1937 Camping - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-23-2011, 06:17 AM   #1
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1937 Camping

These articles, which appeared in 1937 issues of Popular Science magazine, give a good feeling for what RVing was like in those days.

RVing in 1937

Not fiberglass egg, but interesting. especially the pg. 4 statement "During our 4,671 mile tour we averaged eighteen and one third miles per gallon" This in a 1937 car towing a 19' 2,100 lb trailer.????????????????
I can't get that towing my Trillium 4500.
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Old 09-23-2011, 07:05 AM   #2
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1937 RVing

Marvelous series of articles. Well worth reading. Unfortunately I could not find out what his tow car was to better understand the tow mileage. Maybe an antique car fan will let us know.

I did look up the specs on a 1937 Chevy. It had 85 Horsepower and about 160 ft-1bs of torque; half the horsepower of my Honda CRV and about the same torque.

Part of the reason for the great mileage was probably the tow speed, certainly substantially less than today's typical tow speeds.

If you want great mileage it's simple, drive slower and get a smaller tow vehicle. We get 23 mpg towing.

Thank you so much for the post, great reading of our heritage
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Old 09-23-2011, 07:49 AM   #3
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My parents towed a 1939 Kozy Koach 22 ft (I think I remember this correctly) trailer from Florida to Michigan in 1947 with a 1937 Ford 85 hp car. Don't know what mpg they got. In fact, I doubt very much if they even figured it. I'm reasonably sure that tow speeds were 40-45 mph.
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Old 09-23-2011, 11:04 AM   #4
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Great articles Nick! Love that history--I think I should have been born a few decades earlier!
Years ago I bought the book "Galloping Bungalos" by David Thornburg about the early days of trailering--although it's emphasis was in what were called house trailers.
One of his interesting observations was that camping was popular until the depression, but from then until the 50's it fell out of fashion because it was associated with poverty.
At 12 years old I drew detailed plans for a travel trailer and tried to get my father to build it (he had built a boat). But alas that was not to be I had to wait until I was older to get my own trailers, campers, motorhomes, vans... but my life-long fascination with little houses on wheels has remained.
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Old 09-23-2011, 06:42 PM   #5
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The trailer was only 6'3" wide and 91" high, with a fairly rounded front. 18 mpg for a low-HP car of that era seems pretty believable.
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Old 09-23-2011, 07:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nick c View Post
During our 4,671 mile tour we averaged eighteen and one third miles per gallon" This in a 1937 car towing a 19' 2,100 lb trailer.????????????????
I can't get that towing my Trillium 4500.
Not hard to believe as I got better than that over 3000 miles this summer during one of my trips and climbing a lot of mountains (got up to 9500') and covered a lot of freeways and was towing a trailer that is between 2500/2600 lbs with my gear in it and I am not know for being overly light on the foot. You can be sure that in 1937 they where traveling a lot slower than we do on average today and not traveling on freeways that they could do up to 75mph on - that makes a big difference in the gas consumption
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Old 09-23-2011, 07:37 PM   #7
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My grandfather used to take the whole family from Bridgeport to New York, probably around 1915 or so. My Dad, born in 1904, told me it was a two day trip with a stop in Stamford. The roads were so bad that they had between 1 and three flats. They had at least one flat tire every trip-- the roads were so bad.

One of my goals is to drive coast to coast in two days. I've done it many time at about 72-73 hours. With two drivers ot could be done. I would like to put a 275 gallon tank in the bed of my Dually and stop only for rest stops and changing drivers. The best time of year would be spring or fall to avoid construction delays.
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Old 09-23-2011, 09:52 PM   #8
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I just finished reading the articles through and have to say that it was enjoyable. It's neat to read how these folks were just discovering the traveling pleasures we all are so familiar with. And it is revelatory to find that the idea (and practice) of RV fulltiming is far from new, and in fact was extant some 75 years ago.

Conrad, if you want to do a coast-to-coast in 2 days, more power to ya. But no one will catch me doing that! My father was that way... always in a headlong rush to get to the final destination. I'll take a much slower pace, thank you very much, and will take time to savor the sights and smells along the way.
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Old 09-23-2011, 10:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Night Sailor View Post
One of my goals is to drive coast to coast in two days. I've done it many time at about 72-73 hours. With two drivers it could be done. I would like to put a 275 gallon tank in the bed of my Dually and stop only for rest stops and changing drivers. The best time of year would be spring or fall to avoid construction delays.
Been there, done that... Kept a urinal in the car to cut down on the annoying stops. I could do it when I was 20, but not anymore.
Easy to do with just a car, but with a trailer? Not so much.

Want to do an endurance run? I like to go to the SD Automotive Museum to see the 1947 Cadillac that Louie Mattar customized for this. His car (and trailer) is part of the permanent collection. I like watching the video of how he changed tires while in motion!
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Old 09-24-2011, 12:36 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Night Sailor View Post

One of my goals is to drive coast to coast in two days. I've done it many time at about 72-73 hours. With two drivers ot could be done. I would like to put a 275 gallon tank in the bed of my Dually and stop only for rest stops and changing drivers. The best time of year would be spring or fall to avoid construction delays.

Sounds a lot like the (in)famous `Cannonball Baker Memorial Sea-to -Shining Sea Trophy Dash` runs of the early 70`s, loosely sponsored by Car & Driver Magazine`s Editor - Brock Yates. (these were much later spoofed in the `Cannonball Run`movies). You had to get from the Red Ball Garage in downtown Manhattan to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach Ca in the shortest poss time. Entries spanned the gamut from Ferraris to VW vans, to a specially modified Dodge Challenger with a huge gas tank. There was even (at least) one Rolls Royce entry as I recall

The entire thing was a protest movement against the 55 mph speed limit and was done to prove that is possible to travel VERY fast without killing people. The record at the time was 32 hours, 7 minutes, which was later beaten with a time of somewhere in the 31 hours, 4 minutes level
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Old 09-24-2011, 09:42 PM   #11
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The tow vehicle in question seems to be G.M. make, Chev, Pontiac etc.
Would be a 6 cylinder engine/standard trans. I didn't read the article, but with milage like those numbers posted, one could be assured it was on a flat lands of America.
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Old 09-25-2011, 02:47 PM   #12
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Fascinating article. I was intrigued by this quote from the third page of the article:

Quote:
Some are equipped with... batteries charged by midget windmills on the roof.
COOL!
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Old 09-25-2011, 10:45 PM   #13
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What a wonderful treat for a Sunday Evening!
From the late 50's through the mid 60's my mom, dad and I would vacation in Florida around Easter. Driving from Milwaukee down Highway 41. 41 was a two lane road. There'd be identical gas stations across from each other at intersections because you'd never be able to cross the highway to get to one on the other side. Traffic was constant in both directions. 300 miles a day come hell or high water -and that was a long day. I'd bet 45 or 50 was the average speed - and that was without a trailer.
We stayed in motels - most cost around 5 or 6 dollars per night.

Sarasota was the winter home for the Ringling Bros Circus - I wonder if that's why there was such a well planned trailer facility.

Lots of good memories...a simpler time.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:57 AM   #14
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1937 Camping

Hello All:
What a fun article.
I had the pleasure of attending one of the "Tin Can Tourist? Ralleys this past July, in Southern Ontario.
There were many beautiful vintage trailers present, and the proud owners
were very pleased to answer questions, and allow all to enter and view their trailers.
Based on this post, there was a beautiful 1936 Trailer along with it's 1937 Tow vehicle. Just thought I would post a few pics of these, there were absolutely beautiful.
Cheers, Jake






Quote:
Originally Posted by nick c View Post
These articles, which appeared in 1937 issues of Popular Science magazine, give a good feeling for what RVing was like in those days.

RVing in 1937

Not fiberglass egg, but interesting. especially the pg. 4 statement "During our 4,671 mile tour we averaged eighteen and one third miles per gallon" This in a 1937 car towing a 19' 2,100 lb trailer.????????????????
I can't get that towing my Trillium 4500.
Attached Thumbnails
1936 Aerocar camper.jpg   1937 Dodge TV.jpg  

Tin Can Tourists 007.jpg  
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