I guess that for my first "Trailer Of The Month" I will
use my first vintage trailer restoration project.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to buy a vintage
travel trailer to restore. I didn't know anything about
them, in fact I had only been inside of one early model that
I saw somewhere down in Mexico, some years ago. I don't
really remember exactly where it was or when, but I will
never forget that trailer . Since that time, some 20 years
ago, I always knew that someday I would have one or two or
three of them!
Then one day, not to long ago, I was looking through the
local want ads and came across a 1956 Mercury travel trailer
for $400. So I went to look at it in Costa Mesa CA. It was
not exactly what I was looking for but for $400 it was a
good place to start. I will never forget the looks on the
neighbors faces the day that I brought it home, they must
have been thinking something along the lines of trash.
Needless to say their faces and thoughts changed as I
started the restoration process.
The first thing I did was to strip all of the latex house
paint off of the exterior, this my friends was no easy
With plastic scrapper in hand, I began to strip,peel and
scrub the paint off. It took about a week of hard work but
it was finally all off and now it was time to start the
What a nightmare. I had no idea how involved it would be. I
think that all trailerites should polish at least one whole
aluminum trailer in their lifetime, so that they can truly
appreciate the hard work that goes into some of the
incredible trailers that you might see at a rally.
Well once the polishing of the exterior was done it was time
to move on to the interior.
The first thing that I did was to remove the table and
benches. I needed to do this so that I could pull out the
floor at the front of the trailer because it was completely
rotten from water damage and years of neglect.
Striping the latex paint off of the body.
The interior after the restoration
Once the floor was out, I replaced the 2"x4" sub- frames
and sheeted the floor with new 3/4" plywood.
The next step was to recover the floor with a new marble
pattern, old style linoleum flooring.
Once this was done, I had to rebuild the bench frames as
they were falling apart being ever so careful not to damage
the original vinyl. As you may know, vintage vinyl fabric is
very hard to come by. But if you know where to find it
please let me know.
After the table and benches were reinstalled, I went over
all of the wood work. Lightly sanding and cleaning every
square inch before it could receive two coats of varnish.
Once the varnish was finished, I began to rebuild the
counter and table tops installing a new Formica top that had
a vintage feel to it .
Now it was time to detail. I was told something by an
employer years ago and it stuck with me ever since. He said
to me " Don't even bother to do it, if your not
going to do it right!" Well, that has been my motto ever
since. It's the little details that make a fine
Next I hung the curtains and the vintage fly fishing and
The trailer restoration was finally completed, and was ready
for me to pack up the family and head out for a vintage
vacation. But it never happened! I never got a chance to
take it out.
I rented the trailer and an old truck to a friend of mine to
go on a campout. Shortly after that, I decided that it was
time to move on to a bigger and older project. Early one
Sunday morning, I hauled the trailer out to the Pomona old
car swap meet. It was a show stopper. I couldn't believe the
response that I got from it. I needed a back door to usher
the crowd through.
Well, I sold my little trailer that morning by 9 am, for the
price that I was asking,to a very nice couple that were
going to take it to Montana to their favorite fishing spot
on some property that they had. I couldn't think of a nicer
place for my little restored beauty to live out its second
The finished trailer heading off to the swap meet
Original stove and ice box in perfect condition
The aluminum has a very high polished sheen.