Sunday, December 14, 2008

What is it?

I believe this is a home-made awning setup. Note the regular rope awning hardware... but with the added pole holder feature? Why?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bracing the Chassis

Today Bob got out the welder and welded in some steel that he had made to fit the chassis. They are there to "reinforce" areas that Bob felt needed it. He still has some other areas to work on. Bob will make steel braces and "reinforce" what is already there... but likely not replace anything. That is the plan anyway. He also stated that his welds "aren't real pretty"... but they will get the job done.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A good look at the chassis

Worst of the damage.... (and to think we towed it 200 miles as is!)

Preparing for chassis/floor work

Today we did a bit of shopping in preparation for the chassis/new floor work. Went to Tractor Supply and purchased some sand to sandblast the chassis with. After this is done, we will purchase 2 1/2" 4'x8' sheets of plywood for the floor. I'm planning on coating both the chassis and the bottom of the floor (facing road) with a product I found mentioned on the Teardrop forum, Black Asphalt Fence Paint:

After the bottom side of the floor and chassis have been painted with this sealer, we will then staple a sheet of roofing paper to the plywood over the sealer. Then the floor will be ready to be attached to the chassis.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Getting at the Chassis

Well, we've got to get at the foundation somehow and get it in good condition. Today an old high school friend came over and spent the day with us working on getting the Gem jacked up, bolts removed and getting the chassis to fall away from the trailer. This was a BIG JOB.
The main problem was NOTHING could break these bolts loose or cut them for that matter. Bob decided the easiest way would be to just chisel the wood around the bolts and let the chassis weight pull it away from the floor. This worked pretty good!
About 2 dozen 1 1/2" screws held the chassis to the floor. Under the 1/2 "inch floor is a thin sheet of "something" (cardboard) that has been undercoated.

Finally, mission accomplished. After spending about 5-6 hours, the cabin is free from the chassis and floating above it on supports. Next we will remove the wheels and pull the chassis outside to work on it. It will be interesting to find out exactly how bad a shape the chassis is in.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Today we managed to man-handle the heater out of the trailer. It was in there good!

We also now have a good look at what might be back behind the paneling and it's not good. No insulation and very little stud work. It appears if we were to peel back the exterior aluminum, we would find very little framework on this trailer, at least far less than I was expecting. On the ceiling you have your aluminum, your paneling, and then a stud of wood "inside", in the interior of the trailer as bracework. Interesting. We are going to try to get the chassis out from underneath the cabin before we begin tearing down the old paneling in the trailer since the paneling itself is much of the cabin support itself. You can get a feel of what I mean by these photos. Note how badly water damaged the edge framework is. Yikes! In any event, we will be getting some rigid insulation in this trailer. We feel insulation is very important to keep the heat out of a trailer in the summer time. It is also a nice sound barrier to any noise. We may have to utilize some of our teardrop building techniques to get insulation in this trailer.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More "destruction"!

We've been slowly removing more from the interior. Today a bench came out, along with the bed and table:

Though most of the floor seems sound, all around the edges of the trailer is bad.. of course the most important part of the floor since that's what the cabin rests on. The corners are especially bad, this corner you can see clean through to the ground through a large crack where the back wall has come away from the floor:

We removed the bed and table. The bed has a thin sheet of paneling that the table hooks to. We will replace this sheet of wood with a nice sheet of birch before re-installing the table. The photo of the table shows the hardware used to create the "stowaway" bed. When the bed is in the down position, resting on the benches, the table is underneath. When you raise the bed up to "stow" along the back wall, the table drops down to give you a dinette area.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Pulled the icebox today. Found a mouse condo underneath.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Tear Down begins

Today we spent a bit of time beginning to gut the interior of the Gem. First thing to go... the carpeting someone had installed. Now I can see what the original tile looked like:

We also began the chore of removing the bench seats, removing the cupboards, furnace and stove. Here you can see the damage to the wood in the front behind the stove:

The next photo reveals where much of the major damage began, in the front of the trailer. A tree had apparently landed on the top front corner and was never fixed. Water damage started at this area and rotted much of that side of the trailer.

We have found some good, bad and the ugly.
The bad and ugly: Underneath a large, ugly, homebuilt cupboard that someone had added, was a huge hole in the countertop. I was hoping for straight countertop and will now have to replace much of it. The original water tank is also missing... but I guess that is ok since we would have replaced the old metal one with a newer plastic model. The plumbing is also gone.
The Good: We did finally find a "stud" and will be going with 3/4" rigid insulation. We also believe the floor might be in quite good shape after all, or at least most of it.
Once we've got it gutted, we plan to remove the cabin from the chassis and slide the chassis out. The foundation is where we will begin our rebuild.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Renovations Begin!

I've decided to start this blog to more easily keep a record of our Schiebout Little Gem renovation. I will be adding lots of measurements and photos to help those who may also have plans to renovate this same trailer model.

I searched about a year for this particular trailer. It is a 1965 Little Gem "Bugg" model trailer. (7' wide, 12' long (includes tongue) and with a 8' cabin) It weighs approximately 1000 lbs. I wanted something very small and easy to tow, yet large enough to stand in. I also wanted to find one that the exterior aluminum was in good shape, since that is the one item I did not want to try to replace or fix. We were especially lucky to find a Bugg model with so much of it's interior intact. An interesting note: This is the only Bugg I have seen that is so "loaded" with interior items. A small oven, a built in toilet, the unusual floorplan..... I've not seen another like it to date.

You can see before photos here:

This is the trailer we will use the most for camping, and we especially plan to use it for any longer trips we make, so it is important to have it in tip-top shape. The plan is restore the chassis, insulate, replace the floor, replace the interior with 1/8" birch, and finally restore the exterior. This will be our most complete vintage trailer renovation to date.

The first order of business is getting the Little Gem inside the garage for a dry, warm workspace. This proved a bit more difficult then we had first imagined.

At first glance, (and from this angle) it doesn't look likely that this trailer is going to fit inside the door. But looking at it at another angle, you get a feeling that it might just work:

What finally worked was the following. We made sure we had a bit of air in the tires, and then unbolted and slide the tongue jack up as high as it would go. This put the tongue on the ground and lowered the trailer. Bob then went around back and got his plow truck. They placed a big piece of wood between the tongue and the plow and literally "plowed" the trailer into the garage. By the time we were done pushing the trailer most of the way in, we had quite a trench dug from the jack/tongue digging into the ground. The last little bit of manuevering into the garage was accomplished with our riding lawnmower.

We will soon begin tear-down of the trailer.