Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

Month: October 2019

Well, It Smells Less Like Dead Things

You know that smell you notice when you walk into an old home? The one that suggests dead things are in the walls? Oldest’s camper definitely had that smell.

Now it smells like oil-based primer.

So. Much. Better.

Unfortunately, the primer has to go on by hand. My cheap spray gun can’t handle the viscosity of primer and thining it doesn’t get the coverage we need.

Hubs got the shower re-set and braced up. If you are an RV owner and have never added braces under your shower, you WILL have a leak. All RV tubs float above the floor and, sooner or later, as people stand on the thin fiberglass, the drain will begin to separate from the trap. The leak won’t always show up near the shower either. Grant’s shower was leaking but the floor was rotting in the bedroom. RVs are rarely parked perfectly level so the water travels until it finds a way out.

We also got the peel and stick tiles installed on the bathroom walls. And by we, I mean Hubs did all the difficult work and I handed him things. The difference in the room is astounding. The plastic tiles are washable and lightweight. Perfect for a camper. The install was not easy with all the cabinets and windows to cut around in such a small space, but the job only took about 2 1/2 hours.

Next up on the worklist? Filling holes in walls, priming, installing the freshwater tank, building the bathroom wall, and installing the bathroom countertop.

And finding a way to keep the goats out of the worksite.

The Boring Stuff

The last week has been filled with boring progression. Well, boring to you. We are ecstatic about the amount of caulk and butyl tape being put to use sealing this tin-can-O-holes.

Windows, exterior lights, compartment doors, and entry doors have been installed. I don’t think Hubs and I have ever stared lovingly at door handles until this week. The reason?

Animals.

Everywhere.

Our cats, the neighbor’s cats, the other neighbor’s dog, and who-knows-how-many wild animals have been enjoying RV life since we tore the trailer apart.

How do I know?

Tracks.

Tiny, and not-so-tiny, footprints on every surface. Sometimes in my paint. Just yesterday I had to keep shooing a goat off the wheel I was painting.

The goats have benefited from our all-consuming work on the trailer. The electric fence is red most days and we’ve grown complacent with goats-gone-wild. After all, they put themselves back in the barn at night. Plus they keep the grass mowed. It’s a win-win.

Contrary to popular belief, goats don’t eat everything. They TASTE everything. Most things are spat back out … so the random trailer parts sitting around are fine.

And covered in goat spit.

A Solid Foundation

The college camper had a squishy floor upon arrival at the farm. The previous owners had tiled it and the mortar base was the only thing keeping anyone from falling through.

Bedroom floor torn out.

We researched all the options for RV flooring and settled on a few necessities. We wanted the floor to float above the decking, it needed to be water-resistant, and it needed to be very thin to work under the walls and doors. With those requirements in mind, we found Traffic Master Allure flooring sold at Home Depot. The flooring is available in tons of colors, but we chose Khaki Oak since it was sold in the store and available immediately.

Hubs installed the floating floor in about 6 hours. The planks have glue tabs that allow them to adhere to each other but not the subfloor. Cutting into all the tight corners is easy since the planks can be scored with a utility knife and snapped to the correct size.

The gray edging is the sticky strip that allows each plank to stick to another once pressure is applied to the seam.

A week later, the floor is handling the construction traffic really well. We walk in and out with rocks and butyl tape stuck to our shoes and the floor takes the wear beautifully. It’s easy to clean with a shop vac at the end of the day. Perfect for a college student.

A Facelift

“Just slap some paint on it.”

Sounds easy, right?

*Bangs head on wall.*

Sure, painting takes just a couple of hours – or faster if you’re trying to beat a rainstorm. But the prep work for painting a 30-year-old travel trailer?

Six weeks.

Butyl tape, silicone caulk, latex caulk, and decal all in one spot.

No joke. We scraped, scrubbed, and conducted science experiments to discover the correct chemical remover for all the different adhesives and caulks on the trailer for six weeks. Lucky for you, I now have a list:

liquid nails = DAP Caulk-Be-Gone

Butyl tape = plastic scraper for the chunks and mineral spirits on shop rags for the residue

decals = heat gun and plastic scraper

clear silicone caulk = WD-40 and a scraper for the thick stuff, then “sand” off with scotch brite pads on a die grinder.

latex caulk = Goo Gone Caulk Remover

rust = scotch brite pads on a die grinder

general metal cleaning = acetone (don’t use on aluminum siding – it just takes the paint off)

Be prepared for lots of ripped fingernails, cuts, and skin coated with mineral spirits. Funny side note: I started adding Collagen Peptides to my coffee everyday and noticed that my cuts heal really fast now. If you are taking on a trailer remodel you might want to try the peptides. Oh, and get a tetanus shot.

Seriously.

Buy the shop towels listed above in bulk. And nitrile gloves. You’ll use a lot. And be sure that the scraper is plastic – metal will damage the aluminum siding. If you don’t have an air compressor – get one. You’re going to need it for sanding, scrubbing, and painting.

Steps to paint the exterior of an aluminum-sided RV:

1.) Remove all the doors, windows, trim, and side rails.

2.) Scrape off all the chunks of butyl tape and wipe clean with mineral spirits and shop towels.

3.) Remove any decals and other kinds of caulk.

4.) Sponge-bathe the entire outside of the trailer with shop towels.

5.) Sand the edges of any holes you intend to fill and any rough spots. Clean those spots.

6.) Fill holes with Bondo.

7.) Sand Bondo spots. Clean those spots.

8.) Tape off any part of the trailer you don’t want painted, including the window holes. Don’t forget the tires.

9.) Spray auto primer on Bondo spots and any bare metal spots.

10.) Prep paint sprayer with 6 parts paint and 2 parts acetone.

11.) Spray light coats of the paint over the body of the trailer. We sprayed 2 coats.

12.) Spray a light coat of clear coat according to the manufacturer directions.

13.) Remove any tape or plastic from trailer and wait to dry. We waited 5 days before re-taping for stripes to make sure the new tape didn’t remove the new body paint.

14.) Repeat steps 10-13 if you want a different color accent.

Body paint done.

I must admit that it turned out better than I expected. It’s not perfect – there are rough spots where we could not remove certain adhesives. I would wager that our previous owners were not handy. Murmurs of “idiots” were frequent during the cleaning process.

Grant opted for a white body accented by red and black stripes that will match his 1993 F-150 tow vehicle once it’s painted.

We also changed the aluminum windows from brown back to aluminum with paint. It took 3 cans for all of our windows. I’m really impressed with the Rustoleum High Performance Enamel paint. It goes on very smooth, levels out beautifully, and is very hard once dry. I can’t even scratch the paint with my fingernail now that it’s been hardening over a week.

Unfortunately, the day after Grant installed the bathroom window, I fell through the sink (don’t ask) and shattered the bottom pane of glass. Good news? I learned that duct tape is great for removing glass from skin.

Next week? Interior floors!