The Beginning

In the fall of 2009, Bart and I decided to buy a travel trailer. The original plan was to have a place to stay on our land on Lopez Island. A trailer would let us stay up there for weeks at a time without having to build a house.

We wanted something that wouldn't rust if left on an island in the Northwest or require a big initial investment. That left pretty much one option: "vintage" Airstream. It turns out that both Bart and I had loved the look of the Airstreams we saw in our youth. It helps that we prefer the more rounded corners of the older models. We weren't in a position to spring for a new one. We settled on a length that we could park in our driveway while we worked on it, but that would still be big enough to sleep four people. Eventually, we found the right one in Turlock through craigslist and towed it home.

It is 25' from bumper to hitch. The model is a TradeWind. It rolled off the assembly line in El Cerrito on Halloween, 1971. Bart quickly dubbed it The Tin Pickle and the name stuck.

The trailer was ostensibly functional. It rolled, the air conditioning worked, the water pump worked and it had two sleeping areas. The sleeping arrangements, called "gauchos" by Airstream, had been (poorly) recovered in blah tan naugahyde. The brown shag carpet was original and smelled like it. The dividing walls were the original dark brown fake wood that had not been improved by 40 years of wear, stick on hooks and holes of unknown purpose. Long story short, we started making plans before we even rolled onto the freeway in Turlock to bring it home.

Once we had it in the driveway and realized what a pleasant place it was going to be to camp in, we realized that it could be put to more uses than simply being a cabin on an island. How much nicer would Burning Man be with solid walls to keep out the dust and a fridge to keep the beer cool?

In the ensuing months and years, the Tin Pickle has provided hours of enjoyment, as a base for visits to Lopez, as a gypsy trailer all over the west, and, not least of all, as a canvas for many projects.

We started writing this blog retroactively in January 2012. We are attempting to publish them in chronological order. These pages will document the changes we've made to the trailer and the places we've taken it since that day in January 2010.


  1. Nice work! I love your patience for adding new while keeping it rolling and usable.

  2. Hello,
    You are doing exactly what my wife and I would love to be doing. Great job on your restoration! I too purchased an AS and started restoration but we have experienced some unexpected delays so we are into year two.

    I have never blogged before. I would love to document my restoration. Do you have any pointers on creating this blog?