- Sarah Tucker
The History of Teardrops: Kenskill Trailers
The origin of the Kenskill company goes back to 1946 in Burbank, California. Bill Kennedy made about 200 teardrop trailers by hand during the summers of 1946 and 1947. This modern teardrop trailer design is the footprint for man every modern teardrops manufactured today. These teardrop trailers were sold in from 1946 - 1948 and then the company closed doors. Jim Brunskill was the financial partner and went on to form a second company 'Kenskill Trailers’. It is interesting to note that 'KenSkill' is a combination of the names of these two men and while Jim Brunskill went on to be inducted into the RV Heritage Museum 'Hall of Fame’, Bill Kennedy became another forgotten footnote in the vintage history books.
Kenskill trailers were manufactured from 1946 to some time in the late 60's or early 70's. The company began manufacturing larger trailers along the way. The oldest model pictured is a 1948 nine foot model but they also made teardrop trailers for a few years. Some of the teardrops have been restored and are still being used. Going by restored models, the most popular teardrop (maybe the only model) was the Kenskill Kamper. According to some restoration professionals, Kenskills were among the best built of trailers from the Canned Ham era. Magazine ads from the mid 50's on do not include anything on teardrop trailers. In 1946, Kenskill made 18 trailers, by 1959 Kenskill celebrated 15,000 trailers.
Jim Brunskill was founder and president of the company and Jerry Weiss was Executive VP. Mr. Weiss also owned the River Queen Resort in Bullhead City AZ. In 1965, Kenskill was sold to Redman Industries. Brunskill & Weiss went on to form Executive Industries which made motorhomes.
Although not as famous at the trailer used by Lucy & Desi, there was a Kenskill featured in an early nuclear attack movie, Panic In The Year Zero, directed by and starring Ray Milland. It was initially released as “End Of The World” but is still available on Amazon as “Panic In The Year Zero.”
In the special JEEP issue of Cool Tears Magazine, we featured the epic generational story of the Shank family. The first paragraph read like this:
In 1949, after reading about the roadless Southwest in National Geographic magazine, my folks took their first trip to the area in a Buick convertible. After being endlessly stuck in the sandy dirt roads, they bought a used red 1946 CJ-2A Jeep in 1950. Since they needed more room for supplies on the extensive backcountry trips, they bought a 1947 Kenskill teardrop trailer in 1952.
Read the whole story here!
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