September '15

Issue link: http://read.uberflip.com/i/563336

Contents of this Issue


Page 85 of 143

74 • RV PRO • SEPTEMBER 2015 rv-pro.com Shasta Airflyte Demonstrates the Power of Legacy Brands By Terri Blazell-Wayson There are legacy brands and then there are legacies. The Shasta Airflyte, manufac- tured in the 1950s and 60s, is recognizable for its iconic "canned ham" silhouette that was typical for that era. In September 2014, in time for the product's 75th anniversary, Shasta RV rein- troduced a limited edition, meticulously authentic reproduction 1961 Airflyte. The new Shasta Airflyte looks so much like the original – inside and out – that it's hard to tell them apart. The Airflyte has gained nationwide attention and Shasta RV has already deliv- ered a new 2015 sea foam green Airflyte to the National RV/MH Hall of Fame, where it is displayed side-by-side with an original yellow 1954 Shasta trailer. Shasta RV General Manager Mark Lucas recently talked about what prompted Shasta to reintroduce the Airflyte, some of the challenges involved in updating the product, and how the product has been received. His answers follow below. RV PRO: What made you recreate this model? Lucas: It was quite accidental, really. Our family is into vintage cars and vehicles. I bought my wife a 1961 Shasta and took it back to our plant to restore it. We literally tore the skin off. We took it completely apart right down to the frame, then rebuilt it as close to the original as possible. We took detailed measurements, took note of how they were made back then, and sourced old parts. By the time we were done, we had sourced about 80 percent of it, so we decided to start making them. RV PRO: What were some of the challenges? Lucas: One of the biggest challenges had to do with hand-bending the metal over the corners of the frame. It's not done that way today. It's a lost art. Back then there were craftsmen who specialized in techniques like this. That is all they did, day in and day out. Today, the assembly line is built for speed and efficiency. They've come up with new ways to put the exterior together faster and easier. Also, specialty items were hard to find, such as the Chevron cabinet pulls and the Shasta emblem. We took the original gas lamp and had it made as a 12-volt. The glass bowl and housing is identical to the original. Aluminum extrusion was another sur- prise. The aluminum used in the 1960s was soft compared to what we use today. It was easy to bend and screw in. Today's aluminum doesn't bend very easily. We had to track down a different metal alloy that could be bent. And we had to learn how to bend it and attach it. It was a big learning curve. RV PRO: What were some of the expenses that you incurred with this project? Lucas: It cost $15,000 to $18,000 just to retool the light fixture over the galley table. The tooling for the exterior emblem and the grab handle were over $1,000 each. That was pretty typical. Hehr Windows did a fantastic job on the windows. They dug out old tooling and really worked with us to recreate the jal- ousie windows. Amerimax manufactured the metal for the roof and the log cabin aluminum siding in the same thickness and gauge as the original. A lot of money went into recreating this, but the important thing is the return on investment. RV PRO: Were there any issues with the trademark on the name? Lucas: No, we still owned that name, even though we hadn't used it in a long time. We are also re-using the Shasta Flyte and the Shasta Phoenix name. Their trade- marks were expired; we had to reapply for them. Fortunately, they were still available. RV PRO: What are some of the risks involved? Lucas: We are finding that the buyer for this trailer is a very different buyer than your typical RVer that we are accus- tomed to. When you buy an RV, there are certain things that you accept as just being a part of an RV. We are getting brand new customers who aren't familiar with these issues. They don't understand the handmade quality of an RV. These new customers are pickier. The majority of Shasta General Manager Mark Lucas is pictured next to a meticulously authentic reproduction of a 1961 Airflyte trailer that his company introduced in late 2014 to coincide with the product's 75th anniversary. PHOTO COURTESY OF SHASTA RV

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of RV PRO - September '15