The Adventures of Sweet Pea, The 1955 Westerner

Friday, August 25, 2006

Gettin' stuff done!

Curtains. Check.

Battery - Inverter - Outlet - LED lights. Check.

Screen door latch. Check.

Peach sorbet from tree. Check.

Feels good to check things off the list. Last night I sprayed all the gold curtain rods and brackets with silver paint. Dave installed the screen door latch so it doesn't flop around anymore, and double checked to make sure the spare tire will fit. We determined that the bottle jack I bought is too small and I'll need to return it for 2 larger ones. I finished the large bedroom curtain this morning, and then invited Mary over for peach sorbet (made it last night, picked from my tree) to eat in the dinette. Annabel and Ethan stopped by and another guy stopped in to ask about the trailer who just bought a similar one recently. Lot's of activity. Now I need to get back to my list for the trip. Inventory batteries, mend my clothes, organize the piles of stuff that have swallowed up my living room, and get my bike lubed up.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A day of sewing

Today I got pretty far sewing curtains. I've been able to use sheets and fabric we already had, so this has been the most economic day so far. I feel a little bit like Maria sewing dresses out of curtains. They are nice and thick, so will hopefully block some sunlight and heat. And they follow along nicely with the tiki or south pacific look that was already started by previous owners. I may have already mentioned it but hte trailer came with a hula girl and a totem decal. The curtains have an earthy bamboo and leafy look. I'll post a pic once they're all done. I still have the large bedroom window and the large kitchen window to do tomorrow.

Dave finished up the jack stand wheel and safety brackets. It's all real strong and straight now. We're going to head to Home Depot to pick up a bunch of stuff, even though we hate that place. I always feel like I'm going to snap when I go there.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More items to check off the list

I'd really love to move onto the fun stuff like the curtains, LED lighting, and vinyl lettering ... but first up tonight, Ken helped out by doing some well needed work:

1) Removed propane tank.
I'll add a new one at a later date

2) Trimmed the jackstand where it was rusted and broken.

3) Removed the broken thumb screw from the jack wheel.

4) And he provided all the nuts and bolts we need for our new safety brackets.

Yay Ken! This isn't the first time he helped me out. He's a great neighbor.

5) Ok, and I did end up buying the LED lighting afterall. I had to do something fun. LEDs are really energy effecient and will work great with the deep cycle 12v battery I still need to buy.

• 1 red string for inside
• 2 blue strings for running along the outside profile of the trailer
• 2 bulbs to replace the incandescents

Tires. Completed. Finally.

Finally a big item to check off the list. Phew! Why was it so difficult? Why doesn't anyone know anything about tires? Dave called a guy who does restorations, and the whole tire rating system was news to him. Wha? MetroRV totally spaced. Jerks. Dave noticed that a big RV manufacturer ships with LT tires, not ST. Hmmm. No one on the yahoo vintage trailer group responded to my question. The guy at Wheel Works didn't understand what we were asking (duh), and we finally got helped by the other guy who knew what he was doing. The guy who did the tire work seemed cool, and waved the "hang loose" as we drove off. Last item remaining, is to pick up the spare tomorrow.

So, if you need to know anything about trailer tires. Ask me. Now I know.

New tires:
Carlisle "C" 205/75D15
15x5 spoke rim/wheel

We went down from the P 215 radial to the ST 205 bias. This is a slightly smaller tire in diameter (205), plus a more narrow tire in width (ST). We went with bias instead of radial for a couple reasons: 1) light trailer 2) bias is less bouncy/sway 3) tire pressure less tempermental than radial. Radial would have been fine, but we went on the recommendation by Vince at Wheel Works that the bias with the lighter trailer will be a smoother ride. Dave already noticed a difference.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Weekend Progress

Dave gets all the credit for doing a lot of work on the trailer this weekend. He took time off from his bathroom remodel. I was his beautiful assistant.

1) Sealant
He got up on top of the roof (delicately) and scraped out all the old crusty sealant and added new sealant around the roof vent and various seams. I helped scrape the side seams and we resealed those too. The sealant is a metalic silver color so it actually makes the trailer look better with all the seams freshly done. Hopefully this plugged the leak. We'll bring a tarp too, just in case.

At some point I'll need to completely sand down the roof and put a fresh coat of roof paint on. It's old and peeling right now.

2) Jack Stand
He drilled new holes into the jack stand wheel caster and will try to cut out the old rusted/busted turn screw. He'll also drilled new holes into the jack stand, and then we'll be able to insert a bolt to hold the wheel in place.

3) Tires
We ordered 3 new "ST" tires to be installed on Wed (one spare). The current tires are useless to me now. I'm pretty annoyed with Metro RV. They should have caught this. I paid them to.

4) "U" saftey chain brackets
Dave found the "U" shaped brackets that Ken (neighbor) will weld onto the hitch for us (Wed). Local shop: Ideal RV in Redwood City

5) Registration & Title
I am happy to report that I have completed the registration and transfer of title. I only had to go to the DMV twice, not bad.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Learning about tires

The process of learning about getting a spare tire has led me in the direction of getting news tires, and keep the current tires as spares (which are rated for passenger car only).

Here are some highlights about the ST (trailer) rating:

• One of the benefits of an ST tire when it comes to trailering is that it
has about 10 percent more load capacity than an equivalent LT tire

• Furthermore, the ST's mold shape is designed to accommodate trailer
wheels, which are typically narrower than P and LT wheels.

• A free-rolling trailer tire, on the other hand, isn't called on to turn,
swerve and grab the pavement like a steer or drive tire. Since it doesn't
need such a large footprint, it performs its task better by being

• For the same reasons, ST tires don't have as deep of a non-skid tread as P and LT tires. A deep non-skid is necessary for driving and steering tires
in wet environments because it provides them with better traction.

• Having a shallower tread depth provides the ST tire with two benefits: (1)
it doesn't wiggle as much, which can help reduce sway, and (2) it rides
cooler, which adds to its longevity.

• Generally, the ST tire also has somewhat stiffer sidewalls, especially in
its lower section. This reduces sidewall flexing, helping it to track
straighter and diminish the risk of trailer sway. The stiffer sides also
lessen the risk of sidewall blowout.

Full article here:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A couple cousins

The Westerner is seems to be pretty uncommon these days. I've been able to find only 3 others online:

1953 in silver

1953 12ft in white & red

Early 1950's 12ft in white & red

Monday, August 07, 2006

The trailer still needs some things

1) Spare Tire
Metro RV was going to charge me $250 for a spare tire and rim. I'm hoping to do this for less. So far I've learned that trailers need an "ST", rather than a "P" passenger or "LT" light truck tire. This article talks a lot about trailer tires.

2) New Frame Wheel Caster
The current one is a bit janky. The turn screw is rusted stuck which results in the tongue jack barely fitting. The whole thing looks like it could fly off. We've been keeping our feet clear.

3) Battery

4) Solar Panel

5) A Name
So far we haven't come up with the perfect name yet. Ideas so far are:
• Sparky
• 'Tater (as in a baked potato wrapped in foil)
• Sweetie
• Leche de Diablo
• Dusty
• Tiny
• Comet
• Astro

Suggestions welcome!

6) Curtains
Maybe some vintage fabric from here?

7) New Roof Vent

8) Seal the roof leak

9) Replace water damaged wood veneer

Sunday, August 06, 2006

It Look's Like We Made It!

We're back home. Some photos of the trip are here. The trailer is parked at Joseph's (I will now refer to him as St. Joseph of Generosity, or St. J-of-G for short). I'm feeling a bit drained from the adventure, but overall it went good and we had a great time. The trailer tows nicely. Here's the full rundown:

The Drive Down
We left around 7pm and made it to our Glendale motel around midnite. The evening drive went fast with no traffic. The Vagabond Inn is pet friendly and was only minutes from our first morning stop, so it was a good choice. I think I slept good, but only for a few hours as we got up at 7am again.

We stopped by Jame's house to pick up the registration paperwork and remainer of the material he had on the trailer. No title, but I think I'll be ok to register the trailer with the stuff he gave me. Lucy seemed to be enjoying the road trip.

Metro RV was a bit of a pain. I guess it's not really their fault that they don't know vintage trailers all that well, but I felt like I had to be on top of everything for them. They seemed really chaotic and disorganized.

• New Hitch
The hitch they installed didn't seem right, as the trailer pulled the back of the truck down way too much. It looked like it would bottom out at the slighted road bump. A different hitch with a higher profile seems to work much better. We will need to figure out a good plan for packing our gear for Burning Man, to distribute the weight better. We can't take a real heavy load.

• Wiring Harness and Converter
They had to add a converter box to take the truck's two tail lights (red brake + yellow turn) and wire those to the trailer's one red tail light.

• Propane
Leak fixed. We need to replace the tank, it's old and not up to legal requirements.

• Safety Cables
These will work fine for right now, but long term I should get 2 brackets welded to the front of the trailer hitch and install heavy duty chains. The cables wrap around the back of the trailer hitch for now.

Paso Robles + Wine Country RV Resort
The drive out of LA to the 101 was a total joke. 2 hrs for 50 miles. We got to Paso Robles late, so we decided to stay another day and go wine tasting and enjoy a bit of our trip.

A few brief observations about the RV resort:
1) We were the only old travel trailer. We had the smallest truck.
2) Only a brand new T@B trailer was smaller than us.
3) Most other rigs were huge-gigantic-enormous (and by "rig" I mean fully loaded, satellite tv, multi-popouts, rockstart style, shiny and new)
4) Most other rigs also towed a full size SUV, usually new.
5) We were pretty amazed at the amount of money people dedicate to this hobby lifestyle.
6) Several even had a utility-toy storage trailer in the rear of their rig, like our neighbor who stored his new harley inside.

The Drive Home
I didn't realize how close Paso Robles is to the South Bay Area. It was a great drive. We left just before 9am, stopped in Gilroy for some garlic, and made it to Joseph's house at 12:15. The worst part of the drive was the rough road of 101 in Santa Clara to MV.

Trailer Storage
The trailer is now parked behind Joseph's house. It didn't fit under the carport unfortunately. This will work just fine though until we leave for our next trip at the end of Aug. But I need to find a new home for when we return. Dave backed the trailer down the long driveway, avoiding the tree trunk on one side and the house on the other, and maneuvured the trailer around to the right along side the carport. All in one try. Amazing. That man has mad skilz. Big thanks go to him for all the driving and positive supprt along the way. I couldn't have any way even begun to try this kind of thing without him. muy xxoo.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Final Report

Ok, here's the scoop from Jessie. Nothing major, but a bit spendy. Ouch.

1) Inspection is done. This includes bearings repacked, axel checked, tires checked, propane leak fixed (needs new tank). $350

2) Tires are good for at least 5000 miles.

3) Standing jacks good.

4) Spare tire. Holding off on a rim to save some money. $140

5) To change a tire I bought a bottle jack from Kragen. This is to be used with the standing jacks, and a block off wood under the jack if needed. $12

Tip: Online prices for Kragen are a bit cheaper, print out the page and they'll honor that price.

6) Hitch in stock for the Tacoma. $285 + labor

7) Waiting for truck to fit correct wiring harness. $125-ish + labor

8) Replaced saftely chain (only had one, and it was too small) $50

• get a block of wood

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Initial News From Jessie

Not a huge deal, but there is a propane leak. He's got his mechanic looking into it. He called today to also get the truck's specific month/year so he can install the correct hitch. Progress is good.