Sunday, October 11, 2009
So, after all that loving work on the Ranger, we decided to part with her and send her on her way to new owners who own a 1953 Ford Wagon. They share a nice, cozy garage together. So the story of the neglected little Ranger has a happy ending! September, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
On July 25, 2009, we took the Ranger on its first outing to display it at the Lions Club "Cars in the Park" benefit Car Show in Washington Park, Burlingame, CA. Our friends Dan and Deb put their 1955 Ford Station Wagon on display next to the trailer. It was very cool to see all the smiles and positive comments from people checking out the display. Our vehicles and vintage camping display seemed to bring back alot of memories for people and they were quite enthusiastic about it! Dan and Deb won a plaque for the second year in a row. It was a great event and was fun viewing all the old cars and promoting the vintage trailer and camping hobby to the public.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Today, July 12, 2009 we drove up to Grass Valley to pick up the Ranger after hiring Michael Donovan, Finish Carpenter, to repair the damaged wood in the galley, door and various other areas. We were really pleased with his work...you can really tell that he takes his trade very seriously. Alot of detail and painstaking work went into repairing and replacing the water damaged wood. There is still more to be done, but at this point, we want to take the trailer camping for the first time in August and also take the Ranger to an upcoming car show to put on display. Even if the trailer restoration is not completed, people will really show enthusiasm for the vintage trailers and so often they will tell you how your display brings back such good memories for them. Makes it well worth towing and hauling all of our vintage camping display "stuff" around. Michael lives in Grass Valley, CA in the Sierra Foothills and is a licensed carpenter. His phone number is 530-477-5906. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend his work if you need help with wood repair/restoration for your trailer.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
In early June, 2009 we decided to tackle checking out the wheel bearings and stripping and painting the wheel rims. The bearings showed wear on both sides and Steve even found a small piece of wood wedged into one of the bearings. Luckily he found new parts at the Sacramento Napa Auto Parts warehouse. They were not cheap by any means, around $72. Alot of wire brushing and cleaning up old grease later, the new bearings were installed. I used an electric drill and wire brush and cleaned up the rust on the rims. Used some Rustoleum primer and then some Ace Hardware Laquer Enamel spraypaint in off white for the rims. Underneath the trailer on the frame, there is alot of surface rust. Makes me wonder if this trailer sat in water during it's life. I understand that someone in the Santa Rosa area owned it and lived in it. I plan on putting it safely up on jackstands (about 6 of em) and cleaning up the surface rust. The next day I sought out new tires. The original tires, according to the brochure were 550-15's. 3 different tire places couldn't get that exact tire, so we compromised with a trailer tire 205 75 r15. They weren't cheap either (do I see a trend here?) Paid $68 per tire, plus lots of incidental charges. Ouch. Anyway, the following weekend we brought the trailer out in the driveway and I gave it a real good scrub. The pink housepaint exterior has mildew in the paint and not all of it came out, but it looked presentable. Steve rewired the lights and off he went to Grass Valley to visit another Ranger owner, Michael Donovan, who by trade is a finish carpenter. We've hired Michael to rebuild some of the really bad water damaged areas and re-veneer some of the cupboards. The rest we will attempt to tackle ourselves. It looked really neat being pulled by our truck...very unique. My next project will be to replace the broken glass in both of the front and back windows. I may use Lexan instead of glass, we'll compare the price and go from there!
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Walter E. Hille of Hille Manufacturing produced the fiberglass Ranger pop up trailer in Anaheim, California from 1954 through 1956. There were only appx. 200 made. The body of the trailer was made from fiber-glass and polyester resin. The trailer was expensive for it's time, selling for $1,500. The Ranger stands 4 feet high, 12 feet long and is 82 inches wide. Cranking raises the trailer roof to give inside headroom of 6 feet 3 inches. It weighs in at 1100 lbs. It has two slim beds on each side of the trailer and an extension drawer pulls out of the back to fit either one adult or two kids (39 inches across). The galley consists of a sink and water pump on the left and a laminate counter with countertop stove. Drawers for your kitchen utensils and a roomy ice box. There is one small 110 volt light towards the front of the trailer with a plug in for electricity. There is also a small 6 volt light towards the rear of the interior. There are also overhead cubby holes to stow small items According to the dealer brochure, you could special order mosquito netting for the front, a foam insert to make a king sized bed. It also sported a folding table that fit between the two beds. The "nose" on the front is where the water tank is located, with a chrome filling spout door on the top of the "nose." The rear of the trailer sports 1953 Ford tail lights and a "Hollywood" brand license plate light and holder. It is believed that only about a dozen of these trailers survive today.
It's almost June 1st and the weather in the Sacramento area is getting up to the 90's. I figured that I better get out there early and start doing some work on the popup. Lots of cleaning to do. I found that the floor is actually not that bad, except for the door area. We have installed new flooring in our other trailers, so I think it might be nice to leave it original and maybe throw a rug down in front of the door, for now. So I gave it a good scrubbing with some ammonia cleanser. Wow...there really is alot of water damage along the top and bottom perimeter of the popup lids. And there is bad damage to the galley cabinet front and the front by the door. The original door is gone and I think someone made a replacement out of wood. The door is curved in shape and has started to swell and disfigure from water damage. The birch wood fronts for the upper cubby holes have been torn out. Steve and I sat in the trailer this morning and discussed what part we can tackle and what part should we seek someone with more advanced woodworking skills? We decide that we can handle most of it (famous last words) but rebuilding the galley cabinet front needs a carpenters talent. We hung the new canvas and tried out the new cushions. Looks great. Steve did some work adjusting the pulley system..the rear right raised up slower than the left. I contacted a few people to see about getting a quote for some woodworking. Tomorrow we plan on pulling the wheels to check out the bearings and get started on stripping the rust off of the rims. Then new tires are in order. I bought a couple of large 53 Ford hubcaps...they will look classy on those wheels, rather than the dog-dish type hubcaps. We are not into the full gutting of and totally redoing our trailers. We do what is needed to make it usable and little by little make improvements here and there. I am hoping to camp out in the Ranger by Fall of this year, perhaps up in Tahoe. I prefer to camp where the temperatures are cooler than at home, especially since it got pretty hot inside the Ranger when we put the canvas up.....even with the zipper windows!
Funny, whenever I tell my husband that we have enough vintage trailers and I don't want anymore, another just seems to appear out of no where. I've caught the "vintage trailer bug" and so far there is no vaccination for it. When we were kids, my sister and I had a clubhouse outside in the back yard, and we loved to hang out there after school and on the weekends and make up stories or read. Later on, our parents bought me a Wenzel canvas pup tent with S & H Green Stamps and I loved camping out in the backyard. Our parents were not into camping, but did take us on many road trips and long vacations in the family Chryslers. We grew up in the late 50's and 60's, so long road trips were at their hey day. Our family stayed in many roadside motels, with kidney shaped swimming pools, fringed poolside umbrellas and those "Magic Fingers" massaging bed contraptions that were supposed to take you off to slumberland in minutes. So when I grew up and went out on my own, money was tight and it was second nature for me to take road trips and start camping out in the great outdoors. As I have gotten older, I graduated from tent camping to vintage trailers with cushy soft beds and kitschy decor. Each of our trailers has a specific theme, such as Route 66, vintage western, Smokey the Bear and now the 50's plaid kitsch. I enjoy playing "interior decorator" with each one of the trailers and going camping as often as we can. I love the outdoors but also love the comforts of home and our vintage trailers do the trick.
So...we were buying parts for our 1957 Cardinal at a used RV parts store named "RV George" in Sacramento, CA. We met a gentleman there who was restoring a 1962 Shasta. He mentioned that he had just bought a 1954 Ranger and it just happened to be from a guy who lived a couple of blocks from our home. I was stunned. Usually I can smell a vintage trailer a mile away...I had actually walked our dogs past their house and spoken to the owners several times, without knowing what golden jewel awaited me in their backyard! Anyway, after some preliminary emails back and forth, "Joe" agreed to sell the Ranger to us. Nice guy. We picked it up the next day and here is where the story begins....