Quite a while back, an embarrassingly long time ago actually considering my total lack of progress, I bought a 1956 20′ Holly Trailer, (or “travel coach” as the brochures I have seen online say) and intended to restore it. I’ve wanted a vintage trailer for years. I belong to Sisters on the Fly, a large club of women that enjoy many adventures and get togethers. Many of the sisters have vintage campers. I’ve been to Sister events in my Aliner, which I have had for 9 years and is an awesome camper. I’ve been to Sister events in a Scamp, which I only kept for a year. But I’ve always wanted a vintage trailer.
Here she is…That bathroom! Those windows! The fridge! Double doors!
I’m one of those people that collect old things…my house is riddled with childhood toys and bric a brac. I’d rather have faded formica than glossy stone countertops any day! My house is older, and even has the dreaded sheet paneling in three rooms, which I love. So for me, a vintage camper was a dream, but it could not be just any camper. It had to be all original, no painted interior, no stainless appliances and inappropriate Home Depot cabinetry, no coverup jobs on rot. And lord no turquoise paint.
ok ok I don’t really hate turquoise, but there has been an upswing in people buying old campers, gutting them (so wrong don’t get me started) and painting every available surface turquoise without actually fixing anything. I just don’t get it. I’ll have turquoise THINGS in my trailer for sure.
I like glossy birch interiors. True, historic, original style old wood with original appliances. I really did not want one if I could not have that. So, I didn’t have one for the longest time.
One day I was on facebook marketplace and a 20′ Holly popped up. It looked great in the photos, some rot of course but that’s to be expected. Active leaks of course because NEWSFLASH all campers leak! Eventually! So, I messaged, rode to see it a couple of hours away, decided it was worth a shot, negotiated a lower price with the fellow and brought her home. Now, I knew it needed tons of work. I knew it had rot. I knew that I had no experience fixing any of the camper issues. It had all the appliances tho, all the hardware, all the windows and doors, all the cool vintage parts. The fridge works! What I did not know until I got her home was that the rear end was hosting carpenter ants. When I pulled the bed out there they were! Yikes! I was able to spray and bomb them away. I’m hoping any that moved on did not move on to my house.
I researched Holly campers and it seems they always rot in the same place. Around the heater vent, which runs across to the other side. In the rear, like most campers, and all 4 corners like most campers. Over the doors, which mine has a hefty dose of. Hollies do not have ceiling vents so the key sheet and the main center cabinetry can be in good condition, as most of mine is.
I’ve kept her tarped, but hesitated to start on her because I had nowhere to store the thing and I wanted a level spot to work. I suspect it will be like a bomb exploded when I get started on that camper.
I priced carports and concrete. That was a no go. My lot is not level and it would be very expensive to put in a level pad.
Enter…the search for a carpenter to raise the ceiling of my detached garage. I had two guys look – they both said can’t be done. Then I had a friend that is a contractor look – he said no problem. He located a carpenter to handle the job, we agreed on a price, and they had it done in 2 days. I now have indoor storage with 9’+ ceiling and a 9′ door! Finally, a camper garage! I gleefully parked the Holly in the garage and began searching for someone to build a door.
One fellow gave me a price on barn style swing out doors. I was worried they might sag, or be in the way when working. I was at a friends who was building a shed in his backyard. I loved the doors he designed and asked him to loan me his carpenter for my shed. A few days later voila! Cool sliding door was installed. One electrician and 10 Costco LED lights later and I now have a flat, safe well lit place for the camper to live. I guess this was a 6 month project. In that 6 months I also located a 1965 sofa for the front room that is lightweight and fits just great.
Garage Before and After!
Finally, the Holly is safely stored and ready to be worked on!
Clearly, the logical next step would be to buy another camper. ugh.