New Technology

Window Replacement

This article is taken from about a restoration on a 1946 Spartan Manor:

One of the first restoration tasks on this trailer was to make it water tight. This meant that all water leaks from the windows had to be stopped. All the windows save the front Plexiglas picture windows were in great shape.

The other windows on the trailer are glass, therefore much more stable. Plexiglas was a fairly new technology for 1946. Plexiglas was used extensively for the first time during WWII for aviation purposes as can be seen here in the nose cone of a B17 bomber. It allowed for much lighter and complex forms.

Spartan Aircraft having had experience with this material readily adapted it to their line of trailer manufacture. It was a well suited match. When I originally found this trailer,  two of the front windows had been poorly replaced . They had been sized poorly and installed with a messy application of caulk. The curved left panel was original with heavy crazing. Most of the seal had severe dry rot and was barely holding the window in place.

Removing the old windows was a fairly easy task. The original windows were held in by a gasket sandwiched between the outer shell and an interior strip of extruded aluminum, which was screwed into the trailer frame.

This photo shows the right front window removed and the aluminum cleaned to accept

1946 Spartan window repalcement

the new window. I used large sheets of heavy paper to create templates for the new windows to be cut from.

The old windows were used as patterns. Some adjustments were required in order to get an optimal fit. 3/16 inch.

Plexiglas was used for replacements at a cost of about $150. This included them being cut to my templates. Instead of using a gasket for the window replacement I opted to use a newer product Dow Corning #795. This is an industrial grade glazing material. This close up shows the new window set in the sealant and shimmed with penny’s. The excess sealant was cleaned off with mineral spirits.

1946 Spartan window replacement Credit:

The new Plexiglas is in place. It is amazing how fresh the new windows make the trailer appear. It is nice to be able to have a clean view from this great picture window and the best part is there are no more water leaks! After almost 3 years the windows seem to be doing great. The plexi is exposed to full sun and has not discolored and the seals are still tight.

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.

Treadmill Bike

I often talk to my students and people in workshops about Ancient Technology. What the term means refers to is old ways of doing things that are simple and forgo electronics. The most important part though is that they strip down systems instead of adding onto existing systems. 

An example of an ancient technology might be using steamed banana leaves for food service, or non-vitrified clay in drink ware that gets smashed and reformed. Both are sterile, both from the about of heat used to prepare them for use. The banana leaf is biodegradable entirely and the cup is truly recycled (as opposed to downcycled, though I guess you might be loose some clay in the process, but It’s just clay)

Ancient technologies are my favorites because they were created out of necessity out of what was available and they’re simple. 

A lot of our green technologies are now systems layered on other systems. Or, the incorporation of one technology into an existing one to make it greener. But, this doesn’t work as well as not making the first one benign in the first place. 

I’ll use Hybrid cars as an example.

By adding a battery into the power train of the car you do decrease emissions significantly. However, battery technology doesn’t last as long as internal combustion technology alone, so the life cycle of the car for the user is less. They would need more cars in the same period of time.

Also, the newness of the technology then asks people to buy new cars. If they already have a working vehicle and it continues to have a life with another user as a used car, you’ve not decreased the number of cars on the road creating emissions necessarily, you’ve added a car that isn’t as bad as another. 

Finally there is also issue of destruction at the end of the car’s life. New systems of disposing the hybrid batteries, or at least expansion of existing systems of disposal make are need to accommodate this new technology. 

And as it continues to evolve, like it will with plug in hybrids, more systems will be created to deal with the effects of changing existing technology. 

On the other hand, another approach to curbing emissions is building infrastructure that doesn’t require a car in the first place. Building an urban environment that is geared towards pedestrians and then added mass transit systems for longer distances that alleviate the need to have a dedicate personal car.

While these infrastructural changes might not be ancient, they do predate cars and thus would predate the issues of cars in their impact. 

As an example of what happens when you unnecessarily add technology onto another, I offer you the Teadmill Bike. It is a bike that instead of pedaling, you walk on a treadmill. 

While the intention is to give you a treadmill gym experience outside, it disregards the point of a treadmill. If you’re on a treadmill you don’t want to walk anywhere, you want to stay put in your gym. 

The better alternative? Walking… or just biking.

I personally hope this was a joke.