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Old 02-05-2012, 10:54 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Lightweight vintage ATV toyhauler build thread

long story short; this is the bumper pull toyhauler project that i started after abandoning my (too big for what i really needed ) Airstream 5th wheel toyhauler.

due to my love for vintage "aircraft style" (riveted) aluminum trailers i`m always prowling Craigslist for potential projects.
so when i spotted this add here locally ...

old aluminum storage traveltrailer. 28 foot body. good hitch and axles. clear title. $500 firm... or it will go to the scrapyard

... i quickly grabbed my "old trailer recovery tools" and drove over there.

to my delight the "storage" trailer turned out to be a classic 1950 "Spartanette Tandem" !!!
the trailers build by Spartan Aircraft Corp in Tulsa OK are considered to be the "top of the line" trailers of that time
the `50 model was still a pure all aluminum construction (to cut cost some of the later models had less desirable wood & steel underconstruction)

sadly the 62 year old girl has seen its share of abuse and the (very valuable) original Birchwood interior/furniture as well as all the vintage appliances have already been removed and scraped

but on the drive home i instantly loved the way she was towing;
very lightweight and aerodynamic (she is basically a teardrop trailer on steroid ) ... she feels (and looks) a lot smaller then the 28' x 96" she is.

here are some pics of how (sad) she looked ;






the aluminum is oxydized dull grey , somebody drove the rear into a pole , the front had the usual jackknive damage (Spartans are known for the notorious short tongue)
as well as heavy damage to the entry door (some lowlife used a crowbar on it )
too much work/ missing parts to restore back into its original condition,
but too cool to let go to waste ...

so with the help of some "liquid inspiration" ...

...i started to see a mental picture for a potential re-use of that old lady.

more about that in my next post
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Old 02-05-2012, 01:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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X3....need to hook it to a lowered '48 Ford for a tow vehicle....or better yet Power Wagon Ambulance....
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Old 02-05-2012, 02:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I know where one of those classic curved front windows Spartan is sitting. Can't say if it would be for sale though. You want I should ask? And, you have passed within 300 yards of it many times.
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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we love our current vintage traveltrailer (1966 24' body Streamline) and use it a lot (we traveled around 25k miles with it already)
mainly we travel to and camp at "Agility competition events" (Dog sport) all over the West.
... but now that we have a second large Dog it just got a little too crowded in there.
on top of that the Streamline is just a single purpose TT.

i would really like to have a lightweight Toyhauler with the space/capacity to carry 1-2 ATV`s with me if i want to (and not just for trail riding trips)
my goal , after my move to UT, is to get two Quads (4WD Yamaha Grizzly or equivalent, possible "street legal").

in theory i should already have ~10k lbs of axle capacity;
Spartan used the same tandem axle rolling gear for all the different models including the really large Royal Spartanette (31' body) as well as the even larger (and more traditional square design) Royal Manson (33' body!).
my two axles are 6-lug /5200 lbs capacity with very nice leaf packs (old style with 3/4" bolts and real grease-able bushings)
the wheel bearings are tight and crisp (good old "made in USofA" Timken bearings ... back in the `50 there was no china crap around lol )
the lightweight (high strength steel) frame has zero rust , with the original paint still intact in most areas.
everything is in excellent shape and i suspect she was mostly parked right here in AZ all her life (gota love dry AZ weather for conserving stuff )

so here is my plan to convert the old girl into a TH:

- extending the retarded short tongue... (actually i have a different solution for that problem, but i will get to that later)
- raising the hitch at the tongue and switch from 2" to 2 5/16" ball size
- the 26" main door and its surround is badly fucked up ....
so instead of rebuilding/patching the skin i plan to cut off the damage and enlarge/re-enforce the opening to a ~ 56" wide opening and fabricate a two wing "french" door for it.
- the main frame has no center beam... so i will add a beam to the underside of the cross-beams (from front spring hanger cross-beam to the tongue) to help spread the extra weight of the ATV`s
- adding tanks (she was a "park model" without tanks)
- rear rollers and front underbody protection (the added center beam) so i can drag her to remote trailheads without damage)
- ...

here is a (unfinished) quick sketch of the floorplan (sorry, i didnt invest the time to make a fancy 3D CAD );


the layout is fairly simple; rear bed (42x80"), ~48x48" shower/crapper (with on demand WH), dresser, wall cabinets/closets,
fridge, ~80" of kitchen, another 42x80" bed (that folds up to the wall to make room for one ATV over the axles) ,
~ 60x90" open area (floor space for my dogs to relax and to haul the second ATV) as well as somekinda dinette/bed setup in the nose.
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I know where one of those classic curved front windows Spartan is sitting. Can't say if it would be for sale though. You want I should ask? And, you have passed within 300 yards of it many times.
LOL
i think i know what your talking about .... if i`m not mistaken there are actually two ;
i think i spotted a really nice Spartanette right across ACE hardware in Chino Valley (but it looks like somebody is living in it ?!?) and it looks like another one is on the northern end of town , but this one seems to have rusty corner pieces so its maybe a later (not all aluminum) model

i would highly appreciate any info about them

btw i found this old girl close to CV (Paulden AZ)
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Old 02-05-2012, 04:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I saw one of those converted to a goose neck. Owner was a pipe line welder.
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Old 02-05-2012, 04:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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i would highly appreciate any info about them
OK. I'll check this week. The one I'm talking about is in a back storage lot couple blocks off main highway. Not visible.

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Old 02-05-2012, 05:40 PM   #11 (permalink)
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In it to win it !!!

Man I love your enthusiasm for these things !! I learn a ton just for reading your posts...
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Old 02-05-2012, 07:16 PM   #12 (permalink)
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In it to win it !!!

Man I love your enthusiasm for these things !! I learn a ton just for reading your posts...
thank you .... yeah, that damn aluminum must be some highly addictive poison

the first order of business was to remove everything possible (trim, windows, doors,... and most important; the fugly plastic Maxair vent covers);


note the high rivet count (the close spacing of the rivets) ... this is one of the things that makes the Spartan construction so superior
(compared to the lower quality Airstream )
... but the disadvantage is that if something needs to be replaced you have to drill out a gazillion rivets
as i progressed i also started to use rubbing compound to remove some of the oxidation so that i could see what needed fixing.


this is the crowbar damaged door opening ... i started to outline the cut for the larger (ATV compatible) double door opening ...
(note that my first line was ~50" wide. i changed later to 56" to get rid of the damage to the left of the line)


3 of the 4 original vintage teardrop lights (and one taillight) are in perfect shape.
however, my project is not a authentic restoration/ reconstruction (and i`m going to switch to all LED lights anyway)
so i will put them (and all the other leftover parts) on e-bay or the Spartan mailing list to may help out another guy who is in need of original parts.


the Spartanette next to the mighty 1954 Spartan Mansion (another project )
(note that they are actually the exact same size... its the teardrop shape that makes the Spartanette look smaller then what she really is)
the front skin and all the formed support parts under it have been dented beyond repair ... so i was forced to removed everything.

btw the Manson has the same problem; badly dented frontend from careless peeps and that retarded short tongue
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:21 PM   #13 (permalink)
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this pic shows the "pole" damage to the rear and underside ...



all the skin is aircraft quality 2420 AlClad; unlike softer aluminum it can not be straightened if it is badly crumbled like that
... so i need to drill out another gazillion rivets to replace it.

the upside of removing the rear panel is that i can also correct a couple things that i dont like;
imho the rear window is set too low (it does not match the line of the other windows) and makes the ass look droopy and heavy ...
the rollpan is also hanging lower than it needs to be.
so i decided to bite the bullet and give the old girl some cosmetic surgery
(its just another gazillion rivets to remove )

next on the list was removing the complete floor...



Spartans have the reputation to be well insulated ... i found proof of that in the floor construction;
to avoid thermal bridging of the cold steel frame the 3/4" marine quality plywood floor was actually sitting on a sub-construction of 1x4" wood strips.
except of some water damage (kitchen, entry and under the leaky rear window) the floor was in surprising good shape
... almost a shame to remove it...

but the floor needs to go to fix another design flaw common to the trailers of that time;
the side walls are actually sitting on top of (and fastened to) the wood floor.
if there is a leak somewhere in the roof/wall (or heavy condensation) the wood will eventually rot away and the trailer can looses its integrity.

so my solution is to lift the complete body off the frame and then after removal of the wood set it back down direct onto the frame.
i did the same "trick" on my Streamline trailer; there i actually added a 1.5" square tubing to the frame perimeter to compensate for the lost height of the removed wood.
but with the (imho a little taller then needed) Spartanette i decided to set the body direct onto the frame (what obviously will lower its overall height by 1.5")
later i will add aluminum L- flashing around the wall (to "cap off" and support the floor)
this way the wood floor is in between the walls and is not affected by a eventual condensation or leak in the wall.
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:31 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Every time I look at one of your shiny projects, all I can think of is my Amerigo with a shiny skin Looking forward to this one.
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:02 PM   #15 (permalink)
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X3....need to hook it to a lowered '48 Ford for a tow vehicle....or better yet Power Wagon Ambulance....
you read my mind: a WC54 is exactly my dream towrig



...or a USNavy Chevy like this ;



... maybe one day ...

for now i plan to build a International MDT mini moho rig to tow the Spartanette
maybe it will look like this photochop (my latest of so many plans );


(hope to start with it after the Spartan is back in a at least roughly usable condition)
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:35 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Every time I look at one of your shiny projects, all I can think of is my Amerigo with a shiny skin Looking forward to this one.
oh , i agree; imagine that Amerigo with its cool wrap front windows in polished aluminum ... that would be hot

it has lots of complex shapes , but i bet a guy with some English-Wheel talent could actually dublicate the form out of aluminum.
(i wish i had a EW ... that is a art to form metal that i hope to learn one day)
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:38 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:02 AM   #18 (permalink)
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here is another pic of the gutted interior



with the floor out of the way i discovered that the frame outriggers dont really match up with the wall supports.



(there is a 1.5" angle connecting the outriggers on the outside ... but still, having the outriggers right under or at least close to the wall supports would make more sense)
i also noticed that the leaf hangers are only bolted to the frame.

so a trick solution for the short tongue problem dawned on me;

if i slide the complete frame forward by ~10 inches (and then move the spring hangers back 10" to the original axle location)
i end up with better matching outrigger alignment as well as a long tongue without cutting/welding in the critical tongue area of the original frame.

extending the back end of the frame (under the rear bed where there is little stress on it) is a lot simpler.

so with all "body to frame" connections cut it was time to move the trailer into the shop and rig the body for liftoff



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Old 02-06-2012, 12:54 PM   #19 (permalink)
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the body is extremely lightweight;
all i needed to lift it was a 2x8 across the front windows
(with a piece of plywood to protect the window profile and to spread the punctual load)...



..and a chainfall from the main shop beam down into one of the vents
(the steel rod is actually pre-bend to spread the load into the curved roof )



after a careful safety inspection my supervisor "Ozzy" (aka "chewbacca" ) is giving the "ok" ...



... and "up!" she goes

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Old 02-06-2012, 01:24 PM   #20 (permalink)
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awesome.

So if you move the structure back on the frame, are you going to keep the frame the asme length and "tuck" the back end farther up to meet the back of the frame? Seems like you could kill two birds with one stone.
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:29 PM   #21 (permalink)
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awesome.

So if you move the structure back on the frame, are you going to keep the frame the asme length and "tuck" the back end farther up to meet the back of the frame? Seems like you could kill two birds with one stone.
i guess we have sometimes the same ideas

however, with the lowered body i could not "tuck" the underpan up all the way; the ass would have looked kinda pointed ... so in the end i had to extend the frame by ~ 5"


here are the pics of the frame "rollout"





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Old 02-06-2012, 05:33 PM   #22 (permalink)
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i guess we have sometimes the same ideas

however, with the lowered body i could not "tuck" the underpan up all the way; the ass would have looked kinda pointed ... so in the end i had to extend the frame by ~ 5"
I just follow along with the pictures.

Time for some soda blasting and paint on the frame?

I'm amazed at how much work you get done in a short amount of time.
You are one motivated individual.
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:46 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I just follow along with the pictures.

Time for some soda blasting and paint on the frame?

I'm amazed at how much work you get done in a short amount of time.
You are one motivated individual.
i`m cheap () so i did the "angle grinder/wire brush & paint" thing around the outside ... i will repaint the rest of the frame when the body is back on and i`m finished with the changes for the holding tanks.

lol... i`m actually cheating ; the pics are not in a "real time" sequence (i`m a little ahead ).
believe me, i`m glad the worst part of removing/cleaning everything out is over ... what a ugly, dirty mess ...
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:52 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Damn I was thinking you were retired or something to be getting that much work done so fast..

Now you tell us you're throttling us with pictures. WTF !!! Come on !!!!!!
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:09 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Damn I was thinking you were retired or something to be getting that much work done so fast..

Now you tell us you're throttling us with pictures. WTF !!! Come on !!!!!!
sse inglish language iss very hard for mee

so i needed a little headstart to come up with some text to the pics
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