Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My New Project Chapter Three: It's always more Work than Expected

Sitting in my driveway is a shiny little humpback hobbit hole of a camp trailer.   Who would have guessed a month ago that by the end of August I would have transformed a rolling heartbreak into a totally functional mobile bedroom.  Not me.    With a nearly deranged level of task commitment, I manage to salvage something my wife called, one winter past redemption.  Once I had cut and installed new sides made of 3/4 inch plywood, I figured I had things licked.  Ha.  The hatch was to rotten to save or even use as a pattern.  I had to come up with a curved pattern for the shape of this trunk lid and plan a design that would be strong but lighter than the old one.

I made the ribs of 3/4 inch plywood scraps left from creating the sides and I was even able to use the curved cut.  My jigsaw died while cutting the the sides, so I had to turn to my cordless reciprocating saw to make the several cuts needed to make four plywood ribs.   I used stock 2x2 fir for the crosspieces on the lid then added a layer of hardboard and then riveted the aluminum skin back in place.  I was surprised that the hatch fit as well as it did though it was far from perfect.  It sits a little crooked, but it fits and should keep out the rain.  The whole project is more utilitarian than fancy.

 I managed to layer several coats of Spar Urethane over the epoxy resin I treated the plywood with and waited days for it to cure in our cool wet weather.  Most of the aluminum trim is being reused, backup with silicone.  The cutouts for the doors were used to make new doors, though only one was installed.    

Right now the camper looks a little cockeyed since one door has been replaced and one door is original.  It too will get replaced but not in the frenzy of August.   

A month ago, I wrote about experiencing a different kind of August, in fact that's what I called the blog post.  I was anticipating an August when I would not be looking forward to and starting school in some form or another.  I wondered what would I do.  This is it!  Part of it.  No it's not finished and no, it not showroom quality but as my brother used to say, "going by on the road at sixty miles an hour, who's going to notice?"

Monday, August 22, 2016

My new Project: Chapter Two -- It's Probably Worse than you Thought

I wasn't far into this adventure before I realized that it might have been easier to start from scratch.  But, In for a penny in for a pound, so we carry on.  The plywood sides of the teardrop were rotten so those had to be removed and i figured I could do that without removing the roof.  Good idea but probably more work than it was worth because I had to prop up the roof and remove the aluminum skin.  that showed a lot of rot in the hardboard inner skin so most of that had to go too.

The partitions had to be removed and added to the pile of rotten things to be replaced.  Soon, I realized that the oak flooring had absorbed water, swelled, and was adding weight to the trailer.  It still looked nice but it wouldn't show under the mattress any way so it had to go too.  Suddenly I had more trash and less trailer.

The sides were just barely stable enough to be a pattern for the new 3/4 inch plywood sides.  Then those sides were patterns for the hardboard lining.  These were glue together and the inside painted.   Luckily I had the warm dry garage to do that while I dismantled the trailer in the boat shed.  Great activity for a rainy August.  The side of the trailer also received strips of 1x1 fir to attached the partitions and shelves  (When completed the trailer will have plywood bulkheads separating the galley trunk and the bunk).

I was excited that the fiberglass fenders were in good shape, but the taillights would need replacing.  The ceiling fan, I tested and found it operable.  I then confronted the reality that the rear hatch was to rotten to save, so I peeled off the aluminum skin and discarded the waterlogged and rotten trunk lid frame and puzzled on how to build a new, lighter one.

The exciting part was that I was reaching the point of putting things together rather than taking them apart!   Could it be?

After lots of cleaning and scrapping and removing screws nuts and staples, I was able to apply a layer of epoxy resin to what was left of the trailer wood structure and begin to do the same to the new plywood parts.  I figured the best way to prevent the rot that got the trailer the first time is seal the plywood with epoxy resin like I was building a boat.  This is when damp, cool weather was not my friend.  The resin is a slow cure during a soggy August.
In spite of the weather, one day I attached the new sides of the trailer connected the ribs that supported the roof and the reborn trailer began to show it's new life.

The hatch was a different story!

Stay Tuned For More!

Friday, August 19, 2016

My New Project: Chapter 1 -- Idle Hands are Tools of the Devil

As I navigate this new kind of August and find myself with more time at the lake than ever, I have room for a new project. I have my writing work, but  I'm a real believer in the benefit of working with your hands as well as your brain.  Somehow this all collided with the ideas of finding a small camp trailer to drag around Alaska for book promotion and the like.  Of course it didn't take much time on Craigslist to find that what I was looking for was hard to find, in bad shape, or expensive.  When a local prospect for a teardrop trailer feel through I fell back on chance and opportunity, "Just keep your eyes open and something will come up."  
Sure enough I spotted a teardrop trailer  
in a local backyard. 
In a couple of days, I had negotiated a deal and that sad little teardrop was in my yard, and I no longer lacked for a project. This little trailer had potential but was going to need a major rebuild.  Madelyn looked askance, but I think she figured I needed a low cost - high labor project to help me sweat out the no-school-this-August demons.   I kept seeing cartoon thought bubbles over her head, "Idle hands are tools of the devil".

I set to work tearing into the trailer and seeing what could be saved.  The trailer frame is solid and it has good tires.  The sides, which are a single sheet of 3/4 plywood with hardboard glued on the inside, are rotten  -- I mean put your hand through it rotten.  Some of the wood frames in the roof were water damaged and the rear hatch cover was waterlogged, wouldn't latch and probably in need of replacement.   Most of the aluminum was useable.

What I a hole I had dug for myself.

Some research online told me this was probably a Kit Kamper, built from plans available from Kit Manufacturing since the late 1940's.  Some of these trailers were built by the company, some were sold as kits, and some were constructed by individuals using Kit company plans.   Since then lots of different little trailers or 'teardrops' have been marketed.  Originally these trailer were basically covered place to sleep with a galley set up in the trunk under the rear hatch.   The one I found was a basic one with only some lighting, a vent fan, and some shelves in the galley trunk which is fine by me.   Simple is good.  

I have a pole shed to work in and rainy weather to encourage me onto this labor.  We'll soon see if this is a prevention of "idle hands" or a product of it.  Stay tuned!

If you Google, 'teardrop trailers'  you find lots of interesting reading and ideas.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Ups and Downs of Self Supervision

AS a part of my "Different Kind of August" I gave myself the assignment of a weekly blog entry.   This morning, I'm regretting that decision.  It's Monday and another post is due.  I could recycle, using something I wrote some time in the past.  That worked in college when I had an essay due and my mind was blank, just grab something from last year and retype it.  That's to cheap,  I won't let myself do it on only the second week of August.  Save that for November.
So, here I am like a seventh grader with an essay due tomorrow and the blank screen before me.  Nobody wants to hear that the fall rains have started and that the fireweed has topped out.  We can talk about slugs,  the great invaders that are doing their best to eat my whole garden.  No, can't go negative.
Yesterday,  I bailed six inches of water out of the rowboat and rowed down to the island after dinner.  That time of night I hoping to spot bears but no luck.  The red salmon in the lake are showing the colors that give them their name, turning bright red with green heads.  As they charge the mouth of the creek on the east end of the lake the look like redcoats running from the minutemen at Concord.  The water tends to be calm on these wet days when the cloud hand low overhead and the lake is free of the fair-weather folks who only venture out when the weather is sunny and warm.  That leaves the place to those who tend to enjoy moving out on the water regardless of the weather.  Although we are pretty wet this week, the air and the lake are warmer than usually, and I find myself overdressed when I go out to collect my daily bounty of slugs.  Yes, slugs.
For those of you who don't know, slugs are small vegetable pests that will consumer entire plants and look life snails without shells?  Does that make them Homeless?   Anyway  they are the most revolting thing living on our property that I know of and the best way we know to deal with them is to pick them by hand and drop them into a cup of salt.   This leaves our hands wet and slimy after a bit of picking, usually with rain running down our backs.  I asked Madelyn, "How hungry would you have to be to eat slugs?"   "I would starve," she snarled, "They are too disgusting."    OKAY!
But, it is an ill wind that blows no good.  Slugs have given me something to write about this Monday morning in the rain.
One final word.  Those of us who work at home also live at work.   And those who work for themselves have no one else to blame.  

Friday, August 5, 2016

"A picaresque coming-of-age tale with an often appealing hero."

I think KIRKUS REVIEW understood were I wanted to go with this book. Here's what they said about Secondhand Summer.  

When his father dies suddenly, an adolescent boy faces more than one kind of loss as he navigates the perilous path between childhood and maturity in a new city in Walker’s debut novel.
In 1965, 12-year-old Sam “Humpy” Barger lives with his family in the tiny fishing village of Ninilchik, Alaska, helping his father mend and set nets, attending his small, eighth-grade class, and taking the first shy steps toward having a girlfriend. Then his world gets turned upside down: his strong, capable father has a heart attack and dies, forcing Sam’s mom to move him, his brother, and his sister to Anchorage so that she can find work. Reeling from the sudden loss, Sam confronts the challenges in his life with honesty, integrity, and curiosity, as well as sadness and anxiety. Along the way, however, he makes new friends and tests the limits of his daring. Walker’s first-person narrative is engaging and vivid as he describes Sam’s earnest progress toward discovering who he is. The author skillfully evokes the world of adolescent boys, full of gross-out jokes, territorial challenges, and a few true friends. Sam’s adventures are gripping, yet realistic, such as when he almost, but not quite, gets caught by the police while stealing comic books, and each escapade teaches him something about himself. Occasionally, readers may feel Walker reaches a bit too far for an unlikely metaphor, as when Sam describes a Corvette passing his friend as “a burgundy ghost passing across the mirror of his soul.” Also, although the narrative does treat racism with some sensitivity, a gratuitous gay joke goes disturbingly unremarked. In general, though, the book is absorbing as it describes the painfully awkward moment before kids become “teenagers with cars and adults with power.” As it follows Sam through the changes and choices, the plot builds to an exciting conclusion that includes violence, redemption, and the first faltering steps toward a new life.
A picaresque coming-of-age tale with an often appealing hero.