Friday, February 15, 2013

Vintage Travel Trailer Woes

When you buy a 40 year old travel trailer you'd better expect to do some work. Maybe I was lying to myself about how much work would need to go into Lola the Love Shack to get her where I wanted her to be. Or to be more accurate, to get her to where SHE needed to be.

Jason always says I enjoy a project, and this girl was the Mother Of All Projects to enter my life so far. I'll let you in on a secret....I am daydreaming about taking on another one. Yeah, I'm a little sick.

This was the beginning of the tear down at the front dinette.
That dent isn't from me, but that gash right above it is from me. I wasn't very careful gouging out the old wood rot and I damaged the aluminum skin. Lesson learned.
The first section of aluminum comes off. I was telling myself at this point that I wasn't going to invest too much time in a lot of renovations.
When that first section came off and the old rotted wood fell to the ground, I knew this was going to take longer than a couple weeks...but I KNEW it wouldn't take me much longer than that.
What the heck? Is there supposed to be something covering this hole on the roof? Turns out this is the refrigerator vent and there should be a cover over it. Add it to the list.
I kept saying that I was just going to do the minimum and that would be enough. Jason said that if I planned to keep this trailer for any length of time that I HAD to fix her right. He said, you can do it now, or you can do it later.
The first side is skinned. Guess how many staples it takes to attach those panels? What ever number you guess, add about 10,000 to that number.
This was about the time when Jason and I were both hating this project. Pulling staples wouldn't have been so hard if over half of them weren't rusted so bad. I was pretty amazed to learn that these old trailers are framed with 1 x 2's and cut plywood. Guess that is what makes them so light. Thankfully the rot was contained to the front and back with the sides being in pretty good shape.
I loved finding the Land Star model name written on the framing.

This is the back driver's side at the trunk. Lots of rot here.

And this is the trunk top. Rotten on both sides.
Every section revealing rotten wood makes my heart sink. I'm a little freaked out since I have NO IDEA how to fix this. I can't say enough how lucky we are to live in the digital age. Google became my best friend. I was so grateful to those who braved a trailer rebuild before me and posted what they had done to make repairs.
If anyone asked me what advise I would give them before taking on their own vintage trailer project I would say to take as many photos as you can. Document everything. These photos became valuable to me when it came time to put things back together. The other thing I would say would be to not get overwhelmed. Just pick one thing at a time to concentrate on. There were days when I got a little scared about the project. But after stepping away for awhile, I could look at it with fresh eyes. I'll admit that I spent many, many hours on the internet with research.
I hope I haven't scared anyone away from their dreams of a vintage travel trailer. I can honestly say that during this time, I was truly happy and in my element. It was somehow soothing knowing my girl was always out front waiting for me. I always had something to do. Unfortunately my family probably suffered from a lack of attention and the house got dirtier than it should. Jason actually called me Obsessed. Yeah, I really was.

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