Sunday, November 6, 2011


Frank's Trailer Works has purchased yet another trailer for restoration. Oddly, every year at this time, a 1966 Airstream has come looking for a new lease on life. 2011 has brought a 1966, 23' Safari. Just to stop many of you reading right now, this trailer is NOT for sale. We will be giving it to whoever commits to having it restored. The 1963 Shasta is in this same category. Free to you, if you have it restored.

She has been sitting in the woods for more than 15 years. Her owner is just not using her any more and would like to see her go to someone that will.

I post all these photos of her so you can see what these trailers look like at the very beginning of starting a new life. It does not show in the photos, but so much leaf mold as accumulated on the roof that a few seedlings are growing in it.

Take a good look, for next time you see photos of this trailer it will be all cleaned up.

I have been told it all works. Everything except the water heater.

Any of you vintage freaks recognize those curtains? Can you say "groovy baby?" We'll hold on to them as patterns when we clean her out.

The wisteria vine will be an extra charge if you want that.

All the Corning chemically tempered glass is there. All in all this is a totally complete trailer. She has never been molested. Virtually all her parts are there. Do not be fooled, she needs it all to be made new again, but with this unit, we are way ahead from the start.

If you are looking for a brand new 1966 23' Safari, FTW is looking to talk to you. We are here to make your dreams a reality.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Office

Have I ever shown you my office? At Frank's Trailer Works we use a vintage 1961 Fan as our office.

It has all the basics needed in an office. It has a place to answer the phone and do paper work, a sink, a refrigerator, a stove for cooking a lunch if needed, and even a double bed to sleep on if I pull an all nighter.

I really like her patterned skin. The patina is real nice too.

She also doubles as a fully functional camper. She is camp ready at any moment.

All of these reflections were brought to you by Michele and Larry's freshly polished 1971 Overlander.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday

The trailer, her owner affectionately calls the Buddha Baby, came into the shop this week to get ready for a little marathon of sorts. Her running shoes have gotten a little worn out and it was time for some new ones.

I often have to wonder how old these tires must be. Since all four are different brands, I am sure they are not original. The split rims are original however.

We jumped right in cutting out all the original running gear and all the mounting hardware.

Old gear out, new gear waiting for installation.

New mounting plate, fabricated by Inland RV, to convert from leaf spring to torsion axles, being welded on by Tom of T&K Welding. Tack weld first, for the placement is VERY critical. Perfect alignment of the axles side to side, from each other, and height from the frame are all crucial to get 100% accurate.

Plates mounted, axles installed, shock mounts welded into place. Usually I would prime and paint all this next, but the Buddha Baby is coming back in a few months to get a complete shell off restoration and every thing will be sand blasted and treated then.

Here she is with her new Yokahoma custom white walls. These show tires were made by Diamond Back and really make the trailer pop. Some may look at these tires as being lip stick on a pig, or fancy new tires on a field find, but if the pig needs new running shoes, why not get a good pair, for she won't be a field find forever.

This project has a theme song to it. Want a a hear it?

I suspect Diamond Back will be seeing a small spike in trailer tire sales in the next few months.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Slackers 2

During my goofing off period(see last post) we did some Airstream work on location in Bowie Maryland. Wayne and I commuted down a few days last week to replace the rear floor and reconnect the shell on a 1971 Overlander. The project was begun by her owner, but has been handed over to us to complete. Working on site allowed us to get the trailer ready to tow to the shop.

Michelle and Larry fell in love at first sight with their trailer. Their plate reads; LAFS It was spotted just a few miles from their house. An Airstream trailer has been a life long dream of Michelle's and now Larry is pretty well sold on it too. They have very unique ideas about the style they want and this project promises to be very fun.

Larry had all the frame repairs taken care of and took care of the priming and painting. We fabricated all new belly pan and Wayne did his best to make the highly abused banana wraps look as good as possible.

The belly work was all riveted into place while in Michelle and Larry's yard.

The bumper hatch was removed as it directly led to the major issues found in the back area. This entire area will be re engineered. I know I often tell people that there is no need to re invent the wheel, but the bumper hatch design of this era is a serious problem. Make no changes, only improvements...

Since not only was the floor rotted out, but so was all the aluminum in this area, I think an improvement will be no problem.

I love blank slates like this. I see nothing but pure potential.

I hate seeing damage like this however. That is what a crow bar does in the hands of a thief. Someone once tried to break in and this is the result. Not sure how I will make this one go away. I promise to do my best.

They all have road history. Some road history needs to be forgotten however.

It's just a little aluminum, so why not just remove it?

A new piece can just be made to fit and away go all those bad memories.


A close friend who reads this blog, commented that he thought I was goofing off due to the lack of posts lately. In all honesty, the lack of posts has been due to working hard, not slacking off.
Just to prove this, I will post about some of the things we have been doing here at Frank's Trailer Works in past few weeks.

Have you seen the 1950 Liner? This 1950 is about 95% completely original. Very little has been altered or changed over the years. This era of trailer was all built by hand. Airstream was still very much in it's infancy when this unit was built at 1755 North Main Street, Los Angeles California. Nothing was standard except making the customer very happy. One could walk into the show room and Wally would roll out a piece of paper and a full size layout could be done while the customer walked through their rig. Anything was possible back then.

She came in missing the back window. These windows were Plexiglass back in the day. Plastics was still an industry in it's infancy back then also and if an original piece of plexi is still in one of these units, it is toast. The plastic just gets brittle and it blows out when towing.

For a 62 year old trailer, she still looks very nice. There are a number of history marks on her, but from 15 feet back, you do not really see them.

The front window was a failed attempt at replacing the Plexiglass. Though in the opening, the shape is all wrong to make the curve. The 1/2" gaps at the edges is just not going to cut it either.

Good old pipe frame construction. Everything looks solid on the frame. The floor however, is not holding tight in the front end. Front end separation is very common in the pipe frame construction. Hopefully the green light shines my way to make this repair also.

It has such an odd shaped window. Honestly, the Silver Streaks, and Curtis Wrights have a much nicer appeal with two windows instead of the single.

When you walk in that door, you step right back in time. The urge to find the jigger and the martini glasses comes across me every time I cross the threshold. Every time I step out, I am rubbing my head however. The door is super low and I consistently bash my head right into it.

Here is is with new Optix acrylic in the opening.

I am very proud of the final results. It only took me a few(off the clock, all "learning" is done off the clock. Only actual work is billed) attempts to "learn" how to do it. I also want to point out that both the front and the back windows were made by hand. The two pieces of glass are totally different shapes and sizes. The frames show very clear signs of being shaped using a bender/ stretcher. Remember, this trailer was really hand made. There were not just some rivets bucked by hand, into computer drilled holes, these openings were fabricated by hand.

The shape is not an oval as it appears to the eye. The shape is kind of like a smile or a hotdog shape. The curve from center vertical line to the tops of the round ends is a few inches. Without this curve, the glass will not curve as you want it. It is a very good thing I found this out using a cardboard template and not an actual piece of acrylic like whoever made the front window did.

Another "learning experience" was the way the glass is held in. The retainer is that piece of aluminum tube bent to the pringle shape of the opening. The glass has a neoprene gasket over the edge, and the aluminum inner skin has a "u" channel over that, Everything is held in by pressure. No wonder these windows are notorious leakers. Not the best design, but cutting edge for the time.

Later in the day I will tell you about some other projects that have been coming through the Works. Can you say 1970's? How about a California 1970's trailer? I promise it will be groovy baby!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

You See the Shiny Hiney Once it Was Shiny Again?

A few weeks back we had a sexy 1966 Caravel come in for some repairs, but mostly to have her polish touched up. It had been three years since it was done last and this past Spring, tire wash was used at a car wash instead of pre wash. The tire cleaner had left very strong streaks down the sides.

We began by taping off all of the items not wanting to be polished or turned black by all the aluminum oxide we were going to sling around. The windows were a big concern as I did not want to risk damaging them. Every window in the Hiney were the original Corning chemically tempered glass.

We also removed all the vent stacks from the roof, because they were all toast due to too much sun and time. Many cracks and many leaks were a result.

Just look at all that crap under it. How is that supposed to keep the rain out?

Though three years ago she was polished, the job was not the best. The main areas were shiny, but the detail work was far from acceptable. Everything is in the details. In this era of trailer clear coat was used and it has all failed by now. Depending on when the owner realized this, depends on the severity of filiform corrosion caused by the clear coat failure. As you see above, a great deal of this stuff remained even after it was polished originally.

With a good deal of elbow grease and even more persistence it can all be made to go away. There still is some of this corrosion, but very little at eye level. Hopefully every touch up we do will remove more and more of this.

A word of advice, always start at the top and work down.

One panel at a time.

Persistence, perseverance, and determination will get you to the end.

It is a dirty job as this photo will verify. I am not doing a Vaudeville black face act. Very dirty work, there is just no way around it. However in the end, it is all worth it.