Little Chuck-Wagon


kinda like family

I suppose that a ‘vehicle’ could become as much a part of a family as anything else.  What I know for sure is that for more than two decades this little trailer (our ‘Chuck-wagon’) has certainly supported my families growth and directions.

Our little 'Chuck-wagon'

The ‘Chuck-wagon’

Years back I wanted a small enclosed trailer to haul my son’s motorcycle around with, so a good friend (Larry Riddle) and I took a ride in search of such a thing.

An early lesson from my father was that when seeking for a vehicle from a dealer; always start in the rear of the used section and ‘work’ to the front of the lot.  Whether it be a lesson of common sense or humility the practice was his proven method of finding the best bargain around.  Dad had a much better record at it than I, but on that particular day and as sure as it could happen; pushed aside in the far rear of the first sales lot – we spotted a neglected and mildewed little relic of years past; a ‘trade-in.’

1974 Nationwide Rental trailer

1974 vintage Nationwide Rental trailer 1994

As we ‘worked’ to the newer stock towards the front of the lot a salesman approached – I inquired about a few of those shiny models, and then asked about the little relic in the rear of the lot.  He checked; and at $250 bucks the price was right.

It was a discarded Nationwide Rental Trailer (U-haul was once a competitor to Nationwide) and as bad as the trailer appeared – it was exactly what I needed.  The frame was solid and well-built ; from there whether anyone else saw the beauty or not, I saw ‘life’ under that thick coat of neglect. 0208trailer00.

As a teenager another lesson from Dad was how to ‘soap down’ the old equipment that he had traded for so that he could ‘shoot a coat of paint’ on it – to sell.  Dad did good with that kind of stuff too.  For me, picking up this ugly duckling was a ‘no-brainier.’ We aired the tires and pulled it home; followed by a drenching and soaking with a ‘box of tide;’ – a quick coat of the only paint around (deck gray) sealed the deal.


Dad called it a ‘suitcase-trailer,’ he pretty much had a name for everything (‘zip-stick’ little sports car, ‘whizzer’ weed-eater, and many others). It’s small @4′ x 7′ size left little room for anything large.  When pulled, the little trailer was hardly noticeable – the plus of having it; was that it removed the ‘clutter’ of ‘kids stuff’ within the family vehicle. Items were ‘packed’ as you left; and thrown-in for the return.

Over the years our little trailer supported my nomadic directions through numerous trips to Delaware, Florida, Colorado, and further.  It moved kids to college, went to races (Sebring, Daytona, Charlotte), hauled stuff to flea markets, and moved smelly ‘man-stuff’ to/from coastal fishing and paddlin trips.  Unused, it waited diligently through time and weather in a dry corner of our barn.

0911fla-4725FMHS 70

After a trip down the Mississippi river, I used wood from my scuttled vessel ‘Freebird‘ (our raft) to build a rack (and to protect the aging fiberglass roof from damage).

Having a ‘sharpie’ pen was another ‘habit’ which began on the Mississippi trip and carried over to the little Chuck-wagon. – gray is a great color to scribble on.




Anyone was welcome to write, or scribble their names on the chuck-wagon (even sharpie pens fade with time).  This simple freedom has been a fun thing for all; especially the grandkids – the images and notes are a good ‘memory-jog’ for now grandparents.


Inside the back door held notes of places past and a few names of those passed.

After retirement, the little trailer was the perfect paddle companion.  The extra space continued to reduce the clutter in my truck – with the added plus that if I found ‘stuff’ along the way; I could haul it home……. IMG_8268

I added taller tires to match my truck (in case a spare was needed out west), and other than that the only maintenance required was with keeping the axle bearings greased every couple of years.

Chuck-wagon at Gettysburg

Chuck-wagon at Gettysburg Bluegrass fest 2013

It never let me down.


Now for the reason of this post…..


Earlier in the year out of boredom I ‘googled’ something about Nationwide trailers and came upon a contest by the original manufacturer – Croft family trailers in Kansas City.  I forwarded some basic information about the trailer and then I forgot about it.

Months later, I receive this email..

Hello Tom,

Congratulations!!! You have the won the oldest enclosed trailer category in Croft’s Nationwide Oldest Croft Rental Trailer Contest…….part of the contest is that we would take possession of the winning trailer and deliver a new trailer to the winner…….If you would like to keep your trailer we would still like to ask you a few questions about the trailer and see more pictures you might have of the trailer before, during and after refurbishing…..If you do decide to trade the trailer then we would make arrangements to pick up the winning trailer……………



WOW!, I was completely surprised after totally forgetting about the event!  On top of that, the manufacturer offered a brand-new Croft trailer (they are awesome) for my beloved little ‘Chuck-wagon.’

– could I, would I, trade my little buddy????


Its a “Pearl”

– with a tad of reluctance, heck yes….

Thank-you Larry and Sandy Allen, plus Tim Oligmueller from Croft Trailers, you guys are great!….


The croft trailer continues to provide the best of support in this simple mans direction and with a sisters journey home

the trip link

1702-IMG_1252 .

thank you Croft family

2 thoughts on “Little Chuck-Wagon

  1. As always – I love your writing. It was wonderful you see mom, dad and your dad’s signitures. Were you able to keep that piece?

Comments are closed.