Creating the perfect accessory for vintage RV enthusiasts
Terry Roden designs custom 3D-printed keychains in honour of your favourite old-school RV units
Terry Roden is a Canadian vintage RV enthusiast with the gift of creativity. He has a 1962 Shasta 16-SCS named Daisy that holds a special place in his heart - and one day he decided to design and create a 3D-printed keychain for it. The end result reminded him of the old-fashioned chunky hotel keys he fondly remembered. Roden realized that other RVers would like to have their own custom-made keychains, with their trailer’s logo and other details printed on it - and that inspired him to start his business, Keys to Yesteryear.
We wanted to know more about this clever individual, and he was kind enough to answer our questions:
What inspired you to start making these awesome keychains?
I think this little hobby of mine ultimately culminated right at the beginning of the pandemic. Without a commute to work I found I had some more time and energy at the end of the day, and it was great to dig into something new and challenging to keep the mind distracted from the world events unfolding around us.
I had been deep into researching my Shasta 16 SCS and vintage trailers in general, and had simultaneously been looking for a personal project so I could start learning more about 3D modelling. I had a bit of a flash-back to my childhood and this particular style of motel keychain, and thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be cool to have a personalized keychain for my trailer? Maybe the Shasta logo on the other side?’. With lots of trial and error, I finally came up with something I was pretty happy with!
How did you get into 3D printing?
I’ve always had an interest in exploring the intersection of creativity and technology. I am a photographer by training and a front-end web developer by trade. I was naturally intrigued by the idea of 3D printing - creating complex physical objects from a simple roll of plastic filament seemed so futuristic. I bought an entry-level 3D printer just to play with and set about learning how to use 3D modelling software. One of the first things I ever successfully produced was a simple, custom mount that allowed me to attach decorative solar lights to fence poles running the back perimeter of my yard. I’ve been tinkering ever since!
How have vintage enthusiasts responded to the keychains?
I was pretty sure I had created something like-minded vintage enthusiasts would be interested in, so I shared a picture of one of my early prototypes to the Shasta 16-SCS group I belong to on Facebook. The folks there absolutely loved it - the feedback was so positive and the encouragement was amazing! So, I went back and refined the process some more, got some additional colour options, re-created some more common vintage trailer logos, and tossed up the @KeysToYesteryear Facebook page.
All of my reviews have been extremely positive, and virtually all of my business has been through referrals from happy clients sharing pictures of their keychains within their social circles, so that has been very rewarding!
What do you love most about vintage RVs?
I think it is primarily the aesthetic of the era that captivates me - the streamlined shapes, vibrant colors and bold patterns - but I also fully appreciate the quality of materials and craftsmanship that went into building things back then. I fell in love with our Shasta at first sight because of that futuristic form that harkens back to the space race, complete with whimsical wings and lighting bolt stripe. It is so iconic and stands apart from the sea of beige and white. When you are driving down the highway and a passing car gives you the thumbs-up - well, there is just nothing better than that! And I think that is the other part of the appeal - I have found there is this tremendously warm and supportive community around vintage RVs, eager to help restore and retain a little bit of automotive history.
What has been your proudest artistic accomplishment so far?
While I love the retro keychains I have come up with, it is probably the little light kits I have developed for the ’Spring-A-Grab Rail’ handles commonly found on Shasta trailers that I am most proud of. For those not familiar, there were a couple of different vintage trailer grab handles available that have a little window that could apparently be personalized back in the day and then backlit with a small 12v light. That sad little, empty opening on my trailer always bugged me, so I set off to fix that! There were physical constraints and mechanical needs I had to work with in order for it to all work correctly, and it really pushed my skills. It is just one of those little things that not everyone would notice, but appreciate that polished touch when they do.
To me, this is the best way I can give back to the community and help make these vintage treasures as perfect as possible.
Do you have a favourite keychain that you've created?
There have indeed been quite a few where I absolutely loved the final outcome - a great design concept or fantastic back story to a RV's name - but it was usually because of the collaborative experience with the client. I guess if I had to pick one, it is a multi-colour prototype for an Alberta trailer rally that unfortunately never got used due to COVID restrictions. Working on that one allowed me to push the boundaries and explore possible solutions for other keychain concepts I have.