Saturday, January 2, 2016

Starting on the furniture

In an old travel trailer like this, the cabinets provide much of the strength of the entire trailers.  There is no way a flimsy stapled 3/4" thick wall could possibly stay together without all of the cabinets, closets, beds and seats anchoring the walls to the floor and ceiling.  Since we are building this outside, with a forecast El Nino rain season and uncharacteristic high winds, we thought that we needed this structure in place before putting our walls back up.

The most important cabinet of all, is the large floor to ceiling closet.  Nearly every vintage trailer has one, and nearly every "previous owner" mucks with them.  In our case, they roughly cut a hole in the rear side of the cabinet and added 3 flimsy shelves that protruded halfway into the main door opening (on the left in the photo below)

 These shelves were made out of the same 70s grooved panels that your Grandma has in her living room.  On those shelves were some funky bins made of the same material.  Mama was having none of that.

The first order of business was to find some replacement plywood to skin the ugly cutout.  As ash is no longer available in most places due to the ash borer beetle, we scrounged up enough from an old ceiling panel we had removed.

After some frustrating time with a chisel, trying to remove the old panel, we finally just rebuilt the whole side of the closet, adding cleats to hold new, clean shelves.

The one portion of the old wood we couldn't replace was where the front meets the edge.  The front panel is rounded over, so we wanted to preserve this edge.  To do this, we used a straight cutting bit on a router and trimmed out the old material (and the staples secretly holding it in place, oops).  The new panel was a little warped from being outside and original water damage, but some glue and brads got it flat enough for us.

As an interesting aside, the ash plywood paneling used in this trailer was all made in Japan.  Many vintage trailer enthusiasts complain about the poor quality Chinese made wood available now, including us, having to scrap over $100 in plywood that just fell apart in our hands.  The fact is, these trailers were always built with the lowest quality materials of their time, which just happened to come from Japan in the 60s.

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