Devils Tower

Devils Tower

Sunday, June 17, 2012


This is the one thing that I have been wanting to change since I brought it home.  The "Big Nasty" is the rock guard on the front of the trailer.  It appears to be home made. At some point, someone had to replace the front glass and decided that it was worth the effort to build one.  

Nice work, huh?

The original design is not too bad, however I feel that the original designer and the guy that was infatuated with roof coat tar are not the same guy.  The guy that fabricated the framework did a pretty good job.  The roof seal is another story.
 This bozo was using the roofing sealant for chrome paint.  He painted the rock guard frame and fiberglass insert, the roof caps (that can be polished to a mirror finish), the door jambs, the piano hinges, just about anything you can imagine.
Let's add some happy trees to that rock guard........shall we?
The first thing I wanted to do was to get that nappy, sealant covered fiberglass out of the frame.
Then I spent about 2 hours removing the goo from the frame with lacquer thinner.
Then, I started on something that I have been wanting to do for a year.....polish on the frame.
I originally was going to have a really cool piece of aluminum with a design pressed into it, but I am out of money and time.  I started searching for a suitable substitute.
I stumbled upon this junk dealer in downtown.  He was housed in a 1920's building and there is no way they have any idea what they have in their inventory.  It was like visiting Fred and Lamont.
Hey Pops, here comes that crazy travel trailer guy again...
I did come away from there with a brand new piece of 1/4" fiberglass sheeting for a mere $5.36.  Not bad, huh?
I have had this idea in my head of a rocket ship that would represent the Atomic era.  This trailer was built right at the peak of the space race.  In 1959, those pesky Russians landed an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.  Well, the USA could not be outdone, so we did it in 1962.  The model name on our little space toaster is a Mark II.  That was a common name for rocket weaponry in those days.
How's that for a history lesson?  I always did so good in school, the teacher gave me a special chair and a special hat.  None of the other kids got one.  She must have recognized the high IQ.

I have a hot rod buddy that is a fireman/graphic artist.  His name is Brian Neeley and he owns Inkling Designs, in Bethany, OK.  I called Brian and told him about this idea I had.  It was a crazy idea, but he knows that generally, when I call, it has to do with  crazy ideas.  I am surprised he doesn't block me in his phone. 

 So, I proceed to tell Brian about my 66"x 26" blank canvas, also known as a rock guard.  I could have just painted the rock guard silver and it would have just blended in and you would have never paid much attention to it, but I can't just leave that alone.

I had a picture in my mind that would help tie all of the late 50's- early 60's space race vibe together.  I pictured a cartoon rocket ship with a 50's sort of "Stardust" type of font for the name.

  I had originally thought about free handing it and airbrushing the background, but that was way too labor intensive and I am not that talented.  I called Brian and asked him how hard it was to do vinyl wraps.  He said that he had a friend that was also a screen printer that had a large vinyl machine and it would be a nothing deal.  The hardest part would be the art.  So, I started searching the web for examples of clip art etc. Once the art was found, I sent it all to Brian and over a few weeks, we hashed out what we needed.  Once the design was finalized we sent it to his printer friend.  

Anyway, I decided to add some stiffeners to the back of the fiberglass using countersunk rivets. 
Then I filled the areas around the rivets with a little glazing putty to make sure there were no low spots.
Then I taped the fiberglass edges to the kitchen table.
Then, I removed about an inch of the backing on one end of the vinyl.  Squaring up the vinyl with the fiberglass backing, I stuck it down starting in the middle and working my way out.
Only pull off as much backing as you can handle in one setting.  It takes two people, no way around it.  Have the other person hold up the excess roll and keep it tight.
I used a rolled up dish towel as a squeegee, as per my buddy Brian.  He says a lot of the harsher squeegees will scratch the finish.  This stuff is pretty forgiving, which is a good thing.  I don't suggest this for newlyweds or bipolar couples.  It can get stressful if you let it.
With that finally done, I had to put it back in the frame without scratching it.  I reinstalled the guard on the trailer without a lot of problems.  I still have to make the arms to hold it open, but that is gonna hafta wait until tomorrow.
So, what do you think?  Better?  I think so....

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's official....

Welp, it's O-fficial.
 We have tags and a title for the Avalair. 
 I left the title open until we finished the majority of the restoration.   No sense paying tag and insurance on something that isn't roadworthy.  
To celebrate this joyous occasion, I will post a picture of Mexicans dancing in really sweet boots.  
Now, to find some insurance.  One step at a time. 
The tag agency had to visually look at the VIN# to verify it, since it was bought out of state. We live about 2 miles from the tag agency.  We were wondering if anyone else would find the trailer as intriguing as we do.  We made it about 1/2 mile before we got the proverbial "Thumbs Up" from a passerby.  
  It was good to at least hook on to the trailer and pull it down the road.  It has been over a year since it has moved down the road.
The trailer came with a stabilizer bar setup, but I'll be danged if I know how it works.  I'll probably start trying to install it all back on the tongue soon.  This pic is similar to what I have.  I have it sort of figured out.  I just have to try and school myself on the physics.  
Getting close my friends. Very, Very Close..........

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oh, isn't that A-door-able...............

So, we are getting down to the end and I am starting to have to scrimp for projects to do.  This is kinda weirding me out, because I have had such a long list of projects, it kinda feels weird not having 190 things on the list. 
 I started a never ending project, polishing the aluminum stuff.  Whether it be the window frames or the screen door, it makes it hard to find a place to stop.
I started on the inside of the entry door. I had already removed the handle to try and get a key made for it.  Oh how I yearn for the old days, where people still had skills, like being a locksmith.  I ended up buying a tumbler set with keys, because the local locksmith was a full blown goob.
 I just polished it a little to see what it would look like.  I couldn't help myself, it was virgin aluminum, protected by the screen door for 49 years.  No corrosion, very few scratches.  Can you tell a difference?  Well, it just kept going.  I had to polish the frame of the screen door to match.  I guess it was easier to remove the screen, rather than trying to tape up the door.  Well, the inside looked like butt compared to the newly polished outside, so......I guess I hafta polish it too.
Check out the reflection....
I had removed all of the remnants of the old weatherstripping.  I found this at the local big box, no help for you, hardware store.
It was the only soft foam rubber seal I could find in black.  I bought a roll of good old American made metal screen for the door and installed it. Still need to do a little cleanup and hand polishing.
Looking pretty decent.
I started looking for keys etc. for the main entry door lock.  During this time I found a common thread about the Bargman L66 lock sets.  There were tons of people talking about the cast pot metal lock mechanism causing them to be locked out of their trailers.  Apparently, this piece breaks without warning leaving the unsuspecting owner stranded outside.
  I started thinking about this and I came to the conclusion that this would definitely happen to me, at the most inopportune time.  Possibly, when a grizzly was chasing me or in the pouring down rain during a lightning storm.
  Vintage Trailer Supply has a replacement piece that is machined from billet aluminum.  That alleviates the chance of it just randomly breaking.  It's a $20 one time investment, but it seems like a smart move.

Baby gets some new threads.......

I have been saving this for a while.  I knew that eventually it would get harder to find things to blog about, as time went on.  I am getting close to finishing the Avalair.  
We decided to bite the bullet and have all new upholstery installed.  We decided on using all new 5" foam.  The reason?  I am kinda creeped out at the thought of what could have happened on the mattresses over the last 50 years. 
We needed a 60's vibe on the material.  I absolutely oppose the use of any car related , Route 66, or Coca Cola fabric.  Thats fine for some people, but I am kinda a stickler for period correctness on certain things.  I am a geek for colors, textures, patterns etc.  I automatically revert to my childhood and remember how things looked and if it isn't eats on me.
We started looking at local upholstery suppliers, but we failed miserably.  All they had were trendy patterns.  If I would have wanted an animal print, I would have been in business.  So we started in with our good friend Google.  Google knows all.
We found the mecca of mid-century fabric world.
This place has designer fabrics for a fraction of the cost.  We bought a 18 yard roll of a very high end fabric for under $200.  It was originally $69/Yd.  The tag from the original designer was still on the roll.  Winter Beach Modern has a link to the manufacturer's website , so that you can verify the original cost. We paid around $7.00/Yd.  
These folks rock!  Very helpful and very reasonable.  This makes me want to start buying up old furniture and recovering it.  I just wish I could sew.  I hate farming out the sewing, that part gets expensive.  Here are a few pics of the new digs........
 The texture on this reminds me of a couch my grandma had when I was a kid.  I had to have it.  It takes me to my happy place.
  The pics are a little dark, but you get the idea. (You can click on the pics and they get bigger.  That makes it a little easier to see the patterns.) The colors look like 1963 to me.  They are a little hard to see in the pictures, but it has a rust tint in it that matches the original wall heater grates.
Check out the spiffy screen door.

Picked up some braided rugs from Kohl's. 

Pic of the couch with the extended bed.  We had to add a little to the cushions to make up the difference.
I find myself trying to make up things to work on.  We have been at this so long that it has become part of the daily ritual.  We're getting very, very close.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Batten down the hatches........

I had to come up with a way to cover the old hole left by the hot water tank removal/air conditioner install.  I had to source some .032" aluminum to build the cover out of.  I went to a local supplier. I would have liked to use 2024-T3, but all they had was 3003-H14.  It was kinda soft and didn't polish well.  It was readily available though.  I have been hanging on to some of the remaining trim from the original hot water heater, in hopes that I could use it.
I figured I could polish it up a bit before installation, so I threw it on the buffer.
I had a hard time finding a hinge that matched the original.  I was on the Airstream board and they suggested a hinge provided by a teardrop trailer kit manufacturer, Lil Bear Tag alongs.
This hinge was as close as it gets.  I figured I would camouflage the hinge in the original piece of trim.  Sort of take the focus off of it.
The only problem was that it would only open about 100 degrees.  This meant I had no way to latch it to the side of the trailer.  It's no big deal, I'll just slide the door completely off when the A/C is extended.
I had to make sure I made no mistakes, I only had a 24"x24" sheet.
I fabbed up a few 90 degree L brackets to help stiffen up the sheet metal door.  The sheet metal was so soft the rivets sort of dimpled.  I had to shore up the backside and bump the rivets to remove some of the "puckering."
Pucker Up buttercup...............
I used these vice grips to form a flange along the edges.  This helps to mimic the flange on the original door for the storage area.  These doors will be side by side, so I want it to look like it belongs.
This is a little odd, but it sort of looked like the original paint texture.  It worked out ok.  It sort of looks like trunk paint.
I added the lock.  It was designed for a cabinet, but it will work ok.
The finished door.  I am wondering if I should add a row of rivets to the original door to make it match better.  I still need to buff the original door.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Memorial Day Thrash...The one year anniversary edition

Well, I have had the Avalair under the knife for exactly one year this weekend.  I have learned a lot and looking back, I am glad I am not starting over.  The game plan is to get as much done as I possibly can since I have 5 days off in a row. 

I have several things I need to accomplish, the replacement of all copper LP lines, the fabrication of the air conditioner door, the removal of a lot of the roof seal on the front panel and cab corners.

I really can't post any pics of the propane lines, because it would be super boring, so I'll post pics of cool stuff that is visual.
For example.......hula hooping nuns are way cool.
Here's a few pics of the oxidized top cap and cab corners.

Sir Slops a lot has been here with his roof seal.

I bought new LP tanks, with the intention of painting them silver.  We'll see if I make it to that before vacation.  If not, I can always do it later.  I taped up the windows to minimize the buffing compound covering every crack and crevice.

Better?  I think so.  The rest of the skin is anodized, so buffing it just removes the old Texas and New Mexico dirt, but it still retains a satin finish.  The thing I miscalculated was the time it would take to buff this pig out.  It ended up taking about 2 1/2 days.  That was way more than I had figured.
Mama Root drug out her buffer again and made the windows shine like a new nickel.  Mucho better......
I accidentally buffed the name plate and I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have to repaint it.  It looked awesome.
I  pulled the old Bargman lock to try and get our local locksmith to make a set of keys.  The previous owner lost the keys.  I gave up on our local locksmith, he's incompetent.  I ordered a new core from Vintage Trailer Supply.  It's faster than dealing with that moron.  The list is getting smaller every day.