By Susan Fletcher
I subscribe to The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine, have done for so many years. I absolutely love it. I also have both of your books. I saw in your magazine that trailerites could tell their stories about their vintage campers. I don't know if you will publish my story in the magazine or put it in another book. It doesn't matter. I still want to tell it.
Me and my then husband went Camping at Cherokee, NC in our 2005 Dutchmen. We took a ride on Cherohala Skyway into Tennesee. I spotted a vintage camper at a campground on the road. We pulled in and I talked to the owner of the 1965 Zipper.I just fell in love with it. It was then that I decided I wanted me one. So I started my hunt fto find my own. I found one at Lincolnton, NC. It was.a 1972 Vacationaire. In Sept 2013. It needed work so my hubs said he would tear it down n rebuild it. But we had problems, and in 2014, we split up. He took both tow rigs that were his. Both campers continued to deteriorate. So I sold them.
I bought myself a new Kia Soul, which doesn't tow. I continued to look for a vintage vamper. Finally, I found one in March 2017 on Craigslist. Fifty miles from my home in Lake Lure, NC. My daughter and her hubby went with me to look at it. It was a 1965 Shasta Airflyte. It was love at 1st sight.!! I didn't want to pay the price he wanted; he knocked off $300.00. The trailer is powered by 110v electric, no propane, which was fine with me. It had a brand new paint job and had been restored. The original cabinets and some of the original birch walls were preserved. I started hunting for a skilled carpenter to add a loft and dd Wilsonart laminate countertops "Betty" pattern to the table and countertop that were painted black. I also had him add a closet and drawer cabinet. I knew that while I know how to use many tools, I didn't know how to complete these improvements. It took me two years to find someone to do all the above. He did an EXCELLENT job. I'm so pleased with my camper. She's everything I wanted in a vintage trailer. Meet AIKO BLUE
When it comes to painting your trailer, there are no rules. You can do whatever you want. Vintage trailer paint jobs are as individual and diverse as their owners. There is a variety of ways to paint your trailer: exterior house paint, rattle cans, and automotive paint finishes. We have used all of these with good success. Most people who can paint a wall inside their house or spray a piece of lawn furniture with a spray can, are able to paint a trailer.
First, let me say, I do not consider myself a painter, but I have a lifetime of painting experience. As an 8-year-old kid, my mom handed me a paint roller, showed me my bedroom wall and said “paint it!” My Father was a career aircraft and auto body painter. His painting story began back in the 1950s when he painted his scooter with a hand-pump pesticide sprayer. He soon learned to paint with a professional spray gun, then went to work painting helicopters for Hiller aircraft. Back then they used lacquer and painted helicopters in an old dirt floor barn. When I was a kid, Pop sometimes took me along when he had to do overtime. He taught me how to spray paint when I was 6 years old. I grew up around automotive painting, helping my Dad. I painted high school hot rods, Harleys, and now, vintage trailers.
At Retroluxe, we use automotive paint to paint accent graphics and stripes, this is done onto new metal skin after we install it. We do it this way because most vintage trailers have been repainted at least once in their life. Older paint is usually not compatible with automotive finishes and paint prep work on a trailer can take weeks. Preparation is the key to a good paint job. Beautiful paint over a poorly prepped surface is usually an expensive wasted effort, and yes, I have had my share of these kinds of lessons.
With automotive paint, there a couple ways to get it done: single-stage enamel, base coat clear\ coat, and rattle cans. Keep in mind the better quality of paint used, the better the outcome will be as long as proper instruction and technique is used. As with all good paint jobs, the surface should be sanded and primed. If we are painting over a known good surface like new white aluminum skin, we use a scotch pad to break the glaze. This gives the new paint the ability to adhere to the surface.
All automotive paints used today are catalyzed, they require accurate mixing of two or more components before application. Automotive paints dry slowly. If a spray booth is unavailable, you need a clean location away from things like dust, bugs, and other vehicles that could be damaged by airborne over-spray. Base coat\clear is a two-part process, that can be challenging for someone not familiar with using automotive finishes. First, using a good quality spray gun, apply the desired color in multiple coats until the desired area is evenly covered. The second step is to paint over the color coat with usually two coats of clear. Boot Camp offers a course on painting your trailer if you want to see and learn from a pro.
Painting with single-stage enamel is easier than two-stage as it requires fewer steps. Just mix the components, spray, and wait a day or so until completely dry. However, if more than one color is to be used, base coat\clear would be better as the base coat part of the process dries quickly and is easy to apply multiple colors.
Spray cans are a quick, cheap, and easy way to get something painted. They are best if used on small areas to be painted. Low-quality paint used in rattle cans (spray cans) is usually evident in fading color or disappearing shine in a short time.
On occasion we have been called upon to use house paint. It is super easy to choose your color and to apply the paint. House paint can be brushed, roller or sprayed. We found that spraying house paint produces the best finish. House paint requires the least amount of prep, it will stick to most clean surfaces, lasts for years, and can be easily touched up. Issue #51 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine several different methods people used to paint their own trailers. You can pick up a printed copy of this issue or the entire 2020 year in digital format.
When choosing the best way to paint your trailer consider how it will be used. Will the trailer be used for rough dirt camping, vintage trailer shows and rallies or road trips? Your trailer’s outward appearance and its first impression, is largely based on your paint job, make it a good one.
Women that are vintage trailering and running with their passions at work and at play.
NAME: Hannah Weber
TITLE: Owner/Boss Lady
COMPANY NAME: Hannah's Granny Crafts
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 4 years officially - However, I started selling in the 3rd grade
WEBSITE URL: hannahsgrannycrafts.com
Tell us about your business.
My business is centered around handmade crochet products. I focus on baby items and home decor. My target audience is the busy woman looking to gift high-quality, handcrafted products effortlessly.
What does being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
Being a business owner means the absolute world to me. It means I can build a life of my dreams. A life of financial independence, flexibility to make my own schedule, and the ability to make my own rules. It means I will be able to stay home with my future children while also running a business.
What or who has been your most significant influence in business and why?
My mom is the most amazing influence in my business. A considerable part of the reason I was so willing to jump into the life of entrepreneurship is that my mom owns several businesses in our small hometown, and I have grown up right in the heart of those businesses. I have seen the pros and cons of being a businesswoman, and I know that, for me, the pros outshine the cons in SO many ways. From a very young age, I have known that I wanted to be my own boss, and my mom has played a huge role in helping me achieve that goal - for instance, allowing me to sell some of my products in her gift shop starting in just the 3rd grade.
Another huge influence in my life is my grandma - "Grammy." Both women have overcome considerable obstacles in life and have used hard work and perseverance to overcome these obstacles. Grammy is such a massive influence in my life I based the branding of my business around her.
What is the best advice you can pass on to others?
If you are looking to start a business, just feel like it isn't the right time or just aren't "ready enough" - JUST START. Start anywhere. Even the most minor steps can make a HUGE difference. It will never be a perfect time, and I hate to break it to you; you will never feel prepared. This feeling never goes away in the journey of business owning, but it is worth every moment of uncertainty. This might sound stupid, but my greatest accomplishment is simply starting the business. It is scary and overwhelming, and it's a huge accomplishment to put your whole heart and soul out to the world.
Even those not interested in business owning, remember to SHOP SMALL!
What have been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
Showing up. Simple as that. I mostly use Instagram and Facebook to market my business. Consistency is key. Show up for your audience - in stories, posts, everywhere possible. It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to be planned - just show up.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
It sounds cliche, but your failures are not as detrimental as they seem "in the moment." You will move on from them, and some of your greatest successes will come out of your biggest failures. I have come to love failure (ok, not LOVE it, but appreciate it) because it only helps me improve in the long run.
Do you have any new projects coming up?
I don't have any huge projects coming up at the moment. I am focusing more on perfecting some of the smaller "behind the scenes" mechanics of my business to get things running just a little smoother :)
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
We are lucky enough to live in the center of Montana, surrounded by mountains. My favorite way to spend the weekends is in the mountains in my camper, my boyfriend and the dogs. I can crochet and take in the fresh mountain air - nothing better! I also love to hunt, which is so accessible to us because of where we live. We are truly blessed!
What is the number one business goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
My number one goal for 2021 is expanding the amount of in-store places Hannah's Granny Crafts items are sold around the state and possibly beyond!
What would your book be about if you were to write one?
The adventures you can find in small-town Montana while running a business from it. I live in a town of 300-ish people, and I think many people think it's "boring." It is the farthest thing from that, and I wouldn't change it for the world.
What is the best way to connect with you?
I am most active on my Instagram account - @hannahsgrannycrafts. I am also on Facebook as Hannah's Granny Crafts, and you can check out my website hannahsgrannycrafts.com to find out more and look at items to purchase! So with that, I'll leave you with "Good Going" - a phrase Grammy says to me often. It means, "good luck, I'm in your corner rooting for you."
What is your trailer worth? The easy answer is “what someone is willing to pay for it.”
The other part of the equation is “what would it take for you to part with it?” If you are concerned with the value of your trailer, you may be wanting to sell it, or insure it. If you are insuring your trailer you will probably need a professional appraisal to meet the needs of the insurer. If we are selling a trailer for ourselves or on consignment, here are things we consider to assist us in coming up with an asking price...
“I have this really RARE trailer, so it’s worth a lot!”
We collect pre-1969 trailers. They are all over 50 years old and most all of the manufacturers are long out of business. They are ALL rare. They all have value, but rarity does not automatically make something more valuable. More important that a coach be desirable year, make, model, style etc., that many people want. A “rare”, one-of-a-kind trailer, has much less value if no one wants it. (Museum pieces that are not really useable have such a limited market that they sometimes do not bring as much as you would think they may.)
Supply and Demand
Definition: the amount of goods and services that are available for people to buy compared to the amount of goods and services that people want to buy. If less of a product than the public wants is produced, more can be charged for the product.
More than any other factor, the market dictates the price. With a limited supply, and a growing demand, vintage trailer values have risen. There is no trailer “bluebook” to reference for vintage trailer values. Social media can lead you astray if you read the comments by opinionated but uneducated commentators that think they know the value of someone else's trailer having only seen a few photos and reading a brief description. If you want to know the value, get an appraisel.
If you are selling a trailer, and trying to come up with an asking price, start with what would you like to get for it? What do you have invested in time and materials? How quickly do you want (or need) to sell it? Look on-line and see what similar trailers are listed for in your area. The price you will see posted on-line is the asking price, not necessarily the selling price. Trailers posted for sale for a long time, or repeatedly on Craigslist, are likely overpriced (or they would have sold). If your trailer is in great condition, start at a higher price and see what kind of response you get. If it doesn’t move, you can always lower your asking price. Be careful not to price it so high that you get no calls because buyers think the price is ridiculous. My goal is NOT to price a trailer so the phone rings off the hook. I want to get calls from a handful of qualified buyers (that appreciate the value) and sell it to one of them. If I can do that, I know I have sold it for what I wanted to get, and the buyer got it for what they were willing to pay.
An added note: A picture is worth a thousand dollars (and maybe more.) Clear, bright photos that show the trailer from all corners and "open up" the interior can make or break the sale of a trailer. They can be the difference in how quickly, and for how much, a trailer sells for. This is the subject of another blog, stay tuned.
Enlighten me with your thoughts in the comments below.
By Paul Lacitinola
Publisher of the VCT Magazine and the VCT Online Classifieds
Once a year, vintage trailer enthusiasts from across the USA and Canada converge in Hollister, CA. A dozen professional builders and retired craftsman present seminars on a wide variety of skills needed to rebuild a vintage trailer. Participants can select from several different classes that will help them hone their talents in the areas they need to complete their restoration.
Is Boot Camp the right thing for you? From novices to experienced builders, Boot Camp is a mix of like-minded people building relationships that will last long after the informative weekend. You can consult with the pros directly and experience their expertise in person. Many have interactive displays and hands-on opportunities that you just don’t get from a book or computer.
4 things to consider if you are still unsure:
Paul Simon may have been on to something in 1975 with his hit song 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover. You don't need to discuss much if you were going to board one of these beauties. Just drop off the key, Lee, And get yourself free.
Above: Inside the 1948 Greyhound. (The conversion was done decades ago.)
Coffee Company: This road warrior, affectionately known by its social media moniker as “FLXBUS,” was placed on a new 2013 Freightliner chassis and stretched three feet to accommodate a commercial generator. It also includes a custom automotive paint job, stainless counters and shelving, commercial espresso machines, under-counter refrigerators and reclaimed wood bleacher-style benches. The unit was designed for a two-person work flow with a curb side service window and removable exterior bar. By Timeless Travel Trailers
(Slide show above) Magpul, though, decided that they wanted to conduct their business in a more high-class environment, elegantly restoring a 1950’s era bus to do the job . . .
The boys in grey started with a 1952 Flxible Sightseer bus, then added all the bells and whistles that would possibly fit. All of the original badges and logos have been replaced with retro-stylized Magpul logos, including the embroidered leather trim on the driver’s chair. The interior of the bus has been completely restored, although as Drew says the bus wasn’t in that bad of shape to begin with when they started.
The passenger area of the bus is finished in a rich red leather with soft and comfortable cushions. There’s a typical bus-esque seating area right behind the driver, and then a bar area just behind that with a fully stocked and operational bar. e a pair of love seats, and then there’s the baggage compartment. The back of the bus holds some treasures. Complete article and photos featured in issue #18 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine.
1955 Flxible Story My Dad, Dean Carson was in the (bus) business all his life. There is a saying in our family, “buses are in our blood”, and just about all of the boys in the Carson Family end up getting into the bus business one way or another. In addition to our family fun, we would rent the bus out for movie shoots such as the popular TV Series Mad Men or the blockbuster hit Ali with Will Smith. See the whole story in issue #55 of the VCT Magazine.
1948 Flxible Owned by Matt and Tiffany. Spotted at the Mt. Baker Rally in 2018
Have you found a trailer that you want to rescue? What will it take to get it home? if you have never rescued a trailer from a remote area you may not have considered every obstacle you may encounter. Gary Warner of Vintage Trailer Rescue has done this dozens of times and is willing to share his check list with you. Click Here for Gary's Rescue List of 64 items you need to bring with you when you rescue a trailer and hook up for the first time. For those of you who enjoy the memories from your childhood traveling carefree down the open road with a trailer in tow, Gary may have a trailer for you. Whether you plan on restoring the trailer yourself or will seek help, Vintage Trailer Rescue would like to assist you in finding the trailer that best suits you. If you are looking for a particular trailer that Gary does not have, he will use every resource to find it.
VCT Boot Camp, a restoration learning experience offers several seminars that will help you in rescuing your first trailer as well as restoring it. Gary teaches a class on electrical that covers how to get your taillights working. There is a class on bearings and brakes to get you on the road. The wood framing repairs class will give you an idea of what to look for and what kind of repairs to expect. It only happens once a year, don't miss Boot Camp.
If you are looking for a vintage trailer or already restoring one, join Gary and several other professional builders at Boot Camp this August. The restoration learning experience is held only once a year in Hollister, CA. Participants from across the USA gather to talk about vintage trailer restoration. Gary has been an instructor at Boot Camp for the past 5 years. As a retired teacher of electrical systems, Gary is an expert in all things electrical as it relates to your vintage trailer. Don't miss this year's camp.
The Fourth Annual Best Dam Vintage Trailer Rally convened among the flowering dogwoods April 22-25. Twenty-three camper trailers were on site, but the remarkable thing was that only two were the same brand (Shastas). One was errantly licensed as "Handmade," but no one could identify the actual manufacturer. After last year's COVID cancellation, gathering this year was a very welcome return to hospitality and friendship.
The weather predicted rain, but luckily it was only Friday evening and through the night. The gentle rain on the roof of a trailer is VERY soothing. Thursday and Saturday evenings were lit up by bonfires. Thanks to Gene Davis's blowtorch, starting the bonfire was "No problem." As the flames settled down, logs were thrown on the fire, and the stage was set for a dramatic reading of "A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee." Saturday's highlight was another campfire, but several squirts of charcoal lighter were needed to kick things off after Friday's rain. What was kicked off was a delectable buffet of campers' treats.
For the first time, a pancake breakfast was served on Saturday by the Camp Hostess, Jennifer. Connie Miller and daughter Carrie Brixey Schaumburg pitched in with a serving tent and skillet to do the bacon and sausages. What an incredible display of generosity and hospitality.
A quiet highlight was the return of Ed Proctor, the originator of the event in 2017. Getting up in the years, he no longer pulls a trailer but did come about a two-hour drive to see what "His" event has become. On hand to greet him were five of the original campers from 2017. TCT Camp Host Mike Breton rode around the camp with Ed, detailing who and what trailers were there.
Something new was the observations of several campers of how beautiful the drive through the Ozarks was with the brilliant dogwoods, fresh greenery, and the blue of Bull Shoals lake. The BDVTR is known for its relaxed atmosphere and low-key time to share stories, trailers, and friends. Vintage-inspired trailers are welcome since several original old-time trailer owners have moved up to the vintage-inspired models for the convenience of showers and bathrooms in the trailers.
The spacious campground was almost maxed out this year. Campers appreciated the spacing between individual sites noting that they felt woodsier than in other more crowded parks. Next year's event is scheduled for April 21-23. Site reservations are being taken through this summer at 870-405-9619.
See all of the rallies in the USA at www.VintageTrailerRallies.com
Karludi is definitely a "one-of-a-kind" piece of art. Named after its current owners, Karla and Judi, this rags to riches story is ready for its next chapter. The superb detail and craftsmanship, from the high gloss cabinetry and chrome wraps to the deep upholstery and custom lighting, are ready to be appreciated by the next owners of this custom creation. Much like a fine classic car, this trailer has been pampered in her climate-controlled home since being rebuilt. She has never been camped in or seen the mud puddles of any state park. Who knows what the future may hold because anything is possible along the journey with Karludi....
This one-of-a-kind 1959 Tradewind Airstream could be yours.
Karludi's story began quite by accident nearly five years ago when Indiana residents Karla and Judi acquired the 1959 Airstream Tradewind from a friend. The friend had purchased the clear titled Airstream at a swap meet and brought it home to restore for camping. The trailer had spent at least the past three decades in a woods and hadn't been plated since 1986. It was occasionally used by hunters and served as a home to various critters and rodents. Although totally original, (except for added homemade bunks), everything needed gutted. The friend's wife was less than enthusiastic about the whole idea. While visiting one evening, Karla and Judi saw the trailer for the first time and upon discovering that is was a 1959, (the same birth year as Karla), it was quickly decided that they just had to have it. Now, what to do with it was another thing. Judi had no experience with camping or trailers. Karla had been raised camping in everything from a pop-up camper to a pickup camper to diesel pushers. Both being Realtors, renovation projects were quite common for the couple, but never anything with wheels. Still, their love for everything mid-century won out and the journey began.
The first decision was where to put the trailer while searching for restoration companies. Since the couple's home was in a community with restrictive covenants related to the parking of recreational vehicles, a storage facility was the only option for the first several months. During that time, the couple searched the Midwest for professionals who specialized in Airstreams. With very few options available, the trailer ended up in Ohio, where it would spend the next 14 months getting stripped of the years of decay and neglect. The goal was to keep the original footprint of the trailer, but renovate it into a "1950's martini/wine bar theme" with all of the modern conveniences. The interior was stripped to the outside skin and all new plumbing, wiring, insulation, HVAC, tanks and basic essentials were installed. The exterior was polished and freed from major blemishes. Because this company did not specialize in the custom cabinetry and finishes that were desired, Karludi returned home to await the next phase of her journey.
As one thing always leads to another, a permanent place needed to be found to keep the Airstream upon her return home. The real estate couple discovered 5 1/2 acres for sale in a nice suburban area just ten minutes from their home and decided it would be the perfect place to build something to store the trailer. As usual, their idea grew bigger and turned into a nearly 3,000 square foot suburban barn, complete with heat, full bath, kitchen, mid-century themed furnishings, and 14-foot doors at each end for "non-backing purposes". While the vision for the Airstream continued to evolve, she was securely tucked in and safe.
The discovery of Vintage Base Camp in Louisville, Kentucky turned out to be the crowning jewel of the journey. Owner Greg Penner's educational background in creative arts, along with his personal and professional history of Airstream renovations was just what Karla and Judi had been searching for. Greg, along with his team of master craftsmen, knew what was needed to complete the project. They were able to capture the vision and take it to a whole new level. Over several months of planning, Greg helped the couple move their ideas from their heads onto paper. He appreciated and embraced the theme they were looking to achieve and provided both artistic and technical ideas. Karludi was entrusted to Vintage Base Camp in December of 2018 and completed seven months later.
During this time, Karla and Judi were able to make several progress visits and had constant communication with the team. Update pictures were emailed regularly, as well as posts on the company Facebook page. Karludi quickly became a loved member of the Vintage Base Camp family, as did Karla and Judi.
If you are interested in this trailer and would like more details or to see it in person, click here.
When Sergio Prado showed up at the rally in Malibu, CA, he wasn’t planning on a photo-shoot of his California Dreamin VW Teardrop-style trailer. He set-up his campsite tastefully with some vintage luggage and ice chest. The trailer caught our eye, and a short video I posted on social media blew up our Instagram page. Sergio is an experienced upholsterer in La Habra, CA. He did most of the work on this one-of-a-kind custom creation. His next project is a Volkswagen bus to pull the teardrop. Sergio told us he named the custom coach “Delia” in honor of his mother.
If you would like your trailer featured in the magazine, just let us know. Send us your high-resolution photos and a little bit about your vintage journey. Original images taken with a good cell phone can be used in print. Images copied and pasted from the internet cannot. If you are not confident in your photography skills, get a friend to help. You may even consider hiring a professional photographer or a student who wants to have their work published.
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.