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.
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