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Old 09-19-2012, 10:36 AM   #1
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1958 Traveler WBCCI # 4059

I work for the Ohio Historical Society and we recently acquired a 1958 traveler trailer for our collections. We heard from a previous owner that the trailer was part of the African Caravan and that it is in a picture (in front of the pyramid at Giza) we received with the trailer. There is indeed an 18' traveler in the picture, but like a good historian I need more evidence. I was able to determine the original Byam Club number, which had been removed from the trailer, of 4059 and was wondering if anyone has some early 1960s membership directories that might provide any more information. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks

Cameron Wood
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Old 09-19-2012, 11:44 AM   #2
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Very cool Cameron...could you post some pics?
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Old 09-19-2012, 11:53 AM   #3
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Wbcci 4059

4059 is listed in my 1964 Directory as being assigned to Dave and Merle Davidson from Tavares FL. They are not listed as participated in any caravans.
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:01 PM   #4
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Welcome aboard, Cameron.

A picture or two plus the VIN number will get you quite a bit of basic information about just what you have - lots of information from people who know on this forum! That "ghost" number you have may have been reassigned or even used later than when you think this unit could have been on a caravan.
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:13 PM   #5
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4059

The directories do not list the model trailer the numbers are affixed to. In fact, if you own more than one trailer, all your trailers can have the same number. We do not know what model trailer the Davidson's had, but we do know they did not go on the African Caravan. Dale S. may know who had a Traveler on the Caravan, since he was there. He no longer participates in AirForums, but someone who is in contact with him might inquire for you.
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:49 PM   #6
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Wow, just having that trailer donated speaks volumes.

Give it a few days and the experts will provide a solid answer. Having something like this in the possession of your profession will ensure that the Airstream legend lives on.

Its not only dreaming of the future, but reflecting to the past. This Unit has some ghost stories. Thanks for coming to the forum to get the expert information and advice.

SL4BLLT
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:58 PM   #7
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The Wally Byam's Caravanners and Club Members 1960 directory shows #4059 at that time belonged to Harold and Irman [sic] Miller, 195 Lettington Drive, Rochester 11, New York. This 1960 WBCC directory lists NO caravans for the Millers.

This 1960 WBCC directory includes the Africa-Holy Land Caravan #20 and later caravans up to #25 (Western Canada - Summer 1960), so by informing us the Millers did not go on any national WBCC caravan before 1960, it also tells us Harold and Irma[?] Miller did not go on the African Caravan. That being the case, they did not take this 1958 Traveler (or any other Airstream) on the Cape Town to Cairo Caravan #20, as it later became known.

This assumes the Millers painted WBCC #4059 on the 1958 Traveler, but of course we do not know whether they or some later owner painted that WBCC red number on the Traveler. If it was a later owner, then the Millers may never have even owned this 18' Traveler. Further evidence from the trailer itself may provide better clues to its early ownership history.

Coincidentally, the serial number (VIN) range for 1958 18' Travelers built in Airstream's California factory ran from 4000 to 4080+, so Cameron should confirm that he is focusing on the red WBCC "ghost number" and not the VIN number for this 18' Traveler. Two photos from him -- one of the serial number plate by the Traveler's door and another of the ghost numbers on the end cap -- would clarify the material facts. If both the serial number and the ghost numbers are 4059, then someone simply painted the VIN number as the big red numbers on each end cap.
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:26 AM   #8
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Hi Cameron,
Fred is correct, we need to confirm if the 4059 is the trailer serial number from the plate next to the door of the trailer or a WBCCI Membership number from above the front and rear windows (either hand painted or decals). The highest WBCCI number to have participated on the 1959-60 Capetown to Cairo caravan was #2476, well below #4059. In fact WBCCI number 4059 was not even assigned until 1960, well after the African caravan started. This clearly means that if ghosts of #4059 are the only WBCCI numbers on the 18' Traveler, there is no way it actually participated on the African Caravan. And that would not surprise me, I have seen false claims more than once before.

That said, if the WBCCI #4059 is currently on the Traveler, that does not mean it was not on the caravan. If it was on the African caravan, it would have had to have done so with a different WBCCI number on the trailer. To prove this, there would have to be ghost outlines of another 2, 3, or 4 digit WBCCI number less than 2476 under the 4059.

Note that I say less than 2476 because that trailer is confirmed to have been longer than an 18' Traveler. In fact Wally Byam, in his book Trailer Travel Here and Abroad provides a count of the various trailer lengths on the African caravan. He accounts for 39 of the 41 Airstreams that participated and none of that total were 18', leaving possibly 2 that could be 18'. The accuracy of his count might be able to be questioned, but after researching this topic for years I have found very little photo evidence of 18' Airstreams on that caravan. Most were 22' to 26', but there might have been a couple of 18' Airstreams (with one claimed to still be in South Africa today). Unfortunately, neither Airstream Company or the Wally Byam Caravan Club kept records of the actual trailers that participated on this or any other caravan, although we do know the WBCCI numbers and names of those club members that participated.

To fill that void, I have spent time researching every photo I can find of the African caravan trying to match up lengths, models, and years for each WBCCI number. I have clearly identified several Airstreams, have guesses on some, and really nothing on a few that I have never seen in any published photo. I think I have guesses on which WBCCI numbers may have had 18' Airstreams, but I would prefer not to post my guesses in this thread to sway things until we can see clear evidence of older WBCCI numbers less than 2476 on the trailer, or perhaps evidence of owner names painted on the front curbside corner (as was typical back in the 1950s and 60s).

If we cannot clearly see a set of WBCCI number ghost outlines less than 2476 (or owner names), we would have to resort to other means to confirm the provenance, like supporting documentation that you may have received with the trailer. Best would be the original warranty certificate showing the original owners name (a copy was usually pasted inside a closet door if you don't have the original). Other supporting documents could be repair receipts showing an owner and date, African caravan documents, etc.

I have sent you an mail with my phone number and email address. Please email me back or call me. I will be traveling to Ohio soon and could try to stop by and take a look at the trailer if that is possible. If that is not possible I would like to see some photos of the trailer.

Thanks or bringing this potentially exciting discovery to our attention. At the current time there are only three proven surviving Airstreams from this caravan, with unproven claims of a couple more. It would be great it if your 1958 18' Traveler were to become the 4th Airstream we could prove was on the African caravan.

P.S. I have not seen any photo in front of a pyramid that clearly shows an 18' Traveler, but there is a 1957 16' Bubble in one of the published photos that might be mistaken for an 18' Traveler. That 16' Bubble is the shortest Airstream to have participated on the African Caravan.
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwightdi View Post
TDale S. may know who had a Traveler on the Caravan, since he was there. He no longer participates in AirForums, but someone who is in contact with him might inquire for you.
I have talked with Dale about this very idea and while his memory is very good about people, he said he never cared for the details of the Airstreams they traveled in, so he cannot help identify Airstreams that may have been on the African caravan.
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Old 09-20-2012, 01:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohiohistory View Post
I work for the Ohio Historical Society and we recently acquired a 1958 traveler trailer for our collections. We heard from a previous owner that the trailer was part of the African Caravan and that it is in a picture (in front of the pyramid at Giza) we received with the trailer. There is indeed an 18' traveler in the picture, but like a good historian I need more evidence. I was able to determine the original Byam Club number, which had been removed from the trailer, of 4059 and was wondering if anyone has some early 1960s membership directories that might provide any more information. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks

Cameron Wood
Cameron,

What are the plans, if any, to have it on display.

Thanks,
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Old 09-20-2012, 02:39 PM   #11
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Hi All,

So I guess I should have double checked. The serial number/vin for the airstream is 4059. I took 66Overlander advice and checked the warranty paper, but unfortunately it only has the signature of the president on it, and no other older bills. I looked again to see if I could make-out the outline of numbers or a name, but the exterior has been cleaned and buffed too many times. I've spoken with some previous owners and the farthest back I can trace it is to an auto lot in Medford, Oregon. Perhaps I can ask the Oregon DMV if they have any previous records. Attached are some photos let me know if anyone has ideas about how to proceed.
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Old 09-20-2012, 02:40 PM   #12
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We're thinking about putting it on display with a 1950s exhibit coming out next year.
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Old 09-20-2012, 03:04 PM   #13
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Old 09-20-2012, 03:33 PM   #14
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Hi All,

So I guess I should have double checked. The serial number/vin for the airstream is 4059. I took 66Overlander advice and checked the warranty paper, but unfortunately it only has the signature of the president on it, and no other older bills. I looked again to see if I could make-out the outline of numbers or a name, but the exterior has been cleaned and buffed too many times. I've spoken with some previous owners and the farthest back I can trace it is to an auto lot in Medford, Oregon. Perhaps I can ask the Oregon DMV if they have any previous records. Attached are some photos let me know if anyone has ideas about how to proceed.
Hi Cam,
After looking at the photos you posted, I have my doubts that your 18' Traveler was on the 1959 African Caravan. Details like window placement clearly do not match the photos I have of either of the African Caravan Airstreams that I suspect of being 18'. I also suspect that both 18' Airstreams may have been built in the Ohio factory, while yours was clearly built in the California factory. To the trained eye, there are design differences between similar length/model/year Airstreams built at the two factories.

There were three participating Airstreams from the Oregon/Washington area on the African Caravan, but all are confirmed to be 22' or longer. That does not mean that an Airstream that was from another areas couldn't have migrated to Oregon during it's 50+ year life, but with the other details not matching the suspected 18-footers, I think the chances that your trailer is what it was claimed to be are slim (but not zero).

It is unfortunate that polishing has removed any evidence of original WBCCI numbers and possible original owner names that may have been painted on the front curbside corner. Without these details, we would require a pretty good paper trail to establish this as a participating Airstream. Clearly we'd want documents that tie the serial number to a confirmed African caravan participant name. Or maybe shipping documents that show the serial number. Something like that.

P.S. And I am beginning to believe that the facsimile Warranty certificate that was pasted inside the trailer was put there during build before the original purchaser name was known, so these details are not present. The real warranty certificate was mailed to the purchaser after the sale was completed and included the owners name.
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