Deciding what I wanted to write about this week was a real struggle. It’s not that I didn’t have any ideas because I had lots of them. It is because I simply could not decide which one I wanted to share.
After flipping through the photo albums stored on my hard drive I came across a black and white shot of our first hard wall camper – a 1973 Vega. Looking at the photo brought back a flood of memories, not only of all the fun experiences we had with the camper and the then much younger children, but how campers were built in that era and how much they have changed.
The Vega was 19 feet long. Compared to a similar sized modern camper, it weighed at least a thousands pounds more. That is a lot of added weight when you are counting miles per gallon.
The roof on the Vega was made of galvanized steel. Campers we have owned since then have changed to aluminum and now the almost universal EPDM rubber. Some of the models being introduced for 2011 have roofing material made of PVC, which is a lightweight and extremely weather resistant plastic.
The fresh water tank in the Vega was also steel. It was located up front, under the couch-bed. There was no pump for the water tank, it was pressurized either from the process of filling it with water or an air compressor. I remember having to use a piston type bicycle tire pump to pressurize the tank after gravity filling it in a rural campground. The fresh water tanks in modern campers are made of a milky white plastic and depend upon a 12 volt diaphragm type water pump to provide flow to various faucets and the potty. Again, yet another major weight saving feature.
The water heater depended upon a pilot light to ignite the burner when the thermostat called for hot water. Unfortunately, the slightest breeze could extinguish the pilot light and you would not realize the problem until your shower water turned icy cold. It was a real adventure trekking outside soaking wet with your bathrobe tightly wrapped around you to struggle with relighting the pilot – then waiting for the water to warm enough to rinse the soap out of your hair. Thank goodness for the invention of the electronic ignition on current water heaters that automatically lights the burner.
Microwave ovens were not standard equipment. Neither were air conditioners.
Slide outs? You have to be kidding – such a concept was beyond imagination.
Of course, these were only a few of the differences between the construction and styling then and now.
Not too long ago we spent the weekend at a small, remote campground on the upper part of the Rappahannock River simply known as Naylor’s Beach. Across from the campground there is a large field literally full of campers built in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. Some of them appear to be abandoned, only to rot away where they were parked years ago. Others apparently continue to see some use when their owners spend an occasional weekend at “The Rivia”.
Names like Monitor, Shasta, Nordic, Holiday Rambler, Prowler, Sunline, Scotty and more adorn the faded emblems and painted on graphics. Many of these names long ago disappeared from the towable camper marketplace.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the slide show available in the link below should fill as many pages as printed encyclopedias of the same era.
Yes, not only has life changed but the vehicles we use for our camping adventures. Some might say, “They don’t build ‘um like they used to”. Personally, I am thankful they don’t!
Hey Ma, is it the Good Old Days yet?