What we have here folks, is a 1952 Spartan “Spartanette” (a misnomer if one believes that the suffix “-ette” should mean something small and dainty) 33′ trailer. We weren’t looking for a trailer like this, or ANY more old travel trailers for that matter, but this one fell into our laps, another deal too good not jump on. As if I didn’t remember last summers “free” motorhome…
It was at least closer to home than the Spartan Manor we got a couple of years ago, just 40 miles. My friend Butch came over bright and early the other day, and we headed out with the dually, a 2″ ball in the GMC’s receiver. Things seemed to be going smoothly and I figured we’d be at the place by 1000, drag it out and be home by 1 or 2 in the afternoon. I had a floor jack to put under the tongue, long planks to roll the floor jack on, and figured I’d slither under the trailer, wrap a chain around the rear axle, drag it out, replace the wheels and tires, hitch up and go on our merry way.
Good plan, right?
Things went slightly awry when I remembered I hadn’t put the lock pin in the hitch when I flipped the ball to the drop side in order to use it on the dually high hitch. I pulled into an AutoZone on the way, walked to the back of the truck, and sure enough, the whole thing was gone. So, I bought a new one, and put the pin in this time.
We got to the guys place with the trailer, meeting another buddy Mike there, who lives nearby. We quickly decided dragging it out backwards wasn’t going to work, because it was sunk in the ground up the frame, the entire bottom edge of the body was laying on the dirt. In addition, a grove of box-elder trees (a kind of soft maple that are widely regarded as weeds) had grown up in front of it and long the curb side. In the tongue, between the body and the hitch, was a clump of them, three trunks about 4″ in diameter.
This wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.
To make a long story short, the owner, a retired excavator, had a new compact 4wd tractor with a loader with forks, and he made quick work of dozing the brush away, and he also whipped out an electric chain saw that we used to cut down the trees and brush. He lifted the tongue with the loader, I cut the stumps off at the ground and he swung the trailer out towards his drive. This angered a HUGE woodchuck which bolted from its den under the trailer. That may have accounted partly for its sinking, as the chuck had undermined the wheels, letting the trailer drop down onto the frame. As it was, it took us until 2:30 to get it out and on the road, I’d have had to hire an excavator if the owner hadn’t had his own equipment. Made me appreciate how easy getting the Manor out really was!
The first tire will blow in 3-2-1….
After we had it out in the drive, we were shocked to see that the original, 1952 BF Goodrich tires all had air in them. The did look a little soft, and Frank, the owner, appeared with a small air compressor and began airing the softest one up. Butch and I debated going to Mikes to change all four, or simply head home and hope for the best. That question was answered by the cannon-like report of the curbside rear tire exploding. We changed that one, which took almost an hour, we had to dig a hole to get the tire out, and headed up the drive towards the road.
I got about a trailer length, and another tire blew, so we set about changing that one. While we were digging the hole back out, the tire we’d put on, over-loaded by bearing all the weight on that side, and probably being a little soft, came off the rim and went flat. So, two blow outs and one flat before we ever got on the road.
We decided to had for Mikes house, just two miles away, and change the other two tires. This turned out to be an excellent decision, as one of the street-side tires blew about a mile up the road. Butch asked what I was going to do if the other ancient, rotten tire blew before we got to Mike’s, and I said we’d just drag it on the rims.
We didn’t have to do that, because amazingly, that 4th 63 year old tire made it, and after changing the two tires on that side, we headed for Delton, We went slowly, about 40 mph, because two of the tires Butch had brought along, we discovered that although they were new, that they are implement tires, rated for 20 mph!
Wheel cut outs would help…
The Three Stooges.
After getting the trailer home, I took a closer inspection. At some point in the recent past, a door was left open and a family of raccoons moved in. A word of advice if you’re thinking of having raccoons house-sit or trailer-sit for you. Don’t. The inside was a horrible mess, and smelled worse than it looked. The trailer had been simply closed up when Frank’s mother died in 1982, leaving everything in it that was there the day she died. It would have been kind of neat if the raccoons hadn’t moved in.
Today I started cleaning up and throwing stuff out, and I’m happy to report that overall, it’s better than I’d expected. I’ll share photos of that and what we plan to do with it in another episode, so until then,