Sleeping Level

We decided it was time to make camping slightly more comfortable, with the simple addition of levels on the outside of the trailer.  So when we arrive at a campsite all we have to do is use the levels when we set up.

The two self-adhesive levels cost us about $10, and took about 20 minutes of our time.

We put the Boler on jacks in our garage, and used two levels on the floor.  One going each direction.  Once both levels indicated that we were level, we stuck the trailer levels on the Boler.

We put one on the back of the Boler centered in the middle underneath the window.  We put the other one beside the door.

20140804 - Sleeping Level_IMGP6336We decided not to screw them as to not add more holes to the Boler.  If at some point they fall off, we’ll add screws.  But, so far they have stuck on really well through rain, sun, wind and road travel.

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Epic Fail

After finishing up the cabinet door upgrade (see the posts here and here), we took the Boler out for a weekend of fun.

Of course, we headed the mountains.  And in order to get to the mountains we had to drive over standard city roads and some highways.  Nothing extreme, or so we thought.

About 3 hours later we arrived at our destination.  And we discovered that multiple doors did not stay shut for the maiden voyage and the closet door did not survive.  I forgot to take photos of the complete disaster that awaited us when we opened the Boler door upon arrival, but from the photo I did take you can see that the closet door trip is mostly still hanging and the inside of the door is resting on the floor.  You will notice the closet is nearly empty because everything was relocated to the floor during travel.


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The Cabinet Door Reveal

As I mentioned the other day, we spent a lot of time this summer making new cabinet doors for our Boler.

Our neighbour offered to help us with finishing up the doors, as he’s skilled in cabinetry making.  So, a few days after we gave him all the pieces, they came back fully assembled and absolutely beautiful!

20150723 - A Significant15We were so excited to get to work that we skipped our evening run and spent night in the garage prepping and painting the doors.

First, we sanded.  And then we sanded some more.

Then we used a pre-stain wood condition.  (I have no idea why this step is necessary, but the friendly people at Home Depot said to do it and for the minimal extra cost and time we did).

20150724 - The Cabinet Door Reveal_IMGP5854After lots of thought we decided to use a simple wood stain.

And once again I laid out everything on the deck to admire the final product before we installed them.

20150724 - The Cabinet Door Reveal_IMGP6314The latches were a bit of a pain in the butt as we used a different style then previous. We changed the style in part because it was hard to find pieces similar to the original ones, and the trim didn’t lend itself easy to the old style. We ultimately chose to use a style common in modern day trailers, which meant we had to figure out how to make it work with our old fiberglass Boler. We eventually got it, and now the doors lock securely when closed. Hopefully they also stay secure while we are driving!

It was the first, and hopefully last time we will build cupboard doors, and we think they turned out rather well. And honestly, it has completely changed the look of the inside of the Boler.

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A Significant Upgrade: New Cabinet Doors

If you remember from our initial Boler photos, the cupboards were still original and had seen better days. We didn’t spend the time on this last year as new cupboards were not required for us to go camping, but now that we had some time it only made sense to tackle this cosmetic upgrade.

We wondered around Home Depot trying to figure out what type of design we wanted for our cupboards. In the end, being economic and ever practical we chose to use pine for the doors. We did use one side finished pine and pine trim pieces.

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Then, we cut all the pine back pieces to size. This was easy as we used the original doors as templates.

Next was the trim pieces. First we cut the trim to the right size, this was pretty easy and even I had a turn playing with the compound mitre saw.

20150723 - A Significant6The trim pieces also had to be cut with the table saw to trim them to the right size. This task was took a bit of precision, so G was in charge of the cutting.

20150723 - A Significant14 Once everything was cut, I laid out all the pieces to admire our handy work.

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Then we moved onto assembly. I set up a pocket-hole jig to drill in pocket holes that would allow G to assembly the frame and ultimately hide the screws. This took a bit of time, but only because there are so many doors. In fact, once we got going we were pretty quick.

Once again, I laid everything out to admire our handywork.  Of course, G rolled his eyes at me.

20150723 - A Significant15Up next, we had to router everything to make the actual doors. This is where we got a bit lucky.  Rather than learning how to router we handed everything over to our neighbour who happens to be a retired teacher and cabinet maker.

While our neighbour had the pieces, we decided to find new cabinet door hardware to hang everything. We picked up the door closing apparatus’/latches and hinges at a RV Parts store – in fact, we bought so many we cleared out there stock and had to go to about 5 RV stores to find enough matching ones. We picked up the handles at Home Depot.

Coming soon, the finished product!

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Our Ambitious Winter Plans

We had a wonderfully long list of ambitious Boler renovation activities to complete this winter:

  • Fixing/replacing the ceiling vent
  • New seals for the side windows
  • New seals for the front and rear Plexiglas windows
  • Closet shelving
  • New Cabinet doors and closet door
  • 3 way fridge rather than ice box
  • Spare tire cover
  • New tires
  • Small containers on the side of the closet to hold glasses and flashlights at night – like a Boler sized night table.

I hate to admit it, but we have done absolutely nothing since we pulled the Boler into the garage for the winter. Now that it’s almost the end of January, we should really get started if we want to get anything done before spring!!

My most critical items are the closet shelving and the small containers on the side of the closet.

I suspect G’s most critical items are much more practical. He would like to get the window’s resealed and maybe look into new tires.

Either way, I think it’s time to get busy as we would like to spend our warm summer days playing in the mountains rather than hanging out in our garage tinkering with the Boler.

Hopefully this means I’ll get around to posting about the renovations we have already completed, so I can do more real time updates on new activities soon enough.


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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.

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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!

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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.

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  • 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.

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