Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tomorrow is the maiden voyage (even though its not done yet)

I came to terms quite a while ago that the camper was not going to be completed enough to take the family camping this year. Like most projects, they require more time and money than you think they will. Other things come up, illness happens, weather happens etc.

That said, I had made plans with my brother months ago to go to the Lime Rock Park Historic Festival in Connecticut over Labor Day weekend. LRP is a famous road racing course set in the hills of western CT. It has 40 reserved spots for campers right up against the track, each spot 20 x 60 but there are no hookups. Its a great track in a great setting, not a NASCAR Type place at all. No grandstands, you watch from the hillsides along the track. We are really looking forward to going.. Over 320 vintage race cars from the 1920s through the 1980s are registered for the event.

So once the Corvette project was completed I got busy on the camper to make sure we would have at least a weather tight room to sleep in. I made some good progress and although the camper isn't nearly done, it will be more comfortable than I was thinking it would be.

Since the last camper update on August 3rd I did the following:

-Installed the black and white tiled floor
-Installed all the interior walls
-Pulled the J channel off and replaced the butyl
-Resealed the back window after discovering it had a small leak
-Installed the trim rings and moon hubcaps
-Built the dinette area and mounted the table
-Built the potty closet and low tech potty
-Installed the rear bunk
-Finished the wiring harness for running lights, turn signals and stop lights
-Reinstalled the propane tanks
-Reinstalled the rock guard
-Installed the new magazine rack

I ran out of time to frame the couch/bed area in the rear but we are bringing self inflating air mattresses so we'll be fine with one on the floor back there.

Here's a bunch of pictures of this past months progress:

The Dinette area just prior to the flooring install

Flooring only took a couple hours to get done

Test fitting the first peice of Birch for the walls

Laying some birch out for 2 coats of amber shellac

More finishing work

Here's the dinette area with flooring and amber walls

You can see some of the cool grain and figuring Birch has

Dinette is framed in and the potty area is coming along

Dinette area with the lovely original 1971 cushions in place
(they will be replaced as funds allow)

Dinette area with the table down in 'bed mode'

The Shasta magazine rack

Here she is on a test drive to get the propane tanks filled

Finally, a picture of a little accessory for this weekends trip to help get around at the track..
Its a 1961 JC Higgins 3 speed bike complete with vintage Sears speedometer and a working
generator powered headlight. Very Retro~  Thank You Craigslist for this $25 purchase  :)

Well as Porky Pig often said..  Th Th Th Th Thats all foks~!

Raised a little cash

I took a little break from the camper in August to flip a car..

I found this low miles 1991 Corvette on Craigslist.
It was listed as "Doesn't run, don't know why"
I checked it over and bought the car based on the condition and the low price.
I figured even if it needed the engine replaced, I'd still be ahead.
Thankfully, it only needed a set of fuel injectors and the fuel system was
full of water so that all had to be flushed. Everything else was good to go.

(Our cat Simon immediately claimed it as his own)

I sold the car 17 days after I towed it home. After all expenses for the repairs, the trailer rental, gas etc I cleared two thousand dollars. I'd like to find a deal like this monthly!

OK, back to camper news in the next post~

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Where does time go?

I can't believe another 3 weeks has passed by..

I've heard that time seems to go faster the older you get..
I'm certainly experiencing that first hand now :)

I have made more progress but the reality of the camper not being fully finished till next season is setting in.

With an unlimited supply of money, and no job to attend to, I probably could finish whats left to do in about a month. But since neither of those conditions apply to me I'll be happy if I can get it water tight and the interior walls and flooring done by September 1st when I am supposed to take the camper to Lime Rock Park in Connecticut for the vintage racing weekend.

We'll need to use air matresses or cots, and bring a table.. but it'll still be fun I'm sure.

I did get a couple things done recently..

Installed the rest of the windows
Built the framework and cut the panels for the front cabinet
Cut the birch for the rear wall to size
Picked up the flooring and adhesive from Lowes

I hope to have the door reinstalled today or tomorrow as I have another project I need to do in the garage so I'd like to pull the trailer out without worrying if its going to rain or not.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ceiling is up..

Once all the new Birch panels were finished it was easy to pop them up in to place.

I got the new Fantastic Fan wired in and installed too.

I still need to run the strip of trim that will hide the center seam, but I'll wait till I do the front cabinet to install that.

I also finished the exterior painting this weekend. Now that the roof vent is in, and the roof is sealed I don't need to climb up there again so I figured it was safe to paint the side I hadn't painted yet.

So now the exterior is done (except for the baby moon hubcaps) and the interior is under way. I'm going to work on the front cabinet today and try to get that framed and lined with Birch.

I ordered the new black and white tiles for the floor but they won't be in for a couple weeks so I'll be working from the top down.

Here's the picture of the ceiling up in place:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Later that same day...


I got all 6 panels and the seam strip done with amber shellac..
2 coats each applied with a 4" Purdy brush and they came out great.

2 things contributed to this process going well..

First, I found my orbital sander. It has been in the bottom box of my tool chest for years, unused.
Today was its day.. That, hooked up to the shop vac made quick and easy work of getting the bare panels nice and smooth and ready for finishing.

Secondly, the Purdy brush. Normally I don't pay $15 for a paintbrush but this was worth every penny.
Very smooth and glossy finish without paintbrush streaks.

Here's a few pictures, but trust me, the pictures do no justice to how cool the birch looks now.
Lots of 'figuring' that catches the light..

Tomorrow I'll try to get a few of these panels installed :)

Wood! (and other things)...

I have not been good about updating this blog but I have been getting things done on the camper.
(and thats good as I'm supposed to be using it in less than 8 weeks)

I got the front half of the camper completely insulated and seam sealed.
I got the roof vent off.
I got the fridge vent off and sealed.
I got the 12 volt wiring completed and tested.
and...  I got Birch!  well, at least for the ceiling I did.

Long story short, 1/8 inch birch is only 'easily' found in 5 foot by 5 foot sections..
4x8 sheets are far and few between (at least here in New England)

Since all the channels that hold up the ceiling edges won't take 1/4 wood I had to use the 5x5 panels and cut them to size so there is a center seam. Turns out this was a happy providence as getting a full width sheet up and in to the channels would have been next to impossible.

At the assembly plant, they could bow the panel in to the side channels then slide it forward in to the front channel.. then they would add the rear channel, slide it forward and screw it in to place from the outside in prior to the skin going on.

Since I couldn't move the channels that run side to side I don't think I could have bowed the wood in such a way to get it in to all 4 channels well (and without damaging it)

I'm going to run a strip of wood down the center of the ceiling to hide the seam and secure it with rounded brass washers and screws every 8 inches or so.. It'll look OK.

I test fit all the panels once they were cut to size and marked each ones position as now I have to finish them..
Thats a whole project in itself.. I'm trying to get a nice warm  'amber' look without a 12 step process.
I picked up some amber shellac (did you know shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand that is processed and sold as dry flakes? Neither did I) anyways, I picked up the amber shellac and did a test last night that shows 1, 2 and 3 coats of coverage.

I like 2 coats the best, its a nice color, and its pretty smooth. I'm going to look in to buffing it to see if I can get a higher gloss.

So here are a bunch of recent pictures to catch you up~

Here's the vent for the fridge.. won't be using a propane fridge so this will be removed and sealed off

After 30 minutes of (not fun) work

Then it was time for the roof vent to come off (again, not fun)

Here's the 2 front ceiling panels test fit up in place

And a wider shot so you can see the insulation

Now 4 panels up and fit in to place so I can mark the roof vent opening

From left to right.. 1 coat, 2 coats, and 3 coats of amber shellac

From farther back

I like this '2 coats' color the best

Well, today I'll be sanding the ceiling panels and hopefully applying the first coat of shellac on some or all of them. Wish I had some sort of sprayer, maybe I'll appreciate it more when I'm done that its all by hand??  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Took it out of the garage today..

I needed to get the camper moved over about a foot so that I had clearance to finish the curb side paint job. (Big beam in the garage was right up against the roofs edge)

I hitched it up and VERY carefully pulled it out praying I wouldn't scuff one of the sides.. it is a tight fit.

While it was out I snapped a few pictures to show how the $50 paint job is coming out. I think it's looking great. (you have to imagine it with the door and some chrome baby moon hubcaps)



Notice the wings?  They are the black ones that came on the little 1400 I bought a couple months ago and sold a week later. They were pretty dingy (and spray-painted black for that matter) so I cleaned them up, sprayed them with bright aluminium and pinstriped them with 1/8 inch bright red automotive striping..

Still trying to decide if they look good with the red accent, or if they just look tacky~ I kinda like them so far.

Here's how they look a little closer and from the 'other side' ~

I hope to get the paint finished up this week.. I need to get going on the 2 roof vents that will be removed and sealed up tight. The remaining vent will get a Fan-Tastic fan, then once thats all sealed I can paint the roof white as well. Not that anyone would notie it, but having it bright white will hopefully reflect heat better than the darkened surface that is up there now.

That's all for now~

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A video demo...

I had quite a few people tell me they enjoyed the Kreg Jig demo video I did this winter and that it was helpful so I decided to make another one demonstrating how I'm painting the camper for under $50 dollars.

After I made the video I touched up my Shasta emblem with a red paint pen and installed that too..

Thats it for today..
Its over 90 degrees in the garage and the AC in the house here feels REAL nice right now~

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Picking away..

Had another good week of getting things done on the camper..

Last update I mentioned some changes to the color scheme. After trying to find (the now discontinued) retro laminate we wanted and being shocked by the price, we gave some thought to going with a less expensive route. We'll be using materials that are a little easier to find, and easier on the pocket book, so white with red accents it is~  :)

Even the Ford green I wanted to use for the accent color is almost $20 dollars for a 12 oz. spray can. The Rustoluem red comes in 16 oz cans for $3.87 at WalMart.. same thing for the gloss white I'm using on the main body panels. Using less expensive materials will certainly help to get the camper finished this summer.

Here's what I've done since the last update:

Painted the rest of the front
Painted the rest of the rear
Painted the rest of the red accents
Painted and installed the wheels
Painted half the curb side body
Painted the main entry door
Painted the rear bumper
Painted the door stopper
Installed the rear cargo door
Installed front and rear running lights
Refurbished and installed the tail lights
Installed the rock guard mount
Installed the rear window
Installed a repro Shasta decal (in red)

Here's the latest batch of pictures~

-The tail lights all cleaned up and ready for installation.

-This is the off white butyl tape I bought in bulk.. 480 feet for $34 dollars. Easy to work with.

-The rear paint is done in this picture..

-I taped off and saved the vintage 'Good Sam Club' sticker, I like it~!

-Here's the rear window installed and you can see the wiring coming in from the LED running lights.

-Here are the original wheels painted in red. I painted them without removing the tires by coating the rubber and valve stem with dishwashing detergent prior to painting. Once the paint was dry I just sprayed off the detergent which rinsed away easily taking the overspray with it. The right tire below is still drying in this picture. I'll be adding chrome 'baby moon' caps and trim rings to them to complete the look.

-Front end is all painted, Rock guard mount installed, and the running lights are in.

-What a difference the paint is making. Less than $50 for paint and supplies, easily the best "Bang for the buck"

-Found reproduction Shasta decals on ebay. Great quality, love how it looks in red.

-Here's our garage where I'm doing all this, I'm thankful to have a covered place to do the work.

The other camper in the above picture is the 1968 Airflyte we started with in December.
Its on Craigslist right now as I've used everything I could off it and it is time to let it go.

Here's a recap of what the 68 donated to the 71's refurb project:

2 new tires
2 new propane tanks and regulator
4 new stabalizing jacks
2 tail light backing plates
Rear cargo door and drip brow
Rock guard
Sink cover
Wheel bearings still new in box

I also sold a few things off it to raise funds for the 71

Shasta emblem
Airflyte emblem
Assembly plant tag
Grab handle
L-66 entry latch (broken)
Sink vent

Those things brought $177.83 on ebay after fees etc.
Hopefully the 68 will sell quickly and someone will get some use out of it.

That's it for now.. hope to paint more white today~

Thursday, May 26, 2011

You'd better sit down...

Sitting? Good. I didn't want to alarm anyone with this shocking news...
I actually did some work on the camper this week  :)

Between the never ending illness that wiped out our family a few weeks ago, and the need for spring cleanup around the yard, the camper took a back seat to all else for the better part of a month and a half.

Since the last update on April 3rd, a few things have happened that relate to the camper.
First, I sold the little Shasta 1400 I picked up. I kept the wings and a couple vent covers I needed and sold a few of the interior light fixtures. After selling that one for $160 dollars I broke even in the end but have the wings now for ours and technically didn't have to pay for them.

Lets see..  I also swapped baggage doors between the 71 and the 68 as the one that was on the 71 was just a wreck. (The door from the 68 isn't a whole lot better but at least it closes tight and the handle isn't about to fall off).

I also converted all the running lights over to LED. I removed the wiring and metal bits from each housing and drilled a 3/8 hole to mount the "pre-wired for 12 volts" 4 chip super bright LEDs in there. Everything came out good, can't wait to see how they look lit up on the trailer.

I use this site for my LED needs, they ship fast and have great customer service..

Here's a picture of the LED mounting~

I had ordered 5 new amber lenses back in December as the ones on the camper where sun baked to clear. They are a perfect match to the original ones and will look right at home once I get them in place.

Here's a shot of the wings.. no longer 'Earnhardt black', they now sport a nice bright aluminum finish. Also in this picture is the Shasta magazine rack I got from a Shastaforum member.. I couldn't resist  :)

And finally, today I actually painted a little bit of the rear end. I used a high tech paint booth (large sheets of cardboard leaning up against the workbench to protect from overspray) and just did a small section to see how it would come out. I was talking to my wife on the phone while she was at work this afternoon and I mentioned I had painted a little bit of the camper... She paused and said "With what?" I answered "With spray paint". Her response was something like "Isn't that a little bit ghetto"? I assured her it looked fine.. When faced with the decision to have a body shop paint the trailer for $1000 dollars, or spray it yourself for $50 dollars, the latter wins every time with me :)  She thought maybe rolling it on would be better but I'm happy with the way the spraying is coming out.

I used Rustoleum Gloss White and it's covering nicely with no runs. Won't look 'professionally done' but it will certainly look WAY better than not painting at all~

Here's what I did~

The hardest part was removing the sticky black goop that someone used to reseal the baggage door area.. Good grief, what a pain in the neck that was. Mineral spirits did a good job of removing what I couldn't with a variety of scrapers.

Well thats it for this update.. We've made a few changes to the color schemes and next update should include some news on that~