It May Not Be As Difficult As You think to Restore A Vintage Trailer

by Paul Lacitinola

Vintage trailers can be a fun and economical hobby whether you are 16 or 75 years old or somewhere in between. If you can tow a small trailer, you are sure to be welcomed to one of the hundreds of vintage trailer rallies happening across the USA every year. Acquiring your trailer may prove to be the challenging part of the hobby. With pre-1969 trailers in such high demand, the prices of restored trailers reflect the investment of time and money put into them by their owners. If you are somewhat handy or crafty, or fancy yourself a do-it-yourselfer, you can probably restore your own vintage trailer!

We each have things we excel at, and other things that may not be our strongest skill. You may know how to put colors and patterns together to create that perfect “look” for your trailer’s interior, but as good as you are at that, you may not know the first thing about plumbing. You may be able to refinish the interiors wood paneling, but you do not know where to start when it comes to install new Wilsonart laminate countertops. When it comes to wiring, you hope for the best when you are out on the road. If you get stuck out at night with no tail lights do you know what to check first? Keep reading and we’ll teach you something.

The great part about the vintage trailering hobby is that most aspects of restoration are not terribly difficult to do. With a little bit of training, and a forum that allows you to ask the questions you need answers to, you could probably do this! You may also discover what you really can’t or don’t want to do yourself. (I think that a professional can install Forbo Marmoleum flooring better than I can, so I let them do it.)

For the past 3 years we have assembled professional builders and dozens of trailerites from across the US and Canada that are eager to learn. The first year we had about 120 attendees, year two about 150 and last year 180 attended from as far away as Canada and Maine. This year will be our 4th annual event and we will be back in Hollister, CA at the Casa De Fruta Campground. You may not be able to fix your refrigerator after one class but you will probably learn enough to diagnose it. If it isn’t fixable, installing a new Dometic fridge probably won’t seem like such a daunting task.

We expect to sell out at 200 attendees. We will get started on Thursday March 7th with a Hawaiian style BBQ. Attendees can join in the fun with their favorite Hawaiian shirt! Friday and Saturday we start with coffee and a continental breakfast and have 3-5 different classes going on throughout the day. Attendees are able to attend any of the classes they choose. Lunch is provided both days so you can grab a bite and get to your next class! In the evenings, you can enjoy the camaraderie or grab a bite at the Casa De Fruta Restaurant. Sunday morning we have a farewell assembly and coffee.

The VCT Boot Camp is the only event of its type. If you are interested in rubbing elbows with a couple hundred like-minded vintage trailer enthusiasts, you can’t miss this year’s event. Tickets are on sell now. This event will sell out. Last year the rooms at the Inn were sold out within a few weeks. We have plenty of campsites and hope to see you there no matter where you come from, how you get there, or where you stay!

If your taillights on your trailer aren’t working, first check the fuse in your vehicle. If the fuse isn’t blown you may have a connection problem where the trailer plugs in to the tow vehicle near the hitch. Clean the terminals and/or wiggle the plug to improve the connection. Make sure the hitch is secured to the ball on the vehicle. This will help to “ground” the trailer. You may also just have a bad bulb or a dirty connection at the socket. One of these are usually the issue. If not, you may have some old or damaged wiring somewhere in the trailer. Continue eliminating the possibilities until you chase it down.

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