Our Rovin’ Home – 1967 Field and Stream Trailer Restoration
Barbara Harris’ 1967 Field and Stream Trailer takes us back to what camping in America looked like in the good old days, long before slideout Prevost motor coaches. If what they say is true—that home is where the heart is—then we know exactly where Barbara’s heart is. It’s in her vintage Field & Stream trailer and her Ford Country Sedan. Get ready for a crossover between American Pickers and Tiny House, Big Living.
Barbara grew up in a family that was crazy for muscle cars. Between her first car—a ’69 Firebird—her mother’s 1967 Sunbeam Tiger, her father’s many assorted vehicles, and her uncle’s 1966 Corvette and Woody, she had plenty of vintage automotive material to work with. However, that only covers the car side of things. Trailers, on the other hand, are very specific, and it takes a special kind of enthusiast to really understand the niche.
One night, Barbara was lying inside a tent somewhere in the outdoors. Her peaceful rest was interrupted by the surprise of a river of rain flowing through the tent’s floor. Tent camping had been a favorite pastime of hers up until then. She decided to ditch traditional tent pitching for something a little more custom. She started with a ’65 Apache Pop Up trailer and found herself obsessed. This led her down a fox hole of trailers, and she ended up on the hunt for the next project. In her comical words, she wanted to find “one of those trailers that look like a canned ham.”
Barbara set out with a friend and got busy looking for “the one.” They conducted the search old school style, peeking over fences and drudging into vacant fields. Naturally, this brought the two into contact with some rather interesting people. Finally, they found it. The 1967 Field and Stream they found would eventually be called Charlie.
When they found Charlie, she was in less than ideal shape. There had been at least one man living in the trailer in the middle of a field in Fresno. The walls inside the trailer were ruined by water damage, and the floors were rotting under what seemed to be feet of garbage and debris. There was a broken window and pieces of the trailer’s interior were missing—presumably hidden among the garbage on the floor. The odor that was present can only be speculated by third parties.
Telling herself to “see the potential, not the mess,” Barbara made a deal with the man. For a whopping $125, she hooked Charlie up with her friend and they went straight to a tire shop to replace the existing flats. For the drive home to San Jose, they set off two bug bombs in the trailer just to be safe.
Once home, the dirty work began. Barbara painstakingly removed everything from the trailer, piece by piece, to ensure that nothing of value was thrown out. Sure enough, she found a nightlight cover, a couple of window cranks, and the fronts of the kitchen drawers. This set forth a year’s worth of research, restoration, and diving into the trailer rally community.
As for Christine, the ’66 Ford Country Sedan, the story is just as interesting. Now that Barbara had the vintage trailer, the next logical step was to acquire a matching vintage tow rig. At first, she was dedicated to the idea of a classic Chevy truck. She found however that a truck wasn’t the most practical idea due to weather liabilities.
While searching Craigslist one day, she came across a Ford Country Sedan. After going to inspect it and negotiating a deal with the original owner, she ran into some trouble. The owner bounced around for a month and seemed unsure of the deal, so Barbara made a cold call one day to get a final answer. In a change of heart, the owner said she could come pick up the wagon.
It had been sitting for a while, so Barbara and a couple of friends had to tinker with it in the garage to sort out some minor issues. Her father gave his hand in the process, and while he was working on a part under the garage door, he cursed the troublesome project. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the garage door came down on him. (He lived!) The next time an incident occurred, her father was on his back under the car, which was being lowered on a jack. The car slipped, fell, and crushed his shoulder. You can see why she earned the name Christine.
It’s important to note that the feeling we get from say, classic cars, is hardly different from classic trailers. While build sheets and dyno results aren’t necessarily relevant to the world of vintage trailers, the same sense of culture and fellowship is still there.
Not a single piece of this Field and Stream has gone untouched. She tore it down, inside and out, installing hand painted birch sheets, replacing window framing, installing new floors, walls, bunk, and seat benches, and completely replacing the electrical system. Her mother even chipped in and sewed all of the curtains and upholstery. Think of it as a home renovation, but tiny house sized. Inside, the trailer is full of antique goodies, from coffee and tea tins to a vintage radio to JFK reading memorabilia. It’s a mini wonderland for those who enjoy aged finds.
When it comes to the world of vintage trailers, the community is vast. Barbara has participated in events and rallies with fellow trailer enthusiasts. “It’s like an open house,” she said, regarding the shows. “You can tour inside most trailers to look at and get ideas from.” There are events planned all across the US from April through November, and the themes vary greatly. There are groups, such as Tow Girlz (and Tow Boyz), Tin Can Tourists, and many more. From beachside shows to forest campouts, the vintage trailer scene is anything but boring.
Thank you Barbara, for appreciating that which is old and forgotten, and for making it new again!