Monday, 18 December 2017

Rebuilding the back end

There is always some good news and some bad news when you restore a vintage trailer.
The good news on mine is that it was really original on the inside, and the skin was in great shape. 
The bad news was the rot. The trailer looked great from the outside, but once it was opened up there was lots of rotten wood in the framing that needed replacing. 
The most intimidating section for me to replace was the rear section because of some weird angles and also the fact that it was so rotten compared to the sides. I was nervous about being able to replicate it.

 So I did a couple of smart things. I created a cardboard pattern of the exact pattern of the boards, before the rear skin was off.

The repair work also included rebuilding
part of the rear floor as shown below.

At one point in the process the whole rear framing collapsed. I was very happy at that point that I had made patterns and written down every measurement I could think of.

here are some notes I took.. and the scary view once the whole rear section was removed.

This was especially important because sometimes I take a break for several weeks during the rebuild and its easy to forget what you were doing. 
You can see here that the angle for the cross brace was very odd. We think this was done to keep water from sitting on the sill, but if I had not made a pattern of the wood and the angle, I would have been guessing at it and had a problem refitting the skin.

 Here is the rear, now reframed with all new wood. I used cedar around the hatch.

 I also dry fitted the rear window to confirm that everything fits, as I don't want any surprises down the road.

In this shot you can see where I have come around the corner to the street side with my repairs, replacing the rotted window wood, and framing in a hatch for our new air conditioner which we will install on a drawer slide.

 In this photo below I have added back in the rear seat-back inside the trailer. I moved it right back against the framing which gained me 4 extra inches of bed space (Almost a queen bed) which is awesome in a vintage trailer.
You will notice that it is a narrow 12 inch slot to put things into the rear hatch, but we are o.k. with this, in exchange for the extra bed space. Most things we need to store will side in there no problem.

In the end, the rear turned out great and I am very happy with my work! 

Monday, 12 June 2017

More Rot, and New Systems.

I am slowly working my way around my trailer.  The good news is that the curb side has all new framing and skirting wherever needed.

The bad news is that the rear street side of the trailer is rotted. All the way to about 10 inches inward along the floor and side.  This necessitates me removing the floor all the way back to the first "non-rotted" stringer. This revealed a row of rotted cross braces that would have eventually caused the trailer to come off of the frame. This is why it is so important to do a proper restoration and remove all the rot, even in the framing. Otherwise you end up pouring a lot of money into something that will not last long.

In the photo below you can actually see the rotted cross braces that were hiding under the floor. 

This photo shows both sections that are having to be cut out. 

On a more positive note, I just picked up all new tanks for my trailer. I decided to add a 10 gallon grey tank under the sink, a new 16 gallon fresh water tank to replace the old galvanized one. Plus a new black tank as the one in there is fibreglass and had weird old cast iron plumbing, so we decided to replace the tank and the plumbing while the trailer is open and gutted. I'll be really happy about this down the road. All new plumbing is easier to install then trying to make 60 year old plumbing work.  Included in the photo is a "New Old Stock" Vintage Catalytic heater I found on eBay as my trailer was missing the furnace and I did not want to pay $700 for a new furnace, or buy an unreliable old one. As well, a 1950's electric space heater for when we have shore power.

The water tanks were a great deal. $34.00 (U.S.). Available on Amazon by Class A Customs, who gave me great customer service. I was a little dubious about buying these, at such a low price and a couple of reviewers had indicated they were not that thick, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but they are thick and sturdy.
Here is the link if you are looking for them. I bought a 10 gallon and a 16 gallon for $34.00 each. They come pre-made with threaded entrances and exits for your pipes to attach to.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Restoring the framing, one piece at a time.

The restoration continues with the rotted framing boards being removed one at a time, and new wood inserted into the same spot. The technique to remove the old wood requires me to have some coal miner in my blood, as I have to use my multi-tool and chip some of the lengths out, one bit at a time.
One surprise that I had was when I removed the lower front sill, behind it was another whole other layer of rotted sill that was bolted to the frame. So I had to dig both layers out, and squeeze new layers in. It was a lot of work. But... It feels good to know that there is no hidden rot though, and once she is back on the road, I will not have to worry about instability or leaks.

I also had to replace some rotted flooring by the door. This required me to remove a section of rotted plywood and replace the rotted crossmember. Then put in a new layer of plywood. I had some plywood of the right size that was painted blue, so thats why the patch is that colour.

The latest framing that I just finished, is around the door. It is pretty challenging to remove rotted wood off of 1/8 thick paneling, especially when there is a layer of glue involved. But I got it done, and you can see the fresh header and framing around the door.
In the first photo you can see how rotted the wood is around the door.

In the last photo, you can see all the new framing, including a strong new door header.

Yes... I know it looks like a lot of work. It is a lot of work, but it's a hobby, and very enjoyable as long as you are not in a hurry. And I'm not in a hurry.


Monday, 6 March 2017

My trailer is down to the bones.

I did very little work on my trailer for several months, due to the busyness of life, and have more recently dived back into the reno. The trailer restoration guru's who are coaching me through my project, had told me that ideally all of the aluminum should come off of the trailer including the roof. This would allow me to truly identify all water damage and rot, and it also allows me to update the electrical and plumbing systems with new wire, pipes etc. So my trailer is now naked, and looking her age!

One surprise on this trailer, is that there appears to be no city water hook-up. (Thats the hose attachment on the side of that allows you to have fresh, pressurized water without filling your tank.)
I have been asking other Golden Falcon owners if they are missing this feature, and once again my Golden Falcon seems to be the only one like this, so I am back to my theory that it was a very early model. We will however add this feature in, as it should not be too complicated to do.

I have stored all of the aluminum in a custom build wooden storage "crib" that will protect it from anyone stepping on it or other mishaps. I am using space at our car dealership for my re-build so I am trying to be very respectful of their space and careful with all my parts. It's very hard to replace a lost item on a trailer this old.

I have discovered during the stripping down of the trailer, that this part of the process is probably the most difficult and labour intensive. You spend hours pulling nails one at a time, hoping not to damage the aluminum and also wondering what you are about to find. Overall the condition of this old trailer is much better than expected. The panels on the interior are not damaged at all, and the exterior damage is easy to fix.

The roof framing is almost perfect, but ironically I will be taking it off anyway, in order to switch out the old vinyl roof with solid birch paneling.  It was a long disgusting job to remove the insulation from the roof. Everywhere else on the trailer it was in bats, but the roof contained shaded clumps of insulation that stirred up old fibreglass dust everywhere. This old stuff is much heavier than our newer insulation, and by the end of the night, in-spite of wearing a mask, and long sleeves etc. I was begging for a shower.

So my basic plan is to start on the sides of the trailer and replace the rotten foot boards, then take on the front. I may have to strip it right back there and replace an interior panel. Not sure yet.
I will leave the rear till last, as I plan to make some structural changes there, so hopefully I am more experienced by the time I get there. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I will be stopping to work on the plumbing when my parents arrive back in the city. They custom built an RV in the 1970's from the ground up, so I am hoping to have them direct me through the plumbing install. I will be adding in a new toilet and sink that have vintage style, and running all new plumbing lines.

Here are some pictures of the areas I will be reconstructing.

So its going to be lots of fun!


Friday, 12 August 2016

Restoration vrs. Preservation when you have a unique trailer...

I have been on an interesting journey with my Golden Falcon since I got it. I have found out that a Golden Falcon Trailer is to Canada what the Shasta is in the USA. It was an iconic, Canadian trailer.  The luxury model in the tin can ranks. Not an airstream, but not a standard camper either.  They were  proudly "made in Canada" and there are very few intact and unchanged vintage models left. In addition as I have done research on my trailer, it is looking like I may have a "prototype" or very early model. 
I have learned all of this while trying to establish what antique or art dealers call the "providence" or history of my trailer. It started out with me having a mystery refrigerator brand that none of the other Glendale owner's had in their trailer, and which no one else had seen in a travel trailer. It's called an LEC Regis Bognor. I even tried Tim Heinz and the TCT crowd to try and find someone with the same fridge. No takers. 

So, after some research, I realized why no other North American trailers had this fridge... it was from England. Then, after more research, I found out that the family who started the Glendale Trailer company were from England. And after a bit more research I realized that there were a few differences between my trailer and the Golden Falcons others were working on... 

There were no running lights on the roof (everyone seems to have them but me and one or two other very early Golden Falcon's out there), and of course as mentioned I have the weird fridge. 

My assumption is that when they started the Golden Falcon line, (in 1961) at first they ordered the refrigerators from England from a company they were familiar with, and then once they took off, within a year or so all the Golden Falcon's have Dometic refrigerators. Or perhaps it was custom ordered with this type of fridge? 
They also started without running lights of the roof and added them later. So this helps me to date my trailer to be no earlier that 1961, when Golden Falcon was launched, and before 1963 when I see running lights and dometic refrigerators show up on them.  So it appears I have a somewhat unique early model Golden Falcon.  

So all that to say that I have started to feel a bit of responsibility to make my restoration correct, and honoring to the original model and the history of the company. I feel like I am preserving a piece of Canadian history. 
How does this translate to my restoration? 
I'm not 100% sure, but it is starting to effect all the decisions I am making on the restoration, and I would like it, that when people see my finished trailer, they feel like they have a good idea of what an original Glendale Golden Falcon looked like. 

So, I am having the original decals reproduced, and trying to keep the original look of the exterior. Although on this early model, thus far the original paint job is unknown, later ones had metallic gold sections on them, so I will be have to be creative on that one. 
One unique element on the trailer is the gold drip rail and counter trim used throughout. I may have to have some gold counter trim custom made, as I am missing one section of it. 

I am unable at this point to find any brochure showing original fabrics, so I am focusing on what design element were used around 1959-1961 when the trailer was likely designed. This will include wide tufted buttons on the gaucho and booth cushions, and I am going to stick with red fabric, to reflect being "proudly Canadian."

Read more:

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Removing the Windows

I have progressed to the point where all of the windows are out. I try and take the time to remove as much putty as possible from each window so that there will be less work later in the process and I do not find myself chipping off hardened goop. 

This is a very boring stretch of the reno. Pretty much just removing windows, and exterior trim one inch a a time. 

I also have had to learn to remove something called "twisty nails" which are round headed nails that are twisted into the wood and do not come out easily. I ruined a small section of aluminum in the trunk area, until one of my advisors told me to order "VAMPLIERS".. yes thats right, it sounds like vampire. They are special pliers that grab nails when they are flush and pull them out. This photo is the aluminum I damaged. Fortunatly it is in an inconspicuous place.

Here are some of the tools I use for stripping down the trailer. The Vampliers are the little ones at the front. 

 I have learned to take a lot of photos while rehabbing the trailer. I find weird things that the factory builders did like plugging the top of the door trim with putty. I need to remember that for the reassembly.

For the next few weeks, I will be scraping roofing tar off of the roof. My trailer was kept under a cabana, and they tarred the seam where the roof met the trailer. I started removing the tar with a heat gun but all it did was create a mess. I have moved onto using a dremel multitool with a scraper blade and it seems to be working. Its a messy job, but very relaxing if you like restoration work.

In my next post I will be showing you the wooden crib that I am building for storing the siding, and I will be raising off the roof to hang it off of the rafters during the repairs.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Starting the skin removal...

This was my first day of stripping down the trailer. All of the aluminum skin needs to be removed from the frame so that I can assess the damage, and make repairs etc. So I arrived at the dealership ready to do that this morning, only to find a surprise. I was locked out of the trailer! It turns out that the vintage handle on the door "locks" simply by moving the handle to the down position.

Not only did I not know that, I don't have a key. I did not want to have to take a window off right away, so the only way into the trailer was through the back hatch, which I had removed last week.
I felt pretty squeezed going through there, but I got the door open and a lesson was learned.

Then it was onto the skin removal. Most of the screws on the trailer are 1/4 inch hex, and my dad gave me a special drill bit to remove them. However once in a while I would find a 3 or 4 inch screw that the previous owner had tried to use for repair.    

When you take the aluminum skin off of a vintage trailer, the first step is to remove the trim along the edge, also called the j-rail. This sits over a layer of putty, that was used to seal the seams. On a trailer  this old, the putty is degraded and dried out. It is no wonder these old trailers have water damage.
I won't know the extent of the damage until I remove all the skin, but it is likely there is some.

                                                                                                                                       Once the j-rails were off, I cleaned the putty off of the inside, carefully labeled them and then scraped all the old goop off of the edge of the trailer. You can see a close up here of the seams after the rail is off. There was even one small spot on the trailer (shown below) where the aluminum had a small piece missing. You can imagine how easy it is to damage the interior if any water gets past that. I will be very carefully sealing that hole on the reassembly. 

By the end of the day, I had all of the rails off, the sides scraped and the front window guard removed. Next week I will
start the windows.