If it is time to replace the old tires on your vintage trailer, you may have a hard time matching up the numbers with the new tires sold today. We rely on Tire Rack to help us figure it out when we need new rubber. Here are some guidelines you can use to replace your old tires before you are left stranded on the side of the road.
Depending on the sizing system used when the tire was manufactured, there may not be a good rule of thumb or step-by-step process to follow to make the conversion. The chart above has many of the different sizes you may encounter.
For something like a 6.50R15, the 6.50 indicates the nominal section width of the tire in inches, and the 15 is the wheel diameter, also in inches. Since modern tire sizing typically uses millimeters for the section width, we need to convert 6.50 inches to millimeters, so 6.50 x 25.4 = approximately 165mm. When the aspect ratio is not listed, like in 6.50R15, it is assumed to be 82, meaning the sidewall height is 82% of the tire's section width.
Modern tires use aspect ratios in increments of 5, so the closest current size to a 6.50R15 is 165/80R15. The conversion is very much an approximation, not an exact science. If your travel trailer has a tight fitment without much room for variance in tire size, it would be best to take some measurements and give us a call before pulling the trigger so we can help ensure you get a tire that fits.
In issue #52 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine, we will also cover when to replace your tires and how to read the dates on tires, why you need trailer tires instead of passenger car tires, how to determine load ranges, and whether or not to balance your trailer tires. Don't miss it. Subscribe today.
Have you ever wanted something? Talked about that something for days, weeks, years? I have! Today I am one day post fulfilling one of my dreams. I am reflecting on the journey and steps that brought me to this place of accomplishment…
STEP ONE: DREAM A LITTLE DREAM
You can never accomplish what you do not know you want. One year ago, my good friend, Tim Brown, came to our yearly Trailerfest Rally walking gingerly. If you know Tim, that is not his usual mode of operation, so I asked him what was up. Tim said he and his high school buddies had climbed Half Dome just a few days before, and his calves were still a bit wobbly. That planted a little seed in the back of my mind, and I started asking questions and finding out what it would take to climb Half Dome. The more I talked about it, the more I wanted to do it! My dream was set, but I was still a long way from the top of Half Dome
STEP TWO: WRITE YOUR GOAL DOWN ON PAPER
Behind my desk is this saying by Greg Reid: “A DREAM written down with a date becomes a GOAL. A GOAL broken down into steps becomes a PLAN. A PLAN backed by ACTION becomes a REALITY!”
My Goal was to Hike Half Dome before I got too old! That was a big goal as I often feel that in my mid-forties, I have already passed my prime hiking days. A seventeen mile round trip hike with over a 4,000-foot elevation climb seemed ambitious, but I wrote it down. CLIMB HALF DOME. Honestly, I did not know what that entailed. But it was written down, and it was now my goal to accomplish.
STEP THREE: EDUCATE YOURSELF
Now that I had a dream and a goal, I needed to know the processes to fulfill my dream. In today’s society, we often have more information than time to sift through it for the nuggets of truth. I read the official National Park’s website and found out that Half Dome requires a permit. Permits are handed out in a lottery system that I had to apply for by March 31st. On April 10th, 2020 I received a giant surprise in my email. I had won the lottery and had secured a permit to climb Half Dome on September 3rd, 2020. I was so thrilled. I called all my people! I felt like I had received the best Christmas gift and was telling my all besties about it. YIPPIE!! Once I had secured a permit, things got serious. I ordered a book about Yosemite and the Half Dome Hike. I did not appreciate the appendix in the back listing all the deaths that had occurred during the said hike. It left me questioning myself and my sanity.
STEP FOUR: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH A GREAT SUPPORT TEAM
I did not want to do this hike alone. I asked my neighbor, Susie, if she would be crazy enough to want to do this with me. When she agreed, we decided to start walking together three times a week. We started slow but quickly worked up to 5 miles each time we walked. The time we spent together was the sweetest time of this journey. We had a chance to visit, pray and encourage each other. She also held me accountable. It is a lot harder to sleep-in when someone is waiting for you to go walking at 7 am.
Tim Brown said he would do the hike with us and even registered for our campsites. Quite a tricky process with a National Park. He invited me on several hikes in the Sierras that mimicked the elevation and climb, but were not quite as intense as Half Dome. Having a great support team around you is key to reaching goals. We all need cheerleaders, and accountability partners, and dog sitters, and counselors when we take on any big project. If you are blessed enough, you will even have a husband to drive and cook for you.
STEP SIX: DON’T STOP UNTIL YOU REACH THE TOP!
HOLY COW! That is all I can say. I read about the hike. I trained for the hike. I packed and prepped and studied for the hike. Hiking the hike- kicked my tail! If there was an elevator, up or down, I would have opted for it, but that was not a choice, so I put one foot in front of the other and marched on like a good soldier. Much of any goal is a mental game. I kept praying for strength and telling myself I could make it. I did not really look around while hoisting myself up on the cables. I didn’t want to picture myself pummeling to my death. My eyes were fixed on the next step. One step at a time and we made it to our goal. Thirteen hours, seventeen miles, two pairs of socks, two ibuprofen, two gallons of water and lots of beautiful sites, we made it back to camp having conquered Half Dome!
What does this have to do with vintage trailers?
I’ve helped my husband rebuild several vintage trailers and the same steps apply. If you are reading this blog it is likely because you love vintage trailers. You have a dream. That dream can become a goal when you write it down and make a plan to accomplish that goal. Maybe you want to restore a trailer and need to prepare by reading other’s journeys and possibly by attending Boot Camp 2021. Maybe you want to buy a fully restored trailer and need to educate yourself on what to look for when buying a trailer. Surround yourself with a support team. Don’t give up. The Vintage Trailer Hobby is a journey. Enjoy reaching your goal even if it comes with a bit of pain -or a lot of pain. I am hobbling around today like I’ve been hit by a MACK truck but I have a smile on my face – I have reached my goal! What is your dream? You can do it!
Trailerfest rallies are known for hosting 200-300 trailers, having fantastic live music events, a busting open house, hot rods, food trucks and all kinds of fun. The virus has affected many rallies and group events this year. Most have been cancelled altogether and others have had their numbers greatly reduced. Understandably, some people have opted to NOT attend these events. Others are willing to work within the guidelines and restrictions laid out by the county/state to get together and camp with friends.
The rally in Hollister, CA this August originally had 150 trailers signed up to attend. The western themed event was to have our usual potlucks, pancake breakfast and Johnny Cash tribute band. Covid restrictions would only allow us to camp, in every other campsite, and we could not host group events.
We dealt with the Covid restrictions, changed our itinerary to comply with the county/city guidelines and offered those with health concerns to cancel their reservations. There were many cancellations and the attendance dropped to about half. 75 trailers is still a good sized get together and those that felt safe going were excited to get together with friends after being quarantined for months.
Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, Northern California was struck with multiple wildfires. As fate would have it, one fire was to the West of our rally and one to the North. The fires began on the 18th of August and were still only 35% contained when we arrived to Hollister on the 27th. A Cal-Fire Chief refereed to the SCU Lightning Complex Fire as a "mega-fire". By the time we had left on Sunday the fire had consumed over 378,000 acres and was about 50% contained.
Prior to the start of the rally we contacted everyone and gave them the choice of coming to the rally or receiving a refund. two-thirds cancelled. With only about 25 trailers coming, the original itinerary had to be scrapped. Those that did attend the camp out received a partial refund since there was no live band as advertised. We practiced social distancing and many commented on how nice it was to get to know people that they had only seen in passing at larger events.
There was no open house but we did have a beautiful, original Covered Wagon and period correct Hudson tow rig on display. The Casa De Fruta park is open for you to enjoy. The onsite restaurants and ice cream shop offers outdoor dining and the Mexican food counter, in the service station near the entry to the park, delivered some mean nachos. The weather was very pleasant, in the low 80s, and amazingly clearer skies than most people had at home. (Many of us live in areas where the smoke from all of the fires is extremely thick.) We were glad we made the trip and we were able to "camp with our people". We look forward to the big Trailerfest rallies that we are accustomed to, but maybe attending even more of the smaller trailer gatherings where we have the opportunity to connect more with friends.
Bigger isn't necessarily better, especially if you are planning on it. Planning on 150 and adjusting down to 24 is not fun for anyone. Pick a date, pick a time, and go camping with some friends. If you would like others to come, post your gathering in the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine by announcing it on www.vintagetrailerrallies.com
This year has been full of changes to our lives to be safe and to comply with the COVID pandemic guidelines. Rallies and other group settings have for the most part been cancelled up until now. As we ease back in to "normal life", camping and the great outdoors are a good option.
We had not actually attended a 2020 rally until the first of August so it was a bit difficult to know how a rally would play out in real life. Last weekend we attended our first rally. It was a fabulous time of connecting and camping with friends we had not seen for almost 8 months. It was good for the soul to see our friends and get caught up with their lives – all in a safe social distancing kind of way.
We have heard from rally hosts across the country who have had rallies or are planning a rally during this 2020 rally season. The hosts have been incredibly conscientious about the health of the campers as well as creative in making the rally a fun time for all. Here are four rally ideas created out of necessity but so good they may remain a main stay after the virus!
1. DRIVE THROUGH OPEN HOUSE
Rene and Jeremy from Down River Vintage Trailer Restoration, host the Mt. Baker Rally in Washington and shared this with us in an email…
...I have updated all our information on Period Events. Our dates have shortened, the location has changed, and we will require a pre-registration. “Open” house is a drive-through ONLY, and folks will be required to remain in their vehicles to drive through the park to view the trailers from the outside only, no exceptions. Saturday, September 12, 2020 12-4 pm. (We love this idea!)
2. SOCIAL DISTANCING NIGHT TIME CAMPER STROLL
At our rally in Hollister, CA we are planning a social distancing parade for campers only. Typically, Open House is flooded with the public and trailer owners need to stay at their trailers and miss seeing each other’s rigs. This year, with no public allowed in the park, we have asked our participants to light up their trailers for their fellow campers to enjoy, put on their best social distancing costume, and then join the stroll around the park as they strut their fashionable social distancing outfits and clever masks at 6 feet or more apart. The stroll will take place from 7 to 9pm, adding to the romance of vintage camping as there is little that is more charming than a lighted vintage trailer at dusk. Strollers can enjoy both the trailers and the creative costumes that are sure to make an appearance!
3. TAKE A HIKE
The campsites we frequent are often in the middle of incredible nature. This past weekend we were in the middle of the Redwoods just above Santa Cruz, Ca. We were able to join friends for a several mile hike through the shaded woods. With fewer organized events at rallies, there is more time to enjoy the nature surrounding the campgrounds. For our upcoming rally we have planned an earlier morning hike where campers can socially distance while still enjoying being together in the great outdoors.
4. FOOD TO GO
Terry Prentkowski, host of the 2020 Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart, IN, shared how they were able to serve food. Terry and his crew prepared the food in a sanitized commercial kitchen. While the rec hall typically would have tables set for eight, this year more tables were used and only four people sat at each table. One table at a time was called to the buffet where they were given gloves to wear while going through the line. Gloves were deposited in the trash at the end of the buffet. Hand sanitizer was also available at both ends of the buffet. For breakfast, all items were individually wrapped or in single serving size containers.
At the rally last weekend, Trailers in the Trees in Felton, CA, the host, Penny Cotter, contacted the local pizza place and set up a delivery time to the campground. Campers were able to call in and pay for their personal orders and then they were delivered all at one time. Clever!
Our 17-year-old son likes to remind us that food delivery service is also a valid option while camping. It is an easy way to add some variety to your menu without leaving the campground or cooking!
For our rally in Hollister, August 27-30, 2020, we plan on serving doughnuts and coffee. We will have masked and gloved servers hand the doughnuts out along with host filled cups of coffee and single serve coffee creamers and sugar. We will also ask the doughnut shop not to mix the doughnut types up as is typical. We will try to keep all the maple bars together… no digging through food to find that perfect doughnut. It is hard to believe how we pawed through food just a short time ago. Some changes are good!
Rallies look different this year but having safe connection with fellow Trailerites makes the effort worthwhile. We love our friends in the camping world and we were happy to see that folks were respectful of one another’s personal space. Be safe and we will see you camping!
35 years ago drinking and driving was the number one national epidemic. Driving while intoxicated was killing more friends and family members all over America than any other disasters.
Lake Tahoe was no exception! Tahoe was the Party place so something had to be done. A group of friends and volunteers decided to take turns staying sober and to drive home anyone who called to give their friends a safe ride home. This idea caught on and soon these good Samaritans were getting calls from local casinos, bars, police officers, and even private parties and weddings. The Lake Tahoe community quickly recognized the benefits of this service and got involved; cars were donated, Beeper systems were activated and office space was donated. Everything was in place except how to pay for the gas, utility's and everyday expense's of keeping cars running 24/7 and the lights on. What did we have that we could work with to make some expense money on? What did we like? 50’s music, dancing and old cars. Lets have a 50s dance and raffle off an old restored car or truck. Thus was created one of the most successful and longest running charity fundraisers and safe ride programs at Tahoe Today: the Cool September Days Sock-Hop and car show. Get your raffle tickets now.
Today, 35 years later, Goodsamsaferide has driven safely home over 250,000 Intoxicated drivers and their passengers and has raffled off over 70 old cars, trucks, motorcycles, (old and new) and at last count, one new teardrop and seven vintage camping trailers. All to keep these safe rides free and available. While today these safe rides are paid for by Good Sams and they are provided by Yellow cab Taxi's this safe ride service is still very much a friend and volunteer operated community wide service. Most people who hear about this program want to help in any way, old cars are donated, mechanic's and body shops help restore the prize packages, additional nice prizes are donated. Even people we just meet want to help, like Paul and Caroline Lacitinola, who publish the wonderful Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine. Paul has now helped us find and procure three of the last seven amazing vintage trailers that continues to make this annual raffle so popular. Thanks to everyone for your help and support with our raffle and safe ride program. And YES, we really are giving this away on October 18, 2020! Get your tickets here.
Please Check us out at goodsamsaferide.com.
GOOD LUCK!! Tom and Polly Argo
It's what's on the inside that counts. These inspiring creations show examples of retro-mods to lace and classic vintage to an adventure van complete with patina. #7 is one of only 3 of these trailers known to exist and #8 will take you on an audio tour of her Orient Express inspired Boles Aero.
1. 1947 Spartan Manor Glamper
David and Lynn Doty put the final touches on their 1947 Spartan Manor just to make it to Glamperfest. The incredible transformation was done by the Dotys in a style that screamed GLAMPER!
2. 1972 Chevrolet C30 - Custom Mitchell Camper Rebuild "ReRun"
The team of expert craftsmen at Creative Mobile Interiors gave new life to this vehicle that was rotting away (see below for "before" photos), and so we dubbed this conversion "ReRun". We were very excited for the finished product, which made its debut appearance at the 2018 SEMA show in Las Vegas as a featured vehicle of PPG.
3. Ms. Lacey-Pearl / Pandora's Box
After having the “winning” Ebay bid in October 2017, Yvonne and her handy-hubby, George hit the road in their trusty old pick-up truck “Big Red” and drove through 6 states (one way) to “rescue" Ms. Lacey-Pearl from the back woods of northern Wisconsin! Once the trailer was at home, Yvonne and George started removing the lipstick and rouge and discovered 80% of the frame and ceiling had serious structural damage and the electrical and plumbing was all unsafe and shamelessly jimmy-rigged. It later hit them that it was no less than an act of GOD that they arrived back home safely and all in one piece! Yvonne, known for her stubbornness, didn’t want to cut her losses and throw in the towel, like a sane person would, because she felt an instant “connection” with the trailer and knew she was meant to “rescue” and “resurrect" her.
Yvonne bribed her hubby, George Evans and her “out of the box thinker" handyman, Bill Bradley, to go to an all-female vintage trailer show with the promise of treating them both to a “slamming" BBQ lunch. After looking at 20+ vintage “glampers” (glamour + campers) Yvonne felt instantly inspired to re-invent her sadly neglected 1967 Shasta, Starflyte. During the 1.5 hour ride back home, Yvonne busily began to draw up the first rough draft of the trailer, the floor plan, the Mermaid’s Lair theme, the color palate materials that Yvonne envisioned using. So the journey began...Fast forward through winter, spring and summer and 300 combined working hours later, Yvonne decided on the trailer’s name, "Ms. Lacey-Pearl”. This was inspired by George’s grandmothers (Ms. Lacy & Ms. Pearl). So, it seemed fitting to name a Mermaid’s Lair themed trailer, “Ms. Lacey-Pearl”. That was a very good move on Yvonne’s part, since poor George almost lost his thumb during the renovation project from a table saw accident.
As of this Summer 2018, Ms. Lacey-Pearl is open for others to enjoy her beauty, as she is an added feature to “Yvonne’s Secret Garden Spa” and her customers can enjoy a fun daytime venue for “Glamping & Facial” parties, or as a peaceful and loving “womb” to stay within as a nightly rental retreat.
4. FRANKS 1947 Spartan MANOR
In January of 2014 Frank Stevens found out that looking on Craigslist can be expensive. Frank restores old cars for a living, and he's been camping most of his life, he thought “why not get a vintage trailer?” After visiting a few rallies he decided on a Trolly Top but couldn't find a good one to start with. He did find a 1947 Spartan Manor, and it was only about thirty minutes from his house. It was all original on the outside and more importantly it was complete and had a really clean body. It even had a cool slimp wheel.
The interior had been gutted and rewired with all new insulation. Most of the cabinets & counter-tops were installed along with a new 3 way fridge. It was a perfect starting point. A deal was struck and Frank realized (that first night on his way home) that you can't see the bottom of the trailer at night. He decided to mount L.E.D. running lights in the rub rails to shine on the ground in order to see the trailer at night while towing. Most of the rub rail was damaged so it was all removed and fixed. Frank even found some rare ‘46 rear corners which he had to cut apart and re-arch to fit his trailer. A backup camera was also installed into the rub rail. A cool shade of green was picked for the rub rails and other accents.
The interior was almost finished except there was a big opening where a bathroom should be. The bathroom needed to be usable with a big shower and a tiled floor for something different. Boat flooring was chosen for the walls. It is 100% waterproof and there are no seams in the corners as it is all one piece. The floor has a pre-sloped shower pan that you tile right over. 1" hex tile was chosen to be period correct. A 3/8" copper tube was bent to follow the curve of the roof to hold a shower curtain that was cut down and re-sewn to match the roof contour. Antique faucets were rebuilt and used for the sink which has a custom made riser out of polished aluminum and the shower valves along with more 1/2" copper line to a porcelain shower head. Frank also made the bent copper light fixtures so that everything matches. A composting toilet was used so there is no need to worry about a black tank.
Custom fiberglass covers were also made for the fridge and painted green to make it look old. To keep the trailer comfortable, a Coleman Mach 8 A/C unit was mounted on the roof - only after reinforcing the roof to support the extra weight. A custom polished aluminum cover was made for the roof and the inside plastic lid was faux finished to match the birch interior. No trailer would be complete without a cool stereo. A top of the line Alpine head unit was picked, a 5 channel Alpine amp with a 12" sub-woofer with front and rear speakers all covered in antique speaker cloth.
5. Overland Adventure Sprinter
This 144'' High Roof Mercedes Sprinter is Creative Mobile Interiors newest demo vehicle. A custom patina graphics wrap gives a rustic feel and draws a lot of attention.
An in-floor track allows for various securing needs and other applications. Color-changing LED light strips and charred bourbon barrel wood accents are located throughout the vehicle; we even custom-built the sink out of a whole bourbon barrel! A state-of-the-art audio system was installed including Audison amplifiers, subwoofers, speakers, and a Pioneer head unit with color back-up camera. We reupholstered the factory driver's seats to match the graphics wrap and custom laminate, as well as the three-person bench and made the bench seat removable. We installed a full auxiliary battery system including 2000w Victron inverter/charger and a shoreline connection, and 110v convenience outlets are located throughout the interior of the van.
One of the coolest features of this Sprinter is the custom-built bed which pulls out for an elevated view of the stars (the Rhino-Rack dome awning provides cover when needed). Under the sleeping platform, audio and electrical components are housed in a custom-built cabinet, with additional storage with custom screened-door openings.
6. 1962 Streamline Countess
The vintage camper trailer hobby started for Craig Thomas and his wife Diana when they purchased a 1956 Airstream Flying Cloud. It was only a shell, yet Diana was excited about the possibilities of fixing it. At about the same time, they found a 27 foot, 1951 Spartanette Tandem. Craig instantly was drawn to the Spartanette as he recalled spending time in one as a child in the mountains of New Mexico. With the emotional connection to the Spartanette, the Thomas family decided to restore this prior to the Flying Cloud. This was a huge endeavor as the Spartan needed a full restoration.
Fast forward a couple of years and the Spartanette as been completed and the Thomas’ have added a 1962 Streamline Countess to their fleet of backyard mobile mansions. We caught up with them at the Trailers in the Trees Rally in Felton, CA. Amazingly, Craig and Diana have done it again! Cranking out an incredible, classic trailer that respects the period in which it was created, but utilizes some modern design features and amenities.
Gold fleck automotive paint is the background for the back-lit wooden feature that adorns the center of the ceiling running the length of the interior and containing the controls for the roof mounted air conditioning. The Jetson’s style “control center” in the kitchen appears to be right out of the space age when in fact, Craig just dreamed it up. The living area is dominated by a booth style seating area that contains the apparatus that causes the flat screen to rise out of the side table. The TV is a nice modern feature that can be tucked away when not in use. You don’t want to miss seeing this inspirational trailer in person if you have the chance.
When he started restoring trailers, Craig, a visual effects artist, knew very little about restoration, but was willing to learn. He used the internet to guide his learning and watched a lot of YouTube to acquire the restoration skills necessary to complete the process. Craig mentioned that restoring a trailer requires mastering several different skills, but they can all be accomplished. Visually, the Thomas’ trailers look completely vintage, but Craig has used his design background to hide all the necessary items to make the trailer totally modern. Their Spartan can be seen in the Vintage Camper Trailers book.
7. 1961 Holiday House Geographic
9. Executive Mauck2 Sprinter Mobile Office
Creative Mobile Interiors custom built this one-off Mercedes for a financial planning company as unique as their color choices (which actually came from their logo)! Built on the proven Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van chassis, the M2 features a stylish body with dramatic windows and additional ten inches of interior width for us to play around with. Dubbing this one a "sleeper", you won't believe what we put inside of this multi-functional vehicle!
A vibrant color scheme fades from grey into wild pops of orange, purple, green, and blue all throughout the flooring and upholstery of the M2. A custom-built partition wall with an electronic privacy window separates the driver's area with A/V controls and an LED TV mounted on the passenger side. Underneath the TV is a custom bar with LED lighting, custom ice chest and bucket, and crystal glassware display. With seating for twelve, the custom-wrapped captain's chairs turn on swivel bases and can face the raised dinette in the rear for an executive conference room when needed. Of course, the vehicle is wi-fi enabled and Apple TV was also integrated.
There are color-changing LED light strips throughout the vehicle, and a black light LED strip in the rear ceiling - this highlights the dinette table that includes a special epoxy resin, making the table GLOW IN THE DARK! In the rear of the Mauck2 there’s a 55” LED TV for outside viewing, a custom self-draining ice chest that is sunken into the floor, and ample storage for personal belongings. Slideshow with more photos.
“Travelers don’t know where we are going, tourists don’t know where they’ve been.”
We set up our camp beneath towering Ponderosa pines lining a babbling stream, and find ourselves completely alone. The sun shines through the canopy casting dappled light across the forest floor littered with needles and cones. We open up our camp chairs, pour glasses of wine, and settle into the quiet of our own thoughts. We made it.
Finding places like this was just one of the many dreams we had when we first bought our vintage camper off of Ebay for $900. These dreams kept us going through the tougher spots of our remodel project and downsizing our life. We knew that someday, somehow, we’d get here, right here, and all the hard work would be worth it.
Over the past 8 years and 110K miles of full-time living in Hamlet, our 1957 Sportcraft travel trailer, we’ve been amazed by the “right here” places we’ve discovered. We’ve found ourselves hiking to nearly 9,000 feet in Texas, pedaling bicycles up steep inclines in a western Washington drizzle, and wandering among eerie hoodoos in sun-drenched Utah. We’ve paddled between foggy, granite islands off the coast of Maine, weeded onion beds in the red dirt of Hawaii, wrangled sheep in Colorado, hiked countless miles of solitary, winding trail, and discovered some of the best places to park our rolling tiny vintage home in North America. Many of these aren’t in conventional campgrounds.
It may surprise you to know that we rarely know where we are going – not because we get lost, but because the journey itself is part of the adventure. This means we rarely know where we’ll spend the night. Our choices depend on how far we want to drive and what captures our imagination along the way. We frequently find ourselves parked far off the grid, on top of a mountain, along a coastal highway, in the middle of the desert, tucked into a quiet neighborhood, or even sometimes a Walmart parking lot when public lands feel just too far away to reach by sundown. No matter where we end up, we always fall asleep in our comfortable bed and wake up to make coffee on our two burner stove. We have all that we need in our little rig.
Everyone has different desires and preferences when it comes to choosing a campsite. Some prefer private RV parks, others prefer national and state park campgrounds, and others want to be completely away from everything and everybody. If you are like us and frequently camp in national forests, BLM campgrounds, or boondock (dispersed camping with few to no services), there are literally thousands of places across the US and Canada that offer gorgeous campsites for every size and type of rig with plenty of sunshine but no electrical hook-ups. To help us find places that fit our camping style, we use (and write reviews for) The Dyrt Pro app. We’ve found this app to be the most useful comprehensive camping resource available. The offline maps are incredibly helpful when traveling far off the grid and away from cell phone service.
Solar is The Key!
One thing we can always count on in our wanderings is that the sun will rise; it will illuminate our solar panel and give us the energy we need to power our lives – pretty much no matter where we are. But wait, solar technology on a vintage rig? You got it, during our entire travels we’ve almost exclusively run on solar power. You may be surprised to find out that the first solar panel was developed 140 years ago. Solar has been key in helping us take advantage of our favorite boondocking spots across the nation.
We’ve found that a portable panel works really well with our vintage camper. We can set up the solar panel in the sun while keeping the trailer in the shade. It also means that we didn’t have to install a panel bracket on the roof of our 63 year old rig.
We constantly get asked what we can run with solar. Our answer is always, “It depends on what you are trying to power.” With our small solar powered system we run our LED lights, Fan-tastic Vent/Fan, a couple of small household appliances, as well as charge our smart phone, laptops and other personal electronics. Our goal is to live as simply, as minimally, and as inexpensively as possible, and we’ve been able to thrive with our tiny home over the past 8 years! The important thing about solar is that it’s scalable and can be designed to fit your personal power needs.
Take a video tour of our solar powered life.
About the Authors: Shari Galiardi & David Hutchison have turned their higher education backgrounds, desire for life-long learning, and thirst for adventure travel into writing, photography, video production, and public speaking tours from coast to coast. Known to their friends as simply Shari & Hutch, you can learn more about their full-time, solar powered adventures on their website at freedominacan.com. Or, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. They are also contributors to the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine Issue #50 with their story of "full timing" in a vintage trailer.
Vintage trailers are NOT allowed in RV parks! If you spend any time on social media, you have likely heard how someone was turned away from an RV park because their trailer (or RV), was more than 10 years old. Before you go to www.sellvintagetrailers.com to unload your unusable camping rig, give this a read. We share our experience and how to be prepared to deal with if the "10 Year Rule" comes up in your travels.
Is there really a "10 Year Rule"?
Yes, kind of, sometimes. Some parks, typically higher-end (more expensive) RV parks may have this "rule." Understand that these types of RV parks are catering primarily to a clientele with rigs that start in the six figures. RV parks typically use this rule to screen long-term rentals of 30 or more days. The "10 Year Rule" is usually not enforced for weekend camping stays. The rule is simply a filter RV parks use to eliminate the riff-raff.
Why is there a "10 Year Rule"?
What to do if you own a vintage trailer and want to go camping?
Should I sell my vintage trailer and buy a newer one?
We have been camping on the west coast and around the US for over a decade. We may camp up to 20 weekends a year. We have always had vintage trailers. We have NEVER come across this obstacle and cannot recall any reports of the "10 Year Rule" being imposed on any of our friends that camp vintage. If a park uses this rule as a screening device, and your vintage RV is in good condition, most of the time, the park will make an exception for you. Chances are they will want to see it up close, have a bunch of questions, and want to find out where they can get one! Be sure and tell them about www.buyvintagetrailers.com.
Keep in mind that park owners and managers are probably campers too. They are not blind to the popularity of vintage trailers. Some campgrounds even have vintage trailers as rentals. If you hear of someone being turned away from a park because they had an old trailer, consider the whole story.
Paul and Caroline Lacitinola
Publishers of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine
April 17, 2020
Started project by removing door, screen door, and both jambs from the trailer. This was necesary in order to remove the existing ice box from the trailer and to get the new lp/ac refrigerator into the trailer as neither one would fit through the door opening with doors and jambs in place.
Did some preliminary demo of the opening that housed the old ice box.
These steps took approximately 4 1/2 hours.
April 22, 2020
Installed 2 1" pvc conudits under the trailer in order to get the gas supply and electrical wire to the side of trailer where the fridge will be placed.
Also today ran the 12-2 romex in the new conduit.
Need to order my gas supply line as I now have a good idea how long it needs to be. Worked about 5.5 hours today
April 25, 2020
Today the electrical tie-in was done at the main panel, with a loop to an outlet behind the stove. 12 ga. wire was used per Norcolds recommendations.
Also cut in the lower fresh air/access panel, which allowed me to locate the electrical outlet which will service the fridge; and get an idea as to where the gas supply will be placed. It's a tight fit but do-able. Thankfully the Shasta side vertical framing members are placed exactly where needed for the lower and upper intake/exhaust vents! Just had to add 1 horizontal framing member for the bottom vent, but the top will require 2 horizontals, which will be held in place with screws through the 1/4 " plywood from the inside. Worked about 6 hours today
April 27, 2020
The gas hose to extend gas supply to the new fridge arrived from Amazon today. Routed it from tie-in behind stove to new fridge, installed a temporary cap at fridge end so I could double, triple check for leaks behind stove before it is bolted back in place; (left the gas on so tomorrow I can quadruple check for leaks before the stove goes back in place).
Also today, completed electical installation at new outlet location for new fridge. Checked for proper voltage (120v), which I have; sweet!
Finally finished today with locating and cutting in the rough opening for the upper side vent.
It's easy to write all these jobs down, however, I worked on this about 7 hours today.
April 29, 2020
Finished framing in upper vent rough opening and pre-drilled mounting holes for exterior vent cover.
Removed floor and gave top and bottom a coat of sealer.
Installed some extra sheilding for gas supply line where it enters the trailer floor at both locations.
Started fabricating the upper fridge enclosure panels.
Worked about 5 hours today.
April 30, 2020
Completed the upper enclosure shelf and baffle (which directs hot air out to the upper vent), and stained the interior side to match the ash Shasta paneling. Installed 1" rigid foil faced insul-board on either side of the enclosure which closes the gaps on the fridge sides (Norcold recommends less than 1/2 inch clearance for both sides); I wound up with about as close to zero clearance as possible. Using urethane sealant I also seals the floor penetrations where the gas/electric was routed. Worked about 3 1/2 hours today.
May 1, 2020
Finally! Ready to slide the fridge in for the last time, and it was a perfect fit! Hooked up the gas supply, checked and triple checked for leaks then lit the fridge on propane for the first time, ( we had already tested the AC side prior to this). After about 3 hours the fridge started to cool; filled the ice cube tray and checked after another 3 hours to find ice starting to form, walked away from it for today; checked early the next morning to find solid cubes in the tray. I plan on running the fridge on propane for 3-4 days to get a feel for how much gas is being used.*
Remaining tasks include deciding on a door panel insert, matching the paneling or brushed aluminum/stainless?? Securing the fridge to the enclosure/floor with provided screws. Will also need to modify the storage door/mirror above the fridge as it encroached about 3 inches into that existing space. This should be a nice upgrade to make camping just that much more enjoyable. Stained/varnished fridge panel in place (turned out a little darker as a different species of plywood was used, but it will do for now).(painting vents, fridge door panel, and modifying upper cabinet door/mirror: about 6 hours)
* ran the fridge on gas from a hot start-up for 5 + days in 100 degree heat and it used about 3.5 gal. propane. It should do better if I pre-cool first using 110 v, then switch to gas before travelling.
At this time last year we were traveling across the country in our Capri Camper towing the Gold Airstream.
After “sheltering in place” for several months, many of us are ready to get back on the road. Campgrounds are opening for families and small groups, and highway travel may be the safest way to get out of the house during the cautionary “re-opening” period of the COVID-19. Before you hit the road, make sure you are prepared for a safe journey.
COVID Travel Restrictions Map
Save On Campsite Fees and Fuel—our two biggest expenses on a road trip.
Don't have an RV? Why not rent one for your road trip? Rent an RV from Outdoorsy for your journey.
Basic Safety Precautions while traveling during the re-opening
The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine Blog
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This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.