Renovating a 1975 Boler travel trailer Part 3 – Time to call in the professionals

By Erin Wainwright on January 28, 2020 in Boler, Camping

Hello again! I’m very happy to you’re here and ready to learn more about the amazing, some call magical, transformation of my Boler. If you have missed the earlier parts of this story feel free to catch up by reading Part 1 and Part 2.

When we last left off, I had stripped the Boler of everything that was rotten, grimy, or broken. The problem was that there were parts of it I couldn’t see and they were pretty important parts. Like the frame.

Bolers have a simple A-frame with the fibreglass body bolted to it. If the frame cracks or is rusted right through it could break and that would mean some very serious damage to the Boler as well as the tow vehicle. Not to mention the driver and passengers. So we decided it would be a good idea to get it inspected.

I asked for opinions on the vintage trailer forums for a good place to bring the Boler and many people recommended Rock Alta Trailers. It’s owned by a wonderful couple who have been repairing trailers for years. In fact, Kevin’s dad ran the business before he took it over. It is on the absolute other side of Calgary from where we live, but after speaking to Kevin on the phone I was convinced that this was where we should take the Boler. This was in December, it wasn’t too snowy yet and we wanted to get the Boler in before the roads got icy.

We called James in for some help; remember, we hadn’t yet pulled the Boler with our vehicle. We were pretty nervous. We weren’t even sure how to hook it up! James came and showed us the ropes and off we went for our very first time!

It was terrifying.

We didn’t know if something was going to break off at any second. The worst part was as we were stopped at a light a guy in a truck pulled up beside us and yelled out “If you take that on the highway you’re gonna have problems!”. Not very helpful. We asked him what he meant by “problems” and he answered back “your wheels are going to fall off!” and then he drove away. Yep. Terrifying.

Despite all that we drove slowly and carefully and made it to Kevin’s place with all our wheels intact (take that super unhelpful dude!) and left it there to get the axel, wheel bearings, and frame inspected and replaced or fixed if need be.

It turned out the frame was in great shape! There were a few Bolers made with a weak point in the frame but not ours! Ours was solid (knock on wood). The wheel bearings needed to be replaced but everything else was pretty good.

During the time the Boler was at Kevin’s I was looking into where we could take it to get the fibreglass repaired. The large cracks in the back (and a few more small ones on the rest of the body) needed to be fixed up before we could use it and to be honest, I didn’t want to mess them up by trying to fix them myself. The biggest crack had started folding in on itself and was changing the shape of the body. That was going to require tools and equipment I didn’t have.

It wasn’t easy finding someone who was willing to work on it. But luckily there was a company called FIB-R-F/X in Airdrie (a small town north of Calgary) who had worked on Bolers previously and was more than happy to do it. In fact, Dieter, the very nice man who we met there, told us he already has another Boler that was missing its door and if we let him use our door as a mold he would repair all the small cracks for free and only charge us for the two large ones. Sounded good to us! We made plans to pick up the Boler from Kevin’s and drop it off at Dieter’s to avoid putting it back in the garage.

When we went out to pick up the Boler it started to blizzard. No joke, it was snowing like crazy. We got to Kevin’s and hooked up the Boler but as we were driving down his very long driveway Jonathan remembered that we hadn’t done a light check (rookie mistake). James and I had made sure the electrical was working properly before we had dropped it off but something must have been knocked loose (the wiring was very old, I was planning on replacing it myself when we got it back from Dieter) and the lights weren’t working. At this point it was snowing very heavily and visibility wasn’t great. Pulling the Boler without lights would be dangerous (not to mention illegal) under normal circumstances but in this snow no one would see us until it was too late. There was no room on the driveway so we pulled out onto the road and as soon as we could we turned around and went straight back to Kevin’s. He tried to get the lights working but there was a connection broken that he just couldn’t figure out at the time, so we asked him if he could replace all of the electrical, he said sure and we called Dieter and let him know what happened. Off we went home a little disappointed but mostly relieved.

Fast forward to the end of March. Kevin finished the electrical system and boy am I glad we let him do it! He replaced all the old wiring, put in new LEDs and set it up for us to hook up a 12 volt battery to power the lights and the fan I had installed.

Jon and I had a lovely drive to Dieter’s. No one yelling at us that our wheels were going to fall off, no blizzards, the lights were working… really, what more can you ask for?

Dieter unfortunately was down a man and he didn’t think he would be finished until July. We were ok with that and figured the long wait would be worth it.

It was! Here’s the Boler when we got it back at the end of June (a little early!):

It doesn’t look like much but all the parts that are yellow are where he did fibreglass work. It was amazing! We also purchased a new tongue jack with a wheel from Dieter.

Because of this wheel, Jonathan and I could now easily push the Boler! We have done this so many times to get it into campsites. Bolers really are a wonder.

This seems like a good place to stop for today. Come by next week for Part 4: What I did while the Boler was away.