I Bought a 100 Year Old Army Trailer Today

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Black Ops

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Evil Dr. Porkchop and I went and bought this trailer today. As far as we can tell it seems to be made by the Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company and may be from the WWI era.

From the Utility Trailer website:

"When WWI broke out, Utility built 100 patented cable-reel trailers for the U.S. government. That trailer allowed one man to pick up and move a huge spool of heavy wire. The only power required was for a man to pull down the tongue of the trailer and push lightly."

"Before the celebrated glitz and glamor of the Roaring 20s, a post-WWI recession affected many businesses including Utility. Ever resourceful, the Bennett brothers bought Utility’s 100 cable-reel trailers back from the U.S. government and sold them for a profit. The company quickly rebounded."
 

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Trailboss

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Don't see many things made today with rivets rather than welding. Seems to have held up very well.
 

Evil Dr. Porkchop

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So a quick search of that newspaper archive site showed ads based upon the one in the original post started showing up in California newspapers around October of 1921. Prices were $275 then eventually $200.

It looks like an earlier ad with a different picture showed up in a Davenport, Iowa paper in the summer of 1921. I can only see a preview of the ad so I’m not sure the details. Maybe there were more built, unless the company bought them there then shipped them to CA.

So it’s definitely 100 years old. Some more pics after a wash:
 

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Robo McDuff

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Now there is an easy restore project for a sunny afternoon. Good wash and more or less ready it seems.

Are you thinking about contacting the WWI museum or any other WWI history museum or organization to get some info on use during the war?
 

m715mike

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A couple of thoughts came to my mind.

First is wow! Simply wow!

Second is (according to an inflation calculator on the internet) if you bought something for $200 in 1920 then it’s worth $2,581.15 in 2020. I hope you got a deal on that trailer. (y)

Lastly... I don’t feel as bad about the date codes on the tires on my truck now!
 

Evil Dr. Porkchop

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Now there is an easy restore project for a sunny afternoon. Good wash and more or less ready it seems.

Are you thinking about contacting the WWI museum or any other WWI history museum or organization to get some info on use during the war?
I might have to check with organizations like that to find put more about it. I don’t think they were actually used in the war, I suspect they were ordered because of the war and never used (probably too late to need them) Based on newspaper ads there were some big surplus auctions in the US around 1921, with lots of trailers and such being sold off.

I’ve sent an email to Utility trying to get ahold of someone that deals with company history but I won’t be surprised if I don’t hear back.
I figure since it’s the same family running it as 100 years ago that someone there would be interested in seeing one of their earliest trailers. Who knows though.
 

Evil Dr. Porkchop

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A couple of thoughts came to my mind.

First is wow! Simply wow!

Second is (according to an inflation calculator on the internet) if you bought something for $200 in 1920 then it’s worth $2,581.15 in 2020. I hope you got a deal on that trailer. (y)

Lastly... I don’t feel as bad about the date codes on the tires on my truck now!
The trailer was a really good deal, and right in town too. The seller even delivered it for free since we didn’t haggle. The tires do look pretty good for 100 years old! I really think that after checking the hubs this could still be used in a farm or similar application as it sits (of course it won’t be though).
 

Robo McDuff

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I like how they start with the time frame context before talking about utility. For showing some history, not a bad video at all.
 
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