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Silver Palaces Paperback – August 18, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Travel back in time and experience America's silver masters of the road with vintage trailer expert Douglas Keister as he explains the simple, historical beginning of the streamlined trailer, its evolution, and the state of vintage trailer collection and restoration today.

The genesis of the streamlined aluminum trailer lies with William Hawley Bowlus, inventor of the Bowlus Road Chief trailer in 1934. From there, it was a matter of sell-outs, buy-outs, folding in, and adapting features from one company to another. But while Bowlus may have invented the streamlined aluminum trailer, it was Wally Byam's Airstream that has become almost generic for a streamline trailer, just as Scotch for adhesive tape, Kleenex for facial tissues, and Windex for window cleaner.

If Airstream is the queen of travel trailers, then the Silver Streak is a sister, Spartan and Boles Aero were its cousins, and the Hunt and Thompson housecars were the mansions of the road. Photographs of all these and more-plus the vintage automobiles that pull them around the country today-will delight and entertain you.

Find out how the many challenges in making mobile spaces for living were addressed, how World War II affected trailer production and evolution, and how the RV and travel associations that sprang up around the country influenced the growth of this incredibly American obsession!

Includes a foreword on "Streamlining" by Arrol Gellner, syndicated columnist of Architext.

Douglas Keister has photographed twenty-two critically acclaimed books. He also writes and illustrates magazine articles and contributes photographs and essays to dozens of magazines, newspapers, books, calendars, posters and greeting cards worldwide. His most recent books include Classic Cottages, coauthored with Brian Coleman, and Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography. Others of his books include Ready to Roll, Red Tile Style, the Bungalow, and Victorian Glory. He lives in Chico, California, with his wife, Sandy Schweitzer.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith (August 18, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158685352X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586853525
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Larry Hill on September 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is essential for any fan of vintage campers. It has so much more than the story of Airstreams with coverage of many varities, both unique and common. Great photos on every page, with enough text to describe without a lot of needless details. Keister is on target with the vintage trailer hobby. If you are not a trailer collector, you might be after this book.
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Format: Paperback
This is truly an oustanding book with lovely photography and compact writing. The result is an interesting read with plenty of history coveyed in a complete and interesting way.
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Having owned different RV's over the years, it's fun to see what was out there and what is still chearished and functioning. It's always a tug at the heart strings to see some of the old ones go away.
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As the owner of a '54 Yellowstone camper, I was excited to find a book that marketed itself as being about all those other silver trailers that don't get all the attention that Airstreams do. Someone could and should do a book that provides in-depth coverage about all the aluminum beauties out there that doesn't devote 80 pages to Airstreams.

This book provided lots of beautiful photography and historical information. Don't get me wrong, we did end up enjoying it quite a bit, but not for the reasons I had initially hoped.
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Ok, I may be a bit biased because I've restored two vintage travel trailers, but Doug's books are great conversation pieces for the table. Friends and family members always are shocked when picking up one of his books to take a quick glance at all the incredible photo's he takes. If you actually get the time to sit down and read them, it's amazing all the great information he collects about the owners and the trailers illustrated.
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Since affordable housing is no longer available to the majority of Americans, I have begun looking for alternatives. Being a first generation American, I was surprised to learn at the end of the World Wars when American Service men returned home with pockets full of cash they too could not find any affordable housing. There was not enough housing for sale to begin with. In stepped house trailers and travel trailers to solve the problem. Per an older friend "mobile homes" as they are now known dotted the American landscape. I was surprised to learn this as even a kid growing up in the 1960s I did not see much in the way of mobile homes and travel trailers. It just goes to show how many of these "metal homes" have deteriorated over time and left dumped at travel trailer junk yards. Many rare jewels are still out there in some barn or deserted landscape waiting to be resurrected. This book provides pics of restored trailers. A great resource picture wise for authentic restoration.
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This book proved to be different than expected but I was not diappointed by any means. Photos and text by Mr. Keister are always top notch and the "subjects" are things of "trailer dreams". Great book for those getting "into" vintage trailers.
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I bought this book so I could learn the history of the silver trailers and discover their construction and contents. Lo and behold, there's an almost exact copy of our "new" vintage Silver Streak, giving us an opportunity to identify the contents of our trailer as original. What a treat! We will continue to refer to this book as we restore our trailer.
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