A Look at Casual Turtle Campers

“I had to go alone and I had to be self-contained, a kind of casual turtle carrying his house on his back…. I wanted a little house built like the cabin of a small boat.” – John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley

This excerpt is a cornerstone in the philosophy of Fort Collins, Colorado based Casual Turtle Campers. Its founder, Peter Pavlowich, was on a trip in Colorado in 2010 when he noticed a bevvy of truck campers that lacked any kind of style. Over the next few years, he put his Wood Construction and Design degree from the University of Idaho to good use and two years ago built his first prototype truck camper. After it received positive reviews, Peter formed Casual Turtle Campers LLC in the summer of 2013.

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As word of the Casual Turtle truck campers got out, Peter learned of interest in a similar style, but in a trailer. “I began to hear from enough people asking about small towable units in the same style as my slide-in truck camper designs.  Then in the spring of 2014, I decided to put together my first Terrapin design.  It wasn’t long before I had orders for two more, and then in the fall I decided to build an even smaller, simpler trailer model – the Hatchling.  Trailers are a little bit easier to sell it seems, and they can be marketed to a wider audience”, Peter tells us.

The Terrapin boasts a rear entry door with a front dinette that converts into a 75″ x 54″ memory foam bed. Total length of the Terrapin is 12′ (8’2″ cabin), 6’9″ wide, and 5’11″ interior height, while checking in at 1360 lbs. It’s the height of that interior that Peter takes pride in. “Probably the most unique feature of my campers is probably the domed roof design.  I achieved this by playing around enough in the design stage trying to come up with something strong, unique, and compelling.  Like I say, it’s probably the coolest feature of my designs, but it’s also the trickiest part of the build by far.”

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The Terrapin is stoutly built as well. Although just 1360 lbs, it sits on a 3500 lbs axle and 15″ wheels with a frame that’s professionally sprayed with Reflex truck bed liner undercoating. The cabin itself is built to withstand chilly Colorado weather with a fully insulated floor, walls, and roof.

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The Hatchling is rather Spartan when it comes to accommodations, and that’s the goal for it. “I thought I’d introduce this model initially as a bare bones shell – though I’d be happy to finish it out to someone’s desires.  It’d also make a great platform for someone looking to build out the interior themselves.”

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9  The Hatchling checks in at 840 lbs with a 3500 lbs axle and 2,000 lbs leaf springs with 13″ wheels. The overall length is 12’2″, and the interior dimensions are 92.5″ x 56.25″ and 56″ interior headroom.  The roof is a fully-adhered ivory colored TPO roofing membrane. The bottom side is constructed of a PVC membrane.

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When it comes to materials and construction, Peter’s extensive woodworking education comes into play. “I use tongue and groove Western red cedar for the exterior of my campers. Not only is it beautiful and lightweight, but it’s extremely resistant to decay, insects, and moisture. I use PVC and TPO roofing membranes that are fully adhered to an OSB roof deck and secured about the edges with a custom aluminum termination bar. I build my own fixed windows and I use simple aluminum sliders for opening ones. Unlike a lot of camper designs, I like to include as many opening windows as practical in my designs.”

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With Casual Turtle Campers being less than two years old, it’s safe to say the company is in its infant stage. However, Peter has his eyes on the future. “At this point it’s just me working out of my very small shop in Fort Collins. I love dreaming about the shop of the future with all of its extra room, decent tools, a hired hand or two…but until I have that kind of demand, it’ll be me cranking away alone. Depending on the model and level of finish, five to eight campers keeps me pretty busy in a year. Units with finished/furnished interiors take a while, but shell versions come together pretty quick.“  

“My goal for Casual Turtle Campers has always been to make a living building unique, quality products.  If it remains a one-man, 5-8 units per year operation – that’ll be just fine.  However, if I have the opportunity to expand to a bigger shop, and bring on a few hired hands – that’ll be great, too.  It’s a really cool product that I enjoy designing and building – and if I can continue to find buyers, I’ll be the happiest camper builder around.”

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To learn more about Casual Turtle Campers and contact Peter about building one for you, visit their website at http://casualturtlecampers.com.

 

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RV Shows: The Cure for This Weekend’s Deep Freeze

As most of the country finds itself in typical January cold temps, many RV shows are going on this weekend throughout the country. Here’s a listing of those you can attend this weekend and collect those coveted brochures, surely helping pass the time and get us all closer to hitching up for the 2015 camping season.

California: http://www.rvshows.net/RV_show.html - Pleasanton

Colorado: http://www.gsevents.com/shows/display.cfm?showID=75 - Denver

Georgia: http://www.northatlantatradecenter.com/rv.html - Norcross

Indiana: http://indyrvexpo.com/ - Indianapolis

Kansas: http://www.wichitarvshow.com/index.html - Wichita

Louisiana: http://southernlouisianaboatrvshow.com/ - Houma

Minnesota: http://stpaulsportshow.com/ - Saint Paul

Missouri: http://rvmegashows.com/service/springfield-boat-sport-rv-show/ - Springfield

New York: http://www.hudsonvalleyrvandboatshow.com/index.html - Troy

Ohio: http://www.ohiorvshow.com/ - Cleveland

Ohio: http://www.ohiorvandboatshow.com/home.html - Columbus

Pennsylvania: http://www.pittrvshow.com/ - Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania: http://www.allentowntradeshows.com/ats/ - Allentown

South Carolina: http://www.gsevents.com/shows/display.cfm?showID=83 - Greenville

Tennessee – http://www.knoxvillervshow.com/ - Knoxville

Tennessee – http://www.bkproductions.biz/NashvilleRvSuperShow - Nashville

Texas – http://www.fortworthrvshow.com/index.htm - Fort Worth

Didn’t see a show this weekend near you? Here is a nice source to view RV shows by states: http://rvpark411.com/rv-shows-camping-expos.html

Happy buying!

 

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Merry Christmas…

From all of us (me) here at The Small Trailer Enthusiast, may you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and prosperity in 2015!

411135_322356144456078_100000450861848_1143765_2115594072_o.jpgAnd no matter what faith you observe, if any, may you ALL have a year’s worth of level campsites with plenty of shade and a lakeside view! For it is the joy of camping that unites us all.

Cheers to 2015!

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(Claus family portrait courtesy Kerola’s Campers: http://kerola.com)

 

 

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Hi-Lo finally showing signs of life

It’s been quite some time since I first announced that Hi-Lo Trailers were coming back to life. This website was just a few weeks old and it was one of the first few posts I ever made. Three years and three months ago that post was written, and the only update I had was a year later, telling you that there were essentially no updates on the Hi-Lo.

While I’ve made efforts to get some facts from Hi-Lo boss and Pennsylvania  RV dealer Bill Kerola, those requests have gone unanswered. However, thanks to the Kerola Camper Store Facebook page, the first images of a Hi-Lo prototype were released. 10636951_744124942335049_3911432009194948702_o

Even though I’ve not received a response from Bill Kerola, I still felt it necessary to post these pics from their Facebook page since I get e-mails periodically inquiring about the future of the Hi-Lo, and because Hi-Lo had a long run in the RV industry before shuttering their doors in 2010.

What I do know is that Bill Kerola is the gent on the right in the photo. Now, the following  is nothing more than speculation on my part. But hey, speculation is fun and makes you look brilliant if reality turns out that way.  Here are a  few facts I’ve put together:

1. In a December 6, 2014 post on their Facebook page, Kerola Campers wrote: “We have some new projects in the works for Kerola’s Campers. Here is the frame for our next venture heading out. More pictures next week!”

This tells me it was heading somewhere outside of their Trasnfer, Pennsylvania location.

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2. If you’ll notice in this next photo, there is a Hi-Lo pictured behind the chassis of the prototype. Since we know there are no “new” Hi-Los, that one in the background has to be a 2010 or older.

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3. With that in mind, we also know that Kerola Campers sells a travel trailer called the “Midget”. We don’t know a lot about the  Midget other than they are built in Ohio, AND the plant also doubles as a Hi-Lo repair facility. I quote from the Midget website:

“I (Joel) am the former Plant Manager of the HiLo Company and have been around HiLo for the past 30 years. That’s because my father-in-law is Jim Snyder former owner of the company. It was his brother Don Snyder who started HiLo back in 1955.  

2011 was a big year for our new repair and manufacturing shop. We hired Tim a former employee of HiLo to assist in the repairs of HiLo’s and building new trailers in our Midget line.”

So now we see that Kerola Campers has a relationship with a trailer manufacturer who also spent time building Hi-Los and now repairing them. With the fact they build the Midget, this tells me they have the ability to build other trailers….perhaps even a new Hi-Lo. 

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So when I connect all these dots, it appears to me that these former Hi-Lo employees that build trailers (The Midget) also are the ones building the new Hi-Lo. Again, just speculation, but I’d be more surprised if these aren’t the facts. Hopefully I can get a reply from Bill Kerola so he can just tell me what I think I already know.

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Stocking Stuffers for 2014

‘Tis the season for stuffing stockings for your favorite small trailer enthusiast. Here area  few I thought might go over well.

First up, here’s a great way to stuff their mailbox. These Christmas cards from The Retro Christmas Card Company feature a classic woodie at a Christmas tree farm with a red & white Shasta Airflyte that’s used as the office.
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If you can’t get them through the Amazon widget, you can order them directly through their website by clicking here.

I came across this diecast of a 1967 Chevy Impala with a vintage 16′ Airstream Bambi this past week at a local Meijer store. This is part of GreenLight Collectibles’ Hitch & Tow series. It’s a 1:64 scale diecast with very nice details. For those of you midwesterners where Meijer is located, you can find it in the toy department with the diecasts for around $11.00. For those of you in other areas, I’ve included an Amazon widget below, or you can also try Airstream’s online shop by clicking here.

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With the reissue of the 1961 Shasta Airflyte, this Happy Camper mug should go over well with new Shasta owners, as well as anyone interested in adding a little style to your cup of joe.

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There is a large contingent of T@B owners out there, and if they don’t already have these salt & pepper shakers, they should. While they don’t appear to be a T@B endorsed product, it’s fairly obvious the camper from which they’re inspired.

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Guys, if your spouse is a hardcore small trailerite, how can these earrings not score you major points for Christmas? Available through Vintage Trailer Supply by clicking the link here

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Still can’t decide what to buy? Go the easy route and buy an Amazon gift card! Amazon has everything under the sun RV related, and as a side benefit, any time you click on one of the Amazon links I have on this site and buy, you’re supporting The Small Trailer Enthusiast through the Amazon Associates affiliate program. We get a percentage of the sale from Amazon and you’ve helped offset the expense of keeping YOUR favorite small trailer website on the internet. Merry Christmas!

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52nd Annual RVIA Trade Show Recap – Part 2

Here we go with Part 2 of the 52nd Annual RVIA trade show recap from Louisville. If you missed Part 1, click here.

Little Guy Worldwide had a nice sampling of their product on hand this year, represented by various models of the popular T@B, T@G, myPod, and their traditional Little Guy teardrop trailer. 15949560291_6778ed82b8_zNew this year in the T@B line is the upscale Sofitel model. Featuring upscale cabinetry & hardware, two-tone cushions, deluxe exterior assist handle, custom alloy wheels, accent lighting, and yacht inspired flooring, the Sofitel is said to be the “Airstream of T@Bs”. And as Chris Baum of Little Guy Worldwide told me “And it’s $25,000 less than an Airstream”. Although the MSRP for a Sofitel has been seen at $25,000, some may still balk at that price for a T@B, but loyal T@B aficionados may very well be willing to pay for such refinements. Heck, I dig it for the cool floor and wheels!

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The T@B CS model continues to impress me with how well they utilize limited space. The model on display has the CS’ signature rear teardrop inspired galley with a front bench inside. This floorplan also ups the ante with the addition of a wet bath. However, despite these additions, two people could easily camp in comfort. Great job, Little Guy!

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Next up was a new line by Winnebago called the Micro Minnie. The Micro Minnie is Winnebago’s entry level trailer and only has one floor plan, which is 19’2″ long and weighs in at a dry weight of 2,980 lbs. Base MSRP is under $15,000, so it’s a good option if you don’t need a lot of size, yet you still get the Winnebago quality.

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I was intrigued by a display by cargo and utility trailer manufacturer Let’s Go Aero. Based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Let’s Go Aero specializes in hitch mounted cargo & bicycle carriers, tent shelters, versatile cargo & camping trailers that also convert into a tent trailer. Pictured here is the GearWagon 125 camping trailer. Made of durable ABS plastic, the “lid” props up to provide space for sleeping bags or an air mattress. With the attached tent, a tailgate tent can be added to the rear to provide additional shelter from sun or rain. The setup was really nice and basic. I’d say it’s a step up from normal tent camping, but a step below a traditional pop-up camper. The GearWagon 125 checks in at a total length of 10′ and weighs in at 560 lbs empty, with a base price of $5489.00. Check out their website for more on their products: http://www.letsgoaero.com

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Palomino also had a nice selection of their Palomini line on hand. The Palomini was introduced last year and has several good floorplans, some of which include a drop floor. Based on the size and even appearance, the Palomini is a direct competitor to the r-pod, although they’re in the same Forest River family of RVs. However, the Palomini can be had for much less, as some floorplans can be had for less than $10,000. I’ve had a feature on the Palomini on the backburner for a few months now, so I’ll be telling you more about them sometime this winter.

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There were a lot of manufacturers that were representing the hard-sided pop-up market, including Aliner, Rockwood, Flagstaff, Starcraft, and Viking.  Considering it’s 1:30 am and I have to be up in 5 hours for work, I’m forgoing linking all of these manufacturers, but encourage you to check out the manufacturers page at the top of this page for links to all of them. ;-) If you’re a fan of these types of campers, you have plenty to choose from.

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One thing I’ve noticed is that many of the entry level units are becoming a little less “basic” in looks and the materials being used, which is a benefit to the consumer. One trend that was apparent to me in many trailers, both big and small, is the move towards a wood-look flooring instead of the tile-look. Granted, all of these are generally a large one piece linoleum floor, but for my tastes it’s a refreshing trend. I wouldn’t say the wood grain look has overtaken the tile look, but it’s getting close. It should be interesting to see if that trend continues moving into 2016.

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So that brings us to the close of my assessment of what’s in store for 2015 for the small trailer segment of the RV industry. Hope you all enjoyed a sneak peek at what you have to look forward to as you look for your next trailer, or just take in an RV show in the next couple of months. And let me take this opportunity to encourage you all to attend an RV show this winter in your area. It costs dealers a lot of dough to put these shows on and even if you don’t buy at the show or are just there to window shop, your attendance is greatly appreciated by them.

Until next time, happy winter camping!

 

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***STOLEN TRAILER ALERT***

I’m posting this on behalf of a friend who had his 2007 Casita Spirit Deluxe stolen in the Topeka, Kansas area on Sunday, December 7. VIN is 1C9TB171171213243 with Kansas license plate # 108EIM

If you spot it, call local authorities immediately. There are no identifying marks on it, with the exception that it did not have a spare tire cover. Please share and help Bob get his Casita back home!

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52nd Annual RVIA Trade Show Recap – Part 1

This was my fourth straight RVIA trade show in Louisville this past week. According to RV Pro, overall attendance was down 3%, but an interesting stat I found was that editorial press jumped an impressive 43%. Yeah us!

Overall the amount of small trailers at the show was about the same. Forest River only brought one r-pod from what I could find. It was the RP-179 model with the rear kitchen which debuted last year. I do like the new paint scheme for 2015. I was somewhat surprised only one unit was there, considering they had a copy of a spreadsheet tacked to the side of it that listed sales figures for several trailers specifically under 20′ and how the r-pod was #1 on the list in sales.

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Although not yet on their website, Riverside RVs showed up with a double axle trailer in their Whitewater Retro line. Since I don’t have any specs on it, it “may” be over 20′ (gasp!), but since it’s the 195 model, we’ll assume that it’s about 19 1/2′ long. I think this will be well received. The floorplan consists of a rear island bed, full size bathroom in the middle on the street side, kitchen in the middle on the curb size, and a spacious U-shaped dinette in the front. The black & white checkered floor and leather-esque upholstery really add to the white and turquoise exterior with the baby moon hubcaps. Keep checking the Riverside RV website for this one to show up there: http://riversidervs.net15950827962_ce3bf7b37a_z

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While Shasta RV has been making news the past few months with the reissued 1961 Airflyte, they do make traditional travel trailers and 5th wheels as well. The Shasta Oasis has a new floorplan for 2015 in the 18FQ. This is a good, functional floorplan that would be excellent for a couple just getting into the RV lifestyle,  or an older couple downsizing from a larger unit.  Personally, it has that “just right” size for me: not too big and not too small. It has a front queen bed with a full rear bath and curbside dinette and street side kitchen. As I write this on December 7, 2014, the 18FQ is not yet on the Shasta website, but keep checking the Shasta RV website, as it should be up there in the coming weeks: http://shastarving.com

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15329207204_d3c8b5aa03_zThis covers a few of what I encountered in Louisville. I’ll be writing up an additional post hopefully later this coming week on some additional insights on what I saw from T@B, Winnebago, and a couple of others. But due to a load of overtime I’m facing at my day job this week, I wanted to get a partial post out there for you all . More to come!

 

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A Plea to RV Designers

Let me start off by saying I’m grateful for the RV industry. After all, if it weren’t for RVs, most of us would not be able to experience the happiness that camping brings. I’m also grateful that the RV industry is there for me to have things to write about on this blog. It’s a way for me to channel a love I have for writing on topics I enjoy writing about. And that in turn fuels a competitive spirit I have when I look at my stats every day to see how many people click on a page on this web site you’re reading. It always gives me a little boost when the site has a good day of hits. And, the $$ I get from a certain search engine whose  ads appear on this site makes me quite grateful to those readers that take the time to click on them.

With that said, this post is dedicated to a pet peeve I have with RV designers. If you are one and happen to be reading this, please don’t take it personally. But, I’m asking you to stop this. Now. What is it, you ask? This:

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At first glance, you may not assume there’s a problem here. From the left you have two bunks, a dinette, and a front bed. This photo was taken in panorama mode to get the full view. And for the record, I’m not going to tell you the manufacturer of this trailer, as many are guilty. But when you look at this next photo that was taken without the panoramic setting, this is what we see:

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This photo was taken from the bed looking at the dinette and bunks. Anyone know my beef yet? We have sleeping for, depending on the size of your bunk dwellers, up to five when you include the dinette. However, this dinette seats TWO. That is, unless mom & dad are letting their toddler and his buddies borrow it for the weekend. Here are the dimensions of the particulars of this unit:

Dinette: 30″ x 70″

Bed: 56″ x 80″

Bunks: 28″ x 74″

So our dinette is 30″ wide? That’s just about perfect for two normal sized adults, or an adult on one side and two toddlers on the other side. Anytime I see a layout like this, it’s like nails on a chalkboard for me. It makes me wonder if RV floorplan designers are bad at math, have never camped. or likely both. However, I know the counter argument will be “Well, most people eat outside anyway”. If that’s the argument, then don’t bother with a dinette at all. I’m sure that’ll go over with the buying public just as well.

Rant over. :-)

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Small Trailer Ornaments for the Small Trailer Christmas Tree

This afternoon I was roaming the aisles of Menards in Avon, Indiana looking for a few items to finish off our Christmas tree with my grandson. I like checking out the specialty ornaments, the ones that are a miniature diecast of something. This time we were in for a treat that ended up in our shopping cart. J1450 These two camper ornaments don’t really scream of Christmas, but they’re a must have for any small trailer enthusiast’s tree this Christmas season. Made of a resin, the 3.75″ ornaments are from Kurt S. Adler, Inc. Although not available through Menards online, you may be able to find them through Amazon:

However, for those of you located in the midwest where Menards stores are typically found,  you’d do better price-wise by buying from them, as Amazon is a bit higher: http://www.menards.com/main/p-2406622-c-12298.htm

And from all of us here at The Small Trailer Enthusiast….and my grandson Jameson…..Merry Christmas and have a GREAT holiday season!

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