VERY excited about Trailerfest in two weeks! Got the baby out of storage after putting her away almost 9 months ago. The cover I bought held up OK, in the sense that I didn’t see any bad water damage from last winter, but at the same time there were some significant tears from the wind, which I repaired with super sticky red duct tape.
Did a bunch of little painting touch-ups inside and out just to get her in tip top shape, and packed all the camping gear. Looking for vinyl stick-on letters to put on the name plate on the back. Turns out that the original name plate featuring “La Cabana Trailer Co.” from 1954 uses Brush Script Std font, easily duplicated in Microsoft Word today. Since the font was first designed in 1942 and had it’s peak of popularity in the immediate post WWII era, makes sense it was chosen by the company in 1954. Interesting trivia from Wikipedia.
This will be the first and only time we get our little La Cabana out of storage this year. I’ve been getting subtly worried about her in the back of my mind all year. In December, 2013, we bought and zipped her up tight in a Classic Accessories PolyPro 3 R-Pod 150 Teardrop Trailer Cover, Gray/White. We bought it from Walmart at a great price, about $120. I found that old link and Walmart says they don’t sell them anymore. So the link above is Amazon, and that unit may be a 170 instead of 150. But I’m sure you can also find them on other websites. Ours fit perfectly for our little camper with an overall length to the tongue of about 11-12 ft. The 170 says it fits up to 15 feet. It was easy to put on, including clever little sacks you put some rocks in, to through the straps under the chassis. Seemed nice and tight and waterproof when we were done, but I haven’t checked on her since then, as I said. :( So looking forward to going up there and seeing how she survived the rainy winter and now hot summer. Will report back as further preperations get near.
You can see the little triangular pieces that constitute the tie downs and distribute the load, which I thought worked well, and you can see that the R-pod teardrop shape fit our vintage trailer shape quite well!
OK, It’s nine months away, but I’m sitting here on a business trip in the cold rain (At a nice restaurant in Provence, France, so it’s really not so bad…) and I just registered for Trailerfest 2014 in Lodi, CA, and I’m super excited! Why? I don’t really know, honestly. A lot of work has gone into our little baby, I’m proud of it, and I’m excited to show it off. Vintage trailers really aren’t that common, and when we’ve been camping with ours so far we might see one, maybe two vintage trailers in the same campground, AT MOST. And when we do, it’s really fun to meet the owners. Vintage Trailerites are universally friendly (in our experience) and happy to talk about their love, sometimes obession. It’s fun to see such a wide range of models from the past, and there’s just something intangible about owning and bringing into the present, a working, living artifact from another era.
So anyway, can’t wait. There’s a countdown timer on the sidebar for those of you who want to get into the spirit with us!
My apologies, If you read the short non-fiction story “A Chance Encounter” here in the last few weeks, I’ve moved it to a new blog called ajlockhartbooks.wordpress.com
I’m going to publish my first fiction novellette very soon, and I’ve started a whole new blog to concentrate on just writing and self-publishing. CannedHamCrazy will remain dedicated to our love of our little vintage travel trailer.
By the way, driving down Route 101 with our La Cabana in tow this last November 2013 for Thanksgiving, I noticed a little red sedan in the passing lane speeding by us, (Cars towing anything can not exceed 55 mph in California, no matter what the posted speed limit is) but then slowing down, backing off and matching our speed. Then the driver backed off a little more moving behind us.
“What is going on,” I thought. Then looking out my window, I saw a woman in the passenger seat snap a photo of our awesome vintage camper right then on the highway! Booya! I gave my wife a high five inside the car and said, “That’s our first official Camper Compliment (CC) of the trip.”
Several more CCs would come from strangers at the campground wondering about various details. We also met a lovely couple in a vintage Airstream Bambi. What a great little compact touring trailer! They preferred to keep the bed always made up, foregoing their dinette and just eat outside each night. We got a full tour and they were quite sweet.
By way of a preview for my readers, I am very anxious to attend the Vintage Camper Trailer Rally in Lodi this year. The La Cabana is more than ready for it, and imagine the people we’ll meet and the stories we’ll come home with! Gotta do it.
So in March of this year–yes it’s been busy and I’ve been very delinquent in posting–my thanks to several commenters who prompted me to get back at it–we did a long fun road trip back to Carpinteria State Beach, just south of Santa Barbara. We stayed here one night on our first big road trip (the previous post–wow time flies!) to San Diego, just stumbling upon it. This time we really took time to explore, relax, and get into the beach groove.
So, I recommend this park highly, and we’re going back AGAIN for Thanksgiving with friends this year, but the real point of this post was to show you all some pictures of the finally (mostly) complete interior restoration.
The Master Bedroom
The Gourmet Kitchen
Stove doesn’t work yet–will be the last thing I work on, and my wife insists that I never hook it up for fear of the gas–but I’m determined to make everything in our vintage baby completely functional. We don’t have to cook a turkey in it, but everyone boils water don’t they?
The diamond on the ice box and the stove handle I painted with the spray gun set and the exact same urethane paint as the lower exterior (Petty Blue). The drawers are regular interior latex that we had matched to the urethane.
The elegant dining room seats four (five with a camp stool on the end). The table is original (like the counter-tops.) The dinette seats were something of a pain to restore properly so the whole dinette would fold down into a single bed. A previous owner had cut back the depth of the seats, I’m guessing in order for their bodies to fit between the stove and the table as you go to sit down (see the cut corner in the table to help this issue.) That meant that the space between seats was too wide for the table when folded down. So, I basically had to totally deconstruct both dinette seats, cut new curved pieces for the sides, and then rebuild the internal structure. My wife then made the cushions custom to match our external paint job, complete with white chevron! So retro we could die! The only regret in this project was the thickness of the foam. When you’re in the fabric store buying vinyl and foam, the foam will look really thick (I think this is maybe 2 inch foam.) However, take my advice, the foam almost can’t be too thick! Four inch would have been much better.
Here’s our whole vintage beauty from the doorway. I love those panorama shots from the iPhone!
Some exterior shots of the cabana and the tag from it showing the original manufacturer. This is one of our favorite parts of the trailer. It adds a whole other room to the living space. There are four “wall” pieces that all zip together making it completely enclosed. Only the back one is hanging here.
When we bought our La Cabana, only the two rear break lights were working. I purchased cool retro starburst pattern red rear running lights, and three teardrop yellow side running lights, once again from Vintage Trailer Supply. I wired them up and they look great at night! I even got the original glass-lens license plate light working with a new bulb.
Wow, How life catches up with you! I haven’t posted in three months, but a comment from a reader prompted me to catch up a little. I had to read my last post to remember where I left off, which was with the big paint job.
I finished the bottom blue color the same way I did the top: careful masking, and HVLP paint spraying. It went much faster due to the smaller surface area. I paid extra for the really good sealing, high quality blue tape. Well worth it and highly recommended. When the tape came off, the line looked fantastic! Not a single drip through to the other side.
I used steel wool to carefully clean the rest of the alunimum windows before polishing them with Mothers Alunimum polish. I used one of their mini Power Balls attached to my cordless drill. Made it a lot faster and easier. Once it turns black you wip it off with rags. I also used steel wool to clean and polish all of the original aluminum drip rails that go over the windows–several hours of work after 60 years of patina build-up.
Then, tragedy struck. I was driving home from a weekend away, where I had done this work, and had the drip rails taped (yes, I’m embarrased to say, taped) to the roof rack since they’re quite long and I didn’t want the kids to damage them. About 20 minutes from home, they all flew off all over the highway. Needless to say, they were a complete loss. I was heartbroken not just for the effort I put in to them, but for the original, vintage parts that could never be recoved. Thank god, they are replaceable. Once again, Vintage Trailer Supply came through. They carry a product that’s very, very similar to the originals. They come painted white, so I repainted them my cream and blue colors to match the surface they were on, rather than strip them to bare aluminum, which I had planned for the originals, but they came out looking great and I was relieved and happy.
So now everything was water tight and ready to go on our first big road trip: three days down California Route 1 from Monterray to Big Sur to Santa Barbara. We camped each of three nights (Monterray, Moro Rock, and Carpinteria) and had just a fabulous time. There were several CC’s as my wife coined the term, “Camper Compliments” from neighbors admiring our vintage trailer! We took in each comment with great pleasure and glee. It’s amazing how small our little 11 footer seems when parked in a campgound of 20-40′ RV’s and fifth wheels. But that just made us appreciate all the more our little vintage beauty. Here are some pictures from that trip:
Driving away! Note the chevron design in front–it exactly matches the original design we found when sanding.
Route 1 approaching Big Sur. It’s going to get curvy!
Lunch break on the side of the road.
Parked at Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park
This State Park houses the only fresh water waterfall that falls directly onto the beach on the west coast. You can see it in the distance a little left of center. It used to fall directly into the ocean until a large landslide nearby washed enough debris onshore to extend the beach.
I love panorama mode on the iPhone 5. You can get nice wide angle shots effortlessly.
After our second night camping: sunrise at Moro Rock.
Our favorite spot on this trip: Carpinteria State Beach. We lucked into a spot backing up RIGHT on the beach. We set up the original 1954 cloth cabana that came with the trailer for the first time! Looks so deliciously retro you could cry! (Sorry for the fuzzy image–low light conditions at dusk)
Camping out under the Cabana in our 1954 La Cabana vintage trailer!
This is what’s left of the Temple of Saturn (497 BC) in the Roman Forum – the place where conquering generals would place the booty captured from foreign civilizations.
Although the sun is directly behind a column in this shot, I used the iPhone’s High Dynamic Range mode to enable some of the texture in the foreground to be visible. I like this ability to electronically superimpose three separate shots to produce one image that no single exposure could capture.