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 cannedhamtrailers.com 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!

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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

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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 http://cannedhamtrailers.com/

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.

Exterior:

Interior:

Details:

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Post 1 – To begin…the Garage Project

Quite a while back, an embarrassingly long time ago actually considering my total lack of progress, I bought a 1956 20′ Holly Trailer, (or “travel coach” as the brochures I have seen online say) and intended to restore it. I’ve wanted a vintage trailer for years. I belong to Sisters on the Fly, a large club of women that enjoy many adventures and get togethers. Many of the sisters have vintage campers. I’ve been to Sister events in my Aliner, which I have had for 9 years and is an awesome camper. I’ve been to Sister events in a Scamp, which I only kept for a year. But I’ve always wanted a vintage trailer.

Here she is…That bathroom! Those windows! The fridge! Double doors!

 

 

 

I’m one of those people that collect old things…my house is riddled with childhood toys and bric a brac. I’d rather have faded formica than glossy stone countertops any day! My house is older, and even has the dreaded sheet paneling in three rooms, which I love. So for me, a vintage camper was a dream, but it could not be just any camper. It had to be all original, no painted interior, no stainless appliances and inappropriate Home Depot cabinetry, no coverup jobs on rot. And lord no turquoise paint.

ok ok I don’t really hate turquoise, but there has been an upswing in people buying old campers, gutting them (so wrong don’t get me started) and painting every available surface turquoise without actually fixing anything. I just don’t get it. I’ll have turquoise THINGS in my trailer for sure.

I like glossy birch interiors. True, historic, original style old wood with original appliances. I really did not want one if I could not have that. So, I didn’t have one for the longest time.

One day I was on facebook marketplace and a 20′ Holly popped up. It looked great in the photos, some rot of course but that’s to be expected. Active leaks of course because NEWSFLASH all campers leak! Eventually! So, I messaged, rode to see it a couple of hours away, decided it was worth a shot, negotiated a lower price with the fellow and brought her home. Now, I knew it needed tons of work. I knew it had rot. I knew that I had no experience fixing any of the camper issues. It had all the appliances tho, all the hardware, all the windows and doors, all the cool vintage parts. The fridge works! What I did not know until I got her home was that the rear end was hosting carpenter ants. When I pulled the bed out there they were! Yikes! I was able to spray and bomb them away. I’m hoping any that moved on did not move on to my house.

I researched Holly campers and it seems they always rot in the same place. Around the heater vent, which runs across to the other side. In the rear, like most campers, and all 4 corners like most campers. Over the doors, which mine has a hefty dose of. Hollies do not have ceiling vents so the key sheet and the main center cabinetry can be in good condition, as most of mine is. 

I’ve kept her tarped, but hesitated to start on her because I had nowhere to store the thing and I wanted a level spot to work. I suspect it will be like a bomb exploded when I get started on that camper.

I priced carports and concrete. That was a no go. My lot is not level and it would be very expensive to put in a level pad.

Enter…the search for a carpenter to raise the ceiling of my detached garage. I had two guys look – they both said can’t be done. Then I had a friend that is a contractor look – he said no problem. He located a carpenter to handle the job, we agreed on a price, and they had it done in 2 days. I now have indoor storage with 9’+ ceiling and a 9′ door! Finally, a camper garage! I gleefully parked the Holly in the garage and began searching for someone to build a door.

One fellow gave me a price on barn style swing out doors. I was worried they might sag, or be in the way when working. I was at a friends who was building a shed in his backyard. I loved the doors he designed and asked him to loan me his carpenter for my shed. A few days later voila! Cool sliding door was installed. One electrician and 10 Costco LED lights later and I now have a flat, safe well lit place for the camper to live. I guess this was a 6 month project. In that 6 months I also located a 1965 sofa for the front room that is lightweight and fits just great.

Garage Before and After!

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Finally, the Holly is safely stored and ready to be worked on!

Clearly, the logical next step would be to buy another camper. ugh.