Words, words, words—spinning through my head as I measure, cut, and connect. One word can have two or more meanings. Sister, tool, support, and skin are some of the words with multiple meanings that flow through my mind while I’m working. Support is one of the most crucial.
Without physical supports, the camper wouldn’t exist. Everything is held up by a steel base. The steel under my old camper seems to be in decent shape—good news!
On top of the steel base a wooden frame is built, and upon the wooden frame are the walls and roof supports. The wood framing was very rotten when I started the project but I am making progress in rebuilding and replacing it.
The floor supports in the back of the trailer, under the bathroom, had rotted completely. They are now replaced and the back is very close to having the subfloor installed. Likewise, the framing for the walls in the back is almost complete.
Like the trailer supports, the support of friends and family have been crucial. It can get really discouraging at times.
One of my neighbors, Kirby, is an aircraft mechanic and has been a great resource. He’s talked through options of what to do next and has generously lent tools.
He gave me a lifesaving tip on how to remove stubborn screws (and this old trailer has a lot of stubborn screws). To remove tricky screws, apply a cleanser like Comet or Bar Keeper’s Friend to the tip of the screwdriver. It gives the screwdriver just enough grip to help get a lot of stuck screws out.
My friend Elizabeth has given moral support as well as physical. She helped me connect the two pieces of the air duct. It went together in about ten minutes with another person helping—something I simply could not do on my own. She has helped with other tasks as well and always brings a smile, a laugh, and sometimes chocolate.
Online support has been invaluable. The RV Forum Community has a lot of knowledgeable and helpful members. Every time I get stuck on what to do next I post a question and pictures. Someone responds with a helpful answer within an hour or two.
I’ve also received verbal support from many other friends, neighbors, and family members with statements like, “You can do it! I believe in you.” A lot of support has come from sisters.
Sistering is done when support joists are weak. Another board is attached to the weak board to brace it and help carry the load. Together, the two boards are stronger.
“Sistering” can also apply to relationships between women. When one woman supports another that’s struggling, the two are stronger. Glennon Doyle describes “sistering” in this video. As she says, “You can’t build a strong, beautiful, complicated structure—whether it’s a building or a life—without SISTERING.”
I have three biological sisters who each love and care for me in their own unique ways. My sister Uma created this website and continues to help me with it. (Let me know if you’re looking for someone to design a website for you. She’s talented and creative.)
Ideally, sisters hold each other up when one is feeling down, and mine do that for me. My sister friends do that as well. And so my sisters, biological and friend, make me stronger and help me move forward to the next task—which sometimes seems impossible.
The term sister also applies to my camper. The wooden frame was so rotten. Rather than completely replacing all of the wooden supports, I sistered them. I am keeping the good parts and connecting new wood to them to make them stronger.
I love tools. Power tools. Hand tools. Gardening tools. So many tools have been required on this project.
Of the power tools I already had, a cordless drill is near the top of the list. Having two is better than one. Whether working on wood or metal, it helps to be able to drill first and then screw. It’s so nice to not have to remove the drill bit and replace with the screwdriver bit, over and over again.
The tools that my neighbor, Kirby, loaned have been so helpful. His table saw, which I’ve had for weeks, has been crucial. I use it to rip the spruce boards to the appropriate sizes to rebuild the frame.
I’ve also purchased several new tools: a staple gun, a multi-tool, a jig saw, and new blades for several different saws. The multi-tool is my favorite new tool. It cuts wood or metal or anything, really, and can get into difficult spaces and angles. I’ve used it to cut a lot of rusted bolts and screws that wouldn’t come out any other way.
Harbor Freight has become my new favorite tool store. They have good tools for reasonable prices. It’s pretty far away, so not very convenient. The employees at my local Ace Hardware are getting used to seeing my masked face on an almost daily basis.
There is another kind of tool that isn’t so great. One definition for this application of “tool” in urban dictionary is, “Someone who others normally refer to as a prick, dick, or schmuck.” As in, “The guy who sold me the camper with intentionally hidden problems is a real tool.”
My skin has taken quite a beating throughout this project. I find scrapes and bruises everywhere. Often, I’m not even aware when they happen because I’m so zoned in on what I’m doing. But they heal in time.
Our skin grows and shrinks with us and changes shape as needed. Unfortunately, the camper’s skin (aluminum siding) doesn’t. Nor does it heal.
So much of the trailer frame was rotten when I started that it’s hard to tell how it is supposed to be. I am worried that the skin won’t fit when I try to put it back on. Sections of skin are also pretty damaged. But I’ll figure out how to repair or replace it when I get to that point.
I’m making great progress on the back section. Insulation and subfloor are going in. Soon I will move to rebuilding the frame in the front. I’ll report on all of that and post pictures next time.