Craftsman Style

A Master Craftsman Rolls In Style

Daniel Riedemann is a native of Kansas and fifth generation  carpenter who learned specialty restoration from his father and grandfather. He uses his 1951 restored Spartan as an office and home away from home.  He offeres his advice about green trailer restorations.

Dan runs Nineteenth Century Restorations, a company with a focus on historic preservation, using designs that meet or exceed current energy efficiency standards.  On job sites he salvages reusable materials

and reclaimed lumber.  Dan says he likes to build homes that are as green as possible, but there aren’t a lot of clients who go as green as he would like.  The Spartan was a chance to do it his way.

Historic restoration of an Ohio home by 19th Century Restorations.

Dan takesto the road in his 1951 Spartan when he’s working on projects for the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service.  Have a quick look at his trailer in this You Tube clip (no audio): Here are Dan’s thoughts on some current issues Sam is dealing with in his Spartan restoration project: Insulation I used spray foam insulation kits [he will supply the name]. It’s a great product, made out of soybean products, so you aren’t letting toxic fumes out in the atmosphere.  It’s easy to apply.  You should make it about one-inch thick.   In your trailer,  it could be done with about three or four kits (each “kit” costs between $400-600.) I would spray the foam about 1” thick being careful not to completely refill the cavity. After that I went in with foil back bubble wrap, the stuff used to wrap pipe.  Comes in 400 ft. rolls.  [Note:  polycene.  Will correct this.  another guy told me he thinks you can get the lefover bits  of this stuff for free.] I replaced all that old Kimsul, which was fiberglass and basically  useless.  You’ll end up with about an R15. The The outer aluminum skin can really heat up.  But the heat stays in the gap in between. I live in Kansas where summers can be humid and the temperatures can get up into the 100’s.   I’ve got an air conditioner in there but the unit is not fighting the heat. Hot Water Heaters I use an instant hot water heater that runs off of propane. It heats up the pipes that the water is go through, so you only use it when the water is on. They have been using that system in Europe for years.  It is a great technology . It is in my front closet with room left over.  The shower in my Spartan is better than the one I have at home.

Metal bathroom unit on a 1951 Spartan Credit: Jane Keeler.Flickr

…that yucky metal bathroom unit, keep it? Yes.  I kept mine. Belly pan The original pan in mine was in excellent shape.  I just had to replace the spot by the bathroom.  I recommend using the same kind of product. It’s like an MDF fiberglass.  Iwould do it all new and use a marine grade epoxy to fasten it. I haul my Spartan a lot for the job, so I want mine sealed really well and not affect by the heat and water. It’s called a masonite belly pan but it’s not exactly masonite.

Belly pan for a vintage Ultra trailer. Credit: basicofbasics on photobucket

I suggest you call a couple of lumberyards or specialty wood shops and ask for the thinnest MDF material that they have.  ¾”  or 3/8”.   The product is slicker on one side (the side that isn’t as slick goes against the belly.)  I would definitely waterproof the pan.  And I would use foam insulation between the two.  In the center of the trailer you have five inches of insulation and then it narrows up to the sides because of the shape of the curve.  I used plain old yellow fiberglass when I restored my Sparta,  but if I was to do it again I would use spray foam.

Belly pan with liquid chaser. Credit:

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from as part of our CSPA Supports Program.