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Old 02-08-2009, 09:07 AM   #1
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First She Had to Take a Ride on a Boat | 1957

My Island Girl is now on the mainland after a ferry ride from Friday Harbor to Anacortes. She's a 1957 Caravanner, serial number O9153, and has spent the bulk of her life on Lopez Island and San Juan Island, likely at least the last 30 years. Looks like I'm her fourth owner.

I want to thank everyone on this forum for so many great threads full of such important information that has made my lurking able to take me from no knowledge to the point that I was pretty comfortable buying this old trailer. I'm sure glad I took new wheels and tires along!

We'll certainly know better when everything is out and the frame is visible, but I don't see much water damage, all the cabinets can be reused, original Zolatone is still nice, and the shell is practically dent free and straight. Lots of work with systems and holding tanks and everything else I've been reading about is ahead, but I think I've got a pretty decent base to work from.

This will be a slow project for me. My wife has Alzheimers and I'm her full time caregiver. When the weather is nice, I'll be able to do a little of both, but mostly I'll be limited to a couple of days a month when I have respite care to do any serious work on the trailer. That's OK, it's a long term project and that's what I need.

First up is some glass for the two frames without. My order is in with VTS for the rubbery bits and Tuesday I'll see about some glass. Safety glass in that front window?

As we rolled on the ferry, one of the crew came up and said, "Wow, I love your trailer!"

cheers,
steve
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Old 02-08-2009, 09:30 AM   #2
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Ahhh! Caravanners are such nice, airy party Airstreams. We'll be right over...

Please keep us filled in. Thanks for the photos -- karma your way!
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Old 02-08-2009, 09:47 AM   #3
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She is a beauty! Better buy a good supply of window cleaner. Love the amount of windows and the refer is very cool looking!

Congrats and have fun with it!!!
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Old 02-08-2009, 09:50 AM   #4
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Wink Great Looking Pull...

Steve,

Welcome aboard...What a great find for you. She looks good...and all that glass...

Keep up the postings.

Ciao,

Kevin
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:01 AM   #5
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Love all those windows.....good luck on your restore...and welcome to the forums
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:07 AM   #6
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Island Girl is my all-time favorite Airstream model. I love the size, layout, and airy openness of the Caravanner. Lucky trailer to fall into your care; lucky you to find such a gem! Best wishes to you in your roles of caring for your wife and rejuvenating your Airstream. If we ever make it to the Northwest, perhaps we'll meet you at a campfire some day. ~G
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:10 AM   #7
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Great find

Wow, what a great find. 1957 Carvanner. Good luck on the restoration. You might what to put Plexiglas in the front window. It's a big target for road debris. Hope to see you on the road or at a rally.
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:15 AM   #8
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Thumbs up Welcome aboard!!

WOW...what a great looking trailer. The exterior is incredible, hard to believe considering the location.

You have found a real gem, good luck and keep posting.
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Old 02-08-2009, 11:14 AM   #9
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Steve, that is a real beauty. I hope your Island Girl brings you many hours of pleasure as you restore her to the true beauty she is. I'm envious, no doubt.
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Old 02-08-2009, 11:46 AM   #10
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Wow! That's a wonderful trailer. It'll give you even more strength for your wife.

As for the front window, I believe you can order safety glass for it.. I replaced my 3/8" thick glass with some safety glass that was either 1/8" or 5/8" thick... it wouldn't come any thinner. (my memory escapes me right now). You should be able to find a glass shop by you to order it in any size you want... I used Cascade Glass in Seattle if you're running out of luck, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't a supplier closer to you up north.

That trailer is in wonderful shape!
enjoy!
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Old 02-08-2009, 01:30 PM   #11
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Steve what a great find!! The inside looks fine (from the pics), are you going to drop the belly pan to inspect the frame before you remove the interior? Good Luck!
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Old 02-08-2009, 03:53 PM   #12
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Thanks, everyone. I'm definitely excited about her.

I've been kicking around ideas on that front window. Most important thing, here in our rainy Pacific Northwet is to get something in there pretty soon. Like the thought of plexiglass for resisting rock damage, but I've lived with it a long time on our boat and sure hate the crazing. I'll probably see what's available in safety glass first.

Belly pan outwardly seems to be in good shape other than one bad spot by the door. I want this trailer to last another 52 years, so I'm sure I'll do the whole subfloor, but won't decide if it's shell off or not until I see what I have for a frame. I suppose I might cut the belly pan off, leaving a healthy lip so I can get it back on if I do the floor with the shell on.

Anybody got any ideas on the fridge? I absolutely love the look of that Marvel that's in there, but it's 110 volt only and I'm sure I'd be much better off with a 2 way. I've done some searching but haven't found much. Wondering if there's any way to replace the guts of the compressor system with those of an gas/elec type. Or I wonder if I might be able to modify a gas/elec unit so it could give up its door and live behind that original Marvel door. Really want to keep that look if I can, but the ability to boondock will be very important to me. I dunno, down the road decisions anyway.

Thanks again for the welcome. Many questions to follow.

cheers,
steve
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Old 02-08-2009, 05:19 PM   #13
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Congratulations on the great find! I hope that you have a wonderful time restoring it, and better yet, using it.
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Old 02-08-2009, 05:27 PM   #14
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About that fridge... RV Mobile, RV and Gas Refrigerators is in Everett... they might be able to help you out. They rebuild older fridge units (though, probably not as old as the Marvel), and might have some ideas.

Another thought... just some dry ice from the local Safeway might get you to where you want to go.. then plug in when there.
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:08 AM   #15
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Congratulations on such a great acquisition! That trailer is beautiful!! She will be a great project for you as you care for your wife. Be sure to store her somewhere safe and secure and good luck with the decision on the front window.
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:21 AM   #16
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Lexan or acrylic may be a better idea for that window.
About the caregiving: you can look at this as decompression therapy .
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Old 02-09-2009, 02:40 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pbearsailor View Post
Thanks, everyone. I'm definitely excited about her.

...

Anybody got any ideas on the fridge? I absolutely love the look of that Marvel that's in there, but it's 110 volt only and I'm sure I'd be much better off with a 2 way. I've done some searching but haven't found much. Wondering if there's any way to replace the guts of the compressor system with those of an gas/elec type. Or I wonder if I might be able to modify a gas/elec unit so it could give up its door and live behind that original Marvel door. Really want to keep that look if I can, but the ability to boondock will be very important to me. I dunno, down the road decisions anyway.

Thanks again for the welcome. Many questions to follow.

cheers,
steve
Steve,

I believe that you can purchase the Dann Foss compressor system. Retrofitting that system into your old Marvel may be a challenge. You will then have a modern system which is all electric and will work on both 110V and 12V. You will need a way to keep your batteries charged in order to run the refrigerator on 12V. We installed a Dann Foss powered new refrigerator in our Liner, but have solar panels to keep the batteries charged, when running the fridge on 12V.

Bill
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:11 PM   #18
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Thanks Bill and Marc.

I was looking at Muddy Hollow's thread and what he did with his Marvel along the lines of what you're saying, Bill. http://www.airforums.com/forums/f467...mod-27696.html

I'm hoping there would be a way of doing it with gas instead of a compressor system. My boat has a very efficient 12 volt system. I've got a cold plate and a Danfoss compressor and at least 6 inches of insulation on all sides. It's a really good system. We nautically boondocked for 8 years with no shore power and we managed, but we had 240 watts of solar panels and a wind generator. The fridge eats around 35 amps a day. That is what I'd hope to get away from as I really want the trailer to be able to operate well when it's not plugged in and propane just seems like a better way to go than amps.

I'll have to get in touch with the guy in Everett, Marc, and see what his thoughts are. At this point, I'm thinking the best path might be to use the Marvel door as a false front for a Dometic, if I can find one that would fit the size and manage to get around gasket problems. Just want to save that door if I can to keep that vintage look, particularly as I'm pretty sure I can save all the cabinets and the stove. Anyway, it's down the road and I've got plenty of time to brainstorm it and figure a way to go.

Thanks for the input. I've got all day for the rig tomorrow, so I'll try to post some more detail pics on the inside.

cheers,
steve
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Old 02-10-2009, 05:45 PM   #19
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Steve,

First off great trailer. I love the look.

Secondly, the second weekend of August there is a WBCCI Buddy rally for vintage Airstreams about five minutes north of you, okay, maybe ten. Check out the rally section here.

I'm ten minutes north of Blaine. I redid a '51 Flying Cloud and two of my buddies are just about to get into rebuilds on a '51 and a '53. Both still have the Marvel fridges and are trying to decide what to do but there was a fellow on a Vintage Trailer Forum who had figured out how to adapt the door/front to a late model Dometic. I've trying to find that article for them and if I am successful I'll send it along to you as well.

Take care and welcome aboard. Hope to run into you - if you see a light and dark green colored 1957 Pontiac Safari wagon in town it is us. Don't hesitate to stop us and introduce yourself. We get to Blaine and Lynden a lot.

There is also a vintage trailer (Tin Can Tourists) camp out at Mission, just north of Sumas, June 5th that you might be interested in either to camp or to come look at the trailers, meet some of us, and get ideas.

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Old 02-11-2009, 10:37 AM   #20
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Thanks, Barry. Got those dates on the calendar, hope we can make them. I'll be on the lookout for your '57 Pontiac in Blaine--don't think we'd miss you.

Hope you can find that article on adapting a Dometic to the Marvel door. The more I look at it, that seems to be the best solution to keeping that cool old door. It sorta makes a solid clunk like a '57 Pontiac door probably does when you close it. Gotta keep it!

Got a few hours of work done yesterday---well, some work and more gawking at cool stuff inside. Old carpet is gone and started pulling the gaucho. There's an old floor repair by the water tank from a leak in it or by it and the floor is just mush up there, but that's no big surprise. I'm sure I'll find some more of that kind of thing.

Mostly just some detail photos here. Pretty neat seeing the serial number popping up on several pieces of cabinetry.

cheers,
steve
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