Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Making Do

Antsy to do something on Molly, but pressed as I have been by work, I thought I'd show some pictures. That's always easy and makes me feel like I'm working.


Molly "roared" ("smoked" would be more like it) to life. She's getting out just in time, too; notice the mighty walnut tree she's been parked under. Thud. Thud. The sound of walnuts falling on Molly.

My passenger is Tristan, who's seven. He desperately wanted to ride to Molly's new home at the distillery (www.hardtimesdistillery), but I only had one seat bolted in.

Like this:

A closer shot will show the work I've done on the dash:

And even closer. Notice the new CD player. Molly only had a tape player. Getting the Blaupunkt to fit was an interesting project. I also removed all the gauges and polished the plate. And the wiring....oy.

Last winter the cap came off the reefer vent and in came the rain. I don't know if you can tell very well from this piss-poor image, but the wood I attached to the headliner the summer before is now mildewy and stained. I like the look of Airstreams and I've been considering covering the headliner with metal. Brushed, riveted, aluminum. (THAT would never stain, and it would be easier to install.)

So, Molly made it to Hard Times. Like our building? We'll paint it one day. After we can afford to.

This is our back yard. Yes, we have our own waterfall. (In the picture, Molly is to your left):

So...stepping back a little and looking left, you'll see something like this. (Note the lock on her "hood". I shopped a year for a replacement latch, but with no success. This is my solution. Works and looks interesting.)

Then, if you kept turning left, you'd probably see a version of still #1:

Curious, you'd step up onto the slab and walk inside, turn right and fill your eyes with--

Welcome to Hard Times.

This is Molly's new home. And it's a distillery. Somehow or other, if you think hard enough, everything eventually makes sense.

My shop. Molly Molly everywhere, but not an RV in sight.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Onward Molly!

Chores. They define us. They pursue us. They tackle us and throw us to the ground. At the beginning of this recently-deceased summer I had a longish list of them. Chores. It was overwhelming. Especially when added to the fact I was still working on a new business startup (www.hardtimesdistillery.com). Gasp. You mean I still gotta paint the house and....and everything else?! At least it wasn't the whole house, only the west-facing side. But, still. And the garden...the yard. The boat... Had to get rid of that. Had to rebuild the trailer, and I'd been promising the boyos a treehouse forever...what else?

Oh, yeah. I had to move Molly.

It's been two years since she hit the road; what would it be like to drive her again? Would she even make it the eight miles that separated her from her new home at Hard Times in Monroe? It was time to find out. Before that damned walnut tree she was parked beneath started to shed.

It took a while to get her ready. First I had to find an RV battery I could afford. Check. Then I had to finish putting back together the decidedly un-together dash (this would require enlarging the old radio/tape player slot to accommodate the new/used Blaupunkt CD/radio I found on CL). Check. Stainless steel screws. Check. Fuses. Check. Bolt in a driver's seat. Check. Spruce the place up a little. Check. Turn key--

But wait.

What if the transmission decided to fail? Or the tires went flat or fell off? Or the fumes killed me before we got to Monroe?

Only one way to find out.

I turned the key. Molly fired right up. She smoked a little (a lot), and none of the lights worked, and the power steering squalled, and the speedo flapped up and down like a moth on benzedrine, and the brake pedal 's action redefined the meaning of sloppy--but so what; we got there (with Jenna trailing behind just in case, and about eighteen various cars and trucks trailing behind her...), didn't we?

Here we go...

(Yes, I do have the hatch cover.)
She's just different looking. Not boxy like what came in the 80s. She has a dreamy Airstreamy quality. I can't wait to paint her and add an expanded metal deck on top. Oh, and of course finish the interior. And have her engine looked at. Seriously looked at (check compression, look for leaks, replace all hoses and belts). I've given myself a year to finish her. The clock is ticking.

And so's this little guy's. He and his brother are two VERY important ticking reasons for finishing Molly. N'est-pas?

Next up: more of Molly in Monroe...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Falling Fast

Of course I thought I'd be done by now. Two years? Not me. I'd get 'er done. I'd have my family on the road in 2010, lickety-split. Oh yes I would. What could stop me? Malaria? Rigor mortis? Last summer when I wrapped up I knew I'd be through by now. Now being the beginning of fall, 2010. And Molly continues to lurk behind the hedge next door. I had been bogged down by work. My partner, James, and I had started Hard Times Distillery. The place we landed in was a sty. It needed cleaning (the building had sat empty seven years and had formerly been a feed store), then remodeling. My tools traveled one day to work and never fully came back. In the meantime, Molly sat there. Lurking. Add the aesthetic insult of her back side being spraypainted by some High School hoods, and I began to lose steam, as well as heart. I looked out the window at her all winter, walnuts raining down, and poured martinis. Should I keep her? Should I move her to Hard Times (8 miles away) and work on her there? But I had no money. And there was so MUCH to do.

It took months, but when I finally opened her door and saw the wood ceiling I had so painstakingly installed covered with mold...I almost cried. How could this be? How could something like this happen? And to me? I ran back home and went online. In no time I had found someone on CraigsList who was looking for exactly what Molly was--a mid-70s fiberglass motorhome in need of completion. I composed an email and sent it.

I had decided to sell Molly.

I received an intriguing, well-written reply. The sender was willing to trade a fancy German woodstove, formerly installed on a boat, for Molly. I called him. We talked. I have no need of a fancy German woodstove, even if it was installed on a boat. When we were through talking, we each know we had met in the other a similar spirit. I acknowledged that I had been overwhelmed, succumbed to the cascade of minutiae that awaited me. I asked my new acquaintance to forgive me for wasting his time. I had decided to keep Molly, after all. And not just because I had spoken with a supportive, understanding soul, but because of this: my son, Tristan.

The day before I had asked him (I'm sure with a scowl on my face) what he thought of Molly. "Good," was his classic Tristan reply. "No," I said, "How do you feel about Molly?" He didn't miss a beat. "I love Molly, Dad." "How," drilling down on the subject, cutting to the chase, "would you feel if I got rid of her?" His face changed. "I would be sad, Dad." Over the winter we had given away our dog. We talked about doing it for a year. Jenna and I were becoming so busy, no one had time for her anymore. She needed more attention, longer walks. We found a young couple with plenty of space and who fell madly in love with her (our dog). Could I get rid of Molly the same way? Don't have time, too busy, mind's elsewhere--bye. Could I do that twice?

Of course not. So last week the boyos and I washed her (big-ish job for three small squirts). Then I bought a battery. Next I have to reassemble a few small details (like the steering wheel and gas pedal), then I'm going to get a trip ticket and move her to Monroe, Oregon (pop. 680) and park her out back of Hard Times Distillery. During those long distillation runs I'll get back to work on her. And I'm even glad she got tagged. Now I have to paint her. I've been thinking about that a lot...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Inside, Outside, Upside Down

Rain beats against my office window signaling the end of fall, the beginning of winter. With the time change it's now dark at six and it won't be long before it'll be dark at four. It's always hard to adjust to, but it's easier to get the boys to bed than when it's still light at ten. Rain also serves another purpose: to put to test my drying-in of Molly.

The front sliders leak. But I found where and it was an easy fix. I had a small fright when I saw water dripping out from behind the new birch ceiling. What the--?! I'm sure you've been there. I scampered around trying to think what it could be when I remembered I had not tightened the AC completely. It was only finger tight. Maybe that was it! I ran to my shop for a wrench and back to Molly to tighten. The leak stopped. Hooray. All the other roof repairs have held nicely.

Molly is dry!

Here's her ceiling without the trim pieces:

This shot combines the ceiling with the finished wall. The wall panels are mahogany. Where the bottom left panel ends there will be a closet; also, a permanent seat will placed beneath the window. This area, by the way, used to be the galley.

Notice if you will the new windows. The long one on the wall was where the stove vent once was; you can see the other under the steering wheel.

Where the hanging closet will go. Why did I paint the vent stack red? Because I could.

The passenger side:

Let me tell you, curving 1/8 inch sheet material has its challenges. I used a lever made from two 2x4s with an old diaper taped on so as not to mar the wood. It worked beautifully. Basically the same trick I used to use to install drywall on ceilings when I worked solo.

I have been steadfastly ignoring the dirt on the dash, but I finally applied myself to it (a little bit).

Don't worry; I have the wiring all figured out.

Gingerly, I removed the face of the dash from around the speedo. It was broken in four places. With the application of some super glue and a squirt of Armor All, I was gladened to see this:

While doing the walls I've been keeping an eye on the area that will become the new galley. I had intended to leave the breaker box on the bulkhead, but something told me it would be better to move the damn thing. Dodge used 10 gauge wire, so I did too. I put it here, inside where the cabinet will be (it will have its own access panel).

I don't have the picture within easy reach, but there are two long panels that bracket the bathroom door. The bathroom door that used to have a mirror in it. One of the sheets of ply I bought kept telling me not to cut it yet, to save it for something special. That something special turned out to be this:

Nice figuring, eh? It will be a delight to the eyes. Remember, I'm approaching Molly as if she were a boat. To this end I purchased a marine alcohol stove.

It's simple, elegant, portable and made entirely of SS. The fuel is non-explosive and, seeing as how I own a distillery, I can get the alcohol for free.

Whadda deal.

I don't know how much more work will take place this winter. I'm getting very busy with the business, and of course there's always money. I would however like to get a leg up on the ceiling cabinets and the solar panel installed. I have enough material to complete one non-structural bulkhead and the hanging closet. Our (my) goal is to get Molly on the open road late next summer. Maybe in the fall. We want to get back to the Wallowa Mountains, as well as the John Day fossil beds. Eastern Oregon still holds a lot of surprise for us. We love it over there and can't wait to go back.

In Molly.

Good tidings to you all.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sky's the Limit

Winter is coming in and I have other irons in the fire so I'm trying to get as much done on Molly as I can. The wood for the walls and ceiling have been sitting waiting for weeks. It was time to get to work.

I had saved the old ceiling panels to use as templates. I was actually able to get the fit so tight I was able to use the old screw holes. I had to hand sand a few edges to make them pop in flat, but that made me feel like a cabinetmaker and that's always nice.

Most of the window and vent frames are painted now, and I'm excited to see how they'll look against the birch and mahogany.

Here I go...

Although I always mean to, I hardly ever have the camera handy when I need it. The above is actually the last panel I installed. I used a wedging tool made from two pieces of wood I could join together with screws to make different lengths (for the varying heights of the floors). Of course it was padded, and with best padding in the world--a diaper.

The wood almost wants to bend to the cab wall's radius. The first piece I installed I scored along the length where the bend would be, then wet it with really hot water. I didn't do all that on the second panel and experienced similar results. So enough with the scoring and wetting.

Here's a shot of the stern:

The panel on your right was my first. I followed the templates exactly and for the most part they were excellent guides. But for some reason they were cut a bit shy of where the windowtrim will go, resulting in a dodgey problem. When I ripped out the original headliner I discovered two wood brackets designed to hold a speaker. There were already wires leading to them. Why they weren't ever cut open and used I'll never know. Maybe it was considered an upgrade to have two speakers in the back of the bus. Who cares? Fact was, I wanted those speakers. You can see where their cables drop down.

And yes I know the wood doesn't reach all the way back. Funny thing, the front panels are about seven feet long, while the ceiling space in the back is longer than eight. The original panels were manufactured to fit. But sheet goods are standardized at 4 x 8, so there's a gap. But I'm not sweating it because I'm going to build a cabinet that will span the space above the window anyway.

With the newly painted vent trim:

So it's beginning to feel like things are moving along quickly. One thing flashed on me from my contractor days: you look at an open wall for weeks and weeks and think you know where everything is. But then the sheet rock goes on. Where the hell did everything go? I used to take lots of pictures, sometimes even elevations. In Molly all of a sudden I couldn't find the metal ribbing. So I thought about using my metal detector. But there's so much metal in Molly's frame that it was going crazy. So I had to trust the pencil marks I made for screws off the template. It was gravy after that.

Always after a rodent-free-smelling Molly, I decided to coat the deck with good old Kilz. Jenna says it smells neutral now. Another notch.

And finally, for Bob. I meant to take a picture last time but then forgot. Here it is now. I love the bracket. Looked them up: $75.00 I would have passed. Thanks to you I didn't have to.

I have four of the lights, two on either sides.

As we move deeper into fall I want to wish whoever is reading stays well and healthy. Wash hands wash hands wash hands. And have a happy fall.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Door of Perception

Molly's door was in bad shape. The interior panel had peeled in places (water intrusion), and the frame's welds had broken in two places. After an embarrassing interlude spent applying bondo and JB Weld, it dawned on me that this was aluminum. Being aluminum, the surface was slippery and no amount of glue was gonna hold. It would need welding. Luckily, in the next town over, a small farming center, I located a fellow who said he could weld aluminum. I tossed the frame parts into my trailer and pedaled over. He took a look and said "Fifty dollars." That sounded fair to me. Now Molly's door frame is solid.

By the way, about the door molding you see coiled on the door. I saved a sample of the old, crumbling one and took it to Guaranty RV Parts Department here in town. The guy behind the counter wrinkled his nose and told me to wait. He disappeared into the back for a while, just long enough for my two boys to become restless. When he reappeared, he held this coil of self-adhering rubber molding. "I only have sixteen feet," he reported. Coincidentally, that was how much I needed. Things were looking good. I figured I'd spend $20 here, then go buy some hose and maybe a... "That'll be ninety-six dollars." NINETY-SIX DOLLARS?! For sixteen feet of rubber? But I was cool. Didn't ruffle a feather. I gave him the last of my money and carried the coil outside. On the sidewalk an older gent who had been behind me when in the store asked, "How do you feel?" I said the only word that made any sense: raped. He grinned. That probably cost them ten bucks. You're lucky you got out with both your children."

So, I had a vision...

...an Air Stream vision. What if I went bare metal and buffed it out? How would it look? If it didn't look good, it was just my time. So I drilled out the old rivets and...

...went to work.

Reassembled, and the window frame sprayed (I didn't stay with the red, but went green instead):

I was pleased. Here's the finished product:

And installed (with Eternabond and SS screws):

The frame and hinges were acid cleaned, wire brushed and painted metallic silver.

Molly is now officially dried in. I want to thank father-in-law Bob for the SS antenna base. It's installed, along with 14 LED lights. Winter rains, here we come!

One final shot of Molly's new batwing antenna:


Sunday, August 23, 2009

End of Summer Summation

I managed to do a little rattlecan on Molly last week. The front needed to be renewed. Of course, it makes the bumper looks worse. I'm looking for chrome rings for the amber lights.

Another view, and a reminder to fix the "hood."

The Dometic reefer cover is returned, attached with No. 8 inch-and-a-half SS screws into a new cedar frame. Looks likes she's wearing white dancing shoes.

The door frame came off in three pieces. This is me JB Welding them back together. After that, I stripped the paint and used steel wool to buff it out.

Walking home, I had the camera and, well, couldn't resist. If you look you'll see a new window between the first and second from the front. More about that later.

I've found new LED clearance lights and will have them on as soon as they arrive. I was also able to track down a water heater door (and possibly the WH itself). Thanks to Trish for that. I also spoke with Kevin, who sold me the AC: he has a crank-up antenna he's willing to part with for cheap. And I may have found some affordable PV panels. Can't afford solar now, but in the not too distant future...

I haven't been able to work much recently, and we're leaving next Thursday for four days with the inlaws. When we come back it will be September, and time to bear down on getting Molly rainproof.

That's all for now. May this find you well.