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The bright, bold Westcraft trailers: A painted treasure from the past

Westcraft trailers were known for using high-quality building materials and for painting their aluminum shells in bright and bold colors. This 1950 Westcraft Trolley Top is a testament to the color craze of its time. The Trolley Top, also referred to as a Lantern Top, was not only popular due to its exterior, but also due to its advanced interior design. The implementation of a raised roof improved not only the headspace of the trailer but also the lighting and ventilation. The Trolley Top marks a significant improvement in the trailer’s functionality, making it a favorite of many trailerites to this day.

1950 Westcraft trailer
1950 Westcraft trailer

The Gulley Museum collection

The RV collection at the Gulley Museum started many years ago, focusing exclusively on shiny, aluminum trailers. However, the more the Gulleys studied the history and development of the vintage trailer world, the more they realized that most manufacturers in the early days built trailers out of Masonite. Masonite, a type of engineered wood, does not stand the test of time and is easily eroded by the elements. To give the Masonite any chance of surviving more than a few years, several coats of paint would be applied to the surface to protect it. Unfortunately, the paint was insufficient protection to save most of these trailers in the long run. The toll of weather, mostly rain, was more than the Masonite could stand, thus making this method obsolete in post-WWII construction. However, the quickly retired Masonite-made trailers also became extremely rare.

1950 Westcraft from the Gulley Museum Collection
1950 Westcraft trailer interior from the Gulley Museum collection

After the war

Post-WWII production found many manufacturers, like Westcraft trailers, using aluminum or metal for the shells of their trailers. This change in design allowed for a sturdier product that could withstand the elements and the test of time. While this was undoubtedly an advancement, Westcraft and other manufacturers wanted to implement color as a selling point. Therefore, they began painting the aluminum exteriors of their products in bold, often two-toned color schemes to stand out from their competitors and differentiate their brands. Bold color schemes became the craze of the 1950s in trailers and automobiles, allowing people to express their style in a multitude of ways in the Mid-Century Modern era.

1950 Westcraft
1950 Westcraft-Painted Treasure

Mid-century trailers

The Gulley collection has early examples of Airfloat, Airstreams, Alma, Covered Wagon, Hammerblow, New Moon, and Home Builds. All have very subdued paint colors and designs compared to the trailers built in the 1950s. David, Mary, and their daughter Jennifer are proud to have this painted treasure as part of The Gulley Museum Collection alongside its shiny, vintage relatives.

Trolley Top
The Trolley Top, also referred to as a Lantern Top. (Note windows along the ceiling.)

The Gulley Museum Collection is a private collection in Arkansas. It is not open to the public, but the trailers are featured in The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine. This one was featured in issue #62. (Contact Paul at the VCT Magazine if you have a trailer that belongs in the Gulley Museum Collection.)

About the Author: Paul Lacitinola and his wife, Caroline, have published the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine for ten years. The Lacitinolas also host The Trailerfest Vintage Trailer Rallies and the VCT Boot Camp Restoration Learning Experience. They have authored two books on vintage trailering and are advocates for the hobby from coast to coast.

The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine
The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine. Click on the image to see subscription offers.

More from Paul and Vintage Trailers Magazine:

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Janet
1 month ago

I love this trailer – outside is beautiful; inside is warm and welcoming.