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Trailer Tribe - Vintage Vacations

Rebuilding A 1976 Airstream

Phil Noyes
Dec 1, 2012
In the world of vintage trailer restoration, one name is synonymous with the best, Craig Dorsey. Craig and his company, Vintage Vacations, have been building the most beautiful and sometimes outrageous trailers for happy clients for more than 15 years. There is no request too difficult and if you can dream it, Craig can build it. So when a client approached him and wanted him to turn a 1976 Airstream International Sovereign into a 1930s Adirondack cabin, Craig rose to the occasion with exuberance, especially since the client was willing to give him complete artistic license, which is a rare thing. Craig could build and dress the trailer anyway he saw fit and as he will tell you, “The building of the Adirondack trailer was a turning point for me as a designer and builder.”
Photo 2/11   |   The ugly duckling before its transformation.
The first thing Craig did was completely gut the Airstream so he had a blank canvas. Once he came up with the basic design, he laid all the plumbing, electrical, cable, Internet, and heating and cooling systems. This trailer has every modern convenience you can imagine hidden behind that vintage look.
Photo 3/11   |   Getting down to the bare bones so the real work can begin.
The bathroom alone takes up the last seven feet of the trailer and features a hand-hammered copper sink with copper faucet and vent pipes, bronze studs that hold the banana-wrapped hickory wood in place, mahogany trim, caning, and vintage Bakelite handles. And, these are just a few of the elements that make this room a true work of art … and don’t forget the handmade stainless-steel shower stall.
Photo 4/11   |   The bathroom is nicer than most hotels.
Of course, Craig could never stand to have a brand-new flat screen TV hanging in the middle of his masterpiece, so he spent about two weeks building a case using tempered Masonite finished to look like Bakelite, with vintage grill cloth and lots of new old stock TV and radio knobs to give the set that true ’40s feel. Naturally, he also had to build a custom articulated swing arm to allow the set to be watched from either the front or back of the trailer.
Craig scoured every book he could find about the great Adirondack camps of upstate New York and included many of the materials that he saw in the trailer. Just the different woods alone are impressive—from hickory, Douglas fir, mahogany, alder, and birch bark to tempered Masonite. You will also find many vintage treasures incorporated into the design, like the Bakelite sconces, wood and leather snowshoes, ’30s switch plate covers, and loads of vintage fishing gear. With the addition of vintage camp blankets and some well-placed knickknacks, this trailer is truly a time machine that will transport you back to when the great Adirondack camps ruled the East Coast, and you not only didn’t feel weird wearing a bowtie while fly-fishing, it was expected!
Photo 5/11   |   Vintage torpedo Bakelite sconce.
To see more of Craig’s amazing work or if you would like to have a trailer restored, you can visit his website at


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