Friday, March 20, 2020

Tin Lizzie and a Teardrop, the New Zealand Beauties

Built by Rusty Skerten at his home in New Zealand.
"I have owned and worked on the truck for over thirty years."

If it's a rustic home built with logs, you might find a photograph of it on Rusty Skerten's Facebook page. If it has an engine and tires and is a classic or a hot rod, there's a good chance Rusty has a photo of it. Rusty Skerten lives near Christchurch, New Zealand, and he thinks it's hard to beat sunsets from his lovely island. The man's a gearhead, a craftsman, and a lover of all things of beautiful and efficient design.

Posted on Rusty's FB page.

Rusty built his camper himself, loosely basing it on "the type of thing they were building following the 1947 Popular Mechanics article" that is a bible for teardrop aficionados. He designed it himself, using a spare set of late Model T mudguards (fenders) and running boards, which are the same as on his truck's body.

"Okains Bay, less than an hour from the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, hardly anyone there." Christmas, 2019.

"I drew the design full size on a large sheet of brown paper," Rusty says. "This has many advantages. It means you can lay on the paper and see how you will fit. If you draw every piece of timber in its square form on the paper and mark the joints, it is easy to get the angles of the cuts with a set square so they fit perfectly. I used a retro fishing theme and had much fun finding old fishing rods and collectables to support this."

"Once the design was finished and a cutting list worked out for the timber and the timber obtained," Rusty continues, "it took only six days to construct the trailer, using only hand tools, a jigsaw, and sander. The windows came from an online bargain site. The axle, hubs, stubs, tow coupling, and jockey wheel cost around $300NZ from a local supplier, and I welded the chassis out of box section. The carved internal cupboards were a lucky find off a period dresser, as was a brass railway luggage rack."

Much of Rusty's travel fun derives not just because of his home-built camper but also because of his pride-and-joy tow vehicle. He takes and shows both at car shows. "I have a lot of fun towing the trailer behind my roadster pickup truck. The body is a 1926 Model T, reportedly the first post office in a truck for Christchurch, NZ. The body is mounted on a Model A Ford chassis with a much-modified Ford Model B motor running through an overdrive and quickchange." This one-of-a-kind tow vehicle recently won the "Best Presented" trophy for its display by the Zephyr & Zodiac Car Club of Christchurch.

Rusty Skerten at Air Force Museum in Christchurch car show, "Best Presented." (February, 2020)

Car show at Christchurch, February 2020.

Photograph of interior.

Even with shop time and car shows, Rusty does get a chance to get out and do some camping. At Christmastime last year, he camped with family to Okains Bay, which is about an hour's drive from Christchurch.

Okains Bay, New Zealand, December 2020.

Okains Bay.

Coming full circle, Rusty Skerten loves to work with his hands. He loves machines that run well and are utilitarian. Classic cars and classic teardrop travel trailers? What a perfect fit that has provided a lifetime of pleasure and fulfillment! Rusty is half a world away from North America, yet it's not always geography that matters. The beauty that Rusty has created and shared wins a trophy for "Best Presented" in our minds and hearts, no matter where in the world we reside.

Keep rolling, Rusty!

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