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    Thread: It's been a while. Another Spartan trailer story.

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    1. Member barry2952's Avatar
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      03-07-2019 10:38 PM #1
      Some of you may remember my Spartan Toybox build. I needed a trailer to haul around my cars to distant shows. I converted a 1951 Royal Spartanette travel trailer into a toybox with 21 feet of garage space in the rear and an air conditioned Tiki lounge up front. I crashed it on its maiden voyage, got paid $1,000 an hour to repair it and then completed a cross-Michigan jaunt with the '55 Porsche Cabrio in the back. That was its last trip and it now sits in a warehouse gathering dust. I lost all desire to tow anything anywhere when I looked out the side window of my F-450 and saw my 35-foot trailer as it wagged the dog 4 times before the crash.



      15 years later someone knocks on the door of my shop shortly after I retired. He's a very cheerful guy that had tracked me down because of my experience building and documenting the build. He had contacted the machine shop I used to rebuild the window regulators for his trailer's roll-down rear windows and they directed him to me to help him with parts. I recognized them as OEM Ford window regulators and advised the guy that I knew of repair kits and where to obtain them. He proceeded to tell me about his trailer, a 1951 Imperial Mansion, a 36-foot model similar to mine. He told me he had retired from a major local company with a dream to restore an old dilapidated home in a southern state. He thought it would be a great idea to buy an old silver trailer and turn it into a road-going RV with grey water and black water tanks. He said that after a trip to Texas he would take it to his homesite and set it up their living quarters during the restoration of their home. I thought it was a pretty cool idea.

      He then brings out a spreadsheet of a detailed cost analysis and a timetable for what was going to happen when. I literally laughed out loud. I then asked if he had ever undertaken a similar task. He replied that he hadn't. I asked him if he had ever built a car, he hadn't. I asked him if his life's work had ever involve building anything, he hadn't. He worked with people, not parts. I asked him if he had ever taken a shop class. He hadn't. I shook my head. He told me that he had hired a remodeler to build the trailer and that the guy had everything under control. He didn't. Not even close. He really had no idea what he was doing.

      I heard from the guy 6 months later. He asked if I had any window parts. I had plenty as I had replaced all of my windows with fixed units and eliminated the leakage problem that plagues and rots old trailers. I gave him some windows and he then asked me if I would take a look at his gutted trailer that was stashed at a local welding shop getting a new tongue. It was the worst snot welding I had ever seen and didn't mind telling him so. The hack welded on a new tongue with the lightweight chassis detached from the body resulting in a permanent twist to the frame. He had hired a guy to replace the floor of the trailer with two layers of tongue and groove, but failed to buy marine plywood and ordered particle board. Bad choice.

      About a year later he comes back to me and asks if I have room to let his "remodeler" work indoors for 2-3 weeks. I was pretty sure I didn't want the inconvenience of moving vehicles around and I wasn't;t sure I wanted someone working in my building. I pondered this for a moment. I asked what he was offering and he said $300 a week for doing nothing but provide a dry place to work as everything his "remodeler" installed leaked and he had already installed new birch paneling.

      I sat back and watched the guy work. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I started to question things and then everything the guy did and found he had no idea what he was doing. He had a ton of tools and knew how they worked but knew nothing of electrical codes and methods. His plumbing work was worse. I started pointing out things that were outright mistakes and offering to come up with ideas to fix them, but they made my job more difficult by having the stripped body foamed into a solid mass forever entombing the trailer's noticeable twist. With jack-stands in place the frame is one inch above the same height jack stand on the left front. I suggested they get the foam overspray off the tires, so the owner tried to take the tires off and couldn't. They were too wide to come out. The axle had been changed at a local trailer dealer and they couldn't get them on so they undid the wheel wells and dropped them in from above. What were they thinking? The wheel wells would be covered in permanent cabinetry. I had to find a solution.

      Any interest in me going on?





      Last edited by barry2952; 03-10-2019 at 09:54 PM.

    2. I need new ones NeverEnoughCars's Avatar
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      03-07-2019 10:44 PM #2
      Nice to see you posting again!

      I would enjoy another wonderful Barry thread.
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    3. Junior Member
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      03-07-2019 10:46 PM #3
      Yes, please continue!


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

    4. Member monoaural's Avatar
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      03-07-2019 10:48 PM #4
      Always interested in a Barry thread. Also, it’s really hard to look away from a train wreck, which apparently this trailer is.

    5. Member Sledge's Avatar
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      03-07-2019 11:12 PM #5
      Barry's back
      "The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views...which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."
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      03-07-2019 11:27 PM #6
      One sedan
      One coupe

    7. Member andyA6's Avatar
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      03-07-2019 11:37 PM #7
      Go for it! Can’t wait!
      Keep right except to pass!

    8. Member BlackMiata's Avatar
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      03-07-2019 11:49 PM #8
      A new Barry thread, time to make some

    9. Senior Member @McMike's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 10:15 PM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by MylesPH1 View Post
      Is this what you meant to do?


    10. Member
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      03-08-2019 12:52 AM #10
      Yes, please continue! I love these old silver trailers, and I’m always down to follow a Barry Build

    11. Member sunofernest's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 01:01 AM #11
      I have a feeling that the trailer owner is going to get a much higher quality build than he expected (and spend a lot more money too)

    12. Member BlackMiata's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 01:46 AM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by sunofernest View Post
      I have a feeling that the trailer owner is going to get a much higher quality build than he expected (and spend a lot more money too)
      Why do I get the feeling this is going to go down the same path as the Ruxton build (loved that thread, it was awesome), where a simple fix the engine job ended up in a full and fantastic restoration.

    13. I’m not a loser. I’m a winnah!! patrikman's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 02:53 AM #13
      I love me some vintage camper trailering. Welcome bacon Barry.
      this signature kills fascists.

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    14. Member Rob Cote's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 06:05 AM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by Hudsone View Post
      No one knows what and where I have to go to them?

    15. Member barry2952's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 09:03 AM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by patrikman View Post
      Welcome bacon Barry.
      Freudian slip, or truth-sayer? I've probably had too much bacon in my life. They probably call me Bacon Barry at my favorite breakfast dive. I just turned 67 and have likely shortened my life, but it's been worth it. I almost didn't get involved with this project as my health has declined since the crash of the Zephyr and an A-fib scare about two years ago that kept me from working on just about everything. Cutting myself while on blood thinners could have been disastrous, as would hitting my head under cars. That's almost a daily occurrence as I'm 6'5". It turned out I had a rare case of secondary hypertension brought on by sleep apnea. I resolved the apnea with a CPAP and the hypertension went away, leaving me with normal blood pressure and no A-fib. I'm one of the few people my age that require no medication.

      I also developed an Essential Tremor in my dominant hand which I was sure would prevent me from doing mechanical work. The funny thing is that it never acts up while I'm working. I was totally freaked out to learn that my 65 year-old brother is in the end-stages of Parkinson's and his condition started in his right hand 6 years ago. I've been tested and there's no sign of Parkinson's, thankfully. It's not hereditary, but it sure scared the **** out of me and kept me from touching the '47 Lincoln I bought a year ago.

      This project came about at the right time in my life as the more I do the better I feel which allows me to do more. Kind of a viscous circle in reverse.

      Thanks for the warm welcome, Patrikman.

    16. Member Datic's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 11:20 AM #16
      I ALWAYS appreciate a Barry project thread! I am glad you are still chugging along.

    17. Senior Member
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      03-08-2019 11:29 AM #17
      YES!

      It has been FAR too long since a Barry thread. I can't wait to actually see the photos when I get home (work blocks most photo hosting sites, sadly).

      And Barry--I'm a huge believer in the restorative power of getting in your flow state and doing something meaningful. Good on you for rescuing this poor hacked up beauty.

      Now, if you'd just get back to the limo build next...

    18. Member Maximum_Download's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 11:38 AM #18
      In. It's good to see you again, Barry.

      Your Spartan trailer is an absolute work of art. It'd be an honor to see it someday.
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    19. Member l88m22vette's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 11:47 AM #19
      Awesome, I loved the trailer build and this one is very cool, excited to read this whole thing after work with a beer
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    20. Senior Member
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      03-14-2019 12:11 AM #20
      Ugh, seeing those photos again just makes me sick to my stomach. That was gutting in many levels.

    21. Member barry2952's Avatar
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      03-14-2019 08:43 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by Numbersix View Post
      Ugh, seeing those photos again just makes me sick to my stomach. That was gutting in many levels.
      That's why I'm so adamant about safety. Maybe too much so. Tom and I have conflicting opinions about the tankless/ventless water heater. The instructions expressly state that it is not to be mounted in a bathroom or a bedroom of an RV, but I've had a very bad experience with carbon monoxide, and I'm gun-shy of putting that much exhaust and moisture into essentially a closed refrigerator. With the widows sealed the air exchange may not be sufficient to offset carbon monoxide build-up. Tom says it passes European and US standards, and, he states that he has 3 fans that can exhaust or push fresh air into the trailer at the touch of a remote control. A carbon monoxide detector would be essential, in my view, but he has nothing that would automatically turn on ventilation. I suggested a conventional electric water heater to eliminate the need for gas in the trailer at all, which would be far safer, IMO. Since I have no direct experience with these products it would be nice to get some assurance that a ventless gas water heater in a 1,872 cubic foot space is a good idea.

      After figuring out where the kitchen wall went I had to make one as every other panel was saved, but this one. I had no template. I had to reverse engineer it by trying to make sense of the pile of parts I had to work with. After web surfing restoration posts of other Spartan trailers I was able to figure out how the pocket door worked. The header wood for the pocket door trolley track was broken so I fabricated a new one on my big band saw and 6'' stationary belt sander. It's attached to the trolly with 20+ #4 wood screws. The wood only fits the ceiling in one location which helped to locate where the track went. The trolly is no longer available and the rubber-coated wheels were a mess. I had the machine shop remove all of the old rubber cast onto the knurled wheels and cut a groove in the middle of each wheel. Tom found a supply of rubber o-rings that barely fit over the wheel, shoding it with a new rubber tire.



      I had to make a full-size template. It is here that I honed my scribing skills. A carpenter's pencil is shaped perfectly for following the contour of the curved ceiling. On the flat you tale a little off. On edge you take a lot off. I found an orbital sander with 60 grit makes shaping 1/4" paneling a breeze. I did the rough shaping with a circular saw.



      The new panels will be pre-finished. The originally interior was built and stained in place.



      With the new panel installed I was able to locate where the trolley track went and hung the old door as a test fit.



      The door is 22" wide.



      It's starting to get small. The more I finish the smaller it gets.
      Last edited by barry2952; 03-14-2019 at 08:47 PM.

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      03-14-2019 09:31 PM #22
      Damn, I love a Barry Build Thread. I get a mental erection reading these. It is much more pleasurable than it sounds.
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    23. Member NJRoadfan's Avatar
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      03-15-2019 12:21 AM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by barry2952 View Post
      That's why I'm so adamant about safety. Maybe too much so. Tom and I have conflicting opinions about the tankless/ventless water heater. The instructions expressly state that it is not to be mounted in a bathroom or a bedroom of an RV, but I've had a very bad experience with carbon monoxide, and I'm gun-shy of putting that much exhaust and moisture into essentially a closed refrigerator. With the widows sealed the air exchange may not be sufficient to offset carbon monoxide build-up. Tom says it passes European and US standards, and, he states that he has 3 fans that can exhaust or push fresh air into the trailer at the touch of a remote control. A carbon monoxide detector would be essential, in my view, but he has nothing that would automatically turn on ventilation. I suggested a conventional electric water heater to eliminate the need for gas in the trailer at all, which would be far safer, IMO. Since I have no direct experience with these products it would be nice to get some assurance that a ventless gas water heater in a 1,872 cubic foot space is a good idea.
      They actually make ventless gas instant hot water heaters? These things burn a ton of fuel, I would NOT put one in a small space like a RV. Normally they intake and vent using 3-5in PVC to/from the OUTSIDE. If a small electric tank can be fitted, it would be preferred (use a flow limiter if you are worried about running out of hot water). Only other safe option is to mount the tankless gas unit outside if the RV will remain in a mild climate with no risk of freezing or properly vent it (its possible in FL). Cost of fuel won't be any cheaper with propane vs. electric. Natural gas would be the cheapest fuel at the moment, but its not available everywhere.
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    24. Member Stromaluski's Avatar
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      03-15-2019 08:18 AM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by barry2952 View Post
      That's why I'm so adamant about safety. Maybe too much so. Tom and I have conflicting opinions about the tankless/ventless water heater. The instructions expressly state that it is not to be mounted in a bathroom or a bedroom of an RV, but I've had a very bad experience with carbon monoxide, and I'm gun-shy of putting that much exhaust and moisture into essentially a closed refrigerator. With the widows sealed the air exchange may not be sufficient to offset carbon monoxide build-up. Tom says it passes European and US standards, and, he states that he has 3 fans that can exhaust or push fresh air into the trailer at the touch of a remote control. A carbon monoxide detector would be essential, in my view, but he has nothing that would automatically turn on ventilation. I suggested a conventional electric water heater to eliminate the need for gas in the trailer at all, which would be far safer, IMO. Since I have no direct experience with these products it would be nice to get some assurance that a ventless gas water heater in a 1,872 cubic foot space is a good idea.
      Quote Originally Posted by NJRoadfan View Post
      They actually make ventless gas instant hot water heaters? These things burn a ton of fuel, I would NOT put one in a small space like a RV. Normally they intake and vent using 3-5in PVC to/from the OUTSIDE. If a small electric tank can be fitted, it would be preferred (use a flow limiter if you are worried about running out of hot water). Only other safe option is to mount the tankless gas unit outside if the RV will remain in a mild climate with no risk of freezing or properly vent it (its possible in FL). Cost of fuel won't be any cheaper with propane vs. electric. Natural gas would be the cheapest fuel at the moment, but its not available everywhere.
      I agree about a gas tankless water heater in an RV not being the best idea in the world. Is there a way to hook up a carbon monoxide detector and have it trigger a ventilation fan? Seems like a simple relay circuit would do the trick?

      Alternatively, they do make electric tankless water heaters, though they aren't nearly as efficient as a gas tankless water heater (or at least they weren't when I looked into them 8 or so few years back).

    25. 03-15-2019 12:11 PM #25
      I agree with everyone that a ventless gas heater inside an RV is crazy. If you're going to burn gas, it needs to be vented outside. Forget about the ventless idea and have one that vents outside. That's a recipe for dying of CO poisoning.

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