Sunday morning Joel was given a choice, work on the fence or work on Belle. Yes folks we have other projects….we recently purchased a 90 year old house……many, many projects. Since Joel didn’t particularly want to work on the fence, he chose Belle. Yeah! You see, I’d been at a standstill for a while because I couldn’t get the spare tire rack off of the back to work on rebuilding the rear of Belle. It turned out that the bolts were rusted on so he had to bust out the grinder to get it off. While Joel was dealing with the spare tire rack I was removing all of the screws from the back railings. I found that most of the screws were so rusted they were barely hanging on. Note to self: Replace all exterior screws with stainless steel ones. With the screws out and the tire rack off, we were able to remove the bottom piece of skin to get a really good look at the damage. As suspected the bottom of the wall was rotted. What we didn’t expect was the back 2x3 frame was completely rotted. It just crumbled when you touched it.
By now the sky is looking pretty dark and since I’m already at Home Depot for a 2x3, I throw a tarp in the buggy just in case. Just an FYI to everyone out there, Home Depot doesn’t have 2x3s….Joel will have to improvise with a 2x4. Improvise he does, he gets the 2x4 in there quick and things are looking better already.
With Joel taking measurements to rebuild both back corners, I decide that it would be easier to work if I peel up the side bottom panel of skin. To do this I first need to remove the J-molding holding the skin and the wheel well together. One screw out….good, 2 screws out….HOLY CRAP, did the whole side just fall?!?!?!?!? Yep! The whole bottom of the side wall frame was rotted out and the ONLY thing holding the side up was 2 screws on the wheel well. PERFECT! I jump inside Belle and push up on the roof with all my might all the while screaming at Joel to hurry and cut a support post. At this point Joel is really mad at me for screaming at him and at Belle for being a piece of crap, but he gets a support post in just in time for the wind to start ripping through Belle like a hurricane. Suddenly my dreams of pulling up to the river campsite with everyone’s eyes turning green with envy as they gaze upon our Belle were vanishing before my eyes. Will we have to sleep in a tent now? I don’t think I can handle that. I’ve only camped in a tent once and people, it wasn’t nice. It was pouring down rain the whole night with the rain drip, drip, dripping on my head all night long. I can’t do it again! I won’t do it again! Come on Belle, we can make it though this! The support post is only holding the roof up; NOTHING is holding the side to the trailer frame, so I’m gripping my hands around Belle’s scrawny bones to keep her from flying away.
I had to stand in there for about an hour while Joel rebuilt the back corner to get the side somewhat secured to the frame, just repeating to myself, “please don’t fall, please don’t fall….”. Working in the high winds and a bit of rain, Joel was a trooper and got the job done enough to call it quits for the night. I bet he wished he had chosen to work on the fence.
The next morning I rushed outside to make sure Belle was still standing. Standing she was, albeit leaning a bit to the left. The back side wall was rebuilt and connected to the frame, but the front of the side wasn’t yet. Another day.
A couple of days later we were able to finish rebuilding the bottom wall frame and secure it to the frame. Yay!!! Belle is standing straight once again. It’s scary to think that only 2 screws were holding the side on and that the whole back wall and a piece of the back frame were completely rotted. How did we ever get this thing from Illinois to Tennessee in one piece?