“It’s Summertime, Summertime, Sum Sum Summertime”

With full summer upon us, we’re still holding on to the hope of being able to use the trailer before the school year starts up again in mid-August.   Anything we can do to get “ready enough” for camping is a good thing at this point, and while some work may appear to be simply “cosmetic,” each thing we do helps us move towards the goal of “usability.”

Recent work: We closed up the space under the “bathroom” extension, using scrap pieces of Masonite.

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Since the metal frame of the trailer (that looks like a “baseboard”) is black, I painted the Masonite black and also gave the rest of the “baseboard” a fresh coat of paint.

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On Saturday, July 18th, we cut a piece of indoor/outdoor carpet (like what’s under the bed) to go inside of the “bathroom”.

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The floor in the front “dinette” area is quite uneven, so we decided that carpet would be our best bet there, too, as well as in the little storage space below the dinette. Ultimately, we’ll have benches and a table in the front, so the carpet will really only be visible under the table.

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On Sunday, July 19th, Wayne installed the thresholds and trim pieces.

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Looks very nice; we were quite pleased with the way this turned out!

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As we were working in the trailer on Sunday when it was so ridiculously hot and humid, we realized that we should have gotten the A/C built into the closet BEFORE it got so hot!  Talk about 20/20 hindsight…. Even with two fans running in the trailer, it got very, very uncomfortable by 2:00 p.m.; 93 degrees according to a meat thermometer!  By the time the temp hit 95 inside, we decided we’d baked long enough; in fact, we were quite “well done.”

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An hour at a local lake–simply standing in neck-deep water–helped immensely!

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When we got home, it wasn’t much cooler, but there were still some things we hoped to accomplish.  Wayne wanted to get some measurements for the bed extension (to make it a full double), and when we put the plywood pieces back on the support frame, we were surprised to discover that they no longer fit!  The addition of the marine hull liner fabric had added just enough thickness to the walls to change how the plywood pieces fit onto the platform.  Well darn!  This led to more measuring, cutting, and sanding, but finally the plywood slipped into place.

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As you can see in the picture above, the back yard has totally gotten away from us this summer since we’ve been so busy with other things–including working on the trailer.  With the overgrown bushes, tall grass and weeds, my mother would have said that it just looks “snaky.”  Well, given that Wayne saw a big blacksnake just outside the basement door Sunday morning, I guess that “snaky” is a fair and accurate description!  Yikes!

While he continued to work on the bed platform, I decided it would be in our mutual best interest for me to mow–at least in the areas where we’re most likely to be. Before taking on that task, however, I put the “Luggable Loo” (a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat on top) into the “bathroom.”  We’ll still have to find a good way to secure it (I’m thinking two small hooks on the wooden back wall with a bungee cord to hold it in place when the trailer is moving), but at least we know that there’s enough space for it.

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But really, having a porta-potty as the first thing you see when you open the door of the camper probably isn’t the best design plan–especially since we have no bathroom door in the works yet!  Aesthetics aside though, it’s a good place for it, because if we’d moved this towards the back of the trailer, just in front of the bed, the wheel well would have interfered.  Eh, we’ll figure out something….

So by the end of the long, hot evening–when we were both about as tired, sweaty and “fragrant” as we’d ever been–I’d succeeded in mowing the front yard and part of the back yard, and Wayne had cut out finger holes in the plywood to make it easier to lift the panels to access the storage space under the bed, plus he’d roughed in the board for the extension.

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There’s still more work to be done, but it’s exciting to know that we’re getting much closer to being “done enough” for our first camping trip in the Scamp!

Busy Weekend, But WOW!

Our first project of the weekend involved putting in the flooring.  On Saturday morning I primed the floor with a product called Henry Bond Enhancer for self-stick tile.  I bought a quart of it at Home Depot and had PLENTY left.  It dried much more quickly than I expected, and it left the floor surprisingly shiny.

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Saturday evening we got a little more than half of the 6″ x 48″ vinyl plank-style tiles in place, and we finished up on Sunday morning.  The reddish tones of the cherry flooring really work well with the deeper chestnut color of the cabinets.  Although the picture doesn’t really show how “rich” the color is, we’re VERY pleased with how it turned out!  (By the way, the drooping edge of carpet under the bed platform will be supported by the extension Wayne will build to make the bed 54″ wide; a full double.)

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After the flooring was in, Wayne put in a piece of rubber door seal under the threshold.  There had been a gap there, and the seal helped to close it up much better.

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We have some scrap pieces of Masonite that will be used to finish the area under the bathroom “closet” (straight ahead in the picture above).  Once that’s up, it will be painted black to match the baseboard–the metal frame that’s visible in the rest of the trailer.  We also talked about how to finish the bathroom (which in reality will just house a porta-potty).  The original plan was to use a curtain on a tension rod, but now that everything else is looking so good, I’m wondering about the feasibility of putting in a real door.  That might come later….

After getting this far (and since the day was heating up and getting VERY humid) we made a trip to Lowes to buy some paint for the baseboard, as well as another small piece of indoor/outdoor carpet like we have under the bed.  The carpet will go on the raised future dinette area in the front, and another piece will go in the small open storage space under the dinette.  While we were there, we went on and bought a threshold to bridge the vinyl and carpet on the floor, and a trim piece to come over the edge of the dinette area.

As soon as we got home (when it was only marginally cooler–but even MORE humid–and when the air was filled with hundreds of bloodthirsty mosquitoes), we started in on another challenging project: putting up the curtain rods.  The trailer apparently had curtain rods–and curtains–at some point, because there were patched, filled-in holes around each of the windows.  Wayne used a very thin, awl-like screwdriver from outside of the trailer to push through the holes, through the caulk (or whatever), and then through the insulation and the marine hull liner fabric.  It was a slow process, but ultimately we were able to get all of the curtain rods mounted.

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Next, I hung up all of the curtains that I MADE (!!) last week.  I hadn’t hemmed them and needed to see them in place before deciding how much to take them up.  The 2- or 3-inch hem that I anticipated will just be 1″.  But too cool; so glad I’m finally learning how to sew. 🙂

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So all in all, it was a really productive weekend, with big, bold positive changes!  We’ve still got a lot to do, but being “finished enough” to use the camper before the end of the summer is certainly getting closer to being a reality!

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Multiple Projects and Skill-Building….

We still need to put up the fabric strip seam covers to give the interior a finished look, but we’re so pleased to be ALMOST finished installing the marine hull liner on the walls.  What a nice difference!  I love the bright silver/gray fabric, and it looks really nice with the dark cabinets.

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Front driver’s side.

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Driver’s side upper cabinet.  (We’re still thinking of some sort of back splash in the lower section.)

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Curb side upper cabinet and closet. (Back splash will probably go in the lower section on this side, too.)

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Ceiling and front wall, looking towards the door.

In preparation for putting down the flooring as soon as we can, last night I went out to the trailer to try to remove some very old (years old…) tape that had been stuck on the floor for some unknown purpose.   For the first time we decided to connect the power cord to “shore power” (i.e. our house), and when we started to take out the 25 ft cord, we only got about 10 ft before it stopped.  We weren’t sure if the rv guy who did the electrical work put in a shorter cord or if it was tangled.  We still don’t know for sure because we have no access to the area under the driver’s side cabinet where the cord is stored, and the rv guy is out of the country until July 20th.  Bummer.  For now we can connect the trailer’s power cord to a heavy gauge extension cord, but ultimately we’ll need to cut a hole in the cabinet and put in a door.  (Add that project to the list…)

At any rate, it was the first time I’d been in the trailer at night with the lights on and I LOVED it!  I could really “see” how much we’ll enjoy using this before too long.  So cool!  This was my view from the floor:

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I mentioned “skill building” because I’m in the process of making curtains.  This statement is almost laughable.  Okay, it IS laughable.  I don’t sew (with a sewing machine), I don’t iron, I didn’t even own an iron until a few days ago, but I’m absolutely determined to learn how to sew this summer AND to make curtains for the Scamp.  Could I find someone to make them for me?  Yes, probably–but what fun would that be? 😉

Last spring (with trailer curtains in mind), I bought a “vintage” used Singer sewing machine from a woman who listed it on Craigslist.  After buying it, I took it to my classroom at school.  In addition to wanting to acquire sewing skills for myself, I want to be proficient enough by the end of the summer to be able to offer some machine-sewing art or craft projects for my students.

Yesterday morning I went over to school for Sewing 101.  One of my co-workers graciously helped me get the machine set up with the right color of thread, and with her (patient) assistance, I was ultimately able to sew some relatively straight seams on scraps of fabric.  Yay!  I wanted to practice some more, and shortly after she left things started getting really messed up.  Like REALLY messed up. After untangling the needle thread and bobbin thread several times (with no clue as to why anything was happening), I came home to regroup….

I decided to print out the entire online manual and suddenly things started to make a bit of sense:  “OH–okay, I need to tighten this!”  “Oh, this should be on THIS setting…”  Armed with more knowledge and heavy laden with my newly-purchased sewing accessories (pins, pin cushion, seam ripper, seam gauge, iron, ironing board, decorative fabric, liner fabric, etc.) I went back this morning–and my co-worker came over for a while to help again.  This time after she left, things continued to go alright.  And even when they didn’t, I understood why the thread broke or the bobbin tangled.  Knowledge is a good thing.

I would like to say that I whipped up all of the curtains for the trailer this afternoon.  Truth told, I barely got beyond cutting out the two “decorative fabric” panels for the rear window, ironing them, and stitching a narrow seam on the raw sides of each one.  I am certainly building skills, but it’s a painfully slow process!  Tomorrow I’ll probably try to cut the fabric that I’ll use as a liner, and see if I can get one set of curtains finished before midnight! 🙂

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(BTW, I’m saving all of the “scrap” pieces of the decorative fabric–it would make a pretty quilt for the trailer!)

 

 

Holiday Weekend Progress

It’s so nice when we both have time off to work on the trailer and when the weather basically cooperates!  On July 3rd, we measured, cut and attached more of the marine hull liner fabric on the walls.  Our work area for spraying adhesive on the fabric is a tarp in the front yard.  We had to stop at one point when it started sprinkling….

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I neglected to take pictures of these areas after they were finished, but it all looks pretty good. At this point we just have some small pieces of fabric to put in the upper cabinets, as well as putting on the seam cover strips. Yay!  I’ll be glad when this part is over!

On July 4th, Wayne started the process of reinforcing and extending the bed platform. The center divider will help to strengthen the platform, plus it will allow items that are put in from the side storage area to stay where we can reach them.  He also added some vertical supports at various places along the platform. Two pieces of curved plywood form the sleeping surface, and we don’t plan to permanently attach them so that we can access everything under the bed.  That said, we’ll probably use the front areas more than those in the far back on the driver’s side.

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Last week we bought a print fabric for the curtains.  I’m not quite sure if we have enough to do all the windows, but my goal is to make curtains for the large front and back windows, first, and use a coordinating fabric for the side windows, if necessary.  The dark blue fabric will serve as a liner, offering privacy, as well as helping to block incoming morning light.  I think the fabric is much prettier in real life than it is in this picture, by the way!

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Making the curtains should be a very interesting project for me.  While only simple seams are required, I don’t sew.  Seriously.  I don’t own an iron or an ironing board (yet).  I bought an older used Singer sewing machine last spring–which is in my classroom at school–and one of my co-workers gave me about a 30-minute lesson a couple of months ago.  I honestly don’t know if I can even remember how to thread the bobbin!  Various YouTube videos have helped me understand the mechanics of measuring, hemming and cutting the fabric to make the kind of curtains I want, but lack of familiarity with the machine could, indeed, be a challenge.

When we get ready for cushions for the front dinette, we’ll probably use a dark blue fabric, but with the colors in the curtains, we could even do a bright green.  Or if I’ve somehow morphed into an exceptional seamstress, maybe I’ll whip up some cushions that are blue with bright green piping!  Guess we’ll figure it out when we get there…

And so that brings us to flooring….  We’ve looked at Allure vinyl “planks” and at other vinyl peel ‘n stick tile patterns, but today I wondered if I could use some vinyl tiles that I have left over from some household renovations.  We spread out about a dozen to see if it would be too “orange” against the chestnut cabinets.

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It’s not awful–and it would save some money to use something we’ve already got–but I really don’t like the color or the pattern that well for the trailer.  Guess we’ll keep on looking.

Piece by Piece….

We had the opportunity to do a bit more work on the trailer this morning, and our first project was cutting a piece of blue-gray indoor/outdoor carpet to go under the bed in the back.  We’ll use the space under the bed for storage and wanted to have a smooth surface for plastic bins and boxes which will slide in from the front.  We need to reinforce the bed frame–as well as divide it (front to back)–so that things that we put in through the outside access door will stay on the passenger side where we can reach them.  With the carpet down and the fabric up on the walls in the back, Wayne will be able to work on the bed extension (connecting it to the cabinets) so that it will be a full double in width (54″).

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Since we had a little more time available, we put up some more of the fabric.  Again, this is not an easy job, but we’re pleased with what we’ve installed so far:

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The good news is that I think we’ll have enough of the marine hull liner fabric that I ordered.  I had some concerns after hearing of someone who ordered far more of Scamp’s “rat fur” for her 13 ft. trailer than I did for our 16 ft trailer–and barely had enough!

After Wayne left for work, I went back out to the trailer and finished putting a 2nd coat of stain on areas that needed it.  Glad to have that done for now–we’ll need to stain again once we put doors on the cabinets–but with this much accomplished, we’ve been thinking again about flooring, fabric for curtains, backsplash material, etc…..

Back to Work!

The summer already seems to be slipping by too quickly, but we HAVE had a lot of things going on recently, including a first-time, incredibly amazing trip to Colorado to visit my youngest son.  Time well spent!  We checked out some camp grounds while we were there, so maybe someday we’ll do a big road trip and stay at Dowdy Lake Campground and Cherry Creek State Park Campground.

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For now, however, we really need to get some things DONE, if we hope to use the trailer this summer!  Today’s project involved putting up more of the fabric (marine hull liner fabric instead of Scamp’s “rat fur.”)  This really isn’t particularly easy to do…

We started on the rear passenger side (door side or curb side, whatever you choose to call it).  I decided to do it in two sections: above and below the window.

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The top piece was more challenging than the bottom due to the curve at the top.  The bottom side wound up being challenging, too, given the bed frame that fits so tightly into the space, and the need to cut around the access door.

Once we had that side done, Wayne suggested trying to use one BIG piece for the other side, instead of doing a top and bottom piece like we did on the other side.  I had my doubts, but at least we’ve learned that we can pull it off, re-spray with adhesive and re-attach if necessary….

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So yeah, the curves were a challenge–as was the weight of a piece of fabric that big–so we took turns, giving both of us the opportunity to cut, spray, pull and cuss. 🙂

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So now at least we have the back part of the trailer done, and I think it will look pretty good once we put a strip of fabric over the major seams. 🙂

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Memorial Day Weekend Work

On Sunday, May 24th, Wayne worked on removing the old chains, which need to be replaced.  The bolt that held the chains on was totally rusted, and despite using WD-40 and a product called “Rust Buster,” he still had to lie down in the driveway and alternately saw it and hit it with a chisel…  As he was doing that, I got ready to start staining the wood in the back near the bed, rationalizing that it would be good to get that done before putting up more fabric.   As it turned out, neither of us had a particularly fun day of trailer renovation, although he DID finally manage to break and remove the bolt so that he could get the chains off.  He also continued to work on getting the door to close…

I’d woken up with a headache on Sunday, and even though I was wearing a mask and had a fan going, it was hot in the trailer and the fumes were incredibly strong.  By the time I finally decided I’d had enough, my head was pounding and I was also very queasy.  AND I wasn’t but so pleased with the results. 🙁

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I liked the color, but it was so hard to keep it from streaking!  Plus, the “disposable” brushes I’d bought were shedding even more than my cats…  I seriously wondered if we should just change gears and paint instead of stain!

When I looked at it again on Monday, May 25th, I decided I liked it enough to keep going, but I knew I needed to be better prepared….

In the meantime, Wayne started patching the tiny holes on the roof above and to the front of the door–the source of the leak in our future “dinette.”  Now that he knew what to look for on the roof, though, he was shocked to find LOTS of tiny holes!  WTH?  There’s no evidence that any holes other than the ones over the door are leaking, but while he was at it, he tried to sand and repair all of them.   So with rain in the forecast tomorrow, we’re (one more time) pretty confident that we’ve sealed anything and everything that could possibly leak.  Fingers crossed on that!

Wearing a respirator and with a better fan set up, I started in the back again and put a second coat of stain on the walls next to the bed.  Since we want to get all the fabric up in that area first, it makes sense to get it finished–though I’m not exactly sure when we’ll decide that it’s done….  Supposedly this type of stain also has a poly “gloss” to it–which I’d like–but I’m not seeing it yet.  Maybe after more sanding and putting on another coat??

I found that the respirator helped a LOT–as did the fan–so I was able to get a second coat on all of the surfaces I’d stained yesterday.  Wayne came in later and started staining the walls of the “bathroom,” and between the two of us we almost got everything stained (first coat).  I wish we could have finished, but we just didn’t want to push it.  So here’s how I spent my Memorial Day afternoon:

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Ultimately there will be doors on the upper and lower cabinets, and at some point I want to put a thin laminate on the “kitchen” counter tops.  I have to admit that I like the look of the “American Chestnut” stain, and now that we’re at least getting to this part of the renovation, we’re excited about the possibilities! We looked at fabric last night for curtains, but just didn’t see anything that we liked enough to get.  I hope we’ll know it when we see it. 🙂

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This was taken through the screen from the outside, looking towards the front of the trailer:

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BTW, we’ll probably use this AC this year, though we’d like to get one with controls on the front (instead of on the top) so it won’t have to stick out so far from the cabinet. Getting the housing set up for that will be another big project….

Progress & Complications

Saturday morning, May 23rd, started with the installation of a new rib door seal.  Yay!  Looks nice!  It will be great to have the door shut more securely!

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However, it would be even better if we could get the door to actually CLOSE!  Ugh.  We’ve tried to adjust the hinges, but we still can’t get it to latch. Not good.  As I’ve said, one step forward, TWO steps back sometimes. Guess what tomorrow’s project will be? 🙁

But we did get more of the fabric put up:

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And no, there’s not a huge bowed out area in the fabric under the window–the light was just coming in at an odd angle from the hatch.  But while I was crawling over and around the “bones” of the future bed, I trimmed the fabric along the floor.

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We got the first long strip put up on the ceiling, starting from the top of the rear window to about halfway towards the front.  For the second coat of adhesive on the fabric (after getting two coats of it on the ceiling), I had to start using the 2nd can of 3M-90 adhesive.

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I put wide painter’s tape over the opening to the hatch (especially on the handle) and ran the 3 x 6 ft. piece of fabric over it.  It was easy to see and feel where to cut out for the hatch, and after making sure everything was well-attached there, we put the wooden trim piece back on.

Of course the goal is to have only as many seams as necessary, but it’s really hard to get it perfectly placed–and it’s not like we’re experts at this!  Ultimately I think it will look fine, but it’s definitely a challenge to get it put up neatly and evenly, given the odd shapes and curves.  We start by measuring and cutting a piece that’s close to the right size. Then we take it into the trailer and try to trim it even closer.  Once we’re pleased with the basic size and shape, we take it outside and spray on the adhesive.  We put it up, smoothing as we go, and then trim it again if we have to, once it’s on the wall or ceiling.  And yes, we’re wearing masks while we’re doing this.  In addition to trying to protect ourselves from the adhesive, we’ve found that the marine headliner fabric has lots of fibers that come off and float around.  I really, really hope this shedding won’t be an ongoing issue.

We took a break in the afternoon to get together with some family members, and then we spent a couple of HOURS and almost $100 at Lowes.  I made an executive decision this afternoon that we should go on and stain or paint the wood before putting any more fabric on the walls or ceiling.  We were leaning towards stain rather than paint–and I was leaning towards a darker stain rather than a lighter one (since the walls are white)–so we opted for a color called “American Chestnut.”

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It’s dark, but not TOO dark, and I like the reddish tones.  If we decide we don’t like it, we’ll paint over it at some point. 🙂

Lady Macbeth had her “damned spot”….

…. and I have my damned puddle. 🙁

While we were out today (Sunday, May 17th), there was a hard rain here.  When I checked the trailer after we got home, this is what I found.  AGAIN.

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What made this even more frustrating is that on Saturday Wayne caulked over EVERY rivet that he could reach on the roof, caulked along the belly band by the door and over the screws on the door hinges.  We REALLY thought we’d taken care of the leak in the front…

On the positive side, after yesterday’s rain, there was a tiny bit of water in the window track on the inside, so I cleaned out the track again, cleaned out the weep holes again, and I was delighted to see that it was completely dry after today’s hard rain.  Yay!  As a result, I feel pretty confident about putting the fabric on all of the rear walls and ceiling.

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But as to the water in the front, Wayne has gotten up on a ladder a couple of times to look for holes or cracks on the roof and he hasn’t seen anything.   This evening as it started to rain yet again, I decided to try a different approach.  I already knew that there were no leaks through the insulation, because it always come from behind the insulation–though I didn’t know which route the water was taking to ultimately wind up on our future “dinette.”

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I figured the only thing to to do was to start ripping off the insulation–while it was raining–and this led to a “Voila!” moment and a simultaneous “What the hell?” moment….

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To my complete surprise, I discovered a series of tiny holes in the ceiling above the door and towards the front of the trailer.  I don’t know why we haven’t been able to see them from the outside, and I have no idea what might have caused them.  I took some toilet paper and pressed it against each dark (moldy?) spot and all were wet–some more than others.

I dried them as best as I could with a paper towel, and Wayne caulked them from the inside before the rain got even heavier.  Not sure if the caulk will stop the leaking, but it’s the only thing we could think to do as a short-term fix.  At this point, I’m not sure what the best long-term fix might be.

While I’m very glad we finally found the source of my “damned puddle,” I have to wonder if there are OTHER tiny holes (of unknown origin) behind the insulation in other parts of the trailer.  We haven’t had any other leaks (yet) and I really, really don’t want to rip out and replace ALL of the insulation, just to check!

But in other quick news, on Saturday we re-attached the door latch that was held on with one rivet.  We put a couple of small bolts through it (with washers and a lock nut) and it’s very solid now.  We also discovered that wasps were building a nest under the hitch!  While I don’t like to use sprays, these guys needed to go to wasp heaven, and we sent them on their way.  Since we still need to replace the chains on the tongue–if we can ever get the bolt off–we had to make sure that we wouldn’t be reaching into a wasp nest.

Good News, Bad News, Worse News…

Yesterday we bought a piece of indoor/outdoor carpet that we’ll cut to fit under the bed.  We bought a smaller piece to put in the “bathroom.”  We’ll probably use a plank-type of flooring (like Allure) on the visible sections of the floor, but we won’t do that until we finish building the bed, bathroom and dinette. And yes, we bought some some new, heavy-duty scissors!

Today Wayne brought over a relatively new  5000 BTU air conditioner unit that he’s had in storage to see how it would fit in the closet space.  It’s not bad, but we might see if we can find one with all controls on the front–instead of the top–to avoid having it stick out into the trailer quite so far.  There was an A/C in there at some point, so there’s already a drain hose through the closet floor.  We’ve watched a couple of tutorials on how to install one into the space; now we just need to decide if we can use what we’ve got or if it would be better to get one that might fit better.  Prices are pretty reasonable for ones with the controls on the front; it’s just an expense we hadn’t counted on…

Good news is that we finally had some rain–not a hard rain, though–and the window that we took out and re-sealed seems to be nice and dry.  I won’t put fabric on that section until we get a heavy rain and I’m CONVINCED that it won’t leak again!

Bad news, like maybe *really* bad news, is that there was some water AGAIN in the very same place in the future dinette area near the door.  First thought was that it was leaking around the belly band near the door.  The rivets seem to be well seated and the caulking is okay there, but there’s a little gap in the corner of the belly band where water *could* possibly come in.  We’ll caulk that as soon as we get a chance.

Worse news, though, is that I started pulling up insulation over the door and it felt damp.  Was it from a loose rivet in the drip guard over the door?   I pulled the insulation up a little further and the area around the rivets was dry, but it was wet ABOVE that–like it’s coming from higher up.  There must be a hole or crack somewhere in the fiberglass on the roof.  Not good; not good at all.

One step forward, TWO steps back, it seems….. 🙁