Tuesday, October 20, 2015

And Now, Something Completely Different, Part One


With the possibility that I'm a candidate for bilateral knee replacement and that successful surgery and rehab await in the not too distant future, I've seen a resurgence of a couple of interests I had to give up years ago.

First, I want to build a tiny travel trailer to take to Southern events, author events and for visiting some of the marvelous state parks in the South. I want a little miniature house to carry with us behind our vehicle, or our own hotel room, as it were.  Although I don't want to camp so much as I want to tour, aka travel, a little boondocking now and then sounds pretty good.

Originally, I wanted to buy a new, or newish, trailer -- until I saw how much they cost (and how they are made). So... used then. Older used.

I found a sixteen-foot Nomad at a used trailer place on Highway 98 back when I drove that route twice a week to work in Ft. Walton Beach. It was a cutie, from the 1970s. A couch in front that opened to make a full size bed; behind that a dinette curbside and a kitchen streetside. In the corner behind the kitchen, a small bath with shower; and in the other corner, the closet and the entry door That became one of my favorite layouts for small trailers.
These images are from different campers, but are typical of the front and back layouts..

We weren't able to buy the little Nomad, or any trailer, at the time -- I simply didn't know enough about it --  so I had to content myself with learning about things online. And while I was learning, I was bit by another bug I came across ... restoring vintage travel trailers. Maybe even building one, using plans from old Popular Mechanics-type magazines. I even bought a CD of vintage plans off ebay, and learned a lot about trailer building from them.

The Vacationer, from Mechanix Illusrated, May 1957
This is not surprising. I've always wanted to build something, from fairly young girlhood, an itch that was largely assuaged well into adulthood by sewing, mostly clothes but other items, too (purses, curtains, other home decor items).

What I learned about trailers and building them years ago has been coming back quite clearly in this recent resurgence, so I know what I want as far as a little trailer goes. How to get it? Restoring a vintage trailer (a little canned ham, maybe), remodeling/refreshing a not-so-vintage one, or building from scratch -- these are all viable options.

In fact, I even have quite a few small-trailer components on hand I can use in whatever option works out.

About 2003, I found a 1970 or so Aristocrat Lo-Liner that was for sale by a fellow Confederate in Virginia that I knew from an online forum. We made a deal, and agreed to meet in Charleston for the Hunley funeral in 2004, and I picked up the trailer then. My sis and brother-in-law accompanied me to South Carolina.

Lo-Liner, in need of a power-wash
 I had never pulled a trailer in my life, but I got her home, all the way to Pensacola -- about 600 miles -- with no mishaps except a flat tire. I accomplished this feat by avoiding having to back up anywhere during the trip.

Back home, I got as far as dismantling the trailer, redesigning the new build, and having the metal trailer frame sandblasted, primed and painted, when all work ceased, from a combination of factors ... my parents, who lived in a retirement cottage behind our house, required more and more care from me and my sis; I was laid off, and no jobs were to be had in Pensacola. I began writing my first novel... and my involvement in Confederate heritage grew ... my knees got worse ... and some time later, I lost both my parents in the same year ...

Sanded, primed painted...and fixin' a flat.
Of all those factors, the greatest barrier to trailer building was my knees. I couldn't stand or walk for more than a few minutes -- still can't -- let alone hoist sheets of plywood and wield a circular saw...

But there appears to be a remedy for the knee problems in the not-too-distant future, and with that possibility, the trailer-building interest has made a powerful come-back. And I'm nailing down exactly what I want.

But what has taken me by surprise is the very recent resurgence of a second interest I thought long dead and gone.

Building a boat.

(Stay tune for Parts 2, 3 and maybe 4....)

No comments :

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome, but monitored.