Future So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

 Progress on Blanche pretty much stopped after Bonnaroo 14.  I had worked on her for six months straight, every Saturday and Sunday.  As much as I loved her, I was OVER her.  A lot of other things were going on at the time, surgeries, purchasing property, remodeling, etc.  It was a needed break from travel trailer renovation.

As Bonnaroo 15 was coming around, I was good with rollin with her exactly as she was a year ago.  Two mattresses in the floor.  Dad, not so much.  He wanted to get the front bed built and the twin beds put back in place.  We also decided to get the windows tinted.

A man came out to the house to work on the tint.  His questions:  1) what do I have to work around?  2) is there air?  After he learned she was completed empty and that there was air-conditioning, he was more than happy to do it.  He could not get the tint on the curved windows, so I decided to leave all three un-tinted.  You can’t really tell with the window guard anyway.

 It did help with keeping her cooler.  I also like the idea that you can’t see in during the daytime.  I know how much cute stuff is in there, I don’t need lookie loos peaking in her windows.

For the twin beds, we had to insulate the fenders.  There is two coverings for the fender, the thicker black one right over the tires and a tan colored one that you can see from the inside.  I had been reluctant to put the plastic tan covers back on because they were fragile, I knew if someone tripped or sat something down on them, they would crack and be useless.  Since the twin beds would be mostly covering them, it was time for them to go back and get the fenders insulated.   Getting the pink batting insulation between these was challenging.  There is not much room in between.

We used the old twin bed frames and just had to add a new piece of plywood for the mattress to sit on.  I didn’t seal the wood but I did stain it.  I needed to do something to make sure that ‘vintage smell’ didn’t linger on any reused pieces.  The drawers were in pretty good shape, they just needed to be cleaned.  I plan on paining the wood-colored paneling at some point but that can be done down the road once more items are put back into place.

  

  

  

  


  Dad built the front bunk to hold a full size bed.  I really don’t feel the need for a table, I don’t plan on camping in weather where I can’t be outside.  Isn’t that the entire purpose of camping?  To BE outside?  Also, I thought it would be more comfortable to have a ‘real’ mattress and not just cushions.  I really hope she gets used more that she had once she is done and I want anyone staying in her to be comfortable.

  

 The front water tank had to be installed before the bulk was put in place.  We added some wooden braces to keep it from moving, braces were added on all sides.  It was a super chore to get it braced between the front wall and the tank.  We had to create our own ‘tool’.

  

  

  

 

She Wears Her Sunglasses at Night

 

Solar guards

 The windows needed new seals.  The old ones were not that bad but they were starting to dry-rot.  Whatever glue was used, was good stuff because it was hard getting all of the old seal off the frame.  Surprisingly the windows pop out pretty easy, putting them back in is a little tricky.  You have to get the ‘just perfect’ in the tracks/grooves for them to hold.

 

Working hard

  

Working on removing the old seal

  

 Air-Conditioning.  I was super excited to get the air installed.  But I also understood that this meant that Blanche would no longer have a home in the garage, the air conditioner would make her too tall to fit in the doors.  I know that this may be silly, that she is 40+ years old and has probably always been out in the elements.  But she is my baby, my project and I hate knowing that she is outside getting rained on (and leaking somewhere I’m sure), wasps making homes in the belly pan and the paint just fading more.  I just hate it.  My next goal in life is to buy a house with a large enough garage for her to have a home – it’s gonna happen.

We installed the air conditioner the same way we removed the old one, tractor and bucket.  Scary.  Blanche was pulled outside for the first time in over a year.  Once we got the air conditioner on the roof, it wasn’t that difficult.  We tested it before screwing everything down and it worked fine.  Instant relief.

 

Air-conditioner install

  

Getting up to the roof

  

Installing the cover

 My main concern before heading out was protecting the front windows.  They are my favorite.  They are hard and expensive to replace.  I had ordered a solar guard from Out Of Doors Mart (yes, I know how much those cost) and I had it for some times, at least a month or so before installing it.  They are tinted and with all the work going on inside, I didn’t want to do anything that limited the light inside.

We began the install late on Sunday, everything that was needed was included.  It went pretty sooth until the last guard on the left side.  We just couldn’t figure it out.  We eventually realized we had two sets of right hinges – oops.  I called OODM to talk to someone and they were closed.  Horror set it.  I needed to leave on Wednesday – what was I going to do!  Blanche was not going on any road without those windows covered.

Dad called OODM the next day while I was at work and overnight-ed the correct pair.  He made sure they understood that we did not have time for another mistake – they were great, understood and sent out the new part for us to have on Tuesday.  We installed the last guard late on Tuesday – Thank You Jesus.

Right before heading out on Wednesday afternoon, I threw two mattresses from guest room in the camper and left.  I figured we have made it this long without a bathroom and shower, another year isn’t going to hurt.  At least this time we have a cool place to sleep.  She was off on her maiden voyage.  

On the way

 

Our camp

  

Ready to leave – love these ladies!

 

Bonnaroo or Bust

It was the final push before Bonnaroo and so much had to be done.  After camping in a pop up for three years, we were all super excited to have air-conditioning. I worked on her right until I had to leave, I don’t suggest it, it was not fun.

  • The inside walls needed to be painted
  • New flooring put down
  • Outlets wires connected and plates put on
  • New window seals
  • New window leavers stoppers
  • Air-conditioner installed
  • Door handel repaired and put on
  • Checked for leaks
  • Generator tested
  • Battery charged and tested
  • Lights checked
  • Window guard installed **
  • Mattresses added

It was a lot and time was running out.

I could not wait to get the walls painted, paint just always seems to work wonders. Makes everything look so fresh and clean. I had chosen a beige color for the walls. I’m hoping this neutral color will go with anything. I don’t want to repaint once the guts are all back in.

Before paint

After paint

For the console over the front widows, I went bolder with a bright turquoise. I figured that would be easy enough to repaint if/when I get tired of it.  

Old and new color

Completed

I painted before the flooring was installed so I didn’t have to worry about getting paint on the new floors. Not just a looker here but a thinker.

It just added a thick vinyl floor and a put it down. It was very important to me that it cover the entire floor. Under all of the cabinetry and beds. Not excuse for water to ever get on the wood again.  

New floors

New floors – back

I purchased all new window stoppers (whatever they are called). The old ones were yellowed and ugly and a few were broken. The new ones are black and with my OCD, they just all had to match. At this point, it’s just go big or go home. Nothing but the best for Blanche, she is not cheap.  

Old and broken

New and pretty

I had to clean all of the old sealer from the previous air-conditioner. Being that high up in a metal building in June, is miserable. Not sure that he heat helped with removing the gunk but I did get it all clean. 

WOW, look at the color difference.

I purchased the smallest electrical panel that would hold everything. It will eventually be hidden in a closet but it still needed to look good.  

 As many of you know, a new door handle will cost you $500 dollars. Mine is not perfect, but it works. I found out that my Dad has never gotten rid of a key. Like ever. He handed me a old coffee can full of them and told me to keep trying until I found one that works. Umm, ok. But I did find one that would work until I could have the lock changed. 

  
Part of the lock and been worn away so Dad had to do some welding to add to it so that it would lock and stay closed. My biggest fear is that the door comes open while going down the road.

  

Puzzle Pieces

For reference, this is the Order of Operations for putting the inside walls back up.

  1. End Caps
  2. Back Wall – two curved pieces then middle piece
  3. Side Walls – work bottom to top
  4. Front Wall – two curved pieces then middle piece
  5. Add ceiling rails, insert ceiling piece

 

Back End Cap

Back End Cap

We found this out the hard way and after a few meltdowns. The plastic end caps where the hardest to get back up. Since they had been sitting for probably a year, they had flattened out and it was a serious struggle to get them back into the same place. It took four (4) people, three (3) to hold it in place and one (1) to rivet. Be sure to get different sizes of rivets and different lengths. The plastic on these end caps is pretty thick and they are heavy so you will need larger and longer rivets for those than you need for the actual walls.

 

Inside Wall Piece

Inside Wall Piece

Inside Wall Piece

Inside Wall Piece

Inside Wall Piece

Inside Wall Piece

Inside Wall Piece

Inside Wall Piece

We had numbered the wall pieces and placements so we knew where everything went back in.

Inside Wall Pieces Organized

Inside Wall Pieces Organized

Each piece was laid out by location and cleaned before going back up. Everything was bleached. I wanted the ceiling piece to be a different color from the walls so I painted it before it was put into place. I had to do some touch-ups once in place but it was much easier that painting the entire piece in place.

Painted Ceiling Piece

Painted Ceiling Piece

Once in place, the wiring was pulled through so that the electrical panel could be added….after paint.

Electrical Wiring

Electrical Wiring

12V Wiring

12V Wiring

Cable Wiring

Cable Wiring

Front Wall

Front Wall – you can see where it had been painted prior around the furniture.

She Keeps Me Warm

Side insulation

Side insulation

Side Insulation

Side Insulation

Styrofoam board insulation was added between the walls. Each piece had to be measured, cut and put into place.  This was fairly easy just time consuming.  We used tape to keep all of the wiring in place.

Close up of insulation

Close up of insulation at curve

The curved areas were a little tricky but it all worked out.  In some places we had to cut the pieces in half and tape them together to get a tight fit.

Front insulation

Front insulation

Fiberglass insulation was used on the curved end caps with spray adhesive to keep it in place.

The goal was to heat it with a match and cool it with an ice cube….

 

 

Light it Up!

We knew fairly early on that the back lights were going to be a problem. The ‘bumper’ that held the lights was all messed up, cracked and pieces were missing. I had no hope of finding another one. In addition, holes in the outside wall were cut out for the lights even though the lights sat in the bumper. We are unsure if this was original or if at some point, someone was trying to get to the lights from the inside – which would be hard with the shower insert. Both the outside and inside wall was cut on the curb side of the trailer. Weird.

Me and Blanche - Rest Stop on the Natchez Trace

See the cracked bumper and reflector hanging on…

You can see the holes in the back.  The lights didn't fit in here so I have no idea why the holes are there...

You can see the holes in the back. The lights didn’t fit in here so I have no idea why the holes are there…

Since the openings for the lights were in the curve and the original lights were rectangle, they would not work. Dad decided to add a piece of aluminum to cover all openings  and add round LED trailer lights. These would be easy to replace since they sit in a large round grommet and can be popped out when needed.

Cutting the opening for the new lights.

Cutting the opening for the new lights.

Pieces of aluminum were cut to cover the openings. Holes for the lights were centered and cut and the pieces were riveted into place. We covered the pieces with Manus Bond where the new pieces would touch the existing outside wall to help hold together. We also sealed the edges from the inside just to be safe.

New piece riveted into place and lights fitted in.

New piece riveted into place and lights fitted in.

Getting wired up.

Getting wired up.

Lights were popped into place. I don’t think they look too bad.

New Lights.

New Lights.

Looks good to me.

Looks good to me.

Some of the front lights were hanging on for dear life when I first pulled her home. Not now. New lights were added up front and I even sanded and spray painted around them to make them look a little better. Gotta love the power of spray paint!

Before picture of front lights.

Before picture of front lights.

New lights.

After picture with new lights.

Rewired and It Feels so Good

Working on New Wiring

Working on New Wiring

Before anything was added to the walls, wire, insulation, etc. Each and every rivet and seam on the inside of the outside shell was coated with Manus Bond to help prevent water leaks. This stuff was not very easy to apply. It is very thick and heavy and not anything like normal paint. There were little strings of this stuff dripping down from the ceiling and just a warning – IT WILL NOT COME OUT OF YOUR HAIR! I pulled huge chunks of my hair out just to keep from looking homeless when I went to work on Monday.

Old Wiring

Old Wiring

All of the old wiring was removed from the trailer a long, long, long time ago. Outlets and lights were marked when they were taken out and we didn’t plan on adding anything new. I am grateful that my Dad knows how to do electrical work because I don’t understand any of it. He would try to explain it to me but I just got confused. All I want is to be able to run the air-conditioner and a microwave at the same time, I don’t care what it takes to make that happen – it just needs to happen.

Wire Cheat Sheet

Wire Cheat Sheet

The old wire was a tangled mess and there was no way we were going to try to reuse it. We did get most of it color coordinated and saved for random projects that may come up that it could be used for – trailer lights, etc. It’s always a good idea to keep stuff to work with around, so the old wire was put into “stock” as we say.

Old Wire - Organized

Old Wire – Organized

A new panel will be added and aluminum supports were added to hold the new larger panel on the interior wall. Also a new hole would need to be added to the inside wall so that the wire could feel through into the panel box. I remember before you could see all of the old wiring, this will look much neater and cleaner. The old univolt was partially repainted to stop any further rust. I really wanted to paint it a ‘pretty’ color but that was not allowed – electrical is always gray, per Dad. The gray is still an improvement over rust, so I took it.

Lots of Wire

Lots of Wire

Wiring at the Back of the Trailer

Wiring at the Back of the Trailer

Wire and Marking for the New Panel.

Wire and Marking for the New Panel.

12V Wiring

12V Wiring

The wire was run along at the top of the trailer (as it was done before) and there were areas where it could rub up against the aluminum supports and over time, possibly short the wire. A thin piece of rubber was added around the wires in those areas to protect the wires from rubbing on the aluminum supports.

Rubber protecting the wire.

Rubber protecting the wire.

Rubber protecting the wire.

Rubber protecting the wire.

This kind of detail is why my Airstream Argosy restoration will be the best, and take a long time. Dad is a perfectionist and he always says, “This is a labor of love, and you can’t rush a labor of love.”

Testing...

Testing…

Hit the Floor

Using the old floor as a template.

Using the old floor as a template.

To say that the floor was an issue would be an understatement. Replacing the floor in an Airstream or Argosy is a challenge. From my research the floor in these rot in the same places, so if you are ever looking to buy an older Airstream or Argosy, these are the places to check for floor damage: (1) near the door and on both sides of the door, (2) under and near the fresh water tank (overfilling will cause water to spill), (3) the under and behind the shower (4) under the toilet. Most of these places will be hidden by furniture/cabinetry so they are hard to spot.

Old floor as a template.

Old floor as a template.

Getting it just right.

Getting it just right.

Sealing the piece before installing.

Sealing the piece before installing.

 

Both sides and all edges were sealed.

Both sides and all edges were sealed.

Using the new front piece as a template for the back curve.

Using the new front piece as a template for the back curve.

As I have said before, the floor must sit inside a C-Channel that runs the length of the trailer on each side. The Floor slides in about 1 to 1 ½ inch. Since the camper has been sitting for months with no floor, there was some sag on the C-Channel, especially at the door were everyone was stepping to come in and out. We used some jacks to lift upon the body and widen out the C-Channel where needed to place the floor. Also the body had bowed out some so we had to do some adjusting to fit it back into place.

 

Holding the body in place while the floor was put in place.

Holding the body in place while the floor was put in place.

Dad cutting some aluminum to add near the fender.

Dad cutting some aluminum to add near the fender.

New aluminum piece to fill in a small gap at the fender.

New aluminum piece to fill in a small gap at the fender.

Adding that extra support made the installion much easier, I don’t think we could have placed a full piece across the width without causing some damage to the body.

 

Progress was slow at first.

Progress was slow at first.

Looks so good, I was/am so happy.

Looks so good, I was/am so happy.

Caught in the act - my brother who has complained about this and refused to help, finally did.

Caught in the act – my brother who has complained about this and refused to help, finally did.

Getting the back piece in place.

Getting the back piece in place.

It got serious.

It got serious.

We marked where the frame rails were so that the floor could be secured to the frame in addition to the floor supports. Bolts were used in the body, to bolt the body to the frame. There are so many screws and bolts, nothing should move. We used stainless and brass so that these will not rust in the future.

Bolts - one in the frame and another into the wood.

Bolts – one in the frame and another into the wood.

More bolts and screws holding the body and floor in place.

More bolts and screws holding the body and floor in place.

Finished floor looking toward the front.

Finished floor looking toward the front.  You can see the marking on the floor to show where the frame and board floor supports are underneath.

Finished floor, looking toward the back.

Finished floor, looking toward the back.  You can see the markings on the floor to show where the frame and board floor supports are underneath.

Getting the floor in place was such a relief, we knew this was going to be difficult.  It is so nice to be able to walk around in the camper without fear on falling through the belly pan.  Next step is get her all wired and ready for the walls to be insulated.  We are not moving as fast as we would like but you can’t rush a labor of love.

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times…

First fitting of the front piece

First fitting of the front piece.  Always little helpers in the way.

I wanted floors, so bad.  It seemed like it was taking forever to get the frame painted and the insulation installed.  When we finally put the first piece of floor in, I was ecstatic.  Truthfully, that first moon-shaped piece was put in 3 times.  The first time was just to see if it was going to work.  It was hammered into place, vibrating my windows, making me nervous, but it fit.  It was taken out so that I could seal it.  The piece was sealed and dried and ready to go, so back in it went.  Hammered into place again just for Dad to freak out that he didn’t know where the frame rails were underneath – how was he going to bolt it down!?!  He seriously freaked, total ‘come apart’  as we call it.  I tried my best to diffuse the situation and tell him it was going to be alright.  “I have pictures, we can figure it out.”  Not good enough.  He was mad and was going to hammer the (insert your favorite curse word here) back out – again.  I tried to stop this by holding on to the hammer and not giving it to him, I threatened bodily harm if he broke one of my windows because he was pissed off.  I lost the battle and the floor was out again, frame was marked and floor was put back in for the final time.  I survived the first Come-Apart and so did Blanche.  We stopped for the day, drank a beer and all was good.

Gotta be perfect before we take it right back out....

Gotta be perfect before we take it right back out….

Sealed piece, marking a template for the back piece.

Sealed piece, marking a template for the back piece.

The next weekend my brother was over cleaning up my parents yard.  A few weeks back there had been some bad weather (ice) and many tree limbs didn’t make it.  Blanche is more important than picking up tree limbs, so he was burning the limbs as we worked on installing the rest of the floor.  He asked if he could take the old floor to the burn pile.  Now, my Dad has been beyond adamant that nothing be thrown away.  So I knew it was a big step when he allowed us to remove the old floor and burn it.  It was so great, it signified that the floor was finally done!  I felt like I could finally breath, I feel that everything else will move much faster.  The biggest hurdle was done.

 

Loading up the old floor

Loading up the old floor

Headed to the burn pile

Headed to the burn pile

Good bye old floor

Good bye old floor

It made me so happy to see it go.

It made me so happy to see it go.

Happiness is a Warm Floor

Insulation. This has been a topic of conversation for months. What to use, batting, stiff, R-value. Let it lay on the belly pan or try to keep up, and how. This has been talked about and talked about and talked about. Insulation has been looked at and studied at Lowes, R-values have been researched but not understood.

I really don’t plan on being in Blanche during a snow storm and I just feel that the purpose of camping is to be outside. At Bonnaroo, those people with their big RVs and Campers are inside, in the air-conditioning all day. They miss out on so much because they get used to the cool air. If you don’t have that, it makes you get out and do more. It’s cool late at night when you want to snuggle in and sleep. Honestly, the only time I have really wanted air, is in the morning. It does start to get warm pretty early and it would be nice to be able to sleep a little later without being hot.  I know that I need insulation but I am not worried about getting the thickest stuff to stay warm.  I really hope I don’t ever need to live in Blanche…

Flooring Insulation

Flooring Insulation

In the end, we decided on the Perma R polystyrene sheet insulation.  It comes in 4×8 sheets that could be cut to fit between the frame rails and floor supports.  We purchased the 3/4in because it has move give, and could be slightly bent to fit under the lip of the frame rails.

Dad and Zach measuring the insulation for cutting

Dad and Zach measuring the insulation for cutting

L-brackets were installed on the frame rails to keep the insulation up off the belly pan.  These were mostly needed down the sides.  In the middle, the frame rails that the floor supports were bolted into would hold the insulation off of the floor.  We installed 3 L-Brackets for support.

L-Brackets holding up insulation

L-Brackets supporting insulation

L-Brackets supporting insulation

L-Brackets supporting insulation

 

L-Brackets Installed

L-Brackets Installed

Insulation installed on L-Brackets

Insulation installed on L-Brackets – this one was taped also because of the opening for the propane vent.

I believe that we used 6 sheets with some odd pieces left over.  This will also be used in the walls and roof.  Batting insulation will be used between the fender wells and on the curved ends.

Beginning of insulation in floor

Beginning of insulation in floor

Insulation installed in the front

Insulation installed in the front

Insulation installed in the middle

Insulation installed in the middle

Insulation installed in back

Insulation installed in back

 

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