"Do whatever it takes to make it happen, be scrappy, but remember to have fun while you are doing it!"
This is the 4th Year that Diane Dempsey has created a cover for the holiday edition of the Vintage Camper Trailers magazine. Taking inspiration from one of her Christmas cards, Diane has created another mid-century inspired cover for our 40th issue! As an admirer of Diane's style, and always interested in peoples "vintage journey", I asked Diane about her business. I am always interested in hearing about peoples business and what inspires them. Diane shared her thoughts and we organized them in this Q and A. Get to know Diane and how she came to be a part of the trailerite community.
Early on, many of my clients were museums, you know those block buster exhibitions of the 1990s? That experience has informed my creative side to love historical reference. Since I was also experienced with licensing and product development (some years were spent as the Art Director for the Cabbage Patch Kids) I wanted my own products featuring my artwork. My husband and I began the line back in 2004, which included posters, wrapping paper and year round greeting cards.
In issue #30 of the VCT Magazine we shared the before photos of this rare find. The restoration of the fiberglass body proved to be extremely difficult. The fiberglass had black mold throughout that had to be removed. The ceiling was buckling and had to be completely replaced. Once those repairs were made, getting the trailer to line up correctly was another challenge. Flyte Camp only had an empty shell to work off of, so they were recreating the interior with their flare based on vintage photos. Anna wanted to highlight the design-forward window lines so the cabinetry was customized to expose them more than they were in the original design of the trailer.
This article was originally printed in Issue #30 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine.
If you google “Holiday House Geographic”, you will find several versions of the history of these rare trailers. What is known is that David Holmes, the president of “Harry and David” (mail-order fruit baskets and gifts) was looking for ways to keep his workers busy during the January to July “off season”. He decided to have his workers build a new travel trailer with a very modern design. Holmes’ new “Holiday House” travel trailers were based on the standard aluminum skin over a wood frame construction, but the overall styling was very modern and “space age”. They were much different than the more familiar “canned ham” styles being produced in the late 1950’s. “Holiday House” trailer production began at the Medford, Oregon plant on November 2, 1959 and reached full production level by February 1960.
In February of 1960, the completed Showroom Model of “GEOGRAPHIC”, one of only five-manufactured Fiberglass trailers, was shipped to Van Nuys, California to be introduced to the world during one of the largest trailer shows in the country. In 1958 and during the preliminary design phase, this trailer was named “Star Craft”. Later marketing referred to it as Model ”X”, and ultimately it was introduced to the public as “Geographic”. (Another account says: “Less than 10 Geographics were ever made.” I was told that it is thought that five were completed but the other trailer bodies were never completely built and were eventually destroyed at the factory.)
The Geographic’s expensive price tag of $8,495 (In 1960 you could buy a house for $13,000), was likely the reason no units were sold. In 1962 the Showroom Model was sold to Joyce Woodin, the showroom manager, for $5,000. She kept all the original sales and service receipts and brochures that came with the trailer. The story is that in 1999 a Los Angeles architect named Bardy Azadmard bought the trailer and spent a decade restoring it with help from Iowa Boys LLC and Wayne Butters. After the trailer was completed, it toured some RV shows until it was sold to someone (in 2011) for a reported six figure sum, and it then shipped to France. Until recently, it was thought to be the only survivor.
In 2016 another one turned up. The owner was storing car parts in it and was willing to entertain selling it. Justin Scribner of Flyte Camp found out about it and was interested in acquiring the only other (known to date) surviving Geographic. Justin and his wife Anna were able to make a deal with the previous owners and trailered this rare jewel back to Flyte Camp in Bend, OR.
The Following is an excerpt from Issue #37 of the VCT Magazine. (click link to see this issue)
The Geo comes fully equipped with a solar/inverter battery system to keep you off the grid indefinitely. It has 4, 6-volt AGM batteries, and a portable solar panel from ZAMP. An on demand hot water heater is the only way to go for long showers. Accent LED lighting in, above and below the black walnut cabinets. A full surround sound, DVD player and TV add a home theater element to this luxury build. The HVAC system is climate controlled, with the heating and a/c unit tastefully hidden under the front couch, and ducted throughout the trailer. Custom Axalta paint with pin-striping by Kurt Silva, and Diamond Back whitewall radials finish off the exterior with the same level of quality found in the interior. SEE THIS TRAILER ON EBAY
Chuck Pelly, the original designer of the coach, attended the Modernism Show in Palm Springs and saw the finished Geographic there for the first time! He also designed the Scarab race car and went on to found the BMW group. Production of this, the Model X trailer, was certainly in the beginning stages when it was built in 1962. There were a lot of areas that needed to be improved upon. Flyte Camps hope is that they were able to recreate the trailer that Holiday House was hoping to ultimately manufacture back in the 1960's.
Vintage trailers can be a fun and economical hobby whether you are 16 or 75 years old or somewhere in between. If you can tow a small trailer, you are sure to be welcomed to one of the hundreds of vintage trailer rallies happening across the USA. Acquiring your trailer may prove to be the challenging part of the hobby. With pre-1969 trailers in such high demand, the prices of restored trailers reflect the investment of time and money put into them by their owners. If you are somewhat handy or crafty, or fancy yourself a do-it-yourselfer, you can probably restore your own vintage trailer!
We each have things we excel at, and other things that may not be our strongest skill. You may know how to put colors and patterns together to create that perfect “look” for your trailer’s interior, but as good as you are at that, you may not know the first thing about plumbing. You may be able to refinish the interiors wood paneling, but you do not know where to start when it is time to install new Wilsonart laminate countertops. When it comes to wiring, you hope for the best when you are out on the road. If you get stuck out at night with no tail lights, do you know what to check first? Keep reading and we’ll teach you something.
The great part about the vintage trailering hobby is that most aspects of restoration are not terribly difficult to accomplish. With a little bit of training, and a forum that allows you to ask the questions you need answers to, you can probably do this! You may also discover what you really can’t, or don’t want to do yourself. (I think a professional can install Forbo Marmoleum flooring better than I can, so I let them do it.)
For the past 3 years we have brought together professional builders, with dozens of trailerites from across the US and Canada that are eager to learn. The first year we had about 120 attendees, year two 150 and last year 180 attended from as far away as Canada and Maine. This year will be our 4th annual event and we will be back in Hollister, CA at the Casa De Fruta Campground. You may not be able to fix a complex issue with your refrigerator after one class at VCT Boot Camp, but you will probably learn enough to maintain it and do simple repairs. If it isn’t fixable, installing a new Dometic refrigerator probably won’t seem like such a daunting task.
We will sell out at 200 attendees this year. We get started on Thursday March 7th with a Hawaiian style BBQ. Attendees can join in the fun with their favorite Hawaiian shirt! Friday and Saturday we start with coffee and a continental breakfast and have 3-5 different classes going on throughout the day. Attendees are able to attend any of the classes they choose. Lunch is provided both days so you can grab a bite and get to your next class! In the evenings, you can enjoy the camaraderie or grab a bite at the Casa De Fruta Restaurant. Sunday morning we have a farewell assembly and coffee.
The VCT Boot Camp is the only event of its type. If you are interested in rubbing elbows with a couple hundred like-minded vintage trailer enthusiasts, you can't miss this year’s event. Tickets are on sell now. This event will sell out. Last year the rooms at the Inn were sold out within a few weeks. We have plenty of campsites and hope to see you there no matter where you come from, how you get there, or where you stay!
If your taillights on your trailer aren't working, first check the fuse in your vehicle. If the fuse isn’t blown you may have a connection problem where the trailer plugs in to the tow vehicle near the hitch. Clean the terminals and/or wiggle the plug to improve the connection. Make sure the hitch is secured to the ball on the vehicle. This will help to “ground” the trailer. You may also just have a bad bulb or a dirty connection at the socket. One of these are usually the issue. If not, you may have some old or damaged wiring somewhere in the trailer. Continue eliminating the possibilities until you chase it down.
A 501c3 nonprofit charity with two sober drivers per team
It was quickly realized that this safe ride service needed to be free (many intoxicated people didn’t want to go home until they were out of money) and that we needed to get their cars home too (no I wouldn’t leave my car behind as I need it in the morning!) . Therefore the Good Sam plan (IGS) was to start a 501c3 nonprofit charity (donations accepted) and provide two sober drivers per team, one driver to follow the other IGS driver in the intoxicated driver's car along with the intoxicated person and all their friends to point the way home (not always easy but always free!).
When it comes time to buy or sale a vintage trailer, consumers have several options to reach 1,000s of people with the Internet and sites like the Vintage Camper Trailers "For Sale" and "Sell Your Trailer" pages. The Internet has also, unfortunately, given scammers a new venue to find uninformed victims. No matter where you are shopping for, or selling a vintage trailer, be warned that you may come in contact with someone that isn't really interested in the hobby but is just trying to scam you out of your hard earned money.
The “Price Too Good to Be True” scam
In this scam, a prospective buyer sees a vintage camper trailer for a price well below market value. When the buyer contacts the seller, he or she is notified that the seller and the trailer is outside of the country and will arrange for shipment of the car upon receipt of payment, most often via wire transfer (such as Western Union) or bank-to-bank transfer (for very large payments). When the money is transferred and collected, the “seller” breaks contact and the buyer is out the money.
The overpayment scam
A legitimate seller posts a vintage trailer for sale. He or she is then contacted by a prospective “buyer” (really a scammer) who offers to send a cashier’s check immediately plus additional funds to cover shipment of the trailer overseas. When the check arrives, the seller is instructed to deposit it and wire the overage to the “shipper.” When this is done and the wire transfer picked up, the “buyer” breaks contact and the seller is left on the hook to their bank for the fraudulent check and the missing funds.
Many consumers are rightfully wary of sending large amounts of money to someone they’ve never met. Scammer frequently recommend the use of fake “escrow” services that will hold funds involved in the transaction until both parties are satisfied that the transaction has been completed. In a typical scam, a legitimate buyer will be approached by a scammer selling a car or trailer (again, often a vintage trailer or classic car priced, but usually priced well below market value). The scam seller will offer to ship the item and that there is no risk of fraud due to the “escrow” service (purportedly eBay, PayPal, or another service). Once the money is transferred, contact is broken (or sometimes additional funds are requested to cover “unforeseen” events). In any case, the legitimate buyer never receives the vehicle and loses their money.
Click "read more" below to find out How to avoid online-buying scams
By Michelle Peterson
People have long touted the benefits of the great outdoors. From a simple walk on a sunny day to camping in the wild, exposure to nature improves our general well-being. This natural health boost comes in the form of exercise, breathing fresh air, and the emotionally calming effects of connecting to the wild. For those in recovery from addiction, nature exposure can bolster whole-body health, which helps them stay on track.
Sal Scolaro of Toluca Woods, CA stole the show at rallies with this set-up! His site was is decked out in period correct gear that made it a crowd favorite. Sal says he mainly buys original cars and trailers and can do most of the restoration work himself. The 1965 Rambler pictured here is still a work in progress. The longroof is the perfect pairing for the 1966 Driftwood trailer. Driftwood is one of the thousands of lesser known brands of trailers produced in the 1950's and 1960's. Little is documented on this brand. We could only find the following unverified information on the TCT website: Driftwood was made from 1966-1968 by a company called Scully Industries in Indiana.
Sal enjoys the Paso RobIes Wine Country RV Park and considers it his favorite. Other favorite campgrounds include Crescent City, CA for all of the redwood trees and the Flying Flags Resort in Buellton, CA. A display like this portrays the way a campsite may have looked in the 1960's. Sal goes over the top not only with the consistent color pallet, but also staying as true to period as possible. (Not as difficult if you have been collecting for 25 years!) The seeds of glamping were planted around this period. The 1960’s were a prime time for outdoor activity in the United States. The Woodstock Generation embraced Nature in all her forms, partially out of a genuine desire to simplify their lives and partially out of pure rebellion against their “stay inside the house” parents.
Camping is a summertime tradition for more and more people each year. Over half a million new RV's were sold in 2018. The vintage trailering hobby continues to flourish both in the US and internationally. People are even "full-time RVers" working on the road as they travel. Vintage and modern rigs outfitted with modern luxuries like flat screen TV's or devices to extend your wireless connectivity make this all possible. You don’t have to work or to join any organizations or clubs, unless you want to. You decide how much, or how little, you want to spend. Vintage trailers and used RV’s are still being had for less than a thousand dollars. You may end up with more camping buddies than you know what to do with! No need to rough it if you don't want to. You can always go “glamping”or “glamour camping”.
“Glamorous camping". Satisfying your craving for the outdoors and your penchant for a good meal, nice glass of wine, and a comfortable bed. No stinky sleeping bags on the hard ground and freeze dried food for me. If it’s not a Glamping trip, count me out.” Urban Dictionary.com
4 Things That Will Help You to Host Your Own Vintage Trailer Rally-What are the first steps and how we can help you to get started.
No vintage trailer rallies in your neck of the woods? Why not put together your own rally. Start small and simple. It is more important that you move forward with a simple plan now, than be intimidated by all the possible doings you may want to implement in the future. Being the host or wagon-master can be rewarding. It also requires your time and the responsibility to make the arrangements and decisions that will arise before and during the event. Trailerites across the United States contact us to find out about rallies in their area. We hope that you will take some of our ideas and host a rally in your region.
A vintage trailer rally is nothing more than people getting together with a common interest in preserving the nostalgia of the past. You don’t have to dream up a theme, hire a band, and commit to filling 100 sites to host a rally. If there are no vintage rallies in your area, you can be the first to take on the role of wagon master. Use our experiences, and ideas to help you get started. It’s as simple as 1,2,3
The first three things you should do are very simple and probably go without saying
Picking a date may be as simple as inviting others along on a trip you have already planned. Our first rally was based on a weekend that the park had prearranged activities. We literally just showed up and invited our friends to join us. Make sure your date does not conflict with other vintage trailer rallies or major events in your immediate area. For a comprehensive list of trailer rallies in the United States, consult the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine. Once you make your plans, the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine will publicize your event in the calendar section for free. Let us know by filling out the rally form here.
The fourth thing you should do is ask for help. Do you know someone that has hosted a vintage trailer rally? Consult with someone that has already done something similar. Learning from someone that has been there, and done that, will save you the trial and error and possibly some grief. In the event you do not know anyone to consult with, you may want to get a copy of the book, Vintage Camper Trailer Rallies. It has a lot of information and ideas about hosting a rally, along with hundreds of photos of vintage trailers.
We created a “VCT Rally Starter Kit” to help you with some of the things that would have helped us when we were starting out. The kit includes our "how-to" book along with raffle prizes, free gifts for your attendees, and window signs that look like you know what you’re doing! We even give you a way to generate some profits to cover the costs of your event.
Hosting rallies is a labor of love, not a get rich quick scheme. With our “VCT Rally Starter Kit” we will even include a phone meeting to answer any questions you may have. We look forward to helping you get started planning and hosting your own vintage trailer rally!
Submitted by Dan Donnovan
If you are restoring a vintage trailer this concoction may come in handy.
A subjective test of popular penetrants with the control being the torque required to remove the nut from a "scientifically rusted" environment.
*Penetrating oil ..... Average load*
None .................... 516 pounds
WD-40 .................. 238 pounds
PB Blaster ............. 214 pounds
Liquid Wrench ..... 127 pounds
Kano Kroil ........... 106 pounds
ATF-Acetone mix....53 pounds
The ATF-Acetone mix was a "home brew" mix of 50 - 50 automatic transmission fluid and acetone. Note the "home brew" was better than any commercial product in this one particular test. Our local machinist group mixed up a batch, and we all now use it with equally good results. Note also that "Liquid Wrench" is about as good as "Kroil" for about 20% of the price.
Machinist's Workshop Magazine (March/April or May/June, 2007) tested penetrants for break out torque on rusted nuts. Significant results! As forwarded by an ex-student and professional machinist, Bud Baker.
By Paul Lacitinola
Publisher, The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine
The variety of camping trailers built post war through the 1960’s is seemingly endless. After a decade in the hobby I am still learning of manufacturers that I have never heard of. The popularity of the vintage trailer hobby has caused many people to have a new-found interest in once obscure and long-forgotten trailers. Most vintage trailer enthusiasts are familiar with the major brands like Shasta, Airstream and Aristocrat, but there were many more mid-century manufacturers that were small operations with limited productions. The market was flooded with trailers of different sizes, floorplans and amenities. Determining the vintage trailer that will best suit your needs today is a critical part of investing in a classic coach.
Most motor vehicle departments consider the length of a trailer to be the overall length from the ball hitch to the rear bumper. Sometimes sellers only measure the length of the body and do not include the added length of the tongue. Make sure you are clear on the actual overall trailer dimensions. When purchasing a trailer consider where it will be stored. You may be restricted in the length or width of a trailer that will fit in your storage area. Other primary considerations are how many beds you will need and what type of bathroom, if any, is a “must have” for you. Bathrooms may include any combination of a commode, shower, tub and sink. The smaller the trailer, the less likely it is to have a bathroom. Trailers can range from 10’ to over 30’. I think that up to a bout 26’ is a manageable size. The bigger your trailer, the more considerations there are for the type of tow vehicle that you have and the campgrounds that can accommodate you.
Go to a Vintage Trailer Rally
Once you have determined some of your non-negotiable needs and desires, you are ready to begin looking at trailers that also fit your budget. Waiting for one that fits your parameters, and is close enough to go see, may take a while. Rather than waiting for one to pop-up for sell nearby, I recommend you visit a Vintage Camper Trailer rally that has an Open House. An open house is typically held on the Saturday of a rally and is open to the public to tour the trailers. Often there are trailers for sell at a rally or the people there have, or know of, trailers for sale. Being able to see several different sizes and floor plans will help you continue to focus on the perfect vintage trailer for you. Meeting and mingling with people already in the hobby will give you insight into variables you may not have considered. Do you prefer twin or full beds? Is their enough ceiling height? Is the available living space enough for your kids, pets and gear? (All the rallies in the USA are published in the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine).
Take a Test Drive
Once you narrow down the trailer type, size and amenities that you would like, you may want to take one for a test-drive. Outdoorsy.com now offers a searchable data base where you can find “vintage” trailers for rent. You can even search by brand name like “Airstream” or “Shasta” to help you find the trailer you would like to take camping. This nationwide database provides you with the opportunity to experience vintage camping before you buy. It also provides you an alternative to owning a trailer yourself. If you ultimately invest in a trailer you may want to offer it for rent on Outdoorsy.com to offset your expenses. If you are going to be camping, why not take advantage of a 50% discount on your camping fees? Passport America is the original 50% Discount Camping Club and has the largest network of quality campgrounds across the nation. A one-year RV Discount Camping Card is only $44. You will likely save as much on your first weekend outing.
See the Trailer in Person
Always go and see a potential trailer purchase in person before dropping your hard-earned cash. Trailers always look better on-line and computers don’t have smell-o-vision. Even a novice can “feel” a soft floor or smell a funk that may be impossible to get rid of. If you can’t go see the trailer, you can take your chances with a trusted friend that may be closer and can give you their feedback. Consider the risk/reward of NOT seeing the trailer in person, and the cost of transporting the trailer, in the overall cost of the RV.
Other factors to purchasing a vintage trailer include evaluating the condition of a trailer and determining the value. These are two important aspects of investing in 70-year-old camping trailers requiring their own articles. Here is a link to an article on valuing a vintage trailer. You will also want to explore your vehicles tow rating, so you are able to travel safely.
Buying a vintage trailer and being a part of the vintage trailering hobby should be a very positive experience. The first trailer you buy, may not be your “forever” trailer. Being in the hobby, and participating in the rallies yourself, will expose you to many opportunities to find your perfect trailer. Selling the trailer that you have shouldn’t be a problem with all the interest in the vintage trailering hobby and another newbie on the hunt for their first vintage trailer.
Visit a rally with over 200 trailers! www.trailerfestrally.com
Learn how to restore vintage camper trailers.
Shop for a vintage camper trailer.
Sell your vintage camper trailer.
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