Productive Weekend


I’m still taking windows out. The front window in particular was a BEAR to get out because the screw heads were so rusted. I used my Dremel to cut the slots deeper and it was still a struggle. It seems like the ol’ put the screwdriver in and hit it with a hammer is the best way to dislodge a rusted screw. That said, they are only rusty on the outside which is what we want to see! No water intrusion in the camper or even on the wood frames. From now on, all of my campers have to have Woodlin gasketed windows. Truly amazing. Oh, and to stay nice it really needs to be stored inside which is the real reason this one is so well preserved, having been stored inside from 80s to a couple of years ago.

If you need an argument for removing windows check out the bug population in the above pic!

I managed to get all windows out of 3 sides. Next is the door side. So far, this trailer is very close to a barn find. If it has not been moved outside the last couple of years it would have been perfect. I mean, except for the hand painted paint job.

When I took the rear window off it had the expected goo as a sealer. When I took the side windows off, they did not. I was confused! I did a little research and turns out that Woodlin windows were original installed with a rubber gasket around the exterior then screwed in place. Some have another gasket on the inner side but mine do not. I will add them when I restore them. Luckily all of the gaskets ARE available at so I can restore my windows and reinstall them properly.

I don’t know what is up with all the bugs behind the window frames. I guess they would enter the trailer, not be able to get out and crawl behind the frames? So far, I have not any behind the metal in the walls so that’s a good thing. I have identified them as Wester Conifer Seed bug. All dead, mixed in with large flies. Maybe this camper was stored next to a farm or fields. ick.

Here are some Woodlin window pics…it’s hard to see the gasket because someone painted it. But yeah, that’s all there is protecting from water intrusion. They put a little black putty where the two levels of skin meet to bridge the gap. It is nice to just remove the screws and the windows just come on out. No goo other than under the brows.

Look at this pristine front window opening! Incredible!

no rot on the side window frame either!

There are a lot of twisty nails in my future. When I get the rest of the windows out, I’ll need to start on the rear end. It should be interesting. Most scary is the front left lower corner where there is evidence of possible repairs. I’m hoping that is nothing bad. There is no evidence on the interior.

Taking off…

Finally, pulled back some of the skin and have revealed the back left corner. It really looks pretty good. Remember, this trailer is 66 years old. Check out the beefy framing!

Getting the boyfriend door out was a struggle. It was secured with the dreaded black putty – a tar like substance that for all I know IS tar. I know it is some sticky stuff and you have to basically cut the part off if it’s adhered with it.

I don’t know if wiring was super expensive in 1953 but man oh man Holly barely ran enough to wire things up. Removing anything electric is a huge pain. I’m working with 2-3″ ends at best. I was planning to rewire anyway, but it’s kind of unexpected that the wiring is plastic coated, and not cloth covered. It may depend on the gauge.


Critters! There have been critters! I think there has been some termite activity perhaps? Could just be rot. Either way, yet another argument for checking under the skin.


Grace Joined me in the shop last night. She had a good time wandering about and seemed unfazed by all the hammerin’



Tech talk! I wonder why this fan struggles to work? Could it be the gooey coating on all the surfaces? I think someone actually cooked in this camper. Imagine that.

I wonder if Holly has different framing for units with the bunk? Maybe that is why it is marked? I know everyone says that bunks and dinettes are structural, but there are Holly models with click clack sofas in front and back – no built-ins. hmmm. We will never know for sure.

That all I have to report at this time. My hands hurt.

SawzALL the stuff!

Well that was fun!

I could not remove the skin without removing the tank filler on the exterior. It was of course completely rusted in place. I finally had to get the sawzall out and cut it loose. I’ll put the exterior fitting back, but I will probably not put a fresh water tank back in. I’ll leave the plumbing in place in case I change my mind.

After many failed attempts to shove it out the door or wrangle it out of the bunk, I finally had to cut the box spring in half. I don’t think the rear framing is bad enough to replace entirely and create a big hole for the box spring to be removed. I must say, the lingering closet funk on my hands and clothing has me convinced that was the right move. Ewww

Back to removing screws and twisty nails…But first some garage organization!

Discovery Begins…

One of the first things you are supposed to do when you buy a vintage camper is remove trim, windows and at least pull back the skin checking for rot. This process has been referred to as “discovery” by Mobiltec.

Last night I began discovery on the 53 Holly. Most of the screws came out easily. A few broke in the window. I used vampliers to pull them out. As time went on I developed a workflow. Use hammer to tap screwdriver into slotted screw, maybe chisel out paint if needed. Get it loosened up then finish removing with rechargeable power screwdriver. I’d do a whole row part way then go over them with the power screwdriver.

I managed to remove the rear window. Considering the age and that this camper has not been restored it’s in remarkable condition. There is some rot at the window corners as expected but it’s still intact and will be easy to replace framing as needed. If it all fell apart then I would have a serious problem!

Tools of the trade:

This window came out so easily. All that drama and waiting to start – I thought it would be a struggle for some reason. I’m sure the door will be a different story.

I’ll have to replace this rotten framing, but at least the pieces are there so I know what it is supposed to look like.

So far this is the worst – and the place that shows the worst on the interior so it’s where I started. The rear end has some rot – the board across the bottom that the skin attaches to is crumbling at this end. Also, the bottom along the side in the rear – I guess what could be called a skirt board in a Holly, tho the walls rest on the floor rather than screw to the sides of the trailer so there is no proper skirt board.


I was pleasantly surprised at the condition of these boards. Dangit can’t remember what they are called but they form the curve of the rear. There is evidence inside of a leak, but these don’t look bad. Maybe the water traveled or they fixed it fast. It does look like some leveling sealant was applied along the top edge.

Though the black putty is a gooey mess, I’m a believer. It did its job and kept things relatively dry. Amazing really. This camper was stored indoors tho for many year which helped a lot. Also Holly trailers do not have roof vents which goes a long way towards preserving them.

Pardon the crocs lol.

I want to demonstrate how important it is to actually LOOK under the skin even when everything looks fine. When I got to the area on the edge of the roof just above the power inlet, the wood along the top edge is crumbling and black. There is almost NO indication on the inside that there is an issue, and there is no indication on the exterior. I’m not sure what happened – sealant fail or what. It will be fixed tho.


On the inside you can’t really tell there is a problem. I believe it may be attached to the cabinet or possibly the roof framing so that is another important reason to fix it. Maybe the nail you can see in the photo was causing a problem. I’ll be doing repairs with a pocket jig and screws and will look for problem nails like this.

Interior shot to demonstrate that you just don’t know until you look under the skin!


Oh and um uh…spotted this in someone’s backyard……no…no…img_1238

Scrubbing the stove

Today I needed to work so of course I procrastinated by going out to clean the Holly a little bit. I spent some time with the toothbrush cleaning the Formica edges and the Dixie stove. Many years ago some kind soul placed tin foil inside the stove, protecting the enameled interior. Nobody will ever know it’s pristine, but it gives me joy at least!

I wonder how many times I will hit my head on the bunk before I learn to avoid it? My head is ringing from this last one! Owie!

I plugged her in with the furrion cable – very convenient to have ceiling outlets. The camper has power without cables snaking across the floor to trip on. It’s lovely inside with the lights on. I’m glad I had the elec fixed before having it delivered.

When I remove the skin to fix rot, I will rewire what I can and add some outlets. But for now light is good!

I took out the dinette table and it really opened things up. I’m just not a dinette fan. I’ll store it and use it for when I’m at a rally and want to set up but for regular camping I’ll probably just sit on the seats and prop my feet up. Note: need cool mid century hassock.

Tools and Travail

A friend stopped by to pick up some free junk from my garage. Earlier that day, I had removed the lower bunk mattress from the Holly, which was not easy let me tell you. Together, we tried to remove the box spring. I had suspected the box spring was the original, now I am sure! We could not get it out. I don’t think it’s going anywhere unless I cut it in half or remove it when I’m working on the rear end. Can’t see sleeping on 1953 dust mites tho. ick. The good news was lifting it up and attempting removal gave me a good look underneath and the only area showing problems is still the left rear corner. There was no evidence of rodents or anything getting in the bedding either.

Amazon delivered today – I finally pulled the trigger on some Vampliers! Thankfully, the ’53 Holly has more screws vs twisty nails on the exterior than the ’56, but there are still some twisty nails on the rear. Curiously, there are philips pan head screws on the front end. All of the rest are slotted pan head screws (on both trailers) This has me wondering if someone has raised the front end metal before. Possible…tho I can’t think why as it does not show any repairs.

Hey all you Holly owners out there – Larry at tells me we are lucky that our cap rail (trim that is in usual J-rail place) is screwed on rather than nailed. Apparently, in some brands it’s usual to use twisty nails to attach, creating some pretty serious issues at removal time making it almost impossible to remove it without damaging. woohoo! I imagine it would be pricey to replace it all.

I think my cap rail has been removed before. I hope it was not sealed up again with something funky. There is def some lap sealant on the upper left corner. Good, that they stopped the leak. Bad that I have to remove it!


I have not begun discovery yet. I’m still toying with the idea of giving the interior a good scrubbing so I can take her to one sister on the fly event in the spring before beginning work. She is tow worthy enough, just grubby and I’m of course not sure about how well she is sealed so that is a concern. You can stand in a trailer in a driving rain – but you still don’t KNOW if it’s leaking or not until it’s too late. I’m glad I can store her indoors.

I picked these jadeite cups up at an estate sale. When I came home, I was chided for buying unapproved décor! My daughter has informed me that she is in charge of decorating. Because you know, I’ve only been hoarding old stuff MY ENTIRE LIFE in anticipation of finally having a vintage camper for it all. Sigh. I’m glad she is showing an interest at least. I’ll secretly have two themes…hehe


Post 2 – adding to the fleet 1953 Holly 17′

It is my nature to research excessively when a subject catches my interest. Luckily that tendency led me to Mobiltec’s website

Larry has tons of informative videos that can teach you how to address any issue your camper has, in the correct way that will ensure your camper is fixed right and safe to use. I jumped on the canned ham bandwagon and was determined to fix my camper the right way. But…it’s a big job and honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted such a big project for my first restore.

One day I decided to just look around the country to see what is available in other areas. I checked facebook marketplace in Michigan, because it seems that most campers come from Michigan, were built there, or at least the camper flippers seem to be going north to bring them south to sell. I came across a 1953 17′ Holly with an obviously hand painted exterior. But, in the dark photos it looked pretty good. I hit save and went on about my day.

The Holly would pop up and I’d notice it in my saved items. After a couple of months and the seller lowering the price a couple of times, I jokingly messaged him and suggested he meet me halfway and deliver. He declined but he did give me his lowest price. I requested lots of photos – we spoke on the phone and I tortured him with questions.

And…I bought it. Then, the issue was getting it here. I toyed with towing it home myself but my truck coincidentally began giving me trouble about that time. I tried to find an affordable shipper and was unsuccessful.

The seller had a mobile RV tech that serviced his camper and offered to handle bearings and new tires for me. The Tech took the camper to his shop and I took advantage of his skills and had him also rewire the electric brakes, new 7 pin connection with new wiring, new breakaway switch with dedicated battery, new tow chains and a stainless 30 amp outlet. He also straightened out the fuse box which was wired incorrectly. She was ready to roll!

I highly recommend Campers Choice RV Collision and Repair in Merrill, Michigan. John did great work on my Holly and was great about keeping me updated on progress. It was his first vintage camper. I think he had a good time working on it. He said he had to block it in with other campers because people called every day asking about it. Welcome to Vintage Camper Stalkers!

By the time I had a decent tow vehicle in place, I was unable to break away from work. I decided to pay someone to bring her home rather than have her sit out in the snow til spring. This Georgia girl does not drive in snow! The couple that brought the trailer to me were great, and it was FAST. They picked up on a Monday and delivered Tuesday afternoon – 888 miles.

So, here she is. Delivered to my door and better than I could have ever expected. She was stored inside from the 80s until a couple of years ago. There is a little rot in the rear but very fixable. At some point the boyfriend door was broken into and leaked – but it’s not too bad. Overall, I don’t think this one is nearly as scary and will be a much better introduction to camper restoration. I like the smaller size too. She fits in the garage really well with room around to walk around and work.