5.26.20 Dewey Gets an Interior!

Woweeee! It has been A MINUTE since I last updated this page with Dewey progress! Let me just start off by saying, she looks A LOT different than from where I left you all…

As I’m sure we can all agree on by now, quarantine has been both a blessing and a curse in many ways — including this little teardrop of ours. We lost Virgil, but we gained a hell of a lot of time as well as the knowledge and aid of our neighbor, Josh. Both have proved to be invaluable. I think perhaps the biggest lesson I’m learning though is that there is beauty in slowing down. Because there is no rush to get out there to camp (due to both quarantine and Alex’s back surgery), I haven’t had to dedicate entire weekends to working on the trailer. Instead, we’ve been doing a couple hours here and a couple hours there, and we’ve been able to set some things aside and think on them while we come up with some alternatives. In this sense, I’ve really come to enjoy the weekends a lot more. Not that I didn’t love working on Dewey all weekend long, but it got exhausting, you know!? All of this to say — don’t put crazy deadlines on yourself! Remember to take care of yourself and to have fun!

So where did we leave off? Ah yes, waterproofing. It didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. 5 seconds into spraying the entire thing with the hose and we knew we had approximately 500 leaks. Or, more realistically, a leak in every window and door. After getting over the initial letdown, I put my thinking cap on and figured I could fix the windows easily. Upon looking at them more closely, I realized what an idiot I had been and the fix was staring me in the face! — I hadn’t sikaflexed the inside where we attached the window frames to the trailer. There were literal cracks of sunlight peeking through. So that was an easy fix. I sikaflexed the interior of all the windows, made some adjustments to the front channels so we had a tighter fit, and viola! We had waterproofed windows. The Galley Door issue was solved rather easily as well, this time by my neighbor (and new teardrop building partner!) Josh. Under his instruction, we removed all of the buck rivets out of the top channel, tucked the rubber gasket under the roof this time, and then re-riveted it into place. This way, any water sliding down off the roof wouldn’t have any creases to seep into. Duh! We also determined that if the gasket wears down over time, it would be an easy task to drill out all the rivets, replace the gasket, and then pop rivet everything back into place. To avoid having to tear out any interior walls. What a relief!

Next we had to tackle the side door, or, our “problem door”. We needed a tighter seal on the bottom — we tried T-channel and U-channel, and even that door edging you see on the bottom of your garage door. But we kept running into this issue where the door wouldn’t close all of the way. Normally I would say take the hinges off, move them up, and be on your way. But our hinges are welded into place because this is an old home-build type of situation. So we don’t really have that option in our budget. What we ended up doing was ordering a P-shaped rubber gasket and attaching it to the bottom of the door…and it worked! The door is sealed and it closes. Now we’re just trying to figure out what we want to do about the handles. The woman whom I bought the trailer off of gave me handles but they’re pretty annoying/not super user-friendly, so I think I’ll splurge for a different handle to make life easier. When it comes to something you’re going to be using every single time, it’s not worth struggling just to open and close a bedroom door.

Next, Josh being the mastermind that he is, installed all of the electrical for Dewey. I’d like to say that I helped, but mostly I just asked questions and watched because it is beyond me. Not to say that I’m not totally fascinated by it. I see a lot of Youtube tutorials in my future… So our power source — a whopping 133 lb battery — sits in the front box with a small fuse box. We have the trailer configured with four pot lights (2 in the bedroom & 2 in the kitchen) with two switches, and two power outlets (1 in the bedroom and 1 in kitchen). We ran wire to the ceiling of the bedroom just in case we decide to install a small fan in the future. We figured it would be a lot easier to manage that if we already had the wiring easily accessible for it. In the front box, we created new ground for the battery to sit on using an old piece of plywood from the original trailer! We drilled out four slits and wrapped some belts through and wrapped up that battery like a present so it won’t move around while we’re driving. I love the little kinds of projects that don’t cost a thing! 😉

the brains behind this operation

After this, the really fun transformative part started…

It was time to install the insulation. I basically took a day to myself, popped on my headphones, and spent the day inside little Dewey, making sure she was all covered up. We decided to go with a layer of fiberglass insulation (yep, the super itchy stuff you find in your basement) and then a layer of reflectix. All held together with reflectix tape. I ran out of reflectix tape and purchased an off-brand and let me just tell you: SPLURGE ON THE REAL STUFF.) Reflectix is that spaceship-looking silver bubble wrap insulation you might see a lot in van builds or in your attic. That’s because it’s a reflective-based insulation that reflects heat. It all depends on the amount of space between *it and the thing you are insulating (ie. your trailer). Perks to using reflectix are pretty much that it’s super easy to work with — it’s lightweight, it’s easy to cut with a utility knife, there’s no mess, and it’s not itchy. It’s a great option! We liked it for the trailer because it’s thin and we didn’t have a ton of space between the exterior wall and the interior wall.

ground control to major tom …

After playing spaceship with Dewey and Marty and Al, it was time for the nail-biting part. The interior wall installation.

But before we could slide the wall panels into place, we needed to give them something to hold onto at the base. We went with wood because we could easily attach it to our wood floor. Using a Pocket-Hole Jig, we drilled 1×4’s into the floorboard between each post. NOW it was time to slide in the walls.

My nerves for this step stemmed from the fact that if these walls didn’t fit, we didn’t have any leftover aluminum to just *try again!* So it needed to be perfect, or at least close to perfect. As I held my breath while Josh and I shimmied the first gigantic wall into place, I let out a huuuuuuge sigh of relief when I realized it fit! The next side proved to be a tad big — which hey, I’ll take it! — so we used some hand shears to trim off a bit here and there before deciding that everything looked great. We had shiny, reflective walls! We secured them into place by screwing into the wood pieces we had installed.

Now it was time for the ceiling. A ceiling in a new build might not seem all that tough, but in a 1950s rebuild, it’s a little trickier because measurements aren’t always uniform. After measuring not once but three times, we trimmed our ceiling piece (and surprise, it’s not uniform!) and somehow squeezed it into the tiny trailer. One thing to note about the ceiling — we first slid on this white interior airstream trim to the edges. For a couple of reasons; 1 being that aluminum is very sharp and since I was going to be the one inside the trailer shimmying the front end of it into place, I didn’t want to decapitate myself or slice my fingers up while trying to squeeze this massive piece of metal into a small space. and 2 being that this trim makes cutting aluminum a very forgivable process. It basically helps clean up all those edges where aluminum meets aluminum. It gives you that nice finished feel, which is important on a vessel with uneven curves or when you’re doing the cutting by hand 😉 With one person holding the ceiling in place, and the other manning both the drill and riveter, we got the ceiling up and installed relatively easily! It was definitely easier than I was anticipating, at least.

Of course there’s lots of annoying little side tasks that go on while installing walls and ceilings. It’s not just some super quick project. You have to determine placement and drill all those holes for electrical, and sometimes springs on light fixtures break, and yadee yadee yada! But the fact of the matter is that it gets done! And once we got those walls fully installed — wood beams up on the sides where the kitchen will be so we have something to drill into, and walls pop-riveted into the few metal tubes on the frame — I was so happy. Because it was such a huge step. Getting both electrical and interior walls done. It’s a whole new ballgame working on the inside!

isn’t she a beaut!? We’ll be painting the inside with Benjamin Moore’s Simply White

And now — where we’ve currently left off — I spent yesterday lightly sanding down the aluminum interior walls and then applying three coats of primer. Rach recommended the sanding to me to give the primer/paint something to really latch onto and it was a huge lifesaver (thankful to have her and Virgil just a phone call or text away!). Adding the interior trim to the window edges too, was a huge step in transformation. Stepping away and seeing the primed interior felt like the positive breath of fresh air I needed during this quarantine! I am super excited to start applying the paint next! It’s finally feeling like something I can see ourselves in!


Other noteworthy discoveries:

  • the original latches that we had installed on the galley door turned out not to be strong enough — they were bending. We removed them and purchased something a little tougher. It also means that both will have locks too, which is never a bad thing.
  • we used some leftover rubber gasket to cover the edges of the galley door and some of the sharper corners. Does anyone out there have a good solution for corners? What we have right now works, it just doesn’t look super finished….thoughts?
  • Our power sources — think cigarette lighter — were too deep to fit between our walls, so we installed a small electrical box to the wall to house it. I don’t really mind it, as it can serve as a good spot to rest your phone while it charges anyway 😉
  • I started cleaning up the exterior window frames with Brass-O and a little elbow grease and holy cow what a difference! It makes me really excited to see what she’ll look like when I really clean up the exterior at the end of all of this!
  • We’ve decided to nix the idea of the cooler fitting in the kitchen. With Al’s height, we have to really eat into our kitchen space more than we were anticipating (pun actually not intended). Instead of using up the little space that we do have for the cooler, we’ll utilize that area for drawers and storage instead. The cooler can sit nicely in the trunk of our car. Cus you know, it’s not like we can use the trailer without the car anyway! I like this idea as well, because if we go on day hikes, say in a national park, and leave the trailer at the campsite, we would be taking our cooler anyway. It seems like the best option all around.

And that’s a wrap for now! So much progress has been made in the last month and a half! Next steps include painting, building a bed frame (the mattress needs to sit a bit off the ground to avoid moisture/mold), installing the dividing wall, and building out a kitchen! FUN!

thanks for stopping by!

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