Before AirStream there was "exoskeleton" Bowlus Road Chief trailer

firsttruck

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Large travel trailer that is more aerodynamic than Airstream trailer !

Bowlus » The Story of Bowlus
The Bowlus history stretches back almost 90 years, with fascinating origins as the creation of designer, engineer and aircraft builder Hawley Bowlus. Best known for his role in building the famed aircraft Spirit of St. Louis and training many of the first glider pilots in the world, Bowlus was determined to design and build a lightweight travel trailer that could transport flight crews to remote takeoff locations. As Bowlus began working on the prototype for what was to become the first aluminum travel trailer in the world.
https://bowlus.com/the-story-of-bowlus-the-ultimate-rv-luxury-travel-trailer/

San Diego Air & Space Museum - International Air & Space Hall of Fame - William Hawley Bowlus
** page has great video on William Hawley Bowlus's accomplishments.
https://sandiegoairandspace.org/hall-of-fame/honoree/william-hawley-bowlus

William Hawley Bowlus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawley_Bowlus

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The $185,000 Bowlus Road Chief Endless Highways is the camper for hotel people
Retro style in a modern luxury package
By Tony Markovich
Jun 21st 2019
https://www.autoblog.com/2019/06/21/bowlus-road-chief-trailer-185000/

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After 80 Years, the Bowlus Trailer Rides Again
In the 1930s aeronautical engineer Hawley Bowlus created the first aluminum-skinned travel trailer. Now a retired couple have made it their mission to bring back these gleaming masterpieces. WSJ's Dan Neil takes a tour.
Sep 17, 2015
Wall Street Journal

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Ultramodern Bowlus Road Chief Trailer Tour (1930's Design)
Our quest to find unusual campers and mobile tiny houses continues when we met Cybill and Nils at the 2018 RTR, who have acquired this highly unique trailer that is based on classic designs from the 1930's, but with all modern amenities. We're thrilled that they invited us to take a tour and tell us all about their soon-to-be full-time home on wheels. More information about their adventures: theDistanceCalling.com
Jan 18, 2018
The Cruisin' Crew

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https://bowlus.com/endless-highways/


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firsttruck

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Looks at those. $$🤑🤑😨

Resale value of Bowlus might be much higher than Airstream and Bowlus owners claim build quality is much better.


Bowlus created a special edition for owners of Tesla Model X.
Maybe in the future there will be a Cybertyruck edition.


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How Does A Vintage Bowlus Compare To A New Bowlus?
How Does A Vintage Bowlus® Road Chief Compare To A New Bowlus® Endless Highways?
https://bowlus.com/blog/tips/how-does-a-vintage-bowlus-compare-to-a-new-bowlus-endless-highways/

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Today’s Bowlus enjoys the same collector status as the original Bowlus as both are considered the ultimate travel trailer. The last vintage Bowlus Road Chief (1930s) went for $187,000 at auction at Goodings in 2016. The Bowlus’ incredible aerodynamic shape is the prevalent feature that survives today since it is as important today as it was over 80 years ago. Aerodynamic and lightness means today’s electric vehicles like a Tesla X or Audi e-tron or the soon to be launched Rivan can tow a Bowlus with ease. Towing a Bowlus means you enjoy two to three times the range over a conventional travel trailer like an Airstream.

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RV Spotlight: 2017 Bowlus Road Chief for Sale on RVUSA
by Tori Petry | Oct 4, 2021
https://www.rvusa.com/blog/rv-spotlight-2017-bowlus-road-chief-for-sale-on-rvusa/

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This remarkable rig will be the envy of every RV park and campsite you visit and will put you among one of the most elite groups of RV ownership out there. You’re not only investing in a way for you and your family to adventure in comfort and style, but you’re purchasing a piece of RVing history. This rig is listed for $154,000 and is located in Placitas, New Mexico.

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Bowlus Road Chief
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f417/bowlus-road-chief-144169.html

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11-29-2015
#16
JDS

The 2014 Bowlus is 24' and my Airstream was 23', essentially the same. The Bowlus is narrower and less high than the AS.

The biggest difference between the two, and the main reason I love the Bowlus, is that it weighs 2,300 lbs dry and the AS tips the scale at about 4,800 lbs dry. The lighter weight of the Bowlus means that you don't need a w/d (weight distribution), anti-sway hitch. You just drop the coupler onto the hitch ball and off you go. Towing the Bowlus is a dream - I always felt I had my house behind me when towing our AS, and our 23' model wasn't even a wide body.

You can tow the Bowlus with just about any car out there. John Long uses a Saab convertible, hardly a burly tow vehicle. The stability of the Bowlus is wonderful. We've towed in 50mph winds with no effect and passing semis pose no issue at all.

On the inside the Bowlus is more compact than our AS but more efficiently laid out and more comfortable. It has a lounge area that is very comfortable. In contrast, we were never able to get comfortable in our AS's seats, and it lacked a lounge area. The Bowlus has a cassette toilet that is, in my opinion, preferable to the "stinky slinky" of the AS. The fresh water tank and the grey water tank capacity is less than the AS but we have been able to manage without difficulty. The refrigerator is smaller than the one in the AS but is vastly superior in terms of performance. The cook top also performs better than the one we had in the AS. It has a microwave but no oven. The shower is a "wet one" which is less desirable than the one in the AS. The Bowlus storage is less than that of a comparable AS.

The ALDI heating system is wonderful - quiet and efficient. It heats the water and the floors - having a heated floor is truly wonderful on a cold morning! The built-in AC system is quiet and very efficient.

The build quality of the Bowlus is truly amazing and is vastly superior to the AS. It has a fully boxed aluminum frame and the outer skin is 2024 T3 alloy, the same as in modern aircraft fuselages and much more robust than the aluminum of the AS. The attention to detail and the quality of the components is much better than an AS.

This just scratches the surface of the differences between the Bowlus and a comparable AS. If I had to give an overview I would say that the light weight of the Bowlus is the biggest differentiator. It's hard to appreciate what a difference the light weight makes until you've had a chance to tow one. I think it's also fair to say that most AS owners would think that the more compact size of the Bowlus would make it a non-starter but we've not found that to be a problem.

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11-29-2015
#18 ALUMINUMINUM NO HUMBLE OPINION
Bowlus impression Just last month, Ami and I were in Death Valley, so we cruised over to visit the Bowlusussesses in Henderson NV. We met the makers, John and Helena at their Bowlus facility. We toured and chatted for two hours. These folks are admirably dedicated to their product. The new Road Chief is respectful to the original design while employing state of the art material and mechanicals.

Airstream V Bowlus?? Hardly comparable, unless you think Ginsu to Masamune can be compared.

The Bowlus Road Chief isn't a fit for everyone. It is a camping trailer. If you consider it an expensive toy, then you have little knowledge of fabrication material or appreciation of fine workmanship, utilization of space, and design clarity. The Bowlus is certainly the best built trailer in the world. It has no frivolous, pseudo-luxury, no televisions or 200W sub-woofers, no granite counters, reclining chairs, automated awnings. It's lightweight, rugged, nimble, the finest materials (2024 T3, Leather, Maple, teak, Stainless...), and everything fits with Campagnolo quality. Inspecting a Bowlus, you can feel the love and care in the artisans' expert craftwork, that an Airstream is so totally void of. Jackson Center is incapable of manufacturing at this quality level.

The $110,000 Bowlus is 24 feet long. For the same price, you can buy six or seven more feet of wet, buckling floors, mis-rivets, stripped screws, sticky windows, white box appliances, cheap carpet or puckering vinyl, oil canning skins, Superficial Glamour, and membership in the exclusive Wally Byam “Airstream Community”... Just review the long, well documented list of complaints about Airstream quality on this forum. From the viewpoint of a fabricator, the Bowlus offers much more for the money. Bowlus Road Chief LLC operates with a very different ethic than Thor-stream. You won't need a “moisture meter”.

Please don't misunderstand this as Airstream bashing, it's absolutely factual that Bowlus far exceeds anything that Airstream can offer. I love my old Airstream anyway, The Bowlus to Ami's left is a new 2015. On her right is an eighty year-old original. The new Road Chief is way better than the old original.



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Test Report: Towing the Bowlus Road Chief
Thread starter jackbowers Start date Apr 12, 2016
https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/test-report-towing-the-bowlus-road-chief.68089/

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jackbowers
Oct 13, 2016 #16
The Bowlus folks created a special Lithium+ version (considerably more expensive) and allowed me to purchase the first one built as I think they are looking to get feedback on how it works with the Model X. Along with several other new features, the Lithium+ version features an upgraded electrical system with 3-4 kWh of 12V battery capacity and a 2 kW inverter that can run the Microwave and/or air conditioner off the 12V system. There's also an outside 120V outlet that can (in a pinch) slowly charge the Model X (driving on flat ground at low speed you could probably get about 7-8 miles of range out of the trailer's battery). The Model X also charges the Lithium+ pack through the 7-pin trailer port when the car is on. At about 2400 lbs, the weight of the Lithium+ version is only slightly more than the standard Bowlus.


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Bowlus Road Chief Cross Country Trip (towed with Tesla Model X 90D )
Thread starter idoco Start date Apr 7, 2018
https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/bowlus-road-chief-cross-country-trip.112611/

Thread starter idoco
I wish I had an X100D
Oh to have a 100D and 20% more range!

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idoco
Sep 11, 2018
#23
> DaveT said: @idoco Thanks for sharing your travels in your Bowlus Road Chief.
> I read through your blog and it was informative.
> Overall, how are you enjoying your Bowlus? Have you had any issues?

Glad you enjoyed it. We're loving the Tesla/Bowlus combination. It's perfect for us and the dogs. No issues on the cross country trip or two subsequent shorter trips. It seems to be built really well with a lot of attention to detail.

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The front vestibule is our mudroom. Makes it easier to clean off and dry the dogs. We also store shoes and wet stuff there. Gives us more room in the trailer.


bowlus-and-tesla-horizon-jpg.jpg



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Bowlus vs Airstream 2022 Comparison
By RV Pioneers
https://rvpioneers.com/rv-model-guides/bowlus-vs-airstream/


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Ogre

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Love the Bowlus…

… but I can afford a $60,000 Airstream. At $235k, I think I’d just buy a condo in Bend I can rent AirBNB and generate some revenue on.

These are the sort of trailer for people who want to live in them full time.

Though another way of looking at it. An inefficient box trailer might cost $1/ mile to pull down the highway. If this drops that cost to $0.50/ mile and cuts the number of forced stops in half, it only takes half a million miles to pay for itself….






Half a million miles. :oops:

(Ok maybe 250k since you will save a lot of time on charging)

I need to level up my retirement portfolio before this is a consideration.
 

Cybr on

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Love the Bowlus…

… but I can afford a $60,000 Airstream. At $235k, I think I’d just buy a condo in Bend I can rent AirBNB and generate some revenue on.

These are the sort of trailer for people who want to live in them full time.

Though another way of looking at it. An inefficient box trailer might cost $1/ mile to pull down the highway. If this drops that cost to $0.50/ mile and cuts the number of forced stops in half, it only takes half a million miles to pay for itself….






Half a million miles. :oops:

(Ok maybe 250k since you will save a lot of time on charging)

I need to level up my retirement portfolio before this is a consideration.
Love fishing there. Had a great time in Bend. I’m with you on this.
 
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firsttruck

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Love the Bowlus…

… but I can afford a $60,000 Airstream. At $235k, I think I’d just buy a condo in Bend I can rent AirBNB and generate some revenue on.

These are the sort of trailer for people who want to live in them full time.
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What length and model is a new Airstream that costs $60,000 for base model?
 

Ogre

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What length and model is a new Airstream that costs $60,000 for base model?
It’s the “Bambi”, a svelte 16’ trailer.

I know, not the same size as the Bowlus, but I don’t need a 27’ trailer. I need a trailer I can tow affordably.

But if you want a more apples to apples comparison, the 27’ airstream is still a full $110k less than the Bowlus.

But I wouldn’t buy that either unless I hit the TSLAottery.
 

ldjessee

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Yeah, putting the air back is a big deal for aerodynamic efficiency, so not shocking that the backend looks like a boat flipped over and being pulled backwards.

Think of the tear drop shape, it does not fall pointy end down, it falls with the tail behind it, shaped that way by the air.

 

 
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