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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.

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.

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