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New Members / 2012 13QBB
« on: March 24, 2017, 05:03:18 PM »
For years my wife, two boys, and I towed a 25' Airstream Argosy as our "base camp" for family adventures, hunting trips in the Western states and Canadian provinces, ski trips to the Rockies, white water canoe trips and cross-country ski excursions in some of the northern Canadian national parks, and bicycling tours . The boys grew up and the Argosy found a new home with a young family that needed a base camp with which to start their family adventures.

Fast forward, "trailerless" for a number of years we realized that we really missed have a mobile "base camp" packed and ready to go on a moment’s notice. To further compound the situation was the fact that we now live in New England and the allure of so many great places to explore between NYC and Nova Scotia is just too great to miss out on.  Summer of last year the quest for a new trailer began and our essential requirements where: quality of design and construction equating to durability, and minimal maintenance and upkeep; truly towable, not just marginally, by our Honda Odyssey Touring; some "creature comforts" e.g. A/C, toilet and shower, stove, furnace, a small refrigerator, a full queen size bed (no kids now but two dogs!); and the ability to house a couple of grandkids should they join Grandpa and Grandma on an adventure. 

The more research we did the more we were drawn to the Camplite and specially the 13QBB. The all-aluminum and composite construction of the Camplite, all aluminum frame (chassis and coach) and tongue and groove aluminum floor (we had contended with wood floor rot on the Argosy previously), thermo pane windows, where all plus points for us. With no disrespect to Dan Miller and the current crew at Livin Lite, it seemed that a trailer built under the tutelage of Scott Tuttle might be our preference. To that end I posted searches on numerous RV-for sale-websites. Eight months went by before we got a hit: Sunny Island RV in Rockford, IL had just posted a 2012 13QBB on their website.
There is, I suspect, some trepidation when you are dealing on something that is a big chunk of change, sight unseen and a 1,000 miles away.  A phone call to Sunny Island and we were speaking with Jeff, the General Manager. Jeff emailed us a zip-file of 31 photos of 13QBB, inside and out. He went to great lengths to point out some areas of normal "wear and tear" in the photos and talked in detail about the features and condition of the trailer from bow to stern. We were hooked. A few phone calls and emails back and forth over the course of the next couple of days and we had struck a deal with Jeff. In addition to the trailer the purchase also included Sunny Island RV installing the trailer towing wiring harness and brake controller in our Honda Odyssey and a weight distributing hitch system. At Jeff’s suggestion we went with the Anderson WSD hitch system. As a long time user of Equal-i-zer and Reese WDS the Anderson concept was foreign to us but as a design engineer the more I looked at it the more sense it made to me.  We put a deposit down on the trailer and agreed for delivery date in mid-March.

This past weekend we made the 1,000 mile trek out to take delivery of our new to us 13QBB. As we neared Rockford we became more anxious, would the 13QBB be the equal of the picture that had been painted for us?

Spring had yet to arrive in either New England or Illinois and fortunately the first introduction to our 13QBB was in the warmth of Sunny Island RV’s service department bays. Yes! On the first look all outward appearances where that this little 13QBB was in fact as good we anticipated it to be. In fact it exceeded our expectations! Not only had Sunny Island RV given the entire trailer a “pre-delivery” cleaning, they had also attended to a couple of minor repairs that I had pointed out to Jeff from the excellent photos he had supplied us early on in the purchase process.  What a pleasant surprise!

We were introduced to Steve, the service department manager, and Jason, a service department technician. Steve mentioned that they had serviced the wheel bearings, just be sure they were ready for the long haul back to New England. Thank you Steve! As Steve undertook to have the wiring harness , brake controller and Anderson hitch set up on the Odyssey, Jason gave us a detailed walk-through of the trailer and operation of the all the systems. Wow, electric ignition furnace, there have been some advances in technology since our Argosy of years ago. As we did the walk-through with Jason, Jason spotted a couple of small things that need correcting , an acorn nut missing on a bolt on the awning, and the fresh water tank filler access hatch cover latch was conspicuous by its absence. Jason immediately took care of both without having to be asked. 

After Jason’s extensive walk-through-and –around we went across the road for lunch and upon our return Steve had finished the wiring and brake controller installation on the Odyssey and was ready to walk us through the setup of the Anderson WSD hitch system. So, So, So,  Simple! No fighting with camming over torsion bars, no grease covered hitch balls to inadvertently stain you clothes, and more importantly on those occasions when the Better Half heads out on her own with the Grandkids it is a five minute simple-as-pie operation for her to hook up and connect the Anderson hitch.

We departed Sunny Island RV and headed east back home to New England. Having the 13QBB with us was a delight. When we stopped for fuel instead of finding some “junk food “to snack on we “raided” the fridge in the Camplite which we had stocked with food of our liking and made a pot of tea. With temperatures hovering around 30 degrees it took only mere minutes for the furnace to have the cabin up to shirt sleeve temperature.  Nice!

That evening we had our first overnight in the Camplite. The Ohio Turnpike System has some very nice overnight-only RV parking areas in curtain turnpike service plazas. They supply drinking water (summer months only), holding tank dump, and electrical hook up for $20 dollars. While the temperature dropped into the 20’s and the wind blew we ate and slept in the comfort of “our own home”.  Beats the heck out of a hotel/motel!

Our Honda Odyssey tows the 13QBB effortlessly at 65 to 75 MPH. With due consideration for the fact we were running at close to Dry Weight, we have no reason to expect the additional allowable 600 lb cargo weight to be cause for any significant change in performance. Interestingly we got better fuel economy pulling through the Appalachian and Allegheny Mountain ranges of Pennsylvania at 60-65 MPH than we did hot-footing it down the flatland of Interstate 80 at 75 MPH.

Jeff’s recommendation and Steve’s set up of our Anderson WSD hitch system was spot on. The trailer tracks as straight as an arrow. There is no sway from cross winds or “dirty air” thrown off by semi-trailer rigs. There is no snap, crackle, and pop sounds that you normally associate with conventional torsion bar WSD hitch systems under various conditions.  The combination of the 13QBB and Anderson hitch make backing into tight spots a breeze and it is so easy to unhook and hookup.

We have couple of modifications in mind for our 13QBB to make it a little more accommodating to our uses.  As factory spec’d it was built with the jackknife sofa rather than the optional dinette and was delivered with a single 20lb propane tank system. We think that on the few occasions when we would be forced eat or relax inside due to inclement weather that the dinette layout would better serve us as well as allowing the table to serve as additional “counter space” in a fix. We will likely follow “Whoofit’s “lead on the dinette conversion as he documented on the old form site.

We will be using the Camplite will into three seasons and possibly the odd winter excursion so a sufficient propane supply is crucial. The propane system with likely become a two tank setup with an automatic crossover regulator. I love that just for the convenience of not having filled a partially full tank just to insure you have enough propane for your next outing. The aluminum flooring and the floor and walls of the exterior access storage compartments will all be covered with closed cell foam interlocking tiles to add insulation to the otherwise un-insulated floor areas. The thermo pane windows of the 13QBB sure make a huge difference to the interior comfort of the cabin compared to the single pane windows of our previous Argosy.

In closing our buying experience with Jeff at Sunny Island RV and the services performed by Steve’s service department was exceptional and well worth the 2,000 mile round trip. Our entail thoughts on our 13QBB are that it will more than exceed our expectations over the coming years. We will keep you posted.

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