New Member Interview with Jack Walter

I’ve been a vintage camper enthusiast  for as long as I can remember – back when many vintage campers were brand new! I always loved the look of the old Airstreams – especially the early pre-1968 models – but even the old canned hams have a certain charm with their wood paneled interiors.

We used to borrow my uncle’s pop-up trailer for family vacations out west but having a bear encounter in Yellowstone when the only thing between you and a grizzly is a thin sheet of canvas really makes you appreciate a trailer. My dad and some of his friends had a small company back in the 1960’s where they would invent a product and build a prototype then try to sell the idea to a company that was in the business of making similar items. They designed and built a small trailer with eight pay telephones for the local Bell South franchise for special events and disaster relief. The trailer could be set up and wired into local telephone exchanges wherever it was needed. Another project was the very first fiberglass Nomad tent camper with a removable lid that became a boat. I learned how to lay up fiberglass while they were building this prototype.

My dad had a 1964 Chevrolet Step Van that had been converted into a camper that was one of my favorites – a friend of mine and I used it for a tour of the west and Mexico when he got out of the Navy in 1974. My sister and her husband used to buy and restore old campers from the 1960’s as a side business for their art gallery. 

My first vintage camper was a 1968 Appleby tent camper that I bought of Ebay for $110 – after a few repairs it was a nice inexpensive way to get off the ground, I bought an early Boler back in 2007 – I should have probably just kept that one – would have saved me a lot of money over the years.I sold the Boler and bought a 1984 U-Haul after just missing a chance to buy a 1988 Eriba Triton by 30 minutes. 
I had seen some Eriba trailers during my travels in Europe and they really lived up to their reputation as the German Airstreams – I was very impressed and had decided I really wanted one. A few years later I found a 1989 Eriba Puck advertised for sale in Pensacola, Florida  – bought it sight unseen and met the seller in Montgomery, Alabama to bring it home. It was a really nice Puck but a week after I bought it the Triton I had been chasing for six years came up for sale again so I drove up to central Tennessee to buy that one too. I had the U-Haul up for sale but hadn’t sold it yet and the driveway had three vintage travel trailers parked in it along with a couple of old Land Rovers – the redhead was not amused.

I sold the U-Haul and then had to decide which of the two Eribas to keep – which was a really tough decision. 
I liked the Puck a lot but it was one of the ones with the short pop-up roof section and I was frequently bumping my head as I stepped back in the trailer toward the rear. The Triton was about three feet longer (15′ versus 12′) and a foot wider, had an extended pop-up roof section and was really a much nicer trailer so I reluctantly let the Puck go. 

I did miss the compact size of the Puck when towing with my 4 cylinder diesel Land Rover Defender but of the two trailers the Triton was the better one. A few years went by and the wife wanted a bigger trailer so I sold the Eriba and bought a 16′ Escape sight unseen based on glowing reviews on fiberglassrv.com – this proved to be a mistake. It was a very nice trailer but it just wasn’t the right one for me – too heavy, awkward floor layout and just too modern looking. I eventually sold it for a loss after only camping in it for a few times.

I looked at bunch of other new trailers and just couldn’t find anything I liked well enough so I turned back to looking at vintage trailers and maybe another Eriba. My dream vintage trailer has always been a pre-1968 Airstream Bambi or Caravel but my wife doesn’t enjoy camping that much so spending big bucks on a vintage camper wasn’t going to work.

So looked into importing a newer Eriba Puck with the extended pop-up roof section from the UK.

It had to be 25 years old to be eligible to import per the DOT rules and I found a really nice 1995 Puck for sale outside of Liverpool, England. 
I bought it sight unseen off the pictures (I seem to do that a lot) and arranged to have it shipped over to Brunswick GA two years ago. 
I had to rewire it to 110V (from 240V) and do some other minor repairs but its an exceptionally nice travel trailer that gets a lot of attention.It only weighs around 1100 pounds and can easily be towed with any of my four cylinder Land Rovers. I use a Bus Depot awning (made for VW camper vans) and its very comfortable.Since it has a fiberglass roof its eligible to attend various fiberglass camper rally’s and I enjoy going to the Eggs On The Hiawassee gathering in north Georgia.

I have always been interested in the Tin Can Tourists and once I found out that my 27 year old Eriba is eligible for membership I decided to join the group.I look forward to attending a TCT rally sometime this year.

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