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!