Renovating The Rustler: A Saga, Part Two

If you’re following along, you’ve already met the Rustler.

Unfortunately, once I’ve started something, I won’t quit. So now I’m fully invested in this thing, even though it has presented more problems than I could ever imagine. Let me take you through the steps of my own personal hell.

Step one: Find trailer on kijiji for $1200. Convince fiancée to drive to Stony Plain in the dead of winter to look at it. Stand outside in pitch black in -30 weather and agree to buy it for $1000. Expect fiancée to be angry with more of your dumb purchases, but he just shrugs and says it’s fine. (*make a mental note that he’s the one*)

Step two: Park it at the fiancées farm for months while you wait for the longest winter of life to end.

Step three: Get fiancée to tow it home for renovations to begin. Park the eyesore next to the driveway.

Step four: Stand inside trailer staring at it, realizing you know nothing about trailers, but you’re too far in to back out now. Commit every second of your free time to renovations.

Step five: Decide to start with the ceiling. Tear it off. Realize the water damage is so bad because 1.) the roof was never sealed or taken care of, but mostly 2.) the trailer was parked at an angle for probably many years, where snow piled up heavily on the roof, causing it to sag, and as the snow melted, it slowly seeped into every crack and seam.

*make another mental note to take better care of your things – simple maintenance and care can ensure things last for years without damage. In this case, brush snow off regularly, throw a tarp over it in the fall before the snow, etc…Damnit, now you sound like your Dad.*

Originally, you thought the roof was the worst of your problems. Ha! Laugh at your naïveté. The newly exposed ceiling presents a multitude of fresh problems from rotten joists and studs, to asbestos insulation, to holes in the tin.

Step six: Panic as you touch studs and they crumble under your fingers. Everything you touch is rotten. All screws spin in soft wood. You knew the roof was ruined but you didn’t think to consider the walls would be too. Resist the urge to cry.

Step seven: Decide the studs where the roof meets the walls (around the top outside edge of the trailer) have to be replaced. There is nothing structurally left of them. Move to the outside of the trailer and teach yourself how trailers are assembled. Spoiler alert: it’s from the inside out. Not like a house, where you start on the outside (walls, roof, etc) and move inward (insulation, drywall, etc). Oh no. Trailers are made in a factory where you start on the inside and work your way out. Which makes it impossible to renovate from the inside, because the last thing to be put on was the roof. Which means it has to be the first thing off for renovations. Everything is layered perfectly for construction, but it’s absolutely not designed to be renovated.

Step eight: Literally tear apart the trailer from the outside to access the inside. Painstakingly remove every rusted staple, screw and nail by hand. Realize it’s basically a big tin can. Peel open tin can.

Replace rotten studs as much as possible while dealing with limited exterior access. Struggle alone for 16 hours in 30 degree heat to do so. Use so many tubes of caulking you lose count. Use soffit screws so the gasket provides a seal, ensuring water will not leak in. Enjoy the feeling of screws grabbing a stud instead of spinning in rotten wood. Successfully reseal the entire trailer knowing there’s no possible way it could leak now. *foreshadowing*

Step nine: Move inside the trailer. Start caulking visible holes in the tin roof. Pretty sure you aren’t supposed to see the sky from inside the trailer. The roof is so old and neglected, metal fatigue has bent large gashes in the tin.

Step ten: Be extremely exhausted. Call your mom. Her and her partner come over, replace rotten joists, and frame in ceiling with cross joints. They assure you everything is fixable.

Step nine: Delight in your new, supported ceiling. Snow will not cause it to sag now!

Step ten: Con your mother into helping you insulate the ceiling. Use Durofoam from Home Depot because it’s cheapest. Learn that the shiny side faces out and the green side faces you.

Step eleven: Teach yourself about electrical. Try to get the light fixtures working and the wiring sorted out before you install a new ceiling. Fail miserably. Call your fiancée. He teaches you the difference between trailer wiring (powered by a truck battery) and main wiring (powered by an electrical hook up at a campsite, or a generator). Throw out old light fixtures *foreshadowing: don’t do this* and install new fixtures. Test the wiring for the trailer brake lights. Somehow through all your rogue ceiling work, the wiring still works. Celebrate.

Step twelve: Take a break for a weekend away. Drink large amounts of beer to forget how much your body aches. Reflect on removing ceiling paneling, opening trailer sides, replacing studs and joists, installing cross joints, sealing sides of trailer with copious amounts of caulking, screwing everything back together with soffit screws, staples, and more caulking.

Running total: $1098

Trailer – $1000
2×2 studs – $28
Screws, staples, brackets – $32
Light fixture bases, marettes, caulking (so much caulking) – $39

Hours total: 2, 4, 4, 8, 4, 8, 4, 12, 6 = 52

Stay tuned for Renovating the Rustler: A Saga, Part Three.

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