Friday, November 26, 2010

Semaphore Industries Caboose and Wayfarer Motor Homes--Research


For several years in the 1970s, I seemed to be unable to leave the world of wheels. I worked in the GM plant (Fisher Body, actually) that built all of the Firebirds and Camaros in the country (save for the 5 percent or so that were required to meet California emissions--those were built in California). After a months-long strike and massive layoffs, I ended up as a summer replacement at two Ford Motor Company transmission plants. Both jobs (plus an extremely brief return engagement with Fisher Body) were very intense learning experiences about what went into cars, and about the people who built them. (Yes, I have a book manuscript. It's fascinating, if I do say so.)

Next came a very short stint in the auto parts business. And then I took a job with Wayfarer Motor Homes, the Ashley Ward Manufacturing Company of Cincinnati. Ward was just starting up the motor home business, with an 18-footer on Dodge or Ford truck chassis. Soon after came a 25-footer. The company had previously manufactured Nimrod and Wayfarer folding camper trailers.

From there I went to Semaphore Industries, a travel trailer manufacturing company with a unique product: a 23-foot camper that looked like a classic red railroad caboose. If you ever saw one, you remember it. About 800 were made, nearly all red; at least one was a railroad yellow in color. The company also made a number without the interior appointments. These were used as mobile demonstration/display units by the Baldwin Piano Company (for organs) and others.

As a part of my research for some new projects, I am looking for information, photos and brochures of Wayfarer and Nimrod products, and especially Semaphore Industries' Caboose travel trailers. Leads appreciated. Please contact me at mynewbook over at America Online (the good old aol period com). Thank you.

Oh--almost forgot! At GM and Ford I did assembly jobs. (Ford was the more difficult employer.) I was an electrician for the Wayfarer and Semaphore plants, assembling, installing and testing the 12-volt automotive and 110-volt appliance, air conditioning and generator systems.

9 comments:

Mark said...

So... Three months. Are we done?

Mark said...

Yeah. Yeah, it looks like we're done.

Tia Oshields said...

You've had pretty neat jobs back at GM and Ford. Do you happen to have pictures of the models of the motor homes that you have mentioned? You know, those using the Ford or the GM truck chassis seem to be pretty interesting.

Michael A. Banks said...

Hello, Tia. This particular motor home (in the blog post) was built on a Dodge chassis. Both Ford and Dodge made their own at one time, fancy, streamlined jobs. Next opportunity in a post, I'll include photos.

Mark, not done yet. Just laid-up, wounded, for a while.
--Mike

Richard Testino said...

I am about to purchase a wafarer that looks identical to the one in the picture any idea how much it is worth. It only has 35000 mile and everything works on it.

Richard Testino said...

The guy said it is a 1973

Asim Alvi said...

I had never heard of anyone remodeling a camper trailers like this. It actually seems like a really good idea to me, especially if you are open to doing some things yourself.Campervan Hire Brisbane

James Palmer said...

just purchased semaphore caboose trailer.am looking for info/what are they worth?

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