...and crafting a purposeful recovery

Month: January 2017

More about floors.

Good morning.  The rains have finally abated.  The TV weatherman just reported that 13 trillion gallons of rain have fallen over the State of California in only the first 10 days of January (who measures that?).  While much of that water has already reached the ocean, that volume  could theoretically provide for the needs of 143 million homes annually.   Our major reservoirs are up to 120-180% of normal.  Hmmm.  Looking good.

Over this past weekend I continued my work on Sparta’s floors,  turning my attention to the severely damaged flooring in the bathroom.  This is where things got complicated.  In addition to messy, crumbling wood, I had to contend with fresh water lines, waste pipes, water storage tanks, ducting and the feeble attempts or a prior owner to shore up the failing floor.

For this section, I will most likely cut out a large swath of flooring spanning the entire trailer width and linking both trailer wheel wells with new subfloor.  Patching just won’t do here and furthermore I’ll probably have to pull out old water/waste tanks located in this area.  I could do the tank and pipe work from below, but I would rather avoid removing any belly skin.

For the extraction of flooring, I first set my circular saw to the thickness of the floor, being careful not to overdo it and nick the steel cross beams beneath.  I endeavored, wherever possible, to make cuts that followed the centerline of the beams so that my new patches have a resting place.  Some cuts required a reciprocating saw (along the trailer walls) and a oscillating plunge-cut saw in those hard to reach crannies (like where the original flooring is tucked under the exterior walls).  Pictured below are the tools used and the cuts I made on Sunday.

Tools of the trade for floor demolition – a hammer, oscillating plunge-cut saw, pry bar and circular saw set to proper depth. Note metal brackets in lower right indicating past, somewhat futile, attempts to save the floor. Oh, and of course a reciprocating saw pictured right.

As I cut into the floor, peeled away insulation and brushed aside debris, I got a clearer picture of what was going on beneath.

A number of decisions will have to be made before I put down a new floor.    Are the fresh and waste water pipes salvageable?  How about the fresh and waste water tanks (black and gray)?  The furnace ducting?  There are small gauge wires running beneath that complete the circuit to the rear navigation lights.  So much to consider.

Shiny steel cross beam

Furnace duct and outlet

Be careful what you ask for.

Holy Toledo!  The weather out here in Cali has done a complete about-face and the three year drought now seems like an old, bad dream.  I am so glad I had a chance to weather-proof Sparta before the deluge.  Check out the creek that runs by Sparta’s pasture.

The little red shack is looking vulnerable

Sparta is not an Ark.

These pics were taken on Sunday and the situation will only get worse as the rains have been continuing and will do so on into tonight.

More later.

Getting to the bottom of things…


Happy New Year!  I think this postcard says it all.  I am excited about proceeding on Sparta now that the holidays are behind me.  I would imaging you are also relieved that I might actually start talking about Spartan restoration rather than bloviating on about the state of the world.  But first, I would be remiss if I didn’t express a little gratitude here.  Last month I vacationed in Verona, Italy to visit my son, DIL and beautiful grandson.  I routed through Instanbul, Turkey for a brief layover and ultimately landed in Milan, Italy where I caught the train to Verona.  Both of those pass-through cities have been in the news due to recent acts of terrorism.  Milan is where the German truck murderer was gunned-down and Instanbul was the site of the night club bombing still being investigated.  ISIS probably had a hand in both atrocities.  I am grateful that our country, while still vulnerable to isolated acts of extremism, seems to have done a good job at containing acts of terroism since 9/11.  Thanks to all the men and women in law-enforcement/security who keep us safe.  Also, I am grateful that my Italian offspring appear to be thriving in their new home.

So, at long last I am tearing into the floor.  Because I have found nothing online to illustrate exactly what I am getting into here,  I am proceeding with caution.  Yesterday I began “peeling the onion”.   You will see pictured below my incremental approach to pulling up rotted sections of the subfloor.


First cut is the deepest


As I have discovered, Sparta’s underside consists of a steel frame along the perimeter with steel trusses running side-to-side every 16″ or so (still not sure about spacing).   Unfortunately, there is no center beam running the length of the chassis.  The cross-members actually sit slightly below the perimeter frame, so  during construction, 1/2″  wood strips were affixed to these to bring them flush with the perimeter.  Because there is nothing on the web to diagram this,  I have decided to draw this out for the benefit of those contemplating such a project.




So, this exploratory surgery has revealed several problems with both the construction of the steel chassis and the realities of time and rust.  First, as my crudely drawn frame schematic shows, there is no central beam running the length of the chassis.  This is a problem especially because I am not replacing the entire subfloor but, rather, am patching it.  (see earlier post “Fast floorward”).  With no center support to bridge some of these spans, it will be more difficult to cut and patch and my final floor could prove spongy.  Secondly,  The long perimeter bolts, which are spaced every two feet or so and affix the aluminum frame to the subfloor and chassis,  are rusted over.  When I attempt to loosen them with a 90 degree ratchet, most of them are free-spinning.  As I crank, the hex-nut just turns with the bolt.  Damn!  The recessed bolts, though not affixed with a nut, are so rusted over that I cannot get a phillips head driver to budge them.  This complicates the removal of damaged subfloor and requires that I cut the bolts or, as I did yesterday,  bash them until they break.

As you can see from the final photo where an L-shaped section of floor was removed, the underlying steel trusses are rusted,  but not too badly.  A slam of the hammer upon the steel cross-beams issues a reassuring “clang”.  Whew!

Tomorrow,  I will cut more sections of unusable flooring out and will have more to report.