A very good, absolutely productive day!!

We had planned to work on Clyde on Saturday, but (naturally) it rained. So, we went to the Bulk Food store, bought enough beef jerky to last us a life time, and spent the rest of the day goofing off. So… Sunday came in beautiful and we got to work!!!

First day of Fall, and the temps were in the low 70’s and a perfect breeze blew all day.

We had a last item of demolition to do. I didn’t count it as a part of the camper, because it was the floor. But, Chad says it counts. So, this is really the last demo of the camper itself. We knew the wood floors had to go. They were all lumpy and bumpy from remnants of linoleum past. They had a lot of water damage at the corners, wheel wells and door. So, that was a given. Using the weirdest of floor removal tools…

Mattock Time!

a mattock (or mattox, depending on where you live), we removed the wood. It came out in chunks. We had to laugh, because we hit one section that did NOT want to come up. Chad was slamming crowbars and the mattock under it and just started dying laughing. He yelled, “We finally found one piece of Clyde that was built well!!!!”  We’ve been hunting it for almost 3 years. Finally it revealed itself! LOL!!!!

That is NOT cotton candy!

Let me tell you, the fluffy, pink insulation stuff was NASTY!!! Water-logged piles of pink slime. Oh, just YUCK!!!

What we could see of the metal under the wood and insulation looked okay, but we could only see a couple of square feet, so we weren’t holding our breath.

Photo 6

Photo 1

Good thing!!! Not only did they have holes in them from the dissimilar metals touching (galvanic reaction/action, see below), they had actually been made of… irregular siding. Yes, it was made of the stuff the sides were made of. I was counting on whisper-thin aluminum to hold my chubby self up off the ground. Oh, my.

So, armed with tin snips, crowbars, a screwdriver and the patience of a saint, Chad went to work!


Where'd the floor go??

As he worked and revealed more and more of the frame, we found out a brace on the frame had missed being welded to the center frame. It was hanging by a thread. So, we’ll have to weld that back on. But, luckily, the remainder of the frame is in excellent shape. It’s got a very small amount of surface rust. So, in the coming days, we’ll be using a metal brush to get the rust and dirt off. Then, we’ll take Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer and cover the frame with that, then paint it with Rustoleum gloss black. We could use the spray stuff, but don’t want to risk getting any of it on the good siding, windows, whatever. So, we’ll use brushes for that.

Right now, we have a couple of extra 2x4s just bracing the walls to keep them from slumping. They weren’t, but we figured we wouldn’t leave it for long without something. We know our luck!!

Our find of the day is something that just cracked me up.

Bzzzzz! Beehive! 4 small, beehive clear lights. Mounted UNDER the camper, but too far back/in to be of any use for signaling. The only thing we can figure out is that they were there to help you see where to put the stabilizing jacks if you were setting up in the dark. They are SO cool! I absolutely love this fantastic, retro look. 3 of them are in really good shape, one has a cracked lens. We’re thinking that maybe they could be used as reverse lights, since they are white. Whatever the case, we are SO finding a place for these. They’re the coolest find we’ve had on this project and I am just in love with them!!

Our final work of the day was to get the back window in. We took out the temporary plastic sheeting, butyl taped the edges of the window frame and popped it in. We had to wedge some wood around the edges to hold it in place, as we don’t have the insulation or paneling up yet. Even temporarily in place, they look fantastic!

Rear window (not the movie)

Rear window (not the movie)

Front window, as seen earlier

Front window, as seen earlier

We’ll cut the holes for the 4 small windows when we get the floors put in. I’m working on cleaning them up, and finding a place to replace the screening, as it’s picked to pieces on several of the windows. I know that’s supposed to be a very simple DIY, but I’m kind of cursed when it comes to screens. So, I’ll be hiring that one out, Thank you!

In short, we now have a hand full of actual structural stuff to do: repair the weld on the frame, clean up and paint the frame, new metal floors (luckily, we have left over steel from the camper sides, so we’ll utilize that), new subfloor, new roof bracing. Then, we’ll be ready to figure out where to run the electrical and plumbing. Run that, then put up styrofoam-style insulation and the paneling. Then, we’ll have our little box on wheels ready to for its pretty innards! Sounds like a lot, but these are mostly quick things, as Chad has restored tons of old cars, so he’s very used to frame work. He’s a blacksmith/metal artist, so he can weld like crazy. I’m the daughter of an electrician, and helped restore/repair old houses my whole life. We’ve finally hit the point that we actually KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING!!! So, hopefully it will go quicker now!!!

We’re coming up on Clyde’s 3rd year with us (November 2010, he came home to live with us). I’m hoping 2014 (which will be his 40th birthday) will see him on the road! With productive days like this, I can actually see it coming! It’s about time!!!

*** boring information on galvanic corrosion, courtesy of wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galvanic_corrosion ****


Why, what big eyes you have!

Look! Look!!!!! Just look!!!!! CLYDE GOTS EYES!!!! Well, one eye, anyway! After a small snafu (yeah, like that’s so abnormal here) with the order, we got some butyl putty tape. Chad actually hid this roll when it came in, so I didn’t even know it was here.
I yelled down to our part of the house to come for supper when I got home. He came bounding up the stairs and said, “Hey, you might wanna look at Clyde!” I looked out, and there it was!! A windowed Clyde!
He said he bit off a bit more than he meant to. Apparently, to get it to STAY in, he had to also put on the inside trim ring! Which, since we have no insulation or paneling up, was a bit of a pain. He rigged it for now, got it in nice and snug and there it is!!!
It was getting dark, so I only managed to get one sort of half-decent picture. But, it’s so wonderful to see a beautiful, clean, fully installed window!

clyde window
This is a baby step, but we’ve lost SO much time on Clyde this summer, that seeing something done is just heart-warming!!!
And, to know that Chad came in from a long day at inservice and did this for me… how cool is that?!
Love that man!!!!!

Show me some SKIN!!!!!!!

Well, it finally happened. After mistakes in measuring, a small amount of blood shed (mine) and just prior to a monsoon a-blowin’ thru… Clyde got his new skin on! Not all of it, just the start. The back of Clyde is now clad in a beautiful golden-tan color. The window opening is cut out (THAT made a horrible noise) and we even test-fit the window and it will look AWESOME! He’s looking like a real camper now!!!

The first piece we actually put on a couple of weeks ago. We did this one just the two of us. That might have been a slight mistake. Or a huge one. The metal is thin, but strong. You have to place it exactly where you want it and begin securing it with rivets from the middle out, or you might have a “loose” area of skin that will look wrong. So, we had to hold a 6.5 foot piece of metal up, press it down evenly and secure it. If each person had 3 hands, this would not be hard. But, with only 4 hands between us, it was not pretty. I had my head, hands, one knee and my um… uh… hooters squished against the metal to help hold it. Even with the almighty substance (duct tape) holding it steady, we about wore ourselves out. But, we got piece one installed.

The first rivet in Clyde! Or, as Chad called it, “Clyde’s First Screw.” Yes, sometimes he is a 13 year old boy. Ignore the purple line, it’s just chalk!

Notice the plastic wrap. $10 a roll at ACE hardware. It will act as a vapor barrier to keep water from getting to the wood, and it’s currently keeping critters out while we get the skin on. Whattabargain!

So, we waited until we had slave labor, er, uh… until my parents were home to do the next piece! It went MUCH smoother. We truly could not have done it without them, because this piece had to be installed up on ladders and had to fit over a BIG curve and under the roof. So, it took all four of us for sure! Chad had a genius moment when he thought to install a piece of wood exactly where the bottom of the metal needed to go. It was temporary, but kept us from having to hold the bottom of the metal the whole time. MUCH easier than wrestling and duct taping.

First, we cut the window out of the bottom piece, so we wouldn’t have to cut thru 2 layers of metal at the overlap!

Then, the next step was to put the new metal on. No pictures of that particular circus, because we were all too busy holding stuff, hanging off of ladders, etc. Please notice the beautiful drawing of Chad and I looking out the window. Thankfully, that part got cut out.

Absolutely WONDERFUL! Beautiful new skin for our beautiful boy, Clyde!!!

I think my favorite part is the riveting! It reminds me of the old campers from the 1950’s and 1960’s. The screws come with a water-proof washer and are already painted to match the camper. As I have mentioned, this is metal roofing, before it gets the corrugation. It has a baked-on finish that lasts 40 years and doesn’t even have to be waxed. You don’t even have to buy special stuff to wash it. You can use dishwashing liquid. How easy!!!

We got the front all ready to put the siding on, and the heaven’s opened up. It was like a monsoon. There was a river of water pouring under the camper. So, we called it quits and went home. But, Clyde looks wonderful and we are SO proud.

I haven’t quit dancing for days now. Well, internal dancing, ’cause the inmates look at me odd when I dance during their physicals. Go figure!

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!

Brace Yourself, Clyde!

This was probably the most progress-filled weekend on Clyde yet! We had grown so accustomed to spending hours destroying things that seeing a lot of stuff get built is just mind-blowing! Anyway, the inside of our dear Clyde is completely framed. Meaning that all the walls are now structurally sound, braced where they need to be to allow the siding to screw into place, hold the windows in at the proper heights, etc.

Brace Yourself!

The walls are so sturdy now! When we first got Clyde, you could push on the wall and watch the exterior wall bulge. If you pushed on the wall to shake the camper, only a certain part would shake, because nothing was stuck together! Now, we can grab the brace and shove as hard as we want, and it goes NOWHERE! When you grab an exterior corner and push it, the camper moves as one unit. It’s solid!

In case you are wondering about the bajillion little silver plates, those are called “ties” and they are used to connect pieces of wood that do not screw into something else. Campers are actually put together with metal staples rather than these. While tearing Clyde apart, we found that most of the staples had either rusted/corroded and already broken or were the consistency of dry spaghetti. We figured out quickly that had contributed to how unstable the camper felt. We opted for a much stronger build. Of course, this many staples would have cost about $10 and lasted for a good 20 years. But, we mean for Clyde to outlive us and give some other group of nerds much happiness. So, we went with the $.52 each tie plates. The last trip we made to Lowe’s (aka our home away from home) we bought 40 of them. We are down to one now. Sigh. Here we come again, Lowes!

I did have a wonderful moment this weekend, though. We went to Big John’s Closeouts in Elizabehton, TN. It’s sort of like a builder’s Big Lots. They had our screws there! For cheap! So we got 300 of them (all they had) for about what 100 usually costs. And, I came up with a great way to keep them. They come in a small cardboard box that is very inconvenient to carry around and easy to knock over. So, being that I am a nurse and have access to a LOT of old prescription bottles, I got one of the large bottles (like 90 day prescriptions come in) that has the reversible lid (fat part down, child proof, fat part up, not child-proof) and cleaned it out, peeled off the old label and put the screws in it. If you knock it over, it won’t spill. AND the best part… with the lid on in the un-child-proof form, it make a small dish to keep a handful of screws in for easy access. Cost: FREE and I kept a chunk of plastic out of the land-fill! Not bad, huh??

My moment of genius!

Okay, it’s not rocket science, but it really did work out well. Oh, and notice the fake-grass under the bottle? It came with Clyde and has been thru Hell and back! We use it for everything. Any time we have to crawl under the camper, lay down to do something, etc. it comes out. I am sure its original purpose was to serve as an outdoor “rug” of sorts, but we’ve worked it to pieces! We will let it retire gracefully when Clyde is finished. Because I found an AWESOME outdoor rug at Lowe’s on clearance AND I got an additional 10% off because the only one left was the floor model (rug. floor model. Funny!). I’ll have to do another “stuff for the inside of Clyde” roundup soon, and put a pic of it in there. It’s very groovy, with my 70’s harvest colors and big flowers.

Now, what comes next for Clyde is a HUGE jump. We’re calling Lyon’s metal roofing tomorrow to put in our order. They are a metal roofing manufacturer here in Piney Flats, TN. Buying direct from them, you save a fortune. But, if you’ve ever seen metal roofing, you know it has all kinds of corrugation to it, to make the rain run down correctly. So, it’d be really hard to put on a camper, as it has quite tall peaks and ridges, that would make capping the corners difficult. Here’s where my husband is a genius…

He asked them if we could buy the metal BEFORE it got corrugated. And, you can. Flat, prepainted, good for 30 years at least. AND, it comes in a gorgeous tan color called “mocha tan” that almost matches Chad’s Jeep (aka Miss Behavin’), which is what we will use to tow. I am not sure what our exact cost will be, but it is going to be a HUGE savings. The cheapest we could find replacement camper siding was about $17 per square foot BEFORE shipping. Craziness on a $600 camper!!!! So, this is going to be around $3.00 per linear foot of 3.5 foot wide sheets. Since Clyde is only 6 feet tall, we only have to get 2 sheets per side, at about 12 feet each. So, yeah… it’s gonna be CHEAP. They even sell the screws and water-tight washers in matching baked-on paint. Clyde is gonna look like a new man!!!

So, long-story already too long to be short: We are going to start re-skinning Clyde next weekend. I am anticipating getting both of the long sides done that weekend, then we’ll worry about the ends next time. We didn’t want to bite off more than we could chew all at once (and we don’t have anywhere to store huge hunks o’ metal at Mom and Dad’s, where we work on Clyde). So, we’re starting there, and seeing how we do!

Believe me, my next post of Clyde Work should be AMAZING. Next weekend, the weather is supposed to be perfect, partly cloudy and in the high 70’s. Keep your fingers crossed that it stays that way! Rain will cancel the whole plan, since we have to take all the siding off both sides to get started on this! EEK!

Trust me, I’ll get PLENTY of pictures!

So, say prayers and do dances for good weather and happy engineering, since neither of us know what we are doing!



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!