EMPIRE TRAILERS, INCORPORATED
This Wiki is about Empire Trailers, Incorporated, 1949-1960.
NOT Empire RV, Empire Recreational Vehicles, Incorporated, 1974-1994.
NOT Empire Heavy Equipment Trailers, extant.
Empire Trailers, Inc. was an American manufacturer of travel and park model recreational trailers in the original City of El Monte, California, USA. The original city was split in 1958 into the City of El Monte 91732 and the City of South El Monte 91733, California.
NOTE; Information contained herein was gathered from archival sources in the present City of South El Monte, County of Los Angeles – Public Records Division and the Los Angeles County Public Library, California. Other sources include; original company advertising, web searches, email and voice contacts with actual and former owners and from some of the 21 other known trailer manufacturers who were located in the cities of El Monte/South El Monte between 1949-1960, and beyond.
Winton Read firstname.lastname@example.org is solely responsible for this posting. Questions or concerns about this content? Please contact him. Of course you are free to make any changes or additions you wish, but the more we coordinate our efforts, the better and more factual this Wiki will be… When revisions are made, please update the revision date at the bottom of each section.
Empire Trailers, Inc. corporate offices and factory were located at 1452 Chico Avenue, El Monte, California, USA.
The company had two divisions; the Travel Trailer Division. and the Park Model Division which later became the Mobile Home Division. Telephone; CUmberland 3-4521, or GIlbert 4-4951.
Incorporated in 1949, first production was in 1950, last production was in 1960.
Factory serial numbers are located on the top of the front right frame rail in the hitch triangle. A number of 5817234 means a unit was made in 1958, is 17 feet long and is the 234th of all trailers made that year.
All trailers were sold initially through the multi-brand dealership of;
“Al Rose, the Trailer King.”
c/o Triangle Trailer Sales
10117 E. Garvey Boulevard
El Monte, California
Later brochures indicate an interested buyer could contact Empire for the nearest dealer. Presumably this meant other dealers took on the marque.
The first known company logo was a rectangular metal badge with a graphic of the Empire State Building in New York City. The direct connection, if any, between New York and El Monte, California is not known. Perhaps since the Empire State Building represented a symbol of American strength in the 1950’s, the company wished to project that symbol as indicative of its manufacturing prowess. There was also a portion of the logo in the form of an angled EMPIRE decal used on the front of the travel trailers above the window. It is believed the park models or mobile homes also used this decal. Another oval metal badge with a graphic of a world globe has been reported.
Other trailer manufacturers using the name “Empire” intended to refer to their locations in what is called the “Inland Empire” or mid-western USA, not the New York City building by that name.
NOTE #1; “Fiberglas/Fiberglass”, “Linoleum”, “Porcelain”, “Bias-Ply”, “Porta Potti”, “Galvan/Galvanic/Galvanized” and “Formica” are registered trademarks.
NOTE #2; Telephone numbers are from the years 1950-1960 and are all 6 numbers including an “Exchange” name. The first two letters of the exchange name (GIlbert, MOnroe, etc.) are capitalized and represent corresponding numbers on a telephone dial…
NOTE #3; There were no telephone area codes or postal ZIP codes between 1950-1960 in California. There were rural route numbers, but not in incorporated areas.
NOTE #4; All images are taken from the public domain, used by permission, or if of unknown credit/origin are so stated. No copyright, patent or trademarks are intentionally used outside of their respective domains. If you are the owner of such rights and wish acknowledgement please contact Winton Read, email@example.com for assistance.
Map of South El Monte, Los Angeles County, California.
Star at center of map shows approximate location of original Empire factory.
Courtesy, AMRO Fabrications, 2011.
Aerial view, 1452 Chico Avenue, El Monte, California.
Blue highlighted building in upper left corner is site of original Empire Trailers factory. Building is now owned by AMRO Fabrications, an aerospace equipment manufacturer.
Courtesy, AMRO Fabrications, 2011.
Production of travel trailers was 1950-1958.
Production of “park” model trailers was 1955-1960.
The company ceased operations in 1960.
NOTE; Many small manufacturers were bought out by larger ones and re-badged during these years. For example, the Terry trailer company was purchased several times and existed until 2009, though having no connection to the original El Monte business, except in name and history. However, it is known the El Monte, California, Empire Trailers, Inc. factory was indeed closed in 1960.
As a side note; the original Empire factory remains standing in an area of light manufacturing in the present day City of South El Monte… The original city was split in 1958 into the City of El Monte 91732 and the City of South El Monte 91733, California.
Unnamed trailer park in El Monte, California, circa 1949.
(Unaccredited Web image.)
City of El Monte, California, May, 1954.
(From an unaccredited postcard. Facing west on Valley Boulevard, Cinco De Mayo banners in view.)
City of South El Monte, California, July, 2011.
(Courtesy Maria Sepulveda, City of South El Monte, California. Copyright 2011; Mid Valley News. Facing west on Valley Mall Boulevard.) Original J. C. Penney building seen on right.
Empire Trailers, Inc. referred to their models by coach, not overall length. On the other hand, some state licensing entities consider overall length for licensing purposes, so for example, an Empire 12′ is called an Empire 15′ in Washington State…
12′ coach, 15′ overall, single forged drop axle, travel trailer.
Model name unknown.
171/2′ coach, 20′ overall, single forged drop axle, travel trailer.
24′ coach, 27′ overall, twin straight forged axles, travel trailer.
28′ coach, 31′ overall, twin straight forged axles, travel trailer.
34′ overall, twin tube axles, park model.
46′ overall, twin tube axles, park model.
Model names unknown.
Unknown make 1950’s frame though very similar to Empire; cross members, solid forged drop axle, stock underslung leaf springs, wheels, brakes, Bias Ply tires. Except for the park models, all travel trailers were painted white with a sky-blue lower-half band which dipped down and back up again near the wheel well opening.
An earlier paint scheme has been reported and is being researched. See the Pictures section for examples.
For the 1950-1955, 12′ travel trailer…
Light birch, natural clear finish, paneled walls. Maple or birch faced cabinetry.
Fully carpeted floor. Some later models may have had Linoleum flooring.
Left interior; Two square opening cabinets over the galley at the ends of an opening window. One single cabinet under galley with counter which has small single hand-pump faucet, Porcelain sink, stove, storage under with drawers, and Formica counter top. Small rectangular opening window on upper rear for ventilation.
Front interior; Full width, two hatch, narrow overhead cabinet. Two dinette seats with storage under and on the right seat, a single, end-opening hatch. Dinette Formica top table which drops down to form a single bed. Center opening window.
Right interior; Wood door with separate optional wood screen door. Tall, utility cabinet by door. Opening window to rear.
Rear interior; Full size bed with front center hatch and storage under. Overhead canvas/pole “bunk”. Center opening window.
Other years of Empire travel trailers had similar layouts, just larger, and beginning with the 171/2′, a single stall bathroom and metal enclosure shower. Some also had a forward opening main door. See; Standard/Unique Features/Options.
The layout of the park models is unknown, but probably similar to other manufacturer’s during the 1955-1960 period.
For the 12′ travel trailer;
All steel ladder-type frame and tongue.
14“ steel wheels. Standard duty Bias-Ply tube-type black-wall auto tires.
Wood frame coach with aluminum ridged skin.
Quilted pattern aluminum skin single, rearward opening door.
5 opening aluminum framed windows with exterior aluminum drip rails.
Light blue Porcelain sink.
2 burner white gas stove top.
Hand pump faucet at sink.
Color matched light blue Formica on counter and table.
Wax treated paper batting insulation in walls.
6V lighting, outlets, 12V after 1955.
10 Gal. fresh water Galvanized steel tank under left dinette seat.
Single red glass tail/stop light and integral white license plate light on left rear.
Outside storage locker, right rear side.
For the 12′ travel trailer, these were extra cost items. Specific lists for other models are likely similar;
Outside chrome assist handle by door.
Wood framed locking screen door.
Opening aluminum/glass skylight.
15” steel wheels, Chrome hub caps. Extra duty Bias-Ply tube-type black-wall truck tires.
Front retractable wheel. Spare tire. Custom coach lift jack.
Rear straight-bar steel bumper.
Dual round, red glass tail/stop lights.
Separate, chrome license plate light.
4 red glass side marker lights, “Beehive” style.
Propane system, tank, front outside mount.
Fiberglass insulation in walls, ceiling and undercarriage.
Propane interior light, heater, ice box.
3 burner propane stove and oven.
Custom carpet choices.
Custom Formica choices; Sky Blue, Sea Foam Green, Salt and Pepper, Sunset Red, Fog Gray, others.
Stainless steel sink.
Camp toilet, (bucket/lid/bags).
Extra, small top “bunk” opening window, upper left-rear side.
Extra outside storage locker, left rear side, locks for both.
110V wiring and outlets.
For the 1950, 12′ travel trailer, standard equipment;
$1,389.00 at the dealer in California.
For purposes of this section, some original exterior color schemes and mostly original interiors are shown, though some owners have modified their Empires in very creative and colorful ways. Those are also shown and are so noted.
Exterior badge, circa 1954-58.
Chrome script badge for “Al Rose, The Trailer King”, a multi-brand dealer.
A generic version was used on other makes, including Empire.
1955 Empire 12′ original blue paint graphic (1954-1958) and screen door.
1955 Empire 12′ repaint in red.
1954 Empire 12′ repaint in burgundy with new graphic.
1955 Empire 12′ without paint, badge forward on coach.
1958 Empire 17′ “Traveler” right side.
1958 Empire 17′ “Traveler” left side.
1955 Empire 12′ front dinette reupholstered showing galley ice box.
1954 Empire 12′ front dinette original upholstery and table.
1955 Empire 12′ left side galley.
1955 Empire 12′ rear bed and right side tall closet door.
1954 Empire 12′ rear bed storage under and galley drawers/knobs.
1955 Empire 12′ right side tall closet door open.
Photo credits courtesy of the owners below.
“Sisters on The Fly”; http://www.sistersonthefly.com/
Sister #12, 1954 Empire 12′;
Sister #549, 1954 Empire 12′;
Sister #903, 1954 Empire 12′;
To contact any of the sisters directly, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Identify yourself, and why you wish direct contact with a sister, naming the sister by her club number as above, and asking the sister be given your email address to respond to. This way the privacy of everyone is assured…
Winton Read, Tacoma, Washington USA;
1954 Empire 12′ travel trailer.
Modifying for “Adventure” travel on backroads, or as it it sometimes called, “Boondocking”. Came to owner in very poor condition, with no usable interior. Beyond restoring to original configuration…
Custom interior designed for off-grid remote area living; 12V twin battery power with solar panels, gravity water pressure tank/system, forward shower/Porta Potti and dresser in separate bathroom replaces original dinette area, table over rear bench seats drops to become double bed, small bottle propane stove and heat, gray/black water holding tanks.
Exterior features; no paint, unpolished, inverted drop axle\U bolts for high ground clearance , raised rear platform carrier for storage also serves as bumper, two spare tires mounted on front tongue triangle. 1984 custom, very rugged, lifted Toyota FJ-60 Landcruiser tow vehicle.
Greg Kleinert, Bend, Oregon USA;
1958 Empire 171/2′ “Traveler” travel trailer.
Original graphics exterior, painted and updated interior.
Peter, Minden, Nevada USA;
1955 Empire 12′ travel trailer.
Major restoration project.
Unnamed blogger, “Crazy For Vintage Trailers”, Chico, California USA;
1955 Empire 12′ travel trailer.
“Sisters on The Fly”; http://www.sistersonthefly.com/
(Web search key words; empire trailer, empire travel trailer, empire travel trailers, Inc., vintage trailer, vintage travel trailer )