Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Impossibler and Impossibler

Somebody stop me! Is there some kind of Travco Twelve-Step Program? Please, at least take my flat bar and screwgun away!

Luckily (?), I'm running out of things to take apart (or down).

This is the way I left the rear sleeping cabin the other day.

I decided to take out all the old 3/4 tops...

...and got a closer look at the rear wiring.

Thanks to the former owner, Bill, who was generous enough with his time to stop by the other day, many of my lingering questions were finally answered, and more of Molly's dark past unveiled. (Thanks, Bill, for the detailed information about the inverter!)

I finally decided to remove the other half of the front cab's ceiling. At first, I partially detached the hanging cabinets, then sliced with a razor knife just along the inside of the cab frame. Then down came the drooping, waterlogged headliner.

You can see inside the cabs where the old headliner remains (it's not there anymore, you'll see). The reason the AC pigtail doesn't work...well, it's not connected. The water did some loosening of the wood retaining frame (you can see the void above where it used to reside). All the metal will get sprayed with a rust inhibitor before being recovered.

This is what I was left with... I figured painting in place would be facilitated by the removal of the hood fan, so...out that came.

Also out came the burned plywood. This is the heater (plywood removed). Bill assured me it's like new and works perfectly.

Being who and how I am, I dislike fake raised panel drawers, so off with them!

Then I thought how much easier it would be to reapply the headliner if the cabs were gone.

The cabs...gone. Pipe chase in the corner and plastic mirror. I'm thinking about losing the mirror.

The way it look as I write...man. What have I done?

What thu? How did this get in here? That's Tristan (5) preparing duck eggs for his and his brother Chance's breakfast.

(He's not really that tall. He's standing on something.)

For the next few days I have lots of time to spend inside Molly. What will I rip out next?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the Eve of Construction

Christmas Eve, 2008.

One day, that will sound like a long time ago.

I swear that in January I will begin to reverse the current process of demolish and discovery...but first there are a couple of things that need looking into.

One is the wood. Since I planned on painting it anyway, what would be the harm of sanding a bit first, right? Give the wood some tooth, loosen the loose stuff even more...when lo and behold there arose such a clatter--no wait, that's from something else--there arose from the dust some pretty nice-looking figuring. (Trust me, not the camera.)

So that made me wonder what the other panels looked like (under their heavy stain). I came up with:

Not too shabby (at least shabby chic). So now the thought is to lay bare the panels you see (along with the potty door's stiles and rails), while shooting the casework green (along with the kitchen). The drawers and doors will all be birch.

With that out of the way I turn to the cabinet between the bunkbeds. The top is bunged and plastic vintage 70s wood (i.e., ugly), so I removed it. The back and sides of the cabinet where they touched the floor were waterlogged and curled:

And it stank. This should be the last of the musty stuff. The cabinet, I decided in a flash, is forever gone. Now, to my delight, all of the rear-end wiring is exposed.

If you look closely, you can see water stains where the window gasket has leaked in the past. Bingo! I was worried about that leak. Now that it's found, it can be fixed. Next, a thought occurred as I lay athwart the two bunkbed boxes: neither my head nor feet touched a wall (unlike in the shorter bunks)! Eureka. I would build a berth athwart the bus and cushion it with an inexpensive futon, rather than pay $700 to reupholster the bunkbed foam. This would also provide us with less floorspace to recover, and more room for storage (not to mention access to the wiring). Win/win, right?

Then I finally got around to pulling all the rotted wood from the first step. Ugly, yes, but I know a good welder.

Afterwards I chopped some wood and took a nap with the boys. Now the Christmas tree is dressed and ladened with packages and, as I type, Jenna is next door in her office wrapping and wrapping and wrapping my gifts. And I guess a few for the boys. Our sitter is coming back Friday, Boxing Day, and that's when I'll be knocking about inside Molly again, trying to figure out what to do about that headliner problem (I mean opportunity)...

Have a great, sane, reasonably stress-free Christmas, to those one or two who are reading, as well as to all the rest.

Peace, y'all.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Reefer Madness: Or, How I Stopped Worrying About the Ceiling and Tore it Out

The reefer came out a few days ago. It was gut-rusted with most of its controls gone. The thought of running gas through it was terrifying. Of course, the screws affixing it to Molly rounded over and had to be drilled out. Then out it slipped. Not too heavy, either. It now rests atop the growing, now snow-covered, pile of Molly's innards. Snow has a way of making it all look pretty.

These are wall panels from the dinette area. They will later serve as templates. It's very important not to lose or abuse any of the connecting plastic strips as they are virtually irreplaceable. But where the heck to put them?

Airstream, baby! First thought when I uncovered this was--polish it! What would this look like if I buffed it out and kept the little piece of un-walked-upon green shag detail at the bottom (a sort of memento of the seventies)? Just a thought. Definitely, the door needs to come off and the hinge sand blasted and repainted.

Bunks are out! All four beds ended up on top of Molly, away from walking areas and, hopefully, mice.

I'm thinking now of just removing these wallpapered panels and replacing with birch ply. Make the cabin feel a little warmer.

Uh-oh. Can you believe this? On an otherwise perfect vessel, too. Good thing I'm a plumber (as well as a brain surgeon).

Looks like this top will have to be replaced. As Jenna put it so succinctly, "Where's the water coming from?" Women.

Out with the bad shag... This is the bay that would have held the generator but now holds an extra fuel tank instead. This is fine with me. After the re-hab, I want to install a solar panel system for powering inessentials when parked.

The inverter hums along... In order to remove this section of carpet, the inverter and all its cables will have to be removed. Don't rush me, I'll get there.

I knew it was coming. The water damage was bad enough to warrant a peek to see what collateral damage may have resulted. Just some rust, what I like to call oxidation. Nothing serious. Now I know where the ribs are located. I intend to replace the panel with birch.

No longer a ceiling, transformed into a template. I love templates.

And the truth shall set you free.

Lousy with wires and ancient foam, but profoundly simpler than the coaches built today. And today's coaches are nowhere as solidly made.

The dinette area. I've figured out the square footage for the flooring. Now we just have to rob a bank. Or a convenience store.

If you squint, it looks like a seventies reel-to-reel, but in reality it's the control panel. Yes, that's right. This is the heart of the machine that is Molly.

I was reflecting last night on how the designers were hell-bent on making the kitchen look like the one at home. At lot of wasted space. Do we really need an oven? Look at the burned spot (see below). There is no microwave, of course. We don't use microwaves at home, but one might be good on board. And do we need a double-welled sink? (Especially one that was held down by ten screws and half a tube of caulk.) I have time to ask these questions. Molly is small (diminutive), and whatever I can do to create the effect of roominess, I should seriously consider doing. My problem (among many) is that my woodworking space is completely filled with Molly. So where to build more cabinets (if that's what I decide to do)? Not one for doing things half-way, as long as she's stripped out like this, I might as well get as much done as I possibly can.


The weekend is upon us, and we still haven't started up Christmas here at rancho Elsewhere. Today I'll get a tree. Have to do some shopping, too. Nothing frantic. We're into small Christmasses. Sunday we take the boys to see the Nutcracker. Hopefully, I'll be back out in Molly at some point. When I do, I'll set about stowing away all the newly-loosened parts, take out all the crappy baseboards, and start the overall, deep cleaning. Already, when Jenna comes to inspect, she wrinkles her nose less. The mildew-y smell is mostly residing out back in the pile behind our shop. A deep cleaning will eliminate the rest. Then we'll decide on a color for the woodwork. Up to now, all my efforts have been focused on demo. Next up is prep. In January, the real work begins. (When Jenna inspects, she says things like "I'm really impressed that you're not overwhelmed by this project." Hey, I know when to keep my mouth shut.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ship to Shore

I removed the battery today (it belongs to Ken, the gent we got Molly from), and plugged in the inverter--voila! we're on shore power. Very cool. Mostly, though, I spent my three hours inside Molly cleaning. I was able to remove the shag from the doghouse in one piece, which means I now have a template. I scraped up/off an enormous amount of ancient carpet pad (had to empty the Fein shop vac, and that's saying something). Then on to the staples. Rusted, dangerous (first blood in Molly), I either pulled or pounded them into submission. Then more vacuuming. Then out with the Milwaukee hole shooter and an appropriate bit to remove those screws that rounded over and refused the urging of my screwdriver. Next up: the reefer. I removed the door and whatever screws that seemed to be holding it in place and--nothing. Wouldn't budge. I have to remove the copper line, of course, but that won't be the thing that's holding it in place. There's another, larger reefer Ken has assured me I can scavenge off an old Winnie, so this one goes in the growing pile out back of the shop. With all the panels and odds and ends and bits and pieces removed (and bagged), and the place vacuumed, it's beginning to feel "under control."

But I've managed to fool myself before.

Thanks and a tip of the hat to father-in-law Bob for the image above. Yes, it's cold in Molly, but Bob brought down a sweet little heater that does the trick very nicely. Why, no more than an hour after I turn it on my gloves are off. But not the coat. (No, that's not the coat I wear when I'm working.) He also brought down an odd-looking beast with no on/off switch that he swears is a dehumidifier. Haven't had a chance to use it yet. Thanks again, Bob.

Believe it or not, I'll have a couple hours tomorrow afternoon. Damn the refrigerator, full speed ahead!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dead Birds are Good Omens, Right?

Our first snow fall! We canceled a doctor's appointment way over in Eugene, and had a snow day, or at least a snow morning. After a weekend of entertaining family, I was ready for a little Molly. So while Jenna took a nap with Chance, Tristan and I set to work ripping green shag and raising clouds of what I hope was not carcinogenic dust. (The original rubber carpet underlayment has become brittle and crumbles into a crystallized cloud of black sand.)


Let's start on the outside. I removed the hatch/vent to the reefer and discovered...more rot:

What's holding this bus together, anyway? It's just a wood frame, but boy is it wasted.

Meanwhile, back on the inside...

Unveiling the heart of the beast:

On the hunt for more rot. This is the passenger side:

And this (I don't know if you can distinguish the rust on the metal rib):

And for every foot of carpet that comes up, there are dozens of staples to be pulled. Thankfully, I have an indentured helper. (Actually, I'm thrilled to have a five year-old who actually wants to help!) At least, for a little while.

Now I can get under the dash:

Here's the driver's side (more rot and rust):

Apparently, the name Travco is not synonymous with Stainless:

And, finally, about that dead bird...

What if I hadn't decided to bring Molly into the 21st Century with a CD player? I would never have known.

Tomorrow we have a lass coming over to hang with the kiddos whilst I continue demolishing Molly, so stay tuned.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

To My Prying Eyes' Surprise

'Twas some weeks before Christmas and all through the house not a sound was occurring, not even the scurrying of a mouse (or in our case mice); in fact, it was a Sunday pm and naptime to boot, so out to old Molly I did myself scoot.

Ouch. Enough of that.

I grab time whenever I can, and this time I thought I'd start ripping off the green shag carpet. It was a mess, but went fairly quickly, resulting in this:

and this:

I was not expecting to find another leak, but another leak I did find. Hooray!

Next, I went to town on the first step. It's always been soggy and saggy, and I wanted to find out why. Now I know.

A new plate will have to be welded under the old one, then playwood applied, then whatever surface material we settle on. No big deal. As Jenna likes to say, at least we didn't pay for it (i.e., Molly).

Speaking of Jenna, this is the woman behind the man behind the blog about the motorhome named Molly:

That's Chance (or, as I like to call him, Fat Chance) peering about for more things to put in his mouth. And, while we're at it, here's the rest of the crew:

From the Christmas parade (obviously). That's Tristan on the left. Guy on the right, never did get his name.

Blaise, my up-and-coming Rawk Star. (Johnny Depp, move over.)

Next up: demo the rest of the shag; bag up screws; start cleaning up the wiring; in fact, start cleaning up altogether. Next weekend will be the First Inspection by father-in-law Bob. Gotta make a good showing.

Now where did I put that broom...