Friday, June 29, 2012

Some progress is being made.  All of the cabinets are stripped, re-stained and re-shellaced.  I am pleased with how they turned out.   Seems like I have been at this forever but slowly feeling like I'm getting somewhere...until the next thing pops up.

My fly fishing buddy, Mark, helped us by making a screen door that I never would have been able to achieve.  He's a cabinet maker and did some incredible work on a screen door made of birch.

 I am ready to get the tin off the front and replace the paneling and the braces which were rotted out.  There was only one obstacle...the PO had used three tubes of silicone on the window and the sides.

First I wiped the silicone remover on and then scraped with this little guy
Had to move very slowly as to not hurt the tin
I spent six hours getting the window free from the tin.  I ruined the eyebrow over the front window with my earlier and crude removal technique.  This time I have a product that removes silicone without ruining the paint and a bread knife from my camp box that I used to "fillet" the silicone away from the metal very slowly.

Whew!  Finally.

 Prying gently with my little pry tool and sawing slowing got the job done.
Very frustrating five hours.

Finally got the window off and will have another five hours invested just cleaning the residual silicone off both the window and the tin to reinstall it correctly.

Then it was up to the roof to remove and reset the little vent and the air vent.

 Both had copius amounts of silicone that was baked hard in the sun.  it was considerable fun to try and get those hex screws to start moving again and it took a pair of pliers to slowly get them started.

The PO put silicone everywhere!

Finally got it off and found another wasp nest inside of it.

The next job is to remove the main air vent frame that was, you guessed it, had more silicone gooped around it then made sense.  I will have to make a platform out of 2 X 6's and plywood so i can work on that.  Once that is off and cleaned, I can pull the front tin and start installing new birch and framing.

I think I need to do some more of this......

Before I do some of that.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Weather Did A 180!

 The weather did a 180...going from the 90's down to 24 in the mornings for a few days as a British Columbia low barreled through.  We're back on track for high 90's every day and no rain in site until fall.   The brush and trees in the chaparral that surrounds us has a fuel moisture so low that any spark will set it ablaze and roar up the canyon.  Going to be a very tough year for wild fires and this is the last year I will be responding with a federal Fire management team and going around the country.  With the restrictions on our movement when we are on two hour, it's tough to get into the back country.

Here's a shot of the deville in the front yard with the pond and waterfall in the foreground.  We're thinking of having a permanent "camp" right there and use the trailer as a guest room.
The cactus are blooming and the hummingbirds are back in force.  Next...coveys of baby Quail running around the place.

Next up is taking the tin off and rebuilding the front end Birch and supporting wood.

For All The Folks Outside Of the US... 

If you are viewing and reading this from outside the US please take a moment and make a comment.  I am curious as to how you found us but would also like to hear about your interest in vintage trailers (or whatever you call them in your country)  I am amazed the the many locations around the world that have checked in to take a look.  Thanks and look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Been a while since I updated.  Been busy with other chores around the ranch and projects.

The Deville sits right below our house while I am restoring
The driver's side window and wall

Started on the wall on the driver's side of the dinette that was pretty rugged.  I was going to try and save it.  Started off by removing the window and took it out to polish.  I stripped the wall several times and scrapped the old shellac off in layers
The dinette seats are reupholstered and ready to go back in when I get the front end re-done.  the original water tank waits for replacing as well.

what did we do before these cool sanders?
A sanding with 120 grit and then again with 220 and i was ready to pre-stain and stain with golden Oak.  I found a light coat of Golden Oak matched the patina of the 1950's original wood when covered with the Amber shellac.

One solid coat of Golden Oak stain and I'm ready for the Amber shellac.

I apply the Amber shellac with a terry cloth pad.  I cut the shellac almost
Five coats of Amber over the golden Oak stain
50/50 with denatured alcohol.  By the time I have got to the bottom, I can do another coat.  The alcohol evaporates and leaves the shellac in a thin coat.

After that goes on,  I lightly sand it with some 000 steel wool and wipe it well.  It's time then for the French Polish technique.

Multiple passes in a circular motion

I apply the shellac...still with 50/50 alcohol with the pad and continue layering.  I'll do twenty layers and the spirit off the residual oil and shellac.  I evaluate every twenty layers for color and depth and shine.

When it's the way i want it, I switch to clear shellac to finish building up.

The end result is what I was hoping for.  I can salvage another piece of original birch and it looks pretty cool to boot.  Matches the other stuff that's done.

Works for me!

 Now, there are as many ways of refinishing the birch on these old trailers as there are types of finishes.  I tried using a brush to apply the shellac but was never happy with the results.  I kept wanting the shellac to behave like varnish does wouldn't cooperate.  I am very happy with how the French Polish technique is turning out and I have the time to "take my time".  It may not be for everyone.

Next up is finishing the last two windows by polishing and redoing the putty tape and new screws and replacing the wood in the front end along with some birch paneling.  Once that's done, the front end is pretty much done.  Yahoo!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I have really been fortunate in having a pretty good support system as our Deville gets put back into original working order.  Because of the water damage, I am rebuilding and refinishing pretty much the entire inside.  I have relied on sites such as Larry Walsh's incredible series on rebuilding the Deville and Rebuilding the Shasta

I watch the appropriate video the night before to make sure I know what I should be looking for or what not to do!  Larry is a natural teacher and
it's like talking with an old friend as I watch him work magic on those old trailers.  Lots of others have shared what works and doesn't in their blogs.

Some one had asked about how to do French Polish using Shellac.  I figured I'd contribute back in the spirit of those who have shared so much to me.  French Polish is an old technique that is used for fine furniture and musical instrument.  The technique is not difficult to master....kinda like spit shining boots for those in the service.  The thing I like about it is that  it goes quickly.  You can put fifty coats on in a day and have rich, mirror like finish that just reeks of old.

Here is part 1 of how to apply French Polish.  I apologize for the photography...I shot it with my IPHONE and didn't have a tripod.  Part  2 is right below the first video....I guess where it should be.   

I like to watch these in full screen.

French Polishing With Shellac from jim Wilkins on Vimeo.

Part 2 of how to do French Polish with Shellac for restoring vintage trailers.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

So the final snow storm of the season has come and gone....I hope.  Lots of wind and blowing snow.  The lilacs and roses aren't sure what they're supposed to be doing.  I love the crunchy snow when I go down to feed but can do without the muck and sticky mud when it starts to melt. 
The Deville and the horses are getting tired of the cold stuff!

they are calling for temperatures in the 90's down the hill and it will be warm here.  Getting set to tear into the repairs to the bracing and the paneling in the front of the Deville.  It looks like we have a long window of high pressure building and that means no worries about getting the inside wet while that process takes place.

I am very happy with how the inside cabinets are looking after I used the french polish with the shellac.  I really like the's easy for my nontechnical mind and abilities and I can repair dings very easily.

This is what a lot of the wood looked like before I started.

Birch by passenger side dinette and door
 The cabinets had a lot of staining and water marks but the unique shape
meant that I wanted to try and save them if possible.  I stripped them
and sanded with sandpaper down to 220 and then steel wool.  Cleaned very well and put some minwax Oak stain on.  That seemed to match the existing birch paneling the best when followed with Amber Shellac.

Workmate with scraper, French Polish "rubber" and shellac and  Denatured Alcohol
I get some scraps of rags (I use old socks).  Cut them into strips and make a ball.  I dip that into the Shellac solution and get it soaked.  I wrap the ball with a small piece of T shirt material and twist.  I then flatten it into my palm and apply a single drop of virgin Olive oil to the surface to help it move smoothly on the wood.  Then...just I apply the ball to the wood in circular motions.  Some say to use figure eights but I have better luck with
 the circles.  I start at the top and go across and move on down.  By the time I am at the bottom, the top has dried enough to go back and start over again.  Takes a number of 30-40 but it is a small area and it goes quickly.

Here's the cabinet over the oven/stove.  It was really thrashed but turned out pretty good, I think.  After applying the Amber shellac to taste for color, I switch to clear shellac and layer it until I like the depth and shine.  It really is incredible to see just how nice this turns out.  My other efforts with a brush (even a 35 dollar brush) were not near as nice.

I think it turned out pretty good.  Wish I could capture it better on camera.  

Here's the cabinet over the sink. 
The one cabinet I really thought we would have to rebuild was the tall one by the door.  Fifty years of boots kicking it and making marks and scratches made me think there was no way.  Lots of elbow grease and the french Polish really made it pop.  I am very pleased with how it came out. I figured it would take me days to get this cabinet done but it went quickly and I was finished a couple of hours. 

I am planning on stripping and refinishing all of the existing paneling that will be kept and all of the new paneling that I will install.  Same process....strip...sand...pre-stain treatment- stain...amber shellac and then clear shellac.

That's my ice box waiting to be reinstalled in the closet

I have a week long course for Public Information Officers I am coordinating and then will dive in and get the front end fixed and buttoned up.  We've come a long way.  Never dreamed we'd be doing all of this when we brought the Deville home.  It's gonna be incredible when we're done.