Monday, December 28, 2009

Hanging out my shingle

I made it 100% official today by hanging out my shingle. Frank's Trailer Works is now my full time job. Trailer Repair is what we do. As many of you know, I have had a successful cabinet making business going for many years. I have always made a healthy living making saw dust, but have aluminum in my blood now. I have had a hard time giving up the wood working for many months. For Christmas I gave myself a new lease in life and decided that Frank's Trailer Works is my one and only job.
I received a very nice gift in the mail just before Christmas. Well, I paid for it, but the need it filled and the way it was packaged was truly a gift. The box was like a fortress. Once opened it was like a puzzle as to how to unpack it. I am telling you, the packaging was bullet proof. I had been contacted by Wally himself as to what I needed for my 1954 Safaris. Yes, Wally himself contacted me. He had a 54 Flying cloud that had been rode very hard, put away wet and ridden even harder the next day. Just about every panel had been beaten to hell. Wally was buying it and looking for people who needed the good stuff. I jumped all over the offer and I am more than happy with what came out of Pandora's Box. Wally, I cannot thank you enough.

There were five Herh Standard windows. They are complete windows even with the operators and screens. Even though the amount of air coming through them is minimal, I love the lines of those double windows.
The windows came with drip caps. They call them eye brows out west.
but the real gem in the box was the entire center section of the rear. One of my 54's had the entire center of the rear removed so a chest freezer could be put in the rear. It was a hunting camp trailer, a man needs to keep his meat cold. The entire rear was in the box. The inside panels, outside panels, ribs around the window, and the window too.
Even the wall outlet is there. Wally sent me everything I need to put my trailer back together the way it should be. Thank you so much Wally. If I still wore a beret, I would be taking it off to you.

Now that I am no longer being distracted by making cabinets, I can focus in full time on LuLu. I am so glad to be able to get rolling full time on my clients projects. Bet I have the best night of sleep tonight. Stress keeps me up at night and I am so relieved that I might even sleep till 5am tomorrow.
as I posted earlier, LuLu had a major rim malfunction. It tore her skin very badly. I need to make the damage go away.
The first thing I did was create a template of the patch.

I then cut them out with the shears.
A little shaping on a 120 belt in the belt sander
The belt takes out all the wobble of the shears and makes the curve smooth and graceful.
Next the trim was fitted into the wheel well edges. This is a very ridged extrusion and requires a very patient persuasion to negotiate the inside curves.
A little dry fitting...

I think this is going to be a fine solution to patching over the tear in the skin. Almost all the rivets can be bucked without too much effort.

Stay tuned for more updates....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow day at the Works

20+ inches of snow has kind of slowed things down a bit at the Works. The big dig is under way.
Good thing none of the trailers in the yard need to go anywhere soon. I had intended to take the Bambi II I posted about a few days ago to the Port. Unfortunately, the driveway out to the road is just too icy to do it safely. Perhaps tomorrow or the day after. Towing bareback without brakes is not something I am willing to do on ice. I am just not going to take undue risk with my clients property.

Anna just glows in the sun light. I really need to dedicate a week to polishing her a bit more.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

At FTW we have a vintage tow vehicle

Everyone loves a vintage tow vehicle towing a vintage trailer. At Frank's Trailer Works we have a truly classic vehicle that shuttles the trailer around the yard. That is Michael. He owns the property where I store my trailers. He also loves an excuse to pull his 1954 ford tractor from the barn.
Michael was my room mate in the late 1980's and we have been very good friends ever since. It is at Michael's property that I store all the trailers waiting to be worked on or stopping through before they go else where. This Bambi II is going to the Port early next week and with snow coming we thought it best to bring it up close to the road.
In less than 24 hours this same spot has a foot of snow on it. They are saying it is just starting to fall. By tomorrow there will be over 24" on the ground.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Make my venture your big venture...n

Many people have dreamed of starting a new business. I have the perfect start up business opportunity for some one out there. Have you ever dreamed of selling funnel cakes at the Texas State Fair? How about BBQ along the highway in North Carolina? Hippy jewelry and hemp clothes at the Rio Grand Gorge Bridge in New Mexico? Or maybe fine biscotti and espresso on some busy Manhattan street corner. All that is missing from the plan is the vending van. Well, I have it and it is free to whoever follows through on having it built out to a final product. This is one of three trailers we are currently giving away with a restoration.
She is a 1959 Tradewind. She has a clean title but is far from clean at this point. At 24 feet long she is the smoothest towing trailer I have ever taken down the road. What makes this trailer unique is her history. At one point a church used her to be a mobile kitchen. I heard rumor it was taken through West Virginia to feed the hungry in the little towns. Fill there stomachs with some food and their hearts with some God.

The job was actually done fairly well. It is crude and needs some refining but the service window functions very well. I can just see a nice plate of tacos pastor or a gyro being served though it. Fireworks might be a good seller too.
She is terribly filthy right now, in sever need of a bath. Her skin is fairly smooth though it does not look that way in these photos.
All the windows need to be rebuilt. The front one is missing a frame. All the seals and gaskets are shot.
No two piece plexi needed for that back window.
This could be the place you buy your cigars at the jazz festival. Po boy sandwiches at the zydeco festival. Glow sticks and strobe lights at the Phish show.
And when you have raked in your pile of cash, you can close up and tow to the next one.
Some of the interior is still there. Not sure what the business will be so it is still all up in the air. It will all need to come out to replace the floor. I feel it all needs to be replaced.
Very nice white Princess stove. An easy restore on it for sure. Unless the new business does not need it. Then it will go into another trailer.
This is the original zolatone. Not all zolatone need to be recreated in my opinion.

Please do not contact me as to how much the trailer costs. It is not for sale. If you want this trailer contact me to see how we can make it fit your business. We will build it out from there.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I took the long way home

Seven strikes and your out, I have sworn it off, and never plan to take that route again. What am I rambling about now? The George Washington Bridge or GWB is what I am whining about. I have sat in traffic for hours before rush hour to have it morph into rush hour. I have tried to sneak across in the middle of the night without success. I have even tried it in broad day light. Each and every time I am delayed at this crossing of the Hudson. I am there fore launching my champaign, "GWB, HELL NO!" No longer will I try and cross the Hudson on the GWB. I am not paying $9 per two axles for the privilege of waiting in traffic any longer. I will simply take the road less traveled or the long way around. Enough about my tirades, On to the recoveries. Yes two in one day.
The first place my client sent me was to Connecticut. When he said "I need you to go to a town called Bethlehem" I thought how quant a sounding town. All the Bethlehems I have ever been to were always quant, well groomed towns. The people were all friendly and lived in nice houses. Every town in Connecticut I passed through was a postcard. Then I got to the address of where the trailer was. All the house numbers were on the boxes, but for some reason 207 skipped. Surely 207 was not up that long abandoned logging road. That is the driveway folks you see in the picture. It went almost straight up from the road and looked like, well, an abandoned logging road. I ventured up into a junk yard in the woods serviced by an abandoned logging road.
The owners must had been a set designers for Mad Max or Escape from Thunder Dome. There were about 50 cars up on blocks just like this one. Most had every door and hatch wide open. Many were cut up and tortured looking instead of parted out. Everywhere you looked was garbage. Not good garbage that might serve a purpose someday, this was pure trash that could not be burned. At the top of the hill were three mobile homes(I am being generous in my calling them mobile or homes). As I pulled up, literally every window on all three trailers had two fingers part the mini blinds and an eyeball peered out at me through the slit. I honestly contemplated throwing it in reverse and backing down the road as fast as I could. In my head I could hear banjos dueling and pigs squealing. But I could see what I had come for parked in the only open ground. The door opened and out came the seller before I could run away. Who am I to judge how people live? Not sure, but if you went there, you would be judging too.
I grabbed what I had come for, this 1965 Globetrotter. This rig is in surprisingly good condition compared to everything else on the property. I hooked on and ran. No tow lights, no tag, and no "see ya up the road" instead I was set to "beat it on down the line".
The Globetrotter had been purchased on Craig's List and the new owner wanted it taken to a safer location. I only had to tow her a few miles to the local storage yard. Very easy move to make, but what a pick up location. I should have taken more photos there. I could put them on the wall and look at them as a reminder of how not to become with the saving of trailer parts.
I then went up to Massachusetts and picked up this 1954 front kitchen Safari. My client had out bid me on this one. I placed my bid and let it ride, hoping no one wanted it but me. I was out bid and was fine with it. Now instead of picking her up for me, I was being paid to pick her up for someone else. We headed West now to avoid the GWB and to go to Central New York.
Crossing the Hudson was very smooth on I90. I was actually the only vehicle on the bridge while crossing. The entire return trip was a nice drive back. You need to realize, for me, the tow is the best part. I love tooling down the road with a trailer in tow. I love seeing the landscape from my rear view, especially when there is a thirteen panel Airstream following my truck.
When most people think of New york they think of the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the megapopulous of New York City is what pops in their heads. Little do they know, New York is a huge State with very rugged landscape. A Landscape that is very agricultural, wooded, and undeveloped. New York is truly fabulous State. New York is a fine State to tow in, well, until you pull up to the pump and find gas is $.45 more expensive than anywhere else. I had a mission though and I was heading to Sherburne to pick up the interior of a 1961 Ambassador. You have seen the bathroom for this trailer before. It is the bathroom I did for Client #0001 a while back. The fancy cherry one. I am doing the rest of the interior now. To make it easy on him, I came by and picked it up. In return, I got to spend the night and was taken out to dinner.
In little towns the people tend to appreciate each other much more than in the city. John(right) took me to his favorite restaurant New York Pizzeria & Restaurant. Frankie Baio(center) is the owner and chef. He and his wife Betsy were so wonderful and the food was spectacular to say the least. We were treated like total VIPs the entire night and what a great time it was. If ever passing through New Berlin stop in and say hello. I highly recommend this restaurant. I am sure I will find an excuse to pass by very soon.
John's wife Laurie kept John and I from getting out of control with all the hospitality being served us. Glad we had her there to keep us grounded and to brighten the table.
Another side trip I took was over to Baker's Acres of Chenango. Since this is the site for The Birthday Bash this summer we wanted to walk the field and figure out where we were going to locate all 79 trailers. We also wanted to figure where we would be erecting the water tower, and where the main tent would go. For those interested in this camping rally, get ready for a great time. Slots will go on sale Jan 1.

And just to make the trip a real fun time, I met up with snow at the Pennsylvania line. It made for a fun drive home. I backed the trailer into the parking spot and unhooked. A long 30 hour trip it was, but what a great time it was. I love going out on the road like this. You just never know what you might see or what might present it's self to you. See ya down the road(except you folks living in the junk yard in the woods of Connecticut. I hope we do not cross paths again)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Lu Lu low down

"So Frank, what gives with Lu Lu? I am waiting for a post" is what the email said. I love these kind of correspondences. They balance out the "Frank, I found this Airstream and I am in love" that I get so often these days. So for all those waiting, here you go. One of the things I am doing to Lu Lu is replacing all of the belly pan. From stem to stern it will all be new soon enough. Built in 1961 Lu Lu has bounced down a lot of roads. Her axles were bad for a number of those years and as a result many of the out riggers have sawn their way through the belly pan. I have a remedy for this issue. The fact that a well know renovation/ restoration shop North of me replaced the axle last year is a huge bonus to keeping it from happening again. I have also imported a technique from the UK to prevent it even when the current axles fail. Stay tuned for that one.
One issue I am seeing is leaks. My client will either need me to or do it themselves, but the seams need to be sealed. There are at least three good leaks going on. If left to fester these leaks will create issues in the future.
On top of the bees I showed in my last post, there are the usual mud dabbers. The usual mice making home in the belly.
I did find this. The flare fitting was over tightened and split. I am not sure if it was when the axles were replaced, for this would have been the fitting I would have removed when changing the axle, but it is split and would have been a leak for sure.
I did finally get the black tank valve off. A plate is being machined to convert the tank over to a modern Valtura valve. Stay tuned for this part at a later date.
I did find some rot, The total area is about 3" x 2" and involves one elevator bolt. I cannot justify removing the entire bathroom to fix such a small area. A combination of rot killing chemicals and high tech structural epoxy will need to be the fix. My client will also just need to keep an eye on the area.

I have to say I am actually shocked by the condition of Lu Lu's structure. I thought for sure I would find at least a broken out rigger. I would have bet a heathy sum on finding the rear all rotted out. I am pleasantly surprised to be wrong.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Updates for all.

So this past week I got busy removing the belly from Lu Lu. There was a wide variety of rivets to drill out. Make sure you wear goggles if you do this. I mean fully enclosed goggles not just just safety glasses. One shaving in the eye can set you back significantly. Just saying, it might happen, It has happened to someone out there.
I am dropping all the belly from back to front. My client wants to make sure the frame is all in good shape. The last place that worked on this trailer claimed there were issues. The belly pan has seen better times, there are lots of dents and a few "saw throughs" by the out riggers. I am going to make it all look new again.
I found the back cross member with the usual rust throughs. Not too serious. I will weld new metal in there and make it good as new. All in all, no huge surprises so far...
...except for maybe this rather large bees nest. Thank God it was not active. They would have gotten me big trying to crawl out from under the trailer.
Another repair Lu Lu is getting is a valve conversion. I will be putting a conversion plate on the tank and we will be all up to date with a new Valtura gate valve. I just need to get that last screw out with out snapping it off. It is being very stubborn. Daily doses of PB Blaster will eventually win out and have it spinning loose.

The Wally Bubble also know as the X251 went away this week also. I am not going to get into too many details. This trailer will require significant resources to make whole again. Hopefully, someday she is going to be restored when the resources are found. This trailer has been passed around many times. Hopefully, soon she will get the attention she deserves. To make the drop off easy, I towed the X251 onto the transporters truck. Being connected to my truck seemed more secure than just connected to the flat bed. The drive to the port is not too long and I did not want any harm to come to such a unique trailer.

This was a project I was very excited to work on. A shame, but you cannot have it all.