Farewell, my lovely


My beloved teardrop trailer has found a new home. In 2005 I discovered this trailer on eBay. The listing was only about two hours old. It took about five minutes of decision to grab it at the "Buy It Now" price of $850. Luckily, the trailer was just outside Portland, Oregon.

I bought the trailer from an older guy living in Estacada who was selling his house along with most of his possessions. The story of the trailer was that it sat for years abandoned in a field in the area at the base of Mt. Hood, having previously been used as a hunting trailer.

The seller was an older baby-boomer hot rod enthusiast. He had spent most of his adult life working as a machinist at Precision Cast Parts. He had some of this hot rods up on eBay at the same time, including a 30s Ford Coupe convertible and a 40s Ford truck. Both each sold for over $30,000!

The trailer was partly customized and partly restored to be towed as a matching accessory to his Ford Coupe convertible. I appreciated his restoration. He kept it true to the character of the original trailer. Probably because it was built during the war, it didn't have aluminum siding. Instead the plywood was painted and it had wax-cloth heavy canvas for a roof. I'm sure that out of respect for the trailer's original state, it was redone, keeping the original painted plywood. Instead of wax-cloth the roof was redone in a very fancy black fabric, historically correct to 1930s Fords.

There were many added details that only a true hot rod enthusiast would care about. The rims were old 1950s rims that had been cut in half and rewelded so that the fill valve was hidden facing the inside of the trailer. The intent here was to widen the tire profile and to give the tires a clean uncluttered look. The door handle was polished and the art deco lines had been carefully filled in with black paint.

The interior didn't leak a drop and all of the basic mechanical issues were addressed. The cool low-profile torsion bar suspension had been rebuilt with repacked axle bearings. The trailer frame had been completely repainted. All of the hardware was replaced with stainless steal. In short, I lucked out. I kept thinking to myself, "I'm not worthy."

It came to pass that I certainly wasn't. I didn't have a place to properly store it. In a couple short years the plywood began to rot and the beautiful paint job began flaking and fading. Another issue was that our family had outgrown the trailer. Originally we could sleep two and stuff Greta on a shelf in the back of the cabin part of the trailer. As she grew older the three of us ended up sleeping together. With only one door to get in and out, it just got claustrophobic.

In another life, if I lived by myself, I would be a nomad out of this trailer. It wasn't perfect but I loved it for its imperfections and character. There was nothing like waking up in a camp ground or in a rest stop, daydreaming with my eyes following the wood grain of the vintage and patina-ed plywood. I loved looking at the simple but very well-put-together structure. A few well-crafted carefully-cut boards were all that were needed to give the trailer a robust structure. Sometimes, if I was desperate for a nap away from the family, I'd sneak out to the trailer. I would go hide here whenever a new issue of the Veteran Vespa Club of Great Britain newsletter arrived from some blissful undisturbed reading time.

The trailer was great for spur-of-the-moment camping trips since we could just attach it to the tongue of the truck and go. The vintage romance was certainly a huge part of the appeal but these trailers are also damn practical and economical. They remind us how far carried away Americans have gotten with over-built gas-guzzling RVs.

This trailer pre-dated the stereotypical teardrop format where a kitchen galley was built into the rear door. Instead we had a rear storage compartment. We loaded a table, and other stuff that comprised our camping kit into this area. It was really just as simple to unload this stuff and set up the cooking area at the rear of the trailer. Admittedly there is also something appealing and gadgety to having a rear kitchen galley where, all you need to do to cook, is to lift up a door.

Someday I may dabble in teardropping again. Maybe Greta would go for a pup tent and Becky and I could sleep in peace? Maybe it would work if the trailer was five feet wide instead of four?

Here's a link to the Becky's Flickr page with a collection of the photos from rallies and the Northwest Spring Fling teardrop trailer gathering.