Archive for the ‘RV Crazy’ Category

More progress on the Spartan.

At this rate it may get done.

It’s hard for me to get anything done now, I want to just set in here and admire my work.  Now, waiting on the aluminum countertop edging to arrive so I can get that on, and I need some aluminum strap to make the little railings for all the upper shelves.  I can also hook up the plumbing and test that, no that the counters are in.  My wife Kim is making the curtains and seat cushions, we’re edging closer to my having to polish this thing!

I’m picking away at the Spartan project, slowly but surely. We had our grandson Milo this weekend, but in between Grandpa fun, I got a little done.
I re-did the kitchen lights, in the usual “…build it twice to make it nice…” manner, finished the bed base, made some adjustments on and hung the rest of the cabinet doors.
Theres much yet to be done, but the to do list is getting shorter!










Whew. Time to step back and admire my work. The kitchen cabinets are DONE. True, I have to make the door fronts and couple of trim pieces, but the cabinets themselves, upper and lower, are complete.
I have to make the front bulkhead cabinet over the windows, a small bulkhead cabinet for the bedroom, and decide whether the vanity med cabinet is salvageable, but it feels pretty good to have the galley. The hard part, done.


Made it 5 days.

Well, so much for the  best laid plans.  I swore the Spartan was priority #1, then the T’bird, then the ’34, but look what followed me home today.

This is a late 60’s (we think) “Travel-eze” camper, roughly 18′ box, probably 22′ overall, that we rescued from a church camp near Lansing MI.  My good friend Mike O’Connor took another vintage trailer pal, Brandon, and I there about two months ago, to show us half a dozen vintage campers on the campgrounds that the camp manager wanted moved off, ASAP.  I was cool to the idea of even going to look, but once there, I was sort of smitten with the cool, 60’s shape of this one, and how nice (relative to any other old camper we’ve dragged home) the interior was.

The camp manager Bob assured us that yes, they all have too go, and the sooner the better.  Since I’ve been laid up a bit secondary to my hip replacement 6 weeks ago, and the ground had been, until last nights bitter cold, soft, today, with the morning temps hovering just above zero, seemed like a good day to try to retrieve this one for us.  As I said, I was cool to the idea of adding another project to my plate, but kept looking at the photos, thinking about it, and decided I ought to go get before someone else beat me to it.  Besides, my friend Mike Greene, who helped me today, wanted to see them, and Butch needed something to do, so, why not?

Faithful readers will remember last summer, when on what was the hottest, most humid day of the season, Butch, Mike O’Connor, and I dug the Spartanette from it’s resting place of 50 years.  It pays to have good friends, with poor memories…  In a twist of irony not lost on any of us, this one was only a couple of miles from the site we pulled that trailer from.

I called my pals Butch and Mike G., and we descended upon this honey hole of vintage camping gold early this morning.  Mike’s heavy duty 4×4 3/4 ton diesel pickup we though would yank the trailer from it’s resting place with no problems, but the inch of ice on the ground said otherwise.  A little dirt from under the trailer shoveled under the truck tires stopped the spinning, and in a short time, we had the trailer up and out into the yard where we planned on quickly changing the ancient, rotted tires for the only slightly better ancient, rotted tires we brought along.


This was a good plan, except two of the wheels we brought didn’t fit, and one of the tires on the two rims that did fit had gone flat on the way up.  Undaunted, we put the two questionably “good” ones we had on the trailer, and headed out for home, with an equally questionable spare pilfered from one of the other trailers.

What could possibly go wrong?

We got 5 miles, when one of the trailers original tires gave up the ghost and exploded in spectacular fashion, happily a quarter mile from a gas station and a tire store.  We took the leaky tire we’d left in the back of Butches van to  the tire store, where in a few minutes they dismounted it from the rim, cleaned the rim and re-mounted it with no leaks.  We mounted it back up, aired up the spare, mounted it, and headed back out, confident, with three “good” tires rolling, and one ancient spare, stolen, er, “borrowed” from one of the other derelict trailers, we thought we had it made.


Mike, “Tire Trouble” Green assess the damaged tire alongside the road. “This seems to be problem, right here…”

Thought, because another couple of miles, a loud “bang” had us at the side of the road again, but a quick inspection showed all 4 tires aired up, nothing dragging, so we set back out.  Mike, towing it with his truck, immediately noticed the curtain in the front window blowing OUT of the window, and said, “Well, this can’t be good.”,  and I noticed the door blowing open against the tarp strap we’d secured it with, so we stopped again.

This time, the culprit was a broken street side front window, looked like a rock from an oncoming car had tossed a pebble and cracked it.  Happily, all the pieces aside from the impact spot were still in place, so we limped to the next closest gas station, another mile or so, where I bought two rolls of cheap duct tape and taped the broken pieces together, put some reinforcing strips across the rest, and also the window on the other side.

We were now well and truly on our way, and continued on home, about 35 miles without any incidents, although Mike was a little uncomfortable at our slow, 45 mph pace on a major highway, with no lights, no brakes,  or safety chains.  The plan was, if something bad happened, we’d just unhitch and leave it by the side of the road.  Butch was following with his van, so I felt confident.  The state trooper we met later never gave our little parade a second glance, so we were fine!

Getting it home and giving it a close inspection, I’m really happy.  There’s been a little seeping around the front roof vent, but the paneling isn’t rotten, the roof doesn’t flex, so I think I can simply pull the vent, shim it and the roof skin up a little, (so water will shed off better) reseal, replace and call it good.

The flooring is fine, the walls and ceiling are that odd “pickled” finish popular in the 60’s, and the rounded shape also look very ’60-ish, but the copper appliances and orange upholstery and curtains look early 70’s.  It’s a bit odd, but overall it’s clean, not moldy, doesn’t stink, and nothing blew off or shook loose coming home.  Even with the vibration of the blown out tire!

Hopefully, a little fluff and buff, new wheels and tires, clean and pack the wheel bearings and running light check will have it useable as is.

Many thanks to Mike G., Mike O, and Butch for the help, comaradary and for validating my poor decisions!





IMG_4881 The Del-Ray tuck camper is officially DONE! Well, Kim is going to make curtains , but it’s “campable” now. New cushions , new water system , bathroom re-skinned, toilet working , new mattress, fridge checked, windows and roof re-sealed and caulked. The GMC, designated beast of burden has new dually hubcaps, there’s a complete new stainless exhaust waiting to go under it, so other than the steer horns going on and plow frame coming off, it’s ready to go. We’re ready for adventure!

Using our I-phone, with poor texting skills, we will the photos speak. In no particular order, Summer, 2014…



















Notice anything different about the background?  No more hiding in a cramped, dirty garage being used for storage.  No more idle talk about when it gets done, or how much yet needs to be done.  It  is now a REAL truck.

Today, for the first time in maybe 3 decades, the Diamond T rolled out of the shop under its own power!  I put the front wheels on, lowered it down off the jack stands, fired it up, idled down the drive and drove it up to the house.  It goes forward and back, stops, and steers.  A HUGE step.

After this inaugural trip, I pulled it back into the garage, topped off the transmission, and put all the power steering fluid I had in the pump.  The rear end was dry, I pulled the cover and made a new gasket from an air cleaner box and filled the differential.   While I was doing that, I put the beautiful art-deco heater I got from my friend John back together.  I’d had the core repaired and pressure checked to 15 lbs, straightened and painted the rotating louvers, and stuck it back in the cab.  I have a shut-off valve to put in the line, so tomorrow I can install it permanently, fill the cooling system and all the vital fluids will be good to go.  At least good to check for leaks.  It did run out of gas pulling back into the garage tonight, but I’m still all smiles!

Here are a bunch of pics from this afternoon and evening.  It’s a good day here at Cool McCool’s Garage!






















It’s getting close to being weather tight!  I got all the windows in the Tini-Home today.  After yesterday’s tussel with the front window, today went much smoother.  The left side and rear windows mount from the outside, while the right side window mounts like the front, with a trim ring inside that holds it in place.  It went in MUCH smoother, and didn’t even smear adhesive all over the siding.

From there, I moved to the cargo doors.  They were all white, and I initially thought I’d paint them silver to match the body, but I thought the chances of matching the Filon’s silver were slim.  Plus, I have almost 40 feet of the stuff left, and figured I might as well use some of it up.

I took the cargo bay doors apart, and simply inserted a piece of the silver Filon, then re-assembled them.  I’ll paint the frames black to match the windows.  It’ll be easy to spray-bomb them, today the shop was too cold to paint, so I just put them together and mounted them in the trailer.   Below are pictures of how I did them:















I also eliminated the clunky black plastic latches, which were missing the catches, and replaced them with a pair of keyed drawer locks.  The looks is perfect, and they lock, so we’ll have some secure storage that’s accessible from outside.  I like the way they look now, and they’ll look even better with the frames painted satin black.

After that, I decided to reskin the entry door, as it was skinned in aluminum like the old exterior.  When I started pulling the twist nails that held the aluminum skin and trim pieces on, I discovered that there was NOTHING left of the 2×2 framing about a third of the way up from the bottom!  The hinge side was the worst, it was missing 2 feet of the frame wood.  So, that was a big project too. 







I did a sort of a “Dutchman” repair to the frames on the sides, screwed and glued with the Loctite adhesive.  The bottom pieces was replaced too, it was completely rotted away.  The material was the original 2×2 stiffening ribs from under the bed platform, so I recycled!

The skin I cut from the roll, it’s glued and stapled around the edges.  While routing it to shape, the roller bearing came of the router bit (!), and before I realized it, it wandered off the frame and I hogged a big track into the skin.  So, I lopped another 2 foot piece off the roll and started over.  It turned out good the second time, and by Friday when I can work on it again, the adhesive will be dry and I can remove the sandbags, polish the edged trim, and hang the door. 








I couldn’t help setting the beautiful Bargman latch into the door to see how it’d look!  The window glass has been replaced with plexi which is cloudy, that’ll get replaced with glass, and I also insulated the door with the same 3/4″ pink foam board.  Of course, it had the same silver paper “insulation” as the rest of the trailer originally had, and it did NOT smell good!  Much better now.

Kim ordered the foam for the dinette cushions tonight, so we’re nearing the finish line.  Stay tuned for varnish and finishing touches, as our Tini-Home nears completion!

Armed with good intentions, I set out this morning for the hardware store to get glass setting adhesive so I could put the windows in the Tini-Home.  I should have realized when I got to the counter and didn’t have my wallet that the day wasn’t going to go as I hoped, and simply turned around, gone home and gotten back in bed.  No, the folks at the store know me, and knew I’d back at least once to get stuff I forgot, and told me to take the three tubes of Loctite adhesive, and pay for them on the next trip. 

My plan, ambitious as it was, included not only setting all the windows, but stripping all the old paint and sealant from the aluminum corner trim, cutting the old hitch of the tongue, welding on the new 2 and 5/16 hitch on, getting the new jack mounted, and maybe even grinding all the old paint of the tongue and painting it glossy black before mounting the polished diamond plate cover goes on.  Right…

The first thing I did was to plug the trailer in so I could clean up a bit inside.  When I plugged the trailers power cord into a shop plug, I heard the distinctive “snap” of a circuit breaker.  What the…?  Checking inside, no lights, no power.  I snapped both breakers “ON”, still nothing.  Checked the breaker to in the shop for the plugs on that wall, and it was tripped.   Curious and curious-er.

After over an hour of increasing frustration and de-moralizing trouble shooting, I determined that I’d either run a screw or a staple attaching the skin into the wiring from the A/C plug that feeds the light over the bed, the exterior plug, and the plug in the pantry for charging electronic gizmo’s.  Which of course is inaccessible in the walls/ceiling.  This was bad for me, but good for Richland Home Center, because it meant I had to go back to :

a) get some more 14-2 wire and misc. stuff to rewire that circuit, and

b) pay for the stuff I’d gotten earlier.

It ended up not being too hard to fix, I simply abandoned the offending (offended?) shorted wire, and ran a new feed under the bed to the right side of the trailer.  It was time-consuming, but ended up actually an easy fix.

By the time I was almost done, Kim came over to the shop, and helped me install the front window.  This was a two person job, and was much harder than I thought it would be.  She stuck it out, despite the cursing and bad attitude I was sporting after the wiring fiasco, and I must say the front window, the only one we got mounted, looks pretty good in the new skin.  The  other windows will be MUCH easier to install, as they mount with screws thru their exterior frames, so I can get them in without any help.  At least, that’s the plan…

After the window was mounted, and sealed up tight, I straighten up a bit inside, as it was so messy and disorganized that I couldn’t lay anything down anywhere without losing it in the sawdust, mess of extension cords, tools, and miscellaneous trailer parts.  Much better.

Tomorrow, as they say, is another day, and I HOPE I can get the remaining windows mounted, the new hitch on without any more unexpected disasters or delays.  Kim stopped at “Mattress-Mart”, and explained our dilemma with the bed, in that there’s no way to get a coil spring mattress (with its rigid wire frame) folded up and crammed into the back of the trailer.  No problem, a 5″ foam mattress that we can fold up and stuff in the “bedroom” is on its way!

Here are a couple more pictures of “Cool McCool”, still frustrated after a very stressful day, wiping excess sealant from around the beautiful new front window.  Kim pointed out that I create most of the drama and frustration myself, and of course, she’s right.  May be SHE is the real “Cool McCool”!