FROM TENTS TO TRAILERS
For some reason sleeping in a tent has lost some of its appeal for me. My body doesn’t bend around roots, rocks, and lumps under my sleeping bag like it used to when I was in the Boy Scouts. Now I like a cot to sleep on when I’m camping and a camping trailer with a bunk is even better.
Over the 40+ years Joanne and I have been married, we’ve run the gamut of camping shelters. We spent our honeymoon in a new (leaky because I forgot to season it) canvas tent. We slept in two inexpensive damp sleeping bags, cooked on a second hand Coleman stove, and took long walks in the park and talked about our future together, despite all the wetness.
As our family grew (by three) and we invited her parents to go camping with us (add another two), we graduated from one tent to two tents. Next we added a small utility trailer to haul all the camping equipment plus the playpen, high chair, and other baby equipment. We were attracted to the outdoors, the fresh air, sunshine, campfires, and quiet moments.
Later, we borrowed a small Apache fold down tent trailer, made one trip and decided that we didn’t like putting it up and taking it down (especially in the rain). We then bought a small 10-foot enclosed (I forgot the name of it) trailer (it was just too small), sold it, and bought a 14-foot walk-in camping trailer.
Our car was too small to pull it, so we bought a 3/4-ton pickup truck with an insulated cap on the back. After two years we sold the truck and trailer and bought a 28-foot trailer that was parked on a lot at a lake. We kept that for about ten years and then went to a 3/4-ton truck with a 10-foot slide in camper. We enjoyed this setup so much that we sold it and bought a small (19-foot) Mini-motor home. This we kept for a number of years before we decided to go back to camping in a small travel trailer (the kids were grown). In looking for one we decided it had to be something that was within our budget, small enough to hand maneuver, easy to maintain, and light enough to pull. We found a 10-foot, 1972 Boler (fiberglass) trailer that was in need of some TLC. We bought it and sold the motor home.
Here’s what to expect if you buy a similar small trailer and put it back in shape to go traveling/camping like we did.
Initial cost of trailer – $800.
License, tax, and title change – $100.
New tires, mounting, and balancing – $100.
Have wheel bearings repacked and new grease seals installed – $75.
Spare tire carrier mounted on rear bumper – $20.
Hub caps – $5 (Goodwill store).
Fabric for cushions – bought at Goodwill – $33.
Cushions reupholstered by our friend Kathy – $200.
Sink faucet repair – $1 for parts.
All new wiring (both 12-volt and 110-volt – $50.
New water hose from tank to faucet – $3.
New water inlet – $2.50.
Used 110-volt (outside) outlet – Free.
Two new 110-volt (inside) outlets – $1.
Took out icebox – installed new 110-volt, 1.8 cubic foot refrigerator – $62 on sale at Menards.
Took out old small roof vent and installed new larger roof vent – $17.50.
Awning rail – $10.
Awning – Free (made it myself from a plastic tarp and old tent poles).
Stock trailer with camping pots, pans, utensils, (stuff we had on hand already).
Curtains – Joanne made them from material she had on hand – FREE.
Wheel chocks – Walmart special – $12.
Jack stands – yard sale – $10 for a set of 4.
Trailer hitch – already installed on our GMC – Jimmy.
TOTAL COST INCLUDING PRICE OF TRAILER, LICENSE, TAX, LABOR, AND MATERIAL – APPROXIMATELY $1,500.
Later on I took out the old 10-gallon water tank and replaced it with two new 10-gallon tanks ($38) one on each side. I also installed a car battery (used – free) with a 12-volt water pump ($20). I found this easier than hand-pumping water to the sink.
During the last ice storm a limb from the big maple tree in the back of our house dropped on the little fiberglass trailer and created $950 worth of damage – home insurance was $1,000 deductible – we had to eat the bill.
We had planned on having it completely re-painted anyway for $1,200+. This additional cost brought our repair bill up to $2,239.55. Now the total cost of buy, updating, and repairing the trailer has topped out at around $4,000 but still within reason compared to what we would have had to pay for a newer trailer of similar design.
Although we have more than quadrupled what we had invested in the used trailer plus the TLC, we’re confident that it’s not going to have a major breakdown or repair problem anywhere soon. Another mental +PLUS+ is that we have located used fiberglass trailers on the Internet with asking prices that start at about what we have invested in this one. We saved a lot of money if you look at it another way; brand new ones start at around $10,000+ for a stripped down model and up to $20,000 if fully loaded.
If you are getting to where sleeping on the ground isn’t fun any more, putting up and taking down a tent doesn’t appeal t you, you don’t have all the money in the world to buy an expensive motor home, but you are handy with a few hand tools; then you might want to start looking for a nice small used trailer and do what we did. Hopefully you won’t park it under a tree during an ice storm.
We hope to see you out there in a campground sometime. Stop by and say, “HI!” We’ll be in the little gray and white punkin’ shaped trailer with a little wooden sign in the window that says, “TAJ MASMALL”.
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