1956 Shasta

I found a 1956 Shasta 1500 tucked away in the woods in small town, SC – about 20 miles away from where I live.
1956 Shasta day 1
The front window, fridge, stove, and wheels were missing.  I had to use temporary spare tires to get it home.
1956 dinette
1956 Shasta 1500 dinette
Shasta kitchen before
1956 Shasta kitchen
synthetic stucco interior
roof vent leak
I started on this project about the middle of May by gutting the interior and repairing everything as I took it out. As far as the cabinets, what wasn’t rotten was stained and dis-colored, so after stripping off the old paint, I repaired and rebuilt what I needed to and painted everything.
rotten cabinets
dinette rebuilt
56 Shasta cabinets
I soaked all of the hinges, latches and even the old trim screws in brake fluid to release the coats of paint from them.  After a few days in the fluid, they cleaned up nicely.
1956 cabinet removed
rebuilt kitchen cabinet
I rebuilt the kitchen cabinet for a dorm fridge where the stove would have gone and added more counter space. If a gas cook top is ever needed, it could still be dropped into the counter top.

By the end of May, I pressure washed the outside and blew some of the old paint right off. It also helped with getting the paint out of the screw heads.
ready for tear-down

1956 back off
topless 57 year old
The wood on the front and rear corners crumbled when I took the aluminum off. All four corners below the windows were rotten. The 1×3 “framing” was more like scabbed together nailing strips.
Shasta frame - original
Keeping any of the original framing was not an option for me.  I put three sheets of paneling down on my garage floor and laid the aluminum skins on them.  I traced the outline and all the openings.
wall pattern

Now here’s a well framed camper wall – hanging from a single hook… from one of my garage light fixtures.
1956 curbside wall framing
roadside_frame (640x496)
I did the Shasta framing in the same fashion that I did the Nomad and Torpedo…lap joints, pocket screws, biscuits, more screws and lots of glue… and they are self-supporting.

After I had both side walls framed up and everything lined up with the original framing, I took my sawzall to the old walls and started pulling the floor to work on the frame and suspension.
I put a wire brush cup on my side grinder and cleaned up the frame and axle, got a coat of primer and paint on everything and waited on my new springs, U-bolts, brakes and grease seals.  I also removed the jack from the frame and took it apart to refurbish & got new ball bearing at the bicycle shop for 50 cents apiece.
tongue jack
I used ½” plywood without the Celotex for my floor.   I replaced half of the stringers on the frame and bought all new grade 8 bolts to attach the floor to the frame.  Everything got several coats of paint. I re-used the old metal from the wheel wells, but put all new wood on them. I put ¼” plywood underlayment on top so that I had a good base for the tile.

Setting the walls went pretty quickly, since I had pre-built them in my garage.
1956 new walls
Once the walls were up and braced, I started putting in the front cabinets. I prefinished the birch plywood for the front, back and ceiling before I installed it.  With the bench fronts scribed to the curvature of the side walls, the birch plywood made the bend without too much of a fight.  Having the upper cabinet in place gave me some structure to bend the second piece of paneling around.
After I had 3 ceiling panels installed, I started hanging the upper kitchen cabinets and then the kitchen base cabinet went in.  It went in through the back of the trailer before the rear wall was framed.
countertop boomerang
new 1956 cabinets
I built a new curbside cabinet because the original one had been so badly hacked up. With the ceiling panels in place, I was able to build it to fit tight to the ceiling.  I made it a little shallower at 18” deep for more center isle room and added a countertop area and a spot for an A/C. I used poplar because I liked the way it stained up to match the birch plywood.
new wardrobe faceframe
new wardrobe
Here’s a picture of the bed framing.  I built a box under the bed to support the middle of the frame.  I added framing under the rear of the bed for support and to strengthen the back wall of the camper.
1956 Shasta bed frame
new 1956 rearview

Falling off of a ladder (cleaning gutters) and fracturing a couple of vertebrae really slowed me down this fall (2013), but I’m back at it again.  I glued the pink rigid foam insulation on and covered the camper in housewrap, taping all the joints, corners and openings with rubberized flashing.  After I got the two top side pieces of aluminum back on, I was able to re-install the roof aluminum.
1956 Shasta alum.
1956 Shasta curbside alum
1956 Shasta roof
I had to reproduce the door threshold. I took a leftover piece of aluminum, measured, marked, and cut it. I made the bends with a rubber mallet, some clamps and an old piece of angle iron.
new 1956 threshold
For my air conditioner, I decided to enclose it high up inside the wardrobe cabinet.  The only visible part is the interior front (evaporator side).
The A/C sits in a drip pan and the inside of the cabinet is insulated and lined with aluminum to protect the wood. The electrical outlet is inside the cabinet.  I isolated the condenser cooling air intake side from the hot exhaust side with aluminum panels to improve the air flows and prevent air mixing.

For the part that is normally outside, the condenser cooling air will come in through a vent that I cut into the roof. The hot/humid exhaust air will blow out through a louvered vent that I cut into the side of the camper.
AC update… on our first trip out, we went to Florida and ran the air conditioner pretty much non-stop for a week and had no issues what so ever.

The old Shasta has her stripes back and is prepped for paint.
Z Stripe
shasta door handle
For the paint, I used Valspar Rust Armor from Lowes. It’s an enamel paint like Rustoleum, but it can be tinted, so you can choose from a lot of different colors. I put two coats of color on – thinned 12% with mineral spirits – and applied it with a brush and roller, sanding between coats. Total cost – about $100 for a new paint job.  The Z stripe is bare aluminum – not paint.
Here’s what the paint color looks like out in the sun.
1956 Shasta 1500
You might notice a few things that aren’t original to a 1956 Shasta. I used a jalousie window in the front because the original one was missing. I added amber beehive marker lights to the front, front and back reflectors, an air conditioner with added vents, a door grab handle and a metal Shasta emblem, and – oh yea, wings.

My 110 volt wiring is complete. It’s all on the interior of the trailer, not inside the walls. I did it this way so that I didn’t have to notch out the 1×2 framing, I didn’t interfere with the insulation, and I didn’t take the chance of hitting it with a nail or screw after it was inaccessible. The wiring runs are mostly inside of the cabinets behind drawers or protected by false shelves.
wire hiding
I cut down a shower curtain pole to run the wiring from the upper kitchen cabinets down to the sink base cabinet and I used two metal surface mounted boxes with metal raceway for the wiring that I couldn’t conceal.
The circuit protection is a huge upgrade from the original ceramic fuse block (that’s the original fuse block sitting there between the outlet and the power cord).
Shasta Breaker Box
I used a 100 amp 6 space 12 circuit Square D load center with a 30 amp main breaker and 4 – 15 amp circuits. It’s located just inside the roadside rear hatch.  (picture of my under bed storage area)

Now that the wiring is finished, I can call the kitchen complete, too. The only built in appliance is the electric only dorm fridge. We carry a hot plate, an electric frying pan and a coffee pot, but we do most of the cooking outside.
1956 Shasta kitchen
It’s hard to see, but I made the backsplash out of aluminum. It goes with the aluminum air conditioner surround and the sliding doors in the dinette upper cabinet.
I used the scalloped pattern from the dinette cabinet to make a valence that hides the kitchen light and my wiring runs. I made another one to fill the empty space above the fridge.

You can see how I made the cushions here: “Dinette Cushions”
1956 Shasta 1500 dinette

Shasta VCT floor

I built a screen door for it. See: “Shasta Screen Door”
Shasta screen door

We took our maiden voyage to Florida and everything worked great.
St Augustine, FL
Here’s the link: “Maiden Voyage”

one more thing… I refinished and re-webbed some old chairs. They were made by the Telescope Folding Furniture Company.
folding rockers
And here we are at James Island (SC) Nov. 13th, 2014 for the Festival of Lights.James_Island

Here are some specifics:
Length taillight to trailer hitch: 14’ 6”
Trailer width – Outside: 78.5”  Inside: 76″
Tongue weight – 240 pounds
Coupler ball size: 2”
Wheels: 15”x 5”, 5 lug on 4 ½”, Center hole = 2 5/8”
Dust cap: 1 31/32″ (1.967) threaded
Outer bearing: #09067 = .75″ id
Inner bearing: #15123 = 1.25″ id
Grease seal: National 6362 which is an obsolete part number – the “best fit” number is National 440265 or SKF 16811, NAPA 16811
Axle: 1.5” square tube

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25 comments on “1956 Shasta

  1. Nicole says:

    Your screen door looks fabulous.

  2. Bob says:

    Thanks – free is good, I paid $400 for mine and it was basically a carcass template.

  3. Bob says:

    Hey Brad: The picture dated 07/14/2013 is the only picture that I have that shows what it looked like before I attached the front paneling. It attached to the side walls and then I added a couple 1×3’s and the front window frame to the outside of the panel. The picture dated 08/01/2013 shows the inside with the 1×3 for table bracket and the 1x piece below the window that’s put in on the flat to add a little stiffness to the window opening. That was put on after the paneling had been attached. Hope that helps.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Nice found a 56 Shasta yesterday got it home today yellow and white for free can’t wait to get started yours is beautiful

  5. Brad says:

    I just found your page. I just bought a 1956 Model 1500. I love your A/C and will definitely put one it. Thank you for the measurements of the bench seating. The previous owner put in a false wall in the front and screwed in some 1×4 strapping. He threw out the benches and put in swivel chairs. It cut 5″ from the dinette space. Do you have any pictures of the strapping used in the front where you would attach the front plywood? Any help would be appreciated.

  6. Bob says:

    Thanks – I don’t remember the grit, probably something like 200 – 400. The top color is Rustoleum “Almond”.

  7. Zach says:

    What grit sandpaper did you use in between coats? Also do you remember what color that cream is? You did an amazing job!

  8. Bob says:

    Hi Ross,
    Drinking water was put in a removable metal tank that fit in the cabinet above the sink and a spigot would stick out of the hole. Not many of the tanks survived. If you need any measurements, let me know, and good luck with your ’56.

  9. rosskellogg says:

    HI, I am rebuilding a 56 Shasta that I got on craigslist, it was in really bad shape, nothing on the inside. So have been looking at a lot of pictures trying to figure out what the cabents looked like. Yours looks amazing, good job, and great pictures. I am trying to figure out what the cut in the cabinet door above the sink is for. It’s in all the pictures of Shastas I have seen with original cabinets. I am thinking It must be for something important. Do you know what it is for ?

  10. Bob says:

    The 4 year update is: everything is fine… I haven’t had to fix or modify anything. The ’56 Shasta has traveled about 5000 miles and spends the rest of the time under a shed. The $100 paint job has held up well – no fading or touch-ups. That’s probably because of the shed. I used Sherwin Williams primer paint, Valspar on the bottom and Rustoleum on the top. If I were to rebuild another camper, I would paint it with a roller again.

  11. Matthew says:

    Hi Bob,

    How has your Valspar enamel held up since you painted it back in 2014? Would you recommend the same paint? I have debated over using automotive paint or an off-the-shelf paint from a big box store. I’m leaning towards using Valspar or equivalent as you did.

    Thanks in advance.


  12. Bob says:

    I re-used the original siding and it went on pretty easily. Before I put it on, I hammered out all of the bumps and bruises. I used spring clamps to hold the siding up around the windows and other openings, then adjusted it until everything lined up – then stapled it on.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Really nice work was it hard putting the siding back on are did you use new siding

  14. Anonymous says:

    Wow! That’s excellent work! Nice job. I’m about to do something similar with a 1965 Shasta compact trailer. Very inspiring work you’ve done. Thank you!

  15. Bob says:

    I put 15″ wheels and 205/75/15 tires, plus new springs and shackles.

  16. Denny says:

    My 1961 shasta 10ft sets real low to the ground. Did you do some thing to get it up higher

  17. Bob says:

    Thanks, I’m glad that you liked it.

  18. Nos inspira su proyecto felicidades. Hoy iniciamos el nuestro, saludos desde San Quintín, B.C. México.

  19. Bob says:

    Thanks, the ac is isolated into its three different functions. The front is sealed from the rest of the unit and provides cooling to the interior of the camper, the middle section draws outside cooling air through the roof vent, and the rear exhausts the hot air out through the louvered side vent. Originally, I was only going to use one drip pan, but I decided to double it up and use a pan in a pan with a drip tube running through the vent; mainly to keep from having condensate running down the side of the camper and possibly messing up the paint. It turns out that the second pan isn’t necessary as the ac unit doesn’t drip – the moisture blows out with the exhaust air.
    Here’s the only other picture that I have of the ac setup before I put the ac in, the green is insulation board that I had in the hole where the side vent eventually went. You can see the roof vent opening for the cooling air and the electrical outlet in the top left corner.
    ac enclosure

  20. Matthew says:

    I really like how you did everything….among the best i’ve seen, especially the ac design. Am I interpreting what you did correctly: you provided a roof vent with a vertically running chase sealed off from the coach and the rear of the ac in order force air from the roof vent through the top of the ac and out the back of the ac? also, do you have a pic of the drain line? why not let water just drip from the ac onto the the metal drain pan and out the door? A pic would truely be helpful. 🙂 thanks for your reply in advanced.

  21. Bob says:

    Thanks, Gary – I don’t have any information on the early Shasta 1400’s – my 1956 is a 1500. It would probably be really expensive to re-create an exact model from scratch, so I’d try to find an old camper that is similar in style and rebuild it to what you want. In the case of my current project (Roadmaster), I’m changing the appearance of the camper within the confines of the existing frame, siding and door and window openings. Good luck with your project. Bob

  22. Gary says:

    Amazing,thank you for this site.I want to build a trailer that will resemble a shasta 1400, an early one.Would you give me a floorplan drawing with measurements?How long is the frame excluding the tongue?This would really help,thanks if you can.Gary

  23. Bob says:

    Thanks, the A/C works great in that position and it’s not too unsightly from the outside. Very few people recognize that the added vents aren’t original.

  24. Dan Marsh says:

    I love how you vented the condenser on the A/C unit. Simply genius!

  25. Joe says:

    Wow! What, what, what a transition you have done! Amazing transformation.

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