Tag Archives: RVs

Thank You Fletcher’s Trailer Sales!

As the weather get’s colder and fall is in full swing, it is safe to say that work on the construction of COMET is winding down for now. It’s a little too cold to paint the exterior outside, so until I find an indoor workspace I’ll have much more time to post about the progress of the last few months. I’m glad for the change of pace!

Lots of exciting things happened for us in the last few weeks. We brought the COMET to Deek Diedricksen’s tiny house workshop in Stoughton, MA. It was an awesome weekend of talking tiny, building a super teeny house on a trailer, and lots of time around the campfire. We got to hang out in the Whittled Down Caravan with Tristan and Libby, which was great. At the workshop we were interviewed for an NPR show coming up (I’ll definitely let you know when I find out the air date), which was unexpected and totally awesome. We also did a video with Deek for Tiny Yellow House (his youtube video channel), which will be out soon I hope! Even though the COMET remains a work in progress, it is really shaping up into something lovely, and people seemed excited about the future of the project. After the tiny house workshop, we did a video shoot for a Spaces.TV “Offbeat Spaces” webseries episode, which was really neat and a new experience for me. The COMET is such a technical project for me, and talking about the aesthetics and interior design choices for the Offbeat Spaces video was a welcome change!
Anyway, lots of re-capping and catching up to do as always (I think the only solution to this would be a clone…anyone?)…but I promise now that the weather has made working outside less feasible, I will be spending more time with the blog!

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Now, to the rest of this post!

I got a really good question about where to get replacement windows for vintage trailers. I thought I’d share the best answer with everyone in this post!

I want to introduce you to one of my supporters, Fletcher’s Trailer Sales. Some of you fellow trailer nuts probably know about them already, and for those who don’t – they are an amazing one stop shop and resource for all things vintage trailer related.

I always loved the Vintage Kingpins website. Before I had a vintage camper of my own, I would always keep an eye on it for project trailers for sale, and when I bought my first trailer the website was a great resource (and their parts inventory is AMAZING!) I hope to have as many vintage campers (and other neat stuff) as these guys some day.

One of the windows in the COMET was broken, not just the glass, but the whole assembly was just trashed. I was nervous that I would have to replace it with just some inoperable system of my own devising – like a stationary piece of glass in a frame. I thought there was no way I would be able to find a matching window.

But I checked on the vintage trailer websites, and saw some campers that looked similar to the Avalon on the “Trailers for Parts” page of the Fletcher’s Trailer Sales website. I called them up, and Fletch  – who is as helpful and friendly as can be – was happy to go out into the lot and look for a double jalousie that was the size of the one that needed replacing in my own camper. Within minutes he had located the exact window that I needed, and promptly pulled it from the parts trailer and shipped it to me. I could not be happier with what I received in the mail. It is amazing to me that from anywhere in the country you can find something so hard to come by – a unique vintage trailer window that perfectly fits my camper. I don’t know of any other business that will pull exact parts for you out of their “harvesting” trailers and send them to you anywhere in the US. It’s amazing! And they have a great selection of campers (for parts and for sale) from all eras and styles. If you don’t see what you need in their trailer parts category on the website, give them a call and tell them what you need. I’ll bet they have what you’re looking for. We all want the most authentic parts for our restorations – and the best (and greenest!) way is to get it vintage.

Here’s a little bit about Fletch and Denise, the Vintage Kingpins themselves, from their website:

“I’m Bill Fletcher and along with my wife Denise we own and operate Fletcher’s Trailer Sales and Service Inc. We are a second generation, full time family run business that has been serving the public since 1963. Since then we have sold many brands of camping trailers, travel trailers, motor homes, truck campers, and utility trailers of all sizes and types, both new and used.
During the past several years we have turned our attention toward vintage and classic travel trailers. We feel that the timeless styling and rugged construction features of these beauties is not only a good investment, but also one that you can enjoy for a lifetime. Why be one of the masses with a cookie cutter box on wheels that will only depreciate in value? Why buy a trailer for $20,000 that is constructed of re-cycled beer cans and chipboard when you can spend far less of  your hard earned dollars on something with soul, that will turn heads and get thumbs up wherever you go.
Our mission is quite simple, treat others like you would like to be treated, honestly, fairly, with courtesy and consideration. We feel that this policy has kept us in business year after year while others have come and gone.
What do we have to offer? A nice selection of un-restored trailers from the smallest Scotty’s and teardrops to 40’ birch paneled mobile homes. We also have a number of ‘parts’ trailers that have unfortunately surpassed their own lives and will contribute their various parts to help other trailers go on and on. Although we do not offer full restoration services we will accept small projects and/or general service work from suspension and running gear up dates, to appliance repair with most everything in between. All work is preformed by myself with 36 years of past experience. Looking for vintage, hard to find parts? Give us a try. Either E-Mail or call (607-387-5838) and we’ll guarantee to do our level best to help you out.”

Oh, and they are also the Northeast Representatives for the Tin Can Tourists group!

I highly recommend Fletcher’s to anyone working on a vintage camper, or anyone looking to purchase a project trailer. And, if you’re on the tiny house wavelength, Fletch said that he has sold a few trailer chassis’ to people planning on building a tiny on a re-used trailer. A great idea! So get in touch with him if you need a trailer to build your tiny house on!

Here’s some pictures of Matt and I replacing the old window with the new one from Fletcher’s. THANK YOU FLETCHER’S TRAILER SALES!

Here’s the replacement window from Fletcher’s, before it was installed. It is an exact match to the one that was originally in the trailer (actually, it is a little nicer than the original!).

We removed the original window, scraped off all of the old caulking, and had a clean slate to work with.

Matt scrapes off some more old caulking before installing the new window.

We ran a bead of new caulk all around the edge of the window before installing it, to seal it (you can sort of see the white caulk around the edges). We used stainless steel sheet metal screws (which match the rest of the screws) and installed the window in a snap. It fit perfectly, and works great!

Again, a big thank you to Fletcher’s Trailer Sales for supporting The COMET and education in sustainable, tiny living!

 

 

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Check out this Pinterest page – all about tiny houses and camper restoration

Someone shares my obsessions!

I found this Pinterest page (board?) a while back and have been refreshing the tab regularly ever since. It has all sorts of great links to DIY tutorials, camper eye candy, off-grid trailer ideas, and more. New things are added to the board all the time. Check out this link for camper and tiny house ideas!

Not Quite Vintage Tiny Homes/RVs

This is a great idea for linoleum tiles. You could do this with Marmoleum flooring pretty easily!

**Tiny House Summer Camp is SO SOON! Less than 2 weeks away, and the COMET has no floor and a wall is being replaced and reframed. I need to get the pictures off of my camera and onto the blog so you guys can see what I’m talking about! It’s crazy.

Anyway, I PROMISE pictures and details about all of the repairs later. I think you guys will enjoy the walk through. It isn’t pretty, and it’s more structural repair than I’ve ever had to do in a trailer before, but it’s encouraging because, thanks to my prior experience with last summer’s trailer, Matt’s help, and the Rockwell SonicCrafter (I need to do a tool review – this thing can’t be beat), it’s taken me 4 days to do what it took me 2 months to do last year. Amazing!

 

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Thank You TIMBUCKTU RV!!

What a wonderful surprise! I came across an outdated catalog for Timbucktu RV in Worcester, MA that my father had given me when I started getting into vintage trailer restoration, and found that the catalog had ALL of the camper parts that I needed to replace in The COMET. I picked out a few things in the catalog and called Timbucktu RV in Worcester, explaining my project and what parts I was missing. They said I should come on down to the store and see what I could find that I needed. I ended up leaving with everything I needed to begin repairs on the COMET. The people at Timbucktu RV are so helpful and friendly, and engaged with the project, which was wonderful. I got lots of good advice from the people at Timbucktu RV, who have been repairing campers, motorhomes, and trailers for many years. The store and catalog both have a GREAT selection of parts – hitches, jacks, lights, even water tanks and toilets – all the larger items that not all RV stores stock in their stores. It was great to be helped by a person that new what they were selling and understood what I was trying to do with The COMET, as opposed to guessing what I needed and ordering it online, hoping that it would be the right part when it got here. Timbucktu RV has experience in all things camper related, and they even have a couple of vintage Airstreams on the lot. I fell in love with a little Globetrotter in the parking lot. They also have an extremely rare vintage Airstream diner, complete with glittery vinyl seating and bar. It’s one of 8 ever made. It was gorgeous! They literally have everything under the sun camper-wise, and every part you could ever want – new or retro. And all of the appliances that they offer would be ideal in a tiny house on wheels! I now have a new jack, roof coat, a rocket hand-pump faucet, a new inlet, replacement teardrop running lights, a solar-powered vent fan, and about a dozen other things I needed, thanks to Timbucktu RV (1047 Southbridge Street, Worcester, MA)! Timbucktu is in the process of moving their inventory and getting a new website, so when that gets updated I will add that information as well! For now, please call 508-459-1132 for a catalog.

Thank you Timbucktu RV, for your amazingly generous contribution to The COMET!!

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A very exciting time: a call for Vintage Campers, Vardos, Caravans, Buses, Vans and Tiny Houses

Good morning!

It is a very exciting time to be working on The COMET. As I mentioned yesterday, The COMET and I will be making an appearance at the Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop in Boston next month, as well as Derek DEEK Diedricksen’s Tiny House Summer Camp weekend in July. Now I am planning an event at a campground in Brattleboro, VT that honors vintage campers (and in the COMET’s case, looks to the future while honoring vintage trailer past) and tiny houses. It really is a dream come true for me. It’s almost too exciting! If you are in the Northeast and have a vintage trailer or are a vintage trailer enthusiast, please get in touch with me via the CONTACT page, as I am looking for more vintage campers/converted vans/gypsy caravans/custom buses/unique mobile dwellings of all types to come to this event in Brattleboro. People who bring a vintage camper/van/caravan/etc will get a special discount at the campground. Similarly, if you have a tiny house on wheels that you would like to display at this rally/event, please get in touch with me! It’s going to be great to have vintage campers next to tiny cabins. Anything unique and on wheels!

I want to see more Cramps themed campers....photo taken from Hicksville Trailer Palace website

Also at the Hicksville Trailer Palace. One of my favorite vintage camper photos.

 

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Solar RV Eye Candy!

I’ve been so caught up in technical details surrounding The COMET lately that I haven’t done a just-for-fun Eye Candy photo in weeks!

The madness ends now!

Here’s a wonderful image of a solar-powered motorhome.

Based on the size and number of those panels, looks like it’s about a 750-Watt system. I wonder if those panels tilt up for when they’re parked, of if they are snowbirds and just follow the peak sun. Anyway, it’s a beautiful and unique RV, I love the seafoam green accents ;)

Speaking of beautiful and unique RVs, a friend of mine just began working on a rare vintage motorhome called a Clark Cortez. He’s fixing it up mechanically and also planning to build the interior from scratch, as it is completely gutted right now. Apparently there were only 3000 Cortez’s ever built while they were in production between 1963-79. The people who are into them are REALLY into them, it’s like a club! After pouring over the owners and parts manuals that my friend had (which was way more fun than it should be…vintage motorhome owners/parts manuals are definitely the way to my heart!), which was as thick as a dictionary and had schematics for EVERY single detail of every aspect of the Cortez, I realized that a house not far from me has not one but TWO Clark Cortez’s in their back yard, one brown and on pink (!). Considering how rare they are, one person owning 2 Cortez’s is sort of mind-blowing! This family also has a vintage Winnebago and a couple of other 1960′s campers in their yard, so they seem like my kind of people. I’m considering knocking on their door (with my buddy who wants to see their Cortez’s interiors for ideas) and asking them how they came to own so many interesting, classic RVs, and hear their story…but maybe that would be an odd thing to do?

The Cortez at the RV Hall Of Fame, a lifetime destination for me.

Anyway, enjoy the camper eye candy, and later I’ll share some photos of my fermentation set-up that I accomplished for less than $5, which was my goal! (I found the greatest gallon glass jar at Salvation army – wait till you see).

Until then!

 

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All-DC Solar Power System in The COMET

Here’s a follow up to the last post, where I talked about how to calculate your (kilo)watt usage and shared my own table showing what electricity-using appliances I will have. Here’s why that “AC or DC” column is important.

These are the actual modules that I have. 3 x 185W modules. Thanks Cotuit Solar!

I want to design a PV system for The COMET that is DC-only, and has no AC inverter (which turns the DC power from the panels into the AC power that comes out of your wall sockets). The reason is because of the nature of inverters for PV systems: inverters are the single most expensive component of a PV system. They also are the point at which 20% of efficiency from what the panels are actually producing gets lost. That means it takes 20% of the energy you are producing with your panels to power the inverter. That’s a lot of lost energy, especially in a small system! So I am devising a unique system that requires no inverter.

Here is a diagram of how the system will look. Modules, charge controller, battery bank, then DC load or outlets.

In order to do this, I need to convert ALL of my electricity-using appliances to run on DC power (see previous post for details, but basically everything in The COMET runs on DC anyway, except the laptop computer, which I will buy an DC power adapter for ($20 as opposed to $2000 for an inverter). It isn’t unusual for camper and RV appliances to be wired for DC and use only DC, so that’s another reason this conversion will be feasible. I’ll also need to make sure everything is running at 12V – meaning I will need a 12 V battery system.

DC plug

I have seen some grid-tied systems that use this principle to power what DC appliances they have (check out this Instructable as an example). For example, charging all of your fans, lights, cell phones, ipods, and basically other electronics with car chargers, with power from the panels using no inverter (and maybe even no battery if you only want to access the free power during the day). However, my system will be very unique in that it is off-grid and completely DC. I’ll have wall outlets like everyone else – they’ll just be DC and look like the ones in your car!

Small 150W inverter for just-in-case AC scenarios.

The one thing I am worried about with this system is not having the flexibility to use anything with an AC plug. Who knows what will come up, there may be a day when I need to test something or use an AC plug to power something. Of course, I can only plan so much. For this scenario, I will have a small car inverter (probably somewhere around 300 W) that can plug into the DC wall outlets when I need it (or maybe it’s mounted in the wall somewhere, but I see it as being more of an emergency use kind of thing).

I’m still working out the kinks, but this entirely DC system will save me a lot of money and be much more efficient than an inverter system. I’ll keep you updated as I experiment with this concept!

 

Totally unrelated, but I just wanted to point out how awesome the Habitat for Humanity ReStore is. I went to the one in Worcester on Saturday, because I was driving by, and they happened to have a few click panels of cork flooring. I picked them up for a $1 and will hopefully be able to use them in the bathroom!

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