Science Alive! Episode 5: Fleet Cabin Car Trailer

Dave Schellenberg and Emily Gann with the Fleet CabinCar

What does an airplane manufacturer do when World War II ends? They have lost huge government contracts - but know that Canada is turning to thoughts of a more peaceful time. If you are Fleet - you have a plan to turn your airplane factories into camping trailer factories. In our current podcast and video at techno-science.ca - we check out the Fleet CabinCar made in 1947 - a low-priced, lightweight, roomy cabin trailer that looked amazing. It was a teardrop design - streamlined with room inside for two people to sleep - but not stand up - as well as storage space for clothing and everything else.

00:14

world war two ends companies that used

00:17

to make airplanes need a new project

00:19

how about camping trailers checking out

00:22

the fleet cabin car in this edition of

00:24

science a lot and I'm with Emily Gann

00:28

she's an assistant curator here at the

00:29

Museum hello Emily hi so what are we

00:31

standing in front of so we're in front

00:33

of here a 1947 fleet cabin car and

00:37

what's special about the fleet cabin car

00:40

well this one's special for a number of

00:42

reasons

00:43

so fleet used to manufacture aircraft

00:47

and after the war the Second World War

00:50

it bridged over into the civilian market

00:52

okay and started match manufacturing

00:55

trailers because the war ended nobody

00:57

needed their aircraft anymore yeah so

00:59

well I mean the demand for aircraft

01:02

wasn't as high fleet had a large staff

01:04

with lots of skill so it decided to

01:06

transfer that skill into making the

01:09

cabin car and when you look at it there

01:11

is kind of a aircraft look to it yeah

01:14

you can sort of envision this being

01:16

almost like a wing right and made of

01:18

wood yes so tear drops which is what

01:21

this trailer is designed to look like

01:23

right made use of sort of like the four

01:26

by eight piece of plywood was really

01:28

lightweight it was marketed as being

01:30

really roomy inside and then it sold for

01:34

a third of the price of comparable

01:35

trailers in the late 40s so you talked

01:37

about being roomy inside you still

01:39

couldn't stand up in it no and I think

01:41

someone like your height would probably

01:43

be really uncomfortable whereas someone

01:45

my height would you know sort of day at

01:46

the spa so I think you just find it cozy

01:50

yeah I mean yeah so it has room lots of

01:53

room for storage it was sort of

01:55

multi-purpose we've got ads showing

01:57

people sort of sitting up and reading or

01:59

knitting and then also to people laying

02:01

in the bed right so you you could sort

02:03

of live in the space and also sleep in

02:06

the space cool and how many of these did

02:08

they make so fleet thought that they

02:11

would have the market for about fifty

02:13

thousand of these and at one point they

02:15

were turning out about twenty a day Wow

02:17

yeah but the big bar that they hoped for

02:20

didn't have the financial backing to do

02:22

the buying that they had hoped for and

02:24

fleet had invested so much that they

02:27

sort of had to stop

02:27

action right away right now this one is

02:30

the four hundred and seventy-seventh we

02:31

have that on a cereal plate and the

02:34

donor who who gave this to the museum

02:36

actually wasn't able to find any that

02:38

were in this good of a condition Wow

02:40

yeah and made of wood outdoors a lot

02:43

yeah so there's that sort of conundrum

02:45

that something that's made of wood in

02:47

the rain or even on the roads isn't

02:50

going to really withstand that sort of

02:52

environment yeah

02:53

I read something that said it had to be

02:55

lacquered every year so that's a lot of

02:57

time and can be quite a family project

02:59

yeah so that was sort of one of the big

03:02

the big downfalls another was that in

03:03

the 1950s you saw this boom and big

03:06

trailers so a small teardrop trailer

03:08

really wasn't what people were looking

03:10

for

03:11

now the teardrop design is is it stuck

03:14

in the 40s and 50s are we ever gonna see

03:16

this again yeah luckily we're actually

03:18

seeing a resurgence of teardrops so

03:20

those same factors that made it really

03:22

marketable in the 40s that it was easy

03:24

to maintain lightweight that's what

03:27

people are looking for today in some of

03:28

their trailers absolutely Emily again is

03:30

this a curator here at the Museum thank

03:32

you for telling us about the flip car

03:33

thank you very much

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