12510342_10209044919782805_3136719327890907783_nMy good friend Mike Greene (owner of Sierra Custom Interiors in Bristol IN) delivered the 1952 Frigidaire fridge I’d dropped off to him in September, which he sent to his RV fridge and AC repair guy for conversion to LP operation.  It’s now LP or 110V, as the conversion called for the sacrifice of a “scratch and dent” RV fridge for the cooling unit, freezer compartment and controls.  The job the guy did is first rate, one cannot tell, aside from the cooling coils inside the cabinet, that it wasn’t built that way originally.

I had a couple panicked moments in the middle of the night, worried that with the additional 4″ cooling coils on the back of the cabinet it might not fit through the door.  Turns out, it went in with a quarter of an inch to spare.

Now that it’s inside, the clearance issue is around the sink and base cabinets.  This fridge is quite wide, and the additional 2″ of width (compared with the RV fridge we used in the last Manor, clearance between the sink we bought, and the fridge door is an issue.

IMG_8312The fridge has to be in a cabinet to seal the back for a flue, and I planned on raising the base about 8 or 10 inches to make roof for a storage drawer underneath.  On top, there’d still be room for an overhead cabinet.  I can’t simply move the fridge out towards the center of the trailer for room with out making the companionway to the bedroom and bath so narrow it’d look odd.

So, were considering not using the IKEA stainless double basin sink we bought, and getting a smaller, drop in sink(s) that’ll enable me to simply make the base cabinet narrower than the 20″ that sink requires we have now.

It’s like cramming size 12 feet into size 10 shoes.  It fits, but it’s not comfortable.

We’ll figure it out, just may have to make a plan “B”.  There’s always something.


IMG_8166 I have a little space heater in the trailer, a fire in the stove in the shop, and I’ve been busy doing what I consider “cabinet work”, although I’m sure my high school shop teacher, and my brother-in-law would shake their heads in disbelief and walk away, I think I’m making progress.

Above, we have the beginnings of a lunch counter, which we had to have because we bought two of these killer bar stools right after we bought the this trailer (a ’47 Spartan Manor).  Seen here in it’s first, roughed in state as a wiggly bunch of sticks, I had to take in the trailer and see if was actually going to fit and be useable.

The verdict is: Yes.

To the right of the cool bar stool is the dinette booth, which is a modified version of the one in out last Spartan.  This one is longer on the curb side, and shorter on the street side (the side we see here), and will sit 4 people comfortably.  I made the seats cushions of the ’46, our last Spartan, about 3″ too short in an attempt to  make the booth seem “roomy”, but they were awkward and uncomfortable.  This one has deeper cushions, the table will be narrower, and we’ll again have a “coffee table” option, one with shorter legs.  The larger dining table will stow away behind the back of the curb side of the dinette, to be used only when we have guests for inside meals or when Milo, our grandson, stays with us.  (We hope that’s often!)

IMG_8164.JPGOnce again, we’ll have a wrap around shelf under the panoramic front windows, that’ll continue down the top of the booth to display stuff.  That was one feature of the ’46 that we really liked.  This should be a notable improvement over that trailers seating.

I’m waiting to get the beautiful (but slightly larger than we really want) vintage GM Frigidaire fridge (that we scavenged from the Spartanette we bought this summer, along with the Dixie stove)  from the shop that’s converting it from electric to RV propane and 110V operation.  This was all arranged by our good friend Mike Greene of Sierra Custom Interiors, a fellow TCT member and all around great guy.  It should be done next week,  then I’ll be able to build the sink and fridge cabinets, and complete the bathroom.  I’d like to have the fridge on hand to assure I build things correctly, all these other things hinge on where and how the fridge will be positioned.

It’s gonna be close…

Also in the wings is the beautiful little Dixie gas range.  This too was scavenged from  the Spartanette before it left.  It’s in great shape, although the clock lens was broken the face of the clocks graphics are peeling, and the springs which hold the oven door closed are both broken.  All this stuff should be easy to fix, the stove and fridge will really set off the interior of the trailer.

IMG_5578The street side cabinets are framed in, with space for the stove, and the lavatory sink is in place behind the little partition between galley and bedroom.  This all fits well and looks great, we’ll have a simple display shelf above the  stove, no upper cabinets on this side of the galley.

IMG_8235Todays project, in bitter cold, was the wardrobe cabinet that is just inside the front door, where the original furnace sat.  I all the interior doors, kitchen doors and drawers from a ’49 Imperial Mansion, and am using what I can in this Manor.  Two of the wardrobe doors worked perfectly for our wardrobe, I’m very happy with how this turned out.  The sink, a stainless double basin unit with built in drain board from IKEA, will be just aft of the wardrobe, and the fridge will set somewhere behind that,  which will also determine where the partition for the bathroom will be.

IMG_8255I cut down a small pair of what had been overhead cupboard doors from the Mansion to use as upper doors.  I’m pleased with how it all came together.  It’ll looks original, but will be all modern and very functional for our needs.

About all I can do until the fridge is done and on hand now is to frame in the bed base in the back, and I can start cutting making cabinet doors, as I don’t have enough of the correct size to re-use from the Mansion, and originals from this trailer are trashed.

In other news, the Traveleze trailer I bought a couple weeks ago has a new home, Mike Greene bought it and is going to restore it for his family to use.  I had a small mishap with it, got stuck in the snow trying to back it in the barn at my dad’s to keep it out of the weather.  I could only back up, the truck kept sliding a bit sideways, and I ended up backing it into a small tree at the edge of the drive.  This wouldn’t have hurt it a bit, but it turned out the wood framing at the rear of the trailer was completely rotted away, and the siding buckled, revealing the beginnings of a black hole where the trailers framing should have been.  This was demoralizing, I’d hoped to use it as is, and with the Spartan project, and the three car projects now on hold until that gets done, I just didn’t want to fix it.  Mike didn’t care, planned on a complete rebuild of whatever trailer he found, so we cut a deal, he came and got it yesterday.  Everybody’s happy!


That’s Mike, happily changing wheels and tires for the trip to Bristol, Indiana!


Made it 5 days.

Well, so much for the  best laid plans.  I swore the Spartan was priority #1, then the T’bird, then the ’34, but look what followed me home today.

This is a late 60’s (we think) “Travel-eze” camper, roughly 18′ box, probably 22′ overall, that we rescued from a church camp near Lansing MI.  My good friend Mike O’Connor took another vintage trailer pal, Brandon, and I there about two months ago, to show us half a dozen vintage campers on the campgrounds that the camp manager wanted moved off, ASAP.  I was cool to the idea of even going to look, but once there, I was sort of smitten with the cool, 60’s shape of this one, and how nice (relative to any other old camper we’ve dragged home) the interior was.

The camp manager Bob assured us that yes, they all have too go, and the sooner the better.  Since I’ve been laid up a bit secondary to my hip replacement 6 weeks ago, and the ground had been, until last nights bitter cold, soft, today, with the morning temps hovering just above zero, seemed like a good day to try to retrieve this one for us.  As I said, I was cool to the idea of adding another project to my plate, but kept looking at the photos, thinking about it, and decided I ought to go get before someone else beat me to it.  Besides, my friend Mike Greene, who helped me today, wanted to see them, and Butch needed something to do, so, why not?

Faithful readers will remember last summer, when on what was the hottest, most humid day of the season, Butch, Mike O’Connor, and I dug the Spartanette from it’s resting place of 50 years.  It pays to have good friends, with poor memories…  In a twist of irony not lost on any of us, this one was only a couple of miles from the site we pulled that trailer from.

I called my pals Butch and Mike G., and we descended upon this honey hole of vintage camping gold early this morning.  Mike’s heavy duty 4×4 3/4 ton diesel pickup we though would yank the trailer from it’s resting place with no problems, but the inch of ice on the ground said otherwise.  A little dirt from under the trailer shoveled under the truck tires stopped the spinning, and in a short time, we had the trailer up and out into the yard where we planned on quickly changing the ancient, rotted tires for the only slightly better ancient, rotted tires we brought along.


This was a good plan, except two of the wheels we brought didn’t fit, and one of the tires on the two rims that did fit had gone flat on the way up.  Undaunted, we put the two questionably “good” ones we had on the trailer, and headed out for home, with an equally questionable spare pilfered from one of the other trailers.

What could possibly go wrong?

We got 5 miles, when one of the trailers original tires gave up the ghost and exploded in spectacular fashion, happily a quarter mile from a gas station and a tire store.  We took the leaky tire we’d left in the back of Butches van to  the tire store, where in a few minutes they dismounted it from the rim, cleaned the rim and re-mounted it with no leaks.  We mounted it back up, aired up the spare, mounted it, and headed back out, confident, with three “good” tires rolling, and one ancient spare, stolen, er, “borrowed” from one of the other derelict trailers, we thought we had it made.


Mike, “Tire Trouble” Green assess the damaged tire alongside the road. “This seems to be problem, right here…”

Thought, because another couple of miles, a loud “bang” had us at the side of the road again, but a quick inspection showed all 4 tires aired up, nothing dragging, so we set back out.  Mike, towing it with his truck, immediately noticed the curtain in the front window blowing OUT of the window, and said, “Well, this can’t be good.”,  and I noticed the door blowing open against the tarp strap we’d secured it with, so we stopped again.

This time, the culprit was a broken street side front window, looked like a rock from an oncoming car had tossed a pebble and cracked it.  Happily, all the pieces aside from the impact spot were still in place, so we limped to the next closest gas station, another mile or so, where I bought two rolls of cheap duct tape and taped the broken pieces together, put some reinforcing strips across the rest, and also the window on the other side.

We were now well and truly on our way, and continued on home, about 35 miles without any incidents, although Mike was a little uncomfortable at our slow, 45 mph pace on a major highway, with no lights, no brakes,  or safety chains.  The plan was, if something bad happened, we’d just unhitch and leave it by the side of the road.  Butch was following with his van, so I felt confident.  The state trooper we met later never gave our little parade a second glance, so we were fine!

Getting it home and giving it a close inspection, I’m really happy.  There’s been a little seeping around the front roof vent, but the paneling isn’t rotten, the roof doesn’t flex, so I think I can simply pull the vent, shim it and the roof skin up a little, (so water will shed off better) reseal, replace and call it good.

The flooring is fine, the walls and ceiling are that odd “pickled” finish popular in the 60’s, and the rounded shape also look very ’60-ish, but the copper appliances and orange upholstery and curtains look early 70’s.  It’s a bit odd, but overall it’s clean, not moldy, doesn’t stink, and nothing blew off or shook loose coming home.  Even with the vibration of the blown out tire!

Hopefully, a little fluff and buff, new wheels and tires, clean and pack the wheel bearings and running light check will have it useable as is.

Many thanks to Mike G., Mike O, and Butch for the help, comaradary and for validating my poor decisions!

…and somedays, the bear bites you.  Today I feel like I may have been nibbled upon a bit.

We got up and went to breakfast, and Kim then headed out for our nieces graduation from her grad school.  I stayed home, thinking I was going to get a lot accomplished on the trailer, despite the cold.

By the time we got breakfast, got back, and I got ready to go out, it was almost 1100.  Since it was pretty chilly out, I took a space heater out to the Spartan and plugged it in to warm up the interior a bit.  So far so good…

Then I went over to the Gilmore Museum to pick up some springs for the roadster project that were supposed to have come back with them from delivering a car to another museum

“We asked about them, and nobody knew anything about them”, they said.  Oh well, I had another one all located, and went to my friends house to get it, and some other little parts he had that I thought I might need.  The spring is a mono-leaf rear for a ’40 Ford, which is brand new, perfect, and he gave me a good deal because he doesn’t need it, so that part went fine, although, by then, it was 2 pm and snowing hard.

Out in the shop, I wasn’t so lucky.

I had a terrible struggle getting the long, curved portion of the ceiling up on the curb side. Working alone, and handicapped by my (still quite weak) right leg, I just couldn’t get the almost 8′ section up and snapped into place.  Finally, after much struggle, a little trimming, and adjusting, I got it to pop into place.  Perfect.  The rest of them should go easily.

Or so I thought.

The left side one I had to make cut out for the kitchen light (actually both sides), and of course, I cut it on the wrong end of the panel.  Arghhh.  So, I cut another one, which was oriented the right way (I can use the wrong cut on in the rear, they’re shorter but still…) and with even more difficulty than the curb side, got it snapped into position.  After it cracked, making a barely noticeable, but visible, variation it the curve.

I then noticed a “bulge” in the middle, halfway up the panel.  Thinking it just needed to be seated a bit better, I smacked the area just ahead of the bulge with my fist, and sure enough, it popped right into place, and a 2″ long stove bolt that was screwed into that frame member popped right through the paneling.

So, an hour and half of effort wasted, and half a sheet of 1/8″ birch plywood.  I cut the offending screw off, how I missed that one hanging from the ceiling I have no idea, all the time I’ve spent pulling wire, insulating and working, but it happened.  Happily I have an extra sheet, so I’m not SOL, it is aggravating.  I’ll hit it again tomorrow, by the time that happened, it was almost 5:00, getting dark and temps dropping, so I went in, took an Aleve and had supper.

Here’s how I left it.



In the Cadillac building, a beautiful recreation of the Cadillac approved Art Deco dealership building design from the late 30’s.

Since my hip replacement a little over a week ago I’ve been going over to the Gilmore museum every day for a walk.  I’ve graduated to being able to use a cane, rather than walker, which is good,  although it does make me rather sore later on.  Going through the museum at my forced slow pace enables me to notice things I’d normally breeze right on buy.  My visit yesterday was focused on the Model A museum.  I admit I’m not very enthused about Model A’s, particularly in stock form, but the versatility and adaptability of this humble depression era car is amazing.  From family transportation, to marine, medium duty truck, and even aircraft, the reliable little Model A kept America moving during the tough 30’s, into the 40’s and 50’s, and continues today as restored and hot-rodded little Fords are still going strong.

A break in the still open “Blue Moon Diner” was a welcome stop for a root beer float.  The museum was very busy, but I managed to belly up the much counter and get an empty stool to enjoy my float.

Stay tuned for more hip replacement recovery, rehab and fun.  I’m hoping to be able in the next couple weeks to be able to a little light work on the Spartan trailer project.  For now I still need to use a cane or walker, but as rapidly as this seems to be progressing I should be back at it, at least in a limited way, pretty soon.

Thanks for visiting, see you next time!

Dateline, Delton.

Area man Brian McCool, vintage car and trailer enthusiast and new grandfather is reportedly recuperating from a hip replacement last week.  At post-day 7, this morning he was found setting in a recliner in his family room, where he’s been sleeping the last three  nights, reportedly because he can’t get up without assistance from a supine position.

Since his discharge from Bronson Battle Creek, where he is employed as a Critical Care Rn, McCool has been steadily progressing, increasing his physical activity daily.  Witnesses say he’s been seen every day at the nearby  “Gilmore Car Museum”, walking indoors in the museums barns and Heritage Center.  Yesterday marks the first day he has ventured there with only a cane (which sadly does not have a sword or rifle concealed in the shaft), having used a walker on prior outings.  Driven there by his 91 year old father, Rex, the two McCool’s successfully completed one lap of the large, interconnected but separate museums, pausing to rest in the Lincoln building.

McCool reports that his hip still hurts due to incisional pain, but it’s tolerable, due in part to some little white pills and the occasional muscle relaxer.

“My leg was pretty swollen yesterday”,  McCool says, “but it’s better this morning.  That’s probably why I had to get up every 45 minutes to pee last night, getting rid of all that fluid.”

His wife Kim reports that he’s been pretty good about the whole ordeal, citing only one instance of frustration when, immediately upon getting into bed, he attempted to take off a t-shirt, which he claims stuck like  Velcro to their flannel sheets, and he became entangled trying to take the shirt off lying on his back.  “He totally lost his shit” she states, reporting that the resultant struggle and colorful expletives were hilarious to watch, and that while she didn’t really want to laugh, it was pretty dammed funny.   McCool declined to comment on the incident at all.

McCool states that he was told he shouldn’t drive for 3-4 weeks,  although he declined to comment as to whether or not he would follow this recommendation.  He did however knowledge that for now, he’s satisfied with his progress, and hasn’t been out to his shop once.   He did mention that any of his creative and talented friends who wanted to come by and hang sheets of birch plywood up in his latest project, a 1947 Spartan Manor trailer coach, or off-load his ’34 Ford roadster project from the enclosed car trailer where it’s currently stored, into the shop,  would be welcome, and that he felt he had an ample supply of craft beer to keep the occasion festive.

“I’d do it again.”, he said, noting that X-rays of his left hip reveal it to be nearly bone-on-bone like the one just replaced, and he’d probably have to do it again whether he wanted to or not.  His orthopedic surgeon, Joe Burkhardt, agreed, adding that he would be available for additional procedures after an upcoming deep sea fishing trip in the Bahamas, as long as McCool’s insurance checks cashed.  “With all the degenerative arthritis and joint deterioration this guy’s had to have fixed already, I may be able to get an even better place on Gull Lake.”, Burkhardt noted.







Yesterday in the wind and snow/rain I drove down to Bristol IN to see my pal Mike Greene at Sierra Custom Interiors. He hooked me up with needed holding tanks, the missing trim bezel and controls for the Coleman heat pump, and some miscellaneous hardware.
Today started installing birch, I’m halfway down both walls. I’ve made lots of scrap, having cut two left side front wall panels and then cut out curb side window panel wrong. Good thing I have extra.