I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.
Only the most savvy RV owners know that Boles Aero travel trailers are vintage travel units worth owning. Being fortunate enough to find, let alone own one, especially a vintage model, is a highly unique and satisfying experience. I know, because I owned one and lived full time in it for a good number of years.
There is much to be said about some of the older recreational vehicles like the Boles that were manufactured at a time when RV travel was in its infancy. Back then, builders were innovative and did not cut corners when it came to creating quality, durable motor homes and campers.
I have owned several coaches over the years and can honestly say that my old girl was undoubtedly the most well built and structurally sound of all of them. To put it bluntly, she was a tank!
Most people have never heard of this brand, but after reading this article, you not only will know about it, you will wish you owned one! If you check out the Tin Can Tourists website, you will see just how popular they still are and that there is a large community of fans who still own them and take loving care of them as well as other makes of older RVs.
Boles Aero Travel Trailers Are Oldies But Goodies
If you love recreational vehicles, you probably have heard about these travel trailers, but have wondered why you have never seen one on the road. The reason is that they were so well built that their quality literally put their manufacturer out of business!
People kept them forever and saw no need to upgrade or replace them because there was nothing on the market that could match them!
Unless you had an accident with one of them, there was very little you could do to them which could create problems. Proof of this is that there people scattered around the US that still own. live and travel in them today.
Those in the know have fan clubs such as the one mentioned above, and some are even fortunate enough to own these beauties right now. To this day, I am sorry I ever sold the one I owned.
Some Boles Aero History
Don Boles, who was living in California back in the day, began manufacturing all aluminum, all riveted lightweight travel trailers shortly after the end of World War ll when he realized that there was a great deal of interest in such vehicles.
It is likely that he got his ideas for building an aluminum trailer from his training in the aircraft industry and also from another company, Airstream, which was founded in the 1920s and had many of the same attributes as the Boles. (See my article: "Are Airstream RVs As Good As They Say?" to learn more about them.) However, having owned both at one time or another, I feel that the Boles Aero was the better of the two.
Don named his new company Boles Aero and built his first unit in his garage.
Before long he was producing various sizes of these coaches, and people were coming from all over the United States to watch their personal units being manufactured at his factory.
His trailers were put on the market long before the pricing for RVs became expensive, but ironically, there is no brand on the market today that can match his for quality and durability.
If you want more detailed information about the history of these trailers, you can find it on the Tin Can Tourists website.
Boles Aeros Were No Frills Trailers
Boles Aeros did not have luxury amenities such as stand up bedrooms, slide rooms, fireplaces or washer/dryer combinations. Nonetheless, they were well designed, spacious and comfortable.
They had roof air conditioners furnaces, large bathroom/wardrobe combinations comfortable beds and plenty of storage. They were also easy to tow and easy on gas.
The exterior shell was made of thick aluminum that was held together with airplane rivets. It was also extremely easy to maintain.
The cabinetry was made of a solid base and covered with a material that seemed like Contac paper but was much sturdier. It looked like a shiny, dark wood but was easier to clean , and it never showed scratches.
I originally assumed that at some point it would tear, but it never did.
Inside a Boles Aero
Made For Long Term Living and Travel
Boles Aeros were built for long term living and travel.
Unlike today's RVs, nothing "shook loose" due to road vibration. These coaches were solid and well sealed, so no matter what the weather, the internal climate was easy to control. Although they had only minimum basement storage, there was more than enough inside to make up the difference.
In my particular model, the bathroom was located in the rear of the coach. It not only had a tub and shower combo, sink and toilet, it also housed a large wardrobe area. It actually was as large as many household bathrooms, and was extremely user friendly.
Internal and external care were easy, the biggest chore being to keep the exterior well waxed to protect the aluminum from oxidizing.
I owned and lived year round in one for several years and also traveled throughout the United States in It. There were few mechanical problems, and all were minor. My 35 foot fifth wheel was truly a pleasure to own.
Vintage Boles Aero Trailers Are Still On The Road Today
Old as they are, some of these vintage units are still on the road today. If you are ever fortunate enough to come across one, and can handle simplicity of design and minimum amenities, I advise you to buy it.
I have owned many sizes, styles and types of motor homes and campers in my life, but my Boles Aero Fifth Wheel holds a special place in my heart. It wasn't anything fancy, but it was solid and dependable. This unit did a great job for us, and I have never had one moment of regret about buying it.
Inside a Very Old Boles Aero Trailer
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: My dad has offered his '63(?) 32' Park model to my daughter. We were looking for the VIN#, and have yet to find it stamped anywhere. There are no plates or stickers visible that are stamped.
Answer: Contact the DMV to see if they still have the records on this unit. Also, ask your who he bought it from and if there is a title. No title can be a big problem.
Question: What is a fair price to pay for a 1973 Boles Aero Nonpareil 31’?
Answer: According to NADA.com, the average retail price is $2080 and low retail is $1725.
Question: I just got a 1977 Boles Aero 340 5th wheel camper. It's all original and everything is in working order. A light interior restoration may be in store for the future, but that considered, do you know what it might be worth?
Answer: Lucky you! These units are very hard to find, especially in such good condition. Values can vary but it likely would be worth less than $10,000, maybe even only five. Go to tincantourists.com and see if someone there can give you a more definitive answer.
Question: I’ve recently purchased a 1950 Boles-Aero 14ft unit, pretty much stripped down to the bare. Do you have any idea what it’s worth?
Answer: Contact tincantourists.com They specialize in vintage RVs and can give you a good idea of value, but I doubt it would be worth more than a few hundred dollars because it is so old and would need total updating, which would be very costly.
Question: I’m interested in buying a 1966 Boles Aero 28’ trailer. This one has been gutted and redone, but water and electric were capped and not used. It seems to be in good shape otherwise. However, I will redo some of the inside. What do you think about these, and do you have any idea about what they go for price wise?
Answer: I would find out why the water and electric were capped and not used. This could mean there were serious problems that might not have been repairable. Boles Aeros are great units, and are highly prized by vintage RV buyers. Prices, though, are relatively low. You can purchase one for only a few thousand dollars in many instances. You might want to contact Tin Can Tourists to see if someone can give you further information.
Question: Where can I find a rooftop air conditioner for my Boles Aero RV?
Answer: Contact tincantourists.com. Some of their members own Boles Aero RVs and should be able to help you with this issue.
Question: I am searching for the trim pieces at the base of my 59 Encinada and I have had no luck. Do you have any ideas on where to look?
Answer: You might also be able to find info on Tincantourists.com, which is a site for owners of vintage RVs. If that doesn't work, it's possible that a body shop might be able to help you out.
Question: I have seen some "RV restoration in process" photos and was surprised to see wood framing, at least on the roof. Did these trailers ever get aluminum framing in walls and ceiling? if so, what years were they produced this way?
Answer: This is a question you need to ask someone on the tin can tourists website as these are all folks who restore vintage RVs such as the Boles Aero. Since I don't do that sort of work, I can't honestly give you the answer you seek, but those guys will know: tincantourists.com.
Question: We just purchased a 1977 Boles Aero trailer and are having a hard time locating the fuse area for the 12V system (it's not under the sink). Any idea where to look?
Answer: Can't remember but it's got to be inside of the main cabin...possibly inside of one of the closets. It wouldn't be located anywhere near water, though. Sometimes these boxes are located in basement storage areas if a unit has one.
Question: My boyfriend and I are interested in buying a Boles Aero 1967 model 270. The goal is to live in it for an extended amount of time because we are on the road so frequently for work. The trailer physically looks great with all original interior and some new appliances. However I’m concerned about whether this RV can handle winter weather. Is this a 4 season trailer and, if not, are their modifications I can do to ensure this trailer can withstand the weather?
Answer: RV consumer group put out a book years ago that discusses which RVs are all weather. You can buy one from them by contacting them via their website. Also, contact Tincantourists.com as many there own these units and can advise you. What I do know is that the Boles Aero is one of the sturdiest coaches out there, but much would depend on the severity of the weather you're discussing. Would it do well in 30 degree weather? Yes, it will. However much colder temperatures than that would be questionable. Few RVs do well in really cold weather, but some modifications you can use insulated aluminum to cover interior windows and vents, ceramic heaters to add extra warmth and can also use the insulated aluminum to cover water pipes. You can protect the undercarriage by placing bales of hay around the exterior at the bottom, also. Having said all of this, personally I would not advise using any RV in extremely cold weather. It can be done, but it's tough on the unit. Make the suggested contacts to get more info.
© 2013 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on April 20, 2016:
Schimp12: If it has been gutted an needs roof repairs, given its age, probably it's not worth a whole lot as is. If you contact TinCanTourists.com you likely will find the info you need there. It is a website for vintage RV enthusiasts who do just what you are wanting to do. Good luck!
Schimp12 on April 20, 2016:
I've been looking for an old vintage camper to restore. I've never owned one and don't have a clue what their value would be. I have found a 1965 Boles Aero trailer camper that has been gutted, but has had some minor repairs to the roof. Would you have a clue what the value would be for this camper?
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on May 27, 2013:
paulsfreedom: If you go on Flickr and look for pix of Boles Aero trailers, you will find some people who are members of a group that likes these units. It is likely you can contact one of them and get some help finding the parts you need. You might also try Ebay motors. Good luck.
paulsfreedom on May 27, 2013:
I was being sarcastic its easier to do it right from the start ,i will carry li
ability insurance weather told to our not ,someone is offering me 9.000 for my fifth wheel but i can't replace it its in really good condition and i only paid 300.00 for it ,plus new tires ,do you know where i might get some parts for this trailer ,someone squatted in it ,when i stored it on my land and took a drawer ,and original futon ,,as far as getting my life straight im back into buying and selling ,trying to get back into classic car business ,beef jerky ,i have land in a few places their building a huge racetrack NASCAR in Quintana ca , life will always work out i am actually having a good time trying to start another business with nothing ,Have a good evening .
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on May 27, 2013:
paulsfreedom: Speaking as someone who has owned a number of businesses, I suggest you keep things legal. In the long run you will save yourself many problems that could be serious ones. There is a lot of injustice in the world, but don't let your concerns about that get in your way. You have to get your own life straightened out and move on. The past is gone, and it is now time for a fresh start. You sound like a smart guy, and if I am right about that, you'll work things out for the best.
paulsfreedom on May 27, 2013:
Thanks for the encouragement ,this time im getting cisco foods to distribute that's the biggest thing i learned going to jack links com is the biggest problem ,horse shows and Indian pow wows , the Indian shows their not reported to IRS,health dept thinking i should get a fake id then be an illegal get all the benefits im only 48 retired at 44 ,paid a fortune in taxes ,and i don't fit into any gov handout program expect food stamps , guess ill buy 200 dollars worth of top round to start my business ,then it will be a small business loan ,ill have to pay it back .lol I contract for FEMA during hurricanes as disaster housing inspector when i walked in on my last house in Texas ,hurricane gustoff in 2008 and had the 4th head of household sign the form to get paid ,was 7 yrs old and 8 people living in real nice gov apt bringing in 28 hundred a month and none of the parents spoke English ,i tried to deny them and the chicken scratch ,kids signature. got then 5,400 dollars ,they didn't own anything and had no damage ,just lost power ,BS I walked off the job ,i guess ill learn Spanish . I don't blame them ,
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on May 27, 2013:
paulsfreedom: I'm sorry that you lost your business, but you are correct. Americans seem only to want cheap or to overpay for cheap! The Boles was a real quality RV, and if you took care of it, it would last forever. Don't sell it because finding another like it will be difficult. The one thing I love about RV living is the flexibility. Yours gives you the opportunity to start up your business again...but if I may suggest a few things to you: try flea markets, state fairs and especially RV shows. Your Boles will be a big draw for you at the RV shows and will help you get back on your feet again. Please keep me up to date on your progress...I think you have the makings of real success here, so go for it!
paulsfreedom on May 26, 2013:
Hello loved your comment , im living in a 1979 boles 34ft nonparallel xl fifth wheel ,i love it its my 6th rv and the first rv or for that matter ,car , what ever i could make a little money on , i don't want to sell ,it is solid and very nice i just need to polish it find a couple of parts ,and show it off . the second reason im writing this ,i owned a beef jerky company called Papa Pauls BEEF JERKY ,i out sold every product in the little jerky stores and had the highest cost to make from start to finish ,Americans in general don't try quality just quantity ,i was only 1.50 higher then the processed crap , ,i sold to japan for more profit than i ever imagined ,but here out of business ,with the most taste and quality awards in the country ,done in 2004 ,but i think now im broke and jobless living in thousand trails rv parks ,i might start up again in my boles ,hit the outdoor shows .Thanks for reading i was reminded about my quality product and had to respond .Paul
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on January 28, 2013:
billybuc: Boles Aero is not the only business that happened to, but this doesn't happen often. You can still buy these rigs today, and if well maintained, they are totally usable. Check them out on the net!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2013:
To go out of business because the product you made was too good....that's kind of an ironic slap in the face now isn't it?
Thanks for the review; I'm filing it away with all of your other RV stuff for future reference. :)