Will your vintage trailer be ready to go next spring? You don't have to be MacGyver to turn ordinary household items like WD-40, copper wool, and a light bulb into objects that will preserve your vintage trailer. Most vintage trailers have limited charging or plumbing systems that require technical winterizing. Still, you should do these simple things when storing your trailer to safeguard and ensure it is ready when it's time to go to a rally.
1. Your trailer should be stored on a solid surface like concrete, blacktop, or minimally compacted gravel. Parking your trailer on dirt or grass may deteriorate tires and shorten their lifetime. Covering your tires will protect them from sun damage. A cover, or better yet indoor storage, will preserve the exterior of your trailer from the negative impact of sun, rain, snow, and debris. If you must park your trailer outdoors, clear weeds from around the base, keeping a safe distance from larger foliage that may scratch the trailer when it sways in the wind. Avoid using a tarp to cover your trailer if possible.
2. Wasps and bees love to make nests in furnace and water heater vents. The best way to keep bees and other insects from getting inside in the first place is by covering up all exterior openings where they could enter. Mesh covers are available for your furnace vent, fridge vent, water heater, etc. WD-40 is also useful in killing and preventing wasps around the home and RV. Spray some WD-40 around all of your RV's vents to help keep wasps from nesting.
3. Ants. Leave ant traps in cupboards and closets to avoid an infestation.
4. Mice and rats like to burrow and spend the winter in the warm insulation. Snakes will sometimes follow the rodents in their search for food. Remove any human food from the trailer, so you are not attracting rodents. Rats and mice can chew through almost anything but will generally follow the path of least resistance. Plug any possible entrances with copper wool. If you discover an infestation, clean and repair the damage ASAP. If there are droppings inside a cabinet, pull everything out and carefully clean it all. Rodent droppings can carry diseases. Wipe everything down the area with a weak bleach and water solution. Check for further damage, such as chewed holes and patch them. You can fill them with copper wool and then cover the hole with an aluminum patch and/or fill it with expanding foam. Traps are preferred over poison. A rodent can die in a wall with poison and cause a horrible stench and be impossible to extract. If you use traps, check them frequently to avoid a rotting carcass.
5. Control the interiors moisture. Dehumidifiers and moisture-absorbing products will prevent your trailer from unwanted smells. A comment on our blog offered this tip… "another common trick of boaters is to leave a 115 VAC light bulb on (it needs to be old fashioned incandescent to provide heat)…".
6. If you are in a climate where freezing temperatures are likely, prevent damage to your trailer's plumbing with a few simple steps. Use heat tape on pipes and hoses. Wrap your freshwater hose and sewer hose with heat strips to keep the lines warm and prevent freezing. Valves and connections are most at risk of freeze-ups. You may also add foam insulation in addition to heat tape for extra protection. If you can do so safely, use a space heater to warm the interior. Open your cabinets that contain plumbing fixtures, so your trailer's heating can keep your internal plumbing warm. Allowing a small drip from faucets can help combat freezing by keeping water moving. Adding a small amount of antifreeze in holding tanks can protect the valves from freezing.
Add your storage tips and comments below.
1. Christmas Cards
The Retro Christmas Card Company has designed the cover of the Christmas season issue of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine for several years and this year is no different. Order your cards today to give to your friends and family. https://www.retrochristmascardcompany.com
2. TORCH 500 MULTI-PURPOSE LIGHT
Yes it is a great flash light or flood light but what grabbed our attention is the built in solar panel and USB port! Charge it with the sun and use it as a back-up charger for your cellphone! Let there be light. http://www.goalzero.com
3. 2021 Calendar
Hot off the press! While supplies last. We send free stickers with your order. Click here to shop.
4. VCT Boot Camp
Prepare to restore like a pro at this networking and learning event. Click here for more information.
5. Omnia Oven
We absolutely love this oven for the oven less. Bake right on top of your camp stove!
6. Trailer Books
Save 20% on all books in our inventory through November, 2020 with code xmas20 Shop Now
7. stargaze™ recliner luxurychair
A chair that "sits" more like a hammock. Collapsible aircraft grade aluminum folds down into its own compact carrying bag. The lower center of gravity, auto recline feature and swinging motion make for a comfortable campfire or nap. Click here to shop.
8. The VCT Magazine
For collectors, restorers, admirers, and dreamers. The gift they will receive 6 times per year. Give yourself a gift and subscribe today or gift someone else a years worth of vintage trailers.
9. Lynx Levelers
We don't leave home without them. Level your trailer, RV or camper securely. We don't leave home without them. Get more info here.
10. 2020 Sticker collection
Receive the stickers pictured here and a 5th bonus sticker for just $4.99. Remember the year you may want to forget! Very limited quantity so don't wait. Click here to order yours now.
By Kathleen Casper
It’s difficult to choose where to live when you are a Pacific Northwest mountain person and a tropical Florida beaches person. So, our family moved back and forth across the country every few years in an attempt to have it all. Three years in Washington State, then three or four in Florida, then back again. We’ve moved our five children cross-country so many times that even the four-year-old could probably give you directions.
That being said, we never just moved anywhere- we caravanned with our entourage of vehicles, boats, campers, and so many pets. Last we counted, the 12-year-old parakeet had moved across the country three times and around Florida a few times. And the 24-year-old red-earred slider turtle did the national move five times. Then add six cats and a few dogs. We called ourselves the Casper Family Circus and even considered painting the camper like a circus tent at one time.
My husband, Brad is used to the chaos and my insatiable yearning for new places and exciting adventures. That’s why it makes me giggle a little when I think about this past move when I actually surprised him. He’s pretty unshakable and goes with the flow. But the day I told him I was going to “just see…” a pregnant mini horse, a few weeks before our scheduled move from Florida to Washington, he about fell out of his chair. “You’re going to see WHAT?!” I repeated my statement, grinning. “Where do you think you’re going to put a pregnant mini horse? We already have too many vehicles to move across the country. We didn’t even have a way to tow our second camper. That’s why we had to sell it. And we can’t afford a horse hauling company for a mini horse!” I was giggling by the time he finished. “It’s okay,” I smiled, “I’m only going to LOOK at it.” He knew better. Within a couple hours I was calling, “Can I buy it? She’s sooooo cute!” I imagined him shaking his head and rolling his eyes. “Where are we going to put it?”
“Oh, don’t worry,” I soothed him, “I have just the idea. I’m going to make the camper into a horse trailer!”
“What?” he hollered into the phone. “The camper we just spent all year rehabbing?! You’ve got to be kidding.”
But of course, I wasn’t. “It’s a two-for-one special, Brad. A horse within a horse. I just have to have her!”
So, for the next few weeks, right up until the date we were scheduled to start driving the three thousand plus mile trip, I worked on creating the world’s best horse trailer for the adorable mini in our 1967 Monitor camper.
I was determined to create a safe and secure stall for our new friend, smack dab in the middle of the camper. She would have room to move around, but stall padding to lean against. And the whole thing would be wrapped in tarps and stall mats so no messes would get through to the structure.
First, we took the camper to the trailer shop to have them check the frame and ensure it was solid enough to hold a horse in there. (The horse only weighed about two hundred pounds, but I was scared that she could break through the floor if she stood in one place too long or we hit some bumps.) They assured us that the frame was strong, and they changed the bearings in the wheels and did a safety check on the whole structure.
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.
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