Top Stories of 2014

Time glides with undiscover’d haste

The future but a length behind the past.

—John Dryden

Vistabule Introduces ‘Cab Forward’ Teardrop Trailer
Vistabule Introduces ‘Cab Forward’ Teardrop Trailer

Hello, RVing friends! The year is turning over, and another 12 months of RVing, photography, hiking, and birding has flashed by.

The End is almost here!

This is article # 2,393 since my first post on August 18, 2010. Okay, the end isn’t near, but the end of the year is almost here, and it’s time to think about wrap-ups as 2014 draws to a close.

The end of the year is the traditional time for doing a summary and some reflection.

Looking back there were certain events and articles that kindled reader interest and comments.

Thank you for reading, providing feedback, and returning frequently to read my latest articles. Thank you for your continuing support!

Vogel Talks RVing would like to wish its readers a safe and happy New Years. As we reflect on the past year, here’s a look back at some of the most popular articles from Vogel Talks RVing.

Lil’ Snoozy Goes Camping
Lil’ Snoozy Goes Camping

After 183,332 unique visitors, 213,703 visits, and 308,286 page views in 2014, here are the top 10 most read and most popular Vogel Talks RVing articles of the year, listed in the order of their readership numbers.  And the most popular article of 2014 is…

  1. Vistabule Introduces ‘Cab Forward’ Teardrop Trailer  – Streamlined and weighing just 1,220 pounds, Vistabule can be towed behind nearly any small car.

Number Page Views: 15,841

Posted: January 3, 2013

  1. Vogel Talks RVing – Home page

Number Page Views: 10,113

  1. Old is New Again: New Retro RV Manufacturer  – A recent trend in the RV manufacturing industry is the development of an increasing number of retro-style trailers entering the RV marketplace.

Number Page Views: 9,319

Posted: March 14, 2011

  1. Lil’ Snoozy Goes Camping – Customers love the Lil Snoozy, a fiber glass travel trailer, because Lil’ is only 17 feet, 3 inches in length; 7 feet, 11 inches in width; and 7 feet, 5 inches high.

Number Page Views: 7,629

Posted: June 23, 2012

DoubleBack Ultimate Camper Van
DoubleBack Ultimate Camper Van
  1. 5. Vistabule Teardrop Trailer: One Year Later – Report on the Vertabule teardrop trailer one year after the launch.

Number Page Views: 5,616

Posted: February 18, 2014

  1. Vintage Travel Trailers Restored – Visitors are welcome to view the vintage trailers under restoration as well as admire finished trailers available for sale to the public.

Number Page Views: 3,775

Posted: February 18, 2012

  1. DoubleBack Ultimate Camper Van  – What makes the DoubleBack unique is just how much space it actually has, and how easily you can expand or contract its size to fit your recreational needs.

Number Page Views: 3,712

Posted: April 16, 2012

  1. Bag-A-Lot, a Light Bulb Moment  – What started as a homespun way to stash recyclables has developed into the clever invention of Bag-A-Lot, a portable, multi-purpose flexible bag holder.

Number Page Views: 3,511

Posted: September 21, 2012

  1. Prolite Introduces New Ultra Light Model – Weighing less than 1,300 pounds, Prolite introduces two new ultra light travel trailers that complement the eight model currently available.

Number Page Views: 2,756

Posted: September 24, 2011

The Next Generation: The Trailer You Want To Go Camping In
The Next Generation: The Trailer You Want To Go Camping In
  1. 10. The Next Generation: The Trailer You Want To Go Camping In – The Next Generation camping trailer will have a modern design, intelligent technology, and better construction materials than ever before.

Number Page Views: 2,730

Posted: May 21, 2014

A Happy New Year to all my readers. Best wishes for 2015. Find what brings you joy and go there.

May the months ahead be filled with great RVing experiences!

Remember, the journey, and not the destination, is the joy of RVing. Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in an RV.

Happy Trails. Life is an adventure. Enjoy your journey.

Worth Pondering…

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light,

The year is dying in the night.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow,

The year is going, let him go.

—Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

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Vintage RVs: Canned Hams, Shiny Hineys & Tin Cans

Vintage trailers continue their popularity among today’s RVers. There is a certain charm and nostalgia with vintage trailers that you can’t find with new recreational vehicles.

The Tin Can Tourists heated tin cans of food on gasoline stoves by the roadside.
The Tin Can Tourists heated tin cans of food on gasoline stoves by the roadside

Nostalgia is tops on the list of reasons folks are attracted to vintage trailers. When they were kids, they went camping in something similar, so it brings back memories for those people.

And don’t forget the decorating. From kitschy pink flamingos to leopard spots to Route 66 memorabilia, folks love to make their trailers look different from everybody else’s.

The rolling homes were small: a bed, kitchen, and dinette in one room. Over the decades they expanded into today’s large-sized RVs, but there’s an increasing demand for the older trailers.

These vintage models are often called Canned Hams, Shiny Hineys, or Tin Cans. Whatever they’re called, classic trailers from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s are rolling back into popularity.

These vintage boxes on wheels are more artsy than your new trailers now, have a character, and a style.

This '60 Airstream Traveler has been completely restored. (Credit: rrvintagetrailers.com)
This ’60 Airstream Traveler has been completely restored. (Credit: rrvintagetrailers.com)

When travel trailers first started roaming American roads in the 1920s their owners were called Tin Can Tourists because they heated tin cans of food on gasoline stoves by the roadside.

The Tin Can Tourists formed the first camping club in the United States, holding their inaugural rally in Florida in 1919 and growing to 150,000 members by the mid-1930s. They had an initiation; an official song, “The More We Get Together;” and a secret handshake.

Women gather from across the country to camp out and many bring their vintage campers. They call themselves Sisters on the FlyFounded in 1999, Sisters on the Fly has grown from three members to nearly 4,500 worldwide including in Canada, England, and Australia, in addition to the United States.

The Get’away Gals, a group of women from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, gather for camping trips once a month in their tricked-out vintage trailers.

Vintage style in tiny packages, teardrop trailers, around since the 1930s, are seeing a boom in popularity. Teardrops are streamlined, compact, lightweight travel trailers, which get their name from its teardrop profile. They usually range from 4 to 6 feet in width, 8 to 10 feet in length, and 4 to 5 feet in height, and have sleeping space for two adults and a basic kitchen in the rear.

In recent years, vintage trailers have been renovated into mobile store fronts, mobile eco-homes, mobile art galleries (Happy Camper Mobile Art Gallery), mobile gourmet coffee shops (Cadillac Coffee), a mobile distillery (2 Gingers Irish Whiskey), and a bargain clothing store (Buffalo Exchange).

Have you considered a vintage trailer? People around the country are restoring and refurbishing vintage trailers in unique ways and women are finding them particularly appealing.

Vistabule Teardrop Trailer
Vistabule Teardrop Trailer

Restoration is a slow, time-consuming process. Carpentry, plumbing, and electrical skills are needed to tackle a fix-up job on these old trailers. Always start at the top and work down. One panel at a time. Persistence, perseverance, and determination will get you to the end.

But, restoring vintage trailers is not for the fainthearted. That’s one reason Flyte Camp (Bend, Oregon) is in high demand and quickly earning a reputation as one of the best vintage RV restoration shops in the U.S.

Retro Trailer Design (Glenwood Springs, Colorado) recreates vintage travel trailers reminiscent of the canned hams of the 1950s and 1960s.

Hofmann Architecture (Santa Barbara, California) takes vintage trailers and brings them back to life through custom design based on the owner’s preference.

Mintage Airstreams (Missoula, Montana) is dedicated to restoring classic Airstreams. From the initial design to the finished product, each custom-made Airstream is designed to accommodate each customer’s personal preferences.

Russian River Vintage Travel Trailers (Guerneville, California) re-designs the interiors of Airstreams and other campers. Prices for restored vintage Airstreams vary wildly, depending on the age, the condition of the exterior shell, and the extent of the interior design.

1939 Charles Lindbergh Travel Trailer Up for Auction
1939 Charles Lindbergh Travel Trailer Up for Auction

Is the iconic Airstream a bit too passé for your tastes?

The 1939 Charles Lindbergh Travel Trailer is up for auction. Designed in San Carlos, California, by an engineer of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, this trailer was custom-built for famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, hence  its name.

Buying this legend’s trailer, however, won’t come easy on the wallet. The 1939 Lindbergh travel trailer is expected to fetch anywhere from $150,000-200,000. The 1939 Charles Lindbergh Travel Trailer is part of the Maranello Rosso Collection that will be auctioned at the 17th annual Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction in Carmel, California, August 15.

Worth Pondering…

As I read, and thought, and stared at my stuff around me, I slowly realized a simple truth. The amount of freedom in my life was inversely proportional to the amount of stuff I had.

—Emily Fagen’s blog, Road Less Traveled

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The Joys of Retro RVs

In a day where many recreational vehicles can easily cost six-figures and measure 40-feet or more, some people are returning to basics resulting in the retro RV trend gaining momentum.

The 1961 Shasta trailer, formerly owned by Kelle Arvay of LittleVintageTrailer.com, was nicknamed 'Buttercup.' (Credit: Courtesy of Kelle Arvay/LittleVintageTrailer.com)
The 1961 Shasta trailer, formerly owned by Kelle Arvay of LittleVintageTrailer.com, was nicknamed ‘Buttercup.’ (Credit: Courtesy of Kelle Arvay/LittleVintageTrailer.com)

Numerous vintage trailers, Airstreams, and other retro RVs have been featured in Vogel Talks RVing.

The retro RV is making a strong comeback. RVers young and old are investing in either fixing up retro RVs or buying them used. Others are renting a retro RV or staying in a retro at an RV park featuring retro RV rentals.

Some older models, like the Airstream, last for decades. Some Airstream owners have been using their trailer for over four decades.

The Airstream has made a major comeback in recent years—and whether the comeback has fueled a vintage trailer trend or it’s the other way around, one thing is certain: It has become easy to rent a retro trailer for a weekend or extended vacation, whether it’s an Airstream, a teardrop trailer, or retro RV.

Life on the road can be enjoyed in a retro RV in one of four ways:

Restore a retro RV

Depending on your time investment and budget, restoring a RV can be one of the most exciting and adventurous projects you and your family take on. When restoring a RV, you can work on a project-by-project basis. You’ll find locating parts that you need might be a little bit harder than you anticipated, but they’re out there. When tackling a project one-by-one, you can move towards the overall goal of fully restoring a RV to its former glory and then hitting the road.

Buy a retro RV

Flyte Camp retored this 1950 Traveleze vintage travel trailer. (Credit: flytecamp.com)
Flyte Camp retored this 1950 Traveleze vintage travel trailer. (Credit: flytecamp.com)

Restoring vintage trailers is not for the fainthearted. That’s one reason full-service restoration shops such as Flyte Camp are in high demand.

Rescued from curbsides and junkyards, castaway classic campers are getting a new life at Retro Trailer Design.

Custom vintage trailer restorations are also a specialty at Russian River Vintage Travel Trailers; visitors are welcome to view the vintage trailers under restoration as well as admire finished trailers available for sale to the public.

Buy a new RV with a retro flair

Several manufacturers are producing brand new models of travel trailers with retro flair, exposing today’s consumers and their families to unique recreational experiences that create or help to relive a lifetime of memories.

Paradise Coast RV is a manufacturer of brand new models of travel trailers all modeled after the 1940′s, 50′s, and 60′s.

The Dub Box is a fun and creative retro camper with a new twist. The initial design was born from the American vintage trailer, merged with retro styling, and infused with modern conveniences for style and comfort.

Dub Box is a customizable camper manufactured in Oregon. (Source: Dub Box USA)
Dub Box is a customizable camper manufactured in Oregon. (Source: Dub Box USA)

Popular from the 1930s to the ’60s, teardrop trailers are 4 to 6 feet wide, 8 to 10 feet long, and light enough that you can park your car, unhook the trailer, and just pull it into place.

These trailers are making a big comeback now, so much so that teardrop manufacturers are springing up across the country. One such company, Tiny Trailer, offers a single teardrop design that sports the retro look of the 1940s paired with 21st century amenities — a micro-heater, forced-air ventilation, electric lights, and weather-proofing — all handcrafted from modern lightweight, durable materials.

Rent a retro RV

You don’t need to drive a motorhome, travel trailer, or fifth wheel to enjoy the RV park experience.

Ready-to-rent on-site Airstreams are also popping up in a variety of campgrounds. The Autocamp, Santa Barbara’s “boutique Airstream lodging” concept— a downtown pod of five handcrafted fully decked-out vintage trailers— is expanding to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Ventura Beach this year.

Shooting Star Drive-In & Airstream Resort
Shooting Star Drive-In & Airstream Resort

The Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream and RV Park is a one-of-a-kind resort along Utah’s Highway 12 where travelers can stay in restored Airstream travel trailers and sit in vintage convertible cars while they watch a drive-in movie.

Co-owned by B-52s vocalist Kate Pierson, Kate’s Lazy Desert invites visitors to “rocket through the wilderness” in a collection of six vintage Airstreams, the interiors of which riff off the kitsch of the band’s best-known material.

Whether you currently own a retro RV, searching for the perfect one, or just discovering the wonderful world of vintage trailers, The Little Vintage Trailer website may help you to find your own happiness in a retro RV.

Worth Pondering…

One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.

—Edith Wharton

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Vintage Airstream Custom Renovations

In an earlier post on vogeltalksrving.com, we introduced vintage Airstream renovations by Hofmann Architecture and its recently opened Airstream hotel consisting of four tricked-out trailers parked at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp.

Basic Renovation: 1975 Airstream International 27 foot
Basic Renovation: 1975 Airstream International 27 foot

Based in Santa Barbara, California, Hofmann Architecture (HofArc) takes vintage Airstream trailers and brings them back to life through custom design and craftsmanship based on the owner’s preference.

Matthew Hofmann is the President and Architect of HofArc. His design skills, teamed up with his father’s 30 years of media experience, created a business that uses design and vintage items to reflect an individual’s own personality.

Currently they have twelve employees working for them, mostly a collaboration of designers and craftsmen.

How much does an Airstream renovation cost?

“How much does an Airstream renovation cost?” is a question Hofmann hears fairly often, but the answer isn’t that simple. It’s like asking, “How much does a house cost?” or “How much does a computer cost?”

1967 Airstream Safari 23 foot
Mid-Level Renovation: 1967 Airstream Safari 23 foot

The actual cost will ultimately depend on the “as-is” condition of the Airstream plus the cost of the time and materials of what is installed.

The scope of the project depends on the customer’s requirements.

HofArc assists in finding a balance that meets one’s budget, requirements, and overall expectations.

Having completed more than 60 Airstream renovations has given Hofmann a good idea of what it takes to do the job right.

Following are three renovation options, and an image of past work that closely matches that option.

Basic Renovation

The basic renovation option has a wide range of price points partly due to the requirement to reuse many of the existing trailer’s systems and infrastructure.

Full Renovation: Airstream Mobile Office
Full Renovation: Airstream Mobile Office

This is a basic renovation that will replace up to half of the systems. Many of the existing components, such as lighting and select cabinetry, may be maintained for styling in a creative way.

Hofmann may be limited on the type of unit that will be appropriate for this type of renovation because we need to reuse many existing components to keep the price down.

Mid-Level Renovation 

The mid-level renovation will replace up to half of the systems. Many of the existing components, such as lighting and select cabinetry, may be maintained for styling in a creative way.

Certain elements of the vintage units, like the stove and range combination, or some of the fixtures may be retained.

Full Renovation 

Full Renovation: 1987 Airstream 325 Series Motorhome 34 foot
Full Renovation: 1987 Airstream 325 Series Motorhome 34 foot

This is a full renovation that will replace most, if not all, of the systems. Some existing components, such as lighting and just a few vintage elements, may be maintained for styling in a creative way.

In this renovation category Hofmann is able to significantly modify the outside shell—such as moving the entry door to the other side, or adding a large gull-wing style door (think back to the future time machine).

Hofmann is able to modify a trailer for international requirements in this price option.

Details

Hofmann Architecture

Hofmann Architecture (HofArc), based in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, is in the dream development business.

Since August of 2011, HofArc has become respected worldwide for custom Airstream renovations.

The firm is built on the foundation of sustainability, mobility, and adaptability.

Address: 519 N. Quarantina Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Phone: (805) 618-2461

Website: www.hofarc.com

Worth Pondering…

If you can dream it, you can do it.

—Walt Disney

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Pushing the Airstream Boundaries

Airstream continues to aggressively reposition its line of signature aluminum trailers to appeal to affluent, style-conscious adventurers.

The interior of a 1962 Airstream trailer customized in midcentury modern style (Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)
The interior of a 1962 Airstream trailer customized in midcentury modern style (Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)

In 2011, Airstream introduced a prototype design for a model called the Sterling, the latest in a series of Airstreams with interiors designed by Sausalito, California, industrial designer and architect Christopher C. Deam.

The Sterling went into production last year with bright aluminum walls on the inside (traditional Airstreams have floor-to-ceiling paneling), stainless-steel appliances, and brightly colored flooring in either “Arctic Dijon” green or “obsidian violet.”

The latest prototype from Airstream, the posh, 28-foot “Land Yacht” trailer, was designed by Mauro Micheli, international renown as a designer of multimillion-dollar superyachts. Airstream has yet to announce future plans for the Land Yacht.

For a few Airstream fans, the company’s efforts at pushing the boundaries simply aren’t enough. For them, there are companies like Timeless Travel Trailers, of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, that create one-of-a-kind custom interiors inside an Airstream’s classic aluminum shell.

Brett Hall, president of Timeless Trailers, says prices for his custom overhauls of Airstream trailers vary. Rehabbing a vintage 25-foot trailer starts at about $125,000, with larger jobs topping $200,000, he says—not including the cost of the trailer itself.

For nearly 30 years, Hall worked in railroad passenger car operations. His expertise was all-encompassing, from structures to mechanical and from systems to interiors.

(Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)
(Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)

From 1994 to 1999, he was a founding Vice President of the American Orient Express Railway Company overseeing the rebuilding of over 50 luxury railcars for the company’s fleet of rail-cruise trains.

After the sale of the railroad company, Hall switched careers moving into general contracting. Within a short time, he was back into his true passion—remanufacturing beautiful travel vehicles, only this time it was trailers rather than train cars.

The other partners of Timeless Travel Trailers include David Burner, retired CEO and chairman of the Goodrich Corporation (formerly BF Goodrich) and Sandra Burner, retired Vice Chancellor of Indiana University.

Timeless Travel Trailers operate a 13,000 square-foot manufacturing facility, an acre-large storage area, and employ over 25 craftspeople and technicians in northwest duburban Denver just one mile off of I-70 and only 30 minutes from Denver International Airport.

The lot and the workshop are filled with vintage Airstreams, Silver Streaks, Streamlines, Spartans, Avions, and other trailers.

The Timeless Travel Trailer team love the vintage lifestyle afforded by trailers of yesteryear. Most of their projects leave the plant as essentially new vehicles. Timeless Travel Trailer is the only vehicle manufacturer in North America that certifies their vintage trailers as meeting the 2008 codes and regulations for Recreational Vehicles when they complete them.

They certify that everything they remanufacture is up to current electrical, plumbing, and mechanical, fire protection, and life safety codes and meet the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or the requirements of the country of destination where the coach will be used.

Timeless Travel Trailers employ a third-party engineering firm to evaluate each and every chassis before beginning the remanufacturing process.

(Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)
(Source: timelesstraveltrailers.com)

They bring the shells of these recreational vehicles back to life and fill them with amenities to suit their individual owners’ tastes and desires.

Every trailer is unique and road-worthy. It’s what they call “One for the Road.”

Details

Timeless Travel Trailers

Phone: (303) 432-7007

Website: timelesstraveltrailers.com

Worth Pondering…

The future belongs to those who believe in the future of their dreams.

—Eleanor Roosevelt

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Vintage Camping Trailers & Retro Hobby

Residents of Cleveland, Texas, Niki and Teresa Coats, have restored vintage camper trailers for much of the past five years.

Niki and Teresa Coats are restorers of vintage RVs. They have two restored RVs in their collection so far. (Credit: Vanesa Brashier/yourhoustonnews.com)

This retro hobby stems from an extreme curiosity of Teresa’s, which led to the purchase of their first travel trailer in 2007, a 1963 Little Gem, reports Your Houston News.

After years of wear and tear, this trailer required complete restoration. As a result of high humidity in the Piney Woods of East Texas, the damage appeared throughout the interior, as well as the exterior, causing new paint to be necessary in the restoration process. This restoration project took them almost an entire year to complete.

In an effort to maintain authenticity, the Coats salvaged everything that could be saved, which included most of the metal amenities.

All the wooden features were replaced with stained birch wood, while the exterior was coated with turquoise and white paint.

Teresa then opted for Historic Route 66 as a theme for the Little Gem, decorating both the interior and exterior with vintage pieces purchased specifically with this theme in mind, according to Your Houston News.

During restoration on the Little Gem, they remained on the lookout for a Shasta. Shasta travel trailers have become a favorite among campers all over the country, both for their low prices as well as for their many distinctive characteristics.

The Little Gem, the first of Niki and Teresa Coats’ vintage trailers, is decorated with a Route 66 theme for shows. (Credit: Vanesa Brashier/yourhoustonnews.com)

Built between 1941 and 2004, they were originally constructed as housing for the United States Armed Forces. One of their identifying features is the “wings,” which are located on the rear sides of the trailer. The wings were often stolen from older models, making it difficult to find a Shasta with original wings.

The Coats’ search for the Shasta finally paid off when Teresa found a 1958 Shasta AirFlyte, with the original wings, for sale online.

Upon finding it, they drove to Oklahoma City and pulled it back home. Fortunately, they were able to keep the Shasta AirFlyte almost completely original, since it was previously restored and had been very well maintained, a sharp contrast from the Little Gem.

For the Shasta, Teresa chose vintage Hawaiian as the theme and used yellow and white as the color scheme.

They are able to show off their hard work, on what Teresa often refers to as her “babies,” at vintage trailer rallies that are usually held in Central Texas, which they attend at least twice a year, Your Houston News reports.

During these rallies, a large network of vintage camper enthusiasts get together, camp, and share their experiences with each other.

While bigger rallies include competitions in which the trailers are judged, the Coats prefer smaller rallies, usually consisting of about 20 trailers in a group, where they attend solely for the experience and the people that they meet along the way.

The Coats had only to do minor work on the 1958 Shasta AirFlyte traier. The trailer is shown in the photo as the Coats stage it for shows. (Credit: Vanesa Brashier/yourhoustonnews.com)

“I really feel like we’ve rescued them,” said Teresa of the vintage trailers.

While many modern-day camper enthusiasts have added amenities such as electronics, laptops, and even cable TV, in some instances, Niki and Teresa have chosen to revive them in a way that highlights the nostalgia within. While they cannot completely go off-the-grid the way some campers can, these camping experiences help rescue them from the day-to-day grind of modern day life.

Worth Pondering…

Every river makes a journey.

Twisting and turning.

Flowing down canyons, across meadows, past cities and towns.

Joining with streams and creeks and other rivers, to eventually end in the sea.

A river is a traveler.

And as any traveler knows, some parts of a trip are more memorable than others.

—Anon

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Restoring the Shiny Hiney & Other Vintage Trailers

Spend a few miles of road time following this vintage travel trailerand you’ll soon see why it’s nicknamed “The Shiny Hiney.”

Orbie Mungall stands outside his 24-foot 1965 Barth travel trailer at his home in Willard, Oregon. (Source: Kera Williams/Standard-Examiner)

The glare off the silver aluminum exterior is nearly blinding, explains Orbie Mungall having spent countless hours polishing the 1947 Boles Aero to its glowing state. Mungall also refers to his old-style round-shaped trailer as “The Spud” or “The Canned Ham,” reports the (Ogden, Oregon) Standard Examiner.

Whatever they’re called, classic trailers from the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s are rolling back into popularity.

“They’re more artsy than your new trailers now … they have a character, a style,” says Mungall who likes nothing better than to clean the trailers out, shine them up, and get them back on the road again.

Mungall has seven trailers on his one-acre home site, ranging from another 1947 Boles Aero now being restored inside his new workshop, to a 1952 homemade trailer created from a kit by a family living just up the street.

A retired seismographer, Mungall picked up his first vintage trailer, the 12-foot Boles Aero, in 1995. His second purchase was a 1952 Silver Streak Clipper, a missile-shaped trailer he found for sale alongside a road in Nebraska, the Standard Examiner reports.

“It looks like something out of ‘Buck Rogers,’ ” Mungall says, standing outside the 22-foot trailer nicknamed “The Wedge.”

Orbie Mungall’s 1947 Boles Aero sits in his yard in Willard. (Source: Kera Williams/Standard-Examiner)

“The front and back are identical; it just has that alien look.”

The Silver Streak is a relative of the well-known Airstream: “It’s very aerodynamic; all these guys (who created them) were aircraft engineers so they thought aerodynamics,” Mungall says.

Across the yard sits a 1965 Barth, a 24-foot long trailer that Mungall says was “top of the line” in its day, even equipped with a full porcelain bathtub.

Inside the 1947 Boles Aero, Mungall points out such vintage touches as the birch wood cabinetry and the old-fashioned-looking white icebox.

Carpentry, plumbing, and electrical skills are needed to tackle a fix-up job on these old trailers, Mungall says.

Some of the techniques are learned by trial and error, like exactly which type of polish to use to get the exterior to shine like a mirror. Aircraft-grade polish turns out to be the thing that gives the best results, but Mungall says, “I’ve spent maybe 300 hours learning the wrong way.”

Yes, the restoration is a slow process, but Mungall quips, “I’m a Southerner, I’ve got patience — I can sit and listen to my beard grow.”

The price tag on Mungall’s trailer purchases runs from $600 to $1,500. Although he has kept his restored pieces, some models might sell for as much as $13,500 in the United States, or up to $37,000 in Europe.

“The Europeans have a fetish about Western cowboys, mountain man relics and now, vintage trailers,” he says.

Anywhere he takes his vintage collectibles — a campground or a stop at the grocery store — Mungall says the trailers attract curious onlookers, reports the Standard Examiner.

Mungall and his wife, Mary Jane, camp in their vintage trailers with what some might see as an old-style approach. They like to stick to the back roads — “You can’t see (the world) at 80 miles per hour,” Mungall says — “and they set up camp to play cards, read books or “talk to each other, by golly.”

In contrast, many folks nowadays don’t seem to camp to get away from home, Mungall says.

“They camp to see how much home they can take with them,” with their generators and portable DVD players and the like. Why, if someone were to give Mungall the key to a brand-new monster motor home, he says he’d take it out and put the thing up for sale.

Orbie Mungall’s shiny 22-foot 1952 Silverstreak Clipper travel trailer — complete with pink flamingos — sits in the yard of his Willard home. (Source: Kera Williams/Standard-Examiner)

“These new ones serve a purpose — but not my purpose,” he says.

As he travels, Mungall says he enjoys meeting people and seeing their reactions to his rolling pieces of nostalgia.

“If that gets them back to camping or something, all the better,” he says, “Get them away from the push buttons and videos.”

And if those folks were to acquire a “Canned Ham” or “Shiny Hiney” of their own, that would be fine by Mungall, too.

After all, he says, as he walks through his trailer collection, “These are keepers.”

Worth Pondering…

The ultimate camping trip was the Lewis and Clark expedition.

—Dave Barry

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Vintage Airstreams a Rolling Bit of Americana

Several times a year, Chris Hildenbrand and Jim Lane hitch a 1967 Airstream Globe Trotter trailer to their 1969 Cadillac Coupe de Ville and embark on a road trip.

Chris Hildenbrand, left, and partner Jim Lane and their original 1984 Airstream Classic. motor home. The Wheat Ridge couple owns six Airstreams. (Photo credit: Cyrus McCrimmon/Denver Post)
Chris Hildenbrand, left, and partner Jim Lane and their original 1984 Airstream Classic. motor home. The Wheat Ridge couple owns six Airstreams. (Photo credit: Cyrus McCrimmon/Denver Post)

They also own five other Airstream models in various stages of restoration.

The Wheat Ridge, Colorado, couple’s foray into mid-century American road tripping comes courtesy of a 20-foot stretch of aluminum that resembles an oversized vintage toaster, gleaming and curvaceous, reports the Denver Post.

It is a home away from home, this single-axle Airstream. It is also something of an addiction: Like thousands of other collectors, Hildenbrand and Lane devote much of their leisure time to this rolling bit of Americana.

“We call it ‘alumin-itis,’ ” Hildenbrand says of fans’ name for the feverish condition.

“And it’s catching.”

Hildenbrand is president of the Vintage Airstream Club, which hosts caravan treks and collective drive-ins. It’s one of several clubs, including the Denver chapter of the Wally Byam Caravan Club International, inspired by the man known by many as the Henry Ford of travel trailers.

This harkens to the early days of Airstream, when Byam organized “caravaning” trips to Canada and Mexico, plus a Capetown-to-Cairo route in Africa and a journey in Asia that traced part of Marco Polo’s route.

Shari and Rob Davis won a best-in-show award for the restoration of their 1956 Airstream Safari travel trailer. (Photo credit: Cyrus McCrimmon/Denver Post)
Shari and Rob Davis won a best-in-show award for the restoration of their 1956 Airstream Safari travel trailer. (Photo credit: Cyrus McCrimmon/Denver Post)

Airstream trailers are revered as paradigms of industrial design, ranking with Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Hamilton Beach blenders for fusing sleekness and smarts.

“It’s an American icon,” Lane told the Denver Post.

“It’s an aerodynamic design and easy to tow.”

Early Airstreams were based on the work of Hawley Bowlus, construction supervisor on the “Spirit of St. Louis,” the plane Charles Lindbergh used for his 1927 solo hop across the Atlantic.

Airstream was created by Wally Byam, who built Masonite trailer kits in the late 1920s and bailed out Bowlus’ struggling firm several years later.

Before World War II, there were about 400 travel-trailer companies in the United States, including manufacturers of do-it-yourself kits. Airstream is the only survivor from that era.

Depending on a vintage trailer’s condition, ranging from average to fully restored, it can sell for anywhere from $4,000 to upwards of $18,000.

Lane says the most prized Airstreams were made from the early 1950s to 1968, an era when expanded leisure time and the interstate highway system were a siren call for middle-class vacationers.

Hildenbrand and Lane’s Globe Trotter model is cozy. It has two sofas and can sleep three. The small, propane-fueled kitchen has a sink and cabinets.

Forrest McClure of Aurora has two Airstreams, a 1966 Globe Trotter and a 1986 Excella.

“I’ve been into them since I was a teenager,” he says. “I remember going by a dealership and just falling in love with them. I told myself that when I was retired I’d have one. First thing you know the kids are grown, so about 10 years ago I bought one.

“If I had my druthers I would have done it a lot sooner.”

McClure likes the fact that Airstreams are well made, although his ’66 Globe Trotter needed some retrofitting to get it road worthy. “There’s no such thing as a vintage Airstream that doesn’t need work,” he concedes.

Rob and Shari Davis of Edgewater own a 1956 Airstream Safari. A couple of years ago, their restoration won them a best-in-show award at an Airstream roundup.

“They’re iconic Americana, with all the aesthetic and romance that goes with that,” Shari says.

“The great thing about these trailers is, wherever you are, you’re home.”

Airstream, maker of the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, is the oldest recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America. Following founder Wally Byam’s credo, “Let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements” Airstream has remained a timeless classic.

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Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band,
I saw a needle that winked its eye.
But I think I will have seen everything
When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

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Flyte Camp: Restoring Vintage Trailers a Work of Art

You see an old ’50s-era travel trailer sitting forgotten in a field somewhere and wonder what it would be like to fix it up and have your own mobile vacation home.

Flyte Camp Vintage Travel Trailer Restoration. (Credit: Steve Pierce Photography/flytecamp.com)

That’s the dream, anyway.

In reality, restoring that vintage travel trailer could turn into a money-sucking nightmare once you realize all that needs to be done—it needs to be gutted, stripped, rewired, rebuilt, re-skinned, and repainted before it’s ready to hit the road. Throw in new tires, propane, cabinetry, any number of hardware fixes and you might be thinking a motel sounds pretty good.

But 39-year-old Justin Scribner of Bend, Oregon is undaunted by such challenges, reports OregonLive.com.

A former flooring contractor who fell in love with restoring vintage trailers about 15 year ago when he bought one on a whim, Scribner now counts among his clients an Oscar-winning sound engineer, a top executive at Ralph Lauren, and a luxury hotelier in New York.

Scribner has turned the expensive hobby of fixing up mid-century travel trailers into a lucrative and internationally recognized business called Flyte Camp (named for their first trailer, the Shasta Airflyte).

And while ’50s and ’60s Airstreams have received considerable attention in the vintage RV world, Scribner and his crew at Flyte Camp have a penchant for the lesser-known travel trailers from the ’30s through the ’50s.

Found in “rough shape” a complete overhaul at Flyte Camp had this 1948 Westcraft Sequoia trailer looking good as new. (Credit: flytecamp.com)

For Scribner, and many other collectors around the world, the trailers are nothing less than works of art.

“It was 100 percent craftsmanship back then,” he says. “They were done by hand, and it didn’t matter how long it took. They were true craftsmen and finish woodworkers. They were experimenting through all those years and there was so much limitless change. The bottom line was to make people happy.”

“We have a lot of trailer owners who buy something out in the field” or online, Scribner told OregonLive.com, “and literally get halfway through tearing the thing apart and panic. People don’t always understand how these things were built in the factory.”

Restoring vintage trailers is not for the fainthearted.

That’s one reason Flyte Camp is in high demand and quickly earning a reputation as one of the best vintage RV restoration shops in the United States. Customers as far away as Hong Kong and Chile are shipping their coaches to Scribner’s shop, where the painstaking, factory-fresh level of craftsmanship captured the attention of the Travel Channel show “Extreme RVs.”

Another, featuring a 1948 Spartan Manor, has been filming since May and is expected to wrap in July; that episode is set to run in the summer of 2013.

The Travel Channel will also begin filming a pilot episode for a reality show on the Flyte Camp vintage trailer restoration process in a couple of weeks. They will follow Scribner on “the hunt,” the retrieval trips, and throughout the restorations of various trailers.

Scribner and his wife, Anna, who runs the business side of things, say they now field about 100 calls and emails per week about vintage trailers.

“It’s not easy to get back to everybody because we are trying to work at the same time,” Scribner says. “But it’s amazing to us how many people are getting into this.”

Today, Flyte Camp employs six people and operates out of a 7,000-square-foot shop. At any given time crews are working on six or seven trailers with old-time brand names like Westwood, Westcraft, Anderson, and Curtis Wright.

Flyte Camp retored this 1950 Traveleze vintage travel trailer. (Credit: flytecamp.com)

All interior design work, metal fabrication, frame work, window, flooring, plumbing, electrical, and propane work are done on site. Upholstery and exterior paint are outsourced, Scribner says.

Typically, a restoration involves removing the metal shell, taking out the old electrical system, assessing the wood frame and the interior paneling (usually Douglas fir and/or birch but sometimes mahogany). If there is water damage or rot, the crew will sometimes strip everything down to the frame and start from scratch.

Scribner says he’s happy to be an integral part of what he sees as a growing trend.

“People are putting their money into this so that their family has something they can share together. That’s what this is about for us. Our love for vintage trailers and saving something old is something that will never go away.”

Details

Flyte Camp

Flyte Camp is a full service restoration shop located in Bend, Oregon.

They have a 6,000 square foot facility, for woodworking, appliance restoration, plumbing, electrical, and running systems with a new 1000 square foot annex for body work and polishing, along with a large fenced storage lot.

They have a seven person crew, experienced in every aspect of building and design, plus several skilled subcontractors that they work closely with.

Address: 170 SE 9th St., Bend, OR  97702 (by appointment only)

Phone: (541) 639-6141

Website: flytecamp.com

Worth Pondering…

From wonder into wonder, existence opens.

—Lao Tzu

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