Prettying Up A Boler Kitchen

The task of prettying up the kitchen was relatively straight forward because we chose not to remove and repaint all the interior fiberglass (i.e. kitchen counter, seat bases and closet). We did not to do this because the existing shelving was in pretty good shape, and weren’t sure it was necessary right now.

So what we chose to do was add a backsplash. We found a stick on backsplash that looked pretty awesome. Although it was rather expensive, we thought for such a small space it would look great and be easy to install. It did in fact look great, until it fell down 24 hours later! Evidently the stickiness was not enough to adhere it to the interior insulation of the boler. And, as it turns out we discovered they are also incredibly flammable (I’m not entirely sure why anyone would manufacture a highly flammable backsplash, but that’s a conversation for a different day). So, we decided not to put them back up. We may at some point add a different backsplash, but for now we decided just to leave the idea entirely. 20141027 - Prettying Up The Kitchen_2We added a magnetic spice rack above the stove. Typically this magnetic spice rack comes with six, so G just used tin snips to cut it down in size to fit the space perfectly. We placed it at the very right hand side of the stove, as to be coordinated with the edge of the backsplash. Of course we did this before the backsplash fell down and now its location may appear a bit odd. But, we have found it incredibly handy and we cannot remove it without risking damaging the interior wall, so we are still happy with it exactly where it is.

 20141027 - Prettying Up The Kitchen_5We added a bar above the sink. The bar holds little metal baskets, which we use for our camping silverware and random things we frequently need (i.e. soap, dish scrubber, matches, etc.). The containers easily lift on and off, so we can store them we are driving and easily bring them out to a picnic table. As an added bonus I was able to find the perfect green to match the original avocado colouring of the boler! All of this was bought at Ikea for a relatively good price. We bought from the FINTORP line of products, but there are more options.  We cut the bar to the exact size wanted using an angle grinder with a metal cutting disk.  As an added bonus the ones I chose (purely by coincidence) had an insert that allowed us to cover an imperfections in the cutting.  We attached it to the wall by riveting it the exterior.  We like this little touch so much that we plan to add another one on the side of the closet sometime this winter. This will allow us to store our glasses at night, keep a flashlight handy, etc.

We replaced the 1975 sink faucet with a new one. We did this due to a leak with the old one, but I have to admit that I also wanted one that looked a bit nicer. Interestingly, we almost had to buy the exact same one that we took out because it fit in the tight space required to accommodate the hand pump. It turns out, most of the modern day ones that have a long enough head for the water to come out of, also have larger handles that do not work in the space if you want to be able to use the water pump. After trips to Rona, Home Depot and Lowes we did find one that fits and looks good at Rona.

20141027 - Prettying Up The Kitchen_3We replaced the bar that runs between the kitchen lower and upper kitchen cabinets.  The metal bar is a conduit for the electrical, so it was critical that it remain and not just be removed.  We bought a shower curtain bar at Rona, cut it down to size and put the new on it.  It fit perfectly.

20141027 - Prettying Up The Kitchen_7We replaced the damaged and nearly impossible to open original ice box. We want to put in a three way refrigerator, but decided due to costs to put in a new ice box for the next year or two. We ordered a new from Scamp. It was pretty easy to instal as it fit perfectly, but after using it we are thoroughly disappointed with the product. An ice block melted in about 36 hours, and as such our new and improved icebox is virtually useless as it doesn’t even last for a weekend camping trip. This means, we will be likely be buying replacing the fridge with a three way refrigerator sooner than expected.  (You can see the current icebox in the photo below).

Another quick upgrade we did was replacing the white edging at the bottom of the upper kitchen counters.  The edging is available at either Home Depot or Rona, and is really cheap.  The installation was also incredibly simple, that I did it with almost no help from G.

We also removed the original propane heater that was located below the sink. As neither of us know how to fix propane furnaces, we simply suspected that it was in rough shape and probably wouldn’t’ have worked. As well, evidently they are incredibly dangerous, and nether G or I are interested in dying in our sleep, so we just removed it. For now, we just covered the hole with a white piece of wood that we had in the garage from an old shelf. We plan to make all new cupboard doors soon, so this will be upgraded to a real door when we do all of the cabinet doors.

20141027 - Prettying Up The Kitchen_8A few more items are still on the to-do list, most importantly new cupboard doors that we hope to do over the winter months. I’ll be sure to update everyone on the cupboard doors when we do them.

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to to follow our adventures.

Our First Boler Camping Adventure – Waterton Lakes National Park

I still have lots to stay about the renovation, but writing about things like plumbing and gas fitting is not always the most enjoyable.  So, in the interest of my sanity, I decided to share our first Boler adventure!

We were pretty motivated to get our new Boler ready for use, and in fact went out on our first weekend trip about 5 weeks after purchase (we bought it on June 28 and our very first trip out was on the August long weekend (August 2-4)).

We went with some friends to Waterton Lakes National Park. Waterton Lakes National Park is part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park which includes Waterton Lakes National Park on the Canadian side and Glacier National Park on the USA side. It was designated a Word Heritage Site in 1995.

We planned to camp on the Canadian side, as we did not have our dog’s paperwork in order to cross the border. And, we did not have a campsite booked so we knew there was a pretty good chance we’d be sleeping on the side of the road somewhere due to the reservation system which makes it virtually impossible to find a last minute camping spot anywhere in Alberta and/or B.C.

G and I left our house on Friday at about 1pm. We simply couldn’t get away earlier due to G’s work commitments.

Hooked-up and leaving the City!

Hooked-up and leaving the City!

After driving for 3 hours, we discovered that we were right – Finding a camping spot was nearly impossible. Every single spot in and around the park was booked or already taken.

We were desperate, and Waterton Springs Campground just outside the national park, helped us out. I explained our situation, including G’s broken ankle (I was hoping for sympathy). It is a family run campground and were awesome. They gave us a spot in an overflow area that was close to the washrooms so my husband could walk to them. And, when another site came available due to a last minute cancelation, they even moved us to a slightly better site. The campground had full amenities – running water, bathrooms, pay-showers, play structures for kids, fire-wood, a small store, etc. Some sites have significantly more tree coverage and therefore privacy, so if you pre-book definitely make sure to get one of the better sites.

We had such a great time with our friends.  We all spent some time wondering around the townsite enjoying the odd meal and wondering into the touristy stores.

Our friends spent some time mountain biking and hiking.  And we spent some time touring around in our 4Runner and enjoying the quaint townsite as G was wearing an airboot and had very limited mobility.  We stopped by the Buffalo Paddock to see the buffalo roaming, and we also saw 2 different bears on the side of the road.

Each night we enjoyed campfire food, and a few glasses of wine. We had a great time, and even hung out inside the Boler one evening as we waited through a rain storm.

Our friends bought us a Bolerwarming gift (i.e. a housewarming gift), which was just so thoughtful (and necessary as it was something all 4 of us forgot to bring).

Locally Handcrafted Spatula

Locally Handcrafted Spatula

And, on the way home, I made G stop on the side of the highway so that I could take this photo.  I just love the foothills, and wanted to capture this picturesque landscape.

Foothills on Our Way Back to Calgary

Foothills on Our Way Back to Calgary

As for the Boler, she performed admirably on her first weekend out.  We stayed warm and dry (and there was lots of rain, so it was a really good test).  Which meant, we all stayed nice and happy!  After our first weekend away, we were happy we bought our Boler and anticipate many more memorable trips in our future!

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to to follow our adventures.

The Floor

Once the electrical was working in both the Boler and the 4Runner, we moved on to the flooring. While, the original yellow/green 1970s vinyl flooring was unique, we weren’t loving it. While I don’t have a great pre-reno photo of the floor, you can see it in this photo (and if you look closely you can also see that it wasn’t in great shape as the vinyl was curling up in some of the corner). 20140924 - The Floor_6

First, we went into destruction mode.  This is normally my favourite part of any home renovation project (I’m really good at it), but G beat me to it.  And, it just wasn’t a job for two people given the size of the space.  First, G tried to just pull up on the curled parts of the flooring, thinking maybe it would just come right up.  He of course was not that lucky.  It was glued down about 3 inches in, and the glue used seem to be some sort of magic extra strength glue.  So, before he went any further, he donned his beautiful asbestos filter mask as to not breathe in any harmful chemicals, should there be any.  Then, he cut the existing vinyl into smaller pieces and soaked it with water to reduce airborne particles and try to help loosen the glue.  Then, he tried to remove it using a bit of elbow grease and a hand scraper, as per all the how-to-remove vinyl flooring instructions online.  This was also dreadfully unsuccessful.  Next, he tried our reciprocating sawl with a scraper-blade head attachment.  20 minutes later, he was done!  And surprisingly he offered to let me help when it came to the final cleaning of the surface so that we could move onto installing new flooring.

Once the old flooring was out, we had to develop a plan for the new flooring.  As it was a tiny space, we went to the Habitat for Humanity Restore to see what they had available. (I highly recommend this place for small projects – all their products have been donated and they are sold at very reasonable prices. All the money they make goes directly to Habitat for Humanity. We found it particularly awesome for small projects because often the construction materials are often those donated from larger house renovations, so while it’s hard to come by large quantities of stuff, it was perfect for our boler reno!)

We bought a laminate flooring. The installation of the floor was unbelievably simple – so simple in fact that I could do it! I have a proven tendency to cut myself with sharp objects, so G wouldn’t let me near the table saw for fear that it will result in a trip the hospital. This meant that G was responsible for measuring and cutting the pieces and I was responsible to snapping them in place and informing him when a cut wasn’t perfect and he needed to re-do something.

This type of flooring is substantially heavier than the old original vinyl, but it looks awesome in the space and we decided that given the space is so small that the weight is inconsequential in the scheme of things.

We love the flooring. Absolutely love it!

20140924 - The Floor_5As for the baseboards, we chose vinyl trim for the baseboards for everywhere but the base of the step up to the table because we needed something thicker to hide a gap. We chose the vinyl because it will not rot or mold with water. It’s white because it is the only colour available. And for whatever reason it didn’t cross our minds to paint it. Another key feature of this material is that it was flexible – the Boler is not square so at the back, behind the table, we needed something flexible to go around the curve. In The end, it turns out we are not sold on our choice of the vinyl baseboards. The white is really vivid and so it draws your eye to it (and this is not a good thing), and we’ve since learned the white doesn’t stay clean with the dirt of camping and our giant black dog also doesn’t help. I suspect we will pull all of the white out, except the strip that matches the curve at the back of the Boler, in the near future. We will probably replace it with the brown edging we used at the base of the stair (see picture above).

Installing the baseboards was a pain in the butt. Only because we used finishing nails, which are not very strong and G seemed to hit steel on the underside of the frame from time to time and the nails could not penetrate. With some frustration, he managed to make it work.

While we may choose to change out the baseboards at some point, we decided this was good enough for this season, as we wanted to get to enjoying the Boler not just renovating it!

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to to follow our adventures.

Let the Renovation Begin – First Up The Electrical

We started by pulled almost everything out of the Boler – everything that could come out, did. The fridge, the propane heater, the cushions and the stove top, etc.

Then we lifted the Boler using a screw-jack and then set the frame on 4 jack stands. This enabled G to get under the Boler and check the frame. When we bought it from the seller they said the frame was in good condition and when G quickly looked at it when we picked it up, he thought the same. Once it was raised, he was able to get underneath to take a good look. He determined that it appeared to be in pretty good shape, and during the winter we may take it in to have a few welds reinforced just to be safe.

Next, we moved onto the electrical. When we picked up our Boler we knew something weird was going on with the electrical. So we wanted to make sure it was safe right away because one thing we both know is weird electrical is probably not safe electrical.

One quick side note – I do not have the knowledge or skill when it comes to wiring, so I was G’s gopher. I do not make a very good gopher because I don’t like being commanded and I don’t know the difference between simple tools like a Philips screwdriver and a Robertson screwdriver or drill bits or driver bits (I seem to have some sort of mental block when it comes to learning proper tool names – we’ve done tonnes of house renovations and I still cannot learn them – it drives G absolutely insane!) But, we made it work – G learned to ask politely and in L appropriate speak (i.e can I please have the star screwdriver?) and I learned to return with multiple star screwdrivers just in case I misunderstood, so he had an ample selection. It’s not necessarily the best solution, but it ensured we stayed married through the renovation.

Okay, back to the subject at hand – the electrical. The old electrical was an absolute mess, it had been cut and spliced more times than we cared for. We decided we would feel better if we started from scratch. So, we tore everything out! I mean everything last piece of old electrical and started over. Thankfully, G is skilled enough to be able to put in all new wiring. The basics of the electrical renovation included:

  • All new wiring.

20140922 - Let the Renovation Begin – First Up Electrical_6

  • Plastic conduit to hold all the new wiring.

20140922 - Let the Renovation Begin – First Up Electrical_7

  • All new LED internal lights.
  • All new LED side running lights and LED rear lights.
  • A new metal conduit to run electrical between the lower and upper kitchen cabinets (we used a metal shower curtain rod cut to size).

20140922 - Let the Renovation Begin – First Up Electrical_11

  • A new 120 volt electrical socket.
  • A shorter internal electrical cord to hook up at campgrounds.  Our idea is the smallest possible cable inside the kitchen cupboard and a separate extension cord to actually hook up with.  This will provide us with significantly more space under the sink.
  • A 12 volt charger for our cell phones using the old cigarette lighter (clearly we rough it when we camp).

20140922 - Let the Renovation Begin – First Up Electrical_9

  • A new deep cycle marine battery mounted at the front of the frame.
  • A 2 amp battery charger (to charge the marine battery) mounted inside the read seat in a rubermaid container to protect it from water should there be a leak and tied it down with All Round Galvanized Pipe Strapping.

20140922 - Let the Renovation Begin – First Up Electrical_8

We ran into one problem while finishing the wiring – we could not get all the rear light combinations to work (i.e. break and right blinker; brake and left blinker; brake and emergency lights, etc.). I sat in the car trying different combinations while G tried to figure it out. 2 hours later, he determined the problem was actually the wiring harness in the 4Runner and the Boler was wired perfectly!! So a quick trip to the mechanic to fix the problem with the 4Runner, and we were good to go.  Funny enough, this was also likely to original problem with the electrical the day we picked up our Boler, but we are still glad we re-wired everything because now we have peace of mind that it is done correctly.

We found the most economical place to buy our electrical supplies was Princess Auto. Much to our surprise during the summer months they stock an entire section for RV trailer lighting. So, we bought almost all our electrical supplies there because it had the best prices we could find.

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to to follow our adventures.

Our Boler Pre-Reno

When we got home, we quickly got to work.

First up, seeing if it fits in our garage. We knew it would be close, and we need it to fit inside the garage door so that we could lift it and work on it rain or shine. Thankfully, it fits, with about 3 millimetres to spare!

The downside of this means my Subaru is now parked on the street.  Well, until winter when I fully intend to claim the other garage space and kick G and his 4Runner outside.

Here are the pre-reno photos:

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to to follow our adventures.

We Bought a Boler

After years of sleeping in a tent, we finally broke down and bought a Boler.

Our breaking point – a weekend in the pouring rain in our little tent. We forgot a tarp so we 20140917 - We Bought A Bolercould not even make a shelter near the campfire to stay dry. Our dog, Sadie, was sick and managed to vomit inside the tent on G’s sleeping pad while he was still using it.   So, after 24 straight hours of rain and some dog vomit, we packed up and went home early. This was a first for us. And evidently a last.

We turned to the classifieds (Kijiji of course) to find out new camping home. We went to a few that were located close to us, and quickly discovered they come in all sorts of different conditions varying from complete and utter disrepair to virtually untouched to fully renovated. When we were looking prices varied from $500 to $9000 depending on the condition, and we quickly learned you get what you pay for. We thought about buying a lovely fully renovated one that was only a few hours from our house. But alas, we are too practical to pay for someone else’s hard work. And where is the fun in buying one that’s already completely re-done? Ultimately, we knew we would customize it ourselves, so it made more sense to spend the right amount of money to buy one with good bones and renovate it to fit our tastes.

So, after a few weeks of searching, we finally found “our boler.” The only problem, we live in Alberta and it was located in Saskatchewan – about a 7.5 hour drive apart. We were able to see the pictures posted with the advertisement and my husband spent a lot of time emailing and talking with the seller.  He seemed really nice and very knowledgeable. So, we took the plunge and agreed to buy it sight-unseen.

The very next weekend we packed up our Toyota 4-Runner with the dog, some food, our trusty little tent and our best guess at a Boler emergency repair supplies (in case there was a flat tire or some unforeseen problem). And off we went for our first ever boler adventure!