...and crafting a purposeful recovery

Month: November 2017

Advantage, HD

On several occasions I have noted the benefits of proceeding slowly, methodically on this project.  OK, to be honest it’s really just procrastination and If I’ve learned anything over the years,  it’s that procrastination is a symptom of fear.  Fear of doing the wrong thing, the unknown and/or of acting foolishly – as if anybody is watching.  But it isn’t all bad because my snail-like pace has allowed me to make some useful mid-course corrections.  Take porch lighting, for instance.  After I finished installing all of my insulation, I realized that I had not wired porch lights.  Not only are they useful in illuminating a path to Sparta’s doors, they were also original equipment and their oversight would have devalued my investment.  Fortunately. I caught this before installing wood tack strips, so I simply pulled two sections of foam and wired in two switch-operated porch lights.

New switch on the right and wired to the “x” spot

So with all the wiring and insulation finally in place (I hope), it was time to install wood strips to all ceiling and wall aluminum ribs.  This process delivered a pleasant surprise.  Most of you have probably experienced or heard of the fact that Home Depot’s wood is inferior to that of other lumber yards.  Often it is not adequately seasoned, already warped or knotty.  Yes, I have run into this so I was not very optimistic when I ordered three boxes (50 ea.) of redwood lath (5/16″ x 1.5″ x 4′) at $25 per box.  Because the delivery was to take a week or more, I went to the local “high end” hardware store and bought 50 pieces of the same material that was stored outside in their yard.  This was enough to get me started on the ceiling.  The pictures below tell the story.


HD product. Harder, cleaner, more uniform and HALF the price.

“Premium” wood at $1.00 ea. Soft, splintery and weathered.

See what happens to soft, inferior wood? Splitsville.










So, the takeaway is don’t always assume the big box store is inferior.  In this case it was markedly better at half the cost.  These strips were easily applied to the ceiling.  First by establishing a perimeter on the harder, galvanized border (it required drilling with a hard bit before screwing) and then the cross ribs which are softer aluminum and went up without drilling first.  #6,  3/4 inch screws were used and placed every 6 -9 inches.

EZ Squee-Z.

See what happens when you take a Panorama shot of the ceiling on your back?

Let’s put some meat on these bones!

Snug as a bug

Alright!  We’re finally getting somewhere.  I have been at this insulation since before the fire, yes way back in September, and it’s finally finished.  Granted, there were several interruptions, distractions, etc. , but it took longer than it should have – even with the chilly nudge provided by Mother Nature.  It is easier to envision the final product with these white foam walls, so my enthusiasm and resolve are renewed.

To recap, the walls are 1″ Insulfoam with a foil backer facing out and the ceiling is buffered with 2″ foam.  I bought one sheet of flexible, 1/2″ foam for the rounded front end.  It is noticeably warmer when I wake up in Sparta,  even when the heater is not running – quieter too.  Remember, if you try this at home, make sure to leave at least a 3/4″ baffle between the foam’s outer foil and the exterior surface to ensure an effective radiant barrier.

Today I will fill all the remaining nooks and crannies with spray insulating foam and apply foil tape to all the foam seams to maximize their effectiveness.  Then, I will begin clearing off the floor so that I can pour the leveler next week, giving time for it to set over the Thanksgiving Holiday.

This 1/2″ stuff bends to fit

When you run low on foam create a puzzle

Then patch it up

Brain stem. All running from the eventual Circuit box. Three 12v lines and two yellow 120v.



When you run out of foam wishing you still had your daughter’s pick-up. Yep, it all fit in my Volvo.

Somehow, I managed to create a palindrome, of sorts, entirely by accident

Panorama shot


Even though I have 80% of Sparta’s wall insulation installed, I have come up with yet another enhancement to this trailer project to beat the cold and remain comfortable and productive in the coming months.  I have cordoned-off the rear section of sparta as my living/sleeping quarters.  Using two 10X12.5 foot sections of 6 mil. plastic sheeting (a 10×25 piece purchased at HD cut in half) and duct tape, I hung two drapes from the ceiling about one foot apart, taping them down along the opposing ribs of the trailer.  These curtains have created an effective baffle and, along with a 1500 watt ceramic heater (also purchased at HD for $19), helped me awaken yesterday morning to 70 degrees.  Because this Imperial Mansion has doors front and aft, I can access both sections leaving the plastic undisturbed.  The other great benefit of dividing the trailer regards the use of chemicals.  Very shortly I will be getting into the real fun stage of this undertaking – striping, sanding, staining and sealing wood.  Depending upon the types of products I choose (petroleum vs. water-based), I may be creating a very noxious environment and one not suitable for sleeping in.  I will now be able to perform all of these nasty wood-related tasks in the front section without compromising the livability of the rear.  I will vent the forward section with a fan  to ensure healthy airflow and not worry about heat conservation or killing brains cells.

I neglected to mention in my earlier posts that, as I have installed custom-cut sections of foam sheeting in the ceiling and walls, I have followed up with spray foam gap filler and foil tape to seal off seams and breaks in the interior.

This stuff is easy to apply and swells to fill gaps and make them snug.

It dries into stiff stalagtites that can be easily trimmed off with a knife making them flush with the ceiling.

Double drapes of 6 mil. sheeting keeps me warm


Fire and Ice

29 degrees.  That’s what my indoor/outdoor thermometer read this morning…on both sides of the scale.  You see, a half insulated trailer is not much good at protecting you from the elements.  So I best make haste to complete this job so I can enjoy a little comfort in my makeshift abode.  Toward that end I purchased a propane blast heater designed for well-ventilated construction sites.  I ran it for 15 minutes this morning while taking pooch for a walk and it raised Sparta’s interior temp to a balmy 50 degrees.  I can work with that.  Don’t worry, I don’t run the heater for long as It might pose an asphyxiation risk and I never leave it on while going to sleep.

This thing gets hotter than a popcorn fart in no time

Three passes w/ my Swiss Army

                                                                        So for the walls I went with Insulfoam R-TECH, a one-inch thick styrofoam-type product that fits nicely in the two inch deep wall baffles.  That leaves a 1″ air pocket between the metallic exterior facing of the foam and the trailer skin.  Hopefully, that will ensure that the radiant barrier works optimally.  Since Sparta’s ribs are mostly unevenly spaced,  it has resulted in a crazy-quilt task of cutting and fitting foam pieces – retangles, squares, triangles – even a trapezium.  Who knew my high school geometry would come in handy?

The aforementioned trapezium