30 March 2010

Oh my, my, my...

Yes, it's been over a year. I guess my excuses are: I've moved 1200 miles last summer, I've started college full time, and most sad: I have been forced to leave my beloved Goldie in Connecticut.

Now, I live in Florida. I'm in college full time, my major is nursing, but I'm working on pre-req's at the moment. There's is lots of work, and thankfully, less than a month left in this, my first semester.

I hope to get Goldie down here as soon as possible. I'll admit that I probably won't have time to work on her, but I do greatly miss the ol' Gal.


02 March 2009


More snow. yay.

As soon as this excrement melts, I'm going to get restarted on the redo.
This winter has been exceptionally harsh. I don't think I've seen this amount of snow fall about a decade. I got about a foot within the last 24 hours alone. And it's been cold. Really cold.

Spring, oh lovely spring... where art thou?

11 August 2008

Roof Fridge Vent Installed!

I feel it necessary to preface this blog entry by re-iterating what great adhesive quality the aluminum duct tape has. I mean, it's simply amazing. Once this stuff cures in the sun, you need three men & a boy to remove it. Or a woman with a heat gun & lots of course steel wool. If you're wondering what the fridge vent looked like when someone else "fixed" the leak with tar, please refer to this post. Just be prepared for a bitter, annoyed woman.

I did a temporary fix that looked like this because I didn't have the stainless steel screws to replace the nickel plated ones. Well, I do now! I set out to actually complete a project. Go me!

Let's be honest here. There is not one single, solitary thing that's easy when restoring a vintage camper. Aside from polishing aluminum, I've found nothing that works the first time. Of course, this is my first vintage travel trailer restoration, so I'm a novice, a rookie, a greenhorn, if you will.

It took me about an hour to remove the aluminum duct tape. I'm not proud of this, I'm just sayin'. I had to bring out my nemesis... This time, there were no injuries. When I was done, it looked like this:

Satisfactorily Clean!

I cleaned the surface using a degreaser before putting down the butyl tape (sorry, no pic of the tape down). I marked where the screw holes were with by poking the butyl tape in apposing corners & then lining up the marks with the screw holes on the bottom of the vent cover.

I put the screws in one by one (duh). Once they were all in, but not snug, I wanted to make sure that the seal was a good one... Using my simple brain I thought that maybe if I tightened them like you're supposed to tighten the lug nuts on a tire, you might get the best, most uniform seal... So that's what I did. Did it help? ...dunno... But if it leaks, I may cry. Like I said, I don't really know what I'm doing. I'm just winging it.

After I tightened to what I thought was a good tension, I carefully trimmed the excess butyl tape (some should squeeze out the sides!) and carefully put the cap back on.

Unfortunately, the rail that holds on the cap is spot welded & is apparently not stainless. The clips at the end have rusted. I cleaned them with a wire brush & steel wool as much as I dare. I'd really hate to snap them off!

This is a little side note. The bottom portion of the vent is clean. It looks like there is a tar residue, and there is. However this residue less than paper thin. It's a strictly cosmetic issue. I could have used steel wool to remove this. I chose not to because it doesn't affect the stainless steel vent in any way, it's just a residue, and most importantly, you can't see it. It would have just taken another hour to do it, but I wasn't interested in being that darned perfect. It's so thin, it's more like a stain than a residue.

It'll be our little secret.

To Err is Human...

And we've done plenty of erring lately. It's mostly just blunders & rookie mistakes, rather than blatant stupidity. I mean, hey... at least we're gonna fix 'em.

As I've said several times, my father builds house (beautiful houses, AAMo'F) and insists on quality work that is perfectly square (YAY!). It's far more difficult to make something "perfectly square" that sits on something that gives, shimmies, & shakes. So, here's the deal: in order to get the proper width, we forgot to figure in the width of the paneling. The walls do not rest on the floor, as they do in traditional housing. The walls are screwed to the supports under the floor.

When these trailers were assembled, it's become apparent to me, that they were built in large pieces, then assembled those pieces onto the frame. By that I mean, the street side wall was completely framed, insulated, & paneled... so was the curbside wall, then the front, back & roof. Those completely assembled & finished pieces were brought over to the trailer frame, nailed together, the cabinets & counters were screwed in, then the pre-finished skin was stapled on, finally the aluminum drip rails were screwed on & voila!

Of course I could be wrong, but that's what I think.

So, in assembling it that way, in order to get a true, straight, square wall, you must add that paneling width between numbers 2 & 3 (refer to this picture) or your wall will taper in the back, creating "baggy" skin. Baggy skin would probably be fine while camping. Traveling down the road at any speed wouldn't be advisable, however.

It was funny because on Saturday, when we were casually chatting I made the remark, "I'm not sure if it matters, but the paneling was added before the wall was put on, so the paneling was between plywood floor & the wall studs."

My father either didn't pay attention to the remark or didn't hear & it didn't even occur to me to make sure he heard. So Sunday, when we were trying to figure out why the wall still looked slightly out of whack to my eye, we were brainstorming as to why that could be... my father said, "unless there was something between the wall & the floor..." and I chimed in with my index finger pointing upward in a "Eureka" moment, I declared, "there was paneling between the floor & the wall studs!" Dad promptly said, "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I did," I said. "Yesterday. I don't think you heard me because you were deep in thought, & for some reason it didn't occur to me to repeat myself."

It didn't matter, we were relieved that we found the just over quarter inch we were looking for. The paneling that came out was 5/32". 5/32"×2= 10/32 = 5/16".

Just over a quarter inch. What a pisser, huh?

We're going to unscrew the reinforced floor supports we did on Saturday & put a piece of 5/32" KOMA Board on each side wall, and screw it back up... I mean screw it back together. I decided on the KOMA Board because I think putting paneling back between the walls is just asking for moisture to be wicked up the wall, in to the interior. Not good. Not something I want.

My father will fabricate the right size KOMA Board using his table saw to cut it first to the proper width of 4", then standing it on end & cutting it to the correct thickness. Cutting to the correct thickness will require two passes, because the table saw blade only raises 2½" above the level of the table. He is able to cut anything to the proper thickness that is 5" wide or less. Anything wider than that would have to be brought to a lumber yard & planed to the proper thickness. I'm glad my Dad is willing to help :) Without him, picture me in a canoe on a brown creek.

Another thing we're doing to improve the durability in the corners is we're using mahogany, which resists rot a helluva lot better than pine. Also, in another funny FYI moment, all the boards used in the framing are 1×2's that actually measure ¾×1¾ (common), but the corners as well as the board below the trunk door all actually measure 1"×2". Just a little something to think about if you're restoring yours... not all the lumber may be the same, even if they look it. It's best to replace the lumber with same measurements as what was there. It may throw things out of whack if you don't & if you aren't vigilant & aware of your measurements. I'm sure there are also strength issues if you don't use the proper lumber.

By the time we get to the street side, we should be experts. heh.

09 August 2008

Baby Steps!

We worked another 5 hours today & got a two more boards replaced!! I know, that doesn't sound like much, but it was huge for my Dad & me.

When there's nothing to make a template because it's all rotted mulch, there's a LOT of measure, "figger", measure, cut, wiggle in, nibble off, fit, maybe nibble some more, pound a bit, screw in to place.

We traced the skin onto the pine board to get the right radius' on the back & in the wheel well. We then used a jig saw to cut the shape to a precise fit.

You see here in my pic, I've labeled some items. Number one is a nice piece of Mahogany. Being completely unprotected underneath, it really
needed to be a hardwood. At least I thought. Pressure treated was NOT an option IMO.

Piece number two is the original wood. It had some rot, but was still structurally sound. My father said we "could" have probably left it as it was & used a product to fix the bad parts & fill it in, but that wasn't really good enough for me. I wanted it to be doubly good.

Number three is the aluminum that wraps number four, the pine 1×4. Originally, there were two 1×2's, but I wanted to just use one piece because I thought one piece was a better idea than two... I'm not really sure why they used two pieces of stacked 1×2's? Making the aluminum that wraps the pine go from back wall to wheel well worked out perfectly. I made it taller & longer than the original piece & with a thicker gauge. Nice.

You can see by the pic, that the wall is still a bit torqued. It is a bit worrisome, but that happened because the rear was about 1" out of square¹, so we had to tap it back in with a hammer. It's still not perfectly square (& it is a little scary for me to see it like that!) but it will be pretty shortly. We really want to get those rear walls off the 2×6 supports that they're on... still! I would really hate for those boards to have developed a memory in that bowed state!!

On a more frustrating, although not surprising note, I had a leak that caused more damage!! It either leaked from the fridge vent on the wall (which I forgot to close all the way OR it leaked from the fridge vent in the roof that I'd taken off & sealed temporarily with the aluminum tape... The tape worked really well where I'd pushed it down hard enough to seal it.

There were a couple of places were I wasn't able to push down hard enough to seal well. Some water may have leaked in where the gaping hole was, but I'm sure it was a mix of the two vents. You can bet I won't let that happen again! "We learn as we go." [about half-way down the page] LOL

I got the stainless steel screws, so that fridge vent goes in first thing tomorrow morning. I'm excited to use the butyl tape for the first time!

¹Goldie's rear was out of square. We remedied that by first raising the walls up to the proper height using a simple lever system & propping it up with blocks of wood. (See this post for how we did that!) Keep in mind there's a lotta shimmying & measuring, tapping & remeasuring. It may seem tedious & like you may not be accomplishing much, but you'll get it! So try not to get discouraged!

After we got it to the right height, we needed to move the support system we'd rigged from the steel I-beams back to the plywood about 12" father back... this was poor planning on our part. You can see our original set up here and to where we moved it {below}. If we'd thought it through more, we would have realized that we couldn't work with the support system right in front of us. No biggie. Just move it back, so we did.

It just so happened that two 2×6's were the proper height that it needed to be lifted. We cut two 2×6's to 85 ¹/8", lifted the walls with said levers, & wedged them under the 1×2 framing. I may be making this sound far more difficult that it really is, here's a pic:

As soon as this pressure is released from these, the bowing will go away.

The rear needed to be shimmied a tad to the left (street side), so we used 3½" deck screws to screw them together, then screwed another 12" piece of the 2×6 on top of that, and gently tapped it until the walls/floor were centered on the frame.

Squaring up these walls is a tedious & delicate operation requiring a lot of patience & perseverance. Even though my Dad has 30+ years of construction experience, it still took us hours, so just don't give up if you're tackling this important part of the job!

The stainless steel hex screws for the exterior ended up costing $33 more than I'd expected due to the "online catalog" only being updated once per year. Um? Huh? Whatev. The box of stainless screws went from $10 a box to $14 a box. Quite a jump, right? Yeah, 40% more than the quoted catalog price? Wow!

31 July 2008

Whine & Cheese

I called Lowe's & spoke with a most helpful guy. I told him about my thoughts on the countertop. He checked his sample of Flint Crystall, and in my best guess, I did in fact receive the right laminute. Which means that Formica has pretty much, IMO, misrepresented their pattern. But, I suppose I should have gone to Lowe's or HD to look at their tangeable samples... It's a real bummer that their picture vs. what the pattern actually is, is so different. The Flint Crystall that's represented at Formica is really, really nice. What I expected, was a larger pattern (¼"-½") and lots of contrast. Maybe I should fire off an email? Onward!

28 July 2008

Counter Tops, Revisited

Ok, there's the counter top, unfurled. I've had it for several days. I've looked at it several times. I must say that I'm slightly dissapointed. I feel like the picture was not representative of what the pattern looks like.

This is a close up of the pattern. When I saw the sample at the Formica website, it looked like a larger pattern. I expected the white spots to be more white & much larger than they are. I expected them to be about between ¼" and ½", but they're really about an eighth inch. It's also very muted. There's not much contrast.

Don't get me wrong, it is gorgeous. I probably would have gotten in anyway, but it's just not what was represented & it's not what I expected. I'm going to keep it, it's nice.

I can't wait to glue'er down.


After looking back at the Formica website, it appears that I may have gotten the one on the left called Nightmist OR the one on the right called Silverado. I'm going to have to call Lowe's in the morning... Don't you think these ones look more like the one I have than the does Flint Crystal?