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Working Vacation – Day Seven, A Day of Rest and Reflection

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Today is Sunday, and I am planning to rest (for the most part) and prepare myself mentally for my return to the daily grind tomorrow.  This week off (minus Wednesday) has been very productive for my project but also physically and mentally exhausting.  I have had a series of highs and lows, but overall I’m feeling pretty good about everything I got accomplished this week.  I’m not feeling good about two things though, 1. the electrical system in my camper and 2. the major screw up I caused on the upper edge of the street side siding due to getting carried away with my metal shears.

Yesterday, I had two major meltdowns.  The first one was when I cut the side edge on the street side of the camper too short because I didn’t have any staples along the edge in that spot to guide me and I couldn’t see the edge on the other side of the excess aluminum I was trimming.  cry  I ended up going at an angle too sharp, and cut it about 2 inches too short along a section of about 5 or 6 inches.  I panicked because once I did that, there was no going back.  That piece had to be installed in the exact spot it was in, so I couldn’t move it a little upward to cover my mistake.  I am still not fully recovered and don’t know exactly what I’m going to do to hide my horrible mistake and still keep the camper leak-proof.  I had two of my friends over yesterday to help me, Jennifer and her boyfriend, Ayk.  Ayk finally told me to just get over it because if this was the worst thing that ever happened to me, my life would be pretty good.  haha  I can understand that from his perspective it wasn’t a big deal, but I don’t think he understood just how devastating it was for me at that moment.  I’ve been working so hard on this project and the new skin cost me $1600, not to mention all of the other things I paid a lot for, so to screw it up like that, well, let’s just say I could not “just get over it”.  I’m sure I’ll figure something out, but it’s not going to be perfect like I had envisioned and that makes me angry since the mistake could have been easily avoided.

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This is what I’m talking about. It doesn’t look as bad from here, but even if I fold the roof skin over further to cover it,  it will still be difficult to cover up the seam because it’s too big of a gap for the drip rail to cover unless I move it down an inch and then it won’t be flush with the roof. I may end up doing that anyway, we’ll see.

I’ll get to the second major meltdown shortly, but first I will go through the day’s events in chronological order.  I was planning to get up really early yesterday to finish installing the insulation before my friends came over, but I was so tired and sore yesterday morning that I slept in until 8am.  That still wasn’t too bad, but by the time I went by the tool rental place to pick up the crown stapler and then went to Lowe’s to buy a few more supplies, it was already 10am.  I got to work quickly after that finishing the insulation.  It still took me forever to finish the street side.  My friends showed up around 11:30am, and we moved the camper so that I could hook up the tail lights to my car to see if they all worked.  If you recall, the welder had come over and replaced all of the wiring earlier in the week.  For some reason, he didn’t finish running new wires for the side running lights and the license plate light, but he told me I could use any of the leftover wire and hook it up myself to the hot wire, which was the brown one.  I did that the other day and wanted to test it out.  Well, sure enough, the blinkers and the brake lights worked when I hooked it up but not the running lights.  I was so annoyed because this was the part I hooked up and it wasn’t that difficult so I don’t know how I screwed it up.  I called Oscar (the welder) and he said he would try to stop by later to check it out.  So… I forgot about that for the time being and we got started installing the side skin.

My original plan was the line up the factory roll (bent edge) along the bottom edge of the camper on each side and then trim the top of that piece so that it would fit inside the s-lock seam along the bottom of the top half piece.  We realized after a bit of manoeuvring that it wasn’t going to fit.  The bottom edge of my camper frame was uneven.  The back piece of wood was slightly lower than the front piece on the other side of the wheel well.  This could be my fault but it could also be the way it was made since these campers were far from perfect.  So, I scrapped that plan and we installed the top piece first, then installed the bottom half and I will trim off the lovely factory edge later and add a trim piece.  I’m still trying to figure out what type of trim piece to use.  I could buy a piece of trim from a metal shop, or I was trying to figure out if maybe I could use the factory edge as a trim piece if I cut it just right since it’s already all nice and polished for me.

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All ready for the skin!

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Jennifer and Ayk were kind enough to hold still for a quick photo.

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We used some pieces of wood to hold the piece up after stapling the s-lock to the frame so I could more easily staple around the edges.

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All stapled and ready to trim the door and window! I probably used more staples than I should have because the stupid stapler kept misfiring.

The crown stapler I rented was a pneumatic tool, and I had to play around quite a bit with the air pressure to get it to fire more gently.  Initially the staples were going right through the aluminum!  I ended up having to set the psi on my air compressor at around 30-40 which caused it to misfire a lot, but I finally got it to work without the staples going through the skin every time.  I’m glad the skin was new at least because I would have had less room for error with the old skin.  I’m dreading using it again for the roof, especially since I already messed up the side skins with lots of misfires.  Hopefully it will work a little better now that I’ve had some practice….we’ll see.

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Door and window (upper halves) are cut out!

I am very pleased with the performance of my new electric metal shears from Northern Tool. http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200442137_200442137

They worked extremely well.  I was able to cut clean lines, and I was able to make the cut out for the door perfectly so that I can use it for the external skin on the door frame.  I can’t imagine cutting all of the excess skin with the manual shears!  I guess the one positive to that would be that I wouldn’t have made that mistake of overcutting on the street side.  But it would have taken me at least 3 times as long to do the job!  My neighbor came by a few times and when he saw me using the metal shears, he offered to buy them from me after I’m done with this project.  I don’t think I’ll need them anymore so I’ll probably sell them to him, but I’ll be a little sad to see them go because they are probably the most fun tool I have used yet!

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Bottom half is installed and ready to finish trimming the door.

After finishing the sides, my other neighbor, Rick, decided to come over to see if we needed any more help.  He’s always willing to lend a hand which is really nice for me!  This is Rick in the picture below, standing next to my one long front/roof/rear piece.  Rick and Ayk rolled it up and lifted it onto the roof of the camper, then unrolled it and we got it even on both sides.

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I think it’s kind of cute with the extra skin curling up at the back. It’s like Junebug curled her hair! haha I wish I could leave it but it just wouldn’t be practical.

Right after we set the roof on top of the camper, Oscar and his son showed up to take a look at the tail light wiring.  It wasn’t as convenient to get to now that I had the roof skin laying on top, but we made it work.  He hooked up his tester to see which lights were working and sure enough, the running lights weren’t working and everything else was.  It turned out that the brown wire wasn’t working at all initially. I didn’t think about it at the time, but when I put the side skin on, I covered up the two side running light wires and they were touching the aluminum.  This normally wouldn’t be a problem because I was planning to drill little holes in the skin and install the tail lights later before ever hooking it up to a power source.  Oscar didn’t realize I had done this at first, and he hooked up the tail lights to his tester.  While he was doing this, I went around to the front to put some self tapping screws along the base of the front so my roof would stay in place.  I’ll secure it all the way later.  While I was screwing in one of the screws, I got quite a shock!  This is about the time we realized that the side light wires were touching the aluminum underneath.  Luckily, it’s a low voltage current or I would have been in trouble!  I then had to figure out where exactly the stupid running lights were under the skin.  I should have marked it before stapling it down!  Luckily, I was able to dig out the old siding and put it up against the sides so I could drill a new hole.  After I did this, Oscar hooked the wires up to his tester again.  The wires started melting!  eek  We couldn’t figure out what had happened that time since it didn’t look like any of the wires were touching the aluminum.  Finally, Oscar decided he needed to run new wires to the side lights because the other ones had melted beyond repair.  At this point, I was super stressed and told him I didn’t care anymore if the side lights worked.  They weren’t working before!  He argued with me and said after all this work, I needed to have all of the lights working.  He wanted me to remove the side skin a bit so he could get to the light but I said no, I wasn’t about to undo the staples I put in.  It was quite an ordeal getting the stapler to work in the first place!  We finally reached a compromise and I pulled out a couple of staples so he could fish a new wire to the light. At this point, I figured he had fixed it, but NO!  He hooked up the wires again and all of a sudden I see smoke and the wires connected to his tester machine are melting!!  I screamed and he said to unplug it, so like an idiot, I grabbed the tail light plug and unplugged it.  I had to rip off my glove because it was so hot and had started melting into my glove.  My tail light plug and his were both ruined.  My neighbor got onto me and said I should have unplugged the machine, not the part that was melting.  I know it was dumb, but I didn’t even see the plug to the machine and just wanted the melting to stop!!  As you have probably figured out, this was meltdown number 2 (quite literally)!  Ultimately, Oscar got everything working again and said he would rewire a new plug onto my camper.  We then tested my vehicle plug and wouldn’t you know, the stupid brown wire (for the running lights) wasn’t working in it. ugh  So, the saga continues…

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Here’s Oscar and his son, along with my neighbor Rick, trying to figure out how to fish some new wire behind the skin to go to the side running light.

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Here’s a picture of the melted wire. There used to be a black plastic protective sheath around the wire and here you can see it’s been completely melted away, along with part of the wires as well! The burning smell is still noticeable.

This whole wiring debacle has me second guessing whether I should be running all of the new electrical wires in the camper myself.  I already installed the wires and was worried that somewhere in the holes I drilled, there could be a tip of a staple or twist nail sticking out.  I closely inspected all of the holes in each beam before fishing the wires through, but I’m still uncomfortable.  I may wait to secure the roof until I can put something else inside the holes to further protect the wires.  There’s not much room for anything else, but I am thinking maybe I can slide something thin inside there, maybe a really thin plastic sheath or some sort of material that can protect the wires.  I am not planning to put anymore staples/screws/nails into the ceiling, so that should protect the wires.  I will also likely get a professional to come inspect my wiring set up before I plug it into a power source, just to be absolutely sure it’s correct.  A 30 amp power system is capable of melting more than just a few wires!

After Oscar left, I finished the cut out for the door and finished screwing in the screws at the base of the front of the camper so my roof would stay aligned.  That was about all I had the energy left to do.  Ayk had to leave, so Jennifer stayed and helped me clean up the huge mess we had made.  There were metal pieces everywhere!

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Here’s a picture of Jen helping clean up and all of the old skins laying outside since I had to dig a few of them out through the day to use as templates.

So, overall my week has been fairly good, and yesterday was quite eventful as you can see.   I am planning to watch Larry’s videos again at www.cannedhamtrailers.com  on how to secure the roof so that hopefully I won’t screw anything else up.  I’m also going to have to ask him for advice on how to cover up the spot where I messed up.  I hope someone can help me come up with a creative solution!

 

I’ll leave you with the same photo I posted last night since this is the current state of Junebug.  There is still a protective film on the aluminum to protect it from scratches.  I peeled it back a little so that you can see how shiny it’s going to be.  I’m going to wait until it’s all installed though before I remove it completely since it helps to protect it from the elements.  It’s going to look so good when I’m finished, but at the rate I’m going, it sometimes feels like I’m never going to get there!

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I’m about to go outside to trim the excess from the rear so that it’s not sticking out from under the tarp all week.  I’m not sure if I have the energy to do anything more than that on Junebug today.  I don’t think I’m going to reach my goal of finishing by the end of this month but oh well.  I don’t want to rush anything again and make another big mistake.  I hope everyone had a nice weekend, and I’ll see you next week!

 

 

 

Working Vacation – Day Six

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I’m too tired to write a post tonight.  It was a REALLY long day.  I didn’t finish putting the skin on in one day.  I think maybe I was a little delusional thinking I could finish in one day.  I did get pretty close though!  I just thought I’d write a quick note to say I’m still alive (although I did get a pretty good shock from the tail light wires today).  I will write the full update tomorrow once I’ve had some rest.

 

Here’s a sneak peek at today’s progress smile emoticon

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Working Vacation – Day Five

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This is the most exhausting vacation I’ve ever had.  But, I’m having fun, so that’s all that matters.  Well…at least most of the time anyway.

Today was a good day.  Except the part where I realized I made the frame the wrong size for my Fantastic Vent because I didn’t read the directions.  I swear, this project is turning me into a guy more and more each day. hahaha (just kidding guys)

I had two random people stop by while out for their evening walk to see what I was doing and tell me it was looking good.  That made me happy.  Both of my neighbors also stopped by multiple times today and the mailman is even friendlier.  I think one of the best things about this project is how much of a conversation starter it is.  I just love how it makes others around me curious, and then I end up talking to people I wouldn’t have otherwise.  Especially my neighbors, we are definitely a lot closer as a result of this project.  I think that’s pretty cool.  smile emoticon

 

I almost finished everything on my list today.   I still have to finish installing insulation on the street side and part of the rear.  The insulation took longer than I expected due to all of the trimming required.  I made quite a mess too, and it looked like it had snowed a beautiful layer of styrofoam all over my driveway.  haha

The first thing I did was finish the tail light wiring.  I had to do quite a few splices in the “hot” wire so that it connected with the side running lights and the license plate light.  The hot wire is supposed to be brown, according to the industry standard, but I didn’t have any more brown wire, so I had to make do with the leftover green wire.  It should still work.  I didn’t test it out yet, but I will do that tomorrow before installing all the skin.   Fingers crossed it works!  I have to turn the camper around in my driveway and temporarily install all the tail lights, then hook it up to my car to test.  I don’t have a little external tester, so this is the only way.  Kind of inconvenient but oh well.

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Before

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After many splices, it’s all connected!

 

Next, I started in on the wiring.  For a short period.  Until I realized that I had better fix the frame that I didn’t measure correctly.  In my last post, I mentioned that I thought the Fantastic Vent stuck up too high.  Well, once I actually read the directions, I realized that the interior piece is supposed to be trimmed to size, so it’s not supposed to stick up that high.  And it’s narrower, so I had to take apart my frame for the vent and start over.  Now, it should work!

After repairing my mistake, I got back to the wiring.  I started with the fridge plug, and worked my way backward.  Oh, and I decided to scrap the idea of using a 15 gallon fresh water tank.  I will sell the tank and just use a 7 gallon drum under my sink whenever shore water is not available.  That will be much easier and free up the space under the bed for my new “power chord” as someone on my favorite forum, Vintage Trailer Talk, called it.  The power chord will have the new breaker box as well as a couple of junction boxes that lead to my various electrical outlets and lights.  I’m installing an external plug on the front of the camper with its own dedicated circuit breaker for the AC to plug into.  This way I will only need one plug when camping.  I had initially thought I would plug in the AC to a separate outlet, but just in case that’s not an option, this will also work.  I’m also upgrading my electrical system to 30 amp and installing new outlets near all of the light fixtures so that I don’t have to use the outlet attached to the fixture.  I think this will work better.

Here’s what the kitchen fixture looked like when I took it apart today.  It’s kind of rusty and the wires don’t look too great.  I might try to replace the wires attached to the fixture if I can. I will also clean up all of the rust inside before I reinstall it.

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It was a pain in the butt drilling holes in all of the support beams in order to thread my electrical wires through all of them.  My arms got so tired and I was worried the whole time that I would accidentally drill a hole through my ceiling panel.  Luckily that did not happen.  Once I started drilling the holes, I realized that I might poke a twist nail into the hole and puncture one of my wires when I installed the trim inside the camper, so I decided I had better install all of the trim first, then finish with the wiring.

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And here’s a pic of all of the wiring threaded through the holes and going to the locations where I’ll install new outlets or to existing fixtures!  I will finish wiring everything later, once the skin is on.  You’ll notice that the color of the wire is yellow.  This is because I upgraded all of the wires to 12 gauge.  The old wiring was only 14 gauge, which is fine for lights and outlets, but it needs to be 12 gauge since I’m upgrading to 30 amp.

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I didn’t like the idea of my wires running down the sides of the camper, so I kept them to the roof, front, and rear only. Both circuits are entering the camper on the bottom left, which leads to where I will be installing the power chord.

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The black and white wire is for the Fantastic Vent, which is 12 volt. Eventually, I plan to set up my system to have a 12 volt battery that charges either from my tow vehicle while driving or while I”m plugged into shore power. In the meantime, I’m running these wires to the nearest outlet and will attach a 12v plug to the other end. I am planning to buy a converter that will plug into a normal outlet as well as the 12v plug, then convert the 120v power to 12v. This will allow me to use my Fantastic Vent without damaging it.

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Pic of the front of the camper with the new wires installed. One is going to the fixture and then a second coming from the fixture to the outlet for the fridge. There is also another separate wire leading to the base of the camper where I will be installing an external plug for the AC.

This task took me most of the day.  The last thing I accomplished today was to install most of the insulation.  It wasn’t that difficult to do, but it was time consuming, and also a bit frustrating where there were wires because the rigid foam insulation wouldn’t lay down flat.  I also bought Reflectix bubble insulation for the really curvy parts of the roof.  Glad I did, they were much easier to install thanks to the flexibility of the material.  I just have the street side and part of the rear to complete tomorrow and then the skin can go on!  IMG_4715IMG_4716

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I have to get up early tomorrow because my helpers are coming over around 10:30am and I still have to finish up the insulation as well as run by Aztec Rentals to pick up my pneumatic stapler and then to Lowe’s to pick up some additional staples and tape for the insulation.

The new skin is unrolled in my living room at the moment…well the sides anyway.  I thought it would be a good idea to unroll them so they would flatten out a bit.  This is just the backside.  I took a peek under the protective film on the front side, and it was so shiny!  I’m excited about how nice it’s going to look!  Hopefully I can write again tomorrow with some beautiful pictures of the new skin!  biggrin

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Working Vacation – Day Four

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Fortunately, today went pretty well and I got a lot accomplished.  smile

Here’s an updated list based on the one I posted yesterday:

  • Done – Install one more piece of wood along the bottom rear of Junebug for skin to attach to, will need to modify slightly from original design due to the steel beams sticking out of the back for the bumper.
  • Done – Paint undercarriage with black fence post paint after spraying some sealant on the seam of the metal flashing along the rear undercarriage (just to be extra sure it’ll stay dry).
  • Almost Done – Finish building a new frame and support beam for the roof vent and install.
  • Tomorrow – Run new 12 gauge wires along roof to receptacles and relocate breaker box to spot under the bed and exterior power inlet to a lower spot on the street side of Junebug.  (Need to order the new plug and power box, but I can buy the wires for now and get those in before the skin)
  • Tomorrow – Finish running the wiring for the running lights and license plate light and hook up to car to test.
  • Tomorrow – Purchase rigid foam insulation and install.

I started today by going to Lowes and Home Depot to buy electrical wiring and other supplies.  I went ahead and bought some Reflectix radiant barrier insulation while I was there to cover the really curvy parts of the ceiling.  I’ll go back tomorrow to get the rigid foam insulation.  I’m going to have to cut it because it won’t fit in my Tiguan otherwise.  While I was at the store, the freight company called to say they’d be at my house at 12pm.  Huh?  They were supposed to show up between 3-6pm!  I told the guy that I could only get a helper between 3-6pm, but he assured me that he would help me unload the two boxes.

He showed up about 12:30pm, and he was true to his word, he helped me unload the boxes and even opened them so I could inspect everything.   Everything looked good for the most part.  There was one spot that was damaged. but I decided it was a tolerable dent and I certainly didn’t want to send it back so I went ahead and signed for it.  I was able to drag the boxes into my kitchen for now since my garage is full.  smile

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New siding! This is the back of it, so it doesn’t look as shiny on this side.

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Here’s the dent that is in the side pieces. Not sure if it is affecting the other pieces underneath or just this one. I’ll find out when I unroll them. It is right next to the part that goes up inside the s-lock seam and toward the end of the roll, so I’m hoping maybe I can hide it somehow.

After my siding arrived, I resumed working on adding some additional pieces of wood to the rear so that I could attach the siding to it.  I don’t think I did this perfectly thanks to the steel beams in the way, but it should work anyway.  As you can see from the picture below, I will have to cut some slots into the siding to get it to curve around the steel beams.  I have to do the same thing in the front, so hopefully it will still look good when I’m done and seal properly.

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Next, I got out the fence post paint.  This stuff really does look and smell like asphalt, gross! IMG_4696

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Here’s the undercarriage before. There are a LOT of spiders under here. It’s a wonder I didn’t get bitten…that I know of.

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Undercarriage after. As you can see, I missed a few spots. I was using a roller and it was hard to get all the corner areas. I will go back in later and finish it up.

I also applied some fence post paint to the wood along the bottom all around the camper for added protection against water damage.
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After I finished this task, I was covered in fencepost paint spots.  Later, I had to scrub off the top layer of skin to get it off!  That stuff is messy.

My last project of the day was the make a frame to go around the Fantastic Vent.  I made a frame, but I didn’t realize that the vent sticks up quite a bit higher than the old vent, so I will need to add another layer of wood.  I’m kind of worried that it sticks up too high and will make my skin look lopsided.  With the top part of the vent on, it sticks up a full 7/8″ higher than the cross beams.  I’m sure this is to ensure the water runs off and doesn’t collect causing a leak, but that seems excessive.  I guess I’ll see how it looks when the skin is on, hopefully it won’t be as bad as I think.

 

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Roof pic before putting the actual vent in. This is just the piece that goes inside the camper and connects with the vent on top.

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The view of the insert piece from the interior.

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I haven’t installed it yet, but this is what it will look like on the interior.

I’m happy with how the Fantastic Vent looks inside.  I am glad I got the translucent lid instead of opaque.  It’s nice to have a little sky light!

I was so exhausted after getting the things above done that I called it a day.  Tomorrow, I will run the new wires for the lights/outlets, finish connecting the tail light wiring for the side running lights, and install the insulation.  I also have to add a few more pieces to the frame around the vent and one more piece to the front of the camper frame.  Hopefully it all goes well and I will be ready to install the skin on Saturday!  I’m a little nervous about the skin because based on my past experience, everything is always harder than I thought it would be so this will probably be no different.  Oh well, I will give it my all and hope for the best!  That’s all anyone can do in life anyway.

Stayed tuned to see if I got everything on my list accomplished tomorrow!  cool

Working Vacation – Day Three

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Today was the one day this week that I had to go to my actual job that pays my bills, so I couldn’t work on Junebug.  Luckily that’s over now and I can get back to the fun stuff.  smile emoticon

I decided to make a list of everything I need to do before I put the new skin on Junebug.  I have other projects that I would probably rather work on, but I need to prioritize.  The skin is supposed to arrive tomorrow between 3 and 6pm, according to the freight shipping company.  When I posted my complaints about dealing with the shipping company on http://vintagetrailertalk.freeforums.net/ it was funny how many others had similar experiences.  Apparently, freight shipping companies really hate customers like me who order heavy items to be delivered to my residential address.  I called my friend Jennifer to come over tomorrow during that window to help me unload the boxes.  They will each be 11 feet long, not sure how wide, and weigh about 100 pounds each.  My AC unit that I got for Junebug weighs 50 lbs and I can lift it no problem, so I am pretty sure we can lift those boxes.  Fingers crossed!

To give you an idea of the exterior look that I’ll be going for on Junebug, here’s a picture of another camper with a similar design.  I would like to keep the top half silver as well and paint the bottom half a lavender color.  I still haven’t decided on the stripe, I thought about doing the white stripe like the pic below, but I also thought a light green stripe would be fun.  It would definitely give it a different look with the green stripe.

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Here’s the list of things I need to accomplish before Saturday, when I have three friends coming over to help me put the skin on.

  • Run new 12 gauge wires along roof to receptacles and relocate breaker box to spot under the bed and exterior power inlet to a lower spot on the street side of Junebug.  (Need to order the new plug and power box, but I can buy the wires for now and get those in before the skin)
  • Install one more piece of wood along the bottom rear of Junebug for skin to attach to, will need to modify slightly from original design due to the steel beams sticking out of the back for the bumper.
  • Finish running the wiring for the running lights and license plate light and hook up to car to test.
  • Paint undercarriage with black fence post paint after spraying some sealant on the seam of the metal flashing along the rear undercarriage (just to be extra sure it’ll stay dry).
  • Finish building a new frame and support beam for the roof vent and install.
  • Purchase rigid foam insulation and install (I’ll do this last on this list).

And a list of things left to do that can be done after the skin is on:

  • Finish upgrading the electrical system to 30 amp once parts are in:  Install new power box, update circuit breakers, install new 30 amp plug for power inlet, etc
  • Add finishing trim along seams in the paneling as well as trim around kitchen countertop and backsplash.
  • Finish building new frame for bed and benches, apply shellac, and install.
  • Modify old cushions to fit new layout
  • Install air vents in the appropriate locations for the new AC.
  • Finish cleaning all windows and polish the aluminum.
  • Strip old paint off of door hardware, window eyebrows, and j-rail.
  • Re-install windows with new putty tape and stainless steel screws as well as j-rail and eyebrows.
  • Install Fantastic Vent in roof and seal.
  • Apply shellac to the interior of the new door and add new skin to exterior of door, then install.
  • Repeat same process for the baggage door.
  • Finish painting closet/bathroom purple.
  • Add finishing touches on interior like hanging curtains, pictures, add bedding, etc.
  • Hopefully finish by end of July so I can take Junebug to my grandma’s house to show my family.
  • Have unveiling party for Junebug and invite all of my friends and family who wonder where I’ve been all this time and are starting to worry about my obsession.
  • Go to first vintage camper rally in September!

So, I still have a lot left to do, but I think I can do multiple things on the list in one day, so hopefully I can make good progress over the next few weeks.  I had better get to work studying electrical circuits tonight since I am now going to be doing that project myself too.  Thank goodness for the internet!

 

Working Vacation – Day Two

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I almost didn’t post an update today because it was such a disaster.  But then I thought, maybe it would make me feel better to air my frustrations about today so I can move on from it and start fresh tomorrow.  So..here I go.

First thing..  the electrician was supposed to arrive at 8am this morning.  I am on vacation, and I didn’t want to get up too early, so I hit snooze a few times, then finally rolled out of bed around 7:45am.  I figured that would give me time to get dressed and take the covers off of Junebug to show the electrician…or NOT.  As soon as I rolled out of bed, the doorbell rang.  Normally being early is a good thing but not at 7:45am!!  I had to tell him to hang on so I could get dressed.  Then, when I walked outside, he apologized for waking me up and made a joke about how I woke up with makeup on.  I told him that I wasn’t wearing any makeup, and he said he knew that.  It was obvious that I wasn’t wearing makeup (which I rarely do around others because I feel weird and naked haha), so I’m not sure how in the world that was supposed to be funny, and it felt like an insult.  So, the day was already off to a bad start.  I then proceeded to remove the covers from Junebug to show him what I had been doing and what I needed done.  I basically told him I just wanted him to run some wiring and install a new plug for my mini fridge in the kitchenette.  He hesitated and took quite a bit of time inspecting the whole camper, not saying a word.  Then he asked, “what are you going to put around the outside of the camper?”  Geez.  He obviously doesn’t know a thing about campers, which he admitted openly.  The way vintage campers were wired was around the outside of the wall panels, through the support beams, yet underneath the insulation and aluminum outer skin.  He didn’t like this setup AT ALL.  He said that if it was his camper, he would rewire the whole thing and put all the wires on the interior.  ugh  I was quite frustrated at this point and told him that wasn’t an option.  He said I should do some research.  I told him I had already done my research.  Then he told me he couldn’t do the job and left.  I felt pretty deflated.  This just might stand in the way of finishing the camper by the end of July.  One positive was that he came and went pretty quickly, so it didn’t interfere with my trip to the zoo with my sweet cousin, Anderson.

Here we are in front of the giant tarantula.  We both had a great time despite the 100 degree heat so at least this was a bright spot in my otherwise crappy day.

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After we were done at the zoo, I dropped Anderson off at home and decided to head over to RV Masters to ask them about my electrical issue.  They were very nice and even quite impressed with what I had done so far on the camper.  In fact, they offered me a job. hahaha  I guess at least I have that as a backup in case I get tired of HR.  They told me that all I needed to do was run a “piggy back” wire off the kitchen light fixture to the new outlet for the fridge.  Since that would only be two lights and three outlets on the same circuit, it shouldn’t overload it and trip it.  I will probably need to update the circuit breaker and plug with new ones as well as replace the wires with new wiring just to be on the safe side.  So, I changed my mind and decided that maybe I could do this job myself too.

When I got home, I felt a bit better, but I was pretty exhausted and wasn’t sure I could tackle that project today.  I decided to do some reading online about electrical circuits instead.

In the meantime, I thought about the fact that I hadn’t heard from the shipping company to schedule a time to deliver the new skin yet.  I decided to call Hemet Valley RV for an update.  They gave me the shipping company’s number and I called them.  Long story short, I got transferred a few times and then spoke to someone in Houston who was completely surprised that it was  residential delivery even though the order was supposed to indicate that it was based on the order I placed with Hemet.  She gave me a really hard time and said her driver wasn’t lifting anything.  Once again, I was disappointed and stressed because I wondered how am I supposed to lift two 100 pound boxes myself?  I called Hemet again, and he assured me that with a helper, we could move the boxes ourselves.  So I guess that problem is solved, I’ve enlisted the help of my friend, Jennifer, to come over when they arrive to help unload.  I’m still a little nervous about it though, those boxes will be big and bulky and not exactly lightweight.  Guess I will find out soon enough!  They were supposed to call me back today to schedule the delivery and they didn’t.  Big. Surprise.  Hopefully I’ll hear from them tomorrow while I’m at work, or they’ll be hearing from me!

I later decided I would try to clean the windows since that’s something that will need to be done eventually.  I started on the project, then decided I needed a tasty beverage because it was so hot outside.  My blender was dirty in the sink, so I started washing it to get it ready to make another frozen treat.  I realize that the blades on my Ninja blender are really sharp because I cut myself once before.  I must have gotten careless today because the next thing I knew, I had sliced my thumb open!  It was cut so deep it was purple.  Ouch!  After that, I gave up on the window cleaning.  The last thing I need is some 50 year old grime in my fresh cut.  Now, if I could just get the cut to stop bleeding four hours later, I would be in good shape.  I do not want to go to the doctor for a silly cut from trying to make myself a frozen drink!

So… now you can see why my day was not the best day ever.  I have to work tomorrow, but then Thursday I will be back at it again.  Hopefully it will go better than today.  It’s probably best for me to be working tomorrow anyway so that I’m forced into taking a break and can truly start fresh on Thursday.  I know that all of these problems are first world problems and I should think of the much bigger problems that some people have to put things into perspective.  I think I will remind myself of all the reasons I have to feel grateful tonight rather than wallowing in my sorrows about today.  Ok, it’s true, writing this post made me feel better.  Good night all and I will be back on Thursday. smile

Working Vacation – Day One

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So, I decided to take this week off work (well almost all of the week, I have a meeting on Wednesday that I couldn’t reschedule).  Most people would go to the beach or relax somewhere nice with their feet up, but not me, I must admit that my little addiction means I plan to spend my entire vacation working on Junebug. lol   I know, I’m hopeless.  I swear I will relax and go camping once I am done with this project!  I like a challenge, and my new goal is to finish Junebug (or get as close as possible) by the last week of July (i.e. two weeks from now eek).  My family is coming down to my grandma’s in Austin to visit, and I would love to take Junebug to her house again to show how changed she is!

Early last week, I called Steve at Hemet Valley RV and ordered my new pre-polished aluminum siding for Junebug.  I sent him the “lovely” drawing below to help explain my order.  I think it’s pretty clear that my sketching abilities are rudimentary at best. haha

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In order the measure the size of the roof/rear/front of Junebug, I actually tied a piece of twine to the tongue and then threw the rest over the top of the camper until it fell on the other side.  After that, I removed the twine and measured how long it was.  I don’t know if this was the best method, but it was sure a lot easier than trying to use the measuring tape!  IMG_4640

 

After discussing the sizes I needed with Steve for a few minutes, we settled on one long piece with factory seams to cover the roof, rear, and front of the camper that would be 84″ wide by 24′ long.  He wanted it to be 24′ feet long vs 20′ feet long since that would probably be cutting it too close and it comes in 4′ pieces.  I will also be getting four side pieces, two for each side.  Each will be 10′ long and 4′ tall, with the bottom piece already bent at the bottom so I can easily fit it to the bottom of the sides.  The top piece will have an S lock seam in it so that it will easily slide into the bottom piece, creating a water-tight seal.  I figured it would take a few weeks for me to get my siding, but Steve told me that it should arrive by this Thursday, July 10th!  I was so pleasantly surprised that it would be ready and shipped so quickly!  I have already enlisted the help of three friends next weekend to help me put it on Junebug in exchange for beer, food, and swimming in the pool after.  smile  I can’t wait!

In preparation for the new skin, I decided I had better look into what type of aluminum shears I should get.  I already have a multi-purpose hand-held set, but they don’t really work that well, so I wanted something better.  Today, I decided to buy a pair of electric metal shears from Northern Tool.  I tried them on my stainless steel backsplash, which is harder to cut than aluminum, and they worked great!  I am hoping they will make cutting the aluminum siding a cinch.

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My pool party for the 4th of July went well.  I was slightly hungover on Saturday, but that didn’t stop me from getting a few things done on Junebug after cleaning up the mess in my house.

I decided that I wanted to put a bit of metal flashing around the rear to add some protection from water that might get under the skin while driving on wet roads.  I thought the old siding would be put to good use for this purpose!

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piece of old siding before cutting a section off

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After attaching the aluminum and adding a piece of wood for extra support. Still not finished though..


I still need to add another piece of wood across the rear for the siding to attach to.  I’m trying to figure out the best way to do this since the new steel beams are in the way of attaching a piece of wood all the way across.  I may have to attach some pieces in sections.  I’m also planning to put some sealant around the flashing where it meets the wood.  I will be painting the undercarriage with Black Beauty Fence Post Paint as well.  I just picked up a huge 5 gallon drum of it from Home Depot.  I wanted less, but apparently they don’t sell it in smaller quantities.  If anyone wants some fence post paint, you know who to call!

I had the same welder I hired a while ago come back to help me fix the taillight wiring.  Initially, he was just going to help me prepare to connect the taillights again once the skin is on, but upon closer inspection, he thought it would be best to replace the wiring.  I thought that was probably a good idea seeing as how it was pretty old.  He added all new wiring and took some measurements and is planning to come back again soon to attach the bumper, repair my propane tank holder, and add a spare tire mount to the propane tank holder.  All of that is going to cost me $300 which is more than I wanted to spend, but I figured I might as well just get it done now and not have to worry about it later.

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New wiring – all different colors than the old wiring. Not sure if the colors have changed over time, or if the Shasta factory didn’t care. I’m guessing the latter based on experience…



It started raining later on Saturday, so I changed course and started building a drawer to go under the bed.  I used some pieces of pine for the frame then attached leftover pieces of birch as the bottom, sides, and front.  It’s a good sized drawer, it measures 35″ wide x 24″ deep, x 10″ tall.  I thought it would be easier to access than lifting up the bed to get things. IMG_4644
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IMG_4648 I screwed in the first drawer face, and then this one is going to be glued to the other face so that no screws are showing.

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I was able to use a leftover piece of birch that already had shellac applied to it so it made my life a little easier.  The drawer pull is from Anthropologie, they have the best hardware!

Yesterday, I finally got the drain installed in the floor and sealed properly.  I attached a water hose attachment underneath, just to divert the water so that it wasn’t too close to the subfloor.  Now that I finally finished that task, I could install the final piece of paneling on the front wall. smile emoticon

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Newly installed final panel.  I hadn’t added the cross beam on the bottom yet in the pic below, but you get the idea.

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Next, I added some pieces of wood to hold the tail light wires as well as add something for the tail lights to screw into.  I wanted to put them slightly higher, but the welder didn’t leave me enough wires to reach that far.  Hopefully this will still look ok.   I lost a bit of time today because I had to redo the window framing.  It wasn’t quite the right size the way I had screwed it in before.  Oh well, this just means it will be less frustrating when I get ready to re-install the windows later. In the pic below, I have run the tail light wires to the support boards, but I still need to run an extra piece to lead to the license plate light as well as the side running lights.  Luckily, my welder taught me that the brown wire is the “hot wire”, i.e. the one I need to connect the running and plate lights to. smileIMG_4665

After finishing this task, I decided it was time to finish laminating the last remaining pieces of wood that I needed to install for the countertop around the stove as well as the pieces for the sliding doors above the kitchen.

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Laminate is cut and ready for contact cement.

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Contact cement is on!

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After 20 minutes, I attached the laminate and applied pressure. I will wait a day before using the router to trim the edges.

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Today, I used the router to trim the edges and then added the cute owl hardware I picked up at Anthropologie. I think they turned out pretty nice!

 

Today, I finished up the drawer project.  I added some pieces of wood under the drawer to keep it aligned and make sure it is supported once it is full of stuff. IMG_4680

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In this pic, you can see the additional pieces of countertop I added today now that the laminate has been applied.

I also attached the stainless steel backsplash with contact cement.  All it needs now is some trim and it will be ready to go!  In the picture below, you can also see how the new sliding doors look in the cabinet.  IMG_4672

And here’s how the drawer will look under the bed.  Obviously I still need to add the benches, etc. but this gives you an idea.

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Tomorrow, I have an electrician coming over at 8am to look at the wiring in the camper and add an outlet for my mini fridge.  Hopefully it won’t take him very long because I have an important date to take my 5 year old cousin to the zoo at 10am.  I will resume my restoration activities in the afternoon once we are done looking at the giant bugs at the zoo. biggrin

Stay tuned for day two updates tomorrow….



 

Third Time’s a Charm!

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Plumbing is apparently not one of my fortes.   After installing the PEX pipe and then replacing the faucet with a brand new “vintage style” faucet, my fitting was still leaking!  If you want to laugh at my many failed attempts, you can watch the video below.  I just about gave up on this endeavor […]

Plumbing and Other Disasters…

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This weekend, my main challenge was plumbing.  I knew I hated the idea of plumbing, but now I know for SURE that I hate plumbing.  Of course, I like to have the use of functioning plumbing in my house and hopefully my camper, however I don’t want to be the one who has to actually install it.  I forged ahead with this task despite my fears and had a frustrating weekend, but in the end, I got most of the plumbing hooked up.  (note that I said most and not all, ugh)

I decided to start with a little video of my various trials with PEX pipe and my leaky faucet.

Ultimately, I decided to order a new vintage-style faucet: http://www.vintagecampers.com/viewpart.php?partID=777.  It’s very similar to the old one although not identical.  The best part is that it won’t leak (I hope).

In addition to plumbing, I also finished the countertop this weekend.  I was supposed to order a slot cutter for my router to cut the groove into the side of the counter for the trim, but it was going to cost me $50 so I decided to try cutting the groove with my oscillating tool instead.  It probably took a lot longer, but it actually worked!

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First, I measured and drew a line where I needed the groove to be cut.

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This is after I cut the groove. It isn’t perfect, but luckily you can’t tell now that I’ve attached the trim.

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I cut the end of the trim and then bent it slightly around the corner to give it a rounded corner.

I had a difficult time cutting the trim.  I didn’t have the proper tool and used my aluminum shears instead.  It took a lot of tries and some elbow grease before I finally got it to cut through.

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This is what it looked like after a few attempts. I had to press and then wiggle the shears from side to side to get it to finally cut through.

Next, I installed the city water connection.  I decided to use an existing hole that was already cut in the floor under the sink, thinking that would be out of sight yet still easy to reach.  Wrong!  rolleyes Once I got it installed and tried to screw the water hose into it, I came to the annoying realization that the beam under it was so close that I couldn’t really get the water hose into the tight space.  I later decided to move it to a more accessible spot still in the floor under the sink.  I’ll be using the previous hole for the sink drain so at least it’s still getting used.

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Original spot where I put the water fill. Bad idea.

After the disaster cutting the PEX pipe the wrong size on Saturday, I got to work today trying to get it right.

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I measured the PEX pipe and marked it, then cut it with the PVC cutters you see here.

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Next I measured the end that goes into the push fitting to 7/8″ since the diameter of the fitting is 1/2″. This is how far it should go into the fitting.

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This is the hand pump faucet after attaching the first fitting. I wrapped it in plumber’s tape to ensure a tight seal.

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This is after I attached the second fitting. You can see that the end is now ready for the PEX pipe to be inserted.

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And both faucets are hooked up! The city water faucet is there for now until my new one comes in the mail. I will switch them out when it arrives.

I started working with the fresh water tank, and after realizing I was going to need several more PEX pipe fittings as well as some sort of adapter for the water fill inlet, I gave up on that for today.  I can only take so much plumbing in one weekend!

Instead of finishing the plumbing job, I decided to work on altering the cabinet to fit my new mini fridge.  I looked and looked and couldn’t seem to find a mini fridge that was the right size for the original opening.  I probably could have found one eventually, but I really didn’t want to spend more than $100, so I figured the best option was to go with the standard size which is 18″ wide.  Since my cabinet opening was only 16 1/2″ wide, I had to make some adjustments.

After a bit of sawing with my jigsaw, I finally got it to fit!  I ended up having the remove one piece completely, hopefully it doesn’t compromise the strength of the cabinet.  I checked and there are several other places where there are plenty of reinforcing pieces, so it should be ok.  I also installed the sink with some sealant, so it’s definitely getting closer to the final product!

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I had to build these little legs to go under the fridge. I will secure them to the floor and I think the easiest thing to do with the fridge is to tie it to the base with some sort of strap or rope.

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Here’s a good view of the trim.

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It fits!

I’m thinking about painting the fridge or covering it with a wrap.  I also might remove the old knob from the original ice box and glue it to this fridge to make it look more retro.

 

The last thing I got done today was to install the shelf I made for the rear wall.  I also reattached the light fixture, although it’s not fully hooked up yet.  I’m going to call my electrician to come finish the wiring since I want to add another plug for the fridge.  I just want to be sure it’s done right.

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Since it was raining a bit today, I didn’t remove the tarp completely in case you’re wondering what the blue stuff is in the window.

It was so hot today that I felt really exhausted at about 5pm, so I called it quits.  I will resume my work next weekend!  Hopefully my new faucet will arrive quickly so I can install it and test it out. I am so ready to be done with the plumbing part of this project, that’s for sure.  Until next time…

 

 

Purple!

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Did I mention I love purple?  hehe  I couldn’t think of a good title for this post, so I figured I would just go with purple because it makes me happy.  smile

I made a lot of progress today, but overall this weekend, I didn’t get quite as much done as I thought I might.  Luckily, I made up for it today for the most part.

On Friday, I tried to get some things done, but it kept raining and messing up my productivity.  I did manage to seal the tiles and put three coats of polish on them to prevent staining.  I will add a few more coats once I’m a little further along.  I also started to rebuild the door on Friday.  I can’t finish it until the new skin arrives, but I can at least get it ready for the skin.  I will need to do the same with the baggage door.

 

 

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This is a picture of the door before I removed the metal frame, hinges, and other hardware. Pretty nasty!

 

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Here’s the inside of the door. I noticed that the wood along the bottom of the frame is totally rotted. It also didn’t have any insulation inside! I will be adding insulation to it before putting the new skin on.

 

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And here’s the new birch plywood with frame pieces glued down. I’ll add some twist nails to provide more support later and then shellac the other side.

After that, I decided to try out my new metal polish on one of the window trim pieces.  It works pretty well but I’m still not sure if it’s any better than just using Windex or something similar.  The bulk of the work was done with my steel brush to get the old paint and grime off.

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This is the brand of polish I got from Home Depot.

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Before

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After (this was after lots of scraping with the steel brush, it sounds like scratching on a chalkboard, not enjoyable!)

 

On Saturday, I did a bit of shopping and then went to my cousin’s house for her son’s 5th birthday party.  I didn’t get anything done on Junebug that day unless you count the cute drawer pulls I picked up from Anthropologie that I will be adding to Junebug’s cabinets.

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The owls are for the cabinet above the kitchenette and the sparkly one is for the little door that I’m going to build for underneath the bed.

Today, I was pretty productive.  The first thing I did was go to Lowe’s to pick up some more wood, a spade drill bit (for drilling bigger holes), and some more stainless steel wood screws for the frame.

When I got back from Lowe’s, I decided to pull out the old countertop so that I could replace it with a new one.  It proved to be very difficult to remove, thanks to the fact that they glued it to the frame.  I finally pried it loose after a lot of sweating and cursing (and help from my neighbor). haha

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I had to use the chisel to remove the sink since it was stuck as well.

I used the old countertop as a template for cutting the new countertop.

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I then used my spade bit to drill a starter hole in the sink cutout so that I could finish the cut with my jigsaw.  
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This MDF (micro density fiberboard) is super messy!

 

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Done with the cutouts!

Next, I applied the contact cement and then let it set for 20 minutes.

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After 20 minutes, I put some wood strips over the MDF so that I could be sure the positioning was correct for the laminate before it permanently stuck to the board.

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Once it was positioned correctly, I removed the strips and applied pressure.

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And now it’s time for the router to do its job!

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This is after I trimmed the edges and around the hole for the sink with the router. It didn’t do a perfect job, but any blemishes can luckily be covered up with the trim.

 

Next, I added some more support boards across the rear and attached the rear panel.  IMG_4515

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All ready for the wiring, insulation, skin, and then the window! I will probably add at least one more piece of wood across for extra support.

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Interior pic. Now you can see how shiny the floors are after sealing and polishing! Almost a mirror finish!

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New countertop as well as towel rack. I also put some leftover stainless steel along the edge to see how it would look. I have another piece that’s one continuous piece that I think I might use. I got my trim pieces in the mail, so that will give it a more professional look once i get ready to fully install the backsplash and any other pieces.

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The oven is back in! I haven’t finished with the countertop yet, it still needs to be screwed in and then trim added.

 

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with everything I got done this weekend.  I still need to order a new router bit to cut the groove in the new countertop for the new trim.  Unfortunately that’s going to cost me around $50.   Too bad I didn’t already have all these tools to begin with!  That’s about half the cost since I’m starting from scratch.  Oh well, after this I’ll be equipped to do any kind of woodworking project!  Now it’s time to relax and finish doing laundry so I’m ready for work tomorrow.  See you next weekend!