Monday, August 3, 2009

No Frank, I'm NOT CAMPING!

It seems like just yesterday I was sitting at the International Rally in Madison, WI...agreeing with Frank Yensan about using your trailer, not gutting it and then wishing you were camping. So what did I do? Let's just say I have a partial GUT JOB.
Yes, I've joined the few, the proud, the: I stand on my driveway where there used to be a floor crowd.

Since I don't want to do this again, I've done my investigation into alternative flooring that won't rot. I've got pricing and samples coming on some interesting alternatives. The Carver Yacht company has a facility 40 miles from me and they're using a lightweight fiberglass sheet product that has promise. Unfortunately, I spoke to the product manufacturers rep over a week ago and I'm still waiting on those samples. I've got a back up plan to use either a variation on the HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) which is heavier than I'd like or Plywood with epoxy which is more fuss and less quality than I'd like. Meantime I'm re-wiring my garage to get my air compressor up and running, then plan to tackle the rust removal and frame repaint.

I'm only taking down as much of the belly pan and removing only the minimum interior as needed for the rear floor repair. I planned to have everything back together in 1-2 weeks...ya right. Now it's camping by Labor Day or BUST!

Here's the carnage. Sure wish I was camping but I know the work I do now will save additional damage to my trailer.



I'll worry about the bath remodel, plumbing and tanks this winter or as $$$ allow. It didn't work anyway and I'm fine in my aluminum tent for the remainder of this season. Good news is, I found my leak!

See the crack in the gray y-pipe? Yep, that comes from the sinks and tub. And the black soap scum that had penetrated the floor didn't help the smell back there. Since removing the wet flooring the trailer smells a lot better. It's true what I recently read on the Airstream Forum: Trailers shouldn't smell. Funky or otherwise.

Monday, July 6, 2009

More Photos from the International Rally, Madison-WI

Dusk at Jefferson, WI
VAC Staging June 26, 2009

One of few Wisconsin round barns left, off Hwy 18 between Jefferson and Madison. This one is home to a great corn maze.
A neat Curtis Wright (yes he's allowed in the rally) all the way from California. Roomy inside with a hidden air conditioner that kept interior temps cold enough to "hang meat" as my dad is fond of saying.

A triple tow rig complete with vintage 60's Nomad Boat/Camper combo bringing up the rear.

The GRASS Vintage Parking Area.

It is said you can judge a shine by whether a woman can apply her makeup in the reflected image. This one was mirror fine!

What my trailer wants to be when it grows up.
This is a nice '65 Ambassador International.
A little shorter than my Sovereign.
Sign in the window says 99.5% original.
Would have liked to poke around, but 5:30am was not a time to knock.

David Winick's latest project: A 1948 Wee Wind under restoration.
Not one to miss out, David slept in the shell, on a piece of foam.
Thanks for being there David, your humor, stories and information were great.

Cake at one of our Happy Hours
What's one of the fun things to do at an Airstream Rally?
Learn Something.
I'm glad I got to attend a CPR/CCR class to update my skills.
Here's a couple photos of a riveting class. No pun intended.
The woman pictured had just bought a rivet gun and couldn't wait to learn how to use it before tackling the interior panel of her trailer.
Dinner with my neighbors in the drizzle under my awning.

Steve, thanks again for helping "free the awning". Frank, thanks for the penatrating oil. We discovered sand in the awning rails. The previous owners must have liked parking on the beach.

Another feast at the Yensan's place.
Thanks again for your generous hospitality!
This goes for Frank, Steve & Marc and their families as well as David and Deb. You all made me feel very welcome.
Fellow Wisconsinite Steve and I will agree: The DC Unit Rules!

Our group took a tour through the rolling hills west of Madison to find some cheese factories. Here are some photo's in and around Mineral Point and Pendarvis, WI.
While none of the factories visited were actively making cheese, I learned a lot about other products and processes. Plus, the company on the drive was great. Thanks for the great conversation and stories Dale.

Pendarvis, WI
For those who didn't turn around...inside joke.
Our tour guide at Brunkow Cheese, Darlington WI.
She pointed out being smaller has its advantages including receiving a nice bonus each time she climbs inside the tank, pictured behind her, to clean it out.
Not sure I could do it even if I did fit in that small opening!
Making cheese spread. Sealing the tops of the containers with Irons.

Cheese in the Mold room. A temperature and humidity controlled room where cheese develops a mold or "rind" on the outside during the aging process.

More fancy cheese from the "mold" storage room. How fancy? Let's just say a little wedge of these small circles goes for over $10. I was in a hurry during check out and didn't see the price. I'll let you know if it was worth it once we taste it. All part of the experience.
It went by too fast. Next time I'll take time off from work so I can enjoy it more. Learned lots. Have lots to do before the next trip. Thanks to everyone who made my first trip and first rally a great experience.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Greetings From Madison WI: Intl Rally

Hello and a sincere Wish You Were Here!

Sorry in advance, but I'm going to wait to post pics until I return home. Now that they're posted, sorry if it takes too long to load. I'll attach additional photos to a separate page. Once I figure out how to compile a panaramic shot, I'll have an awsome shot of the vintage area.

I drove the whopping 2 hours south to Jefferson WI on Friday. This isn't far compared to many hear from CA, AZ, NY, TX, FL, Canada, Sweden and all points in between. I drove down after working and calling on customers while towing my 30' silver bullet. Now that's a conversation starter!

The Jefferson Co. Fairgrounds are great. Nice facility. Clean showers. Friendly staff. Plus, we had the bonus of a Truck and Tractor pull on one side and a Horse show on the other. For some, it might have just been noise. For me, it was fun.

Sunset in Jefferson, WI

The Tractor Pull-Jefferson, WI

We had around 68 trailers in all. Nice turn-out. Great people. Already making good friends.

Here's just a few shots of the line-up Saturday morning. Ready to roll into Madison.

This Curtis Wright participated in the Vintage Airstream Club (VAC). Although not an Airstream, it's one sweet trailer owned by a great couple from California. This is one of several interesting trailers they've had or restored.
Sweet combo and a really nice couple.
This car reminded me of my '64 Impala SS I bought & restored while living in Vegas.

He even chromed the hitch!
Rob & Zoe Baker's rig with Sweet Sovereign in tow.
Yes the siren works, Rob proved it throughout the parade!
The weather was really warm Friday and Saturday. But a light shower cleared things out and it's been fantastic since. Blue skies, low humidity and a nice breeze to challenge the awnings. Especially if you're parked on ASPHALT with a POLE AWNING. Sorry, didn't mean to get that discussion going again. Right Deb? ;)

Look closely and you'll see the string of trailers in the rear view.

Almost there!

Waiting on the Off Ramp.

The view back down the freeway after we made the turn.

Staging for the parade. Mount the flags!
Too bad Rob left the rally before I could snag a flag pole holder!
The VAC Presidents ride. Nice rig Scott.

Another exceptional combo.

Fellow Airstreamers lined up to watch the Vintage Parade.
Now we sit and wait. It took us 30 minutes to drive 20 miles then 30 minutes to stage and 45 minutes waiting to park. On ASPHALT. Again, not trying to get anyone started. It was a good chance to meet some more "Streamers".

Marc and Becky's Rig, me and Frank behind.

We caravanned in to Madison Saturday morning, then paraded around the grounds while all the early birds looked on and cheered. The luck of the draw landed me in line with the rest of the 3 Amp crowd. Right in between Rob Baker and Frank Yensan, to name just a few. Everyone has been kind to this newby, outgoing to the point of insisting I join their families and groups for meals and activities and gracious beyond belief with information, supplies or assistance. I've also met several local Wisconsinites that I'll introduce you to later, including Steve and his family from Byamcaravanner blog fame. What a fun start to what has been a great experience so far, with more interesting events planned.

Had a little trouble hooking up the computer this morning so I gave up on WiFi and resorted to a hard wired ethernet connection. They could use a few more cables for us low-tech people but then again we could have brought our own. Good service through the Alliant Energy Center.

I've checked e-mail, gotten a report out for work, contacted some customers for appointments tomorrow and updated my blog. Now it's time to go listen to Dale "Pee Wee" Schwamborn tell about his Airstream history and the Africa Caravan. He's been very informative and entertaining with his recollections around our camp-site the past few nights. What a treat.
Dale "Pee Wee" Schwamborn and me hanging out in front of "Anna".

If you're like me and have a trailer but haven't used it or haven't used it in a WHILE. Please, do yourself a favor: GET OUT out and discover something like this. I finally did, on this first trip out of the barn in 4 years of owning my first travel trailer. My only regret now is: WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG!?!

This is a great experience...and we're all here waiting for you to join us.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Last Minute Update

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been scrambling to get everything done to head to the International Rally in Madison, WI. I leave today for the Jefferson, WI rendezvous of the Vintage Airstream Club. Looking forward to meeting all the bloggers and folks who have kept these classics on the road and inspired me in the process.

Recent accomplishments: Installed a Fantastic Vent fan to replace the crumbling plastic dome someone had installed on an old Herr vent base. Now that I know what I'm doing the next will go fast. I don't want to admit how long this one took to install. Finished cleaning the walls and all bedding. Had spare set of keys made. Installed two new window operators and two new cabinet latches. Just finished a FAQ sheet to post on my window at the rally. Still have to pack, weld safety chains on and try the awning poles. The awning looks great but the aluminum poles seemed to be jammed. I've been soaking them with penetrating oil, we'll see if it worked.

You can tell the difference in chain size. The originals are on top. Update following the Rally: I spoted the same"swing set" size chain I saw on other 1965 trailers at the Rally. Liability laws must have been different in 1965.

A word about insurance. I called to get value insurance on the trailer. I'm covered through my home-owners policy when the trailer sits and through my vehicle insurance when I drive against liability. I know they won't cover the actual value of this trailer given the age. So I have stated the value as at a fair amount should I suffer a total loss. This is something I can back up with Internet valuations, receipts and E-bay trackings. A separate appraisal was not be needed until the value escalates with the restoration completion. Total cost for peace of mind, $47 for the year through my capable agent at American Family Insurance. For comparison, my 1970 Oldsmobile has similar insurance and costs $42 yearly.

I'm happy to say my A/C is working great and so is the fridge. It's unfortunate that I won't be able to use them at the rally since we will be in the 3 amp area.

All packed and ready to roll. I'll be making sales and service calls on my way today. Should be fun...can't forget I'm 50' not just 20' when driving today!

Hope to see you there. I'll post updated photos and rally photos when I return.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

More Little Things

The list of items to check off before the International Rally in Madison, WI grows. Last night I installed a 30 amp outlet in the pole barn. It's a nice easy reach to the back of the trailer. This way I can power up without using the standard 120 volt outlet adaptor. Previously, to test the trailer I had to pull out of the building to the outlet mounted on the garage, in a funny place, by the previous owner.

Next, I fixed the previously damaged trailer to vehicle connection. I'd purchased a new lead with plug but until I rip off the belly pan or investigate the interior of the trailer further this repair will work great.

I wish I had photos of how I jury rigged it in Ohio. My van was wired incorrectly, it was getting dark and I had a long drive ahead. So I went with wire nuts, a plastic bag and lots of electrical tape which has worked fine for the past few moves. Now it was high time for something better looking and less prone to fits of laughter from my fellow Aluminites.

Turns out the cable was so long I was able to avoid splicing it back together which would be a recipe for future head-aches. It's actually longer than needed still with 18" missing. No wonder the previous owner dragged it on the ground.

Then I moved on to re-coating the woodwork with oil. The previous cleaning and oiling still left areas looking dry and dull.

It's been raining the last few days so no ventures outside with the trailer. I'm missing a rear vent cover which disintegrated in my hands when I took it out for sizing a replacement cover. I'm on the list at the rally to have a new Fantastic Vent installed. Not sure if I'll wait or purchase one and install it myself before then to save cost. Time is running out.

Next I investigated my flooring. I've currently got older gross brown indoor-outdoor carpeting covering the floor. Lucky for me it's held down with sporadic pieces of double stick carpet tape. I can see nice looking plywood underneath with signs of the glue that likely held down the original flooring or floor tiles. I won't be messing with this before the rally since any new flooring installed now would only need to come out again during the restoration.

On to vacuuming and cleaning in the nooks and crannies. If I'm going to spend any time in there this summer I want it clean. Take this exhaust fan filter for example. Its got the typical dust and dirt on it, along with a paper wasp and mud dauber nest. Ohio must have a lot of mud daubers as these mud nests were found in various nooks and crannies outside and inside the trailer.

Last, I tried all my keys and locks. Although I was given four keys by the previous owner I only use two. One for the dead bolt. One for all three outside compartment doors. These are very stubborn and need to be lubed. Next trip to town I'll have multiple copies made. Don't want to be locked out while traveling! Update: Looking through my key stash, I found an extra set. Had one more made for good measure. Still don't know what the extra two keys out of four total are for. One key opens my deadbolt and all three access doors are opened with the same key. One of the unknown keys does open my home's sun porch screen door though...bonus!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Little Projects

So between the garden, 6 hours a week on a lawn tractor, dog walking-followed by tick checks, dog shearing, dog obedience class, dog swim lessons, dog feeding-followed by dog poop patrol...natually. Noticing a trend here? Then there are normal house chores, not so normal lumberjack impersonation & turtle highway safety patrol and of course the dreaded 4 letter word: WORK otherwise known as J.O.B.

I'm making progress, albeit slowly. I know, they sound like excuses. Here's some proof.

Rewired the trailer plug so it will work with my truck. I've only pulled it with my van so far and it has the power and brake wired in reverse. This makes things interesting. Next, I'll correct the van wiring.

Continued to clean the interior...after removing the accumulated STUFF from within. Seems like trailers become a storage unit if your not careful. Dog kennels, office chair, spare restoration parts, future gaucho cushions salvaged from our sofa & love seat the dogs thought was their teething toy. Three hours later I can actually walk through!

Installed new license plate. Wisconsin is funny. I have a brand new looking 4 year old license plate and now I have another. My cars, on the other hand, have really grungy looking plates that they choose not to refresh. Go figure. They must want to keep the boys in our numerous prisons busy. They went from blue to grey. Boring to really drab. Too bad I can't polish it!

Decided I needed to exercise the anti-aging compounds in the tires. Truth be known, I get a kick out of towing this beast. Plus, the dogs wanted to go for a ride.

I wanted to see how the Toyota would handle the load. Due to gearing differences, the Toyota did better towing with a 4.7 liter V-8 than my 5.7 liter Chevy van. The van has too steep a rear gear which at 3.73 you wouldn't think. Fine for 75 mph in overdrive but put it in tow mode and it feels like the engine is "screaming". Need to put a tach on it to find out for sure.

The Toyota hums along in Tow mode at just 500 more RPM than Over Drive at highway speeds. 2500 rpm versus 2000. Hopefully the mileage doesn't suffer too badly. No sway at speeds to 70mph. Stock mirrors provide good rear view, plus opening front and rear trailer window blinds allows view to the rear. Looks like a winner!