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Old 10-18-2005, 05:18 AM   #15
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Very nice!
Hey, make your treasure into anything you like.

Keep us posted on your progress!!! I'll be continuing on my '76 soon, now it is home from camp
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Old 11-22-2005, 06:05 PM   #16
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It’s time for an update. A lot has happened in the month or so that we’ve been working on the trailer.

A lot in the year since I first saw the little Argosy as well.

People who know me know the story but I haven’t told it to the forum yet.

I first hear of the trailer when friends called last year at this time to say they’d seen a neat old Argosy for sale in a small town front yard near Ottawa.

I drove the five hours to see the trailer the next day but in the couple more days I spent trying to figure out what I would do with it and how I’d pull it, somebody else bought it.

I was crushed but guessed my lesson was that if ever I saw a trailer this good again I had better be prepared to “pay and pull” instead of “hymn and haw”.

Last July, in Ohio on my way to Texas, I heard again from the original owner. The new guy had decided to sell the trailer, never having used it!

It was 18 days before I got back from the Texas trip but, again, I drove straight to Ottawa and this time got the Argosy 24.

It continues to be a charmed experience.

I don’t have a puller yet so the Wiltsie family moved the Argosy the 500 miles to Can Am in London, Ontario for me.

I had previously asked Andy Thompson there to quote the remodel and he eventually did. But this first trip was to have the wheels, brakes and bearings checked as well as giving me a complete report on the on-board systems.

Andy is a very nice guy but his place suffers from micro management or communication problems or something. I can’t put my finger on it but I wasn’t happy.

Examples: Andy had quoted on the ceramic toilet I wanted and advocated an electric ignition water heater as opposed to the in-line heater I thought I wanted.

When the toilet and water heater were both found to be leaking, Can Am charged $377 to “fix” the old one rather than install the $375 ceramic model quoted. To make things worse the toilet still leaked.

They also installed a regular heater instead of the electric ignition he quoted.

Andy apologized and undertook in writing to replace the items labor free if I choose to do so within 18 months.

The upshot was that I decided to have the work done at Wiltsie’s rather than sharing it.

I’m so glad for that now.

There’s no set way for a restoration or remodeling of an Airstream or Argosy it seems. Most here undertake the work themselves. Some of my favorite projects have been Barry’s sprayed white Airstream in Florida (Sneak up), Uwe’s Overlander in California and Rich Luhr’s Rolling Thunder Argosy. There are dozens of others as interesting.

The amount of knowledge and learning that gets passed along here is fascinating.

Some others use dealers and/or RV places or restoration shops.

My way may be another way and it’s deeply personal.

I don’t have the knowledge, the training or the tools to do the job myself and I’m at an age where I don’t want to invest in those things. I want to get out on the road in my trailer.

But I know what I want and that’s why it’s so good to be back home in Aylmer.

Frank Wiltsie was a small town cabinetmaker when the local Carnation Milk plant asked if he could build a couple of trucks to pick up milk cans at surrounding farms.

The result was the founding of WILTSIE TRUCK BODY in 1954.

By the time I came along, both 25 years later and 25 years ago, asking Frank to build me a slick European style One Ring circus, his sons Bev and Russ were out on the factory floor.

Today, 80 year old Frank still lives next door to the plant, Bev and Russ run the place and Frank’s GRANDSONS are out on the floor!

It’s a good sized small business with a core group of about 25 craftsmen building dump trucks, snow plows, delivery vans, hoist trucks, paddy wagons, fire trucks, truck boxes and everything else you can imagine in between.

There are 25 bays with huge overhead doors and cranes, a truck sized spray tunnel, even a separate building for sand blasting.

This is not a place you would ordinarily associate with an Airstream.

But these are guys who’ve worked in sheet and stock aluminum, various woods and steel all their lives. Millions of rivets have been drilled out or bucked in here.

Some of the men were here when the circus was built and have fond stories of the time. Younger guys have grown up hearing their stories.

One of the old timers is Pat who painted the circus and who is looking forward to doing a beautiful job on the Argosy.

Phil is the other guy working on the trailer. He’s a musician who left the road for the sake of a family life and a steady paycheck.

What a wonderfully multitalented man he is. Phil may never have seen an Airstream or Argosy up close up but he intuitively understands how to take one apart, jack it up, and put it together again and what makes them so special.

Most of all Phil understands my vision and wants to see it realized.

In less than a week Phil had removed all the exterior molding and everything from the interior of the trailer, all carefully labeled and stored.

In another week, he had removed the belly pan and sanded and sand blasted the entire frame and undercarriage. Pat gave it 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of a black urethane based metal finisher. The frame looks like that of an Airstream in a showroom now.

Now we are moving into stage two, reversing things and starting to put it together again.

There will be a lot of time spent on the Internet and on the forum. We have to size and install bigger holding tanks. Supply a new toilet. Design and install a new bathroom. Learn about inverters/converters/generators. New kitchen. Etc.

Here are some photos of the project at this stage. I’ll report from time to time as we proceed.

For the three weeks before we began the remodel I stayed at the nearby Red Oak Travel Park in the old Argosy just to check out trailer life.

Red Oak was a beautiful, well-kept place that had me questioning my negative assumptions about trailer parks.

Now I’ve rented a neat place for the winter in nearby Port Bruce on Lake Erie. It’s quiet, (250 fulltime citizens), 9 minutes from the Wiltsie shop and 2 hours from my Toronto home.

The project has had a charmed life from the beginning. I’m enjoying it a lot.


Sergei
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Old 11-22-2005, 06:13 PM   #17
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here's PAT (sizing things up at the door) and PHIL (jacking up the Argosy) and varoius shots of the results to date.
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Old 11-22-2005, 06:15 PM   #18
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undercarriage cleaned and painted everywhere
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Old 11-22-2005, 07:32 PM   #19
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My 78 24ft Argosy is ivory with envy. Wish I could take this good care of him. You will have so much fun. I know I have done a few things to "The Big Twinkie", but certainly nothing like you will be doing. It's still fun isn't it. Camping is even more fun. Sometimes I just go out to the yard and sit in my Argosy and dream of the coming Spring while admiring my handy work. You will be able to do that a thousand times over.
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Old 11-22-2005, 08:46 PM   #20
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Sergei -- Nice tow vehicle!!! (3rd pic down on the left) I knew these older trailers were lighter, but...

Ahhh, what can be accomplished with a Hensley!!
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Old 11-22-2005, 09:04 PM   #21
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Bob, do you mean the Mini Cooper?

( photo taken at the place where I am staying this winter while working oin the trailer)

The Argosy will be painted to match the Mini but the car will ride on the flat bed of the Tow Vehicle.

Sergei
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Old 12-26-2005, 03:52 PM   #22
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Dear Diary

Dear Diary:

I went to see the Sprinter salesman before Christmas.

I’m not saying that I drove home with cold feet about my Mini Cooper on a flatbed pulling the Argosy idea but the thought of spending $50,000 on a tow vehicle would probably make anyone consider things very carefully.

Perhaps I should take time for a Reality Check?

I am 69 and before I know it, if I’m lucky, I’ll be 75.

Maybe loading and unloading the Mini, even driving one, is a better idea when you are 55.

Shouldn’t I consider the option of a van, not just the flatbed plan?

Often when I’m conflicted or uncertain I sit down a type “notes to myself”

Like these:

Sprinter Cab and Chassis flatbed, hauling MINI and pulling Argosy

PRO

Super Cool idea
A unique dream project that I’ve been planning for 4 or
5 years and told everyone about (I bought the Mini
with this plan in mind)
Have your Mini and use it too

CON

Giving up on a dream is an emotional hurdle to
overcome
More ups and downs, as we used to say in the Circus
Two vehicles to maintain, insure, license, operate
(savings on insurance and licensing about $2500 annually- $12,500 over 5 years)
Limited to one passenger
Flat bed to build
Two vehicles to steal (maybe together)
Too much consumerism? Do I really need a “toy
hauler”?


Sprinter Van pulling Argosy

CON

May not be totally dull and ordinary, but definitely
lacks the pizzazz of a Jet Black Flatbed
Giving up my Mini – do I really want a VAN for daily use?

PRO

No ups and downs, less to do helps preserve my energy
Sale of Mini helps fund the project
Savings on insurance and licensing about $2500
annually- $12,500 over 5 years)
Savings on Mini maintenance, probably $1000.
annually
Extra seating in case family members, grandchildren
want to come along
Ready made large cargo space vs. need to build possum
bellys
Lighter load perhaps equals more miles per
gallon
No flatbed to build
A van can be a mini motorhome for day excursions
whereas the Mini has more limitations
Less operational cost (insure, license, maintain,
operate)
Less exposure (leave one unit behind to steal instead of
two)
High seat driving comfort – it’s getting harder and harder to get in and out of the little MINI



Maybe forum members can offer some advice?


Sergei
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Old 12-26-2005, 07:10 PM   #23
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Hi Sergei, loved your pictures. sorry i cannot offer advice, as i am starting from ground zero with my Argosy. can tell you that a larger, higher tow vehicle is very comfortable on long driving days,,,, donna, dieterdog
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Old 01-28-2006, 10:24 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokelessJoe
Dear Diary:
....High seat driving comfort – it’s getting harder and harder to get in and out of the little MINI

Maybe forum members can offer some advice?


Sergei
I have a dear friend who has collected classic micro cars including a 53 Nash, a 56 T-Bird, and my personal favorite a BMW Izetta. He just LOVES to go to Beemer rallies and watch the snobs DIE when they realize the "Erkel car" is actually a BMW! They puke their Brie!

He is a realist and has slowly been selling off those cars as he ages, not because of finances, but because - as you say - it gets harder and harder to get down into them and back up out of them. The Izetta will probably be the last to go as the whole front opens up.

It happens to us all. Do what you want, but if you want to use your Argosy to it's fullest, get a full sized tow vehicle.

Note from Me: I've always driven compact cars until I got "big dawg" my 2500 Suburban to tow my 22ft CCD (yes it's more than a 22 really needs but... you've heard of aluminitis haven't you. Who knows what the future holds?) It took a week or two, but I've actually gotten so used to the big truck that I leave the LEXUS sitting. One thing I do notice is that very, very few people give me the finger... or try to cut me off or intimidate me. I am actually a very ladylike driver, and will let any fool have the right of way rather than end up talking to a local law enforcement official while waiting for the tow trucks to arrive.

It doth amuse me mightily that intimidation is not necessary when one is driving a big honkin' truck with wheels the size of your mini-Cooper.

Just my 2.5 cents.

Tin Lizzie
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Old 01-28-2006, 11:19 PM   #25
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Tin Lizzie and others:

This thread popping up tonight made me re-read my “Dear diary/ Notes to myself” from a month ago.

I don’t know where all that pessimism masking as a Reality Check came from.

I suppose I have decided to listen to my inner voice.

Yesterday, in Michigan, I bought the brand new 2006 Sprinter 3500 Cab and Chassis Dual Wheel that will haul my Mini and pull the trailer.

It will be built by May. It’s JET BLACK and really cool.

All day I’ve been wondering about how I might harness some of the interesting Sprinter options to provide electrical power for my rig.

The Sprinter has an optional power take off that can run a belt driven generator.

It also has an optional High Idle Function that can keep an optional 200 amp alternator charging a battery bank as fast as an inverter can drain it.

Maybe I should post those musings separately to see what advice I might get.

Sergei
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Old 01-28-2006, 11:48 PM   #26
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Enjoy it!

Bop til you drop!

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Old 01-29-2006, 09:42 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokelessJoe
Tin Lizzie and others:

This thread popping up tonight made me re-read my “Dear diary/ Notes to myself” from a month ago.

I don’t know where all that pessimism masking as a Reality Check came from.

I suppose I have decided to listen to my inner voice.

Yesterday, in Michigan, I bought the brand new 2006 Sprinter 3500 Cab and Chassis Dual Wheel that will haul my Mini and pull the trailer.

It will be built by May. It’s JET BLACK and really cool.

Sergei
Bravo!

Sergei, sounds to me like you have a very good plan to spend the rest of your life. ( may it be long and fun filled!)
Frankly, I was a little saddened by your earlier post where abandoning your otherwise great ideas was mentioned.
Many of us would do the same thing, were we not compromised by time, family needs, financial woes, or whatever else usually gets in the way of doing exactly what we want. You having this option is a great asset! Use it!
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Old 01-29-2006, 03:57 PM   #28
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Tin Lizzie, Uwe and others who sent messages off line.


I appreciate your support.

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Computer recently said

“ don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice”.

I liked reading that, I suppose because I usually do listen to my own inner voice despite the noise.

This time I got confused with what my own voice was. I was making myself believe that I should be practical.

There was no “ noise of others’ opinions” actually. It was just me doing a trip on myself.

Two people in particular put me back on path.

One was Russ Wiltsie, in whose shop I am remodeling the Argosy. He’s a very soft-spoken guy and one day he said, his eyes searching my face for a reaction “ will you be happy with a van as your daily vehicle?”

The other person was George, the son of my best friend, who came to see me on New Year’s Eve.

I told him that I had decided to get practical. He shot back “Get real, Sergei. Owning a trailer isn’t a practical idea in the first place! Follow your dream. Go back to your plan. It was too cool”

From that moment I got back with the program.

Next, I want to post some ideas here about harnessing the Sprinter’s power plant to provide electricity for my rig, hoping that some of the technically minded here can give me advice.

Uwe, if you’re out there, I particularly want to hear your suggestions.

Thanks again.

Sergei


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