Transportation

Vintage trailer enthusiasts gather at Casa De Fruta

Four days of seminars demonstrate techniques in painting, lighting and other repairs.
Soquel residents Toni and Gary Alldredge attended the restoration classes held at Casa De Fruta. Photo by Noe Magaña
Soquel residents Toni and Gary Alldredge attended the restoration classes held at Casa De Fruta. Photo by Noe Magaña
Tim Murray tries out his newly acquired $1 plane. Photo by Noe Magaña.
Tim Murray tries out his newly acquired $1 plane. Photo by Noe Magaña.

Vintage trailer enthusiasts gathered on March 5 at Casa De Fruta for a four-day bootcamp with over a dozen classes about best restoration practices. Experts taught attendees from around the country about painting, wood finishing, lighting and other repairs. 

“We’re the only one in the nation that does anything like this, so literally there are people from Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Colorado,” said Paul Lacitinola, founder of the Tow Boyz and Tow Girlz Vintage Camper Trailers club. “They come from all across the U.S. just for this one weekend a year.”

Lacitinola, who founded the club about 12 years ago, said the weekend is all about learning to restore vintage trailers. A follow-up festive trailer showcase, similar to a car show, will return to the area in June where attendees can check out the interiors of trailers, buy RVs and enjoy music and food. 

While Lacitinola began the restoration seminars in Lodi and Sacramento, he said he found a home for the gathering three years ago at the Casa De Fruta RV Orchard Resort. Lacitinola was looking for a large, locally owned campground that would allow him to rent out the whole place. With the Northern California Renaissance Faire taking place annually at Casa De Fruta, he knew it was the right size for his vintage trailer club.

“Until they kick us out we will never move it from here,” Lacitinola said. “It’s so ideal because of their facility.” 

Weather doesn’t impact the gathering much since seminars are held inside Casa de Fruta facilities. It was pouring there two years ago, but Lacitinola said that didn’t bother attendees. Without a drop of rain this year, enthusiasts enjoyed campfires and socializing before and after classes.

Though Soquel residents Toni and Gary Alldredge didn’t camp and didn’t bring one of their two vintage trailers, they did take time to meet fellow enthusiasts. 

“It’s a limited resource,” Gary said. “It’s hard to track down parts and knowledge on doing it so it’s good to have people who have done it come together and teach other people how to do it.”

The Vintage Camper Trailers club holds similar events in California as far north as Red Bluff and as far south as San Dimas. As much as the club has grown in recent years, Lacitinola said it began with an article he wrote for a hot rod magazine about 12 years ago. Shortly after it was published he was contacted by others who shared his camper restoration hobby.

“All of a sudden I thought, ‘I think I invented something. I think I’m onto something,’” he said. 

First-time attendee Tim Murray, 66, of Redding, said he got a lot of information from the classes, though there wasn’t a specific skill he wanted to improve. He drove into the Casa de Fruta RV campground in the 1978 GMC motorhome he’s owned for five years. Murray said he’s been into RVs for over 40 years.

“I just like RVing,” he said. “What if I improve my quality of RVing? That’s kind of where I’m going.”

Murray, who travels with his wife, said his favorite thing about RVing is that “you’re not home, but you sleep in your own bed.” 

 

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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.