Monday, September 30, 2013


So, after several years of tent camping, it seemed like a good idea to get off of the ground and get a hard shell around us. We have nothing against tents, and will continue to carry one along with us, even when we take the trailer, but the amenities of a camper trailer are simply far greater than any tent (at least it is for us).

So, we started out by investigating tear drop trailers. While they can be purchased, it's better to build your own (unless you simply don't have the skills, tools and space needed to do so). Building your own allows you to configure it in a manner best suiting you (since you're pretty limited by space anyways). Well, after a lot of research, it would appears as if a tear drop was a little too much like a tent. You are off of the ground, there is a hard shell but you're still at the mercy of the elements when it comes to cooking and eating.

We sifted through a LOT of on-line trailer ads. We looked at ads that were selling  new, recent and vintage trailers. Some of the ads were so old that the trailer had been sold for months. Replies to some ads went unanswered. Some ad posters did not have any idea how to post, or even email, pictures. I don't know about you but I'm not driving hours to see something that may be a disaster (it could be a gem, too).

Then, my wife stumbled on the Tin Can Trailers Facebook page. These looked very cool, especially since they're vintage. We already had a capable tow vehicle (Ford Escape with 3.0 liter V6) so we just needed to decide if we were in for a full restoration, a partial refurbishment or a camp-ready trailer. We opted for the partial refurbishment. In all honesty, the trailer we purchased, a 1962 Broken Arrow Tepee, is camp-ready but does need some refurbishment due to its age and some leaks that it had. We'll get to that in future posts.

In the mean time, here's what a '62 Broken Arrow Tepee looks like. Most of the images are courtesy of the former owners. Broken Arrow Mobilhome must have only been in business for a few years. I can find nothing, on-line, concerning the company. I have seen a '63 Tepee posted for sale, in Yucca, CA. That trailer looks very similar, on the outside, to this one. There is a slight difference in the skin, with two different patterns being used. I have no idea how long they were made or how many were sold. If you have any information, please let me know. Additionally, there's a Canadian Company, Safe-Way (I think) that sold a model called a "Tee Pee". Obviously, they're not the same manufacturer and the trailers look quite a bit different (as you would expect). I have seen reference to another Broken Arrow trailer, called a WigWam, that's bigger than a Tepee. I've never seen an image though.


Here we are, at the gas station, after picking it up in central Kentucky:


We obviously have a spectacular starting platform. But, we already have identified a litany of things we'd like to change to make it "ours". Some are major undertakings, some are not. Regardless, I'll do my best to illustrate the process as we go. Feel free to ask questions. We live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The trailer is stored off-site and a pretty good distance from home. So, updates will be infrequent, unfortunately. However, we're shooting to meet some long-lost friends at the Vintage Trailer gathering, in the Smokey Mountains, in May 2014. So, there will be plenty of posts illustrating any, and all, changes..


  1. I own a 1968 Tepee. Very similar to yours. I am also renovating mine

  2. Hi, I'm Angie from Missouri and bought myself a 1971 Tepee similar to this for Mother's Day! Do you have any idea what this camper weighs? I pulled it home with my 2004 Jeep Wrangler and it seemed to be fine. I'm going to need to do some polishing on the aluminum and it needs a new roof, but tons of potential and character!

  3. Hi Angie, our camper weighs about 2200 lbs. loaded with most of our gear. I would guess an unloaded camper weighs about 1 ton (2000 lbs.). We tow with a 2012 Ford Escape. Jeeps have very short wheelbases so you should be very mindful of the tongue weight. Otherwise, instability could occur while on the highway. This manifests itself in the trailer "wagging" (like a dog's tail). If severe enough, it can cause you to lose control and/or crash. Also, I do not think your camper was made by the same manufacturer. In my research, the Broken Arrow Tepee was made in Broken Arrow, OK from approximately 1960-64. There was a Canadian camper manufacturer that made models called "Tee Pee" and "Wig-Wam" in the early 1970s. The two companies are not related but they are easily confused. Good luck!