Archive for May, 2011

Tin Can Tourists

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Last weekend we took our ’66 Globe Trotter camping for the first time in nearly three years. Discovered a few problems with it, the biggest was that our A frame jack seized up. Also, discovered a couple of minor leaks.

So, this week I’ve been addressing those issues. The leaks had me up on the roof. One source was a vent pipe that needed caulking. Then, as long as I was up there, I added some caulk to a vent and cleaned out the air conditioner. The fiberglass shroud on the A/C will need replacing soon. Woodpeckers have damaged it. They’ve actually pounded holes through it. For now, I patched them up with aluminum tape.

The jack hasn’t been resolved yet. I bought a new one, but it’s a poor fit and will be returned. The old one I finally managed to remove (it was such a tight fit that I initially thought it was welded). I’m going to take it apart today to see if it can be salvaged.

The rally was fun. It was held at the Starlite Classic Campground, about four miles north of the Royal Gorge and fifteen minutes west of Canon City, Colorado.

The campground was abandoned for years until the new owners purchased it just last year. They are creating a Rocky Mountain Mid-Century Modern version similar to the Shady Dell in Bisbee, Arizona. They’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time, and have a very respectable collection of vintage trailers available for rent, with a bunch more waiting for restoration.

Just a few of the vintage trailers available.

The rally participants were mostly Airstreams though. I was hoping for more alternate brands. Still, Allen and Barb Dice’s 1959 Flamingo was a hit in pink. Only fifteen and a half feet in length it can sleep up to six.

Of the Airstreams in the group, the star was Rob & Shari Davis’s 1956 Safari. It won VAC Best of Show at last year’s WBCCI International Rally in Gilette, Wyoming. They also hosted the rally and did a great job – thanks you guys!

Dice's 1959 FlamingoThe Flamingo's dinette is pretty in pink.

The rear of the Flamingo's interior. Notice the fold down overhead bunk.

The Davis's 1956 Safari and Chevy Suburban

Luke Bernander's TCT hood ornament. The slide in camper is an Avion of course, despite the Airstream label.

Being so close to the Royal Gorge we had to take a field trip there. Both Patrice and I have walked across the bridge when we were kids, but neither of us had ever  been down in the canyon itself. So, with five other friends we took a train ride from Canon City through the gorge. It was a bit pricey, but since it was our one and only time, it was well worth the cost.
 
The Royal Gorge sports the world’s highest suspension bridge and spans the Arkansas River at a height of 1053 feet.
The train we rode dated from the Fifties. It was a leisurely trip, and I doubt the train ever exceeded 25 mph.

The Royal Gorge bridge from "down under."

A shot of the dome cars from an open air flat car.

One of the other activities available in the area is some of the finest river rafting in the world. Right now the Arkansas river is at a moderate level, but just as soon as warmer temperatures get into the mountains the run off from this year’s near record snow pack will likely make rafting quite exciting.”Paddle, paddle, paddle!” River rafting is a big business on the Arkansas River.
 
While we enjoyed cool and somewhat windy weather, in the high mountains it was still snowing, even to the extent that it closed I-70 for a short time.

A Spartan Manor awaiting restoration. In background, clouds shroud the snow covered Sangre De Christo mountains.

New Axles

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Last Monday night (the 9th) at 9 PM, I drove to Fort Collins. I pulled into Luke’s driveway at about 10:30 PM and camped there overnight.

Customer's axles lined up for installation.

About 8 AM Tuesday morning, one of Luke’s men, Dave, arrived. Luke repositioned my trailer. I unhitched and got a folding chair out and watched the two of them work. To get the trailer up high enough they added wood blocks to their floor jacks. If ever you decide to do this yourself, make sure you use a good grade of hard wood. They used some pine and it split, letting the trailer down abruptly. Fortunately, no one was under the trailer when that happened, and it was the only mishap.

Once up in the air, they had the front axle off in fifteen minutes. The rear axle was more involved because of a gas line.

Here you can see the difference between the old and new axles.

When both old axles were off, we made an interesting discovery. They were not the same. The rear was rated 4,000 lbs. and the front rated 3,200. The tube on the 4,000 was 3”, the 3,200 was 2.5”. Together, they do not provide the factory rated GVWR of 8,300 lbs. (even with the tongue weight subtracted) and may be the explanation as to why my rear tires had more wear on the outer edge and the front tires slightly more wear on the inner edge.

The axles never matched the stated GVWR

This difference in axle capacities was a surprise because I was not able to see the manufacturing plate on the rear axle. It was buried behind a holding tank. I am not sure how I feel about mixing axle capacities.

On a dual axle trailer, proper towing alignment is for the front to be slightly lower than the rear. Never tow with the rear lower than the front. That being the case, why put the lesser axle on the front? Would it not make more sense to put the axle bearing the most stress on the front and make the lighter one the trailing axle?

Regardless, I now have matching 4,000 lb. axles and new self-adjusting brakes. It might have been my imagination, but I thought I could feel the difference on the trip home that afternoon. The trailer now sits about 2 inches taller and that is a good thing in that it provides a little more clearance for that long tail to clear dips in the road.

It was money well spent to have this done. This was definitely a two-man job, and at times, I even jumped in to help. That, and there is no substitute for experience. I’ve only changed one axle on my own, whereas Luke has done many. As an added benefit, he diagnosed and corrected an electrical problem I’d created. He and his company do quality work and take their time doing it so that they get it right the first time. He doesn’t advertise, but instead relies on word of mouth. You can Google, “Luke’s Maintenance & Repair,” for more information.

Luke's own '65 Caravel.

About the Author

Hi, my name is Forrest McClure. I've been writing for the magazine since its inception. My wife and I travel with our 1966 20' Globe Trotter or our 1986 32' Excella. So, my primary interest is vintage travel trailers.