Saturday, May 30, 2009

History of Ranger Pop Up Trailers

Walter E. Hille of Hille Manufacturing produced the fiberglass Ranger pop up trailer in Anaheim, California from 1954 through 1956. There were only appx. 200 made. The body of the trailer was made from fiber-glass and polyester resin. The trailer was expensive for it's time, selling for $1,500. The Ranger stands 4 feet high, 12 feet long and is 82 inches wide. Cranking raises the trailer roof to give inside headroom of 6 feet 3 inches. It weighs in at 1100 lbs. It has two slim beds on each side of the trailer and an extension drawer pulls out of the back to fit either one adult or two kids (39 inches across). The galley consists of a sink and water pump on the left and a laminate counter with countertop stove. Drawers for your kitchen utensils and a roomy ice box. There is one small 110 volt light towards the front of the trailer with a plug in for electricity. There is also a small 6 volt light towards the rear of the interior. There are also overhead cubby holes to stow small items According to the dealer brochure, you could special order mosquito netting for the front, a foam insert to make a king sized bed. It also sported a folding table that fit between the two beds. The "nose" on the front is where the water tank is located, with a chrome filling spout door on the top of the "nose." The rear of the trailer sports 1953 Ford tail lights and a "Hollywood" brand license plate light and holder. It is believed that only about a dozen of these trailers survive today.

Assessing the Whole Project GULP!!!

It's almost June 1st and the weather in the Sacramento area is getting up to the 90's. I figured that I better get out there early and start doing some work on the popup. Lots of cleaning to do. I found that the floor is actually not that bad, except for the door area. We have installed new flooring in our other trailers, so I think it might be nice to leave it original and maybe throw a rug down in front of the door, for now. So I gave it a good scrubbing with some ammonia cleanser. Wow...there really is alot of water damage along the top and bottom perimeter of the popup lids. And there is bad damage to the galley cabinet front and the front by the door. The original door is gone and I think someone made a replacement out of wood. The door is curved in shape and has started to swell and disfigure from water damage. The birch wood fronts for the upper cubby holes have been torn out. Steve and I sat in the trailer this morning and discussed what part we can tackle and what part should we seek someone with more advanced woodworking skills? We decide that we can handle most of it (famous last words) but rebuilding the galley cabinet front needs a carpenters talent. We hung the new canvas and tried out the new cushions. Looks great. Steve did some work adjusting the pulley system..the rear right raised up slower than the left. I contacted a few people to see about getting a quote for some woodworking. Tomorrow we plan on pulling the wheels to check out the bearings and get started on stripping the rust off of the rims. Then new tires are in order. I bought a couple of large 53 Ford hubcaps...they will look classy on those wheels, rather than the dog-dish type hubcaps. We are not into the full gutting of and totally redoing our trailers. We do what is needed to make it usable and little by little make improvements here and there. I am hoping to camp out in the Ranger by Fall of this year, perhaps up in Tahoe. I prefer to camp where the temperatures are cooler than at home, especially since it got pretty hot inside the Ranger when we put the canvas up.....even with the zipper windows!

In The Beginning......

Funny, whenever I tell my husband that we have enough vintage trailers and I don't want anymore, another just seems to appear out of no where. I've caught the "vintage trailer bug" and so far there is no vaccination for it. When we were kids, my sister and I had a clubhouse outside in the back yard, and we loved to hang out there after school and on the weekends and make up stories or read. Later on, our parents bought me a Wenzel canvas pup tent with S & H Green Stamps and I loved camping out in the backyard. Our parents were not into camping, but did take us on many road trips and long vacations in the family Chryslers. We grew up in the late 50's and 60's, so long road trips were at their hey day. Our family stayed in many roadside motels, with kidney shaped swimming pools, fringed poolside umbrellas and those "Magic Fingers" massaging bed contraptions that were supposed to take you off to slumberland in minutes. So when I grew up and went out on my own, money was tight and it was second nature for me to take road trips and start camping out in the great outdoors. As I have gotten older, I graduated from tent camping to vintage trailers with cushy soft beds and kitschy decor. Each of our trailers has a specific theme, such as Route 66, vintage western, Smokey the Bear and now the 50's plaid kitsch. I enjoy playing "interior decorator" with each one of the trailers and going camping as often as we can. I love the outdoors but also love the comforts of home and our vintage trailers do the trick.
So...we were buying parts for our 1957 Cardinal at a used RV parts store named "RV George" in Sacramento, CA. We met a gentleman there who was restoring a 1962 Shasta. He mentioned that he had just bought a 1954 Ranger and it just happened to be from a guy who lived a couple of blocks from our home. I was stunned. Usually I can smell a vintage trailer a mile away...I had actually walked our dogs past their house and spoken to the owners several times, without knowing what golden jewel awaited me in their backyard! Anyway, after some preliminary emails back and forth, "Joe" agreed to sell the Ranger to us. Nice guy. We picked it up the next day and here is where the story begins....