• About the 55
  • It begins... Sept 15
  • Oct - Reveal
  • Nov - The back
  • Winter - More...
  • Mar - May
  • June - July
  • Aug - Nov
  • Dec - Jun

Step 1 - Find the labor of love...

Jack

After a lengthy search and looking at many trailers... we found this Traveleze listed on Craigslist and located in Lewiston Idaho, or so I thought, it was more like the outskirts of Weippe Idaho... About 2 more hours East of Lewiston. Advertised as a Santa Fe we didn’t realize it was actually a Traveleze until we began to unpack it, and found the Traveleze placard and paperwork inside.

Documented as the 3rd owner, this trailer was purchased new in Nampa Idaho in 1956. The first owners basically just put it in the garage and left it for 50 years, and upon their death it was sold to a family friend during the estate sale. That is where the water damage occurred…

What was a vintage perfect inside and out, all original… was left in the rain and snow in Weippe Idaho for 10 years with dried up butyl putty.

Purchased for just about $1500 from Jack, he is in the ATV in the picture. We got it home and began our own custom vintage journey. And this blog… is that journey. The story of Nampa Jack.

After towing it home and a closer inspection, I am pretty confident that, that trip home was the farthest that Traveleze had ever been pulled since its shipment up to Nampa when it was new. There is not a sign of any road rash on the front, the frame has not a dent… and the sides? In great shape for 60 years old… What a find.

Jack

First, Larry at Canned Hams Trailers (cannedhamtrailers.com)… He is awesome. And his information and how-to videos have been instrumental in the decision making process. His videos and website have cleared up a ton of “what ifs?” and “unknowns” before we even pulled one twisty nail to see what we needed to do. Do yourself a favor, watch all of his restore videos series’ before you start… and make sure to donate to his site to keep the advice flowing!

Step 2 - Inventory...

At first look the trailer looked in great condition, signs of water damage, but overall good bones.

Then we started digging…

— A ton of wood rot and water damage inside.
— Butted edged corners on the exterior skin, instead     of folded over seams with J-Rail.
— Re-done electrical, that was not really redone...
— Had the original mattress, but it was too molded     to save.
— But... the appliances were in good condition.
— And all the cabinets were too.

At last some good news.

Jack

Also, I think you may have noticed... something doesn't look just right about the trailer. It took me awhile to figure it out, in fact it was Larry that explained it to me, it is reverse brake on the siding. The metal has outward bends instead of the traditional inward facing indent. Unique.

And it must have been hand done because there is no rhyme or reason to the spacing between lines, one is 6" one is 4", then 7" and 3"... Ha!

 

Step 3 - October, assess the damage...

So I was tearing into it and, well..? It just kept going… more and more rot and bad wood.

On the list to rebuild/replace

— The rear lower section.
— The bed and frame.
— All electrical with conversion to 12v with tow     vehicle charge, and shore 110v input.
— Front sitting area rebuild.
— All walls and some ceiling.
— Entire outside skin of front, roof, rear.
— Oven burner seems to be cracked? Missing     peice broken out? I'll be welding it I am sure.

And the list grows. Hey, at least I don’t have anything else to do… LOL.

Jack

Step 4 - November, Repair the rear end.

Wow, what a job. Planning, modifying, and retrofitting... Like Larry said, be prepared to think on your feet. So many plans that had to be modified on the spot to make it work in the end.

It's funny, just look at some of the pictures, it's like the trailer was made from odds, ends, and scraps. There is patching on the side skin in the rear drivers/passengers, one only 2 or so inches in length. There is a vent cover over 2 holes on the upper skin… A mis-drill for the shore poer outlet? Router errors all over the sides where they were cutting the shapes. Small nails every 2 inches then none for 3 feet… Wonder what else I’ll find as I move along. Its like they had a new trainee and he made mistakes, but had to deal with them and figure it out?

Jack

I have to say the 2 tools that made this at all possible were the Harbor Freight Pocket hole jig and the plumbers pliers… Without those?.. I don’t even want to imagine that.

I bought a pocket jig at Home Depot and tried it… don’t waste your time, the one from Harbor Freight is way better designed and easier to use. When I was working on the trailer over the weekend and had a few neighbors stop by and comment on the boards that were installed with it, and think I sold 3 more of them... get one.

And the Pliers? Don’t even think about it, just get them, your knuckles will thank you. Worth every penny.

So here is what has happened;

— Totally rebuilt the rear floor and support system, to include both side support rails, I combined the 2 - 3/4 in     1x4s into one treated 2x4 cut to fit. And added supports under the body to the frame in the rear wheel wells.
— Both side walls, with larger lumber.
— Added a center treated 2x4 support under the main galley.
— Inverted the storage access hatch so it will open down instead of up (Look for pictures later when I mount it).
— Welded that hole in the oven burner.

Step 5 - Winter... Got more done that expected.

What a long Winter. Or at least it felt like one. I was feeling like I didn’t get anything done, then I looked at my pictures and the last post I did… I got a lot done.

Still a long way to go, but how else do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

1. Rebuilt all the framing from the front of the wheels back. Vapor barrier and all new wood.

2. Finished modifying the stove cabinet to have a “pan” storage area (the slit to the left of the stove, pic #80-82) and added aluminum sheeting all the way around the stove for heat dispersion.

3. Made shelves for the refrigerator cabinet. And rebuilt to upper kitchen area cabinet to include flush mounted lights(not pictured).

Fridge

4. Reframed the front door and began the rebuild of the front door frame and installation of locks.

5. Installed the Ice Box Conversion kit (turns an ice box into a refrigerator) More here: http://www.vintagetrailersupply.com/Ice-Box-to-12VDC-110VAC-Conversion-Kit-p/vts-2057.htm

6. And built the vented cabinet to house the condenser for the refrigerator retrofit. With a dock for the porta pottie.

On the refrigerator retrofit… It is an awesome gizmo. Easy enough to install, but one note: most of you are probably wondering why I put it in the closet instead of under the bed? Well as it turns out you cannot mount the condenser (the part outside the refridge) lower that 50cm, about 20in, from the evaporator (the white part inside the refridge). And where my fridge is mounted it would have been almost 4 feet to the bed area. So in the cabinet it went, what you can barley see in pic #87 are three large vent holes on the left outside of the cabinet, using the same grating as the front, for full ventilation of the unit.

All in all, it was easy to install. There is good documentation and videos on YouTube to help.

Also, over the winter I got to head up north and see Doug Johnson from the Vintage Trailer Forums, he has been a ton of help with getting me some contacts on upholstery and metal fabrication. Definitely worth the time to talk with and has an awesome shop setup for his restorations. Check him out when you get a chance!

Step 6 - Spring! Yeah!

So with the spring came great weather and I got rolling fast. Did a ton of framing, built the bed, wiring and fridge, roof fan mount, framed up the roof, installed the back wall and more.

Some notes: the original drill bit that came with the Harbor Freight pocket hole jig went dull quicker that I can write this, but not to worry there are better ones on Amazon for about $10 with shipping. Link here: In-tool-home 3/8" Replacement Twist Step Drill Bit

Flooring went in under the bed and got it all framed up, came out pretty nice. Put in an access door for the main area and one for the electrical access. Using the router to cut the doors worked like a charm.

Fridge

As for the electrical, I added a 110v to 12-volt system and installed 3 110v outlets in the rear of the trailer. But mostly the system will run off the battery and when on shore power and the Inteli-Power inverter will charge the battery to keep the system running. The truck will be wired to charge the batt while on the road and I also have a generator to use when shore power is not available. Mounted all the electrical components under the bed, fit rather nice. I cut a few vent holes to keep it cool.

The framing for the fan and top vent went smooth; tips from Larry of canned ham helped a ton so make sure to watch his videos on the subject before you start.

One of the top supports was cracked pretty bad, see the pix, I had to scab in a 1x2 and some gorilla glue to fix it.
We decided to not use the canvas and pole hammock in the rear over the bed, and instead opted to put in a cabinet to match the front one, only with out the doors. It came out really nice and looks like it was original.

Back wall is on, and after I get the curbing done… I can finally move to the front. Feel like I am really moving now.

Making some progress, I think...

So after wrapping up the rear I have moved to the front, wow... Total rot. This thing is so far gone. I wish I had known more before I started looking for a trailer to fixup. I looked at least a half dozen trailers before deciding on this one. And all of them had dings dents and bend everywhere, this one was so straight I couldn’t pass it up, but when I tore into it... it was so rotted that a few dings and dents would have been easier to deal with. But like the wife says, it will be way better built and exactly as we want it.

I ended up taking out the emergency breakaway brakes, they looked like they were dragging and didn't function anymore. So off they came no problem.

Jack

The front window area and floor was totally rotted, I pulled it all out and replaced it with a new over engineered version. The floor sagged on both outer sides, and the wall, photo right, was bowed out. I noticed way too late to fix it so it will have to be bowed. Wife says it gives us 2 more inches of space on the inside...LOL.

I also had a cracked main side support, last picture in the 3rd row, that made it so I had to rebuild the entire front support system. Fun, fun, fun.

 

Aug - Nov. Getting there.

So I seem to be slacking on the picture taking part, I got a ton done and have no pictures to show the progress. Sorry about that, but you get on a roll and then your done.

What I got done:

— Base painting done, off white roof and cabinets,     tan side walls. We knew we didn’t want the wood     look going into the rebuild.
— Kitchen Cabinet remounted.
— New cutting board, more below.
— Refrigerator door/hardware cleaned and mounted.
— Dinette cushions re-upholstered.
— Dinette framed in and front framing started.
— Roughed in Water tank.
— Flooring in.
— All wrapped in vapor barrier.

Jack

I winterized it for the next few months as the snow started to fly this morning. I will move inside to work the windows, finish the front door, and other odds and ends over the winter.

So as for the cutting board, I got this from the Cutting Board Company, www.cuttingboardcompany.com, and could not be happier, custom made to my specifications. Made of high end Bamboo and they even cut a pull lip on the end to make it easier to pull out, I just mentioned in the notes of the order page that it would be a counter mounted board and if they could cut a grove for me.

   

Dec - Jun. Getting a lot done.

I was just pluggin away, head down and working. Got a ton done over these months... Sorry it took so long for me to update the site.

— The front framed in, Kitchen cabinets finished up.     Polished almost all of the windows, frames, and     brows.
— Dinette rebuilt.
— Because we liked the cutting board so much, we     did the table to match.
— Screen Door Rebuilt.
— Top/roof siding on, see below.
— Wiring in and connected, Heater installed, all     12v/110v.
— Outside water inlet placed and cut.
— Cabinet doors on, and interior painted.
— Frame coated with POR 15 and rest underbody     coated.

Jack

I just chugged away all winter, got most of the windows done, I didn’t take pictures of the process… but will when I do the last one so you can see what I did. They came out nice. Just polished enough, not too shiny. I did the screens and rubber seal as well, they look almost new.

The front framing went as expected. A ton of fabrication and engineering.

We liked the cutting board so much we opted to make the table out of the same bamboo, the Cutting Board Company, www.cuttingboardcompany.com made one that looks awesome! Make sure to get the mineral oil treatment and wax protectant for it as well, mounted right up to the old table’s supports and mounts. I also decided to use French cleat to mount the table (in the last table pic), I’ll show more of this when I get to the mounting of the table itself.

Installed the wiring and finished most the connections, grounded to the body (outside skin) and frame. Fitted a truck 12v heater inside the big cabinet for those colder mornings.

Rebuilt the screen door and installed it, added the bottom slats to make it a bit more old school and protect the screen a bit more. Got some really nice hidden type ball latches from Decor Glamor, link here: Ball Latch.

Using the POR-15 on the underbody and bumper… Dang, when they say “no solvent will remove POR once it dries”… they mean it. I had on a respirator, long sleeves, rubber gloves and still got covered in the stuff... It was an arduous job to degrease, and then treat the rust, then paint the frame with that stuff… but the finished product is amazing and tough… the pictures do not do it any justice it looks great and will last for decades. I’ll post some pictures of the bumper I had fabricated. It is really an awesome fabrication, a local welder made it for me and he did a phenomenal job on it, I can get you his contact if you’re interested. Worth every penny.

So on the roof, make sure to watch Larry at canned ham trailer’s video series on the Westerner, here: Westerner, and the Tid Bits on the roof install, here: Tid Bits, Larry has really helped me avoid what could have been expensive mistakes… and with the metal… you get one shot, if you screw up… you have to replace it, no undo’s, no mulligans or take backs. You have to get it right the first time.

Tip: You can see in the last picture a rip or split on the v-notches for helping the metal round the corners. I found that if I started the bend at those points, at the top of the v-notch, that they tended not to tear as easily if at all. You gotta watch it… they tear really easy and quick. Pay attention and you’ll be fine.