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Tahoe 18TB TT Lite Transport

December 2, 2002
Filed under RV & Trailer Reviews, Trailer Reviews

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In the July/August 2002 issue of Camping Life, we provided readers with an overview of some of the hottest new toy hauler trailers on the market. This time, we offer you a close-up of Thor Californias Tahoe 18TB TT Lite Transport. Its just right for sleeping a small family and hauling some motorcycles or an ATV. Included are all of the necessary appointments and amenities that can make remote camping a laid-back experience. In addition to this compact (total coach length is 17 feet) unit, the Tahoe Transport is also available in seven other models and floorplans that range in overall exterior lengths of 20 to 36 feet. Some models also include a slide-out room.

The 18TB TT Lite offered a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 7000 pounds, and a dry weight of 3620 pounds, the GVWR being dictated by the weight ratings of the twin 3500-pound Dexter axles that support the welded steel box-frame chassis. When filled with 72 gallons of fresh water (thats a robust maximum tank capacity) and a Honda ATV that weighed 349 pounds, the weight of our 18TB TT Lite was 5060 pounds. We could load nearly 2000 more pounds of cargo and supplies before the unit reached its GVWR. The wet hitch (tongue) weight (which included the water and ATV) was 820 pounds.

UNDERGARMENTS

The welded-steel-box chassis includes I-shaped steel crossmembers and two C-channel rails. The suspension features four sets of leaf springs and four shock absorbers. Electric brakes come standard on all four wheels. The 15-inch wheels were equipped with radial tires. We found this combination of suspension, tires, axles and brakes made the Tahoe an excellent-riding and -handling trailer on the road. Scissor jacks can be positioned at each corner to help stabilize the toy box when a destination is reached. And a manual foldout step facilitates access through the main entry door.

The walls are built using wood-frame construction with aluminum side panels. This includes the use of kiln-dried, select-grade wood studs that help create a lightweight, but strong infrastructure. The studs are set close together averaging 12 inches apart. The walls are set on top of the floor (not hung off the side) and then secured to the floor. Steel straps are added to ensure that a tight, long-lasting connection between the walls and floor are maintained over the life of the unit.

Interior luan panels are dressed with attractive, low-maintenance vinyl that wipes clean with a damp cloth (a nice feature after visiting a sand dune, beach or towing along a back road). The exterior walls are covered with strong, but ultra-lightweight sheets of 0.024-gauge aluminum. These sheets overlap horizontally to ensure against the intrusion of moisture along the seams. The corner seams (where the front, rear and sidewall come together) are covered with an L-shaped vinyl/rubber combination trim piece that is weather- and sun-resistant to prevent cracks. To manage weight, the 18TB TT Lite model is offered only with an aluminum exterior. However, on the larger Transport models, smooth fiberglass exterior siding is an option. Between each wood stud (double-stud bracing is used to reinforce and strengthen the area around openings), residential fiberglass insulation that comes with an R-7 rating is cut to fit and put into place. Where there are electrical runs (wires), holes are drilled through the studs and then lined with a metal sleeve to prevent the wood screws used in construction from penetrating the 110-volt wiring.

The floor (studs on 10-inch centers) of the Tahoe 18TB TT Lite Transport is insulated with the same type of material that is used in the walls. Linoleum covers the interior floor. Darco (a nearly impervious fabric-like sheet) covers the entire underbelly of the trailer. Around the perimeter, the floor is fastened to the welded-steel chassis using heavy-duty carriage bolts. Lag screws mechanically fasten the floor to the steel crossmembers of the chassis.

Inside the garage area where ATVs, bikes or motorcycles are stored, stainless steel tie-down rings are integrated into the floor so that whatever is being carried can be strapped down and safely transported (the number of tie-downs will vary with the model).

The roof on the Tahoe 18TB TT Lite Transport is not designed to be walked on, however, most of the other Transport models feature a reinforced roof that makes a great viewing platform and can be equipped with an optional luggage rack and ladder. All Tahoe Transports come with a Dicor rubber roof that features a 12-year warranty on the rubber material. To prevent chaffing of the rubber roof, a protective sheet of fiberglass cloth is laid between the joints in the roof and the roof sheeting. Residential fiberglass (R-7 rated) insulation is also used to insulate the roof.

LOADED UP

Because of the heavy-duty service that the rear ramp is required to provide (it can handle up to 1800 pounds), both the ramp and the surrounding frame are constructed using welded-steel members. A horseshoe-design, welded-steel structure that surrounds the ramp/door when its closed is attached to the chassis below. To this and to the ramp, heavy-duty, garage-door-style, spring-actuated mechanisms are added. We found this system requires minimum effort to open and close. Heavy-duty steel latches designed for padlocks secure the door in the closed position.

All the way forward is a fold-down, tented, sleeping area holding a queen-size bed that measures 80 inches by 74 inches. The tenting features panels that unzip for ventilation. The platform that folds down is supported from the outside by two aluminum poles that insert into the A-frame tongue of the chassis (where the LPG tank and house battery sit) and into the bottom of the bed platform. We found the time required to set up the tented sleeping area was less than 10 minutes.

The garage area instantly converts into a commodious living and sleeping area. Once the toys are off-loaded, the ramp can be closed for privacy, or if the weather is right, a specially designed screen can cover the rear ramp/door. There is a removable piece of carpet that can be quickly installed to cover the living area floor. On each of the sidewalls are two folding sofas that are stowed up and out of the way when youre hauling your toys. These sturdy but comfortable sofas convert quickly into bench seats, and later in the evening into beds. An indoor/outdoor-folding table fits nicely between these two opposing bench seats.

Forward of the garage/dining/sofa-bed area is the galley. This is a full-service galley with a three-burner cooktop (including oven), a double-door refrigerator/freezer and a galley sink. This area also includes a closet. The private wet-bath includes both a shower and a marine-style toilet. The larger Transports feature full-sized bathrooms. Twelve-volt lighting graces the interior fore and aft. An optional Fantastic Vent Fan, or roof air conditioner, can be used to cool the interior.

WARNING LABEL

One thing needs to be mentioned about the transport and storage of fuel for the adult toys. There is no auxiliary fuel tank on the 18TB TT Lite, so only containers that are approved for holding and transporting gasoline in small quantities should be used. These fuel cans may be stowed and tied down inside the garage area. Never ignite any of the LPG appliances without first removing the fuel cans and making sure there are no fumes inside the toy box. On the Tahoe 18TB TT Lite Transport, the rear-side baggage doors are designed for venting fuel vapors. However, open everything up first and let the trailer air out for a few minutes (at the very least) prior to using any ignition source or starting the engines on the motorcycles or ATV you have loaded in the trailer.

On the larger Thor California Transports, there is an option for a built-in generator and an auxiliary gasoline tank. There is even an optional fuel-fill station that is approved for use in all 50 states. It includes a hose and nozzle that allows you to pump gasoline from the auxiliary fuel tank into the fuel tanks on the toys.

POWER UP

As for utilities, the Tahoe 18TB TT Lite Transport offers just about everything. A 30-amp shorepower cable (the length varies with model) that feeds into a converter/battery charger is there. There are eight 110-volt receptacles inside the unit. Standard issue is a 16,000-BTU, forced-air furnace and a 5-gallon propane-fueled water heater. The one thing that is not offered is an auxiliary genset. But this is not a problem, for there are many excellent portable (lightweight) gensets on the market that can power a limited number of AC accessories. The AC, microwave and 110-volt receptacles in the 18TB TT Lite wont run off the house battery you must be plugged in to shorepower.

TOWED LOAD

A weight-distribution hitch was used for this setup (due to the high hitch weight). We found the 18TB TT Lite tracked very well, both over winding roads and on the highway. No evidence of trailer sway was noted, so we didnt use an anti-sway device.

If a toy box trailer is in your future, the very manageable Tahoe 18TB TT Lite Transport by Thor California merits attention. Its an attractive unit complete with the utility and amenities required for a fun weekend with all of the kids little and big.

SPECIFICATIONS
Tahoe 18TB TT Lite Transport

Base Price:$13,450
Price as Tested:$16,210
Overall Length:20 10
Overall Width:7 6
Overall Height (w/o AC):9 7
Dry Weight:3620 lbs.
Dry Tongue (hitch) Weight:490 lbs.
GVWR:7000 lbs.
Fresh Water:72 gals.
Gray Water:25 gals.
Black Water:25 gals.
LPG:10 gals.
Sleeping Capacity (adv.):4 to 6 persons

Major Standard Features:
Outside lock-able storage compartments, three-burner cooktop, double-door refrigerator/freezer,
110-volt interior outlets, shorepower cable,
72-gallon freshwater tank, 10-gallon LPG
bottle, shower/lavatory/toilet, converter/
battery charger, power bath roof vent, LPG
water heater, systems monitor panel,
satellite/cable ready.

Major Optional Features:
Forced air furnace, LPG/electric water heater, power front jack, air conditioner, microwave oven,
stove cover, Fantastic Fan, removable cargo area interior carpet, stabilizer jacks.

Manufacturer
Thor California
13255 Elsworth St.
Moreno Valley, CA 92553
888/697-8467
thorca.com

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