Finding a Vintage Travel Trailer

Question: Dear Luise: How did you get started with your vintage, Argosy, travel trailer? It seems like a strange hobby for a woman and yet I think I might like to give it a try, too. Are you mechanically inclined or do you have unlimited funds? If neither is true, how did you restore it? I suppose someone else could have done that and you might have gotten it after the work was done. Is that it? If you’re in the mood to do so, I’d like you to satisfy my curiosity and give me some pointers. For instance how long is it and what’s the year? Where’d you find it? Thanks, Grace

Answer: Dear Grace. Well, you can rest assured on the issues about my being mechanically inclined and/or being independently wealthy. No and no. It’s a 1971, 27 foot and I found it for sale at my camping club. That’s where I keep it, too.

Actually when I got my Argosy, I choose it because it was a design that follows the principles of aircraft manufacture. I knew I had limited funds and I didn’t want to get something that had dry rot in the roof or could develop it. I only looked at Airstreams because I like the company and can get parts from them. I chose an Argosy model because I liked the looks of the wrap-around windows in the front.

I have never tried to keep it “stock”, which means authentic if you’re not familiar with that term. I’ve taken out the couch in the front and the leaky, water tank under it and put in two lovely, maple, glider rockers and one, glider footstool. I haven’t put in a microwave because it just doesn’t look right in there to me. In other words, I have pretty much followed my own ideas and budget.

Some of us find vintage travel trailers appealing. Mine often feels like a cocoon to me. I settled on an early American theme with braided rugs, and curtains with crewel embroidery. I have a darling electric fireplace and even a cuckoo clock.

The holding tank valve is shot and I just operate without it because it would be very costly to replace. A former owner tried to add one and it was a disaster. The air conditioner doesn’t work but I don’t need it often enough to justify replacing it. That’s what you will be doing if you decide to go ahead. You’ll be weighing what you want against what you need, and finding your own personal balance between the two. For instance, I paid and arm and a leg for a new lock from Airstream. Padlocks are tacky!

When all is said and done, I probably have too much money in it. I had to hire some of the work done for me, of course. Also, when I found something I just couldn’t live without…I didn’t. Gifts have helped. My son gave me the fireplace and my daughter-in-law saved me an arm and a leg by laying my linoleum. A close friend bought me a new furnace. It just feels “right” and everyone who comes into it falls in love with it. If you go ahead and get your own, please write again and tell us about it, if you’re of a mind. Blessings, Luise

6 Responses to Finding a Vintage Travel Trailer

  1. C. June 26, 2009 at 3:25 pm #

    Hello Luise: I just purchased a 1966 Hi Lo 15 ft. It’s in great shape, BUT, it’s a crank up and I need to replace the cable that lifts it. I can NOT find anyone who knows about this. Do you have any idea where or if this person exsist??? Someone in Ohio would be great. I even tried the Hi Lo company here in Ohio…… help. Any info would be greatly appreciated. C.

    • Luise June 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm #

      Hello C.: Well, that’s pretty discouraging if the Hi Lo Company won’t/can’t help. I think my first move would be to go to Bellevue, Ohio and talk personally with the head of the service department. And I’d head for the CEO if I didn’t get positive results. It’s hard to believe that they are still making and selling them and won’t repair or maintain them. One-on-one often gets you past telephone dead ends and brings action.

      Otherwise. I think you may be stuck with something that is useless. A hard pill to swallow. Blessings, Luise

  2. julie January 7, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    My husband and I bought a 1963 hi-lo camper. My husband replaced the cable in ours. First he took pictures on both side of where the cable connects. My husband pulled the cable out to use as reference. He went to Lowes and bought another cable the same length to run back though it. After that you run the cable back through and connect it. He replaced the cabie about two years ago. It wasn’t hard, it just took a while. He works on classic cars as a hobby. J.

  3. Don Fohl January 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    I’m responding to Julie, and her husbands replacement of the cable on thier Hi-Lo. I am going to attempt to do the same on a 1964 Hi-Lo and have a couple of questions. Like which end to start from. Any help would be apprciated.

    • Luise January 24, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

      I have written to her and asked if I could publish her email address. Stay tuned. Blessings, Luise

  4. mallory marshall January 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    My beloved sister in law just purchased a 16 foot Owosso 1952 travel trailer. I love the thing. I am about to turn 60, and would like to find a vintage trailer I could move around in order to have a place to paint from around the country. I do not need a holding tank (I am more or less my own holding tank and can figure something else out in that department) and live in Maine or FLorida most of the time. Where do I begin to look for something like this, and if word of mouth works, where are the mouths? Sincerely yours, two island girl, Mallory Marshall

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