“Trailer Talk” Makeover Series: The Green Machine…The Exterior Updates Continue…

Nope we weren’t off on another adventure…Unfortunately we were home bound due to work and grown-up responsibilities. (Kids, when you’re parents say “don’t be in a rush to grow up” listen to them

That doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy our home town, baseball games, windsurfing at local lakes and visiting our city’s newest breweries… 

   

We also tried to squeeze as many trailer repairs as possible into two very busy weekends. 

The first exterior update was to replace the infamous bunkend weather stripping. Reading the Apache websites and group posts, the weatherstripping is always the first and most necessary to be replaced as it helps prevent leaking. However issues arise, it’s not always easily available and each strip can cost up to $30 each. Luckily the seller of our trailer had already purchased these parts and threw them in for free. Here’s a before pic of the cracked and missing weather stripping after removing the aluminum trim…

 Pretty gross, that’s another 37 years of dust and grime. Once the old rotten stripping was removed we had to gently, and meticulously scrap away the glue from the ABS roof with a razor blade and steel wool.  

   After the surface was clean of gunk we replaced out the vinyl (even though our weather stripping was purchased from an Apache parts store) I still had to cut/shave down the “T” end of the stripping by hand with scissors. This allowed the stripping to slide perfectly into the groove of the roof line.    

 

Next up was replacing out all the rusted screws of the Apache exterior with stainless steel ones. Some quick before and after pics… 

   As for follow-up from our last blog post, I did test the combination of Rustoleums Rust Reformer spray (matte black), followed by two coats of Rustoleum “painters touch” semi gloss black enamel spray. The results were fabulous and used this combo both on the trailer frame, and stabilizing jacks after another round of wire brushing rust… 

   

Lastly I attempted to remove the stubborn 1978 cracked decals. The heat gun method did not work, and rather burned the paint in my last blog post. I did some internet research and Roamin Fam’s blog had a cheap solution of just removing the decals with MEK solvent and a few hours of scraping. However their intention was to repaint the entire aluminum body, whereas I’m partial to the original green color. Also our paint is not in too bad of shape, probably just needs touch up paint and a good waxing. 

Reaching out to a couple auto body experts, the secret to removing decals, crud, etc from your car/trailer without damaging the paint is using a 3M eraser attached to a drill (FYI with cord, because you will kill your battery on a cordless, nor get the sustained 2700 rpms you need) However just be aware the price was $47, because I needed enough eraser for such a large surface area. 

  And what do you know it worked! 

FYI, my drill did get hot and the bit did not want to latch in at times. Therefore it was imparative for safety glasses, leather work gloves and most definitely a face mask. (Guaranteed you will be covered in rubber particles and old decal flakes!)  I also had to take several breaks to cool off the drill and my arms. One last tip, so as not to kill my back I sat on a bucket and used my knees to prop my elbows and support my arms working laterally down the trailer. 

The decals were stubborn, and it was a crazy amount of work, but I’m really glad I used the eraser method… 

   

I’m also really digging that teal/ blue stain leftover from decals against the lime green paint… 

  

 Maybe repaint the areas by hand in the same shade? Since  I don’t want to lose the originality and character of our vintage trailer. Also this color combo really captures the colors of that era. Would be interested to know if others used the eraser method and/or have repainted emblems? More to research…

All in all another weekend of “jello” arms but we’re getting closer to a rehabbed trailer, ready for the road. Hubs has promised me wine, dark chocolate and a back rub for all my hard work๐Ÿ˜‰ 

We have a deadline this summer to not only complete the trailer, but also haul it back to our own house. The to- do list has definitely gotten longer as we work on it each weekend. 

Hopefully next Sunday I will have mastered the finer points of ABS repair, rewiring tow lights and attempt to color match the panels and roof. I’m still biting my lip and waiting very patiently to rehab the interior of trailer. This girl wants to talk fabrics, color combos, and getting it “glamp” ready!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป(So tired of boring maintenance work! ๐Ÿ˜ซ I can be a “girly” girl sometimes people!)

More to come and thanks for hanging in (I know it’s not home renovation and dog friendly travel) but it’s a learning experience and a portal to future adventures. Happy Sunday everyone!

“Trailer Talk” Makeover Series: The Green Machine…Exterior Updates

Where were you two this past weekend? Here…  Here… And of course every dog friendly beach in between.   We were out exploring California’s north coast to Mendocino. If you follow us on IG you’ve probably seen some of the puppies living it up. (and then crashing…its a hard “dog” life for us) 

 We fell in love hard, (like with every California coastal community we’ve explored) Maybe it was the redwoods and multiple rivers merging with the sea, but the scenery is dramatic and breath taking. I think the hubs liked it better for lack of cell phone service and the solitude at times. (With our jobs we need that disconnect more often then not.) 

In the meantime we can’t wait to explore some more, which is why I kicked it into high gear on rehabbing our vintage Apache Pop up trailer yesterday.  First up removing all the rusted out screws of the exterior and replacing them with stainless steel. 

 Yet replacing the screws wasn’t hard, it was sanding away all the leftover rust stains, with steel wool by hand that made my arms feel like jello today.  

 

Here’s a perfect side by side to see the before and after: 

 

Second project up was grinding and wire brushing away years of rust from the trailer bumper, hitch and step… 

     

After a few hours, (and a metal shard embedded  into my shin- I never complete a project unscathed) I sprayed painted the areas with Rustoleum Rust Reformer in matte black. 

 I sprayed two coats and this stuff seemed to work like a champ, completely covering, and creating a pretty flawless finish. (I still don’t know if it is just a primer and an additional paint is needed? More to come after further research…) Here are some before and afters:  

       Quick FYI- I hurriedly snapped “after” photos before the paint cured, however once dried the finished product is pretty flawless.

Finally, around 9pm at night I made a first attempt to remove the old Apache decals with a heat gun and failed miserably… 

  I barely got 5cm of the decal removed, burned an inch of paint and called it quits. I belatedly realized I need to research this further and 1978 decals were made of stronger stuff than our whimpy modern day decals. 

We may even have to call in the professionals for the bodywork. However, since professional paint jobs are not in the budget I don’t know what we’re going to do?! I wish there was an auto body fairy who would magically grant me a $200 bid๐Ÿ˜‰…More to come as the Green Machine saga continues…Happy Sunday everyone!

“Trailer Talk” Makeover Series: The Green Machine…Water Tanks, Refrigerators, Converters…Oh my!

  We’re back! Sorry we’ve been posting every other Sunday. Remember it’s summer, and we suffer from a severe condition called “wanderlust”. Truly it’s an addiction that requires heavy doses of camping, and the great outdoors…    Also the occasional good brewery or winery is mixed in…  

 We work desk jobs and thus need to unplug from the computer, phone etc, just for our sanity. The dogs are co-dependent of our wanderlust addiction as well…Can you tell?  If you follow us on Instagram you know they were some very happy pups this past weekend. Now all we need is a finished trailer for all our off season adventures… 

 Yuck! Ugh!๐Ÿ˜ Yeah that’s where the old 3-way refrigerator and water tank used to be. To get to these items you have to fold over the sink and counter, then unscrew the plywood cover (or in our case drill out many rivets.) 

 Confusing to me is how these old trailers were designed with the water tanks and sink so close to your main power converter? (water + electricity…really?) 

Anyway here’s what we pulled out of little Green Machine… 

37 year old water tank (Um, yes new water tank please)    

Rusted out 3-way refrigerator 

   

Since we don’t  want to sink too much money or time into this project we may try to rehab the refrigerator (IF it still even works) this week I’m going to plug it in, see if it at least works in a standard 120, then on 12V battery, and then propane. If it works like a champ then maybe we’ll invest the time and energy to clean it up. 

Considering how pricey a new three way can be we’ve considered just installing a dorm room fridge. Remember we’re summer season tent campers, the trailer was bought to give us freedom for all season adventures. Since most places we intend to camp at during the off-season are on the California coast with full hook-ups, a dorm fridge may be the easiest and most reliable option. Which will leave more money in the budget for new wiring and converter. 

I wish we were further along, but each weekend we are still knee deep into cleaning and all the boring projects of trailer repairs. (Oh when, oh when can I start blogging about fabric and paint colors?! ๐Ÿ˜ซ) 

I give my dad and husband credit for reigning me in and remaining practical. As they’ve reminded me several times, you don’t want a beautiful interior, then come to find the roof leaks water or the trailer frame breaks while in transit. 

Therefore I will just let out a long yoga “OM”, and try to find good deals on new converters, water tanks, etc. However I’m not going to lie, with each dime I spend on boring replacement parts, instead of cute fabrics a little part of me dies inside๐Ÿ˜‰ Hopefully we’ll be further along next weekend. Happy Sunday everyone! …”OMmmmm

“Trailer Talk” Makeover Series: The Green Machine…The Clean and Safe Machine

 

 Over the last couple weeks we learned some valuable lessons about buying a vintage trailer…(even one that was well loved, garaged, and in good condition)… 

1. Towing safety is top priority! 

2. Unless it was plastic wrapped for its entire existence, there will be road grime and deep cleaning to do. 

 

Bleh๐Ÿ˜

We’ve been trying to check these two very important items off our list and lets just say progress has been slow going (partially in part to my right wrist being out of commission after a running accident)

Now towing safety first…Which can mean several checklist items; trailer frame, tail lights, wheels and bearings. 

We mentioned in our last post in the series that our little Green Machine was off to be “lifted”. Which turned out to be more important than we anticipated, and found out there were several cracks in the trailer frame. ๐Ÿ˜

We originally needed the trailer lifted a few inches to clear our steeply angled driveway and to potentially add larger wheels in the future. 

However our family friend found several cracks in the trailer frame to which we innocently overlooked. He repaired all the cracks and Green Machine is sitting a good three inches higher! Whootwhoot!๐Ÿ‘ 

Next were wheels and bearings to check off the list. Big thanks to my pops, he taught us how to repack the wheel bearings and surprised us with newly painted wheels while at work one day! So pretty! 

Last up with safety, driving our little Green Machine home we noticed the right indicator light would blink at the same time as our left. Also the right brake light was out. (Luckily for us, in California you only need one working brake light to get home ๐Ÿ˜ณ) However after much fiddling, bulb replacement, and testing we’ve decided we’ll need to rewire the trailer.  

 This also means two brand new, matching tail lights. (Rather than one original and “Mickey moused” one) Tweetys RV and Trailer Supplies online had new (nearly identical, #342) to the original tail lights. These should be coming soon and we’ll be learning the ins and outs of rewiring a trailer. 

As for cleaning 37 years of road grime… (And mystery stains)

 

  
We’ve found cleaning not only is therapeutic, but necessary for figuring out the trailer’s anatomy. For example we had no idea the trailer had 4 beds, or how to get to the water tank from the inside?! We’ll be highlighting the different and newly discovered features in the coming weeks. All sorts of little quirks you discover on your hands and knees mopping floors๐Ÿ˜‰. Speaking of which, back  to more scrubbing! Happy Sunday everyone!

“Trailer Talk” Makeover Series: Meet the Green Machine…Our Vintage Pop up Camper Trailer

We’re knee deep into spring, summer almost here, and we’re happily stuck at home. Wait?! What?! 

You two trailmix eating, take your dogs everywhere, wanderlust, camping addicts are not travelling?! What gives?! 

Well, one big reason we’re not brewing coffee on a campfire this morning is because we have this project to work on…   Ummm, what is that? Was the hubs famous words when I showed him the craigslist ad. 

 

That my dear husband is called “compromise”… 

For 6 long years I’ve wanted a vintage trailer. Airstreams were my first love, followed by Canned Hams, Shastas, Aristocrat Lo-liners, Casitas, the list can go on and on. Problem has been, so has everyone else. With TV shows like Flipping Rvs now, restoring vintage ๏ธtrailers is the new “thing”. Leaving only  the trailers (that met our minuscule budget), were the hopeless, rotted out, run-from-screaming kind of projects. 

Another obstacle in our search for a vintage trailer has been the size requirements. We literally have the perfect space for storing a trailer, but it had to be under 7.5 feet wide to get it through our gate. Nor did we want to pull some massive beast, guzzling up gas along the way. 

There were other issues to consider, when you chose to go small, and vintage. The creature comfort of space, and lack of future upgrades like refrigerator or AC (due to the aforementioned lack of space). Hubs and I went round and round over things he and I wanted: 

Hubs

1. Not a money pit (newer preferred)

2. Something I can see over/low profile while driving

3. Can I get a king bed? Or at least not squished together on a full size bed.

Me

1. Vintage project! (Who cares if it’s a money pit)

2. Umm who says you get to drive and haul it all the time?

3. Agree, but I’m thinking about where to put the pups?

Unfortunately as we researched and shopped, all signs were pointed towards a newer (1990s) trailer or pop up tent trailer. My dreams of vintage fixers were sadly fading away. 

It wasn’t until I saw a 1970s Apache hard sided pop up listed on Craigslist last month.  I was literally the fourth person to call the seller. Five minutes later the ad was taken down (apparently there was so much interest and potential buyers the poor guy had to remove the ad) he had three buyers lined up already for Monday morning.  

Well after some research the  solid state did get me…I sat for two weeks thinking I missed the opportunity of a lifetime; perfect price, met the  hubs wish list, and I’d still get my vintage fixer. I won’t lie I moped a little, and we continued shopping for those newer tent trailers…ugh๐Ÿ˜

Then the same Apache trailer craigslist ad resurfaced (not lying) morning of my birthday. This time the price had been increased by almost $400. Originally the seller hadn’t realized the cult following of these solid state beauties. 

Luckily we drove 70 miles for an “as is” trailer, only to find out it was in better condition then expected. Garaged most of its existence, you could tell it was once well loved. Two owners only (including the seller), and a clean title, with all original manuals. The current owner had planned to rehab it as a side project, but realized he didn’t have the time for it. (He also admitted he was tired of the selling process and Craigslist “flakes”…I guess persistence pays off๐Ÿ˜‰) In the end he sold it to us for the original listing price and threw in for free the $250 worth of replacement parts/materials he previously purchased. 

Now here she is our little Green Machine, or as a friend called it our “transformer”…Pop-ups in disguise…

         

We’ll be working on this project over the summer, ending with a “maiden voyage” camping trip in Santa Cruz. There is so much design potential, and we’ll also include important nuts and bolts of trailer repair. Luckily for us rookies, there is a plethora of websites and groups focused on rehabbing vintage Apache pop ups. Our goal is to condense these great resources down into bite size pieces and specific projects in this makeover series. Right now she’s  hanging out at the parents house waiting to be lifted. (More to come in the following weeks!) Happy Sunday everyone!