Prime Directive

Yeah, we’re geeks, so the title was a MUST. We (and by “we” I mean “Chad”, because I had an insane week and wound up having to go into work for a few hours to get our head above water. Chad stuck to our schedule, and did Clyde work. I did show up and bring him drinks and help clean up at the end. So, I wasn’t totally useless, just mostly) got the frame welded in the necessary spots (the one we discussed earlier AND another spot he found that had only a tiny spot of weld) and primed!

Primed for Fun!!!

Primed for Fun!!!

OK, it might not look like much, but getting all the old rust off and having it primed, it really feels like we’re moving forward! So, yay for us!!!!

Say goodbye to the bumper (formerly known as the Chillolator holder).

Say goodbye to the bumper (formerly known as the Chillolator holder).

Nekkid camper does not have a bumper!

Nekkid camper does not have a bumper!

Also, Chad removed the rear bumper. Mr. Metalsmith is simply NOT satisfied with it, so he’s custom building one that will also double as a storage tube for the sewer tube. He’ll be using 4 inch square steel. Because, in this house, we do not merely build… we overbuild!! I think I should get that made into a family crest for us!

Our plan is to put the floor in next week, while Chad is off work (he works this week, so that gives us plot and plan time. Ya know, to make ANOTHER trip to Lowes Home Improvement, where they know us by name).

Of course, being us, we had to have at least one “oops” moment. We were about to leave the camper, and realized we’d opened the roof vent, and needed to close it. We were both too short to reach it without standing on the frame. That had just been painted. Chad had to do some serious ninja moves. But, he got it closed. Yeah, only us.


So much for that idea (or measure twice, order once)

It was a weekend of ups and downs. Mostly ups, but a huge, crushing down.

We got all the siding off, finished even the most finicky of bits to framing, put in the new, flexible expanda-foam stuff in every little joint, unrolled our beautiful new siding and…

it was too short.

By 3 inches. An inch and a half on each side. 3 inches. And, the worst part… it was our fault. Chad asked me for the camper measurements, and I gave him the ones we’ve always used. The ones that were BEFORE we did all the exterior work. Guess what changed by 3 inches by the time we got all the work done?  Sigh.

Good news is, it’ll work for the ends, and have enough left over to reskin the door and the rock guard, which we wanted to do anyway. Bad news, we didn’t have enough of the wider boards to brace where the back bunk will be, so we couldn’t skin the ends this weekend.

So, Clyde is all naked and we can’t do anything until we:

a. Have another weekend off together (the joys of a hubby in law enforcement… crappy hours. He’ll work the next 2 weekends).

b. Get the new sheet metal ordered (4 day processing)

c. Pay for said metal

d. Get all the bracing for the back bunk

e. chisel the remaining window out, which is on the back and put in with some sort of concrete or something, LOL.

Clyde is all bones!!!

So, our big exciting weekend did have us getting a LOT of work done, just not the final bit of work we were so excited about.

Considering that we are BRAND new to campers, let alone rebuilding one, it’s amazing we haven’t hit a larger snafu than this before now. But, it didn’t stop me from sitting down and having a good cry. Pity Party for 2, please! While I was snotting and whining and generally behaving like a total weenie, the most beautiful thing happened…

A Family of Deer!

Mom and Dad live on the edge of the lake and right up on some woods. Out of them wanders 2 does and 3 fawns. They were so close. We just sat and watched them for ages. They finally wandered far enough away that Chad was able to sneak and grab the camera and get a few shots. One of the does finally goes uncomfortable with us, and started stomping its foot at us and even snorting a little. Then, off they went!

So, that ended my pity party. we packed up our stuff, and Chad will go back today (he’s off) with a roll of plastic sheeting and cover up Clyde with it, so the wood won’t warp over the next 2.5 weeks until we can get back to it and get to work again.

Hopefully, we’ll have ALL the metal this time and just go ahead and skin the whole beast. So, I promised you awesome pictures, and I delivered. Just pics of naked Clyde and gorgeous deer instead of dressed Clyde. You’ll have to wait a little over 2 weeks for those. Sorry!

A day without disaster!!!

We actually had a day of progress. Pure progress. No explosions, nothing falling apart. No rabid wolves, no scary noises, nothing. I figure that this means we will, very soon, be hit by a meteor. I mean, hey… what’s a Clyde-day without a terrible SNAFU?? But, anyway, we didn’t have an explosion. It went well. What did we accomplish? Why, let me tell you…

THE BACK IS DONE. Done. The whole thing. Yes, it is completely studded in, ready to get insulation, paneling, wiring, etc. It is as strong as it can possibly be!

No way on the face of earth it’ll fall apart now! We even got the siding put back on, although that is only temporary.

We’ve got several areas that will require new siding.

I am hoping it won’t be too expensive to replace these. I’d like nice, new siding. But, if that is not an option due to cost, I’m skimming the internet and hunting used siding. Do you think that perhaps there is a “used, ugly siding warehouse” online? We shall find out!!


I also got to do my absolute favorite part of the Clyde Project. I got to tear things up. I ripped out walls, paneling, and framing. Oh, how I love to destroy stuff! Demolition (aka “demo”) is my happy thought! I absolutely adore yanking out walls and insulation and such. Gimme a crowbar, a hammer and a zip-saw and I may squeal in pure delight.

So, with my trusty tools of destruction, I ripped out the walls up to the front couch-bunk.  We have now torn out everything original except the very front wall. Can, I just tell you how much I am looking forward to NEVER seeing the grasscloth wallpaper again? I loathe that stuff.

Oh, and can I go on a rant here? I hate construction adhesive. I love it when I am USING it. I just hate when trying to destroy the camper walls is hindered by over-use of Liquid nails. The paneling is glued to the original studs with roughly 364 tubes of this crap per inch. Seriously, I shed blood just trying to rip off the stupid paneling!! UGH. The rest of the camper was built so shoddily, but they glue everything?! UGH, UGH, UGH.

End of rant.

However, we did have something new and fun… we had a little bit of nature set up housekeeping in the camper while we were away for a couple of weeks. We found the beginnings of a squirrel nest, and a spider with a shiny, silver spot on him that looks remarkably like a Hello Kitty face!

And, now the part both of you have been waiting for: CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT!

Later this week, I will be posting a poll comprised of some shots of neat paint schemes I’ve found on Pinterest. I’ll have some of my favorites up, and I want you to vote for the one you like best. In the comments, make an argument for your choice. The best, funniest, most persuasive comment will win a small Clyde prize. Don’t go getting all excited, it’s not much! No all-expenses-paid trips to Tahiti (or to Piney Flats for that matter), but it’ll be something super-cute! So, get your thinking caps on and get ready to be creative!

I leave you with one last picture, the late, not lamented Chillolator 3000 in its full size glory, in the middle of the camper floor. HUGE drill on top to show size.

Chillolator 3000 has to GO!!

Well, as usual, we are back and forth, back and forth. Some areas making progress, some areas… not so much!!! We’ve had several “Clyde Days” as we call our work days, but I haven’t taken time to post. So, I’ll catch up today!

Well, our killer AC unit, The Chillolator 3000 (Okay, it’s really just a Sunbeam, but doesn’t that sound way cooler?!), was an addition by the Previous Owners. It’s one heckuva AC. I mean, it’ll turn that camper into a meat locker. But, since it was added late in Clyde’s life, it was in the metal exterior AFTER some settling and a possible wreck had occurred. So, we had to pull it out to straighten the sheet metal.

Clyde Chillolator 3000 before removal

Doesn’t look like 1000 pounds does it? Well, it FELT like it!!!

Those fabulous people, THE PREVIOUS OWNERS ( who get called Much, Much worse when I’m not posting to the internet), had somehow managed to screw the stupid AC in from the inside. From inside the AC case/housing. I do not even know how that was possible. I mean, it would require the flexibility of a Cirque-du-Soleil acrobat to get those stupid screws in there! But, of course, we are not acrobats, so we just ripped, cut, cussed and tore the stupid things out! Did I mention we got to make sparks? FIRE!!!

This is actually AFTER we got the stupid thing out, and just grinding down the last of the screws sticking up. But, isn’t it a cool picture?! FIRE!!!

This brings us to the issue of perspective. When we could see the AC only halfway at any given time, it didn’t look that big. Well, when you yank it out and can see it all at once… It is HUGE. I am talking Chad-could-barely-lift-it/It-barely-fits-thru-the-door HUGE. After a discussion, we think we are going to get a new one. Why?

A. It is HUGE and takes up a ton of room hanging out the back of the camper.

B. It is HUGE and weighs a lot and since we are planning on using a 6 cylinder Jeep Wrangler to tow it, lightness is of utmost importance.

C. It is HUGE and if we get a smaller one, it will still cool the same, but can be relocated to the front where the battery box/propane tanks would normally go and eliminate the need for the bracing on the back bumper and make the weight more evenly distributed as it will ride on the hitch.

D. It is HUGE.

So, we still have the Chillolator for use when we work on the camper, until we get a new one, but we’re definitely going to replace him with a newer and much smaller unit. For that tiny camper, we’ve found them for as little as $99. So, it’ll at least be a cheap investment! I was thinking we’d have to have a remote, but since we are probably moving it up front under the sofa, the sofa will be on hinges/hydraulics, and will be easy to pull up to adjust the AC, we won’t need the remote. At least, that’s what I’m thinking so far.

Of course, now that we are putting the AC unit up front, we are having discussion as to whether or not to have the front area as  dinette or as a couch/bed. We could move the Dinette to the back and have it bigger. So, that is up in the air. Hopefully this weekend, we’ll get a lot done (3 Day Weekend, lots of Clyde time), and make some decisions there.

Beyond the wonders of 175 pound AC units, we got a lot done on the back side of the camper. We actually got the back wall almost completed. This has felt like such a Herculean task. But, we are finally there! It’s so much stronger than it was, and we got the back end boosted up to where it used to be. We are actually going to have to recut the back access panel, because with the boost and rebuild, there is “extra” sheet metal now! So, we’re going to have to recut the hole. All this is left is some extra braces and reframing the access panel. Oh, and pulling the window out. That’ll be a treat. It’s in there with about 100 pounds of expanda-foam. Phew. Wish us luck!!

Which brings us to our latest quandry. What to do about the sheet metal. We have finally found a place that will order us sheet metal for the outside (the “skin” we are always talking about). He’s getting us pricing, so that will determine how much skin we replace. I am hoping it will be cheap enough that we can replace completely the sections that have all the holes cut in the side for the furnace, stove, etc. that we no longer use. Otherwise, we’ll just board those up when we do the interior walls and leave the grills/grates on there, so it won’t be such a patch job from the outside. I’d rather have a pretty, smooth surface, though. So, that’s another thing we are watching and planning.

The camper from the Chillolator’s point of view. Actually, the whole back wall was out when I took this, so it gives you a good idea of what it looks like inside!

Our parting shot, Clyde without his pants on. Yup, he’s mooning you!

Next post will be HUGE. It’ll cover all the fun things we will be fixing over Memorial Day weekend! AND… the announcement of a CONTEST!!!! Yes, loyal readers (both of you), we will be having a CLYDE CONTEST!!!! So, keep your eyes peeled. I promise, the next post will actually be interesting!

3 steps forward, 2 steps back (it’s still progress!)

Well, I had very little to do with Clyde’s latest work day. Actually, I showed up after it was over and brought dessert! This one was all Chad. He works an odd schedule and has 7 days off in a row every 28 days. So, on his 7 he decided to spend a whole day on Clyde. He worked his butt off and made a ton of progress! Of course, the poor guy had to tear out half of what he’d done before and we now know we will have to remove the AC and we are absolutely sure the camper has been wrecked before, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

First of all, let me repeat what I have said before… this camper was a death trap when it was built. I can now see why Bendix campers are not the world renowned campers like Airstream. It’s because we probably have the only one that survived for more than a year. Seriously, the craftsmanship in these things is like a high school shop project: just enough to pass!!! Case in point, this is the left-hand corner of the camper. This is all that was holding up that entire corner:

Quality from Bendix to You!

Just in case you are wondering, yes, that is a piece of wood someone was too lazy to mitre so it would actually fit up against the wood, instead of holding up the corner of the roof with about 1/8″ of wood held in by 2 staples. AMAZING.

Needless to say, that got torn out and replaced with a correctly and sturdily built corner! But, not before we had our Glitch of the Week! Yes, I think we need to make this a regular part of our posts. Since we discover something catastrophically wrong and wind up digging our hole deeper every time we touch the camper, I think we should have a special segment just for the FUBAR we have find!

This week’s find: Clyde was definitely wrecked by a prior owner. When Chad tore out the section against the roofline in the back, and rebraced it, he noticed what we have noticed before: the back wall has a bit of a bow to it. However, from the top being rebraced, it showed just how much of a bow. Following the line down, here is the damage:

Cotton Candy???

Interior slope up to the ceiling. When this got braced, we got some issues...

Just a little gap...

OK, it doesn't look too bad from the side, right? Just a little gap...

OH, wait...

OK, not so little. This is what happened when we got the top lined up correctly, it bowed all the sheet metal out and revealed that the AC had been installed AFTER the sheet metal had been very poorly repaired!


Remember the beautiful seam from the post about getting all buttoned up? Yeah, had to tear it out! Sigh.

Warped Tour

Notice what used to be a small bow to the back metal that has now become so pronounced it is pulling away from the AC unit!

So, here we go again. Chad reopened the corner we’d repaired and rebuilt both corners, but we are having to wait to connect the corners until he can bring in the plasma cutter and his welder! We have to remove the AC unit and get the metal put back down even. That wouldn’t normally be hard, but the AC unit is on a huge metal frame that is welded onto the homemade bumper. So, we have to cut it all loose and rebuild. Look, kids! It’s the word of the year: REBUILD!!!

So, he did all he could do the back, and then went ahead and pulled all of the paneling out up to the doors and rebuilt the bottom of the exterior frame. This has since been put back together, but the pictures are just super-cool! And, any time you think you want to renovate a vintage camper, look at these and THEN decide if it’s worth it!

I love an open floor plan

Wonder why my toes are cold?

Look! Fresh Wood!

Now, less you start thinking we are going to be in a nursing home before Clyde ever gets done… he’s come a long way! The walls are rebuilt all the way up to the door way on the left side, and up to the wheel well on the right. So, there has been progress, it just doesn’t look like it. When we get the AC unit pulled, it will take only a few minutes to button up the back walls and they will actually be DONE and ready for paneling at that point. Due to removing the bound up sheet metal at the back, the camper is back even and now the door closes without us having to throw our full body weight against it!

So, it looks like a trainwreck and we had to take a few steps back, but we made several more steps forward. So, we are still Happy Campers! While this would not be a project for people with no construction skills, we are actually having a great time doing this. It’s been a dream project for a long time, and we’re both loving seeing this little hunk of junk coming together and turning into our dream a piece at a time.

So, don’t feel guilty if you giggle at our finds and terrors and un-progress! We are laughing along with you and I promise, some day Clyde will actually come together and we’ll have a Clydewarming party! You’re all invited.

Both of you.

Button it!!!

Welcome back, dear Readers! When last we saw the intrepid Clyde, he’d been left with a gaping wound in his side. Open to infection (or at least an invasion of squirrels) and mighty drafty, there he was!

A little bit drafty for me

Winter Breeeze....

Well, the surgeon arrived, and his name is CHAD!!!  We’d been working on this first corner (which is the right, rear, for anyone keeping score) for months now. Which sounds more pitiful than it is. Due to weather and scheduling, it’s been slow going! But, we’d had a couple of work days on this corner and it was going S L O W. Mainly because the original structure of the corner was pretty shoddy and rotten. So, we had to figure out how to rebuild it stronger, better, faster (wait, that’s the Six Million Dollar Man… not Clyde). And, our break-thru came yesterday! We finally figured out how to get the windows, the walls and the floor to play nicely with one another.

Don’t know if you remember or not, but Clyde’s back wall had so much rot that the wood had actually swollen and forced the back seam open. The hatchet “restoration” job before us had left all the rot and just stretched some extra metal over the corner. Well, we ripped all that out, rebuilt the skeleton, and finally the moment of truth…

Would the walls fit back together or had so much damage been done that we were going to need to reskin the corner? If we have to reskin, things are going to be MUCH more expensive, as it turns out old camper siding is quite expensive! Who knew?!

So, Chad rebuilt the corner, then we went outside and I helped him pull the metal back around and..

After 38 years, this skin still fits like it did when I was a kid!

The corner, all buttoned up!

Yes, we did use 800 metal brackets in one corner. Don't judge me.

IT WORKED!!! Everything lined up beautifully! We’ve got a few screws holding it together until we get some finishing nails and really get down to putting it back together for ever and ever. The original construction was held together with large staples, but camper siding is thick aluminum and we do not have a staple gun that strong. So, we’ll be going even more old school and using finishing nails!

Now that we have a corner destroyed and rebuilt, we’re good to go. It took us much longer to figure out WHAT to do than it did to DO it. The other rear corner is next and should go a ton faster, now that we know what he heck we are doing!

So, with the corner and buttoned up and pretty, we decided to try something else. For no reason whatsoever.

We’d finally gotten around to getting a hitch on the Jeep, so we wanted to see how it would do moving Clyde. As small as he is (and especially since he is currently pretty much gutted), it should be simple, but we wanted to check.

So, we hooked the little guy up and took him for a short run across the driveway at Mom and Dad’s house. He did awesome and so did the Jeep! As simply as it moved Clyde, we should not have any trouble towing him loaded. So, another worry out of the way! YAY!!!

Go, Clyde, Go!

I was sick as a dog this whole weekend, so I was little more than a glorified gofer (as in, gofer some lunch, gofer this and that). So, this one was pretty much all Chad. I was there for moral (or immoral, depending on how you look at it) support.

And, in case you are wondering, yes, there is a strip off the bottom right outside. We’re waiting to see where we will run in the electrical and water to put that one back on. But, it’s rebuilt, just waiting the metal to go back on.

We also made a really cool discovery. Clyde has had a rough life and I don’t think he’s had a wax job since the early 80’s. His paint is in awful condition and appears to be bone white with avocado green. Obviously, he will need to be repainted, and Chad and I decided we’d like to keep the Avocado, but change the main color to a rich, almond-like off-white. Yesterday, we pulled off a tail light (we will be replacing the ugly, boxy square ones with some retro-looking, round LEDs with flushmount and a cool chrome trim ring). Under it, you could see what the original paint looked like. It’s ALMOND! The exact color we had discussed. It was so cool to know that we are so in touch with Clyde that we already seem to know what he needs to get back to being himself*!

U G L Y, you ain't got no alibi!

The original ugly tail light with what the paint looks like now.

Behold, a hint of the original color!

The small rectangle around the tiny hole is where the tail light was. Notice the difference in color!

*yes, we know he isn’t a person. Well…

Coming up next: retro tupperware fest, AKA getting more STUFF for Clyde!

It has been a while

Well, I haven’t posted since September, but it’s a New Year, and I really must get caught up. Let me get you up to date:

Clyde is still just a shell of himself.No, really, he’s pretty much just a shell. The only things remaining in Clyde are a small “bunk” like couch up front (just the frame of it) and a narrow shelf above it. Everything else, including the flooring and the majority of the paneling, are gone.  One of the windows is out and covered with a trash bag. The back right corner is stripped down to the bare metal and is about to become the first thing we “fix” on Clyde.

Drive-thru Window

So, that is how we started our day today. We had plans to work yesterday, when it was 70+degrees and sunny out, but Chad got called into work on an emergency, so that got shot in the head. So, we went in today. When it was in the 50’s and rainy. Yeah, we always have GREAT timing that way.

So, we plug in our little heater (with multiple gaping holes in the exterior, we were merely hoping to knock off the chill, but it did pretty well), and break out some power tools and got a start on rebuilding the corner.

Notice how all the junk gets crammed to the "couch" up front.

So, with that out of the way, we frame in the window. This one window had to come out (and we are hoping the rest won’t), simply because the rot was sooooo bad around it, that we had to completely strip all the wood from around it. No framing+gravity=window fall down. So, we took it out and re-did all the framing. Then… realized we did it wrong. Unscrewed it and replaced it correctly. We didn’t account for the fact that the window has a little trim around it. We had to snug the frame up under the trim. So, even though we wasted about 45 minutes doing it wrong then fixing it, it wasn’t too huge a disaster. We also cleaned out buckets of trash and debris from the destruction-days past. Then, we measured out some things and made some plans. We did not get much done today, due to the monsoon that broke loose, but we finally BUILT something instead of just tearing out!  So, from a hole in the wall covered with a trash-bag to this:

Redneck window be-gone!

Progress, at long last!!!!

I also managed to get one other thing done. Clyde has a little compartment in the back, that you can access from outside. Eventually, this will be under the bed, and will reach into a storage area. Somewhere thru the years, all the keys to Clyde have gotten lost. So, we needed to find a key to the compartment. I managed to get the lock apart today and while wandering at Lowe’s (aka, the Clyde store), I found a replacement! They are called “mailbox locks” in the hardware store and cost $3.58. In camping stores, they are called “compartment locks” and run about $8. Go Lowe’s!!!

None shall enter!!

Compartment door LOCKED

Open Says A Mimi!

Compartment Door Without the Lock!

We’ve still got a LOT of demolition to go, but right now it feels really good to get something done. To build something, instead of just destroying. It makes it feel like we are eventually going to get poor little Clyde back to new and get him out on the road and enjoy him!

So far, most everything has been about Clyde’s “bones” and nothing about what he’ll look like later. We are definitely going to stick with his 1970’s roots. And what says 1970 better than owls?? NOTHING! That’s what! So, we’re going to have a lot of avocado green, harvest gold, burnt orange and owls and mushrooms and maybe a lava lamp! We’ve bought a TON of stuff for the inside (light fixtures, a microwave, linens, etc), but I’ve not taken pics. So, here’s a sneak preview of what is to come. Some day soon, I’ll try to do a post of all the bits ‘n’ pieces we’ve acquired thus far.

Owl Be Seeing You In All The Old Familiar Places...

The pillow is one of a set (they look exactly alike) and the plan is to have them chillin’ on one of the beds. The little ceramic owls are salt and pepper shakers! VERY groovy! These are actually new items, from Pier One. My friend Katie got me the stuffed owl after I tried to steal hers. Then, after Christmas, I found another one, and bought it myself. The S&P set were on clearance for $5. So, that was quite the steal.

Next time I blog, I’ll tell you about how some of the items I have bought are already going to have to be repurposed (sheets the wrong size, etc) and hopefully have pictures of some of our interior items. Thanks for putting up with my rambling and with the loooong lulls between posts!