1927 Hudson Housecar

Sometimes we get some pretty cool cars in our shop at Matney’s Upholstery Plus but this one is EXTRA special to us. It’s a 1927 Hudson Housecar. It would be compared to a Prevost in the ’30s for sure. Only the ultra wealthy could afford such a luxurious camper. All handmade and in excellent condition.  And get this…it has an ALUMINUM BODY! The original upholstery, curtains, and mattress covers are intact.  When you sit in the driver’s seat and lay your hands on that incredible walnut steering wheel you can feel the vibrations of the rough road under your tires as you drive into Yosemite Valley for an adventure of a lifetime.   It has a pop-up top to allow you to stand in it while camping, two fold-down beds, a freshwater holding tank in the dash with a faucet, a built-in secretary/glove box above the holding tank, interior lighting, a radio with the antenna running through the slated roof panels, upper windows with screens for ventilation, a lower vent that looks like it was made out of mailbox slot, and too many hidden compartments to list. On the outside, there is a food storage box with fold out table, an icebox, and more storage compartments. There are hooks, straps, and all sorts of hold down hardware that have unknown uses but you know they all had a specific purpose. It’s hard to imagine traveling in the late ’20s, early ’30s down dirt roads and never seeing another car for days. My how the world and times have changed in 88 years.

Dan made a new top out of the original style top material, installed the same type of wool square weave carpet that it had originally and a close match to the original vinyl mat material in the front.  It actually has four seats but the owner chose to leave two out for better viewing. He will be taking it to Colorado in August to a Hudson Show and has been collecting vintage camping and travel items to stage it with.  I’m sure it will be the talk of the show!

For those of us who love vintage campers….. this is where it all started!

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Having a little fun with the app 8MM 🙂

New Belly Pan!

The old belly pan aluminum (along with the old wiring) has been taken to the scrap yard for recycling and the new one is up! We used the old pieces for a pattern, for the most part. The space behind the axle with no aluminum is where the grey tank and pan will go and the black tank and pan will be at the rear.  After popping a million rivets by hand on the Overlander we splurged on a cheap air rivet gun from Harbor Freight. BEST TOOL EVER! We had aluminum left over so went ahead and replaced the side wrap pieces as well. She’s looking good!


Ready to Roll!

Our Safari may be in a million pieces right now but…she looks good sitting there! We took the wheels to Wise Powdercoating in Chico and had them powder coated black. They did an excellent job, were very reasonable, and fast!  The original babymoons were re-chromed, and for tires, we went with a Yokohoma P235/75R15 truck tire.  WooHooo…Let’s go!


Back on track!

After several months of being derailed by work, we are back on track!  We have made a little progress here and there over the last few months, but it doesn’t seem like much. Although, when I finally uploaded our pictures starting in January, yes…January :/, we have accomplished more than I thought!

Our trailer never had an A/C unit. From what we understand the proper placement of an A/C unit, if you wanted to add one, was to cut another hole between the two rear vent holes.  To us this seemed crazy. Why wouldn’t you just put it in the center?  Then we realized the ribs  weren’t continuous at the center vent hole.  They stopped half way up on either side.  To fix the problem, Dan riveted aluminum channel to the existing ribs and buck riveted it to the outer skin.  Now the vent hole will be strong enough to hold a new A/C unit and it will be centered on the roof. I’m happy!

We used Trempro to seal all the seams from the inside, installed all the new wiring, got the new 7-way plug wired up and installed new seals on the two front stationary windows.  We insulated behind the end caps and got those big boys back up! It was a challenge for two people so we used some big wood closet rods we had to help support them.

That brings us up to date on our progress since the Holidays! Sure doesn’t seam like much but…we are BACK ON TRACK!

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Shell ON!!!!

Over the Thanksgiving holiday we had a few days to work on the trailer and made some major progress….finally! Dan cut the wood for the new floor, using the old floor as a pattern. After some tweaking, we were satisfied with the fit and bolted it down. We positioned the trailer frame under the shell by hand, using a floor jack. With the frame level, we started lowering the shell back down using the same method we used to raise it. On this trailer, the front and rear banana wraps were installed first, and then the shell over them. When we were within a few inches of the floor we did a test fit of the front wraps. They were pretty beat up and Dan did a great job hammering the dents out of them using a sandbag and an auto body dolly.  We cut new aluminum for the rear wraps from the old patterns, making sure to cut them exactly as they were. Fitting them was definitely a two man job and difficult. It took awhile, but we got them on.   Once the shell was all the way down we noticed something just wasn’t quite right at the doorway. The shell seemed to be pushed out at the threshold and the fender wells weren’t lining up perfectly with the shell. Then Dan remembered reading a post on the forums that said something about the floor being notched out at the threshold. Our floor was rotted away in that spot so with no pattern to go by we had no way of knowing that. Once again, great information obtained from the Airforums! We raised the shell back up a little, notched out the floor a 1/2″ the entire width of the door jamb, lowered it back down, and…PERFECT FIT! The rivet holes lined up everywhere…amazing! Rivets are all bucked and our “honey” looks very happy to be back together again. The new axle gave the old girl some lift and she looks like she’s ready to hit the highway! Of course we have a few more things to do…just a few. 😉

The Christmas campout with the HOTCU is this weekend…see you there! Merry Christmas!


Phillips window latch refurbish

Our trailer has the beautiful, frameless, curved Corning glass windows; and Phillips window latches. The first time we cranked them open, we wondered how in the world they had survived this long. The windows are very thin and the way the latches grab the windows and pull them in is just plain scary. However, after cranking them in and out a few times we are somewhat less intimidated by them!

After all the latches were removed from the trailer, I used our die-grinder with a Scotchbrite pad on it. This is the best way we have found to quickly clean up rusty metal and remove corrosion. Once they were all cleaned up, I primed and painted them and replaced the stop screw. They look as good as new, and after checking prices for new ones, I am THRILLED!  I used the same air tool to remove the corrosion from the window screens. Next, I wiped them down with lacquer thinner and sprayed them with clear acrylic lacquer. They look great and ready for the new screen and spline.

We are hoping to get the new floor down this weekend…one step closer to getting the shell back on…woohoo!

Winter has arrived early in Texas…stay warm!

Going Green!

So many decisions! We have no idea what countertop, paint, upholstery or flooring we will choose,  but we know one thing for sure….we are going GREEN! Here’s my inspiration ideabook from Houzz. Love, love, love green!



The year was 1966

It’s hard to imagine sometimes what life was like almost 50 years ago. No cell phones or internet and color TV’s had JUST become popular! I did a quick google search to get a feel for life in 1966 and here’s what I found…

  • Unemployment was 4.5%
  • The median family income was $7,400. (I would love to know what the purchase price was in 1966 for our Safari.) UPDATE: Suggested Retail Price for a 1964 Safari (new) was $4,075.
  • “The Sound of Music” won the Academy Award.
  • The Vietnam War was ongoing with 250,000 troops in Vietnam.
  • Ceasers Palace opened in Las Vegas.
  • The Beatles had their last US performance at Candlestick Park.
  • Star Trek – Episode 1 aired on NBC.
  • Twister was all the rage.
  • The #1 song was Simon and Garfunkle’s “The Sound of Silence”.National Parks, National Park Service 1314
  • “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” was aired for the first time on CBS.
  • The space race continues to see who will be the first on the moon.
  • Medicare begins.
  • FDA declared the pill safe.
  • Mini skirts were in fashion.
  • The Valley of The Dolls was published.
  • “Caution: Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health” was added to cigarette packs. (keyword “may”!)
  • John Lennon met Yoko Ono.
  • Walt Disney died.
  • The National Park Service turned 50 years old.

One thing is for sure…the music was sooooo groovy! (Davey Jones alert..twice!)

My girl Nancy deserves a solo!

The frame is ready!

With the shell off, the next step was to remove the old floor and start on frame repairs.  We knew this trailer had spent some time in the Florida Keys so we were holding our breath and expecting the worse. What a pleasant surprise to see that the only bad area was right at the front door.  The floor was bad there so this was no big surprise. We originally thought the door was leaking and causing the problem but after we took off the inner skins we could see that the door hinge was a bad leak source too.  We ordered two new outriggers and the right hand step outrigger from Out of Doors Mart. We replaced all the belly pan strapping that runs between the outriggers also.  Dan welded some angle iron in the frame section behind the axle to attach the pan that will hold up the new grey tank and in the back section for the new black tank as well.  He also added a piece of angle above the black tank in front of the toilet area. This was a pretty large unsupported area of the floor in a heavy traffic spot so we decided it was worth the extra weight. We did the same across the front to support the weight of the fresh water tank and the new location for the battery.  When the welding was complete, we used a wire wheel on the frame, cleaned it, and used Metal Prep everywhere. After a day in the sun drying we pulled it back under the car port and brushed on the POR-15. We love this stuff! It covers great, levels out, and dries rock hard. Next we brushed  Sterling Silver Topcoat on the bumper, steps, and A-frame. We weren’t exactly thrilled with that though. It dried really fast making it impossible to get a smooth finish. The next day we sanded it all and tried spraying it. The good news was no brush marks but, once again, it dried too fast and has a rough finish. It’s not great but we are calling it “good enough” …for now anyway!

The new 5000 lb. axle and the new waste tanks should be here in a week or so. In the mean time, we can get the new floor cut and ready to install, run the new brake wire, clean, repair, and paint the inner fender wells; and start making an electrical plan. Our initial plan to keep this trailer original has been scrapped. We want to make it better than original! Someone once recited  a Wally Byam quote to me that was something like, “Don’t make changes, only improvements”. That’s our plan…to make the improvements that we feel we need to do to be comfortable, and to make the necessary upgrades to keep our ’66 Safari on the road for another 48 years!

Hope to see you all at the HOTCU Halloween Camp Out at the LBJ Grasslands! We, of course, won’t be camping (BOO), but we will be visiting all weekend. Trick or Treat!

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Up, up, and….off!

When we raised the shell on the Overlander, it was a nail biter.  It wasn’t just the  raising and securing of the shell, it was the fear, for weeks, that a big storm would blow in and off it would go…like a tin can rolling across the highway! This time was a very different experience. We removed the skins and braced the shell as if we knew what we were doing, then before I knew it Dan started pumping those jacks, and it was up. Now we have the shop space to keep it inside while we work on the frame and install the new tanks and floor, so we have no worries of wind and hail storms. It was a long day but…it’s up and off!

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