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1951 Spartan Trailer restoration created significant woodworking challenges

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Project by mgb_2x posted 1656 days ago 21755 views 7 times favorited 59 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I know this is not your typical LJ project but it did call on a number of my woodworking skills. These travel trailers were built by Spartan in Tulsa OK after the WWII up through the early 60s. The Spartan Aircraft company provided trainers in WWII but needed to find a new product after the war. Owned by J Paul Getty the company realized the burgeoning need for housing in light of all the vets returning home. These trailers were not technically RVs but were used as semi-permanent housing. Trailer parks sprung up everywhere, they helped a generation remain flexible while looking for work.This trailer had been used as a lake cabin in northern WI for the last 25 years, prior to that it was the home of the original owner.
When purchased the trailer was in fair condition but needed lots of attention. While there was metal working, plumbing, electrical and flooring work, the vast majority of the time was spent fixing the wood components. Imagine the effect of 60 years of variations in temperature and humidity on 1/4 inch birch plywood. Leaks in the the plumbing had destroyed much of the kitchen cabinet counter top. I had to carefully remove/replace the plywood from the back of the Formica. In other places the plywood was delaminated to the extent that I needed to carefully reglue the plys to get a stable piece. Also had challenges with the excessive wear and deterioration of doors and drawers. Once the woodworking was finished I applied a few coats of shellac. I tried to keep true to the period with 50s decor, look closely at the album covers and you may recall the great Gentleman Jim Reeves, my all time favorite artist. All in all, it was a real blast working on this trailer. Please,please, please keep me in mind if you see any of these 40/50s travel trailers sitting around your neck of the woods. Airstreams are not my cup of tea.

-- "aim small miss small" m g breedlove





59 comments so far

View SnowyRiver's profile

SnowyRiver

51451 posts in 2114 days


#1 posted 1656 days ago

Wow, thats a great looking retro trailer. Great job on the interior. Got to love those old trailers.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View mcoyfrog's profile

mcoyfrog

3057 posts in 2228 days


#2 posted 1656 days ago

Great job, that had to be loads of fun

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View Abbott's profile

Abbott

2570 posts in 1937 days


#3 posted 1656 days ago

Super nice. If a guy has never been in one of those old trailers he wouldn’t realize that there is a bunch of tricky wood work to be found there. From what I can see you really did an outstanding job with this one.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View Toughskin's profile

Toughskin

38 posts in 1785 days


#4 posted 1656 days ago

Amazing. Terrific work.

-- Dan - Marion, Iowa - Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone

View jim C's profile

jim C

1452 posts in 1732 days


#5 posted 1656 days ago

Now there’s a hobby I could get into.
I love how you kept everything 50’s. The appliances are too cool, down to the rabbit ears.
It’s great to step back to the uncomplicated past.

Great job

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1749 days


#6 posted 1656 days ago

Waaaoooow what a nice/great/wonderful rebuild
I have never heard of this trailer neither seen one
but I can feel how much work there has been in this kind
of restoring and I deffently like the autside picture
that´s a buty
thank´s for sharing it with us

Dennis

View JAGWAH's profile

JAGWAH

929 posts in 1717 days


#7 posted 1656 days ago

Ok this isn’t one of those miniatures, sitting on an astroturf covered board using forced perspective photography to look real, like was posted a while back?

Either way very nice job.

-- ~Just A Guy With A Hammer~

View LouJC's profile

LouJC

59 posts in 1841 days


#8 posted 1656 days ago

You did a fantastic job RESTORING and not just rebuilding that trailer. I know all to well how much work it is to do that, I have rebuilt a couple of other style trailers myself. I hope you get to enjoy the work you have put into this now.
Lou

-- Lou - Maine

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8773 posts in 2733 days


#9 posted 1656 days ago

This is fantastic! I love the restoration. The retro look in this is fun.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Padre's profile

Padre

930 posts in 2122 days


#10 posted 1656 days ago

Wow! That is fantastic. And I have those same kitchen chairs at my cabin up in Canada! :)

-- Chip -----------http://www.penmanchip.com-----------------Micah 6:8

View YorkshireStewart's profile

YorkshireStewart

1106 posts in 2535 days


#11 posted 1656 days ago

What & where are the rabbit ears?

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business. http://www.folksy.com/shops/TreeGems

View jim C's profile

jim C

1452 posts in 1732 days


#12 posted 1656 days ago

They are the antenna on top of the t.v.
They were coined “rabbit ears” when introduced in the early 50’s.
To get reception, you had to sometimes hang them upside down, add tin foil, or just pray to the electrical gods.
Horrible, but the only thing available.

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View YorkshireStewart's profile

YorkshireStewart

1106 posts in 2535 days


#13 posted 1656 days ago

Thanks Jim. I’d been round and around those pictures half a dozen times; just had to ask in the end!

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business. http://www.folksy.com/shops/TreeGems

View jim C's profile

jim C

1452 posts in 1732 days


#14 posted 1656 days ago

Yorkshire,
Always glad to help a mate figure out the American butchery of the Kings language. HA!

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View cstrang's profile

cstrang

1769 posts in 1802 days


#15 posted 1656 days ago

Very nice work!

-- A hammer dangling from a wall will bang and sound like work when the wind blows the right way.

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