Home Away From Home

New Friends And A New Roomate (Post #2)

Getting to the bottom of things.

Sam Breen – Saturday, October 2, 2010

Twenty five hours of work and the ceiling/walls have been cleared of leftover fiberglass insulation. The job was pretty mindless but I don’t mind that kind of work, especially after a long day of class. The only trouble was protecting myself from the fiberglass: coveralls, respirator, goggles, gloves etc. It’s not too pleasant when it’s hot outside, so I ended up doing a lot of work at night.

Once I removed all the insulation, I used a shop vac to clean out the inside.  Finally got rid of a lot of the rat droppings, dust etc. (It smells a lot better in there all of a sudden!)


After some trial and error with different portable saws, I found that the circular saw worked best to cut out the plywood while avoiding the steel frame beneath it. I cut small pieces at a time and popped them out with two crowbars.

In the process, I found a Ninja Turtles pencil case…

and some old newspaper clippings stuck to the linoleum.
1985 newspaper clipping from Redding, CA.

The clippings were from Redding, in Northern California.  Such an odd coincidence.  I recently bought a second vintage trailer, a tiny 1960 Corsa camper trailer, now parked next to the Spartan, which I use as my hang out.

1960 Corsa: My home away from home away from home...

It came from a town near Redding: Big Bend, CA, located near Mt. Shasta.The previous owners were a couple I now consider to be my friends – Bern Haggard and Eviane Cotton.

Homesteaders Bern and Eviane

In addition to their responsibilities on their 80-acre homestead, they are restoring the town’s old campground complete with old hot springs!

The campground at Big Bend (not yet open) will feature soaking pools built into a cliff that overlooks the Pit River.

The Pit River as seen from the soaking pool.

Eventually, Bern and Eviane also with others, also hope to transform the town’s trailer park into an eco village (current residents will stay if they wish)

Back to my own trailer project…

The shower/bathroom unit needs to come out. It’s unsalvageable, unfortunately. We debated whether to clean it up and re-use but the thing is gross and falling apart.

Yes, we actually considered trying to save the metal bathroom unit.

The bathroom unit is all one piece. It will not fit out through the doorway so it will have to be sawed out.. a job for later.  I did manage to rip out the linoleum flooring inside the bathroom, just to see what was underneath. Bad news is the aluminum floor under the linoleum is in bad shape. It’s going to have to go, too.

One of the previous owners caped off the shower head and installed new flooring.  (It seems they only used the toilet and sink.)

As I rip away the flooring throughout the trailer I’ve found more nasty insulation, rat droppings and all sorts of presents left behind by pack rats.

Speaking of which, I have a new roommate in the trailer. When I lifted up a piece of floorboard, a little mouse scurried away. I don’t mind the company.

Oh, and today, we had our first rain! No apparent leaks, except of course from the missing windows and skylight, but I didn’t look too closely. I’m not ready to deal with that yet. Small steps.

I want to get the old floor out as soon as possible. I can’t wait to get rid of all the insulation. I won’t feel it’s a clean slate until that happens…

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from http://spartantrailerrestoration.wordpress.com as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

A Master Craftsman Rolls In Style

Daniel Riedemann is a native of Kansas and fifth generation  carpenter who learned specialty restoration from his father and grandfather. He uses his 1951 restored Spartan as an office and home away from home.  He offeres his advice about green trailer restorations.

Dan runs Nineteenth Century Restorations, a company with a focus on historic preservation, using designs that meet or exceed current energy efficiency standards.  On job sites he salvages reusable materials

and reclaimed lumber.  Dan says he likes to build homes that are as green as possible, but there aren’t a lot of clients who go as green as he would like.  The Spartan was a chance to do it his way.

Historic restoration of an Ohio home by 19th Century Restorations.

Dan takesto the road in his 1951 Spartan when he’s working on projects for the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service.  Have a quick look at his trailer in this You Tube clip (no audio): Here are Dan’s thoughts on some current issues Sam is dealing with in his Spartan restoration project: Insulation I used spray foam insulation kits [he will supply the name]. It’s a great product, made out of soybean products, so you aren’t letting toxic fumes out in the atmosphere.  It’s easy to apply.  You should make it about one-inch thick.   In your trailer,  it could be done with about three or four kits (each “kit” costs between $400-600.) I would spray the foam about 1” thick being careful not to completely refill the cavity. After that I went in with foil back bubble wrap, the stuff used to wrap pipe.  Comes in 400 ft. rolls.  [Note:  polycene.  Will correct this.  another guy told me he thinks you can get the lefover bits  of this stuff for free.] I replaced all that old Kimsul, which was fiberglass and basically  useless.  You’ll end up with about an R15. The The outer aluminum skin can really heat up.  But the heat stays in the gap in between. I live in Kansas where summers can be humid and the temperatures can get up into the 100’s.   I’ve got an air conditioner in there but the unit is not fighting the heat. Hot Water Heaters I use an instant hot water heater that runs off of propane. It heats up the pipes that the water is go through, so you only use it when the water is on. They have been using that system in Europe for years.  It is a great technology . It is in my front closet with room left over.  The shower in my Spartan is better than the one I have at home.

Metal bathroom unit on a 1951 Spartan Credit: Jane Keeler.Flickr

…that yucky metal bathroom unit, keep it? Yes.  I kept mine. Belly pan The original pan in mine was in excellent shape.  I just had to replace the spot by the bathroom.  I recommend using the same kind of product. It’s like an MDF fiberglass.  Iwould do it all new and use a marine grade epoxy to fasten it. I haul my Spartan a lot for the job, so I want mine sealed really well and not affect by the heat and water. It’s called a masonite belly pan but it’s not exactly masonite.

Belly pan for a vintage Ultra trailer. Credit: basicofbasics on photobucket

I suggest you call a couple of lumberyards or specialty wood shops and ask for the thinnest MDF material that they have.  ¾”  or 3/8”.   The product is slicker on one side (the side that isn’t as slick goes against the belly.)  I would definitely waterproof the pan.  And I would use foam insulation between the two.  In the center of the trailer you have five inches of insulation and then it narrows up to the sides because of the shape of the curve.  I used plain old yellow fiberglass when I restored my Sparta,  but if I was to do it again I would use spray foam.

Belly pan with liquid chaser. Credit: bluessafari.blogspot.com

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from http://spartantrailerrestoration.wordpress.com as part of our CSPA Supports Program.