Saturday, December 27, 2008

a guy never forgets his first girl

I have gotten some interesting comments lately. Most of then I have not published. Seems rescuing a trailer from a destiny of becoming a hunting camp is a dishonorable action. Seems that finding said rescued trailer a new owner that wants her to be restored back to her original condition is wrong. That doing this is an act of greed on my behalf. It can only be greedy, for the new owner is a German and he is willing to spend his tainted Euros on an American trailer. So greedy and dishonorable was my actions that I will do it again. But enough about that rant and enough of the negative comments please. I am a greedy bastard and all I care about is the Euros, yes that is true, I got the point.

So, a man never forgets his first girl. I have been thinking about her so much lately. The deadline I placed for starting the front end work has passed and even with my extreme optimism I do not think I can pull off a complete front end before next years camping season. Yesterday I went over to see Anna. Boy is she beautiful and I miss seeing her every morning when I wake up and look out the window. I sure cannot wait till the greed trailer gets out in the yard this week. I want my girl back home. The main reason for going and seeing her was to double check measurements for new axles.

Interesting thing about the measurements, many years are the same. Everyone talks about how each year and model has a specific sizing. Some claim that the serial number specifies the sizing and that only they know the right size. Anyway, I have the measurements for my trailer confirmed. 57. 875" outside of frame to outside of frame, 74.375" hub face to hub face. It took serious rocket surgery to read the tape measure, that is for sure. One interesting thing I did learn; The street side hub face is 1/8" further from the frame than the curbside hub face is. Those Henschen guys need to tighten up the quality control. I wonder if I should specify that Axis Axles build my new ones off center too.

The other reason for going to Anna was to put her rubber back on her. I sometimes wake at night wondering if the cribbing might have shifted and she had tumbled to the ground. Now I have one less thing to worry about. I just cannot wait to hook her up and bring her home. Daddy is going to get her new axles, a new gaucho, convert her sheet metal astrodome to a Wally hatch, and finish the polishing that was started last year. Hopefully I get all that done by April.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sneak Preview

My first clients vanity is coming together. It all began with a little repairs followed by some veneering with a sheet of exceptional ropey cherry.

many steps of sanding, finishing, and more sanding to bring out the true depth of the grain...

and it slowly comes back together.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Frank's Trailer Works Client Number #0001

I want to first apologize for the piss poor quality of the pictures in this post. My shop has florescent lighting and I have yet to figure out how to take pictures that are even close to color correct under those lights. It has been remarkably cold here and when it is cold the bulbs take a long time to come up to full brightness. So you are all going to need to use a little imagination as to the brightness of things. Sorry again.
So now on to my post. As a few of you might know, I am starting up a trailer restoration and customization company. It will be called Frank's Trailer Works. I hope to take the things I have learned as a professional woodworker and put out a product like most never seen inside a trailer. I will offer a full range of services, but hope to eventually do the complete package. Yes, I will even polish your trailer for you on an hourly rate. Frank's Trailer Works Client #0001 is now in the shop.

Client #0001 is a 1961 Ambassador. I have been given the privilege of making the bathroom cabinets look like new again. However, the factory never put out cabinets like I am going to do. We will not be changing the design or layout, but the wood species is going to be entirely different. The trailer came in oak stained a medium brown as you can see by this vanity. The client did go over it with Howard's Feed -n -wax, but the quality of these early sixties trailers was just not all too special. Very little attention to detail was given and, frankly, it shows.

This is the veneer we are using for all the doors and drawer fronts. It is called ropey cherry. This grain pattern is not uncommon, but occurs once in about 5,000 logs. Virtually all of it is cut into veneer and laid up on plywood or into sheets like this. This is actually one of the most spectacular sheets I have ever seen. This photo does very little justice to the color and complex grain pattern. With a light stain or natural finish, the grain will look a mile deep. What a pleasure to have the client pick out such a tremendous species and such a beautiful pattern to boot.

For the bases of the cabinets and wardrobes we are using this veneer. It is also cherry, but is quarter sawn. To quarter saw the log is split into quarters and then sawn parallel to the center. The yield is not large, so it is not too frequent to have the mills cut cherry this way. The veneer produced has a very straight grain and there are many ray grains through out. Once again, when sanded to 180 grit and a natural finish is applied the grain just pops out. This bathroom is going to be a pleasure to be in. My client will probably spend more time in here than he usually would just looking at how beautiful the grain is.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A bone...

It was Marcus's birthday the other day. Pearl Harbor Day... Sorry man. Anyway Marcus has been busting my balls about a post related to Anna. Hey Marcus here's a bone.... still on cribbing, no battery, no power cord, no tires, no water hoses, not even in her own yard. Like I told you before, the bitch does as I tell her. Now she does have hard measurements for new axles, she also has parts on order for the next phase, and she has me wanting her back badly. Sure hope the Sisdysix gets on the boat soon.

Next post: Frank's Trailer Works client number #0001

Sunday, December 7, 2008

She is so sweet

I had to add a few more of the sisdysix. Her she is sitting in my yard at 27 degrees after a snow shower. Clean and all ready to go bye bye.

All these pictures have been sent to RJ Dial at the Archives. hopefully someone will be able to reference them and see what was and what is on their own trailer.

ain't she sweet

Before she leaves me, I wanted to document the sisdysix. I was told that she was to be sold "as is" and that the buyer needed me to do nothing. He actually told me to do nothing more, but I feel a bit of attachment. I had to finish cleaning her up.

So yesterday I gave her a bath. This is probably the first bath in well over twenty years. I was astounded by the shine that appeared almost instantly.

I used more of the Clorox Clean up, and it completely ate away the fungus covering her. That stuff is incredible and I cannot recommend it more highly for cleaning anything that is filthy.

Here is proof of how well it works. That is no scrubbing, just sprayed it on and allowed to work for one minute.

Come on in and take a look....

Kind of hard to believe I took a pick up truck load of trash out of here...

Or filled a 12 gallon shop vac of mouse droppings and hickory nut shells...

It is going to be kind hard to see this girl leave in a few weeks. I will get some exterior pictures for everyone to see soon.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Well, It looks as though the Sisdysix has a new owner. We are in the process of working out the details, but she will probably be going on a European vacation. Yes, I have actually shown myself as a hypocrite. I had railed against the number of Airstreams being shipped over to Europe. I felt that it was a form of heritage lost and was some what upset by the prospect. I guess I have had a change of heart. I was contacted by a company that imports and restores them for the European market. I turns out they had a client looking specifically for a 1966 Overlander. It turns out that mine being so original fit the bill just perfect. My main goal with this trailer was to put her back into circulation. After 28 of sitting in a yard slowly rotting away, the prospects of her hitting the road again in the near future thrills me. The proceeds from this transaction will give me the resources to continue my own project on Anna. I think in the long run, everyone has benefited from this transaction. I hope that in the future I can see another trailer get back on the road again. If anyone knows of any, let me know.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Needs cleaning and bad

So many products to choose and I hit gold on the first try. I read some threads on the Airforums as to all the products people use, asked some friends what they use, but ultimately it came down to einy meanie moe.

I went with the Clorox Clean-up Cleaner with bleach. Kind of a redundant name, but very effective. I sprayed it on and waited about fifteen seconds. I then used Mr Clean Magic Eraser upon Rob Bakers recommendation to scrub the mildew off. It was very effortless. Next I used a wet rags followed by a dry rag.

Some areas were just filthy beyond belief. I thought there was very little hope going in.

Talk about transformation.

Take two

Something came in the mail yesterday. I will not be trying this one out in water.

I am open

Anyone have a good suggestion of how to deal with this stuff?

The walls are this vinyl clad material. Everywhere through out the trailer it looks like this door. Not sure what the mildew feeds on, but it likes the clad walls. It does not grow anywhere but there. In the bathroom the cabinets are some kind of slick white lacquer and it has not grown there at all.

This is the worst looking of all the areas. I do not want to test out a bunch of products, I want to go right to "the stuff" and make these walls new again. I know bleach will kill it, but I want it totally clean too. I will be glad to entertain any suggestions short of fire.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On the road again....

As Colin Hyde said on The Vintage Airstream PodCast episode 83... "Now you officially have Aluminitis Frank." It is true, I am deeply afflicted. I brought home a second Airstream today.

Here is serial number J126 60 48. So that makes her a 1966 Overlander international twin. The forty eighth one off the line. This girl is the exact same age as me.

This trailer has been off the road for the past four years. It was towed four hours from Western Maryland to just North of Baltimore.It has just been sitting in the owner's son's yard collecting mold, mildew, vermin, and water ever since. Previously is just sat at the previous owners yard without moving for twenty four years.

At some point a caravan was probably taken for the WBCCI numbers 12380 are still on it though they are now just ghost letters. Unfortunately the back hatch is missing. These hatches are notorious for blowing off on the highway. Good thing none of the Corning windows blew off, they are all original glass.

A fairly good exterior with just one major scratch. A few small ones here and there, but fortunately no dents to the skin. The belly has a few dents in it, but they all look as if the could be pushed out.

Mahogany interior all 100% original and unmolested. A major cleaning of the entire trailer is coming. Many of the previous owners possessions are still in the cupboards. I will have a good time sorting through all of that.

A very neat thing I did find was the shower door that folds up and tucks into the wall. A very cool advancement after mine was built. The entire thing is just filthy as can be.

So by now you might be asking, why? Why do you need another trailer? The answer is I don't. I only bought this one so it could get back on the road. My intentions are to clean this one up, make it road worthy and then sell it. Someone out there is looking for this girl and when they find her, they will fall instantly in love. It is not every day that one this complete comes along. From a restoration stand point, this is an excellent canidate. It will need frame work and flooring replaced as they all do. Things need to be updated, but she is a sweet girl just waiting for someone to love her.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

and now I have become a pimp

I am buying another Airtstream. This is her, a 1966 International Overlander. By the time most of you read this, she will be sitting in Anna's usual parking spot within the fence. I found this trailer through a Craig's List ad that Steve Klohn (Byamcaravanner) forwarded me. He and a number of my friends are constantly scanning the classifieds for good deal on vintage trailers. I mostly don't even take a glance and delete them. This time, I actually called. One thing lead to another and I will be picking up my second Airstream today. More details will be posted soon on the Sisdysix. In order to bring her home, I had to make Anna put out. I had to make her work it a bit.

Anna had to give up her parking spot, her tires and her tag in order to allow me to bring another girl home. She now sits on cribbing in my friend Michael's yard. I tucked he in next to his studio and left her there on the cribbing, axles dangling in the air.

I feel so bad about treating her this way, sure hope she understands my motivation. Mike suggested I take this opportunity to polish the belly pan. I will take this opportunity to measure up for the axles I need to get. Stay tuned for recovery pictures later today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


My very good friend Marcus whose blog is linked here on mine just pointed out to me an error in my blog. Here is the conversation between Marcus Moyer, Rob Baker and myself:
Marcus Moyer
5:57 PM
January 3rd, 2008: "Soon I will seal the ends to prevent moisture from being wicked up in the ends of the sheet. Because this is marine plywood, sealing the ends is an unnecessary step, but I will do it any how."
5:57 PM
Rob Baker
5:58 PM
say one thing, do another - Frank's way
Marcus Moyer
5:58 PM
Golderned lying hippie bastage!

So to set the record straight I want to say that I DID NOT use the epoxy. I went on to other things and it did not happen. Marine grade plywood is put together with waterproof glue and it is not really necessary. Sorry if any one was confused, I did not mean to mislead anyone. I am human and I too err.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bling Bling

Even against the wishes of some of my most respected friends, I made "a change". I consulted many friends about this "change" and they all said DON'T. They told the law will not like it and hassle me constantly. They feel I do not need any extra hassles from the law. They say it is tacky like fuzzy dice and bobble head poodles, a fad that ran it's course and needs not be revived. But I just did not listen and went ahead and did it anyhow. I THINK BLUE DOT TAIL LIGHTS ARE FUCKING COOL!!!

It all began with drilling a 15/16" hole in the lens. Now this is an act of faith because these Bargramm 99's are not cheap and that is a big hole. I installed them right into the hole as the instructions said. I went the extra step and used a small bead of clear epoxy to bond it in. One evening soon I will hook up and get the full night time effect. I am sure the truckers and Rob will be mesmerized next time we caravan in the early morning hours, unable to take his eyes off the glow that seemed powered by some unnatural force.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More wood Mom....

So quick distraction update: I have been working diligently and methodically at completing the porch on my house. Lots more of that repetition I mentioned in an earlier post. Yesterday, I primed everything in my shop where the wood stove can keep me nice and comfortable. At Toms suggestion I was anal about making sure all cut were primed.

Today is was a nice brisk windy day and I put it all together. Here I am working on the last side.

I am very happy with the way this came out. I still have to do the tops of the columns. About three more hours and I am done with all the fabrication.Another challenge is going to be finding a painter.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More wood.

More wood for me. The front porch stands between me and my Airstream renovation. Last year it was a pile of mulch. Now, it is a porch project that has gone on for six years. I am making porch columns to surround the porch posts.

I made this jig to hold the board so I can create a tapered column. I am tapering from 9 1/4" to 7" over 84". The jig follows the fence and the board is held at the right angle to the blade.

I simply cut the taper off of each board.

I then used a lost miter set up to cut a miter on the taper.

Finished columns. Now they just need the top moldings. getting closer folks... Anna, daddy's coming.....