Vintage travel trailers that make you go Canned Ham CRAZY!

What is a Canned Ham beyond the obvious preserved dinner delicacy? It’s a vintage camper trailer with that distinctive, streamlined, oval shape that was a part of the 50’s and early 60’s design aesthetic. Cars weren’t equipped with super shocks, special transmission and engine oil coolers and dual rear wheels to haul the behemoths of today. They were simple family cars enabling travel and exploration on the newly laid highways of the Eisenhower Administration. So naturally the campers had to be small and lightweight. This meant rarely over 14 feet long, lightweight aluminum and thin plywood construction. LP propane was around but not so much electricity and thermodynamic cycle refrigerators. So you find interior gas lamps and ice boxes. You find louvered glass windows and scalloped magazine racks. Vinyl dinette seats and Formica countertops. Just the kind of simple, return to yesteryear feeling that soothes the mind from the normal pace of life.


6 Comment(s)

  1. Bob

    August 13, 2014 at 2:58 am

    I have a 1954 La Cabana Roadmaster that’s going to be restored – one day. Thanks for posting about your restoration. Bob

  2. Gail Mauss

    November 9, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Hi John,
    Really enjoyed reading your Canned Ham blog. Where are you from? I recognized the beach in Carpenteria. My in laws lived there a few years and we had family reunions there.
    Great park.
    I am interested in getting a vintage style travel trailer and look all over the Internet to just “dream” about what I’d love to have in a couple of years. I saw some advice that you should look at lots of trailers before you buy. I like that idea, cuz then I can start looking and know I don’t plan to buy yet. Not sure if I want one nearly perfect and pay high, or do some work along with my husband and his brother who’s great on remodeling cars for a hobby.
    Anyway I truely in joyed your blog. Have a great trip south for Thanksgiving. We are heading south too. Have a home near Auburn, but live and work in Antioch, Ca. Family in So. Cal.
    Thanks again,

    • cannedhamcrazy

      November 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm


      Love to have made the connection with another prospective Canned Hammer! (Don’t think that’s a thing, but we’ll just coin the term now…) We did look at quite a few before we bought, maybe 10-12, but not an excessive amount. My advice would be to look most carefully at the structural integrity of the trailer. These things were built 40-60 years ago out of nothing more than thin wood veneer, aluminum sheeting and little brad-like nails. And then they’re outside all the time. So they leak. That’s your biggest watch-out–water damage. Ours had some that i filled in and reinforced with prodigious amounts of putty, but I also, as you can see on the blog, replaced 100% of the exterior seam seals and window seals. Luckily, the previous owner had already done quite a bit of reconstruction work and we had mostly finish carpentry to do inside. However, the folks who do full-scale reconstruction (take all the exterior siding off even replace it with new aluminum, rebuild entire walls and roofs, etc) have LOTS of time on their hands, and LOTS of space and equipment. I had neither. So I think it’s worth looking for one that is dry, has good structural integrity, and you can spend your time painting, decorating, and of course, traveling! Best of luck to you.

  3. Carrie McKinley

    September 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Hello! I read your whole blog tonight to my boyfriend, we giggled and I found myself saying, “I like this guy” over and over because your writing style is very entertaining and enjoyable to read. Today, we brought home our very 1st Vintage trailer Canned Ham. It is a 1954 Cardinal and it looks VERY similar to yours if not IDENTICAL, besides the color. I kept fretting that we spend too much on ours (but it already had the paint job). However, the inside definitely needs some work. Luckily all the seams were calked recently by the previous owner. Anyhoo, it was comforting to see all the dollar bills you showed in the photo that you “traded” for your trailer. I tried to add it up and I think it is close to what we paid. But, we only had to travel 90 miles roundtrip to pick up ours with only a trip to McD’s as a bribe to my little one to come along 🙂

    Great post, would love to hear how your “little vintage beauty” is doing these days.

    Take Care,

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