Archive for Projects

Inexpensive lighting solution

cheap security lightingOur new shed has no electricity, and I didn’t feel like running a line to the new structure. It is, after all, a free-standing, non-permanent, unattached shed.

We didn’t want anything too overpowering – the shed is in a dark corner of the yard, but it is close to the living room window.  During the spring and fall, the insulated curtains are open to allow daylight in. I also didn’t want motion detection, because the only thing more annoying than bright lights shining in the window would be bright lights that continually turned on and off every time one of the animals wandered too close. Read more

Demolition Continues

lot of work to do Down to the bones…
Every day I rip out more of the paneling, pealing off layers of skin to reveal the ugly skeletal underbelly.

I knew there would be some issues towards the rear of the trailer, but I was not really expecting what I found.

Bothrotting wood?  NO wood! corners were rotted for about a third of the length – the left rear bottom frame is totally gone. There is basically nothing holding the back together except for caulk and a few sheet metal screws. It was a tad bit worse than I was expecting, although certainly not an insurmountable obstacle.

rotting frameI now have a good reason to acquire a band saw – time to check out Craig’s List!

Happy New Year!
Well, it is finally New Years Eve. I completed another three-day marathon at work, extra long shifts at night so that we could have a four-day vacation.

We are celebrating at home; Mike, and Tami and Kim are coming over. Liz is cooking the turkey, the Twilight Zone marathon is on TV, and it is unseasonably rainy and cold outside. They are even predicting snow in the area – I moved out of NJ to get away from the cold!


Under my skin

tearing out the wallsThe first step in restoration of our Field and Stream trailer is triage. Ascertain the extent of damage, first aid to prevent further damage.

The pack rat was rather rudely evicted. About three cubic yards of hoarded debris has been removed.

I had to remove the “kitchen” – the cabinets and counter hosting the sink, ice cooler and oven. I didn’t think that the oven and cooler looked vintage – well, not 1953 vintage. The exterior paint job is definitely not period color or pattern.

As I began carefully dismantling the counter, I saw that there were quite a few non-original modifications to the inside structure. I found newspaper used as padding or insulation dating to 1975, which pretty much dates the previous restoration attempt.

I had this laughable plan to dismantle the inside walls intact, so that they could be used as templates for the lauan that will be used to replace all of the interior walls and ceiling. Hah! At least I will have a lot of kindling for the fire pit!

I ripped out most of the left interior wall, and the ceiling around the skylight, hoping to see the extent of the water damage that was apparent from the warped and moldy paneling. I am pleased to see that the damage to the skeleton is not extensive, and that repairs and replacement of the “bones” should be fairly straightforward.  Of course, I have not ripped out the floor and had a good view of the bottom of the frame.

Anyway, the more I research, the less formidable this project seems; I am not aiming for a historic restoration but rather to have a sturdy and serviceable trailer on a budget.  While the outside will look retro, the inside will be comfortable.


I must be out of my head

1960's Vintage Field and Stream Trailer

1960’s Vintage Field and Stream Trailer

I must be crazy! We picked up this vintage Field and Stream trailer this morning. It is in fairly rough condition.

Liz told me about it, and she was told it was a 10-foot camper. And she was told it had good tires on it.

The owner was using it as a potting shed. The pack rats had a heyday with the inside. Both tires were flat. But the skin is good, and the chassis is solid.

We spent the morning cleaning it out, and inflated the tires. It took some maneurvering to get it out of her driveway – we made it down her street and onto McKellips when I noticed the one side seems to be riding a bit low. The driver’s side tire blew out from dry rot. Luckily it had a new spare. Read more

Beginning of a bar

auction findLiz found this vintage bar at the local auction, and placed a proxy bid on it for $40. We see bars go for much more all the time, so didn’t have high hopes. She was pleasantly surprised when the auction house called her today and informed her that she won.

The bar is cool in a sort of retro 1970’s “Three’s Company” sort of way, but not exactly our style; but it is quite solid and will serve as the base for a major makeover. The stools will get a paint job – a nice turquoise – and new fabric, something that resonates Key West.

The bar will be wrapped in bamboo, and the top will be covered with bar coasters and chips from my collection, and coated with a thick resin. The effect will be a tiki bar ala the Florida Keys.

Until I get the energy to begin this project, at least the bar is not so ugly we cannot live with it.

Glutton for punishment

Fosti 150cc ScooterMy latest acquisition – a basket-case scooter. I must be a glutton for punishment.

A buddy at work is relocating, and he asked me if I wanted his scooter. It is a 2012 Fosti 150cc scooter, he bought it new. Like an idiot, I said “Sure, I don’t have enough on my plate.”

He had taken the engine apart to replace the head gasket; unfortunately he did this during Monsoon and all the innards were under water, and it is doubtful that the engine can be salvaged. New ones run around $250.

Doing research on the Eagle 150 – that is the model – I discovered that it is billed as the fastest scooter.  It will top out at 70 mph. But that is sort of like bragging about your 4-inch penis…

I didn’t know people raced these things, but then again, they race lawnmowers.

I figure this would be a good way to teach Liz how to ride. At the very least it gives me Apache Junction Cred to have a vehicle in pieces in my yard…

Pergola Update

PergolaOur house is rather on the small side – 900 square-feet. Which is fine; two people, two dogs and a cat don’t really need more than that. Our studio/workshop is 16’x24′, more than ample.

However, with cramped quarters itis easy to get cabin fever. Yes, cabin fever in AZ… with the heat (even a dry heat) it is easy to hibernate indoors during the summer months. Read more


Pergola in the worksYesterday I began phase one of the next big project in our back yard. The patio area is rather confined, so we decided to expand.

Liz and I rented a two-man auger from Home Depot, and Mike and I sunk six holes.The job took an hour – we spent more time picking up the equipment than actually digging the holes.

We sunk six 4×4 posts, and secured them each with a 60-pound sack of Quikcrete.  Next weekend, weather permitting I will add the cross-beams. This space will add quite a bit of usable living space for 10 months of the year.

Landscaping the Studio

Landscaping the studioWhen Apache Stone unloaded five tons of stone in our driveway last week, the pile looked small. I was concerned there would not be enough to cover the front yard with the requisite two inches.

Not only did I get two inches over the yard – three inches in a few areas – I had enough surplus to apply stone under the herb container-garden, and enough to put a layer across the front of the studio.

Landscaping the studioBefore laying down the gravel some weeding had to be done. Weeding in the desert is hazardous duty. In the desert, even the plant life fights back!

For a protective ground cover to prevent new weeds from poking through, in lieu of the expensive ground tarps I used dog food bags – they are free!  Weeding around the Prickly Pear cacti was tedious, and I did get my share of pricklies… the stone will now inhibit the worst of the weeds.

The exterior of the studio is now presentable when we bring guests in – now I have to tackle the inside.  It is a disaster! it doesn’t help that both Liz and I are pack-rats.

Five tons

5 tons of stoneFive tons of stone…

It doesn’t look like much. I expected a much larger pile when the truck left, and was worried that there would not be enough to cover the yard. Read more