Tag Archives: trailer

We Have Moved!

I am very excited to announce that COMETCAMPER.com, the COMET CAMPER blog (this website) has MOVED!

We are now updating and blogging at the new www.cometcamper.com, please go there to read the CometCamper blog, keep in touch with us, and see all of the new features and awesome new content on the new website.

Thank you so much for sticking with me through this process of transition – I know it will be worth the change!

So head on over to the new www.cometcamper.com, subscribe to the mailing list and get my free eBook when you do!

Thank you again, I appreciate all of you guys reading my little blog and following along. There are so many adventures still to come, I’d be so happy if you guys followed me at my new home on the internet!

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New Video and oh hey I missed you guys!

I’m back!

What a wild trip! Just to remind you all, for the past month I was traveling around the US (car-camping in my Element, which worked out great) interviewing Tiny House people and doing tiny house stuff. In the coming months (it takes so long to edit this stuff!) you’ll see my interviews with Laura Lavoie of Life In 120 Square Feet, Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders, Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk, Sicily of Le Petit Maison, Steve Harrell of Tiny House Swoon and Tiny House Listings, Andrew Odom of Tiny (r)Evolution, and Hari and Karl of Tiny House Family. What an awesome community of people we have! Turns out everyone lives in a tiny house for very different, unique reasons, and it was amazing to see so many people who had really found a sense of fulfillment through small living. More on all this later!

Also, Kent Griswold told me that I had a video up on YouTube, maybe some of you have already seen it? I just found out about it while I was away, and I’d love it if you guys checked it out and “liked” it if you feel like it! Here’s the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uKCnIBOhpw

I’m getting excited about Tiny House Fair in June. Matt and I have one month to complete the COMET. I anticipate 12 to 16 hour days and lots of exhausted yelling! Haha! If I’m absent for the next few weeks, you’ll know it’s just because I’m working my butt off to get this hunk of vintage metal ready for it’s big debut.

I have an article coming out in a regional magazine called Spirit of Change soon, so I’m looking forward to that.

Here’s some photos from the trip for you to look at:

At the tiny house workshop in Wilmington - Steve Harrell had this awesome sign, I want to make one now too!

At the tiny house workshop in Wilmington – Steve Harrell had this awesome sign, I want to make one now too!

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Thanks for reading! Talk to you all soon!

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I love my tiny house.

Okay, okay, so I know I’m still trying to catch up the blog with the progress in a chronological and step-by-step fashion – but I can’t help it. I love my little house (even though it’s unfinished) and I want to share what it looks like with you all at this point! So let’s look into the future-present at the most recent photos of the COMET. Give me your feedback in the comments! We’ll get back to the progress updates later – unfortunately this did not all happen overnight :)

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I'm in love with this little custom hand-made soap holder that Matt made for my kitchen. It keeps the soap off of the valuable counter space and also covers up some irreparable damage on the original back splash so that I could re-use it!

I’m in love with this little custom hand-made soap holder that Matt made for my kitchen. It keeps the soap off of the valuable counter space and also covers up some irreparable damage on the original back splash so that I could re-use it!

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Step into my office...

Step into my office…

Humanure Deposit Receptacle - With Urine Diverting Action

Humanure Deposit Receptacle – With Urine Diverting Action

My new, very modest, closet.

My new, very modest, closet.

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If my cat were in the camper that's the sunny spot she would be sleeping on!

If my cat were in the camper that’s the sunny spot she would be sleeping on!

The couch in the back is also my bed – it folds down/pulls out to be quite comfortable (awesome fabric from Sew Fine Fabrics on Etsy). You can see the Marmoleum click flooring that I used (courtesy of GreenBuildingSupply.com) and the turquoise Marmoleum sheet good countertops (which everyone mistakes for being original – which means I picked the right color!). At first I thought all the colors were a little much, but I like them now. It fits my style. I’m happy with my little fold-down desk area in the back, made out of salvaged 1950’s cracked ice Formica. We used scrap Marmoleum from the countertops to make the bathroom floor, and some panels of cork flooring from the ReStore for the kick-plates in there. The rounded piece of the counter folds up and down too, which has come in handy!

Oh, and I just updated the PHOTOS page too, with these pictures. I updated a few other pages too – check out the new “SUSTAINABILITY” page under the “ABOUT THE PROJECT” header.

Well, it’s not finished, but it’s quite homey, and I love it. I had to share. Thanks for reading!!

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Sheet Metal Patches & Bodywork

It’s about 10 degrees here in MA today, and while I look back at these pictures from the summer I am wistful to say the least. So here’s some pictures of some sheet metal work we did on the trailer to patch some gaping holes and button the skins back up after replacing some of the wood inside the walls. Sometimes, when you replace the old rotten wood under the skins, they don’t fit back on just perfectly (they would if I wasn’t going to repaint the thing, but I am so I wasn’t too vigilant about it this time around). There was a gap on the corners of the trailer where the aluminum met and started to separate from the weight of the rear. These gaps had been there since I got the trailer, so I knew I’d have to patch it anyway.

First, we put a strip of sheet metal (aluminum flashing for this application – because it’s flexible/malleable) around the corner and underneath the member for extra protection. We just nailed it in to the new wood. This would be the flashing that would keep any water out. When you put the skins back down, caulk around the edges and screw it in with sheet metal screws (the ones with the little rubber gaskets work well for this, but we just caulked each spot where the screw would go before screwing it in).

This will fill the gap between the original aluminum siding that had separated at the corner. This is common to find in vintage trailers.

This will fill the gap between the original aluminum siding that had separated at the corner. This is common to find in vintage trailers. Matt’s hairy arm, not mine :).

Caulked and screwed back down.

Caulked and screwed back down.

We did the same thing to the spot under the old heater vent, which was a big gaping hole. We flashed with the aluminum strip wherever the skins didn’t meet up just right. This will keep the water out.

Under the old heater vent next to the front door (heater was removed). This step can be a pain in the butt, but is worth it to keep the new framing dry.

Under the old heater vent next to the front door (heater was removed). This step can be a pain in the butt, but is worth it to keep the new framing dry.

Once the flashing was in, we needed to patch that huge hole. We used a different type of sheet metal, stainless steel, for the flat panel that will cover this whole mess. See below.

The process is: caulk around the edges where you're going to place the panel, then lay it on and hold it in place. The caulk should squish out a little, and create a full seal. Put caulk dots all around and sheet metal screw into these spots so that it seals around the entry point of each screw.

The process is: caulk around the edges where you’re going to place the panel, then lay it on and hold it in place. The caulk should squish out a little, and create a full seal. Put caulk dots all around and sheet metal screw into these spots so that it seals around the entry point of each screw.

Close up detail.

Close up detail.

There you have it! We did this on the other side of the trailer where the original water fill was. We didn’t match the corrugation of the original aluminum siding because we figured it was all getting painted turquoise and won’t be a big deal, but if I was doing a period-specific restoration I would match the corrugation pattern of the aluminum.

Thanks for reading and there’s more to come!

 

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Framing and Insulating the New Floor

Here I am again, trying to get us up to speed with where the COMET’s at now. This is from the Summer, so bear with me while the next few posts catch us up to the COMET’s current loveliness.

We left off where we had replaced some of the rotten framing in the walls and on the floor, and here you can see how we re-framed and insulated the floor. As I mentioned before, the entire rear half of the trailer had been demolished by carpenter ants, so we just started from scratch back there.

 

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This is how we re-framed the floor, with 2 x 4s where there had been 2 by’s. The lumber framing crosses over the steel frame of the trailer.

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New cross-members, tow-nailed in, for extra support. I wanted this floor to be much sturdier than the original one, which was merely stapled together.

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Those white dots on the pink aluminum sheet are where I caulked where the staples used to be. It’s not necessarily better to be airtight in the floor, because if any water does leak in from above, you want it to be able to escape and not pool in the floor (which will cause rot). But I didn’t want any water to come up from underneath the trailer during travel, so I sealed off the holes where the staples used to be.

 

INSULATION:

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This is the UltraTouch Denim insulation. What a joy to work with. So easy to use and you don’t have to wear a hazmat suit or worry about getting all itchy like with fiberglass. Thank you GreenBuildingSupply.com for donating the UltraTouch!

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Installation was a breeze. I either used the razor knife to cut the batts down to size, or just tore it to the right size with my hands.

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That’s the little part near the door that needed replacing. I think that spot to the left of the doorway is a very common place to find water damage/rotted wood.

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And finally, we cut a new sub floor out of plywood and laid it down. Everything fit nicely. Under the back hatch, you can see a 2 x 6 on top of the plywood. That is the beginning of the framing for the rear wall, which you’ll see in the next post. Those two bolts that stick up out of the 2 x 6 at about 1/3 and 2/3 across are coming up from underneath the chassis. They are holding the metal trailer frame to the wooden camper frame.

Stay tuned for more progress! Hopefully soon we can have a grand unveiling of the finished interior! As always, thanks for reading :)

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Thank You Sew Fine Fabrics!

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Who said organic fabric had to mean neutral tones of hempy linen? I was bummed out about what I was finding online for organic fabrics options for the COMET upholstery, until I stumbled upon the Etsy shop, Sew Fine Fabrics. I wanted something bright, fun, and retro – not pea-green and scratchy. I was also looking for something affordable (everything else I came across was about $40/yard – yikes!) and Sew Fine Fabrics delivered everything I wanted at an affordable price. Sew Fine Fabrics offers organic lightweight and home decor weight fabrics in bright colors, amazing prints, and retro styling. Jodi Walter Jones, the owner of this lovely shop, says, “I’m seriously obsessed with finding fabrics I love. I spend way too much time tracking them down. I love that organic now means colors and textures and modern designs rather them the plain oatmeal color of the recent past.” I could not agree more.
I used the Pinstripe organic home-decor weight fabric for the rear bench in the COMET (also my bed!). I also used the Starburst Orange fabric for accent pillows. I was so excited to find an organic fabric in a pattern that I loved in the exact color scheme of the COMET – teal and orange! It’s a perfect match. And all the fabrics are SUPER soft and sturdy. Just recently I ordered some more teal + orange fabrics from Sew Fine that I haven’t used yet, but plan on incorporating into the trailer soon.
So if your looking for some eco-friendly fabrics to use in your tiny house, vintage trailer, or other project, please do check out Sew Fine Fabrics on Etsy. Jodi is super sweet, and is happy to make up custom listings. I wholeheartedly recommend Sew Fine Fabrics.

Here are some pictures of the couch and pillows, all done with fabric selected from Sew Fine Fabrics.

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Here’s a taste of some of the other organic fabrics that Jodi has over at Sew Fine Fabrics (I’m in LOVE with the vintage trailer one – check out her website for other vintage trailer themed fabrics):

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THANKS SEW FINE FABRICS!

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Catching up, Again

So, picking up where I left off in the post “Replacing Rotten Wood in a Vintage Camper.” I’m going to try and squeeze a few days worth of progress into this post. And again, I’m going back to June/July (wow, it’s crazy that it’s been that long! I have so much catching up to do here on the blog and so much to share! If only there were two of me – one to wield the drill all day and one to blog about it at the same time!). This stuff was all happening in June, in preparation for Tiny House Summer Camp, in the beginning on July. Okay, let’s get to it!
So where we left off I had replaced the rotten framing on the starboard (door) side of the trailer. Now we’re moving over the the rear port side of the trailer, to replace what was rotten there. The damage hadn’t reached as far as on the starboard side, which was a relief.

Here, I’m just removing all of the rotten framing to make room for some replacement framing.

I used a pry bar, a five in one, and the Rockwell SoniCrafter (again, can’t recommend this enough to vintage trailer restorers – it’s a life saver) to dig out the old, soft framing to the place where it was solid again. And as on the other side, we cut the studs to 5 1/2 inches above the trailer frame, so that we could replace it with the 2 x 6 on end.

Same as the starboard side replacement joist – we bolted it to the frame (notched the 2 x 6 for the length of the longest bit we had) and used metal strapping for extra structural stability. No way my house is falling apart now! At least it’s better than the original stapled construction :)

Here you can get a feel for the bigger picture. Also, in this photo I want to point out something that I knew I wanted to change in the rebuild: on the left side of the photo, spanning across the rear wall of the camper, the 2 x 2 that is right in the middle of the rear hatch opening really bothered me. It’s right in the middle of the only large storage space, making it so that you can’t fit large things through that door. I decided I needed to re-design the bed/couch framing so that it didn’t interfere with the rear hatch opening.

Well, it’s time for me to get back outside and keep working on the COMET. I’ll be back later with more catching up on the last few months of progress and bringing the blog up to speed.

 

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Tiny House Madness!

I’m in Vermont at Yestermorrow for the next two weeks building a tiny house on a trailer. It is a modified “weebee” house from the Tumbleweed company. We are building it on a custom aluminum trailer, which is new to me (I think most people build tiny houses on steel frame trailers, but I’m excited to see how this turns out. It does pose some new challenges however, and we are experimenting with some metal reactions). I will post lots of pictures :)
Also! Tiny House workshop coming up with Derek Diedricksen in November (2-4) in Boston. I will be bringing the COMET, it will be almost finished! Tons of awesome speakers/guests. Here’s the poster:

 


Can’t wait for that!

I’m really going to do my best in the next two weeks to keep you updated on this tiny house build. It’s a crazy intense workshop – building/construction from 9 am – 5 pm, then class and studio time designing our own tiny houses from 5- whenever you fall asleep at your desk! But I will do my best to update, because it’s an awesome process we’re going through with this tiny house. Working as a group is always an interesting experience!

until then!

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Before + After: Replacing Rotten Framing in a Vintage Camper

Like I said, lot’s of catching up to do!

I’ve got to go back to 5 weeks ago and bring you all up to speed on the progress of the COMET. She was a MESS before we went to Tiny House Summer Camp, but if you saw the article on Deek’s website, you saw some pictures of what she looks more like now – less of a mess.
Anyway, here’s the first installment of catching up the website to where the COMET stands now.

BEFORE:

Some serious demolition. After stepping around the back and almost falling through the trailer floor onto the pavement 3 feet below, we decided to replace EVERYTHING. This demolition was made 10 times easier by the use of the SoniCrafter, using the plunge-cut blade to remove rotten wood to where it was solid again.

We cleaned out all of the wood-dust (used to be framing) and insulation from the floor. Under the floor, above the chassis, is a layer of sheet metal for protection. Everything had been destroyed by the termites/carpenter ants and water damage.

Daylight is never a good thing!

The photos above show where we removed the original rotted out 1 x 1 (yes, 1 x 1) framing from that rear of the trailer to halfway under the door frame. We had to remove up to the next joist after the wood became solid, so that we could have something to screw the new subfloor into. We removed the floor framing, then, using the SoniCrafter, we cut the wall studs at a line 5.5 inches above the metal trailer frame. We decided to replace the old 1 x 1 framing with a big 2 x 6, hence the 5.5″ height.

Spongey floor spots, be gone!

AFTER:

The solution was to replace the rotten frame piece with a 2 x 6, so that we were rebuilding the trailer better than it was originally built.

 

This 2 x 6 is the length of the beam we just removed and is marked to be notched out for the framing around the door frame, which we wanted to save.

We knocked it into place with a few hammer swings and it fit like a charm.

We ended up shimming a bit of this, but it fit nicely for the most part, and we didn’t have to rebuild the door frame!

Bolting the new frame piece to the chassis. The 2 x 6 is notched so the drill bit would reach the top, because it wasn’t 5.5″ long.

Somehow Matt was less excited about the new framing than I was. Thanks for the relentless help and support, could not have done this without him!

 

View from interior, all bolted in down the line.

Sistering on some new floor studs/joists.

Reframing around the wheel-well for the new subfloor.

I was a happy camper by the end of this little part of it. Next, we re-framed the entire back, raised the rear bed up 6  extra inches, re-insulated with the denim insulation, and more! More pictures of that part soon.

Oh, and all the lumber I used is FSC certified :)

As always, thanks for reading!

If you like the blog and would like to help me continue working on the COMET, please consider making a small donation over at the DONATE page of this site :) Thanks!!

 

 

 

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Demolition: Tearing out the Trash in The COMET

Two days ago I began pulling out the rotted wood and un-salvageable parts of The COMET. This post will be most useful to those of you who are thinking about (or in the process of) restoring/re-doing a vintage camper. Here are some of the “fun” things you might find when working on a camper that is over 50 years old!

WALL PANEL

Here’s the rear wall panel. As you can see, there is visible dry rot and water damage under the window. I took off the window frame and decided I need to replace the wood from half way down the window and below (imagine a straight horizontal line continuing off of both sides of the window where the gap in the panes are – everything below that). I began going at it with a chisel before deciding that the job needs a more precise hand held multitool, something like the Rockwell SonicCrafter, which can cut flush up again the walls. I peaked behind the wall panel, and all of the wood back there looks great, no damage. I’m still going to super reinforce the framing of this wall with more beams though, because I’ll want the extra supports when I go to mount the bumper greenhouse later.

 

WATER TANK

This is a photo of underneath  one of the front dinette benches, where the original water tank was. The water tank was a big hunk of rusty metal, so I used a sawzall to cut it out of the wall and then pulled it out. You can see that this area once kept a mouse very warm! I’m going to clean this area up and put down some new wood, maybe paint it all white so that you can see it better, then have the new water tank (which I ordered yesterday from Timbucktu RV in Worcester, MA) installed in here. I don’t know why there’s an outlet in this box, but we’ll find out!

 

TOILET

Here’s where I tore out the old camper toilet. Kinda gross! I’m going to try to re-use the tiny camper toilet seat from the original toilet, since it’s so small and perfect sized for the tiny closet. You can see that the toilet closet is a step up from the rest of the floor of the camper. I think I’m going to saw through the floor of the toilet closet and replace it with one that is at the same level as the rest of the camper. It’s probably a little higher right now to make room for a black water tank and plumbing, but the composting toilet doesn’t require a tank or any plumbing for water, so it doesn’t have to be a step up like that. Can’t wait to take out the floor and see what’s lurking under there… Can’t wait to show you all the mock-up for the squatting composting toilet.

 

INLET

Here’s the 30 amp/120V AC inlet that is on the exterior wall of the COMET. The male inlet is missing, so I got a whole new assembly (Thank You TIMBUCKTU RV!!). This is just temporary, so that I can use the lights and outlets in the camper, until the PV system is installed.

 

It’s been pouring rain the yesterday and today, so I’m hoping it lets up soon so I can get back to work! Someday I’ll have an indoor workshop and won’t have to rely on good weather. I’ve been collecting all of the materials I will need for the first few repairs (hardware, electrical, wood) so I won’t run into any unexpected roadblocks.

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