The original, made in the USA, magazine for collectors, restorers, admirers, and dreamers.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Elverta, CA - www.vintagecampertrailers.com. It has been ten years since we started publishing the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine. We started with a newsprint tabloid that we could afford to print for two years without any income from subscribers. Issue number 15 was an actual glossy paged magazine. It was only supposed to be a "Special Collectors Edition," but the feedback from the community was so positive that we never returned to the folded tabloid format.
The trailerites (vintage trailer enthusiasts) and subscribers are the keys to the success of The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine. We receive photos and stories from trailer owners, restorers, and rally hosts across the USA. We can tell the stories of their vintage journeys, share their how-to tips and pass-on rally ideas from coast to coast. Each issue includes a rally calendar and classified ads for those buying or selling a trailer. A niche magazine like ours relies on advertisers who value their investment and subscribers who enjoy each issue's content. Many of our advertisers have been on board since the first issue.
We are family-owned to this day, and if you call, chances are Caroline or Paul will answer. After almost eight years of working another full-time job, Paul dedicated his time exclusively to the magazine and hosting rallies. Over the years, we have added a digital option, but the physical printed magazine remains the choice of most. If you have never had the opportunity to view the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine, use the code VCTB20 to save 20% on a digital subscription. Click here to see subscription options.
If you have content you would like to contribute to the magazine, send it our way; we look forward to hearing from you soon. Join your people and stay connected with others rescuing, restoring, and rallying with America's mid-century trailers.
We'll see you campin-
From issue #1 (far left) in tabloid form to our full color glossy print and digital copies. Looking for back issues? Click here. Many are still available in print or digital.
Build a Vintage Trailer from Scratch
This is an excerpt from an article by John Palmer in issue #59 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine.
Photos by Hal Thoms
The Vintage Trailer hobby is just over twenty years old. I have been active in the hobby for the past twelve years and have witnessed extensive growth. For example, we now have lots of vintage rallies to choose from attending within a day’s driving distance. In California this past month, we had three very large Vintage Rally’s scheduled on the same weekend! We now have The VCT print magazine, we have had T.V. shows about our hobby and vintage trailer rebuilding, we have our annual Boot Camp Learning Experience “sold out” each year, and companies are now opening that specialize in the restoration of vintage campertrailers. We have parts vendors that have invested their resources into the tooling necessary to build reproduction parts to help save our old trailers. Major insurance companies are developing special policies targeted to our specific vintage trailer insurance needs. You cannot watch a primetime T.V. show or a T.V. commercial without seeing a vintage trailer used as a prop in the background. Mainline R.V. companies have tried to jump on the vintage bandwagon by releasing modern versions of the old Vintage Trailer designs.
Anyone remotely watching this hobby has already seen the significant increase in prices for restorable camper trailers, only to find them already sold when you call. So, what are your options to just accepting the increase in cost and limited availability of core trailers to rebuild that are in popular camper sizes? How about building your own hand built vintage trailer? Read the intire article in issue #59 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine.
Click "Read More" below for more pictures.
75th Anniversary Spartan Trailer Rally
By Clint Cox
In July of 2020, I transported a Spartan Carousel (10x50) through Tulsa, OK. Knowing that the Spartan factory had been razed a year (or two) earlier, I decided to leave the highway and pull the trailer onto the factory floor (located at the south end of the western runway at Tulsa International Airport). I figured I could take some pictures for the new owner of the Spartan I had in tow. I wasn’t there all of 10 minutes when a car pulled up on the pad, and a lady jumped out and was in awe of the trailer. She introduced herself as Tonya Blansett, the executive director of the Tulsa Air & Space Museum (TASM). She asked if I could bring the trailer to the museum, to which I happily agreed. I opened the trailer up so that all of TASM’s employees and volunteers could have a look. In exchange, I was given a quick tour of the museum hangar, which houses three Spartan airplanes, including the last one built, an Executive! An instant friendship was made, and upon departing, Tonya casually mentioned that they had a flat, open field next to the museum, in case we ever want to organize a rally.
The idea of a rally stuck in my head. I had been involved with Spartan trailers for about eight years since purchasing my own 1959 Royal Manor. It dawned on me that 2021 would be the 75th Anniversary of trailer production’s beginnings. I became excited about the rally idea and spoke with a few trailer restorers. They all felt that a rally in Tulsa would be a great idea. A Facebook page was started to gauge interest and Chance Ty, one of the group members, was a graphic artist, so I asked him to design a rally poster. Early in the fall of 2020, I posted the rally poster and announced that there would be a rally a year from now. Ryan Rice, another graphic artist in our group, who had just purchased a 1956 Executive Mansion, offered to help me with merch. We designed hats, T-shirts, bath towel sets, and a beautiful commemorative blanket depicting five popular Spartan trailer models from 1946 to 1959. Read the entire article in issue #59 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine. Click "Read More" below for more photos.
Don't Spoil the Vintage Look with a Modern Fridge! Try an Energy Efficient Fridge Alternative
We can think of about a million things that we love about vintage trailers, but the original "ice box" food storage solution in our 1957 Sportcraft, was not one of them. Designed for a simpler time, we appreciate both the minimalism and the sweet, mid-century hardware on this poorly insulated aluminum box. But, the original ice-to-food-storage ratio just wasn't going to cut it for longer than a weekend, let alone full-time living.
During our 2011-12 remodel we considered a modern replacement -- 3-way fridge, 12V cooler, etc. We just couldn't find anything that would fit the space while keeping the vintage look and budget, and provide us with enough cold food storage. With our launch date to full-time living approaching and with no viable solutions on the horizon, we settled on a hasty compromise.
We used the vintage ice box inside Hamlet as a dry-goods storage space and kept all of our cold food in a cooler out in our pick-up truck bed. This forced us to stick with the tried and true habit of picking up 10 lbs of ice every 3 to 4 days. Planning ahead to avoid being somewhere far off-the-grid with a melting bag of cold water instead of a robust block of ice, just became part of our routine.
Call it procrastination, call it just settling in to the way we did things, but the constant draining and cleaning, the sweaty cheeses, the partially liquified lettuces, the trips to the store -- it all finally got the better of us. We needed a different solution that would allow us to store enough food without having to compromise our inside space or vintage esthetic. We were not alone. With all the folks transitioning to life on the road in RVs, vans, and vintage rigs, the 12V product options just keep opening up!
We settled on the ICECO VL45 Single Zone Portable Fridge Freezer, with its simple design, very reasonable price tag, efficient compressor, low-profile but durable handles, as the perfect solution for our situation. Many 12V fridge options were either too bulky, not powerful enough, too expensive, or simply too large for the allocated storage area. When your whole life fits into a 72 sq ft camper and the utility box of a truck, reallocating space is, well…complicated. Note: It's also perfect for those families who need extra fridge/freezer space beyond what they store inside their trailer.
We wanted to run our fridge off solar power to extend our boondocking adventures well beyond the lifespan of a block of ice. It also seemed like a wasted opportunity to not include an engine charging option into the mix, without draining the truck battery. The folks at Renogy thought so too, and created the Dual Input DC to DC Charger. We became aware of this product while installing a DC to DC charger between my parent's towing vehicle and RV and it really got us thinking.
This ingenious device takes an engine charge input (via the starting battery) as well as a solar panel input. It allows us to run a 12V fridge off of our 12V-50Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate battery and be able to charge it while driving, or with our portable 100W Folding Solar Suitcase while camping off-grid.
One extra feature of the Dual Input charger is that when connected to solar and the service battery is full, the charger will trickle charge the starting battery in the engine. So, no matter how far out we might be, or for how long, we won't be stuck with a dead starting battery.
The installation was pretty straightforward and can be done with minimal tools, as you can see in our step-by-step video. We had to design some vehicle specific solutions for mounting and securing components, but with the truck bed topper providing a water-resistant shelter much of the challenge for this installation was already solved.
Click on "Read More", (below) right for the rest of this article, a downloadable pdf, video product review and coupon codes.
In a personal history sort of way, the Trail Along to Pismo rally most likely began to formulate in June of 1963. We spent our honeymoon camping in an “umbrella” tent in Sequoia National Park for a week. In those days, most regular folks did not go far from home for their wedding celebrations like they do today. We continued camping in a tent until we purchased our first new truck and camper in 1967. We joined a camper group and belonged to it on and off for about 40 years (became secretary-publisher of the newsletter/flyer for a few years) and eventually had a couple of different sized motorhomes while we raised our four children. Members of the club took turns planning these just camping (and dune buggy) type rallies. We still belonged to the club until just after buying our first vintage trailer in 1999, and then — there was no going back.
We attended the Newport Dunes Rally a couple of years before I voluntarily assisted with publishing its newsletter and events for the wagonmaster, Craig Dorsey. The following year, when it appeared it would not be happening, I asked the wagonmaster if I could do it, and it was a yes. Altho’ it regularly had 100 vintage trailers, we could only obtain 75 sites at such late notice. The staff at Newport Dunes was very helpful.
We began attending small rallies mostly in northern California, a couple in southern California and Arizona enjoying and exploring the vintage trailer world with the old-timers and the newcomers. We kept seeing Bob and Cindy Ross at many of the rallies throughout this time. One day I received a call from Cindy Ross asking me to join her and Bob and one other in planning and organizing an unnamed event at Pismo Coast Village. Cindy found Pismo Coast Village Resort on the internet and felt it was an excellent location to bring northern and southern Californian trailerites together in one place. We were used to hosting many teams, birthday, school, work, graduation parties, and receptions in our backyard. I replied with a yes since I often organized events at my place(s) of work before retirement. Even though Chuck Miltenberger was not listed as a wagonmaster, he was always present, supporting and assisting with all aspects of the rally.
Bob and Cindy were, and still are the canned ham specialists. It seemed everyone either owned a restored trailer or had one worked on by them. Their specialty at Pismo was the number of trailer folks they knew which was essential in getting the first word out on Pismo. They were and still are highly respected and popular amongst trailerites. Planning began in 2007, and it took 3 or 4 months to fill the spaces. Later on, it took less than 24 hours. We went by postmark as we accepted checks by snail mail. We also did not charge any registration fee. We decided it would be the party we gave. The waiting list grew longer every year. The most challenging part was putting names on a waiting list, recognizing how badly they wanted to join the Pismo experience, and we wanted to share it with them, too.
Little did we realize at the time how this rally would take on a life of its own and grow and grow and grow. Cindy and I were concerned and anxious if we would even be able to fill the 100 sites we had. We ended up adding sites and think we had 125 sites that year. The following year it grew to 160. Then I think we had a year of maybe 225 trailers. Pismo notified us that they were giving 300 of their 400 sites to us; we had this number of sites for at least the last two years of the event.
In retrospect, I think Pismo’s key to success was founded on
Communication * Respect * Patience * Commitment * Common Interests
Eventually, Pismo took up a whole bedroom in my home filled with packets, mementos, and an assortment of items we would bring with us. I initially began with 5 or 6 lists of everything to check and double-check all the lists and activities. I knew if you over-planned an event, it would happen, maybe not in all the ways expected. Still, it would happen and hopefully be acceptable. I’d try to maintain a sense of humor and be flexible to roll with unexpected happenings. Planning and follow-up was a “big” part-time job. It was a double-edged sword; I loved it, but it was almost all-time consuming because we cared so much, but we chose to do it because we wanted to do it. Trailer rally and show organizers can attest to the extra time it takes to pay attention to extra phone calls and emails, but if someone has a question, you can be sure others probably have the same one.
The first year we offered nachos, and a couple of other folks brought some finger food. After that, we made it a finger food potluck and everyone attending trailer trash night contributed. We did not have a dinner potluck due to the size of the area because there was no place to seat everyone if they all chose to attend at one time.
We put together a small Welcome to “Trail Along to Pismo” booklet each year. It contained a Table of Contents which included happenings and activities such as kite flying (hosted by Charlie Wallace and Sherry Trochta), movie night (Chris Hart & Phil Noyes), Pismo vintage bowling (Karinne & Rod Olsen), Best Breakfast (Lynn & Larrie Follstad), door prize and gift exchange (Bob & Cindy), vintage trailer swap meet (rally participants), public walk-about/open house, trailer trash happy hour and finger food potluck (Chuck & Toni’s family & friends), occasional after-parties at various sites, and the Tumble Weed Sunday get-together (Andy Broomhead & Mary Bourke) for those remaining an extra day. Brad Boyajian would supply his 1935 Helm’s truck that we drove around the resort. Steve Hingtgen of Vintage Trailer Supply provided a variety of gifts for the campers each year. We listed each trailerite, their site number, trailer yer/model, in the booklet. In addition, we tried to include an educational, historical page with an excerpt from a vintage book or article in each edition. In 2011, we even published a 4th annual Trail Along to Pismo yearbook. I made amateur videos of attending vintage trailers which were given to those who contributed a picture for four of the years.
After we retired from the Pismo Rally, we assisted Cindy in putting on the Cindy Ross Chula Vista Rally its first year. Then Cindy’s mother took it over until the Chula Vista Resort temporarily closed.
Even though it was time-consuming, it was a pleasure to hear the comments and to see the smiles on everyone’s face during and after the event. Those happy faces were encouraging and motivating to us to endeavor to bring it back each year to make “Trail Along to Pismo” the event that it became; but, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em — Know when to fold ‘em — Know when to walk away” . . . and so, it was time to retire and to pass the baton to other wonderful trailerites who continue to plan, organize and create wonderful rallies available for those who share our commitment to each other and our trailers.
With thanks, love, hugs, & smiles,
THE VINTAGE CAMPER TRAILERS MAGAZINE BLOG
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