Classic travel trailers – is refurbishing or rebuilding one right for you?

Inside, the right rear quarter panel at foot of the bed; overhead water damage had so dry-rotted the wall that a finger could remove what remained - the blue behind is the trailer's aluminum siding!

The Scotty's front dinette; the wild wall fabric concealed water damage.

The Scotty has a full-sized bed in back, behing cabinets that contain a two-burner stove and sink (we are adding new, as well as a microwave). A good eye will see water damage along ceiling panels.

Our '64 Scotty Sportsman, shortly after purchase. Looks cute, eh?

The dry rot of the Scotty necessitated taking it down to the frame and rebuilding the floor and trailer walls and roof. Here the auther sands the solid trailer frame before undercoating it. Yes, quite a project!

For the past 11 years, my spouse and I, having aged gracefully out of the tent and car-camping expeditions of our youth and middle age, have traveled extensively in the US and Canada in two small teardrop camp trailers. We have had great fun in those tiny campers (both reproduction models of a late 1940’s Kit Kamper and a ’58 Serro Scotty Sportsman Jr.), but, each four feet wide, four feet tall and eight feet long; well, they do have their limitations.

Hence, three years ago I determined to find a slightly larger classic camper – but one that was small, easy to store in a garage and thrifty to tow.  One of the clear “small, classic trailer options is the Serro Scotty brand, made from 1958 up through the 1980s.  So, after months searching Craigs List and eBay, I found a ’64 Scotty Sportsman for sale in Riverside, CA.  After purchasing it for $900, it sat wedged into our garage mostly untouched for the past 35 months – to my wife’s chagrin.

When I bought the little trailer, it was apparent that it had dry rot in the rear, and in the right rear quarter panel. A lesson learned: for any dry rot you can see, multiply by 20 when the trailer is stripped down for repair. About 30 months ago, I pulled the trailer windows and door out – and discovered a case of near-terminal dry rot, from leaks in the trailer roof, and from water intrusion along the bottom sides and rear of the trailer.  I closer I looked, the daunting reality of a total rebuild sank in.

A frame-up rebuild means tearing the trailer apart, salvaging the aluminum skins, some of the interior appliances and, perhaps, cabinets – but rebuilding the balance of the floor and trailer body.  So, a tear-down, all the way to the steel frame!  Yikes…can I handle this project?

Finally, with encouragement from spouse Susan, and two wood-working savvy friends, I started the project on October 1.  Happily, it is moving along pretty well.

By a week ago, we’re down to the original floor – dry rot on most of the four sides. Now working on the sub-floor bracing, and hope to have new floor down within a few days, then undercoated.  With a bit more luck, the body of the new trailer shell will be rebuilt with skins and roof panels on, by sometime next month. We have rebuilt two of the three cabinets already, the third in the next week or so. It helps to have a tough cookie for a spouse, and two friends with woodworking skills and all the tools!

Thanks to wood-working friend Tom Wilson, to Gary Pierce for more wood expertise and some good borrowed tools, we tore off the old floor. Fortunately, we found a sturdy frame with not much rust, thought the old floor was attached with permanence! Undercoating below also helped stick the old floor on. Susan, Tom and I finally got it off, and I wire-brushed and undercoated the frame.

The last few days, the goal is rebuilding the floor; then new linoleum, then, trailer body.

Words to the wise, when de-constructing a trailer – take more pictures and go overboard in taking measurements – I spent most of yesterday sorting through the trailer “junk pile”, taking deconstructed pieces, measuring floors, the old under-structure and reconstructing (in diagram-form) how this trailer should go back together again.

I am in hopes that by sometime in November it’s starting to look like a Scotty again! Stay tuned for weekly updates as progress – hopefully – moves forward! Follow my Record blog; each Sunday, I will attempt to post progress reports on the rebuild!

For more information and a variety of tutorials and videos on rebuilding classic Serro Scotty trailers, see the website of the National Serro Scotty Organization, www.nationalserroscotty.org

Contact Tim Viall at tviall@msn.com.  Follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog.

Happy travels in the West!

 

This entry was posted in Central California, East Coast US, Midwest US, Mountain West (Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado), Northern California, Pacific Northwest USA (Oregon, Washington, Idaho), Sacramento/Capitol region, San Francisco Bay Area, Sierra Nevada, Southern California, Southwest USA (Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas), Stockton/San Joaquin County, Teardrop and tiny travel trailers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

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