Tin Can Traveling

Vintage “canned ham” style camper trailer at the Clark County Museum

After experiencing the wind, rain and mud of our last camping trip, I decided to get a bit more serious in my search for a vintage trailer we could use right now and restore for a future dreamed of road trip across the country. We didn’t want to get into anything too big, just a tiny trailer that would provide us with the basics.

I found a good article on Little Vintage Trailer, 10 Things to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Vintage Trailer that helped focus us in on what we really need vs. what we want. After reading this and doing some additional research, I realized what I really want is a canned ham shaped vintage trailer from the 40’s or 50’s but we decided that anything pre-1975 would work and be simple enough for us to reno ourselves. As luck would have it, we found one for sale in Medicine Hat that was the right size AND fit our budget.
After ordering a new hitch, and convincing the husband to install it on a very rainy Saturday morning, my daughter and I were off to pick up our new-to-us tiny house on wheels. We couldn’t meet the sellers until Sunday morning but we decided to go that night and make a weekend away out of it. There isn’t a Marriott brand in Medicine Hat (my usual first choice) so we decided to check out the Best Western. It’s an older hotel that has some quirks but the staff were friendly and the rooms were clean. We were upgraded to a jacuzzi suite because they matched my Marriott loyalty level so that was a plus.

Sunday morning was bright and sunny. After enjoying the hotel’s free breakfast we headed off to meet the sellers. Arriving at the appointed spot we waited a few minutes before checking my email to see they had already left! Turns out that someone (not mentioning any names) didn’t reset the vehicle clock when he hooked up the trailer wiring (ok, yes, I didn’t notice). Fortunately we were able to reschedule and (with a bit of assistance) we were soon hitched up for our return trip. Just one problem, the wiring on the trailer didn’t match the wiring on the SUV. Nothing a trip to Canadian Tire couldn’t fix.

I’ll spare you the details but after checking wiring connections, light bulbs, fuses and adapters, we decided to go with a set of temporary lights for the drive home. I can’t say it was a pretty arrangement, but it all held together for the 2 1/2 hour drive home thanks to strong magnets and zip ties!

Our new tiny trailer got the thumbs-up from the grandson who discovered there is a fold-down bunk just right for a person his size. He pointed out this was near the fire extinguisher so he would be prepared should any of us decide to burn breakfast 🙂

One of our girls decided since it is a 1970’s camper we should fill it with granny square pillows and throws and a macrame owl for the wall.

Another favors a South Beach theme complete with pink flamingos (we do have a set picked up at Walgreens a couple of years ago).

Then there is the discussion of painted walls vs. leaving the wood paneling as it is (the grandson LOVES wood paneling).

I suspect the finished product will be somewhere in between and possibly inspired by some of our favorite Tin Can Tourist pins. I have to say I hadn’t realized that vintage trailers were such a thing. There seems to be a never ending supply of advice on how to renovate and restore them from a community of clubs and forums with very social members. Looks like I have a lot of reading to do!

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