New Member Interview with John & Carla Schaeffer

Can you tell us about how you got into the vintage trailer hobby?

Wow. Long story short…

We were planning our golden years and trying to decide what we would like to do to prepare for when John retired. We both like old things, having lived in old houses, gathered many antiques and vintage possessions, going to car shows and such, so the idea of a vintage trailer wasn’t too far out for us considering we’ve had a car that just turned 49 years old too (a 1973 VW Thing that really cannot pull anything of meaningful size, but that is another story…)

We guess, the idea of getting a vintage trailer really took hold after we attended a book signing by a friend of ours, a local writer, at our town’s library. The book was one of the Retro Roadmap series and, at the time, its author, Beth, was submitting articles to Vintage Camper Trailers magazine – who knew such a thing existed! Anyway, she had some complementary copies of the magazine and we were sold (well, Carla was anyway)!!!

Flash forward, a year later, my wife surprised me by saying she wanted to look at a vintage trailer. If you haven’t noticed, vintage trailers are not quite as popular and available on the East Coast. We were living outside of Philadelphia and I was working periodically in Virginia where this trailer happened to be located. Needless to say, with a certified check in hand, we drove our ‘trailer-ready’ Toyota RAV4 across Virginia and brought a trailer back to Pennsylvania. I guess, sometimes you just have to take the plunge and we now have Daisy…

Overall, it was a pleasant experience, from buying the trailer to towing it home. But, as we entered our home state of Pennsylvania, my wife noticed some curtains blowing out of Daisy. When we pulled over, We discovered one of the vintage jalousie window panes was gone, and now somewhere in Maryland! We thought the glass broke and we’d fix it easily when we got home, so out came the duct tape (I know, I know). Well, when we got home, we realized it wasn’t just the glass pane, but the rivet on the glass clip had sheared and one of the glass clips was missing as well. No big deal right – I can hear the collective laughs now. Needless to say, we are still searching for our unusual size glass clip since I don’t want to lose my ‘stock’ windows. Yes, welcome to the world of vintage trailers!!!

What type of trailers have you owned and what do you have now? What is your dream vintage trailer?

We are new to the hobby and have only had one trailer, the one we purchased in 2019 in Virginia. It’s, well, I’d like to call it rare, but won’t go that far; a 1964 Wolf 13’ made by the Wolfe Mfg. Company of Cassopolis, Michigan. We do call it rare when we encounter a parts shortage like the unusual sized jalousie windows… But hey, we have a lot of the original documents from the trailer’s purchase, so it adds to its overall presentation.

Dream vintage trailer, hmmm. That’s hard. We’ve seen some wonderful examples at the rallies we’ve attended in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and gaze longingly at online and in Vintage Camper Trailers magazine, but, we already got our dream trailer! 

Having said that, there are some improvements that we want to finish on Daisy with more on the ‘to do’ list, but once we get that done and take our Daisy further afield, then maybe we’ll think about moving up to a classic Airstream Flying Cloud calling Carla’s name or the Trailerboat calling out to John (with a matching VW Bus with upgraded Subaru engine, etc…). And at every rally we attend, we seem to find at least one, usually many, ‘wow’ trailers, so maybe after our trip to the Spartan Trailer Rally in October, we’ll covet a Spartan??? We are trying to avoid that ‘bright shiny object’ syndrome though…

What do you tow with?

Well, the Toyota RAV4 V6 with tow package we used to get Daisy home was okay, but since it was approaching 200,000 miles, we decided to trade up our daily vehicle to a Toyota Highlander. Note, John was pushing for a truck and obviously lost that battle. And John would love a vintage car to tow Daisy with, but that’s just one more moving piece to fret over and since the 1973 VW Thing won’t do it, we’re in for a modern car we can hide during rallies.

Do you attend rallies and what do you like the most about attending a rally?

We have always liked going to antique shows, auctions, and car shows, so rallies were a logical step for us; however, we live on the East Coast and there aren’t as many as we’d like to see. We have attended rallies in Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey (both with and without Daisy) and Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania (without Daisy). The upcoming Spartan Trailer Rally in Bethany Beach, Delaware, will be Daisy’s first boat ride (Cape May – Lewes Ferry) is on the schedule for October 2022. We tried to take Daisy to this year’s Rally on the Rocks in Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania, but we planned too late and all of the spots were full. We need to plan better going forward!

The things we like about rallies include:

  • Attendees – everyone has been great and welcoming, even through the challenges of the last couple of years. We’ve picked up pointers and tips that you just can’t get any other way. The feedback you get from the other Trailerites is priceless too, which helps you keep your motivation up to keep chugging along.
  • Trailers – it is great to see some many different types of trailers and the manner in which people have restored, modified, renovated, and decorated. Not to mention seeing some true gems of trailers that get us motivated to work on our ‘to do’ list.
  • Location – while spending time in the campground is nice, it is also nice to be able to explore the surrounding areas, the Pocono Mountains, the Jersey Shore, and, soon, the Delaware Shore. 

Even though you didn’t ask, what we don’t like about rallies include:

  • East Coast rallies – there are not enough, but we’re giving a huge shout out to those in Clermont, Lenhartsville, and Bethany Beach, who have spent the time and energy to host those rallies! And we’re looking to expand the circle next year with a possible trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York with Daisy.
  • Trailering – we know, kind of ironic, but we’re new to this and the first time trailing from Virginia to Pennsylvania we lost a ‘simple’ part that has proved to be challenging to locate. So, we now take more time preparing Daisy for the road with painters’ tape, bungie cords, and straps, oh my. If you pass an old trailer with painters’ tape on the windows, honk and we’ll wave and smile back at ya!!! Oh, and did we mention that John is still in the ‘learning’ to back up a trailer phase? He’s okay in low stress environments but dreading when a unique situation presents itself…breathe deep and get out!

Why did you decide to join the Tin Can Tourists?

This is simple:

  • People – when you have a vintage trailer, you become part of a community. And to be part of the community, you have to want to participate in that group and Tin Can Tourists has been doing this for, well, almost forever (even if we are ‘late’ to the game).
  • Resources – as we discovered on Day 2 of our vintage trailer ownership, some parts are next to impossible to obtain. We realize that we’re new, albeit eager, trailer owners, and that there are many, many others out there that have experienced what we are sure to encounter as we continue to make improvements to Daisy.
  • The Future – we want to be part of the Tin Can Tourist family to help keep this organization going for future vintage trailer owners!

What are your camping plans for this year?

Despite having Daisy for a couple of years now, we are still in the shakedown phase with her. We are looking forward to the Spartan Trailer Rally in Bethany Beach, Delaware, this October – yes, its not a Spartan, but we’re vintage and want to support the rallies that we can! Otherwise, we are looking to take Daisy out and locally to get used to trailering and make incremental improvements to her after each and every outing (cha-ching).

While Daisy was in good shape when we got her, we’re looking to change some things you can only blame the proverbial ‘prior owner’ for, while making some changes that better suit our needs. We don’t know if we can trailer Daisy to the VCT Boot Camp in California, but we would like to attend to get more involved with other Trailerites and learn more about her care and feeding.

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