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walleye44

Which wheel house brand would you buy & why? Not looking for a toy hauler. Steel or Aluminum frame. Want a rubber floor

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Which wheel house would you buy. I am looking for a V-front model that would sleep 5. Most of the time it would be for about 3 guys, but if the wife & kids come need one that big. Not sure if I would use it camping or not since I have a boat & cannot haul both. I like the fact of Aluminum does not rust, but is it better then the old aluminum frames that used to crack? Is there one that has a better warranty or better quality. I would like the hydraulic or electric ver. manual crank. Any pro & cons that you have learned over the years. Thank you so much.

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Heard good and bad on alluminum but honestly haven't had one and don't know anything about them so I have no opinion to give there but if you go steel make sure its galvenized.  Some guys like the RV setups, I'm not a big fan.  I'm forgetful and they come with potential issues when it comes to the water lines.  Have to make sure they are clear to not freeze.  AC unit, could take it or leave it.  For how rare I would use it I would rather have floor standing or window unit.  I've seen a few firebrand that have pretty slick houses with electric jacks.  Handful of guys on here run hydraulic and swear by it.  Would imagine its a little nicer/quicker setup but you also pay for it.  We're finishing an 8x16 and it seems like it will do three of us relatively comfortably.  I wouldn't want to fish 4-5 out of it regularly because it would get really cramped but if its just on occasion I think you could get by with a family in there here and there.

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Don't worry about an aluminum frame cracking.  Personally I don't think you can go wrong with either a Yetti or a Lodge.  There are a few other brands out there like firebrand and ridgeline but I've never been in one personally.  I bought a Yetti shell and finished off the inside and wouldn't do anything but that personally.  Both Yetti and Lodge are a little higher $$ but you really get what you pay for with these. 

The only way I'd get a steel frame is if the whole thing was galvanized, anything else will eventually rust.  Since you are not interested in a toy hauler I would definitely look into aluminum.  You won't have any problems with an aluminum frame as long as you treat it right and follow the recommended speed, weight, and go slow on the ice. 

If you want to sleep 5 comfortably then an 8x16' is about the smallest you would want to go.  The only issue is that if you buy a generic floor plan from nearly every dealer then people are going to have to share beds, that's why I bought the shell and finished the inside myself.  I have 4 separate beds in mine (2 couches, 2 bunks) and can easily sleep 5 by extending my rear couch into a queen size bed.  The way mine is setup I can comfortable fish 6 people with 8 holes, I can literally lay down while fishing with 5 other guys.  Keeping the floor open is the key to fishing comfortably. 

Firebrand makes an electric drive but it is slowwwwww.   Hydraulic is the cats meow but cost $$$ and you're SOL if a line ruptures.  I have no problem with my two speed winches and the best thing you can do is invest the $80 and get the IC Nuts (http://winchdrivertools.com/) and save yourself a little time.  The only other option is the Lodge's electric setup that uses ATV-like winches to crank up the shack. 

When you start shopping for one just realize their is much more associated to the cost of an ice shack than just the sticker price.  All the accessories add up quick.  Electric/Propane auger $400+, slush bucket $60, generator $1000, generator accessories $200, hole sleeves $150, TV/DVD player $200-$500, 2-30# propane tanks $120, underwater camera system $300+...  That is just the basics to get you started but you can definitely drop some $$ tricking out your shack to be more comfortable/functional. 

If you are any interested in finishing off your own to possibly save a few $$$ you have a great amount of information and resources on this forum.  If you want to see any pictures of my shack, just let me know. 

 

 

 

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I built my own 6.5 x 14 using a steel frame that is rhino lined. I can fish and sleep 3 comfortably, 4 is tight. As already stated, keeping an open floor plan is key to fishing more people. If you end up have couches and countertops everywhere, you basically get down to a single lane and then everyone has to step over each you need to leave the house. If I bought one and money wasn't a factor I would get a yetti, hands down. 

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I think you will find a lot of different opinions biased on what someone currently owns. You will hear good and bad about any one of them and most likely have no more knowledge on which unit you might get. My suggestion is go to the Hard Water Ice fishing expo Nov 18 - 20 and the St. Paul Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Show Dec 2 - 4. You will see almost every make, model, configuration on the market. Take your family, you will know the one you want when you see it wives frequently expresses their desires.

Aluminum verses Steel, either work well aluminum is indeed lighter. And don't worry too much about steel rusting out as these units are well treated. I did build my own a couple years ago. Used an 8 ft. 1978 camper frame as base, no rust on the frame at 38 years old which I noticed on the 1/2 dozen frames looked at. Extended to 12 ft. added V front has 6 holes with 5' separation. Total weight is 1,141# empty and my cost to build was $841.00. I don't sleep in these only fish in them and I rent a cabin usually $30 to $45 per night per person depending on where you go. That equates to 175+ nights at a $7,000 price of a bare Yetti unit you will need to finish and add heat.  My set up time is under 9 min. and take down under 6 (faster than using my Eskimo hub) so I move a lot and take it off the ice every night recharge the battery and have a warm lighted space to clean fish. Again my personal preference.

Starter '78 camper frame

F-1 (500x375).jpg

Extended frame

F-4 (500x375).jpg

Lake of the Woods

W13 (500x375).jpg

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Everyone is loyal to the brands they use and the brands they think are best so you will get a lot of varying answers from this type of question.  Each shack/brand will cater differently to different fishermen.  I think the best way for us to help you is for you to share a little information. 

1.)  Style of fishing - Run and Gun?  Sit on a spot and maybe move 1-2 times a weekend?  Base camp - Sit on a good spot for an morning/evening/night bite and spread out with portables during the day with portables or fishing from truck/atv?  Winter camping with the chance of catching fish? 

2.)  Expected Quality - Are you able to fix things if they break or do you want something rock solid that you will never have to worry about?  Are you envisioning any specific types of finishes and features - raw wood interior, modern camper interior, fridge, microwave, small TV, big TV, sink, oven, hydraulic/electric/manual, ect...? 

3.)  How many people do you expect to fish with?  How many do you expect to sleep comfortably (kids/adults?)?  Do you mind sharing beds?

4.)  This will probably be the most influencing factor, do you have any idea how much $$$ you want to spend?  If you don't want to answer or don't know that is fine but this will probably be the biggest factor on what kind of shack you are able to get.  There is always the option of getting a used shack as well. 

5.)  I would assume since you have a boat you have a truck or something to tow with? 

 

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2 hours ago, YettiStyle said:

Everyone is loyal to the brands they use and the brands they think are best so you will get a lot of varying answers from this type of question.  Each shack/brand will cater differently to different fishermen.  I think the best way for us to help you is for you to share a little information. 

1.)  Style of fishing - Run and Gun?  Sit on a spot and maybe move 1-2 times a weekend?  Base camp - Sit on a good spot for an morning/evening/night bite and spread out with portables during the day with portables or fishing from truck/atv?  Winter camping with the chance of catching fish? 

2.)  Expected Quality - Are you able to fix things if they break or do you want something rock solid that you will never have to worry about?  Are you envisioning any specific types of finishes and features - raw wood interior, modern camper interior, fridge, microwave, small TV, big TV, sink, oven, hydraulic/electric/manual, ect...? 

3.)  How many people do you expect to fish with?  How many do you expect to sleep comfortably (kids/adults?)?  Do you mind sharing beds?

4.)  This will probably be the most influencing factor, do you have any idea how much $$$ you want to spend?  If you don't want to answer or don't know that is fine but this will probably be the biggest factor on what kind of shack you are able to get.  There is always the option of getting a used shack as well. 

5.)  I would assume since you have a boat you have a truck or something to tow with? 

 

Great points. Thank you everyone. I will definitely be checking out the show, but like to ask people of their personal good & bad experience more then sales people.

 

1) I love portable fishing. I probably do not move that much with them either. After fishing with my buddies homemade wheel house & my other friends. By the way an awesome homemade house, but I do not have the time to build one.  More of a base camp or 1-2 weekend move. I do live on a lake now that I fish that I want to base camp more too.

2) I can fix stuff, but want more quality & the fancier nice things. LOL

3) fish with 1 or 2 buddies, but be able to sleep my family of 5 a couple of times.

4) Depends if new or not & how fancy.  I was thinking around $16,000.

5) Big diesel 3/4" ton. Can pull it.

 

Edited by walleye44

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Once your wife fishes out of a nice wheelhouse, expect to have more trips with of her and the family. That's just my experience. I would say you need to choose the brand/model that fits your requirements, whither that be cost, quality, amenities, and/or construction style.

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8 fished out of a camper house for 15 years, took the wife a few time one year and that was the end of the camper house. bout a 20ft v now shes along every weekend i go, which is awsome. were gona upgrade in a few years. good luck.

.

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11 minutes ago, walleye44 said:

Great points. Thank you everyone. I will definitely be checking out the show, but like to ask people of their personal good & bad experience more then sales people.

 

1) I love portable fishing. I probably do not move that much with them either. After fishing with my buddies homemade wheel house & my other friends. By the way an awesome homemade house, but I do not have the time to build one.  More of a base camp or 1-2 weekend move. I do live on a lake now that I fish that I want to base camp more too.

2) I can fix stuff, but want more quality & the fancier nice things. LOL

3) fish with 1 or 2 buddies, but be able to sleep my family of 5 a couple of times.

4) Depends if new or not & how fancy.  I was thinking around $16,000.

5) Big diesel 3/4" ton. Can pull it.

 

 

Well since you don't have to worry about pulling power and have a good amount of weight with your truck I would definitely try and go with an 8x16'.  Since you're not very interested in building one you have plenty of time to make a choice so definitely go look and step through a few shacks.  As the other guys have mentioned, bring your wife.  If she already enjoys ice fishing or camping your budget may grow a little bit if she approves of a nicer brand.  The one brand I would stay away from personally is Ice Castle.  With their popularity I can't deny that their prices help people get a wheelhouse but I've experienced and seen way too many horror stories to spend my hard earned money on one.  Early aluminum shacks had some kinks but they've figured those out and don't be afraid of them.  If you're not scared of flying (planes are built of aluminum) then you shouldn't be afraid of investing in a firebrand, ridgeline, or Yetti.  Personally, just cause I own one, I wouldn't get anything but a Yetti again. 

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I build my own, so I have zero brand loyalty to any manufacturer :)

Ice Castle is a total hit and miss proposition.  Some are really good, and some are extremely bad.  They are built to the absolute bare minimum standards to hold together, at best.  There is an Owners Group on Facebook for Ice Castle, and you'll find plenty of documented problems, and a lot of them.  These are not minor issues.  That said, they are a good value if you get a good one.  

If I were getting 16' house, I'd go Yetti or Firebrand for sure.  There were a few issues early on, but they were resolved almost immediately.  You get no rust, light weight, and a well built structure.  

Some of the smaller brands might be good.  Custom Cottage seems well built, but I know very little about them.  Big Bite also seems good.  I was in a Glacier last year, and aside from the windows, they seemed to use good materials.    

The one(s) I'd definitely stay away from is anything built by an RV manufacturer.  Hopefully I don't offend anyone with that, but I've been in quite a few, and I don't have anything good to say.

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3 minutes ago, Lip_Ripper Guy said:

I build my own, so I have zero brand loyalty to any manufacturer :)

Ice Castle is a total hit and miss proposition.  Some are really good, and some are extremely bad.  They are built to the absolute bare minimum standards to hold together, at best.  There is an Owners Group on Facebook for Ice Castle, and you'll find plenty of documented problems, and a lot of them.  These are not minor issues.  That said, they are a good value if you get a good one.  

If I were getting 16' house, I'd go Yetti or Firebrand for sure.  There were a few issues early on, but they were resolved almost immediately.  You get no rust, light weight, and a well built structure.  

Some of the smaller brands might be good.  Custom Cottage seems well built, but I know very little about them.  Big Bite also seems good.  I was in a Glacier last year, and aside from the windows, they seemed to use good materials.    

The one(s) I'd definitely stay away from is anything built by an RV manufacturer.  Hopefully I don't offend anyone with that, but I've been in quite a few, and I don't have anything good to say.

I hate to ask but your not going to be selling another one in a couple years right??:grin:  Not even finished this build yet but I wouldnt mind watching another!

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How about Black Bear houses?  Anyone know anything about them?  They have a page with photos but not a lot of info.  They do look nice though.

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17 hours ago, YettiStyle said:

 

Well since you don't have to worry about pulling power and have a good amount of weight with your truck I would definitely try and go with an 8x16'.  Since you're not very interested in building one you have plenty of time to make a choice so definitely go look and step through a few shacks.  As the other guys have mentioned, bring your wife.  If she already enjoys ice fishing or camping your budget may grow a little bit if she approves of a nicer brand.  The one brand I would stay away from personally is Ice Castle.  With their popularity I can't deny that their prices help people get a wheelhouse but I've experienced and seen way too many horror stories to spend my hard earned money on one.  Early aluminum shacks had some kinks but they've figured those out and don't be afraid of them.  If you're not scared of flying (planes are built of aluminum) then you shouldn't be afraid of investing in a firebrand, ridgeline, or Yetti.  Personally, just cause I own one, I wouldn't get anything but a Yetti again. 

I'm guessing you've never worked on aircraft. There is very little welded aluminum structures in aviation. Most all aluminum is riveted , bonded, or bolted together.

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On ‎7‎/‎30‎/‎2016 at 6:32 AM, vtx1029 said:

I'm guessing you've never worked on aircraft. There is very little welded aluminum structures in aviation. Most all aluminum is riveted , bonded, or bolted together.

Bad example then.  Still, Featherlite and other trailer manufactures would have been out of business years ago if there were serious issues when using aluminum for a trailer frame.  I don't necessarily agree with the premise that aluminum frames will save you weight, aluminum may be lighter but they use more of it.  The manufactures compensate and overbuild the frames to make sure there are no issues.  Pop your head under one of the aluminum framed shacks and you will be surprised how much more metal is under there.  I didn't buy my Yetti for potential weight savings (i'm using a 6,000 truck tow it on the ice, why do I need to save 400lbs?), I bought it because of the maintenance qualities, NO RUST!

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On ‎7‎/‎28‎/‎2016 at 2:19 PM, YettiStyle said:

Don't worry about an aluminum frame cracking.  Personally I don't think you can go wrong with either a Yetti or a Lodge.  There are a few other brands out there like firebrand and ridgeline but I've never been in one personally.  I bought a Yetti shell and finished off the inside and wouldn't do anything but that personally.  Both Yetti and Lodge are a little higher $$ but you really get what you pay for with these. 

The only way I'd get a steel frame is if the whole thing was galvanized, anything else will eventually rust.  Since you are not interested in a toy hauler I would definitely look into aluminum.  You won't have any problems with an aluminum frame as long as you treat it right and follow the recommended speed, weight, and go slow on the ice. 

If you want to sleep 5 comfortably then an 8x16' is about the smallest you would want to go.  The only issue is that if you buy a generic floor plan from nearly every dealer then people are going to have to share beds, that's why I bought the shell and finished the inside myself.  I have 4 separate beds in mine (2 couches, 2 bunks) and can easily sleep 5 by extending my rear couch into a queen size bed.  The way mine is setup I can comfortable fish 6 people with 8 holes, I can literally lay down while fishing with 5 other guys.  Keeping the floor open is the key to fishing comfortably. 

Firebrand makes an electric drive but it is slowwwwww.   Hydraulic is the cats meow but cost $$$ and you're SOL if a line ruptures.  I have no problem with my two speed winches and the best thing you can do is invest the $80 and get the IC Nuts (http://winchdrivertools.com/) and save yourself a little time.  The only other option is the Lodge's electric setup that uses ATV-like winches to crank up the shack. 

When you start shopping for one just realize their is much more associated to the cost of an ice shack than just the sticker price.  All the accessories add up quick.  Electric/Propane auger $400+, slush bucket $60, generator $1000, generator accessories $200, hole sleeves $150, TV/DVD player $200-$500, 2-30# propane tanks $120, underwater camera system $300+...  That is just the basics to get you started but you can definitely drop some $$ tricking out your shack to be more comfortable/functional. 

If you are any interested in finishing off your own to possibly save a few $$$ you have a great amount of information and resources on this forum.  If you want to see any pictures of my shack, just let me know. 

 

 

 

2017 Model year Firebrand went to electric remote jacks.  Much faster than the previous electric jacks.  Hydraulic is still faster, but this is a good option as there is still a "plan B" if you lose all power or the remote.

 

Edited by EricR

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Stay away Elite fish houses and the owner Fred. It was a nightmare dealing with him to get the shell done. Now after I've been finishing the inside I found some issues with the house and it's a nightmare all over again to get him to fix it. I will never order another house from him. Horrible business. Getting ready to file another claim against him. 

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On 7/29/2016 at 10:44 PM, slammer said:

How about Black Bear houses?  Anyone know anything about them?  They have a page with photos but not a lot of info.  They do look nice though.

I've looked at these houses extensively and they are the cats meow. Integrating molded plastic on the exterior to keep weight down and clean finish compared to all the diamond tread and their frames are selling points enough if I were to drop money on one right now. I seen them jack up one of the electric wheel jacks and only one all the way until it topped out and they could still easily open and close both the exterior and an interior bathroom door without any frame twist. I've never seen another brand do that before. They built in Litchfield MN by one of the original designers/builders of the Firebrand houses.

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Chaws did you see one locally or did you go down to Litch to see it?  I'm thinking about hopping on the scooter and running down there to have a look at them.

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On ‎8‎/‎2‎/‎2016 at 5:56 PM, hdbiker said:

Stay away Elite fish houses and the owner Fred. It was a nightmare dealing with him to get the shell done. Now after I've been finishing the inside I found some issues with the house and it's a nightmare all over again to get him to fix it. I will never order another house from him. Horrible business. Getting ready to file another claim against him. 

I saw there page. They sounded good too. Thank you so much for the heads up! Sorry, about your issues.

 

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I really would like a yetti or firebrand, but might be going with an ice castle for the price. That way I could get a galvanized frame & the taller height & still way cheaper. Unless I go used. 

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To be honest, getting an ice castle for your first shack is an okay deal.  Not the best finishes and are know to have some mechanical issues but you will learn A LOT from your first shack.  In a couple years you may have a bigger budget and will know from experience what you do/don't want when you upgrade to a more expensive shack.  Only problem is the fact that the prices on shacks are doing nothing but go up every year. 

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Also bear in mind, resale isnt huge on these houses.  If its what you want go for it but if its a matter of saving a little longer that may not be terrible.  Sounds like you've thought a lot of it through so just go try em all out!  

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