The Bowlus Road Chief was the original riveted aluminum travel trailer, it was developed by Hawley Bowlus in 1934 and then famously emulated by Airstream two years later in 1936.
Hawley Bowlus And The Bowlus Road Chief
Bowlus was the Superintendent of Construction on Charles Lindbergh’s aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis. He was also a globally renowned glider designer and pilot before he ever turned his attention to travel trailers.
Hawley Bowlus noted the growing popularity of travel trailers in the late 1920s and 1930s, he realised he was uniquely placed to solve their single biggest drawback – weight. Many travel trailers had steel chassis and frames with heavy wooden bodies, as a result they severely taxed the relatively low horsepower cars of the era when towed.
Bowlus turned his experience in aircraft design and construction to the world of travel trailers. He developed a trailer that was essentially a state-of-the-art aircraft fuselage on wheels, with a semi-monocoque riveted aluminum body that was specifically designed to be as aerodynamic as possible.
The first Bowlus travel trailer weighed just 1,100 lbs, it was a revelation that would transform the fledgling industry and directly lead to the lightweight trailers we see today with designs developed with aerodynamics in mind.
Sadly Bowlus travel trailers wouldn’t survive the Great Depression, but Airstream did, and so the idea of riveted aluminum travel trailers lived on.
In more recent years Bowlus has been brought back into full production, with trailers that strictly adhere to Bowlus’ original vision, but with luxurious interiors that are fully appointed with modern amenities.
Bowlus Road Chief – The Endless Highways Model
The Endless Highways model of the Bowlus Road Chief is a new addition to the company’s model line, it features an aluminum frame and aircraft-riveted shell utilising a TIG-welded aluminum spaceframe with the 2024 T3 aluminum exterior skin.
In order to keep you powered-up off the grid, this trailer has 4kWh of lithium-iron-phosphate batteries fitted, enough to keep your devices and appliances running for up to a week without needing an outlet or a generator.
A 120-watt solar panel can be ordered an option, and the Endless Highways comes with a 10,000 BTU air-conditioner, a Bluetooth-monitorable power management system, and a 2,000 watt pure sine-wave inverter with the ability to boost 120 volt AC power from 15 to 30 amps.
To help keep you connected the trailer comes with a mobile router with an embedded 3G/4G modem and GPS providing you with a private WiFi network anywhere there is cell coverage, USB charging ports and charging stations are located under the dinette table which doubles as an office desk when needed.
The kitchenette has a 12 volt fridge/freezer, a microwave that can run on battery power, and a two-burner Italian cooktop is integrated into a stainless-steel countertop. The bathroom is an ensuite with insulated privacy doors, a stand-alone shower with an Italian marine shower head, the shower flooring and seating are teak, there’s a stainless-steel sink, a full-length mirror, a vanity with medicine cabinet, continuous hot water, and wardrobes.
Impressively the trailer has a hydronic heating system that provides in-floor heating, real-wood walls and ceilings with a height of 6’4″. The Endless Highways model weighs in at 4,000 lbs with a 200 lb hitch weight, it can carry 19 gallons of fresh water, and it has an exterior length of 25′ 9″ and a width of 6’7″.
If you’d like to read more or order your own you can click here to visit the website.
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