Wednesday, March 25, 2009

X251 has landed, Houston, I repeat, X251 has landed...

I have been waiting patiently to take that photo. I have dreamed a great deal of touching one of Wally Byam's trailers. Today both of those things came true. Yes Folks, that is the X251, Airstream founder Wally Byam's Bubble built in 1954 for Wally and his wife Stella to scout Europe for a caravan to take place in 1955. This trailer is truly one of a kind in many aspects. Hopefully over the next few months some of you out there will enjoy seeing her restored to her original glory. My first step will be to evaluate her condition and to come up with a game plan that works for myself, my client(I will refer to him as "client #0002" until he gives me the green light to speak of him by name), and the trailer. All three of us have a vested interest in this project. She has been treated like piece of meat over the years, tossed around and treated as a trophy. Virtually every owner, especially the previous one has exploited her for personal gain. Her new owner is a different man. He has a big heart with which he follows through life. He saw the opportunity to not only have a special trailer, but one that has a significant role in Airstream history. I am very, no, extremely fortunate to be a part of helping his dreams come true. I hope to make everyone proud in the process.

The road to my shop has not been a smooth one to say the least. Our first transport company some how lost touch with the significance of this move. The X251 was in Phoenix Arizona and needed to get to me here in Baltimore. That is 2331 miles door to door. I contemplated all the options. At first I thought I would drive out, hook on and tow her back. Then a friend was going to fly out, rent a truck and flat bed trailer and bring her to me. Then the logistics and legalities of it all caught up to us and we realized that using a professional transportation company was the way to go. The first company specialized in vintage trailer moving. A good fit we thought. Well they also specialized in taking their sweet time and not wanting to deal with me, the guy with the huge wad of $50's and $20's on the receiving end. We went with a lucky lady and she and her son came through with flying colors.

The company I will always use is Buckner Transportation. Toni and her son Philip seen here did an out standing job. This is a family run company and service is their middle name. I was contacted twice daily from the moment they left to go pick her up, until she got to me. I knew everything that was happening and every single problem that was found. These people have my full respect and I will now be a very loyal customer. Got a trailer or car needing transporting? Call Toni. She and her son kick ass! As soon as my website is fully built out there will be an ad for them. They are definitely part of the Frank's Trailer Works cooperative. So if you have not gotten the message yet, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND BUCKNER TRANSPORTATION.

Very nice rig they haul with to say the least. Professional is saying very little about the entire operation. You might notice the two straps around the trailer. That was a saving grace thought up by Toni and Philip to get her here in one piece. I will go into that in my next post.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Windows 103

Once again if you have not read Windows 101 go down the page and start there please.

At this point the sash and frame have been cleaned and polished up. Make sure the sash is very clean. Make sure no tiny bits of rubber, butyl , or broken glass are in the groove inside the sash. All of these will impede your forward progress.

The butyl tape is very sticky and very easily stretched out of place. You need to handle it carefully for consistant thickness is what you need. You also do not want to get any debris in it. I have found unrolling it paper side down to work best.

I cut one end square and unroll it down the groove. If you butt the end against the inner groove and slowly roll it out, you will easily be able to cut it to length. I mark it with my razor knife and then put a scrap piece of wood under and cut it cleanly.

You are going to mess this up at least once, so do not fret. This butyl grows on trees, well it actually does. The trees grew millions of years ago and were transformed to oil when they fell into the swamp along with some dinosaurs. That is a whole other lesson plan. Just try and learn when you mess up. As you saw in the photo above, the tape is off set on the paper. The narrower side goes toward the inside of the sash. The placement on the paper actually helps align it in the groove perfectly. Press it in real well and peal back the paper.

So here it is all lined out with the butyl.

Now this brings me to that caution about accurate sizing. Say you have some glass around and you cut it yourself. If it is too big and you try and muscle it into place it might crack. could happen, it is possible. Like I have been saying, learn from those mistakes. Do not repeat them.

Another simple mistake is not seating the glass all the way. See those air pockets?... you do not want that. Carefully seat it in by applying even pressure. You will see solid black all the way along the glass.

Next the outer gasket goes on. I showed that to you in lesson 101. The technique I use is to seat it into the groove using a screen door tool. By applying pressure in the right location it will go right in as it is supposed to. A forty five degree cut in the corners is needed to wrap the whole window. Now a small amount of vulkem over the miter and the sash is done.

Time to prepare the frame for the new sash. the "O" shaped seal goes in the inner groove. The long edge tail goes toward the inside of the slot and then the outer is eased in with a tool of your choice. I found dragging a dental pick made it very easy. It just slides right in with very little difficulty. I suggest starting in the upper right hand corner and going clockwise around the frame.

At the corner, you just fold the bead and keep going. This way there are no gaps and the only seam is at the top where it is protected by the drip cap.

I did not include installing the sash back in. It is simply a matter of reversing the removal. Your windows are now ready to go. Some hints for those in the south or those want to make the windows look cooler... You can apply film to tint them or even use the mirror film. This will help in cutting down on hot sun light coming in and keep the trailer considerably cooler. To maintain the seals and gaskets I recommend a twice yearly application of glycerin. A product readily available in most drug stores. It will keep any rubberized material supple for a long time. This works very well on windshield wiper blades.

Good luck out there. Hope these three lessons helped you with your project. Please drop me a line and let me know how it went.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Windows 102

Okay folks, now if you have not read Windows 101, you will need to drop down the page a bit. Read all this stuff in order so it makes sense to you.

Time to remove the sash out of the frame. The first thing you will need to do is remove the little screw in the top of the frame. It is in the center way up under the frame and is very difficult to get a hold of. I used small vise grips to slowly back the screw out.

That screw goes into this piece of plastic that keeps the sash from sliding back and forth.

Now here is one of my true confessions. I cannot figure out how to put these back in place. They are lost to the wind, or ground, or someplace else. I am reasoning that the lifters and locks keep it where it needs to be. Someone will tell me how to do this, but it is too late. All six windows are now missing these blocks.

Next you need to go inside the trailer and remove the two screws holding each lifter. Do not loose these. They are very difficult to match up, for the thread pattern is very course and they are quite short. Just let the lifter hang free in the frame. Now go outside and lift the window and slide the friction clips out of the wide part of the slot. The lifter hanging free will make this very easy. This is a good time to replace any lifters not working right and any friction pads on the end of the arms. Vintage Trailer Supply has all of these parts. I replaced all of my lifters and all of my friction blocks. So now the window is totally free in the frame.

Next the drip cap or eyebrow end needs to be moved out of the way. If you have a 1963 or later, well sorry for you, for you do not have this wonderful window detail. Remove the screw from one end. Look at the curve of the shell and try and figure which way is going to give you the most room. Remove the screw and if it is a rusty one throw it way. Not on the ground for it will become a part of your tire, but in the trash. When putting it back together, use a stainless steel screw. Now carefully bend the drip cap up to give you the clearance. Bend it slowly and carefully as to not crease the drip cap.

Now lift the sash so it is straight out and slide it out. The whole sash just slides right out. This makes working on it very convenient.

Okay now with all seriousness. Your interior is very vulnerable right now. I encourage you to put plastic over the opening. If you do not, a bird will fly in, it will start to rain, or your wife will need you to do something that will keep you from finishing. You might even break the glass and need to order a new one. It could happen, seriously, it could. Just be safe instead of sorry and cover the opening with plastic.

Time to prepare the sash for the glass. Some people put tape over the glass to keep it together and to keep it from flying off. If you do, you are cheating yourself out of the joy of breaking some glass. Common now, everyone loves to break glass. I do it over a blanket so that once the glass is broken I can pile it in the center and then just dump it all into the trash can. But if you feel the need to cover it with tape, well, you know what I think.

The old butyl needs to be removed along with any adhesive was applied behind it. I took a screw driver and ground it to fit the groove exactly. I also ground it like a chisel. Be careful here. The tendency is to hold the sash with one hand and push the custom chisel with the other. Your best purchase on the sash is directly in front of the chisel. When the chisel slips, it will stab you right in the palm. It will stab you deeply, and the wound will become infected, and it will hurt for weeks, and fester terribly. I could happen, it is possible , and it might be very painful. There will remain some butyl and adhesive at this point. I find that some mineral spirits applied with an acid brush will remove all of this residue.
Now it is time to clean and polish the sash and frame. I am not going to show this step. Everyone has their own polishing technique and if I show you mine someone will tell me they do it better. The window frame and sash will now be clean and free of all debris. They are both ready for Windows 103.

Windows 101

A lesson learned early was to give more than you receive. I have received so much help from friends and total strangers that I felt it important to give a little help back. I have compiled a group of photos involving window repair for the Herh Mark Xii windows and wanted to give a little tutorial for those wanting to do this work themselves or for those wanting to know how I will do it for them. Window repair is fairly easy to do, but it is like so many things, by the time you fully understand and get proficient the job is done. I hope this helps someone out.
I will be posting this in stages. This first stage involves getting ready to do it. You will notice that not all photos are of the same window, however the steps are all the same on any Herh Mark Xii window. I believe that this style of window came into use in 1959 and was used until 1965.

Any trailers out there with original seals is in need of refurbishment. The window is a tremendous leak potential and should be kept in good working order. Many look like the one shown. Grime has gotten behind the gasket and parts are broken due to UV degradation. You will notice that the black butyl tape behind the glass has some air pockets which are a clear sign the seal has been broken.

Sometimes the window seals are new, but bad axles pounding on Central New York farm roads has cracked the pane.

The first thing you will need to do is purchase some supplies, glass being one of them. Accurate, I mean very accurate measurements are needed. Remove all the outer gaskets from the frame. The glass should not leak at this point, but you do not want to take the trailer out on the road. The glass WILL fall out if you do. DO NOT TEMPT FATE.

A trick used by carpenters to get an accurate measurement is to start on one inch. The tip is only correct when pushed tight to a surface or hooked over an edge. Start on one inch and subtract it from your total.

Twenty eight inches minus one inch is twenty seven wide by...

Seventeen and a half minus one is sixteen and a half. So this glass is 27"wide x 16 1/2" high. You can measure all the glass panes needed this way. If you are fortunate, you can call up my man Charlie Donaldson. He has been cutting glass for 48 years and it is always exactly the size I order. I stress to you to make sure you tell your guy that exact sizing is crucial.

So now you have glass on hand, but other things are needed too. I Buy all my supplies from Vintage Trailer Supply. As far as I am concerned there is no one else to buy it from. I would not buy it anywhere else.

You will need some of the butyl tape and the outer gasket shown here. Do a quick take off by adding all the sides and adding a little for mistakes. Mistakes are bound to happen and they are good. They are good as long as you learn from them and do not repeat them again.

You will also need some inner window gasket that looks like this. Once again add up all the sides and add a little extra. Wouldn't it feel dumb to come up a few inches short and have to order more? So get all that stuff on hand and then we will go on to the next step.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Come and get it....

I received a comment on my Anna Lumanum blog that someone out there thought I had given up on this blog. Well I am here to state "No!!!!!" My camera has been malfunctioning and I have not been able to document things properly. Yes, I could ramble on and on, but pictures speak much louder than words. So whoever you are... please leave your name next time.... This ones' for you.

Just like old Pete back in 1960, I am very proud of my work. I seriously stress over it. I worry about every little detail and not a single mistake gets by. Unlike Pete however, I finish my cabinet interiors and the exteriors. I left my mark on both wardrobes as a sign of my pride.

This is the curb side wardrobe. The toilet side is the same laminate as the vanity counter top. I wanted to carry the visual texture over and also give a the wall next to the toilet some added protection. My client and his sons are a manly lot, his wife can thank me later.

This is the street side. I used aluminum here as this faces the shower. That ruffled edge is protective film that is still in place. I believe my client will be putting his diverter on this wall so that the shower head can be mounted as high as possible. This is something I also did in my trailer and it is truly an improvement.

Another improvement was converting this closet to shelves. In the early 60's folks must have hung a lot of stuff up. Today we tend to fold things more. This closet will provide a place for bedding, towels, and bathroom supplies.

Yet another improvement is the air slots I made. On Pete's cabinet, it was a stamped aluminum disc that was visually very obtrusive. I routed in these slits to allow the air to come in under the door and rise up and out. This system should work very well in the curb side wardrobe which will house all the electronic.

Next up: Herh Mark xii window rebuild 101, 102, and 103. That will be followed by the arrival of Wally Byam's Bubble known as X251.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

#0001, you getting excited?

I have to say that working with Client #0001 has been a total pleasure. He has for the most part given me total free reign to do as I please. He has repeatedly told me that he trusts my judgement and to let him be surprised. I always bounce all my decisions off of him, but for the most part it is my final call. That level of trust is very gratifying to say the least. Some how it motivates me to do an extra special job. I have no doubt that in the end, he is going to be blown away.

Today the face frames got decked in 1/4" birch plywood, then quarter sawn cherry veneer was applied to that. I did both wardrobe fronts and also managed to make both of the forward facing sides.

The veneer is from a company called Oakwood Veneer. I have been buying from them for a number of years and to say the least they put out an excellent product. The fiddle back in this quarter sawn of rift cut veneer is very nice. This is just the residue of the mineral spirits I used to wipe the panel after fine sanding. Once lacquer is applied that grain is going to pop.

Here is a quick preview of the wardrobe mocked up.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

you want me to make sense of that pile?

I have begun the next stage of bathroom work for Client #0001. I am now doing his bathroom wardrobes. He kind of took them out in pieces and it is my job to fix them.

I sorted out what was what and labeled it all so I could keep track of which parts are which. I then proceeded to remove all the hinges, screws, catches, and countless Byam hooks.

A very cool thing I have realized is that the guys that made these cabinets took some pride in what they did. They actually signed their name to each cabinet and included the trailer serial number. Right you are, 28 footer, 1961, twin bed, #268 off the line. I wonder what Pete's last name was. I wonder how old he is now. I wonder if he knew Clayton who built my cabinets for Anna the following year.

I then made measured drawings of all the parts. I have opted to start from scratch instead of repairing everything. Building them all new will save considerable time and effort in the long run. I am also very certain that I can builds a better cabinet than Pete did back in 1960.

I used some totally clear, light pine to construct new frames for the cabinet fronts. These will next be covered in 3 mm birch plywood. they are almost the same as the originals. I made them 11 mm shorter to compensate for the new cork flooring and changed the bottom detail.

Before the bottom of the door opening had a gap in the frame so air can come in under the door. It still can, just now it will do so through this opening. I made this change so the frame work will be more rigid at the floor. I am also going to make provisions for electrical equipment to go into the bottom of the curb side wardrobe. The street side will be converted to fixed shelves. In our modern age, we just do not have as many hanging clothes as we use to. This also makes a good storage for towels and linens.

Stay tuned for the next steps to this project.