Saturday, October 30, 2010

The trailer restoration was briefly interupted by Halloween.

Just to let you all know that we do have a life that extends slightly beyond the trailer project...our friends had a Halloween party and the theme was 50s and 60s TV shows. We went as Jeannie and Major Nelson from I Dream Of Jeannie. Actually, I was Jeannie's evil sister, Jeannie, who was a brunette and was constantly trying to steal Major Nelson from the good Jeannie.
My sister was Olive Oyl. 
 My girlfriend Candi, was Gidget. 
Bob was Freddy the Freeloader from the Red Skelton show. 
Dee and Hollis were Maxwell Smart and Agent 99. He had a cell phone attached to his shoe...the new age versions of a shoe phone :)
Okay, enough goofing off. Tomorrow we finish wiring the trailer and get the insulation in. And then we are on to siding.

Monday, October 25, 2010

We have really I know I said this before, but now we have walls on the trailer (whew that was a long title!)

So aside from polishing a mountain of aluminum, which by the way never seems to get smaller, we have made more progress on the trailer. Our friend Jan, who is restoring the same trailer that we are, graciously donated her Saturday to help us get the trailer back together again. I think she was happy to leave her mountain of aluminum behind for a day:) We appreciate her help immensely and will be there to help get hers back together when the time comes. We also owe a BIG thanks to Greg, Steve's neighbor, who graciously cleared out some space in his awesomely huge workshop so we could work on the trailer indoors.

This is what the trailer looked like Saturday morning...not much of a trailer.

Steve fabricated some supports to hold the walls up and keep them straight and they worked wonderfully. Drum roll please....may I present to you wall number one. Okay I know not much to you, but huge to us.

Now we have two walls.

Next came the front.

This is the roof. The original roof was really saggy and so Steve decided to reinforce the roof braces with angle iron. Worked like a charm, the roof is rock solid now.

This is what we had at the end of Sunday. Now that looks like a trailer again. 

This is a picture of the interior looking towards the back. Notice the pretty cherry paneling.

Looking towards the front.

A very productive weekend!!! Now back to my aluminum polishing...heavy sigh! Next weekend we will start the wiring. 

The DMV Gods have smiled upon us!

I had a cold last week so didn't get much done. The great news of last week was that we finally got the title...YAY! We were relieved to finally get that taken care of, now that the trailer is well on its way to being rebuilt.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Final Countdown...

…to re-assembling the trailer of course! One big obstacle that was in the back of our minds was where to re-assemble it. You may be wondering why – when there is a shop in the background of many of the tear down pictures – we were working on it outside.  Both overhead doors at my shop, the garage door at my house, and the garage doors at Jeanne’s house are too low to get the trailer inside. The weather was good when we tore it apart but we knew that by the time we were ready to start putting things back together, we wouldn’t be so lucky. I came up with several plans that involved tarps, plastic sheeting, various scraps of lumber, 500,000 BTU space heaters, Native American sun dances, and moving to a warmer climate. All of which were greeted with skepticism from Jeanne. During all of this it hadn’t escaped our notice that my next-door neighbor Greg had a really nice shop building with nice big roll-up doors. He of course had it filled up with his own stuff but we wondered “What would it take to get him to let us use some space for a month or so? Money? Cookies? A year of washing his truck? I decided to throw caution to the wind and just ask him. He said “No problem – I’ll just clear out some space and you can go for it. That’s what neighbors are for.” Yay!!! Thanks a bunch Greg! We are going to owe you big time! If all goes as planned – we will roll the frame next door this coming Saturday and start putting the trailer back together. We are totally jazzed at the prospect! Here’s what we’ve been doing to get ready: We replaced most of the plywood decking on the frame. It really wasn’t in too bad a shape, but it smelled terrible and had some minor soft spots so we figured the time and relatively small cost to replace it was probably a good idea.

This isn’t the best picture, but it shows the plywood decking we replaced.

This shows the only portion of the original plywood we left, and the new caulking around the wheel well and seams.

Some previous owner had hacked up the floor in the doorway and installed a goofy step that neither fit nor worked correctly. We had to re-do the floor and structure in this area.

Originally there was really no structure or framing to attach the bottom lip of the rear siding to which explained why it was all bent to heck. We re-designed the rear to accommodate a solid anchoring point to eliminate that original design flaw.

Next we primed and painted the decking except where the flooring will be.

I made all new Cherry top bows and top trim.

One of several batches of Cherry plywood being stained and finished for the interior. It’s amazing how much plywood a trailer this small takes. I can only imagine on a bigger trailer!

There are a few more framing pieces for the roof and front and back windows I still need to make, but we are almost ready! We can’t wait to begin the process of putting things back together. That’s when you really start to see the reward for all your hard work. It’s going to be fun! Stay tuned……

Oh and in case you hadn't noticed...I (Jeanne) had been blog hogging so this post it from Steve :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More cleaning/polishing

I'd say, "One of the worst things about this aluminum stuff is...", but it is all awful so how could I possibly choose. Right near the top of the list would be removing the caulk from the drip caps, or from any other part of the trailer, there just happens to be a surplus of it on the drip caps.The drip caps, or eyebrows as some call them, go above the windows and keep rain from dripping down the side of the trailer directly on to the windows. Some previous owner had a love affair with silicone caulk. It's everywhere. Did you know that silicone caulk was created to withstand a nuclear holocaust?...or maybe it just seems that way. I did some research and tried an environmentally friendly product called Motsenbacker's Lift Off. It did absolutely nothing. Then I tried, acetone, paint thinner, lacquer thinner, and paint stripper. I also tried balancing on my left foot, blindfolded, while hula hooping, and reciting the alphabet backwards (one person on the Internet said this was the cure for everything, hey it was worth a try) and still nothing. Not even a little bit of it was removed.

Desperate times call for desperate measures so I got out the absolutely not environmentally friendly, nor skin friendly, nor lung friendly adhesive remover. The first attempt with this was to brush a little on and let it sit a minute and see if the caulk would come off. Just the tiniest bit did come off (thank you baby Jesus, maybe I'm onto something). So I employed the Tim Taylor methodology. I created a soaking vessel out of a piece of flashing. I had to dam it up at both ends so the stuff wouldn't leak out onto the floor and I used my hot glue gun for that, then I put the drip cap in and poured the adhesive remover in the vessel to cover the caulk. Here is a photo of my creation.

I wanted to let it soak in there for an hour or so and went off to take a shower and get ready for work. I didn't want to get my work clothes all icky so decided to check out the progress in my robe. I went into the garage in my robe and slipper and donned  my super heavy duty rubber glove (quite a sight I'm sure) and when I leaned over the tie on my robe must have dipped into the remover and brushed up against my newly shaven leg...did I mention that the adhesive remover is not skin friendly. I won't repeat what words came spewing forth as I ran into the house to wash this off, and while I ran the robe tie brushed up against the other leg...more words I won't repeat were heard. The good news is that the soaking worked pretty well. I decided to soak another one and leave it all day and it worked even better.

Here are the drip caps. Top: Right off the trailer. Middle: The caulk has been removed, it has been bathed in an acid wash, and has been straightened. Bottom: Cleaned and ready to be polished. Quite a difference!
Here is another window that has been cleaned and is ready to be put back together.
 And this is the interior window trim. One before cleaning and one after. 
Despite my chemical burns, I am getting a little done each day on this daunting task. At this pace I may be done by Memorial Day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Help. I am drowning in a sea of aluminum!

It is a good thing that no one was here to witness my latest melt down, as I lay on the floor staring into space mumbling…”What have I gotten myself into?” What is it that has reduced me to a pool of snot bubbles on the floor? This pile of aluminum parts, pieces, and windows in my garage. All of these pieces need to be cleaned, repaired, smoothed, and polished. 

The only thing that makes me happy about this picture is my Chevelle in the background.

Here is a picture of some of the chemicals and things I have used so far on this pile of stuff. Some previous owner had a love affair with silicone sealant and it is on everything, just getting that off has proved to be a huge challenge.

Here is a picture of some of the tools I have tried so far to accomplish my mission.

I have read many tutorials created by people restoring their trailers on how they managed this process and have tried many of their suggestions. I am currently developing a process that works for me. Here is what one of the windows looked like before. 

Dirty, rusty, and just plain gunky. Pieces are bent, scratched, and otherwise trashed. It took me a couple of hours just to get this window apart, get all the old gasket and silicone cleaned off, and get the pieces all hammered back into some shape that resembles its birth shape. Two hours and I haven’t even begun the cleaning, filing, sanding, buffing, polishing. Here is a picture of what my windows won’t look like. This gentleman, I refer to him as the Aluminum Polishing God, has spent 18-20 hours per window just in the cleaning/polishing stage…does he have a life????? 

 While these look incredibly amazing (they look like chrome OMG!!!), I will be happy to have mine just looking clean and marginally shiny. Here is my progress so far on window one.
It hasn’t been polished and buffed yet, but is clean and all the rust and 52 years of smoke, food guck, pet odor, and the like are gone. I have spent a small fortune on things to help with this task and imagine I will spend more before the process is complete.Great aluminum polisher is a job I would have rather not added to my resume :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We have walls!

Okay so they are not on the trailer yet...but we have walls!

We were going to try to sandblast the tongue of the trailer this weekend and get it all ready for gorgeousness but had a couple of issues with the sandblaster, not the least of which it is MESSY! Steve tried it out on his ‘48 Ford and that is as far as we got. Here is a picture of Steve sandblasting. Dig the bee keeper head gear. 
Despite the fiasco with the sandblaster, we did manage to get the paneling on the walls. We decided to use cherry paneling in our renovation. Most of the trailers of that era used birch paneling and applied amber colored shellac for a very warm (yellow) look. We decided to be different and use cherry. Here is a picture of the first finished wall. The cherry paneling is on both ends and in the middle where is looks slightly different we used birch. The reason for this is that the kitchen covers the whole area where the birch is, and birch is less expensive than cherry. Originally in the kitchen area they used ugly pressed board. 

 Here is the second wall. You can see the difference between the birch and cherry a bit more in this photo. On this wall the closet goes where the birch is.

  I don't know what we will get done this weekend. Steve needs to get his dad's Model A painted on Saturday. His dad it hot rodding a 1929 Model A. They are painting it bright red. It is going to be really cool. I may be stuck polishing aluminum all weekend.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The title revisited

As I noted in an earlier post, trying to secure a title for our trailer has turned into an adventure. Some adventures are fun and exhilarating and create wonderful, positive, life long memories. While other adventure…well for lack of a better term…suck! Unfortunately, this adventure falls in the latter category. 

Steve made it back to the DMV on Friday and was excited to see the lady that had given him the glimmer of hope was working. He was next in line and decided that if his number was called and she wasn’t available he would ask to wait for her. Just as his number was called…she went on a break…of course she did, remember this is an adventure. So he was forced to go to another agent. Here is a condensed version of how that transaction went.

Steve: I am here to get a title for a trailer that I purchased. I completed all the paperwork, I needed and am back to submit it.

Surly DMV Woman (feverishly rifling through Steve’s paperwork): But you don’t have a title, I can’t help you if you don’t have a title. 

Steve: (Thought bubble…DUH, I know I don’t have a title that is why I am here!!!)

Steve (taking a deep breath): I came and had a VIN search earlier, I have my bill of sale, and I filled out the support paperwork and I need to submit it.

Surly DMV Woman: But you don’t have a title so I can’t do anything for you.

Steve (trying hard to keep himself from reaching across the counter and strangling Surly DMV Woman):  I was here last week and spoke to the NICE woman that just left for her break and she told me to return with these documents and then you could submit them for review.

Surly DMV Woman (calling out to her supervisor): Could you come over here, this man doesn’t have a title.

Supervisor (looking through Steve’s paperwork): He has all the right paperwork, and now we just need to submit it for review.

Surly DMV Woman (panicked because this new revelation has rocked her belief in at that is right in the world): But what code do I use, there isn’t a code for this.

Supervisor: Use this code.

Surly DMV Woman (looking at Steve): Oh, I guess we can do that.

Steve: (Thought bubble…you are freaking brilliant) Thank you.

So now we wait. The supervisor said it could take 2-3 weeks to hear back as to weather they will grant us a title. Everyone keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The exterior tear down

A couple of weeks went by and a brief vacation, of which we spent a bulk of the time discussing, designing and brainstorming about how we wanted to restore the trailer. We got home from our trip on Friday afternoon about one and by four we began the process of disassembling the trailer. On Friday we got the windows out, the door off and the drip rail off the edge. Saturday we took the siding off, removed the walls and took the paneling off the walls. We found much more damage to the sub structure than we anticipated, but it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed.  Sunday we spend repairing all the damage to the sub structure. On Monday, I took up the layers of linoleum and cleaned the sub floor, which was actually in really good shape.

  Not much left of the framing around the cargo doors. 

 We expected damage on this side because the siding was all caved in.

 This side had lots of damage too.

 Rear framing gone now. Braced the walls to get the rest of the roof off.

 And then there was nothing left but the floor. Looks so small...oh is small!

 Passenger wall before removing the plywood.

With the plywood off you can see all the damage around the bottom and around the front window. 

Framing is all fixed now. We used pocket screws instead of the staples that were originally used. Makes the structure a bit more stable. 

You can see how deteriorated the wood at the bottom of the walls was.

Now...tackling the title issue.

We found that it depended on who you talked to at the DMV as to how daunting this task would be. The first DMV official told us that we had to donate a kidney, sign over our house, and make them cookies weekly for life. The second person was a bit more sympathetic to our plight and made the process a bit easier, however she did have an issue that we had a bill of sale for a 1956 Westerner and we wanted to title it as the correct year of 1958. She said if we could get a new bill of sale from the previous owner that it would expedite the process. Luckily, we saved the contact info for the previous owner, called her up and she was more than happy to get us a new bill of sale. So we now have the new bill of sale and have to get down to the DMV again to get the process started. What a pain!!!! I am not sure I would buy another trailer without a title. After reading many of the posts on Repairing Yesterday's Trailers most people advise against buying a trailer with no title. Live and learn!

Who made these Westerner Travel Trailers?

We immediately started researching the origins of our new purchase and found that there is very little information about Westerner Trailers. An Internet search returned only a couple of relevant links for us. One of the links was to  Repairing Yesterday's Trailers which is a discussion board on YUKU. We searched that and found someone who was restoring a 1958 Westerner and as we looked at it we started questioning that ours was a 1956. After reading several of the posts from this person, we started to realize she lives in Vancouver WA just a half hour from us. I contacted Jan and began corresponding about trailers and comparing notes. We also found two Westerners on Sisters On The Fly, a 1957 and a 1958. Again, ours looked just like the 1958. Another clue was during demolition we found the date stamp on our sink and it was January 1958. Jan encouraged us to search for the VIN#, because it includes the year and month of production, and showed us where it was located on the tongue of her trailer. There was nothing that even resembled stamping on our tongue. Of course there was so many layers of paint of the tongue you probably could have hidden an elephant, so out came the paint stripper and ta da there was the VIN# which confirmed we are the proud owners of a 1958 not a 1956 Westerner. 

The trailer gets some radical cosmetic surgery.

One week after dragging the trailer home, we completely gutted it. I know you are probably wondering why we gutted it before dealing with the title, but we were roofing Steve’s garage and had a dumpster at the house and decided this was good incentive to get rid of the yucky, stinky interior. Plus because you have to take the trailer to the DMV for a VIN inspection, we thought we might get a more favorable response if it didn't smell so bad :) Here are a few pictures of what remains in the trailer. 

 Looking back at the cargo doors. The framing was completely rotten around these. 

Looking towards the front. Lots of water damage.

Looking towards the back. The appliances were all in remarkably good shape. However we won't be reinstalling either the ice box (I need a real refrigerator), or the oven (did anyone ever really use this???).

We found all kinds of interesting things during the demo. This was Steve's personal favorite. LOL!!