Monday, February 28, 2011

Another Week, A Little More Progress

We've had another fantastic week of good weather, except for a little rain shower.  So, we've been able to move along a bit on the Shasta.  My sweet husband spent the better part of the weekend replacing the rotted floor with 3/4" exterior grade plywood, coated with vehicle undercoating to resist water.  We toyed with the idea of tearing out the whole floor in the dinette area and replacing it completely; but after discovering the rot in the door side framing, we decided not to push our luck and keep trudging forward so we'll be able to camp in her before the kids reach college age.  ha.

Old cracked floor found under the vinyl tiles.  Oh, and check out the left side of the door.  There's really no wood there at all, just a little bit of decayed paneling and some tin.  When hubby dug the rot away, this side of the camper dropped an inch or two.  He jacked it back up to replace the side floor framing.


This is the frame, with some new wood in place and a few pieces of temporary wood to keep us from snagging the aluminum siding or falling through the floor and breaking an ankle.  That would be bad...very bad.

New floor, 3/4" exterior grade plywood.  The wheel well is resupported, as well as the threshold on the door has been replaced with new wood.  No more spongy landings!!

In order to fix the floor, the entire threshold and door side of the wooden frame had to be rebuilt from the front corner to the wheel well.  That Kreg jig has paid for itself.  The floor was also repaired where the water tank had been (there wasn't anything except for the homosote board there).    

We are finally at the point where we're trying to decide what flooring to use.  Hmm.  I should probably reiterate that our plan is to refurbish the Shasta within a 2 month window to be able to use her for camping for a season or two.  Our plan is to have most of the major work done by the end of April for her maiden trip.  We are quite certain that she needs (and deserves) a complete, frame-off, proper restoration.  The birch paneling has delaminated from the humidity here in NC, and she's sustained water damage from leaks and such.  THAT being said, we are aware that we aren't fixing her "correctly." That is not our goal at the moment.  Our goal is to get her systems working properly, have a functioning kitchenette, two beds, make her safe and sturdy again, and GO CAMPING.  Soon.

Our camper has the old asbestos 9x9 tiles in it, most of which are in horrid condition.  (Hubby peeled the tiles up near the wheelwell before he realized they were asbestos - tsk tsk.)  The PO's also laid 2 layers of self-stick vinyl tiles down, most of which are coming up or shifting.  They're cracked and peeling, plus we chopped into them to fix the floor.  Unfortunately, these will need to be pulled up with as little damage to the asbestos tiles as possible.  Then we have to use some kind of a substrate to level the floor.  If we were actually "restoring" the camper, I have no doubt we'd use VCT tiles.  They come in a great variety of colors, they're easy to put down and easy to care for.  BUT - we are doing this renovation on a budget.  Which we've already busted.  Ahem. 

We debated about putting laminate flooring (ie Pergo) in the camper, which would cover up the mess without needing to lay a subfloor.  I really don't like laminate flooring.  It reminds me of, clack, click, clack - ticky ticky ticky.  So, I was shopping at Ollie's the other day, and came across a selection of vinyl tiles for $8.96 for a box of 30.  They are not "quality" tiles, but they will do the job we need them to for now.  Our SC has a floorspace of about 60 square feet, including under the dinette benches (but not the gaucho).  I bought 3 boxes, so we'll have plenty leftover.  Including the lauan, the cost will be less than $60 to do the floor.   I did the math for the VCT tiles, and it would be about $30 more.  Sigh.  I'd really prefer the VCT tiles, ya know?  But, these are inexpensive and will brighten things up considerably without clashing too much or looking too modern.  What do you think?

I put the tiles down to see how they'd look.  I'm so excited!!  Isn't progress great?!
Hubby also put up the side panels under the windows.  I'm waiting for VTS to ship the window seal.  In the meantime, I can put a few coats of shellac on the panels.  I'm a little nervous about doing it, but hubby said there's no way to really mess up shellac.  If it doesn't go on well, it can be rubbed out or sanded.  I'll give it a shot. 

Once the flooring is done, we'll be working on the dinette benches, then the back end to tear out the black/grey tank and fix the rot in her rear-end.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Saga Continues...

Maybe I should title this post "When you discover what you didn't want to know" or "How to remain blind and still be in love."

At any rate, the weather has been marvelously cooperative.  We spent a few hours in the camper yesterday, now that hubby has had an opportunity to clean up his shop in preparation for fixing Frankie. 

What we found was NOT pretty. 

That's the side wall behind where the bench seat was for the dinette, just to the front of the door.  Hubby removed the bracing for the fresh water tank to prep for repairing the hole in the floor.  He pulled away a piece of bracing that was on the wall, and found this mess behind it.  Then I pulled up the "lovely" blue floor tiles and we discovered why the floor was so soft at the door. 

Evidently the door had leaked considerably over the years and allowed water to reach the flooring around the door.  The plywood delaminated in places, especially at the entry. The floor of the camper is made of 1/2" homosote treated with tar (?) on one side to discourage water from permeating it.  Over this, a 3/8" piece of plywood provides a base for the tile.  It's not a bad system, really.  It's survived (mostly) for 50 years so far, and that says a lot.  It was just much less sturdy than what we'd expected!

In addition, there wasn't any structure underneath the door frame.  Just a little bit o' tin holding it all together.  Hubby will fix that, and that should help the door to close better as well. 

We had wondered (feared?) why five screws on the lower side door frame were missing.  There was nothing to hold them in.  Ha. 

Hubby used a circular saw to cut back the flooring until he found good wood.  He'll tie a new piece of plywood into this for now, and he'll fix the door framing but eventually we'll need to replace the floor and substrate properly.  We just need to move this project along a bit so we can go camping!!

Hubby also cut off the drippy gooey mess that a PO had made trying to repair the hole in the side of the aluminum from the fresh water fill cap.  Someone had put gobs of urethane sealant inside the 2" hole to "fill" it, but it had kept slumping down into the wall.  They cut a piece of aluminum flashing to fit over the hole, screwed it in, used silicone caulk to seal it, and painted over it with the latex housepaint.  Eek.  Hubby will patch it with fiberglas matting, and then smooth the exterior before we repaint it next year. 

I'll be ordering the Hehr gasket for the two front windows today.  Vintage Trailer Supply has the grey color back in stock, so I'll hop on that now.  We're also ordering 4 teardrop side marker lights to replace the plastic oval ones that the PO wired in.  When we did our presale inspection, the owner said the gasket around the old ones was cracked, so he threw them away and put these nice, new ones on.  (cringe....)

I'll also order new table brackets, since we'll need to make tables for the dinette and the outside as well.  We're eventually going to make a table about 24" wide by 42" long that will attach to the outside of the camper above the storage compartment door.  We like to cook meals outside, so this will serve as the countertop for our outside kitchen.  Hubby will make the table in 2 pieces that fold in the center so that it can be stowed in the storage compartment beneath the bed.

We tried out the mattress from our futon in the camper yesterday.  We had been hoping that it would fit, since it's a high quality futon and it's very comfortable to sleep on.  It's not a perfect fit, it's about 6" too wide, but we're going to deal with it for awhile and see how it works out.  We could probably cut it down a bit to fit better if it works well for us to sleep on.  The bed size is actually 75" by 48" wide; and the futon is a full size, at 54" wide.  The problems with using it are minor - it blocks the window behind the gaucho when it's being used as a couch, and it overhangs the edge a bit more than we'd like when it's being used as a bed - meaning the kids will have to climb over us to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Ha.  They would have done that, anyway.

We have talked about selling our pop-up camper, since it's springtime and we'll get a little better price for it.  The plan was to fix up the Shasta, and then sell the pop-up; but we're realizing that we just won't be using the pop-up again since we're so busy fixing the Shasta.  It will be sad to see her go.  We've had a lot of fun in that pop-up!  She's been to the beach, to the lakes of NH, just about every vacation we've taken as a family has been in that camper.  But, we're making new memories already with the Shasta, so, we may as well pass the pop-up on to another family who will appreciate and use it. 

Added to the punch list:
Fix the floor / door area.
Fix the door frame.
Fix the hole in the side of the camper. 

Why is this list getting LONGER??

Monday, February 14, 2011

Progress? Maybe....

We had a few days of fabulous weather here in the Triangle, so we got a little work done on the Shasta.  After we got her in the driveway last Monday, we spent some time really looking her over.  The weather had been dry for a day or so before we had picked her up on Monday, but the rear interior panel benath the back window was wet.  Yikes.  An active leak....lovely.  We knew we'd have to fix that area before we'd bought her, but we had hoped the window had at least been repaired.  Nope.  In fact, once we really looked her over, we realized that someone had haphazardly nailed plastic over the window on the inside; and not just the rear window, but both side dinette windows and one of the front windows as well. 

Once I removed the sun-faded blue curtains, we could plainly see that someone had driven 2" roofing nails into the aluminum trim around the interior of the windows.  Little bits of plastic remained beneath the nail heads.  The PO's must have used some plastic to cover broken windows at some point.  One window had 17 nails around it. They'd used a nail gun and had driven them clean through to the aluminum exterior skin around the back window, and this is what was allowing the rain to come seeping through the wall.  Ugh.  There are 5 or 6 pinholes through the aluminum skin on each side of the rear window that will need to be sealed SOON.

It amazes me that someone would have gone through the trouble of trying to cover up the damaged paneling without repairing the problem.  Hmm.  I just shake my head.....

I also found that some mice had been "camping out" in her as well.  I'd seen some mousie evidence when we did our presale inspection, but I had NO IDEA how bad it was.  A PO had removed the water tank from under the front dinette seat, leaving a huge gaping hole in the floor.  Although someone had put styrofoam insulation in the hole to "insulate" it; that's no deterrent for any rodent.  In fact, since they'd also placed pink batt insulation on top of it, it was like mousie heaven in there.  They had been coming and going as they pleased, urinating and defacating all over.  Hubby and I donned masks and gloves, and scooped out the muck; then sprayed everything down with bleach and water.  (Hantavirus is nothing to scoff at)

After I tossed the blue curtains unceremoniously into the dumpster, I tossed out the foam cushions, unscrewed the tops of the bench seats, and threw everything out the door.  Yuck.  I spent the better part of a day cleaning everything that was left with bleach and water; scraping goo off of the floor and walls, vacuuming out cabinets and removing as much mouse poo as I could.  The rest I just soaked with bleach water and let it sit.   What I couldn't use bleach on (cabinet doors) I used vinegar and water and wiped it off with a towel.  Now that the majority of the mess has been cleaned up, I've resorted to using lavendar scented Lysol to get rid of the funky smell. 

On Friday, we tore out the "bench seats" that had been made for the dinette.  The construction wasn't up to par with what my husband or I wanted, so we pulled them out.  I've designed new benches that hubby will build once we seal up the hole from the water tank PROPERLY. 

We popped into Lowe's on Friday as well, and discovered that the laminate we are planning to use is being discontinued by Formica.  (Aqua Boomerang)  Uh oh.  We quickly figured out what sizes we'll need for the table, countertop and sliding cabinets so that we could order the laminate.  Progress.  An inch at a time, but PROGRESS.

The other BIG deal is that this little baby doesn't have a title.  Yeah, I know, we can't register her without one.  (yeah, I also know we probably paid WAYYYY too much for this camper considering the condition and the fact that there isn't a title.  But, I'm foolishly optimistic that way.)

I called the DMV to find out what I need to file for a title.  Basically, here in NC, we need to file an Indemnity Bond for 1.5 times the value of the camper.  I found a local insurer to help with the bond (which I'm expecting to cost about $150 or so) and he asked me to make sure I know what the DMV has on file for a value.  Hmm.  Good question!  So, I called the DMV again.  I talked to someone at first who told me that since a value was not in their system for my model and year, that I'd have to have two dealers assign a value, and they'd use the greater of the two.  Eeek.  Then he spoke with someone in the background, excused himself for a moment, and came back to the phone to ask me a few more questions - the length of the trailer?  The year of the trailer?  Then he told me that the DMV values our camper at $350!!!  Ha.  AND, he said he'd sent me a letter on DMV letterhead with that information on it.  YIPPEE!!! 

The next step is to complete the Indemnity bond, then a DMV inspector will come out and look at the serial number, take a few photos, then we can file for a title.  I think they hold the title for several months; but we shouldn't have any problem keeping busy in the meantime.

Here's a few more  -
Yes, the PO painted the polished stripe and the wings a lovely shade of blue.  The wings will be stripped, and the stripe will be painted silver for now.  This side of the exterior has also been painted with latex housepaint - and a brush.

Under the driver's side bench seat.  There's some rot, but we think we'll let this be for now and repair the supports in the wall section.   We want to focus on the back section, which will probably necessitate removing the skin for repair.  Since that's a time-consuming repair, this bit of mess will have to wait.  Eventually, we'll do a frame-off restoration and fix her right, but for right now, camping season is upon us, and we'd like to be enjoying the weather and the beach.  

Other tidbits on the punch list:
Look at the brake system
New tires, and need a spare
Remove ALL windows. 
Remove silicone sealant from ALL windows.
Clean and polish ALL windows.
Replace and putty ALL windows.
New ceiling panel around roof vent (PO started, never finished job, thankfully!)
New countertop.
Install mini-fridge. (we have fridge, hubby will build new cabinet cases for the fridge and microwave)
Buy hotplate. (No, we don't need a stove.  I don't want to cook when we're camping!  Beanie wienies are fine, thank you.)
Run new wiring for kitchen area - add 2 outlets. (coffeemaker and hotplate)
Replumb water lines using 1/2" pvc. 
Install sink properly after REMOVING SILICONE. Ugh.
(seriously, did this guy get a good deal on a case of that junk - he put it EVERYWHERE!!)
Rewire running lights - cuz they don't work, regardless of what PO said.
Make screen door
Paint tongue
Paint bumper
Paint steps
Remove paint from fiberglass light shades (the PO used white spraypaint to brighten them up.  ha.  light doesn't go through paint.)
Cut carpet remnant to fit over existing tile.
tear out soft floor at door.
tear out all cabinetry and replace interior panels with new birch.  Most of the exposed panels have delaminated to some degree.
remove black water tank, install new floor in potty closet.
put down new VCT tiles after floor is repaired
Install on-demand hot water heater.

The list goes on, I'm sure.  But, we're getting things lined up so that we know what needs to be done.  Do you hear that?  ("What?" you ask.)  The jingling noise coming from our driveway.....hahahha.  This thing might just nickel n dime us to death!!!  

But, it's still cheaper than buying a new house to remodel.  Yup.  Far cheaper.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tomorrow is the Day

Tomorrow is the day.  We'll bring her home and really take a good inventory of all of her flaws.  We know the front dinette area will need to be taken down to the bones and her honey interior will need to be shined up.  This, of course, is after we remove all of the mousey mess that has accumulated over the past who knows how long.  Scary, man, just scary. 

Then, there's the spongy floor at the entry, the countertop that will need to be redone, the bench seats in the front at the dinette that will need to be replaced.  Did I mention upholstery?  Curtains?  Electrical?  Removing the black water tank and the vent pipe (which has leaked horribly).  How about replacing the panel in the middle of the camper, since the previous owner replaced the vent, removed the damaged panel and didn't put another back up??

Not that I can really complain, of course.  She'll be here.  Tomorrow.  And she's all OURS!!!!