They had a 1947 Alma, and a 1937 Hayes.
I advised them as best I could, and made contact with people who could contact vintage trailer collectors to see if there was any interest.
There was very little, as the trailers were so far from most, and in poor condition.
After studying the photos and researching the 1937 Hayes, I decided that it was just too rare to ignore.
Rare; not to be confused with valuable, simply rare as in there are so few left that to image easily or inexpensively finding another would be folly.
In the early to late 30's, during the infancy of the trailer boom, many manufacturers jumped into the game.
Using standard construction techniques of the day, they built trailers much like automobiles, with steel framework instead of wood, and welded steel panels to cover them.
Most had rounded corners where the sidewalls met the roof, and many used stamped "ball" corners at the 4 corners where sidewalls met the roof.
Other than using curved "ribs" to form the curves, they were very simple to build, and once one makes a pattern, the curved ribs are also very easy to turn out.
Many of the less expensive trailers used canvas stretched over the thin plywood or Masonite used to cover the roofs.
Once stretched and tacked down, it was treated with waterproofing compounds, and thus, complicated shapes could be created, and sealed.
In addition to the all steel construction, this trailer, and very few others, due to the complexity of the framework, and difficulty and expense of the metal work, used stamping machines to produce beautiful compound curves in the exterior skin.
This extra effort gave the trailers a fantastic Art Deco look, with smooth swooping lines that flowed from front to back, almost adding motion to the design.
In effect, they produced trailers that had the same look as autos of the era.
By using stamped metal parts, they were able to offer the consumer a solid, leak-proof trailer, without the trouble and expense of having to reapply coatings on the roof every year.
So, after much consideration as to what was wrong with me for wanting a rusty old trailer that would end up costing much time and money, I sent payment and committed to buy it!
I've been wanting to build another trailer from scratch for several years now, but haven't found a shape/design that moved me...this one did!
After driving for 6 hours, I arrived; how cool it was!
After looking it over in person, I had to stop and wonder what the heck I was thinking... I had known that it did not have an axle, and that there was some rust, but after peeling away some of the many layers of paint and roof coating that had been applied over the years as a means to preserve it, it became shockingly apparent that the trailer was rusted beyond recovery.
I had brought a slip axle, and special brackets to bolt to the trailer frame to allow the axle to be mounted, fully intending to pull that trailer out of the hole it had occupied for so many years.
But, much the same as pictures can hide important details, the mind can overlook problems that it doesn't want to see...
Seems I had fallen victim of my own desire...
So, I had to decide.
I called the owner and explained that the only way the trailer could be moved was in pieces, he agreed and I got to work.
But first, let me show you what drew me to this design;
The windows in the trailer, with exception to the two curved ones in the front are not original.
In this first photo, you can see the outline/shape of the rear window, as it follows the lines of the roof.
There was one in the rear, and front on both sides, it did not originally have the extra windows seen here.
The cool blue/green running lights at the front are molded into the steel skin.
My wife thinks the front end looks like a train, and after some consideration, I believe she is right!
Edit; Recently a rare advertising piece was shared with me by a fellow old trailer person. Here is a close up, it proves, with that cool center lamp, that the locomotive look was intended!;
The interior was nothing special, much is not original and is all pretty much shot;
I wanted so badly to take it home in one piece, but 45 years of sitting in the woods and Midwest weather had taken too great a toll...
This is what I found after knocking loose the paint on the tongue;
And here are some pictures of the rust and rot that appeared after removing paint and trim;
Not only was the skin badly rotted, but the steel framing, and the steel chassis looked like Swiss cheese :(
While dismantling (a kind way of saying destruction of history...) I made several interesting discoveries!
The first was an overhead cabinet, whose door had been carefully taped shut.
I cautiously opened it up, figuring I'd find more hornets, as I'd already chased a few out of the trailer.
It was dark inside, but it kind of looked like the remains of a hornets nest.
Then I decided I'd better get my flashlight.
Turns out it wasn't a hornet nest, but rather a snake nest, or place where snakes had been shedding their skins. By the size of the pile of shed skins, it had been a popular place for a long time. Fortunately, no one was home!I also learned much about how these trailers were built; Though the majority of the framing was steel, true to the construction methods used in the automobile industry of the era, during the transition of wood framed bodies to all steel framed bodies, a mix of wood and steel was employed.
Here is a picture that shows some of the wood supports.
They are interesting in that they are band sawed pieces, and are not just curved in an arch, but are curved in two different directions; a compound cut.
Here are a few pictures of the general framing, and how the curved inside corners were paneled. Many trailers with rounded ends used bulkheads/cabinets to hide/make it easier to cover, but not Hayes. They used specially cut pieces tacked into the wood supports, and covered with special metal trim strips that used automotive spring clips that fit into a series of holes drilled into the metal supports
The original linoleum was still on the floor, and though the surface was so worn the color/pattern was near impossible to make out, the name on the back was well preserved.
Of note too, was the 110 volt electrical wiring, still in pretty good shape for being 74 years old.
I spent as much time as I could learning the construction details, and absorbing the history, but the time had come to get busy and finish the job, as after all, the reason I was here was to help remove the trailer from the property.
The owners, Rob, and his Dad Rich arrived the next morning to help. They were really nice people, and I enjoyed working with them!.' We were all sad to see the trailer go, but it had to be done.
Here are a few pictures;
I salvaged all the good parts and pieces I could, loaded them up, and after saying my goodbyes, started the long journey home.
After arriving home, I unloaded the parts and laid them out.
Many of the parts were not original, but vintage nonetheless, and worth saving.While we were tearing the trailer down, I decided to save a few of the body parts, just in case. I set the end cap up on some supports;
After staring at if for awhile, I toyed with the idea of doing a quick mock up of what was in my mind, before I lost all the critical details of how it had been constructed...
A few bundles of 1 x 2's later left me with some visual stimulation...
I want to build this thing for real! It will be very complicated, but what a cool shape! I have yet to figure out how to recreate the compound curves of the sheet metal, but maybe I'll figure it out...
PS. if anyone knows of, or has an old trailer like this, I'm going to need a lot of parts...