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Build a Vintage Canned Ham Trailer
16 Foot Vacation Camping Trailer

Photo and cutaway diagram of a vintage canned ham travel trailer as shown on the cover of DIY plans and instructions.
16 Foot Canned Ham Travel Trailer Plans
Build this Vintage 16 Foot Travel Camper Trailer
Get these vintage trailer plans PDF Format
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Get a restored copy of these vintage Canned Ham Trailer Plans with Enhanced and Enlarged Figures and Illustrations and Searchable Text.
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Photo of a completed sixteen foot canned ham vacation trailer.
You can cut down on vacation costs
by building this sixteen-foot trailer.
It sleeps four, has a sink, gas range and refrigerator.
By a. Hamel and H. Sibley
THIS "Canned Ham" trailer, designed and built by A. Hamel of the Honorbilt Trailer Co., Lakeview, Calif., has made exceptionally good use of space, sleeping four in a Pullman berth and a bed, with an additional take down cot above the rear bed. Equipment includes an apartment size butane gas range, combination ice-and-electric refrigerator, water storage tank and hand pump, water and electric utility connections, Formica sink top, clothes closet and three cabinets, with luggage space under the bed. Many identical units have been tested for thousands of miles over a long period, proving them easy to tow without sway.
 
Cutaway diagram of a vintage canned ham trailer showing the exterior ans interior layout and construction details.

With an aluminum-sheathed body on the channel steel chassis the center of gravity is kept low and a unique construction of the plywood and pine framing makes for light weight without sacrifice of strength. If you camp where utilities are not available light is provided from the butane supply and water pumped to the sink by hand. Hinged windows plus the large roof vent insure ample ventilation in addition to the screen inner door.
Sheet of detailed construction plans, notes and dimensions for a sixteen foot canned ham trailer chassis and floor assembly.
The three-inch channel steel chassis shown can be purchased from Zeman Mfg. Co., El Monte, Calif. It is fitted with Goodrich 6.70x15 tubeless tires and electric brakes, as well as an adjustable front wheel, making it very easy for one man to couple it to the towing car. The drop axle hung under the springs is 1 1/2x1 1/2 in. solid square-section. 
 

Photo of the steel chassis of a canned ham trailer showing spares, crossmembers amd wheel and tires.
TRAILER rests on an all-steel chassis. Tires are 6.70x15. Front wheel is adjustable.

Note the neat welding assembly, bringing the angle bar cross members flush with the channel frame. The front cross member is trussed with an angle bar. 
 
Photo of a complete sandwich construction canned ham travel trailer floor.
UNDERSIDE of the floor frame is shown above
with its covering of tar-treated Celotex.
The floor unit, which consists of a "sandwich" of 2x3 in. framing between tar-treated insulation board on the bottom and 1/4-in. plywood on top is bolted to the chassis.

It is mounted even with the forward cross member of the chassis and extends beyond the rear cross member. The drawings and cross section show how the wood frame is covered on the bottom with Celotex, on the top with plywood. This "sandwich" is then bolted to the chassis with eight 1/4-in. carriage bolts. The floor bolts and the bolts for the side walls are offset so as not to interfere with each other. Tile-type flooring is cemented to the plywood before the walls are installed. This, of course, need not cover space under bed or cabinets if you wish to economize on the material. 

The side walls are made of 3/16-in. birch plywood reinforced with laminated framing on the curved edges and solid members on the straight portions. Profile of the sides with radii of the curves is shown in the drawing. 
Sheet of plans and details showing the sidewall wood frame dimensions and construction details of a vintage canned ham camping trailer.
The profile is laid out on a flat surface with a rough wooden form of fixed blocks to hold the laminated and straight members in place until the plywood is nailed on.
Photo of the right side frame assembly and interior wall of a canned ham trailer.
FRAMING for the right side has openings
for the door, window and luggage compartments
The curved members consist of three pieces of 3/8 x1 5/8-in. pine or spruce which have been thoroughly soaked (or steamed) to soften the fibers, then nailed together after being bent in position.
Photo of the left side frame assembly and interior wall of a canned ham trailer.
LEFT SIDE framing. Most of the wiring
is installed here and is carried over the roof.
Lap joints are made where curved members meet a straight one. Right and left side walls are illustrated with studs and bracing, the studs being 2x2's where indicated.
 
Photo of temporary bracing for sidewalls while installing the wheel wells in a canned ham vacation trailer.
PHOTO shows installation of wheel housing.
Sides are temporarily braced with diagonals.
Glue is applied to all contacting surfaces. Window openings are dimensioned to receive stock sash and frames, which are better and more economical in the long run than homemade units. (Those in photos were made by Woodland Metal Products Co., Marshall, Mich.) Plywood is available in various widths and lengths up to 96 inches and is laid out for minimum
waste in cutting. Incidentally, window openings are not cut in the plywood until it is assembled with the framing. Note that the plywood will be on the inside of the framing when walls are mounted on the floor; the outside receives the aluminum skin.

Photo of the front side framing and interior skin of a canned ham trailer prior to installing the aluminum outer skin.
FRONT END framing is ready to receive
the Fiberglass insulation and aluminum skin.
Side walls are bolted and nailed to the floor as shown and temporarily braced. Next, the framing for the forward cabinet is installed, further reinforcing the structure. Wheel housings are nailed in place, followed by the sink cabinet, refrigerator, and closet units. End walls are now installed, beginning at the bottom and proceeding toward the roof. If you find that you are unable to bend the plywood to follow the contour of the frame, cut it to fit from one cross beam to the next.
Sheet of plans with dimensions showing the size and location of the door, interior cabinets and seating as well as insulation details for a canned ham trailer.
Our cutaway drawing shows the arrangement of the various furnishings. Pullman seats forward, stove and sink on left side, refrigerator and clothes closet on the right. The full-size bed is at the rear with the water tank and luggage space underneath. 
Table showing the Bill of Materials for a canned ham trailer.
There is a hooded electric light over the sink and another over the bed. On the forward cabinet is a gas light for use when utilities are not available. Gas is supplied to the stove from a Butane bottle through a tee with 3/8 and 1/4-in. copper tubing. Above the sink is an outlet for 110-V current for toaster or other equipment.

Note the handy shelf with curved plywood rim at the right of cabinet over the stove. The refrigerator compartment is tailored to fit a combination ice-and-electric unit (made by Marvel Refrigerator Co., Sturgis, Mich.). The framework for this, including the clothes closet and the sink unit on the opposite side of the trailer, is made of 3/4x3-in. pine, with sides of plywood.

Doors are 3/4-in. plywood rabbeted for a lip of 1/4- inch.Cabinet doors are 3/4-in. plywood rabbeted for an overlap of 1/4 in. and hung on offset hinges. The sink top is of 1/4-in. plywood with Formica cemented to it and bound with stainless steel molding. 
Photo of man building the clothes closet and refridgerator enclosure for a canned ham trailer.
THE REFRIDGERATOR and clothes closet
unit is built outside and installed when finished.
A generous size sink (Federal Enamel & Stamping Co., Pittsburgh, Pa.) sits in a 1/2-in. plywood board with Formica top (Pionite, Pioneer Plastics Co., Salem, Mass.) and is equipped with a hand pump which supplies water from the tank under the bed and with a tap for utility connection.
Photo show the construction of the sink support, drain and cabinets for a canned ham trailer.
FRAMEWORK for sink. Note the drain pipe at left which is carried up to the vent hole.
Directly over the stove is an enameled hood attached under the upper cabinet, having a vent into the side wall. The sink drain pipe is also vented into the side wall. Three drawers and a bread board are provided, as well as storage space under them and under the stove.
Photo showing the kitchen plumbing of a canned ham trailer.
COPPER tubes are installed to lead from the
water tank to the sink and outside connection.
The .032 ga. aluminum skin can be put on before completion of the inside cabinets. It is cut to convenient size to join over the front and rear cross beams for a 1-inch lap and is secured with binding head screws. The edges are first bent 1/2 inch in a brake and nailed to the curved sides. This portion will buckle in places somewhat but is flattened with a hammer, later to be covered with a rain gutter. On the roof the joints are crimped and calked with Kool Seal mastic, as are the edges of the roof vent, a stock item. 
Photo of a man installing the aluminum skin on the rear of a canned ham trailer.
INSTALLING skin at rear end.
Note Fiberglass is not yet cut from the rear window.
Sheets of aluminum siding are cut for the sides, here secured with round-head screw nails. However, flat sheets of aluminum as on both ends can also be used. Fiberglas insulation had of course been laid over the wood framing before the skin is finally installed.
Photo of a man installing the aluminum skin to the side of a canned ham trailer.
Round Head screw nails are used to attach the .032-gauge aluminum to both trailer sides.
The Pullman seats (by Newhouse Upholstery Co., El Monte, Calif.) rest on tapered beams. For night use two straight beams are set in the notches located at the front of the seat frame; the seats are then placed over these, making a comfortable bed, with space underneath for bedding stowage.A plastic shield protects the occupants of the Pullman seat from spattering off the stove, which is a compact, apartment size range with three burners and oven.
Photo of the interior of a canned ham trailer showing the fold down table and pullman-style seats of the sleeper and dinette.
FOLD AWAY table and Pullman seats.
Backs lay flat to form a roomy bed.
The main door is plywood on the inside, aluminum on the outside, over a wood frame and is hung on a full-length piano hinge, with the screen door on offset hinges assembled on the same piano hinge. A sliding panel in the screen door gives access to the main door handle when both doors are closed. Half-round molding goes over the joints of the interior paneling. A fine varnish finish is applied to all exposed wood parts if they are left natural.
Sheet of plans with dimensions detailing the construction of the outside door and offset screen door and aluminum skin on a canned ham trailer.


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