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

    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.

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    3. 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.
      Quote Originally Posted by Turbio! View Post
      Pedantry: winning arguments through exasperation since 1651. An Old World Tradition!
      "Now i am become death the destroyer of worlds."-bhagavad gita
      “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” -T.S. Eliot

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      03-07-2019 10:46 PM #3
      Yes, please continue!


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

    5. 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.

    6. 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."
      - Doctor Who (Fourth Doctor) "Face of Evil"

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      03-07-2019 11:27 PM #6
      One sedan
      One coupe

    8. 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!

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

    10. 03-07-2019 11:56 PM #9
      We've missed you Barry.

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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

    12. 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)

    13. 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.

    14. 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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    15. 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?

    16. Member
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      03-08-2019 07:45 AM #15
      Tell us more.

    17. Member
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      03-08-2019 08:09 AM #16
      Can a mod temp lock this thread so Barry can just make his post without 12 pages of BS in between each worthwhile read?
      Or maybe delete mine and everyone else's comments?

    18. Member Lujess's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 08:19 AM #17
      Awesome - look forward to more. Imperial Mansion - what a name.
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    19. Member barry2952's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 08:41 AM #18
      Thanks for the positive response, Loungers. I have been away too long.

      I wish this guy had found me before his handyman did, so does he. So does his trailer.

      The first thing I did was to help him out with his tire problem. I quickly ascertained that the tires were about 2 inches too wide as the original tires were 700/15 bias-ply and had a much narrower aspect ratio. Radials are kinda dumb for a trailer as you don't need traction and you don't want grip as turning a dual axle is miserable with radials. In fact, trailer-specific tires are built with no inner and outer tread pattern to induce slip, not traction. The rigid sidewall of a bias-ply tire also eliminates the side-to side movement of a squat radial. I did some research and found some import tires that met the load and size requirements.



      I kept the original tires that I put on my trailer to get it here from Elgin, Illinois. I used two on my boat trailer, but had two left over. Note how much narrower the bias ply tire is. Also note the smooth inner and outer tread band on the bias-ply tire.



      Did you ever try to explain something to someone, only to get the response of, "Yeah, yeah, yeah!", when you know that they have no idea what you're talking about. It's an annoying response to hear all day, every day, so I made him go away and I took over the project. The two weeks he was there were probably the longest two weeks of my life. Owning tools does not make you a craftsman.

      At this point my role had only been advisory, but the trailer needed my touch. Before his two weeks were up I used him as a grunt. The second project I got involved in was sealing the leaky roof. They make roof paint for trailers, but I thought an RV rubber membrane would work much better so I had him remove the air conditioning units and the low-voltage fans he had wired for 120-volts. Good thing he never energized them.



      Before I caught him he had already installed the vent fans backwards as the lids would catch the wind going down the road, which would lift them while driving.



      His front door was in pretty poor shape, compared to the rest of the trailer. I agreed to re-skin it for him.



      I dragged out all of my riveting tools and did an inventory. More on the door later.



      My hilo came in pretty handy for reinstalling the air conditioners.



      Now that the roof was water tight they could proceed with the staining of the birch paneling. I was not a party to the staining, which produced a variety of shades. The sims will be covered with strips, after I take out every-single-screw to countersinking them. The handyman was going to rout out the back of he strips her than countersink the screws. Hackery at its finest.

      When the interior walls were removed the trailer ceiling sagged an inch and a half and the cabinetry no longer fit, so, instead of propping the ceiling back up to the correct height he cut an inch and a half off the bottom of the cabinets. D'oh!.

      The owner of the trailer had the handyman wire the trailer for 120-volts. The owner had asked him to install the proper electrical boxes, but the handyman convinced him that he should install the wiring in the approximate location needed, without boxes, before foaming. He thought he was going to use cut-in boxes after the paneling was installed. He was going to cut out the rectangle and gouge away at the structural foam filling the cavity behind through the new hole he cut. That would be like tuning your carb through the tail pipe. In addition, the walls were too shallow to mount a cut in box. What I really can't figure out is why he left 6 feet of extra wire at each location. His methods left me with no option other than to use surface-mounted boxes. Another D'oh!

      That's the aluminum shower enclosure. It had a rotten bottom, so the owner had a new one installed, but used pop rivets, which has a hole in the center of each one. They have steel mandrels so they will eventually rust. They will require further attention before the water is turned on.

      Last edited by barry2952; 03-17-2019 at 05:57 PM.

    20. Member barry2952's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 08:44 AM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by Gitcha Sum View Post
      Can a mod temp lock this thread so Barry can just make his post without 12 pages of BS in between each worthwhile read?
      Or maybe delete mine and everyone else's comments?
      I have no problem with the comments. I welcome feedback.

    21. Member BlackMiata's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 09:00 AM #20
      First thought when I read the original post was this video.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jk9H5AB4lM

    22. Member barry2952's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 09:03 AM #21
      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.

    23. 03-08-2019 09:11 AM #22
      Welcome back Barry!! glad to see you back at it..

      I dont think its been mentioned yet, but aside from the hackery - that is one sweet looking trailer! I especially like the split windows on the front and round door window. Reminds me of a ski gondola. Is the idea to polish it like yours, or paint/wrap it?

    24. Member barry2952's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 09:12 AM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by BlackMiata View Post
      First thought when I read the original post was this video.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jk9H5AB4lM
      I sure wish I had seen that before my maiden voyage. I sent that to Tom about a week ago. He has never towed anything and was hoping to take a lesson, a single lesson, before hitting the road with a 70 year old trailer. I believe I've convinced him to have it dragged to it's final location by a professional. When they installed the gray and black water tanks they removed some cross-members leaving the monocoque assembly compromised. I had to have the talk with him about having it put on a heavy equipment trailer and having it delivered to the job site without ever putting it on the road. The trailer tongue work is so terrible that I think it should never be on the highway. The only way to fix that would be to remove the body and floor again, and that's not going to happen. It will be an elegant mini-home that should never be on the road.

    25. Member Tornado2dr's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 09:16 AM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by barry2952 View Post
      Did you ever try to explain something to someone, only to get the response of, "Yeah, yeah, yeah!", when you know that they have no idea what you're talking about.

      Before I caught him he had already installed the vent fans backwards as the lids would catch the wind going down the road, which would lift them while driving.

      What I really can't figure out is why he left 6 feet of extra wire at each location. His methods left me with no option other than to use surface-mounted boxes. Another D'oh!
      Yes. The worst.

      My goodness - i'd at least expect a passing familiarity with common sense from a person tasked as a rebuilder/craftsman.

      Extra 6' - Because when you don't care or don't know how much you need to work with, you leave too much.

      Quote Originally Posted by barry2952 View Post
      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.
      Glad to hear it. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, you know? Keep that machine running, barry.
      Quote Originally Posted by Turbio!
      They make my ass look pretty.

    26. Member barry2952's Avatar
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      03-08-2019 09:16 AM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by B_artman View Post
      Welcome back Barry!! glad to see you back at it..

      I dont think its been mentioned yet, but aside from the hackery - that is one sweet looking trailer! I especially like the split windows on the front and round door window. Reminds me of a ski gondola. Is the idea to polish it like yours, or paint/wrap it?
      I have 400 hours in polishing mine. The Alclad skin was meant to be polished, but 70 years of corrosion has to be removed to even get to the pure aluminum applied over the aluminum alloy. He's going to wait until it gets to its resting place to be polished the labor rate is far less down there. If I never polish another one it will be too soon.

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