Vintage Camper Restoration: 1962 Streamline Duchess

Paula Lajoie just completed her second vintage camper restoration on a 54 year old Streamline Duchess and the result is amazing!

1962 Streamline Duchess Before the Vintage Camper Restoration

Restoring vintage campers is a great outlet for Paula’s creativity. She’s an avid DIYer and a passionate admirer of vintage campers.  For the last 17 years Paula has been making things beautiful and functional in homes and offices. Now, she does the same in vintage campers.

1962 Streamline During Restoration

From the moment she was introduced to the retro beauties she researched, networked, and visited as many vintage camper rallies and shows as she could.

Paula was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about her most recent vintage camper restoration, a 1962 Streamline Duchess. Her first restoration was a 1962 Streamline Duke so she is well-versed in all things Streamline.

Vintage Camper Restoration - 1962 Streamline Dutchess - vintage ad
Advertisement for a 22′ Streamline Duchess

What is the difference between a a Streamline and an Airstream? 

I am in love with Streamlines! They were built with a heavier duty frame, thicker aluminum, and the bread loaf top shape makes it feel much roomier than the Airstream of the same time period. Nothing against Airstream- they just have the name recognition and long history.

How long did this vintage camper restoration take? 

I have completed and sold a 1962 Streamline Duke (my first baby) and it took a full 9 months. My second, this 1962 Streamline Duchess took 9 months but with a very hot Arizona summer. I have two more in the works, a 1965 Streamline Duke and a 1966 Streamline Empress (all have their own Facebook pages).

What has been your favorite part of this vintage camper restoration?

First and foremost, I love the Streamline community. We have a Facebook group called Streamline Vintage Travel Trailers with over 900 members. Not all have Streamlines but many do. We have actually revived the original Streamline trailer organization by starting a Cyber Tribe Chapter of the Royal Rovers. It has been in existence since the early 1960s, but was down from 1700 members in the 1970s to only 41 this year. As a group, we made the push to do some recruiting and have added 33 new Streamlines and 50+ members since June. Why I say this is my favorite part is because, from day one of getting my first Duke, I found the group and asked, learned, found items, and now share my experience, almost daily.

My second favorite part is I am a very creative, visual person. Renovating and fixing these beautiful old pieces of history is hard work, takes a lot of time, skills and resourcefulness. I also adore Mid Century Modern and am able to express all of my talents in 200 square foot of space.

Design Inspiration for Vintage Camper Restoration

Just as a professional interior designer would do, Paula used a retro barkcloth pattern as the inspiration for the interior of her 1962 Streamline camper restoration.

Paula says she finds it really important to find something to be the inspiration for the entire trailer. It could be a piece of fabric, art, or your favorite old shirt. Whatever it is use it for the entire space.

“I used the colors, the mid century feeling, the lines, etc throughout the entire trailer.”

The pattern and colors are a perfect throwback to the late 1950’s and early 1960’s:

Paula used all the colors from the pattern. She painted the walls a light gray but broke it up with soft white stripes. Pink and metallic features are scattered throughout the camper’s interior to break up the space.

The inspiration barkcloth pattern used on the bedding:

What was your favorite product used during the vintage camper restoration?

Many, many but the one that gets the most attention is the Lavoe Dry-Flush Toilet. It’s waterless, it’s super cool, and not super expensive. You can find them at Home Depot.

Any important lessons learned that you’d like to share with others trying to complete a vintage camper restoration? 

As my friend who owns Tin Can Awnings says, it just takes TLC (Time, Love and Cash).

But truly, it’s a huge learning curve. I devour information. I belong to many, many Facebook pages and vintage trailer web sites. I go to rallies and shows and have built a great network of help, support, bragging, and marketing friends.

From my first Duke I learned to work on systems FIRST: safety, electric, plumbing, propane, air/heat, appliances, towing, tires, axle. Those are the most important things.

“After everything is functional, then it’s time to make it beautiful.”

And, it always takes twice as much time and money than you expect!

Why do you love vintage trailers?

Having worked on them for over 2 years now, I just love everything about them. They can be a big challenge but also they finish with a big reward. I do not make a ton of money on creating these. I make a little spending cash but I get to express my creativity daily and when they are done and adopted I get to watch the new owners love and treasure them from afar.

Why do you think vintage trailers have become so popular?

They have always been popular but, personally, I think the show Flippin RVs (Justin & Anna Schibner) and the whole Tiny House movement has shot the need to have one into overdrive.

You can see lots more photos and read more about Paula’s awesome restoration on her Facebook page here. 

A big thanks to Paula for sharing her gorgeous vintage camper restoration with us and giving us so many great tips and information.

And as always, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living!

5 thoughts on “Vintage Camper Restoration: 1962 Streamline Duchess”

  1. Hi! First, you did a great job on Your Camper, it looks great. I noticed you kept the original stove and (I think) refrigerator. Are they ran off propane? I am asking because I’m in the process of redoing a ’54 vintage trailer and the stove, oven, fridge, and hot water heater are ran off a gas that is a propane-butane mix (which I believe is dangerous) and I haven’t been able to find any info on converting them. I really want to keep the visible ones to keep the vintage look .

    1. Hi DeAnna,

      I’m not the owner of this lovely camper but I do have an opinion on propane/LP. Keep it! I don’t know anything about that mixture, I ‘ve always used regular ole propane tanks on my 1965 Airstream’s original utilities. Propane is a lot safer than most realize and has been used on campers while being pulled for decades. It’s also more convenient than electrical in my opinion since I can keep my food cold in transport. (I hope I understood your comment correctly).

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. love the pictures and info.. I have a ’72 Streamline Duke. I am currently stripping it out to repair damaged sub floor and rotten bathroom. My metal ceiling and wall panels look like they have an applied textured sheet/coating. Its seems to be lifting thru out with age and moisture build up. Is this restorable or is there a way to remove it all and just have bare or paintable metal finish ? thanks for any help you can give me.

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