Holly has a new mom

Recently I had the opportunity to purchase a new trailer. I’m a big believer in covered trailer storage so I sold the Holly to make room for the new one. And by new I mean 1953 of course. How funny that I would have 2 1953 trailers in a row.

It’s a really rare trailer and such a great size. I’m completely in love with it. I’m already doing some work on it – not that it needs a TON and I’m having a great time. Please check out the Vagabond Blog! 

Goodbye little perfect Holly. Enjoy your new home!


All Windows out!

I received a phone call today confirming my reservation at a rally. Suddenly, I realized how much I have to do to this camper! Sooo off to the garage I went and worked for several hours. All of the windows are out now. I am on the fence about removing the door. I may wait to pull the metal away over and under it to see how it looks.

I’m worried it may be hard to get square when I put it back in. But, I guess the only way to reseal it is to remove and reinstall.

I am surprised that ANY Holly trailer has ever leaked without an injury. The black goo is pretty well still sealing after all these years. You would not think the gasket installation method of Woodlin windows would work but only 1 out of all 11 windows has ANY rot and it’s very minor.  I am sure the “brows” help keep water off the windows and made a big difference.

It’s cool how the framing is hand marked Bunk Bed. I wonder if they used a different framing for the bunks or if it’s just a reminder to put a bunk in. The bunk is screwed in from the outside so it’s an area I’ll be looking at to check. 

The rogue nail that missed the framing was probably done that way at the factory. I can’t explain the 2″ one I pulled out! There do appear to be some large nails on the larger framing pieces. btw- check out that pristine framing! I’m a little worried about replacing the nails that hold the skin on. I can’t drive a nail straight to save my life and these are VERY close to the edge.

Pulling off the caprail is a joy. Not!

I have to be very careful because it can’t be replaced. They make a repro but it’s not the same. Luckily the original stuff is not too flimsy so as long as you are cautious and use a box cutter to cut the black stuff it will come off without a lot of bending.

On the bright side – the top edge framing looks really good and wide enough to support an awning rail. I’ll need to make sure there is no wiring or rot behind it. 

So far, other than the boyfriend door the lower edge seems to be the biggest problem area. I guess that must be from road water intrusion during travel. I don’t have it all the way open yet tho. Certainly the insulation board on the bottom has some issues. I’ll know more tomorrow.

It’s so great to have an inside space to work. I am glad I had my garage converted to hold the camper. I also highly recommend a rolling staircase. I picked mine up on facebook marketplace.

Sticky windows

Right about the time I was congratulating myself on buying the easiest camper to disassemble one of the windows got stuck. After several failed attempts it finally came loose today. The screen was stuck on the nails that hold the trim in the opening.

Here’s a good shot of how the gaskets are on the Woodlin windows

Love that shiny metal on the “wrong” side! So well preserved.

Despite the previous owners slightly caulking this window I can see no evidence of water intrusion.

I need to get cracking because I’ve signed up for a rally in the fall.

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 vintagetrailergaskets.com 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…haha..no…no…no…img_1238