Sunday, January 27, 2013

I may be white trash, but my trailer's a treasure.

 No, that's not a Honey Boo-Boo quote. That's a TinyFixation original. 

As you may have read, I'm getting a new workshop. That's enough to thrill even the least-obsessed crafter. I'm a craftsperson of the very obsessed persuasion, and dammit, I've outgrown my craft palace.

This is how you may remember it:
 The main bench usually looks as above, but messier.
 ...and when it's clean.
 It actually doesn't look anything like this any more. There's been more 'organizational evolution' (if that's what we're calling it, like a garbage man is a 'sanitation engineer') since you've last seen it. Guess I should go grab a pic or two of that nonsense... just a sec.

Yuck. But I'm glad it looks like a shithole right now, just to illustrate a point. It can be workspace, or storage. Not both. A clockwise turn from the center of the room reveals catastrophe at every glance. I'm worried about my tools and projects getting lost, or *gasp* broken.

 Please, don't let the roombox cart hide this:
The piles behind it. Egads.
 And it continues...

It's so sad looking. I just grab what I need from the outer echelons and sit on the floor in the middle of the room. Or even worse... elsewhere. I've started leaching out into other rooms. The craft cancer is metastasizing...

...into the loft:

...and into the attic (through the other door in the craft room):

I'm even invading the garage. Band saw and dremel are down there on a current assignment.
We've spent a lot of great times in that 10' x 10' cubicle of a space, and boy has it been a nice place to play. 
 But this will not stand.

The dilemma is this: I really want a freestanding workshop structure, separate from my home. Our home is for sale. I'm not going to build a nice shed/cabin thing only to have to move out and start over again when the house sells. Ah, first-world problems. I'm just afraid if I don't finally concentrate and get started with TinyFixation on Etsy, I may never get to it. So I put both at the top of my very ambitious 2013 to-do list, a workshop and an online store.

I may have also mentioned that my husband is pretty brilliant. A man with a plan. I should have thought of the concept too, but seeing how we have the Winnebago as our recreational vehicle I never would have thought to buy another. He knew I needed more space months ago, after all, he's the one giving me all these amazing power tools for gifts lately, and wondering why I don't use them.

But a workshop on wheels is the ideal solution for my chaotic life and unpredictable living situation. It's also in our nature and history to buy old campers and redo them. This will be our third. He was going to get me one for my birthday but since he knows me like no other, figured I'd want some input. I'll be the one working in it. So we've been searching, with little luck at all. 
The trailer frame, roof, and enclosure need to be near immaculate. My favorite stuff is going to live in there. Bonus if the electrical, furnace, A/C, water heater, stove and range hood worked, but not any deal breakers there. 
The other features: dinette, couches, beds, toilet don't matter since I'll be tearing most of it out to make way for custom benches. The mice can keep the upholstery, for all I care. Enjoy, until I forcefully and brutally remove you with extreme prejudice. I hear you guys prefer peanut butter over cheese these days...

Bottom line: I need more square footage, more open, usable bench space. And some special considerations to make regarding storage since I have a small arsenal of tools and supplies for pretty much every craft except glass blowing. Shit, that sounds fun, man. So I wanted to double my square footage, and figured I could best do that in a 27' to 32' model.

So we've been around to look at three '80's era 30' to 32' slabs this month, all unfortunately not candidates.We had started calling on trailers that were 4 hours away last weekend, but those guys didn't call us back. Thank God.

Fast forward to this morning...
Vic is always on the prowl (sketchy as it sounds) on craigslist, for whateverthehell. Men.

"Hey, here's a 29' Argosy.........
...Babe. It's an airstream."

It was 7:45 am, but no shit there I was. Couch jumping Tom Cruise style, screaming:
"How long ago was that listed? Call that motherfu*ker. RIGHT NOW!"

He's all:
"Well, let's see, where'd they list the number... oh, here,
234-(trails off...),
No fucking way."

I'm dying over here, all:
"What. What?!
Is there a problem with it? Oh, no. Is it a pile?
...or do you know this guy. Oh my God, you totally know the guy!"

"Yup. And matter of fact, he owes me money."

So Vic gets on the phone with the guy, and we could go see it in an hour.
It has two broken windows, and the sub-floor is soft (if not removed in areas), mice have made themselves cozy, etc... but it had better bones than any of the newer model campers we'd seen. And it was old, and unusual, and had character! It's so perfect I can't even cope. It's exactly what I would have asked for if I didn't already know how expensive they are... I'd been briefed on the budget long ago. This is considered a very extravagant gift in our house. It was a gift, after-all, and I'd be more than gracious to get anything that could fulfill workshop purposes, however homely.

Which brings me to the real kicker. Go ahead hate me. It was free in exchange for forgiveness of his $500 debt. Seriously? An airstream for $500 (already under-budget), without even having to pay a dime?! Even I hate me for it.

She's a real fixer, but all four tires were in excellent shape (Tires alone = worth more than the price paid for the trailer. Ha!), so we were able to haul her glorious ass home today. I can't wait to give her a sponge bath. I think she's rough around the edges, but like me, will clean up nicely when asked.
 Hello, lover.

If you aren't pants-peeing excited over how beautiful that is, I don't think we can be friends.
Yep, I know. Rolling up my sleeves. Mouth guard, knee-pads, goggles...
 It's supposed to get up to 50F next week sometime, she'll be filthy until then. 
It was 20F today, so capital 'F' being outside.

I've been doing some research in the meantime.
 I've got the Argosy 28 twin bed center bath model. Date stamped on the trailer tag is 10/76. 1976! (I still have to do a VIN look-up to confirm). My floor plan is as seen (bottom left, in dazzling red), except the bathroom and closets are on opposite sides of the trailer.

I've found out that Airstream produced the Argosy line, which were a similar design/shape but painted. I looked on some forums and read conflicting information regarding their makeup. It's mostly aluminum but has a couple of panels made from galvanized steel. Tested it myself with a magnet. Mystery solved. I also found a full PDF manual from 1975.

I'll keep at it, and now that I've got some dimensions and a layout to work with I can start space planning.Our first steps will be to replace the two broken windows, put in new subflooring, and repair one leaky area. Until then it's pencil to graph paper, my usual process.
Which should be great practice since I have a basic plan for Undersized Urbanite.
I'll be doing up my dream Manhattan apartment, if I actually wanted to be a city girl. The catch, is that I could probably only afford 300 square feet. So it will be an adventure in cramming and creative space planning to make sure I'd be comfortable. I'm a girl who likes to stretch out.

I'll be able to construct a simple plywood roombox for this one. 
Nothing too fancy. Since 300 square foot apartment rarely is.
But only simple windows, and electrical. Nothing as elaborate as the roombox in that department.

Now that the cat's out of the bag, I guess I should get started on both of these projects.
Until next time.
P.S. About that other thing I said:
My husband also knew I wanted to drive in a demolition derby ever since he took me to watch my first, so this year he's secured me a car worth destroying for the sake of bumper cars: the real game. It's a 1996 Ford Escort station wagon. White (for now). 5-speed. October 2013.
Gonna be so dope. What a guy.


  1. OMG, an airstream for free. I DO hate you. These sort of stories are what I was referring to in my Envy post!

    Oh, and your craft space is already rocking. I would NEVER post pictures of where I work in my house online. It is just gross.

    1. Thanks, Linda! I know I'm lucky to even have a dedicated craft room carved out of our house, so it often feels selfish to complain about lack of space when I have 100 sq feet. But this is a whole different animal, and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world :) You can take consolation in the fact that I'll be elbow deep in mouse droppings for a while...

  2. You totally STOLE my idea, dude! Honest to the big guy upstairs (or downstairs), I've been fantasizing about a mobile dollhouse chariot in my backyard. Midcentury style, of course. And Airstream, natch. This is INCREDIBLE and amazing. You and your hubby are visionaries! Cannot wait to see how it all shakes down. This rocks.

    1. Great minds think alike :) And I totally believe you, because who wouldn't want an airstream full of dollhouse dreams?! Oh, a rhyme. Queer. I'm sorry.
      Anyways, I hope your dream comes as true as mine. This is going to be one hell of a project!

  3. What a SCORE! I cannot think of more capable hands to bring it back or envision anew glory for the always stylish Airstream. Go 'head gurrrl.

  4. Can't.

    (Hey, maybe we should be n00b Etsy seller buddies as setting up an Etsy shop is on my 2013 list too...)

    1. Me too!! I've been short of breath ever since he said 'airstream'.

      And I'll definitely take you up on the buddy system, we can learn the ropes together!

      Megan (modernminihouses) was an incredible help when I was getting started here, it was nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of, and learn a few tricks too :)

  5. Oh my god, I totally hate you! This is balls out amazing. Clearly totally meant to be, major congrats! Can't wait to watch the transformation. Off to pity myself, lol.

    1. I'm very hateable! And I agree about the balls-out level of bad-assness that is happening in my driveway (It's parked next to the vintage Winnie, of course). It definitely feels like there was some fate involved, so I'm thankful that Karma showed up in something other than bus form.

      And I'm beyond jealous of your set design gigs so we're even, dude.

  6. That is awesome! It has so much potential!!

    1. Thanks, Audra! It should be a really fun renovation!

  7. Wow!!! It's totally meant to Airstream and a workshop! You are one lucky lady, I'm so jealous!

    1. Thanks, I'm ecstatic! My head is spinning with the possibilities...

  8. I must say this was the best damn read I have ever had on a mini website!

    You lucky bitch, I say that lovingly ;)


    1. Hi, Jane! I'm so glad you had fun reading! I try to keep things light and humorous whenever possible, and hope my profanity doesn't offend :) I always worry that my writing style doesn't translate well to others since I write the same way I talk. A finely woven tapestry of expletives with some dollhouse ideas thrown in so people don't think they're reading the 'Pulp Fiction' script.

      Thank you, and I'm both lucky, and occasionally bitchy, so you aren't far off the mark :) Just like when I referred to my readers as 'suckers', I meant it in the most affectionate way possible. I love you guys :)

  9. No. Way. Okay, the idea was brilliant and awesome in the first place. But an AIRSTREAM?!?

    I was totally pants-peeing excited, even reading the whole thing with a big, stupid grin. But I don't know if we can be friends anymore...I'm just too jealous now.

    1. It's ok. I understand :)

      I'm totally pumped! I never expected to get a bitchin' vintage camper, I was anticipating a big plain office trailer, or a boxy 80's camper. So an incredible stroke of luck for me! I definitely did my happy dance. Don't be jealous, she's a traveling road show. Could be doing a tour in your area soon...

      I can only hope to do it justice, since I'm not going the "restore to original" path. I hope It's reputation demands a killer reno, so fingers crossed...

  10. Ha! An airstream, that's awesome! I had a feeling that's how this story was going to end. No one gets that excited about a used trailer unless it's an airstream.

    And glad to hear you've gotten started with Undersized Urbanite. I first heard about it via your blog, so I was wondering how your entry was going.

    1. Hey! I'm tend to give away the punchline before I tell the joke. Yep, I'm that girl.

      Urbanite had to take a backseat to Christmas. Now that that mayhem is past, I can concentrate on projects! I merely have a concept, and have been doing some designing, but nothing tangible yet. Although I've started digging into my plywood reserves for the structure (that's why it's stacked on the seat at my workbench in the photos), so I guess it's an official start :) There are some folks speeding steadily along, making me sweat... I can't wait to actually have something to show!

  11. Hi, I don't know if you can get UK tv, there has been a series of a guy re-modelling an old (1970s) caravan and visiting many other people who have done similar projects, including an old bus converted to a holiday home. It's been on Channel 4, called George Clarke's Amazing Spaces. I'm sure you would love to see it.

    1. I don't even get US tv! I checked out the website though, and it looks like it would be my favorite show. Ever.
      At least they have some of the photos and descriptions of the projects, I'll be checking them out for ideas! Thanks for the tip!

  12. Im sort of jealous, if I had something like that I'd go fishing with the Mr..(I hate fishing but I'd stay in that nice trailor and do stuff like craft or watch my tablet)

    Im really J now that I think about it..I want one


    1. Hi, Marisa!
      I like your plan, too! That's why we picked up our 1979 Winnebago! I'll have to get a picture of the two side by side. It's comical. We use the Winnebago when traveling for weekends, that way we can take our dogs (cat too) and skip the kennel. Those guys ride in style :) It's like having an apartment on wheels. You should see the looks on peoples' faces when we roll through town...

  13. er mah gahd a workshop on wheels... you are just too cool for school - as they say over here! I am cringing at the idea of all the hard work, but I can see the possibilities (just would want others to do the work for me).

    The lines are very attractively curvy!

    And the demolition derby that sounds seriously scary, but way fun. Cant wait to see blog updates in November, except that would mean that Undersized Urbanite would be finished.
    Good Luck with it all!

  14. My friend has been asking if he can park a 1950s Spartan (almost identical to the Airstream of that era) in my driveway. He inherited it, and needs a place for it until he can find a lot on a nearby beach. Do you think he will let me gut it and turn it into a craft room? Can I tell him you insist? I never in a million years would have come up with such a wonderfully creative idea as yours for a craft room! I can't wait to see what you do with the trailer, if it's like your room box and "I'm a Giant" house, we are going to be blown away!

    Cheers, Neen

  15. I would take it on the workshop. You could come visit all of us.

  16. Oh wow...jumping up and down over here with excitement too! Perfect solution I say!

  17. (Nuts. I thought I commented like a month ago, I must have closed the browser not realizing I didn't publish. D'oh!) Long of the short, I'm so jealous!! You get what you deserve is usually associated with bad deeds, but in this case, you of all people totally deserve this awesomeness. That airstream was meant for you and what an incredible how I met your mother story. Some people would be intimidated by the condition, but I have no doubt you can polish that turd. :P

    Can't wait to see you work you magic on this diamond in the rough. CONGRATS!!!