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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Episode 3: Ally, Move



In this episode I take off one of the wheels to measure it. I studied the Wheel Vintiques Fitment Guide to figure out what to measure.

A. RIM DIAMETER
This is the actual diameter of the wheel at the point where the tire bead seats (not the outer lip).
B. RIM WIDTH
Measure this from the inside of the outer lip at the bead seating point to the inner lip.
C. BACKSPACING
A very important measurement is from the inside of the wheel at the point where it contacts the hub, brake drum or axle flange to the outside edge (lip) of the wheel.
D. BOLT PATTERN
Count the number of mounting holes for the wheel and determine the diameter of a circle that would run through their center. 

Measuring the distance between the centers of adjacent holes, D


If D = 2-5/8", then the bolt pattern is 5 on 4-1/2"
If D = 2-3/4", then the bolt pattern is 5 on 4-3/4"
If D = 3", then the bolt pattern is 5 on 5"
If D = 3-1/4", then the bolt pattern is 5 on 5-1/2"

Notice none of the websites are particularly concerned about the hole in the middle. Well it's damned important! The hubs on this trailer require a 4" hole in the wheel, way bigger than average. 

The tire being on the wheel means I can't measure the rim width directly. But that and the rim diameter are stamped in the metal. 15x6. That'd be 15 inches by 6 inches.


These wheels have 7" tires on them. I almost couldn't get them in the wheel wells. I must be careful not to go any bigger than this.


I have seen some people doing vintage Airstream rebuilds and they put giant aggressive wheels and nobby tires on them. This is absolutely not the way I'm going with Ally Mo. The wheels are meant to blend in with the whole aesthetic. I am not going for a silk slip and combat boots here. 

After I took the wheel off and measured it I put it back on and got ready to move Ally Mo out of the way. My father gave me his old drill press for my art wood project and I need to run power to the shed for it. I've been putting off running power to the shed ever since I moved back here and started fixing this place up. You'll see why. It's not just the expense of copper wire and subpanels, it's the effort of digging in the conduit. It's going to be a bitch. I don't want overhead wires. I'd rather keep running an extension cord to the pole.

I got some help on moving the trailer from Otis Forbes. He used to work for my father's construction company. He helps me with things that are beyond my expertise and ability. When my house foundation failed Otis came with a concrete mixer and his expertise in pouring foundations and helped me fix it. And when I needed to thin some trees he came with a chainsaw and took care of it. Anyway, Otis went by my dad's shop and picked up the drill press and brought it to me. Then we moved the trailer. While he was here I had him get out his chain saw and cut a slice off a light'rd log to see if it would make a good cake plate. It wasn't as fat as I thought so I abandoned that project immediately. But I'm glad to know now.

While we were jacking up the trailer to take out the blocks my brother put under it one of the stacks tipped over and dropped Ally Mo on its noggin. The stack of blocks was turned so the long direction was front to back, like the blocks under Ally Min. This is the wrong direction for stability when jacking up either side. When I put blocks under it in the new location I turned them the other way.

Going forward it seems like I need a three point system for safety. A tongue jack and all four wheels on the ground would be a good start. I may make a little ramp to lift the low side and then put jack stands under.

As a sidebar to this video I have another one where I fix the impact driver that failed to drive a sheet metal screw into an old pine stud.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Episode 2: The Treasures of Ally Mo



With Ally Mo parked on the East side of the shed I decided to clean up inside a bit. I collected up all the junk that was on the kitchen counter and in the sink in a cement mixing tub and separated the garbage from the potential treasure. After a very thorough scrubbing in the sink of Ally Min I assessed what I sort of artistic improvements I could make to these ordinary items to make them into the kind of vintage treasure worthy of my Etsy shop.

The Cast Iron Candle Sconce:

I wire brushed this rusty cast iron wall decoration and gave it a few coats of Penetrol to seal it. Then I sanded it with emery paper to bring up some highlights and gave it one more coat. It's very attractive now. Now that I think about it, what it really needs is an electric light to go with it. I may have something.

I tried making an aluminum ring to go around the bottom of the electric light by shaping it with PVC pipe on the vise. I was thinking I'd put a buck rivet in it, but I forgot I would need room for the bucking bar on the inside. I used a ball peen hammer to set the rivet and it made a big ol mess. And then the whole thing was just too big. I forgot about pop rivets or I might have done it again.

Next I tried a broken belt Brenna gave me. That didn't work either.

Then I tried another piece of black leather belt and made that work. I used Pop rivets on it, but my iphone battery died and I didn't get video of how pop rivets work. Plenty of time for that later. 

All my life I've known about pop rivets and only recently learned about buck rivets. And then when I was shopping on McMaster for the right kind of rivets to fix the windows in Ally Min I found out that Pop is a BRAND NAME! I had no idea. I thought it was a description, but no, it's like Kleenex is a facial tissue. Pop rivets are actually blind rivets. They were invented in the 1920s.

You can buy this if you would like to support my project. Ally Mo needs new tires!

The Oil Lamp:

There was a bottle of lamp oil and a sooty little oil lamp in Ally Mo. I took out the wick and washed and dried it in the sun so it isn't so flammable anymore and I washed the glass and polished the metal. I wasn't convinced it was a real antique though so I wanted to add something hand made to be sure it was Etsy eligible. And I wanted an excuse to show what a buck rivet it. So I made a little riveted trivet for the lamp. I had a scrap of marine aluminum alloy leftover from Ally Min that I used to make the trivet. I marked the holes with a pencil and an awl then I drilled the holes on my new drill press. I rounded the edges with a file in my vise. I overtightened it I think and deformed the shape a bit. I cut the rivets as short as possible and used the pneumatic alligator squeezers to set them. Then I cut a piece of exterior grade carpet and put it on the bottom with contact cement. The glass lamp wanted to skid around on the metal so I added some sticky corners I cut out of the empty sheets of anti-skid feet I put on my board games.


You can buy the oil lamp too! Ally Mo has FOUR WHEELS!

The Brass Chamberstick Lamp:


This artifact turned treasure was a lot of work. I started a separate timeline to edit it and it turned out to be so long I decided not to paste it into Episode 2 but to let it be it's own video. 


I didn't film myself shoving the wire into the tube that runs up the lamp or the fiddly adjustment of the nuts to get it to line up just exactly right so the cord didn't stick out too far and make it not sit flat. That was pretty hard to do and also impossible to film because it involved me contorting and struggling to get all my core strength into it.

The patina solution is also presented as a complete mystery. If you want to try this at home you're going to have to do the research. The process I used is called rokusho, but it is spelled a lot of different ways. One of my favorite papers is "Japanese irogane alloys and patination – a study of production and application" and you can download the PDF from Sheffield Hallam University. I've already done my experiments for my board games so I have a feel for how the solution should look and act so I can do it by eye. You should start with measurements and work up to that. This is why I started with the evaporate from my previous work. 

The main ingredients are copper sulfate, copper acetate, citric acid, and salt. The water should be really hot.

After all that work on that lamp I looked online for how much brass lamps cost. A lot. The price I put on this lamp on Etsy may seem exorbitant, but think of it as partly paying for the lamp, and partly paying for the entertainment of seeing how I made it look that way. I am footing the bill for shipping! I'm all about service.

The Rest

I made a little pine needle collar for that jelly jar, but after trying to photograph it I decided not to put it on Etsy. I don't know what it's for? Any ideas?


Then there's this little tea cup. It's cute, but I don't think it's feasible for me to ship it. If anybody wants to pay for shipping I'll happily pack it up for you. But it weighs too much for the value.


The same is true of this coffee cup. Plus there's a defect in the bottom of it. If it was perfect I might put it on Etsy, but like this, nah. If anybody wants it though, let me know. You can have it free if you pay for shipping!





I'm using the green cup, yellow plate, and pyrex dish in my lab for various tasks. I like lots of little empty dishes when I'm working on jewelry and sewing.

I used that dish rack in March when all of a sudden my niece had to get married at my place. My new nephew washed all the champagne and water glasses and put them in that dish rack to drip so I could pick them up and dry them.

I'm going to take a day off tomorrow to sew and then I'm going right back to editing! I'm really excited to edit Episode 6. I have decided I must do all the episodes in order so the progression of my editing skills is smooth.

Thanks for your interest in restoring old junk! 

Go buck yourself.

*** update ***
In this video I speculated that Ally Mo has the original sheet vinyl floor. I was wrong about that. I looked underneath by the front door and I can tell a strip of plywood by the wall has been replaced. They'd have to take up the flooring to do that. This is not the original pattern. I have looked and looked online but I can't find any pictures of what the original floors looked like.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Episode 1: Shed Spartan is a Yard Spartan Now



This is my 1949 Spartan Royal Mansion. I bought it from a man in Florida eight years ago. I paid $2000 for it, delivered. I stuck it in my shed and haven’t touched it.

1949 Spartan in the shed since 2012

In January 2020 I decided it was time to work on it. Inside the shed it was really dark and kind of scary, so when my brother and his girlfriend were here one weekend I made them help me move it outside. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it yet. I just want the room.

Preferred parking place for the Spartan
The shed spartan is a yard spartan now.

There's a length of aluminum skirting that unscrews for access to the wheel wells

One screw would not come out and I had to grind it off. It was a brass screw. This showed little corrosion against the aluminum so I think brass is a pretty good screw option.
I’m missing a wheel on the right side. This is a 30’ trailer with 2 axles. The men that delivered it borrowed a wheel off another truck they had and they took it with them when they left. I’ve been trying to find a replacement this whole time.

I decided to try moving it with just three wheels. I think it would’ve worked better if my grandma’s old isuzu was a little higher. The hub was gouging out the ground. We really wore out what was left of that old truck’s poor clutch too.

I actually bought two Spartan Royal Mansions in 2012. The other one was manufactured in 1951. It was missing an entire axle. I paid $900 for it.

Ally Min with the one axle

This wheel had 2 lug nuts

Ally Min's wheels take 6 lug nuts. Ally Mo has hubs with 5 holes for bolts
I repurposed the 1951 Spartan straight away. I wasn’t sure what I would do with two of these revolting old trailers, but since there were two available at the same time it just seemed logical to get a spare.

It worked out pretty great for the real glass marker lights. The one with both axles only had one light, but the other one had the other three. So I should be able to rig up some new brackets with LEDs to make this one have some neat lights on it.
I need this light on Ally Mo to round out the set. Ally Min had the other 3.
Inside Ally Mo there was a cabinet randomly sitting in the middle of the observation lounge. This was moved from its original spot because the previous owner wanted to get the refrigerator out. He said it still worked and he was using it. I let him have it. I still have the original refrigerator from the 1951 Spartan. It did not work. I took the compressor out and refinished it and use it like furniture.

Here's some photos of the refrigerator from the 1951 Spartan.







Here it is after I cleaned it up and took it to an auto painter and had it painted BMW Speed Yellow because I thought that was hilarious. Fastest refrigerator in the fifties.

Old refrigerator is just a cabinet now.

Here are some closer photos of some of the bad spots on Ally Mo's aluminum skin.

Terrible corrosion on the bottom of the back door

Rifle entrance wound probably

Scrape and a puncture

Something ferrous was wired on here

This is how they dealt with random penetrations. Glob it up with asphaltic sealant

Exit wound. Whatcha think, .22 caliber?

Something poked this hard.

This is some kind of latch for holding the door open. It wasn't a great choice.
I'm not that worried about all this exterior damage because it was fun patching all the stuff like that on Ally Min. Here's some examples.
Round patches over big holes look kind of neat

Here's how I cleaned up rust and patched the spot from the door latch on Ally Min.
The aluminum handle stops the door handle banging into the wall from wind.

Ally Min has a new wider door big enough to get a washer and dryer inside.
A lever handle can go behind the handle on the wall and keep the door open.

I don't know what I'll do with the doors on Ally Mo. I want them to not let lizards and frogs come inside. And roaches. I will think about it.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Introducing Ally Min and Ally Mo

I haven't updated this blog in 6 years. But I paid the URL registration fees every year. In January 2020 I decided to get Shed Spartan out of the shed. I'm gradually working up to a routine of documenting the process of making it usable. I've been filming everything as I go. And now I'm trying to catch up with editing. I decided to write up blog posts as I go.

These are my two Spartan Royal Mansion trailers.


Repurposed trailer where I work. I dub thee Ally Min. March 2020.

Project Trailer. I dub thee Ally Mo. March 2020.

Here's how it all went down. In 2012 I bought two Spartan Royal Mansions. These trailers are 31 feet long and 8 feet wide. From the coupler to the tail lights they are 33 feet 7 inches. They have two axles and 4 wheels. At least that's how they were manufactured. One of the ones I bought only had one axle. That one came off the assembly line in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1951. The other one was a 1949 model with both axles. It had fewer large holes in the skin, but the overall patina wasn't great. The previous owner started to restore it and sprayed it with acid. I really wish he hadn't.

Condition matters aside, there are some subtle differences that distinguish the 1951 and 1949 models on sight.

1949
1951
no bathroom window
bathroom window
trapezoidal side window openings
rectangular side windows
sliding glass window panes
2 hinged glass panes in aluminum frames
5 bolt wheels
6 bolt wheels

Spartans all have a serial number badge inside the front door jamb that have a date code right in the number. This is how you really know what you're looking at.

1949 Spartan Royal Mansion Serial Number Badge

1951 Spartan Royal Mansion Serial Number Badge

When they were delivered I put the 1951 Spartan on the slab where my childhood home once stood. It burned down in 1984. The whole site was abandoned for 20 years. I moved back here in 2004. I got the slab cleaned up and in 2010 I hooked up the power and water to it again. In 2012 I figured out the cast iron pipe to the septic tank was still viable. So it was logical to put the Spartan above that pipe and use that septic tank, water, and power. I desperately needed work space, and I needed a place for my washer and dryer.

I had the two axle Spartan backed into my shed so I could focus on the one missing an axle. For 8 years I referred to them by their location — Shed Spartan and Slab Spartan. Slab Spartan is now typically referred to as the lab. This is a natural term for me since in my professional life I always had an office plus an electronics lab and usually a machine shop space whose nomenclature varied from job to job. The people I interact with on social media mostly have labs too, so it is my habit to use that term online since they wouldn't have any way of knowing what a Spartan is. I suspect my relatives think it's pretentious to call it the lab. Just one in a long list of failings, I'm sure. Fortunately I don't give a shit.

Last year my brother told me about the Sampson Boat Co YouTube channel. This guy Leo is rebuilding a boat called Tally Ho. I started with the episode where Leo comes down near me in South Georgia to get some Southern live oak for his boat, and then I went back to the beginning and watched every episode. The Tally Ho project made me yearn for a project of my own. Something I could document with videos. And I had something sitting right there in my shed. I'd clearly meant to do it this whole time, sitting on this blog and everything. But the last few years I've been hit pretty hard with chronic fatigue and migraine and arthritis in my hands and disc damage in my back. It all made me hesitate to start. But you know what? I'm not going to get any better. That's sort of what chronic means. But I can't just leave that piece of shit in my shed forever. I have to just get it out and get to work. I won't be able to do very much in a day and it might take years and years, but it's got to get done.

I do love me a time lapse of a job of work. Especially in my advanced state of decrepitude. On days when I'm too stiff and sore to stand up I can sit in my good chair and edit my video. Then for the rest of my life I can watch it whenever I want, remembering how fun it was. Hopefully I can block out the memory of the pain and misery of actually doing it.

As I was thinking about how I would do my videos I pondered imitating Leo's fixing up Tally Ho, just for the lulz. It's an aluminum trailer. I could call it Ally Ho! Not crazy about the Ho part, being a single woman and all. Maybe Ally Mo is better. Although that makes me think it's an alloy of molybdenum, which isn't accurate as the Spartans are covered in Alclad. The composition of that alloy is aluminum, copper, manganese, and magnesium with a pure aluminum coating for corrosion resistance. This alloy discrepancy is a minor issue that is unlikely to bother anybody but me. And I can learn to cope with it.

I do have two of these. Shouldn't they both have names? What if the lab is Ally Min? It is the minimalist version with the axles gone and the tongue cut off. That makes the other one logically Ally Mo, since it has more parts to it. I've been calling them this to myself for a few weeks to see how it works. I like it. I'm going with this now.

While Tally Ho, a 109 year old sailing yacht, is a she, as is conventional, I don't really think of my lab as a she or a he. It's an it. Or maybe a they? I'll have to see how it shakes out linguistically as I go.

My other influences from YouTube are Crime Pays But Botany Doesn't and Rare Earth. These two channels are nothing at all like The Sampson Boat Co and nothing at all like each other. But I think that's what makes them meaningful to me. I have blatantly copied specific parts of their format and modified it for the Buck Rivet Report in appreciation of their work. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, right? My whole art form is based on parody of greater works, y'all. Reduce, reuse, recluse. I'm sorry if this is too meta or whatever. You can take it up with Evan Hadfield. He encouraged me on Twitter.