Caboose rebuild

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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby bobhenry » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:12 am

I'd really like to have it titled as a Semaphore Caboose and not as a home-built if at all possible.

By all means keep it as original as possible right down to the title. With only 800 and some built this is a true collectors item and worth every little effort.


Here is a little motivation.......

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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby night*sky » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:39 pm

Yep, I've been motivated by that one. Did you see what that one sold for? :shock: I can afford to sink quite a bit into mine and still come out ok. That's one of the few pics I've found online. The other Semaphores that I'm aware of are the one at Hicksville RV Resort in CA, one that was for sale a couple years ago in west Texas, one in SC, one that I've seen a photo of but no contact info or comment about where it was. Surely there must be a few more somewhere, but I haven't been able to find any info on them if they are.

In my searching for photos, I've also looked at actual RR cabooses. The Pennsylvania RR cabooses made in the late 20"s/early 30's seem to be the closest style to the Semaphore with their low slant-sided cupolas. Some of them had round windows, which I really love the look of but probably won't do on my rebuild.

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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby mezmo » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:43 pm

Hi night*sky,

I came across this today on the tinyhouseblog.com .

http://tinyhouseblog.com/sips/great-ideas/#more-25823

About halfway down is a yellow caboose style Tiny House.
It looks like a nice build. The ladder bars in the last pic are
a nice touch and they look to be functional too.

They use SIPs in their build which I think is a good idea. Check
out this website, a very different approach to SIPs.

http://www.raycore.com/index.php

Oddly, though, their web site: http://maximusextreme.com/ ,
doesn't have any pics of it, those're just on the tinyhouseblog
posting, as far as I can tell.

'Thought it might be inspirational.

Cheers,
Norm/mezmo

P.S. I agree with Bob, restore it as close to the original as you can,
since it is a rare TT still surviving.
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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby night*sky » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:09 pm

Thanks for the links! I hadn't really considered SIPs, mainly because of the difficulty running wiring, I don't like the exposed conduit look.

Today's update...
I met the mobile mechanic at 10 this morning, he repacked all 4 wheels, said the bearings looked like new and didn't think it had ever been hauled much or else they were replaced just before it was parked at the lake, the brakes are free and the low tires are aired up. Drove up to Draffenvile to the RV place and they ordered the new tongue jack and the safety chains and put a 2" ball on my equalizer hitch, we discussed them doing the wiring but I said lets hold off on that for now, I know a fellow that has wireless towing lights that I can use. After wire brushing the tongue I cleaned up the number that I was hoping was the VIN or serial number... turns out it's the Pat. No. for the hitch coupler. :( So I'm back to having to title it as a home built. Both the RV folks and the mechanic said I should be able to pull it home without a license plate as long as I have the bill of sale with me in case I get pulled over. :shock:

I did some measuring so tomorrow I will get some draft paper and start playing around with ideas on how to reconfigure the interior so I can get a double bed in the front instead of the single that it currently has. The wall between the living/kitchen area and the bathroom/bedroom is directly under the front edge of the cupola, the back edge is over the wall that forms the closet on the left rear and the right side is open above the kitchen counter. It may be that when I rebuild it I can move the cupola back 6 or 8 inches and still preserve the look of the original at the same time as giving me a bit more space to work with in the front end. (The windows wouldn't line up nicely any more though.) Or possibly I can reconfigure the bathroom/bedroom to free up a few more inches or come up with a way to move the bathroom door to the hallway instead of it opening into the bed area. Right now a double bed would come very close to fitting in the space but the bathroom door would not be useable in it's current position.
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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby night*sky » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:35 pm

Figured I better start keeping track of the cash outflow before I start forgetting what things cost.

This is going to be the scary part of the project. :shock: :lol:

Purchase 650
"new" used tires 200
wheel bearings packed 200
safety chains, 2" ball, tongue jack 182
hitch lock pin 2.90
spare key 1.87
total 1236.77
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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby night*sky » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:43 pm

In an email from a fellow who worked at Semaphore Industries he sent the link to the patent on the caboose.

http://www.google.com/patents/USD222346 ... &q&f=false

He also sent this info on the construction...

"We put 110-volt rooftop air conditioners on many of them. You could plug a 110-volt cord from the outside (left rear) to run it. Or, if you paid extra, you could have a 110-volt gasonline generator installed in the left rear. The small refrigerator could also use 110 vols AC, or 12 volts, or LPG. LPG was also used for the stove and furnace--the gas being provided by one or two standard tanks mounted on either side of the V-shaped tow bar.
CONSTRUCTION:
Each trailer begain with a steel frame laid out to a template, and welded, then painted black. Atop that were bolted sheets of 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch particle board, I don't remember which. Vinyl was cut and glued on the floor (bathroom, mostly) and the carpet was cut to shape and glued down. The automotive 12-volt wiriing was run beneath the floor, I believe, for the lights and brakes. 110-volt wires were run inside the walls, with approproiate channels and openings for recepticles being drilled and cut. A minority of the wiring was laid out on the floor in places where cabinets and other elements would cover them.

The walls (sides, front and rear) were built separately, laid out horizontally. The firrst layer was the aluminum exterior. Sheets of that came to the factory already sized, painted and corrugated. On top of the aluminum (remember: these walls were lying on their sides) was glued sheet of plastic to serve as a vapor barrier (same thing on the floor). The glue was pink, sprayed on.

Next came two-inch by two-inch pine studs, which made up the framework, and a small amout of fiber-glass insulation was placed between the studs. These were glued down, and in certain places fastened in with nails or bolts. Holes were drilled in the studs and cut in the paneling (see below) to accommodate wires and pipes.

Next: wood panels, also glued. This was the thin, inexpensive type of paneling used in apartments and houses--very popular in the 1970s. The kind of paneling made of quarter-inch plywood, with a finished surface on one side, and simulated vertical grooves.

When a wall was finished, it had window and door holes cut into it, per a temporary pattern laid atop it. Aluminum framing lined the holes, then the windows and door were attached to each unit after the trailer was assembled.

Speaking of which, the next step in assembly was for two or three people to carry the wall (usually the sides went first) to the base/frame, line it up, and hold it while a couple of guys tacked and then bolted it into place. There was much leveling and aligning and use of squares to make sure everything went in at all the right angles. Otherwise the frames and windows and doors would warp and make for lots of leaks. The sides were attached to the front and rear with bolts/nails, a rubber strip put over the joints, and chrome strips screwed on over that.

With the sides, front and fear in place, the roof went on. It was assembled like the walls. Wires came up through the walls to serve the 12-volt lights at the top. The ceiling was made of the same find of white material you see in dropped ceilings, except it was cut into units that stretched across the width of the trailer. I think they were three or four feet in the other direction, and thin wood trim was placed where two sheets came together. It was sealed to the sides the same way the sides were screwed to one another.

Some of the interior stuff (especially cabinets) was sometimes installed on the floor before the walls went on. The color of the carpet escapes me at the moment. The final touches were added to the rear deck (ladder, handrails, etc.) after the exterior was completed. The deck surface was part of the initial frame assembly."
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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby night*sky » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:46 pm

I've also gotten this from the son of one of the owners of Semaphore Industries...

"My father was an owner of Semaphore Industries and built many Cabooses before
the sharp rise in Gasoline prices in the Mid 70's which nearly put him out of
business. As the Travel Trailer industry went down, he survived for a while
building Caboose trailers as mobile sales units for Baldwin and Kimball Pianos
and organs. The company survived for a few more years and then succumbed to the
"Gas Crisis". There's not a whole lot of historical documents left of the old
Semaphore company. I have a few copies of brochures that may give some
illustration of the original interiors and "instruction manuals" that I can scan
and send you if interested.

I would love to see pictures of your unit (in it's current state) and follow
with your restoration. My Dad passed away in 2006, but my Mom is still hanging
in there and just celebrated her 94th birthday. It would make her feel good to
know that one of the trailers is still around and that someone is interested in
restoring it.

There was a serial number, most likely a 4 digit number. there was a namplate
riveted to the unit somewhere. It's been a while, (I was in High School then and
am coming up to 40th reunion next year) but as I recall the nameplate was
installed in various positions over the years from the frame (near the front) to
the lower front of the siding, or some were even on the back (like about where
the License Plate would be). I may have some pictures at home that might show
it. "
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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby night*sky » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:57 pm

Yep, I think the final total will be a BIG number! I'll be able to do much of the work myself, but some of it I will have to hire. Like electrical, all I know about electricity is that it's inside those wires just waiting to jump out and bite me! Oh, and you DON'T want to let the magic smoke out of the wires! LOL

I've very good at scrounging materials, but sort of torn on using them. For example, I'll need an RV fridge eventually, do I buy new for over a grand or used for a lower price? Stuff like that. I want to do this well since it will be my primary residence, it's going to have to hold up to lots of wear and tear.
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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby night*sky » Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:17 pm

As far as I Know I don't need any permits. I've got 6 acres out in the country, no HOA or anything like that. This is Tennessee after all, until 2008 the county here didn't have ANY building codes so just about anything goes. I built a 10x16 shed last winter to use as a shop, it took the county zoning guy 2 weeks to decide if I needed a building permit to build it. He finally decided I didn't since it doesn't have plumbing and is portable.

I don't think having the caboose in various stages of dismantling/rebuilding will be an issue at all. Once it's finished it will only be here for short periods of time in the winter months.
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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby night*sky » Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:49 pm

Well, it's pretty much a rehash of what I've posted here, but I have friends on other forums, and family all over the place so I started a blog to document the rebuild of the Caboose.

http://semaphorecaboose.blogspot.com/
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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby vaddisonme » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:26 pm

What about a pocket door between bathroom and bedroom?
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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby night*sky » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:23 pm

Yep, a pocket door is a real possibility. Or possibly reconfiguring the fixtures so the door could be in the hallway and not in the bedroom. Might be able to gain a little space in the bathroom at the same time, it's pretty cramped as it is right now.
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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby mezmo » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:50 am

Hi night*sky,

I hope the manufacturer's son will follow through and scan
the brochures and send those to you. It'll be a great resource
for you and WE ALL would love to see them too when you post
them here ! {Hint, Hint, Hint - Ha !]

A 'couple' fast questions:

Is the current 'single bed' at the end/front of the unit situated cross-wise
or is it oriented front-to-back? I can't tell very well from the pics
you've posted so far - especially since there are doors at both ends.
Is the one front/end door positioned in the middle of a cross-wise front
bed? Also, how do you want the new bed positioned - cross-wise or
front-to-back, or doesn't it mater ?

And, what is/are the dimensions of the body ? 8x20 as you thought,
or is it a little longer?

I have a couple ideas to relay, but they do depend on how the bed is
oriented, so I thought it a better use of our collective time to find
that out first and avoid writing out a moot/"un-considerable" idea.

Cheers,
Norm/mezmo
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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby night*sky » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:35 pm

Hi Mezmo,
The dimensions are rough figures, I just threw a tape measure at a few things and jotted it down. The interior is 19'4" x 7'7", more or less. The only door is on the rear. The kitchen on the right side is 9'10" x 24", that includes the space for the fridge. There is a space ahead of that towards the front that has some mechanical stuff and drawers and a tall closet, that whole thing measures 5' long. The bedroom space is the remaining 3'10" inches from the closet to the front of the caboose, the bunk that's there is about 2 feet wide but I didn't measure that.

On the left side from the entry door there is a closet that is 3'22" wide. The dinette area (I measured the bunk above it) is 80". The bathroom interior dimensions are roughly 44" x 46", but don't ask me which way is width and which is front to back. :oops:
The bathroom door is centered in the wall between the bedroom and bathroom facing towards the rear of the trailer.

No idea on wall thicknesses. It doesn't matter to me which direction the bed is, and I'm fine with one side being up against the wall. I'd prefer not to split the bathroom, with part on each side of the aisle, I looked at a lot of TT's that you had to walk through the bath to get to the bedroom, didn't care for that.

The sketch is just to give a better idea of the current floor plan, it is most definitely NOT to scale!

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Re: Caboose rebuild

Postby night*sky » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:52 pm

I was poking around on the internet last night to see if I could discover any more info about my Caboose trailer, and I came across the website of the son of the owner that I had emailed when I bought it. It seems that what I have is not really a 1974 Semaphore Caboose, but a prototype! He states perhaps 10 or fewer prototypes were ever built. So it seems that my caboose is ever more rare that I previously thought! More info and links to his website are on my blog.
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