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.

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

*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!

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!