Saturday, October 11, 2008

Noticeable Improvements...

This one's a few posts within a post - it's been a busy but productive week. Plans to weld on Wednesday were thwarted by two days of much-needed rain, which normally wouldn't have been an issue in the shop, but since the trailer's down in the corner of the yard with its wheels off, they have to pull a rig down to it and run an extension cord out there, so they decided to wait until Friday to do any welding.

In the meantime, we worked on a few other projects:

- Put a hitch on our car (finally!)

- Started looking at the electrical situation. We're obviously going to get the running lights working before we can go anywhere, but the rest of it will be a project for later on. We had been thinking to replace the existing wiring with new while the bottom was off of it, but it turns out all the wiring for the outlets runs up to the top of the trailer, and since the outlets are above the windows besides, there's no way we could replace it inside the walls like the original without popping all the rivets and taking the inside wall panels apart. Not gonna go least not this week. The insulation's still intact (albeit old asbestos) so we're leaving those walls alone (at least until we get settled in California in a couple of weeks). Options: open up the walls and replace the insulation while we're at it; just put in some new outlets lower down the walls to come in from below (would have to do that right now while it's still open) and cap the old ones; run conduit on the inside walls of the trailer, which we could also do at a later date as we go. Need another remote consultation with Lisa's dad!

- Opened up the screen door that the previous owners had bolted shut. Protected this whole time, the screen's still like new in there, except for the tidy screw holes around the edge, and the ubiquitous periwinkle paint - yeah, the whole screen is blue too!

- Cleaned out the two air vents on top. They had been left open and had rusted and stuck that way, allowing rain in, as well as providing the squirrels yet another handy hiding spot for acorns. They're shut now, but are going to need replacing.

- Replaced the round plexiglas windows on the endcaps. We used one of the original windows to trace the new ones before it fell apart completely, and cut and smoothed the edges with a grinder wheel on the circular saw. Ben wrestled the new windows into place Wednesday morning and secured them with the original rubber and aluminum trim, and then PawPaw came by that afternoon with some clear caulk and they sealed 'em up. "Son," he said, brightening up, "I'm startin' to have hope for this ol' thing!"

Only the side windows are glass, and some of the panes are broken, but rather than just cut new glass we've got to find replacements for the whole mechanism that opens and closes them because those are pretty rusted out. We found one on ebay, but it's not the right size, and there's only one. We're still thinking about it - maybe we could alter it and have new glass cut. But we'd still need two more. And we want to check out Sonny's stash first...we've got a lead on a place south of Birmingham with about four old chicken houses full of Airstream parts. If we're really lucky we'll find some there. If not, we're just going to seal and secure the side windows for the trip out west and keep on looking as we go.

A Sturdy Welded Steel Frame

So Friday was the big day as far as the frame reinforcement went. Ben had been working by himself on most of the projects this week, so working with those guys for that one day straight gave him a whole new album of stories, which we are going to have to tell you on another rainy day 'cause it's just that good. In short, they navigated some setbacks, mostly of their own creation, Ben heard some new cuss words he'd never heard before (and we've hung around some colorful people!), and the result was that the frame is reinforced and level, the new tongue and hitch are in place, and a WONDERFUL discovery was made about the axle and wheel hubs.

The original drop axle is solid steel, and built to last. They opened up the hubs to see what kind of condition they were in, and the roller bearings and everything in there is still shiny new, packed with the original grease, and spinning freely. Excited, they called all those guys in to look at it, because they "just don't get to work on stuff like this anymore." They said that the axles they use are made of hollow tubing, and nothing's gonna be as strong as what we've got. We'll have them replace the small hardware that actually attaches it to the frame, but we're hanging on to the original axle and hubs, which the guys were going to overhaul and reassemble first thing Saturday morning on their own. Will update next week when we see how that went.

Collinsville Trade Day

We weren't planning to go down to the shop on Saturday morning - Ben's brother Will, his wife Laura, their son William and Polly the pup dog stayed over Friday night and we all went over to Collinsville Trade Day in the morning to see what we could find. That "one special treasure" eluded us, but we did get to see a whole lot of tools, animals (mostly chickens, bunnies and pit bull pups, but plenty of other varieties to go around), t-shirts, fried food, and miscellaneous junk. And the people-watching is out of this world. Laura's favorite overheard conversation:

"Y'all got 'ny duffel bags?"
"Yup. What kind you need?"
"I been lookin' all ov'th'place for 'em. There ain't none here to Tuscaloosa."
"How many you lookin' for?"
"Just one. My husband gon' fill it with dirt'n' teach my grandson how to tackle."
"Well, that's a good i-DEE-a!"

Ben stopped by a knife stand and had his sharpened, and we came out the other side in the most incredible farmers' market that'll put any city version to shame. Tell you what, Mexican immigrants know how to grow some food! Laura thought everything looked more bright and colorful too. Lisa bought armloads of fresh veggies and we came home and grilled up a fabulous feast of steak and shrimp kabobs, hamburgers, curried potato salad, spicy pickled okra (wow! who knew that was so crisp and good?! Thanks, Will!) and corn on the cob.

Next Steps

reattach axle, new wheels, interior paint stripping, subfloor & insulation, rivet belly pans back on (not necessarily in this order)


silverhobby said...

You're moving along at a great pace. Glad the axle is OK to use. Kevin

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