Thursday, February 8, 2007

Started the restoration

Cold weather, lack of a garage, and my feeble attempt at a social life kept me away from the silver turd (as Ryan aptly dubbed the canned ham) until recently.
I started to repair the dry rot by peeling back the aluminum skin off the front, taking out the rotted frame boards, and tearing up the linoleum flooring. Closer inspection of the drip rails made me decide to replace them as well. New insulation was put in and new frame boards were bent around the remaining good ones to keep the curve as normal as possible.

To get to this front panel we also had to remove the front seating area, water tank, and the cabinet above. I pulled out a copper tube that wound through the frame that I found out later to be the gas line for a propane gas lamp that once came out the front of the cabinet. I replaced it later with the plan of saving on electrical draw and installing a new propane light in the future.
I had a great guy who runs a mobile RV service come over to take a look at how I was gonna do the electrical work. Since the thought of ever plugging in an RV park filled with blue hair and mini poodles scares the hell out of us, we new we were only going to us this for primitive camping (known as boondocking in this circle I have entered). The current interior lighting only runs on plug-in 110V power so we have to install 12V lights and a 12V water pump. John laid out how to do this which makes it sound a whole lot easier than it actually is.
The front panel repairs are done and now I need to start the 12V wiring.
Another early endeavor began when I went to check on the trailer one morning after a snow storm and found a huge puddle of water on the floor of the trailer. Found out it came from a crappy seal on the roof and the fact the previous owners had installed the ceiling vent too low, creating a low point, which collected water instead of draining it off the back. A half day was spent removing the vent, scrapping off the obscene amount of putty on the roof and resealing the vent and aluminum roof seam. Its raining today so we'll see how the sealing works.
The next step after the wiring is too put new interior birch paneling in. Another issue to deal with is the fact that, when our Subarus are parked next to this thing, it becomes obvious how silly it's gonna look towing this beast with Subarus so we are looking into a pickup truck.
This whole thing is becoming quite the country music song.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The start of the saga

Welcome to our blog about restoring a rare vintage travel trailer. As a Christmas present to ourselves in 2006 we found a 12 foot 1955 Empire Travel Trailer on for $600. We thought it was a great deal and had been interested in way to enjoy camping on the weekends but without the tents and cold ground. I know, I've always praised the great outdoors as a means of escape and the only way to properly do so was to haul a pack and a sleeping bag out into the woods and curl up in the dirt.
Well, times have changed as I have gotten older and value a good night's sleep more. So we embark on an unknown journey.
Let's get a couple things straight right off the bat. My wife is a veterinarian and I am a physical therapist. Our collective knowledge of electrical wiring, repairing dry rot, and painting aluminum exteriors is, well, nil.
Here are some pictures of the trailer on the day my wife went up to Dayton, NV to buy it from a woman who had already stripped the old (Black!) paint and had begun some electrical work.
So the kitchen looks in disarray due to the original icebox and oven doors being repainted by the last owner. Most of the interior birch paneling looked pretty good.

We had it towed to our house in Minden, NV and the process of finding out what the heck we just bought and what we were gonna do with it begins. An exhaustive search of google resulted in not a single hit on a reliable source for what the Empire Travel Trailer was. No legacy, no restoration club, no shop in Skokie, IL that specializes in fixing them up. We found some great sites that highlight similar vintage travel trailers, such as the Shastas, Fans, and Serro Scottys. So were are going off of their recommendations and winging the rest of it.

Hope you enjoy our blog and we welcome questions, comments, and diatribes.