Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Getting to the Restoration of Gidget

So... looking back at that last time we posted, we are epic failures!  We get asked constantly how we get so much work around the house done with 3 kids and the proof is in the puddin'.  Sometimes it takes us a REALLY long time.

We bought our little canned ham trailer at the beginning of December, excited to dig into some restoration.  Flash forward 2 months and we haven't touched it.

We have no trepidation over this project, we just haven't had a good chunk of time to dig in.  Honestly, we have been so awestruck by beautiful weather, which has lead us to some fantastic hiking in our new city.

Silver Falls State Park
Finally, last weekend we decided it was time to buckle down and dig into Gidget a bit.  We have tons of home renovation knowledge but our trailer knowledge is zip so we have been referring to a really helpful site for some information on process and what we might expect as we start to tear into this thing.  The author of the site, Mobiltec is incredibly knowledgeable and a true restorer (really, to an extreme at times) but is THE resource for anyone doing this kind of restoration.

After consulting Mobiltec's videos, we learned that it is incredibly important to not just rip everything out at once- even if you plan to eventually replace/repair everything.  These vintage trailers were originally built from the inside out so if you go into tearing it out from the inside out, you will be essentially screwed and not be able to get it back together again.  The key is to work from the outside in, one side at a time.

Beginning of the day.  Eager and not yet covered in mold spores. 
To prepare for this careful excavation and then restoration, our first step was to do some careful tear-out of some of the fixtures inside the trailer.  You don't want to rip out floor to ceiling cabinets/walls at this point since these help with the overall structure of the trailer.  We plan to reuse/rebuild what we can and copy what we can't, so we carefully documented and measured all pieces coming out.  We ended up removing the dining benches, cabinet doors and hardware, light fixtures, the stove and kitchen base cabinet as well as the carpeting.

Front of camper: Dining area with fold down seats
Structure boxes under seats which we took careful measurements of before removing
As always, Andy's tools of choice for any demolition are a screwdriver, small pry-bar, hammer and respirator.  Don't ask him how many different types of screws and nails he found- it's a touchy subject.

The work was slow going and dirty but by the afternoon, the bulk of the interior demolition was done.
Our cheerleader
Removal pile.  About half of this ended up on the bonfire.
Old carpeting 
Finished with a good Shop Vac
We took measurements and drew templates of pieces that we would have to remake and labeled all pieces we would refinish and put back in.
Traced outlines of pieces we plan to replicate
So now we are onto the meat of the project- replacing/repairing the flooring, framing and inner skin (wall) of the trailer.  We plan to start with the flooring so need a full 2 day weekend with clear weather... which is nearly impossibly during an Oregon winter.  Until then, we hope to do some restoration of the original Martha Washington stove and start rebuilding cabinetry and benches.  Until then, this is what we are left with.  We aren't running for the hills yet, which is a good sign.

Kitchen area

Kitchen area looking back into bedroom
Bedroom area.


  1. Love it! Good on you guys- looking forward to some structural work this spring on 'Lola' the LoLiner... They are an adventure!