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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Early days of Brit "caravanning" still alive today

The year is 1926. You probably don't remember the day it happened – but you've probably heard about it, or been affected.

  • The first public demonstration of television in a laboratory in London. 
  • Satchel Paige makes his pitching debut in the Negro Southern League. 
  • Two men, Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett make the first flight over the North Pole. 
  • Thomas Edison declares (and probably later regrets) that Americans prefer silent movies over "talkies." 
  • Gene Austin gets a hit song Number 1 on the charts – "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue."
  • Three men with great stamina dance the Charleston for 22 hours. 
  • A book with lasting impact on childhood, "Winnie the Pooh" is released. 

Yes, a busy year, 1926. But in a quiet corner of Britain, even today you can relive a bit of history at the Cottswold Motoring Museum. While the most prominent bit of the museum's collection is indeed "motored," you'll also find an interesting specimen of "caravan" or travel trailer, a 1926 Hutchings.

While we don't know the specific model of this caravan, Hutchings did, in the same year, build an elaborate model called "Voyageur" which bore the same "lantern" roof and circle design on the rig's front end. One of these sold a few years back at auction for more than $17,000. The rig displayed at the museum is filled with period memorabilia – looks like RVers didn't watch their weight back then, either.

But then, since Hitchings' original caravans were horse drawn, earlier rig owners might have heard a bit of complaining about overweight from the drive units. By the end of the war, horse drawn caravans had been replaced by those pulled with gasoline driven vehicles.

photos: ell brown on

Monday, September 14, 2015

Look out! The RV restoration teams are chasing this one!

Many folks are "on the hunt" for those classic older RVs. Dragging them home, they may spend tons of money and buckets of time fixing them up and restoring them to running glory.

Well, writer, Roger Marble, spotted one that looks like it's already on the way to being ready to show off. Traveling through Upstate New York, Roger spotted this old beauty near Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks. Don't see any "for sale" signs on it, so don't fall all over yourself trying to get there.

Thought it was appropriate that there aren't any "bag chairs" in this picture. Just those old, comfy Adirondack ones.

photo: Roger Marble

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Can't find a replacement window? Get creative!

Traveling through northern California hill country, we happened upon this -- shall we say -- unique motorhome. You know the drill, so many RVs are orphans in the wake of the big Recession, and when the company goes out of business, often getting replacement parts can be a bit more than challenging.

So the owner of this rig turned carpenter and constructed old-time interior shutters. With screens on the outside, the shutters open, he gets plenty of ventilation and light. Weather turn sour? Close the shutters. But that construct on the rear? No, it's not the rig's access door -- that's on the curb side of the rig, and looks as "normal" as the day it was built. Dunno -- maybe it's a tool shed.

R & T De Maris photo

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Motorhome like an eggshell -- it's Ultra Van

Punk Toad on
Imagine a motorhome traveling 16 miles on a gallon of gas. One that isn't built on a chassis, but rather, built like an eggshell – or an airplane – with aluminum ribs covered with aluminum. Visualize compound curves on the corners, formed with fiberglass. Yep, if you said, "Ultra Van" you struck it.

Terrybone on
Ultra Vans, the genius of an aircraft designer named David Peterson, who designed and produced these classy 22 foot motorhomes over the top of an Chevrolet Corvair engine and transaxle. Peterson's genius started running these limited edition rigs of the pdouction line in the early 1960's and on into 1970.

Corvair Owner on
All in all, there were less than 400 Ultra Vans produced, but strikingly, there are still over 100 of them on the road today. They're probably well-loved, and the mileage "clocks" on some run as many as 500,000 miles.

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