Friday, 12 August 2016

Restoration vrs. Preservation when you have a unique trailer...

I have been on an interesting journey with my Golden Falcon since I got it. I have found out that a Golden Falcon Trailer is to Canada what the Shasta is in the USA. It was an iconic, Canadian trailer.  The luxury model in the tin can ranks. Not an airstream, but not a standard camper either.  They were  proudly "made in Canada" and there are very few intact and unchanged vintage models left. In addition as I have done research on my trailer, it is looking like I may have a "prototype" or very early model. 
I have learned all of this while trying to establish what antique or art dealers call the "providence" or history of my trailer. It started out with me having a mystery refrigerator brand that none of the other Glendale owner's had in their trailer, and which no one else had seen in a travel trailer. It's called an LEC Regis Bognor. I even tried Tim Heinz and the TCT crowd to try and find someone with the same fridge. No takers. 

So, after some research, I realized why no other North American trailers had this fridge... it was from England. Then, after more research, I found out that the family who started the Glendale Trailer company were from England. And after a bit more research I realized that there were a few differences between my trailer and the Golden Falcons others were working on... 

There were no running lights on the roof (everyone seems to have them but me and one or two other very early Golden Falcon's out there), and of course as mentioned I have the weird fridge. 

My assumption is that when they started the Golden Falcon line, (in 1961) at first they ordered the refrigerators from England from a company they were familiar with, and then once they took off, within a year or so all the Golden Falcon's have Dometic refrigerators. Or perhaps it was custom ordered with this type of fridge? 
They also started without running lights of the roof and added them later. So this helps me to date my trailer to be no earlier that 1961, when Golden Falcon was launched, and before 1963 when I see running lights and dometic refrigerators show up on them.  So it appears I have a somewhat unique early model Golden Falcon.  

So all that to say that I have started to feel a bit of responsibility to make my restoration correct, and honoring to the original model and the history of the company. I feel like I am preserving a piece of Canadian history. 
How does this translate to my restoration? 
I'm not 100% sure, but it is starting to effect all the decisions I am making on the restoration, and I would like it, that when people see my finished trailer, they feel like they have a good idea of what an original Glendale Golden Falcon looked like. 

So, I am having the original decals reproduced, and trying to keep the original look of the exterior. Although on this early model, thus far the original paint job is unknown, later ones had metallic gold sections on them, so I will be have to be creative on that one. 
One unique element on the trailer is the gold drip rail and counter trim used throughout. I may have to have some gold counter trim custom made, as I am missing one section of it. 

I am unable at this point to find any brochure showing original fabrics, so I am focusing on what design element were used around 1959-1961 when the trailer was likely designed. This will include wide tufted buttons on the gaucho and booth cushions, and I am going to stick with red fabric, to reflect being "proudly Canadian."

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Thursday, 7 July 2016

Removing the Windows

I have progressed to the point where all of the windows are out. I try and take the time to remove as much putty as possible from each window so that there will be less work later in the process and I do not find myself chipping off hardened goop. 

This is a very boring stretch of the reno. Pretty much just removing windows, and exterior trim one inch a a time. 

I also have had to learn to remove something called "twisty nails" which are round headed nails that are twisted into the wood and do not come out easily. I ruined a small section of aluminum in the trunk area, until one of my advisors told me to order "VAMPLIERS".. yes thats right, it sounds like vampire. They are special pliers that grab nails when they are flush and pull them out. This photo is the aluminum I damaged. Fortunatly it is in an inconspicuous place.

Here are some of the tools I use for stripping down the trailer. The Vampliers are the little ones at the front. 

 I have learned to take a lot of photos while rehabbing the trailer. I find weird things that the factory builders did like plugging the top of the door trim with putty. I need to remember that for the reassembly.

For the next few weeks, I will be scraping roofing tar off of the roof. My trailer was kept under a cabana, and they tarred the seam where the roof met the trailer. I started removing the tar with a heat gun but all it did was create a mess. I have moved onto using a dremel multitool with a scraper blade and it seems to be working. Its a messy job, but very relaxing if you like restoration work.

In my next post I will be showing you the wooden crib that I am building for storing the siding, and I will be raising off the roof to hang it off of the rafters during the repairs.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Starting the skin removal...

This was my first day of stripping down the trailer. All of the aluminum skin needs to be removed from the frame so that I can assess the damage, and make repairs etc. So I arrived at the dealership ready to do that this morning, only to find a surprise. I was locked out of the trailer! It turns out that the vintage handle on the door "locks" simply by moving the handle to the down position.

Not only did I not know that, I don't have a key. I did not want to have to take a window off right away, so the only way into the trailer was through the back hatch, which I had removed last week.
I felt pretty squeezed going through there, but I got the door open and a lesson was learned.

Then it was onto the skin removal. Most of the screws on the trailer are 1/4 inch hex, and my dad gave me a special drill bit to remove them. However once in a while I would find a 3 or 4 inch screw that the previous owner had tried to use for repair.    

When you take the aluminum skin off of a vintage trailer, the first step is to remove the trim along the edge, also called the j-rail. This sits over a layer of putty, that was used to seal the seams. On a trailer  this old, the putty is degraded and dried out. It is no wonder these old trailers have water damage.
I won't know the extent of the damage until I remove all the skin, but it is likely there is some.

                                                                                                                                       Once the j-rails were off, I cleaned the putty off of the inside, carefully labeled them and then scraped all the old goop off of the edge of the trailer. You can see a close up here of the seams after the rail is off. There was even one small spot on the trailer (shown below) where the aluminum had a small piece missing. You can imagine how easy it is to damage the interior if any water gets past that. I will be very carefully sealing that hole on the reassembly. 

By the end of the day, I had all of the rails off, the sides scraped and the front window guard removed. Next week I will
start the windows. 

Monday, 18 April 2016

And so it begins...

This week we got the Golden Falcon moved into her new home in Murray's auto dealership.
This will allow me to work on it all year round.

When you do a full restoration on a vintage trailer, all of the aluminum skin has to come off at some point to inspect the framing, repair any rot, and run any extra wiring you are hoping to add.

I spent a day removing the upper double bunk which was keeping the trailer closed in visually, and which needed to go, as we will not be bringing any children with us in this trailer. (I hope my kids are reading this. lol)                                                                            
                                                                                                                                                                 As well as this I removed the mahogany cabinet doors and hardware. Every loose piece of a vintage trailer must be put in a zip lock bag and labeled, so you know how to find them and put them back.

Then today my parents came by for a consultation.
I am very thankful to have my parents input on my project. They converted a Blue Bird school bus into an RV in the 1970's, so they know just about everything there is to know about whats involved and how to solve the problems that arise.

After they looked at everything with me today, it was decided that adding a shower would be impractical for the size of the trailer, and so that also allows me to keep the systems very simple. Just a tank of cold water and an old fashioned RV pump on the counter.

I just found this cool old pump with starbursts on it. This means you boil water to do your dishes, which I actually find very relaxing. (The slow down, and live simply aspect).

In addition to all this a marine style toilet will be installed in the bathroom, and my dad has come up with a genius way to add a black water tank to the trailer to make it self contained.

So the porta-potty that was in there is headed to the curb. There was actually something swishing around in there, so I think that will be Murray's job!

And a final bonus discovered in the last two days, is that we plugged in the cool vintage refrigerator and it works perfectly!

My next task will be to start peeling back the skins on this tin can trailer!


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Meet my Golden Falcon

I stepped into the trailer restoration world a couple of years back, when I impulsively bought a 13 ft Glendale trailer. That experience did not turn out very well.. it was a proverbial "tin can of worms".. lots of troubles, and a huge learning curve on what it takes to properly restore vintage trailer. 
Somewhere along the way I fell in love, with amber tinted woodwork, and mid century kitchens, and so when this very original Golden Falcon came available I decided to take the plunge into a slightly bigger, much older trailer with more potential.

She had been stored under a Gazebo type roof in a trailer park for 30 years, and so has much less body damage, and interior damage than one would expect of a trailer of this vintage. I am still trying to determine her age, but it is looking to be very early 1960's. Some of her interior features are earlier in style than any I have seen in other Golden Falcons. Perhaps I will find a clue somewhere inside. Here are a couple of photos of how I found her. 

She is scheduled to be moved into our auto dealership this weekend, and will remain there through her complete makeover. I'll talk about her needed repairs in

my next blog.