Camping like a Girl

There’s no other way to describe it – a perfect weekend of camping and camaraderie.

Girl Camp Canada’s vintage trailer and RV show and shine August 21 in Warkworth, Ontario was the best event we’ve attended this year. The fun started the day before in a grassy field on the farm of Raquilda and Lion Van Zoeren. We parked the Travco in the shade with a Boler, Scottie, Shasta, Argosy and even an Airstream.

For dinner everyone chipped in on crusts and ingredients. We laid out the bounty on an empty hay trailer and one of the ladies with a propane fired pizza cooker created stone-baked pizza for everyone. Delicious!

After dinner everyone got dressed up in gypsy style and we went around taking photos of ourselves all over the farm. We ended up at our Travco for a group shot.

The day ended with a social time around the campfire. This was special for us, as the community has had an outdoor burning ban in place since July 2 and it had been lifted earlier that day, as if just for our event.

The next morning everyone hitched up their trailers and drove them to Warkworth’s Main Street for the show and shine. We lined them up on either side of the road, and many of the ladies brought out vintage collectables to sell. The public marveled at the tiny treasured trailers decorated in many different themes from ultra modern to Boho to the Wild West.

In past years an event called The Long Lunch would have been in the middle of the street, but due to a morning shower, the luncheon moved to the local arena. We took a break and attended the meal. Ham, roast beef, salads, home baked beans, buns and a slice of homemade fruit pie. Yummy! I felt like closing the door on Lucky Seven and having a nap after that feast.

At the end of the day we had around 100 people tour Lucky Seven. Not one of them had ever heard of the Travco brand before, and we enlightened them all on our special RV.

We made some wonderful new friends and the time of our lives at this event. The tranquil beauty camping at the farm was the perfect venue to lead into Sunday’s show. At the end of the day we all exchanged email addresses and followed each other on Facebook to make sure we meet up again same time next year.

Who knows? We may get together for another campout before this season ends.

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The Girl Camp Gang with Lucky Seven at the Van Zoeren Farm.

Wonderful hosts!

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Children loved touring the Travco.

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The Van Zoeren girls got in on the show with their own tiny trailer vintage shoppe

More of the awesome GCC ladies’ custom trailers.

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Workin’ it in Winchester

Our first Girl Camp Canada vintage trailer and RV event August 6 was everything we expected it to be and more.

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Dinette set with 70s flair – dig the green swag lamp!

Held in Winchester, Ontario, just south of Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, the show was part of the town’s annual Dairy Festival. Along with meeting the owners of a charming Boler, a Serro Scotty, a Shasta and more, we took in the festivities in a new town we’d never visited before.

The Dairy Festival was as much fun as the trailer show. There were home-cooked meals, games and rides for the children, a beautiful outdoor community swimming pool to cool off in, and even a rod hockey tournament (my husband Martin came in second!).

The vintage trailer show was organized by Bonnie James and she did a fine job setting everything up. Plenty of people dropped by to check out our tiny homes and to learn about camping in a vintage trailer.

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(Above R-L) a Serro Scotty, Boler, and our Travco lined up for the show

Only one person recognized Lucky Seven as a Travco. His parents had owned one in the early 1960s and later purchased a Mahal. I had to resist throttling only one person, convinced that Lucky Seven was a Winnebago.

All in all the day was well worth making the 485 km (300 mile) round trip. Thanks to Bonnie and the rest of the Dairy Festival committee for hosting us. Hope you make it an annual occasion.

Tomorrow we’re going to a local show and shine, and probably another one on Tuesday. Afterwards will be the big Girl Camp Canada street show in Warkworth, Ontario on August 21. The only down side is we aren’t supposed to wash vehicles right now. Our community is in a severe drought situation and car washing doesn’t conserve water. I may have to drive Lucky Seven down to the lake in the next day or two.

 

 

One little, two little, three little Travcos

Time’s getting short.

Wednesday morning at 2 a.m. we start the final leg of our quest to find a Travco. Flying to Wisconsin we meet Kay Cummins and her husband, who handpicked us to re-home her late father’s 1974 Travco 270.

It’s been quite a journey. It all started a year and a half ago when I graduated from a year’s study in post graduate Public Relations. My husband and I agreed to sell our C class RV the year before to fund my education. Now, we wanted to get back into camping. I had used my journalism background to write for KOA Kampgrounds two years prior and found I enjoyed this type of work. The idea of vintage campers particularly intrigued me.

The first Travco I met was in the long grass of a farmer’s field. Someone had brush-painted it black and added cheap flame stickers to the sides, which had long since peeled away. It was a project vehicle, far beyond what I was willing to tackle.

The second one turned out to be our biggest mistake. This 1975 270 ran, but after spending significant money on upgrades, it was still uncertifiable to drive on Canadian roads. My husband encouraged me to give up at this point. I, however, saw this as a mission.

Then out of the blue I was contacted by two Travco owners interested in selling! Both of these Travco 270s were in the Muskokas near Gravenhurst, Ontario. We took a weekend and met one of the owners at the site the two Travcos were stored at. The idea was we would purchase the 1969 270, allowing him to purchase the other 270.

After expressing our interest, the 1969’s owner wanted to think about the deal for a couple days. By the end of the week he had changed his mind, and the other one was unsuitable for our needs. Strike out number three and four.

Number five was a diesel conversion in Sudbury. Now cautious, I arranged to have this one towed to a garage and have a professional look it over. It had a lot of issues. The examination cost $600, but in the end it saved me a ton of heartache and wasted travel time.

Number six’s owner assured me this Travco 320 was in excellent, drivable condition and would make the long trip from Charleston, South Carolina to the Canadian border without a shudder. He had so much confidence in “Old Blue” he assured us he would pick us up at the airport in her and escort us around the city.

He didn’t meet us at the airport. We spent several days in Charleston waiting for good news. Finally Old Blue’s 440 engine came to life. As we eased her out onto the main road Old Blue coughed, trembled and died in the middle of the street. The smell of burnt wires emanated from the engine compartment.

Not wanting to be trapped on the wrong side of the lone exit door, we grabbed our bags and leaped from Old Blue. As far as I know, the 320 never moved under her own power again. That mistake cost another few thousand dollars in travel and a week in time.

My husband was done with Travcos. Convinced they were jinxed, he had me agreeing with him. For one day.

The day after we arrived at home, I received a message from Kay Cummins in Wisconsin. Kay had been following my published reports of woe, and had an offer for us. Her father, an accomplished vintage hot rod enthusiast and mechanic, had passed away earlier this year, leaving several vehicles in his estate including a completely renovated 1974 Travco 270. Were we interested?

It took some convincing, but finally my husband and I agreed to give a Travco one more try. We arrive in Wisconsin on Wednesday noon, and Kay and her husband will drive us to our latest Travco.

Of course we regret the wasted expenditure on our Travco quest, but we don’t regret for a minute the people we have met along the way. Whether in person or on the phone everyone we’ve met has been passionate in their respect for and love of the Dodge Travco brand.

The first things Kay wanted to know was what we’d name this Travco. When – not if – we get it across the border and home, we’re christening her “Lucky 7”.

 

Thinking spring

Last weekend Girl Camp Canada held their annual winter camp-out. Members from across the country spent the night in their trailers. Some went all out and parked their trailers outdoors, others visited their campers in storage, staying overnight while the camper was still under a tarp.

I wish I could have participated. The Travco is still in for mechanical repairs. What’s worse, the window of free time the RV centre gave us for electrical and water system work is closing fast. If the Travco isn’t delivered to them soon, they will be prepping for the 2016 RV shows and it will be many months before they will have the time needed to give this old bus a proper going over.

I’ve already had a couple disappointments before the 2016 camping season even starts. Every summer, Travco owners go to a meet in Brown City, Michigan, where the vehicle was manufactured. I was so looking forward to meeting fellow fans and learning about our vintage 1975 Travco 270. But the event has been cancelled.

Another big car show event is planned in London, Ontario, and some Travco owners are attending. It’s June 4-5. That’s the only weekend this year I have a commitment to work. And there’s no way I can get out of it.

I’m hoping we will get our Travco on the road this summer. And, we will attend an event some time soon. Camping is too much fun to miss another whole season.

 

Talent and Creativity

I’ve discovered one thing since acquiring our 1975 Travco. There are a lot of talented, creative people restoring vintage trailers and RVs.

A plethora of how-to videos and photos exist online attesting to the many abilities brought to the table when restoring an RV or trailer. Some people focus on the mechanical side, rebuilding engines, welding chassis’, and upgrading wiring and lights. Others focus on the décor, matching fabrics, window treatments, paint schemes and patterns.

The best thing about being online is all these talented people available to answer my questions. They do this frequently because I have lots of them. I’ve gotten accurate, useful information on my Travco’s brake system, engine, alternative heating solutions, tires and decorating styles to name a few.

Human nature dictates we want to be part of a community. The vintage RV community is one of the most generous and welcoming groups I’ve been in contact with. Our Travco isn’t drivable yet, but we’ve been invited to RV shows, swap meets and other events. Several Travco owners have extended invitations to drop by if we are passing through. We hope to do this in the years to come.

I’ll leave you with a few photos showcasing some of the incredible things these restorers have created. I hope I can measure up to their ability and have a showpiece of our own in 2016.

I’ve discovered one thing since acquiring our 1975 Travco. There are a lot of talented, creative people restoring vintage trailers and RVs.

A plethora of how-to videos and photos exist online attesting to the many abilities brought to the table when restoring an RV or trailer. Some people focus on the mechanical side, rebuilding engines, welding chassis’, and upgrading wiring and lights. Others focus on the décor, matching fabrics, window treatments, paint schemes and patterns.

The best thing about being online is all these talented people available to answer my questions. They do this frequently because I have lots of them. I’ve gotten accurate, useful information on my Travco’s brake system, engine, alternative heating solutions, tires and decorating styles to name a few.

Human nature dictates we want to be part of a community. The vintage RV community is one of the most generous and welcoming groups I’ve been in contact with. Our Travco isn’t drivable yet, but we’ve been invited to RV shows, swap meets and other events. Several Travco owners have extended invitations to drop by if we are passing through. We hope to do this in the years to come.

I’ll leave you with a few photos showcasing some of handy links for creative restorers. With all this information we should have a showpiece of our own in 2016.

1976 colors1970s Color schemes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bay blanket RV

 

44 Cheap and easy ways to organize your RV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pop rivets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to hang almost anything in your RV

 

The ins and outs of heat sources

I’ve been assured the welding job to be done on the Travco before November 8 was started yesterday.

After another month of restless waiting, I am again thinking about the customization to be done over the next 6 months or so. We vintage RV owners kid ourselves things will be done without a hitch and in a reasonable amount of time, and come in under or on budget. LOL.

But I can dream. A couple innovations have caught my eye. One is for the kitchen. As I’ve noted in a previous post the propane stove top in my Travco was ruined by rust. I don’t expect to be able to repair it. Not sure that I want to replace it with a similar unit. I use the propane burners for cooking breakfast only, and the oven only for extra storage.

An all-in-one type insert was brought to my attention through the ladies of Girl Camp Canada. It’s a mini kitchen: single sink with two electric stove burners beside it and a mini-fridge with icebox below. This sounds pretty cool and space-saving to me.

It brings up a few conundrums for me as a first time restorer. Would this unit be hard to wire/plumb into the R/V? Would it draw too much power? And on a personal note, once it is installed, will I find the single sink and half fridge too small to be practical?

Danby all in one unit
Danby combo kitchen as seen on Kijiji Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This change got me thinking about a more luxurious option. If this triple-unit saves me a bunch of space, could I possibly eliminate the propane furnace and swap out for a fireplace or woodstove? I’ve seen many Pinterest pins and Youtube videos on the installation of a “mini-stove” in tiny houses and RVs. Lots of questions to be answered about this option, though.

I grew up in rural Eastern Ontario Canada and have lived in homes with both fireplaces and woodstoves. The dry heat appeals to me, as RVs often seem innately damp. As well, to me camping isn’t camping without the scent of a campfire. Watching the coals glow, toasting marshmallows or hotdogs and hearing the crackling flames is the highlight of my camping experience.

 

Hobbit stove
Restored Hobbit mini wood stove in a 1972 Airstream trailer. (Pinterest)

This brings us to the issue of safety. I have no desire to take my Travco out on her maiden voyage only to have Camp Wannahockalogie go up in flames. Not only would I have lost a lot of cash and sweat equity, that bus only has one door. Not exactly good for emergency escapes.

The walls, ceiling and floor around the unit would have to be somehow fireproofed, especially where the chimney pipe goes through the roof. It would have to be properly ventilated and sealed against water leakage. And how high would the pipe stick up? It may get snapped off by a low branch or bridge.

chimney vent on boat
Chimney vent on a boat (Pinterest)

The mini wood stoves aren’t a cheap option either. You can get a portable military “tent stove” for well under $100 but at that price, I’m concerned about durability. The cast iron, enameled units with small windows so you can see your fire are pretty expensive. Up around $600 to $1,000 and higher. Apparently there’s a unit they install in boats that is supposed to work well.

Green woodstove
“Little Cod” marine wood stove by marinestove.com. Glass door costs an extra $150. Unit costs $1,535 CDN, plus stovepipe.

The major unknown for me is movement. This isn’t a tiny house or cottage. There’s going to be a whole lotta shakin’ going on while the RV is on the road. If I go to all the work to repaint and decorate this beast, there’s no way I want a stovepipe collapsing in a shower of soot in the middle of the floor.

Maybe there is a propane option which would be simpler and safer? My only issue with this is the end cost. Using up more fuel and having to go find a place to purchase a refill is inconvenient. As well, it wouldn’t last very long if you were boon docking.

There’s a pretty informative article on propane vs. wood for tiny houses, but it’s not exactly what I need to know.

I’d sure appreciate some advice from any of you who have attempted or seen these conversions. I’ve found that my readers are the best source of sage advice, ideas and innovative suggestions. So let me have it. I have a few months to ponder my decision and I want to make an informed decision.

PS: For those of you who have been following this blog, I realize I can’t use my blowtorch fire starter inside the Travco. Damn.

 

 

 

Frustrating, exasperating, maddening day

I do not need another day like today for a long time.

Things started out normally enough. The morning went quite well in fact. Got up, fed everyone breakfast, husband took dog for a walk and did dishes. So far so good.

Went out for groceries and stopped afterward for a coffee break. Still no problems. A good day.

After lunch all heck broke loose. Paid up our Travco restoration account at our local garage. Was surprised to see the sub-contracted glass installer charged $350 for two hours’ work. And we still have no word on when or if we will be getting brake parts before the snow flies.

I loaded up my husband and son and took an afternoon drive to Great Canadian Oil Change in Trenton. I’ve used these people for the past six years and have never had an issue.

Until today.

Along with the oil change, the technician noted we had a slow leak in a tire. Then he talked me into replacing the fuel filter. On the way home, I smelled raw gasoline, and the car was sluggish when I hammered the gas pedal.

We stopped at Gus’s diner on Picton’s Main Street for fries and a pop. When we came out a half hour later, there was a large puddle of gasoline under the car. I got it started and drove straight to JC Automotive with a trail of gasoline following me.

At JC Automotive one of their mechanics took a quick look underneath. Great Canadian Oil Change did not reconnect the fuel line after changing the filter and gasoline was being pumped right out onto the ground. I lost around $40 in gas, but the worst thing is we could have had an explosion.

The day isn’t over yet.

At home I realized it is garbage night. I opened the trash can to affix a bag tag (we pay an extra fee per bag for garbage pickup here). Upon opening the lid, I was greeted with a seething, slimy mass of fly maggots. I pulled the garbage bag out, double-bagged it and dragged it out to the curb. Hopefully the skunks won’t get into it tonight. Then I washed out the garbage can, doused the maggots with boiling water and left the can to dry overnight. Tomorrow I will spray it with pesticide before putting in a new liner.

While I was busy attending to the mass of maggots, I inadvertently left the back door to the house open and the dog escaped. She’s a terrier and can run like the wind. My husband and son caught up to her eventually. Better them than me at that point. I may have done something regrettable.

Now I’m trying to get my head together and relax before another very busy and expensive day tomorrow. My son is getting assessed for braces. Or should I say “brace$$$$$$”

And when this started, all I wanted to do was go camping in a cool, unique motor home.