By Meda Kessler
Photos by Ralph Lauer
This vintage trailer is not as palatial as a 24-foot touring coach, but what it lacks in space it makes up for in character
Many of us worked on our bread-baking skills or organized closets during the stay-at-home months this past year. Dan Stober restored a 15-foot 1961 Aljo Skyline camper trailer.
Stober, a commercial photographer, has restored two others inside and out. He also is known for his work on vintage wooden boats. “Old campers rot from the inside, so I didn’t want something that might fall apart as soon as I got it on the road. I saw this camper on Craigslist, and it already had been partially updated. I bought it in April 2020 and worked on it for about four months as my self-isolation COVID project.”
Stober’s “before” photos show a rather drab-looking trailer with a stripped-out interior. “I had to disassemble what was there to fix all the electrical,” says Stober, who has a large garage/workshop on his property just for such projects. Meticulous with his restoration work, Stober has entered his restored boats in contests and has won major awards at events such as the Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elegance in Seabrook, Texas.
The work on the Skyline included improving on what the previous owner had started. Stober reframed windows, rebuilt cabinetry for the kitchen equipment, added new interior surfaces, installed a new air conditioner and did a lot of sanding and painting. Stober’s circle of friends includes like-minded people who fix things, and he welcomed the help on some of the more tedious and labor-intensive projects.
For the trailer’s design, Stober solicited advice from his daughter, Melissa, who has a good eye for such things. She also pitched in with some manual labor including painting and staining.
As a nod to his love of national parks, they chose an earthy mix of colors — green, cream and a rusty red. Stober uncovered the trailer’s original tritone design under the old paint and restored it. He even restored a vintage metal cooler and painted it in the same green color. Decorative touches include national park stickers; the trailer’s nickname is “Smokey” after the famous fire-safety mascot bear.
Stober has taken the trailer for a few weekend trips this year, one with his daughter and several with his girlfriend, Beverly Elrod, a retired special education teacher who shares Stober’s love of the outdoors. “We’ve tried to avoid weekends to avoid crowds. We’ve really enjoyed the parks in Oklahoma, which are well run, including the reservation system. And the facilities have been updated. We made a trip to Meridian State Park in Texas, and Beverly remembers it being exactly like it was when she went camping there as a little girl. I do know from experience that getting a reservation in a state park, especially on a weekend, is tough right now. I’ve tried to book sites for August and September, and they’re already filled,” says Stober.
When they do roll up to a park, they’re typically the only ones, or one of a few, with a vintage camper. “Apparently big RVs have been hot sellers during COVID,” says Stober, who prefers the character and flair of the old-school designs. “People do like to ask questions and check out the Aljo, however.”
While they enjoy setting up the camp chairs outside and sitting by an evening fire, he can understand the desire for comfort and little luxuries, too.
“Neither Beverly nor I want to sleep on the ground anymore. Inside the trailer, we have a memory foam mattress and just enough amenities, including a small icebox. We’re good for about four nights; if it rains, we have a place to stay dry and a table so we can play cards.”