Here I am, salvage axle installed, hooked up and pulling it from the alley in back of the house where it was parked. I pulled it 3 miles to my buddy's shop so I could take it apart.
We live in a golf course neighborhood and can't do something like that in the driveway.The drive is too steep anyway.
The trailer's condition was very poor, and I knew this going in. Most of the interior had been stripped out, and from what I could see, it was ugly anyway. All made of fir plywood. Not my favorite, by a long shot.
Rot was everywhere. I'm very lucky to have made the 3 mile drive to Russell's without it falling apart. It was a white knuckle drive all the way. It was also totaly unregestered, untitled, and I had no lights, or safety chain. For only three miles I thought I could chance it, and made the drive with no problem.
I started taking it apart at Russel's shop, when I made a rather shocking discovery, for me anyway. The body was just 1/2" plywood with batten strips on the inside to hold it together, no framing at all. At this point I thought about just scraping the whole project. Now I had no framing to copy as I had planned and the project would surely take much longer. My plan was to take only a couple weeks to rebuild the framing and get the aluminum back on. (That may have been a bit ambitious anyway.) So, what to do?
I thought about this all night and the next day I decided to go forward anyway. Gale said go ahead even though she is still mad at me.
All the plywood was delaminating and rotting everywhere.
All I have is a good rolling frame, I hope, windows and good aluminum. I will scrap everything else after working up a drawing.
With our house up for sale I have to work fast or lose the garage and my tools, (they will go back to Houston), before I can get it ready to tow back home.
I "have" to get it towable by the time the house is sold.
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Removing the aluminum. You can see the "extra thick" insulation hanging off the side. I can't believe they made this thing out of 1/2" plywood with nails into the edges to hold it together. All the edges were coming apart. Many of the nails I pulled with my fingers. I was so lucky just to get it here to Russell's.
A few days into this, the weather report mentioned a very good chance of snow tomorrow. It's early October. I had to move it inside. Luckily, Russell had room for me in his shop for a short while.
My house the next morning. I had expected to work all day at Russell's but of course, his power was out until late in the afternoon, so I lost the whole day. It was 10 inches of very wet heavy snow and took out a lot of tree branches and power lines.
I just took a skill saw to it and got it apart and loaded the trash on a trailer to haul to the dump. The Longmont dump is the best I've seen, by the way, a totally wonderful front range mountain view.
The walls are just 4 sheets of 1/2" plywood held together with those strips of wood you can see on the insides. This is such a weak construction method. Just awful. The floor is two layers of 3/8" plywood. Also rotten in several places.
The frame all stripped down. I was plesently surprised to find it in very good shape. The under side of the frame was boxed in with that black fiber board that they used to use on houses, under the siding. It had kept the frame dry and rust free, nothing but a little surface rust.
I catch a break.
I layed out the aluminum on my garage floor. I drew a 1 foot grid on it in pencil,for measuring, then drew it up with auto cad to plan the framing I will replace the thin walls with real framing this time around. You can see the two frame ends I have built at this time, laying on the aluminum..
Here I am starting to to the laminated bends on the outside using the actual framing members screwed in place. I laminated 3 1/8" layers together.
Here is an end finished and fit to the aluminum.
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The finished curb side frame wall.
On to the street side now
When both side frames were done I brought the rolling frame home from Russell's. I am little surprised that there is so little to it. Those side supports sticking out there are just butt welded on to the frame rails I would have brought cross rails all the way through to bear the weight of the sides This will have to be reworked some.
All stripped down ready to be made stronger. That 2x4 down the center is redwood and still rot free after 60 years.
I have it all rebuilt now and made stronger with cross rails all the way through. I had to buy a new axle with wheels and tires. That was a good idea anyway, I think.. It also has electric brakes.
So, now I'm ready for a new floor.
The new floor with one wall mounted to it. I got it this far so I could pull it forward to check if it would clear the garage door top.
It did, just barely, so I am able to do the work here inside my own garage. that's great since it is winter here in Colorado.
Rebuilding the shell
I have to add a little length to both ends of the floor to match it to the side length. Somehow my drawing didn't work out here.
Only a small problem.
I get both sides up and start putting in the end rails.
The laminated ends will be built up to lock in the end rails for more strength.
The filler pieces are glued in between the cross rails and a final long piece will be applied over the end rails, locking it all together.
Finished, and pretty strong.
Framing complete up to the roof and ready for aluminum.
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Getting the aluminum mounted. This is a fairly difficult job working alone like I am and it's not perfact.
I'll mention the windows here. The end windows. both front an rear, were just glass with rounded corners mounted in a rubber seal. They looked cool but didn't open at all and the water damage was extensive under both windows so I image that it had leaked there most of it's life. I couldn't find the rubber seals anyway so I went to a trailer salvage place here in Denver and bought replacement windows for both ends.
This picture shows the windows installed. I had to completely rebuild the 5 side windows. I may do a page showing that whole process later. Now I have front windows that open.
CThe rear of the trailerlick here to add text.
I suspect that origonally there was just this one tail light in 1949. It looked like newer lights had been installed sometime later.
So I replaced the lights with new ones, not broken, and mounted them on the same brackets that were on the trailer when I got it. There were already three big holes through the aluminum for the screws anyway. I managed to find new side markers to match the old broken ones as well. A shame they are plastic, not glass.
So now the frame is all reworked, the box is rebuild on top of the floor, aluminum is polished and reinstalled, windows rebuild and reinstalled, and lights replaced. It has taken me 5 mouths and fortunately the house has still not sold even though we continue to have showings weekly.
The trailer came with a roof made out of some kind of tar based roofing material, over 1/4" plywood so I have to replace it with aluminum anyway. The ceiling height in this thing is just 6 ft. I'm just 5'9" so it wasn't a problem for me. Gale is 5'1" so no problem for her either, but the boys are both over 6 ft and they want to use the trailer too. So I decided to add a raised trolly top down the center.
so I begin building a top.
I'm getting very close to the ceiling and I know it will not leave the garage door this way but I think I have a plan. I hope I have a plan.
It is at this point that the house gets a good offer and I have only weeks to finish the roof so it can be pulled to our home in Houston. We were transferred here to Colorado 6 years ago and we didn't sell our house there because the kids and grand kids are there and Gale was planning on going back home the day we left Houston, there was no doubt. I was instructed not to get attached to Colorado. That's hard not to do, by the way.
So, as you can see, the top did in deed get finished. The house and garage are empty now because we have moved into an apartment for the last four months before we will be moved by the company. The trailer has to leave today. Closing is tomorrow. I had to move all my shop equipment home by a rented truck a few weeks ago. It's D day.
My plan is to take off the wheels and set the hubs down on two car dollys I have and pull it out of the garage.. Should lower the top plenty to clear.
One small oversight.....................Drop axles, before the wheels touch the car dolly the drop axle is on the ground. Actually the U bolts for the springs are sitting on the concrete. Shit!..........Sorry. Don't know why I never noticed this.
Come on, Think quick Wayne, it's about 6:00 PM.
Ah, light bulb over the head, drum roll please...dddddddddddddddddddda
I'll get some 2" pipe and lodge them between the u bolts against the bottom of the springs. that should work.
I was literally able to pull the trailer out using these pipe nipples. Once out the door, (it cleared by about 3/4"), I put the wheels back on and off I went. I was able to park it back at Russell's and get another friend to help me wire the lights. He knows what he's doing.
As I said earlier, I had no title or tags. This had been a scary thing all along because I couldn't even apply for a new vin until it was finished and inspected. I had a great contact at DMV from getting the sports car, I built, licensed, (pictured in the frame picture) So I was sort of confident that all would go well in the end, even though there was some risk. Basically the Highway patrolman walked around the trailer once and applied a new vin sticker and took $30. He didn't even ask if the lights worked. After all the work to get them working to do this, no one cared. But now I have tags and can pull it to Houston.
This is at the apartment getting ready to leave. After the trip I parked the trailer and truck in Houston and flew back to Colorado. I still have Gale's car and my sports car here to drive until we move.
It came with no door. I have purchased materials ti rebuild it but I have not done so yet.
Ok, a small update. The trailer pulled like a dream...........................................up until a wheel came off in eastern Colorado near the Kansas border. Don't know why. The sparks from the bottom of the u bolts started a grass fire along the road. All the lugs were broken off and the wheel and tire bounced off into a corn field, not to be found, ever. Damage to the trailer was very light though.
Police and fire department showed up. Gale could see the headlines, "elderly couple pulling trailer set 200,000 Acer fire in eastern Colorado." Ah, the fire didn't even burn an acre.
The trailer had to be loaded on a flat bed and trailered back a town to a place that did repairs. Several hours later and $250 lighter we were on our way again. On a new tire a wheel. The policeman had been very helpful in finding a place to do the work.
The picture is the trailer at our Houston house. The rest of the trip was uneventful
To her credit, Gale was rather cool about the breakdown.
As I said she was not too happy about my starting a project just before moving time. She was sure things would not work out well. (Ha, they did anyway), though
I had to promise her that I would store the trailer and do a complete remodel on the house before I touched it again. So now it is almost two years later and we have a wonderful house. I will start back on the trailer as soon as I recover from rotator cuff surgery I'm having next week. It's Sept, 25 2014 now. We moved back Dec 2, 2012.
So if anyone remembers me from the Vintage Shasta site, that's why I dropped out of sight.
No wheels, still a tight fit.
This is about the point where I started polishing the aluminum sheets. I will do a page about polishing a little later.
I had been looking at a web site of a guy rebuilding a 40's Airfloat trailer. I decided to copy the Airfloat framing using 2x2 studs pocket screwed and glued together. This is much stronger than what I had.
Update: In May of 2015 the Lodger was stolen from in front of our house.
I had it out of storage to start working on the interior. I had just got a new wheel and tire to replace the one lost on the trip from Colorado. I had painted the wheels red and put on baby moons. I had taken some measurements and was going to take it back to storage while I worked on the drawings for a while, when it was stolen during the night. I had moved it a couple times and left the lock off.