This little 1948 Detroiter was shipped to us from Florida for a restoration.  The outside was actually very presentable for a 60+ trailer but the inside showed some issues from water leaks and countless upgrades and modifications.  Most unusual was the one time addition of a bathroom in place of the closet.  The closet was enlarged to fit it, even to the point it covered a portion of the entry door!  Worse of all, it just dumped under the trailer.  The owners did not want the bathroom and had some ideas for making it into more of a country cottage feel.  Down to the frame it goes...

Here's something we don't see too often, Kimisal insulation.  Basically layers and layers of tar coated crepe paper.  It literally crumbled into dust when we started to remove it, we were sweeping it up for days!

In this photo you can see the huge closet converted into the bathroom.  It really crowded up the interior

This is trouble, the floor structure is rotted out, not much holding the body to the frame.  This is hidden damage that many vintage campers have that is not apparent until you take them apart.

New floor structure with a layer of Celtex under, soon to get filled with fiberglass insulation and new OSB underlayment.

The owners picked out a vinyl floor product that resembles hardwood flooring, 4" strips in random lengths... pretty cool stuff for a trailer.

Meanwhile, we were building new walls in birch veneer plywood.  They will get finished in shellac before we install the walls back on the trailer.

The new body is almost complete now, just lacking some of the bender board along the corners.

After all new upggraded wiring it was insulated with polyiso insulation and the roof covered with a layer of Luan to help support the aluminum roof panels.

We duplicated the exterior aluminum just like it was built at the factory, overlapped panels with slotted head screws every 2" or so along the seams.  We used .040 mill finish aircraft aluminum, as close as we could get to the materials used right after WWII.

Due to so much of the interior cabinetry being cut up over the years we were not able to salvage much.  we built a new galley and painted it an antiqued blue for the country feel.  We refinished the interior of the icebox, but left the antique looking patina on the exterior.

In place of the previous closet/bathroom we built a new cabinet resembling an antique sideboard the owners designed. The countertops are oiled walnut and we used antique hardware.

OK, it does have one modern convenience... They do live in the hot, humid southeast and they wanted to be able to enjoy the camper.  We installed a Coleman Mach III low profile AC unit on the roof.

All complete and ready for a road trip across the country!  It's virtually a new 1948 trailer again.


One thing to note and think about with a project like this.  To keep the exterior authentic looking we used flat panels of aluminum.  I don't really like to in most cases.  Any aluminum expands and contracts with temperature a slight amount.  When it expands in the heat (it was almost 100 degrees out when this photo was taken) the panels will look wavy, and flat panels make it stand out.  It is especially pronounced with mill finish or dark colored paint.  It's just cosmetic however, the panels flatten right back out when they cool.  The score lines and ribs stamped into the panels add strength to the panels, the main reason manufacturers started doing it in the early 50's.