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Built by hand

Posted November 13, 2013 in Community Featured

Once you’ve seen it coming down the highway, you’re not likely to forget it.

A bright yellow classic car pulling a little wisp of a trailer, painted the same, sunny, yellow.

The question comes to mind, ‘Was that a Studebaker? And what was that tiny trailer it was pulling?’

Jim Rodamaker and daughter Katie with the teardrop camper he built by hand.

Jim Rodamaker and daughter Katie with the teardrop camper he built by hand.

Technically, the 1949 classic is indeed a Studebaker, but with so many hand-crafted features you may as well call it a “Rodamaker.”

Jim Rodamaker started with little more than a heap of scrap and transformed it into a shining classic his family uses often around town — and even around the country. As for that little wisp of a trailer, it is actually a hand-crafted, teardrop camper that sleeps a whole family.

“It can sleep me, my wife, the 7-year-old, and sometimes the granddaughter,” says Rodamaker. “It’s almost the size of a king size bed; six and half feet long and five and a half feet wide.”

That leaves the back of the Studebaker for Rodamaker’s 17-year-old son to sleep all by himself.

The family camps with the Studebaker and teardrop camper several times a month, and has even logged some long-distance family vacations with the comfortable combo.

“We’ve taken it on vacations to Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas,” Rodamaker recalls.

The rear section of the camper opens up to reveal a built-in cooler and wood countertop for food prep. There are compartments to hold a table-top stove, cooking utensils and canned food items. Up front, the “basement” of the trailer stows fishing poles, fold-up chairs, and an umbrella that forms an awning over the rear work area.

Rodamaker has about 35 years experience in body work and made the camper on his own time.

“It took me about three months to build, and I was working 40 hours a week for someone else when I did it,” he says.

But he did have a pretty tough taskmaster to keep track of work on the Studebaker. Each night a very young lady would come out to the garage and pose an important question:

“How’s my car coming, Dad?” came the question from now 7-year-old daughter Katie.

Both the car and camper turned out more beautiful than ever imagined and, in another 10 or 20 years, Mom and Dad just might let that sweet little girl drive ’em.

Contact Darren at 515-953-4822 ext. 304 or to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”

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