Saturday, December 12, 2009

Leaps and bounds!

I may still be a month or more behind schedule with writing my blog, but I have accomplished a lot on the Chiclet. Now to see if I can remember everything I have done ...
I knew that my first line of attack needed to be addressing the issue of dry rot. As with the RR, I could see daylight thru the lower rear part of the trailer - usually not a good sign. I figured I would just remove the rear window & some of the trim pieces & pull off the bottom sheet of skin. Should be simple enough ... NOT! That lower section of aluminum wasn't original to the trailer. It looked like a piece of aluminum patio siding attached with rivets. LOTS of rivets. And the window & trim pieces were attached with #6 (tiny) flat head screws and equally tiny upholstery nails. I knew I'd be replacing the piece of patio siding so I felt justified with just ripping that son-of-a-gun off of the trailer. No big deal that it got torn up. But then there was the issue of the tiny screws used to hold the rest of the trailer together. Each screw slot was packed with the remnants of the 5 coats of paint. Once I was able to scrape the crud out of the slot with what amounted to an ice pick, then I could try to turn the screw with my flat head screwdriver. About 25% of the time the head would snap off. Down right frustrating. LONG story short - it took me 2 hours to do what might have taken 15 minutes on the RR. I had to remind myself - I have no deadline & I am choosing to do this project. Argh ...
With the rear window & several sheets of skin removed, I could see the extent of the damaged framing. To form the teardrop shape of the Chiclet, the builders had laminated about a dozen thin strips of wood together to make the curve on the outside edges. Well, this wood had turned to sawdust. Huge pieces of it crumbled to the ground as I lifted the skin. Oh boy - was this gonna be fun to try and replace! The RR was easy to reframe - all the angles were straight lines. How the heck and I going to reproduce the sliver-moon shaped pieces??? I wrote down my measurements & headed to Home Depot.I didn't want to use plywood - the layers would separate when I drove new screws in from the side. I needed one solid piece of wood. The best idea I came up with was to use pine shelving. I grabbed several of the largest shelves, some screws & and bunch of Simpson ties & went home to try & figure this out. I won't go into detail, but my first 2 attempts were a disaster. Then it struck me - I can use the side skin panel as my "pattern" for the framing edges. Third time was a charm. I traced my pattern, cut it with my trusty jigsaw & attached it to the Chiclet. Yea!!! It was very solid - exactly what I was looking for. I want this baby to last 50 more years!
I knew that I would need to reframe the remaining 3 corners & possibly some areas below the windows. I was on a roll & feeling confident ... so I went ahead & removed ALL of the skin except for the roof panel. As I disassembled my trailer, large amounts of rotten wood bits would fall to the ground ... I knew there was no turning back. (I won't bore you with the statistics of how many hours it took to remove the screws & pull the nails ... or how many Advil I had to take to ease the pain in my wrists ... but we are talking big numbers here.) Then it was like - OMG - what have I done??? The Chiclet is bare naked!! But it was actually pretty cool. The construction is very simple. It is basically a bunch of 1 x 2 pine with a few 2 x 4's thrown in under the windows. Essentially, it was like a house made of sticks! I replaced the remaining corners & some of the cross framing. And I found that just as with the RR, I really enjoy doing the wood work. There is something about the smell of freshly cut lumber. And even better is the feeling of taking an old, cast aside trailer and breathing new life back in to it & having a great time in the process : )


  1. Remember - in this, as with all things, the journey IS the reward!

  2. Looks like you are making great progress, I look forward to seeing the completed project!