Tag Archives: camper

2015 Shasta Airflyte Reissue: Firsthand Report

Recently my wife & I got the opportunity to view firsthand one of the 2015 reissued 1961 Shasta Airflytes, courtesy of Mount Comfort RV in Greenfield, Indiana. To say the Matador Red Airflyte we toured was was a work of art is an understatement. Shasta RV hit a home run with it and the fact that there are very few left of the 1,941 16′ and 19′ trailers speaks volumes for how this venture by the Forest River subsidiary has taken the RV industry by storm.

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Ken Eckstein is owner and chief operating officer of Mount Comfort RV and started in the industry in the 1970’s washing RVs for a local RV dealer. He’s been everything from a technician to a salesman to an owner. He told me, “In my 40 years in the RV industry I’ve never seen anything like this”, referring to the reissued Shasta and its overwhelming popularity among the RV public.

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Overall my impressions of the finished product are positive. The novice will be fooled into thinking it’s original, and even the seasoned vintage trailer enthusiast will have to take a few looks to figure out if it’s new or classic. Many of the details were replicated to that extent. Many features were meticulously modeled after the 1961 Shasta it is based on, including the lamp over the dinette, the famous Shasta wings, the “S” magazine rack, and the chrome exterior Shasta emblems. 15764649645_d4afedf953_z

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One positive for vintage Shasta owners is that some of the components of the reissue are the same as the original 1961 Airflyte. For instance, the windows, wings, and door are the same dimensions as the originals. More photos can be found on my staff photographer’s (my lovely wife) Flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadtripmemories/sets/72157648832498390/

As the 1,941 16′ and 19′ Shasta Airflyte reissued 1961 models are now making their way into the hands of their new owners and the buzz starts to die down, we can look back on these last 4 months and how this phenomenon was fueled almost entirely by social media. I first heard of the news in mid July from Rusty Eckstein at Mount Comfort RV. It was our goal to work together on being the first to bring the news to the public through this site and the Mount Comfort RV site, but alas we were trumped by Greg Gerber when he broke the news in his excellent RV news source, the RV Daily Report. It was Greg’s report that first hit just about every RV related Facebook page you could find. Then it got shared, Tweeted and then I came out with posts of my own here that were shared and retweeted. The next thing you know, just about all 1,941 units were spoken for. And the real kicker? There was NO MENTION of the 1961 reissue on the Shasta web site! This should prove to RV dealers every where what a powerful tool social media is and how important it is for dealers to have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as a YouTube channel with videos of current inventory. Oh, and an inhouse blog writer would help your cause too. ;-)

Next up for me is the 2014 RVIA trade show in Louisville next week. I’ll be there seeing what 2015 has to offer for you fellow small trailerites. Be sure to follow along on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Small_Trailers, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Small-Trailer-Enthusiast/269125426471703, and right here on YOUR favorite source for all things trailer small. As always, thanks for taking time out of your day for visiting The Small Trailer Enthusiast.

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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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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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Little Guy set to reintroduce the T@B Clamshell

Little Guy Worldwide plans to debut the reintroduction of the T@B Clamshell model at next weeks 50th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, KY. The first images of the Little Guy version of the Clamshell were released in an article Friday on rv-pro.

Comparing the Little Guy version (above) to the the previous version built by Dutchmen (below) there are a few cosmetic changes. On the Dutchmen, the bottom of the trailer has a slight upward angle near the rear, where the Little Guy version is straight all the way across from the wheel well to the rear hatch. The LG version incorporates new LED strip tail/brake lights below the hatch on a diamond plate base, where the Dutchmen version used standard travel trailer tail lights afixed to the hatch. Much cleaner look on the LG model.

But overall, the concept remains the same with the kitchen area enclosed in the rear hatch  of the unit.

The kitchen will house ample cabinet space, a sink , stove, refrigerator, and an optional flat screen TV with remote and external speakers. Aside from the Clamshell model, a new model called the “S” floorplan is also being introduced as well. It will be a T@B with a wet-bath, and will also be available as an option in the Clamshell.

The Clamshell gives the best of both worlds, for those who like a tradtional teardrop trailer where the kitchen is in the rear yet gives one room to stand up in the interior of the trailer. It’ll be interesting to monitor the message boards over the next few years to see how well these Little Guy hatches hold up against water intrusion. Dutchmen Clamshells had a troubled history of leakage resulting in damaged or rotted wood.

I’ll be attending the Louisville show next Tuesday on opening day, so I’ll be giving my first hand impressions of the Clamshell (as well as other smallish trailers) later next week. I’ll be Tweeting throughout the day from Louisville, so be sure to give us a “Follow” via the link on the right side of this page. For those of you who don’t Tweet but are on Facebook, you can give us a “Like” via the link on the right and view my Tweets there. As always, thanks for reading!

(Images courtesy rv-pro & rvclearinghouse.com

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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.

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(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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A Stealth Camper

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.

To keep tabs on Jerry and the Over The Top Cargo Trailer, visit his blog for more specs, pictures, and updates: http://overthetopcargotrailer.blogspot.com

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The 1st anniversary of The Small Trailer Enthusiast

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.

A few other highlights over the past year have included being featured on other blogs, being mentioned on manufacturers’ web sites, getting our first site sponsor, and getting access to the RVIA trade show in Louisville.

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.

As always, thanks for reading…

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Scamp display draws huge crowds at Minnesota State Fair

Backus, Minnesota based Scamp travel trailers is in the midst of its annual participation at the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, MN. Scamp’s presence in their home state’s fair has been a constant for several years. This year, the foot traffic in their display has been heavy, according to Scamp’s Micah Eveland. “At the quietest times the lowest number of people looking at our trailers has been about 10. At the busiest times there are so many people swarming the trailers that I cannot even see the furthest trailer away from my table!”

That foot traffic creates somewhat of an expense for Scamp, but in a good way, says Eveland.  “We have so much traffic throughout the fair that we actually have to replace the carpet in the trailers! It gets matted down and looks like the carpet is about 30 years old!” It all points to the 41 year old family owned company’s prominent stake in the fiberglass travel trailer market.

Scamp will have their display open daily at the fair through closing day, Monday, September 3. At the fair, they’re located on Underwood Street between Wright and Randall Avenues.

 

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2013 Serro Scotty Sportsman prototype….Part 2

Here’s a little walk-through video (without audio commentary) of the 2013 Serro Scotty Sportsman I had taken at the Big Little Rally earlier in August. I forgot I had taken this with my iPhone, so I put it up to give you an overall feel of the unit. Expect to see some changes with the next prototypes, as Bill Kerola had a lengthy punch list on this one.

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