When last I wrote of people, I mentioned being fortunate enough that Jane didn’t “leave me” upon seeing the large aluminum box in our driveway (our wonderful neighbors never complained either). My next tasks were planning and starting the notebook that accompanies all my bigger projects. I had to start somewhere, preservation began with recoating the silver tar roof, getting good tires/wheels. I found Hubcap City (which a guy was operating from his cell phone), he asked what I needed (6 lug, 15″ wheels), then agreed to meet me at a diner on Route 40 to exchange cash for them. (Nice guy, guaranteed the quality and fit, wish I could remember his name).
Next, on to Frank at Interstate tire. He suggests cheap, but quality tires for a trailer because they invariably dry rot before you wear them out. Maybe I’ll wear these out though? Very, very nice guy, dry humor, reliable and NOT mercenary. Funny how many people know of him whenever I mention his shop. Then I used “Service Tire” shop out Route 40 for my Maryland State Inspection. I knew I wouldn’t be finished within 30 days for a re-inspection, but the guy was very helpful and suggested I could patch and repair the frame using welds and “fish plates” on both sides of defects. In my earlier post I described that I cut the bolts holding the camper onto the trailer frame and then moved into the unknown. Somehow the wooden body stayed together as I raised it above the rotted steel. When I towed the newly welded bare steel frame home, my neighbor Ray was ready and willing to help push it into my garage and watch as I washed off the road salt and dirt in preparation for Rustoleum. I skipped the high-tech suggestions of powder coating to shave a few $ from the project, and rolled on primer and satin black figuring the first one lasted >50 years.
Perhaps the biggest contribution came from a long time friend and mentor: Lynn. He had previously scrapped out a camper and offered the systems to me for a price I would have to name. Dometic fridge (propane/electric), water heater (propane), a big Inverter/electric distribution system (that I later abandoned for solar and two parallel but separate systems) and a pump. I gave some sorry low amount of cash and a full bottle of Freon R 12 that I saved from going into the Cockeysville landfill. (later estimated to be worth about 8-12 hundred dollars). He saved me thousands and provided phone consults freely.
His friend Matt came by and unwound one of my many electrical conundrums. Trailer lights should be a very finite problem; 4 wires, just a few functions, but they keep giving me fits at various times (once again today in Maine, I have no R turn or brake….crap, I’ll fix it soon, but it gets pissy). Matt was also involved in helping Lynn get a Jeep for mail delivery, then sending a blue and red tank my way. You’ll likely see them on the back of the 4Runner in some pic or another. One day I’ll be pouring 5 gallons of gas into my truck thinking of how Matt saved me on a road with no open gas stations. (tanks are empty now in the busy east).
John (of Melanie and John, pickup truck loan fame), emailed me a link to the cutest avocado Holiday stove on Craigslist. I drove over to Gilman School to buy it for some $40-ish dollars. Another very nice guy who was making a camper of his own and parted out a broken down 1960’s Shasta. Into my garage it went to wait about a year before I tested and installed it.
Alan (of flat driveway fame, glad to have finally on Mother’s day be unburdened of my big aluminum box) came to my rescue again. He gave me all of the Formica counter coverings seen gracing the dinette table and sink counters. He had rescued this from disposal at work as they rebuilt the laminate rack and restocked the shop.
I called and emailed several different suppliers of solar equipment. The single most helpful contact turned out to be right in Baltimore. Brent at Mr Solar answered all of my usual and unusual questions promptly by phone and email as I learned as much as I could about a new topic. (I wrote a blog about this equipment experience on my Good Old RV’s home page under Solar Newbies). Jane received a nice tutorial introduction to upholstery from Julia, my boss at Sinai. She came by one evening and helped out with the confidence Jane would need as she created the dinette cushions using 20-some pages of internet step-by-steps, where we also learned about cutting on the bias to create your own binding, edging and finished work.
Our great friend Jeff from the Aquarium rescued not a dolphin, but some sheets of 1/4 inch plexiglas that save me 40 bucks as I made double layered windows for the door that “may fend off a bear”. I knew clearly that my temporary single layer of 1/8 stuff had NO CHANCE as just pushing it in hard enough flexed it to allow pulling it out of the tracks.
Another ongoing and invaluable source of info has been Custom Coach. When I find great info and answers anywhere I am happy. When these answers come from a woman in what could be a male-dominated setting, I have admit it adds something. That Jane too ended up saying “she’s the one we really like” was very nice as Jenn answered most questions from her own font of knowledge, happily looked stuff up online and in catalogs and knew the difference between metric or US fasteners readily. Her “Happy Camper” t-shirt and smile made it a pleasure to stop in and add to my knowledge and stockpile of parts that gradually became our Tramper. (not unlike Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang)
I glanced back at this post and remember a Very Fond Morning. I wanted to replace the floor with something nicer than grey-brown chip like peels that once were tiles. I made a paper pattern and was greeted in the sunny driveway by our neighbor CHARLIE. He was about 3 1/2 at the time, but was happy to hold down the paper and linoleum as the wind and bright sun made my tracing a bit harder. He put down a toy and moved freely to help out. After about an hour(!), I could see his attention waning, but I couldn’t have laid that nice checkerboard floor without Charlie’s help. We miss him and wish he could drop in to play with Miss Jane and I.