Tuesday, May 19, 2009

filling in the gaps

Now that we have had a few days of no rain the ground has firmed up a bit and I desided to move a clients trailer out into the storage yard. I had her sitting in my friends driveway. As to not wear out the welcome, it was time to move her.
Frank's Trailer Works storage facility is starting to fill in. Well, not really. Two trailers does not put a dent in six acres. But two mid fifties Safaris does make a very nice show. On the right is my 1954 I call Luna. On the left is a what was purchased as a 1954, but the serial number indicates it is actually a 1955. I had the pleasure of running up to Michigan and bringing her back a few weekends ago. They both have identical layouts and all the apliances are the same, but the bodies are very different. Luna is more square looking at her straight on, where as the 55 looks more rounded. Luna also has more slope to the rear end. Slight differences that make them all so beautiful. 

Now I just need to get a few more trailers in the field and we will be looking really sweet.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I am a man in a Bubble

I have gotten a ton of phone calls and emails asking "Frank what gives with the X251? Are you working on it?" Well the answer is yes. I have been working on removing all the add ons and serious Jerry rigs done by previous owners. Wally always said "make no changes only improvements" I am still waiting to see where his instructions were followed. 
The pile of absolute garbage is growing steadily. I am hesitant about discarding things, but this stuff is all junk. Just after this photo was taken I added the three way refrigerator. It would not run on 110, 12 volt, or gas. I tried it on all three. Not sure why it was glued into it's opening with construction adhesive not hooked up to any of the three energy sources. A question for the seller or a now dead previous owner I guess.

Anything of value is being saved and labeled. Screws are labeled in ziplock baggies and put in a box for sorting out later. The Princess stove is not original, but in very good shape. That is something else to be sorted out too.
Here is one of those changes. To the left is the original dinette base, but the wooden part is an add on. It is aluminum extrusion with plywood put on the face. All of this is now gone except the dinette base and that tank.
I think this tank is the original water tank. It was inside of a closet that was removed at some point. The X251 had the toilet right inside the door in this front curbside corner like the typical Bubble layout. 
There is the original direct drop hole for the toilet. Someone put a patch over the larger hole in the belly. You can just make out the rectangle of the toilet base.
In the dinette base is the electrical components. Some are original components and some are something someone thought was needed. I once saw a picture of these switches used to control the electrical system and it was discribed as Wally's control center. Well the switches were manufactured in 1972. Wally could not have touched any switch you see. I see this as a "change" and a bad one. Behind the front is a jumble of wires.

If anyone knows what that thing is to the left of the circut box, please let me know. I have never seen anything like this and have no clue. I suspect it is something having to do with the 6 volt, yes, 6 volt system.

Here is an original unit. All this is being saved as patterns for future cabinet reproduction. Two drawers on the end and a lift up bin in the seat. 

Another stupid "change" was the placement of a dead refrigerator into this wardrobe cabinet. I have to wonder if it ever worked. It was however firmly glued into the aluminum extrusion frame someone riveted into the cabinet. A chase for the fumes was made out of wood grained flashing material. 
An air inlet was cut into the side of the trailer. Did I mention "changes"?
And a large vent was cut through the roof of the trailer. This thing is fairly large. Might be somewhat hard to make go away. I will find a way to make it happen. 
Something that I need to make happen is replace the entire floor. I am not sure what it was that was used, but the flooring is totally falling apart. It is either some kind of experimental plywood or laminated solid wood. I am going to use a very huge improvement that was not available back in 1954 when the X251 was built. It is in the works and I am  hopeful this contributor will work with me. If they come through, you will hear all about their product very soon. The other cool thing about this product, it will be a one piece floor.
This issue will never happen again when I am finished. This new mystery product will insure that also. It will also revolutionize trailer restorations and possibly new Airstreams too. I am very hopeful. 
And now for some very cool finds. This is the original Zolatone. The color is a little off in the photo, but the next picture is almost spot on. 
A very cool find is on this wheel well. Someone used their finger to write "Airstream" in the wet paint. 
Here is the original hub caps and possibly the original spare. Nice wide white walled Atlas tire. The same type of tires appears in the early photos of the trailer. I think when done, the trailer needs wide whites again.

And this was found in a crack by the wall. I cannot help but wonder if Stella dropped it one rainy day while camped on the banks of the Rhine, the Seine, or the Danube, something to pass a dreary day in the spring of 1955.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I'll recover or I should say, "I will recover it"

Actually what I am trying to say is I love going and fetching trailers. If you need your trailer brought to me for work, I am your man. It is not a free service, but it is a job I enjoy. It is a job, but, I turn it into an adventure and sometimes I have a little fun in the process. My most recent recovery was actually a blast and I want to tell you folks about it.

Any recovery begins with getting the coordinates programmed into the GPS. I whipped out my maps and did just that. I do not believe in GPS. I think it is for those out of touch with the beauty of reading the Road Atlas or those following the American adage of "it is so much easier". I prefer to do it the good old fashion hard way. I started out for Holton Michigan at 2 am on Friday to pick up, pay for, and bring back a 1954 Safari to my shop to have some work done. Client #0002 has got aluminitis very badly. He has a 1960 Caravanner that needs to be picked up too. That is another story and will be told soon enough, back to the Safari. I headed out West and North. Someone I admire deeply lives in that direction and I thought, "Why not kill a few birds with one stone?"

I am a huge fan of David Winick. I like his keen design ability and insight into the balance of materials within a trailer. For those that do not know David Winick please go here: www.vintagetrailering.com and check him out. He designed the 75 th Anniversary Airstream. Unlike the Christopher Deam design, he did a brilliant job of improving on the original trailer. Knowing that Grand Rapids was on the way, and a little prodding from Steve Klohn, I reached out with an email and was told "sure come on by".

There were a few trailers waiting their turn out front.

His shop was very nice, It is fairly spacious and much cleaner than mine. He has been in business a little longer than me, so it is only natural. Sitting in the middle of the shop is this 1948 Wee Wind. David is building it on speculation. A buyer will want to have this one for sure. Don, you reading this? I think you are the man, but I also think you are the man...

David is cutting no corners with this one. As you can see, if a panel is not almost perfect, it gets replaced.

It was a pleasure to meet David and see his operation. I could have stood there and bullshit all day. Fortunately, I had a job to do. The Job was another hour and a half up the road. 
And here is the Job... bring this back to The Works.

One little problem though. It seem that the seller says it is a 1954, the title says 1954, but the serial number says 1955. Not sure it makes a big difference to anyone except a trailer geek like me.

I love the front kitchen. Very efficient use of the space.

Full time twin beds with a night stand between them .Those long windows... LOVE IT!!!

I hooked on, got things secured, and started back East and South. I wanted to maximize the day and put as many miles on as possible before dark time. 743 miles to the trailer, that meant I had the same to get back home. The odometer read 986 when I turned off the key for the night. I was towing an Airstream and I intended to use it the way Wally intended it to be used.

A huge boon was finding a White Castle. There are none in Maryland, and when I saw one heading North, I was determined to make White Castle my dinner location. Sitting at the dinette was very relaxing while I enjoyed the view at the campground. If you have anything negative to say about White Castle, save it and keep it to yourself, for I will not publish your comments. I eat there once a year and that makes it very special for me.

The place I shut down for the night was Sterling Point State Park. The park is halfway between Detroit and Toledo. My site, #23 was right on the beach and Lake Eire was all I could see while sitting at the dinette enjoying my sliders and the bottle of margaritas I bought on the way in.

I awoke to the sun rising across the Lake. As much as I was enjoying using Client #0002's trailer, I wanted to beat it on down the road and see my wife and kids. If the tent campers sleeping next door are reading this; sorry for waking you with starting my engine at 6am...
Smooth sailing all the way back. It was as if no one else was on the road almost the whole way
I even made sport of passing more than a few white box trailers....
And a new one for me... a classic British car. The people driving it looked to be a 105, but they sure looked classy in the right hand drive automobile. 

So the  trailer is in the yard all safe and sound and I drove 1489 miles in 20.5 hours. Good to be home, but even better to have a very cool trailer waiting in line right behind the X251