It seems like there is a new overland trailer company popping up every day, and with so many options out there it can be difficult to know how to tell a difference between them. We've decided to break down some of those aspects for you so you can see the Valiant difference:
Rarely do you find a product that someone hand-made any more. Whether it's an overland trailer like our model 452 or a travel trailer like our teardrop, they all usually have one thing in common: mass produced parts. Many components are pre-fabricated overseas and shipped over to the manufacturer for assembly. At Valiant we start from scratch, every time. This means cutting every piece of material, welding every frame, fabricating every bracket, fitting every accessory, all specific to one build. Doing this takes time, but when each trailer leaves here we know it's ready for anything.
Starting in 2020, we have eliminated as many foreign components in our trailers as possible in favor of counterparts that are made here in the USA or Canada. Here are a few examples:
US Steel and Aluminum
Timbren axles (Canada)
Dexter Hubs (USA)
Timken bearings (USA)
Dutton-Lainson tongue jacks (USA)
Dexstar wheels (USA)
UWS tool boxes (USA)
Lock N Roll Hitches (USA)
Propex Heaters (Canada)
The list goes on. Unfortunately however there are some accessory or small components that are just not manufactured here. The cost of the domestic components is definitely higher, and you may think "how much different can they be?" but trust us when we say there is a significant difference. When you're looking for a product to last a lifetime, the difference in tolerances within a Timken bearing vs a Chinese bearing are the types of details that matter.
Many trailers out there are constructed with a "unibody" design. Basically what this means is the axles and tongue of the trailer are actually built into the body. This saves weight, but transfers stresses from the axles directly to the body.
All of our trailers, whether model 452's or teardrops, are build with a cab-on-frame design. This means we build a completely independent frame, a completely independent body, then mount the body to the frame. This produces a much stronger overall product, not only by providing impact protection to the bottom of the body but by helping isolate stress being transferred from the axles to the body. This is particularly important in the teardrop's construction. This also means that if there were ever an issue with the frame or the body, they can be easily separated to perform repairs.
This is specifically teardrop related but it's very important. In the world of RV construction there are 2 methods for constructing walls: Laminate and "stick and tin".
Be careful, due to the recent explosion in popularity with overland trailers, many big camper manufacturers are taking their laminate wall trailers and fitting them with things like big tires and calling them "off road". Just because you were able to get 33's on your minivan doesn't mean it's ready for the trail.
Laminate is the latest and greatest in the world of high-volume RV manufacturing because of the time and weight savings. You'll see this construction on almost every RV, travel trailer, teardrop etc that has a smooth exterior with fancy exterior artwork. A laminate wall is a pre-fabricated sheet of an exterior fiberglass (the fancy stuff you see on the outside), a 1mm thick wood layer, 1" of foam insulation, another 1mm wood layer, and the interior decorative veneer all glued or "laminated" together. These walls are then glued and clamped together to form the body of the RV. This is why you can never add a shelf, coat hook, etc without it ripping out of the wall, because there's nothing in there. This construction is great for the average person's needs: It just needs to cruise the highway, look good, last me a few years, and fit my budget.
One of the main downfalls to this is water infiltration. If the caulking on the roof starts to shrink or crack and water gets into the wall, it will cause "de-lamination" where the glue holding the layers together breaks down. When this happens, often the RV is a total loss. The other issue is strength. If you were to take one of these trailers and run it repeatedly down rough roads or trails, there's a very good chance you could rattle it apart. At the very least, you can flex the body and cause cracks in the caulking where water can then get in.
Stick and Tin:
The "Stick and Tin" method we use is an old-school way of building an rv cab, but we've added our own twist. Completely separate from the trailer frame, we construct a steel skeleton for the teardrop's cab from 1.5" steel tubing. We then install wood framing studs inside the borders of the steel, allowing us to frame in windows, doors, support for bunks, cabinets, counters etc. The interior is paneled with 1/4" birch paneling, and the exterior is covered with .040" aluminum which is powder coated on the exterior for appearance. The 1.5" of space in between is filled with 1.5" R-Tech foam insulation. For the aluminum, the side walls are installed first, then we install the roof panels. The roof panels have 90 degree breaks at their ends so that they overlap the side walls. This means if water pools up on the roof, it will run down and over the side wall, giving it no opportunity to get inside. We also use very minimal caulking, instead we favor a more expensive but more effective putty tape which seals between the framework and aluminum, where it will not dry out, crack, etc from UV and weather exposure.
Besides the fact that our wall construction is much more waterproof over time, they are also much stronger. Because of the steel skeleton, we can safely support roof top tents on our teardrops, something you'd never be able to do on a laminate-wall trailer. It also means that if you ever want to add a shelf, coat hook, etc to the inside of your trailer you can do that just like you would in your house.
It also means you will never rattle one of our teardrops apart, and it is truly off-road ready.
Nearly EVERY trailer manufacturer out there wires their trailers with manual connections like butt-connectors and T-taps. This means when you need to connect two wires, you use a connector which crimps on to make the connection. What this means for you, is that over time these connections can rattle loose, or more commonly corrode due to weather exposure. Figuring out why you have no right turn signal can be a pain, crawling around trying to find a broken wire.
When we wire ANY 12v, whether trailer lights, power supplies, etc, each connection is made by soldering the joint, then sealing the joint with adhesive-lined heat shrink tubing. This is very time consuming, but it is the most reliable way to ensure a lasting connection that will be unaffected by weather, vibration, etc.
All of our trailer frames and body work are powder coated. Most RV's you'll find have painted frames, which are easy to scratch, chip, etc. Powder coating is an industrial-strength coating that is significantly more durable than paint. It is also more expensive, but for a product you want to last, it's the only way to go.
Most manufacturers will cut construction costs by using cheap fasteners, for example regular zinc-coated bolts. Unless the application requires grade 8 bolts (axle mounts, hitch bolts, etc), all of our bolts are stainless steel so they will not rust over time. Any rivets you find will be either stainless or aluminum, and all rivets are the sealed type so water cannot get through them.
Okay I've definitely gone on long enough with this, but I think you get the picture.