I had a preliminary background investigation performed by Kentron
Intellect Research surrounding my 1995 Family-Wagon Dodge RAM B250
Conversion Van [ as advertised on Craig's List, at:
built by TRAVCO ( or, 'not' ), and here are those findings ( further
I hope this information may assist us as-to which motor vehicles are
originating from whom or otherwise.
Important, at-least, we know - somewhere along the line - especially
in the case of a TRAVCO vehicle wherever that solace may rest or
confusion continue for some ( of whom I may likely be just one ).
- -SUBJECT: "TRAVCO" INTERALIA "FAMILY-WAGON" CONVERSION VAN MODEL
CUSTOMIZERS OF AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURERS IN THE UNITED STATES
( ONLY ).
BY: Kentron Intellect Research (Washington, D.C. )
DOR: 08 MAY 2016
PRELIMINARY RESEARCH REPORT -
In 1958, Recreational Vehicle (“RV”) industry pioneer Raymond Frank
began "FRANK MOTOR HOME CORP." when 'motorhomes' were still called
Raymond Frank also founded "FRANK INDUSTRIES INC."
In 1965, the company went bankrupt after an I.R.S. tax legal case dispute.
At the urging of 'CHRYSLER MOTORS', "FRANK INDUSTRIES INC." was
acquired by Detroit businessman Peter R. Fink and Kenneth Robertson
whom renamed 'their portions of business holdings' as "TRAVCO
INDUSTRIES INC." Hence, and from which, the "TravCo" brand-name was
In 1979, although having some success (early TravCo vehicles now
revered by vintage 'RV' aficionados’) TravCo only 'ceased production'
in 1979, and then was sold to "ForeTravel Inc." (Messrs. C.M Fore &
In 1967, the 'high-end Foretravel motorhome', built on a proprietary
chassis ( in Nacogdoches, Texas ) was started after C.M. Fore and son
Ray assembled a 21-foot home-built coach on a Dodge chassis for a
class project, which developed into the "ForeTravel" ( an early
diesel ( utilizing a monocoque design ) built a small company with
a sterling 'manufacturing quality' reputation.
In 1963, the first two ( 2 ) investor ‘purchasers were 'Peter R. Fink'
& 'Kenneth Robertson' whom coined the name "TraveCo" when beginning
"TRAVCO INDUSTRIES INC."
In 1995, Raymond Frank’s son Ronald Frank sold his 'controlling
interest' in only "Frank Industries Inc." ( doing business as )
'Xplorer' motorhomes to the next two ( 2 ) investor-purchasers Joe
Murray ( the national sales manager of Frank Industries Inc. at that
time ) and 'David Bockstanz' whom both bought TravCo "RV body molds"
and "patent rights" ( including the "Family-Wagon" brand-name patented
trademark - See Further Below ), and later opened up "TRAVCO
CORPORATION." Both men, since the early 1990's then owned and operated
a full-time CHRYSLER and RV dealership.
Mysteries Never Stopped
It is unclear 'who specifically bought and/or controlled all the
patent and trademark rights' from whom or whether those rights were
'sub-leased' to CHRYSLER CORPORATION "approved" 'customized
Too, there are no public records as to any other portions of
divestiture for "tool and dies" or "blueprint designs" or "parts" so,
the status of such may have been made as part or parcel to a variety
of 'mergers and acquisitions' ( M&As ), 'contractual leases',
'legitimate mass exchanges' ( with OEMs ), and/or other non-public
disclosure 'outright purchases' or 'portions thereof'.
A short time thereafter "TRAVECO CORPORATION" also began "PRF INDUSTRIES INC."
David Bockstanz ( a Michigan CHRYSLER dealer ), however, sold "TRAVCO
CORPORATION" to "STARTRACK TECHNOLOGIES" ( also known as ) "STARTRACK
CUSTOM VEHICLES," a custom builder ( Elkhart, Indiana ).
In 2004, Fore Travel "Xplorer" motorhomes were then sold to 'Robert
Helvie' who continued basing the operation in Elkhart, Indiana.
The Fores Family eventually sold out in "2005" to another 'investor group'.
The high-end "Fore Travel" motorhome name "Xplorer," however, lives on
with its operation' having been moved to 'Goshen, Indiana' where it
exists today; extending the Frank legacy into the 21st century.
'Xplorer' models were also 'small garage able' ( "low-top" ) motorhomes
based on 'Dodge vans'.
Some Xplorer roofs and back walls were removed and extended with
Some of these Xplorer models had dropped floor areas (with the domed
roof) creating 6-feet or more of standing room.
Xplorer then began producing the "Xcursion," a 'camper van' based on
the imported Mercedes Benz "Sprinter" model commercial van.
Xplorer then began producing even larger "Xtreme" models, a
chassis-mount 'mini-motorhome' onto a 'Dodge' or Ford 'cut-away
chassis' ( inside their 42,000 square-foot factory in Brown City,
In 1994 and 1995, DODGE was selling Conversion Vans, both 'low-top',
'high-top' and "Kary Van" ( tour bus-like, ambulance-like 'vertically
extended / heightened doors' too ) as "Conversion Vans."
Dodge brochures displayed at DODGE 'dealerships' ensured that dealers
followed the policies ( whereas 'some did not'! ) of the CHRYSLER
CORPORATION that only 'CHRYSLER-approved' 'builders' supplied DODGE
[ NOTE: See, e.g. "Research References" ( at bottom ) for more. ]
It is understood that because CHRYSLER had a variety of "approved
builder’s," the 'version' carrying the patented trademark name
"Family-Wagon" (emphasis on the 'hyphen' therein ) came from Joe
Murray & David Bockstanz whom bought all "TravCo" 'patent rights' that
were eventually sold to "STARTRACK TECHNOLOGIES" ( also known as )
"STARTRACK CUSTOM VEHICLES," a custom builder ( Elkhart, Indiana ),
and Bob Helvie who based it in Elkhart, Indiana too.
Those 'original' "TRAVCO" 'patent' and 'trademark' rights sold,
included their 'uniquely scripted logo name' "Family-Wagon"
originating from the "COMPACT EQUIPMENT COMPANY" [ CONTACT: Dave
McNamara ( General Manager ), 5257 North Vincent Ave. & 1030 West
On May 4, 1966 the U.S. federal Patent and Trademark Office trademark
registration was filed for "FAMILY-WAGON" was filed on behalf of the
"COMPACT EQUIPMENT COMPANY" ( Irwindale, California, USA 91706 ) that
held the "FAMILY-WAGON" trademark serial number, of: 72244935.
Interestingly, the road of "Family-Wagon" leads all the way back to
all U.S. automobile headquarters where the 'patent attorney' (
"correspondent" ) was found listed for "FAMILY-WAGON" was HARNESS,
DICKEY & PIERCE ( P. O. Box 828, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48013 ).
Although the "FAMILY-WAGON" trademark is filed in the 'category' of
Non-Metallic Building Material Products, the description provided to
the USPTO for "FAMILY-WAGON'" was:
"Station Wagon Type Motor Vehicles 'Equipped with Living Accommodations'."
The exact same 'patented logo' image was manufactured onto the
chrome-plated 'placards' mounted in three ( 3 ) different areas on the
outside of only 'some' DODGE 'Conversion Vans'.
This patented and trademark logo expired on: October 24, 2008.
Almost following in the footsteps of the FRANK INDUSTRIES INC.,
COMPACT CONVERSION EQUIPMENT ( "FAMILY-WAGON" ) encountered an IRS
case. However, as-to"corporate fraud."
From 1989 through 1999, COMPACT CONVERSION EQUIPMENT ( also known as )
"COMPACT CONVERSION EQUIPMENT" 'owner' was Rand Weinberg ( Fair Oaks,
California ) who also now ( May 2016 ) claims his company was the
"Manufacturer of 'Family-Wagon' & Contempo Van Conversions."
This latter case indicated 'hiding corporate expenditures' ( on
'personal credit cards' ) giving the appearance of federal civil
violations of 'understating their income' with corporate fraud
ramifications interalia by means of actual criminal 'money-laundering'
where 'personal kickbacks' likely came through other CHRYSLER or
CHEVROLET channels 'secretly paying to have these conversion vans
Such could give 'stock share holders' only the 'appearance of profitability'.
Wonder if the U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission ( SEC ) or the
U.S. Fair Trade Commission caught wind of any of this going on behind
If so, were these 'remnant activities' from the hey-days of Lee
Iacocca at CHRYSLER CORPORATION?
Dodge Ram "Conversion Vans" ( of the "B" type version ) were built
only by 'factory-approved conversion specialists', and were the only
line of 'Full-Size Vans', available in three ( 3 ) lengths:
187.2 inch wheelbase ( nicknamed: "Shorty" );
205.2 inch wheelbase ( nicknamed: "Extended" ); and,
231.2 inch wheelbase ( nicknamed: "Maxi Van" ).
These full-sized "B" type version vans were built in three ( 3 )
different load ranges:
B150 / 1500 pounds ( 1/2 ton carry capacity );
B250 / 2500 pounds ( 3/4 ton carry capacity ); and,
B350 / 3500 pounds ( 1 ton + carry capacity )
The 'towing capacity', however, in 1994 through 1995 was "9,000" pounds.
Conversion vans became a large market with plusher accommodations than
Dodge ended production of their "Full-Size" vans in 'June 2002' sold
as "2003" models.
"Family-Wagon" properly logo licensed full-size conversion vans also
included the CHEVROLET.
It appears automotive giants of both Chrysler and Chevrolet used-up aa
much of what 'originally' began with "TRAVCO INDUSTRIES INC." Hence,
some might not be that far off from calling their "Family-Wagon," in
essence, a "TravCo" Dodge ( or Chevy ) conversion van no matter what
year it was produced; especially when the "Family-Wagon" logo placards
- -Thanks for your review and any comments.
I have included a few photos of my "Family-Wagon" ( TRAVCO
CORPORATION, by design ) for review.