Monthly Archives: October 2012

Introducing: The Whetzeldorf

Last year we introduced you to Dan Sutton and his teardrop trailer business, Whetzel Trace Travelers. Dan’s business up until now has been building teardrops as well as restoring vintage campers. However, his business has taken a slight change of direction thanks mainly to a camper he purchased in 2011: A 1957 Metzendorf

Metzendorf campers were produced from 1957 until the late 1960’s. They all were a standard 10′ in length. However, Dan’s Metzendorf was just 8′ in length. He believes this particular model is a one-of-a-kind, and most likely an early prototype before the production models became 10′ in length.

Earlier this year, Dan came up with the idea of reproducing the Metzendorf. He made a template using the ’57, although making it 3″ taller, and using a frame from a pop-up camper he bought, created a modern version of the Metzendorf and re-badged it the “Whetzeldorf”, a name which should need no explanation of its origin.

(2012 Whetzeldorf)

(1957 Metzendorf)

The Whetzeldorf sleeps two, weighs about 1200 lbs, sits on a 2,000 lbs pop-up camper axle, and measures 76″ wide, 98″ long, and 76″ tall. Standards include a refrigerator, aluminum exterior, and ample storage.

I had the chance to spend a couple of hours this past weekend at Dan’s shop (actually, his son’s garage) in Greenwood, Indiana where Dan currently has the third prototype Whetzeldorf in production.

Currently the materials going into the Whetzeldorf are a combination of new materials and recycled parts mainly from RV surplus stores. However, Dan is on the verge of getting serious with the Whetzeldorf and the plan is to have more new parts and frames  used on future models. But the stick-built cabinets and counter are something he builds from scratch.

With each prototype he’s built so far, features have been added while some have been taken away. One subtraction is that of the rear window that was on the first prototype. Due to the angle of the body and the placement of the window, it encountered some leaking issues, so it was eliminated with the second prototype. On the third prototype, a counter/cabinet was added to the far wall (pictured above).

As Dan tells me, he’s constantly coming up with new ideas and features. And he more than welcomes suggestions as well. A couple of suggestions I had were to utilize a jack-knife sofa/bed instead of just a permanent bed. Another possible feature may include a cabinet large enough to house a typical sized portable toilet. If those show up in a model one day, you’ll know where the inspiration came from. 😉

One of the big things he’s focusing on right now is the style of aluminum he’ll use for it. The first unit was skinned with bare aluminum, but he’s currently researching a few styles, including an aluminum that resembles a polished look, but will stand up to the elements. He’s previously used this type on a 1970 Yukon he restored and it’s holding up very well. It would get my vote. This same aluminum was also used on a Serro Scotty Silver Pup and the near-chrome look certainly gave that Scotty some pop.

While the first two prototypes of the Whetzeldorf are in the hands of new owners, the third one is currently (as of October 31, 2012) up for grabs. Dan is the lone employee of Whetzel Trace Travelers, so build time on a Whetzeldorf is about 6 weeks. With the materials he’s currently using, the cost of a Whetzeldorf is in the $7,500 range. I’ve seen similar sized trailers over the past few years with a price tag much higher than that. But the Whetzeldorf gives you the rare opportunity to get into an affordable micro trailer with enough room to make it cozy for two. Plus, the light weight of the Whetzeldorf gives you more options to tow it with. With the demise of the Serro Scotty Pup and its cousins the Sierra Campfire and Bak-Pak, the Whetzeldorf fills a void those trailers left behind. So get yours today….or in about 6 weeks.

Visit the Whetzeldorf page on Whetzel Trace Travelers’ website at http://whetzeltracetravelers.webs.com/whetzeldorfcamper.htm

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Teal Camper launches online store

Loveland, Colorado based Teal International has launched an online store for its upstart Teal Camper, now given the name “Tail Feather”. When we first introduced you to the Teal Camper concept in November 2011, the prototypes featured a pop-up top surrounding its polyethylene panels.

 However, the production models will feature a molded dome roof  made out of ABS with roof vents. According to Teal, the dome roof is more advantageous to the pop-up roof becasuse it’s easier to handle, less complicated to set up, and is better insulated.

Assembly or disassembly of the Tail Feather takes just over an hour and can be done by one person.

The Tail Feather comes in three sizes, 4’x8′, 5’x8′, or 5’x10′, and does NOT include the trailer, just the shell and other components.

Nicely equipped, prices can be expected to be in the $7,000-$8,000 range, depending on size and options you choose. Teal’s new online store is now open and ready for business. If you order before December 1, 2012, Teal will waive shipping fees. Shipping is  expected to take 60-90 days from the date of each order.

 

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Neiman Marcus adds $150,000 teardrop trailer to 2012 Christmas Book

Just in time for Christmas, Neiman Marcus has added a $150,000 custom built teardrop trailer to their 2012 fantasy gifts Christmas book. Built by Roanoke, Virginia based Silver Tears Campers and designed by New York based Brad Ford ID, buyers have a chance to own a trailer that is like no other. It features a polished mahogany and ash exterior, and the interior is made from recycled Bulleit Bourbon solid oak casks.

But that’s not all. Featuring a pull-out bar, you’ll also receive a year’s supply of Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye, leather accessories from Moore & Giles, Waterford crystal, and a Sony audio-visual entertainment system.

There will be only two of these units available for purchase. Need something to tow it with? No problem, as Neiman Marcus is offering a 2013 McLaren 12C Spider as your tow vehicle…for a mere $354,000. Oh, and in case you were wondering by the photos (courtesy Neiman Marcus), don’t plan on using this trailer to sleep in. That slide out bar has to go somewhere!

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More on the Little Guy & Yuengling sweepstakes

We’ve been receiving a lot of hits on The Small Trailer Enthusiast since we first posted about the sweepstakes with Little Guy and Yuengling back in August.

Entries for the contest close on October 31, 2012 and the winner will be drawn on November 6. Here’s a video from Little Guy Worldwide’s Chris Baum with a little more on the Little Guy 5-wide platform that will be awarded to the lucky winner. You must be an Ohio resident to win.

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NHTSA issues recall on certain Starcraft AR-ONE units

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has listed the Starcraft AR-ONE on their recent recall list.

The recall is in relation to an inaccurate load carrying capacity label. The recall covers up to 76 units in model years 2012 & 2013.  According to the NHSTA, “An inaccurate label may lead to the tire being replaced with one of an incorrect rim diameter. Two different diameter tires would reduce the handling ability of the trailer, increasing the risk of a crash.”

Starcraft will be notifying affected owners this month and will provide the correct label. Owners can contact Starcraft RV at 1-800-945-4787 to see if your unit is affected.

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Campground Review: Silver Creek RV Resort

How many times have you planned a camping trip, looked online at various RV parks or campgrounds and thought they look great, only to find that once you got there you would’ve preferred staying in a Walmart parking lot? Chances are, if the RV park you picked was the Silver Creek RV Resort in Mears, Michigan, you would probably think like I did: The website didn’t do this place justice.

Opened in 2001, the Silver Creek RV Resort is one of several RV parks near the Silver Lake sand dunes, about halfway up the “mitten” of Michigan on the Lake Michigan coast. Boasting over 250 (with more to come) seasonal and nightly sites, Silver Lake RV Resort is hands-down the nicest park I’ve ever stayed in. All of the sites offer level, concrete pads measuring 20′ X 60′, full hook-ups, cable TV access, free WiFi throughout the park, a fire ring, and picnic table.

We passed through the Silver Lake area earlier in September and we were so impressed we decided to make a camping weekend there before the end of the year. This weekend was it, and the Michigan weather behaved quite well with sunny skies and temps in the mid-60’s. We chose Silver Creek after looking online at Silver Lake State Park and a handful of RV parks in the area. The off-season rate of $30/night at Silver Creek and the amenities they offered is what made us decide to go with them. Really glad we did too. The check-in was fast, and our site was basic, but clean. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

The park was home base for many of those who come to the area for the dunes. All sorts of ATVs, dune buggies, and other 4-wheel drives dotted the campsites throughout the park.

The main office houses all those basic camping needs from firewood to propane, and all sorts of snacks and clothes, as well as an ample laundry facility.

The comfort station near our site was the best I’ve ever seen at a campground or RV park.  It housed five separate and private showers (NOTE: I didn’t go into the ladies side to count the showers), one with handicapped access. The rest of the facility was well-kept and clean.

The grounds of Silver Creek RV Resort were very well manicured. Each site had a built-in sprinkler system, and the grass was free of any weeds. I wish my own front yard looked that good! Although the pool was closed, it was one of the larger ones I’ve seen at an RV park, and the playground equipment was top notch.

If you’re not into riding the dunes, there’s still plenty of other things to do in the area. The spectacular Little Sable Point Lighthouse on the south edge of town is a must see. Built in 1874, the lighthouse is open to visitors. For a mere $2.00, you can climb the 130+ steps to the top and gaze out over the beautiful Lake Michigan scenery.

(photo courtesy Jennifer Bremer)

There are a couple of go-kart tracks, miniature golf, and a handful of souvenir shops in the main district near the dunes and Silver Lake. If you feel adventurous, there are also places in town to rent dune buggies, Jeeps, and ATVs to take to the state park and ride the dunes. If you’re not feeling that brave, there are also places that will do the driving for you.

While we were there for less than 48 hours, it was worth it just to get away for the weekend and explore a new area. If you too find yourself spending time at Silver Lake, by all means give Silver Creek RV Resort a try. We’d be hard pressed to stay anywhere else the next time (and there WILL be a next time!) we’re up there. Rates vary anywhere from $20-$65 a night, depending on the time of the year. Silver Creek is open from April 1 through October 31.

For more information, visit the Silver Creek RV Resort website at: http://www.silvercreekrv.com

For information on Silver Lake and Mears, visit the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area Chamber of Commerce website at: http://www.thinkdunes.com

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