Monday, May 9, 2011

Our Retirement Home

This is the post where I'll introduce you to the project Haley calls our retirement home. I'll put in as many pics as I have right now, but there will be more as things progress. Also I have more pics on a laptop (iBook) that has a messed up power supply connection. I'll get that fixed someday and post those pics when I do.

We didn't know it, but we first saw this trailer in a parking/storage area behind Spencer's RV on 82nd Ave. We were told that it wasn't for sale.

Fast forward a couple of months when on an Airstream forum classified section, I found an ad for a 1954 Airstream Safari. It was in Portland and the price was right.
I contacted the seller who not only agreed to meet me at Spencer's RV so I could take a look at it, but also offered to tow it to our house (then in Scappoose, 20 miles away). Nice guy!

Before we left, I asked Haley if I should take along the cash... she said "It could be a total piece of crap, and you know you're still going to buy it!" I married a wise woman.

Well, it wasn't a total piece of crap. In fact, it was in pretty decent original shape... except the floor.
Airstreams are made of aluminum. Aluminum exterior skin. Aluminum wall and ceiling frame. Aluminum inside walls. About the only things that can rot away (except for cabinets & other furnishings) is the plywood floor (oh, and the steel ladder-style frame). And this floor was quite rotten. I like projects so we bought it.

Turns out he found this trailer in Arizona, on Rt. 66 being used as a storage shed behind a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Thanks to the incredible research done by RJ on his website, I discovered that my new trailer was actually a 1956 model.

I love the 13-panels needed to make the compound curves. I love the "door-within-a door." I love the 10-foot continuous span of 3 windows on the street-side. I love how it will polish up and look like a chrome toaster. At 23-feet ball-to-bumper, it's not too long... not too short. Actual inside living space is 18-feet.

I don't love replacing the floor. I am about half-way through replacing the plywood subfloor. Here are a few pics of us moving it from storage to the spot next to the house where the Aloha used to be. (It was also a 1956... weird coincidence.) At the storage facility. This is me and Max preparing to re-grease the bearings and tow it about 25 miles.
Hooked up and pulled out a little bit. Those are temporary tow lights and yes... those are the original split rim wheels. But the skin is in very very good shape. The only dents at all (besides a few little guys here and there) are at one front "corner" and another where the door was thrown open a little hard. I think I should they should be fairly easy to pop out. Rounding the first corner and heading for home.
It towed very well with little or no swaying. Due to questionable tires & wheels... I kept the speed down but it was smooooth! Now's the tricky part... backing it into position next to the house. Yikes!

Because the driveway is a little bit steep, I was worried that it might scrape. Turns out we had a good 6-inches to spare!
And there it is. Plenty of space. Looks great and ready for me to get rid of the wasps and finish putting in the floor.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Say Aloha to my 1956 Aloha

I just sold the 15' 1956 Aloha we had owned and used for about 4-5 years. It was a fun little trailer with many many stories that go along with it. I'll spare you ALL the details, but here are the basics and a bunch of pictures.

I play drums in an instrumental surf band (The Verbtones). It's a bunch of fun and every couple of years we get to go to Southern California and play shows at the Huntington International Surf Museum, live on the UCSD radio station, and clubs such as the Doll Hut in Anaheim, Safari Sam's on Sunset in Hollywood, Bar Pink in San Diego and others. The first year my wife and I decided to save on hotel fees and airfare by buying a vintage trailer and driving down (our Airstream wasn't usable).
I found this baby close to my office and it already had a "For Sale" sign in the window. We bought it, hitched it up to our Chevy Silverado and headed south.
We made it about 50-60 miles before we had a blowout. ZOINKS!
Thanks to the super cool guys at Les Schwab, we were on our way with a new set of tires in a few hours.
We didn't make it too much farther, so we camped our first night on the side of the road at a rest stop because all the truckers had already taken up the parking spots. Here we are the next morning.
The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful and we enjoyed using it parked in front of a band-members parents house in the City of Orange. I was paranoid about driving on the Santa Ana freeway with a trailer, but discovered that with a small twitch of the steering wheel traffic would magically back off. (No, that's not Haley in the below pic!)
We used it several other times, once to Long Beach Washington where we discovered it leaked like crazy. We really liked how it stood out from all the new rigs.

In the summer of 2010 we spent a few nights at the RV park at Silverwood Amusement park just north of Coeur d'Alene Idaho and a few more nights at a friends cabin in the wilds of Idaho. That trip consisted of many miles on dusty, narrow gravel roads without guardrails. If you've seen The Long, Long Trailer think about the scene where Lucy is looking down the cliff out her window and that's close to our experience.
But the Aloha was always meant to be a temporary thing. A means for us to get acquainted with pulling a trailer before starting work in earnest on the trailer Haley calls our retirement house, our 1956 Airstream Safari.

I put an ad on Craigslist and within a few days, I had a buyer with cash in hand and eager for a project. The Aloha wasn't without it's faults (wooden-frame rot, unknown propane system, 1956 era electrical), but it was fun and we enjoyed our time with it.