Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Goodbye Hadco wreck... and Hello 1961 Oasis

My first disastrous venture into vintage travel trailers has ended. I was so excited for the opportunity to get my hands on a vintage travel trailer, that I was thrilled to even have a wreck to call my own. In time, I'm sure that I would have somehow managed to restore the thing from the frame up.

Yeah, well... maybe.

The problem with the situation was that I had little kids NOW. And I wanted to be able to give them neato memories to cherish for the rest of their lives NOW... before they grew up. Time is slipping away fast.

I think Fate took pity on me this time around and decided to throw me a low-ball for a change. And dropped an opportunity to trade the frame of the HadCo trailer, along with some hard-labor stacking firewood.... in exchange for a 1961 Oasis travel trailer.

I couldn't get the old HadCo frame out of my driveway fast enough.  And a cute little 16 foot, 1961 Oasis travel trailer sits in that spot now.

 Much better.

Considering it's age, the trailer is in great shape. There is dry rot of course. There always is on these old trailers.  And that will require some serious work to repair.

The Oasis still has it's original hubcaps

 And it still has it's original, fully-enclosed awning. 

The running lights are rusted. Not sure how I'm going to replace them. I've got one, faded plastic lens. I think they were called "beehive" lenses or "bullet" lenses.

Here's the faded, Oasis decal. I've discovered that you can buy reproductions of that decal on Ebay. Cool man.

The original, still functioning door handle and lock. And check out that cool little Oasis logo emblem.

And lots of other neato stuff.... we'll take a look at the interior next.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vintage travel trailer part8-revised floor plan

I've been thinking.... and researching on the internet... and learning lots.

And I've come to the conclusion that simply laying down sheets of 3/4 plywood may not be the best way to go. It's simple, yes. But, there will be virtually NO insulation from the cold on a chilly night. Ever slept on the bare ground without a foam pad? I have, and unless you have a really good sleeping bag or bed roll , the ground just _sucks_ the warmth out of you.

Taking another, less arrogant look at the floor design of this trailer, I realize now that the original designers had created an insulating barrier of air and corrugated cardboard sandwiched between those sheets of 1/4" plywood. A good idea. But I still feel that it's not structurally strong enough.

So, I've rethought the floor design and have come up with this one.

The idea is to glue and screw sheets of 3/4" inch ply over a framework built from 1" x 1" lengths of yellow pine. Paint the whole thing with exterior paint. Then coat the bottom side with roofing tar or brush-on truck bed lining. Then, glue and a screw in 1" or 3/4" pieces of insulated foam boards. Finished off with a layer of Tyvec paper stapled to the bottom of the floor.

Than, the assembled floor is lain onto the steel trailer frame and bolted down via lag bolts and washers from underneath. (I still like the idea of being able to unbolt the frame from the trailer body in the future should the need arise.)

The original floor was about 1 1/4" thick. And the walls were screwed to the sides of that wall. I still plan to bolt the wall frames to the top of the floor edges rather than the side. This means that (theoretically) with the addition of the 1" wood yellow pine frame, the 3/4" plywood, and perhaps an additional 1/4" for the final layer of glue and linoleum flooring.... I will lose close to 2" of headroom inside the trailer body.

Really, with actual thickness in the real world of contracting supplies... it will more likely be around 1 3/4".

I'm prepared to accept the loss in headroom in exchange for a stronger, insulated floor.

Will the Tyvec paper release the water it collects after a day of driving through rainy weather?

Will kicked up road gravel and small animals shred the Tyvec paper into uselessness?

I've read several warnings from other vintage trailer owners that covering the bottom with a solid surface like metal is an invitation to trap moisture. That's why I think it will be best to just use a layer of Tyvec paper so as to breathe out moisture.

I'm itching to get to the frame and start the welding. But I've got to finish the restoration of a clients' Honda ct70 next week first. Both will be satisfying to work on.... I just want them both done nownownowNOW!

I'm impatient.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Vintage Travel Trailer-part7-dedication or lunacy?

I've declared my broken shoulder healed and took some time to really think about that trailer. I forced myself to remove the rose colored glasses, take stock of reality, and weigh the handful of pros against the mountain of cons.

Every nook and cranny of our little home that offers any shelter from the elements is literally stuffed with bits and pieces of that old tin can of a trailer. I walked around and looked at it all.

Here there was a section of the golden birch plywood, over there the windows... all complete except for one that had shattered in the collapse of the trailer. And oh hey, check it out. Here's that cute little fuse box.

I put my hand on the surface of the teeny little teal-green stove and pondered the sections of the side wall I'd manage to preserve. The curves of the rounded ends still intact.

But damaged... oh so badly damaged by rot and neglect.

Sigh... I know it's utter folley. But I can't walk away from this. I want very badly to lie in one of the beds of that trailer, listening to the soft sounds of my kids sleeping. I want to open a window to smell the scent of sage, pine, even the salt-sea of the ocean.

And so, the very next warm, sunny saturday I have, I'll begin the frame tear down and preparations for mig-welding.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

keep going-a fractured shoulder blade

Our water heater started leaking all over the place over the holidays. Then, it stopped working at all. We did our research. Picked out the model we wanted online and headed out to Home Depot... only to discover that the particular model we selected isn't available in California.

Gee, that would have been nice info to have had on your website.

So, instead, we bought the only alternative (at a couple of hundred dollars more in cost) and I installed the thing. Wasn't too bad. The biggest problems were the old gas ball valve and the water connections to the heater.

Had to replace the old ball valve on the gas pipe. Which meant turning off the main gas line and the very real possibility of dying in a fiery explosion if a did something careless or stupid.

So, did LOTS of research on that little bit of work. I learned that if you unscrew a fitting off of a gas line pipe, you should unscrew ALL of the fittings that twist in the same lateral motion. Retape and reinstall. The reason being that if you apply twisting motion on the pipe leading into the wall, and it moves... just enough to break the decades-old seal with the next fitting in the line... you could end up with a slow gas leak. Quietly filling up your wall spaces with explosive gas.

YIKES! Didn't want that to happen.

So I tore out the wall on the other side of the line in the kitchen. Luckily for me, the ball valve was attached to a short length of pipe that was then attached to an elbow joint. Was easy to check for leaks.

Anyway, after taking care of that, the water heater was installed and looking great. I was up on my rickety old, wood ladder, reaching overhead for the last of the tools I had used to install the overhead water pipe connections.... when the cursed ladder wobbled out from under me and sent me flying backwards to the concrete floor of the garage below.

I landed on my right shoulder blade... heard it go "CRRRUUNCHCH" and everything went into a haze of pain for a while.

Now I've got some cool x-rays of my lovely bones. The doctor thought it was kinda strange that I'd want a copy of the x-ray... but I think it looks really neat.

And that's where I've been since the holidays. Nursing that rotten... stinking... foul... sling. Because of a fractured shoulder-blade

It's been two months since I broke myself... and I've decided to declare myself healed now. As long as I ignore the occasional twinge of pain as I use my right arm, every things fine.

All in all, I'm pleased. It could have been a disaster. Like an injury to the actual joint. That would have doomed me to continual pain for the rest of my life. As it is, I just broke a bone that is now almost completely healed.

...rough, but manageable.

Now, about that trailer.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

How to build a bunny hutch for cheap-part2-completion

I finished the former kitchen cabinet to bunny-hutch last week. Turned out pretty nice. I added a second level with a ramp. Screwed on some scrap 2x4 feet to the bottom using one steel L-bracket per foot to add strength. And used a jigsaw to cut out parts of the hutch so I could staple in the wire mesh I'd picked up at Home Depot.

I ended up having to buy a couple of basic, hinge sets for the doors because one of the original hinges broke off from sheer age I guess.

Total items I had to buy from the local Home Depot were the following..
two sets of hinges for the doors
a roll of wire mesh
one 4' x 8' sheet of cheap plywood
4 L-shaped steel brackets to support the feet
one slide lock

All total, I spent less than $50.00 from beginning till completion of the project.

I re-used old drywall screws and finished off a half-emptied bottle of Elmers wood glue for most of the assembly. Pilot-drilled and counter sank each screw location.

The angled roof was built simply by laying two 1x2 pine strips across the top. The first on it's EDGE at the top of the front side, the second on it's SIDE halfway between the front and back sides of the former cabinet. Then, I lay down a sheet of the plywood I had previously trimmed so that there would be a 2" edge around each side of the hutch. This left gaps of course, on the sides of the angled roof. I covered those up simply by laying in a couple of left-over 1x2 pine strips right underneath the angled sides of the roof plywood.

It looks like decorative trim. Worked out great.

Once I had completed assembly, my wife and I placed the hutch on a tarp out on the front yard and let the children paint the hutch with white latex paint I had on hand.

As soon as we had ensured that every bit of wood had been sealed with a good layer of the white paint (both top and BOTTOM). The kids were given the serious task of beautifying the hutch.

You might feel the need to point out that the hutch looks like it was painted by a bunch of monkeys.

well... that's because, it WAS painted by a bunch of monkeys. Children monkeys.

4 of 5, the climber, felt that he needed to do his best work on the roof of the hutch.
And even 5 of 5 got into the project... mostly helping out by chewing on things and getting underfoot. In the end, she somehow got paint all over her feet and required an emergency feet washing in a bucket of water.

All and all tho, I think they did a great job.

The bunnies now have three times the space to hang out, the kids got to help out and do some empressive painting... and we were able to do it all inexpensively through the creative recycling of materials and hardware.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to buld a bunny hutch for cheap-part1

We've got bunnies. Two of em. And they're both shoe-horned into this little, tiny cage. It's not fair for the poor little guys.

When we got the two little bunnies as babies, we had intended to buy a nice bunny hutch and keep them out under the shady trees in our backyard. But, then we ended up struggling just to pay basic bills. No money for bunny hutches.

Fine. So what to do... Those little beasties still deserve a decent place to live. And that's when I remembered the manky old kitchen cabinet that we had pulled to install the dishwasher when we moved in. That cabinet was still in the garage.

Using whatever spare pieces of spare plywood I had, I spent some time last saturday installing the second floor of our new little bunny condo. You can see the little hole cut for there sleeping area, and the floor section cut out for the ramp.

Next, I'll cut out some spaces out of the sides and in the doors for windows to allow fresh air to flow through.
I picked up some wire mesh from the local hardware store and will put that in too.

4of5 hung out with me for most of the time I spent on the project. He's been testing the strength of the second floors. ; )

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My income was cut back by a thousand dollars a month early this year. It's taken hard work just to make sure the mortgage and student loans are paid each month. Paying for other non-essential things like say, utilities, food, and clothing are covered as best we can for now. At least I have job... there are quite a few people in my neighborhood that don't. Frankly, I don't know how they manage to keep their homes.

You know, if I didn't have to pay about $800. a month to student loans, our little family would be doing alright. I think that if I could go back in time, I'd NOT take out student loans. What's the point of paying massive amounts of money for a college education if the loans hang around your neck like a millstone for the rest of your life? I'd still go to college, but I'd take longer to do it and I'd find a way to do it without loans. Live in a dumpster if I had to so as not to burden my future with these miserable loan payments.

Yeah, I know... enough whining.

For now, I have to make some changes to the plans I had for the trailer. I will be limited to whatever materials I can afford or find to get this project back together. Will definately buy the steel though. Don't want to skimp on the frame. Just gotta save up for the materials, then I can begin welding.