Posts Tagged ‘Tin Can Tourists’

 

A Facebook friend in California just relayed that he’d found a cool old bread loaf style trailer near his home.  Prewar, intact, fairly priced, but a total rebuild.  He was torn, because he has a very cool, very rare trailer now, and this other one would be a  nice compliment to their current one, and his vintage tow car.

He passed.

I should take a lesson from that.  While I’m making good progress on the ’47 Spartan, it’s down to the fussy finishing and detail work that I’m not fond of, not patient enough for, and takes more time than I want to spend.  It’s also clear I’m in no way going to meet my (self imposed) deadline of having the trailer done by the third week of may for the Tin Can Tourist Spring Rally in Milford to debut. I could have it usable, but not finished, and I don’t think it’s worth taking it uncompleted, not polished or finished to the level we want.  It’s disappointing, but not we have two others to use, and lots of events coming up this summer where we can “debut” in style.

I have the plumbing done, the fridge is in and the vent system roughed in.  Had to order more Olympic rivets before I can cut the vent hole in the roof and move the original stove vent blister to that space, so that’s a bit of a hold up.

The plumbing is done,  mostly.  The grey water tank has to be hung and the sink drains run to it.  My good friend Mike Greene of Sierra Custom Interiors gave me a bunch of PEX tubing drops, crimp rings, miscellaneous fittings and the crimping tool, I’m indebted to him for that.  It went well,  it’s always good to add another thing to my skill set.

The trim work is also 90% complete.  I steam bent the curved pieces with a home-built steamer set up, my first attempt at bending wood.  It went pretty well, and I have a few little pieces yet to go that can’t be done till some other things get done, like the fridge cabinet.

We have the interior fabrics, thanks to another friend who’s an upholsterer and let us buy the fabric on her account for half what it’d have otherwise cost.  The foam we have to order, but she’s helping us out with that too.  Kim will make the covers and curtains.  It should be very dramatic, we’re excited about our choices, no peeking until we’re done!

All this is good, and I have to admit I did feel relief whenI decided the other day not to try to have it ready for May.  It was like a weight had been lifted.  Not that I’m not working on it, but the pressure is now off.  I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by that project, and seeing my long neglected Thunderbird, the half-completed ’63 Riviera I started last year, and the “new” ’34 roadster setting in pieces, all of them covered with a thick, soft layer of wood dust, was a bit overwhelming.

These three cars are cars I’ve loved since I was a kid, and always wanted.  The fact that none of them are completed and drivable doesn’t really matter, because I love having a project, but three at once, along with normal maintenance on our other cars, not to mention household chores, lawn care, and so on, takes tool on my “free” time.  Part of my rationale for having all these projects is to provide activity for my upcoming retirement, so the fact that they’re not finished shouldn’t be a stress factor.  It seems a long way off, but I know that 4 years from now I’ll look back and wonder where the time went.

And what I was worried about.

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!

IMG_8600

IMG_8596

IMG_8595

IMG_8597

IMG_8557

IMG_8565

12510342_10209044919782805_3136719327890907783_nMy good friend Mike Greene (owner of Sierra Custom Interiors in Bristol IN) delivered the 1952 Frigidaire fridge I’d dropped off to him in September, which he sent to his RV fridge and AC repair guy for conversion to LP operation.  It’s now LP or 110V, as the conversion called for the sacrifice of a “scratch and dent” RV fridge for the cooling unit, freezer compartment and controls.  The job the guy did is first rate, one cannot tell, aside from the cooling coils inside the cabinet, that it wasn’t built that way originally.

I had a couple panicked moments in the middle of the night, worried that with the additional 4″ cooling coils on the back of the cabinet it might not fit through the door.  Turns out, it went in with a quarter of an inch to spare.

Now that it’s inside, the clearance issue is around the sink and base cabinets.  This fridge is quite wide, and the additional 2″ of width (compared with the RV fridge we used in the last Manor, clearance between the sink we bought, and the fridge door is an issue.

IMG_8312The fridge has to be in a cabinet to seal the back for a flue, and I planned on raising the base about 8 or 10 inches to make roof for a storage drawer underneath.  On top, there’d still be room for an overhead cabinet.  I can’t simply move the fridge out towards the center of the trailer for room with out making the companionway to the bedroom and bath so narrow it’d look odd.

So, were considering not using the IKEA stainless double basin sink we bought, and getting a smaller, drop in sink(s) that’ll enable me to simply make the base cabinet narrower than the 20″ that sink requires we have now.

It’s like cramming size 12 feet into size 10 shoes.  It fits, but it’s not comfortable.

We’ll figure it out, just may have to make a plan “B”.  There’s always something.

IMG_8313

IMG_8166 I have a little space heater in the trailer, a fire in the stove in the shop, and I’ve been busy doing what I consider “cabinet work”, although I’m sure my high school shop teacher, and my brother-in-law would shake their heads in disbelief and walk away, I think I’m making progress.

Above, we have the beginnings of a lunch counter, which we had to have because we bought two of these killer bar stools right after we bought the this trailer (a ’47 Spartan Manor).  Seen here in it’s first, roughed in state as a wiggly bunch of sticks, I had to take in the trailer and see if was actually going to fit and be useable.

The verdict is: Yes.

To the right of the cool bar stool is the dinette booth, which is a modified version of the one in out last Spartan.  This one is longer on the curb side, and shorter on the street side (the side we see here), and will sit 4 people comfortably.  I made the seats cushions of the ’46, our last Spartan, about 3″ too short in an attempt to  make the booth seem “roomy”, but they were awkward and uncomfortable.  This one has deeper cushions, the table will be narrower, and we’ll again have a “coffee table” option, one with shorter legs.  The larger dining table will stow away behind the back of the curb side of the dinette, to be used only when we have guests for inside meals or when Milo, our grandson, stays with us.  (We hope that’s often!)

IMG_8164.JPGOnce again, we’ll have a wrap around shelf under the panoramic front windows, that’ll continue down the top of the booth to display stuff.  That was one feature of the ’46 that we really liked.  This should be a notable improvement over that trailers seating.

I’m waiting to get the beautiful (but slightly larger than we really want) vintage GM Frigidaire fridge (that we scavenged from the Spartanette we bought this summer, along with the Dixie stove)  from the shop that’s converting it from electric to RV propane and 110V operation.  This was all arranged by our good friend Mike Greene of Sierra Custom Interiors, a fellow TCT member and all around great guy.  It should be done next week,  then I’ll be able to build the sink and fridge cabinets, and complete the bathroom.  I’d like to have the fridge on hand to assure I build things correctly, all these other things hinge on where and how the fridge will be positioned.

It’s gonna be close…

Also in the wings is the beautiful little Dixie gas range.  This too was scavenged from  the Spartanette before it left.  It’s in great shape, although the clock lens was broken the face of the clocks graphics are peeling, and the springs which hold the oven door closed are both broken.  All this stuff should be easy to fix, the stove and fridge will really set off the interior of the trailer.

IMG_5578The street side cabinets are framed in, with space for the stove, and the lavatory sink is in place behind the little partition between galley and bedroom.  This all fits well and looks great, we’ll have a simple display shelf above the  stove, no upper cabinets on this side of the galley.

IMG_8235Todays project, in bitter cold, was the wardrobe cabinet that is just inside the front door, where the original furnace sat.  I all the interior doors, kitchen doors and drawers from a ’49 Imperial Mansion, and am using what I can in this Manor.  Two of the wardrobe doors worked perfectly for our wardrobe, I’m very happy with how this turned out.  The sink, a stainless double basin unit with built in drain board from IKEA, will be just aft of the wardrobe, and the fridge will set somewhere behind that,  which will also determine where the partition for the bathroom will be.

IMG_8255I cut down a small pair of what had been overhead cupboard doors from the Mansion to use as upper doors.  I’m pleased with how it all came together.  It’ll looks original, but will be all modern and very functional for our needs.

About all I can do until the fridge is done and on hand now is to frame in the bed base in the back, and I can start cutting making cabinet doors, as I don’t have enough of the correct size to re-use from the Mansion, and originals from this trailer are trashed.

In other news, the Traveleze trailer I bought a couple weeks ago has a new home, Mike Greene bought it and is going to restore it for his family to use.  I had a small mishap with it, got stuck in the snow trying to back it in the barn at my dad’s to keep it out of the weather.  I could only back up, the truck kept sliding a bit sideways, and I ended up backing it into a small tree at the edge of the drive.  This wouldn’t have hurt it a bit, but it turned out the wood framing at the rear of the trailer was completely rotted away, and the siding buckled, revealing the beginnings of a black hole where the trailers framing should have been.  This was demoralizing, I’d hoped to use it as is, and with the Spartan project, and the three car projects now on hold until that gets done, I just didn’t want to fix it.  Mike didn’t care, planned on a complete rebuild of whatever trailer he found, so we cut a deal, he came and got it yesterday.  Everybody’s happy!

IMG_8122

That’s Mike, happily changing wheels and tires for the trip to Bristol, Indiana!

IMG_8139

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.

IMG_8122.JPG

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.

IMG_8128

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!

11169200_10208639838536027_7481600908595760946_n

In the Cadillac building, a beautiful recreation of the Cadillac approved Art Deco dealership building design from the late 30’s.

Since my hip replacement a little over a week ago I’ve been going over to the Gilmore museum every day for a walk.  I’ve graduated to being able to use a cane, rather than walker, which is good,  although it does make me rather sore later on.  Going through the museum at my forced slow pace enables me to notice things I’d normally breeze right on buy.  My visit yesterday was focused on the Model A museum.  I admit I’m not very enthused about Model A’s, particularly in stock form, but the versatility and adaptability of this humble depression era car is amazing.  From family transportation, to marine, medium duty truck, and even aircraft, the reliable little Model A kept America moving during the tough 30’s, into the 40’s and 50’s, and continues today as restored and hot-rodded little Fords are still going strong.

A break in the still open “Blue Moon Diner” was a welcome stop for a root beer float.  The museum was very busy, but I managed to belly up the much counter and get an empty stool to enjoy my float.

Stay tuned for more hip replacement recovery, rehab and fun.  I’m hoping to be able in the next couple weeks to be able to a little light work on the Spartan trailer project.  For now I still need to use a cane or walker, but as rapidly as this seems to be progressing I should be back at it, at least in a limited way, pretty soon.

Thanks for visiting, see you next time!

IMG_7168For Kim and I, the TCT spring and fall rally’s in Milford MI at Camp Dearborn are the bookends of our summer season.  The spring rally, always on the third weekend of May, kicks off summer, and the fall rally, third weekend is September is the wrap.  We like to have at least one more fall outing after the TCT event, but this years busy schedule didn’t let us squeeze in another weekend outing.  The weather this spring was a bit cool, as was the entire summer here, but the summer weather waited until after the end of September to start to wane, and we were rewarded with absolutely perfect weather all weekend for the rally.  The clouds even parted Sunday night for the total eclipse of the “Super Moon”, so I don’t have to wait another 30 or 40 years for that!   We’re still enjoying an extended, mild autumn, the leaves have just begun to turn here, so the mild, beautiful weather continues.  Part of the reason I’m only now getting around to writing this…

This year Kim and I took a couple of extra days off for the event, and even though we missed Fridays activities coming home for our niece’s wedding, this years get together was the most fun yet.  We’d planned on leaving early Thursday, but instead hitched our little “Tini-Home” canned ham to the Pontiac wagon and headed out Wednesday after Kim got out of work.  We rolled into Camp Dearborn just at dusk, and got landed in record time up on “The Hill”.  For this trip we slimmed down our decor and accessories, partly because of limited room in the 13′ trailer, a lesson we learned on this summers “Super Yooper Looper Tour” and partly because we had to leave Friday.  At any rate, the downsizing was a welcome change, we took about 10 minutes to set up and “decorate”, and packing up was similarly streamlined.  We are going to let this be an inspiration when we complete the “new” ’47 Spartan Manor…

IMG_6948Thursday was a great day to relax to a beautiful sunrise, watch our friends, and the many “newbies” roll in from our vantage point up on the hill overlooking the rest of the park.  (Since the Starlight Lounge has been retired, we can enjoy much earlier mornings!)  Warm and sunny, the day was perfect for strolling around, checking out trailers we hadn’t seen before,  shopping in Milford, cruising around the park and meeting new folks in the “Welcome Wagon”.  The induction of new members after supper was HUGE, with almost as many new members learning the secret handshake, secret password, and club song as veterans at the tables!  They were in fine voice too, during the sing along.  After that, a great presentation on where the hobby is going from Vintage Trailer Supply gave us a little insight into the hobby (lifestyle?) and where we may be going.  Thanks for coming all the way to Michigan guys!FullSizeRender

Friday morning breakfast at the Big Top was great as usual, scrambled eggs, ham, biscuits and gravy left everyone in a calm post prandial stupor, which made shopping downtown in Milford easier for the guys.  The historic Graton trailer was on display for all to see, a treat to see this unrestored, original condition  pre-war home built trailer.  The day saw some new activities with the Welcome Wagon continuing to greet the new folks, a poker run for newbies, and another great TCT evening meal with everyone in the Big Top.  Later, Billy Mack and the Juke Joint Johnny’s rocked the roof of for the Mad Hatter Dance Party.

11902261_10207911367164698_1262336816742776819_nWe were sorry to have missed Fridays fun, as we left mid-day to go back to Grand Rapids for our niece’s wedding.  She was a beautiful bride, and we’ve gotten her started off with a wedding gift of a ’67 Dodge Travco motorhome!  She’s planning on converting it to a mobile hair salon/spa, so we’ll keep the tradition of vintage RV’s in family, this time with a new twist.  Which I understand is some sort of hair style…

Saturday we were happy to leave the Tini-Home door open for visitors, walk away, and actually have time to walk around during the open house.  We made the best of it.  We saw lots of great trailers we hadn’t seen before, and got some great ideas for our new Spartan.  We were lucky to score a remnant of really cool 40’s vintage linoleum during the flea market from TCT friends Julie and Steve which will become a table top, and hopefully enough to make some TV trays as well.  Thanks guys!  That evening was another game of “Playing Card Bingo”, with thrills, chills, and fabulous prizes!  Well, some fabulous, and some not so fabulous, but it’s all in fun, and hey, everybody needs something for next years game, right?

There was a new activity as well on Saturday night, Blue Poly Waste Tank Racing, which made up for it’s inherent danger by being totally unsafe, although the darkness did make it seem more dangerous than it probably was.  If we kept anyone awake, apologies all around.  Next year, we promise better organization, and a wider fleet of racers.  Anyone needing imminent hip replacement would be well advised to pass, trust me on this, and please, clean, unused tanks only…IMG_7146

Sunday the vantage point of being up on the hill let us watch the caravans get packed up and roll out below us.  Several of us who also had Monday off moved down to the lower loop after everyone moved out, and we had a very relaxing evening under the stars.  It clouded up after sunset, but we were rewarded for being patient as the clouds parted as the Lunar eclipse began and we were treated to a spectacular sight of the blood red Super Moon in full eclipse.  Again, the feeling that the friends made are much more important than the trailers was reinforced, as much as we love the trailers, it’s the people that make the TCT so special, and so important to us.

IMG_7167Monday we had breakfast in town with friends, and headed home.  We got with about 20 miles from home, when the Pontiac uncharacteristicly sputtered and died.  As we coasted off to the side of M-66, we each said, “Didn’t we fill up in Milford before we left?”  The answer was yes, we had, but we both had forgotten about driving to Grand Rapids and back on Friday, and while we filled up then, the wagon can’t be driven 300 miles pulling a trailer on 18 gallons of gas!  Fixing the gas gauge may be one of this winters priority projects.

We’re now busy getting our Spartan, a ’47 Manor, the “Last Trailer”, ready for next years camping and TCT trips, and many more years after that.  We’d never have gotten this involved, done so many things, or taken the trips we’ve done with the TCT without the Bone’s, Forrest and Jeri, Terry and Michelle, and ALL of the great TCT friends we’ve made belonging to the Tin Can Tourists.  Thanks for all the hard work, caravans, rallies and camping fun.   Truly, the more we get together, the happier we’ll be!  IMG_6062