Finishing The Demo

Getting To Shell Removal

Having declared partial success as well as partial failure in stripping the vinyl from the interior skins, I really wanted to get the project to the place where the trailer was ready to have the shell lifted. To accomplish that I needed to remove the inteior skins, remove the rear nose cap, and get rid of original insulation.

cleco fasteners holding a panel in place

I don’t have photos documenting the process of removing the interior skins. Mostly the panels are held in place by pop rivets so removal involves drilling out the rivets and dropping the skin. It is logistically a bit challenging with the uppermost skins, as they run the entire length of the interior minus the end caps. In our case this meant sheets that were 15 feet long and 36” wide (the center piece that runs down the center of the ceiling is 24” wide). Suffice it to say that planning ahead and using clecos temporary fasteners are critical components of getting the large panels out. We managed it with just me and my wife and we had no creasing or kinking of the sheets during removal. I built some cheaters out of plywood scraps similar to what is used to hold drywall up against ceilings as a “third hands” to help out.

rear end cap

The rear end cap in my 1977 trailer was fabricated from some sort of plastic material all in one piece. It is quite flexible (both a plus and a minus). It was in sort of rough shape with some roughly cut factory holes in it for lights ad switches and a fair number of cracks and chips where the aluminum interior skins were riveted to it and into the structural ribs. I used some cheaters again to help hold the cap in place as I removed rivets. It came out easily enough without undo grief, but it needed some TLC.

front end cap

I left the front end cap in place and included it’s removal in the scope of work for the shop to to do, as it is made of fiberglass and needed more bodies and care than I had on hand to deal with it safely.

With the interior skins removed it felt so good to get rid of the original fiberglass insulation. This was easy work. I wore a respirator and a bunny suit and bagged up the insulation as I went. I consider myself lucky in comparison to many stories I’ve heard regarding large amounts of rodent carcasses and droppings in the fiberglass batts. I found only one field mouse carcass, near where the hot water heater had been and very well desiccated, and no accumulations of rodent droppings anywhere. I decided to leave most of the wiring in place at this point so that I could better map out how I wanted to replace it once ready to do so.

With the skins out and the insulation gone I had what seemed to me to be a new trailer. It was raw and knarly, but it seemed clean and open and unencumbered. Granted there were leaks and the floor was rotten and cut away in several areas and I could see places where the frame was rusted and corroded. None of those things bothered me anymore now that they were out in the open and I could see them. The trailer seemed like it had taken a huge deep breath of fresh air. I know I had.