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"Teardrop!" or "Vintage camping"

Last week while perusing around on Craigslist I stumbled upon an entry selling a 1945 teardrop trailer. The price was reasonable and when I asked to see some pictures I was immediately smitten. I showed them to Lisa and she was equally smitten, enough that we drove up to Oregon for her spring break to take a look at it.
We camped in a regular tent along the way.

A note about tent camping. While I don't hate it, no matter how much bedding and padding you lay down I always wind up with sore hips and shoulders. No matter how fast you are at getting the tent up it always takes a while to clean the spot, lug it out, move the bedding from the car to the tent when really, all I want to do is lie down and go to sleep.

We arrived at the address of where the teardrop was around 11:00 the next morning. It was being stored at a mom and pop transmission place in Salem Oregon. As soon as we pulled in and saw it we got even more enchanted. We were poring over it, noting how sturdy it was and though it was dull and a bit dinged, it seemed to be in remarkably good shape considering the age. There weren't any apparent leaks and while there was some softness in the wood in some places it wasn't anything to worry over.

Lorie...the "mom" of said mom and pop auto store came out to greet us. She went on and on about where she had found it...how much she loved teardrops, what she knew of the history. I asked her why she was selling it and my heart broke a little when she said that the IRS wanted more from her than she had been expecting and so had to part with it.
She WAS happy though when we told her we were more than a little in love with it and since we had obviously done our teardrop research she was happy it was going to be going to a good home.

The teardrop was built in 1945 by a WWII vet. After the war a lot of the scrap materials were sold to the public and the military got first dibs. This guy built it out of old airplane aluminum plenty of rivets and set it on a jeep axle and painted the interior and the fenders battleship grey. I guess the paint was on sale too. It's VERY utilitarian looking.

Friday pulling Rosie The rest of the day was getting Friday outfitted with a hitch. She and her husband had a spare there at the store and she was on good terms with another auto place would could get Friday all hooked up.

Most of the rest of the day was spent waiting around...She allowed me to check my email on her computer and we saw some of her dachshunds that she raised. She took us to a delightful local restaurant...the kind that has a wall devoted to John Wayne and the staff will sit and talk to you. I had been dealing with a horrible sore throat the last few weeks so I asked for some orange juice and could they please bring some cayenne out. I got some weird looks but they complied and the waiter seemed pretty interested when I told him how much cayenne in orange juice helped my throat. Extra tip for him!
Lorie was on such good terms with the staff there she left them instuctions for them to call her to come pick us up when we were done. Off to the auto place to pick up Friday and then back to her place.

A bit of a side adventure...on the way home we saw a newly felled bicyclist who had been weaving in and out of traffic and had collided with a vehicle. Lisa and I hopped out and helped the guy STAY DOWN...I wasn't sure if he was drunk or really rattled by the clip but the last thing we wanted him to do was stand up after that fall. He was bleeding...turned out to be from his nose but still...head wounds bleed a lot.
Shortly the cops and firemen and ambulance arrived and we quietly slipped away. Fun being a good citizen I have to say.

Back to Lories...then to the bank (d'oh!)...and we finally took posession of the teardrop. Lisa and I moved all the bedding out of Friday and she got it all arranged inside the teardrop and after giving Lorie and her husband a hug goodbye (seriously just good, good people,) we hit the open road.

I was expecting a *bit* of a tug when we first started out but the whole way home I couldn't even tell the trailer was there.

We drove until 9:30 or so and found a campsite to stay in.

Now...the thing that I have decided that I *love* about teardrop trailers is we could just PARK, climb in the teardrop and go to sleep...and the next morning...climb back in the car and GO. We didn't have to set anything up...or haul bedding around...it was just ready. So delightful.

A note about the first night. I was surprised at how warm we wound up being considering it wasn't insulated and was made of metal. I do want to make some quilts specifically for the interior and we want to get a good thick memory foam mattress but it was really a good sleep! We woke up to rain pinging on the room which was surprising comforting.

We took the scenic route home, going through "Avenue of the Giants" which took you through amazing redwoods (we stopped at a place where you could drive your car through one. We didn't but we did walk through it and there was a little 2 house "village" where the houses had been carved out of redwood trunks...one even had stairs carved in which took you up to a second floor. Pretty amazing.)

I wish I could say I loved every minute but I started getting car sick with all of the twists and turns and finally just lay down and willed myself to sleep. It was with some relief when we finally left the mountains and trees and saw the coast.

We stopped at Ft. Bragg and spent some time on "Glass Beach" Lisa tells me that there used to be a dump there and the ocean had smoothed out tons of glass and other bits of debris. We looked for interesting bits of sea glass since she is going to be taking a mosiac class in May. Lisa always finds these really interesting intricate bits of glass...but my fear was/is that since ALL her pieces are interesting then none will be. I got some larger "more boring" pieces of glass for her to use to contrast her interesting pieces (and they ARE interesting.) Art school and watching my mom quilt wasn't for nothing baby!

Anyway, we're now proud owners of a 1945 teardrop trailer that is sitting snugly in the garage waiting for some work. The fenders are still painted in oh so faded "battleship grey" and we have plans to remove those and get them painted to match my car. I want to get "moon" hubcaps for that vintage looks and while it's not on the immediate "to do" list, some white wall tires would be GREAT.

I have also been researching how to acquire and use vintage license plates and the best way to polish up the exterior and Lisa is plotting ways to build an insulated interior. We think we are going to call it "Rosie" after the WWII icon and plus, she has a lot of rivets. Isn't it adorable?

Lisa inside Rosie



( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 11th, 2009 12:40 pm (UTC)
It sounds like you all really like it! :)
Apr. 11th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
An outstanding acquisition! It looks like a lot of fun – an the name "Rosie", perfect!
Apr. 11th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
I'm chagrined to admit that I'd never heard of a teardrop before now. But I'm smitten too! And I love your ideas for overhauling it. Pictures then too, please?
Apr. 12th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
Of course!
Apr. 11th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
Now I don't have to suggest cots for tent sleeping w/o sore hips.
But I will say I'm usually motion-sickness-free if I'm driving, so a good plan is for me to take mountain/coast stretches and let others drive the long straights.
Have a super time upgrading and camping in Rosie!
Apr. 12th, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
I think me driving the twisty parts is going to be the order of the day!
Apr. 12th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
Just don't get lost in a maze of twisty roads, all alike.
Apr. 11th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
That is SO COOL! I love old teardrop trailers!
Apr. 12th, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
I know eh? Between getting this restored at the Honda CB 350 running I've got plenty of projects on my hands!
Apr. 12th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC)
Aoooo, a CB350?! I love those!
Apr. 13th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
Come out and make it go! :D
Apr. 13th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
Between the two of us, we might pull it off! VROOM!
Apr. 11th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness -- that is way too cute! Congratulations on your new find!
Apr. 11th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
Apr. 12th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)
I know eh? I feel like the whole of the United States just opened up to us. I'll have to swing by your place at some point and say hello!
Apr. 12th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
Grand Canyon!
Also Zion National Park. And the Big Reservation/Monument Valley.... I'll bet you've got fan-friend contacts nationwide [we're ~2 hours from Grand Cyn. NatPark]. See as much as you possibly can!
And create art!
erm::off soapbox::
Apr. 12th, 2009 12:11 am (UTC)
Cute, and you are right it looks like something your dad or grandpa would build. Except Grandpa had such an inventive mind. In the volkswagen "camper" he made a curtain type of thing so you could stand outside and get dressed or undressed without the world seeing.
Apr. 12th, 2009 05:15 am (UTC)
We were thinking we needed to figure out a way to have a quick changing room. I will have to pick your brain on how Grandpa went about it.
Apr. 12th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC)
While driving on the Massachusetts Turnpike today I saw a teardrop trailer -- I'd never seen anything like it before, and didn't know what it was called until reading this just now.

Congratulations, it's adorable!!
Apr. 12th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)
I hadn't heard of them either until I met Lisa. They ARE cute.
Apr. 12th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
Jett, what a terrific adventure (and many more on the way, it seems!) We've dreamed of a little poptop some day, though a teardrop would be great, too. I saw a really cool book about them a year or so ago, some history, but mostly just folks showing off their refurbished teardrops. Congrats on your new find!
Apr. 12th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
So cool!
If I can recommend a GREAT book: http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Garage-Custom-Paint-Anything/dp/0760318093/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239565511&sr=8-1

I learned a lot about this kind of stuff when I was helping my Dad rebuild his motorcycles.

Actually, all the books in the monster garage series are really helpful.
Apr. 12th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
Nice acquisition!

I've always liked vintage Airstreams and I've spent quite a bit of time looking at various restorations. The Airstream sites have plenty of knowledge when it comes to restoring your very similar (in style) trailer.

Certain vintage Airstreams are notorious for axle failure. I'd consider having someone inspect the jeep axle just to be sure. While the trailer could always be repaired of any damage resulting from an axle failure, it would be a shame to have to go through all that. It's still a 64 year old axle...

Have fun with the restoration! She's a beauty.
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the heads up! Yeah we really should get the axle checked out.
Apr. 13th, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
Any advice?
Teardrops are the coolest little trailers! I love the fact that you can pull most of them with almost any vehicle. Lately I've been looking into buying one for myself, although not an original or restoration. Seems like these little campers are coming back again. I'm wondering if anyone has any advice? I'm leaning towards a Camp-Inn right now (www.tinycamper.com)....I ran into someone who owned one, and although they're not cheap, it's exactly what I want, plus the quality is astounding, and they're custom made. But I've also heard of Little Guys and Tabs, and I'm wondering what sets them apart...
Apr. 13th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Any advice?
Not quite sure what I would advise since we specifically wanted a restoration project.

They ARE terrific little trailers though!
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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