Friday, April 4, 2014

My Friend Betsy

My Tiny House journey started long, long ago.  I don’t remember exactly when I saw my first Tiny House or when I officially decided one would be mine.  But what I can tell you is that this whole crazy idea of actually building my own, and living in it; came about as a result of my somewhat newfound I-am-woman-hear-me-roar confidence after having rehabilitated a vintage canned ham in 2012. 
Her name is Betsy.  She was “born” in 1963 and traveled the West Coast from Arizona to Alaska until 1967 when she came to rest in Washington.  It was there I found her, under a tarp, on the corner of my boyfriend’s parent’s lakefront property. 
“What’s that?  Under that tarp?” I asked. 
“It’s my parent’s old trailer.  They never used it though. Do you want it?" 
“Sure!”  I exclaimed. 
“No. You don’t.”

And thus began my little trailer’s journey from forgotten little metal storage shed, to beloved Glamper. 
My first problem was that, after sitting for over 40 years, her wheels and tires were in no shape to move her.  Thanks to the local Les Schwab (I cannot say enough awesome stuff about those guys!) they showed up with their mobile compressor and filled her tires with just enough pressure to then tow her to their shop only a few blocks away.  There, they assessed her axle and  bearings, and determined she would be roadworthy with only a few minor repairs to the frame (which they didn’t charge me for) as well as new tires, wheels, bearings, and a spare.


Next, in order to tow her to my home in Oregon I would need a tow vehicle and brake lights.  Luckily, my boyfriend was kind enough to lend me his truck. So I hired a guy off of craigslist to wire up the brake lights to a new RV plug that would fit his truck’s receptacle.  It was the best $100 I ever spent! 
Once in Oregon, the dismantling process began.  I was amazed, several months later when I was STILL in demolition mode.  One of her rear panels was rotten, so I hired a guy to replace it.  Her upholstered seats were torn and stained so I hired another guy to re-cover them.  She also needed a new paint job so I once again sought the expertise of a pro.  But all the rest of the rehab, I did myself.  (and it was at this point that my expenses started to taper off, significantly.  Yay!)

She had already been painted on the inside so my first big task was sanding, and priming, and sanding and priming, and sanding and priming, every surface inside.  This also included removing the cabinet doors, and drawers, and light fixtures, and the sink……the list was endless.   For months, my living room looked like a travel trailer had literally BLOWN UP inside my house.  Throughout the process, there was the unending decisions to “keep, and refurb; or discard”. 
Light fixtures?  Keep the glass, replace the base. 
Flooring? Replace with reclaimed, mixed species, barn wood.  (It was a somewhat controversial decision, given the unconventional nature of wood flooring in a vintage trailer; but the wood was free from a friend and only required “processing” via a planer, table saw, and chop saw… so in it went.)
Icebox?  Well, long story short, I kept the existing one but not after a few tries at replacing it. 


Cabinet doors?  Keep and sand, and prime, and sand, and prime, and sand, and paint.  (X 10) 
Sink?  Replace with a tiny, stainless, one from a local reclaimed store. 
Countertops?  Oh, they HAD to go.  Butcherblock from IKEA to the rescue!!  (which I also used for a new table top as well)
Stovetop?  Keep but send to the powder coating guy for a new shiny coat of silver.
Upper cabinets?  Rehab.  (this was NOT a fun project given the curved sides.  And since nothing is level or plumb in a vintage trailer it took SEVERAL tries to get it right)


It took a little over a year but now she’s the prettiest little trailer you’ve ever seen!  She still needs an awning and her propane still needs to be hooked up but she’s dry, and lovely, and comfortable; and we love her.
How did she get her name? 
Besty was named after Betsy Ross.  The upholstery guy had some deep red upholstery left over from another project.  (Read: FREE!)  I took that fabric swatch to the paint store, and married it to a vintage Americana theme.  Finding unique red, white, and blue (ish) décor items has been (and continues to be) fun, and really easy.  I actually have to stop myself from buying more!

Nowadays you can see her, out and about, behind her color matched sister….my late model Chrysler convertible.   We get a lot of looks, and smiles, and waves, and thumbs up, and we love it!  We now have a whole new set of fun loving friends and “sisters” who love to Glamp (Glamorous + Camp) as much as we do.
You can read more about Betsy’s adventures on her blog: decidewheretogo.blogspot.com
And she even has her own facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/TheTrailerProject

4 comments:

  1. Oh, this looks fantastic! Go you!

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  2. Just came across your blogs & read them all. I love that you fulfilled your dream, mine, of a tiny houseboat, is still just in my imagination, but I know I will get there! The dream is turning into a goal and the excitement of it feeds my soul every day!

    From one crazy women to another...thanks for sharing your experiences and Happy Tiny Housing to you!
    Irene Harlow

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    Replies
    1. Lots of people call me crazy. Thank you from one crazy chick, to another.

      Stay in touch! We all need company!?

      Your new fan,
      Michelle

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