Monthly Archives: June 2012

Interior Floor Demolition!

This is what I was doing the last few days. Later on I’ll post pictures of what it looks like now, with the new framing, insulation, and flooring.

Basically the entire rear floor, under the bed/couch under the window, had been destroyed by a combination of water damage and termites or carpenter ants. There was no framing left in the rear 4 feet of flooring, it was just dust at this point. We ended up pulling out an entire wall’s structural members and floor studs: there was a lot of day light coming through. This is the most structurally-intense renovation/repair I have ever had to do in a trailer, but it was similar in nature to the repairs I had done to fix water damage in other trailers, so progress has been going very quickly!

I’ll walk you through peeling back the layers of rot. Don’t let this discourage you  if you’re considering repairing your own vintage trailer. If I can do it, anyone can. Oh, and a big thank you to my friend Matt for helping me out in these hectic weeks before Tiny House Summer Camp, and all the other weeks he’s helped as well.

The thing about repairing the framing in these is that you peel back one wall to fix one problem, which then allows you to see about 8 other problems that you hadn’t noticed before. And everything is built originally from the frame up, so you’re trying to get into places that were put together in an order that makes it challenging to get at things retroactively. We ended up pulling back some of the exterior aluminum to be able to reach certain spots better.

This is the rear of the camper where I pulled back the linoleum sheet floor to find a soft pile of dusty wood. You can see the corner was just rotted through. But I didn’t know how far the rot had gotten until I dug deeper.

I used the SonicCrafter and my hands to pull out all of the rotten wood framing. The wood was so rotten it just came right out for the most part. Some of the stuff I pried out with the Wonderbar. you can see the black wood in the corner, where day light is coming in. That’s not good! Basically water rots where it sits, which is why the wood under the window is fine but the floor is ruined. Even though the water was coming in through the window, it was flowing down into the floor and had no way to escape.

I then tore out the kitchen, realizing that the floor framing on the starboard side was rotted out beneath the kitchenette. I also knew by stepping on it that the floor next to the heater, below that big round hole in the wall where the vent was, was all rotted out. I carefully removed the kitchen so I could get at the floor there.

This is the view from the outside. This entire length of member was rotten with water damage.

Here you can see where I used the SonicCrafter to cut out the rotten wood to where it was solid again. Those straight cuts are where the wood is no longer rotten. It looks like a huge mess, but is surprisingly simple to fix when you have control over how you want to re-build. I knew I wanted to rebuild it ten times stronger than it was originally. Originally, the studs in the wall were stapled (yes, STAPLED) to the floor beams. Not exactly sturdy construction.

I’ll post pictures of what we did to fix this mess later on. I think it turned out pretty good!

Anyway, one of my best friends just bought a vintage trailer to live in (we’re going to have a caravan!) and she’s in the process of repairing the rear rot as well. Today she’s coming over to help me out and see what you can do to fix that sort of damage. If I can convince at least one other person that living in a trailer is an awesome idea, I would say this project has been a success already!

**Another huge thank you to Green Building Supply, who really helped me out yesterday on such short notice. I was having a really hard time figuring out what to do about the countertop in the COMET. I wanted to re-use an old Formica table, and I ended up getting one off of craigslist, but it turns out is isn’t the right size for the counter. I called up Green Building Supply looking for a solution and they recommended Marmoleum, the same stuff that my flooring is made of! You can get Marmoleum in tiles or planks for floors, or you can order it in flexible sheets, which works like a natural laminate countertop. It’s completely non-toxic, natural linoleum and basically indestructible. I picked out a really cool teal color, Azzuro. It is a similar pattern to the flooring, sort of swirly and marble-y.

I also got some of the non-toxic Forbo (who makes Marmoleum) adhesive to put the countertop onto a piece of plywood I have lying around. I’m going to re-use the vintage aluminum retro trim from the original countertop around the edges, so it will still have that vintage look. Can’t wait to get this in the mail!

As always, thanks so much for reading. I’ll update again later on, gosh-willing I can keep my eyes open after I’m done in The COMET.

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Check out this Pinterest page – all about tiny houses and camper restoration

Someone shares my obsessions!

I found this Pinterest page (board?) a while back and have been refreshing the tab regularly ever since. It has all sorts of great links to DIY tutorials, camper eye candy, off-grid trailer ideas, and more. New things are added to the board all the time. Check out this link for camper and tiny house ideas!

Not Quite Vintage Tiny Homes/RVs

This is a great idea for linoleum tiles. You could do this with Marmoleum flooring pretty easily!

**Tiny House Summer Camp is SO SOON! Less than 2 weeks away, and the COMET has no floor and a wall is being replaced and reframed. I need to get the pictures off of my camera and onto the blog so you guys can see what I’m talking about! It’s crazy.

Anyway, I PROMISE pictures and details about all of the repairs later. I think you guys will enjoy the walk through. It isn’t pretty, and it’s more structural repair than I’ve ever had to do in a trailer before, but it’s encouraging because, thanks to my prior experience with last summer’s trailer, Matt’s help, and the Rockwell SonicCrafter (I need to do a tool review – this thing can’t be beat), it’s taken me 4 days to do what it took me 2 months to do last year. Amazing!


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I’m BAAAACK! And it’s crunch time for The COMET.

Hello Readers!

Thank you all for your patience these last 2 weeks while I was at Yestermorrow fulfilling my Core curriculum in a VERY intense 3 weeks of classes. I was doing 20 hour days in the studio every day while I was there (not complaining – it was the most fun, creative, an productive 2 weeks of my life!) and just couldn’t keep up with blog posts on top of studio time and the occasional few hours of sleep. I love Yestermorrow, and would recommend it to anyone looking to further their knowledge in sustainable building, permaculture, or woodworking. What an awesome learning environment! And Vermont was gorgeous. Below you can see some of my designs from the final week of class: it’s a camper and a tiny house – the camper docks into the tiny house and one wall of the camper swings open and becomes one of the walls of the house. Pretty cool! Maybe in the future I’ll build something crazy like this.

My model of the tiny house component. It’s supposed to look space-age!

However, now I’m back in Massachusetts and it’s time to put the pedal to the metal with the COMET, because Tiny House Summer Camp is in 16 (16? 16??) days (that’s it, 16 days? – and check out the nifty countdown at the bottom of the page). I have tons of catching up to do here on the website (I saw many interesting things while I was in VT these past few weeks, and can’t wait to share stories and pictures with all of you) and in The COMET. I have to have this thing that is very much mid-construction in somewhat presentable shape for the workshop in VT July 6th-9th (Tiny House Summer Camp hosted by Derek Diedricksen of Luckily (and I’m being facetious here) every time you are about to fix one thing in a vintage camper, you find 2 other things that are broken or damaged. For example, yesterday while I was getting ready to re-frame the rear wall in order to support a bumper garden, I found that the floor of the rear of the camper, under the bed/couch which is just storage, was totally soft. I pulled up the laminate and the floor just disintegrated underneath me, down to the frame. The joists disappeared. It was either termites of carpenter ants, but all they left was dust. So now I get to replace the floor of half of the camper and replace all of the rear floor framing around the two back corners. I’ve done this sort of repair before, and it’s always touch to get in to these spaces retro-actively and replace the structure that was put in first.

LUCKILY (and I mean it this time) for me I have the greatest friend in the world, and I’ve enlisted my friend Matt (inventor, fabricator, builder, designer extraordinaire) to help me with the COMET the next few weeks in preparation for Tiny House Summer Camp. He did tons of body work yesterday while I pulled out rotten floor, and the exterior of the COMET looks good as new. All of the holes and scratches are filled and dents are pulled. Loads of pictures to come!

Another HUGE thank you to Timbucktu RV in Worcester (1047 Southbridge St, phone # 508. 459. 1132), for the water tank and all of the other goodies for the COMET. If you’re looking for appliances for your tiny house or camper, or need any type of repair, give them a call. They’re the greatest.


OH! And don’t forget about the vintage camper/tiny house rally on July 20-22 in Brattleboro VT at the Brattleboro KOA. Go to the Brattleboro KOA website to register your vintage camper, and all unique mobile dwellings get a discount! We have about 20-30 vintage campers already, it’s going to be a great weekend. Check out my EVENTS + APPEARANCES page on this website to see more details and find out about registering.

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