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, 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!