Heart of Gold

One of the more poignant songs of ’72 – but we like to think the Shasta has a heart of gold, too.  Well, maybe it’s yellow.  Either way, we’re done searching for it!

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All’s Well That Wheel Wells

Close up of pitted aluminum wheel well

This dull and pitted surface has got to go!

You want your aluminum to look it’s brightest, but what do you use to get that beautiful gleam back after 40 years of grime? The answer: just about everything. For the trim and windows, we used Mother’s Aluminum Polish, Diamond Brite Truck Box Polish, and lots of elbow grease (see our previous post on this topic). But for the trim around the wheel wells, which was in much worse condition than the rest of the trim, we had to take it up a notch.

Close up of shiny polished aluminum wheel well

Put on some shades and dig that shiny wheel well!

The dirt on the wheel well trim laughed at the polishes we tried on it. It scoffed at Goo Gone, and yawned when we threatened it with detergent. We decided to call on our friend, electricity, and bought a bench grinder from Harbor Freight with a 3 inch fiber wheel. This worked beautifully and removed not only the hardcore road crud, but eliminated most of the pitting too! Woohoo! Plus, it was a lot easier on the elbows than hours of scrubbing. You need to go lightly when you use a fiber wheel though, because you can scuff or gouge the aluminum if you’re careless and press too hard or too long.

Partially Polished Wing

It only took a few minutes to polish a section of this wing!

We used the same wheel to shine up the vintage wings we purchased, and it cleaned up the edges brilliantly! It couldn’t reach the center of the wings though, so they’re a little duller in the middle. The aluminum is thinner there, so it’s probably for the best that we polished that area by hand. When you’re doing work like this, good tools make hard work fun, and the bench grinder was a major win.

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Down by the Lazy River

We’d never heard this song before we started work on the Shasta, but it turned into one of our favorites.  It doesn’t hurt that we live right by the Allegheny River!  Don’t these guys look like they’re having a great time?  Those jump suits!

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Yawning Under the Awning

Vintage folding chairs = perfection

Vintage folding chairs = perfection

We had an amazingly relaxing Fourth of July weekend with the Shasta!  We stayed in her all weekend, and it was wonderful to just be lazy and sit under the awning with a few beers and some music.  We did do a little bit more wiring work, but it was nice to spend some leisure time in the field. We’d like to thank Marti’s Awnings for the new poles.  The awning itself was with the trailer when we bought it – we’re glad to finally have it in use!

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I Can See Clearly Now

Here’s another song of 1972 to celebrate the beautiful weather we’ve been having – we’ve been playing outside now that the rain is gone from the Pittsburgh region!

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Saturday in the Park – You’d Think it was the Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July!  Last year at this time we were up to our necks (and maybe over our heads) in Shasta restoration.  We’re so happy to have her almost completely finished and to be able to enjoy boondocking in the field over this holiday weekend!

This song was another we listened to on repeat while doing the restoration – and it seemed appropriate to share it today.  Here’s Chicago with Saturday in the Park, live 1972!

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RV R-Value: Choosing Insulation

Repaired wood with insulation

Frankenstein’s monster, or Shasta front end?

The Shasta originally had an incredibly thin layer of yellow fiberglass insulation on the front and rear of the vehicle. It pretty much fell apart as we removed the skin, so we needed to find replacement insulation. After browsing through our options, we found a great fit– reflective roll insulation. It was made of aluminum and had an R value of about 9. The R value of insulation measures its effectiveness, and even though 9 wasn’t what you’d want in your house, it was better than factory. It also meant that we didn’t need to deal with the itchiness of fiberglass on a sweaty summer afternoon. It came in a width of 48 inches, so we needed to buy a roll of aluminum tape to attach two pieces together to match the original size of the old fiberglass insulation. There was quite a bit of overlap, which increased the R value a little more. Woohoo! We taped it, and in standard Shasta fashion, stapled it, and nailed it.

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City of New Orleans

While this song isn’t about a trailer, it is about a train – close enough!  We love Arlo Guthrie – he is my husband’s namesake, after all – and this is one of his most popular songs.  While it was written by Steve Goodman, this song became a hit for Arlo on his 1972 album Hobo’s Lullaby.  We mostly listened to mixes made of hit singles from 1972 while we worked on the Shasta, but we also listened to some whole albums. Hobo’s Lullaby (along with David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Lou Reed’s Transformer, and Elton John’s Honkey Chateau) was one of our favorites from that year.

We’d get up early to work on the trailer before the heat got too bad, and this was always a good start to the day – “Good morning America, how are you?”  Here’s Arlo Guthrie in a snazzy jacket, performing this song live in 1974.

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Fixing a Hole Where the Rain Gets in

Poking up through the roof vent hole.

Sometimes, the gopher approach is the best way to sneak up on old caulking.

We were FINALLY ready to address the real problem plaguing the Shasta – the holes in the roof that were one of the main sources of damage to the frame. We’d already repaired and replaced the luon interior roof of the trailer, and now we were ready to take care of the actual perforations in the aluminum skin.  We knew we had to get a solid fix on these, because if we didn’t, water was going to continue to seep into the frame from the top and all of our other repairs would be for nothing.

While we’d been working on the trailer from the inside, the aluminum roof was on the ground in the barn, with the center propped up by cardboard boxes to keep it from bowing and to allow us enough room to creep underneath the roof and seal it from underneath.

Photo of the puncture divet in the roof

Here’s a shot of the puncture divet from the inside. This little spot was responsible for the water damage in the middle of the roof.

It turns out that the tree hadn’t only put a couple of tiny holes in the roof but it had also caused a break in one of the roof seams.  This seemed like it would be pretty easy to deal with – we just had to reinforce the seal between two panels.  There were some dents in the roof too – we went at these with a rubber mallet, and actually did a reasonable job of repairing some of the cosmetic damage done to the aluminum.

Applying Eterna Bond

Rolling on Eterna Bond on the underside of the roof– it ain’t glamorous, but it’s effective!

We researched different products to use for the repairs and ended up with two solutions. To reinforce the roof from the inside, we used Eternabond Mobile Home RV Rubber Roof Repair. It came on a long 4″x10′ roll and was applied by unrolling it and pressing it on. This would take care of the split in the side of the roof and seal the seams in the metal.One of us slid underneath the trailer and pressed the epoxy along the seam while the other one slowly fed the tape underneath.  This really seemed like it did the trick, and provided a great seal.

Marine Tex repair

The Marine Tex dried quickly and filled the puncture divet nicely.

To fill the holes in the roof, we used the Marine Tex Mighty Repair Kit, a two part epoxy designed to fill holes in boats. We used the logic that if it could keep water out of a boat, it could keep water out of a trailer!  This went on smoothly once it was mixed, and also seemed like it would provide a great and lasting seal.

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Summer Breeze

Ah, the summer of 1972.  Not only was school out, but the summer breeze was making us feel fine.  We like to imagine the original owner of the Shasta taking her out that summer, when she was still all minty and pristine!  We know how nice it is to sit in the little dinette and relax, with the breeze coming in through the open jalousie windows and fresh flowers in a vase on the table.  Another classic by Seals and Croft – here’s a 1972 live performance.

“See the curtains hangin’ in the window
In the evenin’ on a Friday night
Little light is shinin’ through the window
Lets me know everything’s alright…”

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