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.


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!


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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5 thoughts on “Before + After: Replacing Rotten Framing in a Vintage Camper

  1. carecro says:

    If you had to recommend one book to a person looking to eco-renovate her own vintage trailer, which would you choose?

  2. Ooh, that’s a really tough question!
    Honestly, I would recommend one that INSPIRES you the most. Not a how-to book necessarily, but something that you can look at after a really tough day of finding carpenter ants in your trailer and still feel super excited about the work ahead. For me, that book is “My Cool Caravan”. It’s full of really great pictures and stories, and it always makes me want to work harder and finish my camper and make it awesome!
    Thanks for the great question!

  3. k. semanski says:

    I just purhased a 1958 Comet, hopefully in better cond. I can’t seem to find, decals, emblems, photos, etc. on Comets. The interior in complete except for the booth seats. I’d like to keep it as original as possible also would like to know what original paint scheme was. Any help?

    • Hi K!
      My camper is an Avalon, COMET stands for Cost Efficient, Off-grid, Mobile Eco Trailer, so I don’t personally know what the original Comet layout was. However, your best bet would be to join Tin Can Tourists and post on the forums about your Comet trailer looking for information. I bet they have a whole thread for the trailer that you have, and you’re sure to find lots of info there. Hope that helps!

  4. Travis Schnarr says:

    Yup. Looks just like my mess lol. I too replaced everything with bigger lumber. I saved money by using all recycled wood. In fact even my high efficient windows came from garage sales and donations. In the back corners I discovered that the 1x 10 on one side was actually 3 peices, stuffed in from factory while the other was solid. They got replaced by 2×10. All the framing thus far is 2×4, and I expect it to be far more efficient than it ever was. Also I gutted everything, going with an open floor plan and out door kitchen and shower.(my kitchen is just the original sink cut into a peice of plywood that will slide in and out) also, how are you insulating it? I’m going to spray foam mine.

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