Strong Foundation (3/26/16)

The shag green carpet throughout the Airstream was over 42 years old when it came into my possession.  It was one of the first things to go (April 2015)!  A small piece of it remains under the stove area for now.

In the rear of the Airstream (living area), a new piece of plywood was installed over a rotten piece by the previous owner.  When I started to demo my little gem this month, I decided that it was in my best interest to remove the rotten wood underneath.  I can’t be at peace if I just kept laying new wood on top of the wood that was deteriorating.  It would only cause issues later and I would have to address it then.

On Saturday, 3/26/16, I hired my youngest son to help me out for a few hours.  I had every tool imaginable with us; drill, circular saw, jig saw, reciprocating saw, to name a few. We had different size crow bars as well.  Removing the newer piece of wood was easy.  Few screws removed and it was out!  But, then where do you start on the original boards that were BOLTED into the beams of the frame?   Every forum post I had read about replacing the sub-floor, NEVER ever mentioned these BOLTS or the techniques to remove it!  How in the world are we going to remove this rotten wood?  I started to question my decision.  Maybe having a new piece of wood over it would be just fine.  Then the other little voice within me disagreed.  I called my dad and asked him what he would do.  He has an opinion for everything.  Well, everything but this.  Today, my dad decided he didn’t know everything after all.  Meh!

I decided to beat the darkened/rotten wood with a hammer, and it easy splintered in that spot.  I could see through the hole enough to know that there were no wires nearby.  I had to figure out where the cross beams were.  We pried, sawed, adjusted blades, and sawed some more.  Finally after an hour, the first piece was removed.  I was really thinking I would find mouse skeletons, maybe snake skins, and maybe a hidden treasure.  NOTHING.  None of that.  Just some crumbled up insulation.  I was worried that the beams would be so rusted that I might just have to throw in the towel.  NOPE!  They were just fine too!  The beams were a little rusty, but nothing that a steel brush and a little rustoleum won’t fix.  Solid as a rock.  There is a God in heaven!

After much trial and error, we figured out that the best way to tackle this beast was to drill holes around the perimeter of a section of each board- basically between the beams under that board.  We then used the jig saw to cut out a square.  In certain spots, we were unable to complete the square, so we cut an angle out at a corner.  We then pried the partially cut square up with the crow bar and pulled out the section.  Once we completed as many sections as we could for this big piece of plywood, we were able to take off the sections of wood that remained over the beams fairly easily.

Then, there was the dreaded C-channel.  This channel runs along the sides of the wall right up under where the wall panels end.  The subfloor sits inside the C-channel.  When the camper was originally built, there were bolts that went through the top of the C-channel, through the wood, and then through the bottom of the C-channel, holding the sub-floor in place.  Well, these bolts held in remnants of the old sub-floor and it too had to be removed so that new can go in later.  This was probably the worst part of this whole day.  I felt like an artist tapping away at a huge piece of marble.  There was just no easy way to get the bolted in wood to come out.  I even had the ridiculous thought that I could just burn it out.  I never tried that, thanks to my better judgement.

After removing the wood, we shoveled (easily to not puncture the under belly) and picked up all of the old insulation, using gloves of course.  I had 3 garbage bags full of insulation from this 2 piece plywood section.  We vacuumed up the rest of the remnants and all of the old chips of wood and dirt.

What would the underneath belly look like?  It was great!  There are two small rusty spots that can easily be repaired.  I’m thinking some type of sealer will fix this up but I’ll read what others have done for these type of repairs first.  We also had one little spot where we accidentally punctured it with the huge crow bar. My son kinda felt bad about it.  Me, no worries!  We can deal with that!

Few things I’ve learned from this day:  

  • Gloves were a great invention!
  • Small sliver of insulation will stay in your thumb for days!
  • Paying your strong 17 year old son is well worth the money!
  • I really am a DIY gal and not afraid of anything!  Where there is a will there is a way!
  • Today, I’m one day closer to my dream than I was yesterday!
  • Persistence and ingenuity is key!
  • Makers of the C-channel should have stayed in the brain storming room a little longer!  Repairs would eventually be needed!

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