1947 Kit Restoration

...ask your questions in the appropriate forums BUT document your build here...preferably in a single thread...dates for updates, are appreciated....

1947 Kit Restoration

Postby ddavis1946 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:11 pm

Hey everyone!
Here is our 1947 Kit Kamper, pre-restoration/modernization. Needs a LOT of work but we've got some good ideas and a lot of parts on the way to get it started.
150512 150524 150516

We purchased it earlier this year from someone in Northern California. Supposedly it sat in the desert in Arizona for a number of years. It's been hacked up quite a bit in its 70 year life. Lots of holes in the side, the model A wheels were added later (and the original fenders ripped off). The last person to use it tore the galley completely out and used it to haul stuff to swap meets. His son then inherited it and took the right door and trim off in an attempt to start the restoration process, but stopped and sold it.
150518 150523 150520

Luckily, the frame looks to be in good shape. I'm not sure about the axles yet, but the hubs will have to be changed to go back to the 15 inch rims and reproduction fenders I have for it. Obviously all the wood will be redone, and the exterior will likely get all new skin and corner trim as well. I'll try to salvage as much original parts as possible (like the window frames and some hardware), but in the end, I think a lot of the trailer will just have to be rebuilt on the original frame, using the old sides, hatch and doors as patterns.
150525 150526 150522 150519

One thing my wife and I really searched for was an original, vintage trailer that we could restore/renew. New factory ones were too expensive and we didn't want to put a lot of effort into a harbor-freight base trailer. My brother-in-law is a welder and we toyed with a custom teardrop frame build too. We looked a a few home-made 1950's teardrops but none of them had paperwork, or they were just too expensive for what they were.

This winter I sold my motorcycle and I got serious about searching and found this one. We sprang on it not because it's complete or in good shape, but because it is truly an original 1947 Kit Kamper teardrop, and it has the proper paperwork to show it. It has the original 1947 yellow California plate, along with the black 1963 California plate (when all plates in California were changed over to the new standard). The title shows 1947 as the year of mfg, with Kit Kamper as the manufacturer. It was registered with the black 1963 trailer plates, but after about an hour at the DMV, I had the original yellow plate re-registered to the teardrop using the Year of Manufacture process. When cleaning the trailer out, I found a small pouch with title and registration paperwork going back decades.
150514 150515 150513

Hopefully this thread will give me some motivation to keep on working when things are tough or not going right. Hope you all enjoy as much as I will.
ddavis1946
Teardrop Inspector
 
Posts: 9
Images: 41
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:01 pm

Re: 1947 Kit Restoration

Postby dmdc411 » Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:37 pm

Good find! I would love to find an original to restore. They're far and few in the midwest.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G870A using Tapatalk
User avatar
dmdc411
Teardrop Master
 
Posts: 203
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:39 am
Location: Nfld, Minn

Re: 1947 Kit Restoration

Postby ddavis1946 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 4:08 pm

A few months back, a fellow in Montana named George who is an expert on these old Kit's spent a good hour and a half out of his own time to talk to me on the phone, and give me a game plan.
So, per his instruction, the first step will be to pull the body off the frame. Kit is up on jack stands, I removed all the mounting bolts that hold the floor to the frame. I also removed the left side door and placed the two doors and hatch inside the garage for the time being.
Also, per George, every piece of trim that gets removed is precisely labeled and stored where it won't get bent or lost. If I make it through this project without a tack or nail puncturing my auto tire, it'll be a miracle. Seems like every time I remove something, a dozen tacks or screws fall on the driveway.
150858 150859
Anyone know what that long metal bar at the lower rear is for? It bolts through each side at the bottom of the side walls, and has these saw-tooth looking things welded to the frame to hold it straight, where my finger is pointing in the photo?

This happened once up. Will have to get a new tongue jack too I guess, or weld the tube back up. Bottom of the tongue jack is completed rotted out with rust.
150861

Interesting to see the 3/4" c-channel trim around the door, which covers the edge of the plywood side walls at the door opening. The right door (having been removed before) didn't have any of this. I'll try to reuse the curved piece since I can't imagine trying to recreate that bend as well as the factory did.
150853 150855 150857

Next step - buy a case of beer, invite some buddies over and lift the body onto saw horses.

150860
And here's some of the parts I've got so far. "New-old-stock" fenders made on the original mold. The originals had 16" Chevy pickup wheels, which used tubes. I don't want to mess with tubes, and tire technology has come a long way, so I got 15x5 trailer wheels with baby moon hubcaps. I'm unsure about reusing the old axles, so hubs and axle work will wait until i take the trailer frame to a professional. I may just go with an all new torsion axle system to give it a better ride and more ride adjustments.

Also got a galvanized roof vent. Yeah, I know the originals didn't have roof vents, but we were camping last weekend and it was 95 degrees, so another vent beside the door windows will be necessary. At least the galvanized one will match the aesthetic and it's low profile.

Questions for those with experience: Since the axle hubs need to be completely changed to get the 15" wheels at the right ride height, do you recommend getting the body built first, skinned, then put the fenders on to the body sides, and lastly get the axle hub/wheel/tire placement correct inside the fender? I want to make sure the wheels sit just right inside those fenders, not too high or low, fore or aft of the fender opening. What's the correct order to do those tasks?
ddavis1946
Teardrop Inspector
 
Posts: 9
Images: 41
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:01 pm
Top

Re: 1947 Kit Restoration

Postby ddavis1946 » Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:57 pm

Finally got to do some work today. Pulled the rest of the aluminum off. Here's the left side with the skin off. Not sure of the black stuff. Some of it is mold/fungus/rot, but a lot of it is hard and almost looks like dried glue or epoxy that was sprayed on (based on the pattern). Nothing like that under the roof skin though.
151315

I took lots and lots of pictures of the various corners, joints and pieces, and I'm glad I did. The rot was worse than I thought. I was going to save the plywood sides and stringers for patterns, but the rot was so bad I won't be able to. Once the aluminum trim and skin came off, the trailer literally started to fall apart. I'm glad I got the pictures before it all started collapsing down.
Here's a pic near the galley hinge. I didn't notice it before but the aluminum sides and wood have a notch "down" for the galley lid. It's not a constant curve for the side of the trailer.
151319 151317

And some more rot on the inside...
151316

Luckily the right side aluminum was complete and that side will be the pattern now. Here's the frame, hubs and axles.

151312 151313 151314

No major cracks and it looks pretty square.
Correction to prior post - originals had surplus jeep wheels, which is neat to know since I also have a 1946 CJ-2A. Maybe when that finally gets restored, i'll put matching wheels on the Kit.

Also got in touch with a local cabinet maker in the neighborhood who restores trailers too, he's going to be my plywood supplier. After some reading about plywood thickness, I decided to go with 3/4" birch for the sides (the originals were actually 1/2" on mine), 3/4" floor. The 2x2 or whatever supports around the floor/frame and front tongue area will be the same as original. Interior will have an insulated headliner to help hide the vent box. Since the trailer will be a resto-mod instead of a restoration, I'm strongly consideringusing the exterior roof skin as the interior headliner, and having it polished (like Airstreams with the aluminum interior headliners). That'd look pretty nice in contrast with the birch side walls.
ddavis1946
Teardrop Inspector
 
Posts: 9
Images: 41
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:01 pm
Top

Re: 1947 Kit Restoration

Postby ddavis1946 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:35 pm

Well no major updates, but I've spent considerable time in the last few months reading up on all the collective knowledge here on everything, wall construction, frame construction, axles, you name it. So much to learn. I think I need to buy the shop manual from Steve Frederick.

I contacted quite a few trailer "specialists" to tackle the frame and axle repairs and refurb. Seems like each one wanted to either botch the frame completely up or told me I'm doing everything absolutely wrong or to buy a new trailer from them instead of restoring. One local guy wanted to cut the whole tongue off and weld a hideous Curt monstrosity on the front of the frame. I don't have a problem modernizing things you won't see but have a huge affect on handling or performance (like the axle), but I want the exterior to look mostly original.
To me it's kind of like building a '32 hot rod - it may have a new fuel injected small block under the hood but on the outside, everyone can tell it's an old car...

Anyway, since I don't trust any of them to do what I want, I'll do it myself :)
I read somewhere on here to pick wheel and tire combo, and build the axle based on that decision (with the body, fenders and ride height in mind),so that's where I'm at now on the frame.
I'm a little concerned on the tongue condition (posted another post in the chassis forum on that issue). I took two months picking tires (trailer vs car, bias vs radial) but in the end I got some Coker wide white wall 185/70r15 car radials to go on the 15x5 rims. 2500# capacity between the two tires so I'm not concerned about performance issues, and it'll have the right look.
ddavis1946
Teardrop Inspector
 
Posts: 9
Images: 41
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:01 pm
Top

Re: 1947 Kit Restoration

Postby pchast » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:41 pm

I've seen those jack wheels loose before, to be removed when traveling
for road clearance. This especially when the jack is permanently vertical.
pchast
Platinum Donating Member
 
Posts: 1430
Images: 96
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:47 pm
Location: Athens, NY
Top


Return to Build Journals

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests