21 February 2008

No such luck.

Well, I asked more specific questions to the seller of that cute little Shasta. The only reply I received was CC: to a bunch of others that had emailed the seller, saying that they were going to show the trailer to the interested parties in the order in which the request was received.


But like I've said, everything happens for a reason. Also, that style of Shasta isn't really what I'm looking for. I'm in love with the canned ham and I think that cab-over repair work was more that I can do myself.

I'll need to do all repair work myself, I figger. I plan on humbly asking my lil' brother to help with wiring, but other than that... I'll just borrow the power tools & do my best. I'll probably ask my fathers opinion after I complete the work. I'm good at figuring things out.

Today isn't the best day for the Shasta, anyway. Still more things to think about and work out beforehand.

...off the fight the good fight...

18 February 2008

Could it be? So soon?

There’s still a lot that I didn’t say about that great trip in December of ‘96.

But, isn’t this supposed to be about my search for a Shasta? Sometimes the best laid plans…

I’ve found a great trailer on Craigslist.org. The trailer is in Williamstown, NJ, about 4 1/2 hours from my home. The current owner lives in Pennsylvania, but it’s being stored where she camps during the summer. My older daughter loves it because it’s a “cab-over” design. She wants to sleep up there really badly. I don’t prefer the cab-over design, as I’m in love with the canned-ham look.

It appears from the pictures to be in awesome shape for a girl over 45. She’s got very little water damage. She’s a 1961 Shasta Astroflyte or Astrodome. I’ll have to research more to figure that one out. The interior wood looks to be in awesome shape. That was a pleasant surprise. Too many times I see water stains everywhere, which is a tell-tale sign that there could be rotting wood beneath. I hate to see black water stains. Decomp. That’s never good, with anything.

She’s 17’ long. Right now she’s got no paint on her exterior whatsoever. To me that’s a plus! No paint for me to strip! I want to paint & decorate her in my own style! She’s got the rusty screws & drip marks from them. That should polish right off & I plan on replacing all the screws. I was expecting rusty screws, staples, & nails anyway. No biggie!

The body appeared to be in awesome shape, probably just general prep work before the new paint job. It’s got a POTTY!! That’s something I really, really wanted. I have two kids & I get up a few times per night… Although if I couldn’t find a Shasta with a potty, it would have been easy to get a chemical porta-potty.

She’s so round!! I like the pre ‘65 models because around ‘64 or ‘65, they get boxy, they’re angular …yuck... It looses the feel of the “vintage” trailer and jumps right to old. Somehow, vintage trumps old.

I don’t know the condition of the leaf springs or the tires & bearings. That could present an issue, if I wanted to tow it away that day. My little brother has a flat bed trailer, but I don’t know if it’s long enough to accommodate the 17’. I would be willing to lay down money to guess that it wouldn‘t be long enough. But let’s not be pessimistic.

The problem area that I saw in the pictures was above the cab-over bed. It looked like the roof vent leaked pretty good, and the wood is warped and probably rotted, but in either case it will need to be replaced. BUT if that’s truly the only damage, WHAT A DEAL AT ONLY $500!

I wonder what I would tow ‘er home with? As we speak I’m at my car dealership. I’m waiting to hear if my transmission is bad. Yep, my tranny. An integral part of the machine that needs to be a strong part in order to tow my baby. I think while I’m here I’m going to pick the brain of a mechanic to see about my towing capacity. Maybe if the tranny does need to be replaced I could replace it with a beefier transmission, more adept at pulling a larger load.

My dad’s got a truck. A nice big Dodge 2500. My little brother’s got a truck, a nice big Ford F-250 Diesel. I don’t think borrowing a tow vehicle would be a problem. Storage is what I worry about.

See, I rent my apartment from my father. I know there’s no way on Earth that my father would EVER contemplate letting me store her in the driveway. I’d have to rent a storage unit. Another $150/mo. Don’t know if I could swing that. Well, I know I could, but I don’t know if I want to swing that.

I can feel it. I want her! I’m excited. I want to make the right choice. If it’s not an awesome trailer, then I want to skip it. But the interior wood looks to be in great shape. I know it was camped in just last year. I know that the roof leak was fixed because the guys’ 94 year old Aunt loved to camp in her. At least that’s what I was told. I tend to trust people who seem trustworthy.

She’s in a camp ground right now, being stored for the winter.

Part of my logical “Mommy” brain says that now is not the time because I don’t have a place to put it & I don’t want to shell out money each month for a storage unit. But then the other part of my brain, you know the fun side, says that people wait forever for the “right time” for lots of stuff. The right time never comes. We only get one spin on this little planet & you should live to be happy. But I also believe you should not be happy to the point of irresponsibility. Does that make sense?

Maybe this isn’t the perfect time for this trailer. Maybe I’m not meant to have it. I know that everything happens for a reason & if I’m meant to have it, I will. The transaction will work out with little effort. Anytime you try to hard to get the universe to bend to your desires, it never ends well.

The good news is, that it’s February 18th. Mercury goes direct today. I believe in this stuff so much, that originally I had an appointment for my car to be serviced on February 8th. After thinking about it, I rescheduled it for today. It's been about three weeks of very difficult times with Mercury in retro-grade, I feel relief. I started to feel it on Thursday, the actual physical feeling of relief. I felt the universe starting to work with me, instead of woefully against me. It was nice.

My Uncle Jr, whom I mentioned him in my last post, is the best. He used to moonlight at a small used RV dealership. He knows a LOT about trailers. He gave me a brief description about what to look for, and the problem areas of vintage travel trailers. I am so grateful for his input.

Last night, when I got an email from the lady who’s selling her trailer, I forwarded all the pictures she sent me & asked his opinion about the trailer. To say the least, I’m eagerly awaiting his reply. I may just call him tonight or perhaps even stop over his house after I take my daughter to karate.

The lady who currently owns the trailer said she’s available to show the trailer on Wednesday or her husband can show it on Friday. Friday would be better, because Friday is payday.


Very good news! My transmission is not “bad”. There are some electric sensor issues, however. And to fix them will cost about $620. Not bad. I was thinking that there was a possibility that I might leave here $2500 poorer. I’ll take the $620!! I may also get an external transmission cooler. We’ll have to see what the cost of that is!

I picked the service department guys’ brain & he said that my vehicle is recommended to tow 2000lbs. I would want to keep it well under that, around 1500lbs, just to be safe. That makes me think I need to search for a smaller camper. But, we’ll see. Maybe a really cool “antique” tow vehicle will fall in my lap for $500! HA! You never know! What is meant to be is meant to be! I’m more willing to surrender to that than I’ve ever been in my life. It’s a much more stress free way to live!

My father is on his way to come get me. I’ll probably be waiting here for nearly an hour, and I’m all out of story to tell…

17 February 2008

...the Affair begins...

It all started a couple of years ago. I was watching the Travel Channel and saw Sisters on the Fly... Well now, that's not entirely accurate. Let me start at the very beginning...

I was 19 years old when my parents bought this RV around 1996. It was OLD. Or so I thought at the time. I think it may have been a 1973?

Anyway, I fell in love with that old RV. It was a Dodge something or other. I'll have to ask my parents. We called her "Putty". Ain't she a beaut!?

My parents stripped her down, gutted her insides. My father is a builder so this was right up his alley. I was shocked to find these things were made of wood. And they were framed like a house?? I don't know what the heck I thought it'd look like on the inside. The interior of the cab was in really good shape, surprisingly. I believe the mileage was somewhere around 65-75k.

I don't recall there being any damage to her, it was just ugly. It had that lovely 70's "wood-looking" paneling, which my parents replaced with something a bit cuter. All the appliances were original & they worked, just needed some sprucing. It even had a toilet/shower combo! I wish I had more pics of that great camper. Even though she was ugly, I still loved her with all of my <3.

My Great Uncle Ted (who shall herein be lovingly called "UT"), who really is a generous & loving man, helped my parents. He helped make the roof leak-proof. My little brother & mom stole several steel stop sign posts to reinforce the roof. UT thought that these posts should be slightly curved (like a school bus roof) to let the water drain off. In order to accomplish this, he rigged a ramp with cinder blocks & the posts and ran up onto the posts with his truck. That met with limited success, but worked well enough... The posts had a graceful arc. They also put some sort of membrane over the finished roof to keep it from leaking. I think the membrane was black, but I couldn't see it.

The Great UT always wants to help, he loves us. You really have to know UT... he is somewhat eccentric! He mixed some paint for the inside cabinetry. My mom was very grateful. but. every. single. color. he. mixed. was. pink. Light pink, lighter pink, medium pink... They were all pink. She tried to like it, but couldn't.

I remember with such fondness making new seat covers for the couches & valences for the windows with my mom. Of course, she picked a "flair-ed-y" (say flower-dy, with a southern accent) material, naturally. It was actually nice! Can you believe those white curtains were original?? We also made coordinating throw pillows & an adorable flair-ed-y vase with the left over fabric bits.

My mom finally just went out & bought a lovely cream color & a cranberry for the contrast on the bevel cuts of the cabinets & drawers. I'm not sure if UT knew that, as we'd never want to hurt his feelings. My mom bought some really cute flair-ed-y drawer pulls.

My Mom even crocheted all of us a pair of slipper socks. We had such great fun preparing for our maiden voyage!!

Mom & Dad installed this absolutely wonderful carpeting. It was like velvet. It was the nicest carpet I’d ever felt. The RV was small, so my parents were able to use remnants from my older step-brothers' bedroom carpet. My Dad ordered new countertops from Home Depot & they looked GREAT!

After much renovation she was ready. But were we? ha! really?

The Maiden Voyage

We were heading to Florida to spend Christmas with my Grandfather, Pop-Pop. He is UT's brother. UT was going to meet us at the commuter lot in Chester, CT. He was hours late. We were only about 2 miles from our house hours after we left the driveway. Can anyone say Omen?

My Grammy was coming along for the ride & was to be dropped of at my Aunt's house in Georgia. She was going to spend the holidays with her daughters' family, not with Pop-Pop, her ex-husband. Who can blame her?

I remember pulling out of the driveway, feeling like I may never return home alive again. I even said, as we were pulling away, "I changed my mind, I want to stay home." I remember feeling very uneasy about the way Putty felt as she drove down the road... that swaying feeling... and without seatbelts, I felt like I would die in a crash. I probably would have.

I should probably correct myself there. There were seatbelts on the couch, but they were lap belts. And they were bolted, I believe, to the wood. Yeah, like that would shatter into a million pieces as I hurtled from my seat.

In 1996, not everyone had a cell phone... really, they didn't. I know I didn't. And UT sure as hell didn't! So, there we were, helplessly stuck at the commuter lot, trying to communicate by CB radio. We got really bored, so we ate. My Mom buys the best "travel food". When I figure out to transfer my video to computer, I'll post that video.

Have I mentioned it was December 2oth in CT? In case you don't know, it's cold in CT at that time of year. Of course, Mom & Dad had tested the furnace prior to our maiden voyage & it had worked beautifully.

That is to say, it worked beautifully while we were stationary. As soon as we got on down the road, the pilot light was snuffed out, and we froze. Guess how long it took us to figure out why we had heat when we were stopped, but not on the road? 'Til Georgia. I shit you not. It just so happened, there was snow on the ground well into Virginia. Even then, it wasn't warm until we hit Georgia.

Yeah, it got so cold that our jugs of water froze at night. And NO, they aren't stoned, just hypothermic!

Oh, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Here is an actual journal excerpt from that vacation:

"It's Saturday afternoon and we are in Virginia. Wait, let's start at the beginning.

Friday Night 7PM

Uncle Ted calls and says, "Let's meet at exit 6, Rt.9 Commuter Parking Lot." Ok! we are there at 7:30pm. No Uncle Ted. I think he showed up around 8:30PM. We finally get on Rt. 9, past exit 7, exit 8... at exit 9 there is a wicked shimmy. After much fussing, we return home. We pick up two wheels at home and head to Uncle Ted's in Clinton on only 3 rear wheels. They do something to the tires and it takes hours! The men are freezing outside. We finally leave at Midnight.

Our heat goes out. We freeze until Pennsylvania. It was below 32°, because the water froze in their jugs. At 4AM we get heat for just three hours. What a TEASE!

We sat at a Pennsylvania Texaco from 4AM until 7AM. We start to go again.

OH! I forgot to say why we are stopped in Pennsylvania. Our engine was smoking so profusely, we couldn't see out the windshield. Luckily, it was just a spray of anti-freeze. Also, we heard a loud pop. Just as lucky, that was just 2 hoses that blew off.

So, it was freezing going down the highway in Pennsylvania. We stopped at about Noon so we could eat. The heat fixed (again), the fridge refired (again), we are happy!! It's 3:30 now. The engine smokes occassionally. We should make it.

We are approaching 24 hours on the road. We're only in Pennsylvania. Actually, it's approaching 24 hours since we left the house for the first time, we certainly haven't been "on the road". We've mostly been parked in driveways, sides of the road, rest stops, etc.

Really, it's been OK. I've only had to use the bathroom twice, only bumped my head twice. I haven't thrown up yet, only a few spills, but they've cleaned up nicely. Not so bad.

Richard is so anal! "

Saturday, December 21, 1996

The journal entries continue:

" More Problems! Last night we stopped in North Carolina. Our engine is in some interesting shape. Some water poured from the engine & Dad speculated it to be the water pump.We are on the road now, the RV is running well... and for Karmic reasons, I don't want to talk about it.

We've been in this camper for 36 hours. That's a lot longer than we had expected. A LOT longer. We're still only in North Carolina, 60 miles to South Carolina.

Gonna Go!

December 22, 1996

We eventually did make it to Florida. We had a "Christmas to Remember". I won't comment as to the reasons why it was so memorable. It just was. That's for a different blog altogether! LOL

The way home was no less eventful. Gramma needed to be picked up on our way through Georgia. We again had problems in the Mid-Atlantic region:

" More Problems! Yesterday we started out fine until we picked up Gramma. Our water pump went -- again. We didn't get back on the road until 6:30PM. We had started out at 9:15AM, got Gramma at 1:05PM, and had trouble at 1:07PM. The repairs were finally done by 6:30PM and we were on the road again!

Then, last night Dad heard a pop and thought some kids had thrown a firecracker are the RV. But, it turned out it was a tire blowing out. We did not discover the ruptured tire until this morning about 10AM. Now, it's 11:30AM and we're getting the tire changed as we speak... in North Carolina. "

December 30, 1996

You may be wondering why on earth, when we live in CT, we'd go through Pennsylvania to get to Florida. The honest to god answer is... UT won't pay tolls. So, Yeah... we'll drive several hundred miles out of the way to avoid $15 in tolls. Go figure! When our water pump kept pooping out, UT had the great idea of fashioning a new one from a hollowed out tree limb. I shit you not! It probably would have worked, too. Thankfully, we didn't have to resort to that.

So, as you can see, this RV planted the seed of my trailer lust. Looking back on this trip, I have nothing but smiles & fond memories. Lots of laughter. Even though, by the end of the trip, my Mom was "just disgusted" at the condition of the engine of the RV. I can't wait to give these kinds of memories to my children.
My girls have inherited my sense of adventure! I can't wait to test that sense of adventure out!

Another uncle, Uncle Jr. bought the same RV shortly after ours. His was a year or so newer, and he named it "Putty's Buddy". I also did new couch covers & curtains for his. But that is another story, for another day.