12.16 Demo Day!

It’s Demo Day, baby! Last week, we pulled Dewey out of our garage space into the Southern California sunshine for some good old-fashioned demolition! We set our goal for the day: strip her down to the bare essentials. And while we didn’t quite get all the way to our goal (I broke a drill bit at the eleventh hour!), we made some real progress for a single afternoon. And what’s even better? We paused for a lunch break to eat chicken sandwiches sitting criss-cross in the driveway. It doesn’t get much better than that 😉

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Dewey Demo Day One:

Virgil taught me how to use a drill and drill bit to remove all of the rivets from the trailer. Rivets are used to connect two pieces of material together in a quick and efficient manner. From what I understand, when you install them, the head of the rivet makes the longer part expand into the hole to hold everything in place. To remove the rivets, though, you use the drill to push into the rivet head and you create that hole again. The heads attach themselves to the drill bit and when you have about 15 of them on there, you pull them all off and keep on truckin’! Aluminum is the perfect material to use rivets on. We went ahead and drilled out all of the rivets that were fastening the roof in place, the back hatch door, and all of the window frames.


While I was removing all of the rivets from the outside, Virgil was on the inside removing the old wooden floorboard that had been installed. He had to get under the trailer to get most of them out. Man, would we love to know the full history of this little trailer!

The roof wasn’t all fun and games to remove, though, since there was a ton of caulking used in the creases where the walls met the curved roof. This was probably used as an attempt to keep water out. We first tried sort of slicing at the caulking from the inside, but we quickly realized that we would be there for hours trying to accomplish it that way, so Virgil had the genius idea to pull out the heat gun and apply heat from the outside on the creases while the other person used a crowbar to wedge between the sides and roof and pull them apart. This worked like a charm, and we quickly had the entire roof off!

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Next came the back hatch door, which didn’t give us too many problems. And then after that, we had to remove all of the window frames. It look a little problem-solving to figure out just how these window frames were attached, but after peeling back a couple layers of rubber and caulking, we found that they were held in place with a handful of screws and rivets. Once we figured that out, we had all four windows off in a jiffy! I was a little bummed to discover that only one of the original window cranks was still attached, but Virg assured me that the Trailer Supply Co. would have lots of window cranks to choose from. A huge piece of great advice I got from Virgil when working on a deconstruction & rebuild project like this one is to label all of your pieces as you take them off so you can be sure you fit them back on where they belong! Otherwise, things may not line up exactly how you need them to. We did this simply with a black sharpie.

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After all the windows were pulled off, we were finally ready to remove Dewey’s greatest (in my opinion) attribute: her dynamite fenders. We figured out that the fenders were attached with (you guessed it!) rivets (!) and some tough-to-reach bolts. This is where I got to use a socket wrench for the first time, and well, that’s a pretty cool tool. Once we figured out the first fender, the second one came off much more quickly. Lots of duct tape later, we had both fenders pulled off and Dewey looked downright naked! If you’re wondering what the duct tape was for, we figured that the fenders are actually metal while the body of Dewey is aluminum. To avoid galvanic corrosion, the previous owners put a layer of duct tape and thin tubing between the two so that they wouldn’t actually be touching. It’s a quick and dirty fix, but I think we’ll try and go with something a little more professional and longer-lasting on our turn with Dewey.

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One of the coolest and final things we did to Dewey on Day One, was to pull up the remaining aluminum flooring from where the kitchen space is going to be. This is where we found some real old wood from the 1950s! And where we discovered that Dewey definitely had at least three lives before she got to us, just based on the two different methods that were used on her floorboards (one thoughtful approach for electrical and one less-thoughtful approach for electrical). It made us think that she probably was used for camping at some point, and then whoever took her over probably used her just for quick storage/transportation. It gave us some good ideas for our design, though!

In the end, we didn’t get the sides off of Dewey before calling it quits on Day One. I had almost all of the rivets off of the sides when my drill bit flat out broke! And that’s why you always wear protective eye wear 😉 It kind of worked out anyway though, because by the time we got all cleaned up, it was already dark outside! We scanned the driveway with some magnets to pick up any loose screws we may have lost, and we set Dewey back into her garage home (she’s so light, that Virgil can literally pick her up and pull her forward and backward on his own). We had plans to finish tearing the walls off the next day, but Mother Nature had different plans, and she rained on us instead. So demolition is officially on hold until after the New Year!

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All in all, I think we made some killer progress for only working 1 – 5:30pm! It’s been fun to start planning out design and logistics. There’s a bar that kind of goes through the middle on the inside — to avoid swaying — and we’re thinking about moving it up a bit to give us more head room in the bedroom, since we’ll have a wall installed that will keep the trailer from swaying when traveling. We’ve got a fun little design in mind to ensure we have enough room to lay out fully in the bed for comfort’s sake, and we’re toying with the idea of a small solar panel if budget allows! There’s so many fun things to think about! Once we got started working, I found myself just wishing for a full week off from work to do this sort of thing. I think this tiny teardrop of ours is the perfect project for me to get introduced to using the right power tools and to really problem-solve. I’m so thankful to have an expert like Virgil by my side to teach me all of these things and to ensure that everything is getting done safely and the right way! We are going to have a real treasure on our hands when this project is done.


And so that concludes Dewey Demo Day One! We closed out the day with some festive egg nog inside with the neighbors, and I felt so accomplished and happy, I couldn’t stop smiling! I hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure so far! Stay tuned after the New Year for more!

thanks for stopping by!


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