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.

*** UPDATE *** UPDATE *** UPDATE *** UPDATE *** UPDATE ***

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?

27 July 2008

Scrappin', Weather, & my VTS Order

What a buncha weather lately. Lotsa thunderstorms with plenty of drenching rain. Loud thunderstorms. Yes, my friends, that is hail.

Not a lot of progress on Goldie, but I did fabricate a new piece of aluminum to replace the old one. I really like working with metal! I was surprised that it only took about ten minutes to cut & shape both of them. Good deal. I made them longer so they would reach to the wheel well to protect the wood the whole length. After the ground gets a bit more dry, I'll install them with the new wood.

I received my order from Vintage Trailer Supply. To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised. I ordered: Cone Shaped Hubcaps, 2 packages of Privacy Curtain Carriers, An Exterior Doorstop, and a very much needed Table Mount. I would have absolutely no hesitations about recommending this online store. They were fast & the quality of the products is great. And the price for all of those items, including shipping? $68.17

Last night my friend Kim invited me to scrap at her friends house. I guess this is a monthly thing & I'd been invited before, but never went for one reason or another. Boy, have I been missing out!! These women were AWESOME. I hope I get invited back.

I'm making a gift album for the new Happy Couple in Maine. My cousin is getting married next month & I've had this book I made in a Donna Downey class more than a year ago. I loved the book, but didn't have "the right use" for it. It's a book that's meant for lumpy things, because the spine is large & there's plenty of room for tons of ephemera. You can view a slideshow of the album, if you like. I still have about 20 pages to embellish... I hope they like it.

25 July 2008

Countertops, Revealed

Ok, so here goes the esplainin' for the counter tops:

I certainly didn't want to get persnickety about truly vintage or museum accurate restoration, I wanted to remain faithful to a late 1960's feel.

I wanted to avoid something that stood out and overpowered the whole look of the trailer. For instance, I didn't want to walk in & see a "black hole" in my dinette or counter tops. At the same time, I didn't want it to disappear. I wanted somewhat neutral, but not bland. That is why I didn't choose number's 5, 6, or 9.

I wanted something that wasn't in everyone else's trailer... which is why I didn't choose number's 5, 6, or 8. I really loved #8, but I'd heard that that pattern has been heavily used in Airstream Travel Trailers. Ok. Bummer.

It had to coordinate with my flooring as well as my walls. Which is why I didn't choose number's 1, 2, or 3.

I haven't decided on any coordinating colors for my black & white, which is why I didn't choose number's 10, 11, 12, or 13.

While I love checkers, I think 6"x6" checkered floor, along with a 2"x2" checkered table & counter top would have just been too much. That's why I didn't choose number 7. Or number 9 because it's somewhat a checkered look.

I'm a Sister so I really wanted to pick number's 13 or 14. But, I didn't. The ONLY reason I didn't pick 13 or 14 (and it would have been 14!!!) was because it would have been prohibitively expensive for me right now. It would have topped over $250 for the one sheet of 4'x8' laminate in the Zebra pattern I really wanted.

However, when I get my Shasta canned ham I will pick whatever I want, regardless of price. That will be a camper for me. This camper is more for me & my family.

So, now in case you didn't figure it out, I've chosen number four. I think this leaves me plenty of choices for my fabric, it won't overpower the look of the camper, it won't look like a black hole, & if you ask me, it looks like it could be possible that this was something from the 60's.

I put the order in at Lowe's the day before yesterday. They told me it would take about a week. It came yesterday. I was shocked! I can't wait to do that countertop!

22 July 2008

Ooh, Ooh, A Poll!

Ok, so I've selected my countertops. I wasn't going to redo the countertops this year, but honestly the thought of hacking into Goldie again next year or the year after made me wanna toss my cookies.

Here were the ones that I really liked. It might be hard to tell, but #5 is a boomerang pattern. I don't want to give away what I've selected, or which I preferred or which one I REALLY wanted. To see the image larger, click on it.

I've created a poll and I want you to tell me which one you'd select, keeping in mind the "parameters" I used during the selection process. They are:
  • I don't plan on selling this trailer for many, many years. If I do get rid of it, it will only be because I've found the perfect canned ham Shasta. Most likely, this will be given to my daughter.

  • Even though I love the style of the 50's, I wanted to remain faithful to the period of the late '60's, which is what my trailer is.

  • While I don't need everything matchy-match, I certainly want everything to coordinate.

  • My drawer pulls are pictured here.

  • My flooring is 6"x6" black & white checkered, laid (the proper verb conjugation of "lay" has always eluded me, sorry) on the diagonal. This is not something I want to change.

  • I wanted my counterops to be more of a background element, rather than a bold element.

  • I've been called "eccentric" more than once.

  • I want my fabrics to be the bold elements. They are far more easily changeable.

Ok, I could go on (of course!), but I don't want to give anything away. I'll reveal* what I've chosen later. Please make your selection in the new "Countertop Poll" I've created.

Please leave a comment if you wish. I love getting comments.

In case you're interested, there's another poll about YOU and your Vintage Trailering. Hurry up, only 735 more days to vote!!!

Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 were from Formica. The others were by the Wilson Art Indie Collection.

.

*Isn't that cute how I think people care what I'm doing in my trailer?!

21 July 2008

I Finally Removed the Stove

Yeah, when I said, "I finally removed the stove", what I meant was My Dad removed the stove... Ok, my stove is disgusting. It's so disgusting, I'm too embarassed to post a picture on this blog. Oh who the hell am I kidding? I have no shame. Besides, it's not like I made this thing this way.

Just like the rest of the trailer, my stove is a rusty mess. I'll definitely either be buying a new one or, and this is highly doubtful, bringing this one back to life. I have no idea where to start. This is so utterly disgusting, I don't know if it's even worth trying.

This is another project I'd been "saving" because there was "mice evidence" in there, too, just like the front street side.

Has anyone ever seen a range this bad?

Anyway, there were six screws holding it in. There were four under the range hood on the sides, going into the countertop & two more, one on each side, inside the door to the oven. Oh, and there was also a ton of sticky grease for a good, solid adhesion. to the countertop.

Yech.

19 July 2008

The Moment I've been Waiting For!

Yes, it's really happening. I know, I couldn't believe it either! Goldie is finally being put back together. My Father & I made a game plan. He gathered the tools needed & we regrouped. We made another game plan. We sweated. We even got a spot of work done.

If you've been following along, you know that there is "some" water damage in the rear. Ok, in the front, too. And the sides.

Goldie's rear-end, like many 40+ year old women, had a bit of a sag. We tugged & propped, lifted & tucked. You can see here how the trunk door is sitting on the frame & the skin was being crushed underneath. The trunk frame should not be doing that. The skin in the rear should be just skimming the steel frame. Sorry for the poor quality photo. I didn't take a pic of it previous to fixing it, so I had to search for a pic that included the crushed trunk.

Making everything just a tad more complicated, the Loflyte has an obtuse angle in the middle of the wall. Unfortunately, there was no wood left from which to make a template. So, we energetically "discussed" the reassemble.

It was tough, though. He makes his living building. How can I argue with 30+ years experience? Except home building is different from travel trailer building. I've only seen pictures & video's about how others have gone about restoring their Shasta. In the end, we came to some great decisions, I think.

Beneath the ¾" ply floor on each edge is a heavy-duty piece of wood that provides support & a place to screw in the walls.


We didn't have a level floor, so that's where we needed to start. We measured the distance from skin to skin (beyond the studs) & cut a 2x6 to fit that length & gingerly put it between the wooden frame, a tiny fraction of an inch away from each side of the skin.


Looking straight down, this is a Photomerged pic of what we rigged to help us accomplish a level floor:


Those two pieces needed to raised to the level of the steel frame. We used a C-Clamp to bring up the two boards to level.

Once that was completed our next job was the raise the walls, thus raising the rear & fixing the sag. Using small blocks of 1x2's we temporarily propped up the wall. To do this, we found the lowest wall stud that wasn't rotten, & used the simple wedge & lever technique to lift the wall to the proper, level position.

In order to feel like we'd really accomplished something, we cut spacers to drop in temporarily to press the bottom of the rear wall into a better position. We have the ¾" ply, but need to add an additional strip ripped to the proper angle, thus creating a stronger joint. Originally, they were just butted up together, which probably created undue pressure on the angled wall.

Once we decided this was our course of action, this was incredibly easy. It took very little effort to lift the wall & we feel it was the simplest & most effective way to raise the wall. It produced pretty great results! The rear skin is just a whisper above the frame, like I think it originally was.

Overall, we're pretty darned pleased with a job well done today.

17 July 2008

Just thought I'd let you know...

That I must be really getting old because a couple of hours after my little buzz I had a terrible headache. I didn't realize that it was a slight hangover until much later in the night. And, I had a horrible time trying to get up this morning... My little daughter kept saying "wakey, wakey Mom! It's a bee-uu-fee-ul day out! The sun is shining, it's not dawk anymoe".

Can you think of a better way to wake up every morning? I sure can't :)

16 July 2008

Not Quite Clean As A Whistle

She may not be as clean as a whistle yet, but.... {drumroll, please} Goldie is completely, 100%, totally, absolutely: gutted!! Yeah baby. This is the last time I'll be lookin' like this for a long time. This is the last time I'll take a shower & still feel like a thousand fiberglass needles are poking me. Joy! Rapture!

Last night, I only had a section of paneling one foot by three feet to remove. It was so dark inside the camper & I couldn't finish. I'd vowed (on this blog, I think) that I wouldn't leave the Loflyte until every last bit of paneling was out. I was crushed that I couldn't finish. It was dark & I was exhausted.

I'm celebrating this milestone with a Jack Daniel's Lynchburg Lemonade. I just about never drink. I can count on both hands how many drinks I have per year. My favorite drink is a dry Gin & Tonic (Bombay Sapphire ONLY). I know it's an old Lady drink, but I like to do old Lady things like knit & sew and "set outdoors" as my Grammy calls it.

T-A-N-G-E-N-T

Tomorrow will be a clean-up day. I'll steel wool the weird little things on the inside of the skin. Just weird little hangy things... I dunno... I'll shine some more aluminum, I'll Shop-Vac the crevices. It'll be a wonderful dust-mask free day!

OH!! I'm so super excited because the Shasta does NOT smell anymore! There is no "odor". Thank goodness, because I was really getting worried that it would never go away. It didn't wanna make ya gag or anything. I just wouldn't wanna spend a lot of time in a place that smelled like that.

I started to wonder today if I'd get everything back together the right way. LOL A little late?

I'm ¾ of the way done with my drink & I feel completely buzzed. I shit you not.

15 July 2008

It's All Downhill From Here, Right?

I *may* have said this more than once... but the more I work on Goldie, the more I love her. She really is my labor of love. The work I do on her is so physically demanding, and if it didn't drain me so much, I'd work on her more hours per day. It could be that I'm out of shape... I mean, round certainly is a shape, but... It could be that it's so darned HOT in that camper & humid outside, that the energy just gets sapped outta me. I don't really know the exact reason, but after about 6 straight hours, I'm totally pooped out. Should be drinking Gatorade or somethin'?

I've been accused of being simple. I won't deny it. Here ya go, I'll defend it. Look how reflections amuse me:

Hi :)

Peace, du-u-u-de

But, it really was a beautiful day. My fingers tend to "sausage out" in the humidity. I inhereted that wonderful trait from my Grammy. Thanks, Gram :)

Ok, back to blogger business. Today I was a busy bee. I did some aluminum cleaning, buffing & polishing.

I made steel wool pads into little piles of pokey, painful shards.

.......Before.........20 Minutes of Steel Wool......After Polishing

My front window is terribly oxidized. The aluminum is pitted. It almost looked dirty because of the amount of oxidation. That's not mud! The before is on the left. The center is after about 20 minutes of rubbing with #0000 steel wool & the right is after a polishing with Mother's Polish.

Polishing has become my favorite part of restoring Goldie. It's almost a meditative thing. I sit alone (cuz heaven knows my teenage helper thinks it's like, um totally boring?) and gently buff the aluminum, watching the lively glow return. Then, the exciting part. I get to polish. An amazing shine emerges! I actually have to restrain myself from using the polish. I don't want to have to polish aluminum twice (even though I love it), so I do my best to wait until they're ready to be re-installed. It's a process that has an almost immediate gratification. Isn't that what human beings crave? ...... ....... ........ ...... .......

14 July 2008

If at first you don't succeed, swear, try again...


If you take only one thing away from this blog, it should be this: When renovating/restoring/rehabbing/changing the curtains/whatever (!!) a vintage travel trailer; everything single thing inside is absolutely, without a doubt, connected to the next. Ok, the only possible exception to this rule could be the door.

Originally the plan was start in the back. Gut the back, re-frame the back, re-panel the back. Followed by the Center, then finally the front. This was the only spot that remained to be gutted. The street side front corner was very badly rotted, due to the mice that lived there. They certainly made a "network" up there. The wood is compost. For those reasons, I'd been avoiding that corner. "Saving" it, if you will.

This particular window really fought me. It took me about an hour to get out. The screws were insanely rusty & the putty was super-sticky. I even had to recruit my older helper. She was thrilled and eager to help. Not!

Anyone that's done a renovation or restored a vintage camper knows things rarely go as planned. And... even though I didn't think it would happen to me, (yeah, really) it has.

I've been waiting a couple, few weeks (I try not to keep track) for Dear Ol' Dad to help out with the back end walls. It just ain't hap'nin. While I don't want to nag, I also don't want to sit... ...and wait to do more work.

I've wasted some time lallygagging & "relaxing". Now I'm ready to work. LOTS. And for several hours a day. Daily. When it doesn't rain of course. We're expecting clear(ish) skies tomorrow & most of Wednesday, then clear again until at least Friday.

Yesterday, I decided that I would finish ripping out the paneling that I'd put off previously. See, in the front, as well as the back & above the kitchen sink, there are long windows which are approximately six feet long. Because of the span, the aluminum "trim" on the inside has two or three staples under the frame that keeps the trim from slipping out from underneath the window. You can see this trim in the above picture.



In order to remove the paneling, I have to remove the trim. In order to remove the trim without damaging it, I have to remove the window to get at the staples. I was delaying removing the other windows for the obvious reason of water leakage! The back window is already out, so it must be tarped whenever there is a possibility of rain. I just didn't want more potential water entry points.



You may be wondering, what's the big whoop? Take the window out & then just put it in. Well, to make a long story even longer... It's not a big whoop to remove a window. Really. It's not even a big whoop to put it back. It's quite easy. It's probably the easiest job on the whole camper!

However...

When you remove a window, you have a very large window hole. Every time you take a screw out & put another one back in, you're going to stretch the screw hole a little bit. Not only that, you can't reuse the butyl tape ($5 per 50/ft roll), so you're not only wasting time & stretching the aluminum, you're wasting resources. I try to be as green as possible, while using as little green as possible :)

Before you just stick the window back in, you need to do repairs to the framing (and you know I have a lot!) and install the paneling. All of these little hitches would be avoided if I just had a covered, dedicated workspace.

I'd also prefer that the windows be out while I paint the outer skin. I have to be realistic, though. I'll have to tape around them, or paint Goldie now. I can't imagine painting her now... but? Who knows? It would be the perfect time! [The wheels are now spinning!!] I would need to do a bit of body work before I painted her...

A while back I purchased steel screws with a nickel coating. Those will rust over time. One thousand screws were only $15. A great deal, but I would have to either paint the screw heads (yuck) or replace them again in a couple of years (double yuck).

I need about 750 screws, which is quite a large quantity. I've priced them out retail and the cheapest I could find them was about $175. I've managed to get them wholesale, and cut the price nearly in half. I'll get 800 screws for about $92. Thanks again to my Father being the the construction biz. Thanks, Dad!

Tomorrow I will remove that little bit of paneling and fiberglass insulation, therefore ending my affair with dust mask. Pity.

On the super-exciting note, I was able to work in my camper barefoot!!! I love being barefoot. It's a simple pleasure of mine & I relish it.

If I have enough daylight & energy left after removing the last bit of paneling, I'll polish that front window & drip rail. I'm excited to see how they turn out!

09 July 2008

Even the Littlest Victories Should Be Celebrated

Another hard day of workin'. I used steel wool to clean the rear window. It started out like this:

and after gently rubbing with #0000 steel wool, ended up like this:


It took seven hours for a six foot long window. I did the outside & the inside. I did not use the Mothers Polish yet. I'm going to wait until they're ready to be installed before I polish them.

I absolutely love aluminum. It oxidizes over the years, but will polish up like new with a little elbow grease. I'm so pleased with my ol' lady, Goldie.

It never even rained today :)

08 July 2008

Um, Was That Really Necessary?!

Feeling very secure in the fact that I fall (sometimes quite literally "fall") into the "Queen Dipshit" club at least once per day. I would be willing to lay down serious money that there's someone reading this blog at this moment thinking what a QD I must be :) Therefore, I feel the need to nominate whomever tarred the roof fridge vent on my Loflyte into the "King Dipshit" club.

As a matter o' fact, I may just skip the nomination & jump right to the Life Membership for this particular man. And I assure you, it was a man... LOL I mean, if he were here right now, I'd walk up to him & say, "Dude, did ya ever hear of Brylcreem? Well, they had this little slogan, 'A little dab'll do ya!' K?" Better yet, "If you can't do it right, don't do it at all."

I mean, come on... TAR???

While this may not look heinous, believe you me, it was awful. I cannot even imagine people who've tarred the whole roof!! O my heavens.

Ok, enough hating on the poor guy :)

As you may know, I'm a scrapper. I'm no stranger to a heat gun. However, this heat gun would possibly heat my entire house in the dead of winter in under a minute. This ain't no crafty cute heat gun. This is a manly melt-your-quad-from-your-femur heat gun. We're talkin' major British Thermal Units!

In my estimation, I scraped up about 14 square inches of tar today. It took the better part of 4 hours for those measly 14 square inches.

You'll need to gather a few things to remove the tar. First, you'll need a heat gun. Go big or go home. This little craft Heat Gun will simply not do. The tar will come up easier with more heat. But be careful because as good ol' Dad says, "It'll burst into flames."

I have also, up until this point, failed to tell you that I'm absolutely petrified of heights. The height of Goldie requires me to be up about five feet off the ground. Mind you, I get dizzy while standing on an eight inch step. Changing light bulbs in my living room can be a white knuckled experience.

Because of this, scraping the tar posed a challenge. I had to be about 5 feet up on an A-frame ladder. For some reason, I was wearing clogs. (?) Uh, yeah... so I misfired a couple of times & burned myself. I hastily bandaged one, it'll probably scar. The other one looks like a Lyme Disease bulls-eye. Fun!

You'll also need a plastic scraper. I think a metal scraper would damage the [fairly] delicate aluminum. Oh, use a scraper you never want to see again. You'll need a scrap of wood. I used some paneling that I ripped out of the inside. It should be sturdy so you can scrape the tar onto it. Also, you'll need rags that you'd otherwise throw away. Lastly, a pair of safety glasses & gloves might not be a bad idea. And... kiss your manicure goodbye (see pics above).

This is the aluminum cap that goes over the vent hole. There are four clips that keep the cap on. Gently bend all four clips up & carefully remove the cap. If you snap off the clips, you'll be quite sad.

Here's how I cleaned up the blessed tar:

  1. Heat the tar to be removed. You may perceive a slight physical change in appearance. Do not over heat. [see paternal direction, above]
  2. Use plastic scraper to remove excess tar. You will probably need to do this several times to the same spot.
  3. Scrape removed tar onto scrap wood.

  4. Repeat steps 1-3 ad naseum, or until physically exhausted, thus unable to continue.
  5. Once you can see the metal, you'll still have a residue. Heat the residue around the screws & wipe off with rags you never want to see again. Before you wipe, make sure you aim the heat gun in another direction. Duh? Probably... but... ya know...
  6. Remove all the screws once you've cleaned around them. The one good thing about the tar is the screws will still be as perfectly preserved.

Once the vent is removed, continue to heat & wipe away the tar with a rag. It's very easy to do. The heat gun also warms up the butyl tape so that can be cleanly wiped away. This is good to know for the rest of my seams, as the tape is quite hard & brittle.


This is my temporary repair, using the aluminum backed adhesive. This is a waterproof short-term solution.

Even though the forecast for tomorrow is for thundershowers, I'm gonna shine some aluminum under my work area tent. I can't think of better way than to have fun than hold something metalic, while sitting under a steel frame shade tent, that is sitting next to a large tin box during an electrical storm. I might soak my feet in some epsom salt water for good measure.

All nice & Clean!

Blog more later? We shall see!