Wanderlust Part 2

A Serro Scotty Highlander. Up until just recently you could buy these brand new from the dealer just across the border in PA. It's a 16' trailer, and one of the wife's personal favorites. Photo from the www.scottytrailers.com website

A Serro Scotty Highlander. Up until just recently you could buy these brand new from the dealer just across the border in PA. It’s a 16′ trailer, and one of the wife’s personal favorites. Photo from the http://www.scottytrailers.com website

In yesterday’s post we talked about our investigation into getting a travel trailer. In this post we’ll start to look at what our options are and how they affect our budget.

New Trailer

We went to the RV show to get a feel for what’s available new and to see how much they cost. The show featured many of the “mainstream” boxy looking trailers in various configurations. We actually found a few floor plans we felt would work well for our little family. Features such as a toilet, shower, range, microwave, A/C, propane, etc. are all standard and ubiquitous for the most part, regardless of brand and floor plan. These are all the things we need for our base camp.

 

Viking was one of the brands we liked for new trailers. Here are some typical layouts we felt worked well for our family of four. You could definitely spend long periods of time on the road with this as base camp.

Viking was one of the brands we liked for new trailers. Here are some typical layouts we felt worked well for our family of four. You could definitely spend long periods of time on the road with this as base camp.

As for price I didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately the dealers all had pricing on the trailers, and the RV show featured huge discounts, bringing the typical cost of a trailer in our size range (16′-21′) down into the $9,000 – $15,000 range (from around $13K-$20K). Cool retro looking Scamps, T@bs and Scotty’s like the one up top can be had brand spanking new, but the cost is even higher. For example a retro re-issue 2015 Shasta Airflyte runs $17,000 or more. Ouch.

A typical modern day travel trailer within our budget. This Viking is from the www.coachmenrv.com website

A typical modern day travel trailer within our budget. This Viking is from the http://www.coachmenrv.com website

 

It's 1959 all over again. You can buy one of these brand new today.

It’s 1959 all over again. You can buy one of these Shasta Airflytes brand new today.

So from a budget standpoint, a new trailer would be do-able in theory. We could squirrel away a few hundred dollars away each month and then the next time the show comes around we could take advantage of show pricing. Or maybe find a used late model trailer between now and next year.

If you people would buy some of our art it would make things much easier. We take commissions. We’ll barter…I will exchange design for a trailer….

Ok, seriously though, those prices are good, but not great. In reality we’re still broke and a trailer isn’t a necessity by normal people standards. We may not be able to squirrel away an acorn, let alone ten large.

Vintage Trailer

In just a short week I’ve become a virtual travel trailer expert. Or at least I know a LOT more now than I did before. Actually my wife and I both have.

She’s become an expert in what what she likes. She also keeps me laser focused. Because if it was up to me we’d be shopping $45,000 Airstream Sport’s. (I will own one someday, mark my words).

We just need a simple trailer that has a bathroom and can sleep four of us. In fact as the boys get older, they, or I, can sleep in a tent outside if need be.

Stay focused.

What if we bought used? Like really used. Like old.

As an industrial designer I’m intrigued by the self indulgence of designing my own trailer interior. Maybe god does help those who help themselves. What if we found a used trailer and gutted the inside. Outfitting it with all the modern amenities we need. Styling the inside just the way the designer in me would love to do. We’d need something that was structurally sound and hopefully leak proof.

Other than the unfinished basement project, I kinda have run out of self imposed windmills to chase.

I’m really good with a saw and nail gun. I have people who can fabricate anything I can imagine. My brother’s a carpenter. The inside of a trailer is just like a tiny house. We could definitely do this. And the wife really likes the look of old those old Scotty Highlanders (blue and white trailer at the top of the post).

I started looking around and while there aren’t a ton of trailers out there, but there are enough to get my blood and imagination moving. And there are a bunch of vintage trailer restoration forums and websites. There’s even a couple who restore old trailers as their business and have a TV show. Who would’ve thought people did this sort of thing.

I want a TV show.

Ok, stay focused.

You can buy a brand new Scamp trailer with the same body style they've been making for decades. The inside is up to date. Image from the Scamp website.

You can buy a brand new Scamp trailer with the same body style they’ve been making for decades. The inside is up to date. When you look at used ones from the 80’s, they look virtually identical. Image from the Scamp website.

Like I said, Christine really likes the look of some of these vintage trailers, as do I. While it’s convenient that many of them are still for sale brand spanking new, that is not an option for us. Luckily there are Scamps and other vintage trailers within reach of our meager means. Tentatively I would set a budget of $1,000-$5,000 for a used trailer that I could gut the interior on.

I do not want to do a full frame off restoration or renovation. Also, I’m not interested in restoring a trailer to it’s 1960’s glory either. The interior will be 100% contemporary. In line with our aesthetic and taste.

I looked at photos of redone Airstreams and other trailers. The interior construction is simple to do.  I would lay down wood laminate floors, and hopefully line the interior in polished aluminum or wood. Then build all the cabinets and beds out of 3/4″ birch plywood. Not cheap but I’d contribute all the labor.

And most importantly we could build it as funds were available.

Maybe even use it before it’s completed.

In just a few days of looking I’m starting to learn about all the various brands and styles of campers that were made in the last 70 years. Obviously an Airstream would be my first choice because of the style and solid construction. But they are impossible to find in the 16′ range, at a reasonable price. I can buy 20’+ Airstreams all day for under $15K but 16′ models are impossible. In fact 16′ vintage trailers are in such high demand apparently that they fetch top dollar, are hard to find, or are already restored; often to look like 50’s diners unfortunately.

There are options though. We just have to keep our eyes open.

Something like this though is right in my wheelhouse:

This two door 1953 canned ham style trailer would be perfect. I love the port hole window in the door. Asking price is right in our budget at $1,600

This two door 1953 canned ham style trailer would be perfect. I love the port-hole window in the door. Asking price is right in our budget at $1,600

 

 

We’re on the lookout. Browsing forums and classifieds; under no time crunch. When the stars align we’ll make it happen one way or another if we want to.

No matter what happens, it’s great to learn about a new topic. I’ll have more useless knowledge than anyone I know I suppose.

Stay tuned.

-Chris

Here are some interiors to get you excited:

An office inside a trailer. Maybe I could just live in the trailer and rent out the house.

An office inside a trailer. Maybe I could just live in the trailer and rent out the house.

A special edition Airstream Bambi interior for sale on Ebay for $25,000

A special edition Airstream Bambi interior for sale on Ebay for $25,000

The awesome interior of a renovated Royale. Yes please.

The awesome interior of a renovated Royale. Yes please.

The interior of a modern Viking trailer. It's like being at home. And if I wanted to I could redo it completely down the road, really jazz it up.

The interior of a modern Viking trailer. It’s like being at home. And if I wanted to I could redo it completely down the road, really jazz it up.

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5 thoughts on “Wanderlust Part 2

  1. Pingback: Wanderlust – Our Travel Trailer Adventure? | nine apple trees

  2. I never will look at another old camper without thinking ‘canned ham’ – too darn funny! Airstreams make me drool – I hope you find one needing TLC or something of similar vintage or style. Have many childhood memories of the camper daddy had, including the Spaghetti-O food poisoning incident (still can’t pass those in the grocery store aisle without experiencing an unpleasant visceral reaction). Otherwise, was a ton of fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I like the idea of heading out west and camping. Surrounded by mountains and things we don’t get here in the midwest. Also the idea of working from the sunny gulf coast when the kids are on winter breaks has an allure.

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    • I think we’re shooting for spring of next year. We need to save up for it. Unless we spot a used fixer-upper that we just can’t pass up (and is cheap). We’re still on the fence – while another project would be fun, there is the allure of just getting a newer one that we can just hit the road with. We shall see. I’m learning a lot about trailers, including the old ones.

      Like

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