Cascadia Collaboratory: Canned Ham Anyone?

The search for the Cascadia Collaboratory has expanded beyond the Airstream to include the universe of vintage aluminum travel trailers. Those in the know fondly refer to this class as “canned hams.” This is one of the many bits of information I’ve picked up over the past week as I’ve culled through hundreds of online listings and exchanged dozens of emails in hopes of finding a trailer that meets all of our specs. But it turns out my best resource has been Sherrl Kite, who works directly below me on the first floor of CC2. Sherrl introduced me to communities like Sisters on the Fly, as well as commodities such as the Boles Aero, a trailer hitched to a compelling story.

In 1939, Don Boles trained in the tool and die trade under one of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs then went to work for Lockheed, where he learned all about airplane design and production. Boles built his first trailer to provide affordable housing for his wife and three children near an Oklahoma military base while he served overseas during WWII. After he was discharged, he and his family pulled the trailer to their permanent home in California. He quickly discovered there was a large post-war demand for travel trailers and set up shop. The Boles Company manufactured Aeros from 1946-1980.

Sherrl found us someone who’s reluctantly willing to part with one of her three towed treasures. She points out the assets of this ’55 Aero: its sturdy construction using aircraft quality aluminum, a new axle and new tires. I’m partial to the clean lines, the windows, and the generous square footage. If we decide this is the one, we just have to schedule a day trip to Olympia to pick it up.

Before: 1955 Boles Aero for sale and ready to tow.

Before: 1955 Boles Aero for sale and ready to tow.

After: A restored and polished 1950's Boles Aero.

After: A restored and polished 1950’s Boles Aero.

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