Elevenmile Reservoir

You probably don’t know my friend Andrew Long.

We worked together in Phoenix some years ago at a newspaper, and he’s since moved on from newspapers. His latest project is the Hunter’s Database.

I’m happy that we’re still friends. He comes through town sometimes, and we try to catch fish.

This time, Adrienne and my daughter came along and endured our heavy drinking and bad jokes. We stayed at Elevenmile Reservoir — Andrew slept in the Jeep because he makes a lot of scary noises in the night. Adrienne and I stayed in the trailer. (The teenager went back to COS to catch an early flight.)

At the last minute on a Friday, it was fairly sketchy to find a camping spot at Elevenmile, but we managed to find a great spot by the water. It’s an OK place, but we prefer creeks and rivers. Still, the campsites were well apart from the others, and it didn’t feel crowded even though it was a weekend night. Overall, a decent experience. A solid B.

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Andrew, the daughter, Tori, and me at Elevenmile.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Of course it rained when we were there. It rains every time we go camping. That's why we got a trailer to begin with. Rain. Every. Time.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Of course after the storm comes a rainbow. Whatever. Knock it off with the raining already. It's a pain in the ass.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Of the three of us, the 19-year-old girl caught fish. The rest of us came up empty. Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Wildflowers at Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Wildflowers. Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Despite the rain and the not catching of any fish (except for that teen girl), we had delicious food. Hot dogs, some kind of corn medley. My kid needs longer shorts.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Thinking about going out and not catching any fish.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Instead of catching fish, I think I'll just sit here a little in the sun and consider all of life's mysteries.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Campfire. We had one.

 

 

Camping at Happy Meadows, Colorado

A few weeks ago we went camping at Happy Meadows. It’s on the South Platte River about an hour away. We got the best spot, #1  right on the river with access to the water.
Riverfront campsite #1 at Happy Meadows, Colorado

Riverfront campsite #1 at Happy Meadows, Colorado

The scenery is really pretty and it’s very quiet.

Camping and fishing at Happy Meadows, Colorado

Camping and fishing at Happy Meadows, Colorado

Apparently there was a lot of fishing to do. Mike caught three fish.

Fishing on the South Platte at Happy Meadows, CO

Fishing on the South Platte at Happy Meadows, CO

Fishing on the South Platte at Happy Meadows, CO

Fishing on the South Platte at Happy Meadows, CO

Fishing on the South Platte at Happy Meadows, CO

Fishing on the South Platte at Happy Meadows, CO

While he fished I set up the trailer and campsite and made lunch.

Sandwiches are tastier when camping.

Sandwiches are tastier when camping.

Camping sun tea.

Camping sun tea.

Camping at Happy Meadows, CO

Camping at Happy Meadows, CO

Campsite #1 at Happy Meadows, CO

Campsite #1 at Happy Meadows, CO

Camping at Happy Meadows, CO

Camping at Happy Meadows, CO

On his way out of the river Mike took a tumble.

South Platte River at Happy Meadows, CO

South Platte River at Happy Meadows, CO

And got a little wet.

Ooopsie

Ooopsie

After that he needed a beer.

Left Hand Brewing's Milk Stout is very tasty.

Left Hand Brewing's Milk Stout is very tasty.

And some brownies.

Brownies in the trailer

Brownies in the trailer

And a nap.

Mike napping in the trailer

Mike napping in the trailer

It’s always windy in Colorado and I forgot to bring any hair ties so Mike suggested I use a mini bungee cord. LOL.

Bungee cord hair tie

Bungee cord hair tie

We had a nice dinner of hot dogs, confetti corn, baked beans, and baked potatoes. OMG, the propane oven in the trailer makes the best baked potatoes. I don’t like fish, so Mike never keeps the ones he catches when he’s camping with me. Lucky fish.

Confetti corn

Confetti corn

Dinner!

Dinner!

What would camping be like without a bottle of wine?

What would camping be like without a bottle of wine?

Sunset at Happy Meadows, CO

Sunset at Happy Meadows, CO

No burn ban at Happy Meadows

No burn ban at Happy Meadows

Breakfast in the morning before heading back home.

Breakfast in the morning before heading back home.

Happy meadows is my favorite so far and I’m looking forward to going back soon!

Wheel bearings are important, apparently. And tires

The tires on our old trailer looked pretty grim, so I looked into changing them.

Turns out there are special tires made just for trailers. Good to know. The ones we had on there were for passenger cars (probably late 1970s passenger cars). The special trailer tires (marked with a prefix of ST on the tire for “special trailer”) are built differently.

From TrailerTires.com: In general, trailer tires have the same load range (or ply) from bead to bead and are bias ply construction. This allows for a stiffer side wall which provides safer towing by helping to reduce trailer sway problems. The use of “Passenger Car” (P) tires on a trailer is not recommended because their construction, usually radial or bial belted, allows for more flexible side walls. This could lead to increased trailer sway and loss of control.

Add this to the list of things I did not know. Look, I’m not a scientist, and I don’t know how tires are made, but if there’s a tire specifically for trailers, then that’s probably what I ought to have on my trailer.

And while I was changing out the tires, I started reading up on wheel bearings. Did you know that if the wheel bearing is bad, it can somehow weld itself to the spindle and cause the whole thing to either seize up or break off? I didn’t. Some people have even said an entire trailer can flip over. I don’t know about that. I suppose anything’s possible, and so what the hell. You can check your bearings by hoisting up the rig and wiggling the tires and spinning them. If they sound gritty or anything less than smooth and quiet, you might have a problem. Also, if there’s any play, you might have a problem.

In my case, everything seemed fine, but while I’m here, I might as well take everything apart and have a look-see.

Our trailer tire

The first thing you'll want to do is take everything apart. I put it all on a towel in the same order so I could remember how to put it all back together. Removing the bearings is a breeze. Just take off the cap and remove the cotter pin and pull everything out. Done.

 

It's important to have a lug wrench that fits

I thought lug nuts were all the same. Figured the lug wrench from the Jeep would fit the trailer. Why wouldn't it? But no. So I had to take the first of many trips to the hardware store for this handy little guy. This is really something that should be universal. Seriously, what a pain in the ass. Anyway, lesson 1 learned.

 

After removing all the caps, etc.

There's a cotter pin holding all this on, and it's worthwhile to pick up some replacements before you start. That way, you don't have to go to the auto parts store while you're all greasy and stinky. Lesson 2 learned.

 

Cleaning all the parts

When you remove the bearings, etc., you'll want to clean them pretty good before slathering them in new grease and putting them back in. I used CRC Brakleen Brake Parts Cleaner, which works like a dream. Also, I love the smell of solvents. Anyway, it's worthwhile to pick up a couple cans, maybe even three, before you start. Otherwise you'll be headed to the auto parts store (again). Lesson 3 learned.

 

Repacking the bearings

They make these little gadgets that you put the bearings into and it squishes the new grease through them, so you can keep your hands clean. What's the fun of that? Man up and do it by hand. Sheesh. Sure it's dirty. But it's fun. Make sure to inspect the bearings before you coat them in grease again. Make sure they spin freely and are in good shape.

 

Repacking the bearing with fresh grease

People have a lot of strong opinions about grease. Me, I don't have any opinions about it. But once you look at all the different types of grease available, it becomes pretty clear that maybe I should have just trusted this to the professionals. Do some googling and see what people are saying. I saw a lot of good things about Mobil 1 Synthetic Grease in the blue and silver can. It's bright red and a name brand, so that's what I went with. So far so good. The technique is to put some in your palm and rock the bearing onto it until the new grease pushes up through the top. You want that whole thing filled and slathered with slippery red greasy goodness.

 

Repacking the bearings with fresh grease

Keep some towels around for cleaning up your grimey hands. Lesson 4 learned. Also, it helps to wear a fishing hat.

After putting it all back together (in the same order), that’s it. Done. Couple things to keep in mind. If you’re doing this in the front yard, there will be grease and oil and other assorted grime and filth that will absolutely stain the sidewalk. And while your girlfriend might be proud that you were able to do something yourself (she might even bring you a beer while you’re working). She will not, however, approve much of the oil-stained sidewalk in front of the house. You will need to clean it up. I used kitty litter, then Dawn soap. Use a dropcloth. Lesson 5 learned.

There are those who say that this is a job best left for a “professional.” Pshaw. One, it’s expensive. Cheapest I found was about $60 per tire. I’m not Donald Trump, people! My total cost for the whole shebang was about $8 for the grease, $6 for the brake cleaner, $2 for a dumb box of cotter pins (of which I only needed two). That’s it. Next time it’ll be free since I have a lot of the material still left. And since I was slow and learning on the way, it took me a whole afternoon. Next time it’ll take a couple hours max. Worth it.

 

 

Convoy

Since we bought this weird little trailer and wondered aloud on the Internet what it might be, several people have come forward with the same trailer.

It’s exciting. There’s the extra-knowledgeable and super-helpful Chris Springer in Tennessee; a commenter named Woody Toolmaker; a Kim in Iowa, who has a 140 model Play-Mor; the survivalist in the Colorado woods; and of course, us, the Oinkety people in Colorado Springs.

Seems to me like this is enough for a trans-America convoy (slow-moving).

Our trailer is coming along OK — still a lot of work to be done, but we’re enjoying it as-is and thinking about it as a “working trailer,” not a show trailer. He’s not some fancy-pants Airstream who lives all pampered in someone’s yard like a fat, silver poodle. No, this trailer goes into the woods.

We’ve changed the tires, greased the bearings, painted the interior, upholstered the cushions, removed the head-knocker shelf, replaced the “fridge” with a set of drawers, installed a “bathroom” and updated all the hardware inside. Still left to do is the exterior paint, trim removal and seal work, skin replacement on one side, undercarriage, and electrical. We’ll get there. Also, for anyone wanting some advice or information on fixing up these trailers, check out this forum, a veritable treasure trove of knowledge: http://repairingyesterdaystrailers.yuku.com/

Meanwhile, here’s some pics — of ours and yours!

Kim's Play-Mor trailer in Iowa

This is Kim's Play-Mor trailer in Iowa. Seriously adorable. It's a 140 model, so it's a little smaller than ours, but it sure is a looker.

 

Chris Springer's Play-Mor trailer in Tennessee

Chris Springer's Play-Mor in Tennessee is virtually identical to ours.

 

The Oinkety Play-Mor trailer at Rampart Reservoir, Colorado

Here's the Oinkety trailer at Rampart Reservoir campground in Colorado. I'm relaxing with a cold beer after hauling in four fish with my new fly rod. Four. Fish. A glorious day.

 

The interior of our trailer

Here's the interior of our trailer, with the updated paint and upholstery. Curtains to come later.

 

Ten-four, good buddies. Oinkety over and out.

A kindred restorer!

Interesting coincidence: Adrienne was googling something or other about the trailer and sent me this link to someone out in the world working on the same kind of trailer we have. Since I was at work, I didn’t have time to look over her link. (And also, since I was at work and I don’t waste Valuable Company Time on personal browsing, she should have never even sent me the link. I am a dedicated professional.)

Then later in the week, I get an email:

Hi, my name is Chris … . I live in West TN. I came across your blog site while searching the net for info regarding vinatge Play Mor Travel Trailes. I have a 1969 Play Mor 150. I bought it approx. 2 months ago and will start the renovation soon. It is hard to find others out there with this make of trailer. I do have the emblems on mine and have a source from a vintage trailer board I am a member of that can reproduce them. I would be happy to share info and pics with you regarding our trailers. What year is yours and how are you coming on the restoration? I look forward to hearing from you

After a little back and forth, I mention this to Adrienne, and she says, yes, that’s the same person whose blog link I sent you the other night. She pointed out that I never got back to her on that, and I had to remind her that I was devoted to a work task and could not be sidelined for even a moment.

So. Again, the Internet comes through. Chris is right: It is hard to find others out there with this kind of trailer. Not like those frou-frou Airstreams or fancy-pants Shastas. Play-Mor trailer owners are an elite club. So far, me and Chris and that survivalist guy somewhere in the Colorado woods.

So take a look at Chris’s site and check out all the good work he’s doing. Pretty impressive.

Meanwhile, in the Rockies on this side of the Rockies, my progress so far: The hideous paneling inside has been painted a light blue, which was a lot more work than I expected. I also had the brilliant idea of caulking each groove in the paneling so it wouldn’t have a bunch of black stripes all over. Looks better, I think, but it was time consuming. There’s also been a recent development that I’m keeping an eye on. After painting it, there have been some water stains show through. Now, I’m not sure whether this means there’s leaking currently happening or whether the old damage is showing through the paint. I believe it’s the latter. (Note: Thanks to the extra-super-smart Cragnotti family for pointing out my embarrassing geographical error. This writer apparently doesn’t know what side of the Continental Divide he lives on. Derp.)

We’ve also replaced all the cabinet hardware and yanked up all the carpeting. We were going to replace the flooring with something, but we kind of like the yellow original. We also added some trim and removed the head-knocking bunk.

The other day, I noticed that not only were the tires looking pretty worn, but that they were passenger tires. Apparently, there are special trailer tires, with stiffer sides, that are made specifically for being on a trailer. So we got a couple of new ones put on for peace of mind.

Vintage travel trailer restoration

If this thing is going to live anywhere near the house, the girlfriend says it needs a paint job. We're thinking about red or orange where the blue is. And red or orange for the propane tanks. We'll see. Meanwhile, there are some other, more pressing body concerns, including a glass panel that's missing from the door.

 

My Play-Mor camper trailer has no serial number on the tongue.

Chris says the serial number should be on the tongue, but mine just doesn't seem to have one. Wonder if that means it's been replaced at some point or is it worn away? So we still don't know what year this thing is, but we're guessing 1969, 1970 or 1971. Chris's is a 1969, and they look nearly identical (though his has a cooler red stove/oven). Big Mystery.

 

Play-Mor travel trailer restoration project

We figured we'd just tear out the old carpet and put some other vinyl thing down, but once it all came up, it ended up looking not too terrible. In fact, it's growing on us.

 

Bunk shelf, Play Mor travel trailer

On our maiden voyage, one thing we noticed was how many times we bumped our heads on that upper bunk shelf. So since we're just using it for light storage anyway, we took half of it down, which opens it up a great deal. Besides, no human being ever had any business being in that shaky top bunk. Can you say: "death trap"?