Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cleaning cushions

There is just a few more days before my husband takes the trailer up to get help to do the roof and walls. I decided to get the cushions ready so I can start reupholstering them. I cleaned one in the bathtub and it took forever. I wanted to let each side soak in bleach and Borax water for 30 minutes on each side. If something takes too long to do something I put it off til the end (I am a procrastinator that is trying not to be). So I decided to tackle the other 3 cushions from the dinette at one time and use my kiddy pool to clean them. I used water from hose, All detergent, Clorox bleach and Borax to clean them.

Put them in the pool and used my feet to clean them (kind of like old fashion wine pressing) sorry I did not get any pictures of my adventures haha.

I rinsed them with regular water doing the same process basically as washing just trying to get them rinsed out. To get them dry I tried squeezing them out as much as I could and put them out in the sun to dry, but after a few hours they still felt really wet. So I remembered a trick that I saw online about trying to get cushions to fit in small spaces by using a plastic bag and vacuum and thought maybe I could do the same trick to get the water out using a shop vac. I couldn't find any huge trash bags so I folded them down and squeezed them into a kitchen trash bag and just got the hose and wrapped the end of the trash bag around the hose and turned it on. I held the bag up to get gravity to help the process. At first I wasn't sure it was even going to work, but after a few moments I started feeling a little difference in the weight and also noticed water in the shop vac. I moved the hose around to different spots to help get the water out, and 2 dumps of about 3 inches of water in my tiny shop vac for each cushion. I have a couple pictures to show the process (don't mind my pregnant belly or wood that is on the porch).

So I think I got enough water out that it can dry the rest of the way by setting them in the sun (plus help clean them more if needed).

While they were soaking I was taking the couch apart to try to salvage the foam and get a pattern for my new material but I am not 100% I can reuse the foam because the adhesive is ripping the foam apart. I may end up having to buy new foam to do the couch. I will post pictures about the couch reupholstering when I actually get closer to getting it done or at least getting the patterns cut out.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Taking a road trip to get some work done

Quick update:

So after only being able to work a little every weekend on the camper, we made an executive decision to take it back home to Virginia and work on it where we can ask friends/family to help us a few days to get what needs to be done. We are doing well on what we can do here on base, but moving it back and forth is hindering progress.

We started painting the beams we are keeping with Zinsser's mold killing primer just in case there is any mold spores from the rotten wood. I am planning on putting off a mold bomb after all the bad wood has been replaced before putting up new paneling. I have been scouring Craig’s list for insulation to use for walls, and waiting on a response from someone at the moment to see when I can pick up the needed insulation. Hopefully they still have it and not sold it to someone else (I have already spoke with them was waiting on a call to find out when a good time to pick it up).

So next week it's going on the road to VA and hopefully in one week we can replace the roof and all the roof paneling and the ceiling beams that needs replaced. All the structure walls and floors will be fixed and insulation installed (if we can buy before the trip), and paneling put up waiting on the interior walls and cabinets. My hubby has friends and family that have already said they are willing to help a few days, work on the camper, so hopefully by the time we get back to SC progress will be a lot further along and I will have better pics to post on here.

We are planning on changing the back layout a bit (bunk beds and bathroom area) just because I think the sink outside of the bathroom is odd, and it would be better to have a full size bottom bunk bed than what was in it.

Check out my pinterest board on my camper trailer (

My ideas for color is grey and white with touches of black and maybe yellow and blue, but that may be a few weeks away before we think about that. Anyone have any ideas about what type of paneling is best for roof and replace walls? We got rid of what was in it but don't want to make the camper heavier than it was.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ripping up the floors and replacing wall joints

I am trying to play catch up on progress so far. Not that we are too far into fixing it up, but did not want to put everything on my first blog.

I hope if anyone is reading this and has either bought a FEMA trailer, or is debating about buying one because they are so cheap, they will understand the work and money you have to put into it to get it up to par is probably better to just splurge a bit at first and buy an actual camper that may need just a little bit of paint to spruce it up, not to completely gut it and start new. Not that it's not do-able, but if you don't have the time or skills it's better to just back away and keep looking for a good deal.

You may have noticed the long black streak in the first pictures I posted. We found out about a sale that was going on at Harbor Freight, so me and my husband (including my toddler) made a trip to stock up on some tools/saws. We had a battery powered skill saw but going through two batteries and only cutting about 3' at a time was getting to be annoying. So my dear hubby got a skill saw, table saw and a grinder (to cut off rusted screws etc); but after getting the skill saw out of the box back at home we found a defect and had to go back to Harbor Freight to exchange the saw (hour drive for us). So that second trip we decided to buy a small shop vac too, which has came in very handy sweeping the heat ducts out (and anything else needed). Getting back to work, he had cut the floor section out and discovered low and behold our camper's floor insulation is really lacking. Only half of the space between the joist has any insulation in it. I wasn't really wanting to replace the insulation in the floor because if you do the math for the walls, ceiling, and floors we have about 992 sq feet (27' length, 8' wide, approx 6-8' ceiling height). Insulation is not cheap, and I even get a 10% discount at Lowe's for being active duty military. I have looked online for deals, even trying to go green and find lightly used insulation to buy but either I am out of luck or the companies that provide "green insulation" since they do not provide such a small amount this far south (we are in the Low Country of SC). I know I am going to replace the walls and the ceiling insulation but use foam boards instead of fiberglass. So we got the insulation that we took out and looked for pieces that was not exposed to moisture/mold or had any trace of mice/bugs.

Replacing the wall joist and floor joints that needed replacing on one corner has taken several hours, and has to be done before he can replace the actual floor. Good note, make sure the camper is LEVEL before trying to do this type of work... hubby would be taking out a piece of wood and replacing it with the same measurement as the previous one and things just was not evening out when he realized he needed to jack up that side of the trailer to make it level. After he figured that out, thing seemed to be fitting well.

The black section on the one side of the camper has been cut out, half of the missing floor has been replaced so far and he is working his way up to the door. Progress is slow since it is really only him doing the work, I come help when I can but not really much help having a big pregnant belly and having to watch our daughter too.

Mini goals in order:
1. Replace floor and joist that needs replaced
2. Replace wall joist/joints, add more support in places that may need it (around bunk bed and areas we may add more cabinetry or heavy items like TV)
3. Replace ceiling beams that need replaced.
4. Replace all the wood that rubber roof is/was connected to
5. Lay new rubber roof down (including adding new vent that I bought on amazon) and sealing up the roof edges.
6. Fix any metal on sides of camper if needed (the corner in the main bedroom with water damage had a gap since wood was deteriated)
7. Paint any wood that was not replaced but may have some issues with mold with "Mold killing Primer" from Zinsser (cause of my allergies).
8. Install foam board insulation and fill in cracks with spray foam
9. Do any touch ups (sealing, taping, cleaning etc) to wiring and air ducts for heater and AC.
10. Install walls and ceiling (including making changes to the layout a little).

Then we can work on everything like paint, wall paper, trim, cabinets, floor, cleaning and re-upholstering the couches and cushions for table (I have a great idea for all of these that I will wait to share later). There are more things to do, but just trying to break it down to give us small goals to reach over time.

This is the progress we have right now (cut out the bad floor and replacing after fixing the wall...)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Camper renovation - WHAT the H - E double hockey sticks have we got into?

My husband thought it would be a good thing to buy a camper, spruce it up a bit and go camping (even have a backup home if we ever needed it). New to everything RV/camper wise and having our tax refund to buy something we did as everyone that wants to save money does, look all over Craig’s list. Well after finding many potential campers and offering lower prices than what was asked, we finally found someone that would sale to us $1000 cheaper than what they were asking for (It was a 2005 Gulf Stream camper). We went to look at the camper March 11 2015, first thing as soon as we opened the door I swear about 200 lady bugs came flying out (if any of you from the south know about these Asian lady bugs, trust me you know you don't like them) which we should have took as a sign to back away. Besides that, there were a few spots on the walls/corners that needed the walls fixed and had some water damage, not knowing much about construction and my hubby the go-getter that he is said he could probably fix it, so we offered a little bit lower than the price we negotiated via email and they accepted.

After getting it back to our home (which actually is military housing - which I mention for a reason now) we became very aware of the things that we over looked or was too new to the camping world to know to look for. We found out that we had bought a FEMA trailer, yay us (eyes rolling now). If you don't know much about FEMA trailers like us, you may not realize that they are really just designed for staying in one spot and not much of an actual camper (they use household toilets and refrigerators, no waste water/fresh water tanks etc), other than that the particle board used in construction apparently has a lot of Formaldehyde in it which was making people sick during Katrina aftermath. So we decided to strip everything down inside and start from scratch to build a cute camper worthy trailer, add some tanks, buy RV toilet and install and try to keep the budget of renovating plus cost of trailer under $6000.

After tearing everything down inside the camper 1-2 days later we get a notice from the military housing that we are not allowed to park our camper in front of our house (on the side of the road where most people park extra cars anyways). So that started our set back. We had to move our trailer to the designated parking area for boats, RVs and trailers (which is also right beside of the water treatment area/ septic area) but was told while working on it we could bring it back in front of the house, and after done working on it move back to parking area. My husband's plan on working on the camper was to wait until our toddler took a nap, and go work on it while she was napping during the day (hubby is the stay at home dad) but since we had to move the trailer to the parking spot he has to wait til I get home so he can go get the trailer (have someone to spot while attaching the trailer to the hitch). The other set back was after exposing the beams and floor boards of the camper there was a lot more water damage than we originally thought. What we discovered: 3 out of the 4 corners had major mold and water damage to wood and would have to be replaced, one spot in the middle of the camper on the side needed to be replaced (where the corner of the kitchen cabinets were), and a rough estimate of 30-40% of the floor boards needed replacing and apparently there were some mice that were living in the insulation at one point so we had to take that down (I have horrible allergies and figured that would exacerbate them)... and the big kicker.... one of the corners was so bad that the wood on the ceiling disintegrated when we took the walls down and the only thing exposed was the bottom of the rubber roof. So with the rubber roof not attached to any wood for the ceiling, we researched and found out we needed to replace the roof which is a lot more expense than we were anticipating.

So another thing... after tearing down everything in the camper, I realized we didn't really take any before pictures other than the main room (kitchen/living room area) so I scoured the internet looking for pics that close resembles our camper prior to demo.

These are the pictures of our actual camper... Notice after we took the cabinets down the dark water damaged wood behind the wall paper. The bathroom was about to be torn down when we realized we needed before pictures. The tub is a nasty yellow color (which was not it's original color).

The following pictures are not our camper but has about the same layout as ours did prior to demo (just imagine water damage on bottom bunk on back wall and water damage behind little cabinet in bedroom).

A few After/during demo pics (the last pic is of disintegrated ceiling)

I will post pics as we get further into our project.