My Spaghetti Western-themed blog entry will continue with “crude camera work, weak dialogue and corny jokes” evocative of that movie genre. But like the Sergio Leone movie which was initially panned by some critics but is now considered a great western, my Spartan will be resurrected from the dust-bin and remade a classic.
So we left off at the Good – specifically, original appointments and artifacts that I was pleased to find intact in my Spartan and which you may want to look for if you ever search to buy one. I found stashed in a closet two perfectly clean and usable propane tanks that appear to have been recently painted a slate grey. Included was the hardware to mount them on the tongue. Also discovered in a drawer were a half-dozen window cranks. These were designed to be removable and fit in keyholes near every window and skylight to open/shut them. I mentioned earlier how pricey original replacement parts are for vintage trailers (see example below), so these little doo-dads are important to have as one proceeds with a budget-sensitive redo like mine.
On the subject of parts just let me offer this aside. There is a great dealer of Spartan trailers and parts whose website is http://www.VintageCampers.com It is physically located in Peru, Indiana and the guy I have dealt with, Dan, is knowledgeable and helpful. Whether you’re in the market for a trailer or just parts, you should definitely bookmark that website for future use.
I could go on and on about Sparta but, lest you think she is perfect in every way, let me quickly jump to the Bad. Let’s start with the kitchen. Although the cabinets and woodwork are all salvageable (and I will refinish them to a beautiful luster), the rest of the kitchen is a bust. The formica (or what ever it is) laminate counter is rather drab, excessively stained and, although original, probably never looked all that great in the first place. It’s gotta go. The sink too. It is stained, pitted and beyond salvage. Worse yet are the appliances. They are not original, appear to be from the 1970’s and are neither old enough to be interesting nor new enough to be reliable. Worse yet, is their size. I cannot figure out how they came to be in Sparta. Although it is only a half size, the office-style ‘fridge is a boxy, massive block. Same for the gas range. Neither could fit through the doors. Like the hobbyist’s ship in the bottle, they appear to have been assembled inside my trailer. I don’t yet now how I will remove them, but I may have to remove one of the large side windows to perform the extraction or just take a sledge to them.
Speaking of appliances, I may have to rethink my position on authentic and old. Perhaps they are not cost-prohibitive. To wit, my daughter, Leslie, the aforementioned Airstream enthusiast who infected me with this bug, scored the most amazing deal on a beautiful, perfectly functional old refrigerator. Check it out. $50 in Reno off Craigslist…where else.
Now, let’s get Ugly. While beauty is only skin deep, ugly is to the bone. Or, in Sparta’s case, the floor. Apparently and for a long time, Sparta had a leak – perhaps several. Water definitely came through one skylight and I’m guessing through the seals of several windows as Sparta’s wood floor is spongy and, in places, frightfully soft. Perhaps that will be one way to remove my kitchen appliances. She will just give birth to them right out the bottom. But seriously, as soon as I’ve finished clearing her out, I am going to have to remove the floor, likely all of it. While this is to be expected with an old trailer, tearing out and re-decking the entire trailer with 3/4″ plywood will be a chore.
The floor is most compromised right in the middle, right under a skylight that I’m guessing leaked for years. The gentleman I bought the trailer from had an unusual, but effective solution to the bad seal and ongoing leak which resulted. He employed Newton’s law to great effect by hanging a 30 lb cinder block from the port, stemming the tide but creating an obvious headroom issue. I’ve nearly clipped my skull on multiple occasions.
The second major blemish on Sparta’s otherwise lasting beauty is the loo. The toilet, sink and shower basin all appear original but are totally uninspiring in design or condition. Moreover, the condition of the floor suggests years of sloppy toilet etiquette and porous shower curtains. I shudder to think what I will find when I tear this bathroom apart.
Finally, though not a huge or unexpected problem, these multiple window leaks damaged many of Sparta’s birch interior panels. The previous owner, who was rehabbing this trailer until his wife took ill, removed half of the wall and ceiling panels and rotting insulation. He gave me a head start on the demolition job but, in so doing, put me on a path of removing all the paneling and replacing it with new birch. A big job that will require the time, money and the itching associated with peeling wood veneers and pulling out disintegrating fiberglass. Mask please…