Friday, 12 August 2016

Restoration vrs. Preservation when you have a unique trailer...

I have been on an interesting journey with my Golden Falcon since I got it. I have found out that a Golden Falcon Trailer is to Canada what the Shasta is in the USA. It was an iconic, Canadian trailer.  The luxury model in the tin can ranks. Not an airstream, but not a standard camper either.  They were  proudly "made in Canada" and there are very few intact and unchanged vintage models left. In addition as I have done research on my trailer, it is looking like I may have a "prototype" or very early model. 
I have learned all of this while trying to establish what antique or art dealers call the "providence" or history of my trailer. It started out with me having a mystery refrigerator brand that none of the other Glendale owner's had in their trailer, and which no one else had seen in a travel trailer. It's called an LEC Regis Bognor. I even tried Tim Heinz and the TCT crowd to try and find someone with the same fridge. No takers. 

So, after some research, I realized why no other North American trailers had this fridge... it was from England. Then, after more research, I found out that the family who started the Glendale Trailer company were from England. And after a bit more research I realized that there were a few differences between my trailer and the Golden Falcons others were working on... 

There were no running lights on the roof (everyone seems to have them but me and one or two other very early Golden Falcon's out there), and of course as mentioned I have the weird fridge. 

My assumption is that when they started the Golden Falcon line, (in 1961) at first they ordered the refrigerators from England from a company they were familiar with, and then once they took off, within a year or so all the Golden Falcon's have Dometic refrigerators. Or perhaps it was custom ordered with this type of fridge? 
They also started without running lights of the roof and added them later. So this helps me to date my trailer to be no earlier that 1961, when Golden Falcon was launched, and before 1963 when I see running lights and dometic refrigerators show up on them.  So it appears I have a somewhat unique early model Golden Falcon.  

So all that to say that I have started to feel a bit of responsibility to make my restoration correct, and honoring to the original model and the history of the company. I feel like I am preserving a piece of Canadian history. 
How does this translate to my restoration? 
I'm not 100% sure, but it is starting to effect all the decisions I am making on the restoration, and I would like it, that when people see my finished trailer, they feel like they have a good idea of what an original Glendale Golden Falcon looked like. 

So, I am having the original decals reproduced, and trying to keep the original look of the exterior. Although on this early model, thus far the original paint job is unknown, later ones had metallic gold sections on them, so I will be have to be creative on that one. 
One unique element on the trailer is the gold drip rail and counter trim used throughout. I may have to have some gold counter trim custom made, as I am missing one section of it. 

I am unable at this point to find any brochure showing original fabrics, so I am focusing on what design element were used around 1959-1961 when the trailer was likely designed. This will include wide tufted buttons on the gaucho and booth cushions, and I am going to stick with red fabric, to reflect being "proudly Canadian."

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  1. Reg Thorn, the founder of Glendale would be proud of your restoration project! I met Reg in 1986 when I was doing a college business project on Glendale. Reg came to Canada in 48 with his wife, baby son and best friend from Landover England to seek new opportunities for the Caravan industry that he had pioneered with the two different companies that he had operated between the early 30's to 1948. In 1950 he began Glendale Mobile Homes on the Glendale Curve in London Ontario. In 1961 he purchased the rights to the "Golden Falcon" name from Harry Mc Guiness who began his company here in Canada back in the 40's. Reg could see the potential of the Golden Falcon name to help double the number of his dealerships here in Canada. Originally he built mobile homes and then in the late 50's began making travel trailers know as the Glendette, which in French would mean mini Glendale. In 61 he quickly began making the Golden Falcon which was to be styled differently to the Glendette. The Golden Falcon brand took off and became the better seller of the two lines. There are still a number of them still in use here from the 60's. When Reg came over from England he brought his knowledge and contacts from the English Caravan Industry. This resulted in the English Fridge in your unit. Dometic came to North America from Sweden in the early 60's. Reg decided to partner with this new supplier as many other trailer mfg were doing the same. Also during the 60's legislation governing production of these units was just beginning which would have resulted in running lights on later 60 units being built compared to your introductory year model. Reg owned and operated Glendale between 1950 until he sold it to Morgan Firestone. Glendale during Reg's time became the largest producer of mobile homes and RV's in Canada with up to 10 different plants from coast to coast. He even started a factory in 69 located in the "Land Down Under" Australia. All the best on the Restoration of your Golden Falcon. Sadly, Glendale RV closed it's doors Jan 2010 due to the last economic downturn. Regards; Lou Hammill, a Glendale Enthusiast since 1977.

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  4. My husband and I bought a 1968 golden falcon last June and have done some restorations. My husband also worked for Glendale RV's when he was in high school, he helped install awnings.

  5. Love that history, Glendale 1978. Thanks.

  6. I just saw your comment now! Thank you so much for sharing this story to fill in the blanks on the history! I so appreciate it!