–According to Director of New Business Development for Little Guy Worldwide, Dylan DeHoff, the much anticipated T@B “Clamshell” model should be in production before the end of 2012. The Clamshell will be at the 2012 RVIA dealers show in Louisville, KY in November.
–Another trailer scheduled for a come-back, the Hi-Lo, has been slowed. According to Hi-Lo’s Bill Kerola, “Progress has been much much slower then I anticipated.” If plans stay on course, prototypes should be out sometime in the first quarter of 2013.
–Livin Lite’s Scott Tuttle tells us the Camp Lite side of things is expanding on their longest model (16′) with a new 21′ model with slide outs. The slides can be in the form of a U-shaped dinette or a sofa bed. The extra 5′ in length creates larger kitchen areas and bathrooms in the Camp Lite fleet. The new 21 footers will weigh in around 3200 lbs.
–Larry Drake’s Teal Camper concept appears to ready for take-off. He has teamed with Rocky Mountain Innosphere to formulate a plan that will see producton of his modular camper design by the end of this year. Larry tells us, “It is an exciting time and all involved have seen a real acceptance for the Teal Camper concept. We are anxious to finally get production units to the hundreds of individuals who have expressed a desire to own one.” The production model will also introduce some yet-to-be released improvements. The Teal Camper website will also be updated with an online store within the next 60 days.
How many times have you passed (or been passed by) a small cargo trailer on the highway and wondered what was inside? Could they be hauling a lawnmower heading for a non-descript business park to cut their grass? Could they be hauling dirt bikes or ATVs heading for some weekend fun? Could they be hauling construction materials heading for a house to drywall?
For one California man, the answer to that would be “none of the above”. Jerry’s (last name with held upon request) 2007 Lark cargo trailer hauls his camping weekend with him. Since buying his 16′ Lark new from the factory in 2007, Jerry took the empty shell and has made it into a 16′ comfort castle on wheels.
Inspired by the Tiny House Blog, the affectionately named “Over The Top Cargo Trailer” doesn’t look like a tiny house. Says Jerry, “I just did not want it to look like a house on wheels on the outside and attract too much attention while on the road; it would fit more inside an Airstream Bambi if the panels could be bent.” The OTTCT is 95% complete, and Jerry estimates it weighs somewhere north of 6,000 lbs. He’s put some 500+ hours of labor and $25,000 into the project.
Jerry’s designed the OTTCT to be energy efficient as well, utilizing over 1500 watts in solar panels, powerful enough to run the on board 5,000 BTU air conditioner. The features on the OTTCT seem endless, including 2 37 gallon water tanks, 2 20 gallon propane tanks, reverse osmosis water filtration, a 26″ TV with DVD player, and 15′ of kitchen cabinets. One of the finest pieces of Jerry’s work is in the 36″ X 48″ glass tile shower.
The 7′ width provides ample interior room to roam as well as space for the full size bed in the rear.
The cargo trailer to camper conversion “subculture” is starting to take root as a niche segment of the travel trailer industry. Granted, it’s entirely a do-it-yourself segment, but as popularity increases, it could easily grow into a business for those, like Jerry, who have the skills to transform a shell and make it into a comfortable living space with as many (if not more) amenities as a standard, mass-produced travel trailer.
As the old saying goes, when one door closes, another door opens. Such was the case with Scott Chaney. After 26 years working for a major electronics company, Scott found himself unemployed from his career as an information technology program manager in 2006. However, he seized the opportunity and put his personal interests and previous experience with mechanical engineering CAD to use and combined his two loves: designing and camping.
Unsatisfied with his desire to find a small RV that could be towed by a small car while still being comfortable in it, Scott found roof top tents, typical of the kind found on vehicles on a safari.
(photo courtesy iwantajeep.net)
Once he found the type of tent he liked, he ordered one, built a diamond plate trailer to put it on, and with that, Compact Camping Concepts was born. After a few camping trips, Scott found that interest in his tent trailer was positive. So much so that he decided to build a model called the Explorer Box.
The Explorer Box DIY is the signature trailer in the CCC line. As the name implies, it’s a do-it-yourself trailer, which can be used as a tent topped trailer or a trailer to haul your gear.
While Scott will build his trailers for his customers, his main focus is helping do-it-yourself builders achieve the trailer to their specifications. “We do not build standard “production” models, although we do offer custom build-to-order services. These can be done to any level of completion. The demo trailers I build are to show variations on our core designs. They are normally used for a season then sold. Part of the advantage of DIY is building and tailoring based on your needs. So electric, propane and water are all items easy to add. I personally use and promote more of a backpacking, unplugged approach.”
To get started on the Explorer Box DIY, the cost for the 85 page manual is a mere $30, which includes step by step instructions with photos, as well as material and tool lists. Based on a 4′x6′ deck, the base Explorer Box DIY weighs in between 375-425 lbs, sitting on a 1,000 lbs axle with an 80-110 lbs tongue weight, all easily handled by most 4 cylinder compact cars.
The CCC web site also carries a variety of trailer parts to aid in your construction, including fenders, locks, hinges, LED lights, wheels/tires, as well as tents and accessories.
The Explorer Box AL brings some of the same conveniences as the DIY version, yet the AL has a lightweight aluminum box with a welded steel frame. The Explorer Box AL comes standard with a “Mobile Outdoor Adventure Bedroom” or MOAB tent. Total cost of the kit is right at $4,000, disassembled. However, CCC can do the assembly for you. If you prefer to use it to haul your gear, it can also be built to suit that need as well.
For the budget-minded, the Utilitarian offers a cheaper alternative. The open-sided concept to the Utilitarian gives it the versatility of being a tent-topped camper one weekend or a trailer for hauling supplies or loads the next weekend. It lacks the enclosed storage like the Explorer Box models do, but offers a little more diversity of use.
The LGT Camper utilizes a truck-bed type design, made of galvanized steel. It comes with an integrated dome style tent that doubles as either a camper or mobile shelter. Sitting on a 2,000 lbs axle, the LGT measures in at just a tick over 10′ long from hitch to tail. Disassembled, the LGT can be fetched for around $2500, shipped to your door.
The last unit in the Compact Camping Concepts line-up is the Dinoot Trailer. Like the rest of the line up, versatility is the key to the Dinoot. Made of modular fiberglass components, the Dinoot is designed to be built incrementally, which helps spread out the cost of your camper and thus take the burden off your wallet. There are currently two models for the Dinoot, the Compact and the Extended models.
Both models are designed to handle the tasks of being either a hauler for your outdoor gear, or that of a tent topped camper. Obviously, the Dinoot would accompany a Jeep Wrangler quite well.
Compact Camping Concepts is by no means a large outfit. As Scott says, “We are a small family business, just two of us, focused on supporting DIYers build their own camping trailers. I have a small shop for doing prototype work on new ideas and to store demo trailers.”
If you’re handy and like tent camping, Compact Camping Concepts looks like a fun way to utilize your technical skills and get that tent off the ground at the same time. For more information, you can contact Scott Chaney at 503-390-3152 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit their website at http://compactcampingconcepts.com.
While September 7 marks the anniversary of the first post of The Small Trailer Enthusiast (“The STE”), September 3 marked the first anniversary of the creation of the site. Since I was on the road on the 3rd finishing a Labor Day weekend road trip circling Lake Michigan, I wasn’t able to post this. I still want to take this time to give my thanks to all of you who take the time to read the ramblings of an RVer like you.
As I look through the stats of the site every few days, I see a wide range of search terms from people from all over the world. That first month saw minimal traffic of around 15 visitors per day. A year’s worth of content feeding into Google, Bing, and other search engines has helped grow our traffic to just under 500 visitors per day. Much of the search content is on specific models we’ve highlighted, but there is also a lot of searching for just information on small trailers. That’s the reason the idea of this blog came to me in the summer of 2011: To create a clearinghouse of stories and resources to help other devotees of small trailers find the trailer of their dreams. And from what I have seen, this is the only game in town.
As much as I get a charge out of getting a scoop that none of the big RV media outlets have done, I get as much satisfaction in the e-mails I get from the readers. I’ve found through their e-mails that there are more out there like me…people who just love reading about small trailers. The readers have also been a great resource by telling me about a particular brand of trailer that I should put up on the Manufacturers page, or those who are having trouble deciding what to buy and are searching for advice.
There have been individuals in the RV industry who’ve helped provide me with the content that ends up as blog posts. There are too many to name and surely I’d leave someone out, but you all know who you are. And the admiration I get from readers for how the site is set up, well, credit for that can go to someone not involved in the RV industry. As I’ve mentioned before, this site was modeled after Ron Warnick’s Route 66 News, the premier news site pertaining to America’s favorite highway. The STE, like Route 66 News, is not only a site for news stories, but also a resource center, whether you’re looking for manufacturers, online forums, or other info pertaining to small trailers or camping.
While I try to stay impartial regarding trailer brands, I will confess that I give special attention to the small companies trying to make their mark in a highly competitive and volatile industry. I really want to see guys like Dan Sutton, Larry Drake, and Ted Simpson do well, and if I can use The STE as a platform to get their message out about their unique offerings, that’s what I’ll do.
It’s my hope that all manufacturers, big and small, do well and have many years of production. Some may be discussed in blog posts, or others may just appear as a link in the Manufacturers page. Regardless of who they are, they’re on here for the readers to find and determine if that’s the trailer that fits their needs. That’s the core mission of The Small Trailer Enthusiast.
The Small Trailer Enthusiast is a home for news on small travel trailers, typically 20' or less. Here you will find info on new models, industry news relating to small trailers, and any other stories I think you might find interesting. Have some small trailer news you'd like to pass along?