Thursday, November 15, 2012

Myrtle's friend Buttercup

We had the good fortune to meet Buttercup, the 1968 210 Travco, and her awesome owner. Buttercup is 21 feet long and is neatly tucked into her Brooklyn driveway. Buttercup is lucky to have a knowledgable owner and I look forward to following her transformation on her blog:

In addition to viewing this awesome rig, we purchased a spare rim for Myrtle! Now she has a complete set of seven, 6 bolt, 17.5 inch, rims.

We had previously purchased seven 17.5 inch Yokohama Y785R tires. However, these tires may not currently be available. For other tire options check out Buttercup's blog:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Biolite Campstove Review

We recently received our Biolite Camp Stove, and took it camping to Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and a few stops in between.We used the stove to boil water, make espresso, roast vegan marshmallows, and cook up other vegan camping delights.

We were extremely impressed with the compact, but hot, fire output if this unit. It only uses small sticks, which we easily collected or splintered off of a log. The design is ingenious, using a small fire powered fan to keep the flames full of oxygen and burning steady. But wait there's more! The stove actually does charge small electrical devices. I charged my iPhone whenever a good fire was going.

Biolite is a great camp stove and a great addition to our Emergency Preparedness Kit.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Evolution of Valerie

I can't believe it but four weeks have passed already and we have successfully built our bicycle frames! Before the course I didn't know my down tube from my bottom bracket and now I can braze them together! Alex (Flashdance) has nothing on me.

But before you think it's all fire and glory there is a lot of math and strenuous metal filing involved. I've never considered the amount of calculations and angle considerations that go into a bike to ensure a safe and comfortable ride. The process starts with making a life size drawing of your frame. With all the use of protractors and rulers, I had flashbacks to high school geometry but at least I finally found a use for it. Then the bicycle measurements are inputted into a computer bicycle CAD program to make a diagram. This becomes the bicycle bible to refer back to repeatedly during the building process. As they say measure twice and cut once!

I learned extensively about types of metal, what makes metal stronger and weaker, different tubes and so on. I had no idea there was so much to consider. I also had no idea there was a market for the Tube and Pipe Journal. Filled with this new found knowledge, and due to the uniqueness of my bicycle frame style, I chose a beefy down tube and used a manual machine to bend my top tube.

Then there are the lugs/sleeves. "Lugged steel construction uses standard cylindrical steel tubes which are connected with lugs, external fittings made of pieces of steel (sometimes stainless steel) which fit over the ends of the tubing. Before assembly, the builder cuts the tubes to the desired length and precisely mitres[1] their ends, providing a tight fit. The end of the tubes are inserted into the lugs and subsequently brazed with a silver or brass filler metal. The lug greatly increases the strength of the joint by distributing the molten filler metal over a larger surface area via capillary action.[2]" source: Cast lugs can be purchased but due to the complexity of my frame I had to design and hand cut four bi-laminate sleeves to make the joints.

Next we moved onto brazing, "a metal-joining process whereby a filler metal is heated above melting point and distributed between two or more close-fitting parts by capillary action. The filler metal is brought slightly above its melting (liquidus) temperature while protected by a suitable atmosphere, usually a flux." Prior to brazing, the tubes and lugs must be carefully cleaned to ensure they will braze together properly. You don't want to fight with your flux because you left a bit of sharpie marker on your lug/sleeve! Then depending on the type of brazing you clean and prepare either a silver or bronze rod (filler metal). Each joint is joined with a lug/sleeve, or fillet and items like cable guides must also be brazed on. I really love brazing and I am getting a better feel for the size and type of flame, distance and metal response rates.

After your tubes and lugs/sleeves are brazed it's on to the glamorous work of sanding and filing, and then more sanding and filing. Each bit of filler metal that spills out of the lug and each lump in the fillet braze must be filed and sanded smooth. It makes it highly motivating to become a better brazer! I have never had to take ibuprofen for cramped up hands before I built a bicycle.

After this experience no matter what a quality custom frame costs I bet it's a bargain compared to the labour involved. Now the frames await custom paint and will be shipped to us when complete. I am excited to see Valerie when she is all dolled up and matching Myrtle. I chose the name Valerie as it reminds me of Valmobile, the scooter that was an option with a Travco motorhome.

We were able to accomplish this awesome project due to the very well equipped shop, full of every tool imaginable, the comfy onsite accommodations and the amazing skills, knowledge and magic of the instructor; Dave Bohm. That and copious amounts of sanding.

Check out the magic yourself at Bohemian Bicycles.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Brinkmobiles; a hotel on wheels

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the infamous (at least in my world) Brinkmobiles, are located in Tucson, Arizona, the very place we are currently visiting! The Brinkmobiles are two turquoise 1966 Travcos, who started their lives with their current owners as mobile studios travelling to film festivals an other fun locations.

I immediately contacted the owners, Danny and Mary-Ann, who graciously allowed me to visit these beautiful motorhomes. It was terrific to tour these machines and compare the similarities and differences to Myrtle. Travcos are known for their customization to the initial purchasers' requests, so each are a little different. The exterior of both units are very similar to Myrtle. However, Myrtle has the rather uncommon second backdoor. Much like Myrtle, the interiors have been updated while maintaining the original vintage charm. Both have kitchens with original varnished wood and retro light fixtures. The travcos are always well laid out and both of these boast a roomy rear bed and lots of storage.

The Brinkmobiles now function as well appointed motorhome hotels and are rented out through their website; Bed in the Barrio. From the website; Available as motel rooms on wheels, but parked in a private back yard in the historic barrio El Hoyo (meaning the hole), our vintage RV's make the perfect getaway!. On the edge of tiny downtown Tucson, Arizona, one block south of theTucson convention center, and just west of Barrio Historico. Charming, convenient, and comfortable, two separate units are available! There is a romantically cozy full size bed in the rear and an extra bed can be made on the couch in the front. They have a kitchen which includes dishes, stove, sink, and fridge. Bathroom is small but efficient with handheld shower and toilet. Wi-fi available. Heat with thermostat and air-conditioning, both of which work great.

If you are interested in trying out a vintage recreational vehicle, or just looking for an unique, centrally located place to stay in Tucson, make sure to check out these Travcos! Danny and Mary-Ann were delightful travco tour guides and I'd if didn't already have my very own Myrtle I'd certainly be booking a stay in one of their Brinkmobiles!

(Photos courtesy of/property of Brinkmobile.)
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Travco art

These beautiful Travcos inspire all sorts of art! This lovely print was created by Jessica of the blog Vol25 blog. It is available for purchase from the Vol25 etsy store. Jessica has this to say about the print; "where ever we are together" is a perfect reminder. :) Home can be a Queen Anne Tower house, or a motorhome... it really doesnt matter... "Wherever we are together, that is home." Watermark/logo shown on image will NOT be on the image you received. Each and every piece of VOL25 art is printed on textured canvas. VOL25 artwork is reproduced with highly archival pigment based ink. I already have one on order for Myrtle!

Jessica also previously did a great blog article on Myrtle. In fact she said Myrtle was part of her inspiration for this sweet print.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Building a little friend for Myrtle

I first became aware of the Valmobile Folding Scooter when I saw it listed in a Travco Brochure of Optional Equipment. If you'd like to learn more about them, I previously wrote a longer blog entry about these little gems.

Since I am not likely to find a Valmobile any time soon I have decided to build a bicycle in homage to the Valmobile, for Myrtle. I plan to use design elements from both vehicles as inspiration for my bicycle design. This week I started the bike frame building course via Bohemian Bicycles, along with my husband. Dave Bohm, the artisan and mastermind behind Bohemian Bicycles builds amazing custom bicycle frames as well as providing courses on his craft. My husband was the one initially drawn to the course as he has a keen interest in bicycles (and rebuilding motor homes) as well as heaps of mechanical and design skills. Since I am also smitten with bicycles, and willing to learn some new skills, I decided to take the course with him! Check out Bohemian Bicycles on Facebook

I am looking forward to learning the engineering behind bicycle mechanics, choosing component parts, and of course welding and fabrication! Truth be told I've had a not so secret interest in welding ever since watching one of my favorite eighties movies Flashdance. (I own the movie on DVD, and the soundtrack on cd, cassette tape and vinyl.) It's my Flashdance moment with hopefully more welding and less dancing in a leotard. Check back for future updates on my progress and for now check out a Flashdance trailer;

The Valmobile photo was used with permission and was photographed by Chuck Schutz as found posted on his Flickr stream.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Roof vent replacement deja vu

Awhile ago we replaced Myrtle's front roof vent when it was shattered by hail. We replaced it with a regular plastic crank vent from a RV supply store. In case it ever happened again we also ordered a galvanized metal vent from Vintage Trailer Supply.
Well as you can see from the photo, it happened again. Now Myrtle has a new metal roof vent just in time for tonight's hail storm.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Myrtle as Muse, again!

You may have remembered that Myrtle was previously the subject of a lovely painting by the amazing painter, Kate Schutz.

Now Myrtle has been illustrated by the talented Fred Greiner and featured on his blog Van Full of Monkeys. Fred's other illustration work can be seen on his main website:

Photo copyright Fred Greiner, used with permission. Photo source:
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Biolite Campstove - Camping Innovation!

I was very excited to hear about the Biolite Campstove, and I have already preordered one. From the manufacturers website; "The BioLite CampStove, designed for outdoor adventure and emergency preparedness, makes cooking on wood as clean, safe and easy as petroleum fuels while powering electronics off-grid. Using BioLite's patent-pending thermoelectric technology, BioLite Stoves convert heat to electricity that powers a fan to make the fire ultra-efficient. Extra electricity can be used to charge small electronics like mobile phones and LED lights."

I am super excited about this development for both camping and disaster preparedness. If that wasn't neat enough they also manufacture a larger version called the Biolite Homestove for use in countries where people are cooking over open fires. From their website; "The Need: Half the planet cooks on smoky open fires, causing nearly 2 million premature deaths each year and contributing to climate change. Using our patent-pending technology, BioLite has created a low-cost biomass cookstove that, by converting waste heat into electricity, reduces smoke emissions by up to 95% while simultaneously providing users with the capability to charge mobile phones and LED lights.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Myrtle featured on Inspired Camping

Did you know Myrtle has a fabulous solar power system? The system runs all her house lights, appliances, computer equipment and even an electric blanket.

Check out the system details and photos in her featured article on Inspired Camping

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Myrtle featured in RV West magazine

RV West is a free online magazine. They have interesting articles on camping destinations, fellow RVer's, maintenance, events and so on.

They did a fun article on Myrtle and our adventures in restoration and camping. Check it out here:

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Myrtle is on Facebook!

Myrtle, our mid century modern 1964 Dodge Travco Motorhome is on facebook! Her page will include entries from her blog, interesting links, vintage rv supplies and decorating, events etc.

If you'd like to stay in touch with Myrtle's adventure via Facebook, please like her page.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Myrtle escape pod

You may have noticed a lack of posts lately on Myrtle's blog. That is because we are on a one year backpacking trip around the world. (If you are interested in that adventure check out my travel blog Voyage Vixen). In Bali, we stumbled upon this lovely 1964 Vespa scooter. Both the year and the color scheme match Myrtle. It's for sale for about $2500.00 Canadian and for a moment we considered trying to import it. Eventually we would like to have a vintage motorbike/scooter/moped for Myrtle but importing one from Bali while on a year long trip seems complicated. As part of our trip we are taking a custom bicycle frame building course in the fall of 2012, and I plan on making my frame match Myrtle's color scheme.

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