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Old 07-09-2011, 02:19 PM   #1
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Help solve the mystery... Please!!!!

Hello all,

I have recently taken custody of a mystery trailer that was the source of a thread started by "0h2bcarefree" back in August, 2009 called "1948 Curtis Wright... or is it???".

I tried to revive that thread recently but haven't gotten anyone's interest, so I thought I'd try to start the ball rolling again, and see if anyone can figure out what this thing is.

Please take a minute to look back at that original thread as a reference, and let me know what you think. On the last page of that thread, I added what I think might be significant details that will help unravel this mystery.

I hope that "PeeWee", "47WeeWind", "Melodyranch", "66overlander", "Ganglin" , and especially "drag'nwagon" (who hinted at it being something special) will jump back on board and bring their considerable experience to bear.

Thanks in advance to all for your help, and again, special thanks to Mike and Tina for all of your assistance and trust in passing this treasure along to me!

Charly
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Old 07-09-2011, 02:46 PM   #2
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FYI: Here's the link to that thread:"1948 Curtis Wright...or is it??"
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Old 07-09-2011, 02:55 PM   #3
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We have a 1949 Curtis Wright in our shop.

Has less window than a 1948.

Andy
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Old 07-09-2011, 10:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
We have a 1949 Curtis Wright in our shop.

Has less window than a 1948.

Andy
Andy - the 49 you have - it's a pipe frame...?
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Old 07-09-2011, 10:13 PM   #5
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Streamquest - congratulations on snagging this trailer!! I missed the end of the original thread where they indicated it was for sale....
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Old 07-09-2011, 10:55 PM   #6
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Thanks for the congrats Ganglin.

This is definitely a cool trailer, and I look forward to finding out exactly what it is. The previous owners, Mike and Tina, did a pretty fair amount of detective work, and I'm going to do my best to continue the search.

The answer has got to be out there somewhere!

Charly.
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Old 07-10-2011, 12:05 PM   #7
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Some direction for your search . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charly
Having now read through this thread a couple of times, it occurs to me that there is one detail that hasn't been noted, and that would be the sheer size of this trailer. When I first set eyes on it, I was totally floored by its size, and by the volume of space contained within it. I expected to see a long version of a Clipper, but this is an entirely different animal, and I momentarily wondered about the feasibility of towing it 1500 miles back home. Interior headroom is about 6'-3'', and the interior floor width is almost 7'-6'' across, by 28' end to end. Downright luxurious. My 1952 Silver Streak Clipper would fit comfortably inside this thing! The integrity and consistency of construction, as well as the exceptional width, dispel any suggestion that this could simply be two "stock" trailers fastened end to end. I assume that these dimensions exceed the limitations of a single center pipe spine, particularly with a single axle, and therefore justify the double railed frame.

Also interesting is the fact that the axle is MUCH narrower than the trailer itself, almost comically so, possibly originally intended for a standard Clipper. The overall width could easily be increased by a foot without interfering with the outer fender skins.

So is it possible, given the lack of an identification plate, that this trailer might have been a prototype for a model that was never produced? Or has anyone ever seen another one like it?

I appreciate all of your thoughts. Many thanks, Charly.
Hi Charly:

Not much is known about 1947-1949 Curtis Wright Clippers and very little has been written about them. The only published overview I am aware of is an illustrated article I wrote that appears in the Spring 2008 issue of Airstream Life magazine. Buy that back issue as a starting point. The few webs sites that mention Curtis Wright travel trailers seem more a collection of data tidbits rather than an organized presentation of that available data.

Curtis-Wright Industries, Inc. closed its business and auctioned its assets on April 18, 1949. I doubt Silver-Steak's founders purchased or kept the old CW production records, so they are probably lost to time. Ask Juergen Eichenmueller if he has any list of or information on CW serial numbers, such as beginning and ending 1948 serial numbers for available lengths. You might then be able to determine where your found serial number, 81805, fits within that year's range of serial numbers to get a rough estimate of its production date, i.e., a month within 1948. [Incidentally, your s/n has 5 digits where most other reported CW s/n have only 4 digits. Have you verified your s/n has 5 digits?]

The best place for finding some CW serial numbers will be the 1947-1950 issues of the "Official Mobile Home Market Report", a blue book for used trailer values. A large metropolitan library or the RV Museum in the Elkhart, IN. might have those old issues. I doubt anyone has scanned and posted them online, so you may have to travel to view them in person to mine any CW s/n data.

When Airstream introduced its new 24' Limited model in August, 1949, it too initially was an oversize model like your trailer (although the production 24' model was shorter and narrower like existing models). Nevertheless, this establishes that at least two travel trailer manufacturers actually built a taller and wider-than-average oversize trailer, so this might have been a nascent (if brief) west coast trailer trend in the late Forties. Something was in the water, and perhaps other trailer manufacturers might had built oversize prototypes too. Research might uncover the reason this trend began and quickly ended.

What little data I have on Airstream's 24' Limited came from Airstream advertisements in mid-1949 issues of west coast trailer magazines, such as "Trailer Travel". My scant data (and a few photos) is reproduced in the Fall 2010 issue of Airstream Life magazine, so get that back issue too for more background.

CW might have issued a press release and/or photos of a proposed new larger model (your trailer) sometime during 1948. That information may or may not have been published in a west coast trailer magazine, but the only way you will find out is to review a year's worth of such magazines page-by-page in person. You may have to visit the RV Museum in Elkhart or, better yet, fly to California and spend a day or two in the University of Southern California's (USC) Special Collections Department looking at the materials it has on the travel trailer industry. I've never been to USC and don't know the extent of its collection, but Bryan Burkhart's 2002 book "Travel Trailer" [ISBN 1-58585-157-8] will give you an idea.

A CW press release on the oversize trailer might also have appeared in a local newspaper, so you might determine where the main office of CW was located, visit the local newspaper in that town, and look at all their 1948 back issues. If the local newspaper is no longer in business, try to determine who they donated their archives to and go there and review the back issues.

You are looking for an obscure needle in a haystack, and you likely will have to travel in person to where information about it might be located. Good luck and have fun!
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Old 07-10-2011, 01:45 PM   #8
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Just throw this out as food for discussion. What if the number found on the frame is not actually a 5 digit serial number - rather - a serial number and the model indicator. C/W made a Model 2 and a Model 5. So - serial number 8180 - Model 5. That s/n would seem to fit the series of a late 48 or early 49 if you look at the various pictures of C/W's out there, would it not. Just a thought......
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Old 07-10-2011, 02:42 PM   #9
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Where are the Pictures?
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganglin View Post
Just throw this out as food for discussion. What if the number found on the frame is not actually a 5 digit serial number - rather - a serial number and the model indicator. C/W made a Model 2 and a Model 5. So - serial number 8180 - Model 5. That s/n would seem to fit the series of a late 48 or early 49 if you look at the various pictures of C/W's out there, would it not. Just a thought......
Good idea, Gary. If any other CW model 5 has a 5 digit s/n stamped into its frame (in addition to the 4 digit s/n stamped into its data plate), then I'd say you've solved the 5 digit s/n mystery on Charly's trailer. But we should see some verification from other CW trailers that this was the factory practice before accepting your rational explanation.

Charly, I forgot some relevant trailer history. In 1949 Airstream manufactured at least 16 (and probably a few others but not more than 31) wide body 24' Limited trailers on a pipe frame chassis. Three examples can be seen here:

49_24Limited

Notice the rivet line that intersects the top of the front and rear end window sets is level with the top of each window set and is horizontal, not angled. The next lower rivet line carries around to match the rivet line going along each side of the trailer body. The levers to operate the dual casement type end windows attach at the vertical end of each window and are barely visible from the exterior.

Airstream soon narrowed the body and replaced the pipe frame with a ladder frame by the time the thirty-second 24'/25' trailer was manufactured, as seen here:

50Cruiser

When Airstream changed to a ladder frame chassis, they also reduced the body width. Notice on both narrower trailers that the rivet lines which intersect with the top of the front and rear window sets now slope down towards the window and are no longer horizontal as on the wide body. The end windows have also changed.

The stacked casement type front and rear windows on the unknown s/n trailer are different than those on the wide-body. Their two operating levers are now positioned in from each end frame and require a vertical channel that is visible from the exterior. These new vertical channels are particularly visible in the 2 photos of the trailer shown when you first click on the above link. The front window set on s/n 6032 [click its box] is a three light affair with a fixed center pane.

So, in 1949 Airstream not only prototyped, but for a brief period of time actually produced, an "extra-wide" body 24' trailer.

Hueytownlass (sp?): the pictures of Charly's Curtis-Wright trailer can be seen by clicking on the blue link in box #2 below posted by TBRich.
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Old 07-10-2011, 08:05 PM   #11
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Some Photos

This is great - I certainly hope that more information is able to be found out!

Here is a link to photos in a gallery that are not contained in that initial thread:
1948 Curtis Wright - Photo Gallery

Charly - the article that is in the binder should be the one referred to by Fred 47WeeWind above.

Let us know if we can help in any other way!

Tina
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Old 07-10-2011, 09:24 PM   #12
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I'm just throwing this in here to illustrate two things. One the serial number on the C/W in the link below, and the claim that it's a 49. If their year is correct I got nothing new out of it as 8180 (presuming a maintained sequence) still places the mystery trailer as a late 48 or early 49 - if the conclusion is that it's a C/W.
The other - never think you know anything absolute about these early units. Everything I've read said C/W made a Model 2 and a Model 5. Look at the s/n plate on this unit....

1949 Curtis Wright
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Old 07-10-2011, 11:52 PM   #13
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Thumbs up

WOW!!! What an outpouring of support and incredible wealth of information!!!

I spent some time today looking for the stamped number on the hitch. It took a while to find it under a relatively new layer of rust (since Mike and Tina originally discovered and posted it in August 2009). At this point in time, the photograph of those stamped numbers (in the original thread) might well be a better reference to study than the actual trailer itself. I think some clarity has been lost just in the past two years. As I viewed it today, I'm not sure that I can actually discern that fifth number. Obviously, a lot of things have been dropped, scraped, or dragged across that steel during the life of this trailer, so I'm not sure if its a "5", or a scratch that looks like a five? I'm going to get hold of a magnifying glass and have a better look. Meanwhile, I'll leave it up to you all to decide for yourselves after checking out Tina's earlier photo.

One additional thought on this number issue. Given that this trailer is dimensionally different in every respect from a "Model 5" as we know it, Does it make sense that a "5" would be stamped on it as part of its identification number?

Many thanks to Gary , Fred, Tina, and Mike for participating in this search. You have presented so much information for me to digest, that I'm almost speechless at the moment. I know I can rely on all of your continued support.

Fred, I knew this was going to be quite a project, but I hadn't figured on spending so much time traveling to the library!! Thanks for those suggestions. You've obviously done this before. Great article by the way ("The Missing Link"), Mike and Tina presented me with a copy when I picked up the trailer.

Bet regards to all,

Charly.
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Old 07-10-2011, 11:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganglin View Post
I'm just throwing this in here to illustrate two things. One the serial number on the C/W in the link below, and the claim that it's a 49. If their year is correct I got nothing new out of it as 8180 (presuming a maintained sequence) still places the mystery trailer as a late 48 or early 49 - if the conclusion is that it's a C/W.
The other - never think you know anything absolute about these early units. Everything I've read said C/W made a Model 2 and a Model 5. Look at the s/n plate on this unit....

1949 Curtis Wright
Gary, you make a very interesting point here. Charly.
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