-gas stove, a small sink with an electric water pump-powered faucet, and a small icebox with a 1.8-cubic-foot refrigerator optionally available. Cabinets above and below the sink house food prep items conveniently close. As in many RVs, there's minimal counter space so the table will likely be pressed into service for meal preparation.

Several available options enhance the trailer's livability. One of the best of these accessories is an awning that runs almost the entire length of the trailer, and provides a great place to escape from the rain or blazing sun while still enjoying the outdoors.

Both a forced-air furnace and an air conditioner are optionally available to further improve the rig's comfort level. It's not a big, roomy RV like you see in use today, but as a comfortable, fun and easy-to-tow alternative to tent camping, the T@B is a mini-RV that could be of interest to many outdoors enthusiasts.

For complete information about the T@B, contact Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., 2164 Caragana Ct., Goshen, IN 46526; 574-534-1224, www.tab-rv.com.

© Motor Matters, 2004

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