Moving right along to the inside- camper floor and framing

It’s more comfortable to be working with wood again, that’s for sure. I hated the bondo and fiberglass. Unnatural stuff.

Now we’re into things that I recognize, we’re hitting the ReStore hard for various bits of wood. On this nearly dollhouse scale, scrap leftovers are more than adequate. For instance, we got our lovely countertop out of a partial box of bamboo floor.

The actual floor H.W. put together at the same time out of four pieces of salvaged hardwood click- the good kind, 3/16 of real hardwood, refinishable, on a plywood T+G base (as opposed to a digital photograph of wood glued onto a piece of composite plastic, like most laminate floor is).

H.W. glued the four pieces together and clamped them with truck straps, and then we had the central floor, floating on the rigid styrofoam.

Total cost for fabulous countertop and hardwood floor? $10. Such is the glorious bounty of the Re-store.

The process for the countertop: Create template out of taped-together cardboard with curves. Throw stick for the dog.

Figure out how exactly the sink and stove would place, and where each piece of bamboo would go. To say there was barely enough is an understatement. There was a bout 3” of waste leftover. Throw stick for the dog.

Cut it all out, dry fit it back together and make sure the sink and stove still fit. Throw stick for the dog.

Glue and clamp it all together so that it becomes a single unit, screw strips of wood or underside for support and to keep it together. Stress about how it will all turn out, relax when it turns out great.

In our division of labour, H.W. got the propane situation. He had to reconnect the furnace, the only thing that didn’t come out for the sprayfoam, seeing as it was molded right in with the fiberglass, and reinstall the two burner gas cooking stove. It’s wretched looking, but it functioned just fine before I took it out, so we figure it will continue to serve as a stove. Pretty simple machine. The stock propane/electric fridge will not be replaced, though.

We’ve learned so many new things in such a small reno. To plumb with copper, one needs a flaring tool to make all the little flares on the pipe where the couplers and wyes cinch them down. Who knew? A flaring tool can be had from the tool rental.

Stove installed on the left with a cover over it. Also shown: cutting board and random wood.

In order for him to install the stove though, he had to have the countertop in, so there was a rush on that. Thus began the interior framing.

“Framing” is a word to be used loosely when you’re working with a brad nailer and 1x2s. It’s also a nightmare working with the curved walls.  Plus there is nothing at all to anchor to. There’s a little strip of wood around the middle seam, but that’s two inches deep in foam, and the subfloor is buried in foam too. I also had the plywood on the walls that I fiberglassed in at the LINKpre-foam stage, but when it came to measuring out and planning the interior cupboards, none of the possible anchor points were in ideal places.

I resorted to friction framing. If I cut everything precision snug and cut into the foam, pressuring my uprights between the floor and the ceiling, I could get my reference points for the rest of the cupboard/storage units. I’ll jump ahead to the end now and tell you that this worked out ok in the end. I had no hope at the time. I was just utterly stymied by the fact that there were No. Reference points. At all. The floor is not level in either plane because of where it’s parked and that can’t really be corrected. The walls are curved, so there is no plumb, not in either plane (see floor). There are the windows, but they’re rather unworkably far from where I needed to start.

So there is no plumb or level, oh well, you just have to go by the visual. This is not as good as the implication of no accountability sounds. Nothing to reference is actually not liberating at all. I would get one stick in place (frictioned in), going by my eye, overall relative to the camper, and then every other stick I’d be racking my brain to figure out what I could square it against, or pull a measurement from. I was counting a lot on my sheathing materials to finally square it up in one plane, and my shelf bases in the other, to tie it all up at the end and then I could anchor it at my few points and hope for the unified whole to be secured.

Later, it occurred to me that this must be exactly like what working in a boat is like, and that’s been mastered. I could have learned a thing or two from a shipwrighting book, but that idea came too late. I just wore out my brain trying to figure it out from scratch. Oh, and no two measurements were the same, see curved shell. My dreaming mind was working overtime at night trying to figure out how to support structure in the right places without being able to frame squares. Thankfully the foam was so strong I could carve out “sockets” for the ends of my sticks and temporarily jab them in place while figuring out where in space the other end would end up.

This is all I had to show for a wearying whole day’s work, the first day framing. Pretty demoralizing. I have called myself a framer, in the past.

H.W. tried to not get involved in any of this. There was a lot of griping and swearing going on in the camper, so he scurried away with my cut lists and quietly dropped off wood all day. He manned the tablesaw and chopsaw, milling toothpicks for the “framing”, and he built all the drawers while he was avoiding the cuss zone. He’d never built drawers before, and he made five of them, with just a chop and table saw. Thank you Restore, again, for the paneling for the floor of the drawers, and pretty knobs.

The second day went much better. In a hurry, again, I tossed up the bed frame. Simple feet for two 2x4s carved into the foam, supporting a latticed bed frame I’d already made. Alas, that was something I threw together in twenty minutes to keep the mattress off the floor in the tent, bring some air circulation. I hate putting slapped-together “temporary” stuff into places where it will very likely stay for a long time, maybe years, after which someone will take it apart and tsk about what half-ass work that was. Indeed, I found myself anchoring one side of the cabinet units to the bed, and then that transferred a point I could register the other side of the camper’s cabinet units off of, so, it’s nailed in good now, it’s likely to stay.

In keeping with a long tradition of living in a construction site the moment it could loosely be called shelter, we moved in and started sleeping in the camper. We wanted to “test it”, that was the rationale for the first night, and then it was so comfortable there was no going back. Every day we moved all the bedding out so that I could use the bedframe for a workbench, and then moved it back in at night.

Eventually, I finished the cupboards, the tight shelf bases squared it all up in one plane, it anchored just fine, and it all looked good, nearly a miracle. I was too sick of it to be pleased, and we were in such a hurry to relocate, that at this stage, we packed it all and moved.

May 31

Other pieces of the camper reno story

One thought on “Moving right along to the inside- camper floor and framing”

  1. And throw stick for dog… Great stuff Selka. I long to work with wood. I’m back to doing a small drywall job for a friend…yuck.

    Kenny–you’re ole roomy.

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