2015 Shasta Airflyte Update

As posted on the Mount Comfort RV Facebook page, Shasta RV president Mark Lucas released additional photos of the 2015 Shasta Airflyte reissue. The new photos show the Butternut Yellow and Seafoam Green color schemes. With the Matador Red scheme that initially debuted in July, this completes the three colors available of the 1,941 Airflytes to be produced.

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According to Mount Comfort RV, most of the 1,941 units have been spoken for and it’s anticipated the last couple hundred will be reserved within the next week. Production of the 16′ and 19′ models will start September 22.

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Our 3rd Anniversary Review

Labor Day weekend generally marks the time I created The Small Trailer Enthusiast web site. September 3, 2011 marks the day it went live and September 7, 2011 marks the day of my first post (http://smalltrailerenthusiast.com/2011/09/07/a-tale-of-two-shastas/). Long time readers of this site know why I started it (http://smalltrailerenthusiast.com/2011/12/16/the-impetus-of-the-small-trailer-enthusiast/) and touched on a little more of that with my 1st anniversary review in 2012 (http://smalltrailerenthusiast.com/2012/09/05/the-1st-anniversary-of-the-small-trailer-enthusiast/).

Little has changed in the format of the site over the past year. But one thing that did change in the site has been the thing I like to review at the anniversary date: site traffic. As I mentioned in my 2012 review in the link above, the site had a paltry 15 site visits per day for the first month. That seems like a long distant time ago, as nowadays the site averages that many visits every 20 minutes! The last 3 months have seen an impressive 1,000 visits per day.Growth has been consistent each year. Looking at the annual visit averages:

September 3, 2011 – September 3, 2012: 346 unique visits per day

September 3, 2012 – September 3, 2013: 473 unique visits per day (36.7% increase)

September 3, 2013 – September 3, 2014: 644 unique visits per day (36.2% increase)

My decision to put Google AdSense ads on the site has helped offset the costs to pay for the domain and other associated costs with keeping a website up & running. Plus, it’s also helped add a little to our camping budget as well. ;-) I never know what ads Google will provide, as that is something out of my control; I just provide them the space. But I think overall Google does a good job with the ads they place in those spaces and they’re generally in line with the theme of The Small Trailer Enthusiast.

The continued growth adds to my motivation to keep this thing going for years to come. As my wife & I look toward the future, we’re pushing hard to shoot for that magical age 55 retirement so few get to take advantage of. Our plan is to call it quits from the 9-5 world, sell our house, and become full-time RVers. And when that happens, I’ll be able to spend more time than I do now researching and writing about small trailers. Even though our retirement rig will be outside the bounds of “small”, I’ll still continue to carry the torch for those interested in something small to camp in. I’ve learned over the past 3 years that there’s a big segment of folks out there who prefer trailers small.

And if you’re wondering what that rig of ours will be? Well, after owning a T@B….

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and our beloved Serro Scotty…..

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it’s obvious we like camping in eye-catching trailers. And although it’s not small, we’ve narrowed our choice down to a 30′ Airstream Flying Cloud.

exterior_floorplan_16_550But, we’ll touch on that the closer we get to full-timing. Stay tuned for that post….in 8-10 years!

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2015 Shasta Airflyte video update

As discussed a couple of weeks ago, Mount Comfort RV has made a trip up to northern Indiana to get a first hand look at the new 2015 Shasta Airflyte. Shasta president Mark Lucas gave Mount Comfort RV an exclusive walk through video tour to go over the ins and outs of the Airflyte. Instead of me rehashing in a post what he talks about, I’ll just leave all the talking to Mark. More detailed photos are up on the Mount Comfort RV website and can be seen by clicking here.

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  Mount Comfort RV vice president Rusty Eckstein tells me they’ve been taking pre-orders for the Airflyte from all over the country. And starting at $14,999, I think it’s safe to say the 1,941 that will be produced will be spoken for rather quickly. Feel free to leave comments with Mount Comfort RV on their YouTube page below the video so they can pass along your likes & dislikes to Shasta…they are listening.

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Forest River reissuing the classic Shasta Airflyte

Consider this post the first of several over the coming weeks and months to introduce you to the new Shasta Airflyte, produced by Shasta’s manufacturer, Forest River. Even though I use the word “new”, the new Airflyte will look anything but new. In fact, it will use a nearly exact blueprint from the 1961, although it will comply with RVIA specs. The Airflyte will have a limited production run of just under 2,000 units and should be available later in 2014. And this Airflyte will be a far cry from the Airflyte that Coachmen RV brought back in 2009, which happened to be featured in the very first post of this blog back in 2011: http://smalltrailerenthusiast.com/2011/09/07/a-tale-of-two-shastas/

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be privvy to some inside info on the Airflyte, courtesy of Rusty Eckstein, vice president of Mount Comfort RV, a dealer that will be carrying the Airflyte. We’ll have more info including a lot of photos, specs and even some video from the factory in Elkhart. But for now, here are two photos from the factory on the assembly line to whet your appetite. More to come!

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When severe weather strikes while camping

Consider this another friendly reminder from one camper to another to have a plan in place should severe weather strike while camping. Yesterday an EF-1 tornado hit the southwest side of Indianapolis and was on the ground for approximately 2 miles. As some of you may know, I reside on the west side of Indianapolis and had a helpless feeling as I was able to watch from the 5th floor of my downtown Indianapolis office as the storm tracked to the northeast. I felt a little more than helpless as I read tweets of the tornado being “a mile wide” and “on the ground in Speedway”, which is the town I live in. Fortunately those reports were false, as the tornado had lifted prior to reaching the Town of Speedway. However, this photo taken from an employee at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway shows the super cell the tornado had been in as it traveled to the west side of the famed oval. 10447080_10152470311436421_1996721419448350952_n

However, prior to it lifting, one gentleman’s travel trailer and his neighbor’s house weren’t so fortunate in nearby Plainfield. The trailer had been parked in his driveway next to his house when it was lifted a few hundred feet, landing on his next door neighbor’s roof. Here’s the story from WTHR in Indianapolis:

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Fortunately no one was injured, but it still should raise awareness to all campers that they stand little chance of surviving when a tornado attacks while you’re in a camper, trailer, or motorhome. And even though when you haul out on a sunny Friday for a weekend of camping, powerful storms can quickly pop up out of nowhere. Always have a plan in place when camping, know where the nearest shelter is, and by all means have some sort of weather alerting device on hand. Here’s a little lighthearted video from Mount Comfort RV showing what to do and what not to do when severe weather strikes.

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3rd Annual Vintage RV Show set for this weekend

This weekend marks the 3rd Annual Vintage RV Show at the S&H Campground near Greenfield, Indiana. Sponsored by one of Indiana’s largest RV dealers, Mount Comfort RV, the show is open to pre-1988 campers, travel trailers, and motorhomes. The show starts Friday, May 9 and runs through Sunday, May 11.

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Activities throughout the weekend include an RV parts swap meet, hot dog roast, hayrides, inflatable playground for the kids a lot more. A full schedule can be found here.

 

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S & H Campground is located 20 miles east of downtown Indianapolis. For more information, contact the campground office at (317)326-3208 or e-mail at reservations@sandhcampground.com. You can find out more about the campground at http://www.sandhcampground.com.

Photos courtesy S & H Campground

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The (really) Small Trailer Enthusiast

When 50 year old Dennis Grindle first built a model of a 1960′s Aristocrat travel trailer eight months ago, little did he know what a niche little enterprise he started for himself.

1483440_10151868626058985_1852783308_n“I have always been a model car builder since being a teenager. I just wanted to build something different. I have done wooden boats and there was nothing really different on the market so I started building my campers.”

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“The first model I did was an Aristocrat  60′s model. From then I just started building my collection and posting my pictures. From then a person contacted me on Facebook asking me to build her one. I had noticed that people have a love for their Glampers, as they call them, and by word of mouth they took off.” Through that word of mouth (mainly on Facebook), Dennis has built several classic Serro Scotties, Shastas,  an Airfloat, and even a 5th wheel.

1964866_10152023383178985_1783747191_nDennis’ models are built with balsa and basswood and are generally in the 8″ X 5″ size range. You can have your own camper made as well…unless you have an Airstream. “I prefer to do replicas of peoples’ actual campers. I don’t do Airstreams. Not saying I can’t, but with the shape the effort is not worth the price.”

1499624_10151897575468985_1647512390_nDennis doesn’t have a website, but you can view more of his work on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dennis.grindle. To inquire about having your own camper built, you can contact Dennis via e-mail at bearbutt40@yahoo.com Cost of his models are $40 plus $10 shipping.

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A look at the numbers: Small trailer production

I’ve often wondered how small trailers figure into the overall production numbers of manufacturers. That same question was posed to me recently by Russ Forney, who along with his mate Cinderella, resides in Wyoming. Unfortunately I didn’t have an answer, but Russ did some investigative work for a magazine article he’s working on.

The results were provided by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), and were for production during the 2011 and 2012 manufacturing years. The data provided was for travel trailers less than 20′ in length that were shipped by the manufacturers, but not actual units sold by dealers.  2013 numbers were not yet available, but in 2012, of the 176,900 travel trailers shipped to dealers, 13,620 fell below the 20′ mark. That represents 7.7% of all trailers shipped. The RVIA reported the same 7.7% for 2011 production.

To further expand on the numbers Russ provided, the analyst firm Robert W. Baird, citing data from Statistical Surveys, reports that total towable sales increased some 17% in 2013. It could be assumed that 2013 small trailer numbers were likely in the ballpark as they were in 2011 and 2012, so with that theory in mind, total small trailer sales in 2013 were likely pushing 16,000 units.

One thing to note, the RVIA did not provide any breakdown of the trailers less than 20′. That said, we don’t know what percentage of those were pop-ups, hybrids, and traditional travel trailers.

(Hat tip to Russ Forney and RV Pro magazine)

 

 

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News & notes…

Not a lot of news going on right now, but here are a couple of tidbits…

–The Comet Camper has a nicely redesigned website: http://cometcamper.com. I first told you of the COMET Camper Project and its owner, Mariah Pastell, in June of 2013. Her updated website features a blog, e-courses designed to help with your downsizing process, information on consulting, photos, and a lot more. Be sure to check it out.

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– I came across a new weather website recently that caters to campers, http://www.campersweather.com. However, after reviewing the site, I still can’t quite figure out how it is any different than any other website any camper or non-camper could get their weather from. Take a look and if I’m missing something let me know.

However, as spring time approaches, it’s a good time to consider safety measures while camping. There are very good means of weather notifications while camping, including various smart phone apps as well as weather radios. But whatever means you choose, CHOOSE SOMETHING. I couldn’t think of camping again without some sort of access to weather information. That was magnified last November when I came across a story from an owner of a vintage Serro Scotty camper that met its fate thanks to a tornado that swept through parts of north-central Indiana. The owners weren’t camping in it at the time, as it was parked on their property. But as you can see from the pictures of the wreckage below, no one would’ve survived. So before you hitch up this camping season, set yourself up with a device that’ll give you the alerts that’ll prevent disaster.

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The aftermath of my RV sales “career”…

When I last wrote in late December, I talked about my upcoming venture into a temporary job as an RV salesman for Braun’s Fun Time Campers at the annual Indy RV Expo in Indianapolis. That nine day show has since come & gone, so here’s the recap.

First off, I thought I was fairly well versed on trailers and their workings, but boy was I blindsided early the first Saturday of the show by a gent wanted to know more than I knew about the water fills on one of the Winnebago Minnies we carried. After I fumbled my way through an answer, the rest of the show got much better for me from a comfort standpoint. Being at the show and around the trailers helped me become more familiar with our inventory than studying floor plans online ever could.

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The first weekend was quite the flurry of activity. We had factory reps to help us out from KZ, Gulf Stream, Riverside RV, and Winnebago. I made some good contacts that first day, although no sales for me were to be had. However, I’m keeping my fingers crossed a couple who all but committed verbally to a new KZ Spree Connect haven’t changed their minds while on vacation. However, traffic Saturday evening dwindled as the night wore on, thanks in part to the Indianapolis Colts playoff game that evening. Sunday proved to be more of the same, but I still was able to hone my “craft” and take some notes from the guys that do this for a living.

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I didn’t make it back to the show until the following Friday night, due to my regular day job. I worked the rest of the weekend from open to close to the end of the show Sunday afternoon. To my surprise, the entire pavilion where the show was held had to be emptied by the end of the night…meaning a systematic evacuation of 200+ motorhomes, travel trailers, and 5th wheels in the span of a few hours. But Sunday was a pretty good day with a lot of folks coming through our display. I made some more good contacts and spent some time with a few more customers, but nothing materialized in the form of a sale. Until Monday.

One couple I talked with Sunday were interested in a used KZ Sportsmen Classic 13FK that wasn’t at the show, but out at the lot. They were trailerless, but had an r-Pod that was just a little bit too heavy for their tow vehicle. I had gone through some of the models that were on the lot, but since the lot was closed on Sunday (and everyone was working at the show anyway), they had to wait to see them until this week. I learned from the show not to get too optimistic if someone seems interested and then you don’t hear back from them. Since I had to go back to my day job Monday morning, I was starting to wean myself from the fun I had working at the show and getting back into my routine. Then I got an e-mail from Fun Time Campers owner Matt Braun mid afternoon that brought a really big smile to my face and a little self satisfaction that I could do it.

Pat,

Congratulations. You sold your first trailer. The Morgans came out and liked the 2011 Amerilite 15 FD. Test pulled it. We are demonstrating it and they are taking it home with them.

Matt

 

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So I finally bagged one. My only regret is that I couldn’t have been at the lot to see them off with their new trailer. But it at least proved that I could do this for a living if I wanted to, although there’s a lot more to learn. The Morgans may be the first and last I ever sell a trailer to, but it was fitting that they bought a 15 foot trailer…the epitome of  the very size this website embraces. And it was because of the very existence of this website that gave me the opportunity to work for Braun’s Fun Time Campers to begin with, so things seem to have come full circle.

As always, thanks for reading….

 

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