We have adopted the attitude, "if we have 3 days at home, then we have time to be working on the Airstream." I want to extend a big thank you to Viviana, who was kind enough to stay home with our 3 older kids and get them to school each day so the younger kids and I could go to Effingham with Michael for 3 days of work.
Since the IRS was kind enough to deposit some money into our bank account, we have decided it is time to move past "painting" and onto "major systems." We have had a bit of fun making some purchases.
- A white toilet - While we assume that our old toilet was working, it was cream with tan vinyl on the seat. What we are learning is that if you are going to start painting a cream/harvest gold theme glossy white - nothing can be left behind. The cream toilet had to go. (not to mention the fact that it was disgusting!)
- LED lights - Michael would love to get some cool color-changing lights that could be controlled by his phone or ipad. Have you seen the new HUE light bulbs? As cool as they are, I cannot justify spending $75 each time one of the kids breaks a light bulb. We have decided that for now he will just retro-fit the existing fixtures with LED strips.
- Propane upgrades - In 2002, it became illegal to refill a propane tank without upgrading to an OPD valve. Evidently our propane tanks have not been filled since 2002! This is one area where it benefited us to have the Airstream parked in a rural area. There was a gas company that was more than willing to upgrade the valves and fill the tanks with same-day-service! They did not carry the regulator that we required, so we ordered a new one from amazon - just to be safe.
- Locksmith - We were given keys to the front door and storage compartments, but not the battery compartments or the deadbolt.
- Batteries - We knew when we purchased this that the batteries were missing. We have talked about installing solar or special batteries. What we decided was that there was a good chance that we have no clue what we are doing and might ruin our first set of batteries by running them dead. So, we decided to start with basic lead acid batteries and work up from there.
So that was it. Those were our projects. After stalking the weather forecast for a few days, we decided to keep our workdays as scheduled. The LED lights did not arrive in time, so they were scratched off the list. The toilet could not be installed until the bathroom floor was grouted - which took 72 hours of dry-time, so that was put on hold.
The first day is always a short one because of the drive. We started after lunch and spent the afternoon painting (I know... we said we were done). Michael took a spray can to touch up any thin spots in the trailer. We wanted to be sure that it was done before we took off the tape and started laying floor pieces. I actually spent a lot of time running errands & looking for parts. I'm not really comfortable with the electrical or gas/plumbing work - I'm more of the tool holder. I did discover that the cabinet fronts and doors were still tucked away in the garage where I left them in November. Painting them is a pretty big job because they are double sided. There will be a lot of time removing hardware, cleaning, sanding, adding two coats of primer, one coat of paint, turning, cleaning, sanding, priming, and painting in my future.
Once again Michael decided to rip more stuff out. The kitchen counter and the stove were removed. I think it is official. We have moved past the "spiffing up" phase into the "nearly gutted it" phase.
Day two was RAINY. COLD. WET. RAINY. (Did I mention it was rainy? So much for stalking the weather reports.) Luckily we had already arranged to go to the locksmith that day, so we would mostly be driving and waiting. The locksmith was a treat - and I mean that in the most sarcastic way. Let's start at the beginning...
Michael's dad, Bob, had his eye on the deadbolt from day one. Normally, the first day of owning a new home he would re-key all the locks to match so that you only had one key. He could see the Schlage label on the deadbolt and knew if he could remove it he could match it to our home key and give us the security of having it locked while driving so the wind did not catch the door. He looked at it. He measured it. He asked all the guys at work. Then he called me and asked me to look it up on the forums. This is what I found: In order to remove the dead bolt, you have to remove the wall panel. In order to remove the wall panel, you have to remove the window frame... and usually the door frame. I found several people who had decided drilling rivets out was just not their thing and they took a saw to their wall panel. BUT - there was a guy there who said that if we found a "master" locksmith, he could make an impression without removing the lock & match us a key.
So I called around Effingham. Nothing. They recommended a locksmith in Mattoon. I called him. He stated that he couldn't tell me anything until he looked at it, but that I would save a ton of money by driving it to him (20 miles). I asked him if he had room to park it. He responded, "You just get here and we'll see what we need to do." OK. I asked him how long he would expect it to take. He said, "I can't tell you anything until I see it." I asked how early they opened. He said 8. I tried to make an appointment at 8. He replied, "We open at 8." Great. This is what we are working with here.
That was EXACTLY what we were working with. There was some swearing involved (from him, not us). He stood in the cold and rain and whined for 25 min about how he could take an impression, but he would have to stand in the cold and rain to do it. We asked him if he could just do the battery compartments. He replied that he could pick those in 30 seconds with his eyes closed & that since we were there he would at least try the dead bolt... but he never moved. He complained more about the rain, and those --bleep-- customers who kept coming in.
I finally asked him where we could park the trailer and told him that we would run errands for 1-2 hours and return. The only problem was that we couldn't lower the hitch, because we did not have batteries because we couldn't access the compartments. He was accommodating and gave us power from the inverter in his work van. I gave him Michael's business card so he could contact us. We bought batteries and had lunch. We wondered if / when he would call to tell us he was finished, but we decided it was best to show up since we didn't want to waste our entire day. As we were driving back he called. "When are you guys coming back?" he asked, as if we had left the face of the earth and were never returning. It was 7 min until noon. He wanted to go to lunch. When we arrived, he had put new locks in the battery compartments and had attempted an impression of the deadbolt with no luck, but he didn't have our ticket ready. We chatted about what a rip off internet prices are while he ran my debit card. He gave us power to hitch up and we were off.
The good news is that we can now install batteries. Also we had 2 practices hitching and unhitching. Michael even succeeded in backing the trailer into the driveway. We are building confidence along the way. Michael got the batteries installed while I picked up the propane tanks. Before you know it we had both heat and electricity! I call the day a success.
On day 3 we were blessed with SNOW. The difference was: now, we had HEAT! Michael grouted the bathroom tile and laid the foam flooring. I cleaned a work area in the garage and worked on the cabinets and doors. Due to the mud from the rain and snow, my mom's garage and driveway have now been overtaken, but she has tolerated it. Hopefully it won't be too much longer.
We decided that would be our last work day and we would bring homework. After looking at laminate for the counter top, we decided that we would try renovating all the remaining pieces with Thomas Liquid Stainless Steel. We brought home the refrigerator doors, the stove, and the bathroom and kitchen counters. We still have a ton of work to do, but it is starting to feel and look livable!