October 2015 – During a wonderful 8 month season of RV travel that had taken our fifth wheel trailer 10,000 miles from Arizona to Big Bend Texas to Florida’s Gulf Coast and up through the Smokies via the Blue Ridge Parkway to Nova Scotia and then over to Acadia National Park in Maine and west through New York’s Finger Lakes, culminating with a fabulous stop in Maysville, Kentucky, we had not only seen some beautiful sights, but we had visited several RV and trailer repair shops on the way.
After installing disc brakes in our trailer in Texas, an upgrade we have been grateful for every single day since, we replaced a bent trailer axle in Maine, followed by swapping out a dead RV refrigerator in Indiana.
In Kansas, we tackled a slew of plumbing repairs, from a new fresh water tank to a new kitchen faucet, rebuilt toilet, new black tank sensors, new black tank sewer valve, and a repaired window leak, among many other things. And our trailer still has suspension issues.
On our way from our refrigerator repair to our plumbing repairs, we stopped in to visit the unusual custom fifth wheel builder, Spacecraft Manufacturing. We have known about this company for a long time, and were thrilled to be able to take a peek at their facility.
Spacecraft’s primary market is the carnival and circus industry. These traveling folks work full-time and are very hard on their trailers. One client, we learned, lives with his leopard and his chimpanzee in his fifth wheel. He came to Spacecraft looking for a design that could give both of his companions a comfortable home in his trailer — along with a little space for him too!
Circus folk don’t have the time to fuss with repairs. They need rugged trailers that hold up to big cats and great apes! Out in Spacecraft’s used trailer lot, we saw a bunch of 2014 and 2015 top-of-the-line fifth wheel trailers that had been traded in for Spacecrafts after just one season on the road, because they weren’t up to the job.
The beauty of getting a Spacecraft is you can have anything you want. They build trailers from 30′ to 57′ long, and they outfit them with whatever kinds of cabinets you want, whatever floorplan suits your fancy, whatever paint job you think is cool and whatever appliances and components you deem vital to your personal happiness on the road in an RV.
Have It Your Way!
In town, we chatted with a gal that has lived in Concordia, Missouri, home of Spacecraft Manufacturing, all her life. She says the locals there are all accustomed to Spacecraft’s unusual customers who swing through now and then for repairs or to upgrade to new units. Spacecraft is located right behind a rest area on I-70, though, and interstate travelers are often shocked when they see an elephant or a giraffe grazing in the grass just beyond the trees!
When we first poked our heads in the door of a finished Spacecraft 30.5 fifth wheel trailer, we were astonished by the quality. Every inch of the trailer radiated hallmarks of rugged construction. Frankly, all other fifth wheels we’ve been in (including our home and other popular and expensive units) are weekend toys by comparison!
Spacecraft is a family owned business run by Marsha Trautman and her son Wyatt. They don’t bother with marketing, because they just don’t need to do it, although they do take a trailer showcasing unique design features to the Tampa RV show most years. They build 10 to 15 units a year, and right now, they are booked with orders for a full year in advance. To get in line, just put down a 25% deposit on your new trailer.
Spacecraft does everything in-house. They build their own frames and pay extraordinary attention to details that most manufacturers overlook. Rather than focusing on a standardized fleet of sexy floorplans with luxurious furnishings and fixtures, they ensure the underpinnings of each trailer are top notch, something buyers often forget to think about when they are seduced by a beautifully appointed RV living room at a dealership.
Tiny details like the superior construction of slide-out rooms are a given. Most manufacturers build slide-out rooms with multiple joints and rows of screws holding things together, making them prone to leaks. At Spacecraft, every slide-out room is built with a single sheet of fiberglass covering the roof and sides, with nary a screw to be found.
Underneath, their trailers are equally uncluttered, and there is no flimsy corrugated plastic screwed to the bottom. Just pure, fine lines and solid construction.
Spacecraft builds what you request, and they have blueprints for hundreds of different designs they’ve built already to give you ideas.
When I chatted with Wyatt, Spacecraft’s designer, about what he feels is important in fifth wheel construction, he made it plain that easy access to all components and leak-proof, solid construction were his first priorities. Whereas many other brand new full-time fifth wheel trailers place important systems and components in out-of-the-way places, Wyatt puts every system in a spot where it will be easy to service or replace.
The DC and AC wiring in the basement of a Spacecraft is a sight to behold. Beautifully done!
Only one Spacecraft trailer is built at time by a handful of loyal and skilled employees. While we were there, a 53′ two bedroom, two bathroom model was in the finishing stages on the line.
Many of the Spacecraft trailers are two bedroom, two bathroom luxury models, designed for carnival and circus owners. Many others are “bunkhouse” units that have four to six entrance doors on one side going to individual bedrooms to house employees on tour.
However, Spacecraft has built loads of smaller fifth wheels for full-time RVers, although Wyatt said with a smile that none of their buyers are first-time owners. Afterall, it is impossible to know what custom options you’ll want or need in a full-time rolling home before you’ve been on the road a little while.
What does one of these babies cost? I was astonished to discover that a 37-38′ fifth wheel would come in around $125k to $150k, depending on options like hydraulic leveling, disc brakes, pre-installed solar power, generator, etc.
That is very comparable to the MSRP on Continental Coach (Forks RV), DRV (Thor), Luxe (Augusta RV) or New Horizons semi-custom fifth wheels. The nice thing is that if you want a top quality unit that doesn’t have an island kitchen and is in the mid-30′ range, a nearly extinct mass-market design, Spacecraft can engineer and build it for you. They can even build in a beautiful vent-free propane fireplace with real flames and a wooden mantel as a cozy centerpiece for those cold winter nights!
If you travel with unusual pets, no matter how big or how exotic, Spacecraft will surely take it in stride and will build the rolling home of their (and your) dreams!
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More info about Spacecraft:
- Spacecraft Manufacturing – Official Website
- Concordia, Missouri – Spacecraft factory location on Google Maps
Related Posts – Cool Factory Tours and Different Kinds of Trailers:
- Choosing a Trailer for Full-time RVing – Notes on the Cargo Carrying Capacity
- Casita Travel Trailers Factory Tour – Cute little trailers that are light and easy to tow
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- Learn RVing and Have Fun with a Cheap, Small Trailer – Popup Tent Trailers have many virtues!
- Heartland RV Fifth Wheel Factory Tour – Inside the factory of a very popular brand
- NuWa Fifth Wheel Factory Tour – These guys built our trailer in 2007
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