Mama’s got a new pair of shoes

Its been awhile since my last post and I’m pleased to report LOTSA progress has been made on the Silverdome trailer. Most recently I’ve begun the process of polishing the aluminum windows and I have come to this conclusion… Raising my children is a labor of love. Maintaining my highlights is a labor of love. Polishing aluminum is just plain labor and I am feeling NO love for how long this part of the project will take. My tools? Stripper in a can (not as fun as it sounds), steel wool, goo gone, bartenders friend, plastic gloves, and more steel wool. Last night I searched online for other scum removing tactics and looks like I will be adding brake cleaner to the mix in round two. I love things that sparkle just as much as the next girl but plan B? Choosing a paint scheme in which the windows are painted.

When I last checked in, I mentioned the round corners. Let’s be real, had the Silver Dome been a Silver Box, I probably would have walked away. Im mean who can resist curves like that! However, I feared the day I would have to face the rounded corners since I was pretty sure it would require needing to know the pi of something, or how to solve for “x” and math isn’t really my thing. But hey, neither is writing yet here we are! The day came to actually start cutting things and I found a non-math way to sort this out… cardboard! Yeeeees. Place cardboard under the edge of the skin at the corner and trace the curve onto a piece of cardboard  and viola! A non-math template for my curvy Silver Dome.

The jig I got for Christmas last year (thanks Mary and Norman!!!) came in handy and the corner framing went really smoothly. There were a couple math situations when a piece had to be slightly different than the template but thankfully Tony was there and I just cut where I was told. Each corner required five 2” wide curved pieces. And while we were at it, nine or 10 ribs in the ceiling needed to be replaced too (if you’re counting we are at 30 pieces). So yea… I can now work a jig like nobody’s business!

With the corners in place, walls and ceiling framed and the trailer standing on its own, I couldn’t wait to put some new shoes on this girl! The rims are not as retro as I was originally planning for but I think it will look great when this humpty dumpty gets put back together again!

Finally, a huge milestone was met this weekend… the lower panels were put back onto the newly framed walls! So far it looks like only one panel is too far gone to salvage but I was referred to a shop in Ventura that carries the aluminum needed to replace the section I need. AND Tony has a plasma cutter which will cut like butter and ya’ll know how I feel about an opportunity to use new tools! The next couple weeks I’ll focus on getting the body ready for paint! Here are some ideas and feel free to cast a vote for your favorite! Thanks for sharing in the trailer love and for all the words of encouragement 🙂 xoxoxox

 

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Floored

Over past couple days we have been able to accomplish a few small victories in what will surely be an epic battle taking this trailer to the finish line.

Major milestones like, installing the new axle and leaf springs, laying the subfloor and getting through about 60% of framing were all accomplished over the course of  just 15 hours! Typing those three BIG accomplishments into one sentence makes it seem like… yea, so? Seems about right for 15 hours of work. To you I say, grab your gloves and come on over! Here is a little more detail about those victories.

Just removing the old axle was a serious undertaking. First we jacked the chassis up so the tires could move freely. Have you ever tried to take the bolts off your wheels? How bout after oh, 67 years of being parked outside in the rain and heat and more rain. Rust much? You betcha! I cut the rusted cotter pins and hardware (angle grinders are still awesome!) holding the leaf springs in place. The real difficulty was moving the beast! The whole ensemble weighed about 400lbs and took 4 men to get it into the bed of the truck. Thanks David, Mike, Kenny and Chad!

 

The new leaf springs are significantly smaller which required new mounting hardware be welded to the chassis – a skill I sadly do not possess… yet. I enlisted some help from a friend and the rest was pretty simple! We first measured the old hardware to find the center point, then measured out 13.5” which is half the length of the distance needed between the new hangers. Then mounted the plates to the axle tube and fit it all together with U bolts. It looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself!

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Prepping the chassis for the subfloor took the most amount of time so far. After wire brushing all the rust off the frame, it had to be coated once to kill and stop the rust and again to prevent new rust from forming. Then it was actually time to start building. Can I get a hip-hip-hooray for sawdust! I had the lumber yard rip ledger boards to the exact dimensions of the original piece since I need to keep the height and width in line with the top portion of the walls if I want everything to fit back together properly. The ledger boards were bolted into place around the perimeter of the chassis.

Then the fun part! It took all of 20 minutes to cut and place the 3/4” plywood subfloor. Screwing the sheets into place took a little longer and I have the bruises and blisters on my hands to prove it! We used self tapping metal screws to go through the plywood and into the metal frame. The floor is a little bouncy in a couple places so I think we will go back and add additional support beams – which will double as an opportunity to learn a little about welding. Bonus!

Lastly the framing… Taking out the damaged wood is a little like jenga – a jumbo size,  trailer-could-fall-on-your-head-with-one-wrong-move jenga. The roof and upper walls of the trailer are still being held by oversized sawhorses so I couldn’t remove a support piece without first adding a new one. I started with the wall that had the most damage. Why? Because I had to start somewhere! Tony, who also assisted in demo and welded in the axle, ripped out the damaged pieces while I cut and tied in the new pieces. We got into a pretty solid rhythm and once all the studs and headers are in, the next step is to add a plate to the subfloor where the studs will tie in and the trailer will be whole again! Sorta…

Taking the braces out will be a big step. Knowing the floors and walls will be ready to once again hit the open road for a life of adventure and fun will be a great moment! Only 7,987 more projects to do before then.

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Tada!

It’s all done!! Wouldn’t that be amazing?! While the whole project is still a ways off from complete, demo is done and I learned a few things about the trailer and myself… 1. Angle grinders are amazing. 2. No matter how many dead rats I see, it still creeps me out and I scream 3. THATS what that smell was! 4. My plan worked!

Bracing the top portion of the trailer on large sawhorses worked just as planned. The floor was no longer needed to support the walls, so we were able to tear out the entire floor and keep the top suspended in place over the chassis. The new and improved plan was to drive the chassis out from under the trailer shell to repair any damage. BUT! Five rats, a possum, and several skill saw cuts later, the floor was gone and the perfectly intact chassis was exposed. Since no repair work is needed, the chassis will stay under the shell and await the new subfloor and walls.

With the floor totally gone, I grabbed an angle grinder with large wire brush wheel, upgraded my protective breathing gear, (don’t worry mom and dad!) and got to work brushing the rust of the frame. About 5 minutes in, the grinder began to smoke and promptly caught fire. Since I had purchased the only grinder in stock, the hardware store let me borrow theirs to finish the job. The whole process went fairly quickly which means I am now ready to prime and paint the chassis to stop any rust from spreading and prevent rust in the future.

The last step in preparing the chassis for the subfloor is to service and/or replace the axel, springs, wheels and tires. While the current axel and leaf springs appear to be in good condition, (just HEAVILY rusted) this step is outside of my comfort zone. Even with the power of Google and YouTube, I will leave it to the pros to decide what stays and goes as well as check my install work before laying the floor.

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Since the current state of the trailer isn’t exactly what you would consider “eyecandy”, here are some inspiration photos so you can be JUST as excited as I am!

Go Big or Go Home

In an effort to make things as complicated as possible, I’ve decided this will now be an off frame renovation. That’s right folks, you heard it hear first… OFF FRAME. This puppy has been more or less securely fastened to its chassis since 1948 but by Saturday evening that will all have changed.   The lower panels have been removed and while the original plan was build walls, fasten to the chassis, then rebuild the floor. The new and IMPROVED (optimism at its finest right there!) plan is to hoist what remains of the frame off the chassis and drive it right out from under the trailer shell. The benefit is once the chassis is freed, we can easily remove the floor, inspect for and repair frame, axel and leaf spring damage. Then sand blast, prime, paint, repack the barrings, put on new wheels and tires, build a new floor and then back that sucker under the shell for what will hopefully be ready for reattachment. (Insert #holycow and #whatdidigetmyselfinto here.)

 

How? What! Why? You must be asking. Because I’m not giving up. Because I know I can do this. And because when this project is successfully completed, I could possibly be qualified to land a spaceship on the moon. Well maybe not quite – but close I’m sure!

I’ll take lots of photos and update you all after this next big step. Closing out today’s post I would like to leave you with this man and his very accurate musical interpretation of how I’m feeling about this trailer project  😉 Turn your speakers up and ENJOY!

What came first? The walls or the floor?

Unlike the rhetorical chicken and egg reference, this question does have an answer. It’s the walls! Actually, it’s the floor then the walls. Really it’s the floor then the walls then the floor. Let me explain…

You may have noticed from some of the posted photos that the trailer is missing a wall. I do have an open floor plan in mind but walls are kinda important to the integrity of the trailer.  

So how to build a new wall on a rotten floor? The trailer must have walls to hold up the ceiling. But in order to have walls, I have to have a floor to attach walls to. You see how this vicious cycle goes right?

The answer became clear when I started thinking about the trailer’s foundation. The foundation, called a chassis, is a metal frame that runs the length of the trailer with beams also running the width of the trailor and this is what the plywood floor is attached to. The missing piece to the puzzle, like literally missing as in, has turned to dust and is long since one with the Earth, is the wood that runs the length of the trailer and ties into the floor joist-That is what the walls sit on top of.   

 So before I build walls I must have a floor and to replace the floor I must have walls. Now you get it right?! 

Here’s what I’m gonna do… Step one is to replace the wood that runs the length of the trailer and tie into the joists running the width of the trailer. To do that, I will remove the skin and the framing, or what’s left of it anyhow, and brace the ceiling with temporary supports. 

The tricky part will be reframing the wall since so much of the frame is missing and I don’t really have a template to work from. The dimensions have to be spot on because once this skin goes back on the metal won’t stretch or shrink.  

Today I’ll be assessing, measuring and making a materials list for my first Lowes run! I ordered a couple new tools which I’m sure you can tell makes me VERY happy! Ive never used a roto zip before but I think I’m gonna like it! 

Looking at the project as a whole can be overwhelming. But when you break it into pieces it’s totally fixable! 

  

O, Rats…

As in nests, skeletal remains, and droppings galore. Yes. Gross won’t really cover all of what was happening in there but I’ll just skip those fun facts and dive into other less what-nightmares-are-made-of details about demo day!

In a previous blog posts I likened demo day to Christmas. The excitement. The surprises. The power tools! Demo day is exciting because you see the biggest transformation in a short amount of time. It’s also scary because demo day is when you uncover all the dirty little secrets. And dirty is an understatement in this project.

As a mom of two boys I’m no stranger to, “what is that sticky spot” or “what’s that smell?” and “OMG is that moving?!” But this surpassed all of those moments by a mile. Here are some photos for you to take in. Be happy this is not scratch and sniff.

Now, I am an optimist. I know, shocker right. That’s how I get myself into and out of these projects without crying – much. But one look at this trailer and it was not difficult to spot severe water damage even before demo began. (Remember the missing panel? Yea.) So my optimism for making this a quick and easy wave of the ol pry bar was already in check. My concern was that so much of the framing would have disintegrated the shell would collapse once all the paneling was gone. That and just waiting to see how damaged the floor was and if the chassis was cracked in half or something like that!

Thankfully, on a wish and a prayer, the shell held! The ceiling framing actually looks brand spanking new. Even the insulation in most the ceiling looked untouched by time. I wish I had been able to salvage the ceiling but the damage is so extensive in the corners especially that I had to remove the panels in preparation of  tying in what will be new supports into the existing ones. And as I’m thinking about it, I’m actually not sure HOW the shell is still attached at the moment but I’m going with it! The floor is badly damaged and more than half of the wood that should be supporting the outer edges of the floor is just gone. But hey, who doesn’t need a little overhaul at one time or another right! Just means adding a little more lumber to the cart. And the chassis looks like it has surface rust but is still solid and will need little to no work. Yahoo!

Tomorrow my demo team (thanks Tony and Diego!) are going to help me clear out the rest of the debris so I can get a good look at the floor and begin the plan of how in the heck to put this puzzle together again. Feel free to come on by and check out our progress for yourself!

More photos coming soon and thank you for all the encouraging comments!! The best part of these projects and keeping this blog is sharing with friends and family. xoxoxox

It followed me home…

This blog has been a fun way for us to keep in touch with family and friends on our journey of home remodels and projects around the house as well as share a photo or two of the kids who in my humble opinion, are really the two cutest things on the planet. The house hasn’t changed too much recently but that in no way means the projects have come to a halt! I’m just not that person. I’m just not that way. And apparently now when I see a trailer from 1948 that is headed for the dump… I just can’t help but take it home.

Yes, I am now the lady who is hoarding trailers. But I couldn’t be happier! As some of you know, my mom and I have started a new business together. a la Cart Bar. You can read about our business on our website (when it is finished) or you can find us on FB, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, and Pinterest. Side note, it makes our day to have a new “like” or follower and we may or may not high five every time it happens, just sayin. SO! With the successful completion of our first 1958 Arrowhead trailer turned bar cart, we have been searching for the next star in our fleet.

You know when people adopt a cute little rescue puppy and they say, “really the dog found me”. Well, that is what happened with this 26′ Silver Dome, it found me. Our Bar Cart was hired to host the VIP lounge at the Avocado Festival in October. A woman came into the lounge and was really impressed with our Bar Cart! Rightfully so, because its amazing. She said her neighbor had a really great trailer on his property that he was trying to get rid of. A couple phone calls and a few days later I had my first visit with the trailer.

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Now that I’m an expert on trailers, obviously, I circled round a couple times, stepped inside twice, noted a few things like the J trim and drip caps, you know, trailer talk, I concluded it was in rough condition. And since the majority of the skin on one side of the trailer had fallen off because the wood had rotted away so badly the screws had nothing left to bite into, it was kind of the only conclusion. BUT! It looked so cool. The shape was amazing, the windows and light covers were all there and its 67 years old… I couldn’t just let it rot there. I’m just not that person. I’m just not that way. I had to take it home.

I tried for days, weeks, to talk myself out of it. I tried to tell my friends to talk me out of it. I think people around me either think, “she must be crazy, she can’t be serious” or “I can say no but you’ll just want it more” because I don’t think anyone really tried to stop me! Yes, even after they saw photos. And that very same 26′ 1941 Silver Dome travel trailer is now in the back yard.

Am I crazy? Very likely. Am I in over my head? Possibly. Am I super excited to turn this sad little puppy into something amazing? ABSOLUTELY!!! I think anything is possible with hard work, the help of family and friends, and of course, Google. Tomorrow demo begins but I promise to take lots of photos before hand… and wear a mask. Wish me luck!

A Lamp Love Affair

Its true… I fall in love with inanimate objects. I can’t help it and I blame my mother. Patterned pillows, plush rugs, vintage settees… but yesterday, mid-century modern brass lamps. It was fate I tell you! We were meant to be..

I was sipping my first cup of coffee on Saturday morning waiting to show a house I have available for rent. Up walk a couple who I now know as amazing, wonderful, creative, fun and possibly my next besties, Alison and Jason of FoundinSB.com.

We hit it off immediately, not just because they are super adorable and charismatic, but because they spoke my language. THEY are DIYers! THEY refinish and sell furniture… FOR A LIVING!! And although it was hard to miss the haul of goodies neatly Tetrised in the bed of their truck, I couldn’t help but ask, “is any of that for sale?”

I managed to keep from drooling at the prospect of going all  “American Pickers” in their truck, and proceeded to show Alison and Jason the quaint little house for rent. Where others saw, just an old home, they saw potential. And when Alison noticed the vintage water pump in the back yard and thought it was “so super cool”… she sealed the deal. Yep. I must know her forever.

Wrapping up our tour I found myself scanning their truck load of treasures. The words, just forming in my brain not even reaching my lips yet, “If you ever come across any…” and WHAMO! There. Right there in the middle of the truck bed. Just what I had been searching for. Brass lamps for my night stand. The hours I spent at Target, Marshalls, and countless online stores. The string of photo texts from my mom at Homegoods and nothing had caught my eye, peaked my interested, I just hadn’t found…the one.

“Are you really willing to sell, those?” I said, my heart beating a little faster. “Sure!” said Alison. “We were recently on a mid-century modern kick” said Jason. Are you kidding me!? Not only does Jason know mid-century modern style but he knows it well enough to be on a “kick”!? Two new life-long friends? Check! Alison tells me the lamps are $20 each – including the shades – and I feel a rush to my head. “Yes! Sold! Let me get my purse!”

One of my favorite bloggers, Mandi from VintageRevivals.com said it best, I have design ADD. And these stunning vintage brass beauties are the starting point of a little design update in my bedroom… I just can’t help it.

   

  

  

Time Flies

So It has been several months since I posted here on our little home blog but it feels like only weeks ago Cole was 6months old. Time is flying by and the boys are growing like weeds! Since my last post, we celebrated Cole’s first birthday, Mason started preschool at Cate School and we recently hosted the Cota Family Christmas party. Everyone knows the best way to finish unfinished projects is to host a party. So out came the power tools in full force to complete a myriad of “to do” items on our list.

One of the MOST exciting projects for me is the fence in the front yard! Although the chain link fence functioned very well to keep in the animals and toddlers from running onto Linden Avenue, I wanted a fence that was functional and looked “cute”. I have that problem – wanting everything to look “cute” – I can’t help it, I am my mother’s daughter and my grandmother’s granddaughter, and I think it may go back even further than that… SO! We found a really cool looking fence that didn’t seem too overwhelming to create. But the most genius part of whole build was utilizing the existing posts that were already in the ground nice and sturdy. All we had to do was build a box that fit like a sleeve over the post, pop in a couple of shims to keep it snug, and boom! We then had nice redwood posts to attach fence panels to. The panels, also redwood, were essentially a frame with mini mat wire sandwiched in between. Once all the panels were in, we added a top rail, post caps and a nice stain to match the front porch. WOW what a change! We are still finalizing the landscape but I know it will look awesome!

Below are photos of some projects in the making, some completed, and some random photos of the kids since they are my most “cute” project of all! Enjoy and happy holiday!

 

Happy 6 Month Birthday to Cole!

6 months old today!

6 months old today!

Six months ago, I was in a helicopter leaving Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara heading to Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles with my baby who was not even 48 hours old. He had been paralyzed for the flight so he wasn’t moving or breathing. My heart was torn apart every time I looked at him just laying there in the middle of the helicopter in a clear box with tubes down his throat and out his chest. The oscillating ventilator that was breathing for him, puffed 400 breaths per minute into his tiny lungs which caused his whole body to vibrated so unnaturally. I had a helmet on but it was still so loud and Cole was just laying there with nothing but a diaper on. I wanted to pick him up cover his ears and hold him close so he wouldn’t be cold. Every now and then one of the three on the transport team would say something about Cole’s heart rate. It was followed by a nod of the head then occasionally one of the various knobs or dials was adjusted. The whole flight was surreal. It was around 6pm and the sunset that evening was beautiful. We flew along the coastline and I saw Carp, the 33, then we were over Westlake and all I could think was, this can’t be happening. Every now and then I sent an update text to David who had left Santa Barbara with my mom to meet us at Children’s Hospital. The transport team said the flight was approximately 45 minutes but I swear we made it there in 20. Before I knew it we were flying over Sunset Blvd and I got a text from David saying, “We see you!” The helicopter landed and I thought thank you God, Cole survived the flight. At that time I had no idea what was to come or how this would play out. All I knew was we survived one hurdle and my baby was strong. He was not giving up and that gave me strength.

Cole’s lungs were not fully developed at the time of his birth. He was working extra hard to breath and in doing so was causing the aveoli in his lungs to tear. The tears lead to an accumulation of air inside his chest cavity which had to be evacuated by surgically inserting small tubes in between his ribs into his chest cavity. A third tube was later inserted due to a large accumulation of air which collapsed his left lung. Cole’s other problem was persistent pulmonary hypertension. This occurs when a newborn’s circulation system does not adapt to breathing outside the womb which causes pressure in the heart; a rare, but life-threatening condition.

It was 25 days from the time of Cole’s birth until he was able to come home and on every single one of those days we felt the love and support of our family and friends. The neonatologist who was with Cole at Children’s Hospital said he had never seen a baby as sick as Cole get well as quickly as he did. With our whole hearts THANK YOU for your prayers, positive thoughts and well wishes. We are truly blessed to have such an amazing support group and we are so thankful to have you all in our lives. Today Cole is strong, happy and healthy