Jan 232015

Tin Can Tourists’ 2015 Chautauqua Exhibit

January 23, 2015

DeFuniak Springs, FL

Woke up not long after midnight to the sound of rain on the roof of the trailer and it wasn’t long before it was really coming down hard! I looked outside to make sure the awning was still standing strong and after a quick leak check of all the windows and roof vent I jumped back into bed(thankfully no leaks! This is the first hard rain this trailer has ever seen since being restored so I was a little nervous). There is no better sound to sleep to than falling rain on the roof of a vintage trailer.

Around 4 am I woke up again as the rain was really coming down now! In fact the street all our trailers are set up on looked like a river when I took a look out the window. No strong winds or storms, just a hard strong rain or as a good friend calls ‘A Toad-Strangler’ (Google it). After one last leak check I decided to go back to sleep. Once again I awoke around 530am to the sound of my awning collapsing a little from all the heavy rain, seemed one of my stakes pulled up from the soaked ground and was allowing the awning to collect a lot of water. Thankfully the rain was slacking off a little so I put on my shoes and coat to head out and do battle with the rain and awning. Got the awning back up and slanted it quite a bit to allow the water to flow off. By now I was wide awake and decided to just stay up and get on the computer for a while since breakfast started at 7am.

As 7am approached I got dressed and headed down to St. Agatha’s Church who was cooking a hot made to order breakfast for all our members (will do it again tomorrow). They have 4 different choices that rival Cracker Barrel! I enjoyed the 2 eggs (poached) with 4 slices of Bacon, 4 pieces of Toast, a huge pile of home fries, and orange juice. Most of the other TCTers followed shortly behind me and we all enjoyed a hot breakfast together.

After Breakfast the weather was clearing up a little and we went back to our trailers to set up for the open house. Even with a light rain there were quite a few people out and about to tour the trailers. Most of the day was hit or miss with the rain and the crowds were pretty good for the weather and being a Friday. Later in the afternoon the weather started to get better and more people were out walking around. Tomorrow should be much better weather with Sun all day and clear skies.



At 5 pm we all headed over to Alex’s house just a few blocks away for a pizza party. Alex was a great hostess and gave us a tour/history of her 1938 home in the historic district as well as all the great personal artwork that she has done not forgetting the great art pieces from fellow TCTer John Murphy. After dinner we all gathered and had a gift exchange party which was a blast! Around 830 most of us headed back to our trailers to get a good nights rest for tomorrow. With much better weather forecasted tomorrow it is sure to be a very busy day.

Tim Heintz

Tin Can Tourists’ Southeastern Representative

1953 Viking Coach

Jan 232015

Tin Can Tourists’ 2015 Chautauqua Exhibit

January 22, 2015

DeFuniak Springs, FL

Once again time to hit the road for a TCT Rally, well more of a historical trailer display for the Defuniak Springs Florida Chautauqua Celebration. I woke up this morning a little later than most morning that I travel since the event is only about 45 miles away. So I headed down to my storage shop to pick up the trailer I plan to take, this time I will be bringing a 1953 Viking Coach to display. We will also have 7 other TCTers bringing their trailers as well.

I arrived at my shop around 9am and finished packing a few last minuet items in the trailer, hooked up the trailer, checked all the lights, washed the trailer, and filled the water tank. I was now ready to hit the road, but realized I forgot my coffee pot so I figured I would stop back by the house as it was on the way out of town. When I arrived back home I realized my truck was running a little hot, but not bad so I just checked the radiator and it was a little low, after filling it all the way up I headed out for the road once again.  I only made it about 20 miles north when the truck started to overheat again! Couldn’t figure out why this was happening…..I just changed the water pump as well as the thermostat just this week! Anyway the truck cooled down and I had two empty jugs in the back of the truck, took them back to the trailer and filled them with water from the trailers fresh water tank using the water to refill the radiator from the water that was lost from overheating.  Finally back on the road again!10928727_10152945372270901_1012860926_n

Another 15 or so miles the truck started to overheat again!!!! Pulled over at a truck stop hoping they would have some tools that I could buy/use to take the new thermostat out of the truck just to make it to the venue. No luck!!! So I waited for the truck to cool down again and used the trailers water tanks again to fill the radiator back up.  I was hoping to make it another 15 miles to the next town, as I pulled out I was passed at the cross intersection by a Jim and Donna pulling their 1958 Yellowstone (they were going to the same event) so as soon as the red light changed I tried to catch up with them, I figured Jim would have the tools I needed to fix my truck. For 10 miles I tried to call Jim on his cell phone, blew the horn right behind him, swerved over the line trying to get him to see me, flashed my lights, and even waving like an idiot with my hands out the window……but no luck, Jim and Donna were in their own world! I was forced to pull over again as the truck was overheating again!


AGAIN, pulled over, waited for the truck to cool down a bit, refilled the radiator from all the over flow that steamed out and back on the road. Looked like I was only going to get their 10 miles at a time! So once again I was limping along trying to keep the truck as cool as possible. Just my luck……ROAD CONSTRUCTION, with one lane closed on a two lane highway! At least it gave me a chance to sit for about 15 min never moving with the engine off….once traffic started moving again I cranked the truck and it had enough time to cool down quite a bit and I was finally able to make it to a large enough town with an automotive shop. I pulled in and went inside to buy the tools I needed to take the thermostat out of the truck, but of course I ended up making three trips inside the store buying all the parts and tools that I needed….next time I will remember to pack my tools, this is the first time I have ever forgot to pack the tools in the truck!

10949836_10152945372190901_1059215160_nFinally got the thermostat out and bought a new radiator cap just in case that was the problem as well.  Had to refill the radiator AGAIN, and back on the road hoping this was the last stop. Only 15 miles from the destination, surely I could make it no matter what…..WRONG! 10 miles down the road, same thing!!! No water was leaking out of the truck, just overheating and boiling over of water!!! I cannot figure it out!!! So once again on the side of the road, waited for the truck to cool, and refilling the radiator from the trailers water tank. I also took the radiator hoses off to make sure they were not blocked somehow!

Last leg, only 5 miles away, surely I could make it now! AGAIN, WRONG!!! 1 mile from the finally destination, as soon as I passed the Defuniak Springs City Limits Sign…. I saw what can only be described as Old Faithfull under my hood!!!!! WATER and STEAM everywhere…..pulled over at a gas station and opened the hood (for once the temperature on the truck was very low….all the water spraying on the engine cooled it down quickly) However it came from a broken water fitting on the engine. One last time I filled the radiator with water, knowing it would start coming out the broken fitting, but figured I had less than a mile and would take my chances in getting to the exhibit area just a few blocks away. I took it easy coasting to each red light and shutting the engine off when I reached enough speed to make it to the next red light / stop sign.   It worked and I made it to my final destination!!!!!!!

I backed the trailer into place, parked the truck and decided not to even bother with the truck until tomorrow.  I set up the trailer and helped get all the other trailers that arrived parked into place. So far today we have a 1965 Aristocrat Mainliner, 1958 Yellowstone, 1963 Shasta, 1953 Viking, 1965 Shasta Compact, 1948 Spartan Manor, and a 1966 Norris…..one more to come tomorrow, a 1952 Vagabond.


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At 5pm we had a small meet and greet and sat around the camp fire until 930pm. hopefully the weather tomorrow will not be too bad, it is forecasted to rain quite a bit tonight and most of the day tomorrow.  It has been a VERY long day and I am ready for a good night’s rest.

Tim Heintz

Tin Can Tourists’ Southeastern Representative

1953 Viking Coach


Jan 192015
Below is the “Call for Submissions” for the 2015-2016 TCT calendar to be printed.
Click on the images below for a larger view:
call_for_submissions  TCT_front_cover_2015-2016
Here is a PDF version of the call for submissions
Please submit your best vintage trailer photos for consideration in the 2015-2016 Tin Can Tourists Calendar.
The theme is “Home Sweet Home Away From Home”
This year just send me a couple of good exterior photos of your vintage trailer. If you have a vintage tow vehicle include a shot with the trailer and tow vehicle together as well. I will use one or the other depending on the composition.
This year you do not need any interior shots, no vintage owners manuals or fancy roadside attractions. Just a great shot of your treasure on wheels.  I am hoping this will encourage folks who have not entered before to send in pictures.
Last year’s calendar went fast and we have had a lot of requests for a copy after they were gone!
REQUIREMENTS: Your photo should be high resolution, original size and without people in the shot.
Please include your name, home address as well as the year and model of your rig.
Please e-mail me with any questions.
Send your photos to Michael Lambert at artstreamstudio@gmail.com
We would like to get all submissions by the end of February this year.
 Posted by at 11:12 am
Jan 032015

Names and location – position 

  • Kim Hoke
  • State Rep – NC, SC & GA

Trailer and tow vehicles

  • 1969 Avion Argonaut A25
  • 1948 Spartan Manor Tandem (in restoration)
  • 1948 Spartanette 24 (#144) – waiting for restoration
  • Tow Vehicle – 2002 Toyota Sequioa

Where did you find your trailer/tow vehicle?

In 2009 we purchased our first vintage trailer.  (Travelmate) My husband, John wasn’t so sure about owning a vintage trailer as we were long time tent campers when we lived in Texas.  I convinced him to give it a try and we found an 18ft on Craig List that seemed like a good deal so we purchased it.  I set about to painting and fixing it up.  We camped in it a few times and fell in love with having a vintage trailer but it didn’t take long to determine that the floor plan didn’t work for us.


69 Avion Argonaut A25 – While our friends were visiting from Texas, we all went camping.  They enjoyed the trailer so much that we did a quick search on craiglist to see what was available… we didn’t find anything for them but we did find our Avion.  It was a really good deal so we were sure that the photos were deceptive… they weren’t and we brought it home and sold the other one.


48 Spartanette 24 – In 2013, I found a Spartanette for a friend and as payback she scored this 24 ft for us.  She called and said, “can you come up this weekend, I have something you want to see”.  We purchased it from her and started restoration.  We love the lines of the Spartanette trailers and while most prefer the Spartan main line of Manors and Mansions, we prefer the Spartanette. It needs lots of work and we are stalled at the metal work needed. We’ll get back to it.


48 Spartan Manor Tandem – In Dec. 2014, frustrated with the slow process of the Spartanette, I reached out to someone who told me they’d found a Spartan Manor in a town close to us. They gave me the info and met us to introduce us to the owner.  We purchased it that day.  It is all original down to the sconces and Kimsul insulation.  Our goal is to make this our event trailer and once completed with the Spartanette, we will sell this one.

When and who did the restoration?

We have always done the work ourselves.  Luckily we have a wonderful group of TCT members who are always willing to offer suggestions to a variety of questions.

What is unique or interesting about your trailer?

The 69 Avion is unique in that it is mostly original.  We’ve been told it looks too new and folks don’t think it’s vintage.  That would indicate we’ve done a good job with it.  While not the show piece that a Spartan is, we absolutely love it. It tows like a dream and is incredibly comfortable.  We don’t plan to sell it but to use it as often as possible.  The 1948 Spartanette 24 is a first year production model and #144 to come off the line.  This trailer will eventually be restored and be our event/rally trailer.  The 1948 Spartan Manor Tandem was a special order as there were not many Tandems made in 1948.  The manor will be our first full restoration and will be used as an event trailer until the Spartanette is restored.

What do you like about vintage trailers?

I’ve always had a passion for vintage.  It’s the memories of a bygone era where people slow down and take the time to get to know each other.  Becoming a member of TCT has given me the opportunity to pursue my vintage passion and share it with others.

Have you been to many rallies and what do you like about them?

As a state rep for TCT, I’ve been hosting rallies and gatherings for over 4 years.  Unfortunately I’ve never attended rallies in other areas and as the participation in the area that I cover has grown (NC, SC & GA), I never have enough time to get to any other events. My goal is to go to MI for a big event in the near future.

What clubs do you belong to? – Just TCT

Can you share an interesting bit of information that most people don’t know about yourself? – I’m pretty much an open book; I love to cook, I’m an avid photographer, enjoy our Australian shepherds and am an amateur genealogist.  Something people don’t know is that my earliest memories are sitting on my grandfather’s knee in his workshop learning to use a hand held plainer.  I must have been 4 at the time.  In the years that followed learned to refinish antiques and do a variety of antique restorations with my father.  I’m been drawn to beautiful wood and woodwork my entire life.

How did you get involved with the TCT and what made you decide to become a rep? After searching for years for a vintage trailer, once we acquired our first one I contacted TCT about events in our area.  There were none within 8-10 hours of us.  Terry suggested that I host an event and I agreed.  While small (16 trailers) it was a fantastic event and everyone had fun.  The next year we added a spring event and a facebook page for NC, SC and GA.  One day I received a message from Terry Bone offering me the opportunity to become a state rep.  I was hesitant, what did I know about being a state rep?  I told him that I would accept when I sold out my first rally.  Thinking that would be a year or so down the road.  I was wrong as just 3 weeks later we were sold out and I received another message from Terry.  Now over 4 years later we are selling out events 6 months in advance with 82 trailers attending and our little facebook page has over 1,000 members.

What is your favorite part of hosting a rally? What is your most memorable rally experience?  Hosting a rally is no small task, even with just a few in attendances.  Being able to provide vintage enthusiasts the opportunity to meet others with the same passions as they have has to be the most rewarding part of every event is what drives me.  Each rally/gathering is special but there is always one time that is incredibly fulfilling to me.  (Generally on Thursday mid-day) I stop for a brief moment and watch as all of the trailers arrive.  You can feel the momentum and energy rise while you hear people yelling “hello” to old friends they hadn’t seen in a while, others running to great folks as they pull in and the look of amazement of the new folks as they wait in line.  It is a dream realized and in that moment the clarity of what we’ve accomplished in this area is clearly visible.  For me, this is a moment I cherish.

What is unique about your region/state in terms of camping or the community? Our region provides opportunities to attend events almost every month out of the year.  The lower portion of the region hosts events from November – April while the upper half hosts from April – November.  The area I support (NC, SC, GA) is unique because we are located in close proximity to other border states.  We also have the advantage of a gorgeous coastline and beautiful mountains.  We have had a supporting facebook page for over two years that allows for internal communication for our area as well as states that surround us.  That group is Southern Vintage Trailer Friends on Facebook

What future plans do you have for the region/state? In mid 2014 we took a survey and from that we found that participants wanted more gatherings.  So our goal for 2015 is to host more gatherings and provide various opportunities throughout the area for members to host casual weekend trips in their area. We will have two structured formal rallies in April (Tybee Island, GA) and in September (Maggie Valley, NC) with numerous casual gatherings throughout the area from April – November.

Every rally host brings their own unique flavor to a rally, what is it that you bring? My background as a corporate trainer and HR director has given me the opportunity to plan corporate events of all sizes.  I utilize these skills when planning an event.  I take pride in having developed a rally pack that provides a great deal of information for each participant to review prior to and during the event.

How can members/participants help in your region or at rallies? As our area has grown so has the need for event hosts.  Last year Joy Taylor and Wayne Colson stepped up to head events in their area.  This year we are adding Brent Walker, Matt Whitesides, Penny Stith and Kelly Sloop to the list of event hosts.  If anyone in our area would like to host a gathering, all they need to send me a message and I’ll do everything I can to help them with it.  As our rallies have grown we have implemented a “Rally Committee” and each committee chair is responsible for coordinating their responsibility area.  We are very lucky to have a committed creative group of volunteers in our area and I take full advantage of their skills.  Each and every one of them is the reason our events are so much fun and now sell out so far in advance.  Breaking it down into committees has helped streamline the process of planning and executing the particulars within an event.    Our committee chairs always welcome volunteer assistance so should anyone want to get involved on a small scale, that’s the best way to get your feet wet in the event.


 Posted by at 9:12 am
Dec 302014

Paul and Tracy Bridges, Fort Smith, Arkansas

We are new to Tin Can Tourists but I’ve been involved in trailering most of my pre-married life.  Tracy and I were married in 1981 and moved from California to Arkansas with my job.  When President Reagan fired the Air Traffic Controllers, I decided to apply and they sent us to Fort Smith where we’ve been ever since.  Since leaving the FAA I’ve been a Christian School administrator and a Pastor, and I am currently the Superintendent of Union Christian Academy in Fort Smith.  Tracy is a Certified Financial Planner.

Long Pool 1

We have a 1958 Rainbow that my grandfather purchased new.  I’ve chronicled the whole story on a blog, www.1958rainbow.blogspot.com.  My dad bought it from him in 1962 and I inherited the trailer from him, so in its lifetime the Rainbow has been towed with:

1958 Ford Custom 300 4-door

1959 Ford Country Sedan

1964 Ford Country Sedan

1971 Ford Country Sedan

Trailer01 crop Dave Neg 009

…And we tow it with my 1996 Ford F-250.  Sorry I broke the run of Country Sedan’s.  (By the way – you know the script – my grandfather and my dad always bought for utility, never for luxury. So the Country Sedan’s did just fine and there was no need for a ‘Country Squire’).


The trailer is all original and has not been restored.  Dad parked it on our property in southwest Utah in about 1977 under a covered roof, and that kept the trailer preserved in remarkable condition. I still haven’t been able to get the refrigerator working, but the heater, stove, and plumbing is all in great shape.

IMG_0024 IMG_0025 IMG_0005 Long Pool 3 IMG_0036 IMG_0029 IMG_0026

The interesting thing about this trailer, I think, is its history.  I’ve just not found a lot of enthusiasts that have been able to find and/or restore an antique or vintage classic that is the original family-owned relic.  And every once in awhile I will get a brief smell of “Utah” or “the trailer” that floods my mind with memories.

We’ve enjoyed the looks, the thumbs-up, the pictures that people take and the talks at gas stations that occasionally happen with towing a vintage trailer.  On the way home from Utah this summer at a gas stop – now remember, this trailer had not rolled in 35 years – a gentleman asked if he could look inside as he wanted to know who did the restoration work.  He couldn’t believe it when I said it was all original and had not been restored.  I could tell in his reminiscing that it brought back a lot of great memories for him. That’s what I enjoy about vintage trailers!

We have not attended any rallies with the trailer yet, as we are just getting it back on the road, and our membership is with Tin Can Tourists.  We are also members of the Fort Smith Antique Auto Club and I’ll be joining the Model T Ford Club of America soon as we also have a 1924 Model T.


In closing, we are excited about our new venture with a vintage trailer.  As we are approaching retirement, we’re beginning to plan some travels we want to make. We’ll be taking the Rainbow to Yellowstone in June and we’re beginning to plan a 48-state voyage in the new “tin can”.  Thanks for being so welcoming to TCT!

 Posted by at 1:53 pm
Dec 292014

Meet Al Hesselbart, recently retired as Historian for the RV/MH Hall Of Fame and Museum.

I recently retired after 20 years as the historian for the museum, sold my Elkhart home of 35 years, and changed my home base to Florida.

My current RV, and now my home, is a 1978 custom made 35 foot Newell diesel pusher motor home, but in my 15 year history with TCT I have attended conventions and gatherings originally with a 1961 9×12 canvas tent that I purchased new, a 1962 Yellowbird folding tent trailer, and a1984 micro-mini 17 foot motor home.  I found my Newell sitting in a farm field near Ligonier, Indiana, with a “For Sale” sign in its window.  Its owner of 12 years had found a larger Newell and needed cash for restoration of his new one.  Recognizing Newell’s place in building the finest class A motor homes in the industry, I purchased it less than one hour after first laying eyes on it after a short test drive and reviewing its mechanical history.  My restoration consisted of a wash job and some cleaning inside.  I have made a few upgrades but it is mostly 1978 original.  It includes 2 AC units and 6 furnaces (3 propane and 3 electric) plus a heater in the water and storage bays below.  It has a 10,000 KW diesel generator which allows me to supply power to 2 or 3 units beside myself when needed.  The power plant is the original Cummins VT555 (triple nickel) V8 engine coupled to an Allison 5 speed automatic transmission that provides about 8 miles per gallon for the 30,000 pound apartment on wheels.  I have a 200 gallon fuel tank and 100 gallons of fresh water and 100 gallons of waste capacity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIMG_0076+1 IMG_0069+1 IMG_0070+1 IMG_0071+1 IMG_0072+1 IMG_0073+1

My history with TCT began with assisting Forrest in researching the history of the Tin Canners at the Hall of Fame library.  I attended the 1999 Milford Gathering with Val Hunt, the curator of the Shelbourne Museum in Vermont and have missed very few since then.  I was very honored to be a 2007 inductee into the TCT Hall of Fame.

I have attended over 100 rallies and RV shows around the country for both vintage and modern rigs and varying in size from about 30 units to over 5,000.  From Idaho to New Mexico and from Maine to Florida I find that I enjoy mixing with RV people whether Canners or drivers of modern million dollar mobile mansions.   I was honored to be the keynote speaker in 2012 for the first national RV rally in Beijing, China (missed a Milford gathering for that one) and found Chinese RVers to be very much like American RVers in their open socialization even in spite of language barriers.  I had also been a speaker at an RV show in China in 2010.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Al's 62 tent Als 1961 yellowbird

What most people do not know about me is that I am an avid fisherman having fished bass tournaments from Canada to Florida and won 4 over-all season championships in my Michiana area fishing club.  I now spend much of my time participating in country music jam sessions 4 or 5 days a week throughout central Florida performing Tom T. Hall and Homer and Jethro type silly songs and recitations.

 Posted by at 10:57 am
Dec 282014

Name and Location?

Chris Brown and Molly Bacon. We are married, but I decided not to change my name and deal with being called “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Dealing with “Good Golly Miss Molly” has been enough. We have places in Georgia and Michigan, though we are not snow birds. The place in Michigan is on a small lake and will eventually become permanent for retirement, but since I am still working, we are in mostly in Georgia. When retired, we will become “reverse” snowbirds, leaving the south to move north. Unfortunately, we just can’t have two places AND continue with our love of classics (cars, antiques, and the Ultra Van).

Trailer and Tow Vehicle?

Maggie Valley Profile drivers side full

We have a 1968 Ultra Van. Being a motor coach, it could tow a trailer. We do not currently, since Chris is still getting used to driving the coach (I may even try driving it sometime).

Where did you find your trailer/tow vehicle?

This May, we found the Ultra Van on Craigslist about 65 miles away from us in Georgia. Funny thing, we were not looking for an Ultra Van, we were not particularly looking for anything (didn’t need any more classics – have eleven). I love searching and most often search all of Craigslist for anything with Corvair in the ad (we have eight Corvairs) as I am often searching for things for other people. I noticed the Ultra Van ad one evening and mentioned it to Chris. Out of curiosity, I emailed the seller with a couple questions and asked for more pictures and information as the ad had very little of either. Both of us avidly read the Corvair forums and someone had posted about the ad on one of the forums. A Corvair mechanic we know well had recently purchased an Ultra Van and posted that had this one been for sale when he was buying one, he would have bought this one instead. That was enough for me. I was at work and called Chris and told him to take deposit money from the bank and arrange to see it ASAP. By that evening we were the proud owners of Ultra Van #328 (they are identified by their VIN number). Did we know we were looking? NO! But, with our love of classics and also things that are unique, we just couldn’t pass it up.

When and who did the restoration?

Three owners prior to us owned the coach for many years and were avid RVers. There is a 100,000 mile plaque that was left in the coach from their travels. As far as we can tell and have heard from some of the long time Ultra Van people who knew those owners, the interior curtains, upholstery and carpet were all redone by her. The décor appears to be late 70s colors and patterns, but does not match the material of the original front seats, which we have but do not use. The front seats have been replaced with color coordinated swivel captain’s seats. Those owners had it painted (all coaches were originally white.) What you see in the pictures. That was around 30 years ago (heard from someone who actually had arranged it with the painter). It is a decent paint job, just needing a good polishing. There were some optional customizations done that were available to Ultra Vans many years ago. We are unsure when those were done, but at least 30+ years ago. It has one of the custom rear hatches that incorporates the back window so the hatch opens into both the rear storage and the bedroom area. With the hatch opening into the bedroom area, it has a custom raised platform “shelf” across the rear, which converts the two length-wise twin beds that normally flank the engine access in the center to a cross-ways extra-long double bed. This requires the whole bed platform to rise to expose the engine area access. A custom mattress had been made and then upholstered to look like a bedspread and was color coordinated with the other decor. An optional custom screen door was also added and in addition, a set of optional formed bumpers. Those bumpers were available for Ultra Vans for a number of years until the molds were stolen and destroyed.  Finally, the normal clear Plexiglas windows were all replaced with tinted Lexan. Again, we are uncertain of when that took place.

Table bath flowers bedroom with car lamp living room corner hatch galley counter galley close

Other than a lot of scrubbing, cleaning, polishing, replacing some broken curtain guides, replacing old tires, fixing wiring and poor fuel connections and worn suspension parts, it has not required much work to be very presentable and road worthy. It’s still in almost exactly the same condition as it was in the 90s (we have some of the pictures from when it was for sale then) and other than the décor, everything else is original. Funny thing with the Ultra Vans, there were so many possible variations and so few manufactured (about 372) and they were often put together with what was available that day. Also, with very little literature, it’s almost impossible to say what is stock or original. It’s not pristine. We love things to be as original and stock as possible, but we also want to be able to drive and enjoy it quickly.

As time goes on, little things will be fixed and improved. I’ve already purchased 60s pillows and coordinating upholstery fabric to eventually do some reupholstery work. I have decorated the bath area with late sixties Ricky Ticky Sticky flowers and peace signs just like I had all over my Triumph sports car in 1968. I’ve added an original Lava lamp and on the bedroom shelf, put a Siamese Cat TV lamp. The table that sets up between the front seats, I set with Melmac dishes and burlap lined insulated tumblers from that era. It’s fun to listen to people remark about the period items.

What is unique and interesting about your trailer?

What’s interesting about the Ultra Van, it’s powered by a 95hp air cooled rear mounted Corvair motor. Ultra Vans have no chassis or frame, but are like an airplane’s monocoque construction. The floor is supported by the fuel, fresh water, gray water, and black water tanks running transversely. The first Ultra Van was designed by an aircraft engineer who wanted to tow his boat, but also have the convenience of his trailer. He used whatever he could find available at the time; a Corvair engine and transaxle, windshield glass from a Chevrolet cargo van, a Chevy C10 brake light switch, and so on. The coaches were eventually produced at a factory in Hutchinson, Kansas and were produced until the early 70s when Winnebago started making motor coaches for a few thousand dollars cheaper, which greatly reduced the Ultra Van sales.

Our Ultra Van still runs on the original 14” diameter wheels, which it can do since it only weighs about 3200 pounds empty. It is 8 feet wide, 8 feet tall and 22 feet long. It has at plenty of head room clearance inside, so no stooping to get around. It maneuvers fairly easily and parks within normal width parking spaces. I’ve already mentioned many of the unique items in the restoration section above. One very unique feature with our Ultra Van is the gaucho in the “living room.” From what we’ve heard from some of the Ultra Van information experts, there were only about seven gauchos installed in all of the 372 coaches. Like most motor coaches, it has a kitchen with sink, stove and refrigerator. It has a bathroom with a shower, a closet next to the bedroom area, all which can be shut off from the front portion of the coach, by opening the bathroom door 90 degrees. There is what they term a “coffee bar” that might otherwise be called a dash. A table with a folding leg has a lip that can be hooked on the edge of the coffee bar. With the front seats swiveled, it provides either a place to eat or sit and read or work on the computer. As with most trailers, there is lots of storage everywhere, even in the floor up front.

What do you like about vintage trailers?

Yes, the Ultra Van is not a trailer, but as already mentioned, we just like classic, vintage “stuff.” The Ultra Van was just fascinating.

As for vintage trailers, about a year ago I looked into doing contract work and to broaden the availability of positions, I determined I would not mind living in a trailer in an RV park anywhere in the southeast for the duration of the contract. When I started looking for trailers, I got really interested in the Serro Scotty. Researched it intensely, but it seemed as though they were either in poor condition, too expensive, or snapped up before we could even go see it. We ended up buying a very nice, very original 1988 Skyline Nomad (yes, I know that’s not vintage quite yet).

Have you been to many rallies and what do you like about them?

I have not been to any Ultra Van rallies due to working and very little time off plus the short time we’ve owned the coach. Chris was able to attend an Ultra Van rally a couple of weeks after we bought it. He did not take it as he was in Michigan, the rally in Ohio, and the Ultra Van in Georgia. He had a lot of fun and learned a lot about the coaches and met people that had been associated with that particular coach with the prior owners that have been mentioned. I am hoping to fit at least one Ultra Van specific event into my short time off next year. We did just attend a couple Corvair events the past couple of weekends. With the Corvair engine powering the Ultra Van, we are accepted in Corvair circles. The last one we actually were awarded first place in the Specialty class.

What clubs do you belong to?

TCT, UVMCC (Ultra Van Motor Coach Club), CORSA (Corvair Society of America), VCCA (Vintage Chevrolet Club of America), VCE (Vulcan Corvair Enthusiasts), Corvanatics (specialty club just for Forward Control Corvairs – I am the Secretary/Treasurer), CVOA (Cosworth Vega Owners Association), TWOA (The Wedge Owners Association – for Triumph TR7 & TR8), Good Sam

Can you share an interesting bit of information that most people don’t know about yourself.

Chris and I married just 4 ½ years ago, but were good friends in high school having a love of classic cars in common. I drove a 53 military jeep and he drove a 54 Buick convertible. Our friendship continued after high school with both of us belonging to a classic Chevy car club, drag racing and attending a lot of club events. Eventually, our ways parted until he found me again on Facebook after 35 years. It didn’t take long to realize our old friendship could easily be kindled into something even better. Our fairy tale has just gotten better over the last 4 ½ years, especially again sharing our classic car love. We’ve actually accumulated our 11 classics in that short period of time.

Anything you’d like to share that wasn’t asked?

How did we end up joining TCT? This summer at another Corvair event we met another couple with an Ultra Van. Again we were in Michigan and the Ultra Van still in Georgia. She asked if we belonged to Tin Can Tourist. Huh? What? That evening I spent hours on the website and was hooked and immediately joined. What a fabulous history or organization.

 Posted by at 2:15 pm
Dec 272014

What is your name, location and TCT position?

I am Karen Campbell your Tin Can Tourist SW Regional Representative.   My husband Kenny and I live in Albuquerque, NM and have a lake house at Elephant Butte, NM, we share with our retired German Shepard service dog-Duke.

What trailer and tow vehicles do you own?


Currently, we are restoring a 1976 23’ GMC shorty motorhome, we bought in Phoenix,AZ Spring of 2014. We have a restored 1958 Jewel 16’ with ½ bath trailer, we use as a guest house.  For girl get togethers, I use my 1986 Sunlite Saturn. 13’ with full bath, awning, A/C and sleeps two.   To tow the Sunlite, I have a 1995 Ford Sport Trac. When we tow the Jewel, it looks great behind our 1967 F250 truck. For long distant travel (to the East coast)  we also have a 2011 Pleasure Way 20’ class B van motorhome.

Where did you find your trailer/tow vehicle?

We find our trailers/tow vehicles everywhere.  Years ago, before, the internet was so popular we knocked on doors, and bought several from just asking.  Now, we also knock doors if we see something special, but look on line, and from talking to people at shows and events.  Sometimes they find us too.

When and who did the restoration?


We first got interested in the trailer hobby about 12 years ago, and have restored or made usable again, 39 trailers since that time.  With exception of my 1957 Mobile Scout (just sold) a frame up restoration was done by our friend at Retro Restorations previously in Albuquerque, we have done all the work ourselves. My talented husband, does plumbing, wiring, electrical, and wheel stuff, I do, painting, caulking, upholstery, and everything else.  After this GMC motorhome, we are done; this will be our last vintage unit. I say never say never so…..

What is unique or interesting about your trailer?

Our GMC motorhome, is called the “hotrod” of motorhome.  Being 23’ long, powered by 455 Olds engine, it floats down the road-rather quickly too.  There were only 1100 of these built, most were designed for, airport shuttle use.  Many of the 26’ units are still on the road, few of the shorty’s are around today.   This one will have all the modern stuff, (TV, micro, air bags, A/C, generator) and the charm of yesterday.

Round wood corners, a mint green working refrigerator and stove, gleaming wood walls, ½ bath, and permanent full bed, make our Jewel trailer the perfect little extra guest trailer.

What do you like about vintage trailers?


For me, I like the small easy to tow size of the canned hams.  Also the sense that for some reason, this trailer has survived. Most have been exposed to  years of being outside  and perhaps I can help it, with some work, and preserve if for generations to come. Guess it is its history – which it has been used and loved by others, wishing the walls could talk.  Anyone can buy new, but history has no price. Kenny is a totally 1950’s retro type of guy, and he liked pulling one behind his 1957 Ford, to get out of the sun at car shows.

Have you been to many rallies and what do you like about them?

I went to my first rally in 2004.   A couple of us had trailers then, and heard that there was going to be Shasta Rally in Taos, NM, about 150 miles north, and we said lets go. Not knowing what to expect, take or plan for.  We tow up our trailers, to a rather true vintage trailer park and was met by a frazzled lady almost in tears.  She said she had no idea what she had gotten herself into, but could not cope and to please take over this rally. Well, this was our first rally, so we had no idea why she asked us, or what to do, but we said ok.  If I remember right we just hung out, looked at trailers and had a good time meeting everyone.  Since that time, we co-started the Southwest Vintage Camper Association, and put on at least two events per year since then.  I guess my favorites are the themed events like the trailer trash queen, western and red neck. (A chance to get into costume and character) It is nice to have something else to do at the rally location like:  shops-restaurants, town to explore, a dance, a parade or a water to play in. Also I think no rally is complete without a few functions to meet each other and an open house.  I love seeing other trailers.  I love swap meets too.

What clubs do you belong to?

Of course we belong to TCT, also CCNM – Classic Campers of NM.  Three car clubs: the Route 66 Rodders, Divco Club of America, and the Driving Divas.  Many on line groups/clubs and a few civic organizations.

Can you share an interesting bit of information that most people don’t know about yourself?

Twelve years ago I retired from the real estate world, where I flipped homes and brokered a property management firm. During my working life, I never had a chance to be involved in a motel or campground. So, one day, I told my husband that I always wanted an old motel/campground, what did he do, he bought me one.  The Flamingo!  Now it is O gauge, (large scale model train)  but it gives me a great place to display my collection of trailer toys/models.   They look great scatted among the other scenery on our 10’x20’ train lay out.  It is a Christmas scene set in the mid 1950’s.  It  stays up all year, in its own room.  Guess I’m a model railroader-who knew.   Here are a couple pics:

Anything you’d like to share that wasn’t asked?

Enjoy this fun hobby, go to as many events as you can.

How did you get involved with the TCT and what made you decide to become a rep?

I found TCT on line while scouring for trailer parts years ago.  I liked that TCT had a purpose other than rallies. They were about preserving history, offering help and educating people.  I decided to join, in 2005, I think, I was member number 53 and the only one from New Mexico, then. TCT seemed different from other trailer groups, they offered information. When asked to be the rep, I thought about it, and then said ok. I was surprised and flattered that my new little trailer hobby here in New Mexico was recognized by a large national group like TCT.

What is your favorite part of hosting a rally?

My favorite part of a rally must be seeing the interiors of all the trailers.  I always get great ideas for my “next” trailer, and like creative use of space.  I think it is just about mandatory to have open house – open for and to include the general public. I get a little tired of hearing “I had one just like that”, but it is rewarding in so many ways.  Otherwise rallies are just for us.

What is your most memorable rally experience?

I had a couple, Kenny and Suzie, which were coming to my event to celebrate their 30the wedding anniversary, and without them knowing, we arranged a mock wedding ceremony for them. I found her a dress, flowers, minister, cake, and wrote vows for them. All done completely trailer trash style, and they loved it and were just thrilled.  Almost every rally has some great moments and wonderful people.

What is unique about your region/state in terms of camping or the community?

That is a good question.  I think with the weather in the SW, most of the year is good for camping and we have unspoiled delightful scenery. It is also great for trailer hunters, as we don’t suffer from winter road salt or rust.   New Mexico is unique, due to its large geographical area we are 5th in square miles, and 6th most sparsely populated.  So the people that have the trailers mostly live in the Albuquerque area. Here in Albuquerque we have two TCT friendly campgrounds that love vintage and sponsor their own vintage camping annual events. Enchanted Trails Campground has 3 of my past trailer, and offers overnight camping in them, like the Shady Dell in Arizona.

What future plans do you have for the region/state?

I would like to incorporate more state reps, into the master plan. With me, the regional rep, training, and overseeing the state reps.  I think most areas are best served by having a local state rep that knows the people, where to camp, what is wanted, and the best time of year etc.  I started off with the idea of wanted to do a rally in each state of my territory, and have participated in 4 out of state events now.  I plan on hosting my yearly rally the Desert Diamond, at Elephant Butte, NM.  Kenny and I will be on the road next year visiting and traveling-I always keep TCT brochures with me and pass them out along the way.   The Camp Dearborn rally that Forrest and his crew host, is fantastic, and would love to attend it again in 2015.

Every rally host brings their own unique flavor to a rally, what is it that you bring?

I like to think I bring, organization, a planned agenda, and try to offer something different at each event. My last rally, Desert Diamond, we included a boat ride around the lake, and a cocktail/desert  party at my vintage triple wide mobile home.  For door prizes, I like to ask trailer questions, with the correct response winning a prize. Mix things up a little, ad some fun while sipping on Margaritas.

How can members/participants help in your region or at rallies?

I am always open to any help or suggestions.  Members are welcome to host their own events, in their state/location, and I will offer guidance and direction. If I can I will travel to attend, their event. Showing interests and getting your local campers/friends interested in hosting rallies is a great help.

For my events, I am going to start a sign-up sheet, for volunteers. I think if people get involved they will be better participants and might be willing to host their own event.

 Posted by at 12:27 pm
Dec 122014

Bradenton resident will be a presenter at the Assembly’s Annual Gathering – January 22-25, 2015

  • Bone, Forrest

    Forrest Bone

    Dearborn, MI
    Forrest Bone is a retired teacher and coach from Dearborn, Michigan. Forrest and his wife, Jeri, renewed the Tin Can Tourists as an all make and model vintage trailer and motor coach club in 1998. Twenty-one rigs attended the May Renewal Gathering at Camp Dearborn, Milford Michigan. By the end of the year, fifty members were accepted as charter members. The group has grown steadily, currently holding Annual Gatherings in Michigan, Florida, and regional rallies at various locations in the US. Recently Regional Representatives have been added to represent England, Japan, France and Australia. The new version of Tin Can Tourists is open to all. Its goal is to abide by the original group’s objectives and guiding principles as well as the promotion and preservation of vintage trailers and motor coaches through Gatherings and information exchange. With the help of Terry Bone, son and webmaster, the Tin Can Tourists Club has grown steadily. Tin Can Tourists has over 18,000 followers on Facebook, and our website www.tincantourists.com is a great resource for all things related to vintage trailering and Tin Can Tourists.

 Posted by at 4:01 pm