Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Be SURE to Insure!

I know that most peoples Scotty blogs are about the triumph of taking a wounded, often abandoned diamond in the rough and making it shine to perfection. My story has been a bit more of a twisted tale of the trials and tribulations of hitting bumps in the road and (hopefully) recovering from them. Since my last entry after returning from Salisbury Beach, Mass, we have been out of power and incredibly busy, so this is just a little update on what's gone on since Louis made his trip home on the back of a tow truck. The second the tow truck pulled into our driveway, I could tell something was wrong. Upon closer examination, the back skins were ripped off when the driver pulled Louis up onto the back of the flatbed. Disappointing, but not totally tragic, I watched as he lowered Louis onto our driveway. Instead of slowly rolling him off the flatbed, the gentleman (and I use that word lightly) pushed Louis off, scraping him on the ground below then started to raise the flatbed while the tongue was still on the back of the truck. The next few seconds happened in freeze frame as I watched in horror as the driver allowed Louis to slam onto the ground from approximately four and a half feet airborne (his rear wheels were off the ground, he was so high). When the tongue hit the ground with that force, you guessed it, the frame bent. WHAT NEXT, I thought??? Furious with my questioning him and complaints about how he handled my trailer, the driver took off. Thankfully, I have great insurance and, of course, Louis is covered. The long and the short of all of this, thank goodness I do have insurance, because my coverage will cover everything I have to do to make Louis roadworthy again. I've learned many lessons in the process of putting this little gem on the road, but as very important one is to protect your investment, no matter what it is!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Having a BLAST!

Well, it's the Tuesday after Louis' debut at a Scotty event in Salisbury, MA and, boy, did we have a blast. LITERALLY! But, I'll get to that in a second. It's important to understand that I am an incredibly organized individual (at least I fancy myself that way). Whether building a house for incredibly picky clients or working with a tight schedule on a TV show, I learned from day one in my career to take detailed notes, never let my list get out of reach and to anticipate disaster long before it hits. When it came to restoring this little camper then taking it on the road again, I approached the tasks with similar detail and organization. Even days before my trip north I added to my list (already a dedicated program on my computer), which includes things like "THE DAY BEFORE/BEFORE PULLING AWAY FROM HOME (safety chain check, door locked on trailer, hitch locked, lights hooked up, etc.) but last week, for some reason, I left off two major items that would prove invaluable at the end of my camping excursion. The drive from New York through Connecticut and Massachusetts to Salisbury State Reservation in the northern most corner of Mass was beautiful. The weekend was what I had expected and then some. Not only were Scotty's of all shapes and sizes out in full force, but teardrops, Shasta's and other vintage beauties were out to show off for the weekend. Needless to say, a wonderful time was had by all. It was wonderful to finally see these trailers in person, as I'd only had my HiLander to compare any of them to. When I studied Art History in college the best education for me was when I traveled to Europe and engrossed myself in everything art and history. Teachers are fantastic, clearly, but I love hands on, deep-absorption learning. Same goes for rebuilding a Scotty. Because I plan on taking Louis down to the bones and redoing him completely again, I now have extra insight into what others have done. Listening, watching and just looking proved to be an incredible education. So, the weekend was a great success on many levels. Sunday morning I loaded up, said goodbye to my new friends and began the 240 mile journey home. After a few cars passed giving me the thumbs up and shouting what a great trailer I had, I was feeling pretty good. Then someone drove by, rolled down their window and yelled that the drivers side tire was low. No sooner did they pass, the tire blew and shred into a thousand pieces. Luckily I was close enough to an exit I could limp off and rolled into a CLOSED gas station. Yes. Little did I know that most of Connecticut closes on Sunday. After calling my insurance company, the logical thing to do (they said) was leave it and have a towing company pick it up the following day. What I've learned, however, is to triple check my list. I didn't have a spare. I forgot my toolbox at home. I had no way to fix anything. Luckily I printed up the old brochure from the Scotty site and heard from several people at camp how to change a Scotty tire, so think I could've managed, but nonetheless I was ill-prepared and will hopefully never leave home that way again!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Prince and the Pea

My niece loves nothing more than for her Uncle Paul to read a bedtime story to her before she heads off to dreamland. Before she could read my job was a lot easier, but now she'll catch me and say things like, "Uncle Paul, that isn't how the story goes..are you sure you know how to read??" Inspector Gidget has figured out my little secret of speed reading by telling a shortened version of the story. So, a few nights ago via Skype (wow, technology, huh?) I sat at my computer in New York and Devin at hers in LA and I read her The Princess and the Pea (she was on her ipad...at her age I had a Tonka truck and was happy as a pig in mud..). Devin had many questions as I stumbled through the pages (she hasn't grasped time changes yet, so her 9:00 PM bedtime was a bit late for me). She didn't understand why the Princess was acting like, well, such a Princess about the comfort of her bed. In the end, I explained to Devin, the princesses behavior proved to the Price that she was indeed a Princess, as she felt a tiny pea under a stack of mattresses. Unlike the stories I've told in the past, I dragged this one out with Devin and explained that her Uncle, too, was a very picky sleeper. In fact, choosing a comfortable mattress is one of the most important tasks I face when designing a house, for me or clients. When I first bought Louis, for example, I placed an extra long twin mattress in the back to use as a daybed/comfortable bed. Because I knew it would always only be me camping, I knew a twin would do the trick. A few months later, after a torrential rain hit our area (see blog entry: and sometimes I hate when it rains), the mattress was soaked beyond repair. Thanks to a suggestion from a Scotty member, I headed to the Hobby Lobby where I found foam pads at 75% off. Because I tend to be picky with bed comfort, I bought three to make it extra comfy then headed next door to Target where I bought this great foam mattress pad for $9! Stick a boulder under my bed now and I won't feel a thing!
WHAT THIS PROJECT COST ME: The foam pieces at Hobby Lobby were $15/each and the mattress topper was $9, far less than a standard mattress.
WHAT I LEARNED: While I thought the twin mattress was a great idea initially, it was WAY too big to have as a full time daybed. No matter how many pillows I placed on it, the depth was too awkward for adults to sit comfortable. Now, while a bit thinner, it is perfect for sleeping, sitting, reading, etc. and frees up a lot of space in the trailer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Battle Scars

Before I move forward, like many things in life, it is important to take a few steps back, address the wounds of battle, learn from the mistakes and move ahead stronger than ever. No, we weren't victims of gun battle or a surprise attack in the middle of the night, it was a powerful storm with a sweet name that pushed through our neighborhood with the fury of a thousand angry, over-caffeinated warriors. While we live an hour north of Manhattan about a hundred yards east of the Hudson River (directly across from West Point, the sight of a mighty battle), Irene seemed to find strength as she powered her way north. Trees came down, streets flooded and power was out for a week, but thankfully no lives were lost in our area. Louis, however, wasn't as lucky. Days after Irene left town, I discovered a tree had fallen on his streetside, forcing the front skins to burst in the middle like Louis spitting out a blast of angry curse words. Strangely enough, I believe the solid structure of the refrigerator helped keep the wall from totally collapsing, with the pressure breaking the front streetside window and the frame around the emergency window in the back, on the streetside. While I was able to get his essential parts back in order (the side skin was actually easy to manipulate back into place), the water damage was so extensive it looks like I'm going to have to do a total rebuild. So, after my last camp of the season this weekend (or maybe I'll squeak a few more in before the snow falls) I will be looking for a nice dry spot to rest Louis while I take him apart and reassemble him bit by bit. Instead of feeling an overwhelming sense of defeat, I've decided to look at my first mini-restoration of Louis as a good dry run (pun intended), and the next will be even better. Initially I thought of buying another Scotty (which I don't doubt will happen in the near future) and using Louis as a stationary office on our property, but the more I thought of it that felt like a cop out. I love the HiLander. I love its lines, I love the division of space, I love the Scotty Potty and I love the way I felt the first time I towed him home. To abandon him now and keep him from hitting the wide open road to adventure feels like keeping a racehorse in a playpin, so I will take my time over the winter months to make sure he's perfect once again...just like the day he rolled out of the Serro Scotty factory. Bumps in the road are inevitable, it's the way we maneuver through and around them that matters most!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Heeeee's Baaaacckkkkk!!!!!

Do you ever feel like the universe is trying to tell you something? Well, sometimes I feel like the universe is screaming in my face...like a nasty coach with bad breath spitting whilst shouting, kind of yelling. Then I realize if I truly believed that I'd most likely never get out of bed! In fact, I'd be under blankets right now, sucking my thumb watching reruns of Designing Women and trying to figure out how they made the motorhome fly in "Escape from Witch Mountain." I digress. In short, it's been a long month (plus) since my last entry; Irene not only blew through our neighborhood, she huffed, puffed and blew it DOWN, including a lovely tree on our property which, in turn, slammed into Louis' drivers side. Upon seeing that, I felt like I'd shown up to run a marathon, looked down and realized I wasn't wearing any shoes. What's the point? After tireless hours and effort to make Louis road and camp-worthy, I felt totally defeated. So, I took a little break. During that time we also moved (only a few miles away, but a move is a move nonetheless), the rain seems like it hasn't stopped since Noah arrived in his ark, and when I finally worked up the nerve to head back into Louis to attack the project of putting him back together again, something else had attacked him. Perched in a lovely part of our new property (photographed above last week), mice had moved into Louis and taken over every part of his 84 square feet (minus the Scotty Potty, however!). Now, I don't mean to be gross, but it looked like these little rodents had just spent a month on the Mexican Riviera eating nothing but pinto beans while sipping margaritas. They made messes everywhere, including on top of my curtains, inside the stove, ONTOP of dryer sheets I'd left on the mattress. To say it was a mess would be like saying Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton are model citizens...it was a DISASTER. So, I did what any west coast city-raised boy would do. I slammed the door, went inside and made myself a martini. Last week, excited for the forthcoming Turkey campout in Salisbury, Massachusetts where Louis will meet his first Scotty buddies, I kicked into high gear to get him ready. First things first: the mingos had to come out to play, too! Like anything, I had to look beyond the overwhelming piles of mess and take it one square foot at a time. I've washed the curtains, bleached every surface and, most importantly I was able to zero in on the points of entry: over the wheel wells. While I didn't have any food in Louis, I did leave paper product which, unbeknown to me, is a huge no-no as mice love to build nests with anything and everything paper. Lesson learned. Stay tuned this week while I show you close-up shots of Louis' damage from Irene and prepare for our big trip on Friday. My Grandpa Louis never gave up, so neither will I!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to basics

I love gadgets and after Irene ripped through our neighborhood and Louis' left side, I'm happy to have things like my iPad, IPhone and iPod. That said, it makes me insane that I can't figure out how to upload photos from the last few days on my iPad. Power, you guessed it, is still out in our neck of the woods five days after Irenes not so classy exit. The storm, however, also reminded me how important it is to prepare for natural disasters (the southern Californian in me is well aware of the importance to stock pile for natural catastophries). As campers, I think we are a few steps ahead of the rest. My battery operated candles have not died yet, the Coleman lanterns I purchased at target light up our dark nights and the stove in the Scotty has already prepared several warm meals on the last few cool evenings. Back to modern conveniences for just a second...the photos I wanted to share were of the progress I've made with the post Irene makeover of louis. Dare I say, I think he will be back up and running by next week! I used this setback as an opportunity to make Louis better than ever. In my initial restoration of him I only removed the front and rear skins, ignoring the sides because they were in pretty sound shape. Now I've been given the opportuniy, thanks to mother nature, to add new insulation and an extra protective layer of tyvek (used in home projects to protect exterior plywood). Luckily I had extra tyvek and insulation from Louis part one, so no money was spent on this project. Once the power is back on I will add photos to this post to share, but until then it's back to Louis I go!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

COME ON, Irene!!!

Well, it's officially the calm AFTER the storm of Irene. I realized, after walking our property and seeing the fallen trees, our driveway turned into a gushing river and, finally, a huge tree fallen on Louis, that I have nothing to complain about. Things happen. Mother Nature has a way of putting a road block in front of you every now and then, but at least we are here to talk about it today. So, while I was a bit depressed about the new wide-open space on the side of Louis, I'm excited to put him back together and get camping already! To inspire me even more (and maybe a slight ADD distraction) I went on vistaprint.com today and ordered coffee mugs of Louis' progress from when I brought him first home until last week, when I was sipping cocktails in him, proud of the work I've done to bring him back. While he dries out in the bright sunshine today, I will head to the hardware store, grab a few essentials and get back to work on putting him back together. Upon closer examination, while Joe said "it's a total loss" I took the less dramatic road and realized, after doing this once before, if I SLOW down and look at each piece of this puzzle, it really isn't that tough to fix. Well, I'd better leave Starbucks, head to the hardware store and get back to work. I will post pics of Louis once our power is back up and running!
(By the way, the coffee mug idea is actually really cool and only costs $5 at www.vistaprint.com. Upload any photo and you'll have your mug (s) in less than two weeks!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Of Mice and Scared Man

I'm sure you might be asking what on earth the photo above has to do with mice and men, but I will get there. Since my last entry I've been crazy busy with work so I could prepare to take a week to travel to Michigan for my Grandpa Louis' memorial service. If you've been reading my blog you know I named my Scotty after my Grandfather, who showed me how to appreciate the great outdoors in his huge backyard in the Great Lakes State. Last time I was in Michigan we buried my Grandmother, so returning for an equally sad occasion wasn't terribly uplifting. As the smart ass of the family, however, it is my job (or at least I think it is) to keep the mood light, family happy and entertainment going. I had intended on taking my Scotty, Louis, to Michigan and camping on my grandparents property near Cadillac, Michigan in the middle of the state. With gas prices soaring and limited time, I decided to fly so I'd have more time with my family. Before I left I asked Joe to please check on Louis (trailer) every day, peek inside to make sure nothing leaked and just say "hello" when walking by (is that too much to ask, I thought?). Well, apparently it was. I was pleased to find NO LEAKS upon my return after several major down pours, however I walked in this morning with my cup of Joe and paper, opened a drawer to grab a spoon and yet out a yelp heard around the Hudson River Valley...someone had been enjoying Louis while I was a way! Actually, from the look of it, many someone's were enjoying him. Mouse droppings EVERYWHERE. Now, I was always under the assumption that mice followed food, so of course I never, ever leave food anywhere near the trailer. First on my list today is to find a way to get rid of these nasty critters (why didn't the snake I saw weeks ago eat them???). I've heard dryer sheets work (I did that, so apparently they don't), so I need to find another alternative that won't leave the little critters dead in my trailer. Stay tuned. In the meantime, while in Michigan tooting around on my Uncles boat in Lake Charlevoix, I spotted a sail cloth similar to this one and thought it was a really cool way to shade beach-goers, AND would make for the perfect protection for Louis back in New York. I popped on the internet and discovered that everyone under the sun, including Ikea, sell them (many for well under $100) so I jumped in my car and headed to Ikea. The sail cloth I found for $79 is 25' square, so covers him perfectly. If nasty rains do beat down on us, at least he'll have a little more protection! Now off to Home Depot for suggestions on how to get rid of these nasty critters...if you have any, please email me!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Flex like the Pros

Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Well, I mentioned back in June we had a few powerful rainstorms come through our area and right through Louis they went! Just when I thought I had him buttoned up, he leaked like crazy! Instead of throwing in the towel, I grabbed several, dried him up and tried again. This time I listened to the experts of the NSSO and the SSCE sites who had talked about using Proflex and Butyl tape to stop leaks. I had used everything BUT these products and, guess what, none of them worked! A previous owner attempted to seal the leaks with roof tar which, I'm sure you can imagine, is like putting a mixture of peanut butter and honey on your roof. It's a gooey mess and attracts everything from road debris to bugs yet does nothing for leaks. I tried every possible bottle of caulking available at Home Depot and Lowe's, resisting the 75 mile drive to the nearest Camper Supply store. Finally, after the June leaks, I decided to make the trek up to Campers Barn where I found the tape and ProFlex. So, I went back to the drawing board, replaced wet wood with dry, ripped out my fabric wall, primed and painted the area inside, reconfigured the bed and put several strips of the Butyl tape on the seams outside of the trailer and added Proflex anywhere I thought might leak. Last night, with a summer storm descending upon us, I decided to sleep in Louis for the night to make sure he was leak free...better to figure that out at home than on a long camping journey! To my surprise, I woke up rested and DRY! Next time, I need to listen to the pros FIRST. But sometimes lessons are found in little mistakes and bumps along the road!
WHAT I DID: one tube of ProFlex cost me $8 and the tape, I believe, was around $36 which made me gasp BUT, it worked! I climbed on my ladder and covered each seam with the butyl tape (comes in white and black) and along the tongue to tail seams on the roof I added ProFlex (with a caulking gun) to any open areas.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Behind Window #3

In my family if I ask for someones opinion I usually get 10. If I don't ask for an opinion, I get at least 20! When it comes to working on this great little Scotty, however, I love all the opinions and advice I've been getting to make Louis as perfect as he can be..or at least as good as I can make him! I've obviously been in a little battle with myself about where to place an Air Conditioning unit and have received countless great ideas. However, as I've heard over and over, no two Scotty's are alike (or something like that), as is the case when opening up a cabinet where something should be, only to find nothing but mouse droppings and dog hair. While someone might have almost the same trailer as mine, maybe I have an extra door where they don't or a water tank positioned a tad different than theirs. Yet one more thing that makes these trailers so unique in my opinion! The latest advice on where to place my cooling system, I believe, is what's going to work best. Thank you, Rose, for opening my eyes to something that was right in front of me that I never would have seen had my nose not been pushed right into it. My 79 HiLander has a rear escape hatch (that sounds cooler than it is, it's actually an emergency window exit). Now, I'd certainly seen the red window pulls and markings for an emergency exit but assumed it would fly off, blast out into the universe, never to be seen again. Well, this isn't the Space Shuttle, it's a Scotty and, thankfully, that didn't happen. Rose suggested I open this when at camp and place an ac unit in the opening. Why didn't I think of that? So, now I just need to design a shelf with support brackets strong enough to hold the unit on the outside of the trailer and some kind of insulation so I don't look like a cast member from the Beverly Hillbillies when at camp. Once again, I asked and I received some great advice from my Scotty pals. Thanks so much...now I've got to go cool off!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Two steps forward, one project behind

Well, ADD kicked into high gear this weekend, clearly. When designing a clients home I usually like to be left alone because my process is quite frenetic. I'll place a sofa in a corner and move it to another room five minutes later. Design, in my mind, is an organic process, constantly evolving until the perfect look and feel is achieved. This process doesn't necessarily work all of the time, as was the case today when I went to cut the opening for my new ac unit in Louis. Yesterday, excited to get a jump on this project and desperate to see progress before demolition, I adjusted the bed size inside (mainly so I could add a bit more room and not hinder airflow if the ac was hidden under the bed). When I opened Louis rear (that sounds awful...but looking at it I did have to laugh), I noticed my water tank blocking the space where (in my minds eye) I thought was the perfect spot to slip in an ac unit. It's always something, huh? For a nano second I thought about moving the tank but it just doesn't look like that's possible. So, back to the drawing board I go, most likely placing the ac back in the window in the rear. As I mentioned before, I'd like to make this a mobile unit, so in the winter or when I don't need the AC I can leave it at home and not have the eye sore of a big bump out my rear window. Anyway, I'm happy with the new sofa/bed situation inside, but I've got to think a little bit more on the placement of the ac. Humm.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Making my bed and sleeping in it

This weekend was positively gorgeous on the east coast. Warm, dry and crystal clear so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to get working on installing an air-conditioning unit before the sweltering heat and humidity returns like an unwelcome relative. So, to start the process I had to re-address another project I attacked shortly after buying Louis. I removed the overhead bunk, not only because it was totally rotted out, but because I will never need that space as a sleeping area and I wanted to acquire more headroom for adults sitting on the rear sofa. Initially, mostly to save money, I placed a twin mattress from a daybed we had on the back bed area. It was comfortable for sleeping, but as you can see it took up more space than I realized (I had to pull the unit out to almost full-sleep mode at all times). If I'm installing an ac unit under the bed from the outside, I need to cut a hole under the bed, so assumed I'd get rid of the twin and bought foam from the Hobby Lobby (thanks for the great tip, Becky!). I'm not a big guy (5'11" and about 170 on a good day) so pushing the bed back to sofa size is just perfect for me. Where I lost the under bed storage with my sassy aqua colored bins, I created shelving for them on either side of the bed. I was SHOCKED at what just a few square feet can do..literally about eight...but it makes a world of difference. Now I've placed the dining table back where it goes and can put my folding table next to the sofa when I'm using it as my home office. Next step, cut the opening and insert the ac unit!
WHAT I DID: To prepare the bed for adult sleeping AND the twin mattress, I reinforced the bed supports back in April. So, I removed them, took the mattress out and purchased two 76" x 27" foam pieces at Hobby Lobby for 30% off (about $36). Placing them both on top of each other, I've created a comfy sofa and great sleeping area.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back to the rear

There's been a lot of talk about my rear-end lately, actually Louis behind, because I'm trying to figure out where to place the air conditioning unit without jeopardizing the overall look of my Scotty. Chances are John Serro didn't have a giant GE humming behind his head as he slept in his Scotty's, so why should I...was my initial thought. Then, humidity forced me to come to my sense. So this weekend I perched on a chair in front of Louis with a cold margarita and drew a plan to install a rear window with hinges, allowing me to slip in a unit while at camp and remove it when I didn't need it. Thanks to one of my SSCE buddies, Wendy, I have a better idea. I believe the rear trunk area on Louis was not original to the design, but I could be wrong. I have a tiny hatch in the back of the trailer to access items stored under the rear bed. So, smart Wendy came up with a brilliant idea...stick the ac unit THERE. Humm. Why the heck didn't I think of that? The opening is 14" high by 24" wide, perfect for slipping in an ac. In an effort to shave some pounds off his rear while in tow, I will NOT do a permanent install. Instead, I can still use the area for storage, etc. and when it's hot and muggy outside, I can slip the ac unit in the back and chill out. This weekend my first project will be cutting a hole under the bed area from the inside, installing a grate over it (I happen to have a stainless panel left from some interior cabinetry work I did on our house) and prepping the storage area with tracks on either side to support the ac. One more example of where it pays to have good connections. Thanks, Wendy, for helping me cool down on a hot summer night!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Exposing my back side

It aint always pretty, I know, but I felt the need to let it all hang out because, quite honestly, I can't do this one on my own. And, if you're in my relationship boat and have a partner with zero interest in helping on a restoration project, then you know where I'm coming from. In my research, chats, and midnight browsing of Scotty's on ebay, the SSCE and NSSO sites, I've learned that no two Scotty's were made EXACTLY alike, which makes this project a wee bit difficult. As mentioned in previous posts, I ripped the AC unit out of the back of Louis mainly for aesthetic purposes. Now, in the heat of summer (and I promised not to complain anymore about this, but Jesus, when did we move to Vietnam??) I'm beginning to see the value in having a cooling option on hot days. Now, the designer in me is taking a slightly different approach to this project. Because I still feel the AC unit in the rear is a bit of an eyesore (and heavy in tow), I thought of creating a hinged window...stay with me here...I'd like to replace the space left by the previous owner with a new (old, that is) Scotty window and hinge it on the bottom. That way, for winter or spring campouts when an AC isn't necessary, I can keep the unit at home and enjoy the nice window. When it's hot, humid, and I want to scratch my face off I can lower the window, insert the ac and enjoy a calm, cool vacation. So, here's the plan (and where I need suggestions, please). I'd like to create a seamless frame along the side of the window which, in turn, will act as supports when I put the window down for the AC. I've got the window design, hinges, etc. in my mind, but the question I'll put out there (and email me at paul@paulhechtdesigns with suggestions), is how to insulate the edges when in ac mode to keep the other summer annoyances out..BUGS! So, I think I can manage the window but need advice on the rest. And off I go.......

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cooler heads prevail

I think I've officially complained about the summer heat in the northeast enough, so in an attempt to cool myself down I plopped an air conditioning unit in Louis' window (to test the weight, where I might need extra supports when at camp, etc.) and got to work on a few interior tweaks. When I design a home, including my own, I have a plan in mind but rarely do I ever stick to that plan. A design plan may look perfect on paper, but in the room reality can look very different. Joe is often frustrated when he comes home from a long day, throws his keys where the key-catch was that morning, only to discover I have moved it to another room. What can I say, I enjoy a little variety, so tend to re-design our rooms every other month. So, why should my Scotty be any different? I like testing textures, colors, etc. and had a problem with my original Dometic refrigerator. When I brought Louis home the refrigerator, while in working condition, looked better suited for the set of the "Brady Bunch." In fact, it looked like it hadn't been touched since the 70's; rusted, moldy, and in dire need of attention, I wanted to give it a bit of a face lift. Originally I thought stainless steel paint would be the best choice, but a few months later, true to form, I changed my mind. This old Dometic, in my opinion, looks much better in a cool, Scotty blue!
HERE'S WHAT I DID: To rid this old fridge of it's musty smell I cleaned it thoroughly, inside and out, with Clorox bleach and prepped the outside with a good-old brillo pad to get rid of the chipping paint and rust spots. After priming with a few coats of Z-primer, I applied two coats of the same semi-gloss Scotty Aqua paint I bought at Lowe's (formula is in a previous blog or on the SSCE site). The extra coat of primer means it will stand the test of a few finger nail scratchings and still look fabulous!
WHAT IT COST AND HOW LONG IT TOOK: This project cost me nothing because I used paint from a previous project and had the brillo pads. Including waiting for the paint to dry (with air-conditioning running), total time for project was under an hour.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Joanie loves Tchotchke

I'm sure the die hard Scotty restorers will simply look at this and move right on to someone else's blog, but the little pieces of any project are always part of the bigger picture, in my mind. We recently moved from California to New York state, and don't get me wrong, I love our new home in the Hudson Valley. However, I can't stand the humidity! When I open our front door and walk outside, it feels like Oprah has tackled me wearing a wool suit. Hot, still, suffocating and totally disgusting. So, to escape the heat I've turned my focus to accessorizing Louis. After my maiden voyage last month I commented to one of our members that I didn't understand how larger individuals snuck into the dinette area. I'm not a big person at all (5' 11" and 165lbs) and I can barely do it without knocking everything off my table. I LOVE the original table and plan on finding vintage Scotty blue Formica someday when I can afford it, but for now I just want a comfortable space where I can hang out with Joe, sip a vodka tonic and enjoy Louis. So, I removed the table and created an area under my daybed in the back to store it in a safe place (details of HOW I did this will come in a later blog). I then popped over to Ikea and purchased this great stainless folding table I can use in or outside for $12. It's perfect for two people and makes plenty of room for easy entry and exit. Of course I couldn't stop just at Ikea. It's no secret that I love to collect everything from yellow ware and McCoy pottery to Jadeite and fiesta ware. Yes, I love tchotchke's, but I like to think my approach is fairly tasteful. So, now, my obsession is everything 70's I can find. Target had a sale on these modern-looking cocktail napkins and Scotty blue stripe for $.50/pack. I found the reversible placemats at walmart for$1.99, the vintage metal picnic basket with faux-wood grain finish (figured I would use this as a nightstand next to the bed, place books and flashlight, etc. in it) was purchased at an antique store for $10 and my favorite find to date is another Ikea find: the solar powered, adjustable lamp for $19.99! Simply pop out the solar panel, let sit in the sun for at least twelve hours then enjoy a bright night (well, at least six hours!). So, as my "Louis List" sits with no additional red check marks next to projects, I'm closer to having enough camping accessories to make it a guaranteed good time!
WHAT I DID: While sitting in an air-conditioned Starbucks (our hundred year old farmhouse does NOT have air-conditioning), I jumped on my ipad and created a design on my house planner app. I'm trying to figure out a good place to install my new air conditioner without it looking horrible. When it cools down I'll attack that project, in the meantime I picked up awesome things for my next campout at Target, walmart and Ikea. Nothing too expensive, just fun things I can use for years to come.
(and, yes, you'll notice my back cushions are missing in these photos as I'm attempting to teach myself how to sew. THIS should be interesting and will also be a later blog!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hot and bothered

I overheard my father say he was an "ass man" and, quite honestly, I threw up a little bit in my mouth! But, hey, good for him, I guess. I, too, appreciate a good looking behind, so when I brought Louis home in April I thought the air conditioning unit sticking out of his behind looked like a hemorrhoid in dire need of attention. Before I unhooked Louis from my truck, I popped that AC unit out of the back window (cut open by a previous owner and rigged in pretty tight). This was, hands down, one of the most difficult projects I attacked on my restoration project. Clearly the previous owner did a darn good job in getting this puppy in the Scotty, because it took me the better part of two hours to get it out. That was April. It was cool, breezy and I couldn't imagine needing AC in this tiny, little abode. Now it's mid-July and the Hudson Valley feels like Vietnam and I keep finding myself asking, "did I make a mistake taking that out? I still DESPISE the way it looks in the back (no offense to anyone that has one similar), but there must be a way to pop one back in (I found a used AC unit on Craigs list, met the guy in a parking lot because I'm still a little Leary of the Craigslisters, and snagged this one for $25!). So, here's what I've done (after pics will come shortly), but I've figured out a way to slide it in when I'm at camp, making it secure enough that bugs and water won't get in. Maybe it's just my giving up on finding a replacement window, or the heat is getting to me so much I've thrown my design aesthetics out the window!
(photo is louis on the day after I brought him home, before tearing out the awful eyesore)

Monday, July 11, 2011

What's in a label?

When I was a kid I loved everything IZOD. Many days would find me sporting the alligator on my shorts, shirt, sun visor and even socks. To me, Izod (and maybe OP) symbolized everything that was cool in my seven year old eyes. Today I am less concerned with labels, in fact I try to run away from them as often as I can. When it came to restoring my Scotty, however, I have searched high and low for every possible Serro item I can find. When I owned Airstreams it was fairly easy to find everything from ashtrays to throw pillows, doorknobs for a Bolus to wheel covers for a Bambi. Scotty searches, however, haven't been as easy. A fellow newbie Scotty restorer, Amy, emailed me the other day a bit frustrated after finding a few spots of water damage in her Scotty. Anxious to get camping and thrilled with her new purchase, Amy ordered curtains, planned her redecorating adventures and headed out one rainy night to check on her new getaway...only to find it leaking like a water filled piece of cheese cloth. I told Amy not to fear because I'd been right where she was last week. And the week before, and last month...My excitement to see progress, get camping (coupled with a bit of Attention Deficit Design Disorder) had me painting the outside first, purchasing new flooring before ripping up the old, etc. But, that's just part of my process. Part of illuminating the light at the end of my reno tunnel was to purchase Scotty stickers for the front and back of Louis. I found these by doing a quick search on ebay, and purchased two for $19.99/each. I told myself I could NOT put them on Louis until he was finished. Something so simple helped me push ahead when I felt like pulling louis out of the picture for a while. When the Serro Scotty Labels arrived in the mail I knew I was close to the end of my project and closer to camping. Now, this photo doesn't represent the finished project by any means, but it was far enough along in my opinion to label the roof "finished" by adorning it with the Scotty pup. So, Amy, take one day at a time, one drip at a time and know that you're one step closer to the finish line!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Movin' on UP

Louis has come a long way in the last few months. When I set out on this mission to find an inexpensive trailer I never thought I would find something as interesting, yet challenging, as this little Scotty. Despite the many challenges along the restoration way (my budget being the main one) I never lost focus of my main goal: to create a cool weekend escape on wheels where I can get away from the haste of my day and retire to the cool, comfort of the great outdoors. I've had a few people email me from the Scotty group for advice on how to restore their trailers and, while they loved the photos of my work, they were most impressed by my total lack of trailer restoration knowledge! Humm, now that's a first! But, I understand what they were looking for. When I walk into my mechanic and describe what rattle is banging around the explanation is often heard as though I were in the first day of an advanced Chinese course (I've only studied Spanish and French). In other words, the easiest explanation is often the best. Amy and Wendy, who are pushing ahead with their restorations with gusto, have emailed asking various how-to questions and have met many, many bumps in the road. So, to them and for them, I take a quick peak back for a look at my process over the last few months. I don't have a garage to work in, I don't have an interested partner in restoration crime to work with, I only have my tools, a tiny budget and the help from my Scotty friends. I will tell you what I tell my design clients. Don't get overwhelmed in the messy details. When you start to paint a room you will think it's never going to end. Focus on that wall, that room and THEN the bigger project gets smaller and smaller.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Counter Productive

I'll admit my A.D.D is all over the map (isn't that what ADD is anyway??), so after purchasing another tube of proflex to ensure my roof is sealed tight, as I got the ladder out to head up to finish the task, I remembered five other little projects I wanted to knock off my list. While Joe laughed at me as I zigged and zagged all over our yard with various tools in hand, I knew I was being productive as I worked through my list. I'm envious of the gorgeous vintage countertops I've seen in trailers on both Scotty sites, but I just can't afford to put that money into Louis at this time. However, his counters leave a lot to be desired. Several stores sell contact paper that mimics countertop tile, but I just didn't want to go that route. Until my budget goes a little higher for this reno, I came up with a simple, quick, clean solution. I sanded and cleaned the counters, re-glued the trim strips and painted two coats of Porch and Floor paint in high gloss white. Because the finish is perfect for high-traffic, outdoor spaces I knew it would survive a few bumps and bruises from my camping dishes. Someday I'll have those vintage countertops, but for now they're looking pretty good!
HOW MUCH THIS COST ME: Actually, I used paint we already had so NOTHING. However, I purchased the quart at Home Depot for another project for $8.99!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Strip tease

I have to say, every time I look out our front door at Louis, nestled in his corner surrounded by trees and flamingos, I just have to smile. Then I start thinking about the number of projects I have left and my eye begins to twitch. Like I've said before, it's the little projects that take up so much time and can be a bit overwhelming when looking at them as a whole. So, I chip away at them day by day. One project that was weighing heavily on me was the sewing and installing of curtains. A.) I don't sew and B.) I've had a sewing machine for several months, still sitting brand new in its box and I just don't want to face it. So, as I mentioned last week, I headed to the Christmas Tree Shop (love this place for all kinds of cheap finds, www.christmastreeshop.com) where I found, what I think, are the perfect curtains for Louis. Each set for $5.99 includes two 36" panels and a valance. By purchasing four sets I can cover all of the windows (two valances go on the front window, the other two go on the small upper windows in the back area, longer panels go on all other windows). So, for a little under $30 I found cute, great curtains for Louis. One other little project I scratched off my list, was adding a white strip of trim in front of the storage baskets I have under the daybed. When I travel I can leave all the contents in the baskets and not worry about them flying all over the trailer in route. Little trim, little liquid nails and I've got a lot of security for my storage!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Feeling a little blue

A quick glimpse at my renovation receipts and, shock of all shock, the most money I spent was on SPRAY PAINT from walmart that I (bless my heart) thought looked close enough to the Scotty Aqua/Turquoise (I think it was a tad too blue). I've read on one of the two Scotty sites that some believe the 1979 HiLander switched to a Brown trim and moved away from the Aqua. This is NOT the case with Louis, as after I peeled off the Pizza Hut red I revealed the original color underneath with the yellow at the front. While normally I would take that sample in to Lowe's or Ace and have them scan it to match the color, I noticed on the SSCE site the color formula for the Aqua. The only difference when I went to Lowe's was they no longer sell oil based paint for environmental reasons. The previous owner brushed the red and silver colors on and I don't feel like sanding the entire trailer, so will do the same. I, however, like to splurge on a nice brush so purchased a Purdy brush. I bought exterior and interior high gloss and went to town! Yes, some might say I went a bit too far, but had a blast matching my new cooler with the old Scotty colors. To jazz up my cabinet doors a bit I added the color to the center panels. I love it and am so happy to have the matching formula!
WHAT I DID: Purchased a quart of exterior and one quart of interior HIGH GLOSS VALSPAR paint in this formula: Base 1, 101-5.5, 102-6.5, 103-31

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Naughty Potty

Finally the rain stopped, humidity stayed away for at least a day and I had enough time to drag a fan out to Louis and let the paint dry. So, here's what I've done to make this Scotty Potty a little more interesting. As I've said, this part of my redesign was the last on my list, because I just didn't think I would use this as a bathroom at all..UNTIL my maiden voyage. I don't like brushing my teeth in a public restroom (call me a snob) and having a late night place to release without walking through the dark woods was yet another added bonus. Plus, if and when I ever sell Louis, I'm sure the added feature of a wet bath will come in handy. After I figured the toilet situation out (where it leads to, how to clean and dump it, etc.) I felt much better. With my initial plan in mind (to spend as little as possible) I used paint I'd already had for other projects, adding my own little flare so now people won't mind going in there!
HERE'S WHAT I DID: The main interior of Louis is wallpapered with my great find from Amazon, cabinets are white and the dinette is painted turquoise/Aqua. I used three distinct colors/textures (wallpaper, white and Aqua) to make three distinct areas, giving the illusion of a bigger space. The Potty room marries all of these looks in one, funky, yet cohesive way. On the vanity I placed the same wallpaper as in the main areas. I removed the door, painted it white and updated the handle by painting it a mat black. Because removing the original wallpaper would be a pain in the neck and most likely result in more damage to the walls, I simply primed them with ZPrimer and added two coats of Semi Gloss bright white paint. For the floor I added a dark grey porch and floor paint. For that fun flare, I took the same aqua from the main area (mixed with both primer and paint at Ace Hardware) and painted stripes. Because I wanted these to trick the eye a bit (is it wallpaper or hand painted?) I did these freehand, without painters tape, no measuring distance between, etc. I love the somewhat artsy look of it (I drew lines on the wall with a pencil, made sure I didn't have too much coffee before I started to paint, and slowly followed the lines). For added protection on the floor (just in case it's ever used as a shower again) I added a coat of poly protectant. The only money I spent on this redo was $5.99 for the furry seat cover at Kmart (couldn't resist) and the valance curtain I pulled from a set I purchased at the Christmas Tree Store for $5.99 (set came with valance and two 36" curtains I will use in the main part of the trailer. Because we have 5,000 shower mats, I took one and cut it to size for the top of the toilet box. The interesting thing I noticed last night as we sipped martinis, you can actually create extra seating by having someone sit on the pot! Hummm
HOW LONG THIS TOOK AND HOW MUCH: Again, it was under $15 for my accessories and took two hours but almost a week to dry with the humidity and rain!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Aqua light special

I don't usually shop at Kmart. In fact, I thought they were out of business until I was leaving the Lowe's/Christmas Tree Store parking lot yesterday and noticed a big, red "K" out of the corner of my eye. Because I'm always on the hunt for anything AQUA, I figured I'd pop in. Little did I know I'd return home an hour later to find a totally soaked Louis (scroll down two posts if you haven't seen what I'm facing today as my first project), so I was in bliss when I found these great items on sale. The chairs were a great steal, I think, at $14.99/each and the metal folding table was $34.99 and also came with a choice of metal folding chairs for $19.99/each (seems like they'd be a bit warm in the sun. What I was really on the hunt for and FINALLY found for under $5 was the final touch I was looking for in my Scotty Potty. Again, sorry for the delay in revealing the final photos, but I've got to get working on my new water damage before pushing ahead with the final touches on the potty room. At any rate, at the end of the day, in spite of everything frustrating that happened, at least I know there is a blue light special at the end of the tunnel!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I love a rainy day

I was born in Seattle so, naturally, I love a rainy day. Today where I live on the opposite coast it is raining cats and angry dogs, so I've decided to head out to pick up a few extra things for Louis since it doesn't look like I'll be able to finish my painting project in the bathroom any time soon. So, I jumped in the sleigh and headed to the north pole. Actually, I jumped in my Land Cruiser and headed north to Poughkeepsie, New York to the Christmas Tree store where I found these great curtains for Louis for $5.99!!! The valance fits the front and rear windows perfectly, and each set comes with a valance and two 36" curtains. I love, love, love them and it saved me from sewing!!!
HERE'S WHAT I DID: Stopped into the Christmas Tree Store and found this great set of curtains (two panels and a valance) for $5.99/set. Initially I had gone to Michael's arts and crafts store and purchased sewing tape (easily applied to back of fabric and either ironed on or double stick taped to create seam), but this is a much easier solution. And, because they're so inexpensive I can still make my Michael's version and, just like in my home, change out the look periodically to keep it fresh and interesting!
WHAT IT COST ME: $5.99 for a set, I bought THREE so I could put two valances on the front cafe window. You'll also notice the striped tablecloth I bought for $2.99. My idea? Place a piece of rope or window rubber (similar to what I used on the screen project) and roll it under one side, similar to piping on a chair or sofa. Then I will place that end in my awning strip on the trailer. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, we'll see. In the end, it's only $2.99 so if it won't work as a cheap awning, I'll recover a few outdoor chairs and use them when I'm camped at home!

And then there are times I can't stand the rain!!!

I remember buying an expensive leather chair at Restoration Hardware one year. I was so excited, yet stressed because I splurged on the purchase, but figured I'd worked hard enough and deserved it. Joe and I went out to celebrate with dinner that night and returned to find the $3,500 chair I'd just purchased chewed into a thousand pieces by our dogs, Bones and Canyon. In that moment I wanted to scream, cry and vomit all at once but instead I told myself, "I won't let this defeat me" and I didn't. We realized we had accidentally locked our doggy door (both Bones...passed away last year...and Canyon are rescue dogs and HATE being locked indoors) so, in an attempt to get out and TELL US HOW ANGRY THEY WERE TO BE LOCKED INSIDE, they destroyed the chair. Today, when I popped back into Louis midday to see if the bathroom was finished I smelled something musty and awful. I looked towards the back and this is what I found....again, my fault. I haven't replaced the rear window yet, only put a plexiglass quick fix up, so what did I expect? The other corner, however, I have no idea why is leaking. So, instead of pushing Louis off a ledge into the Hudson, I will take apart the back roof when the sun comes out and get to the root of the problem. A leather chair is one thing, a Scotty is another. This, too, shall pass.
WHAT I DID: After relieving the total urge to scream and storm off, I weathered this storm and, just like when I started the project, I took it apart piece by piece to find the source. My twin mattress is soaked, so I've put that indoors with a fan and dehumidifier. I then removed the fabric wall I made and the foam behind it. Apparently the marker lights on the rear roof, streetside, are still leaking. So, when the rain stops I will figure that out. And, obviously, I need to replace the rear window where I removed the air conditioning. For a moment I forgot I was no longer in Southern California, so this is a chance I shouldn't have taken and one I'm paying for. BUT, I'm determined not to spend a penny to fix this.
WHAT I LEARNED: I've got to take the time to make sure things are water tight before moving on to the next project!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Instant Gratification

This weekend found me getting down and dirty in Louis bathroom, a project I have put off since I bought him back in April. Why? Quite frankly, the tiny room scared me. It smells, I'm not sure how it works and I just didn't want to screw anything up. But, this weekend I decided to face that fear (especially after my maiden voyage when nature called at 3am and I was too tired to walk the 200 feet to the public restroom, a WORKING restroom can come in handy!) so I put on my work clothes and climbed underneath the trailer, determined to figure this thing out. Because I wasn't sure where to start, I took photos and posted them on the NSSO and SSCE sites for answers, which came in by the dozens. My main question was where does the "stuff" go, because I never saw a tank of any kind. While the commode is raised on a box, it is NOT a holding tank, so upon closer examination I realized that the tank was most likely removed at some point, or never there in the first place. There are lines from the water tank which fill the commode once the lever is pushed, but I believe a separate, portable tank is necessary. So, check that question off of my long list, and now it's time to head back inside and work on the pretty part, like getting rid of the moldy wallpaper and adding my own "flare." You'll have to check back tomorrow for the before and after shots of that because it was so muggy my paint wouldn't dry. But, here's a quick hint of what I've done...the floor (which also doubles as the shower floor with a drain in the middle) was rusty and pretty nasty. So, I grabbed a can of porch and floor paint in dark grey and used that (totally water proof, etc.) for a clean, dramatic look. While I waited for the paint to dry, I grabbed a cup of Joe and talked to my Joe...which reminds me of another little secret I discovered. I don't function in the morning until I've had at least two cups of coffee. On my maiden camping voyage my incredibly lovely mother-in-law, Peggy, made coffee by boiling water on her outdoor propane stove. This process took twenty minutes. By the time it was finished I was chewing bark off the trees around our campsite! Then I came home and discovered a lovely little secret at my local Starbucks...INSTANT COFFEE. Now, the thought of instant coffee often conjures up the image of watered down, tasteless coffee. This is far different from that! Dare I say, it's delicious, and I need not tell you what a coffee snob I am! Simply add hot water, stir and enjoy! Boxes of twelve of Starbucks VIA coffee start at $8.99, come in different flavors and ranges, and are available in stores and online at www.starbucks.com. Impatient like me? Wait not more, instant is just a few seconds away!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Good Book

Ok, it's no secret that I've been remiss in posting any photos of work I've done on Louis because, quite honestly, it's been too damn hot or raining like the dickens, so I've been doing most of my work indoors. After my maiden voyage a few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to take notes on work I've done and make a list of all the things I've forgotten or haven't gotten to yet. One major thing on that list is addressing the bathroom/closet. I wish I loved the original wallpaper, but it makes me think of a sad basement or nursing home and it smells a bit of urine and moldy water. So, that will be first to go...but before I jump the gun and start redesigning the pretty parts, I have to figure out how the nuts and bolts of it work. A previous owner attached a clothes rod in the middle, which comes in quite handy, so I hung my clothes and stored outdoor chairs, etc. for travel. However, after a few Vodka Tonics campside, three AM came around quickly and when nature called I wanted nothing to do with walking out in nature, so just tested out the facilities in Louis. To my surprise, it wasn't the tragedy I thought it might be. Instead, it left me with several questions. So, I came home and quickly sent out a question to the SSCE and NSSO groups, to which I got amazing replies. So many, in fact, I was a bit overwhelmed. So, just like I'd advise someone attacking a home project to dial themselves down and look at each individual part, I decided to print up the original Scotty manual and all advice from both sites. This way, I have all the answers to my questions in one, cohesive place (you know how difficult it can be to sift through hundreds of emails looking for answers). After a few minutes, I've got an owners manual (with thanks to the great information posted on the SSCE site). I also added photos of other peoples redo's so I can take my binder with me out to the trailer, study it and get to work. The next photos I post here will hopefully be of that Scotty Potty getting a much needed makeover!
WHAT I DID: Hoped on over to Target and picked up a cool binder and protective plastic sheets so my papers don't get dirty or wet. Came home and jumped on the SSCE site, printed up the pages for the Hilander Manual along with emails of advice, and plopped them in the book. Sure, if you buy a Mercedes today they'll give you the owners manual on an ipad, but my version suits me just fine!