1939: The Trailer Grows Up


Trailers are fascinating models of efficient design, showing how one can live in small spaces, often demonstrating the efficiencies and promise of mass production. The trailer park is also an interesting model of tenure, enabling people to own their units but rent their land, reducing the price of entry. Both present real opportunities.

They thought so in August, 1939 in Popular Mechanics, too.

"Today, one company is offering a trailer priced below $400, which has adequate cabinet space, plenty of shelves, a wardrobe room, sleeping accommodations for two, kitchenette with sink, ten-gallon water tank and many other features. Seventeen feet long with steel under frame, this trailer has combination six-volt and 110-volt electric-lighting system. It is well sealed against the weather. Compared to the cumbersome trailer of the early days, this model offers real luxury at low cost.

Another tip to the trailer owner is not to load down the rolling home with extra equipment. Veteran travelers pride themselves on how little they can get along with. Of course, if the trailer is not already equipped, these items are regarded as essential: Safe braking system; three-burner gasoline cookstove, because the fuel is easy to obtain from filling stations or from the tow car’s tank; small six-volt fan which may be mounted at the roof ventilator to speed up discharge of fumes and cooking odors; fire extinguisher; some safe space heater; adequate sanitary facilities; electrical wiring strong enough to serve all the owner’s needs."

Insulation has brought a new degree of comfort and cleanliness to the home on wheels. The latest models are completely insulated, even the floor, wheel-housings and roof ventilator. The insulation supplements an air space between interior paneling and exterior walls.

Spun-glass wool, in the form of a continuous blanket backed by a layer of waterproof paper, is used by some builders, being placed in the sidewalls and roof. There is also a half-inch layer of insulation in the floor, a heavy layer of felt over the wheelhousings and a half-inch layer of insulation under the tops of roof ventilators. Thus, the trailer is constructed to keep out heat in summer, cold in winter and dirt and dust in all seasons. With modern fuel-oil heater stoves, it is possible to keep comfortable inside a trailer even in sub-zero weather. ::Modern Mechanix
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