We get lots of questions around helping people identify a trailer they just bought or are thinking of buying. Here are some suggestions to identify your trailer.
First off, you need to use Google to help narrow it down, but it can take an expert to truly tell what our trailer may be, so many brands were basically identical!. If you can't find a reference to your trailer on Google, then you probably have a trailer that isn't a very popular brand but that does not mean it is bad trailer, there are actually more well built brands that are just lost to history. All of the popular brands have websites, user groups, yahoo groups, or forums of some such. This is because there is a demand for information because of their popularity. This doesn't mean you won't be able to find information, it will mean that you have a lot more work to do on our own. It doesn't mean your trailer isn't valuable, you might have a very rare trailer. But it does mean that finding documentation, floor plans, original equipment, parts, knowledgeable resources, etc is going to be difficult if not impossible.
Bring your trailer to a vintage trailer rally, there are lots of experts at these rallies that don't leverage the internet but might be able to recognize or help you identify your trailer.
Other options are to head on over to https://www.facebook.com/groups/tincantourists/ While you are there, upload a couple pictures of your trailer and someone might be able to identify it. Provide as many details as possible.
A good resource of trailer information is the RV/MH Museum http://www.rvmhhalloffame.org/ - maybe if you send them pictures and details, they might have an idea.
You need to find serial numbers, VIN, markings, makes/manufacturers of equipment, paperwork - anything that could be a clue. Here is video on uncovering VINs on tongues http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXT2LcXebCo&feature=youtube_gdata_player BUT remember VINs were not used pre-1981 so if your trailer predates 1981 you will only have a serial number which in many cases can be as few as 4 digits or as many as about 12. In most cases this number has no information coded what so ever and is strictly numbers used by that particular brand, any numbers looking like years are often just a coincidence. (Regardless what your local DMV may tell you, it will not b 17 digits long)
Also - there are plenty of homebuilt trailers out there - you might have one. If so, your not going find any information on it. It could just be a custom one-of-a-kind!
Here is the best resource for getting copies of vintage trailer magazines, ads, and information: http://www.allmanufacturedhomes.com - Juergen Eichermueller (firstname.lastname@example.org) - The definitive independent vintage recreational vehicle archive source!
Serial numbers are frequently found on the tongue rail on the passenger side. (Usually on top, but may be on the drivers side or the side of the rail). Although this is the most common location, other locations for trailers dating 1930-1970's can be Front Door Frame, Inside Cabinet Door, Above Front Window, On the roof, Above front door exterior, above front door interior, on a piece of paper inside a cabinet door, on top of a wheel well inside a cabinet, under the trailer below entrance door, on the back of the entrance door in the center, on a metal plate on the rear of the trailer above rear window, inside rear trunk door back side, inside rear trunk wall, inside A frame channel, and many other locations….there just was no standard back then so it can be anywhere and many of the listed locations were the only location so if on a tag or piece of paper it may unfortunately be long gone
Here is a record of trailer names and the abbreviation you may find on an old title or registration: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/docs/VTRH/Chapter_N.pdf?ga=t BUT remember, these abbreviations did vary by state and often times when that state did not have a particular abbreviation for a certain brand (very common) they would just make something up or they had a certain abbreviation they used for such purpose.
A wood screen door or free-standing stove often mean you have a pre-1960 trailer. Although wood screen doors can be found as late as the late 60's and aluminum screen doors as early as the late 40's.