We have quite an update. Well…just a long overdue one.

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In our last installment, we just put the refinished wheels with the new tires back on her and she was looking mighty fine. We had also recently dug up some info about Comets and excitement was building.

In the time that passed from our last update to now, we found a guy that restores vintage camper trailers in Johnson City. We took Clementine to him on Valentine’s Day, 2014 with high hopes and expectations. After multiple missed deadlines (that he set for himself) and catching him in lots of lies about all sorts of different things, we held his feet to the fire to really try to get this done. Unfortunately, he doesn’t take kindly to people who hold him to his own promises, so he fired us. So on July 29th, we picked up Clementine and brought her home. I’m not in the habit of bad-mouthing peoples businesses, but if you are looking for someone to help you restore a camper, I DO NOT recommend Vintage Travelers. ┬áIt’s a joke disguised as a business.

ANYWAY. Now that the ugliness is out of the way…

Let’s back up, even before V-Day 2014…Stripping paint and buffing 70 year old aluminum.

It was really labor intensive and really slow going. One really exciting thing that did happen, besides a great arm workout, was the Comet emblem. Before you could barely even make out what it said. It took us a while to even finally read ‘Comet’. Once we put the gook on that ate away the paint, we assumed it was a goner. But lo and behold… I believe our gasps could be heard above the power washer. Which was loud, if you’re unfamiliar.

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The process was simple enough. We slathered on Cirtistrip and waited for it to get good and dry. Then used a pressure washer to remove the paint, dirt and citristrip. It was, in a word, mesmerizing. About a week after that, we headed back to the ranch to start buffing. I was on toddler-duty so I didn’t partake, but some family came to help. It was a long and grueling process. But we finally started to see some improvements.

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We also used this time to start pulling away at the interior to see the extent of the water damage and rotten wood. Up until this point, we wanted to preserve as much as possible. But after seeing all the damage, we’re opting to rebuild. Close to the original but with some modern updates.

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Finally, the day arrived to take Clementine to Johnson City (yay?). D and his Dad headed out to the ranch the night before to get everything hooked up to his dad’s truck (camper, tail lights, etc). They got there later than they expected and were doing a lot of work in the dark. It finally just got way too late and decided to just get up early to finish. Well…the morning light didn’t really help. His dad’s truck is wired all wrong so the temporary tail lights we got wouldn’t work because none of the wires were where they were supposed to be. Long story short, and thanks to D’s great uncle Henry, they were on the road around 1 (got up at 7 in the hopes of getting on the road soon after). It was a very frustrating day and I felt both sad for him, and relieved that I decided to stay at home with J.

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We arrived in Johnson City at around 5 or 6. Did a once over with Sean and his wife about what we were wanting to do and left about an hour and a half later. I could tell that they weren’t totally on board with our wanting to update everything. They made that clear. I should have listened to my woman intuition then and there, but we’d come so far.

I’ll stop there. It seems logical since this is where our story goes dark for about 6 months. Wait until you see how far we’ve come…the next few posts will show LOTS more progress! Stay tuned!

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I have so many exciting things to share with you! I don’t even know where to begin. I suppose at the beginning is better than typing random pieces of information.

So all last week we were trying to find anything about the Comet trailers. Anything at all. And aside from the few and far between blogs about a Comet remodel, we found approximately ZERO information. Making it all the more intriguing.

David took the day off on Friday and we headed to “The Ranch” to check on the new babe, Clementine. We had a general list of things we wanted to accomplish and I’m happy to report that even with a cranky baby (our human baby, that is…actually our fur baby was pretty whiny, too) we managed to accomplish everything. We were motivated.

Here she is not long after we arrived. David gave her a quick sweep around with a broom and it was amazing how much better she looked after just that. He also moved all the stuff that was leaning against it away and Ta-Da! We popped open some of the windows and can I just say…even cuter. It’s like she’s waving. She’s so friendly.

We also learned that David’s granddad just painted the trailer with a silver paint. We’re currently going back and forth, trying to decide if it’s worth the effort to remove the paint and buff the metal, or just paint it a fun happy color like the adorable trailers I’ve been pinning.

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We stuck J in the pack and play…which she had no problem expressing her disapproval about…but it allowed both of us to work. The side of screaming was a lovely touch. But I worked on cleaning out everything from inside and wow…things were crammed everywhere. It took about 45 minutes for me to find everything and get it out. Then I put the seating area and the sofa together and it felt SO much better!

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This is the smaller bed to the right when you walk in. The laminate top is actually in perfect condition and is pretty cute. It’s a cream base with little gold colored flecks. And the little notches on the corners are pretty adorable (and useful since that space between the stove and the left bench is about the width of my knee…). The hook on the wall that holds the table is in desperate need of attention. Actually, I think it’s more like the hook is pulling out of the plywood because it’s super old. The bones of the cushions are in good condition, but the vinyl is ripping apart.

IMG_7537This is looking toward the back of the trailer. Everything is in about the state we expected. You can see on the ceiling where the leak caused lots of damage. Layers of plywood are flaking off bit by bit. BUT, the cabinets on both sides seem to be structurally in good condition.

The other big thing was to get a better understanding of the tires and wheels. I should mention that David’s uncle was at the ranch and helped David understand roller bearings and such. We were happy to have the help, that’s for sure. While I tried to get J down for a nap (a joint effort that took about 2 hours) David and Uncle Michael worked on jacking it up to get after the tires. After about an hour, I think, it looked like this:

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IMG_7561Here’s David cleaning and greasing the roller bearings. Isn’t he dreamy?

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While David was working on that, J woke up (all that work for a 40 minute nap. I’m just saying.) and luckily was totally happy to hang with Uncle Michael. He’s normally not quite so…chipper…which makes this photo even more hilarious. Although, he took a nap, too. He had major surgery recently and J was right at the weight limit that he could hold. Lucky us. Thanks, Uncle Michael!

IMG_7562Pretty soon, the roller bearings were back on and the wheels and tires were ready to be loaded into our car for the smelly ride home.

Meanwhile, while David was cleaning and Michael was baby holding, I was busy taking dimensions of the interior. And sweating. Lots of sweating. I’m hoping to create a model in Sketch Up. Maybe not a full 3D model, but at least a floor plan that will help us with square footages. Here are some additional gratuitous shots of the interior. Where there’s a change in ‘wood’ is really contact paper covering up who knows what. I was too nervous to peel it away. Plus I was dripping in sweat. Did I mention that?

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IMG_7585Sorry about the yellow tint to all these photos. I would adjust them in photoshop, but I’m still exhausted. And quite honestly, I don’t know that I care all that much.

Anyway, so that was yesterday. Today, I started to really think about where to look for information. General ‘Comet travel trailer’ googling was leading no where. I stumbled on the Vintage Camper Trailers website and found their resource page…connected to a separate website that they provided, Atlas Mobile Home Museum, owned/managed by a guy who’s been collecting vintage travel trailer information since the late 90′s. There was no link to anything for a Comet trailer, so on a whim I emailed him.

Meanwhile, on the side of the trailer, where the Comet logo is, it has Wichita written below (extremely hard to make out), so I decided to do some digging about Wichita. Turns out that (according to their Wikipedia page) they are “The Air Capital of the World”. Really? Did you know that? I sure didn’t. As this states, they had some major airplane manufacturing going on in the 20′s -40′s (and the main manufacturer of B-22 Bombers for WWII). To bring it back full circle, David has had a growing suspicion that this was made out of leftover airplane material. While I was measuring, NOTHING was a normal dimension. Everything was like, 19 5/8. And no 2 windows are really the same size (you know, like they were making these things as fast as they could). Giving more credit to the idea that these were maybe leftover parts. AND, in the Wikipedia article, it mentions that the first aircraft to be built in Wichita was called the Cessna Comet. Interesting, don’t you think?

Within an hour of emailing the Atlas guy (Juergen), he had written back. He said he actually has a decent sized archive of Comet trailers – exciting! He also mentioned that the company was started in 1952 (although David has found conflicting information that the company was started earlier) and this looked like it was one of the first ones they made. So that’s cool! He also mentioned that he has tons of resources (available for purchase) on how to restore old trailers, original Comet material and specs, etc. It would appear that I accidentally hit the jack pot.

I’ve also sent an email to the local government for Wichita asking if they can point me in the right direction on where to dig up information. I’m sure they’ll be like, psh…we have like, real matters of government to discuss…but I hope they can at least respond with something.

So that’s where we are! We are so excited about the progress we’ve made in both the actual tailer and finding out information about it!

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No, I’m not pregnant. And no, we’re not adding another puppy…or fish…or any other breathing thing. No, no. Something that we have wanted for a very, VERY long time!

We just inherited this 1950′s (we think) Comet travel trailer. Ain’t she a beaut?! I think I’ll call her Clementine. Clementine the Comet. Yes.

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Come on in, I’ll give you a tour!

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This is what you see right when you walk in. The bed on the right is what converts to the table – we have no idea the state of the table, etc. I imagine it’s similar to the state of everything else. In front of you is the kitchen including a sink and cook top.

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This view is taken from the bed in the previous photo, looking at the kitchen and second, main bed. I’m not quite sure what’s going on with that little separation between the bed and the cook top. Sheet metal? Who knows. All those boxes are covering up the sink to the left of the cook top.

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This is sitting on the main bed…kitchen in in front and to the right. Can I just point out that adorable little lantern light fixture to the left of that window. You’re cute, Clementine.

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Now we’ve turned around, looking at where the previous photo was just taken. I think that’s a little medicine-type cabinet to the left of the window. Then a little cabinet where that mirror is….and D’s personal favorite…the cabinet below is an actual ice box. As in, we need to figure out where to buy a block of ice. Or I suppose we can put in a mini fridge, but it seems to lack some luster. And to the left of those cabinets is a tiny itty-bitty clothes closet.

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Here’s a close up of the ice box. Oh, my darlin’ Clementine. You can see the front door peeking through on the left.

What do you think? Sure she’s a little rough around the edges…but this is a dream to an interior designer who is currently on an extended hiatus. (That’s me).

Here are some other gratuitous shots of the exterior.

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So it’s still sitting between Caldwell and Hern at D’s grandparents ranch. We haven’t pinpointed when we can go pick it up…but we need to figure out where to get a permit, new tires and what exactly we’ll pull it with. Among other things that I’m sure haven’t even crossed our minds yet.

We’re also still going back and forth on how exactly to give Clementine a face lift. We’re feeling white, flowy with some fabrics that pay homage to the 50′s. If you want to follow along with our inspiration, you can follow our pinterest board, Glamping. (If you’re interested in what Glamping is, it’s a combination of the words Glamor and Camping. And there’s even a book – which we just ordered this evening…)

We feel so honored that D’s Grandparents deemed us to be a good fit for this sweet diamond in the rough.

D’s been working hard on getting our backyard ready to house her. We’re also going to construct a nice covering for her – to keep her safe from weather and maybe even keep it cooler while we work on it.

Can’t wait until we can show some progress!!