So for the last year and a half we have been ordering some parts for the Metris Westy from European sources. While convenient in some ways we are reevaluating this decision. In light of our 20 years experience we have always made our own campers and have become accustomed to a certain level of quality and safety. We have found several areas where things could be done better so we are going to be fabricating our own version of the Metris Westy and it will be made in the USA.
First of all the top: The European top is nice but we ﬁnd it lacking in structure and somewhat design. Let me explain, when we build our ﬁberglass tops we lay up the ﬁberglass to a certain thickness and then construct a plywood stiffening/reinforcing frame which then gets bonded and re-ﬁberglassed into the existing roof, this is not the case with the European roof so it is less rigid. We then cut the hole in the van roof so that to allow good access with limiting the amount of structural metal removed and then reinforcing the hole by welding a 1” square tube frame which is then screwed into 6 structural attachment points on the roof structure. This creates a stronger roof than the original, one that we feel conﬁdent will hold up in any situation, it’s the same tech we’ve been using in the Sienna’s for years. There is no metal frame work on the European roof system, just one bar that is suppose to be bonded into place up front so we both bond it and through bolt it for added strength.
Secondly, the bench/bed mechanism: while the European one is ‘slick’ in that it is mounted on slides which allows for some back and forth travel, when questioning those that we have installed for they really don’t use this feature. There is a good deal of sacriﬁce in this as we have to allow for the travel of the seat so we can’t install a reasonable water tank and if you order 2 batteries one ends up towards the front of the seat. Also, the seat is very heavy and it is not removable, it takes 4 of us to install it. If we custom make our own bench/bed system it will be installed permanently and you will get to choose the fabric color, the European one comes in one color, black. With our system we van build your van like the rest of the Westy ﬂoor plans we’ve been doing for the last 20 years, with the mechanicals on the passenger side rear with a 10-12 gal fresh water tank and 1 or 2 AGM batteries, we might even be able to ﬁt in a water heater…maybe. You will end up with a wider bed and a seat with 2 lap belts and a draw underneath with a pass through on the driver side. There will still be a good amount of storage on the driver side rear under the bed platform, accessible from inside or out. This will also give you about 1” more of headroom as we will install our ﬂoor system which is a marine grade exterior vinyl ﬂooring that will be easy to clean and water proof where the European ﬂoor has the rails in it which collect all that falls in them which can jamb the bed from sliding and is not waterproof. Our system is very strong with a metal angle iron welded frame but is probably about 1/2 the weight of theirs. I have measured and the weight balance of the van is not equal with the Euro pkg as the driver side is about an inch lower over the rear tire and we could correct this imbalance with our system.
The cabinetry would be about the same layout with the same appliances though we might try to get a 2 way frog in there instead of just a 12V one and maybe a bit larger as well. We would also like to make it where there are other color choices other than white with ours. The timing thing…everyone wants it now…we live with that, thanks to Amazon. With the Euro system we order 10 kits at a time 2-3 times per year so there can be a 6-12 month wait if there’s any problems which there usually is. With our systems we have everything here so it’s just a matter of building.
So in the end we would like to makes these improvements and keep the costs the same or try to reduce it a bit to make it more affordable. In the end the choice is yours as you are the customer, our job is to inform and I hope we have done this here.