Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Table for One

There are two tables in my Roadtrek - one dining table for the back which fits in the rear aisle where the bed gets made up and one in the front that slides out of and flips up from a slim cabinet that is there just to hold this table. The rear table is held up by a post that sits in a hole in the floor. The front table is held up by a slide that comes out from the outside wall of the clothes closet behind the drivers seat and sits under the table to hold it. The rear table is useless and we have never used it. When it is in place it sits so close to one side of the aisle that anyone would want to sit on the cushion seat there does not fit - no matter how thin that person may be. One person could slide though on the other side and get to the cushion and platform that makes up the head of the bed but once there, if someone sits on the side where they just slid through, they are trapped back there unless the other person gets out to allow them through. Useless. We keep the bed made up all of the time that we are traveling and have never used the rear table. (We actually still carry it with us - I am not sure why - though it is better there than finding a place for it in the house to store it.)  The front table since I modified it to half its size is more usable and that is the table that we use if the two of us are having a meal inside the Roadtrek. Once open it is also not very convenient to move around. After we eat the table is folded back into its cabinet and stays there.

We found early on that there are times at night when one of us needs a table - either to use a laptop on or for whatever reason. We went out and looked at the usual folding tables and kept looking until we found one that is small, but usable, light in weight, folds and unfolds easily, and that we could find a convenient spot to keep it in for quick retrieval and use. We found one, that turns out to be a very common table to find, at a summer clearance sale at an Ace Hardware store. This is the table that we found -

The only color they had was pink but it was just what we were looking for and for the price it was not too hard to get used to it being pink.

The table folds flat and I keep it behind the driver's seat. It just happens that there is an indention between the cabinet wall and the door post of the van that this slides into perfectly.  To keep it from unfolding if it should fall out - which it has never done - I wrap an elastic strap that closes with Velcro around the table (found in Home Depot or Lowes with other Velcro utility products). 

The table is made of a molded plastic and opens very quickly and closes just as fast. It is made for the outdoors so it can be taken outside to use as well as being used inside the Roadtrek. It fits next to the third seat in the aisle or in front of the front seats swiveled around. If someone needs to get by, just pick it up and move it out of the way.

Since we purchased this table we have also seen it at Camping World - sold for RVs! They want more for it than it sells for in home stores and discount stores. They do have it in brown, green, and tan - so you don't have to get it in pink. During the Spring and Summer when stores start to get their garden and patio furniture and yard accessories, you will start to see these tables. They sell for between $12 and $15.00.

It comes in handy if you need a folding table and most important it is easy to store when storage space is at a premium.  Need a table for one (or a cozy two)  - take a look at this one.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Step Up or Sit Down

The title of this article is an attempt to be cute - not so sure it works... Anyway. I have been asked at times by readers and I have also seen in some RV forums about what to do to get down low on the ground when for whatever reason you just can't bend or get down easily to sit on the ground. I solved that problem a long time ago with a very inexpensive and relatively easy to find item that fits easily into several places in most Roadtreks and certainly fits easily into larger RVs or Travel Trailers. It is a small folding step stool.

I first got one before I had the Roadtrek for a new car that we had purchased. With the car this was not needed as much for getting low to the ground but as a step up - as the access to the engine under the hood was much higher than other cars we had owned and surprisingly to me, I could not reach in to get to the oil stick, etc. just standing on the ground and leaning in. The step enabled me to get up high enough to get to where I needed to get. This also applies to our Chevy Roadtrek - and perhaps would apply to other vans as well - though my older passenger Chevy van does not have this problem. So, this is the "step up".

The "sit down" is much more the case now for the use of this stool. Here are a few photos of the stool so that you will see why this is not just any folding step stool -

 This stool is made of a thick, molded plastic with metal rods inside the hinges. The stool folds flat. The size of this stool folded is 12.5" across at its widest point and 13.5" up and down. When unfolded as shown in the first photo it is 9" off the ground. It flips open and flips back closed with pull up of the seat through the handle holes and a press in of the side of the legs. The step is designed so that it will not close while you are on it.  The stool has held my weight either standing or sitting.

The name of this stool - very hard to remember... "Folding Step Stool". This one was purchased at Walmart. I have seen two different sizes of the stool in Walmart - this one and a larger one. This one gets one closer to the ground. It comes in a variety of colors - black, white, and colors (depending on what is in stock at the time). I have also seen this and similar stools in other stores. There should be no need to have to purchase it from a website. There are other variations of this stool  in design - if it looks sturdy, folds flat, is a good size, and brings you down to the level you need to be near the ground, one is just as good as the other. Home Depot has one.

Both of us use this stool when we have to do things down near the ground around the Roadtrek. It is a good height for getting into the side exterior storage compartment, getting into the battery compartment, getting to the electric cord to hook up, getting to the outside shower handles or to attach the shower hose, getting to the city water connection, dumping the tanks to get to the dump hole, getting to the waste valve pull handles, and getting to the tire stems to check and/or fill the air in the tires.

So don't worry about not getting down to do what you need to do on your Roadtrek - this little stool makes it easy. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hymer Buys Out Roadtrek

On February 23, 2016, the German-based RV manufacturer, Erwin Hymer Group bought out all of the shares of Roadtrek Motorhomes, Inc. including its U.S. subsidiary, Roadtrek Motorhomes USA, Inc. (which I was unaware even existed) and renames the Roadtrek company to Erwin Hymer Group North America Inc.. This story has been reported on various Roadtrek websites and Facebook groups. I wanted to go a little deeper than what Roadtrek has reported and was able to find a little more. 

This is a corporate take over of Roadtrek and the seller was the Illinois based firm that owned Roadtrek, Industrial Opportunity Partners LLC, a capital investment fund that came to Roadtrek's financial rescue around 2011. While being looked upon as mutually beneficial to both Roadtrek and Hymer, the greatest benefit goes, naturally, to Hymer who has been looking to move into the lucrative RV market in North America. Hymer self-proclaims to be the world's largest manufacturer of motorhomes and "caravans" (travel trailers). Its intent is to begin North American manufacture of its HymerCar, Hymer's Class B model at Roadtrek's two (?) manufacturing plants in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada as well as begin North American production of larger motorhomes (presumably Class As, Class Cs, and perhaps B+s) and travel trailers also at the Kitchner plants. The Kitchner factories will be enlarged. The Erwin Hymer Group North America, Inc. will continue to manufacture Roadtreks in all three of Roadtrek's current van choices - Chevy Express, Dodge Promaster, and Mercedes Sprinter. The President and CEO of EHGNA will be Roadtrek's President and CEO, Jim Hammill. The acquisition of Roadtrek allows Hymer to become the first European RV manufacturer of RVs in North America. In Europe, Hymer makes eight different brands of RVs which include Class As, Bs, and Cs plus travel trailers. They are looking to enter the American market with the HymerCar and this is scheduled to role off the factory floor in in Kitchener in early summer 2016. The HymerCar is a Class B that seems to not be targeted to RVers at all but to those who want a vehicle to take with them for outdoor activities and sports. While it has all of the RV components inside, according to an article in Motorhome magazine (March 2016), components such as the kitchen can be removed to make room to carry what is needed for an activity. Hymer Group believes there is a market for this in the US. It reminds me of Roadtrek's attempt at something like this with the Nissan N7 Active which lasted on the market for only a few years. There is also a push by Hymer Group to get an ultra-light travel trailer made at the Roadtrek plant that they feel will come in at a price point below other available travel trailers in the US. Small travel trailers in the US are not that expensive and I would not want to be in an ultra-light unit in the types of storms that we get here.

It is clear from what I am reading that the intent by Hymer is to manufacture its brands of RVs out of the former Roadtrek factories and permit the continuation of the Roadtrek models at the same time. My question is - having seen what happens with corporate takeovers of similar brands, especially in new markets for the dominant and ruling corporation is "for how long"? I have been following the corporate takeover of another company (not in the RV industry) recently that started out appearing to be a good thing also - and in less than six months the new corporate owner started shutting down locations of the company that it bought out in addition to cutting salaries and benefits of managers and employees. Everyone thought in the beginning of this acquisition that everything would improve for the better. It did not. Another related corporate takeover, again not in the RV industry, started closing company assets immediately in several years now later, little of the original company that was taken over still exists. This is big business - and as few really understand - big business does not exist for the good of the public, but for the benefit of the company, which is as it should be.

 I have to wonder how, even with the enhancement and expansion of the two (?) current Roadtrek plants that can just about keep up with the manufacture of their own Roadtrek production now, they will be able able to maintain that and the production of what Hymer wants manufactured here - their brands of RVs. This is purely my opinion and conjecture. Only time will tell what will happen and with even my small investment in Roadtrek in owning my 190, I sincerely hope that this company continues to manufacturer Roadtreks, continues its training of service technicians at dealerships, and continues to manufacturer and maintain an inventory of the parts that are exclusive to Roadtrek RVs. Hopefully, also, the current Roadtrek models will continue to be called Roadtreks (which right now is being reported as the intention) - since if not, the "brand" will cease to exist.

While many see this all as a good thing. I do not. Perhaps I am a pessimist but the interests of the "victor" are what always take precedence. As I said, time will tell.