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Old 05-02-2011, 03:26 PM   #1
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'59 Pacer Shell-On Renovation

Before I get too far, somebody correct me if this is not the right place to start the build thread for our new family member, a 1959 Ohio 18' Pacer

This was my previous introduction if you want to read from the beginning, however to preface with our background, my girlfriend and I are two process engineers living in Redondo Beach, CA (LA area) and are very avid hikers, backpackers, campers, kayakers, sailors, and general adventurers. 2 years ago I started on my goal to see all 58 National Parks. So far I am at 13 out of 58, and the thing is, we don't "visit" them just to knock them off of the list like many people unfortuantely do. We generally hike at least the top 10 trails in the park, and anything less than 10 miles round trip before considering it complete.

Anyway, you can start to see how the idea of an Airstream appealed to us. While we backpack with no concerns over repacking our gear and moving, we are really minimalist backpackers. Car camping is another story altogether and we have been slowly turning into car glampers. Well, we decided to take the leap and upgrade a lot farther.

I laid that all out so that you know our goals are to have an upgrading camping experience, often boondocking to an extent, but generally with at least pit toilets. This means we have decided to not do a toilet to save the space in our 15' interior for storage. However, we both love to cook and will be putting in a very functional and nice kitchen, with fridge, stove top, large sink, and water hater. An LP heater will also be mandatory for the cold desert trips in the winter. The rear of the trailer will have a dedicated bed area, and the front will have a curved gaucho. The one truly glamping accessory will be a large LCD TV w/ DVD player. A google Sketch-up will be shared at a later stage to get some input. We have a long way to go before that.

Here's the pictures of where we started when we received her from the seller on 4/1/2011:
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1959 Pacer 18' Renovation - Knight in Shining Armor

Our Adventure Blog - Documenting our backpacking, hiking, camping, and Airstreaming
(still updating, haven't gotten to the Airstream trips yet)
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Old 05-02-2011, 03:55 PM   #2
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A little stripping on the side...

I know this post is back-to-back with the intro, which is a thread faux-pas, but I wanted to keep our start separate from the updates.

The weekend we got it, while it was still parked outside our apartment, we spent the evening and following morning removing all the interior woodwork that didn't have water damage (and possibly animals eating away at it from the scratch/tooth marks), as well as removing and saving every single metal fastener and thingamajig on the interior. The only things left are the black tank and freshwater tank, which are proving difficult to extract without using the recip saw or cutoff wheel.

After that I moved it to the storage yard where we will be keeping it ~15 minutes away, and bought all the safety and security gear that I would need for the short term. This included switching out the lock core on the Bargman L77 handle and installing a lock cylinder on the rear compartment. I also greased all the hinges, handles, and locks up so that we could actually use them without excessive force.

Since then, I have been busy applying to business schools and finishing up on as many of the other projects I was doing before we bought the trailer. The apps were due last week and we have since started full force on our big project. I tested an area with stripper as you can see in the pictures, and the Zolatone came off easier than I expected considering the many discussions that I have read here about it. Another post will come soon with our work on the aluminum interior.
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- Peter (and Marie)
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1959 Pacer 18' Renovation - Knight in Shining Armor

Our Adventure Blog - Documenting our backpacking, hiking, camping, and Airstreaming
(still updating, haven't gotten to the Airstream trips yet)
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Old 05-03-2011, 12:08 PM   #3
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The real stripping begins ;)

One of the purposes of us going this far back in age for our trailer was to get the aluminum interior, and we knew the Zolatone would be a pain. This previous weekend we experimented with various methods of stripping the interior paint as per the endless libraries of posts here regarding the topic. The rear has one layer of paint on top of the Zolatone, and the front has approximately 3 layers, plus the Zolatone. One of those layers is also closer to a mortar than a paint. I'm not really sure what they were trying to do, but they gave up after the first 6 feet thankfully. Also, they literally gave up mid-brush stroke.

I love Aircraft Paint Remover and have used it before on projects. Now that I found the "low odor" version at PepBoys I bought two gallons and we haven't smelled a thing. We got a system down, with me brushing it on to a section, keeping it wet while starting the next, then coming back after 30 minutes to an hour later to scrape it off with a plastic scraper. Then the SO follows up with a smaller blade plastic scraper and 0000 steel wool to bring it to spotless aluminum finish. After 6 hours spread over the last three days, we have done about 25%, but that also included many failed ideas along the way, and we will be much more efficient now with our system down pat.

Our one "discovery" so far has been something that I'm surprised I overlooked initially. I guess I was too caught up with the mechanical condition of the trailer, frame, and running gear that I missed this major detail. While I had paid attention to the fact that the interior front endcap was a multi-coated aluminum, I never noticed that the rear didn't have any seams. And is actually fiberglass. Despite being a 1959 which is part of the "transition period" it seems, I saw the front aluminum interior endcap and didn't even think to question the rear one. I've even read threads about people who only had one, but oh well. We would have still bought it regardless. As others have mentioned, these Pacer models really did have a lot of weird quirks about them. Anyway, we are now brainstorming on what to cover it with. Always trying to look on the positive side, at least we don't have to strip that whole section!!!

The pictures show how the 4 layers of paint come off one to two layers at a time making the aluminum show up first in different places. It also shows the two-stage process where the mottled light-white panels are what I leave it in, and the plain aluminum is where the SO gets it to after me. The last picture shows a few of the panels we've already stripped, and the endcap that we don't have to.
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1959 Pacer 18' Renovation - Knight in Shining Armor

Our Adventure Blog - Documenting our backpacking, hiking, camping, and Airstreaming
(still updating, haven't gotten to the Airstream trips yet)
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:52 PM   #4
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Hi there - I remember your first post....told a good friend of mine about your Pacer because she just bought one about a week after I purchased BubbleLicious

You're scaring me with the interior paint stripping!!! I want all aluminimum as well but, after stripping & polishing our '69 Tradewind I'm so over that whole stripping grossness!!!

Can't wait to watch your progress!
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Old 05-04-2011, 11:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monah View Post
You're scaring me with the interior paint stripping!!! I want all aluminimum as well but, after stripping & polishing our '69 Tradewind I'm so over that whole stripping grossness!!!
Oh it's so worth it though! Every time my arm starts getting tired from scraping everything off, I pause and admire how far we've come in only a few hours and I get reinvigorated to do another panel. Of course we haven't started the upper curve panels, and I'm planning to do everything except the ceiling.

How much did you polish the interior and would you do more or less polish on this one? I still haven't decided how far to go with it (and by "I" i mean the SO, since she makes those calls...)
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1959 Pacer 18' Renovation - Knight in Shining Armor

Our Adventure Blog - Documenting our backpacking, hiking, camping, and Airstreaming
(still updating, haven't gotten to the Airstream trips yet)
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Old 05-10-2011, 07:18 AM   #6
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Nice work so far - the "after" shot of the stripped panels looks great! Looks like you landed on an efficient process.
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:59 PM   #7
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Hi Neighbor!

I'm in Manhattan Beach! I've been wanting an Airstream forever and decided that life is too short. I am a breast cancer survivor and I lost both of my parents recently. So....I bought an Airstream today off of Craigslist.

I bought a '67 Globetrotter. It was used for publicity for a local company and is almost gutted (what is there, I don't want LOL!) So, you have a neighbor going thru something similar!

I'm hoping that the trailer will fit well enough in my driveway, at least for the summer. But, I'm curious to know where you are storing yours? is the storage space reasonable?

Thanks for any info!
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Old 05-11-2011, 12:41 AM   #8
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Wow Lisa! I'm glad you're taking such a positive outlook. I know what it's like to lose a parent, but I can't imagine both. However, I have determined that it is what made me as determined and driven as I am, especially at things like taking on and completing new projects.

I like your style. We actually looked at one similar to that, another 20' GT although I forget the year. Definitely one of my favorites. The one we saw had major frame issues or we would have jumped on it.

Anyway, That's pretty cool that you can actually fit it in your driveway. I'm in an apartment complex in South Redondo, off of Catalina Ave. You'll see the trailer down there every other weekend when we decide to bring it closer to home to work on. However, we use WESCO self storage in Torrance and it is pretty convenient. "Reasonable" is relative, and many things are reasonable to a guy who has slip payments to keep sailing his boat. However, rates are here . We went with them because of 24 hour passcode access, unlimited free electric, water, and pumpout, and the option of upgrading to indoor storage once the project is complete. There's a couple shiny toasters inside too.

Sorry about the lengthy response. I tend to do that.

Shoot me an email if you want any help with getting going on her. I really don't know much since I'm only a few weeks ahead in the renovation, but I've probably spent 150 hours + online reading information already. I'm officially obsessed.
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Our Adventure Blog - Documenting our backpacking, hiking, camping, and Airstreaming
(still updating, haven't gotten to the Airstream trips yet)
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:42 PM   #9
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Stripped and Waiting

Haven't updated for a couple weeks... been busy trying to balance backpacking and camping trips with working on the trailer. However, we have finished stripping the trailer, and just have to do the door, hatch, and finish the locker. I am getting ready to take all the remaining interior pieces home and then we will blue-tape the lines for our furniture placement so that we can decide where to put the electrical and plumbing connections.

I started ordering my long list of items from VTS, Jestco, and RV supply stores.

This is the best image I have of our progress, taken through the rear screen.

On the personal story note, just got accepted into business school so now I've got some real deadlines to get this trailer done by or I'll start getting REALLY busy.
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1959 Pacer 18' Renovation - Knight in Shining Armor

Our Adventure Blog - Documenting our backpacking, hiking, camping, and Airstreaming
(still updating, haven't gotten to the Airstream trips yet)
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Old 05-25-2011, 04:43 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by worldinchaos View Post
Anyway, we are now brainstorming on what to cover it with. Always trying to look on the positive side, at least we don't have to strip that whole section!!!.
Well, you could cover it with aluminum like Frank and others have done:



Or you could cover it with wood like Carlos and others have done:




Or, you could do something entirely different. Maybe install a velour headliner with fuzzy dice and curb feelers?

Good luck!
-Marcus
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Old 05-25-2011, 06:18 PM   #11
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You will be installing a new axle.....right?
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Old 05-25-2011, 06:49 PM   #12
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Does 59 have torsion or sprung?
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Old 05-25-2011, 07:44 PM   #13
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Does 59 have torsion or sprung?

Spring and solid axle I believe...looks pretty low though.
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Old 05-25-2011, 09:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utee94 View Post
Well, you could cover it with aluminum like Frank and others have done:

Or you could cover it with wood like Carlos and others have done:


Or, you could do something entirely different. Maybe install a velour headliner with fuzzy dice and curb feelers?

Good luck!
-Marcus
Yeah out of the options we have been looking at either an aluminum panelling or some kind of headliner, although not velour. It works well since the rear of the trailer will have a dedicated bed, no pull-out, so we can give it a "warmer" atmosphere. The easiest option we have discussed is some sort of textured fabric, but I also don't want anything that will hold dust as we go to many dusty places.

I'm leaning towards the aluminum, but its just daunting since it's "discovery" work.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
Spring and solid axle I believe...looks pretty low though.
Leaf springs + drop axle. Been checked out by specialist mechanics, and no concerns. That being said, I am likely going to change it out at Inland for a completely new assembly with no drop. I would rather have the clearance for the off-road trails that it will eventually hit.
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Our Adventure Blog - Documenting our backpacking, hiking, camping, and Airstreaming
(still updating, haven't gotten to the Airstream trips yet)
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