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Restyling a Mullins Trailer

2/7/2017
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Remember that movie about the family who goes cross-country on Vacation? The one where the dad wants the Arctic Blue Super Sports Wagon to make the trek... Well this is sort of like that story. Only in a street rod.

When I was 5 years old my folks packed my older brother and I into our ’46 Ford Sedan Delivery for an extended vacation to the West coast. We hit all the high points along the way too. We went to the Las Vegas Super Run, Andy’s Picnic, Disneyland and Knott’s. We also traveled up the coast to Frisco and saw the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a vacation to remember and it certainly made a huge impression on 5 year old me.

Like most things that we, as children endure and enjoy, I wanted to share this experience with my children. More on that another time

First things first, how are we going to manage a family of four and two weeks’ worth of clothes, souvenirs and not to mention the tools and supplies to ensure a smooth 3600 mile round trip?

Luggage trailers are things from a bygone era of street rodding. You used to see a lot of them behind rods. You also used to see pop-up campers tagging along for the ride. That trend seemed to switch over the years from the street rod pulling the trailer to riding on top of or inside it. You’d think that would make finding a serviceable luggage buggy an easy task? Not so much.

I did finally find one for sale cheap in Wisconsin. Aside from some unfortunate hardware, bad taillights and ugly bumper, it was a perfect start. This trailer was very similar to most Mullins style trailers produced today. It’s missing the body reveal across the back where an original unit had an end gate. Evidently, the specimen used as a buck was missing this rare and often abused part of the original aluminum body.

That's no hill for a climber. The first step was filling the holes left by the old tail-lights and latch setup. After that, I selected a piece of basswood to make the missing body line from. I chose that type of wood because it’s flexibility and porosity allows it to conform to the shape and soak in resin to become fused to the fiberglass.

After making the rough shape from wood, resin and mat, I applied an even coat of Rage body filler. The body line matches very well with the rest of the style lines found elsewhere on the car. I made sanding blocks from spare pieces of the basswood to get the edge and fillet radii just right. During this stage of construction I also mounted the ’39 Chevy lights and reproduction ’36 Ford deck latches.

Since I do my painting at home in my garage, I try to limit the amount of spray time and prefer to do it late at night when it will least disturb my suburban neighbors. This, turns out to be one of the worst times to do amateur paint work. As I touched on with the article where I painted the Drifter motorcycle, bugs love light and wet paint.

Even with the challenge of bugs and nosey neighbors, the Titan paint gun did an admirable job. Starting at 600 grit, I color-sanded (wet DA) the clear down to 2500 grit and polished back to a glass-smooth finish using the 7” Titan buffer, foam pad and Wizards polishing products.

The reassembly process was aided greatly due to extra time that was spent in the mock-up and test fit stage of construction. Things nearly fell together. Which is really, really nice sometimes.

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