The tale begins in 1958 - when my grandfather, Chester Bridges, purchased this trailer new, best I can tell.
|Chester Bridges with his 1958 Ford, 1958 Rainbow,|
and a nice salmon on the Klamath River in Northern California
I'm piecing the story together, but I think he started out with a camper somewhere about 1951 with a new Ford Custom.
I have no idea what kind of teardrop/canned ham they are pulling, but my grandmother (LaVerna Bridges) is at the car and my aunt (Bertha Easdale)
|Brand new 1958 Ford Custom 300 and 1958 Rainbow|
At first I thought this was my dad's '54 Ford, but I don't think it is. I don't know who they would have been travelling with, but the '54 is pulling an older Rainbow.
|Notice through the window: the trunk of Grandpa's '58 Ford is open.|
Don't know who the gentleman on the right is.
|One of my favorites. Wonder if Grandpa ever thought he would be on display to the world in his skivvy's? |
I think this is camping at the Salton Sea. Back of the picture says "Wagner's March 1961"
Somewhere about 1962 my dad, Wilson Bridges, bought the Rainbow and Grandpa bought a Zenith along with a '62 Ford pickup. As I recall, the Zenith was larger and had a bathroom.
Dad pulled the Rainbow with a 1959 Ford Country Sedan. He worked at Douglas Aircraft, and the company had a trailer club called the Douglas Jetliners. I remember with fond memories many of the trailer club outings, monthly square dancing, and many of the good friends that Mom and Dad had. Here is a typical campout that I remember as a child.
|Dad's 1959 Ford Country Sedan|
I think this is at Success Lake in Central California.
|Don't know whose '56 Ford this is, but notice the hand-made Jetliners sign, and the sheet in the background.|
|Notice the Douglas Jetliners placard on the lower-right corner of the first trailer's front window. |
Dad had these same placards on the front and rear of the Rainbow. They are visible in some pictures.
And here's an enlargement of the picture above.
|Left to Right - Chester Bridges, Paul Bridges, Carol Bridges, LaVerna Bridges, Elsie Morris (Carol's mom)|
|From left to right - Paul Bridges, David Bridges, and Andy Bridges.|
I would be remiss if I didn't mention our next tow vehicle - I don't have a picture with the '71 Ford Country Sedan pulling the Rainbow, but Dad bought the '71 new and we hauled the Rainbow many times on vacation to the property he had bought in Southwest Utah about 30 miles east of Cedar City. The '71 was our first car with air conditioning - a huge relief when crossing the California/Nevada desert. But most of the time Dad wouldn't run the air because it hurt the gas mileage. So we continued to suffer in the heat and make the trip at night. That's my Dad!
|At left, the tail of the '64 Ford Country Sedan. My new 1978 Ford F-100, and|
the 1971 Ford Country Sedan
|Thanksgiving, 1978 with my '69 Bronco. |
My brother Andy is on the left and I don't remember who is standing in front of the Bronco.
|Here's my dad in typical fashion for how he spent his vacation in Utah. |
He always had projects to work on, but they could always wait until a better time..
Mom died in 1992 and Dad died in 2008. Both Mom and Dad have their ashes spread at the Canyon Overlook of Zion National Park, Utah, because the Utah property meant so much to both of them.
Us four siblings now co-own the property, and each summer when we all got together I had been looking at the Rainbow wondering if we would ever do anything with it. We had a few choices: 1) leave it there - it wasn't hurting anything; 2) Cut it up with a chain saw - how else would we get it out of there; or 3) Make the attempt to get it out. Finally, in the summer of 2014, I got up one day and decided to take on the challenge. The brush and manzanita had grown so much around the trailer that there wasn't a real easy way to get to it. Plus, 35 years of mountain rains and snows on the hillside had buried the wheels.
It was time to see if the '96 F-250 would do the job. I bought this truck a few years ago from the D&P Performance in Cedar City. We keep it in Las Vegas, fly from Northwest Arkansas, pick up the truck and head to the cabin.
My brother Dave and I worked for probably 3 hours to get the Rainbow unstuck. We hacked away at the manzanita and inched the trailer out. In the process I punctured the sidewall of a brand new rear tire on the truck.
It was very difficult to move with flat tires, and did a little damage to the awning channel on the starboard side of the Rainbow. But once we got it out, I was able to jack up the trailer and get both wheels off. A quick trip to Kanab on the 4th of July for a pair of new trailer tires and she rolled right out. The wheel bearing grease was still moist and packed full. Amazing.
We parked it on the road and kept it there for safe keeping until I could fly back out and haul the Rainbow back to Arkansas. August 2014 my oldest son Matthew and I flew out, hooked up the trailer, checked the lights (which all still worked), and hauled it back home.
|Page, Arizona, overlooking Lake Powell. Glen Canyon Dam is just to the left of the back of the trailer.|
When we got it home, I installed a power center for 110v and 12 volt protection, a new shore power cord, and an outside 110v outlet. I also rewired the main trailer lighting harness as that was pulled loose when we pulled it out of the Utah location. I then installed an Advent roof air conditioner to make summers more bearable in Arkansas.
|I patched three spots by riveting aluminum where the original had split. Both low front corners and|
one place in the back where it dragged through the brush pulling it out of its Utah resting place.
The roof air was a real point of dilemna for me. It's a pretty heavy unit at about 80 lbs., and the roof wasn't built to handle it. The original crank vent was broken and unrepairable. At first I built an aluminum frame out of 1" square tubing for the air unit to sit on. I sealed it to the trailer with 100% silicone. It would be leak-free when installed, but after towing it around for a few miles, the next rain it began leaking significantly. This happened twice before I finally removed all the aluminum channel, cleaned the roof of the excess silicone and residue, and put it right on top of the roof with the foam gasket and silicone. It hasn't leaked yet, even after towing the trailer around. I think in my previous design the roof was flexing but the aluminum channel was not. I'll keep you posted on how this setup seals, but I'm hopeful, having had several heavy rains with no water inside.
|I've seen a few Rainbow Trailer decals on the net, but not any that have "Edwards Mfg. Co." or "Sun Valley, Calif"|
|The front decal was "sand-blasted" by heavy rain and a little hail coming through New Mexico|
and Texas on the way home. There's a guy in town who says he can duplicate the decal for front and back.
Finally, it was time for its maiden voyage. Just before Thanksgiving, Tracy and I took a couple of days and hauled it to Devil's Den State Park in Winslow, Arkansas. It's only about 1 1/2 hours from home, so it was close enough to fix if we had any problems but far enough to be out of cell phone service and no internet connection. WE HAD A BLAST! It was so enjoyable we came back on Thanksgiving morning and kept asking each other when was the next time we could do this again! Planning on a couple of days over the Christmas break, a trip to Yellowstone in June 2015, and now we're talking about a 48-state trip in the little Rainbow at retirement. Hope the F-250 lasts that long (smile).
So there's the adventures of the '58 Rainbow so far. We'll keep you posted as we Ramble along.More to come....