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Old 03-17-2008, 11:49 AM   #1
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camp-a-float: a concept from 1973

I recently received a 1000+ car magazines dating back to 1951. There was 1/78 copy of Woodall's Trailer & RV Travel/West with an interesting ad for "camp-a-float". The photo shows a 23-25 foot class B on a pontoon that is at least 40' long X 16' wide. The MH is positioned to the aft and port side of the pontoon and there's a canopy across the bow with chairs BBQ, etc. They say that units are available in Lake Powell, Lake Ouachita and Lake Hartwell and Lake Havasu.

What a great concept, wonder what happened.

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Old 03-17-2008, 12:06 PM   #2
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Maybe the idea didn't hold water!

Got any scans of the article's photos?

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Old 03-17-2008, 12:13 PM   #3
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My guess is a couple of them caught fire from the grills/partying and they killed the concept....
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Old 11-21-2008, 06:09 PM   #4
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(At the moment, I do not own any Airstreams. I have trimmed down to only two aluminum airframe trailers, a '55 Airlight 15' and a 1956 Spartan 8' x 50' two bedroom model. My early 60s Bambi I gave to a friend back in the 'nineties; I heard he sold it. Sure would like to find a Bubble or a Wee Wind, or even a Cruisette, though pipe frames give me pause.)

Sitting on my desk next to me now is a Camp-A-Float brochure postmarked 1978. I believe they went out of business shortly after that date. Quoting from the brochure: "The CAMP-A-FLOAT Cruiser is a 5-ton boat specifically designed to accommodate recreation vehicles on board, up to 31 feet in length and weighing no more than 9,000 lbs, for conversion to houseboat status. The CAMP-A-FLOAT Crusier is built on twin steel pontoons providing a total displacement of 30,000 lbs. Each 40 foot long pontoon is made from 8 individual sections welded together with addtional bow reinforcement using steel plates and rods. The twin pontoons are connected by 30 steel beams which also support the 38 by 12 foot, 1' thick vinyl clad deck. This are is totally enclosed by 100 feet of safety rails and gates, 28" high. The CAMP-A-FLOAT Cruiser has a 100 gallon sewer tank under the deck and 100 gallon fresh water with a pump to supply water on demand. With your RV connect to the Cruisers services you can CAMP-A-FLOAT without interruption or frequent service stops. The CAMP-A-FLOAT Cruiser is powered by an outboard marine engine which is controlled from a helm stand in the forward corner through rack and pinion steering and a combination throttle and shift lever. With 40 gallons of onboard gasoline you can cruise for up to 20 hours at speeds to 12 miles per hour. (Our average renters use less than 15 gallons of gasoline on their cruise.)"

The brochure illustrates how the rental manager secures the RV to the deck with a "hitch tree" and then "secures the RV attachment devices that bolt through access holes in the deck to the steel sub-structure." Then he connects the sewer and fresh water.

But the way you get onto the , well... barge is very interesting. It is winched out of the water level on an incline railroad set up. A motorized dolly places the trailer onto the, uh... barge.

LOcations for this enterprise were: ON THE EAST COAST -- Lake Hartwell-Georgia / S.Carolina. IN THE MIDWEST -- Lake Ouachita, Arkansas. And announcing a WESTERN expansion opening July 2, 1976 on Lake Havasu, Havasu Springs Resort in Parker Arizona.

Here's something interesting (if you've read this far) The rate was $40/day or $250/week (rates do not include gasoline).

When I started researching this back in the 1970s -- this brochure was sent to me and I actually saved it all these years -- I thought that I could tow my trailer out to lakeside (Lake Powell, AZ was what I had in mind) with a truck loaded with sufficient supplies. I would build ferro cement pontoons -- I had seen houseboats in Sausalito, CA on such pontoons which worked great. Construction of ferro cement is low tech. And I owned a small trailer. It was a project I though I could handle.

But then I started a family and had to build a house -- no time for horsing around with pontoons on a desert lake. Now the kids are fully launched, maybe it's time to revisit some of my interrupted schemes...

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Old 11-21-2008, 06:47 PM   #5
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Great post. Very interesting, thanks.

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Old 11-22-2008, 05:08 PM   #6
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This concept somehow made it down to South Florida to a site just off the Kissimee River - about the same year or so. I stopped by one evening on my way home from a job down that-a-way and had a cup of coffee with the Owner of the operation and his wife. I believe that they were "independent" - and aiming at a smaller tent trailer or travel trailer clientele. I had a Starcraft pop-up at that time and was interested - but, as time went by, I never got the chance to try it out. We were living in Clearwater, Florida, raising a family, and watching our pennies.

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Old 11-22-2008, 08:09 PM   #7
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55 Airlight, Wow a newbe and post #1 is great ! lookin for more keep em comin
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Old 11-22-2008, 08:53 PM   #8
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Welcome aboard Airlight...glad you join in the fun...great info post #1 from you...thanks! The "Camp-Afloat" concept is intriguing... Someone ought to make a go of it again...I bet it would be fun to do! The best of two worlds...Camping and boating! What's not to like?

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Old 11-22-2008, 11:44 PM   #9
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Earliest (so far) "trailer houseboat" 1959

From the recently released-to-the-web Life Magazine archive
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Old 11-23-2008, 03:27 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Minnie's Mate View Post
Maybe the idea didn't hold water!

Got any scans of the article's photos?
LIFE Magazine just released a huge Historical Archival of photos via Google Image.
I came across a picture in LIFE archival showing one being launched.
Sry, I didn't copy the link at the time but, you can find it under trailers.
I'll post the link later for you, if I can find it..
Okay..I believe this is what you were talking abt..
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Old 11-23-2008, 06:38 AM   #11
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I remember seeing one of these in use on Lake Hartwell many years ago. We were out in the boat fishing early one morning and heard another boat coming around the bend - we look up and here comes a class C motorhome on a barge chugging across the lake. It wasn't moving particularly fast, but it was moving. Never saw their facility for launching the barges, but I did actually see on in use.
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Old 11-23-2008, 07:52 AM   #12

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I believe you can rent this one....

or buy this....

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Old 11-23-2008, 10:21 PM   #13
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Here's Houseboat/Trailer from LIFE archives
LIFE: A view of a trailer houseboat. - Hosted by Google
LIFE: A view of a trailer houseboat. - Hosted by Google
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Old 11-23-2008, 11:32 PM   #14
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We moved to Walnut Grove, CA in 1972. I was working for a houseboat rental company there that had 104 rental boats. Although your paper work does not show it, in the late '70s, there was a Camp-Afloat rental near Stockton, CA. We used to see them all over the Delta. They would drive the RV onto the pontoon "barge" via a loading dock, then add sand to the pontoons where needed for balance and leveling. That only lasted for a couple of years. I have no idea why the concept went away.

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