Friday, January 15, 2021

Bouncing Betty: Renovation of a Classic Travel Trailer

Bouncing Betty, the renovation complete and out camping

There's something about the design of those classic little travel trailers that just seems so right--the outside so retro and the inside so liveable. Evidently, Barbara June Frantz thinks so, too, because in 2009 she slapped down five hundred dollars and purchased a 1962 Trotwood Lark II "canned ham" trailer. 

Not too bad? Worse than it looked in this Craigslist photo!

"Yes, the window with the duct tape is broken," Barbara says.

"I think I saved it from the junkyard," she says. "A lot of work, but it came out great."

Rotten sides, and the floor was caput, too.

"This is more than needs a little fixin' up"

The trailer is a ten-foot box, thirteen feet long from bumper to hitch. Made in Trotwood, Ohio, "It is a lot of comfort in a little space," Barbara says. "It's a hoot to camp in, too!"

Purchased from a Craigslist ad, "sight unseen," Frantz says, the renovation work needed proved to be extensive, inside and out. The work continued on the Trotwood for three and a half years before Barbara was able to final write in her blog where she chronicled the renovation the following magic words: "I am DONE!" (The gap of three and a half years was because Betty spent a couple of years stored in a barn while Barbara renovated and camped in "Bee Bee," a 16’ 1958 Yellowstone canned ham.  "When I sold Bee Bee to someone who really wanted her, that gave me the extra cash to fix up Betty." Perhaps another story!?) With fewer photos and a bit more narration, this article pays tribute to Barbara June Frantz's achievement of bringing back a classic trailer to its former beauty and saving it from the salvage yard.

Framing and insulation added

Norm and Travis with floor and interior work

New birch interior paneling

After the initial investment of purchase of $500 in December of 2009, Barbara finished her renovations in June of 2013, having spent a total of a bit less than $5,000 on the project. Her guardian angels for the project were "Norm and his family," and here are Barbara's accolades: "Thanks to Norm and Julia and their family for rolling up their sleeves and giving my little Trotwood a new floor, all rebutaled and fixed windows, and a new two-toned paint job--with free labor and a lot of it!"

Betty gets her make-up

Barbara's first investments were for new tires and rim repair--and rewiring the trailer's brakes. "I drove home without lights and found out the tires didn't hold air and damaged a rim driving on a flat tire," she says. After that, she had a lot of rust and rot to deal with, requiring new siding, some framing, interior panels, appliances and cabinetry repair, not to mention cushions, curtains, and paint to pretty the baby up.

Back bed

Front dinette

Back from the junkyard, Bouncing Betty is ready to roll!

In the end, Barbara's desire for a beautiful classic travel trailer for camping was realized--with the help of her dedicated crew. Everyone working together made Barbara a happy camper . . . and the world a bit prettier. I have in my mind this picture of Norm and the crew standing downtown somewhere as Barbara cruises by with Bouncing Betty, on her way for a weekend of camping. Wow! If that were me, I'd feel so proud to have reconstructed an American classic travel trailer, to have hijacked a wreck on its way to the junkyard and to have created again not only a beautiful RV but to have also brought to life the beauty of a time past, tires singing those old sweet songs once again.

(More photos are at the owner's original blog post.)

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