jacked up!

Last weekend was productive! Arnavick arrived home the prior Wednesday from a week-long visit with his folks in Colorado to celebrate his neice’s birthday. I couldn’t go because I’m in school and had a test with no make up opportunity – such a bummer! BUT since he’s back home and we did NOT have a torrential downpour for the first time in weeks, we got thangs done on this trailer!

We have Rosy the Argosy on four jacks right now, but husband dearest wanted to add two more for more stability (she’s a big girl, after all) while we work on welding the bad spots on the frame. It’s important to have the trailer sitting level on jack stands. If it’s even just a liiitle uneven at any point, the welds we’re doing will render the frame permanently distorted, which could cause stress and safety issues later on. So your girl made some jack stand platforms, since we have her in a yard where the soil is a little soft. The wood platform helps with support and stability, and because of the height of our platforms, we get a little extra space for when we’re working on the underside of the trailer. You want your jacks on a flat, hard surface, not pliable dirt/grass.

There are many options out there for platforms that you can buy. Some people also use cinderblocks or bricks depending on the size or weight of their trailer and the stability of the ground underneath. We had ours on bricks at one point and they broke, so we switched to wood. This DIY version is budget friendly, and pretty easy to complete. Even someone who is power-tool-shy can do the job with a little confidence and the right safety gear. I thought to post it in case any power tool newbie comes across this – it’s a great little beginner project!

We use these jack stands, which drove us to our choice of board width – their bases are 8″ wide. If your jack stand bases are wider, make sure you get a wider board. You want at least 1″ overhang of platform around the entire base of the jack stand, ours has 2″.

So let’s dive in – here’s how I made two jack stand platforms in a matter of 10ish minutes.

Tools:
*Drill
*Spade drill bits (size will be relative to your screws, I used 3/4″)
*Saw
*Safety glasses
*Work gloves

Materials:
*One 8′ x 1′ x 2″ unfinished pine board
*Ten 1 5/8″ wood screws

Step 1: cut your board into four square pieces.

If you don’t own a saw (table, compound miter, jig, hand, whatever), you can have your board cut at whichever store you bought it from. Most places don’t charge for the first cut, and then charge 25c or so for each subsequent cut. The pieces need to be exactly square, so make sure you measure the width of the board first, and then mark out the length based on that measurement. If you didn’t already know, the measurements on the tags at your hardware/lumber supply are never exact. Our board was marketed at 1′ wide but was actually 11 3/4″, so that’s how I measured my length. I measured one length at a time between cuts, since you lose a little wood with each cut. If you were to measure all at once and then do all the cuts in a row, each square would be slightly smaller than the original.

Step 2: drill holes for screws in each top board.

To drill the holes for the screws you’ll need a spade drill bit. This will allow you to recess the screws into the wood, which stops your jack stands or the ground from scratching, or damaging the screws (depending on whether you lay your platform screw side up or down when it’s done).

You should use a spade bit that is relative to the size of your screws. I used a 3/4″ bit which made my holes about twice the width of my screw heads. Drill five holes in the board – one in the center and one a couple of inches in from each corner. Just like on dice. My holes are about halfway through my top board, so about an inch deep.

Step 3: screw boards together.

When you put your two boards together, you should cross the wood grain (this is where being exactly square comes into play). So if your bottom board is laying with the grain horizontal, lay the top board down with the grain vertical. This adds to the tensile strength of the platform.

Holding your boards steady with a gloved hand, insert the first screw in the middle hole of the board. Screw the corners in an X pattern. For example, screw the top left, then the bottom right, then top right, then bottom left.

Step 4: get jacked up!

Your platforms are ready to use! We laid ours on the ground screw side down, in a spot where the trailer really needed extra support. Bonus points when you find the chihuahua in the below pic.

Now we can weld our frame damage away with the peace of mind that our trailer is evenly supported with six three-ton jack stands. It’s a great feeling!

If you’re a beginner and looking to jump into DIY, or if you don’t feel like shelling out scratch for a fancy jack stand platform, I hope this post proves useful! Happy lifting!

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rosy progress report – february

I’m a few days late, but here I am with the February progress report! It’ll be short and sweet, because LORT we are busy. Feb is awful in Texas because WEATHER, and it’s also busy busy because it’s my birth month, and my amazing nephew’s birth month, and it’s short. So between family time and work and school schedules, and working on the Rosy, I dunno how we had time to breathe… But breathe and work and study and party and renovate, we did… and here’s where we’re at on the whole reno process…

Basically, the current status is that we’ve got frame exposed, interior skins out, insulation gone, and a mess EVERYWHERE. We only have March to get this gal ready to sleep in without danger (more on that later), but thanks to some touching generosity of our friends we have a place to crash if sleeping in Rosy is still a health hazard come April 1. Here she is in her icky glory.

It feels like we’ve worked on her a ton with no visual difference. Okay, slight visual difference. I’ll be so glad to put all of this rust brushing and muck cleaning behind us! Today we’re going to make a first attempt at using POR15 to cover the rust on the frame and protect it from damage. Neither of us have used this product before but I’ve done a lot of research over the last week or so and have gotten some good advice from some of our little renovation village. Fingers crossed it goes well!

This is our last month in the apartment. I’ve paid the final rent payment, which felt really, REALLY good. We have just a few weeks to get Rosy what I call “minimally livable”. We define minimally livable as subfloor in, new insulation in, new interior skins in, and said skins painted. If we can get that far along, we’ll toss our mattress in the subfloor and “rough it” (if you can call it that) while we continue on with construction. If we can’t get that far along, we have a back up plan consisting of our very kind and generous friends’ guest room on the same property where we keep the camper. The hardest part in all of this has been packing.

We procrastinated too much, and have now put ourselves in a really tight spot. I work around 52 hours a week between my full time job and freelance work, and I go to school two nights each week for a total of about five hours. Vick pulls long hours in a warehouse all week. We are TIRED in our free time. At this point we are donating or trashing everything we are sure we don’t want, and we’re boxing up everything we do want or are unsure of. It’s hard to say what we’ll need until we’re in the thick of living the lifestyle, so we’ll just pull stuff from storage as the need comes up, which will help us determine what else we can get rid of. Well, we’re off to go do all the things! Happy camping, everyone!

rosy progress report – january

January has been a tough month for measurable progress. It’s been cold (like, for Texas, anyway). So cold, that we iced up one day!

I’ve been taking care of some wedding stuff, and some work stuff, and some school stuff, and I had some friends in town this weekend… And hanging with them was much more fun than donning a respirator mask and safety goggles to sweat and play in the rust. I’m feeling a little down right now because we haven’t made the progress that I thought we would have by now. The last two times we’ve been out to the trailer, we arrived several hours behind schedule, and hit what felt like a hundred roadblocks that prevented us from reaching our end goal for the day. Trailer reno is hard, dudes. But… I’m gonna throw down a little progress report, in the hopes that it will lift my spirits, and bring into my focus all of the accomplishments we’ve achieved since my last update. Let’s get started, shall we?

So, the last time I shared our progress, it was really short blurb with a lot of pics. And reviewing that post just now as I prep to write out today’s post, I can see that we have in fact gotten a TON done. We are still far off from being able to even hang out in the trailer for too long without respirators on, but we’re getting there.

A month ago, we still had interior skins. We had just started taking them down. Boy, that feels like a lifetime ago.

Since then we’ve popped out at least a couple hundred or so rivets, and away went the interior skins.

We started by taking the cover of the AC unit down and removing all of the light fixtures so we could take down the ceiling. It was all one long skinny strip of metal skin, which was pretty satisfying to pull down. It was also a little nerve-wracking because, well, that’s it. Once you start pulling those puppies down, you’re full on committed to redoing your insulation and skins. Say bye bye to painting that 70s era vinyl wallpapered (??) metal and let ‘er rip, potato chip!

After that, we then worked our way down the sides, leaving the end caps for last.

Then we started to pull out the ol pink stuff…

We had several sessions of pulling this stuff down, and going home incredibly itchy – ugh – despite taking precautions to keep it off of our skin. Super annoying!

The end caps were a little scary to take off. Not because it was difficult, it wasn’t. It was just the same as taking off all the other skins… But taking the end caps off and trashing them meant that we for certain were going to have to make new ones at some point, on our own, and have to account for that beautiful, dreaded, iconic, amazing, terrifying Airstream curve. If I haven’t already mentioned it, Vick and I met in remedial math class. We-no-likey-the-maths. But we did what we do, sucked it up and pulled them off, and vowed to figure that out when we got there. Thankfully, we’re not “there” just yet.

The back side of our front interior endcap had 3267 Argosy written on it in permanent marker. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s cool to think that the last time anyone laid eyes on that was probably in the 70s at the factory. I’ll have to google it one of these days to see what I can find… unless anyone reading this knows what it means? Help a sister out!

Once all of the interior skins were done, we were left with a big pile of scraps, tons of bags of the pink stuff, and a lot of little particles to shop vac up.

At that point we were ready to get going on the floor. We had already cut up a small section of it over the gray tank several weeks ago and realized that it’d be better to remove all of the skins first, since the subfloor is bolted in behind them in several places.

We’ve since gotten up most of the floor, with a circular saw, vise grips, a lot of muscle, and a lot of determination. Let me use this opportunity to say – I had several moments while removing the skins where I stopped to say to myself: “Why are we doing this? The insulation isn’t so bad and the electrical works. Is this really necessary?”. Seeing what we had under our floor had me vehemently answering YES YES YES.

Definite evidence of rodents, moisture, and other general nastiness. GROSSGROSSGROSSGROSS.

Had we just said “eh, it’s probably okay” and painted over it with no investigation, we would never truly know what we were living on top of, which would have been a nasty cesspool of icky.

Right now, we have a makeshift plywood “floor” so we’re not walking around on the frame, which needs a few minor welds and a LOT of rust removal and POR-15 (not necessarily in that order).

We still have about a third of the floor to take off, but we’re handling all the stuff in the c-channel and the bolts on the frame first. We’ve been twisting the bolts out with vise grips, which seems to work well enough and not take too terribly long.

Folks keep suggesting an angle grinder, which I know will also do the trick, but I wonder how careful you have to be to protect the frame, opposed to just using a little muscle to pull them out with the vise grips? Anyone have an opinion? Put it in the comments!

My lease is up in 61 days. The tentative plan is to get her as far along as we can so we can move in April 1st. Bare minimum, we need the insulation done and the interior skins up, and the sub down and sealed, and the interior fully painted, and only then we are willing to move in and sleep on our mattress on the floor while we finish up the rest. By April, Texas is warm enough that we won’t have the cold to worry about, and hey, with all that rent and utility money freed up, we just might get a lot done in a relatively short amount of time to get her road ready faster! A girl can Airstream Dream, right? Right now, here’s how she looks (with the mess cleaned up for the pic, of course):

Anyone else out there feeling the reno blues? That feeling that everything takes forever plus a day, and that you’re running way behind? We can do this, right?! Camper People Power! ✊🏽

rosy progress report / december 23

Wow. It’s been seven weeks since my last progress report in blogland! Two words: Holidays and Finals.

I want to squeeze in one more progress report before Christmas, so let’s roll!

Since my last update, we have:

  • Removed the toilet
  • Removed the duct work
  • Cut a hole in the floor
  • Took out the light fixtures
  • Took the screens off of the skylights
  • Removed some interior skins

It’s a lot, y’all. And it’s a hot mess in there right now. But progress is progress I always say!

I’m drafting up some more detailed step by step posts on the toilet, floor, and interior skin removal, but for now, here are a time-lapse video and some pics, because pics or it didn’t happen!

We’re taking this weekend off to spend Christmas with my side of the family, but we’re back at it next weekend. Catch ya on the flip side! Happy holidays, everyone!

 

 

rosy progress report / november 5

There are so, so, SO many things to pull out of an Airstream in order to get to the subfloor.

The plan for today was to loosen or remove everything in the way of the floor. That means the fresh water tank, water pump, furnace, on-demand water heater, and the toilet. In the three-ish hours we were there, I pulled out the fresh tank, and Vick handled the furnace, and then both of us pulled out the ductwork. Because if you’re going to pull out the furnace, you might as well pull out the ductwork too. We aren’t totally sure we’re going to keep the furnace, anyway. It’s older and takes up a ton of valuable storage space. If anyone has any recommendations on space and energy saving alternatives, we are all ears!

removing airstream argosy ductwork

Before pulling ductwork:

removing airstream argosy ductwork

After pulling ductwork:

airstream argosy renovation wheel well

We did have to go primitive with standard hand tools for a bit for some hard to reach screws and bolts on the ductwork. We are so spoiled on power tools!

removing airstream argosy ductwork

I also loosened the on-demand water heater, which was affixed to the floor with a few three inch long screws.

airstream argosy renovation on demand water heater

Once all of that was taken care of, the trailer was an absolute mess, and I didn’t want to proceed any further until we tidied things up a bit.

We swept up as much debris as we could, except for what’s in the little nooks and crannies that are hard to reach – which is why we still have dozens of pop rivet mandrels left behind by Rosy’s previous owner (the little metal rods pictured below). They’ll get swept out eventually.

airstream argosy renovation pop rivet mandrel

Our toolbox desperately needed organizing, so we took care of that as well. We are typically so focused on whatever we’re working on, that once we’re done for the day at our worksite, tools are everywhere. We’re normally leaving the worksite in a rush to get home before Cowboys kickoff, so we usually just gather the tools as fast as we can and dump them wherever they fit in the box. This had gone too far, so I’m glad Arnavick instigated a toolbox organizing sesh – we were overdue.

airstream argosy organizing tools

We also sifted some trash out of our can o’ hardware – can you believe that all of these screws and hose clamps and such came out of our little 27-foot trailer? There are so many of them! And we still have more to go…

airstream argosy organizing tools screws

Suffice to say, after all that cleaning, we didn’t get to cross everything off of our list of items keeping us from getting to the subfloor. BUT, progress is progress, so we’re satisfied with that. We are a tad bit nervous about disconnecting the water pump and surrounding wires. Arnavick thinks some of the wires may be for the DVD/sound system our previous owner installed. To me, it just looks like a bunch of colorful cords. We have a friend that knows electrician things, so hopefully, we can get him out to take a look and give his expert advice.

airstream argosy renovation water pump wires

We also didn’t get the toilet out. We’ve been talking about this for weeks, but have been saving it for last. I feel like it’s best to pull out the ol’ pot just before handling the subfloor, just in case there are some icky fumes or minor biohazard situations that arise. We’ll already have everything else out of the way at that point, so it should minimize the impact of any potential issues.

Now’s a good time for a before and after, don’tcha think?

When we got the trailer:

airstream argosy renovation goucho before

Current status:

airstream argosy renovation goucho progress

Now I feel much better, after seeing what a difference we’ve made in just under three months. After all, we both work full time (and then some), and I go to school and am active in school organizations, which leaves us only one day per week to work on the rig. Progress is progress, right?

So who has hot tips on a space-saving furnace (pun always intended)? Or even full HVAC options? I’d love to get rid of the roof AC unit, too! Advice in the comments – go!

our aesthetic is…

When people find out we’re remodeling a camper and plan to live in it, generally, we get two schools of response. Response A – people think we’re crazy hippies (they’re not totally wrong). Response 2 – they’re fascinated and ask tons of questions. 

One that’s been challenging to answer is what it will look like when we’re done. Its a little tough to just ball all of our wild ideas into a compact little package of aesthetic explanation in one conversation. But I thought it would be fun to talk about it here, while we’re still in the midst of pulling Rosy apart. After all, the designing and decorating is where the real action is at, amiright?!

So here are some high-level representations and annotations of our ideal aesthetic:

*Painted white interior skin and walls. Don’t have a solid visual representation of this, but you get it, right?

*Weathered/barnwood style flooring. The second one here is my favorite! I love the slight warm tones with the burnt grays.

*Counter and table surfaces will either be faux concrete or hardwood (undecided)!

*Pops of sage green, rose, peach and rose gold! Most of the metal in the camper is already rose gold (that was a freebie) and I’ve seen some pretty rad rose gold spray paint on the market.

*Black on white simplistic, linear graphic accents (like the cacti sheets I bought to turn into curtains).

*Plants. All the plants.

We are really going for a light and airy, minimalistic aesthetic, with well thought out storage, and multi-use zones.
We also got a lot of inspiration (and the decision to go with white walls) from following Mavis, Dunes, and Tin Can Homestead on insta. 

Hopefully that gives whomever so reads this some sort of mental picture of how we plan on outfitting Rosy. Now if we could just pick a floor plan. I made some templates for us to draw out multiple layouts, which should help us get closer to nailing that down. DIY pun intended.

Happy camping, everyone! 

a hot topic – ovens

^^^ See what I did there?! *winks and nudges Internet with elbow*

We recently pulled out the kitchen in Rosy the Argosy

…and it got me wondering, “Do we really, truly, ABSOLUTELY neeeed an oven”? The Great Debate, I call this. 

Let me back track a little bit. Once upon a time, three years ago, a girl moved into a quaint little apartment. The apartment was small and suited the girl’s few needs. Though this girl believes she has an eye for detail, she somehow completely missed the fact that this apartment did not have a MICROWAVE. 

Obviously, the girl is me, and obviously, my first instinct was to panic, because who in the heck can live a normal life without a mickey to heat up her mac n’ cheese leftovers?!

Somehow, three years later, I’m still alive and breathing, even without the modern convenience of concentrated, high powered heat waves to zap my food into a palateable temperature. ‘Vick moved in two years ago, and has also survived sans-microwave, thank goodness. We both grew up with microwaves in our homes, so neither of us had done much reheating in an oven or on the stove before. Google has been our friend in these trying times.

So, now that we’ve brought ourselves current, let’s talk about this oven thing…

Ovens take up so much space! Our range is small, and yet it still seems to take over a lot of valuable real estate in the kitchen area. When you’re planning on living in 200 sq ft, space becomes such a precious commodity!

This isn’t a great angle (or a great photo at all for that matter), but hopefully this gives you a general idea of the size of it.

When I’m not letting chain restaurants do my cooking for me, I do a lot of cooking on the stove. Really, the only time I regularly use the oven is for heating/reheating pizza (because pizza is life). And the occasional batch of cookies. And it’s great for storing a Costco rotisserie chicken for about an hour if I’m not starving, but will want to eat soon, and still want it to be hot.

But, is all of that enough for us to take up so much precious space in our little abode? Can we live without pizza? Of course not, let me try again – are there other ways to make pizza? Would we be solid with just a space saving induction cooktop? If we can live without a microwave, certainly we could live without an oven, right?

So talk to me, campers. To oven, or not to oven? That is the question. What’s your setup like? What are the pros and cons? What do we do?!