Winnipeg companies keeping vintage campers on the road and out of landfills

The May long weekend has arrived and many will have their travel trailers in tow as part of their plans over the next few days. 

And some trailers hitting the road this weekend — and the rest of the summer — may have been through refurbishment and upcycling projects. 

“We’re really big on trying to keep anything possible out of the landfills, so anything that we can possibly reuse, rehome, recycle in any way we will,” Maegan Clerihew, co-owner of ReVolution Trailers told CBC Information Radio May 15. “To date we’ve kept just under 250,000 pounds out of our local landfills, it’s something we’re really proud of.” 

ReVolution Trailers gives new life to campers that are old and outdated, but still salvageable. They recycle and reuse as many components as possible from old trailers, which they use in upcycling projects or save for later use. 

“We’ll take ’em pretty much in any shape as long as you can get them here,” said Stu Pynoo, another co-owner of ReVolution Trailers. 

Their work is part of an effort to keep older campers out of landfills. In addition, they also help fill an ongoing demand for vintage trailers, which other business owners in the province are also experiencing.

“I think there is a feel that you get when you go inside of a vintage camper, that you just don’t get when … you’re in something that’s new,” said Chad Celaire, a co-owner of Bee2gether Excursions, a company that rents out 1970s-era fibreglass Boler campers. 

Celaire said while renting a camper can be a viable option, renovating an old one on your own can get pricey. He recalled how some of the Boler campers they have were originally “ready for the dump,” until thousands of dollars went into their refurbishment. 

“If you throw a new paint job on even a 13-foot Boler camper, it’s like $5,000-$10,000, it can be,” he said. “By the time you get your camper for [$10,000] and your paint job, you’re already [around] twenty-something thousand, so you could get a new camper for around that price.” 

However, Celaire was also quick to point out that it all comes down to the wants and needs of potential camper users. 

“So it all just depends on what your tastes are, on how much you’re gonna like it.” 

New axles, braking systems

Todd Picklyk is the owner of Roll With It Rentals. Picklyk said when the company’s vehicles depreciate, rather than selling them off, they’ll take them in to get refurbishments, which include getting new parts like axles and braking systems. 

He also feels that sometimes, newer isn’t always better. 

“I understand it. From a rental standpoint, everyone wants what’s newer, because they deem newer as better,” said Picklyk. “But there would be no difference from a 2016 and a 2026 if it’s been remodeled and refurbished.” 

Pynoo said the culture of campers is different than in the U.S. where people live in theirs full-time. And options continue to increase. 

“We’re trying to get people to understand there’s basically three avenues now basically to buy a travel trailer,” he said. “You can buy used — you don’t know what you’re getting, you don’t know what condition it is, you can buy new … prices have gone up dramatically, or you can buy a revolutionized RV.”