Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dragging Along

Wednesday, I took our partially-gutted trailer to a couple of places for an estimate on the frame work.  It seems to be a pretty simple welding job: cut off and replace a couple of box members.

Mistake #1: trailer shops are (relatively) expensive

I didn't get the estimates I had hoped for.  The first trailer place I went to said that they wouldn't weld within the enclosed shell.  The second place said they could do it (for a price I consider high), but that they couldn't get to it until next week.  By the time I got through with those estimates, I had spent all of my out-of-the-office time for the day, so I brought the trailer back to the warehouse.

Mistake #2: trying to fight through a bout of head-throat crud

I really didn't have too much of a choice: at work, there was a last-minute issue preventing our quarterly software release.  Once that was knocked out, I crashed and slept all day Friday.  I'm feeling much better now.

I've been told this will be an easy job.  The only kink may be that the required steel is not all that common.  The 4x2 box members are really thin, like 14-gauge.  Our landlord knows a good wire welder who's taking a look at it.  In the meantime, I've got plenty to do with grinding and sealing the other 23 feet of frame!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Night Marathon

We went to the warehouse Tuesday evening with the goal of getting the back half of the floor out and towing the trailer home for welding estimates.

See the rolls of aluminum beside the trailer?  It's the belly pan.  We were storing it under the trailer.  We started Tuesday by loading it into our truck to store at home temporarily.    We're keeping it around to use as a template for the new belly pan.

The last time we towed the trailer we had trouble with the lights. Tuesday night, Brian spliced in some new (temporary) trailer lights.  We tested them. They didn't work. The problem turned out to be a fuse in our truck. We had to spend a little time Tuesday evening hunting down a fuse... it was getting late and not many places were open. 

Thinking we were going to have to pull off a section of the inside aluminum skin to remove the floor, Brian took out the back window.  (A nail-biter for me.  Look at that big hammer... right next to the window!)

In reality, we didn't need to take out the window to remove the floor.  The floor easily came loose without removing the interior skin.

The floor in rear of the trailer before demo.

Look at all the damage a girl can do in five minutes!  I guess there are advantages to having a very thin floor.  There's no way we can use the plywood for a template though.

We did have to use a saw to cut through the solid parts of the floor.  Here, Brian's cutting the floor under the shower/tub.

Ewww.  The floor of our Airstream is on the floor of the warehouse.  Brian's still in the trailer (see his legs) working on the floor.

Time to move the trailer forward a few feet and clean up the mess.  Brian says the mess wasn't as bad as the mess in the belly pan.  (Thanks for doing that on your own, Honey!)

All ready to go... at an obscene hour of the morning.  How did it get to be so late/early?!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Picking and Picnicing

At the end of the day on Sunday we both kind of looked around and scratched our heads and said "Wow. What DID we do today?" We pick pick picked at the decals and the clock tick tick ticked. At the end of the day we took a count. There are approximately 60 decals. We can decipher 20. It's slow and often frustrating work to scratch off the top two layers of paint without damaging the decals. It's so rewarding to finally read the decal when enough letters are revealed. (Can anyone say Wheel of Fortune?)

 What is that?  A tiger?

Nope.  Tigers don't have green fur.

Yikes!  Those are tiny letters!  They're so easy to scrape off by accident.

Is this some famous headdress?

Wrong again.  It's South Dakota!  The Greatest Pheasant Area on Earth.

This is what the decal would have looked like originally.

Brian tried sanding a little on Sunday...but gave up when it didn't seem to be the right method.

We also enjoyed a picnic at the warehouse with Georgia's long lost friend, the sun.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Scraping in the Morning...

...Scraping in the Evening, Scraping at Supper Time.  We spent the day Saturday scraping paint.  We got the majority of the paint removed from the inside of the trailer.  After scraping the trailer we worked on scraping paint from the decals. (THE definition of tedious work.  We would not make good archeologists.)  Here's some pictures from our day:

It's important to have the right equipment for stripping paint.  Chemical burns are not fun!  Just ask Brian! 

     Sabrina is trying on the safety goggles and posing with Annabelle.

See? It IS all fun and games! (If you play on the floor then you don't have to move the Play-doh on the table.)

What a mess!

Back of the trailer at the end of the day.  Time for sanding!

Front of the trailer.  Can you see the decals?  They start above the door (on the right) and go across the front of the trailer.  We thought they stopped above the light on the left.  We were wrong.  We found more!  They run the length of the window on the left.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Discovery: Travel Decals

For Valentine's Day we got a stripper...a paint stripper. A previous owner painted over the trailer's original tan speckled (Zolatone) paint with cream latex paint. In preparation for repainting the inside we applied a chemical stripper.

While stripping, we started to notice bright colors under the latex paint. We were delighted and surprised to find not just a couple... but 30-40 travel decals around the front of the trailer. We were able to remove enough latex paint from ten stickers to be able to read them.

Decals we've found: Indiana, Maine, Hawaii, Arkansas, Seattle, Veracruz, Chinatown San Francisco, Jackson Hole, Golden Gate Bridge, and
Grand Coulee Dam

It's hard to be patient and scrape the paint slowly. If you scrape too deep pieces of the sticker will come off with the paint. Scraping off "just enough" paint feels somewhat like an archeological dig. Unfortunately, a handful of the decals were destroyed by the stripper. The rest are still partially hidden under the most recent layer of paint.

We're feeling somewhat slowed by the decal discovery. We are highly interested in preserving the decals but we also know that the inside of the trailer will need to be painted. It's a decal dilemma.
Fortunately, we've been able to find a few online suppliers of vintage decals. (We'd sure be thrilled to find replacements for all of them.)

We bought the trailer with no knowledge of it's history. While working on it, one can't help but wonder what kind of adventures it has seen, or help thinking "if only these walls could talk." Apparently, they can.

Any ideas about what these say?


Chinatown San Francisco, California
This is what our decal looked like originally.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Opened up the Guts

I sneaked back to the warehouse tonight and finished cutting out the belly pan.  If I had any sense, I would have charged the battery on my cordless reciprocating saw.  But, progress will be made nonetheless.  I finished the last third or so with tin snips.  It's a highly recommended forearm workout.

Still no big surprises on the frame.  It needs a bit of grinding and some rust converter, but I can't complain.  I have no welding skills (or equipment) worth mentioning, so it will be off to the metal fabricator to cut out and replace the back 4 feet of the frame.  First though, we'll strip the paint off the interior walls and rip up the floor.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Snow Delay!

It started snowing on Friday afternoon.  We got about three inches.  The slush on the road turned into ice.  Saturday morning we heard that the road to our warehouse was closed.

The neighbors graciously lent us their sled.  Wheee!  I guess there are advantages to having a driveway that's a solid sheet of ice! Samuel & Annabelle had a great time and sledded until they were too warn out to sled anymore.

We were sure glad we parked on the street.  Later, it warmed up enough for the streets to thaw.  We made it to the warehouse by 2:00pm. 

Whoops.  My "official rivet remover" is stuck.

Brian and Samuel worked on the fridge.  They had to take it partially apart so that it would fit through the door.  It took three hours.  

I finally got this pesky trim piece free.  It sure had a lot of rivets for one little piece of trim (it covered the vent pipe for the heater.)

From the outside of the trailer looking in the stove vent pipe.  Home for wasps, at some point. 

With the fridge out Brian moved on to the toilet.  It was easiest to just cut a hole in the (very thin) floor.

Brian cut out/pushed a hole through the floor to get the bathtub out too.  (Did I mention the floor is thin in the back?)

Bathroom is out.  Brian's starting on the water heater under the street side bed. We started stripping the paint on the curbside/left side.  This place is starting to look like a mess!

Wow!  It's (practically) empty!  We'll get the heater out soon.

Friday, February 12, 2010

First Evening in the Warehouse

We're in!  Time to get to work.

 Time for Play-doh and demo.

 The kids took one last look before we started demo.

We ripped up the carpet in the front.  It was installed on plywood that was nailed over the original linoleum.  The plywood says Dec 97.  Maybe our trailer was used more recently than we thought.  The license plate on the trailer said it expired in 1998.  (We were guessing the trailer hadn't been used since the tag expired in 98.)  If someone worked on it 1997 then perhaps it's been camped in more recently.  Who knows.

We started by removing the front gaucho and the air compressor attached to the fresh water tank.  We left the water tank in place.

Brian persuading some stubborn bolts that held the fridge in place.  Best tools for the job:  crow bar and heavy duty hammer.

 The fridge is loose but it won't fit through the door.  We moved it into the front of the trailer and continued removing the furniture.

Front pantry and curb side bed are removed.... making some progress.

Curb side is (almost) empty.

Our warehouse is filling up.  We're so happy to have it.  We feel like we made some real progress on our first night.