Here at Empire, we’re passionate about the innovative and design of all vehicles. When designing covers for cars, RVs, trucks, boats and more, we consider all of the latest design trends. That’s why we’re obsessed with vintage RV renovation.
We’ve were lucky enough to score an interview with camper renovation expert and blogger Kelle Arvay of Little Vintage Trailer. Kelle’s blog is about the newest trends in camping, RVing, and renovating vintage- you guessed it-trailers!
Read on to find out what “glamping” is, where to find your own vintage trailer, and why Kelle loves restoring old campers.
Kelle Arvay of LittleVintageTrailer.com
BTC: How would you define “glamping”?
LVT: The term Glamping was original coined by Mary Jane Butters of MaryJanesFarm. It means Glamorous Camping. For me, it means surrounding yourself with comfort and things that make you happy, which are things like décor that trigger that happy sensors in your brain, or a luxuriously comfortable bed. While I could “rough it” with the best of them, I definitely prefer to camp in comfort.
BTC: How did you get into renovating vintage trailers?
LVT: I have a soft spot for small vintage trailers that need saving or a little TLC to bring them back to life. Then they can go on to have new adventures with new owners. After owning a few myself, I found a few more that I renovated and really enjoy the process.
The Interior of Jellybean, the ’55 Bellwood
BTC: Tell us more about Buttercup and Jellybean (Kelle’s trailers):
LVT: Buttercup is a 1961 Shasta Compact that is 10 feet in length, not including the tongue. While she doesn’t have a lot of floor space, she is very well laid out for a small trailer. The dinette makes into a king size bed and she has quite a bit of storage space.
Jellybean is a 1955 Bellwood that is 11 feet in length, not including the tongue. Her layout consists of a front dinette and a rear bed. She lived her life in Arizona prior to coming here to Michigan, so she was in surprisingly excellent original condition.
Jellybean, Kelle’s 1955 Bellwood Camper
BTC: Where can you find vintage, discounted trailers like these?
LVT: I’m not sure about discounted, as vintage trailer prices can vary quite a bit. I think the most important thing for anyone seeking to get one is to decide what they want first and narrow their list down to things like what size, what model and what amenities do they want it to have (i.e.; does it have to have a bathroom? Does it have enough sleeping capacity? Can their tow vehicle tow it safely?). I created a list on my blog on this particular topic that may be helpful.
Pricing also depends on the condition of the trailer. Most vintage trailers will be in need of some repair, and others will need a full restoration.
Before and After of the Shasta Compact
BTC: Tell us more about your latest project, the ’64 Shasta Compact:
LVT: The ’64 Shasta Compact was a really fun project. That trailer was actually sold before she was completed, so the buyer was able to pick out the exterior paint color scheme, as well as some interior features they wanted. We replaced some wood that was water damaged and put in new flooring. We also had it professionally painted.
The 1950 Kenskill
BTC: What’s your favorite trailer under “featured trailers”?
LVT: That’s a tough one as I like so many of them! If I had to pick just one, I would say the 1950 Kenskill. It’s just such a great example of an early 50’s vintage trailer, not to mention it is extremely adorable.
BTC: How often do you drive your campers? Or do they serve a better purpose when parked? What do you used them for?
LVT: We tow them often when camping or going to vintage trailer rallies. We try to get to 2-3 rallies a year and squeeze in at least a couple family camping trips each year as well.
I also use the trailers at a local Antique and Flea Market show as part of my set up. I bring the trailer, set up the awning and have tables in front of the trailers that are filled with all the wares I offer. You would be surprised how much a cute vintage camper draws people in to your booth, as they all want to take a peek inside. I’m happy to oblige. I’ve had a few people come back the following year, and say they caught the vintage trailer bug after seeing mine at the show and found one themselves. When I hear that, I know I’m doing my job. The more people that appreciate them, the more of them will be saved and be enjoyed for many generations to come.
BTC: How do you keep the exterior of your camper clean?
LVT: I first clean the exterior with a product called Spray Nine. It comes in a gallon jug and this stuff is awesome! A little poured onto a soft cloth will take off any streaking and bugs. A bunch of bugs on the front of the trailer from towing is something you want to clean off as soon as you can, and this stuff really does the trick.
BTC: What advice would you give someone looking to renovate a camper?
LVT: First I would advise them to know just what they want, and how much work they want to put into renovating. Some trailers may just need a few things to make them road worthy safe and camp worthy, while others may need a full ground up restoration. Know that when you’re going into any project, that these things take time, energy and money. Find the best camper prospect you can that fits into your criteria, and one that won’t overwhelm you, especially if it’s your first time taking on a project like this.
I created a list of things to look for when buying a vintage camper in general. It would certainly also be helpful to anyone looking into restoring or renovating one.
BTC: What kind of trailer (make, model) would you love to renovate?
LVT: Someday I would love to get a hold of a small vintage Sprite caravan. While they do come up on the rare occasions, you just don’t see many here in the U.S. since they originate in the UK. But that is definitely one I would love to renovate or restore.
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