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Old 02-19-2014, 06:54 PM   #1
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Newbie with a new to me 1948 Curtis Wright

Hello all! I've been lurking in the background for years and didn't ever post since I only had canned hams and teardrops. That all changed when I went looking over fences on MLK day a month ago and found a 1948 Curtis Wright that had been parked for over 30 years in some old lady's back yard. The trailer was in OK shape but has fantastic potential. I have restored quite a few trailers and saw waaaay past the dust and dirt to see the real gem hiding underneath. I pulled it out of the back yard and put some used tires on it after greasing up the bearings. Got it home and decided to get it registered. Aren't the folks at DMV ultra helpful, kind, confident and lovely! After 3 different DMVs (had to bail on the idiots at the first two), I got it registered and just received the pink in the mail today. Hooray! About a week ago, I pulled out all of the guts and pulled up the floor. Quite the mess under there! The pipe frame looks good with only a few areas needing a little redo and support. This trailer has the kitchen in the front with two closets midway over the wheels. Three layers of latex inside, busted windows, dents here and there with a big dent in the front above the Rocketeer eye window in front. Overall, it is complete and has nice flat skin in and out save a few denty areas in the front. The belly pan in front and in the rear both are pretty dented up. I worked out quite a few of the dents simply by pushing them out with my shoe! I have so much to do! One thing at a time. I will not be removing the inner skin. That looks like a lot of work! I cut off all of the wood screws that used to screw into the plywood board going under inner skin. The new ply should slide under the inner skin now and stop 1 or so inches past it to where it touches the outer skin. There is a u channel piece of aluminum all around the area where the plywood just snuggles underneath of the inner skin. Screwing the plywood down to the outriggers should provide a fairly solid floor. Insulation, it seems, was weird fiberglass cottony looking stuff. I read somewhere that the original insulation was 2 inches with 4 inches of dead air space. What would you recommend? Home Depot 4-5" stuff? Before the floor goes down, I must somehow run new wires down through the walls and under the floor. I'd like to figure out a way not to pull any inner skin panels off. Once wired with 110V and 12V and tv cable wires, I'll put the floor in and screw it down. After that, it looks like I'll have to strip off the latex paint from the interior. Does aircraft stripper work well for taking off the latex and original paint? What brand is best and where can I buy a gallon or two? Nasty stuff. Open all the windows and door and wear a filtered mask. Then time to scuff, metal etching primer the inside and paint.
Here is the wish list of stuff I need that was missing from this trailer: One of the original vents is missing the crank mechanism. Need it! A few pinch cabinet latches that are kind of triangular shaped on the end (not the square ended ones). An original hand pump for the sink. The bench seats and table. And probably dozens of other things that I can't think of now! If anyone has replaced these original parts with new ones and might be happy to help me out in acquiring them, I'd be so appreciative! Anyway, that is the start of my Curtis Wright trailer goings on for now. Here are a few pictures of the new to me '48. Chris
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Old 02-19-2014, 07:09 PM   #2
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Wow, nice find Chris!! Quite a project but lots of potential!

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Old 02-19-2014, 07:13 PM   #3
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Big project !! But very cool. Just a comment on the stripper for the inside. They have real good latex water based strippers that are much easier to work with. Any good paint store will have some.
Also If it was me, I would stay away from fiberglass insulation in the belly. Rodents love to nest in it. 2" foam board from big orange or big blue would be my choice.
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Old 02-19-2014, 07:23 PM   #4
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i would strongly reconsider NOT pulling interior walls. the insulation, if any, settles and gets all nasty over almost 70 years. will make rewiring much easiler.
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Old 02-19-2014, 08:46 PM   #5
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I vote for pulling the interior skins! You've got almost everything out anyway, pulling the skins is a days work and you'll save that easily in rewiring headaches. Plus it's going to make that big dent on the endcap much easier to work on.

Others that have gone before you have noted that the pipe frame is inherently weak and needs to be beefed up, that trailer wasn't built for todays modern speeds/ roads/ tow vehicles.

That being said, you have one very SWEET trailer, good luck and be sure to post your progress
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:02 PM   #6
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Nice find. John Los Angeles, CA
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:21 PM   #7
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First off, Nice find!

Regarding your thoughts about not pulling the interior skin…..

I've got a few of these old tube frame trailers that include a '48 Liner, a "52 Silver Streak, and some Spartans, and a '48 CW 28 footer on an original ladder frame, so I understand what you're looking at. What all these old trailers share in common is the means by which they actually attached the shell to the frame. That was accomplished by fastening it (the shell) to the wood floor, which was screwed to the outriggers, which were fastened to the pipe in the case of your CW. This shell to floor connection was made before the interior skin was put into place. Think about it. Those rusty screws that you cut off as you pulled out the rotted floor (that would otherwise interfere with your efforts to "slide in" some new plywood) were the remnants of that critical connection. Excluding gravity, friction, and an indirect connection through the belly pan, what else do you see that holds the shell in place?

If you're in this for the long haul, (punn alert) you should really pull that inside skin and address all of the issues that others have mentioned, particularly the connection of the pipe to the outriggers. Although I've never seen it in person, there are lots of stories of that pipe being pulled straight out of the front of the trailer.

Good luck, and keep posting!
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:32 PM   #8
Silver streak
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Remove the interior skin!! Only way to do it right.

And as gramps used to say" If it aint worth doing right- then don't do it at all."
I can't imagine that old insulation is doing much anyway. Yes... Major face mask filter time. you don't want to breath that stuff. Once everything is out . hit the inside with a disinfectant and a power washer. Then you start with a fresh clean trailer and smell.

Love the layout. Does it have a bathroom in between the kitchen and bedroom?
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:42 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the info you guys! I like the foam idea. Fiberglass, I believe, would also soak up any water that entered the bottom through leaks leading to mold and musty smells. As for the fiberglass in the walls, there were no rodent droppings in the bottom or anywhere for that matter. The fiberglass seems to be intact. If I can't get to the wires fairly easily, I'll bite the bullet and remove the skin. I'd rather stick needles in my eyes! The inner endcap seems to be held in by screws along the ceiling down to the sides. The lower front part of the inner endcap seems to be held in by the window frame that is screwed also. Has anyone taken the inner endcap off of a Curtis Wright? There was a thread that I read somewhere that these endcaps are kind of spring loaded and "thwang" when you attempt to get them off. Getting them back in place, I understand, is even more interesting since you have to really muscle these things back in place. Any thoughts here would certainly be helpful! As for the exterior big dent, if I can't remove the inner endcap, I was thinking of drilling out some of the rivets joining the damaged panels, and dent pulling out the seam by using the small rivet holes as access for the dent puller to get into in order to pull the seam outward. Afterward, use a pneumatic dent puller to suction cup the rest of the dent out. Money is a concern here. Replacing these panels is just too costly. Access from the inside, however, seems like a better approach since working the dent out from the inside seems more practical. I hope to get the dent to look as close to "good" as possible. I'm going to need a good "dent guy" to do this one for me. Starting this project certainly has defeated any boredom in my life. I love projects! Chris
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:54 PM   #10
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After reading Streamquest and transoceanic's replies, I might just have to take another look at pulling the skin. reinergirl says that it's a day's work. I've drilled out, maybe, 50 rivets in my life. What is the technique? There are many pan head screws mixed with rivets on the interior panels that look original. Replacing these screws and rivets with plain old pop rivets seems like an option. Stainless screws could also work. Olympic rivets? Costs are going high! Chris
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Old 02-20-2014, 08:42 AM   #11
Silver streak
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Drilling out the pop rivets is a very easy task. Use a 1/8" brill bit, you just drilling off the head. you will get the hang of it after your first thirty or so. I'm assuming the interior rivets are pop , Right? as far as stainless I'm told by the airplane guys that stainless and aluminum don't go together. Yes replace the drilled out rivets with all aluminum rivets. The rivets you get at the big box store are usually aluminum and steel. Just go to a fastener bolt store. this part of the build is mostly work. not much cost. But depending on where you go with this? like holding tanks ,updated appliances etc. then the cost start to add up. BUT compared to a new one you will be way ahead and way cool. Being cool is a lot of hard work!
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Old 02-20-2014, 08:53 AM   #12
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Jealous. I was a weekend away from getting one a few months ago.

I would suggest you consider drilling out the panel on the roof, and finding a shop with an English wheel to remove the dents, but smoth out the roof, then have it re-riveted.

You have a very rare trailer. Fixing the roof would probably give you a 10x return on what you pay with that one. Banging it out with a hammer will only stretch the aluminum and make the perfect repair that much more difficult.

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Old 02-20-2014, 04:47 PM   #13
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And there is also the steel beam where the axle attaches to. Heres mine. The rivet heads just fell off after being tapped. Drove it 600 miles at 60MPH won't do that again till it's repaired. I plan on adding two steel beams off the main tube. John Los Angeles, CA
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Old 02-20-2014, 05:55 PM   #14
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Hold on! Don't pay ANY attention to the "coulda, woulda, shoulda" advice your being bombarded with. Do some research here and ask questions from those who have actually done the work. You will find many very highly experienced members here...also many well intentioned, Sort 'em out and proceed.

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