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."
The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine Blog
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