OK, so with most vintage trailers water staining under the front and rear windows is pretty typical. You will also commonly find it around the roof vent. Our 55 Bellwood is no exception to this. Now while the staining under the windows wasn’t all that bad (I’ve seen much worse trust me), the proper way to fix the issue is by tearing out the offending panel of birch, inspect the framing for damage and replace it. However, I’m not ready to do that with this trailer just yet and while I’m not naive to the fact that those panels will need to be replaced at some point, I’ve decided to save that project until next year.
So in the meantime I’ve improved the look of the staining. This involves lightly sanding the stained areas with 150 grit fine sandpaper and then applying a new coat of Amber shellac. Now keep in mind this will only work if the staining has discolored the wood where it leaves the wood lighter in color than the original (see before pictures below). I could not do this technique with the wood around the roof vent in this trailer because the water staining is much darker and even sanding it doesn’t accomplish much in improving it. What happens is even after you sand it, the shellac seems to attach itself to the darker stained areas and make them even more prominent. There may be a technique out there to improve even the darkest staining but I’m currently not aware of it.
I can’t stress enough to you all that this is only a temporary fix. This is NOT the proper way to restore a trailer. So keep that in mind and know that in my case this is purely for esthetics until I have the time to repair and replace the wood properly.
Here are some pictures so you can see the difference.
Notice the staining isn’t completely gone but wow, quite an improvement right?
Here is the rear bed area. I wish I would have taken better “before” pictures but just so you know the water staining was the same under the right side of the window also. In the “after” photos you can hardly see it now.
So there you go. I will say that Shellac is more of a pain to work with compared to stain. The main reason is stain is more forgiving because it doesn’t dry as fast as shellac. With shellac you have to apply it quickly, using long even strokes. If you try using a sponge brush (been there, done that and it didn’t work well) or paint brush you’ll end up with streaks and marks. So just take a soft terry cloth and ball it up in your hand and dip it into the shellac before applying it. I’m sure other people have their own techniques but this is what has worked for me.