Warner Auto Trailer (Prairie Schooner)

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A. P. Warner, founder of an instruments auto company, founded Warner Auto Trailer Company in March 1916. According to the May 11, 1916 issue of The Automobile the Warner Manufacturing Co. "incorporated with a capital stock of $10,000. At the head of the company is A. P. Warner. J. W. Menhall and A. B. Cadman of Beloit are associated with him". The company located in Beloit, Wisconsin leasing the J. Thomson's Sons Mfg. plant in the south part of the city. The company produced both commercial trailers and the well-known camp trailer, Prairie Schooner. The plant had a capacity of 100 trailers per day. The company was disolved as a Wisconsin firm in 1925.

The trailer fully equipped for camping weighed 750 lbs with a total capacity of 1,500 lbs. It's top speed was 50 mph with pneumatic tires or 15 mph with solid rubber tires. (One can see why solid rubber tires quickly disapeared). The trailer was of the typical tent style with its canvas sides hanging clear to the ground. When open the trailer was 7 1/2 feet by 14 feet. It came equipped with the typical features of the time, two beds with sagless springs, ice box, folding table and camp stove. The trailer could be used as a commercial trailer as well. With pneumatic tires the trailer sold for $200 or $175 with the solid rubber tires. That is equivilent to $3,800 and $3,300 respectively in 2007 dollars.

Authur Pratt Warner, as was his full name, was born in 1870. His family moved to Beloit, Wisconsin while he was still young. His passion was electricity and in 1891 he and a friend started the Wiley-Warner Electric Company for the Beloit area. Later he invented a devise for mearuring the turning speed of electric motors. He and his brother founded the Warner Instrument Company in 1904 in Beloit. He sold this company in 1912. He also took an interest in aviation. He was Glenn Curtiss' 3rd customer, buying his first airplane in 1909. In 1927 he launched the Warner Electric Brake Corporation capturing three-fourths of the entire house trailer market after the Depression. A. P. Warner sold his trailer company to Fruehauf Trailer Company in 1929. Fruehauf manufactured industrial trailers, tracing their beginning to 1914 and incorporating in 1918. By the time of his death in 1957 he had been awarded nearly 100 patents for his various inventions, and all with very little education.

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