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Old 06-03-2011, 04:40 PM   #1
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A 1963 Overlander named Moonraker!

Ok, I started a blog elsewhere but thought I'd start a thread here also. There's many more "eyes" here and I can use all the advice I can get! I'll reprint the first couple of posts here and then continue on!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Moonrakers Journey!





Whoo heee! And so it begins! My husband and I purchased a 1963 Overlander on 2/19/11 from Colin Hyde, of the infamous Colin Hyde Trailer Restorations (https://sites.google.com/a/colinhyde...ions.com/home/) in New York. Colin is a great guy - funny and very knowledgeable too! A true gem in the Airstream restoration business. This, in spite of the fact he tossed a dead crow at us as we were leaving the parking lot that day. Yep he can't deny it!

We were about to leave and he deadpans to my sister (who is a vet and came with us) - "So, how good of a vet are you?" My sister was taken off guard and says "Well I'm good, why?" And Colin gestures to parking lot and says "Can you fix that?" It took a moment to pick out the big black dead crow in the snowbank and we realized that the joke was on us!! Must be the Canadian sense of humor...anyway I guess he thought the crow should fly once more!

Anyway back to the true nature of this blog! THE AIRSTREAM! When I purchased her she was buried in a snow drift! So I had to leave the lovely, (actually somewhat bedraggled) lady behind and wait for the spring thaw. Here's my first glimpse of her -



Today was the day that I actually got to pick her up! . Its been a tough winter here in New England and has been followed by a very wet spring (which you'll see more of in a few moments). I'm taking her to my sisters place in Vermont so I can strip her down! Then she's going back to Colin's for the start of a full monte restoration.

So yesterday I headed to Vermont arriving after dark. And quite frankly it didn't start out all that well . Within moments of arriving we determined that the temporary towing lights I had purchased had a different pin end than my brother in law's TV. Not only that but the package clearly stated that the wires were 20 feet long and since I knew my trailer was 26 feet long, how in the world did I ever think that was going to work! I'd like to claim a blond moment but since I'm not blond, I guess its age related! So off for a fast run to Home Depot (yeah right, this is Vermont - a fast run is 25 minutes one way) for a 4 pin to 7 pin adapter and a bunch of extensions. Whew, nothing like a a last minute panic attack to get your blood racing!

So Saturday morning at 7 AM, my brother in law and I leave to catch the ferry to NY to meet Colin. On the way we noticed that Champlain Lake is actually right up to the edge of the road, in one area it actually half covered the road. Turns out that Lake Champlain is at it's all time record high - 102.02 feet above sea level! We probably should have considered turning back - given that we were going to try and tow an Airstream that had axles that were 48 years old and tires that were god knows how old!! Nah, not giving up that easy!

We get to the ferry landing and discover that they've brought in a lots of new gravel and concrete blocks to keep the lake from flooding the landing. Hmmmmm.... wonder if the airstream can float? LOL We board the ferry and get to Colin's and that's where things start to look up. The Overlander is ready to go, Colin's checked the tires and bearings. Funny, the first words out of his mouth were " You know that those tow kits are only 20 feet long right? That's when I sheepishly admit to the late night run to HD. Go figure.

Tow lights check, new chains check, hitch done and off we went! But not before we got a tour of a cool 63 Safari that actually had an original on board generator!! Sweet! Only used for charging the batteries but just a neat thing.

We managed to load the Overlander onto the ferry ..... the tow boat captain actually came out and personally checked us out and said he "thought " we could make it!!!!! And she takes a boat ride!

Getting off was a little trickier.... but actually I think the water had receded a little.


A view of land under water on the drive home. This was actually part of a beach I think.




She is now parked safely by my sister and her husband's barn! She rode home beautifully, cool hubs and handled like a dream. My BIL backed her up and in one try had her snugged in between the barn and garage. SWEET!

More to come including the gutting and the reason for the name Moonraker!
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Old 06-03-2011, 04:44 PM   #2
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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day two!


Okay, so this morning armed with a cup of coffee I wander out to the trailer and am immediately overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. My plan for the day was at the minimum to remove the stove followed by all the lights and then the bellypan.

The stove was held in by four screws, an easy lift out. Unfortunately I had to evict my first tenant!!! Ewwww

So far the Mouse count is at one, but from the droppings I'm guessing he had relatives!

So this was the first chance I really got to explore the trailer and hunt in the nooks and crannies...And I've discovered that she spent at least part of her life as a ***** gasp******* hunting trailer. At least the PO's were nice enough to put a real deadbolt on the door rather than hasp and lock! Yep, a hunting trailer. So what gave it away? How about the dead ducks and camouflage curtains!!!!

Course all the decals from archery/gun places probably should have tipped me off too!







I was hoping for a hidden gem like an old photo or tickets , nope.... well I did find something. Lucky me! Hmm don't think I'm going to be framing and proudly hanging this on the wall! Who knows maybe something will be behing the cabinets. Fingers crossed


I'm sure you've noticed the switch to black and white...that's good 'cause I DIDN'T!!! I was meticulous about documenting the wiring in all the lights because wiring is one of the things I find as mysterious as the great pyramids. I stowed all the lights in my car to take home to refinish. Pull up the pictures on the camera and drat...so much for that idea. Maybe the wiring will be simpler than I think. Moonraker is an Overlander and from what I understand every fixture has two bulbs because one is wired for 12 volt and the other for 110. Totally separate circuits. All I know is that there's a lot of wires! Most have been snack food for the critters.

All in all not a bad day, beautiful weather for Vermont! The ground was really soggy so the belly pan was put on hold for now. I did do some "payback" time and helped my BIL and sister put a rub rail back on her 60 Tradewind. A good day and the girls got to play with the new chicks. Hows this for a picture?

Chicks with Chicks!



My daughter Annabelle is in the center with my two nieces on either side.


Next up. Rejuvenating the light fixtures and the story of Moonraker's name....
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Old 06-03-2011, 04:47 PM   #3
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Taking apart the stove!


One of the things I brought home with me to work on was the Tappan stove. About a month ago I saw that one member of these forums was doing a restoration on a very special Airstream. He has a 63 Safari that was actually part of the infamous caravan that went from Capetown to Cairo! I believe that only three of these trailers still survive in the US. If you'd like to read her restoration story go here. But I warn you it's 66 pages long, so settle in with a glass of wine (or two!) and read the whole scoop. Here a teaser picture of the trailer being loaded on a boat.

Anyway, the Tappan stove, as far as I can tell, was only used in 1963, so when I saw Scott's post about needing one, I contacted him with the good news and the bad. I had the stove but it was 4 hours away from me and he was going to have to be patient! Not only that but we are at opposite ends of the US. So these parts are way overdue to being sent out and were my number one priority! Note to self..... next time someone offers to walk me thru the removal of something (in this case the oven door) I will take them up on it! I spent way too much time taking screws off and removing the back when a couple of screws on the front door would have accomplished my mission in a quarter of the time...... sigh. And then I forgot exactly how allergic I am to insulation....grrr I barely touched it and my arm is covered in hives. Lesson number two. wear long sleeves when near insulation. I remembers a neat trick though...if you rub a pair of nylons on your skin it will pick out all the little glass bits....and frankly its a better use for nylons then wearing them!




Anyway the parts are off and ready to go..


I don't know if I'll ever get to see the 63 Safari trailer in person, but there's something really neat about knowing that my Airstream (that's never been on a caravan) has a part in such a historic trailer. How cool is that?

I was planning on putting a new oven in, I like to cook and don't want to fool with a half century old stove! Unless of course I could find one of these babies. I LOVE the aqua stove - darn near pulled the trigger on a 68 Tradewind just to get my hands on the stove


Next up lights! One of the forum members stripped his ceiling lights back to bare aluminum and I loved the look - kudos to Mello Mike I'm stealing your idea!
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Old 06-03-2011, 04:51 PM   #4
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How Moonraker got her name!


I know I said I'd post on the lights but having a little trouble with those and I got sidetracked with building a fireplace mantle and working in my gardens!

So instead, this is the story of how Moonraker got her name. I thought long and hard about an appropriate name, but in the end tradition won out. The 1963 Overlander has now been officially named "Moonraker" Not after the 007 Bond movie (which actually would be time appropriate because the James Bond book was written in 1955), but after the sailing term.

According to Wikipedia - A moonraker, also known as a moonsail, hope-in-heaven, or hopesail, isa sail flown immediately above the skysail on the very top of the royal mast on large square rigged sailing ships of the Clipper era. None of the four- and five-masted square rigged ships carried a moonsail. This is a relatively unusual sail only used on ships built primarily for speed. See the one in the picture way at the tippy tippity top?



This term also has special meaning in my family. Growing up, my Dad always had a boat named Moonraker, as was the sailboat he built when we were kids.

When he retired, he built a 20 foot mahogany gaff-rigged yawl that was his pride and joy (and a source of many hours of fun sailing for our family! You can't really see it in the picture but it was built of strips of mahogany glued together. Absolutely stunning! He liked nothing better than to put up the racing jib and FLY! The funny thing was whenever we took it out on the lake, all the boats would come close trying to get a better look at it. Quite often we got the "Thumbs-up"! In a way, it was a lot like owning an Airstream!!!!!



I think that he (and Wally) would approve of me naming my Airstream after the boats! Somewhere I read about Wally naming all the Airstream models after boats (and one of them was captained by the first female captain). but I can't find it again. Anyone know where I saw that????
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Old 06-03-2011, 04:53 PM   #5
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

The good, the bad, and the UGLY


Well this was the weekend we intended to gut Moonraker. Ah, so you noticed the use of "intended" huh? My husband and I headed off in the early morning hours on Saturday and made the 3+hour trip to my sisters where Moonraker resides. We actually did pretty well but ran out of steam and left the bathroom for another time.

And a cup of coffee to fuel the day and the reno started! An hour and half later we were still struggling with the gaucho. Not good, It was in pieces already, so I figured 15 minutes tops. Those pieces sure were tenuous!!! I was armed with a battery powered screwdriver (two full batteries) and I figured no problem..... hmmm what I didn't know was that back in the day screws were built a little different. They were flat head screws that had an unusually shallow slot. No way could I use the power tool. We tried the manual screwdrivers too, but it was obvious that those screw weren't going to move unless we were in a different time continuum! Then I remembered what Colin Hyde said which was to carefully pry the frames up and that would loosen the screws enough that we could back them out or rip them out of the floor. Should have listened to the master LOL. Ah yes grasshopper!

I don't intend on reusing most of the wood as anything but templates anyway. Its pretty badly delaminated and quite frankly has a ton of random holes in it. It doesn't look so bad in the pictures, but in person it reeks of a ....well, hunting cabin! Speaking of which, I'm glad we determined that it was a hunting cabin. Otherwise I would have been a little nervous about finding these everywhere. Bullets of every size. Why does everyone else find cool old pictures and such. I got bullets and hunting digests!!!! Blech.



So out came the gaucho!! And I only used about half the tools I brought! That's my husband, Peter. He's not thrilled about spending weekends renovating, but agreed to help me with the physical stuff!


One of things that's different from my sisters trailer is that we have these HUGE rivets everywhere. I used a rivet remover from here. It looks like this.

Thank goodness it came with an assortment of bits cause I was thinking I would only have to deal with normal #21 and #30 sized rivets but it appears the PO used whatever was at hand.... cause I have lots of different sizes. The coolest thing about this tool is that if I back out the the nozzle that sits over the rivet it will take the rivet bits left when you drill(sorry for all the psuedo terminology!) right off. Course I didn't discover this til the end of the day but no worries...... plenty of rivets to go! Would have been nice for this tool to come with an instruction book but de nada

Here's a picture of the rivets The one at the left is the normal sized interior rivets. The three on the rght are the monsters. I wonder what will happen when I replace them? I hope I don't have t0 go even bigger



Then I had to evict another tenant. Unfortunately this one was alive and blocking my exit. Finally a good use for the hunting digest. Squashed!




Then out came the kitchen upper cabinets, other than a few hidden screws, no problems, It's already looking way bigger. The wall to the left of the stove was interesting. The track that holds it in place had never been riveted to the wall!!!! Guess they forgot??? It just had a couple of screws going into the cabinet. That's the one wall I may change. I'm thinking of making into a half wall.to promote a more open feeling. They did me a favor cause now I won't have all the rivet holes to fill!!!! Karma Thank you!





I know this will mean no bedroom privacy but my kids are practically grown, My youngest, a son turns 18 next week! WaaaaaaaHHH

So the left twin bed comes out with few swear words. As the day progressed I went from happy , to frustrated to resigned ....mostly to it taking WAY longer than we thought. The girls (my daughter and niece) showed up ready to demolish and put on their best "Charlies Angel's" effort. They ripped up all the rugs and flooring in no time flat! Ah slave labor!

They were actually a huge help getting those pesky rivets at the top of the closets as they could squeeze into the closet much better than I!

So ends day one! The floor actually looks surprisingly okay. The front is a little spongy and there's one area by the wheel well that's scary. Doesn't matter, Colin will be redoing it during the full monte phase. And we haven't tackled the bathroom yet where I suspect most of the damage will be.
That's all for now!
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Old 06-03-2011, 04:56 PM   #6
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day two!


Well another productive day!

The other beds and cabinets came out relatively easily. Still hating the fact that we have to use use a regular screw driver. My arm is killing!

Some surprises..... The old DuoTherm was not attached to the wall with anything but duct tape! A couple of screws on the floor and that was it! OUT!




Evidently at one time our bathroom was Pepto Bismal PINK! This is what we found at the back of the closet! I'm guessing it didn't go over so well with the hunting buddies!!!



The worst wall to get out was the one by the tub. It was gunked up with centuries (okay... I exaggerate ...slightly) of caulk. Come to find out they also used butyl tape to fix the track in place, along with a ton of rivets.

I still don't understand the whole closet thing. A place for formal wear is not needed! Planning on converting all hanging space to shelving. I'm leaving the high heels and dresses at home!
The old pressure tank won its war. The bolts were all spinning in the holes and I broke two dremel cut-off wheels . As Arnold would say.... I'll be back (this time with a sawsall). The lovely tenants left us a stash of acorns. Hope we don't find their remains in the belly pan!








To come : Removal of the old Bowen water heater and pressure tank ... I'm going to keep the outside shroud, if its in good shape but planning on a RV500 for replacement. From the outside it will look original. Also the bathroom is yet to be tackled.

But overall we've made progress!
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Old 06-03-2011, 05:43 PM   #7
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Progress looks great Shelly, and oh so familiar. I do love the 63 Overlanders.

Keep it up and keep us posted, thanks!

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Old 06-03-2011, 06:04 PM   #8
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Wow. I'm having flashbacks... I do have a spot in my heart for '63 Overlanders. You're making good progress so far, don't stop, or you might lose your momentum.
If you're handy with money, I bought a Milwaukee battery powered tool kit that, among other things, contains a he-man cordless screwdriver and impact gun, and probably most important for you, a battery powered mini Sawzall, called a Hackzall.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:41 AM   #9
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Love it. I guess I'm lucky that my '63 Tappan still works well. I always thought it was a replacement as they don't seem to show up anywhere else.
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Old 06-10-2011, 08:47 PM   #10
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Lots of progress has been accomplished!!! Again at a much slower pace than I thought but that seems par for the course!

First out was the pressure tank. We had struggled with the bolts spinning but the right tools make all the difference! Out came the Sawzall and the tank was out in just a few minutes! Yah! And the score is
Dewalt: 1 AirStream: 0

And then the Airstream bit back..... It took forever to find all the fasteners in the vanity. We tried to get it out whole but in retrospect it would have been a better idea to take the top off first. That's what we ended up doing at the end. We could not find how it was attached to the tub. Guess what??????

Sometimes they put screws UNDER the veneer!!!!! See those two little holes to the right of the hinge? They were underneath the veneer. They went into the tub side. Nasty little things. The bottom part of this cabinet was recessed so these screws would have shown so I guess the factory thought that veneering over them was the solution. I had to break for lunch after that one!
I really wanted to get the tub out and even had the right tool ! See?

Unfortunately the tub drain just didn't want to budge. Its going to have to wait until I take the belly pan off. The score was now tied at
Tools: 1 Airstream: 1

The afternoon and day two were spent removing rivets. Remember that tool I was so pleased with in my previous post? Not so much now. First of all, when you place it over the rivet you can't see the drill go in. And it was slow, very slow . I had to keep changing the bit because of the various sized rivets. To change the bit (or to remove the rivet heads) you practically have to break down the entire tool. Way too time consuming. Finally I just chucked the bits in the drill and pretty soon I got the hang of exactly how far to drill to be able to flick/lever the rivet head off. Soooo much easier, faster and no damage. Plus when a bunch of rivets got stuck on the drill bit I could just put the bit in the claw side of a hammer, set it for reverse and strip all the heads off in seconds. NICE!

What follows is a picture caution for all Airstream owners! To wit, this is what NOT to do!!
DO NOT layer sealants. It will not stop leaks and it is a PITA to remove! These windows had MANY layers of ????? We couldn't even see where the rivets were. We used a razor blade to cut all the way around the frames and pulled off layers to be able to find the rivets. It was crazy time-consuming and I exhausted my questionable vocabulary by window number three. I have no clue how I'm going to get the framed cleaned up. Any suggestions? Does paint remover take off what I assume is every brand of sealant available to man?

This next picture is how to attach your curtains....NOT! I don't know if this Overlander came with curtain tracks or not but somewhere along the way someone decided that it would be a good idea to glue velcro to the tops of all the windows. They used some sort of superstrength gorilla glue. Not good. I truly don't know if this is ever going to come off. This is after I had pulled the velcro off. This is just the glue residue. I could sort of see where the rivets were but I would have expected some of this to chip away when I was drilling but it wasn't budging.



I really don't think the deer were that interested in looking in! I mean..... Really?

I do have another question for those of you still with me. What's this stuff all over the walls? Its black, hard and not sticky. I'm thinking its some sort of adhesive residue???? Should I worry about it causing corrosion? Its in almost every panel and trust me if it was to hold up the pink insulation it didn't work. Most of the insulation had fallen and compacted at the bottom. Must have been a cold time hunting!!!!

We manged to get most of the bottom panels out. I think one more good weekend and she'll be stripped.
This is the car packed to the gill for the long ride home!






One cool thing happened while we were there. As we were working on Moonraker we heard all these motorcycles go by. It was part of the Memorial Day ride by an organization named Rolling Thunder. It was hundreds of bikers and many were carrying POW and MIA Flags as well as the US flag. It was quite the sight. You can read about the organization here. The pictures don't do it justice.


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Old 06-11-2011, 08:38 PM   #11
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Great looking work ya'll! It looks like your '63 and mine had similar lives...layer after layer of stuff..

My tub came out from the top without removing the drain. Once all of the fittings were removed under the cabinet, the tub and plumbing lifted right out as one piece.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f109...tml#post925510

Keep posting photos...we luv them!
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Old 06-11-2011, 09:15 PM   #12
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Wow HihoAgRV! That was some floor rot!

My floor must be in better shape cause the tub's not moving! I've been following your progress, your frame and belly pan look great! What are you planning to do for insulation on the walls? I'll be darned if I supply any mice with more pink fluffy beds LOL. But I live in the Northeast and it's cold here! Today was a high of 60, its 55 right now! Send warmth please
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Old 06-12-2011, 08:28 PM   #13
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Now that I think of it...my floor has been replace so it may not have been an original style...

Tell ya what...I'll swap every other weekends temp with you!!!

It's brutal here...2-3 showers a day is normal...

Ya'll are doing great - I hope to get the frame/floor back under mine pretty soon

On edit...no pink stuff for me either...probably some form of Reflectix or something for the walls!
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Old 07-12-2011, 08:51 PM   #14
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I'm bored...


Okay, its been a while and I'm betting some of you are wondering what's up! The truth of the matter is what with hatching baby chicks....








My son's graduation from high school ...



And the family vacations we've been busy. Even while on the beach - Airstream's RULE!!!!!! This was my niece's creation.. I think the fantastic fans and the moon roof are nice touch, don't you?



So not much has been getting done - That will change this weekend as I head up north again to finish ( I hope....) taking the interior skins out as well as help my sister and BIL put the skins back in their trailer. I'm supremely jealous of the stage they are at!!!! But I'm also learning from all their mistakes and redo's!

So, while I have been deprived of my Overlander I haven't been totally inactive. Ebay and Etsey are my new best friends....wanna see?

I've struggled with the restoration vs remodel question and think I have a good compromise. I will be restoring the outside of the trailer but inside I'm rebuilding from scratch in a style I like . Moonraker is a 1963 so she's not a legacy trailer and not one of the rarer models (Shhhhhhh, whisper that, I still think she's special and don't want to hurt her feelings!) Since I don't intend to resell ever, I'm going to take her back to the fifty's. Light wood, curved corners, and with more of an art deco theme than mid-century modern.

I digress but here's the reason for my post - I've gone shopping!. If my poor husband sees one more package "for the Airstream" he's going to lockup my Paypal account! But what's a gal going to do when she's bored.... shop of course!


Melmac plates in my favorite shade...aqua! I really like the cereal bowls that have these little handles on the side. One thing's for sure the size of plates and bowls have grown over the years! These sure are petite!


These are my new headboad lights...yes I realize the glass shades don't match. I kinda like that and they have this beautiful art deco styling on the metal ends. They need a little cleaning still, but will make pretty cool reading lights over the twin beds.





Isn't this detail gorgeous?


Sorry its so blurry... I'm going to screw them directly to the wall and probably convert them to have a strip of LED's inside. The bulb they have now has a large filament and I can't see it surviving bouncing down the road!!!! Any opinions as to whether the glass shade will be okay? I may have to rig some way of removing them "for the ride". I don't care for the idea of glass in the trailer but these were freakin cute!

A few more finds... A vintage paper/foil/wax holder in the back , very cool and streamlined o hang on the wall. To the left is a vintage Ice-o-matic Chrome Buckeeter and to the right is a West Bend Hot/ Cold Server that is insulated. It has bakelite knobs and cute penguins that march around it. Straight from the 1950's. It matches a cocktail shaker that I have that's shaped like a penguin too. Cocktails anyone?


My husband thought I was officially nuts with this one...A VINTAGE FLASHLIGHT????...... YOU"VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!

Me: (in a small voice) But it's a vintage Rayovac Sportsman that converts from nine batteries to... uh......never mind...

Seriously, I wish I had put something next to it for scale as this picture doesn't do it justice, the light is huge. Like a moon! Bigger than a breadplate. With all the extensions its 19 inches long .... And it will have this cool leather strap... ah forget it, there's no convincing you....either you get it or you don't!

Continuing on with the lighting theme ... and the aqua-liciousness LOL. This is a ribbed plastic table light, very retro and will be perfect on the dinette. When I showed this to my husband he reminded me that he wants a sofa up front , OOOPS! Forgot about that! I'm sure I'll find a spot somewhere... Love, love the Rocket shape. Repeat after me....Mood lighting is a good thing... Hmmm wonder if I can convert this sucker to LED too?


My Darling daughter gave me this retractable clothesline for Mothers day. Love it! It's never even been used!


And I haven't even told you all about the legomatic chairs or the vintage fan (aqua of course) or the new Bargman L100 knob (stocking up as they have been discontinued) I'll stop now... promise....putting away the credit card...


Hey this all isn't part of the budget right???? I think I'm doing this the wrong way. If I continue at this rate I'm going to run out of money before I pay Colin!!!!! Hey Colin, if you're reading this you better get to my trailer sooner rather than later!!! Just kidding

By the way, for those of you that don't know.... Colin (aka Colin Hyde's Trailer Restorations ) has moved into a brand new shop. According to my BIL it's pretty neat setup and that's where the Moonraker will get her facelift. Oh wait, I think that's bottomlift! Can't wait!


Okay I already broke my promise ...Look what was waiting in my driveway! At least it's practical right? But it was a buy one, get one free so I feel totally justified... so what if I'm months from using it!

Updates after thus weekend, Bye all!
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