Camel Manufacturing, Inc.
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Founded in 1919 by World War I veteran B.A. Bower, Camel Manufacturing Company got its start producing civilian canvas tarps and truck covers made from surplus Army tents. During the time camping trailers were manufactured operations were centered out of Knoxville, TN. The company is still in operation to this date.
Camel Manufacturing Co.
329 S. Central
Knoxville, Tennessee 37902
The Camel Manufacturing Company was established as a proprietorship in 1923 and was incorporated under the laws of Tennessee in 1946. At the onset of World War II, Camel began the much needed production of military tents and vehicle covers for the U.S. Army. In 1949, it undertook what was to remain its primary activity through the early 1960's, the manufacture of tents and other canvas products for defense agencies of the United States Government. Although its main production consisted of larger canvas items, it also manufactured such diverse items as duffel bags, packs, and mattress covers.
Beginning in 1960, with the installation of Gene B. Laxer as president and general manager, Camel began a long-range growth program which included extensive entry into the commercial tentage and camping equipment market, which it had previously explored only peripherally. As early as 1963 Camel sold the Sportsman brand camping trailer. It was of the style tent-on-the-ground that was popular at the time. Most likely Camel had the trailer body/chasis built by a subcontractor much the same way the major retailers did. By 1963, commercial sales volume had increased significantly. This expansion consisted of enlargement of existing production facilities as well as rental and construction of new facilities. By this time Camel was already well known for its quality tents.
In early 1966 Camel Manufacturing came out with its first manufactured camping trailer, the Caravan. It was a well-made trailer, it's body was constructed of 20 ga. steel with steel channel for the frame. The all tent top canvas was made of 7.68 oz fabric and featured fiberglass screens and zippered storm flaps. The body was offered in maroon, blue, or sand finish and the tent was sand with orange trim. It retailed for $349 (or $2,282 in 2009 dollars). Camel trailers all featured eye-catching colorful canvas.
In 1967 Camel Manufacturing added the Oasis camper to its model lineup. The Oasis claimed the distinction as being America's first camper to feature 3 full-sized double beds. The travel cover was made of nylon and the tent top of woven heavy duty 12 oz. fabric. The third bed pulled out to the front and was unique in the fact that it could be converted into an outdoor table if desired. Camel also offered the Oasis with just two full-sized beds.
Building out its model lineup in 1968 Camel Manufacturing added a third camper, the Voyager. It was designed as the large economy camper and priced at $395 (or $2,400 in 2009 dollars). By now all of Camel's camping trailers had aluminum bodies. Leading the model line was the Oasis III priced at $645 (or $3,933 in 2009 dollars). Next was the Oasis II priced at $550. Rounding out the model lineup the Caravan was redesigned and now priced at $369.
For 1969 the Oasis III and II came with an all new molded CYCO-LAC (thermoplastic) top with spring loaded counter-balancing lifting arms. They were priced $695 and $645 and weighed 700 lbs and 600 lbs respectively. Next in line was the Dunes, the same camper as the '68 Voyager but renaned. The Dunes remained a tent top trailer but replaced the nylon cover with an aluminum lockable cover that opened up down the center. It was priced at $445. The Caravan featured this new aluminum cover as well and now was priced at $395.
While the major camping trailer manufacturers all experienced big change for 1970 Camel Manufacturing did not. No major changes were made to the trailers and the model lineup remained the same.
1971 did bring change as Camel Manufacturing introduced some new trailers to the model lineup and dropped others. Leading the lineup was the Oasis III and Oasis III Deluxe priced at $775 and $995 respectively (or $4,234 and $5,436 in 2009 dollars). Both the Oasis III and II were the same trailers as before but now the Deluxe models featured a built-in slide out kitchen. It could be used inside or out, or when the trailer was in closed travel position. The trailer's canopy covered the kitchen when on the outside. The Oasis II and Oasis II Deluxe were priced $695 and $925 respectively. The final three trailers in the model lineup were the Dunes III, Dunes II, and Campfire. The trailers were priced $595, $495 and $395 respectively. All were tent tops. The Dunes II was the same trailer as the Dunes but the Dunes III now offered a third bed like the Oasis models. The Campfire replaced the Caravan as the low-priced economy trailer.
For 1972 Camel Manufacturing dropped the Campfire and Dunes III model trailers. The Dunes II was changed to the Dunes becoming the economy model offered. No changes were made to the Oasis line of trailers.
At the time of this writing I have no brochures or advertising post 1975. It might be the case that Camel Manufacturing stopped making camping trailers and turned their focus back to tents and other new products.
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Website created by Joel Silvey, 2009