History of Trail Mite?? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-06-2007, 09:52 AM   #1
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We knew nothing about eggs when we bought our '72 Trail Mite. The seller thought it was actually a Burro. The ID plate said "Trail Mite" but we all just assumed that was the parent company of Burro or something. It wasn't until we discovered this website and started poking around here that we realized that our beloved blue wonder is really a Trail Mite.

It seems that they're kinda rare. We've only ever seen one other one on the road and there are very few posted here.

Who can shed some light on the history of the company? What years were they built? How many did they build? The ID plate says it was built (or at least first registered) in Oregon? Was it an Oregon-based company? Did the company go out of biz? Any info would be appreciated.

Thanx!

Vic and Kathy
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Old 01-06-2007, 10:03 AM   #2
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Hi Vic & Kathy!

I think I've only seen one Trail Mite in person, it belongs to Lee & Paula Washburn...who live in southern Oregon. They've made the Oregon Gathering the last several years. You can view just a bit of their Turquoise wonder in Lee's profile HERE.

The only other little tid bit, is the Trail Mite has at least one sibling, the Tote 'n Tarry. Dot & Larry from the Puget Sound area have one. Dot F. profile

I'm out of information perhaps one of the aforementioned folks can help fill you in...along with anyone answering up on the topic
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Old 01-06-2007, 01:16 PM   #3
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Then there's the nice set of photos in the FiberglassRV Trail Mite Album. Presumably this is not Lee & Paula's, but for all I know it could be Vic & Kathy's.

Guessing from the appearance, I first thought that this seemed to be derived from the Boler 1300, like a Scamp or Casita, but it has that interesting top front corner, sharper radius corners, and those tail lights nicely integrated into the belly band - it's clearly different. It could be a truly unique mould (which is a bit unusual among our trailers)... unless the Tote 'N' Tarry is the same shape? Is that the sibling connection?
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Old 01-06-2007, 05:14 PM   #4
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Being interested in how things are built and having designed fiberglass mouldings, the thing that strikes me about the Trail-Mite is that I'm 99% sure it was moulded in left and right halves (like a Burro or U-Haul but not like a Scamp or Casita), but I can see no sign of the centreline join on those photos. Having built yachts this way and finished them (in gelcoat) so that the centre join wasn't visible, I know how much skilled work it takes to do, and if the Trail-Mites were built that way, the cost of doing it may be why there aren't many around.

Andrew
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Old 01-06-2007, 05:56 PM   #5
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The Official History of the Trail Mite:

Once upon a time in land far, far away there was a family of mites. Mites are small creatures that are related to the spider family. This family of mites were distant relatives of Charlotte, of Charlotte's Web fame, and decided that they should take their annual vacation and make a pilgrimage to the barn where Charlotte lived. Mites have very small cars and since their incomes are tiny, decided that spending time in the dust of five star hotels was probably beyond their means. The decided to look at buying a travel trailer and hit the trail... they found an adorable little fiberglass RV to tow behind their cute little Mite Car (see photo attached) and called the new trailer that they bought to hit the trail for Charlotte's barn... a Trail Mite.

The End.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Roger
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Old 01-06-2007, 09:08 PM   #6
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...I'm 99% sure it was moulded in left and right halves (like a Burro or U-Haul but not like a Scamp or Casita), but I can see no sign of the centreline join on those photos...
That top front edge does look like a challenge for demoulding, if done in top and bottom halves. It's also not clear where in the belly area the join would be. Are there other clues about how it was moulded?

Has anyone had a close enough look at the inside surfaces or potential joint areas to solve the mystery?
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Old 01-06-2007, 09:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
... unless the Tote 'N' Tarry is the same shape? Is that the sibling connection?
The two, Trail Mite and Tote 'n Tarry are 99.9999% identical. I remember Dot looked at Lee's Trail Mite for a very long time trying to figure out the differences....not sure I even heard what "it" might be.
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Old 01-06-2007, 09:17 PM   #8
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(Has anyone had a close enough look at the inside surfaces or potential joint areas to solve the mystery?)

Maybe its one solid piece with plywood floor put in after.Just a guess mind you.
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Old 01-06-2007, 11:41 PM   #9
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We have seen 2-3 listed in the referral section over the last couple years. One we followed through two ebay sales (thanks to Gina I believe) and one other was listed in Quartzsite , Az. There may have been one more. I think the info was lost in the hack.
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Old 01-07-2007, 08:48 AM   #10
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Demoulding that front 'eyebrow' from a top-half mould wouldn't necessarily be impossible as long as you took the rear of the body out first, which would allow the moulding to slide back a bit, so releasing that eyebrow (old boat-building trick).

However, other split-left-and-right moulding clues are:
- The wheel arches have a raised edge running around them which would not release if a bottom-half mould were used.
- The roof has straight line 'pitch' to a ridge in the middle.
- The roof hatch is offset to one side of the centre.
- There are vertical interior seams on the centreline.

The last three prove nothing, but why else would they be like that?

Hah! Solving the riddle of the hounds of the Baskervilles was easy by comparison with this. Now, where's my pipe?

Andrew
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Old 01-07-2007, 11:44 AM   #11
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Demoulding that front 'eyebrow' from a top-half mould wouldn't necessarily be impossible as long as you took the rear of the body out first, which would allow the moulding to slide back a bit, so releasing that eyebrow (old boat-building trick).
A peek inside the front and rear cabinets showed no evidence of our Trail Mite having been molded side-to-side. This view of the closet clearly shows a top-to-bottom seam. It's interesting that knocking on the front-to-back roof ridge produces a very solid sound, I'm guessing that the ridge contains a wood rib for added reinforcement.

Vic
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Old 01-07-2007, 03:49 PM   #12
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Curious. I can't see any evidence of a join at that belly ridge. The only option would be if a join there had been made using a 'shoebox' joint (like the way a shoebox lid overlaps the box) and it had been glassed over afterwards - without seeing the pattern on the glass, it's not easy to tell.

Your heavily constructed ridge does sound awfully like the extra material needed for a jont along the centreline.

Andrew
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Old 01-07-2007, 08:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
(Has anyone had a close enough look at the inside surfaces or potential joint areas to solve the mystery?)

[b]Maybe its one solid piece with plywood floor put in after.Just a guess mind you.
I think that Chester is really on to something here!

Quote:
[b]Curious. I can't see any evidence of a join at that belly ridge.

Your heavily constructed ridge does sound awfully like the extra material needed for a jont along the centreline.

Andrew
Fiber Stream's literature says that it is a [b]seamless one piece shell. The difficult to envision part of that, is the way the bottom of the shell curves around to attach to the [b]bottom of the floor. The outer edge of the floor is above and inside the shell. This overlap is more than 6".

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The bottom stripe hides a rough line in the fiberglass...
Could this line have been where there was a removeable section of the mold for the bottom curve?
That would have made it de-mold-able. This bottom area is the widest part of the trailer. It tapers smaller toward the top, like an up-side-down loaf of bread.

Could the Trail Mite have been molded in one piece from a multiple sectioned, disassembleable mold?
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Old 01-08-2007, 01:16 AM   #14
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Trail Mite people, sorry for the diversion, but this really is kind of related to how a Trail Mite is made...
Frederick, I had been wondering about this since I first heard of the Fiber Stream. You told us that the walls taper 2" over height of the body (about 2 degrees, perhaps reasonable for demoulding), but the tucked-under bottom edges just didn't fit. Then you and Victor showed us some details in the battery area, which clearly showed the bottom curve. I wanted to have a closer look at Victor's (he's in my area) but never got organized to go visit - what I expected to find was that the bottom edge is really another piece bonded on, and they really meant that the entire body above the floor was one piece.

Building a trailer in one piece by leaving the floor open sounds tough, even with some removable sections, because the shell would be so deep (it would be upside down when moulded)and the turned-in edges would seem to just make the job more difficult; however, I have zero experience doing this, so it's just a guess. Andrew, or Reace, any thoughts?

Now back to the Trail Mite...
If something the shape of the Trail Mite were done in one piece, even with the largest possible floor opening, it seems like the lower (upper in moulding position) parts would be difficult to access and work on.

Anyone taking bets? Will we ever find the definitive answer? Now we really need that company history, so we can find an authority!
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Old 01-08-2007, 08:33 AM   #15
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Split moulds are relatively common. Most large boat hulls are made from a split mould as it allows much more 'styling freedom' and avoids the need for a building high enough for the hull to be lifted over the top of the mould to get it out.

However it adds labour cost to split and rejoin the mould each time it's used and you have to work out how to hide the little ridge that will be found where the join was. For many split mould products the answer is to sand off the little ridge and then polish it invisible - more labour cost.

Frederick's comment that there is a rough line on the Fiber Stream at the point of maximum width confirms that that is where the mould was split to get the part (the body moulding) out of the mould.

I recently made a split mould for the bottom of a scooter tail box and it can be seen at the bottom of this construction web page. In this case, the part was laminated by reaching through the top and bottom openings. For a part as large as the Fiber Stream, it's surprisingly easy - once the first layer of glass is laid down and cured, you just stand on an adjacent section to work.

Andrew
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:09 PM   #16
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My Trail Mite has a seam down the center of the trailer.
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:29 PM   #17
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Having completely gutted my Trail Mite, and looked over all of the interior glassing I think that the Trail Mites were split molded. I can find no evidence of a seam, either around the belly band or around the middle of the shell. There is a piece of wood glassed into the center line of the roof, but I think this is just to add some extra strength the roof. Also there is a small ridge in the glass down the middle of the roof, like what would be left behind from a split mold. This ridge isn't visible on the front or back. My guess is that since no one would really see the top of the trailer easily the time wasn't spent to sand this flush. This could also explain why Trail Mites were only built for a year or two. In a competitive market, the added time it would take to use a split mold and the added man hours to sand the mold ridges smooth would have made a Trail Mite more expensive to build than a Burro or Scamp. However, being one solid piece of fiberglass means the Trail Mite has no seam that could eventually leak like the rest of the molded fiberglass trailers.

I would still like to find some information on the company, the only info I have been able to obtain is that there was once a company headquartered in Santa Ana, California with the name Trial Mite Inc.
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