Touring A La Cart (1937)

How to Build Trailers1

There’s no place like home – but when your home is in a trailer you can go where you will as free of house ties as the winds.  Here is the lure and lore of the open road.

Where ever the car can go. there goes the trailer home. For hunting or camping it is ideal, and the task of pulling up stakes to break camp consists of but starting the car. (1937)

Here is an interior view of the modern Covered Wagon-trailer. Plenty of room for all your fishing tackle and other equipment is afforded by lockers placed below the folding bed. (How to Build Trailers, 1937)

(Right, above) Inside this streamlined Aladdin Trailer home one finds all the conveniences of a deluxe apartment. The cutaway section at top reveals its roomy brightness, and the floor plan below shows the arrangement of appointments.

THE American gypsy spirit is building a huge new industry about the auto camp trailer. No less than 400 firms are building land yachts for auto touring.

Roger Babson, eminent statistician, declares that within 20 years over 20,000,000 people will own and use trailers.

Since there are so many trailers available, and since you, by the law of averages, are destined to become a trailer user, a few guiding principles born of experience will enable you to accurately judge the worth of a trailer design, and will forearm you with knowledge in the matter of touring a la your own “cart.” The first question that arises is usually, “What is the weight and size of most trailers? Can my car handle one easily? Do they cost much to own and operate?”

The length of the average trailer is from 12 to 17 feet over all. A good average is about 15 feet. In a trailer of this size from 2 to 4 persons, with all duffle, can be comfortably housed on a tour of long duration. The weight of such a trailer will be from 1,200 to 1,800 pounds, with 1,500 pounds about the average.

Full headroom is needed for a six-footer. This is furnished by crowning the roof well, or by constructing a “lantern” type roof similar to a street car, affording room for the head. Widths are a function of the bed length—from 72 to 77 inches. The latest trend is to use regular springs and mattresses instead of a day couch or davenport. Then no special linens are required.

The true trailer is of two-wheeled construction. It is the most popular, least expensive. Over an upset steel axle, two wheels are used to carry the load. A steel framework leading to a towing tongue is sprung to this axle. Upon the towing frame-work is erected the floor and the side pillars which constitute the body framing. All early trailers used wooden members for side framing, and this is quite satisfactory, as it is light. Usually the framework is bolted to steel channel lengths in the floor framework, making a light and rigid structure. Bodies are variously covered with dural, with pressed wood, with plywood, or with leatherette over mesh wire. Invariably an interior ceiling of light plywood is used. The air space between inner and outer walls is needed for insulation against heat and cold.

One of the most vital parts of the trailer is the hitch. Upon this link depends the safety of not only the occupants but all other cars on the road. A trailer hitch of the type shown above has been found to be one of the most dependable. Note that extra safety is provided by a chain.

One of the most vital parts of the trailer is the hitch. Upon this link depends the safety of not only the occupants but all other cars on the road. A trailer hitch of the type shown above has been found to be one of the most dependable. Note that extra safety is provided by a chain.

A semi-trailer type is found in the deluxe classification. This is a long trailer which imposes most of the weight on a turn-table platform installed in the rumble seat of the towing car. These greater accommodations require a roadster type car, and cannot be readily detached, as the weight is about 500 pounds on the forward end. On the true-trailer, the weights run from 125 to 150 pounds—light enough for a man to freely detach and park it in his backyard.

Extra Gallon of Gas Pulls Trailer 100 Miles

There is nothing gloomy or crowded about the interior of this Gilkie trailer. The ply-wood furnishes a light, strong method of construction, pleasing to the eye and easy to keep clean on the road. || The ocean can be brought right into your front yard when you own a trailer home. Scenes such as that above are duplicated at thousands of beaches. Left —One of newer types of trailer becoming popular.

A ball and socket towing arm, allowing independent movement for the trailer is be-coming universally used, and in some states is specified by law. Pin type yokes are to be avoided. Chains must be used as an auxiliary hitch to prevent accidents should the trailer hitch fail and the tow become wild.

Home builders of trailers usually purchase wheels, axles and have the welded frame made up for them, completing the woodwork themselves.

Tests on towing costs have resulted in the following acceptable averages: a trailer will cost 1 gallon of gas for every 100 miles towed. This presumes a light sedan used for towing, which is in good condition and not prone to using more than the normal amount of oil.

See to it that your trailer caravan has adequate locker provision for spare tire and worm jack for the trailer, a good old-fashioned kerosene lantern, tow rope, shovel, blocking boards, spare haywire, and a small kit of tools are aboard the trailer.

See to it also, in addition to the locker space required for the items mentioned above, that a sealed gurry bucket for garbage is installed which may be emptied at some fill after breaking camp.

Carry a most complete first aid kit and familiarize yourself in its use. And—this is important—carry TWO fire extinguishers.

Another matter is the water. The best tank is a seamless steel tank, with handhole plates for cleaning, and which has been tinned inside. This keeps water safe and furnishes an ample supply for long runs.


  1. Published by Modern Mechanix Publishing Company, Fawcett Publications Bldg., Greenwich, Conn.,1937

The first two images were actually a two page spread in the original publication:

camping, travel trailers, vintage articles, Vintage Travel and Camping Images
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