As part of the Trailer Trash Project, Sam will be working with the Nomad Lab – children and their parent from the Valle Del Oro Neighborhood Association in Newhall (Santa Clarita) CA. The Lab offers all kinds of art workshops in graphic design, print making, music, acting, etc. It is run under the direction of Evelyn Serrano who also teaches a class on art and activism at CalArts. Sam recently met with the class. Here are his notes: [ed.]
-by Sam Breen, October 17, 2010
I met with Evelyn’s class, and we are starting to make a plan. Our first date with theNomads and their parents is in Newhall on Nov 6 . There should be about 30-40 students there, ranging in age 6-14. Evelyn wants me to bring the trailer, so I will need to install a work-floor in the Spartan by then! Nomad workshops in photography and creative writing are already under way. Teachers are exploring the idea of what home means to them. So they’ve begun thinking about this theme (which is great ’cause that’s my theme, too!) I’ll give the kids a small presentation of the projectand take them
What makes a house a home?
on a tour of the Spartan. Then the photography kids will take pictures. Some will start writing, some of the Arts and Activism students from CalArts will lead theater games (with the idea of home in mind). Some of the Nomad kids will be commissioned to talk about what they’d want in the trailer if it was their home (they could draw, write etc.) We could have a projector in there, so I might put up some ideas for my wish list – things like solar panels, a grey water system, compost. I’ll also be asking them about ways to use the trailer as a performance space – even before it’s finished.
On Oct 20, well’ll have another meeting of the Arts and Activism Class. Stay tuned. [Sam will have got to install a temporary floor in the Spartan in the next three weeks. That also means floor insulation, a belly pan, and tanks for storing clean and water. -ed.]
Preparing a subfloor (photo from an unrelated restoration)
We have three weeks to get the sub floor in before the Spartan gets towed to Newhall to meet with the Nomads on November 6th. (see Sam’s post 3) So much to do! Sam is scraping off all the old rust off the chassis. Then he’ll use POR15, a product that forms a protective coating by bonding with rusty metal. There is nothing green about this product. The other option was to remove the trailer skin and transport it to Van Nuys for sand-blasting and powder coating.
Meanwhile, we have to search for suppliers for the sub floor lumber, floor insulation, belly pan and grey water tanks.
Lumber Many, if not most, vintage trailers have rotting floors from water damage due to leaks from windows, metal seams, ceiling vents and
Bathroom floor was rotted from leaks
plumbing. Then there’s the vapor that forms under the floor and walls. After 60 years, the Spartan had all of the above. The sub floor was rotted and had to go. But replacing a trailer’s sub floor (all or part) can be a challenge. Seems like there are as many ways to go about it as there are people willing to tackle the job.
Marine grade plywood is worth the extra expense.
Sam has already cleared out the trailer and has a clean slate. He’ll use 3/4″ marine grade plywood. We’d like to use sustainable lumber. But that brings up all sorts of questions (It looks like this is going to require a steep learning curve. See Treehugger links below.) FSC lumber is available about an hour away. But even that may not meet the standards of all environmentalists. It’s also a speciality item, stored in a separate lumber yard, required special delivery. For now we have to compromise. We are looking plywood that is pretty green, not treated with formaldehyde and try to do better with the rest of the lumber.
Belly Pan We want a more sturdy belly pan that the conventional MDF or plywood variety that always seem to get damaged from scrapes or rot aways. Aluminum will also keep out pests. The thickness: 0.40 or 5053. Another expense!
Fiberglass insulation was used under the floor of this restoration- may not the greenest choice but it is relatively cheap. .
There are other options. TRA Certification (Airstreams gets certified by them) suggested Eco Batt by Knauf which has some recycled content and it not supposed to off-gas. Company site don’t seem to mention where the product is manufactured nor do they mention certifiable fair labor practices
Another solution is a 1.5″ layer of foam spray. A soy or castor oil based variety comes in a do-it-yourself kit. It has a high R value, seals everything in place and keeps bugs out.But it would require all the plumbing and electrical under the floor to be in place before the foam goes in. How to do that before November 6th? Sam is in class full-time and is rehearsing for two plays after-hours.
Another looks interesting: Airstream is using a sheet of plastic on the belly pan then Refletix, which is also recommended by this Airstream forum. Here is how one of the forum members used a similar product.
I have used Prodex, much the same as Reflectix throughout the whole 26′ restored Argosy. However, I have glued 1″x2″ urethane strips onto the sub floor underside. Cutting the Prodex by 3″ oversize I have overlapped it onto the frame members attaching it with 3M 5200 Fast Cure to the urethane strips and frame. Prodex has advertised “R” value of 14.7. Added air space between bubble foil and sub floor adds about two points in “R” value. I did the same thing in the walls using 1/2″x2″ urethane foam strips in order to create air space on booth sides. I have brought the Prodex along the ribs toward the inner skin trimming the excess 1/8″ high past the rib. This way the inner wall skins sealed the cut edges of Prodex. My 15000 BTU Carrier freezes me out at the lowest setting in 95+ degree direct sun. Thanks, “Boatdoc
Next up: the grey and black water tanks to go under the belly pan.
It’s fourth of July weekend. Not exactly a weekend I want to go up for a day because of the traffic on the tollway. After sitting home all day on the 4th watching TV I decided to go up on the 5th to do some work instead of repeating a day of TV.
I bought myself a respirator mask that filters out asbestos and furnace filter from Menards to make a air filter from my box fan. Maybe it will filter some of the stink out!
I washed out the inside of the upper kitchen cabinets with pinesol and water. I couldn’t tell if this made a difference since I had the mask on the entire time I was there.So I tested some of the floor by walking on it. It appears the floor under the side windows are the softest. Some spots are actually so soft you can put your foot right through the floor.
After cutting the 3/4 plywood from the floor with my circular saw it reveals the insulation. You can see the holes in the insulation where little critters made tunnels in the past. I will remove the insulation from these areas as well since removing all the floor and insulation is not a feasible option for me.
The belly pan is fairly complete. There is one spot toward the front that has rotted away and that section of pan is now loose and hanging a bit lower. Perfect “doggie door” for animals big and small to make a home. That needs to be repaired ASAP.
I noticed a drop of water hitting the floor and it was too far away from me to be the sweat poring off me. The light fixture in the dining area had a steady drop of water coming from it. This ceiling panel is scheduled to be removed and discarded anyway so no better time then the present to remove it. I cut the power to the light, removed the screws from the underside of the fixture and carefully took it down.
The panel is also held up partially by the decorative room divider which divides the kitchen from the living area. I carefully removed the divider since I want to restore this piece of non painted wood. I removed all the screws from the panel and pulled and tugged and was pelted with mouse pellets until it was down and out the door it went.
The worst part of demolition is the removal of the old insulation. It is falling apart, full of mice droppings and sometimes wet. I am never fully prepared for the job and most of the time have on short sleeves and I am left with itchy arms for days.