Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Long Long Trailer

We took the Long Long Trailer on our road trip and watched it for the fist time today.  I have a feeling we'll pop it in to watch a few times more. Knock on wood, we don't encounter any of these mishaps on our journey.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Starting out at Last

June 29
Finally on the road.  After many many delays we finally hit the road today with a goal of getting to Idaho by July 1.  We chose to head north on I-5 and then east and north on Hwy 299 and up 395 to Oregon and on to Idaho rather than the faster route through Nevada. Here we are, all loaded up and ready to hit the road.
Our ready to play inventory included:
1 slalom kayak
3 river running kayaks
2 bikes
1 dirt bike

Aguadream was not perfect by any stretch yet, but definitely ready for the road-- safety wise.  Much of our delay was in getting the electrical done...just couldn't get the lights to work. Also just couldn't get the curbside front window situated so we patched it with a piece of wood hoping for little rain on our journey.

An afternoon start out of Oakland meant hitting some rush hour traffic.  After Vacaville it was easy sailing, but our 50 mph speed limit meant that we'd only make it as far as Red Bluff on day 1.  We found a kind of seedy mostly full timer trailer part right on the Sacramento River, and settled in for the night and an early start.

June 30

I had always wanted to travel through extreme north eastern California.  It's pretty country. It roughly follows the drainage of the Pitt River.  We had hoped to stop at Burney Falls but put it on our bucket list for the return trip of another time.
first night of actual camping
Wish we'd had more time in this part of the state; we'll for sure be back. Around mid day we crossed the intersection of 299 and Hwy 89-- the only point on our trip where we would for sure be again as we headed north to Seattle in August from Camp it Up. We shot a video here but I won't bore you with it.  Had our first real night camping near Alturas at a little lake, called Big Sage Reservoir in Modoc National Forest.  No one camped near us for miles, though when we initially pulled up, there was a fellow next to us shooting target practice that creeped us out a little bit, and another group of four guys just taking a breather before hitting the road again.  Turns out he's an off duty cop from San Francisco-- showed us his badge and everything.  He took off after a bit and left us all to ourselves.  Ben got a chance to ride his dirt bike, and I got to relax a little bit.

Goose Lake

The next morning we headed out hoping to make it to Boise before the end of the day.  A big driving day ahead of us.  Today we would pass through some of the most unusual geography of California.  Most people think of the Great Basin and Range area being in Nevada, but it actually starts right here in Northeastern California where the block faults lifted the Warner and Fremont mountains which surround the lake.  We passed by a huge lake, called Goose Lake that was stranded here when the uplift happened.   At one point in it's history the lake may have been 300 ft deep, now it is less than 30. Here we are at nearly 5,000 ft above sea level  We won't drop below this for another 5 weeks or so on our trip until we are at Camp it Up! in August.
Looking down on Goose Lake

We reached our final destination Boise Idaho around 8 pm local time, and granted ourselves the luxury of a night in the local Motel 6, before heading up to Horseshoe Bend to hang out along the Payette River til the 5th of July.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Optimism and Stick-to-it-ive-ness

My friend Anne applying
a little umph to get the skin in the track
Optimism and Stick-to-it-ive-ness is a deadly weapon to time schedules. I think that Shasta restorers must have both.  That and loved ones who have deep reservoirs of patience and understanding for missed deadlines.

All said, we are looking at being probably 2 weeks behind our latest revised departure date (June 14) and I am trying to inject some realism and take pride in the bits that get accomplished each day and let go of those things that seem out of my control. Can someone come up with a Shasta Serenity prayer?

Enough philosphizing...much progress to report.  A couple of days ago my friend Anne and I finished adding the skin and started putting in windows, till I ran out of butyl tape

Aquadream has her skin 

Me putting in the first window!

Yesterday was full of highs and lows. 
First the high...and I was so excited I forgot to document it....wait for it....WE TOWED AQUADREAM OUT OF THE DRIVEWAY for the first time since she came home! Albeit just 10 miles to the trailer place but still a real milestone! there she will get her electrical finished and figured out, and a new trailer jack put in.

Went home to an empty driveway-- and an empty nest feeling overtook me. Though there is quite a mess to clean up. And still of course plenty to do.

I was envisioning a day of packing and planning and cleaning the house for our housesitters after taking my son Ben to the skate park. Phone rings 10 minutes after I've dropped him off, come get me I crashed and am hurt. Long story short, chin needed to be glued, but also spent the rest of the afternoon getting xrays etc... and learned that he's broken his arm at the elbow. Have to wait til today to see how this impacts our trip and his bid in the whitewater junior olympics. 

Once I get her back later today (I hope) the plans for today and the weekend include--
dinette window
cargo of which I may seal shut.
build bed.
maybe if lucky stain

maybe maybe if everything goes right....paint. Or at least buy paint....I'm thinking this may be one of the on the road projects (am I crazy).

Monday, June 20, 2011


Yesterday was another milestone day. Had my friends Corey and Dave to help for a few hours. We attached the skin to the front of the frame.  I thought this was going to be really hard, but thanks to the expert work of sheet metal genius Chris Mast, the piece fit like a tight glove.  Had to work a bit to get the edges under the pittsburgh seams (open up the bend) without getting a tear.  Trick was to first do one side and then the other, and leave the middle window flashing for last.

Yesterday also accomplished
Installed the new trailer hitch
Finished flipping the axle

In progress the stage of adding seals and putting them back together.  Replacing glass on most of them with lexan.
Electrical is all connected but for some reason the blinkers are working but the running lights and brake lights aren't.  Gotta figure this out before the skin can go on the back.
Inside trim is started. (I'll be doing some of this work on the road I think lol)

Today's goals
Finish electrical
Install back and drip rails front and back
Install windows
Install cargo doors.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

On the road....well not the actual road, but the journey continues

Okay so our departure date was supposed to be June 14....It is now June 18th...and we are looking at departing June 21 or 22. On the original schedule my son Ben and I would be whooping it up at the oldest whitewater festival in the US, FIBARK, which takes place in Salida Colorado on the Arkansas River. This morning is age group nationals for slalom. Next year!

Instead, the first week of our summer vacation has been me furiously working on the trailer, and Ben experiencing his first unstructured school break. He's had to make plans with friends day by day. Not too bad...lots of skateboarding, a couple of movies, a day dirt biking.

So here in Margueritaville, I've had several wonderful friends and some skilled craftsman helping me get her done. Caps off to Terry, Anne, Laurie, and Micci for helping scrape and polish windows and trim pieces. Corey and Dane for helping with framing, electrical and flipping the axle. And a special shout to Chris Mast at Mastco Sheet metal for rescuing me with fabricating the front and back pieces. I gave the folks at Moose Metal my old pieces to use as templates, but with no first hand observation or experience in this, the pieces weren't all quite right and all but one had to be redone. I'd still go back to them but wished I'd gone to Chris from the get go. He's a real craftsman. Came out to my house twice and puzzled through the whole deal with me to get it right.

Update June 17, 2011---final stretch.
Lots has been done :) but still more to do ::).

Got a 12v and 110 system set up just waiting for battery, charger/maintainer/converter and inverter to make her all go.

All rough inside framing and paneling is done all it needs is trim pieces and stain.

Outside is framed, wired and insulated.
Windows are almost ready....need to get glass/lexan for a couple that broke in the process, and add the furry stuff to my jalousie.

Still left for this weekend and early next week.
Glass/plastic for windows, put em together.
Finish flipping the axle, we're skipping new axle and trailer brakes for now due to a mix up in ordering (was gonna take 3 more weeks) SUNDAY
Drip rail on top still needs to come off and get cleaned up and is a b*&^ch.
Stain and finish trim on inside
build out bed
Paint outside ( least first coat I hope) Or we could just hit the road ugly.
Install windows
Hook up battery etc... (Tuesday)
Clear DMV (Tuesday or Wednesday morning)
Hit the ROAD>>>>!!!!! Wednesday afternoon

Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Build a Trailer Birthday Bash

As many of you know I turned 55 last weekend, as did my soon to be lovely 1956 shasta 1500. Figured I'd be working all weekend anyway, so decided to invite all my friends over to help me. Had a decent turnout (though I guess the idea of working on an old trailer isn't as appealing to all my friends as it is to me, lol) and got a fair bit of work done.

Got the side frames fully completed and insulated. Used aluminum tape to seal the air gaps.

Used JB Weld and scraps to repair tears in the aluminum. (Had 3M 8115 panel bond but couldn't justify paying $50 for an applicator gun) used Gremlin Guy's method...worked great.

Picked up new front and back skins from moose metals in Concord CA (great folks). They had no prob with 6" brake. This is the front skin. It's .40.... and it's gonna be a b*&%h to trim and fit, but will be solid.

She's not gonna be ready for the Memorial Day weekend trip, but I'm feeling confident we can be on the road for our longer trip June 14! Sure did appreciate the help from all my friends!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Skin and Polish

I have taken to polishing aluminum at night and it is a tedious job, though just heard about another product to try from Napa called simply aluminum brightner. Will pick some up this weekend.

Took the front and back to the sheet metal shop today to have them fabricate new pieces the right size to overlap the sides. The woman who helped me said I was the first woman she had ever had as a customer who was doing a restoration (of any sort) herself. And she'd been there 20 yrs! And we're in California. I was a little surprised. I decided to have them do all the fabrication brakes, bends, and holes...even though it will cost. They can do everything in four hours plus the cost of materials (just one sheet of 48x96 .040 aluminum). I figure what they are doing would take me much longer and the risk of doing something wrong would be costly. $400 the priciest piece of this project so far. But way worth it.

I made my punch list of what's left to is too long to post here. But I do see light at the end of the tunnel. I was also inspired by a post in another blog to make my own awning. This is something I can do as well as anyone, no reason to pay someone else to do it. Jo-Ann fabric is having a half off sale on fabric, so I'll be able to get it done for $60 vs 400 for a marti awning. Not bad.

Where there's a will there is a way

With many helpful suggestions and consul from handy friends, I managed to jack up the trailer with a couple of bottle jacks and voila, I'm back on track.

AS you might recall I was stumped a week or so back after finishing up most of the framing only to find that the skin didn't line up, due to sagging on the back of the street side. I'm betting this is a common problem with years of rot combined with removing the skin during a partial rebuild. I had a 1.5 inch difference between the floor height and the skin

Borrowed a couple of bottle jacks from our local tool lending library (every community should have one!!and on the suggestion of a couple of VSTF members tried jacking up the back side of the trailer. First I screwed a 2x4 across the frame to hold it together and to give the jack something to push on. Then very easily lifted it 1.5 problem.

Checked the fit with the skin.....perfect. Had to reframe the baggage compartment area to match, and adjusted the runner board to fit. Still need to cut a new curved back frame.

Screwed in everything. lowered the jack, took off the 2x4, checked against the skin again....well a little slippage, but I'm not going to lose sleep over a quarter inch...I feel confident I can make it work.

no pictures, but I also fitted the birch in around the fantastic fan, got all of the curbside insulated, and dropped off the front and back skins at the sheet metal shop this morning on the way to work.
Friday a friend comes over to get the electrical squared away.

VTS called today and finally they have gaskets back in stock will ship Friday or Monday....Yeah!

Light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

doing too much work on the camper to put up a post

so in the mean time here's some pics of recent progress
floors Done!
framing 90% Done!
Insulation 60% done
windows...half way through polishing, all the gaskets are out of stock and on order from VTS
Going to order my new skin on Saturday
Electrical....ready to wire and hire an electrician for the hard stuff

What is the hold up.....well the street side skin doesn't line up with the framing in the back....diagnosis....50 yr slump....prognosis....not sure yet. Trying to jack it up if that doesn't work will just adjust everything.

new floor used homasote 440 with butyl window flashing instead of asphalt celotex board, then 3/8" CDX plywood framing

First piece of interior birch replaced!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Not gettin' much done, here's why

Have been a little preoccupied this week. Ben my 12 yr old attends oakland school for the arts. He has been in a school production called "That 60's Show". He had the opportunity to sing the lead on Dylan's The Times they are a Changing. Have a look. Hope the trailer turns out as well as this performance...though I doubt the finished product will bring a tear to my eye as this did.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

bones and fun!

Bones: Have cut and dry fit sub floor front and back. It's slow progress with the few hours here and there I'm able to put in. April will be a big month for getting this done. Hopefully once a few of the puzzle pieces fit together it will go faster. Right now it's still do a little, scratch my head a little. Before it's attached, will adhere butyl based flashing on the undercarriage and maybe at some other strategic points where water tends to be a problem. Next step make sure that the framing matches the skin.

Finishing touches: I made a quilt a while back for the bed when I thought all I was going to have to do the camper was add a few finishing touches. Just got the top back from the machine quilter and finished the binding.

The second picture is a close up of the quilt stitch design, which I think has a very "jetsons" flair to it. The quilting is done on a big long arm quilting machine, takes 1/20 the time of quilting by hand. I think it looks pretty neat.

Friday, March 25, 2011

and it's still pouring

shelter has caved in twice, 50 mph gusts, 3 inches of rain since yesterday. They say that we will see the sun on Sunday...and then next week looks good. Gonna try to get some polishing done on the rails, and maybe a little framing. Gotta wait for it to be dry to do much else. sigh.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

rain rain rain and wind

Dang. Had to stop midway through tarping up today. Bent over and strained my back. Hoping everything doesn't blow away tonight. High wind watch through mid day tomorrow--very unusual for this area. Anchored shelter to fence and house with eye bolts. Was going to secure the tarp better under too....and then I tweaked my back! So no stretching for me today :(

Friday, March 18, 2011

What's in a name?

Aguadream what kind of name is that? Well here goes for the explanation. My son and I are both whitewater kayakers.
Ben taking on one of the bigger rapids on the South Fork American at age 10

Mom (me) on the South Fork

I've been involved in river conservation and advocating for clean water in one way or another for the past 30 yrs.
Ben and me on one of his first river trips approx age 5 on educational trip down the Mokelume River

Our plan is to repaint this trailer somewhere in the aqua/blue/green range. And the interior decor curtains, quilt, seat covers etc... same.
The color scheme for Aguadream

We'll be pursuing a dream I've had for some time this summer-- to take the summer off and tour the west with my 13yr old. He'll be participating in the kayak junior olympics, and we'll also explore rivers in Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Wyoming. So traveling in our newly renovated Shasta trailer will be an Aguadream.

Ben in a junior olympic qualifier slalom race on the Truckee River last spring

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Loving that Kreg Jig

Got a bunch of framing done today. The first dry day since Saturday. Using the Kreg pocket screw jig which makes everything feel really nice and solid.
Coming up
Wheel well framing (using a solid piece) both sides
Curve framing
floor and subfloor in the back.
Reinforce all visible joints
Reframe front

After framing....replace old wiring with romex. Adding one outlet.


I added a gadget to the blog showing how to use the jig, on the side bar

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Progress at last, now if it would just stop raining

Well, finally have removed the skin from all four sides. The bad news is I will have to replace the floor and subfloor in back, and install new skin on the front and the back. The original owner did a "fix" at one point that included replacing the drip rail with flashing and eliminating the overlap on the edges. Enter WATER! The good news is that none of the windows lead and the rest of the trailer under seems to be in pretty good shape. Still it's a major rebuild at least for me.

I scored a 3 speed with reverse Fantastic Fan for half the retail price. First part of reconstructing was putting in new oak (with aluminum to further reinforce) framing in the ceiling to make it VERY solid, and then installing the fan. Plenty of butyl tape, vulkem, and pocket screws. A big confidence builder that I can do this.

Also scribed curved portions of the corners for the back and front frame.

And then it started raining....and it still is.

The Do list


Monday, March 7, 2011

So it begins. Ever since spending summers with my grandparents on their airstream travels in the Northwest, I always figured that at certain age I too would leave tenting behind (at least most of the time) and hit the road. The certain age arrived, and I began my search for a vintage canned ham (airstreams are too pricey for my budget) and not long after picked up this 1956 Shasta, which I thought was not in need of much except upgrades. Well I found out as many a vintage trailer fanatic has that most of these gals have a bit of rot and mine maybe has a bit more than a bit. Here I will chronicle my hopefully short but perhaps intense rehab. Our goal is to be roadworthy and camping by April 11.

What she looked like when I found the damage.

And now that I've dug into the restoration