Saturday, April 16, 2016

First DIY Documentation Fail

One of the reasons I thought I'd chronicle this journey of remodeling Zan's Can was to serve as a resource for other like minded ladies looking on the internet for "How To" information. As my plan for yesterday was to just get a deep clean done on my girl my attention to photo documenting every little change/modification and repair was not on full alert when Mr. Creature Comforts and the Leprechaun dove right into the first significant repair! My apologies readers!!

I did get a few pictures of this repair though:

Upon setting up the Can, one of the first things that we noted needed immediate attention was the bottom of the entrance door. The aluminum frame was pulling away from the bottom of the clearly water damaged lower panel!

See the dark staining and crumbling wood where the screw was to have been holding the frame on tight? The other diagnostic observation is not really visible in this angle but you can kind of see it at the bottom right corner in the picture above. Because weight is a main concern in travel trailers almost all of the "wood" in her is a very thin laminated product that will ripple once wet.

Remember this picture from the last post? Mr CC and the Leprechaun had removed the lower door panel from the camper by the hinge bracket on the camper frame side because the piano hinge was determined to be a potential nightmare and from the door frame because those screws appeared to be well seated in the metal frame and they didn't want to chance turning the project into more than it already would be anyhow!!

This picture show the door frame after the hinge was unscrewed and the door removed. A LOT of weather stripping replacement is in my future!!

Because the metal frame is a single long piece of aluminum that was just bent around the corners, the guys bent open only just enough to see and access the rot. The fear was over stressing the bend causing it to fail and break off because the aluminum had 40 years of exposure to the elements!

Then they carefully peeled back the very cheap, almost paper like covering to ascertain just how far the water damage had crept up the door. It sat out in the sun to begin drying out some of the water while they worked out a repair plan. This is where I failed you my dear readers as I got caught up in removing the icebox while they worked on this project!!

I caught this action shot though:

I even know what they were doing here! The obvious decision was that a new healthy wood needed to be added and they were cutting a straight edge at the bottom of the undamaged wood so they could then chisel away the soggy, damaged wood but leave a straight edge to meet up against the new replacement piece.

So I missed all the next steps!! They used wood chisels and carefully cut away the rotted portion....but left me the clean up while they headed off to get the new wood and silicone caulking.

I will likely make this as clear as mud but I will try to describe how they did the rest of the repair!!
Again, weight is critical in a camper so it will not surprise you to know that behind the wood laminate was a foam insulation. The door is basically a sandwich with the aluminum panel that matches the rest of the body that was glued to the foam insulation and the laminate on the side that goes inside the camper. The foam in the middle was roughly 1.5 inches smaller on all sides than the metal and laminate covers and this space was filled with solid wood pieces that acted like a frame. They determined that the wood frame was mostly to support the aluminum trim piece and not actually structural so they again used chisels to remove the damage on the  "one bys" back to solid good wood without opening or bending the aluminum frame. They cut two little pieces of the "one bys" the length of the sides as needed and slip them down and into the space between the aluminum edging and the foam. They then used wood glue on the top ends of those pieces and laid a solid length of "one by" across the bottom edge of the foam the full width of the door. Next, they cut a piece of lauan laminated plywood the size of the whole damaged strip and put adhesive on both the foam and back of the lauan and slipped the piece down and once joined right up against the remaining door wood they placed tiny little nails at the very bottom into the "one by" and then ran a silicone caulk all along any edge and folded the aluminum back around the corner. The final thing was to screw back in the screw that held the aluminum frame to the now new and solid "one by" frame piece. Feel free to ask questions in the comments if you got lost in all those words!!

So while they were doing that:

I became engaged in removing the icebox. It is here that I feel compelled to make something very, very clear!! See I have been challenged by some people [brothers, cough ,cough] who think I should be doing a faithful restoration to her Mid-century origins. This is NOT what I am doing to the Can, period. I am REMODELING her to what I want. To what makes camping comfortable and aesthetically pleasing to MY eye. I want a refrigerator not an icebox. So some lucky restoration purist can now have an original Bethany icebox! Once I had found all the screws holding it into the cabinet, including the very sneaky ones that went from the door clasp mechanism through the wall of the icebox and into the wood frame of the camper, it slid out nice and easy.

 I went in to make dinner. When I came out to announce it was ready I found Mr. CC and the Leprechaun standing admiring their handiwork which they had already remounted on the Can!!

I will be painting or wallpapering or doing some kind of to be determined treatment on that inside lower panel anyhow so not unhappy with that obvious patch in the least!! So far that door is the only obvious sign of water damage we have found, yay for me!! Now having typed that I may have jinxed myself because it makes sense that after 40 years one should expect to find water damage in something that had lived in the great outdoors more than in a protective structure. I am heading out to start some deep cleaning...wish me luck that I don't find much more!!

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