Plumbing, Bathroom walls, Fridge enclosure.. and a test run from Irma

Sorry for the lack of post in almost two months :/ here’s my best attempt at summing up our progress since then.. If you aren’t much for reading, feel free just to skim the pictures, doesn’t hurt my feelings.. (I like pictures too)

First we finished running all of the interior ABS drain pipes for the kitchen sink, dishwasher, washer/dryer, bathroom sink, and shower, along with the necessary vent pipes for the tanks. One challenge we faced was getting a P-trap in between the shower pan and the grey tank.  Due to the placement of our tank almost directly below the shower, we didn’t really have any room to go down into the subfloor and then back up, but fortunately, after research, we discovered a straight pipe P-trap that basically consists of a vinyl sock stretched horizontally taut at the exit end.  This allows water to go through one way, but prevents backflow/bad fumes from coming back the other way

IMG_20170828_173132After that we moved on to the Pex pressurized lines, at which point we swapped out our old gravity feed inlet for a new dual inlet that has both a gravity feed and a city water inlet. Got our water pump from a local RV shop and threw a switch in there between it and the power (Why wouldn’t there be a built in switch?)

Once the plumbing was roughed in, we finished boxing in the bathroom walls with the exception of the one that will have the shower stuff run through it.  We used 1/2″ wide U-channel attached to the floor and ceiling to anchor the 1/2″ plywood to, and sandwiched between the 2 1/2″ sheets – 2×4 studs for the center walls and the shower wall that will be tiled.

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Right around the time we got those walls in, Irma was headed through, so rather than risk it, we headed northwest and stopped in Hattiesburg, Mississippi for a few days while Irma passed through Florida.  It was cool to sleep in the Pickle for the first time and we even brought the cats along (they weren’t too impressed, and decided the underbed portion was the about the best part of the floorplan).
Once we got back, we tackled the fridge, which ended up being a much larger job than I’d anticipated as we had overlooked running the DC line and thus had to route a new line through the walls. It still kind of blows my mind that the fridge requires AC, DC, and propane.. RV refrigerators still seem like something out of a sci-fi movie to me, they heat chemicals and the reaction cools the inner temperature? Who came up with this!? but I guess it’ll be worth it if we ever find ourselves in a place without power and need food not to spoil.
From there, we built out the drawers and structure of our small desktop that will be a continuation of the kitchen counter, with a spot for my desktop on the left (with some extra vent space, cuz computers gotta breath yo) and Jamie’s various desk shtuff in what will be drawers on the right.  While I was chopping away at wood Jamie was giving everything a good paint over with no concern for the subfloor which will be covered in vinyl planks at some point anyway.

And the last and current step we’re on is prepping for tile in the bathroom. I know that sounds like a crazy idea, tile? in a trailer? but it can be done, and done well at that, Hofman Architecture has been a big influence on the style we’re going for, here’s one of their tiled bathrooms: I managed to knick my toe pretty good with the cardboard cutter while trimming this kerdi-board o_O maybe flip-flops weren’t the best choice of shoes..

Anywho, there you have it.  The Current State of the Pickle, if you’ve got any questions, or just want to tell us what we’re doing wrong, give us a holler!

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Upper & Lower Cabinets, Dishwasher, Washer/Dryer, sinks, shower pan.. and other things.. Worst Title Ever.


We’ve had our noses to the grind the last couple of weeks and have gotten alot of things started (and maybe a few things finished!).  At some point all of the steps blurred together, as we kept realizing we’d have to do one thing before another, so here are some of the things that got accomplished in roughly chronological order.


We started by building the washer/dryer platform and boxing in the closet with a 2nd wall.  The cabinets that were donated to the cause have been cut in order to fit over the wheel wells.  The top of the center cabinet with the (original) sink was notched out so that the sink will sit flush against the bottom of the counter top.  Once we got it in place we plumbed in a new p-trap in and plumbed in a portion of the gray tank vent pipe before realizing we needed to get that upper cabinet in place first.  Originally, we had planned on running the vent pipe through the upper cabinets, but we realized that would have to go right through the vertical accordion doors, so we decided instead to bring the drain pipe up and to the side of the upper cabinet.  (We’re thinking it might look cool to paint the pipes, but things need to work before we turn our attention to appearance)
After getting the sink, and gray tank vent pipe in place, we turned out attention to the rest of the curbside plumbing.  For the washer dryer, we ran an Drain pipe through that wheel well all the way up to meet up with the drain pipes coming from the kitchen sink and while we were at it we ran some nylon rope through to use for fishing the PEX tubing once we get to that step since we knew we wouldn’t be able to get back into the wheel well.  Then we moved on to the rightside cabinet.  We’d decided prior that this would be where the dishwasher would go, so we built a platform extension that met flush with the wheel well inside of the cabinet to bear the dishwasher weight.  After cutting out the bottom of the top drawer framing, I still had to notch out a good inch or so on either side, but after that the dishwasher fit like a glove.  We decided to wait on fastening it in to allow us to attach the countertop later. We then cut a hole in the back of that cabinet and ran an ABS drain line down to meet up with the sink/vent pipe/washer dryer lines that are now all connected and running to the gray tank.
After that, we tackled the leftside cabinet that went over top of the tankless water heater, and would hold the oven/stovetop.  We built a good solid platform (that resembled a coffee table) with 2×6’s to separate the oven from the waterheater.  Then after cutting the necessary areas of the cabinet we slid the oven/stovetop into place, only to realize that our propane line wasn’t long enough (it never ends). At some point in there, I finished wiring up all of the wall outlets and the light switches just inside the door (which look like elevator buttons).  Oh, and we swapped out the front door handle for a new/not broken one, AND Jamie got a really cool bedside drawer installed while I was fiddling around with plumbing shenanigans, at some point we might even put a face on the drawer 😉

We’ve just started working on the bathroom drain lines, and from there I suppose we will move on to the source PEX lines.  That just about covers the current state of affairs.  Investors will be happy to note that our average costs have been steadily declining whilst our labor output seems to have been increasing.  Though the battle for middle eart… I mean er the Silver Pickle continues, we shall not surrender nor go quietly into the night.. for this. is. Sparta! (fatigue often results in my mixing of movie quotes, so just go with it…)


First Walls, Bed lift and Black Tank exhaust pipe Installed

We got the first few walls up this weekend.  The one on the left will divide our bedroom from the washer/dryer closet, the one on the right will be the first of the bathroom walls. We used 1/4″ birch plywood and cut it with a jig saw till we got the curve right.  We got the moulding to mount them to the walls from Vintage Trailer Supply:

I ended up adding a few 2×4 supports under the portion of the bedframe that would support the bed lift, but aside from that, the instructions were pretty well in depth and we were able to install it relatively painlessly, albeit uncomfortably, as you had to install under the bed and the instructions specifically require that the mattress be in place for the process.

For the black tank exhause pipe, we used ABS and after dry fitting everything, fastened the male onto the tank and glued it all together, at some point we will use something to curve it nice and flush against the wall as it has plenty of flex, but for now, it’s not going anywhere.

For a more exhaustive (or exhausting) description of the walls, read on below:

It took 3 tries to get this moulding to play nice with the first wall because bending it to the curve of the inner aluminum causes it to curl in on itself and bow off the wall you are trying to rivet it to.  So we decided rather than have a massive gap where the moulding bowed off the wall, we’d rather just not have the moulding in the corner, I was nervous about it before we got it up, but now that it’s done, it was clearly the right move, and we ended up needing the gap on the closet wall anyways to allow the black tank exhaust pipe to follow the contour of the wall.  We ran another piece of the moulding on the floor for the bathroom wall, but didn’t bother for the closet wall as it will be sandwiched in with a dresser (with the pipe coming out the top.)  We’ll also be building a platform over top of the portion that spans from the piping along the floor to the new wheel well covers which will allow the washer/dryer combo unit to occupy that space.

Bed frame with storage, check.

This past weekend we finished building out the bed frame with various little nooks and crannys for storage.  we used 2×4’s and 3/4″ plywood for the base of the bed as well as to seal off the battery and electrical panel compartment.  Once we had the good strong foundation, we went with 1×2’s and 1/4″ plywood for the compartments at the foot, head and far side of the bed.


Interior Walls and Elastomeric Roof Coating

We finally got all of the interior skins/walls up and into place and have been in the process of polishing off the remaining glue residue that was left after stripping the vinyl.  I’m not sure that it wouldn’t have been easier to do this prior to putting the walls up, but then again we were tired of bending over the darn things to work on them, so 6 of one and half a dozen of the other I suppose.

While Jamie was inside polishing I was up on the roof with a palm sander roughing up the aluminum around each buck rivet.  Word on the street is that if you don’t do this, the roof coating will “bubble” up around the rivets.  Once finished prepping/sunburning, I taped off the area to be painted and put down two coats of dicor (in perpendicular directions.  This used up the 1 gallon that the nearest RV shop had, but I’ve since bought a 2nd gallon and plan to put on atleast one more coat as it still seems a bit thin to me and based on what Dicor recommended I think I need a bit more thickness.

By the way (Since I find this interesting) here’s a bit of info on Elastomeric Roof Coatings: Putting this product on the roof of an Airstream gives 2 big advantages, the first being that it creates a seal on all of the roof seams,  Even without “leaky” rivets, if rain is combined with wind, it can sometimes blow up under the seam where panels overlap.  We haven’t really experienced this, but it was sort of a nice secondary advantage to using the coating.  The second advantage and primary reason we decided to coat the roof was to keep the interior cool.  From the start of this project we’ve really wanted to ensure that the inside of the Airstream will be both cool and efficient, which is why we opted for the new dometic AC and closed cell spray foam over the easier/more affordable fiberglass batt insulation.

Closed cell Spray foam insulation


We took a huge step this past week and finally got the Pickle insulated.  The rest of this post will just be detailing what went into making that happen, so if you’re not so much interested in the how, feel free to stop here.
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Subfloors, grey tank, propane, ac, fans, electrical panels and batteries.

Sorry for the immense dump of info here, I’ll try to keep future updates down to a bite-sized amount, it’s just been so long since I did an online update :/

We reran all the electrical this time using twice as many “sticky-backs” to hold up the wires and super gluing them down. (every 3 inches or so).  The previous ones had for the most part all popped off between the weight of the wire and the temperature of the aluminum getting so hot in the middle of the day.  In addition to this, we used aluminum tape to hold down the particularly heavy portions towards the rear where all the wires are coming together.  (This was the first place to fall previously.)

I drilled out the 3 old fans and cut the sealant around the edges to remove them.  After cutting away the excess sealant, some goo-be-gone and steel wool cleaned the aluminum up nicely to allow for a good seal for the AC and 2 fans.  The rounded corners of the existing holes had to be cut out to allow the new fans to fit, so a piece of cardboard served as a template to mark what had to be cut and then a sawzaw and safety goggles “stretched” the holes out for us.


The AC required some additional parts after we purchased the initial unit.  Being that I’m an RV novice, I didn’t realize that you have to purchase  the inside portion of the unit, the thermostat, and a compatible dripline system separately, but once we had all the pieces and a little bit of explanation from the local Airstream dealer, the installation went simply enough.  We used 2×4’s to give the AC some additional stability and ran the new dripline down the nearest wall and eventually out through the new subfloor and banana wrap.

After this, we dropped the pickle off at Camping World of Ocala and had them connect all of the AC and DC to the 2 “blue top” Optima batteries and a combo electrical panel as well as install a couple of new propane tanks and all new propane lines.  These were two of the areas I was particularly uncomfortable with, so I figured I’d leave it to the professionals.  I was happy for the most part with the quality of the work they provided, but was extremely disappointed in their inability to keep any deadline (What started as a week ended up closer to a month.)

Once we finally got her back, I went to work replacing the existing subfloor (While running my new fans!)  Removing the old pieces was made easier by cutting them down the middle.  The old pieces were then placed on the new birch plywood (with the blade gap included) and traced as a template for the new subfloor piece.  Since we are planning on a floating vinyl plank floor, I went ahead and sealed the entire subfloor with Thompson waterseal and while that dried I used a nifty sawzaw attachment to grind away the dust from the frame and then sealed it up with a fresh coat of rustoleum.  While that was drying, I went back to the now dry birch plywood and cut out the necessary shape of reflectex insulation and attached it to the bottom of the plywood with a staple gun.


That was the easy part, getting these new subfloor pieces into the pickle in was quite the challenge.  I’d seen how others had previously cut a gap down the middle of the subfloors to make this task easier, but I wanted the stability that came with having solid planks.  I made it a point not to remove more than 2 of the old pieces at a time to prevent the frame from flexing too much, and once I’d gotten the rear 3 replaced, I went to the front and started working my way back.  If anyone reading this is planning on doing it, I’d strongly suggest saving the middle piece for last, that’s what we did and with alot of banging and a few good jumps the last piece popped into place (We will definitely not have to worry about gaps in the subfloors).




Wires run and Running lights upgraded


Slow and steady! With the help of electrical wizard Trey Carr, we’ve run the electrical wires and swapped the old running lights with some newer LEDs.  We’ve also met with a plumber that was recommended to us by an Airstream certified location and he is super knowledgable and has given an immense amount of helpful advice.  He’s offered a very reasonable rate and is going to work at a reduced rate if I help (which I plan on taking full advantage of).
Next steps are getting leaks sealed, rolling out the dings of the exterior (from the inside, using rolling pins… did I mention our plumber was knowledgable!).  Putting the tail lights back in, replacing the remaining subfloor, installing a grey tank… Maybe I’m getting carried away with next steps, suffice it to say, there’s plenty to do, but we’re hoping to have electrical and plumbing done in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Axles, New Wheels, Relocation, and Window reno

Progress!  My grandfather welded the new shock brackets to the new axles and over the course of 2 days we were able to drop the old axles, widen the axle beam holes (2-5/8″ to 3″) and install the new axles, shocks, centramatics, and the shiny new Sendel wheels/ Michelin Tires.


After that, me and Jamie drove the Pickle 45 minutes south from Bronson to Ocala and parked it in my parents backyard where it will be resting while we work on it.  Pulled the awning out for the first time and we were pleasantly surprised to find no tears.



My project for the past couple days was to remove the window screen frames, pull out the tattered screens, strip the paint off the aluminum frames, and install some new screens.


Floor, Door, Axles and more


It’s been a busy few weeks getting settled in Ocala, but we are finally starting to get into the routine and were blessed enough to both get jobs!  My grandfather has been doing all kinds of work on the Pickle while it’s been parked on his property, and together we were able to bolt down a new (redwood) plywood floor to the rear. (He did the bulk of the work).  He’s also done extensive welding on the rear of the frame and mounted the new larger black water tank farther forward on the trailer.  The black plastic circle you see is where the toilet will mount and goes straight down to the tank.
We purchased new axles/brakes/shocks/centramatics from Andy at Inland RV (for the online Airstream community, he’s kind of a big deal).  I was a little disappointed that the shocks came separate from the axles and have to be welded on, as my grandfather has already done so much, but I’m sure there’s a good reason why they can’t be pre-welded.

I found someone on the forums that removed the battery compartment door from their Airstream in order to go solar, and they sold it to me for a reasonable price.  I dropped off the door when I was picking up the interior walls last week and found out today that my grandfather has already mounted it for me (seeing a pattern?)


Last but not least, I was finally able to start stripping the vinyl off of the interior walls today.  The vinyl seems to have been chemically bonded to the aluminum at the factory, so it takes some pretty nasty stuff to separate it.  Jasco Premium Paint & Epoxy Remover seems to work relatively well, but it takes 30 rather than 15 minutes for it to really do the work, and through trial and error, you really want to coat this stuff on there.

Under the vinyl the aluminum seems to have a thin layer of adhesive, I don’t know yet how I want to remove that, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to use something like a sander to get to clean aluminum and hopefully get rid of some of the scratching I left when removing the vinyl.