I've grown up camping and with vintage campers as a farm kid in Southeastern Minnesota. As a kid, we had a Bethany brand PickUpper pickup pop-up camper, a Dodge class B conversion van, and a 1968 Ratcliff brand Tow-Low travel trailer (made in Juneau, WI and a competitor to Hi-Lo). Once I moved away, camping was no more, as I'm not a fan of tent camping. Fast forward to 2004, and I really wanted a camping trailer again. Due to the size of my vehicle (VW New Beetle TDI), I opted for a Hunter Shadow Teardrop. I upgraded to a Camp Inn 550 Deluxe a year later and used that for a few years. During that time I met my future husband Luke, and got him hooked on teardrops and vintage trailers. After we started a family, we upgraded to a Camp Inn Raindrop and enjoyed that trailer with our two children. This past spring, my mother in law, who went on a couple of camping roadtrips with my husband and the kids, wanted to go on another roadtrip, but couldn't handle the teardrop life anymore. She asked if we could rent or buy a camping trailer where she could cook and move around inside. We had wanted a vintage trailer anyway, so we began the search. In April 2016, we purchased our 1971 Aristocrat Lo Liner and started renovations. There was severe water damage in the rear and front from leaking trailer lights, and some floor damage at the door and refrigerator access panel. We took all the skin off except for the roof, and replaced as much rotted wood as possible, and reinforced everything with metal plating. We also re-insulated with foamboard. Inside, we patch the 3 spots of floor that were damaged, and covered the visible floor area with pergo, leaving the original flooring underneath. Our trailer was missing its fridge, so we added the icebox from my parents' Bethany pickup camper prior to them hauling it off (severe water damage and rodent infestation). Overall, we were happy with how the Aristocrat performed on our camping trips, but did have issues with sway on the road. We pulled it with a Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.
My mother informed us in June that she was going to have the old campers still on her property hauled off to the dump, unless we wanted one. I asked her to hold off until we could visit in July and we'd look over the campers. The Dodge Van was given to a relative after I let her know I wasn't interested in that one. The Bethany PickUpper was too far damaged to save, so Luke and I removed the windows, door, and icebox for future use. The Tow Low was lucky enough to be inside a small shed that was in good shape aside from the front doors being missing. We helped her remove that trailer from the shed and gave it a once over. The inside was still in great shape, not found yet by rodents, with only the dining table and propane lamp missing. We were able to raise the trailer and investigate inside, where we saw only a few spots of water damage, one broken roof vent, and one cracked window. My husband got very excited and wished we had rescued this trailer earlier so we wouldn't have three! After taking some measurements and moving it to a more secure barn at my parents' property, we lowered it back down for storage and buttoned it up. We will be making her roadworthy next summer and bringing her back to California then.
We currently live in Oakland, California, and have 2 children, 2 dogs, and a cat who enjoys camping. We have a tow vehicle for every trailer: A Dodge Ram pickup, Dodge magnum station wagon, and a 1969 Ford Torino GT (undergoing restoration by us). Our goal is to match the Tow Low with the Torino for future events, and use the Aristocrat as a man-cave/camping rental for folks interested in vintage trailers who aren't yet ready to take the plunge. We may sell it once the Tow Low comes to California.
1971 Aristorcrat Lo-Liner, named “Bouncing Betty” 1968 Ratcliff Tow Low 700 Deluxe, no name yet. We can find very little info on these trailers and few pictures on the internet. Any information on them is appreciated.
Will add once I figure out how
WIll add once I figure out how
1998 Dodge Ram 1500, used for towing any of our 3 trailers. 2007 Dodge Magnum RT, used for towing any of our 3 trailers. 1969 Ford Torino GT, currently undergoing restoration, but we hope to tow the vintage trailers with it to rallies in the future.
Will add once I figure out how
Vintage trailers remind me of my childhood and of a style far better than many modern items. I just don't see myself in any camper newer than the late 70s, as the style is just too bleh. I also don't like behemoth campers, preferring smaller campers that are easier to maneuver and let me still get back to nature.
So far only have attended a couple of teardrop rallies when I was teardropping exclusively. Looking forward to some vintage trailer rallies.
We've towed our Aristocrat along the I-90 and I-80 corridors between California and Minnesota/ Wisconsin.