Meet The Nugget: A Vintage Camper Trailer Makeover Series
So ummm…you know how all the bloggers in the universe are pregnant? I feel like I can join their ranks with my latest project. I am currently carrying- in utero- a vintage camper travel trailer, and I can finally talk about it!!
Besties of the internet, meet The Nugget, a 1973 Bell Travel Trailer.
I have been on a not-actively-searching-but-still-looking mission for a vintage trailer for the better part of 2 years. (There are a lot of really bad ones out there folks.) For some reason or another I just couldn’t find the one. Then one happy Saturday morning in April I was browsing Craigslist. There, in the Antique section, was a listing for a small camper. It.was.adorable. I just had to see it. So my MIL and I trucked to the next town over to meet the little guy.
When you are shopping for a vintage trailer there are a few things to keep in mind. They are ALL damaged. All of them. Usually it is water damage, and everything that goes along with that happy situation. There can also be problems with the exterior siding, the frame, the electrical, the tires, and that doesn’t begin to include the cosmetic issues. I went into this meet and greet knowing that I could handle certain things, but having met a few other vintage campers that were severely damaged, I knew what to run away from.
When you are shopping, get as much info from the seller as you can. The Nugget has had 2 previous owners, a man and his granddaughter (I bought it from her). It has lived in Southern Utah it’s whole life, which means that while it was exposed to the elements, the dry climate helped it be not completely overrun with water damage and mold. The way that it smells when you walk inside is a ginorm indicator of the damage level. Does it smell mildewy or damp? What is the visible water damage like? Check the corners, the ceiling and around the windows, this is where the largest amount of damage usually occurs. Can you see the dark spots along the corner? That is water damage.
Does it pull? Or will you need a flat bed trailer to bring it home? Our seller still used the trailer and had, within the last year, pulled it 5 hours away. This is pretty huge to know if it is in pulling condition.
The seller said that the electrical had a few problems (we will get into this in another post) and they had to run a new set of brake lights to the back.
The previous owner had also replaced some wood on the back end and cut through the aluminum siding to make that happen. When they were finished they used aluminum tape to hold the 2 pieces together, so that totally needed to be replaced. You can see exactly what I am talking about in the picture below. see the silver line where the brown and white siding meet? That is the tape.
You can also see where they took out the original tail lights and the replacement lights they put on the bumper. Wires and all.
I can make a list of all of the things that need to be replaced, but I can sum it up in 4 words…
All of the things.
But all in all it was a pretty great little find for $1,000.
When I got home I did a little research. The Nugs is a 1973 Bell Travel Trailer. Apparently Bell Trailers are a very rare breed. Not in a “GOLD MINE!” way, just in a “I cant find any info and the guys at the trailer store had never heard of it kind of way.” Obscure and mysterious, just how I like ‘em.
Lets just talk about the interior for a second shall we?
This thing is teensy.
The back of the trailer is the seating/sleeping/eating area. The tabletop drops down to become the base for the bed (that is why it is shin level). Above that is a slide out bunk. As is it sleeps 4.
On the other side is the little kitchenette. Complete with a gas range, sink and 2 faucets (because one of them doesn’t work)
Next to the kitchen is a small storage closet that could be used for a port-a-potty. Which we will not be doing.
It has an ice block fridge. Which means that it is basically a cooler that you put a block of ice in and it keeps your food cold. There is also a propane heater below the fridge.
I feel like for such a small space it has a lot of storage. There are lots of cupboards and a couple of large areas underneath the benches, as well as the closet.
Ceiling height is really good. I am 5’9 and Court is 6’1 and we can both comfortably stand inside (except underneath the bunk).
The biggest challenge is going to make if feel like you are not inside a shoebox.
One of the most exciting parts of this adventure is my partner in crime, The Home Depot. It has been really great working with my favorite store on the planet, and everyone at my local store asks about the little nugs every time I am there (which FYI was 4 times yesterday).
I really love learning new things, but man, this learning curve is steep. I am so relieved that I have you guys to share it with and not judge me when I fail. Its already happened a few times, so stay tuned!
Design wise (because lets be honest, this is everyone’s favorite part, I am going for a retro desert vibe. It is such a teensy space that I think more muted colors with little moments of brightness is totally the way to go.
Special order supplies have started rolling in, want to see what I have so far? I am so in love with this ultra light mint penny tile and teardrop running lights. (picture of the tile looks a little lighter than it is IRL)
These cabinet pulls are just so good.
Catherineholm Lotus? Ummm. Absolutely.
The best part about these little trailers is that they are supposed to be fun and whimsical. Let the creative floodgates open!
So have you overhauled a vintage camper? I am DYING for your advice (also please leave links if you have info/pictures!)