Thursday, October 29, 2009

Countertop and kitchen cupboard area

Lately we've been working on the kitchen area. We decided on a "satin stainless" laminate by Wilsonart for the countertop:

Since someone had cut a huge square out of the original formica, we had to replace it. We also replaced a quite a bit of the wood due to previous water damage.

I really love the neutral color of the satin stainless, it seems to be tough stuff and looks really nice down. Above is a photo of what the material looks like in use.
We are also changing things about a bit concerning the original cupboard spaces. We also painted the brown plastic sink with white appliance paint and it looks great. Photos in the future.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ruby's mini skirt

Today we finished putting a skirt on the front of Ruby. When we removed it originally, we didn't pay close attention to how it was installed. Without the skirt, the edge of the floor was open to the elements in the front.

We placed the skirt behind the front aluminum and then brought down just enough to cover the floor. We then held it all in place with a length of aluminum edgeing. Turned out pretty good and now we won't have to worry about water kicking up and damaging the exposed floor.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Before Shot.

It's been raining here and we've found a couple of areas that aren't waterproof on the Gem. Since we know how hard it can be to get a water-tight trailer, we decided that before we install any interior wood, we would first make sure things were sealed well from the outside.The trouble with our Gem is it is FULL of too many/extra holes. Folks have over the years tried to keep water out by adding more and more screws and more and more putty or silcone. Also, the trim is in such bad shape, it is hard to get it to mold or "seat" correctly. In the end, we have holes that shouldn't be there in spots that needed to be filled in with something.We went to the local rv store and besides putty tape, we are also using 2300MHRV.

We will fill any extra holes with this and also back out ALL screws on the exterior and put a drop on each screw and drive back in. We will also likely drive a bead along each trim edge to help ensure no water can get in. This stuff is suppose to be very good and also PAINTABLE.
Do your best when buying a vintage trailer to get one in the best condition you can find...... or be prepared for lots of added work.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another good day at the junkyard

After a morning prowling around the local junkyard, we managed to find the guts/mechanism to open/shut the door windows. It will need a bit of tweaking.. but will get the job done.

Also pulled some like new wiring from an older trailer and will use it to wire the interior of ours. (Which won't require much... one light and one wall socket likely will be it. We will also have it wired for a 12v light)

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Modern Tail-lights

Though we like the vintage look of the old Bargman tail lights, we decided for travel purposes... we wanted something modern and bright. Since we hope to often travel to the mountains of Tennessee, with fog and rain often a factor, LED lights would be a nice addition.

We paid about $50 for them but it was a feature we felt was worth it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Outside light

Another item not original to the trailer, but that we want to make sure we have. This outside vintage trailer light will work great for when we're camping rustic and need to see our surroundings in the dark.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Privacy curtain

A Visual: Portapotti Area... pulls out from extra bench.

Thought I'd share my newest "gadget". While out at a junkyard, I tore this out of an old trailer shower. I'll use this rail above my portapotti area so when it's pulled out, I can pull a shower curtain around the entire area for privacy. While not in use, it will be pulled back against the wall. I may have to move the one inside light from it's original spot, but I guess that is one perk with having the interior torn down..... we can re-invent certain items/areas.

This trailer is what I hope to be our "long travels" trailer, so this is an important feature for rustic camping areas, etc.

I'm thinking this curtain could have another added feature. If you happend to get out of bed before your spouse/companion, you could pull the curtain across a bit to keep the light from shining on the bed..... that is, if the light is positioned correctly inside the trailer. I could then sit and read, etc....hmmmmmmm.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Today we finshed putting the door on. We used plexiglass to replace 4 panes. The original thick, privacy glass was nice, but at this point, I'm saving my pennies wherever I can for other renovation materials. We will cover the interior side of each pane with "privacy contact paper". Should look pretty good.
As you can see from this photo, we chose to keep the red paint below the front window. Original Buggs had the front paint detail go to the top of the window, but with the red... I just felt less was more. So far we have used at least 500 stainless screws on the exterior and went through almost 3-4 rolls of putty tape.
Just a few more lights and covers to attach and we can move on to working on the interior. First order of business, electric wiring, both 12v and 110, along with gas lines for the stove and the gas lamp.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 13th

More exterior work. Lexan front window put in with 2300 MHRV, a special caulking we purchased at a local rv sales company. They use it on all their rvs and thought it would seal the Lexan window in place for us. It goes on like a clear silicone, but sets up fast, is paintable and washable. If it doesn't work long-term, we'll get some gasket material at Vintage Trailer Supply and get the job done the traditional way.

The more I read about Lexan or "Makrolon", I'm thinking using this material instead of glass in the front window might have been a really slick idea. It is suppose to be lightweight, transparent, breakproof and impact-resistant, all things to look for in the front window of a trailer! This is suppose to be a big improvement over the "plexi-glass" of old. We'll see.
We also installed the vent back in place, after cleaning it up and applying fresh putty tape and stainless screws. I had hoped for a fantastic fan... but won't be getting one right now. We'll wire it for one in the future.

Still lots of small details to finish up, not the least of which is to get the door installed. The aluminum does still have some imperfections, but it is over 40 years old and has been "abused" to say the least. We can tell it has been truly used over the years and didn't just sit in someones yard or garage. You can tell this trailer could tell some stories from past camping adventures.
Folks have also attempted to "save it" by slapping putty tape and lots of extra screws here and there to both try to hold it together and keep it water tight. It only managed to damage it more in the end. the end, though I wish the aluminum had been in somewhat better shape, it still isn't bad for what it is. When looking for a vintage trailer, really take the time to look over the aluminum. It's easy to miss all the imperfections.... old paint hides quite a bit sometimes too.
Once we've got the outside water-tight, we'll start of wiring and insulation inside.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A sneak peek

We are finally starting to really see some progress and the exterior is coming along. We need to buy more stainless steel screws, and of course have to still add lights, trim, etc... but it's coming along. We are quite happy with the gloss white and regal red. I think it will look pretty sharp when finished. I wanted more white than red... too much red would have been a bit much. We are also adding a bit of extra aluminum trim here and there that we think will give the trailer a more finished look.
Monday the front window will be done, we've got the door installed... Should have a exterior finished photo soon:)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


We are just that close.... to getting the paint done and the aluminum back on the trailer.
We've spent so much time on the aluminum banging out any dents and repairing dents, tears and holes with fiberglass bondo. This trailer had the usual tears along the bottom, especially in the back and also had a tree land on it's roof at one time. That spot took some extra care to repair.
In my opinion, your trailer is it's aluminum. If you can't get the aluminum looking pretty good, the trailer will always look a bit old and defeated. I'm sure in the end I'll be very happy we spent so much time working on the exterior aluminum..... though frankly it's been a real chore!

I hope to have photos soon.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What a job. We found out early on that as we removed the aluminum, we had more repairs to make then what I had first thought. Tears along the bottom were handled by pop riveting in a small piece of aluminum behind the tear and then applying bondo to cover the tear. LOTS of sanding and elbow power applies for this type of work.
Prior to all of this we also had to remove most/all of the old paint with paint remover and then sand smooth. We are SICK of working on the aluminum. It would have been so much easier if we'd had the money to just replace it all with new.........

Here you see where a tree had landed on the top of the roof and we are repairing the dent with bondo. We also had holes to fill where the homebrew awning hardware had been. We will not be using those again since they created large areas of water rot.

The framework is mostly done now. It took a long time to get all the pieces cut to correct size and attached to the overall framework. We drilled each hole and put together with screws along with liquid nail. Very time consuming. We needed lots of framework to insert 3/4" foam insulation inside, something this trailer had none of originally. Insulation is high on my "must have" list to keep heat and noise out of our trailer.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Well... maybe

It's starting to grow on me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Bob and I are having 2nd thoughts about the red. Maybe too much red for such a small trailer....

Ruby, the gem

We've been working on getting the aluminum prepared for paint and have decided to try our hand with simple Rustoleum paint. We have to go with something affordable for us. I don't know how long Rustoleum will hold up, but it is surely readibly available to buy if touch-ups are needed, etc.

I had planned on the Gem being white with the bottom portion being silver. We simply can't get a silver we like. I've decided to go with "Regal Red" instead. Since she's a "Little Gem" and going to be red, we gave her a new name, RUBY. Thinking it might be fun to "picture" what the trailer would look like in red, here is a mockup of what it might look like when finished.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Framework - Walls are up:)

Today we placed the wall framework on the Gem and it looks like it fits great.
I am considering painting the framework, something that isn't often done, but likely a very good idea. It is so difficult, even using the best techiques of butyl tape and silcone on each screw, to keep all water outside. The painted frame would at least help protect the wood a bit if any water ever were to get in. I am also considering shellacing both sides of the walls for added protection. After seeing what water can do damage a trailer, and since we hope to never tear this one apart again, a bit of preventative work can't hurt.

Another major problem is the fact we can't work inside the garage. The trailer is just too tall to comfortably get under the garage door. We are going to get the aluminum on as soon possible to prevent any rain damage.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Odds and ends

Power converter we picked up cheap at a garage sale. And starting to work on small details.... like cleaning up the cupboards and preparing them for new fronts of birchwood.:)
We want to make this our trailer of choice for travels. We will get rid of the icebox and put in a small electric fridge we have. We want to be able to use electric/water when available, 12v, portapotti, etc.... when camping rustic.

Building the walls

Why build it new? One word - ROT

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Slow going

Well, I thought it was time to post an update. What with vacations, etc., keeping us busy, we haven't worked on the trailer all that much.

Also, we have found it VERY slow going since tearing this trailer completely down to the ground. It has been somewhat more difficult to put back together then we first thought. I think I would suggest keeping the trailer cabin intact on the trailer and somehow tearing out the floor to do chassis work, etc. It can be difficult to get your measurements exact after it's "all gone".

In any event, we managed to take enough measurements that with trial and error, and using the aluminum as a pattern (we could see where the old frame was from the decay left from the rotten wood), we feel confident we can get it back together.

Things should start moving more quickly now. The floor is down, along with the floor covering which is a very neutral gray color to go with anything. We did have to cut a seam in it, but it shouldn't show once we have it glued down.

We also now have most of the side framework cut and we are putting it all together again.

Once we get the walls attached back on the trailer, things will really start to move much faster.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wow, what a mess

I thought I would stop by the blog and give an update.

We have been slowly tearing down the Bugg. It was in TERRIBLE shape. As we removed more and more from it, shortly after the aluminum was removed, it pretty much just caved in on itself.

Had we not the ability to weld, had we not built a teardrop trailer before... I would likely have said this trailer was too far gone to renovate... but we will simply pretty much rebuild most of it. Most of the exterior shell is just too far gone.
We have painted the bottom of the floor with the Fence asphalt paint and I'm real happy with the result. I think it will protect it well from rain on the roads. I would also like to add a sheet of roofing paper before we fasten it to the chassis...but we'll see.

The 1/2" floor also takes a 1' x 3/4" frame around the underneath perimeter for the aluminum to attach under the trailer. We still have to add this.

We've also been working on repairing the wheel wells, etc. Will add some photos once we've got the floor more finished.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Here is a final photo of the fence asphalt paint. It has hardened finally and is just what I was looking for. It isn't a smooth finish on the vertical areas, but I think this is likely just due to gravity and the nature of the paint. Even dry, it has a feeling of almost rubber.
Our 63 Shasta trailer has remains of a undercoating that looks similar to this and it's chassis was in much better shape for it then this chassis.

Again, it should not be used on the visible portions of the trailer, but for rustproofing the chassis...Perfect. I think it will protect for years to come.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Will it ever dry?

Well, it's been almost 24 hours and this fence asphalt paint is interesting stuff. You can run your fingers across it, but it's still very "soft". I actually wonder if it will ever dry??????

This condition will be ok for under the trailer on the chassis.... but at this point, I'm recommending folks to NOT PAINT THE TONGUE OR EXPOSED AREAS with this paint. I'll give an update soon.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


We also cut the 1/2" ply today to the required size of 7' x 8' which will require two sheets. We also pulled a wheel well. Once we have the wheelwell areas cut out of the floor plywood sheets, we will paint the bottom of them with the same asphalt paint as the chassis, put the tar paper down over that, flip it over and attach it to the chassis. We can then get the ply covered with our new floor covering:)
Things should start to move quicker now.


Today we opened up the Fence Asphalt paint from Tractor supply and painted the chassis. The stuff is thick, gooey, and gets all over everything if you aren't careful. We painted outside so the fumes weren't bad and I wore latex gloves to keep the paint off my hands.

Note: This paint requires 24 to 48 hours for drying. It appears to me to be "reacting" to the primer we have underneath it and is getting a "crackle" appearance to it. Fine for underneath the trailer.... but I would recommend keeping this stuff off the tongue of the chassis and anywhere else that isn't covered by the trailer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back to the frame.

We have removed the old homemade storage box off the back of the trailer, but we will re-attach the bumper. I'd like to leave enough room, about the same size as the board you see here, to allow for an area large enough to hold a generator, battery... or whatever we may find we need room for.

One saving grace was the aluminum will be on the easy side to work with since the trailer is so small and the aluminum is in separate "pieces". This will make them much easier to handle, paint, and work on.

Color: In this photo you can see the darker original turquoise color of the accent color on this trailer. Someone had tried painting over it with a rather flat, house paint? They had the color pretty close...though not quite dark enough. I'm still not sure what color we are going to go with:

Piece by Piece

Today we removed one entire side of the Bugg, down to the frame. There is water damage on ALL framework. The homemade awning attachments at the top were drilled through into the wooden frame and created just more areas of water to creep in. Because of this we will not be reattaching these awning attachments. We'll go with the original rope awning hardware which is still there.
The entire framework will have to be rebuilt by scratch. (And this was suppose to be the good side of the trailer! Yikes!) Underneath, hidden from view, this trailer has been slowly suffering from a slow death by water.
We are planning on adding a bit more support here and there within the new framework and also add insulation to this trailer which had none originally. Bob and I both are big fans of insulation for both a sound barrier and to keep the heat out of the trailer better in the summer time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chassis done

We finished up on the repairs/renovation of the chassis today. We'll get it covered with a coating of fence paint and then get the floor on very soon:)

Sunday, March 8, 2009


It's raining today so I decided to start working on the benches. The Bugg has the most simple bench seats I have ever seen. They are simply benches made of 1/4" plywood, tops of 1/4" ply, foam for cushion and then material stapled over the top.

These had seen water damage before and were also very faded. As we tore them apart, we could see where someone had actually created a patch at one time to repair the wood from water damage. I had thought the red vinyl was original, but I now believe it likely isn't. Bob feels somewhere along the line, someone spent some time to try to salvage/repair this trailer as best they could. Since we have no early photos of a Bugg with this floorplan, we have no way of knowing what is truly original. It has proven difficult to find a Bugg in good enough original shape to be sure. Most I have seen, cushions and beds are missing.... painted walls...etc.

I went to the fabric store and picked up on sale some beautiful brown micro-fiber suede like fabric for 20 bucks. I was really thrilled to find this fabric since the colors I'm doing the inside of the trailer will be mainly brown and turquoise. Since the covers for the benches are so simple, I just removed all the old rusty staples, used the red vinyl for the pattern and stapled the new fabric in place. The foam on the seats was still in good condition.

The back rests, which are screwed to the walls, appeared to have at one time had foam, but it had been removed. We put in new foam on these and covered them.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's been a really long time since I've posted to the Gem blog. The snow and cold have really put a halt to any work on the Gem until just recently. Now that the chassis is back visible again from being snow buried... we've been working again on it.

This chassis was in REALLY bad shape in several areas. Left alone for much longer... well, it was on it's way to a slow death by rust. The chassis required sandblasting and then lots of welding in areas. We added reinforcements and repairs in the way of more/new steel, removed the rust and primed. Next we will coat with the following product from Tractor Supply:

Fence-post's Black Beauty premium asphalt fence paint is a high performance coating made with select asphalts, oils and rust inhibitors. This product penetrates into wood and metal surfaces enabling it to bond to the substrate and provide a tough, weatherproof finish. Black Beauty prevents rot, decay, and termite infestation on wooden surfaces while acting as an anti corrosive coating and rust stopper on metal surfaces.

We noted after removing coats and coats of paint on the hitch, the word "Marvel" for the brand, along with some numbers. We should be finishing up soon on the chassis work and will then move on to putting down a new 1/2 " plywood floor. After much thought, I feel rolled vinyl flooring will suit our camping needs best. I want something that can handle dirt, sand and moisture well.
I hope to add more progress reports here soon:)