Wilbur Schult started in Elkhart, IN, in 1933 as a dealer for Covered Wagon Trailers and in 35 became the national distributor for Sportsman trailers also in Elkhart. In March of 36 he bought the Sportsman Trailer Company from its founder, Milo Miller, and changed the name to Schult Trailer Coach which quickly grew to be the largest manufacturer in the world by 1940 with several plants in the US and also in Canada and New Zealand. Miller went on to start both the Elcar and National trailer companies also. In 1934 Walter O. Wells and Wilbur Schult opened a shop in Ekhart with 20 carpenters and produced their first Schult trailer. Wilbur Schult was credited as the first man to begin RV manufacturing. By April of 1937, Schult had 2 plants in Elkhart with over 250,000 combined square feet of manufacturing space and had created a division in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He produced over 1500 trailers in 1937. He continued his dramatic growth and opened a division in Christchurch, New Zealand making him perhaps the first manufacturer producing units in three countries and on two continents. Schult Trailers produced many industry innovations. That was the first manufacturer to extend his units standard width from 7 1/2 to a full 8 feet and the first to offer 7’ feet ceilings. That was the first manufacturer to build a full steel frame under his entry level products. Schult Trailers designed and installed an optional full trailer “air conditioning system” which circulated air over a vault of ice to cool the trailer. 1938 Continental Clipper was so remarkable that its owners included King Farouk of Egypt who later sold it to a Maharaja in India. Schult also built the trailers for the famed 1947 Gatti-Hallicrafters African Expedition. In 1957, the Schult Trailer Company evolved into the Schult Mobile Home Company and turned its attention completely to the manufactured housing. This company continues today as Schult Homes.
In the summer of 1933, a young, Elkhart, Indiana, clothing store clerk visited the Chicago World’s Fair and fell in love with the new-fangled trailers he saw there. After his return home, one evening while enjoying an ice cream cone with his parents at a local stand, he was amazed to see a car drive in towing one of these amazing trailers. He brashly asked the owner if he would show him through the unit. Noting that it was a Covered Wagon model made by Arthur Sherman’s company in the northern Detroit suburbs, he determined to get one and try to become a dealer. With the depression still in full swing, capital investors were nearly impossible to come by. He attempted to borrow some start-up money from his father who advised him he was “crazy” and refused to support his “folly”. He was eventually able to borrow $300 from “pin money” his more sympathetic mother had put aside and made the trip to Mt. Clemons, Michigan in an attempt to get his first trailer. He bought his original unit for $275 and towed it back to Elkhart behind his own car. He set up his retail operation (one unit in inventory) on the street in front of the clothing store, which his parents owned and operated.
After several weeks, he finally made his first sale and his dream was underway. Unfortunately, the check that he had accepted for the unit bounced, and he now had only $25 of his mother’s loan left and no inventory. With the totally naïve faith of youth, he returned to Mt. Clemons in hopes of acquiring a second unit on consignment. Amazingly, he was able to get a second unit and towed it back home to start again. This time he had better luck, the trailer sold quickly and his business was off and running. Shortly, he also became a dealer for Milo Miller’s Sportsman brand trailers made in Mishawaka, Indiana.
With enthusiasm fueled by his opinion of his rapid success in the trailer retail business, (he sold a total of 138 units the first year), in late 1934, he contracted to be the national distributor for the growing Sportsman brand trailers. That growing manufacturing operation moved from its original shed in Mishawaka to a small 3 or 4-car garage sized facility in Elkhart. By this time the burgeoning Schult retail sales business had moved from the street front location to a large lot on the city’s near eastside. His business quickly became national in scope and he advertised monthly in both Billboard and Variety magazines to attract vaudeville and carnival workers as customers. In January of 1936, Sportsman trailers moved again into one of the largest buildings in Elkhart to have space to keep up with production orders. In March of 1936, Milo Miller sold his manufacturing concern to his national distributor Wilbur Schult and the Schult Trailer Company was added to the Schult Trailer Mart.
Wilbur Schult immediately took off to make his mark on the new industry. He began a strategy of explosive growth and acquisition unequalled in industry history. He discontinued his retail agreement with Covered Wagon, at that time the largest company in the industry, and began rapidly recruiting dealers of his own. By April of 1937, Schult had 2 plants in Elkhart with over 250,000 combined square feet of manufacturing space and had created a division in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He had acquired the Pathfinder Trailer facility in Elkhart and was already recognized as having the largest production capacity of any company in the industry. He produced over 1500 trailers in 1937. He continued his dramatic growth acquiring the Royal Wilhelm Company, manufacturers of Royal Coach in Sturgis, Michigan, and opened a division in Christchurch, New Zealand making him perhaps the first manufacturer producing units in three countries and on two continents. He also had developed a licensed distributor agency in Sweden.
Beginning in 1938, Schult’s father William, now the corporate secretary-treasurer of his son’s company (which he had thought was sheer folly only 18 months before) was also a designated roving ambassador visiting all TCT and ATA events and rallies as well as other major festivals to represent the company.
By the start of 1939, Schult Trailers, Inc. was recognized as having supplanted Covered Wagon as the largest company in the industry. Wilbur Schult quickly became very active in the infant Trailer Coach Manufacturers Association (the early predecessor to RVIA) and was elected its national chairman in 1940. A firm believer in promotional events, he became the National Trailer Show Director and held that position for 14 years.
While making such dramatic inroads into the industry’s production capacity, Schult also produced many industry innovations. He was the first manufacturer to extend his units standard width from 7 1/2 to a full 8 feet and the first to offer 7’ foot ceilings. He was the first manufacturer to build a full steel frame under his entry level products. He designed and installed an optional full trailer “air conditioning system” which circulated air over a vault of ice to cool the trailer. In 1938, he built a luxurious custom 40 foot fifth-wheel rig including the customized towing vehicle for New England publisher Myron Zobel. The “Continental Clipper” included a stainless steel kitchen, a radio-telephone, and a flying bridge where the Zobels could ride behind the chauffeur driven tow vehicle. This unit became so well recognized that Mr. Zobel was able to sell it after 7 or 8 years of use to King Farouk of Egypt.
Schult was the first RV manufacturer to demonstrate that you could build a company into industry prominence by acquisition of competing companies as well as direct growth; a model that continues to be followed, 70 years later, by the industry leaders today.
Schult’s business continued its dramatic growth through the years of WWII by totally converting his operation to defense production needs. He built specialty trailers for transporting the huge paratrooper gliders from point to point, he converted Ford sedans into wooden bodied military ambulances, and he built busses to transport personnel including POW transport vehicles and special “dead transport” busses designed to respectfully carry the bodies of soldiers killed in battle to the rear lines. His Elkhart operation alone kept over 600 people employed in three shifts, around the clock, during the war.
In the 1950s, the Schult Trailer Company evolved into the Schult Mobile Home Company and turned its attention completely to the manufactured housing side of the now separating industries. Schult sold his interest in the company in 1957 and continued to serve the industry through association work and other ventures. The company continues today as Schult Homes the oldest company in the housing industry.
For his many contributions to the growth and development of the entire industry, Wilbur Schult was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame as a member of its original class in 1972.
Manufactured since 1936 and continue today as Schult Homes.
1950s Schult Trailer
1939 Schult House Trailer
1939 Schult House Trailer
Schult is now a home manufacturer. The company started in 1933, making it one of the oldest in the business.
1939 Schult House Trailer
This 20-foot house trailer features a small built-in refrigerator rather then the more common icebox, as well as a white gas cookstove and heater.
1946 SCHULT LUXURY LINER
PANORAMIC IMAGE OF LIVING ROOM
TOUR THE INTERIOR…
INTERIOR – ALL ORIGINAL!
SOLD Original, unrestored, barn-find. 25 1/2 foot. Newer tires. Interior electrical is 110 and all works including original corncob porch light and doorbell. Interior woodwork is incredible. Most shows very little wear. No water damage found. Water heater is intact and a switch to turn it on lights up but I have not tested the water system. I would replace it with modern/pex. There is only the one sink supplied by street water. (No holding tanks.) Floor covering is not in great condition, Throw rugs, or replacing it with Forbo marmolium would be a good investment. Windows and glass are all good. One window has a crack right down the center. It is hard to see because it is right over the center bar of the window frame. One window lever is missing a small part that helps it latch shut. Easy fix.
Exterior is Masonite and looks to have had only one re-paint (many years ago). Marker lights are all glass lenses but I have not tested or used the trailers 12v exterior lighting. Cloth roof has a seam that has opened up that will need to be repaired. We have sourced the material and information on how to do the repair. We got the trailer from the original owner last year and drove it straight from their barn to the Sacramento auto show as an incredible “Barn Find Original”. It was very roadworthy from Vacaville, CA to Cal Expo and then back to Elverta, CA. We put newer tires (and ugly wheels) on it, but have not serviced any of the chassis or running gear. We do not have room to properly store the trailer. The next owner can finish it up to be a show stopper at rallies or add it to their museum, man cave or have the coolest guest house in town! Bill of sale only from the original owner.
Information provided by Vin# Assigned vin on this unit,so no help
No holding tanks
Going to pick one up ?Weight: ?Wheels: 5 stud w/locator pin, bolt pattern 5 on 5-1/4 w 3-7/8 center hole Try to find one of those in a hurry.. Tires: 15 x 7 on split rims Hitch: 2″ ball
Brakes: yes Tow plug: ?
Pics as it sat in a park for many many years:Home.