Vintage Trailer

Smushed Canned Ham

So here we are, 2.5 hours after I had exchanged my $1000 for the title to this cute little trailer, I get rear ended on 580. Remember The Before?

trailer-before2.jpg
 All hitched up & ready to roll out

All hitched up & ready to roll out

 Parked outside the place we went for my dad's birthday breakfast

Parked outside the place we went for my dad's birthday breakfast

Getting rear ended with a trailer is really frightening. The impact isn't as hard as getting hit bumper to bumper - as my dad said "it's like a pillow between you and the person who hit us." With a trailer swerving from side to side, I can only assume it had gone the lanes on either side of me. Before I get schooled on which lane to drive in with a trailer, I wasn't in the right lane because it was an exit only.  

After having the third top scare of my life (#1 was the 2014 Napa earthquake & #2 was the 1989 earthquake) and after the little trailer stopped swerving from side to side, I tried to make my way to the shoulder of 580. I dragged the trailer across one lane of traffic and sort of got on the shoulder. The sound is etched in my brain forever - metal scraping on asphalt. The woman who hit me had already pulled over, her brand new light green Subaru parked ahead of me on the shoulder. In 97 degree heat, on my dad's birthday remember, my dad and I got out to assess the damage. Not so good.

 Ouch.

Ouch.

While we knew we had to work on the trailer to shore it up, this takes the project to a whole new level. Granted, she did some of the demo work for us, but...yeah. If anyone is wondering if connecting the safety chain on a hitch works, I am here to tell you it does. That chain was the only thing keeping that trailer attached to my car. Though I pulled over as far as I could, with the trailer off the hitch ball, I could only get so far, and the trailer was blocking that exit only lane. 

While we exchanged information on the side of the highway, melting in the heat, waiting for the cops, somehow I kept it together. I was shaking like a leaf of course, but I didn't cry, I didn't have a meltdown, I didn't yell or become a crazy person. When the cops arrived, one of them helped my dad pull the trailer onto the shoulder a bit more while the other one talked to me and the other driver. I'm not sure what exactly happened, but she got spooked and drove into me. We weren't stopping, we weren't stopped, we were all moving, slowly, and she just drove into the back of my cute little new-to-me trailer. 

 Poor Enrique...

Poor Enrique...

She hit me hard enough that Enrique's hitch (see above pic) was angled up at his bumper and the trailer's tongue bent so far towards the trailer that the tongue jack broke the front window and the tongue bars crumpled the body on both sides.

 The middle window is shattered from the tongue jack hitting it

The middle window is shattered from the tongue jack hitting it

CHP sent the other driver on her way when everything was documented, and then stayed with us until a AAA flatbed showed up. We chatted, standing on the side of 580 for another hour. Happy birthday, dad.

Silver lining(s): No one was hurt. The chain saved the trailer from hitting other people. 

Next up: what is this thing, valuation, sucky insurance dealings...

Say Hello to My Little Friend

For most of 2016, I'd been on the hunt for a vintage camper trailer, specifically a canned ham trailer. Most of these were not in California, and most were well outside of my budget of $1500. I searched Craigslist, Vintage Camper Trailers, Sisters on the Fly, auction sites and anywhere else I could think of to find my little trailer. Lo and behold, in July 2016, I found it.

Picture it, Patterson, July 2016. Patterson is about two hours from Napa, southwest of Modesto. It was going to be a hot one, especially in the valley. I recruited my dad to come with me to check it out, on his birthday no less. He'd helped me look for one, encouraging the purchase of an Airstream, but for me, baby steps. Canned ham trailers are in the thousands, Airstreams are in the tens of thousands. Anyway, I made arrangements with the Craigslist guy to see the trailer in the Walmart parking lot. We made it down there, Enrique (my car) ready to tow if all went well. 

We arrived to see the cute little trailer across the parking lot. White top, yellow lightning bolt on the sides & W on the front, teal on the bottom. Perfect canned ham shape, fairly good condition, the right price at $1000. I played the Craigslist game - never show you're too interested. My dad checked out the mechanics - rust level, towability, what needed to be fixed, etc. - while I marveled, trying to keep my cool. For $1000, my dad said we could fix what was needed, the frame, though rusty, was is good shape and not rusted through anywhere.

 The Before: After we checked it out, we hooked it up to Enrique and headed out, title in hand.

The Before: After we checked it out, we hooked it up to Enrique and headed out, title in hand.

We paid the kid his grand, he signed over the title and pointed us to a great breakfast spot so I could treat my dad to a birthday breakfast. We made plans for the trailer, talked about what needed to be shored up, what its life would be when it was all ready to go. We headed out with me driving, taking it easy since it was bigger than anything I'd towed before. I5 is a beat up road, especially when you're stuck in the right lane because you have a trailer. We finally hit 580, ready to head back to Napa to bring my new little friend home. 

Now it gets good. 

580, as usual, was slow going. Traffic was moving but we were only going about 25mph. Cruising along, albeit at a snail's pace, my dad and I continued to talk about the work we had to do, the decorations my mom could help us with and various vintage items we could source from their house of treasures. All of a sudden, the car jolts forward and in the rearview I see my new little canned ham swing to the right then to the left. We'd just gotten rear ended.

To be continued...