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Monday, October 8, 2012

Tin Can Tourists West Coast Vintage Trailer Rally 2012

R&D. That's why I went to the Tin Can Tourists Vintage Trailer Rally last weekend. As I continue on my quest to either find or build a trailer of my own I've seen pictures like these all over the internet. But I had yet to see a vintage trailer in real life. As it turned out, the 1 hour 40 minute drive north was well worth the effort. I did a lot of research being introduced to some specific styles I'd love to have and gaining insights that will help me complete the design of the trailer I may begin building soon.

Meet Clementine. She's a Yellowstone brand canned ham trailer. How cute is she with her yellow trailer chairs, outdoor rug, and awning? If the way she looks on the outside doesn't make you want to say "awwwwww" the way she looks on the inside will. . .

I think this is what is called a "glamper." A camper is a factory direct trailer. A glamper is when you take a well cared for camper with plenty of comfortable amenities then take it up a notch by going over-the-top cute by creating an ambiance with an eye for design and stylish accessories.

A glamper can also be a person who enjoys camping in a glamorous way. A glamper travels in style with plenty of creature comforts. When I have my trailer I'll be going glamping :)

That day some women asked if I had a trailer there. When I said no they said I looked like I did! LOL I was wearing a turquoise sun dress with a straw hat and short, brown, leather boots. They said I was dressed perfectly and I had a trailer aura around me. I took that as a good sign that I'm getting closer to having a trailer of my own.

And this 1958, fireball red Corvette canned ham vintage trailer was extraordinarily shiny. It was a beauty!

I felt as if I was walking around inside a Pinterest board of travel trailers. There was cuteness everywhere!

I just couldn't get over how cool these campers are. The funny thing is, when you see pictures online the campers look larger than they really are from the outside and are much more spacious on the inside in real life than how small they look in pictures.

Such a cute touch! The counter and table were decoupaged with vintage Valentine's.

It was the first time I think I've ever seen a Shasta trailer with its classic wings. Too cool!

So where was I? At the Petaluma KOA Kampgrounds just off HWY 101 between San Francisco and my beloved Healdsburg located in Sonoma's wine country.

Even though I don't own a trailer I was welcomed to attend when I asked on the group's Facebook page if anyone could drop by.

No sooner did I pull into the parking lot when I saw this! It's a 1957 Layton Sportsman 850. Eeeeeek! I came home and looked online to learn more about this model but couldn't find a single thing on Google. It must be really rare. It's also really small. The trailer bed and tongue are 11 feet long but the trailer itself is only 8 1/2 feet long! That's tiny since most canned ham style trailers are at least 10 feet long.

Once in the campground I found the rally section of vintage trailers and began looking around. Little is what I came to see and there were more than a few that caught my eye.

This was perhaps the cutest canned ham there. It's a 1962 Knaus, a German built caravan trailer (aka a Swallow's Nest) that weighs 750 lbs empty! Ah, that would be perfect for me because my car is rated to tow 1000 lbs.

LOL It even had its own sign to let you know just where you were. You may be asking yourself who owns a trailer like that and where did they find it?

Well, it would be this groovy couple, Jim and Susan. When I asked how they acquired it  Susan told me they were attending  a trailer rally when Jim approached the previous owner and asked if it was for sale. He said no. So, Jim made him an offer he couldn't refuse. They tow it with a vintage 1967 VW Cabriolet.

And here's some exciting news, the Swallow's Nest Knaus is being produced again for the company's 50th anniversary in very limited quantities. Read about them Here and Here. The bad news for those of us in the States? They're only available in Germany. The double bad news for me? The new models weigh in at 1245 lbs. Significantly heavier than the original.

And this, this was the trailer that actually made my heart go pitter patter. It was a fiberglass "Minit" which appears to be only slightly less rare than the Knaus. I was able to find two that had sold online in the past few years. I'm guessing my odds of finding one are pretty slim.

There are several styles of fiberglass "egg" trailers around like the Burro, Boler, Scamp, Casita and Trillium trailers. The thing is most of the others weigh in between 900 lbs to 1300 lbs before you put any of your belonging in them. The Minits weigh significantly less. I've read online 800-900 is typical and this one weighs in at around 700 lbs empty which is a weight my car should be able to easily tow.

This 1964 Aristocrat Lil' Loafer was another cutie. I stopped and had a really nice chat with Margaret, its owner, and her mom, Rosemary. Rosemary was concerned about my safety if I travel alone. I ran down the precautions and safety features I'm going to build into my trailer. She felt reassured then asked if I had a dog. I told her I did which delighted her because she loves dogs and highly recommended I bring Kitai with me when I go camping. I was already planning on doing just that so I was glad she thought it was such a good idea :)

Seeing these trailers in person has me back on the fence a bit. Should I upgrade and replace my everyday vehicle (it's a '94) with a car with a larger towing capacity? If I don't, a tiny teardrop is the way I should go. Unless of course a Minit magically appears online and I'm able to not only afford it but also spot it before anyone else does and buy it. Or, I can upgrade my car and get one of the small trailers that weigh in at around 1300 lbs. Decisions decisions.

Speaking of teardrops there weren't a lot of them at the rally but the ones that were there were fantastic. This is 1956 Benroy. It's a classic teardrop brand that is often available online in rv classifieds and on eBay and Craigslist. It would be a great trailer for me except for one thing.

The kitchens are always in the rear of teardrops and you have to open the back hatch to access the cupboards, sink and stove. Since I'll be traveling alone I'd prefer to keep the access to the galley on the inside rather than the outside. I know I won't always want to go outside to wash my hands or heat something up to eat once it's dark out.

And this teardrop may have inspired me most of all. It's a home made trailer and the first one its owner has ever built. Bill and Millie were so kind and shared a lot of information with me about how Bill built the trailer. He even gave me some pointers if I decide to go that route too.              

Instead of a hatch back he designed a swinging door for the galley kitchen which created space for a side table to put their camp stove on. So clever! And that piece of pipe serves two purposes: It holds the door open and doubles as a paper towel holder.

The interior cabin is so cozy I could just imagine myself coming back to the trailer after a long day of shooting photos for a blog post and just collapsing onto the foam mattress bed.

Right next door I me Dave, the gentleman standing off to the left in the top picture, who was truly a gentleman. He was easily the friendliest trailer owner there. He invited passersby to not only stop by to see his trailer and answer their questions, he even offered to let people lie down inside if they took off their shoes. Such hospitality!

His is a new, 2012 Lingeman trailer made in Southern California. It was beautifully finished.

I loved that rather than use a commercially made rubber battery box on the tongue, he found  and used a vintage trunk instead. There's even room for his cooler in front of the trunk.

HIs cabinet drawers are self closing! I didn't even know there was such a thing but he demo'ed them for us. Sure enough as soon as he let go of the drawer it slowly and gently slid back into the shut position.

And this was a find only because it wasn't with the rest of the trailers. I just happened to walk alongside a couple and heard them say something about teardrops. I told them there were only three and pointed them towards the direction I'd just come from. She said they were there with a teardrop too but weren't placed with the rest of the rally trailers. Instead they were at the other end of the park on the far side of the entrance.

When I told her I came hoping to see tiny teardrops she told me their slot number and said I could even open the door and peek inside because they'd left it unlocked. With that bit of information I headed down the road and found it! I think it was a 4'x8' teardrop which excited me because I want to build a 4'x6' which I know is small, but it would be big enough for me :)

Lower photo of the L'escargot being towed © Charles DePass.

Without a doubt the most creative and extravagant creation was the L'escargot, a snail shaped trailer designed and built by Charles DePass. As he explained to me how the design was inspired by the Golden Spiral I felt a bit like Penny (the waitress) on the Big Bang Theory talking to her physicist neighbors. I've said it before that I'm no mathlete. Still it was interesting to hear how he had used the golden spiral to figure out the height and width of the trailer as well as the dimensions of the spiral itself.

And the L'escargot had a dropped floor which was fascinating to me because if I build my trailer it will also have a dropped floor. One foot well for sitting and standing and three compartments for storage.

Here's what's really interesting about this trailer, the picture on the above left isn't the rear of the trailer. The picture on the right is. The left picture is the two, barn style, front doors opened fully and the slide out (or in this case it's called a "muscle out") they're attached to extended fully creating a small entry room that almost doubles the width of the trailer. Though it's common to see slide outs on the large, commercially produced rvs, I believe it's rare to see someone create an entire slide out room, with a domed skylight, on a home built trailer.

If you are interested in obtaining the build plans for this trailer they are (or will be) available through your membership in a design club the inventor is putting together. If you'd like his contact info send me a message. I don't want to post his email address online where the spam-bots will pick it up.

There were also a few classic car tow vehicles at the event. Not a lot of them but the ones that were there were in mint condition.

A peek inside another cute trailer.

Sweet whitewall tires.

And another car with wood sides. 

The rally was even more fun than I thought it would be and everyone was so warm and friendly it felt as if I was part of a new community even if it was only for an afternoon. If you've never been to a vintage trailer rally I'd highly recommend finding one in your area and dropping by. Though I doubt you'll be able to walk away without wanting one of your own.

I joked that my trailer-itis has hit a new level of severity and the only cure will be having one of my own. The waiting is the hardest part but I want to think this through completely and carefully because I only want to do this twice: Once to acquire or build a teardrop for one (me), and once to acquire or build a mini canned ham for two. For overnight stays I could take out my teardrop and for longer trips or trips with a friend (hubby wants nothing to do with it) I can take out the canned ham.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to chat with me on Sunday. I truly appreciate your insights and the information you shared with me.

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