We decided to remove the skin from the curb side of the vehicle after removing the front. We’d already taken the door out when we’d removed the windows, so there wasn’t anything in our way. The screws on this side had been in better condition than the street side screws, so we expected the wood underneath to be in good condition, too. It was obvious that the trailer had been outside in the elements for years, and the street side had definitely gotten the worst of the weather. The aluminum skin sections were smaller on this side too, since the door is right in the middle of them, which would make them easier to move.
We started at the top again and worked our way down. The staples and nails between the layers of skin that had been a nuisance on the front became a major hindrance on the side. They were spaced about every six inches, which meant a dozen or so of each from each section of the skin. Many were hidden and needed popped out with a pry bar from behind the skin. The trim along the bottom of the trailer was especially difficult to remove, since most of the staples and nails had rusted to the point that they cemented themselves to the skin. We cannot stress enough that a positive attitude was essential to this part of the process. We just kept telling ourselves, and each other, that eventually we’d get them all out, that every one we removed was one less we’d have to remove, etc. It was difficult at times – this was extremely frustrating. Seriously. Why were we doing this again?
Once the skin was removed from the side, we could see that the wood was in great condition! After fighting with all of those blasted staples, it was encouraging to see that some parts of the job wouldn’t be an ordeal. We knew the worst damage was still ahead, but for the time being, the situation was looking good. It was great to have such a positive outcome as a reward for our positive attitudes.
After removing the curbside skin entirely and stacking it gently on top of the front of the trailer already sitting off to the side, we stepped back and looked at the Shasta in its birthday suit. It was immediately clear to us that the rule at the Shasta factory had been that if a staple would do the job, it was good enough, even if it just barely bridged the gap between the pieces of wood. Pieces of wood that looked barely stable enough to build a school project with, let alone something that was supposed to travel across long distances, at high speeds, and do so for nearly 50 years. We had been expecting some sort of technological marvel, but instead we saw evidence of human work done by human hands. There were even different stapling styles on different parts of the trailer, really driving home the point that this was a thing that had been built by guys – guys who, judging by the quality of the stapling and nailing and screwing that they were doing, were varying levels of hungry, distracted, obsessive, and deranged. Somehow this reassured us – if they’d built it, surely we could continue to take it apart. And at this point, we were pretty sure we were going to put it back together better than they had.
Somehow, the more work we did, the more the entire project seemed simultaneously more possible, and more impossible. There was nothing to do but keep going.