Camper Renovation Personal Growth

The Air Duct— Why is Everything So F***ing Difficult?!?

Expectations lead to disappointment. As I wrote about in my first post it’s time to forget about plans, and I have— mostly. Many days I spend working on the trailer, just BE-ing. I’m in the flow. (Watch this great YouTube video about flow.) Life is good.


But sometimes I get frustrated. My mind has prepared a list of things to be accomplished in a week of beautiful weather before the week of rain descends on us. My expectations: get the subfloor down in the back section, finish rebuilding the frame, remove skin from the other side, etc.

One seemingly small snag can throw the whole list out the window (or, since there are no windows at this point and a lot of holes in the non-existent walls, out a hole). This week that snag is the heating and air duct.

The Plan

Last week I bought a sheet of ¾ inch marine plywood to replace the rotten particle board flooring that was there. Based on research, marine plywood is less likely to rot if exposed to water. Hopefully it won’t be, but I want to keep the camper as long as I can once I’ve rebuilt it.

Marine plywood is expensive. It was almost $100 for one 4×8 sheet. When I bought it, I expected to use it immediately. Unfortunately, it’s still sitting in my backyard covered with a tarp, because of the air duct.

The camper has a furnace and an air conditioner. I don’t know if either of those work yet. (I’m having trouble finding an HVAC tech that works on RV systems.) Down the middle of the camper, under the floor, is the air duct. It runs almost the entire length of the camper, which I didn’t realize on that fateful day that I planned to replace the subfloor in the camper’s back end.

A Rat’s Nest

a track saw on a track on old particle board trailer floor
Using the track saw to cut directly over the floor supports to remove only the section over the old duct

The part of the air duct that I was able to see looked dirty inside. I tried to vacuum but realized I was missing some of it. (In the middle of all this, my shop vacuum died and I had to go buy a new one.) So I used my track saw to cut out flooring, in small sections. I’d cut out a section (about three feet) only to realize there was more duct. Eventually I cut out that section of floor all the way to the other end.

The a$$hole who covered up all the problems before selling the camper, also completely covered up two air vents. After uncovering it all, it was clear that the duct had served as a great home for a family of rats for quite some time. They left their fur and droppings and had chewed several holes through the metal. Time to remove and completely replace it.

Finding the Right Parts

I spent some time researching online to find something that would work. The duct could be no more than 14 inches, since that’s the space in between the floor supports. I made a trip to Ferguson HVAC supply and received great service.

The salesman took me back to the warehouse to search for all the right parts. I came home with four three-foot sections of 14-inch-wide wall stack, some mastic to connect the sections, and some other miscellaneous pieces.

Excitedly, I began to assemble the new air duct so I could continue with the flooring and rebuild. The wall stack came in two L-shaped pieces that fit together. I assembled all four sections and put them in between the floor supports to make sure they’d fit. And indeed, they did fit in between the supports. Unfortunately, they were too high.

shiny metal air duct that is higher than the floor board
The new duct fits between the floor boards but is too high.

Wall stack is made to fit in walls constructed of two by fours. The trailer floor is framed with two by threes— so the duct pieces were too thick.

Feeling frustrated since my expectations were again smashed, I went inside and played chess online for most of the rest of the day. Sometimes I just have to quit and say, “F**k it. Tomorrow is a new day.”

The New Plan

With a new day came a new plan— use the jigsaw to cut down both sides of all the pieces of duct; mastic, screw and tape together; and continue with rebuilding the air duct.

I reconstructed all the duct pieces, cut and connected one of the pieces to the air system, and began connecting the rest of the pieces to the one connected to the system. Regrettably, when I reconstructed the duct pieces, they didn’t all come out to be exactly the same size. So, the pieces that originally fit together perfectly no longer did.

New air duct in between trailer floor supports
The new air duct, almost complete, but still in two sections that need to be connected

I was able to get one piece attached to the piece that was already connected to the system. Metal tape helped. I connected the last two pieces to each other and tried to connect to the others, but I simply could not do it by myself.

The new duct pieces are wonky in size and shape and don’t go together easily. The pieces attached to the system are difficult to maneuver. And the two pieces that I attached to each other are too long for me to handle on my own while also trying to get them properly attached.

And So It Continues

Woman with gray brown hair in a bun wear goggles, ear protection, and leather gloves
Kirsten wearing protective gear

So that is where my post ends. No clean, happy ending. The air duct is still unfinished. I think (hope) that with one other person I’ll be able to quickly finish this part of the camper reconstruction journey.

But isn’t that the point of it? Life IS unfinished. It’s a journey, not a destination. (Cliché, I know, but still true.) If I can just be present and not let the expectations take over I can and will be content. 

9 replies on “The Air Duct— Why is Everything So F***ing Difficult?!?”

The air duct sounds so frustrating! If you still need a person to help with it, let me know. I was Covid-terminated from my corporate job last summer. I’m in real estate now but have extra time on my hands. Keep up the good work. You got this 💪!

omg. I am reading your blog for the first time. I would have given up long ago and just hired someone to do it for me. I totally admire your determination and skill. I will continue following you and look forward to your first trip out of here!

P.S. I’m a neighbor in Frog Hollow.

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