SierraNevadaAirstreams.org -|- History

Enjoyment of the whispering winds, the zephyrs, the airstreams of the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin areas of the United States in a recreational vehicle.

Recollections of WBCCI – Airstream factory

Dale (Pee Wee) Schwamborn

My Mother told me that the Airstream was first manufactured in Wally's garage on St. Andrew's Place. How many Airstreams he built there is unknown. Supposedly a neighbor, or passerby saw Wally working and went over and talked with him about the trailer and bought it. This is the story of another garage product making it big. I know the prints that I have for the Airlite or Torpedo, and the single Torpedo print are all marked 134 St. Andrews. Humble beginnings, ingenuity, stick-to-it-iveness, sweat, brains, and dreams...yes Wally had it all.

I found two interesting pictures at WBCCI. They were donated to the Club. I don't have the man's name at the time the pictures were taken he lived in Ontario, CA. The two pictures were taken in 1934. They represent the earliest pictures I have seen of an early Airstream production line.

Click on image for larger view


This picture shows a sidewall being put in place


This picture is appears to be the wood shop.


There are three interesting objects in this picture taken in the 1950's

The first is the trailer with the white roof. That is the plastic prototype, that my Mother and I used on the first Eastern Canadian Caravan in 1955. We towed it from the Los Angeles plant. The second point of interest is the yellow Suburban carryall. When my Mother and I left California we reached Holbrook, AZ and Wally's green Mercury broke down. We were stranded there several days until Tom (no last name) drove from Jackson Center to Arizona with the Suburban. Then my Mother used it as her tow vehicle on the 1955 Caravan.

The last point of interest was the semi-circular, cut-off Quonset hut next to the building. Wally used it for storage. It had a bathtub, a wash basin and possibly a toilet. It was my first introduction to sulphur water. Whoeee!